Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When Things Fall Into Place

Just the other day, I was reading the blog of my friend, Dale Jenkins. In his latest blog post, he mentioned a familiar phrase that had come to his mind with renewed meaning. That got me to thinking. I recently had the same thing happen.

I was watching a television show where authorities had a locksmith open a safe box for them. He had a listening device that allowed him to hear the tumblers fall as he reached the right number in the combination. When all of the tumblers fell into place the thick steel door opened with ease.

In my lifetime, I have preached for a couple of different congregations that seemed to have a one tumbler concept. Both of them had had their share of trouble before I moved there. In one, they believed initially that once people heard about them hiring a young, conservative preacher, they would just flock in the doors and want to become members of that church (oh that I had that kind of power). The other was looking for a “messiah” of sorts. Someone who would come in, preach the right series of sermons, and all of their troubles would vanish away (again, oh that I had that series of sermons).

The problem in both places was that some brethren failed to understand the “combination concept.” Great churches — strong churches — are never built by a single ingredient. Too many elderships, search committees, and congregations are looking for just the right “pied piper” to sweep into their church and suddenly make them grow like the church in Jerusalem. They continually search in vain because they do not pay attention to the rest of the tumblers in the combination.

What we need to realize is that great and strong churches are built by a combination of godly elders, working deacons, faithful preachers, serving saints, and so on. It is a combination of things that makes a church. When all of the tumblers fall into place the doors of opportunity will swing open easily where they appeared locked and difficult before. Jesus created the church to function in this manner (1 Corinthians 12:24), so that every member could supply that which is needed to strengthen the body (Ephesians 4:16).

Do faithful preachers help churches grow? You bet! But, take heed to the rest of the tumblers, and the doors of opportunity will swing wide!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I have been blessed to enjoy the friendship and tutelage of four great mentors.  Three of them have already gone home to be with the Lord, but their influence remains with me everyday. And, there is hardly a day I do not think about them at least once.

The four men you see pictured are four of the finest preachers of the gospel I have ever known.  From each of them I learned vital lessons that have brought me to where I am now as a preacher of the Gospel.

  1. From Wendell Winkler I learned to always be prepared.  "Never step into the pulpit without something to say," he used to tell us "preacher boys."  His skill in crafting and delivering a sermon was often nothing short of amazing.  From him I learned to be a preacher.
  2. From Franklin Camp I learned the value of scholarship.  I might should add that degrees do not make for scholarship.  Not that there is anything wrong with having degrees.  Marshall Keeble said that every man should have 98.6 of them.  But Frankin was the consummate student.  He did not hold Master's and Doctoral degrees from our universities, but if it lay between the jackets of his Bible, there was nothing a professor in any of our schools could tell him he wasn't already familiar with.  He was also not afraid to buck the traditional understanding of a passage or topic, if it was what he truly believed the Bible teaches.  Interestingly enough his views were often what some today would call traditional, because that was what he truly believed the Bible teaches.  From him I learned to be a student.
  3. From Flavil Nichols I learned the love of brethren.  Few men I know have experienced or seen the bumps and bruises in ministry that Flavil has, but his demeanor is always pleasant.  He always speaks in loving tones about everyone.  He is a sweet and kind gentleman.  Flavil is still with us, although his health is not what he would desire.  When I still see him from time to time, that smile never fades, and that sweet spirit is always there.  I am afraid I may not have learned the lessons of love of brethren quite as well, but perhaps that is why he is still with us; so I will still have that example of such a great man. From him I have learned to be loving.
  4. From Bobby Duncan I learned the value of common decency in ministry.  Bobby was a great defender of the faith.  Some may have seen him as bullish and overbearing.  But, if you knew Bobby Duncan, he was neither of these things.  If he challenged a brother on a doctrine or position, he did not do it out of a mean, vindictive spirit.  He was genuinely concerned about that brother, and/or the church where he was preaching.  I knew of many occasions when Bobby spoke to a brother privately about a disagreement before he ever put pen to paper, or took the matter into the pulpit.  From him I learned to be honorable and civil in disagreements.

I miss those who have gone on.  I wish many days that I could pick up the phone just to converse with them.  I am grateful to have known them.  I am thankful for their influence in my life.  As I have heard of others, so say I now about my friends, "may their tribe increase!"


Monday, April 6, 2009

Final Two

Tonight is the finals of what is commonly called "March Madness" - the men's college basketball tournament. Since I was a boy, I have been a fan of the North Carolina Tarheels basketball program. Dean Smith is the best coach ever! My beloved Tarheels are pitted tonight against the hometown favorites - Michigan State.

I haven't gotten to watch as much of the tournament this year as I have in years past. Age and obligations seem to take me away from long hours in front of the TV on March Madness weekends. But here is my take on the game tonight. Izzo and Williams are two of the best coaches in the game. Carolina is loaded with talent, but Michigan State is no slouch either. My heart, however, stays with Carolina. I believe the Tarheels will win, but it could be close.


Inaugural Post

Well, I finally did it. I have entered the blogosphere. I don't know how often I will post, or how well this will work, but lately I have had a hankering for somewhere to share some random thoughts. I know the title is a bit cheesy, but it also reflects the fact that I do not expect to have lengthy posts, and that they will be somewhat random according to what I am thinking passionately about at the time. I am a preacher, so you can probably expect a good number of posts about Bible themes and church related matters. I am a sports fan, and have interests in politics and society in general, so some thoughts may come from those areas as well. All in all, I welcome you to my world, and hope that some of the things that I will say will be of interest and help to whoever is out there reading.