Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Slow Demise and Departure From PCBBC

This chapter of my life may not be as exciting as the last couple of chapters, however, it is an important part of who I am and what I have become. Maybe, since God is always at work in our lives as he makes us into the image of his dear Son, I should say, what I am becoming. So, without further delay, let's turn the page...

As I settled into student life the trials that God continued to allow to come our way subsided in "drastic" or "dramatic," ways, at least to me. As far as I was concerned in this modern day world of mechanization, being without a car is huge. It is huge when you are in Los Angeles and you need to commute to The City of Industry for work, San Dimas for school, Pomona for shopping and church. Loosing that Vega was a milestone for me, not because I was fond of the Vega, but because I did not trust God enough to know that he knew I needed a car. The only other thing that I can think of being a greater trial is being evicted from your home for failure to pay rent. That had never happened to me prior to moving to college, and I thank God has never happened since.

Smaller trials and tribulations still were dispatched from heaven to lay siege against my innate pride and to develop my trust in God rather than my own abilities. Tuition and books were always a struggle to fully pay for even with the G.I. bill Veteran's Benefits. It seemed to me and any other normal human being that who ever had set the amounts of the benefits had not attended college in a long time, especially a private bible college. Semester after semester God devised ways of humiliating my pride and providentially providing for me. God worked through his people in ways that I had never imagined that he did.

I had never studied history, particularly Christian history, and never knew stories like Through Gates of Splendor, To the Golden Shore, George Mueller of Bristol, J. Hudson Taylor, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, C. T. Studd, or any modern day "miracles of provision." I didn't even know that in the early days of my pastoral preparation that God needed to do a work in me to make me, first, into the image of his dear son, or second, to make me into a man who would be able to effectively shepherd God's people.

So, we experienced times when we had no money to buy groceries, gas, tuition, books, supplies, clothes, shoes, or doctor bills. I tried to work hard and earn a living but paying for your own schooling and supporting a family as a high school drop-out was difficult, even in 1978. Fortunately, my mind, for good or bad, has the capability of putting those memories in the deep recesses of my mind. Today they are vague shadows, half-forgotten memories of pain, struggle, fear, frustration, and even anger. I recount them for three reasons. First, to magnify and reflect God's glory in each one of them; second, to encourage me as I experience another trial of trust and dependence upon God during this season of unemployment; and third, to encourage you! I want you to be blessed with the knowledge that God loves you very much, is well aware of your need or needs at this very moment, and is more than capable of meeting them in his timing and good pleasure.

As I was saying, groceries would be provided for us at times in different ways. Sometimes people who shook my hand would slip a ten or twenty into my hand. There were times I preached and received a stipend or love offering. I once crossed my legs in a staff meeting at a church I was serving in and a man saw wholes in my shoes and at the next staff meeting he presented me with a pair of brand new shoes.

Hair was a major issue at PCBBC-you could not have facial hair nor could your hair touch your collar. When you are trying to keep a roof over your head, gas in the Olds (which was a gift), and feed yourself, a wife, and two little girls, a haircut was the last thing on my list. However, you could be suspended if you failed to get a haircut after being "cited." Many times someone would come up to me and say, "Here, take "this" and go get a haircut."  And no, in those days, this buff, former athlete with golden blond hair was not going to cut it himself or let his wife cut it. (What horrible pride yet remains.)

I remember one time, someone recounted how I was always wearing the same suit. Well, I only had one. What came next nearly floored me. He took me to a suit store and bought me a suit. God supplied what I lacked and was unable to provide through working. The job and the G. I. Benefits provided the majority of our needs, but God always let it fall short so that he could supply what remained himself for his glory.

As painful, frightening, and sweet, yes sweet, as those days were trouble was brewing. I wasn't aware of it at first, but a showdown was coming. It began slow and as I matured both in my faith and my ability to exegete (the practice of exploring the biblical text for meaning and application by use of rules of hermeneutics) the scriptures my days at PCBBC were being numbered.

My parents visited our church in San Jose sometime in 67 or 68 and immediately liked the pastor. They wanted a fiery preacher and an independent church. Unbeknownst to us was the fact that the church, though billed as "independent" fellowshipped with a fellowship of churches that were KJV's only, bus ministry oriented, sin-hating, devil-fighting, independent, fundamental, and baptist to the core. It was, "We don't drink, dance, spit or chew, nor do we go with girls who do." It was ultra-funnymental and legalistic. True, there is nothing wrong with some of those things in the proper context and spirit. This church suggested I attend PCBBC which also was owned and operated by those in the same fellowship. The school had the same mind set as my "home" church.

The trouble with that fellowship (mind you that was in 1978 and I haven't been a part since 1984) was that it tends to be very shallow and breeds unbiblical principles. The messages typically were "evangelistic" and directed to the lost and there was all most no commitment to discipleship whatsoever. Maybe here and there lip service was paid to discipleship. "Deep thinking or deep Christianity" was usually looked down upon and ridiculed. Sermons were more often than not, three points and a poem, with sad, sad stories that emotionally manipulated people into "decisions." Win em, wet em, and work em" was the basic underlying principle of the movement. Large numbers, big bus ministries, beautiful buildings, and large budgets were important. Although they would deny it and argue that they were in compliance, scriptural integrity was often disregarded. After all you can't be very accurate with Scripture when you read a verse as if you were on a diving platform, and then dive into a message that had nothing to do with the context whatsoever.

Little things began to develop as I learned how to study scripture. First, in 1978, 79, 80, I had never heard of John MacArthur. I had never heard of "Elders" or "Grace Community Church." As a matter of fact up to that point, if you weren't an independent, fundamental baptist you probably weren't a christian. One of my professors wrote nearly an 86 page paper "proving" MacArthur to be a heretic. (He isn't) Elders were denounced as inventions of the devil, community churches were not of God. Then, as I turned in assigned papers, I was being marked down heavily and some outright were "flunked." My "interpretation" of scripture and certain passages were being challenged as incorrect, heretical, or against school standards. Slowly but surely, even at a young age of 25 or 26 I was beginning to see I didn't fit into their mold.

I began hearing things in sermons, chapels, and services that were not accurate. Propositions, sermon points, and applications were taken out of context and certain passages were horribly molested for the sake of making a point. I began asking questions and challenging certain statements or conclusions. This didn't go over well at school or church.

First, let me say, I don't have any idea how I could learn to study the scriptures in their true context and setting in that setting. Second, I don't know why God gave me the gift of pastor/teacher but he did. Teaching is my spiritual gift and as a teacher I diligently study and allow the text to speak for itself. Back in those days I was a beginner, wet behind the ears, very rough with the need of much practice and development. Third, I am still humbled today by the gift that God has given me as a bible expositor and theologian. Fourth, I do not consider myself "perfect" or "as to have arrived." or no longer needing training or practice.

The handwriting was on the wall. I was no longer in line with the doctrinal and practical position of the college. The only right thing I could do was leave quietly. So, when school year ended in June of 1982 I withdrew from PCBBC. After, selling almost all that we had, moving some 400 miles away from family and friends, spending two years barely scrapping by, enduring countless trials, tests, and tribulation as bible college students I was done. Done with PCBBC and school at least. I wasn't done with the conviction that God has called me to ministry and to teach his word.

What do I do now? Where do we go from here? What will happen to us? The answers seemed apparent in the next segment of our Christian Walk in Faith. Join me will you for the next installment called, "Herlong, CA."

Saturday - "Walk of Faith..." Segments of Christian Testimony

Join us as we take a look at back at the spiritual journey and blessings of the Metcalf's Walk of Faith


Ma ~ said...

PCBBC-you could not have facial hair

I have never understood that rule.

Persis said...

This has been a blessing, Gregg. God is so faithful to bring us along in His way and His time.

JD Curtis said...

I concur with Persis. I haven't had a chance to either comment or blog much lately, but I find your personal story to be riviting in that it is honest, frank and real.

Looking forward to the next installment,


Crystal Mary said...

And God was always there. In a money gift or new suit or shoes..
I am sure there are still many today, struggling like this.
God Bless your honesty! From Oz.