How do you know that your last forty-five years have been within the will of God? How can you believe that "you have fought a good fight, you have run a good race?" Can you have some assurance that even this day you are running a good race for the Lord Jesus Christ?
How in all our failures and sinfulness that occur in our life, can we still have a sense that we are doing the purpose of the Lord? Even when you desire to be sufficiently holy in your love for the Lord?
When I look back over the last 44 years since1964, in my mind I have pleasant thoughts about the work that the Lord has allowed us to do.
The path that Charity and I have trekked (Star Trek) I unquestionably believe was performed in the best reasonable motives that we knew at the time.
We are a product of our peers before us. Our actions have to come from somewhere, we had to be taught by somebody. We are a product of those before us who have taught us. We are the result of both the custom and the essence of what we were taught. I am a product of my dad, first of all, he was my model. I am a product of the Youth Camps I went to every summer for years. Bob Levin, evangelist who brought home the need for Christians to be holy and right before God. Lester Roloff gave me a sense that the Word of God was the most important book to read. M.R. DeHaan, radio program gave me a sense of application to the Word of God. Oliver B. Greene was a daily in our home on radio for most of my early teen life. I was thrilled when I was able to meet him in person. Those historical fundamentalists were the best example that I could have ever had.
I saw ministry and Christian living through the eyes of those great giants of the faith. I certainly wanted to be an illustration of what I believed they characterized. Their voices are still in my head as I write this article. I am eternally indebted for their influence in my life.
I remember hearing Evangelist Wayne Swearingen preaching on "I Am Crucified With Christ." It changed my life totally. Bob Harrington, when he first began preaching gave me the excitement for Christ that still rings in my heart and soul today. Bob Barber, and his dad, were a great influence in my early years. They modify my life’s thinking and behavior.
When I arrived as Pastor at Madison Baptist Church, I was well equipped to be a great pastor. This was the idea that we were led to believe. It’s my personal belief that those ecommendations of church ministry would have achieved good success. Sometimes the fight exhausts your spirit and body.
After resigning the church in June of 1974, we prayed for our next journey.
Maybe too often in this down period of time, your decision making might be a little difficult. Now at this point we had little knowledge as to what we were going to do. Charity’s dad suggested that we help him. Consequently in July of 1974 we became Youth Pastor and Minister of Education.
Springing back from Madison’s experience, we began a ministry at Victory Baptist Church, in West Portsmouth. The church was completing the last stages of a new church building. Forthwith the building was finished and the congregation began to grow. Bob Temple and I were a good team. In just over a year of ministry later the church had grown to over 200 people. Bob and I were doing what we were taught in Seminary and the church was growing and folks were being saved. The Sunday School was teaching and training young people and adults, and reaching out in the community to reach boys and girls on the bus ministry. .Charity and I were training teachers how to be teachers and were developing a great youth department and Sunday School. This church was being blessed, visitors were coming every Sunday. In over a year the youth department had over two hundred first time visitors. We were seeing the hand of the Lord on this place. .
Isn’t it funny, amusing, hilarious, whimsical, humorous (not really) that good results should bring about an appreciative church body of Believers. This was not to be the position of many of the people in the church. When the church body has the idea that they possess the spiritual ability to discern what is good for the church leadership, that supersedes that of the leadership, then the fellowship is distracted from doing the work of the ministry.
Following a series of comments from discontented members, I decided to resign my position in the church. Why do we do that? How do we see this action being the will of God? Personally I do not believe the will of God was for me to resign. Yet the church said "Well, if that is what you desire, it’s okay we us." It was wrong in my opinion, but my thought was, if I am the trouble in this church I would resign. I was hoping that the church would say otherwise, this was not to be.
I resign and Charity tell me she is pregnant.. Has this not happened before? I must say this event became the lowest point of my ministry. I was just one step away from saying, "Lord, I give up!"
I do not understand what kept me functioning in ministry. I know at this depressed point I was ready to bail out altogether..... defeated, disappointed, disillusioned, disheartened. Humbled.
Writing this today, my emotions are swelling up in me. The emotions of that day are as lively in my spirit as then. Why? If there had been failure in the performance of my work, I could have lived with that. If there had been personal moral failure, or I had abused Charity or Eric, then I could have lived with it. But that was not the argument.
Parents of the young people were essentially the cause of the discontentment with my work. This has always been the cause. Parents are the number one problem, whether it’s with the school, the ball team, or the church youth department. This point in itself could engender a whole long post.
At this point many preachers, and young pastors, quit and leave the ministry all together. Discouragement sets in and you just want to say, "forget this."
As I write this article, knowing what is about to occur in the coming year of 1975, is not easy to remember. 9/11 all over again.
So when do you know it’s time to quit? You do take ministry personally.
Isa 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.
It’s never, never time to quit! It may be time to quit a church, but it is never time to quit serving the Lord.