That’s One Small Step in Faith, One Giant Leap in Belief – Part 2 of 3

Church in Spain

Church in Spain

Occasionally, Earl and I believe that we know exactly what God’s plan is for us.  So when we determined that retirement from our denomination was our course of action according to the will of God, we submitted our retirement date to coincide with the expected change in the definition of marriage that had been approved by the General Assembly and subsequently ratified by a majority of Presbyteries. That date is June 21, 2015.  We also made it clear to our church that we were not retiring from ministry, but only from a denomination of which we were in disagreement.

But what we gave as the date that God had for us was changed into an earlier date – leaving the church on October 31, 2014 – about 8 months ahead.  We were heartbroken to leave so much earlier than we had anticipated.  We love the people in our congregation.  We had really wanted to help the church to respond more faithfully to the Gospel and to be unified by Christ, not split into factions driven by the sweeping changes initiated by our denomination.

Then to top it all off, during all of these struggles we faced, Earl was informed that his mother had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and that his son was in dire need of his help, support and love.  Yet by leaving earlier than we had planned, Earl has been able to take some time to be where family members needed him the most.  God worked all things – even wrong things – towards the good, (Romans 8:28)  But also confirmed are Isaiah’s words, “The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.”  (Isaiah 14:24)

We not only took a step of faith by retiring from our congregation, but we took a huge leap in our belief that God and God alone would see us through not only the loss of our church, health and life insurance, income, personal illness, and family illness, but also the sense of a loss of purpose.  Yet, we also knew that God couldn’t possibly be done with us spreading His Word.

After a difficult move back to Georgia, I felt that it would be ideal for Earl to take a year off so that he could decompress, refresh and deal with the family issues that had arisen.  He had been beaten up emotionally and not only was he affected mentally by the challenges that he had faced, but it had also had an effect on him physically.  So, I planned a retirement dinner with close friends and family for him for his very first day of retirement, November 1st.

Happy Retirement

Happy Retirement

Retirement / Friends Dinner

With Friends at Retirement Dinner

 

I also scheduled a vacation  to Spain at the end of December to get his mind on history and begin relaxing him and allowing him to start taking it easy.

Tarragona Spain

Roman Colosseum in Tarragona Spain

 

Earl in Spain

Earl in Front of 1st C Roman Viaduct

 

Earl - Roman Viaduct - Tarraona

1st C Roman Viaduct water flowed by gravity to town

 

Yet within 5 weeks of “retiring,” the Lord called us right back to Charleston and gave us a new church plant and pastorate: the Charleston Presbyterian Church!  (part 3 of this series)

2 Samuel 7:19
And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign LORD, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant–and this decree, Sovereign LORD, is for a mere human!

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That’s One Small Step in Faith, One Giant Leap in Belief – (Part 1 of 3)

Indiana Jones Stepping Out in FaithBack in June, 2014 Earl and I went to the Presbyterian (PCUSA) General Assembly in Detroit, MI.  We left there completely distraught.

Earl has been an ordained minister in the PCUSA for almost 30 years.  And what once felt like home to him has culminated into another world over the past decade with numerous subtle and not so subtle changes in beliefs.  The PCUSA has gradually morphed into what I would personally consider a quasi-religious Unitarian social club that somehow is still attempting to advocate and promote “unity”.  But only Christ unifies a church or a denomination or Christians all over the world.  Outside of Christ, there is no lasting unity.

Back in 2010, I would have gladly walked away from the PCUSA, but because my husband was still a Minister of the Word and Sacrament with them, I felt compelled to worship and teach right alongside him – bringing the truth to those who really wanted to hear it.  In essence, I was one of many remnant people and groups within the church to God’s faithful followers. (Romans 11:5) “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice.”

But within the denomination there is now a collapse of Christian beliefs in everything from marriage to the Lordship of Christ, and it has created a political and secular body that has stepped outside the bounds of Christianity.  The Church is to be set in the world, but not of the world; a place for people to be discipled in God’s Word and to practice that belief in the world.  Now the world is being preached in the church and people are being discipled as believers in current cultural norms.

Earl and I read the Bible completely each year, we study different books of the Bible in detail and we each have our own personal devotions daily.  We attempt to pray not according to our wills, but according to God’s.  This practice of submitting to God’s will in prayer must be totally alien in a church that demands that God bends the knee to current cultural norms.  God keeps leading us to passages such as Luke 9:5, “And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”  2 Corinthians 11:3, Acts 20:27-30, “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.  Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.  I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”  There are many more verses from the Old Testament that proclaim a different message than the PCUSA, including Ezekiel, Chapter 3.

In the midst of all that was taking place within the walls of our own church and within the denomination, many believers individually and corporately were leaving the PCUSA.  When we left Detroit in June, we knew that the decisions we had heard and the direction of the denomination were no longer in line with what Christ’s apostles taught and a vast majority of Christian disciples believe.  It was time to retire from the PCUSA, yet not from ministry.

CPC Cross

Maybe this sounds a little contrived, but during that time of discernment the Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was forever playing in the back of my mind.  One particular scene got stuck in my mind that you will find here.  It is when Indie crosses over the chasm solely through faith and belief in the word.  The elder Dr. Jones is seen telling Indie from behind, while suffering, that he has to believe.  Every time I think of this, I see Earl as Indie and Jesus Christ as the Senior Dr. Jones.  Jesus, in His suffering, encourages His true believers.  Seek your faith in God and believe that He will lead you to take that one, small step that is also a big leap of faith – sight unseen.

We took that one small step of faith – sight unseen – and oh how God has blessed us.

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