Friday, July 13, 2012

Forgiving Grace

I'm sure some of you that have read my posts regularly have wondered where I went for 3 1/2 months.
Well .....
I had a wild ride and then took some time off. I'll start with the wild ride first.
It's no secret that I have been open to pastoring a church again, and in the February/March/April range there were several churches that had contacted me about taking on the senior position of either music minister or pastor. One seemed very promising and it came down to the time of the trial sermon to be given. Then BAM!
Out of nowhere I was blindsided.
I've never hid my feelings and beliefs on the Holy Spirit (and many other topics) in this blog and on my webpage, Yes, I have served in some conservative churches, and yes I have served in some that were more open to the Holy Spirits leading.
See this previous Post (I want order in this house)
Well, for those of you who have never been through the search committee process, I'll give you a bit of the process. Applications are accepted and reviewed. Interviews are given, sometimes over the phone if long distance. Research is done by interviewing/questioning people who have served with the pastor and with people who have been a regular part of the congregation of his former church. (It is a little different for recent graduates of seminaries.) The list is narrowed down and questionnaires are sent out to the few pastors remaining as possibilities. People that they don't like then are ruled out, leaving hopefully only one or two for the final process, the trial sermon and vote by the congregation.
Well, one church in a northern state (they are known for their cheese) contacted me. They had found my website, read quite a bit of it, read part of the blog site, and wanted me to consider coming and taking over for their pastor who was leaving.
I researched the area, asked questions that were pertinent to our moving so far away, and decided that the church would be a good fit. It would be a bit of a rebuild since there had been some strife with the previous pastor, but I love challenges and have some knowledge and experience to tackle the job.
Well all of the above happened and then it was time to bring me in for the trial sermon. (they had already heard a pre-recorded one earlier.) A week or so before I would have gone, I was notified that they weren't interested in me anymore.
Now, they had gotten the questionnaire, had a VERY lengthy talk over the phone, and they knew pretty much every belief that I hold, especially in worship.
Then they started wanting to add more and more from me and previous congregations. I put my foot down and said it's either do or die, but this is enough.
A day or so later I get the email that they are not considering me because they do not want anything to do with speaking in tongues in their service, and I had stated a few months back on the questionnaire that I would allow it under certain circumstances. (See previous post link again if you haven't read it yet.)
You know what I said.
BS. (yep, that is what I told them, BS.)
It had become a game of find the dirt on me because the committee vote was 4-3 to bring me and they wanted a 7-0 vote (never EVER heard of that one before) from the search committee. So the 3 nays/borderline yes's tried to find something to rule me out.
After having a similar experience with a church that wanted me to rebuild their music program not too long before that, this was the last straw.
I've never seen committees act like that before, but then again, I've never dealt with long distance churches until the past year. (always local ones that welcomed me.)
Well, I pulled my resume' from all of the pastoral search sites and told God that I simply couldn't take it anymore.
Hmmmmmm ...... Silence........ (though it wasn't golden I don't think.)
A month passed and my nerves had started to come back to normal. Then something happened that caught me off guard.
Most people either love it or hate it. My son spends some time on there surfing the ads and so I had started checking it out. I found the "Musicians" page and one day when I pulled it up, there was an ad for a bass player for a new group that was forming. The plan for the group was to do Christian Contemporary music, mainly their own songs with a few covers thrown in from time to time.
I sent an email saying that I was interested and a reply came back that same day.
I met with the man who was forming the group and we clicked instantly. We talked a little about our pasts and neither one found judgement with the other. Finally, a true Christian exists. (was beginning to wonder for awhile.)
Soon the group met at an outing to get to know one another and then we went back to a building that had been secured for us to be able to practice in each week and not have to tear down the equipment after every practice.
Everyone hit it off with each other. This was in the latter part of May '12 and with one addition and one subtraction, we're moving along at a pretty good pace. We have already put together a half dozen songs with some more in the works and hope to have a demo CD available soon, with a full release to follow.
Finally, I feel like I can minister again. No one is trying to trick anyone (Monroe neighborhood, you know who you are!) or dig up their pasts. We all have a past, but thank God, with Him we have a wonderful future with Him for eternity if you have been saved.
Well, all this said, now you kinda know what has been going on in my life. The hurt is still there (though weakening from day to day) from everything that I experienced with the committees, and I've pretty much decided that if/when I do have a church, it will probably be one that I have started. No BS, no back stabbing (Monroe, you poor terrible people). A church that is run with God as the figurehead. A TRUE Christian church where no one is judged, everyone is welcomed into His house and worship can take place without many restrictions.

I am not saying I won't consider your church, but it is like this.
Read my blog. Read my site
If you have a questionnaire that you would like me to fill out, then send it and I'll gladly return it to you when I've completed it, usually within 24 hours, unless it's the weekend.
If you would like to meet with me to see if we're compatible, fine.
But you either want me or you don't. No games. No trying to make buddy-buddy and then stab me in the back with your lies that you told me and twisted facts that you've given.
I'll do a trial sermon and I'll be glad to send you a .wav file of me giving a sermon.
But don't play games and drag me and my family down to the mire.
I won't tolerate it!
****END NOTE****

So until that happens, I'll continue to worship, fellowship and minister to others through the talents my Lord and Savior has given me through music, using my voice, my bass guitar and any keyboards when called upon..
Oh yeah, one irony to all this is the name of the group: Forgiving Grace (site is still being developed, so it's still in it's raw stage at the moment, the facebook page is more current right now
Forgiving Grace. Think about those words. Forgiving ... to hold nothing of ill towards another person, Grace ... only something that God can bring upon His people that can lead to any hope of an eternal life in Heaven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His Son.
Forgiving Grace ... something I have yet to see out of a search committee. (Sometimes I think they would find something wrong with Jesus if He was a candidate for their leadership. (read a funny email on that years ago.)
I do look forward to what God will do in my life and in the life of my wife. We have some ministries that we are still praying about that we would like to be able to do one day if the funds become available.
Several people have told me in the last few months that I'll still be a pastor one day (one person I had just met) so I know that God is still reassuring me that there is a plan that I can't see but that He has control over.
But for now I have made some wonderful Christian friends with the band members and their families.
And I am keeping up the faith that my God shall supply all my needs, that He shall watch over me, and that one day this will all be over and I'll finally be with Him and all my friends and loved ones that have gone before me.
Thanks for being a faithful reader of this blog, and I plan to start to post more regularly from now on.
Love in Christ,
Rev. Keith

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