Going Home

 

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Courtesy of Lydia Muniz.

 

It’s a unique experience to be part of the same church for an extended period of time. Before Texas, our church changed several times due to moving. Now, I’ve now been a member of Heritage Baptist Church for over twenty years.

When you’re at a church for only five or six years, you don’t really get a chance to see who will rub you the wrong way. You don’t experience the pain of sinning against someone, or being sinned against, in the way you do when you’ve been in the same church with most of the same people for most of your life. You really only get to see the nice sides of people in that short of a space of time.

When you are able to stay put, by God’s providence, and you endure in a church, by God’s grace alone, you often see people at their worst and most immature. I cringe sometimes to think of the behavior some of my fellow church members have had to witness as I’ve grown up. I’m so thankful for their love throughout the years. But, that is the other side of the coin. Sticking around means seeing people grow up. It means watching saints learn to serve. It means seeing people come back. It means the opportunity to rub edges off one another. It means different levels of sanctification all fellowshipping together.

And, it means watching fellow believers die.

In our little church alone, we’ve had Glenn, Harry, Aunt Vi, Ron, and now Robert go home. Some of them went slowly with their family gathered round. Some went too quickly. We weren’t ready. Harry lingered for several days, never alone, always a handful of us gathered around him singing, reading, praying, just being there. Robert got his diagnosis and instead of six months to two years, it was less than two weeks. But, he didn’t die alone. Two of our ladies were with him.

These saints who have gone before are missed terribly. Something will catch the corner of your eye and trigger an old memory of one of them. You look for them, but they aren’t there. But we have hope. Oh fellow pilgrim, we have hope. We will see our brothers and sisters again. They are gathered together in heaven with Christ and they are waiting for us.

They have shed the last of sin, glorious thought. They have beheld our Savior, and they are together. Someday, we too will rejoin their ranks.

Being in a church year in and year out, Sunday after Sunday, unites you deep down because some of your dearest friends–and some who you didn’t really know well, but love–are up there. The people at work don’t understand this. Many of your friends and family don’t understand this. But that person in the pew next to you, they get it. They get the strange mix of boundless joy as one more saint crosses the finish line. They get the sense of longing you have for the rest promised in heaven. They know who it is you miss, because they miss them too. 

Our church hosted another small memorial service for another small member. It was a different memorial than some of our others, because, in a way, Robert had shut himself off over the last few years. The memorial service included a confession of that, given to one of our pastors before Robert passed. He asked us all to forgive him, which we all freely did. Despite that, he was one of us, one of ours. We loved him and forgave him. Some of Robert’s family came, some friends from work, many we didn’t know. The gospel was shared. Tears were shed. Hymns were sung, and we few, we happy few, rejoiced to know Robert was in Heaven. 

 

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Courtesy of Pinterest.

 

History in the Making: IRBS and Heritage Baptist Church

I’m a history buff and come from a long line of history buffs. My area of focus is Modern Military History, with a central focus on WW2. I love well done historical movies, historical fiction, and non-fiction. Swept up in the drama of our stories, I wonder if the people living through the events realized they stood on the cusp of change? Did they see what was about to hit them? Did they sense the shift of the story? Or were the changes so gradual, they acclimated easily? Is it only upon stepping back that we gain a sense of the turning points, the catastrophes and eucatastrophes, of history?

My guess? Yes and no. Sometimes history sweeps around our ankles like a gentle stream. Sometimes, we’re carried along, never really noticing the turns and bends of the bank. We’re too deep in to get a good overview. Sometimes history stands up, waves it’s arms, and screams. Yeah. We see that.

Back in April, I had a standing, screaming bit of history type moment. For years, our association has worked with Westminster to provide our young men with solid seminary training. My brother graduated from Westminster and IRBS just a few years ago. This has been a wonderful blessing to both ARBCA and Reformed Baptists in general. But, deep in our hearts, we have longed for a seminary of our own. We have wished to train our young men in a stand alone, confessional, associational facility.

Through many blessings and providences, this became more than a dream, less than a reality a few years ago. Ideas were explored. Long conversations were had. Prayers were raised. The option of opening a true, confessional, reformed seminary loomed on the horizon. For a while, it was just discussed, but the momentum continued to grow. Official presentations were given. Money was raised. Then, joy of joy, a location was put forth. Finally, in April 2017, at the ARBCA-GA, the seminary was voted on and passed.

Dear readers, for the first time since the 1700s, the Reformed Baptist will have a confessional, association supported, stand alone seminary. Praise God!

And, it is coming in 2018, Lord Willing, to OUR church.

History just smacked us all in the face to make sure we were paying attention.

See, all the wars, battles, discoveries, and adventures that weave through history and set the course of our lives, are nothing compared to the true History of Christ saving a people for himself. It is nothing compared to redemptive history. Our unimportant world history is only the backdrop for the real work of Christ and his Kingship. World history is temporary and will burn in the end. Church history is the real history that will last for eternity, and much to the joy of my little historian heart, I get to take a front row seat and watch that history unfold.

Even now, some of the best theological minds in the Reformed world are preparing to move to Texas. No pressure. It is a bit intimidating to know that as soon as July our church is going to start changing. We’ll have new attenders, who we all know, but who are still new. We’ll have projects that need to be headed up. We’ll have people who need places to stay. Once people have moved into the area, and the seminary is ready, we’ll have students arriving from all over the world. Not everyone will come to our church. We’re not the only confessional, associational Reformed Baptist church in the area. That’s wonderful. We love our sister churches. But, either way, our church is looking at some major changes.

Over the last few years, we’ve lost some members. We’ve seen our church change as people we thought of as key have left. Recently, we’ve had an influx of new attenders and new members. We’ve had baptismal services and added new deacons. In a way, HBC has been through a lot of change over the last few years, and now we’re facing a lot over the next few years. It’s exciting and a little terrifying at the same time. For those of us who have been members for years and years, there is the fear of losing our precious little body to something bigger. There’s a fear of getting lost in the change. But, there is an excitement to being involved with such a visible moment of Church History. And there is trust that Christ will jealously defend and protect His bride. We rest in Him.

As for me and my family specifically? Well, my husband is one of the Gifted Brothers/Licensed Teachers at our church. We both believe his preaching and teaching gifts should be developed. We both believe that serving the church is the best way to use them. When HBC was selected to host the seminary in it’s founding years, we decided we wanted my husband to be in the first classes, Lord Willing.

Last year, we did all the research to sort out what he needed to finish his Bachelor’s Degree. Much to my joy, excitement, and pride, my husband graduated from UTA this May with a Bachelors of Science degree. Our plan is for him to start Seminary in the fall of 2018. I’ve gone back to work part time to help with this.

So, not only is our church changing, but our family is changing. Please be in prayer for us at HBC and our family. There are many challenges to face. There are changes already happening. There will be new difficulties, opportunities for sanctification, and lots of sinners working together.  Please pray that we would come at this with sacrificial love, forgiving hearts, and lots of humility. This will not be easy. Oh, it sounds fun and exciting, but the reality is is that this will not be easy. Please pray for this endeavor. Please pray for our endurance. Please pray for our churches and this project!


If you’d like to learn more about the Seminary, and or support it, here is the link to its website, and its FB page.

http://irbsseminary.org/

https://www.facebook.com/InstituteofReformedBaptistStudies

 

 

Quote of the Weekend

Watership Down is one of my favorite books. The writing is excellent and the story is surprisingly deep for one about rabbits. This is one of my favorite lines from the book for both its beauty and its sadness. As you get older you lose more and more of those who are dear to you, and it does feel like your heart is no longer fully here, but there as well.