16
Nov

The Years after Seminary

   Posted by: David   in Uncategorized

The Years after Seminary

I believe I was pulled not pushed from the church.

The difference is significant.

If I was pushed then the argument that I am hurt and bitter and therefore vulnerable to dangerous spiritual influences may, I repeat “may” have some validity. But if I was pulled then I left of my own accord to pursue an interest that I feel is compelling enough to make me challenge everything I believe to be true. If I was pulled than the choice was mine and there is no basis for hurt or resentment. In any case, the choice was mine and the responsibility is mine also.

You might wonder why I felt the need to make this point. A common conservative argument is that bitterness is a root that opens one’s life to occult influence. This argument has been directed at me and I felt some need to address it.

I won’t say that my life was without pain, disappointment, or hurt but I will say that I learned enough from Christ to know how to let go.

Hurt is like acid. It only damages the one who holds onto it.
Jesus commands that we forgive everyone not because they deserve it but because we do.
In this regard I have lived my life in obedience to His command.
I have forgiven everyone and I walk in a constant state of love and goodwill toward my fellow human being. This, I believe, is authentic Christianity, the essence of Christianity.

The years following my graduation from seminary were not easy.

I searched for work within the church and could not find it.
I traveled to meet with district leadership and was told that “sadly it’s not what you know it’s who you know that matters and you simply don’t have the right connections.”
My young wife who worked hard and sacrificed much to help me through seminary wept next to me in the car as we drove home from Virginia that day.
I forgave them.

I went on several pastoral interviews.
Once I was told, “According to your resume we thought you would be taller. We really need a tall man in our pulpit.”
I am 5’4” tall. My resume never alluded to my height. They assumed I was tall because I was well educated and well educated people must be tall. I decided it was for the best that I wasn’t awarded the pastorate.
I forgave them.

Noticing my struggle to find work some in my church felt the need to challenge my faith.
According to them if I had sufficient faith I would find the position I was seeking.
I forgave them.

In the banking industry where I did find work and began to earn my living, I was held up twice at gunpoint. Thankfully no one was injured in either robbery but those robberies did motivate me to make some career changes.
Those that put a gun to my head – I forgave them.

I went back to school and back to work on a second masters, this one in education. At the time there really weren’t well established master level degrees in Human Resources or corporate training but that was what I wanted to do so I worked with what was available at the time.

Along the way I enjoyed two youth pastorates both within the United Methodist tradition.
My youth pastorates were part-time but wonderful.
There is nothing like youth ministry.
Teenagers are a sensitive, tender, and lovely group that responds well to love and attention.

One of my kids had her lovely face kicked in by her alcoholic father, an elder in our church.
Several of my kids had addictions issues.
A few met with unwanted pregnancies.
These challenges are the challenges of any youth group of any denomination or religious persuasion.
I loved them.
I loved their families and working with them gave me some of the best memories of my life.

When I returned to the Assemblies of God after my youth pastorates I began to teach adults and I taught the same group for over twelve years. We engaged in exegetical studies that no one else was doing and to the best of my knowledge the depth of our study has never been matched.
We spent three years doing a comparative study of the gospel accounts and three years studying the Book of Acts.

I devoted every Saturday to preparation and I spent many weekday evenings in research.
I delivered my lessons every Sunday morning all told for more than fifteen years.

It was during this study that I noticed discrepancies between what I saw in the scripture and what was believed or taught in the church and it was during this time that my soul was awakened to Wicca and to Spiritualism.

My belief system today is comprised of three cords that wrap together to form one strong piece of rope: Christianity of a Universalist and somewhat liberal variety, Wicca, and Spiritualism.

I have the equivalent of a seminary education in Wicca and I am in the process of completing the Morris Pratt training in Spiritualism.

A few years ago, I resolved to go to Lily Dale as soon as an opportunity presented itself.
Within one year of that decision my annual family vacation in Ocean City Maryland was canceled.
I took that week and instead of making my annual pilgrimage to the beach, I went to Lily Dale.

In my next entry, I will tell you about Lily Dale.

Much love dear ones,
David

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