Monday, March 8, 2010

The Rather Interesting Series of Events And What Came Thereof.

Feeling rather tired and perhaps a little disgusted with life in general, I dragged myself out of bed Sunday morning for the day's events. When both my alarm clock and my mother went off to get me up, I ran out of options for hoping to avoid the world and sleep my life away.
But that was just a given. Usually on any morning that was how it had been for the longest time...and the cost I paid for staying up till 1 or 2 in the morning. Fair enough, I suppose.
At any rate, today was an important day because at church, a few things were happening that could effect all our lives very soon. First and most importantly, the top candidate who might take over our small Bible church in place of our usual pastor was coming that morning to attempt a 'trial service,' if you will. Which basically means he would come over and stay till Tuesday, to meet the congregation, give a sermon for us, have lunch following with us, and in general spend some time here so we could learn about him and he about us.
Naturally you can imagine the serious way this had to be considered. More important than any governmental position, even the White House itself, is who is allowed to teach in the pulpit. When the teacher of the church is left in care of the spiritual state of our church...MY church, of course myself, our family, and every other family in the congregation was going to take this very carefully.
Doing a quick read over 1st Timothy in Scripture on the way there (yes, yes, of course to refresh myself on the rules of the church and keep the requirements of a good Bible teacher in mind), mother and my sister sat in the back mostly holding on to the various plates and pots of food, edibles, our lunch. In such a small church as ours, a covered dish dinner was like a major, weeks-in-advance planned issue, and I watched half-amused.
We arrived at the church, and since I'm usually to be found with the rest of my youthful crew near the doors of our rented room-church building, all of us serving as unofficial 'greeters,' if you will, I didn't see the pastor until the service actually began. Of course the singing, announcements, and call to worship were all as usual, and when the man in question stood up to take his guest place at our makeshift-pulpit, I watched carefully.
He was fairly normal, if not small man, looking about forty or fifty, perhaps, with a kind but intelligent face that had a dark complexion. Wearing a nice suit for the occasion, he reminded me of the kind of scholars you see in seminaries as professors.
With a clear, fast-paced voice he spoke for an hour on Titus 2, which was very good in my opinion. I enjoyed it immensely as he taught us about the Scripture there, and found it very good. He spoke well, and more importantly, he spoke accurately and truthfully, and apparently meant what he said from what I could tell. Though of course just one hour of a man's teaching is just a little bit to go on, I have to say that of all the men that have been considered, this man seemed to be the most godly and Bible-centered teacher I had heard.
...It's not exactly the most fun thing to do, have to sit and evaluate a man for your church, or having the man you've learned almost everything you know in the way of Scripture teaching from retire and move far south. This wasn't going to be easy...but something had to be done. So far our church had taken it fairly easy, even if a few issues had come up, but even I could feel the rather nervous tension in everyone as we went through this difficult business. I felt even more for the man who knew he was being evaluated in the pulpit. We would all have to pray and beg God to reveal His will...for things in our church were going to change, which wasn't going to be easy for any of us. Especially as a new man would have to earn our trust and confidence...and worse, he decide if he could trust us too.
The small dinner afterwards that our entire church attended lightened up the atmosphere a good deal. The tension almost visibly lessened and the man who had taught well and clearly in the pulpit came down and socialized, apparently a very friendly, nice, and helpful man in person. Though I talked with him later, somehow Sam and John Herson and myself managed to get into line, get our food, and find a table. The sound of friendly conversation from the two dozen or so people here and there filled the room, and of course the scent of warm and excellent food was at the tables.
Sam Herson, the friend I mentioned in earlier posts, ate like he was going to die tomorrow, or perhaps the chicken wasn't really dead and might just get up and run away if he didn't wolf it down in seconds. I watched, amused, and casting a few curious glances over at the table where the pastor candidate sat, when we were joined by an un-expected guest.
"Ah, helloe!" I turned around quickly as I heard a woman's voice behind me and a chair scratching. My other two friends turned as well from their conversation, and we saw the pastor candidate's wife sitting down at the round table with us, smiling kindly and appearing friendly.
As she chose to sit with three random, perhaps slightly insane teenage boys of all the people in the room, it took us all a moment to choke down what we were eating and get out a muffled 'hello' on all sides.
"This is the young people's table, I see, hmm?" She laughed slightly, saying with a small Mexican accent. I forget what we said if anything at all. She was right though.
When she cast another kind glance around the table, she looked to the boy sitting on her left, who just happened to be Sam. She smiled. "And what is your name?"
He told her. When she turned next to John, after speaking briefly with my younger friend, unfortunately John had his mouth still full of his lunch. I chuckled when he tried to hurriedly swallow, eat, take a drink to clear it, and say his name in a muffled reply all at once.
This got a laugh from us other three. "Well, then, we'll come back to heem!" She said laughingly, and turned to me. I gave her my name.
It wasn't until afterwards, when I spoke with my mother in the car, that I discovered why we had been taken off-guard. The fact was, that this couple also had two teenage children, a son our age and a girl just slightly younger, and in short...we were being examined. I'm sure the couple, in their attempt to learn more about us on their end, were anxious to see what kind of teenage kids this church raised in their families. And naturally the 'young people's table' made a great spot for evaluating.
We talked for a short but good while, as she asked various things. Where did we live, how far out from Lincolnton? What grades were we in? How old were we? How many siblings did we have? We also pointed out our parents and families as we went, who were scattered here and there across the friendly room. I had to go into a hurried explanation of CollegePlus! (Strange that CP! is always either too-good-to-be-true dream or impossible sounding discovery to those new to it) when I explained I was graduating from both college and high school that year, very soon. I didn't realize until just now why she asked about the colleges in our area...her own children would be up for college soon, so if they did move here to take this church, she wanted to know her options.
As we cleaned up, rolling away tables and stacking chairs against the walls, I also got to speak personally with the new pastor himself, one on one, and was very impressed.
I think I was rolling a table away into the closet when my father pointed me out as his son to the man, just behind me.
"Ah, this is your son?" I heard it mentioned and turned. He smiled behind me. I offered him my hand and my name.
"So are you learning the art of 'smoking' from your dad?" He asked me half-jokingly. I replied I would like to, but I wasn't as good as he was, by far.
(NOTE: For the record, when I say 'smoking,' I don't mean cigarettes or the unhealthy habit that some people have to tobacco. Remember this is the Southeast, where 'smoking' and BBQ-ing meat is almost a revered art and sport among the southern people around here. I'm not much of a southern boy, in customs or politics or culture, but my Dad is. And naturally, some of this 'smoked' meat had appeared on the menu that noonday meal, from my dad. I learned afterwards the pastor had hugely enjoyed it, which was about the highest compliment my dad could get.)
We talked on several subjects, from the sermon, to the colleges and schools in that area (imagine why), and when I mentioned I was graduating that year, he asked me that feared question that every teenager gets asked at least fifty times per year.
"So what are you going to do with your life, Alex?" He asked politely.
And as every other time, I fumbled for the answer. "Oh, I'm not quite sure yet..." I responded, "I just have ideas so far, maybe a Bible teacher, or a fiction writer...or both." I laughed slightly. "For the moment I'm just waiting for something to come up. Or for His will, I suppose." I hurriedly corrected my next to last statement.
The other nodded. "I'm glad to see young men who are interested in more than video games and want to follow God!" He seemed pleased. I nodded sadly. I mentioned I would like to see more of that myself in people my age. The standard I went by wasn't anything impressive or SHOULD be the typical standard that all followed.
I went on, saying I fervently hoped I was so, and tried to be...though for the moment I could use some particular direction. I am very glad on what we talked on. For a fifteen minute conversation with the possible new pastor I would be taking my Bible studies and sermons from, I was very glad and impressed. He even mentioned a few organizations I might try if teaching or missionary work showed themselves as God's will. It was the best part of my day to make a new friend, and meet another man of God and discuss important things with him...whether or not he would be my new pastor.
I returned home that day to study my Greek lessons and later that evening, yet another event, also long-planned, took place. But this blog post is long enough. I'll finish this story out next post.


  1. "it SHOULD be the typical standard that all followed"

    Best words of the entire post. I can not count how many times I have tried and failed to get this concept of "raising the standards" into the heads of people I talk to. Not just fellow youth, but adults too even!


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