FOURTH IN THE CONTINUING SERIES ON GREAT LAYMEN I HAVE HAD IN MY PASTORAL JOURNEY THROUGH THE YEARS.
BLOG # 34: NOVEMBER 24, 2017
In July of 1967 Bess and I moved to Little Rock to become pastors of Cedar Lane Nazarene Church. The church had built a beautiful new worship center and lovely parsonage and was ready for dynamic growth from an average attendance of 110. The congregation had elected a tremendous Sunday school superintendent, a great leader with a vision for growth. RAY GABBARD stands out as one of the most outstanding lay leaders in all of my pastoral ministry. We became great friends and worked together to cast an exciting vision for the church. He was vice president of Orbit Valve in Little Rock and a tremendous motivator of other laymen. He was dearly loved and greatly appreciated by the entire church family. When I needed someone to help me to motivate and inspire the church body, I always turned to Ray.
The Holy Spirit helped me to inspire the congregation for a bus ministry outreach. Ray became my right hand to make it become a fabulous outreach. At the height of the ministry we had 5 buses bringing people to church on Sundays. Ray motivated people to become involved in reaching others for Christ. As a result we had a great team of dedicated and committed workers. Ray and I set the example for others to follow. He and I devoted Saturdays to the bus ministry. We walked the streets together enlisting riders to ride the buses on Sundays.
The growth of the church demanded more room to accommodate the increase in attendance. Ray became a key leader in the renovation of the old sanctuary building into a chapel and Sunday school rooms. In a little over three years the average attendance increased from 110 to near 350. Without a doubt it was one of the most exciting places I have pastored. I did not know it then, but it was preparing me for a much larger ministry that was ahead for me in another church, and speaking across America and Canada.
It really is fun pastoring an exciting and growing church!
In September of 1965 Bess and I accepted a call to pastor the First Nazarene Church at Abernathy, Texas. It was a major move for us, moving from the mid-south and away from families to the high plains of west Texas, and to a small town of 2,500 near Lubbock. The church was the most beautiful in town, and filled with tremendous dedicated laymen including the Spruills, Halfords, Patersons, Ingrams and many more. They had worked hard to pay off the debt of the beautiful church building and the lovely parsonage. They really loved our family, and spoiled our young children, Chuck at 3 and Micki at 13 months. They told me something no other church has ever told me. They said if I saw a financial need or challenge to just let them know and they would take care of it. Several times I put those big cotton and grain farmers to a test, and they always responded to the challenge I presented.
The big challenge of my ministry there was was to reach the younger generation. I knocked on almost every door in town to reach new people. Instead of a bus ministry I challenged the congregation to have a car parade to Sunday School every Sunday morning. It was an exciting time for all the people to see many brand new people coming on Sundays for the first time in years. It was a challenge every Saturday morning to be out knocking on doors to line up people to fill the cars for the Sunday School parade the next morning. Some dedicated ladies would decorate the cars early on Sunday mornings with bright colored streamers for the parade. It really was a sight to see!
After two years in Abernathy, Dr. A. Milton Smith, District Superintendent of the South Arkansas District, called me to consider a call to pastor the Little Rock Cedar Lane Church. In my blog next week I will tell you about my response.
God is continuing to lead Bess and me all the way!
BLOG # 32: NOVEMBER 11, 2017
God led Bess and me from Greenwood, Mississippi, to West Memphis, Arkansas. When we arrived in September of 1962 there were seven people in the church, five Mousers and two Spears. The church building was a gothic brick building in design that seated around 200. At one time the church had averaged around 150 in attendance, but had fallen on hard times. The district superintendent and advisory board decided it looked like a hopeless situation, and would probably need to close the church and put it up for sale. Through God’s providence Bess and I met the District
Superintendent, Dr. A. Milton Smith, at a meeting arranged by God in Little Rock. Dr. Smith talked to me about the church, and challenged me to consider becoming the pastor. I could not escape the impression of the Holy Spirit concerning the church and relocating. He made it very clear it was His will for me to accept the challenge and become the pastor. It was the beginning of three years of amazing miracles!
There are many highlights of our ministry in West Memphis. It was the beginning of my bus outreach ministry. I heard about a bus for sale at a Memphis Baptist church for $250.00. The church didn’t have $250.00. To this day, I have no idea how I got the money to buy that bus. Two things I know for sure, I did not steal it, and God provided the money for the purchase. It was a happy day when I drove that bus across the Mississippi river to the church. Now I really had a problem. There was no one to drive the bus and be a bus pastor, so I knew it all depended on me.
I spent Saturdays knocking on doors rounding up people to ride the bus on Sunday. It was exciting to see the results of my labors with a bus load every Sunday! God taught me many things about this ministry that I would use years later to build a very large bus ministry at Little Rock and Virginia Beach.
The Holy Spirit started sending people to attend the church, and there was an exciting growth explosion! Out of that dynamic growth God sent a former Nazarene song evangelist to help me. ORLANDO “TUT” RUSSELL, with a booming voice, became a great friend and supporter. I used him every Sunday to lead the singing and sing before I preached. He really inspired a lot of growth! One Sunday in 1964 I received 44 brand new members into the church. They reached out to others, and here is where Frangelism began for me, even though I did not know what to call it then. The church was awarded the Small Church Achievement Award from Nazarene headquarters in Kansas City.
The most exciting Sunday in my time at West Memphis happened on a fall rally day that featured Tut Russell and the Ozark Harmony Boys. I convinced Harold Penn, manager and owner of KSUD Radio Station, to broadcast the service live. Two Hundred sixty two people packed the worship center with standing room only.
The tremendous growth inspired us to look for another location in a more visual location. God opened the door for us to purchase three acres from a Baptist church on a busy boulevard for relocation. The pastor that followed me relocated the church and built a new building. He had a short-term ministry, and my friend Jay Ahlemann became the pastor, and took the church to another record height that has never been surpassed.
It really has been fun to be the pastor of growing churches!
BLOG # 31: NOVEMBER 03, 2017
AN AMAZING FEMALE LAYMAN
She was inspired by the Holy Spirit to leave her familiar surroundings in Jackson, Mississippi to help plant a church in Greenwood, Mississippi. It happened at a Nazarene District Assembly Home Missions rally. She was a Stanley home products dealer with an established business route in Jackson. She was willing to leave that, and the fellowship of her home church and friends to move to the beautiful city of Greenwood with 25,000 people that did not have a Nazarene church to help plant one.
EUNICE PHILLIPS was one of the most amazing layman I have ever known. Her faith and sacrificial spirit was a tremendous inspiration to all that knew her. When Bess and I, along with 6 week old Charles Jr., arrived as the first pastor of the Greenwood Nazarene Church in August of 1961, she greeted us with enthusiasm and expectation. She told us about God’s call for her to move to Greenwood, and about the dreams she had for the church. She let us know she was totally committed to help establish and grow the church. I have never seen a layman work like she did to invite and reach people for the church.
When we arrived to begin our pastoral ministry, there were 3 people in the church. Eunice Phillips, Beverly, her adopted daughter, and Cecil, Beverly’s boyfriend. The Mississippi District had built a beautiful small church building in a good location on a corner lot across the street from the Yazoo River. My salary was $25.00 dollars a week paid by the district. Bess got a job teaching English at Greenwood High School for $2,300 a year. In many ways that year, August 1961 to September 1962 was a blur. I went all out to grow the church, walking the streets going door to door, inviting people to attend the church. Eunice Phillips had many contacts through her Stanley products job, and worked continuously inviting people to church. The church started to grow from 3 to 20 and on up to 30. Eunice was thrilled to see the results of reaching out to brand new people, and it inspired her to give it all she had! I purchased a duplicating machine and started mailing church news to a mailing list of contacts and attenders, promoting the services. I can still see the beaming face of Eunice with the growth. Her efforts and sacrifice was paying off! On up to 50 the attendance climbed, and to a rally day crowd of just under 100 that filled the small worship center.
The church averaged 67 in attendance that one and only year we were in Greenwood. In September of that year God moved us to West Memphis, Arkansas to resurrect the First Nazarene Church that had only 7 people left after a continuous decline of several years. The Greenwood church went through several pastoral changes and didn’t survive. There is no church there today. I am sure heaven will reveal the results of the seeds sowed by a dedicated, sacrificial and obedient lady by the name of Eunice.
On Sunday May 22, after church, Bess and I went to Dollywood to hear Karen Peck and New River in concert at 3 p.m. They honored us with front row middle seats. Karen told the huge crowd that we were there and then dedicated the song, “My God Will Always Be Enough” to us. A number of people that have been to Lake Gibson came down after the closing to speak to us. It was a wonderful way to close out another Lord,s Day!
It really is true, “My God Will Always Be Enough!”
BLOG # 30: OCTOBER 27, 2017
GREAT LAYMEN IN MY PASTORAL MINISTRY
Great laymen are keys to a great church. In my 56 year pastoral journey across America I have had many who have stood by me through thick and thin to help me accomplish what I thought God had called me to do in each church. This blog is the beginning of a series on wonderful laymen that have served with dedication and faithfulness in my churches, and I am honoring with love and gratitude.
LEROY COX in Virginia Beach, Virginia, went home to be with his Lord a few days ago on October 15 at the age of 96. Leroy was an outstanding layman in Tidewater Central Church in Virginia Beach. He was the owner of a large television and appliance center that served the Tidewater area. He was a great inspiration to me and a faithful supporter during my three-and-a-half-year ministry that saw the church grow from 213 to 719 in average attendance. He encouraged and supported me with a great outreach ministry of 15 buses, and was thrilled with the exciting growth! Leroy stood by me in a challenging time with a staff member that had family in the congregation. When the ministry of the staff member continued to decline, I had to make the most difficult decision in my pastoral ministry at that time, to dismiss that staff person. Leroy’s support of my decision and action never wavered, and with his help and encouragement I survived, and the church rolled on!
Before I announced my retirement to the church in February, Leroy telephoned me in my office to thank me for my ministry on the internet. He let me know that he and Maxine, his wife, went to church with us every Sunday on the internet since they were not able to attend the Tidewater Central services. At Leroy’s passing Bess and I had the opportunity to minister to Maxine and other family members several times before the celebration service on October 19. Maxine told us how they would move their chairs close to the television to not miss a service on the internet on Sundays.
One of the family members was grandson Frank Davenport who, at 53, expressed his love and appreciation for me and my ministry. While I pastored Tidewater Central church Frank was stricken with acute leukemia and was given no hope to survive. The church rose up to pray and fast for a miracle from God. Leroy’s faith was an incredible inspiration to me.
I flew to New York city to be with the family at the hospital and to pray and anoint Frank for God’s healing. One of the greatest miracles in all of my ministry happened when God healed Frank! While we were talking on the phone together, we rejoiced again over the tremendous miracle! Frank told me about his job with the FBI. He reminded me how he wanted to make his hair look like mine when he was young. We laughed about the time I went to his house to style his hair like mine. I still remember how excited he was. His parents, Bill and Linda, along with Leroy and Maxine would tell me that Frank would ask them, “Does my hair look like Pastor Kirby's?"
Bess and I continue to rejoice over how our Lord, in the beginning time of our retirement, continues to give us the opportunities to minister to others, especially like the Cox family in Virginia Beach!
God is so good!
A BOYHOOD PREACHER TURNS 80 - Part 2
I ended my blog last week describing how my cousin, Nona Faye, and I played church in the barn after school and on Saturdays. Even though I has a stuttering and stammering tongue until God healed me at 18, I never stuttered and stammered while preaching in the barn.
A horrible inferiority complex began to dominate my life. I refused to look people in the eye and sucked my thumb through the 3rd grade. In school I refused to speak publicly or give a speech because I would stutter. Fellow students would laugh at me until I would take an F rather than speak publicly. I lived in fear that I would be called by the teachers to answer questions, so I would try to block their view of me by trying to hide behind the heads of students sitting in front of me. I lived this way all through elementary, middle school and high school. It was a miserable existence for me. More times than I can count, I would come home from school to cry at my mother’s knee, asking “Why does God put me through this?” My dear mother would often say, “Charles Lee, God is going to Heal you in His time.” I would respond by asking, “When!” I am ashamed to say this, but I really did hate God. I knew there was no way I could be a preacher with my speech impediment that was dominating my life. The truth about this major hurdle in my life is that I did not stutter talking to friends, it only raised its ugly head when I tried to speak publicly before people. Satan really had me in his grip and under incredible bondage.
The shock of my life came when I entered college at Trevecca in Nashville. All freshmen were required to take a class called Written And Oral Communication. I was petrified my first day in the class to hear the professor outline the requirements of the class included included giving oral reports. It goes without saying, I did not do well in that class, because I only did the written phase and not the oral. It was during this time I continued to rebel against God, and run from His plan for my life. There never was a doubt in my mind concerning God’s call to be a preacher of the gospel.
An amazing thing happened to me on a Sunday morning in Nashville while I was in college. I went to church at College Hill Church to hear pastor Claude Galloway, whom I really liked and respected, preach. As I sat on the back row, the Holy Spirit really spoke to me and said, “It is time to stop running.” He overpowered me with strong conviction until I found myself leaving my seat during the invitation to take the long walk down the center aisle to the altar. I was overcome by God’s presence, and told Him as I wept and prayed, that I would surrender to His call to preach if He would heal my stuttering, stammering tongue. I have no idea how my pastor of my home church, Phil Storey, whom I really loved, heard about what happened that Sunday morning so quickly. He called me and said, “Charles, I know you are coming home next week-end, So I want you to preach Sunday night.” Fear swept through my spirit, and I tried to speak, but could not say a word. He hung up the phone and all I heard was a buzz.
That was the fastest week in my life! There I stood 60 years ago this past March in 1957, to preach my very first sermon to a real live audience of people, and not cows and horses. “The Tears And Torments Of The Finally Lost” was the title of that message. I can still see my friends that had come to see “the show,” because I had never spoken in public without stuttering and stammering. The miracle of miracles really happened that Sunday night! As I stepped to the pulpit and open my mouth to speak, for the first time in my life I never stuttered and stammered! My friends were in shock. Two dear lady saints that had prayed for me, who always sat on the second row, and were old time shouting saints, stood to their feet raising their hands and shouting praise to their Lord! Everyone who really knew me, and my struggle to speak without stuttering, knew they were witnessing a miracle!
Almost immediately I started receiving invitations to preach across the southeast. I would leave the college campus in my 1954 green and white Ford on Fridays or Saturdays to preach on Sundays and in week-end revivals, returning to the campus late Sunday nights or early Monday mornings. Other preacher boys on campus, studying for the ministry, who did not have many invitations to preach, were amazed how busy I was, and seemed not to understand. The truth is, neither did I. All I knew it had to be God!
To God be glory and honor now and forever!
BLOG # 28: OCTOBER13, 2017
A BOYHOOD PREACHER TURNS 80
I was born on October 13, 1937 to Lee Olen and Dorothy Pauline Kirby. My birth took place in their country farmhouse home in the Bear Creek community near Pinson, Tennessee. It was a beautiful setting overlooking the clear waters, at that time, of Bear Creek. There was a wonderful spring nearby that never ran dry. I was thrilled a few years ago, when I visited our old home place community, to discover the spring is still flowing to this day. I drank from that spring many times as a boy lying on my belly to lap at those cool waters. I took advantage of the opportunity to drink from that spring one more time, perhaps the last. As I was drinking, I thanked my Lord for the day I discovered springs of living water that flow through my soul this day!
From my earliest recollection I knew I would be a preacher. I thought of it as my dream job. When people would say to me, “You will be a carpenter just like your dad,” I knew that would never happen. Even though I did help my dad from time to time in his carpentry work, my mind was focused on being a preacher. I actually started preaching at 3 years of age, according to my parents, by using as a pulpit the square platform hand rail at the bottom of the staircase. That was my favorite thing to do, so I would preach every day. A renter that helped my dad with the farming, lived upstairs. He really loved me, but my preaching made him nervous. My dad, recounting that period of time, said my preaching put him under conviction. The renter never would go to church with us, and told my dad, “If you don’t stop Charles Lee from his preaching, he is going to lose his mind.” He really must have been convicted by the Holy Spirit.
When I was in the first grade my parents sold the old home place and bought one of my favorite places to live, growing up, about 10 miles from Jackson, Tn. It was a wonderful truck farm with an orchard with delicious apples and peaches; a very good barn for two cows and Patsy, our beautiful horse, I loved to ride; a large pasture for the cows to graze, Patsy to roam and where I could ride, and wonderful land for farming.
Our house was large enough for my mother’s sister, aunt Lockey, uncle Dewey and cousin Nona Faye to live in one side. When I was in the 3rd grade, my cousin Nona Faye and I had our own church and worship center in the barn. She played a make-believe piano from a bale of hay, and my dad built me a pulpit. It became our favorite thing to do after school and on Saturdays. We really had church! I dressed up in Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, and preached up a storm. It was in the barn and in this setting that I developed the dynamics and excitement of expression in preaching. It was in the barn that I discovered the Kirby kick that has been known and witnessed by many people through the years. It really did give me a great background and head start for my homiletical and preaching training when I went to college and majored in religion.
As I am celebrating 80 years, looking back on my life, it really has been an exciting journey! The longer I have lived the more I have witnessed the providence of God in my life. This blog is only the beginning of
“A Boyhood Preacher Turns 80.” I will continue with my life’s journey in my blog next week.
Thank you, Lord, for guiding me all the way!
TIME: A Powerful Force In All Our Lives
Since I began my retirement in May, I have been thinking more and more about TIME. You and I have said it over and over again: “Where has the TIME gone? The year is passing so fast; I can’t believe it is almost Christmas again; The older I get, the faster TIME flies.” It really is a fact of life, TIME is a powerful force in all our lives!
It is very difficult for me to believe, but it is absolutely true. Bess and I have been retired and at our cabins in the Smokies 41/2 months. It has been a wonderful TIME for us! We have spent this TIME getting adjusted to a totally different lifestyle without the stress and pressure of schedules and assignments. One reason 41/2 months of TIME have passed so fast is because we have been very busy upgrading our cabins, traveling, ministering and meeting with friends.
As we are winding down our Spring, Summer and Fall TIME here in the mountains, we are planning our TIME for the Winter and Spring in Lakeland. We are excited about a new door of ministry opportunity that is opening! TIME will reveal the results and benefits that are ahead. Our dear Lord is directing our paths!
The Holy Spirit inspired me early Thursday morning, while I was still in bed, about the powerful force of TIME. As I meditated in the holy presence of our Lord, He spoke to me through Scripture.
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the TIME, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
The powerful force of TIME has brought us to this incredible place in world history. It goes without saying, our day is a TIME of evil. The tragedy in Las Vegas dominates the TIME on television and radio stations. The darkness of sin continues to darken our world while the bright light of the Gospel is trying to dispel the darkness in the hearts of mankind. Guns have never caused the darkness. The powerful force of sin is the root cause of the evil that covers our world. There is only onE cure. It is redemption through the blood of Jesus!
I have been thinking, what would happen if every born again, Spirit-filled Christian would take advantage of the powerful force of TIME to let the light of our Lord shine through us. Without one doubt, we would make a difference! ladies and gentlemen, TIME is running out. World conditions and the Word of God is pointing to the TIME of our Lord’s return. Dear Lord, please save us from slumber and sleep! TIME is continuing to make a change in you and me!
Time has made a change
On each smiling face.
Time has made a change
In the old home place.
All the world can plainly
See time has made a change
In you and me.
God bless each one of you!
It has been a joy this last week in September for Bess and me to host two wonderful couples. Dick and Carole Noble, Dan and Jean Oliveira have rented our Snuggled-In cabin for the week to attend the National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge. Both of them are members of Lake Gibson church in Lakeland, where we served as their pastors. It has been fun doing so many things together...eating and fellowshipping together at some great restaurants, like The Old Mill, experiencing Billy Graham’s Cove in Asheville, going to Dollywood, and of course traveling back and forth to the convention on three special evenings. We certainly have made some great memories. Isn’t that what friendships do?
The quartet convention was outstanding once again. This is the 3rd year it has been held at the beautiful LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge after moving from Louisville. This was the 60th anniversary for the National Quartet Convention that began in 1957 at the Ellis Auditorium in Memphis. Over 12,000 have attended this year. Thursday night was incredible, with a turn-away crowd that completely packed the auditorium. One of the big highlights in attending the NQC is seeing so many people that have attended Lake Gibson Church through the 19 years Bess and I served as pastors. And then there is that large number that have watched the services on the internet that have never had the opportunity to attend. We talked with so many of them from across the country and Canada. One was the Fenn family from Harrogate, Tn that stopped us in the huge lobby. Rebecca and her four children, Christina, Daniel, Josh and Hannah warmed our hearts. Rebecca told us they worshipped with us every weekend, and the children would wait for the services to begin. And when they did begin, they would call their mother and say, “Mother, Pastor Kirby is on!” These were four siblings, two teens and two younger children, with such an interest in our services. Once again, as Bess and I walked away, we were rejoicing over the impact of the internet ministry!Charles Kirby
Friends are priceless! Since Bess and I retired, we are now able to spend more time with our friends. Many of them come and go to the mountains. Several of them have places here in the Smokies. It is great meeting them at some of our favorite restaurants for a meal and wonderful fellowship. It is fun running into people we have known through the years but haven’t seen them in a long time. We see them at Dollywood, the Old Mill, our favorite restaurant, at the outlet shops and other places Bess likes to shop. I usually find a bench while I am waiting, and catch up on the news. It always amazes me at the people I meet that know me. Many of these have seen me on the internet while watching the Lake Gibson Church services. We have a pleasant chat and get acquainting during these times.
Next week, September 24-30, is the 60th National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge. Some 12,000 people will attend. We will see many of our friends and others that have watched Lake Gibson services through the years. Bess and I will visit with all the groups that are featured singers at Saturday and Sunday nights in Lakeland. I will have the opportunity to spend time with the agents I have worked with for 19 years that books the music groups. We have become wonderful friends. Bess and I will be attending three nights, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We usually arrive at 4:00 p.m. and stay through most of the evenings. We try to catch all our favorite groups when they are featured. Some really are anointed by the Holy Spirit. Those are our favorites.
For several years I served as chaplain for the Southern Gospel Promoters Association, and had some responsibilities at the convention. Since I gave up that position a few years ago, it is more relaxing for me to attend.
BLOG # 34: NOVEMBER 24, 2017
I’m all mixed up. No smart replies, please! Here’s what I mean.
We’ve arrived home in Mulberry. Oh, how Charles and I have loved this 19 year (Lakeland area) home. Our hearts have been here. But, alas, we’ve been at home for the past 5 months in the Smoky Mountains. Our hearts were there, too. No wonder I’m all mixed up. And, in the tomorrows, we’ll be at our new Heavenly home. Our hearts will be there then and really, have already been there.
I’m reminded of the many homes we’ve had over a lifetime. Our hearts were with them all. First, there was the upstairs apartment at the Martin’s home in Nashville, TN. I was with child. Chuck was born while we were there. And, my, how Mrs. Martin helped us. Charles and I were continuing our education; and, I was editing the college yearbook. Of course, my heart was there.
Next, our home was in a 3 room apartment of Mrs. Eunice Phillips’, right next door to our first church, in Greenwood, MS. Interesting events there are these. I began my high school teaching of English and Speech. Charles began his bivocational sales job with Mutual of Omaha, while pastoring. Greenwood, MS is my birthplace and Charles and I spent our first night there after our wedding, on our way to Hot Springs, AR, our honeymoon destination; so it holds a special place. Our next home was an actual house in West Memphis, AR. We were so excited about our first home! It had 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, LR, eat in kitchen, and carport. Charles pastored the church; I taught school there, and Micki was born there. Oh, what memories...and you can rest assured that our hearts were at that home, as with all others.
Then Texas called. Moving there was an adventure. The parsonage, to us, was like a rich man’s home. It was partially furnished. There was a living room with separate den; a utility room with a freezer, filled with food; a piano in the living room; a big fenced backyard, which was wonderful for our small children. It was there at a district assembly that I heard Dr.Ed Lawler say over and over again, “We’re a dried eyed people in a hell bound world”. It moved my heart toward evangelism; and, the result was introducing my neighbor to Jesus. My heart was at home there.
From there, it was back to Arkansas… Little Rock. Chuck started to school. Our home was wonderful and beautiful, surrounded by trees and a nice yard; a country type setting. We put in our first artificial fireplace and enjoyed it. I even painted the kitchen cabinets in an artsy color. We entertained a lot. We purchased our first piano there and I started teaching private piano lessons. While there we purchased a second car, a volkswagen bug. Here, We were given 2 chickens; had no place to keep them, except an old house out back. So we put them there until Charles could wring their necks like they did back on the farm where he grew up. And I, a city girl, had to try to clean them and pull out all the feathers. What did I know about such things? We encountered our first house break-in there; nevertheless my heart was there.
Then Virginia called...that is, Virginia Beach. Oh what a joy! Our home was lovely, but smaller than the last two. It had our first study. Micki started kindergarten there. Chuck was in public school. Micki would play for hours in her bedroom, like she was a gospel singer with a mike. Chuck and I took judo lessons. We all dressed up often on our Old Fashioned Days at church. Yes, our hearts were there.
Texas called again. This time it was to Lubbock, out on the high plains where the sand blew!!! Oh, those sand storms! What a great church (as were all the others); great in its people and building. Chuck and Micki were in school. Our home was special & beautiful. It was furnished by the church. After we were there a while, the church let us buy our own home. What excitement. The first home we owned (Okay, we were making payments on a mortgage!), was a 4 bedroom, 3 bath, LR/DR combo, big den, kitchen, 2 car garage, fenced backyard. While there, a big dog followed Chuck home from school. Chuck wanted to keep it. We tried to find the owner, but could not. So we kept it. Sometimes later, we had a dozen puppies! It was here that Micki played Skip-Bo; it seemed like for hours, with a friend from down the street. Oh the memories. Yes, our hearts were there.
The time came for our short pastorate in Pasadena, California. I guess, our house was the nicest parsonage ever; but, let me stop here and praise God for unbelievable homes everywhere we’ve been. Our hearts have been at every stop on our life’s journey. This is a good place to stop and continue next week, the journey my heart takes. Until then, my heart will go on singing!!!
LEAVING THE MOUNTAINS / BOUND FOR THE BEACHES
We left the mountains yesterday on our trek to wonderful Central Florida, the land of beaches and sunshine. For many years Charles called it, Paradise. Well now, he has a 2nd Paradise, the land of Smoky Mountains.
We stayed long enough at our mountain view cabin this time to witness the remains of Spring, the entire Summer, and Autumn...thru the peak of colors and the falling of leaves. The peak was later this year; it came in early November.
And WOW, what a WONDER GOD is! As I looked out the big window one morning, I was moved with the incredible beauty and the richness of the colors. It was as if God put a big, sky consuming, rainbow of rich colors in front of us. And, as we drove on the Foothills Parkway, it near moved us to tears of joy and thanksgiving at God’s gift of nature.
Every season has its beauty and blessing of God. In the midst of all the Spring, Summer, and Fall beauty of these mountains, we have been ( or maybe I should say, “I have been…”) like nomads, like pilgrims on a journey, wandering in the wilderness, like trying to find our way. And we continue that journey as we relocate to Florida for a few months.
Decisions! Decisions! Decisions! May God help us. And I can testify to God’s faithfulness. He’s true to His Word. He will never leave or forsake us.
At this stage and age of our lives, we have begun the final climb to the top of God’s mountain. We pray it will be a safe journey, a beautiful journey, and an extended journey. May God be praised with our living.
We’ll soon be at our Florida dwelling; ready to greet each day’s joys and challenges. Thank you Jesus for safe travels. Make us a blessing to someone today, sweet Jesus. Bess
BLOG # 32: NOVEMBER 11, 2017
We were driving to the Post Office the other day to get our mail, as is our custom. On the way, I saw some things I had not seen before due to the fallen leaves. The autumn leaves had fallen exposing an undesirable sight. I saw an old dilapidated chicken house, a bunch of old wrecked vehicles, and an old run-down, uninhabited mobile home. Not a pretty site, to be sure.
While I’ve seen undesirable sites because the cover-up was removed, I’ve also seen desirable sites, once hidden by the leaves on the trees. Falling leaves reveal what’s behind them. The lesson for me from this experience is this: that “What’s behind the green door” is important.
I once covered up my sin. But, one day, I met a MAN who could clean up the mess behind my “green” door. Jesus is His name. Now, I want to forever have a clean heart, a beautiful life, a Christian life. I want no expose’ to reveal any ugliness, but only Godliness. May it be so.
Hope and pray that when the magnifying glass is put on you or me, it will reveal a dedicated Christian life...a thing of beauty. May we be vessels of honor for Him, Jesus, the great Emancipator.
May you have a great week. Praying for my blog followers, for safety, hope, health, happiness, and supply. God is able. Nothing too hard for our God. He’s able, more than able to see us through.
P.S. I have a broken heart over the tragedy of lives taken in God’s Sanctuary in the small Texas town. I’m praying for God’s comfort and supply for all the families affected. Crying about what sin does to a person. May our hearts burn for revival...for souls.
BLOG # 31: NOVEMBER 3, 2017
THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES
It’s FriDAY, November 3, 2017. God woke me up this morning to a bright, new, expealidocious day! I wonder what this day holds for me? One thing for sure, no two days are alike. Another thing I know is that this is the day God made and I am rejoicing in it.
I love the words of Sweden’s Fanny Crosby, Lina Sandell: “Day by Day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here. Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment, I’ve no cause for worry or for fear. He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure, gives unto each Day what He deems best, lovingly it’s part of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest.”
I want to tell you about some of our yesterDAYS. I’ll begin with last ThursDAY, Oct. 26. We met friends, Gene (retired minister/chaplain) and Peggy King & daughter, college roommate, Helen Burch from Virginia at a great restaurant in Dandridge for some good catfish; then from there we rode with them to Clinton, TN for a Hymn Sing headed up by Gerald Wolfe of Greater Vision fame. It was wonderful; so uplifting! What a great time of worship we had. And what dear lifelong friends, God provides for us!
On another new day, SunDAY, October 29, we met friends Cecil and Ruby Felker from Nashville at First Baptist, Sevierville, for services and then shared lunch at KY Fried, the $5 deal (you know you get a chocolate chip cookie), while enjoying great fellowship.They are so much fun to be with.
Then up pops another new day. MonDAY came and we woke up to snow on the mountain tops. Like I said, no 2 days are alike. We had computer problems...really keyboard problems. So this day we took our laptop to Staples to find out what was wrong; and, ended up buying a new keyboard. Thank the Lord, it’s up and running now. And as the day wore on, Charles built a rip roaring fire and we enjoyed shrimp cocktail, and finished the day off with pecan pie and ice cream!
The night passed and TuesDAY rolled around. There were chores to do; laundry, house cleaning, and a big surprise!!! Sybil and Sandy phoned and were passing through on their way to FL by way of a Georgia stop...so we just had to meet them at one of our favorite restaurants, the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge. What a great time we had. Thanks “girls” for coming.
As WednesDAY, Nov. 1 dawned, excitement filled the air as we anticipated the Putmans’ arrival. Neal and Frances, have been wintering in Florida in recent years, while enjoying the gospel concerts. We enjoyed their visit very much, buying their lunch at Carver’s Applehouse Restaurant as we celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary; and taking them to our famous, historical Dry Goods Store. Thank God for Family and Friends.
God woke us up ThursDAY. Had a light to come on, on the dashboard of the car and we needed to check that; so, off went Charles to take care of it. And I had to get our TN monthly cabin business taxes paid online. After that, we went out for Mexican food; stopping off at Carver’s for an ice cream cone; turtle tracks, my favorite; butter pecan, Charles’ favorite. And then drove the Foothills Parkway to see the colors. They were spectacular! Pictures from my iphone don’t do it justice. Oh, for God’s Handiwork!!! It cannot be matched.
While I’ve not spoken of our tears, they can come on any given Day and are no respecter of persons; but, I’m reminded of these few words of a song, “Tears are a language, God understands”.
In conclusion, Christy Lane made famous this song. “One day at a time, sweet Jesus, That’s all I’m asking from you. Just give me the strength to do everyDay what I have to do. YesterDays gone, sweet Jesus, and tomorrow may never be mine. Lord , help me toDay, show me the way one Day at a time.”
It’s FriDay, November 3rd. God woke me up and I’m excited to see what God has in store for me toDay!
P.s. I’m reading a fabulous book, “You Don’t Cry Out Loud”, The Lily Isaacs story
BLOG # 30: OCTOBER 27, 2017
BUILDING A NEW HOME / A NEW LIFE
Jesus had a lot to say about building. He told us in Matt. 7:24-27 to build our house on the Rock, not on sinking sand. 2 Cor. 5:17 says:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Building a new home has some of the same building blocks as building a new life. It’s all about a CHANGE. Ernie Haase and Signature Sound wrote about change. Here are some of those words.
“He made a change in the way that I’m walking. He made a change in the way that I’m talking. Old things pass away, behold everything’s new. He made a change in the life that I’m living. I’m born again, set free, finally forgiven. If He can make a change in me, He can make a change in you.”
So for 4 months or so, we have been working hard, making changes in our mountain cabins. Being long distance owners brought some challenges in the upkeep (building blocks; like the pruning of rose bushes, etc.). Building a new home is all about the growing process, the changes that need to be made.
Some of the building blocks/changes we’ve made, have included painting doors and decks, putting new chains on the porch swings, installing a new picture window and new carpet, buying new stainless steel kitchen appliances, new den furniture, new hotel resort Jamison mattresses in one cabin, new wall decor, new bath room items in one cabin, new towels, new linens, and many other items through the 12 years we have had these cabins. And it all looks good!
As the years come and go, we will need to do more, building upon these improvements. Just as in our spiritual life, the Light keeps shining on our pathway, letting us know the changes we need to make. Once we have accepted Jesus as our Savior (born again), we begin a wonderful process of growing. We must not quit growing, making positive changes in our life, our homes.
I challenge you to read I and II Peter about fruitful growth in the faith. Add to your reading, Colossians, Galatians, I and II Corinthians. Listen to these portions of scripture.
“...come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean and I will receive you…..let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Cor. 6:17 & 2 Cor. 7:1.
I close with this question from Isaiah 66:1.
“...where is the house that you will build me?”
BLOG # 29: OCTOBER 20, 2017
We’re rich! Are you surprised? You know, we gave up a salary 5 months ago when we retired. And, at present, neither of us has a part-time job. But I want to assure you that we really are rich; though, not in wealth nor material possessions. We’re rich in things that matter. Our riches are at Christ’s expense. Oh, how He loves us. His outstretched arms on Calvary’s cross made the difference for us. His blood atoned for us. We stand redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. His life in us produces love, joy, peace, healing, necessities of life, and abundant blessings.
We’re rich! One of Webster’s definitions for “rich” is “well supplied”. And I believe we are well supplied. Jeff and Sheri Easter sing a song I love that says:
“There’s a roof up above me; I’ve a good place to sleep. There’s food on my table and shoes on my feet. You gave me your love, Lord, and a fine family. Thank you Lord for your blessings on me.”
We’re rich! George Beverly Shea put the music to these beautiful words in 1939. The words are our testimonies.
“I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold; I’d rather be His than have riches untold. I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands, I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand…..I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.”
Rejoicing in His riches,
BLOG # 28: OCTOBER 13, 2017
Living with an 80 year old Man
(A short and sweet blog)
There are challenges for sure! At least that’s what I’ve been told by others. They say, (Who are they?) Every morning when you wake up and wonder where you are, you grab your cane; get up; reach for your glasses and teeth; put your clothes on and grab your hair piece. Ready for the day!
Oh well, I’m glad my 80 year old man never wonders where he is and is physically fit, so has no need for a cane. He doesn’t wear glasses; nor does he have false teeth. And, the hair he has, is still glued to his head.
Wow! What a man!
I’m blessed beyond measure. I live with a man who has a heart for God. I hear him pray every morning. He’s a hard worker; a good man; a faithful husband and father. He cares for the body of Christ. He loves the church. He still has a “hot” heart for God and His kingdom work. He wants to stay in God’s harvest field, bringing in the sheaves.
Wow! What a man!
How many “old” men of God have done great exploits for Him? We have a book, full of stories of the conquests and great work done for our Lord and Savior. It’s the B-I-B-L-E. That’s good enough for me. And remembering my journey with this 80 year old man, brings joy as I recount the many miracles, the accomplishments, the advances, the souls saved, the churches built up.
Wow! What a man!
Don’t despair of old age...nor young age. All God’s children have a special place in His kingdom. Spring turns to summer; summer to fall; and fall turns to winter. And then we’re home… that is... home, where the heart is. So it’s time to turn your heart toward HOME, as James Dobson would say. I leave you with this sobering question. What about your heart? Is it right with God?
Loving this 80 year old man of mine,
(Think I’ll keep him!)
BLOG # 27: October 6, 2017
The years teach. Time has made a change in me. These thoughts refer to the process of getting older. I’m wondering how many years it will take for me to reach my destination? My journey started a long time ago, one November day. Ecclesiastes 3:2 tells me the start of my life journey...a time to be born. So to answer my own question, the count of days, years began when I was born.
Years have come and years have gone. With each year, a birthday comes. Now birthdays are good for us. The more you have, the longer you live. Who knows the length of my days? Only God does. But I know the joys and challenges of my journey. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”
My journey began in Mississippi, growing up, going to school; then off to Tennessee to college; then to Mississippi for my first HS teaching position and Charles’ first pastorate; on to Arkansas for more teaching years and another pastorate, then to Texas, next Arkansas; then to Virginia; back to Texas; next California; back to Arkansas; then Florida; on to Indiana; and back to Florida. What an incredible journey!
Those counting days brought some grey hairs. But don’t be alarmed; God has lots to say about grey hairs. Prov.16:31, “Grey hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” Job 12:12 says,
“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.”
Psalm 92:14 says, “They still bear fruit in old age…”. There is a common belief that we gradually become less useful as we grow older. But when we live our lives for God, we may have our greatest adventure as we age. Noah, Moses, Joshua, Abraham...to name a few, did mighty things in their older years. I can’t leave out this precious scripture. “I have been young and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken nor his children begging for bread”.
Read Ecc. 3. It is so good...there is a time to be born; a time to do the God-given task; a time to enjoy the gift of God; a time to give an account; a time to die...to reach one’s destination; and much more. “Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today.” Love that song by the Gaithers.