A text out of the nowhere by James Crestwood saying he was in D.C. and asking to get together led to this quick and personal post. This addresses what I appreciated from my faith crisis. From the people I have met through this blog from Community Evangelical Free, to Albuquerque Blue and other skeptics. To people like Dee Parsons and Gail my adopted grandmother in Michigan and more. What do I regret from my faith crisis? That Andrew and I clashed so much and I was confrontational. Part of this post is a response to Blue’s question.
“I’m on Capitol Hill this afternoon. What are you up to?”
James Crestwood text to me at 11:43 a.m. May 22, 2015
“Good seeing you James. I love you bro! You’re a blessing in my life and I am thankful for your love and grace. You’ve taught me a lot. I am thankful that yours is one of the friendships that preserved the faith crisis I had. Have a safe flight to Kansas City.”
My text to James at 4:31 p.m. May 22, 2015
The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger.
Proverbs 24:5 NLT
James’ cousins the Peterson Farm Brothers in action in Kansas!
This is a post that I have wanted to do for a while and its been in the back of my mind. That said, today was kind of the tipping point to writing it. I worked all weekend on the previous post about Redeemer Arlington. That said, this is screaming to get out so I am going to stay up late and write this and publish this note.
This was an interesting weekend in many ways. I went to church and I heard some teaching out of Judges 7. The church I attend which I will not name is one I am slowly enjoying. It take a while to learn to trust again. That said, I am blessed with the fellowship I have there. There is one family in particular I appreciate and at times in my prayer I thank God that he reached out to me last fall through this blog. That has been a blessing in my life. But this morning I attended church and was sitting through a good talk and thinking about what was said. After church I grabbed some coffee and went and grabbed lunch when I got a text out of the blue from James Crestwood. I have written about James in this open letter. He was involved in National Community Church, was a missionary in Kenya. In my faith crisis I tried to drive him away and he stuck with me through it. His behavior is opposite to Andrew White. James pursued me in the light of my faith crisis. He is the only friend I have that knew me before my faith crisis, hung with me through it, and in the end walked with me through the false accusation I faced. I don’t say that lightly. Some people I knew afterward others I knew beforehand. Others I reconnected with after the faith crisis through my acts of repentance and seeking forgiveness.
When I got James’ text I was overjoyed. I got in my Nissan and just started to drive into the District. Eventually I parked it near Eastern Market and went into the District Taco on Pennsylvania and saw him. It was the first time I have seen James in three years. When I saw him he just hugged me and I can’t tell you how much this situation reminded me as to why God created us to fellowship with others, and to get to know other people in life. So James, and a couple of other people from National Community Church and I just spoke and caught up. James told me of his family, how things were going. His brother being a missionary in South Africa, and raising three kids. He explained to me how he and his wife take in and care for kids whose parents are having run ins with the law. Time flew and before I knew it, it was over. James had to catch his flight to Kansas City and he asked if I could give him a ride to Reagan National Airport.
On the way to the airport in the car it was like driving down memory lane. Being with him and seeing where he lived brought back memories of being in his apartment at 2:00 in the morning as my Dad was in the early stages of a brain tumor which was thought to be a stroke in January 2012. He took me in and embraced me as the news from California was growing darker by the hour. That flashed in my mind as I drove past James’ old apartment. I remember a couple of other places we ate at in the past, and pointed out one to him. On Massachusetts Ave NE there was a funeral procession which reminded me as to how life is brief, and how we should treasure all the time we have. What angers me about fundamentalism is that it steals, kills, and divides; and I see that in some of the stories I write about and cover. When I lived in Milwaukee there was a cemetery on the corner of Highway Q and 164 in Colgate. It was down the street from Wooded Hill Bible Church. Often what I did was stop and look at some of the graves and realize that I am living in the dash on the headstone. You don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate life. You can be secular and be grateful for being alive and the friends and family that you have. In the car as I drove to Reagan National Airport James talked about life in Kansas and the goings on in his family. I explained this blog and where its going, and some of what is happening behind the scenes. When I got to Gate C I dropped him off at the Delta flight I helped him and he hugged me, and said goodbye.
It was an afternoon I could not have anticipated. As I told James the next time he is in town I will go to church with him. But as I got back in my Nissan I cried for a minute and as tears came my face and as I wiped them I prayed out loud to the Lord and thanked him for the fellowship that came in James. I have more to say but James is one of the things I appreciate about my faith crisis. Let me recount some other aspects.
Another thing I appreciate is Scott Van Sweringen in Kansas City. I got a text from him the other day saying he is busy but he will call me when he can. Here it is 2016 and the Lord used a model train forum on Facebook to bring two guys together. God has used Scott a former Elder, and guy trained at Moody and he explained to me on the phone a while back that he now understands why I was so angry in my faith crisis. It had to do with my frustration of the doubts and questions that I had. I have a question that I posed to Scott on the phone that we need to discuss the next time we speak. My question is this…do too many in Calvinist theology live in the Old Testament as compared to the New Testament? I welcome any thoughts about that issue below by the way. But I am grateful for Scott’s involvement in my life.
Another thing I am grateful for is reconciling with Archie Griffin. I have a post I want to write that basically says the following. Many Christians quote Paul and Barnabas as a copout and laziness and refuse to work the hard issues to repair, shower grace and love one another. Reconciling with Archie was one of the hardest things that I did but man the fruits of that reconciliation is stunning. Archie was in town in the end of March and we hung out, fellowshipped and got caught up. It was emotional for me, and he asked me what happened with Andrew White and I told him it wasn’t resolved. After that I looked at him directly and I thanked him for reconciling with me. I told him that he has no idea as to what it means to me that we worked through everything and brought peace to each other. In this meeting I learned more of what went on behind the scenes between him and Gil. I don’t take Archie for granted like I did before hand. I pray for his kids and family from time to time. But I am thankful for reconciling with him. I can’t describe in words how I feel with reconciling with him.
I am thankful for getting to know Dee Parsons. I am thankful that my faith crisis intersected with The Wartburg Watch. I am grateful that I got to know her husband Bill Parsons as well. The Parsons were too good for Providence Baptist in Raleigh. One of these days I plan to pen both an open letter to Dee Parsons and an open letter to her Senior Pastor David Horner. When I call Dee my east Coast Mom there is a lot of truth to that claim. But seriously the Southern Baptist Convention lost one hell of a Sunday school teacher!
I am thankful for the guy I attend church with on Sunday mornings and his wife as well. I appreciate their love, kindness and faith. His heart shines as does his intellect, it amazes me as to what this blog has created in many ways. Had it not been for this blog I would not have gotten to know him.
I am also thankful for the many former members at Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania. I love them, and I believe them. That’s why I write what I write and why I have more stories in the works. They are some of the most kind and loving families I have met and I hope and want them to find peace. I am in this for the long haul with them and I want them to find closure in the end. Steve Estes had no idea of what he lost in how he treated people. These are fine and amazing people that any healthy church would love to have in their membership.
I am thankful for all the people I have met through this blog. From the texts I get from Albuquerque Blue late at night, to the people who travel here to D.C. for work who have asked to meet with me. To all the people who email me. I am struggling a bit with keeping up and grateful that this isn’t The Wartburg Watch. I can’t imagine Dee’s email volume. I am grateful for all the doors this blog has opened up… it’s taken me places I could never foresee. But each person I interact with I treasure and care about.
I know I am leaving people off and its not intentional. I’ve met a lot of former SGMers’ and I pray they find justice. I also appreciate Danny Risch and his friendship. I miss him deeply. I appreciate a renewed fellowship with many people in Milwaukee, and that varies from Greg Marshall from Westbrook Church, to other guys from Crusade in Milwaukee. I love and care for them still. Plus I also love my adopted grandmother in Michigan – Gail. Where would my life be without her? Would I have gotten to know her had my life not hit rock bottom? Gail I love you also! 🙂
What I Regret about My Faith Crisis
The biggest aspect I regret about my faith crisis is the clashing and fighting with Andrew. I don’t talk about this with my friends much but it weighs on me. I wish there was a way to go back in time and do things differently. The faith crisis was so difficult that it was a sensitive issue with me. But that is something that weighs on me and I think will for a period of time. It blows my mind that out of 140 people that the person who boasted of his faith the most keeps on running and refuses to deal with what happened. I can’t control that, and I will just continue to process it. There are times I still cry about this because its not something I want to live with. What does help me immensely is having complete and total strangers who want to get to know me through this blog that say, “So Dave tell your story…” and I do. When they hear this they often shake their head and tell me how sad it is, and they can’t believe that someone would refuse to reconcile, who would be so serious out their faith.
The other thing I have deep regret about is how confrontational I became. This section by the way is an answer to an email from Albuquerque Blue. When I referenced drinking the Kool Aid in regard to Christopher Hitchens what I meant is that I took his teaching on provoking, clashing, and intentionally causing arguments to heart. I believed and did that, and I went way too far. I went from one extreme to the other extreme and I left pain in my wake. Just this weekend I got a Facebook reminder from 5 years ago asking if I wanted to re-post. It was a post during my faith crisis and I stopped in my kitchen and looked at what I ranted about on Facebook. It was over the top, cruel, and harsh. I got a chill down my spine over what I said, because I baited and taunted at the same time. It was not my finest moment Blue. I texted and said things that should have never left my mouth. I did it with the intent that was wrong, or another way and I hope I am not being contradictory is that I didn’t fully realize in some way what I did. That is what I am referring to, I hope that helps let me know and I can explain in full detail below. As always ask away.
Personal Note to James Crestwood
James thanks for the text and thanks for the note out of the blue. Thanks for the brief fellowship we had this afternoon. I want to say thanks for your friendship. We met through Lust Free Living, but I think the Lord had other plans in the course of time. Thanks for pursuing me, and thanks for not giving up on me. Thank you for the kindness, generosity, love and grace you have showed me. I miss you deeply as a friend and I pray for you and your family from time to time. I will be getting out to Kansas in the near future. I would love to see the Crestwood family in action in the Salina Wheat Harvest! That would be a sight to see.
Its been cool to watch you grow up, become a father, take incredible risks and grow deeply. Its been amazing to watch you do that from both near and afar. But when I was in my faith crisis and I tried to drive you away at times thank you for pursuing me regardless. I am at a loss for words when I reflect on the entire faith crisis but I am grateful that I am not mourning the death of two relationships of people who I was close to. Struggling with one is enough, two would be even more difficult.
Please let me know when the next time you are coming to Washington, D.C. I’ll gladly attend church with you, but I think its also time I visit you guys out there as well. I’m sorry if this is personal but its touching and I thanked God for the time that happened this afternoon. Keep in touch and if your daughter is still praying for me to get out of the hospital, she can stop now! 🙂 Love you man consider this post a long distance hug.