My Resignation from First Baptist Church

My Resignation from First Baptist Church (FBC)
Ruidoso, New Mexico
January 11, 2018

Dear FBC, I have the unfortunate responsibility of informing you of my resignation from FBC Ruidoso. My last Sunday in the pulpit was to be January 21, 2018, per FBC policy for a two week notice. On January 7 after the service a few leaders thought it best for me not to return to the pulpit for the last two Sundays.

While I told them this was not a healthy way for us to depart from the church or the church from us, I also understand the request in light of the nature of the split in our church. So, I apologize for not being with you until January 21 as stated Sunday January 7. Yet for the sake of the Lord, I will move forward.

To dispel rumors I want to be clear on my resignation. Here is a summary of what was stated on January 7 in the service when I resigned.

I thank FBC for 8 wonderful years serving as pastor. This church is a wonderful church. We have had great things happen at FBC, especially in the last 3 years. It’s been the best time I have ever experienced in 25 years of ministry. We truly penetrated the darkness (John 1:5; Matt 28:19-20).

The reason for my resignation is the deacons approached me on November 12 desiring to go in another direction concerning the pastor position. These are men I love; I know they don’t hate me, but I disagree with them, concerning leadership, vision and mission for a local church. Jeana and I believe everyone should be welcome at a church and should be treated with respect.

While there is much to the story, I make clear here I have not resigned for any moral reasons. I was asked to resign over vision differences.

I could have stayed and won a vote, but then would have had to dismantle the church structure and asked some leaders to resign in a couple of areas to accomplish the mission to reach and disciple people in our community. It would have been brutal. I would not do that to the church body as there are too many people I love at FBC.

My next steps are to join the ministry at Calvary Chapel Ruidoso and serve with Pastor John Marshall in a co-pastor relationship. We are thankful for an immediate fresh start. Our commitment to missions and evangelism, proclamation and disciple making are not diminished. We expect they will flourish.

Thank you FBC family and friends for allowing my family to serve. We will always wear our experience with you proudly. We wish you only the best and are praying for your next steps.

We love everyone. We have no animosity. My family loves you FBC. Thank you. You have treated us well in our time together. If you have questions, I’ll answer them at anytime. If you trust my character (1 Tim 3:1-7) and vision for God and people (Matt 28:19-20), “it’s all good.”

The church is not always the most beautiful picture of grace, but Jesus is.

It’s all about the cross!

Alan Stoddard, DMin
vision419@gmail.com

The parable that stopped the third bite.

There was once an imperfect man who loved. He loved because it was lovable. It had purpose. It was such a great thing. It came at a time. And there you have it. It was amazing. So much good came.

Well kind of …

As time went on, the man would be invited to what he thought was safe, but when he placed his hand in the safe place, it was not safe. It would bite the man. It would not only bite, but would wildly shake the hand of the man and damage the man’s hand badly.

Time would go on. The hand would heal, but it was scared. The man though, did not seem to care. He kept loving it anyway. It was lovable. It had purpose.

Time passed. Life was good. Enjoyable. Hopeful. Those in the house observed and were blessed. Even the neighbors observed and joined in. Amazing. Greatest time.

But then … oh my … it happened … again …

The man was invited again to the safe place. He thought “it will not be the same. It’s better now.” It was not better. The man pulled his hand back in dismay that he had injuries worse than before. Worse because he could see the scars from the first bite. And then the new scars. The man was damaged not only physically but emotionally. A soul wound.

But then an amazing thing happened. It quickly crawled over, humble, and laid next to the man. The man was stunned again. Didn’t know what to do with it. He just sat with it. Then, he raised his hand of the right side of his chair and pet it. The man could feel the humility and love. It actually slept in peace.

The hand healed again. It actually enjoyed, engaged, and encouraged. And the man, well he was so tender and gullible. He just seemed to move on as if the wind were in his hair. He never told the house or neighbors about the first two bites. Seemed so unneeded and dishonorable for him to embarrass it or hurt it now. So …

Time passed …
Life lived …
Surely no more … right?

The question became “would that man put his hand in the safe place again?” A third time? He has been bit twice.

Twice bit
A crown of thorns
Heaven split
Relationship torn.

It happened again.

Deceptive.
Disingenuous.
Decisive.

The man walked up to the safe place. The walk was not malicious in motive or action. As he got to the safe place, he looked in. There it was. Seeming to look like a tender shepherd ready. The man’s mind was processing going in yet at the same moment his eyes lowered to glance his right hand. It was then he got it.

Twice bit
A crown of thorns
Heaven split
Relationship torn.

The question became “would that man put his hand in the safe place again?” A third time? He has been bit twice. And he needed use of his hand. His hand helped him also.

The smile of the shepherd was so appealing and seemed wise, but in that moment standing at the safe place the man saw in its face a wildly ravenous wolf.

And at that the man turned to never go to that safe place again.

It was forgiven already.
But trust was gone.
The man’s hand grew steady.
The man moved on.

As the man moved on, he thought of the subtle warnings he heard before the first bite. It had happened before. There was a pattern. It was overlooked, but was a costly view. The man was tempted to lose trust in all others. But he knew that would only increase the festering of the soul wound.
Become … 
Deceptive.
Disingenuous.
Divisive.
Unforgiveness?
Bitterness?
Extended?
That would not be an option for the man. It would kill his soul. 
It was forgiven already.
But trust was gone.
The man’s hand grew more steady.
The man completely moved on.
And the soul wound was healed, forever.

The remedy for the arrogance of politics and race.

I have never seen the political scene as bleak as it is now in my adult life. When I was a boy I remember the resignation of President Nixon. It was sad. Today, we have two pretty bad candidates. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. We are in a bad place as a nation. We are bad on race and bad on politics. And our approach to both is sad. Many are seeking answers for complex problems with worldly means. Many Christ followers are doing this also. I’m tempted to do it. However, it’s a dead end road.

Police shootings of Black men. Sharp shooting Police officers at rallies. Black lives Matter. All lives matter. The aftermath of slavery into the civil rights movement up into our day. The situation is complex. What’s the answer? I thought race relations would be better under President Obama. they’re not. They are worse. Why? Because he never made it an early priority. He was forced to address it after a litany of Travon Martin type episodes.

We have complex problems. There are two approaches to finding answers. God and the gospel or the ways of the world. The ways of the world: legislation, laws, norms, hopes ands dreams of finding the answers. During the civil rights movement Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was able to leverage the heart of God against the conscience of our nation. Those days are past. Those victories are won. Now our culture has changed. It’s eerily brazen without conscience. What’s the answer to the issues of race and political wars? The other approach is God.

God and the gospel. These are the only ultimate ways to fix the complex issues we face. The world does its thing, but we followers of the King must not trust the world’s method. The gospel is the only hope. It can’t be mixed with culture. Jesus alone. The gospel alone (1 Cor 15:3-4; Gal 2:20) is the only answer. Our elected officials only use God when convenient. Our churches are not preaching Jesus is the answer to our issues because race and politics as application are risky. Yet Christ, and Christ Jesus alone must be presented as the only alternative to our issues.

Trump. Clinton. I laugh at the idea that either of these two are good. They are not. They are both lost. I have no biblical indication either is saved. And they don’t have to be to be president. It’s not required. It’s also not required for me to use their methods. At some point, supporting either is a compromise of the soul. I’m not saying don’t vote. I’m saying when you do, you’re not clean. I’m always amazed at those who act as if there is moral high ground in their candidate. People who act is if they are not biased, but they are.

I vote for Jesus Christ. He is the answer to our problems. The church needs to preach this radically in the next three months. Encourage people with the hope of Christ.

It’s arrogant to assume we can fix the complex problems of our culture by siding with human means to the extent of leaving God out. Let’s avoid that. Humility is a friend. James 4:6 says, “But He gives great grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but give grace to the humble.” And James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” Stay on your knees. Pride is the enemy. Humility provides the victory.