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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

MY INDEPENDENT PASTOR SONS



My INDEPENDENT, Fundamental, Soul Winning, Separated, Baptist Pastor Sons



How much more could a man who has been in the ministry for four decades ask? Mrs. Gray and I are certainly blessed to have these qualities represent our sons. We are equally blessed to have two wonderful Christian daughters and two hard-working sons-in-law and two fine daughter-in-laws as well. 
However, I often find myself having mixed emotions because of one of those qualities that describe my sons, and that is the word INDEPENDENT. I find that sometimes my own independence is challenged by their independence. I pride myself on being independent, but then I have to fight to accept theirs. 

independent |ˌindəˈpendənt|adjective
free from outside control; not depending on another'sauthority: the study is totally independent of central government |Canada's largest independent investment firm.
• (of a countryself-governing: India became independent in 1947.• not influenced or affected by others; impartial: a thorough and independent investigation of the case.• ( Independent ) historical Congregational.

1. They are independent sons. Imperfect, but principled. They are full blooded Gray's, good, bad and ugly. I'm not sure which attribute applies to whom? They were typical boys with typical boy attitudes and actions.  Overall they honestly were a joy. To this day all three of us are still very competitive by nature.  Bob and Scott were close to their mother.  They not only bonded with each other, but they were, and still are, loved deeply by their sisters. 
Scott was more of a scrappier type youngster than Bob: yet, both were very similar in their strength concerning their beliefs. Scott was practically born preaching.  Even as a grade schooler he would preach to his sisters. They never did get right with God, according to him. Ha! He loved going with me to hear Dr. Jack Hyles, Dr. Lee Roberson, Dr. John R. Rice, Dr. John Rawlings, etc.   
Bob was a teenager before he surrendered his life to full time service.  He was my youth director for 21 years and was one of the best in the nation.  Both boys were raised in a fundamental home with a strong mother who enforced what dad wanted. Spankings and discipline were a part of their upbringing.   
Through the consistency of discipline and the teaching of Bible truths, they developed Bible principles that to this day run deep in their souls. They embraced being independent without making it a cross.  They explored independence within Biblical boundaries. 
In their four decades of life, they have explored independence within Biblical perimeters and landed on their feet as men. 
Every parent faces the empty nest phase at some point and with that comes the differentiation and display of independence in their adult children.  Our children are not any different then anyone else's children.  They do not do it like I would do it and neither do I expect them too.   
After my retirement as the pastor of the Longview Baptist Temple of Longview, TX, in 2009, the church voted 96% for Bob II to be their pastor.   Frankly, I am a little jealous because LBT called me by a 76% vote with a base line of 75%.  Bob went from being a youth director to pastor, in the same church, and is doing an admirable work.   
Scott worked for Texas Baptist College and then went to work for Pastor Tony Hutson in Murfreesboro, TN.  Scott was placed in charge of the different ministries under Pastor Hutson.  As a result Scott developed a myriad of skills.   
Upon leaving there he went to Hammond, IN, to work for Hyles-Anderson College and a ministry to the children in the public school system. God allowed him to reach literally thousands of public school children. Scott's work with thousands of young people in that public school environment help hone those skills he possessed even more. He had a deep love for those public school children.
Just recently Scott was called to pastor the Liberty Baptist Church of Durham, NC, by a 99% vote.  Both sons are tremendous pulpiteers and cherish their independence.  Yet, the preaching element only exists because of their love for those to whom they minister. 
As adult men of God they have cemented their Bible principles in concrete.  Yes, they are both imperfect, but for sure they are principled in their ministries.  Their passion is easily spotted.  They have developed an insulation rather than an isolation attitude about their ministries. 
Their independence has not been imposed on them because of their last name of Gray.
2. They are independent pastors. They both have a pastor's heart. Bob loved his teenagers dearly and during those days, as their youth director, he developed not only leadership skills by serving, but a godly love for each of his teens.  His counseling skills were developed in his involvement with their parents.  His ability to deal with delicate relationships filled his tool box for his calling as pastor of LBT.   
Scott's work with Pastor Hutson in the organizational area helped him develop his skills.  Scott's work with the public school young people unveiled and revealed his heart for people.  His work at Hyles-Anderson College further developed his insight.  
They both have traveled almost every state in the union preaching in local churches and as a result found the necessity to deal with pastoral challenges.  The key to their future is found in the obvious heart they have for people.  Bob loves his people and Scott loves his people.  They both understand the responsibilities of being a man of God for the people of God. 
They are living for a purpose and not a position. 
As they grew in separate ministries they were able to supplement without substituting.  All of this was bathed in independence.  While being independent is not new it is new.  
They conduct their pastorates differently.  They do things I would not do and they do things the other would not do.  To do things differently is not bad. The bad comes when we do wrong.  When we do right differently that is called independence. 
As they grew spiritually in separate ministries they were able to supplement without substituting.  Every wind of doctrine that came their way did not intrigue them.
Dr. Jack Hyles was pleased with Longview Baptist Temple's National Soul Winning Clinic.  Its foundation was a by-product of the Pastors' School of First Baptist Church of Hammond.  Our Clinic was different and yet the same. He liked our independence.   
Likewise I love my sons' independence. Thus, we should never object to independence as long as it is supported by Biblical truths.
3. They are independently Baptists. They are not afraid of being old-fashioned in their beliefs. They are local New Testament church proponents. They are extremely proud of their Baptist heritage. Their churches are not following the fads of the culturally based post-modernism of the emerging church crowd.   
Both of them have Baptist on their signs. In the Old Testament a person could not be a priest if they were "flat nosed."   If a man of God cannot spot and smell liberalism lurking in the shadows he will succumb to the wiles of liberal Evangelical tendencies.
These sons of ours are Baptist with a big "B" and they know why they believe what they believe.  I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled we are as parents when we hear them preach the Holy Scriptures.  I see in them exactly what Jack Hyles, Lee Roberson, Lester Roloff, and John R. Rice had in mind for a second generation fundamentalist.   
They love the old-hymns.  They love old-time preaching.  They love old-time standards.  They love their heritage.  They are bold.  They are spirit-filled. They are family oriented.
Now they may do certain things differently, but the attribute of independence is not wrong.  It is that independent spirit that will give their ministries life. It is that independent spirit that brings courage in the fight to stay independent. Perhaps they may not go soul winning at the same time, but they will go soul winning.   
They may not have the same level of separation from the world, but they will separate from the world.  They may not have the same requirements for Sunday school teachers and workers, but they will have requirements for their workers.

4. They are independently separated. I have discovered something here.  I thought Mrs. Gray and I were right wingers, but the truth is these sons of ours have made us look like moderates.  They are stricter in some areas than we were. 
They do not hold to the same list of issues as brothers, but they are faithful to their convictions.  I have never known either of them to back down from their separation standards because of peer pressure.  They were never exposed to cursing, dirty jokes, etc., in their time at home.  Hollywood was not an influence in our home.
They never fought our standards or level of separation.  They have embraced the Biblical principles of separation by choice.  They will teach their level of separation to their people faithfully.  Hold it!  Although they teach and preach separation it does not mean they have the same depth of separation.   
The independence of each is a strength not a weakness.  God is not in favor of homogenized men or ministries.  We learn from each other and then apply applicable things to our own ministries without demanding each other to do the same.

5. They are independently soul winners.  I took each of them soul winning with me in their youth and they quickly fell in love with personal soul winning.  As teens they were some of the best personal soul winners in our church.  I have observed them as they have taught their children, our grandchildren, to be personal soul winners. 
It was an annual thing for us at our house to tally up our baptismal numbers as a family.  Our highest year was 475 as a family.  This was before our children married.  Their life has always been immersed in one on one soul winning and public professions of those converts.  They continue to go soul winning as pastors.
They may use a different approach in their personal soul winning, but they are both still going and winning souls to the Saviour.   
Scott has a unique way of dealing with Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons.  It works for him and God has blessed his approach in soul winning.   
Bob may go in a different direction in his soul winning presentation, but it works for him.  They are independent in their soul winning, but still dependent on the same Gospel.

6.They are independently fundamental. Their stand on the King James Bible for English speaking people is solid. They stand against the theological position of the Charismatics, emerging church philosophy, progressive church teachings, Southern Baptists, and Evangelicals. 
Their opposition to ecclesiastical oneness has been a hallmark for them.  Their anti-universal church theory and pro-local church has been a doctrinal plank in their platform for their ministries. They are Baptist preachers and unashamed about it. 
They oppose baptismal regeneration and a works salvation. They are not Protestants. They are Baptists. Whatever you associate with being a fundamentalist you will find these sons of ours right on target.  

However, that does dictate being in lockstep with each other or with me.   The Scripture tells us, "greater works than these shall ye do."   
I received what Dr. Hyles taught and added to it and perfected some things (according to him) that helped build our ministry.  This was ok with him.  My sons will also take what I have taught and perfect it. Greater works cannot be accomplished without independence.

7.They are independently independent. Now here is the one I have a love/hate relationship with. They do not carry out all of the above exactly the same as their old dad or each other for that matter. Sometimes I love that. Sometimes I hate it. 
I was a big proponent of the Thursday Night Soul Winning program while Bob moved it to Wednesday night. Someone said, "Dr. Hyles would never do that!"  My answer was simple, "Dr. Hyles never had a Thursday night soul winning program." That did not make Dr. Hyles wrong, me wrong, or Bob wrong, but we all had organized soul winning programs.
I held a Sunday night preaching service at 7 pm while Bob moved it to 6 pm.  There will be many things that we do differently, but that does not matter in the whole scheme of things.   
He is a soul winner and leads his church to have a soul winning time.  He still has Sunday night preaching while some are going to Sunday night "home cell groups." 
We will all do things differently, but let us make sure they are the same Biblical things that are just done differently. Scott will even do things differently than his brother Bob.  
This is not unsatisfactory as long as it does not violate Biblical principle.  Their churches should follow their pastor's lead and never compare how I did it to how they are doing it in their ministries.  Neither should I compare how I did it to how they are doing it in their ministries. It is none of my business. JUST DO IT!
I am open to them at any time they wish to ask a question.  Until then it is none of my business and neither is it either of their business about each others' business.  
Recently Scott hired a young man to be his School Administrator. The buzz all over the Internet was that I had told Scott to hire this young man.  I have never discussed it with him nor he with me.  He never asked permission from me or his brother to hire this young man nor does he have too.  
It is hard for gossipers who have never run a hot dog stand to understand independence.  Scott has built and organized a successful ministry to thousands of public school kids.  The majority of these Internet critics have never succeeded at anything.   Dr. Evan's would say to us "Critique by building something bigger and better." Independence is healthy as long it is a spiritually healthy individual who possesses it.
Here is an idea...

1. We all differ in how we teach the   fundamentals.
2. We all have different soul winning programs
3. Our standards are strong but different
4. The way we pastor is different
5. We all preach differently

So, why should we treat the independence of other brethren less tolerably than I would my son's independence?

You gotta love being an INDEPENDENT Fundamental, Soul Winning, Separated, Baptist Pastor

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