Well. . .today Mark had a scout pancake breakfast fundraiser at the Methodist church. Since I was over that way I figured that we could go to church at our old church - Cypress Lake Baptist. I couldn't believe how many people told me that they had been thinking about me over the last 2 weeks. I haven't been there in over 2 years! Ruth even broke down in tears and, among other very touching things, said that she really missed having me there. Alma said that every time they drive past our old house (she didn't know we moved) she thought of us. I was somewhat surprised at the degree of love they showed me.
It was really sad to see how few people were there. Except for Alyssa, I don't think there was anyone else in church under 40 and the average age was probably around 60! The first person I saw was Wayne, Paula is in complete remission from cancer, Brent Jr. is now regularly coming and is living back home, Jo was there (I hadn't talked with her since her husband died), Ellie is using a walker now, Ernie is still doing the sound (none of his kids or Cheryl were at church, though). Mary York and the Rutledges weren't there. It was great to talk to some of these older couples and widows. Apparently the pianist they hired isn't playing there any more so Paula was playing. I forgot to ask how her vertigo was. I know that it was something that plagued her for so long. Linda wasn't at church either. I had heard previously that her health isn't very good. Brownie was there. I had heard that she was in the hospital recently but I wasn't able to get down to Health Park to see her.
Since there were so many people that stopped to speak with me I was the last person out. I had the chance to speak to Pastor Harvey after the service. He knew I was going to Grace because I sent a letter saying that I had joined another church so they could remove my name from the church roll. He said that he and Pastor Ascol don't agree on their theology. He said that "Tom is more reformed than I am". Interesting, because now that I have become more familiar with the label "reformed", I wouldn't at all classify him as reformed doctrinally. He said that the one thing he respects, though, is that Pastor Ascol is a supporter of evangelism.
I asked what his views on some other items were and was very surprised to hear some of his answers. After talking for a little while, I found that there are many subjects that he chooses not to preach on because since different Christians have differing opinions, he would rather not go there because of the potential controversy. He would rather preach on a text that might relate to "life" and then explain what some of the Greek or Hebrew words mean or talk about the geography and how it would relate to the text so that people can "contextualize" it. He said that although he believes in the doctrine of election and predestination, he believes that a person has the free will to do the choosing. I don't ever remember him preaching on election, predestination or mentioning free will (in 13 years). As a matter of fact, I don't remember him preaching on any text in Romans at all (not to say that it didn't happen, but I don't remember any). He said that he got the Amazing Grace DVD that Tom sent to the SBC pastors and told me that he had one by Jerry Vines that I should see. He didn't tell me the name of it, though. Although he didn't say it in so many words, by what he did say, I got the impression that he thinks that the facts have been altered on the DVD so it isn't a true historical picture.
It was also interesting to note that his sermon didn't have a picture of the gospel at all. At Grace I have gotten so used to EVERY sermon coming back to the gospel that it ended up reflecting a stark difference between the two. At the end of the service when they had an "altar call", Alyssa asked "what is he doing"? Apparently she didn't remember that part of the service. Interesting because she was 14 when we left and she had seen it her whole life. I guess it made more of an impact since we don't have an "altar call" at Grace.
All in all, I left appreciating where I am more than ever. I am left wondering how I was able to be satisfied for so long with so little. It has come full circle and I am back to hearing doctrine that I heard growing up. Things that I didn't realize I wasn't hearing until I heard them again.
I do think that the next time Mark has a Sunday morning fundraiser at the church, that I'll plan on going. In the past I didn't want to miss the services at Grace so I passed on having Mark participate in the fundraiser. It was nice to talk with everyone - I had spent so many years there and they have seen my kids grow up. It was good to say "hi".