The phone rang, and it was a pastor named Bob McNutt. Heidi had went to school with his daughter and we had stayed at their house while we were down in St. Louis visiting my brother. He was a devout John MacArthur fan so we had some good conversations when we were there. He had called to ask me if I was interested in a school position. I hadn't remembered telling him that I was but I said 'sure.'
He said he knew of a church the way it should be. A 5 point Calvinistic church that was a great church. He cautioned me that they do not believe in a premil rapture and that their eschatology (belief about end times) was probably different than what I was familiar with.
Note: Up to this point, I had no idea that there were Baptist churches that didn't believe in the rapture and 1,000 yr millenial earthly reign of Christ. But as prophecy and end times had not been a part of my new studies in the scriptures, I wasn't concerned.
I immediately began putting together a list of questions to ask them when they called:
1. What do you believe about the baptism of John?
2. Bible versions
3. The nature of the church
4. Church discipline and who is a candidate for baptism?
I don't remember the exact list but it was close to that. Pastor Kyle White called me from Elmendorf, Texas just south of San Antonio. He was the pastor of Community Baptist Church. I rattled off my questions figuring for sure he would answer incorrectly to one of them. Any wrong move was a deal breaker for me because,
1. I didn't want to move to Texas
2. I had no doubt about the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life and the fact that He had revealed many of these truths to me. How could I sit under a pastor who wasn't taught of the Holy Spirit these basic biblical truths? (I understand things differently now, but you get the gist)
To my amazement, he knocked every question out of the ballbark. Not only were his answers supported by the Scriptures, but he was genuinely humble. I asked him what his hobby horse was, you know, what drum did he like to beat? What was the 3rd point of every sermon? His answer to this day still resonates- he said, 'I like to think that my hobby horse is the glory of Jesus Christ! To see Jesus Christ glorified in everything we say and do as a church."
I was amazed! But there was still the whole fear of telling my in-laws that I was taking their daughter and more importantly their only grandchild to south Texas 25 hours away. I wrestled! One day, if the pastor had called me, I would have told him "No, you need to look for someone else." I even tried to get the guy who had written the letter to my current church about election to consider the job.'
But my wife finally said, "Joe, you have finally found a church that believes like you do, the least you can do is go for a visit." She was probably tired of having me show her all the areas where churches were wrong and wanted some peace and quiet.
Note: Concerning the church we were attending, I will say that the pastor was one of the most gracious men that I have ever met. He loved us and was as giving a man as I have ever met. It is so amazing to see the Journey that God has led me on and how much I have learned at each different stage. That is why I entitled this series 'My Journey...' When I day dream about building a thriving church with all the great people we have met through the years, he is at the top of the list if only he could see the errors of 'easy-believism.'
I handled leaving the church poorly and that is one chief regret of my Christian life. But the pastor was very gracious and not only gave me a good recommendation to the church in Texas, but visited us in the hospital when our first child Zoe, was born and was nothing but gracious even though by then, we had left the church.
So we decided to fly down to Texas and see if a country church in the wilderness could fill the void in my life.