Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rough Spots Made Smooth

It seems that my last post, intended to clear up the use of "rough spots" was seen as vague. And, it truth, it was intended to be so. Here's the deal: I am very thankful for the process we went through, and intended my post on Changes to be for the Northpoint crowd who were primarily interested in the "why" behind my decision to engage in Grace Baptist's process. It is not my intention to engage anonymous comment makers in theological discussion on my blog. These discussions are best done face to face, with an open Bible and an open mind. So, if you want to engage me further, sign your name, and let's see if we can grab some time over coffee.

However, I would like to take one more shot at clearing up some of the ambiguity simply because some of you readers seem always to think the worst. In fact, the unity of heart between me and the leaders of Grace is true, warm, and wonderful.

As for the process itself, it was thorough. As mentioned previously, any thorough process asks questions in major and even minor areas of theology and life. As I entered the discussions, I felt there might be some "fleece" moments. By this I mean areas where I have strong beliefs which, in some circles, might not be appreciated. I fully considered, given that the leadership and search team at Grace had already spent 2 years examining 50+ men, that the chances of my not fitting their grid were potentially significant. So, I went in knowing that some areas would be like Gideon's fleece: opportunities for God to radically change my direction.

When questioned in these areas, I was very careful to be open, forthright, winsome, and biblical. I was also careful to listen as the discussions progressed, to find out where my potential fellow-leaders were in their understanding so that I would not waste time chasing straw men, or tilting at windmills.

One such area was that of Christian liberty. I made it very clear that any standard by which standing in grace and spiritual maturity would be judged must do justice to all applicable biblical data. Simply put: I am not, nor will I ever be, a legalistic auditor of those things which the Bible does not consider marks of the indwelling Spirit. I don't think I can put it plainer than that. I do believe that there are undeniable marks of the Spirit in the believer, and I point the reader to Gardiner Spring's wonderful little book "Distinguishing Traits of Christian Character" for a more full discussion of the biblical teaching on this subject. I take a strong position against those legalistic boundaries which cannot be supported by the Bible, while having equally strong beliefs that the Christian should be conspicuous in his zeal for Christ, passion for the lost, delight in holiness, knowledge and obedience to the Word, and a sunny, winsome way of following Christ with a smile on his face. As Philips Brooks has said "The religion that makes a man look sick certainly won’t cure the world!"

The second "fleece" area was that of the sovereignty of God in salvation, with all its attendant circumstances in the area of soteriology (the doctrine of Salvation). I am openly an historical Calvinist, and believe fully that my only confidence in presenting the Gospel both here and abroad is the knowledge that the Almighty has both planned and accomplished redemption through Jesus Christ, and has granted me the privilege of being His delivery system to the world. As the Gospel is spread - something I simply delight to do! - the Spirit may be pleased to ride on it into the heart, bringing life, conviction, repentance, and saving faith. This is the glorious adventure we as Christ-followers are privileged to be engaged in, and being part of that Kingdom work is our greatest delight! As I presented my theology to the leadership of Grace, our hearts were united in mutual love for, and excitement over, the finished work of Christ, and the guarantee that God's rescue plan is right on time, and will be accomplished fully to His glory. This wonderful plan to rescue creation will not be overruled either by the opposition of His enemies, nor the disobedience of His own people. Yet, it is our honor to be obedient, to play on His team, to get off the bench and into the game so that our love may be fully displayed, and His grace and love fully extolled.

One of the previous anonymous comments questioned the theology of pastoral leadership wondering if that of Northpoint and Grace were compatible. Stifling the urge to be cynical, I can only say that I would not be candidating at Grace if we did not agree on the nature of the church and its leadership. I believe fully in the team leadership approach exemplified in the NT by the consistent use of "elders" in the plural. Like Northpoint, Grace is led by a group of godly, qualified men, affirmed by the congregation, who partner with the Lead Pastor, or Sr. Pastor, whatever term you want to use. In neither case is the supremacy of Christ as the Chief Shepherd undermined. As Lead Pastor or Sr. Pastor (you pick!) my role will be to "exercise oversight ... not lording it over, but proving to be an example to the flock" as Peter declares in 1 Peter 5.

As I mentioned previously, it has been a singular privilege for me to be involved in this process. Grace Baptist offers me the opportunity to both lead and learn; to partner with leaders who have been blessed of God in their ministries, as well as work with them to reach new levels of influence for Christ and His Kingdom.

Hope this helps,



At 6:47 AM , Blogger Jeff Martin said...

David - I wish you and your family sincere blessings in the new ministry endeavors at Grace Baptist Church. I am a grateful family member of Grace Church in SLO and had the opportunity to enjoy your visits and family ministry topics. I was raised in Grace Baptist Church and on occassion love to visit the church I was raised in.

I sincerely believe you are a great candidate for lead pastor there and wish you the best. I still have some long time childhood friends that will be delighted in their new pastor.

Also, thank you for recording such great blog posts. I can definitely see the fingerprint left in your mentoring of our dear friend Tim...

Take care and God Bless your journey.

At 4:05 PM , Anonymous Sally Farinola said...

Pastor David & Cherilyn....I just finished reading the brochure available here at Grace. You sound like a warm, loving, and fun family.We so look forward to meeting you all soon...and learning and growing together, As soon as you're settled, we hope you'll accept an invitation from our Canyon Country Grace Group for dinner...won't make it on Monday night so you can watch "24" of our favorites too.Maybe a "taste of Italy" dinner!

God Bless you til' we meet!
Sally Farinola

At 9:16 PM , Blogger Willie Mann said...

David: I appreciate you making the rough spots a little smoother. We discussed this in our men's group and we were able to guess correctly what those spots were. Having listened to a few of your sermons online, I look forward to hearing you at Grace Baptist and am thoroughly pleased that you hold to the sovereignty of God. My "anonymous" friend is too.

At 11:32 AM , Blogger GreenEggsandSam said...

Hey David!
I just read 'Change' and couldn't find a comment section so I'm on this post.

I had heard the rumor and love that you clarified it...and just so you know, we'd love to have you in SCV... allow me to pre-emptively welcome you to the Santa Clarita Valley (if the LORD sees fit). :)

I appreciate that your journey is being navigated by the Spirit...can't go wrong with that!

Sooo, I'll keep checking in with your blog and see what's happening.
I really appreciate that you decided to go blog with this process. It's really cool for those of us who are not pastors to see a tiny bit of what goes into it and to see how the LORD works in these matters. :)

Merry Christmas
-sam neylan

At 8:02 AM , Anonymous said...


I have been praying for you and your family and Grace and Northpoint since I learned of your conversations with them and now your formal candidacy. I know that this must be both an exciting but also a bittersweet time as you look to make a change from a place you have been for so long (hard to believe, but we have known you almost the entire time you have been in Corona, one way or the other!).

I and my family will continue to pray for you and Cherylyn as you continue to seek His face and leading in your journey/adventure.

I Thessalonians 1:2-3,


At 6:48 AM , Blogger The CyberParson said...

David--I don't have a current email for you anymore (it bounced back to me), but rejoice with you in God's direction and guiding you. Having experienced a very similar unexpected move (as you know), I understand more than most how God can work in such circumstances, the mixed emotions, and the difficulties in sharing how one can love where you are and love following God to a new assignment. I'm praying for you in this very important transition time.

At 5:19 PM , Blogger seagull and otter said...

i love your blog, and i love the way God brought you to us. i heard you last sunday and i went in not excited for a new pastor b/c i was happy with Gordon (our interm pastor), but now i am so happy to hear you every sunday.
"grace to you!"
stephanie davis


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