Pastor Chad's Itinarary

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"A Faithful Witness"

     Sunday I had the honor to officiate the funeral service of Doyle Hall. Doyle suffered a stroke after having open heart surgery in May. At that time Doyle and his wife (Jane) had visited our church a few times and were looking for a church which would be faithful to preach the word.

I want to share just a few things which would honor the Lord, the life of Doyle, encourage others, and pastors to "shepherd the flock of God who is among you (1 Peter 5:2)."
Over the course of 9 months ministring to the Hall family, I witnessed the grace of God in this precious families life. A few thing which encouraged me as a Christian, pastor, husband, and a father as I ministered to this family.

1. I witnessed that a good name is something which a man chooses to have.
"A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold (Proverbs 22:1)." Solomon reminds his readers a mans name is worth much more than any material gain. The last 9 months of getting to know the Hall family, it was evident Doyle fit this verse well. Testimony after testimony was offered of the sacrifices which Doyle had made for his family and for others. I was blessed in hearing the testimony of Tommy Bond, as he shared the love Doyle had for the Lord and the friendship they shared in Christ. One testimony was Doyle as a carpenter would often go above and beyond in his work, often not charging for the extra which he had done. Doyle desired to honor the Lord by choosing to have a good name among those in the community and most of all with his heavenly Father.
2. I witnessed a wife who submitted, loved, and honored her own husband.
"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22)."
     The past 9 months I witnessed the love of Doyle's wife (Jane) had for him in ministering unselfishly to her husband. Jane served her husband sacrificially, not to mention having a son who needed her daily attention as well. Jane made countless trips to the hospital and rehab in Nashville. She had to fight the hectic traffic, making sure her son was able for her to leave him, and all the while dealing with health issues of her own. Through it all,  Jane remained submissive and faithful to her own husband. I witnessed a wife who loved her Lord, her husband, and wanted to be faithful by serving him until the end.

3. I witnessed children who honored their parents.
"Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you will live long in the land (Ephesians 6:2-3)." 
     Doyle and Jane have four sons who were there to minister to their parents. I know in the last 9 months there was a lot of sacrifices which was made by their children in 'honoring their father and mother.' I know of trips they drove their mother to the hospital, or days one had to stay with their other brother while their mother went to Nashville. Daughter in-laws who worked their jobs, took care of their children, and would serve their mother-in-law in any way they could to ease the load.  At the final viewing of the body I witnessed all the brothers gather around their mother at the casket, which was the grace of God in these mens lives, as they desired to 'honor their father and their mother.'

4. I witnessed a man who was faithful to the end.
"But the one who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22b)."
     The truth that God's people are saved, sealed, and will persevere until the end was evident in Doyle's life. I remember speaking and praying with Doyle before his surgery in May, as he assured me his faith and trust was in the finished work of Christ for salvation. He knew either way he would be fine. Doyle understood what Christ had done for him on the cross by paying a debt he could not pay. Doyle knew he was a redeemed child of the King. Even after the stoke and the complications which he went through after the surgery, Doyle always gave testimony of his faith in the Lord. Doyle's faith was the faith which did not waver at the end, but rather held to Christ until the end. I witnessed a man who held firm in the fact, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Phil.1:21)."

5. I witnessed a local church show the love of Christ toward others. 
"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34)."
     I do not say this just because I am the pastor of this church, but I witnessed God growing PHBC in her faith as they ministered to this family. I witnessed countless cards that was written, phone calls made, meals prepared, and prayers offered on the behalf of this family. The Hall's were never 'officially' church members at PHBC, but nonetheless God joined them to us spiritually. God sent them to us, and in doing so, the church grew in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. I witnessed men who worked in Doyle's garden, cut the grass, and served in any other way they could. This was helpful for PHBC, in we had to fulfill the commandments of 'one another.' I am thankful to serve a church who has an understanding that 'church' is not somewhere we go, but rather it is people living out their faith in serving each other for the glory of God!

     As a pastor I never get used to the emotional, physical, or spiritual drain when it comes to funerals. I know my faith has grown in the last nine months while ministering to this family. There has been testimony of church members and other believers who has said the same. God used this man and family to bring him glory in many ways we may never know on this side of eternity.
  I witnessed gracious of our God in allowing the family to be at the side of their husband, father, and brother as he went to be with the Lord on Thursday evening. God's grace in this families life is evident, that their faith and hope is in the truth of God's word, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor.5:7)." And I echo the words of the psalmist in Psalms 116:15 "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."

Please do pray for this family, as they grieve their loss.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Overwhelmed By Grace

"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11).

     Jesus speaks to his disciples and reminds them "they can not and are unable to do anything without him." He gives them a contrast between a bad tree, which bears no fruit and a good true, which bears good fruit. This analogy is given to show them the difference between a true disciple and a false disciple. He also tells them, "those disciples which bear good fruit bring much glory to his Father (v.8)." The disciples which bear good fruit have the love of the Father as they keep the commandments, thereby giving them much joy and satisfaction in serving the Father.

     The Apostle John said in 1 John 5:3, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments and his commandments are not burdensome."For the disciple of Christ who follows God and has the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5), the commandements of God brings great joy. No longer does the disciple have to read his Bible, have to pray, have to meet with the other saints, have to give, have to visit the sick, or have to share the gospel, now the disciple has the distinct privilege in doing so. It is no longer a burden, but rather a blessing which brings great joy in ministering to others!
     Yesterday was one of the most difficult days I have had in the ministry in awhile, yet as I was traveling home I had a peace and a sense of joy which surpassed all understanding. Yesterday I drove to Alabama to do a funeral of a gentleman who I worked with at Books-A-Million for over 5 years and 2 years we rode in the same truck together. Doug, a.k.a. "Bigfoot" and I were together more than we were with our wives and that is the truth. We logged several thousands of miles over the road and we became close friends, like brothers. Of course, he was the big brother since he was 6'7" and was 47 years old and I was the little brother.
     "Bigfoot" was a kind and gentle person, but if you every was on his bad side you had better watch out! I had the honor while we shared the cab of an 18 wheeler to tell Doug about Christ and how He had changed my life. Often he did not want to hear about it, but at other times he was very opened. One night traveling from Ownesboro, KY back to Florence, AL, "Bigfoot" woke up and sat in the "jump seat" (passenger seat, trucker talk) and I could tell he had something on his mind. He had been having family problems and told me he was sick of being a bad person. As I drove I kept my eyes glued to the road and let him speak his heart. He cried while speaking about his childhood, the hard life he lived on the road as a trucker, and about marital problems he was experiencing.  Of course, I was shocked but knew the Lord was at work in his heart.
      That was on a Friday night as we were heading home. The following Sunday, Bigfoot shows up at church and then the Sunday after, and the Sunday after. Finally, after several weeks in the truck with me and talking about the Bible and what Jesus had done for sinners, he shows up to church on Sunday and shares with the church what Christ had done for him on the cross. I thought he was going to tear the 'pew' out of the floor that morning. It wasn't too long after his conversion he called me and said, "guess what?" And I said, "there is no telling!" Bigfoot said, "I have only said, 10 cuss words today." I said, "that is awesome, at least your keeping up with them." It was evident God had done a work of grace in "Bigfoot's" heart. As I traveled home last night I became emotional thanking God for allowing me the opportunity to share Christ with 'Bigfoot' and to know him.
      After the funeral I was able to go to the county jail and visit with my sister. My sister is 32 years old and a drug addict with serious problems of being a kleptomaniac  She has been arrested and will serve some serious time due to her drug problem. As I traveled to the county jail  again was reminded of God's grace and how 18 years ago it was me in the jail. I remembered how depraved I was, how desperate I had become, and how far a person can really sink to with drug and alcohol addictions. I remembered Ephesians 2:4, But, God being rich in his mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our sins and trespasses - by grace you have been saved..." As I spoke through the phone seeing my sister through the video camera my heart ached and my eyes filled with tears seeing my little 'Sissy' in such a condition. She shared with me she felt good since she had been unable to get drugs in jail and had been reading a Bible and trying to pray. My heart hurts for my niece (11) and nephew (5), as their mother was not home for Thanksgiving nor will she be there for Christmas holidays. Again, on my way home last night I thank God for his grace and mercy in allowing my sister to be in jail and prayed He would open her heart to repent of her sins and turn to Christ for salvation.
     As I was away ministering in Alabama, the people of PHBC meet for our mid-week prayer meeting and Bible study without their pastor. One of our young men led our meeting and things seemed to go well. Again, as I was driving home I praised God for raising up able men to teach God's word and giving them a desire to do so.
      My words can not express the gratitude I have for such a great God who I serve and his mercy and grace toward such a sinner as myself. God has giving me and others the desire to serve others with the grace he has extended to me and I count it all joy! It is a pleasure, a honor, and a joy to minister the word of God to others for the sake of their good and His glory!

Yesterday, was a day with mixed emotions, but most of all it was a day of great joy in serving my great God? Do you have this joy in serving God? If not, why?