Friday, September 28, 2007

Preaching Again

It has been awhile. This Sunday the only remaining Penty pastor who maintains friendship with me and has never changed in his relation with me despite my separate path, a man many years my senior, has asked if I can deliver the message to his church this Sunday.

A couple of years ago, when I was convinced that I should be a confessing evangelical, I wrote to my pastor friends who regularly ask me to take their pulpits of my confession of faith, that I have subscribed to the BoC. I felt I must not hide my colors and be honest, I felt that I should come out. Some call this coming out of the closet. I felt that I would be dishonest, taking their churches for 6 weeks or so, assuming the pastoral work of their parish while they go on vacation, is a very serious thing. Besides, they can trust me that when they come back, the church is still in tact, no splits, no people following me to be their pastor etc etc (I have no interest). But knowing in my heart that I no longer held to the doctrine and practice of a Pentecostal and continue taking the pulpit without saying a word is to me being devious. I must not be that way so I wrote them a letter explaining. Since I wrote that letter, none have invited me back. I do not mind this at all. I respect this move. So what is the point of my rambling here?

I absolutely respect the prerogative of not being invited to preach, I would do the same thing too. What was painful was that you are no longer considered a friend since you have changed your "denomination". What was a source of suffering was being isolated as if you did not use to, as said in the Psalms - "walk to the temple together". In order for us to be friends, must we be in the same level of walk, must we be 100% in conviction in order for us to be friends? I found this part of the experience astounding. What more when I wrote that letter, none wrote back or contacted me to ask - "ok, tell us why you are what you are now"? One of them was quite close to me than the others and yet I had to be the one to invite that we might sit and share where I am at.

Let me tell you about the Pentecostal culture. Sadly amongst Pentecostals, your changing church/denomination (in fact, even if you move to another Pentecostal church) is interpreted as a testimony that there is something wrong with them and because you have slighted them, you are no longer to be treated as a friend, even though you have years and years of memories of having warm and caring relationships you shared together. That goes out the door, too. That move you did is to be taken personally. Amazingly for folks who are known to be spiritual, some if not most, act immature. I can imagine being said of me what I heard said of others - "the man has become dead, he has become religious".

No I am not bitter, I realize we are sinners and this is what we do. I do not think I was being naive when I wrote that letter. If there was naiveness it would be in expecting that being frank was something that should be appreciated.

So the moral of the story is this - do not try this at home. When you seek the pure Gospel or focus on the simplicity of just having Jesus or adopt the Cross as your theology, there is suffering involved. You will violate Dale Carnegie's principle of winning friends and influencing people, instead you will create enemies and alienate folks.

29Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, (Z)there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, 30but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in (AA)the age to come, eternal life. Mk 10:29-30.



Sometimes, God allows us pain so that in that lostness, He might have an opportunity to comfort us. You are welcome too to share your losses here, should you care. But oh, what comfort these words bring...!

8 comments:

Mark said...

Lito,
I'm glad you have the opportunity to preach. May God lead you to preach his word truthfully, to rightly divide law and gospel, and to bring the comfort and assurance that comes from the Cross that our Lord Jesus Christ bore for our sakes to where this congregation is at right now. And how gracious of this Pentecostal brother to provide the opportunity!
Every blessing!!

The Scylding said...

Heh - I know that one. You are no longer with us, so that means you are against God, you are anti-Christ. In the sect of my upbringing, this was sometimes followed by warnings like - your husband/wife will be unfaithful to you one day etc etc.

L P Cruz said...

Pr. Mark,

Thank you for your best wishes. To those who say to me "stay away", I do. But to those who wants to listen to what I have to say, I go.

I plan to use one of our readings this Sunday 1 Tim 6:6-19. Boy, expository preaching is peanuts compared to Law & Gospel, L/G is hard work but it produces comforted souls.

God be with you too this Sunday.

Scylds,

Yeah, I know you have similar experiences, I was reading your spiritual auto-bio. In their hearts I have apostasized. They are polite not to say it but in closed doors, I know they do.

Yes, I know the curse too and when something bad happens to you they will reason it is because you left them and so you are being punished.

Kelly Klages said...

Hey Lito-- I had a similar experience with my Baptist church. For the most part, people were fine with me marrying a Lutheran pastor because at least he was a strong Christian. The doctrinal distinctives were not considered so important. But a few people were very hurt, solely on the basis that by suggesting that my teachers had taught some things incorrectly, I was creating a taboo against "the family."

I've become convinced that this is what happens when churches are so autonomous. You can't have unity based on a confessional subscription, so you have it on the basis of being part of a family-friendly community. I mentioned that in my "conversion story," just posted over at Adam Roe's Word and Sacrament page. Have you thought of submitting to that site?

David said...

Yes one can, and I have myself, been hurt when viewpoints change in belief.

However, that pales in comparison to what Jesus did for us while on this vale of tears. What we suffer here is a privilage for us to partake in the sufferings of Jesus even in our relatively small way.

May He grant to us joy in bearing our crosses He gives us.

God's peace. †

Mark said...

Thanks Lito.
Hope it went well.

L P Cruz said...

Kelly,

I am working on submitting this week!

Your thoughts on the subscription to a confession versus social unity is insightful.

David,

Amen, indeed. Rejecting people is what we engage in, it is part of our sinfulness. I was sad for the loss of friendship but somehow, I do pray God's good and rich mercies for them, nevertheless.

L P Cruz said...

Pr.Mark,

I believe the people of my beloved pastor friend appreciated the message. I felt there was refreshing in hearing again, what Jesus has done for us at Calvary. Some of them made it known to me.

The only problem was that I could not get my sermon down to less than 30mins. I surely failed in this regard, so I wonder how those pastors who can do it in 8 mins are able to do such a fete;-)

This is what I did, I exposited but on the tail end, brought them to 1 Tim 6: 11-16 so I can insert Law/Gospel there and that was were I ended.

If I will be explicitly clear, I can not do it in 8 mins.;-) What preaching magic such preachers do is beyond me. http://cyberbrethren.typepad.com/cyberbrethren/2007/08/sermon-length-m.html




Lito