Monday, November 21, 2005

Dear Dad, I'm off to join the circus

Local pastors meet each Monday morning for breakfast and fellowship. The organizer brings a stack of books (weeding out his library, I guess) and gives one away as a doorprize.

The organizer picks a person and the rest of us guess his birthday. Whoever is closest wins the book of his choice.

I've attended three times and won both times we had a doorprize. One book is by David Jeremiah and the other is by Jerry Vines. Excellent!

With such a gift for guessing birthdays, I think I've found my calling. I'm joining the circus...or the carnival!

10 Things I'm Thankful For

  1. Salvation in Christ Jesus
  2. Deana
  3. Jim Bob, Caleb, & Riley
  4. The call to preach
  5. A place to preach
  6. Income to provide for my family
  7. Living in America
  8. Golf, anytime it comes along
  9. Lipitor & Lisinop
  10. My laptop

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Don't you have a few people who have helped mold your life? With the passing of Dr. Adrian Rogers, I've been thinking about those who have impacted my life the way he impacted so many lives. I've only recently started watching & listening to Love Worth Finding; I wish I had started years and years ago.

My most influential mentors in ministry are Wiley Jones, David McLemore, and Rex Horne.

Wiley Jones is pastor of the first church I served. I started as the pastor of a mission church sponsored by his church. Then I moved to the mother church to be Youth Minister. Soon afterwards, I assumed the responsibilities of Music Minister, too. Wiley and I would talk for hours after services. His love for the Lord and burden for the lost made an indellible mark on my life.

David McLemore was pastor of the second church I served. I crawled into his church trying to hide but desperately seeking help. Fresh off divorce, I had avoided church. But one of David's deacons would catch me in town and ask about me coming to church. I finally did. At first, to fill in for the Music Minister while he was on vacation. Then to cry out for help. And David helped. I am serving the Lord today because of David and his church. The fact that I'm alive may be attributed to them.

Rex Horne serves in rarified air. The entire facilities of my church would fit easily into the sanctuary of his church. They have as many deacons as we have on the Sunday School roll. That he would take time to pray with me is awesome. Dr. Horne believes in me and I don't know why. When I send a resume to a church seeking a pastor it is accompanied by a personal letter of recommendation from him. I love to hear him preach. I love to have pimento cheese sandwiches with him. I love share my dreams and calling with him. He was the President's pastor but has time for me.

My mentors have shaped my life. I am better because of them. Lord, help me do the same for other ministers coming along the way.

I wanted to be a gospel singer. On the big stage. I still dream about it. My first taste of live Southern Gospel music was at the Hughes Center. The Rambos and the Galileans. Then Robinson Auditorium with the Goodmans and the Hinsons. Then Parsons Arena and the Cathedral Quartet. I've not been the same since.

Jubilee Quartet was pretty good. We sang in (mostly small) churches around the state for about 5 years. Michael Brashear was asked to be the baritone singer but had bigger things in mind so he suggested me. Some of the closest relationships I've ever known were with those guys who were total strangers. But we became so close because of our common love for gospel music and singing about Jesus.

We made some mistakes along the way. Like singing "I'm Getting Ready to Leave This World" when we sang on the same program as the Chuck Wagon Gang. That song was a staple for them. We should've let them sing it without there being a contest. We thought we sang them off the stage. We actually said that. Now, some folks don't appreciate Chuck Wagon Gang music but you have to respect them. I learned a good lesson from that.

We didn't make smooth transitions in personnel. I hope Johnny and George know I love them dearly. They taught me so much about being a quartet man. Things I'll never forget. I've been able to take much of those experiences into pastoral ministry.

I stood by Jack for most of those 5 years. I have deep respect for him. He's so down to earth and solid in the Lord. He and Becky are phenomenal business people - and they honor God.

In our very first performance we struggled terribly with a song and as the music died down Ricky said, "That's good enough." About a year later he told us that he had come to the point that he wanted to do his best for the Lord. I would still rather hear him sing the tenor line than just about anybody.

The original group consisted of three Free Will Baptists, one Assembly of God, and one Southern Baptist. We could have spent a lot of time debating doctrine but we decided Jesus was the common denominator so our uncommon denominations didn't matter. Oh, that God's church would take that point of view and work together to build up one another and reach the lost.

I'm listening to online. It's my kind of music. I'm really eclectic when it comes to music and I'm not one that has to have a certain kind of music in church. But given a choice, I'll almost always choose Southern Gospel. I was nominated for Favorite Syndicated Radio Program by the subscribers of The Singing News magazine. My program was Today In Gospel Music. That nomination ranks right up there with the time Joel Hemphill prayed for our quartet by name.

I sang in the quartet, did the radio program, and promoted Southern Gospel concerts. God has taken my life in different directions since then. But I miss it all. Songs about heaven, the blood, and Bible stories. The lyrics are often predictible and the harmony simple. But it's in my blood.

Thank you, Deed and Tuti, for making me sing the "special" almost every Sunday morning. I have a couple of hiding places when life gets hard: the Bible and Southern Gospel music.

I've been blessed to sing in person with a few of my heroes. But I can sing with any of them at any time...and often do.

My Southern Gospel heroes:
George Latham
Jack Hearrell
Johnny McCoy
Ricky Pruitt
Donnie Martin
Carri Corbitt
Ben Wiles
Tim Hayes
Joey Hannah
Larry Skinner
The Cathedral Quartet ("Live in Atlanta" is the greatest recording ever, any genre!)
The Kingsmen
Gold City
The Greenes
The Nelons
The Hemphills
Rueben Bean
Ed O'Neal
Rick Busby
The Bishops
Karen Peck
Jeff Stice
and a host of others...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


As a pastor, I've often considered the danger of touching a microphone in a baptistry. Of course, we would never purposely reach out to touch one while standing waist-deep in water. But I don't think this pastor thought about it. It's so natural to reach out to adjust a microphone. You could have asked him just before he stepped into the baptistry what he thought about touching the microphone and he would have said he would never do it. But instincts overcame intention and this young pastor is dead.

Can you imagine being in the congregation? Can you imagine being his family?

An article published by Baptist Press qouted a church official saying they were sure he was in Heaven because of his relationship with Christ. That's the only point of comfort for his family, friends, and church.

Baptists are known for a lot of things. We boycott things. We fully immerse a person for baptism. And we believe in eternal security.

Eternal security means that once a person comes to Christ as their Savior and Lord there is nothing that can undo what God does. What God does is apply the death of Jesus (actually, his blood) to our sins; just like the Old Testament sacrifice of atonement. Except Jesus was the perfect sacrifice that was good once for all. When God applies the blood of Jesus to our sins he forgives us and makes us forever part of his family.

The pastor of University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, is in heaven today because there was a time in his life when he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. Since then he has been eternally secure in that relationship with Jesus.

Becoming eternally secure in salvation is as easy as A-B-C.

A - admit you are a sinner. We have all sinned and our sin separates us from God. It's not a big disclosure that you admit you are a sinner. God knows it. You are really just agreeing with him about it.

B - Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and what he did on the cross is the only way to resolve your problem with sin. Your good deeds are good enough. Your good intentions aren't. You can't attend church often enough or give enough money or do anything that will save you except believe is Jesus.

C - Commit your life to him. This means that you will allow his teachings to mold and shape your life. You will allow his Spirit to lead you. You will look to his Word for answers to life-situations.

Express these things to God in prayer and you will be saved and eternally secure. Just like Kyle Lake.