Sunday, August 28, 2005

August 28, 2005

9:51 PM We had a wonderful Homecoming service this morning at the First Baptist Church in Russellville. As we were walking into the church, an older lady came up and said, “You don’t remember me but I was your science teacher in the 7th grade.” Several people in their 30s and early 40s said, “Your father (who was a surgeon in Russellville for 20 years) delivered me.” It’s a bit of a shock (is that the right word?) to meet someone you haven’t seen since high school days 35 years ago. We’ve all aged considerably, some more than others. A few people I recognized immediately. Quite a few people said, “Do you remember me?” or “You don’t remember me, do you?” I told the people that you only have one hometown and one home church. Russellville will always be home to me and First Baptist Church will always be my home church. Pastor Ed McCollum and his wife came out to the service. Brother Ed is 83 years old and doing well considering his health problems. Although I hadn’t seen him in quite a few years, he will always have a special place in my heart because he is the first person who ever explained the gospel to me. I had been raised in the church, but I never knew the Good News of Jesus until Brother Ed patiently explained it to me when I would go over to his house to hang out with his son Danny. I still recall how he used a chair to illustrate trusting in Christ. He is also the first person I ever heard do expository preaching. During my high school and college years, he pastored a church in a nearby town. On Wednesday nights he taught through the book of Psalms. I would come to hear him and he’d be in Psalm 9. Six months later I would drop in again and he was in Psalm 20. A year later he was Psalm 56. I don’t know how many years it took, but he made his way through the Psalms, preaching the Word of God to his congregation. Though not well known to the world, he was my father in the ministry and I choked up this morning when I saw him and thanked him for sharing the gospel with me. It was that kind of day. It’s good to remember who you are and where you came from. You can’t fool your own people because they’ve known you forever. Several people reminded me of various hijinks from my early days, most of which I had conveniently forgotten. They love you and they remember you and they know the truth about you and when you come home, they take you in anyway. Marlene and I talked about that on the way back to Florence this afternoon. I have lots of things on my mind at this moment in my life, but the folks in Russellville don’t know about them and they aren’t worried about them. And if your hometown people aren’t worried about them, how important can they be? Finally, I would like to thank Pastor Gene Balding and his staff for their wonderful hospitality. Paul Lynch led a powerful time of worship that lasted for almost an hour. I preached over 50 minutes, but I told them it didn’t matter since I hadn’t been there on Sunday morning in such a long time that I wanted to get my money’s worth while I was in town because I might not be back for another 10 or 15 years. They laughed and let me finish and then we enjoyed an incredible dinner in the gymnasium. It was the best-organized church luncheon I’ve ever seen. Southern fried chicken plus tables loaded with every possible side dish. No one went away hungry. 9:38 PM The latest entry in the Crosswalk weblog is called Waiting for Katrina.

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