Bethel Baptist Association

Linden, Alabama

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Brother Bobby Articles Continued

Articles from the Bethel Baptist Association page of the Alabama Baptist
April 26 - May 2017
 

August 10, 2017

 

“One World Church”

 

 

 

I was at a revival the other night when Evangelist Don Graham introduced me to his driver.  Don needs someone to drive him due to his declining health.  After sharing a few thoughts and pleasantries, my new friend asked if I heard the latest from Mark Zuckerberg.  I thought I had heard the name and took a wild guess that he had something to do with Facebook.  I guessed correctly.  My new friend said that Zuckerberg suggested that Facebook is the new church.  Nothing surprises me anymore, especially as the Day of the Lord’s Return grows nearer.

 

“Zuckerberg says that with declining church attendance, the social network he founded in 2004 can offer that same sense of community, filling the gaps for the godless.”  As most modern churches do, Facebook introduced a new mission statement aimed at building community through groups that will 'bring the world closer together'.  He later changed it to 'Make the world more open and connected' to 'Bring the world closer together'.

 

I admit that for many years, especially in rural Alabama, the church was the center of social gatherings.  That has shifted in modern times to the ballfield, the changing of the leaves in Tennessee, trips to the beach, and Decoration Day.  Going has replaced the Gospel and I must admit that the modern church is more of a social club.  Zuckerberg may be on to something.

 

Zuckerberg has recently implemented a project to increase the numbers using groups which he says help users play a similar role to that of church pastors, helping to bring together our 'divided' society and help people feel part of 'something bigger'.  He said: 'If we can do this, it will not only turn around the whole decline in community membership we've seen for decades, it will start to strengthen our social fabric and bring the world closer together.  'As I've travelled around and learned about different places, one theme is clear: every great community has great leaders. Think about it. A church doesn't just come together. It has a pastor who cares for the well-being of their congregation, makes sure they have food and shelter.  'Leaders set the culture, inspire us, give us a safety net, and look out for us. Communities give us that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are not alone, that we have something better ahead to work for.  'That's why it's so striking that for decades, membership in all kinds of groups has declined as much as one-quarter. That's a lot of people who now need to find a sense of purpose and support somewhere else.'

 

Is Facebook evolving into the One World Church?  I do not do Facebook, so I am not going to bash it, but it does raise concerns.  I know growing up there were three means of communication in my community.  There was the telegraph, the telephone, and tell Kitty Mae (not her real name).  Kitty Mae knew everything about everybody. 

 

I do know that the old timers, preachers of a bygone era, and my seminary professors talked of the “One World-wide Church in the “End Times”.  If Zuckerberg is right, he might have just ushered in the beginnings of the end. 

 

I do know that my new friend and I agreed that the is much time spend on the Internet and Facebook and less time in God’s Word.  My friend said that the enormous amount of time people spend on Facebook reminded him of the Biblical warning of a busybody.

 

For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies II Thessalonians 3:11

 

And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not I Timothy 5:13

 

But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. I Peter 4:15

 

If Millennials and technological savvy folks read the article, they will probably laugh.  If the people of the forties and fifties heard about Zuckerberg’s plan, they would have cried Heresy and the Antichrist.  This proves my friend’s and my point.  If Jesus is not Lord of the Church according to the Gospel, it is just another social club and busybodies will continue until the Lord returns.

 

Facebook is a means of communication replacing the Kitty Mae’s out there.  Let us encourage one another toward good works.

 

Zuckerberg’s comment reminds me of John Lennon of The Beatles who said:

 

 Christianity will go.  It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I know I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now. I don't know which will go first – rock & roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.”

 

The Beatles popularity declined and the Gospel still stands firm.

 

 

July 12, 2017

 

“Dropping Your Net”

 

 

 

Mom told me that the night I got married she cried all night.  He eldest left home never to return.  Dad said mom cried for several days. I think dad was glad I was gone.  I never understood why mom cried all night until I had children.

 

Fast forward a few years and I realized why momma cried.  Taking our seventeen-year-old daughter away to college to play volleyball was one of the hardest days of my life.  I knew when she left that my little girl would never come back home to stay.

 

I was proud that she received a scholarship to play volleyball.  She had prepared and trained since the eighth grade to play and earn a scholarship.  She had an offer from Washington State, which won the National Champion in girl’s volleyball the previous year.  Other offers came from Notre Dame, Annapolis, UAB, University of Montevallo, and Samford to name a few.  She chose UAB, which sent her to Wallace State Junior College in Hanceville to prep for two years.  She was moving less than a hundred miles away, but the reality that she was gone produced tears.  I had hurt, a sick feeling, deep in my soul.  There would be days of joy watching her play for the next two years, but I knew she was gone.  Daddy’s influence would become secondary to a newfound freedom and a world that was exotic and appealing as opposed to rural and Christian Chilton County.

 

As a dad, I tried to instill Christian principles and ethics that would enable my children to make wise decisions.  I had faith that all my children would make wise decisions in everything they encountered.

 

All three of my children have good ethics, which is something that is missing from the moral fabric of society today.  They have not been perfect, even though I wanted them to be.  All three have thanked me for teaching them how to work and live.

 

Not many weeks ago, Aaron, the baby son, thanked me for teaching and enabling him to perform many tasks.  He apologized that he lived in Texas and could not spend much time with me.  He lived at home longer than the other two.

 

He thought for a long time that he would never find a good vocation or a good wife.  Having found both, he left home.  It was hard to lose my sidekick who had been with me since he was seven.  He is ten years younger than my daughter is, so her moving to college was my segue into taking care of Aaron.

 

I told Aaron that from the moment of his birth I began to teach him how to become a man.  I instilled him with principles and skills to leave home, discover a vocation, find a bride, and raise Christian children in a world that would constantly grow spiritually darker and would need men and women to share the love of Christ.

 

Having faith that I did a decent job, allowed me to release my children to find their own way, make their own decisions, and pass their knowledge to my grandchildren and others along their way.

 

Dr. Scott Bullard, Judson College in Marion reminded us at our last Monthly Minister’s Conference that sometimes we overlook some intriguing moments in the Bible.  One such moment we find in here:  And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.  And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him (Mark 1:19-20KJV).

 

 

 

Scott called our attention to the James and John leaving a very lucrative vocation to follow a little-known carpenter.  Scott called it “Dropping Your Net.”

 

The sons of Zebedee became the “Sons of Thunder.”  In a few moments in time, James would be killed for following a carpenter and John would spend his last days in exile.  The probing question is, “What did Zebedee feel when his two sons left the family business?”  I think he probably had hurt, a sick feeling, deep in his soul.

 

Had James and John remained fishermen, their influence would have gone no further than filling some stomachs and some wallets.  But, since they dropped their nets and did as the carpenter instructed, they became part of God’s Word to us.  Because of John’s experience with the family business, he could be in the inner courts during Jesus’ trial and left us the first-hand account of what happened.  His time on the Isle of Patmos gave us the Book of Revelation

 

For each mom and dad that will face the departure of that son or daughter, you are not alone.  One day that son or daughter will thank you for teaching them how to live.  I know I thanked my mom and dad.

 

 

July 5, 2017

 

Hogs and Hoppers

 

 

 

Discussions while sitting around a dinner table after a funeral can be very interesting.  The funeral was for Raymond, a former minister of music of at the church I pastored in Clanton.  He became a mentor to me for the five years we served together.  It was an honor to participate in his funeral and comfort the family and friends.

 

Sharing memories together at the table, the conversation quickly turned to the aches and pains of growing old.  We talked of knee pains and replacements.  One nephew-in-law talked of his foot stress and early retirement.  There was talk of all the medicines, which most of us could not pronounce.  A nephew said he had heart trouble and that his doctors wanted to know what medicines his cardiologist prescribed.  He said he did not have a cardiologist and did not take any medicines.

 

The nephew said that he was born with the defect and had a valve from a pig implanted to replace his defective valve.  I asked since the transplant did he have a craving for corn.  I can be a smart aleck at times.  He joked back and said he had told his son that he craved corn and could no longer eat pork.

 

Someone asked him if the cardiologist told him not to eat the pork.  The nephew said, “No, now that I had a pig valve, it is hard to eat my fellow pigs flesh.”  This was ironic since the church was serving the family pork barbecue.  Yes, he was eating his fellow pigs.

 

Pork is a main staple in the South, especially during Independence Day activities.  My brother is cooking a whole hog for a community gathering July 1-2.  He said he was starting at midnight and cooking the hog all night.

 

It is going to be a fun filled weekend.  My brothers and I are the main attraction for the community event.  Originally, it was called the Hopper Brothers Reunion, because all three of us serve outside Chilton County and our home church wanted us to return to share our talents.  We sing, play musical instruments, write songs, and generally have a lot of fun together.

 

There will be the hog, chicken quarters, and all the fixin’s.  There will be singing, playing, cousins, friends, and games Saturday from three in the afternoon until who knows when.  The pastor there said he had “blowup” slides for the kids.  It is an outside event at a friend’s farm.  Plan B will utilize my home church’s Family Life Center.  With all the rain, Plan B may be a reality.  Sunday, The Hopper Trio will be leading in Worship.  It is a “you all” come event.

 

When I think about hogs, I am reminded the story of Jesus and the swine.

 

 

 

So the devils besought him (Jesus), saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.  And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.  And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts (Matthew 8:31-34 KJV).

 

 

 

This was the invention of “deviled ham” and it brings back memories of my days as a contract negotiator.  Businessmen more concerned with profit than with the souls of people, asked Jesus to leave.  I experienced something similar. 

 

I was involved in a toxic waste issue at the cement plant in Calera.  Our local union supported a community group that was protesting the burning of toxic waste in the cement kilns.  The men in the plant were concerned with the waste being to dangerous to handle and process.  This community group made the Chamber of Commerce for the city of Pelham very uncomfortable.  They we so upset that members of the Chamber and a delegation of business men approached me and tried to convince me to back the union off because it was causing  no small stir when trying to bring new businesses into Shelby County.  They had very strong, threating language for me.

 

I looked this group of professionals dead into the eye and said, “The lives of the men and women in the plant and people and the communities in which they live are more important that making millions of dollars especially when businesses do more to harm than to help.  The lives of people are more important than immoral monies.”

 

This last time I read the Bible, which is daily; Jesus is more concerned with the souls of people than sales and profit.

 

As we celebrate Independence Day, let us remember that men and women sacrificed and died for our freedom and the establishment of a moral society and government.  Pray for those entities that would misuse freedom to destroy lives for gain.  Pray that our churches to find those that sin has bound and share the freedom of Jesus in His redemptive blood.

 

 

June 6, 2017

 

“The Truth Sets You Free” 

 

It was a beautiful Saturday morning with birds singing and sounds of the morning playing throughout God wonderful creation.  Arriving at the cement plant for the start of seven-day dayshift, the beautiful melody of creation drowned in the sea of man-made noise.  As kilns roared, fans screamed, gears squeaked, and metal balls clanged it was the start of a new day.

 

AD, MC, and I were the cement kilns crew.  Gathered in the control with the shift we were relieving, we discussed what we needed to do.  My role of the three amigos was starting and testing the auxiliary diesel engine at the lake where all the return water from cooling machinery settled.

 

As I reached for the exit door, AD said, “Take all the food out of the refrigerator, and throw it away.”  The four crews that operated the cement kilns used the fridge to preserve and share.  Anything left in it was fair game to be eaten.  Saturday morning was the designated day to clean the fridge.

 

I collected the sandwiches and a lone apple.  On the way to the recycling lake, I saw a group/flock of magpies.  I grew up poor and we went without food on an occasion or two while dad was on layoff or without work, so throwing away food was a “SIN” for me.  I finished eating the apple to the core and tossed it to the magpies.  I unwrapped one sandwich from wax paper and took a second out of a plastic bag.  I tore the sandwiches apart to disperse them among the magpies.  There was no truck available, so I had to “hoof it” the half mile out to the lake and back.

 

When I rounded the corner of the ball mill building, I saw MC gathering up the remnant of food that those no good for nuthin’, ungrateful magpies refused to eat.  MC was tossing the last pieces in a dumpster when I saw “KILLER,” the most feared man in the plant. 

 

The Killer was Joe Killingsworth, the production manager of the plant. He was more powerful than the plant manager was.  I witnessed men in the plant running to hide and trembling in fear when the Killer was walking in the plant, which he did at all times.  Lookouts tried around the clock to spot Killer sneaking into the plant to catch some weary soul not doing his job and give the guilty worker a royal chewing. My shift foreman would visibly be shaken, as Killer would chew him out.

 

Killer stood before me with arms crossed and his face blood red like some Saturday morning cartoon character.  MC worked like a slave threatened by a cruel master.

 

I could not imagine what frightened MC.  MC did not fear much.

 

Killer looked me in the eye and asked, “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO THREW THAT FOOD ON THE GROUND?”

 

I remember rocking from the balls of my feet, to the heels, then forward as to step on my tiptoes saying, “I did.”

 

Killer was notorious for throwing his hardhat across the floor and cussing so bad that would make a Corinthian sailor blush.  I knew that he loved to embarrass and humiliate people, especially his shift foreman.  I saw him reaching for his hardhat and thought here it comes.

 

He picked his hardhat from his head, almost tossed it, but slowly lowered it to his head and the blood began to seep from his face.  He said, “Do you have any earthly idea how much we spend in the plant to kill rats.” 

 

I knew it was not the time to respond with a Hopper wisecrack, but I did think to myself that whatever the price that they were wasting money.  The rats were so large that they could carry metal lunch boxes in their mouths as witnessed by several of my co-workers.  They looked like muskrats or opossums with file like tails.

 

I was smart enough to reply, “No sir.”  He said, “We spend $2,200 each month to kill rats and you’re feeding them. Why did you do such a stupid thing?”

 

I said, “I grew up poor and there were times when there was no food in the house.  For me it is a sin to throw food away.”

 

Thinking I was to be fired I waited for “YOU’RE FIRED, GET OUT OF HERE.”

 

I looked at him and said, “What do you want me to do?”

 

He calmly said, “Go to work and quit feeding the rats.  I said, “Yes sir.”

 

MC, still nervous and watching the despicable debacle take place, walked over and said, “He was going to fire you.  He asked me who done it.  I told him that I didn’t know, but that I would get it up and throw it away.”

 

Killer liked AD.  When AD asked Killer what he did to me, he said nothing except tell me to stop feeding the rats.  Killer said, “I had every intention to fire him but Hopper looked me in the eye and told me the truth.  I couldn’t fire a man who was truthful to me.”

 

Killer took a personal liking to me and trained me to be a kiln burner.  He recruited me to be one of his shift supervisors.  When I surrendered into the ministry, he encouraged me.

 

Before Killer died a couple of years ago, I saw him twice, both times at funerals.

 

I walked up to him and said, “If you wasn’t such an old man I would roll you all over this parking lot.”  I can’t write in this article what he said, but when I told him who I was he said, “Good to see you boy.  You still preaching?”

 

 

 

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32 KJV)

 

 

May 25, 2017

 

The Parable of the Wayside

 

 

 

The other day I traveled to Gadsden to Suzy Trader’s dad’s funeral. Suzy is the wife of Dr. Steve Trader, our Alabama Baptist Children’s Home and Family Ministries counselor.  Along the way, I noticed things on the side of the road.  It is amazing what is on the side of the road.  With each mile, I thought of something funny that The First Lady of FBC Demopolis, Ashleigh Williams, told me the other day.

 

Ashleigh posed the question, “Why is their always only one tennis shoe on the side of the rode?  Shoes come by the pair.”  I took a moment to reflect since that was one of those UMPH moments.

 

Ashleigh gave me a profound question to ponder, especially when I began to pay attention to the things on the side of Interstate 20/59 on the way to Gadsden.  It was obvious that those who did not do a very good job of securing their cargo placed some things there.  These include the aluminum ladder, the air-conditioner insulated duct, the ice chest lid, the Styrofoam cooler, the weed eater, a bag of clothes, the love seat, and the book shelve.  Among these were the rubber straps with one hook missing, the half of the nylon strap, the frayed rope, and the bright yellow bungee.

 

It makes you wonder sometimes if people toss things on purpose.  There is the Auburn baseball cap, the Alabama T-shirt, the BF Goodrich tire, the broken bud lite beer bottle, the empty Marlboro light cigarette package, the plastic six-pack strap, the plastic safety hat, the pair of sunglasses, and the empty Pepsi 12-ounce aluminum can.

 

I giggle when I see the one sock, the one boot, and the one glove.  I think about the poor soul that arrived at his destination to find he had one sock, one boot, no T-shirt, one glove, and no hardhat.  Frustrated, he reaches for his bag of clothes to retrieve his dirty work clothes and there is no bag.  He takes a moment to settle his nerves and finds no Styrofoam cooler to retrieve a Pepsi.  There is no cooler, no six-pack of Pepsi.  He looks his beer ice chest and finds it overturned, no bottles of Bud Light hidden under the ice.  He wonders how did they fall off his pickup. Reaching for a Marlboro light, our poor traveler has no nicotine fix.

 

Knowing he cannot work, our half-dressed worker gets in his pickup and heads to the nearest Walmart.  As his luck is horrible, he gets a flat tire.  He pulls to the wayside. He jacks his pickup up and finds that he has lost his spare BF Goodrich.

 

He abandons his pickup and begins his journey on foot wearing one boot, one tennis shoe, shirtless, and no cap.  He thinks I should have worn shirt and shoes while driving.  Now his only companions on the Interstate are the dead armadillos, possums, cats, dogs, and deer that are being devoured by buzzards and crows.  He thinks it odd, but he notices a possum and three crows dining together on a squished possum.  He realizes that vehicles on the Interstate are passing very fast.

 

Each time he sticks out his thumb to hitchhike, follow travelers pass by switching lanes as they near him thinking him to be a decrepit drug addict making a living picking up aluminum cans and going through things on the wayside.

 

It is obvious that I had too much time to think on my drive to Gadsden, but I did think about Jesus’ parable to the disciples about seeds falling on the wayside.

 

 

 

And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up (Matthew 13:4 KJV).

 

 

 

When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side (Matthew 13:19 KJV).

 

 

 

There are all kinds of things on the wayside.  Some are there because of accident, neglect, or deliberately.  The State of Alabama will send laborers to clean up the wayside just as Jesus sends laborers into the harvest. The church has the responsibility to sow the Word of God and help people understand it as the journey through life.  Many are by the wayside due to accident, neglect, or deliberately. 

 

Pray as you travel life’s highway that you share the truth of God’s Word.  You may meet a one tennis shoe, one boot, cap less, half naked traveler who needs a ride.

 

 

May 11, 2017

 

There is excitement and anticipation around the Bethel Office.  The faithful few Bethel Baptist Builders have slowly and methodically transformed the pavilion into a nice place to have meetings and conferences.  The bathrooms are nice and the kitchen is almost complete.  Our biggest wait is the sewer system.

 

Pam and I are hoping that we can use the new facility before we retire.  One of our hopes is to host the 200th Anniversary in what we call the Bethel Annex.  It will be a great time in the history of the Bethel Baptist Association.

 

There remains a misunderstanding about the Annex.  I have had people ask, “Why are we spending time, energy, and money on a building to house the Bethel Builders, Disaster Relief, and Bethel Trailers and tools and equipment?”  It does do that, but it will be the future meeting place for the Executive Committee, Bethel Baptist Builders, and Disaster Relief Meetings.  It will be available for our churches to have meetings, family reunions, and various meetings. 

 

Once the Annex is complete, we will return to the Bethel Baptist Associational Annual fish fry.  It will not be in May, but whenever the sewer is complete.  I hope that during the Associational Missions week next May, we will renew the fish fry.

 

Helping do construction in the Annex reminds me how much I like to build and renews my calling in the ministry through building facilities for ministering, fellowship, and worship.  Next month the Builders will be traveling to Florida to help a church in construction.  Where there have been the faithful few in Linden and Brenda, from Oklahoma’s Bethel Baptist Builders team, who spent a couple of days here and worked in the Annex, a great number will head to Florida.  It makes the old saying true that people will travel miles to do missions, but will not do missions at home.

 

The Annex has required patience.  Construction can be a hurry up and wait process.  Some folks cannot deal with the hurry up and wait.  I had a foreman when I built bridges that hurry up and wait drove him bananas.  Sonny, my foreman, would rush us to build and set forms to pour concrete.  We would have the forms ready, but timing the concrete arrival was tricky.

 

On one occasion, we had this huge footing pour framed and ready.  The trucks were late so Sonny decided we were too idle and he used a bull dozier to push some dirt into the footing.  He ordered us to shovel out the dirt and wire brush the rebar steel where the concrete would adhere to it.

 

We were ticked, so I asked Sonny, my co-workers were afraid, why did he do such a STUPID thing.  He said we were standing around and he wanted us to be busy.  I am not the sharpest shovel in the tool shed, but I thought working hard to ready for a concrete pour was staying busy.

 

I told Stupid Sonny that if he wanted me to stay busy, all he had to do was say, “Stay busy.”  He said, “Stay busy.”

 

A few days later, Michael, a co-worker, stopped me and commented, “You haven’t done anything all morning.”  We were spending time getting ready to wreck forms and start another pour.  I looked my young friend eye to eye and said, “No ain’t done nothing, but I have looked busy ain’t I?”  He said, “Yeah, you have.”  I said, “I just doing what Sonny wants.”

 

When I think of hurry up and wait, I think about what Isaiah says, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:3 KJV).”

 

 

 

The word for wait is the Hebrew word, qavah. The root word means: to bind together by twisting, to expect, gather together.  That was exactly what I was doing while waiting to start forming again.  I was rolling up acetylene and air hoses, extension cords, and cables.

 

In the New Testament, the Thessalonians were good at hurry up and wait.  Thinking that Jesus’ return was imminent, the Thessalonians quit working.  Paul had some “lighting a fire on behinds words when he says, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should eat.  For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies (II Thessalonians 3:10-11 KJV).”

 

 

April 26, 2017

 

It was a Sunday night with six people in attendance at Brierfield Baptist Church.  The six people there were my family of five and Sis Fletcher.  Sunday mornings were a little better but not much.  Instilled in me was the principle:  teach or preach even it there is only one in attendance.  I still hold to that principle, I encourage preachers, and teachers of God’s Word that when there is only one student, then God wants you to have one-on-one time with them.  It is a divine appointment.  It may that God places us there to do some personal ministry.

With that thought, we had a regular service.  During the eight years at Brierfield, there were perhaps six years with no music.  Most people thought we were Church of Christ or a Mennonite congregation, not Southern Baptists because we did a whole lot of acappella.

Sharon led the music that night, our two older children, Andy, who was twelve, and Angela, who was ten, took up the offering.  I called on Andy to open in prayer and Angela to pray the offertory prayer.  Aaron was a baby that cried AMEN a whole bunch.

People would ask me why bother to have church, why not just go home.  I would reply, we came to worship and I was teaching the principles of worship to our children.  One particular Sunday, only my five showed for worship.  It was a cold, overcast, rainy morning.  The 1888 building used gas space heaters and I waited to see who would attend that morning before lighting them.  As Baptists do, sometimes there was a mad rush to make it right at ten o’clock.  This particular day it was, as a black friend of mine would say, “It’s just usin’s.” So usins worshiped in the warm car.

We had been at Brierfield for a couple of years, and this was the first of many times that it would be just my five.  Sharon looked at me that morning and said, “For the first time, I am discouraged.”

I told her that were less than ten miles from home and in less than thirty minutes we could back in a nice and comfortable home cooking chicken fingers and French fries.  I reminded her that we had thought about becoming missionaries and if we were ten thousand miles away in Timbuktu and no one showed, that would be discouraging.

No one came, we went home, cooked chicken fingers and French fires, she went to bed for beauty rest and I watched kung fu movies and the kids played.

Let me regress back to the Sunday night with Sis Fletcher and my five.  I was finishing a sermon and about to offer an invitation when a lady entered the church and sat on the back pew.  The Baptist Tradition is for everyone to look behind them when some enters the church.  All of us noticed that the lady was crying.  The Holy Spirit impressed me to preach a short sermon.  I preached a five-minute sermon; a concept that is totally unknown by a whole bunch of preachers, and gave the invitation.  I prayed the closing prayer, hoping the lady would come where I could pray for her.  When I finished, the whole church that night, that sounds better than Sis and us, welcomed her.

What she would tell me remains with me until today.  She said, “I was on my way to kill myself and I prayed that if God was listening that He give me a sign.  I prayed to God that the church would be open. I saw the lights of the church, pulled into the parking lot; I sat in the car for a few moments, and then decided to come in.”

Her name was Kris.  We learned that she was from another denomination and she could play the piano really well and had played for a quartet.  There was only one problem she could not read music.  The way she played for us was we would start singing; she would peck on the piano keys until suddenly she would have the melody.  The walls of Brierfield Baptist became Bapcostal for a few months.  The term Bapcostal comes from the Chiltonian Text and means when a Baptist raises his/her hands and says amen and hallelujah like a Pentecostal the Church is a Southern Bapcostal Church.

She did more than play.  One Sunday morning she had twenty-eight people come to church with her.  Another Sunday there were fifty-four there.  The most I remember was seventy-two.  She would say come to my church were the pastor and the people love you regardless of who you are and what you have done.  She shared Jesus like the woman at the well when Jesus confronted her.

For Christmas that year, we did a cantata.  Now remember, Kris could not read music, but she utilized every key and petal on the piano.  We did the cantata for a neighboring church.  We got an ovation for it.  I will never forget what a deacon in that church said.  “I think that girl was double plunkin’ that piano like they do in a bar.”   Yeah, it weren’t no bar and she was shined, and it was wonderful.  Because the Brierfield Baptist Church was faithful and had it lights burning, Kris was letting her light shine by “double plunkin’” and sharing Jesus with her family, neighbors, and strangers.

 

Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did (John 4:29a KJV)

 

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16 KJV).