The Church

Upper Spencer Church of ChristToday I want to express my thankfulness for the church. Jesus promised to build the church and guaranteed that His death would not prevent the establishment of His body (Matt 16:18). I’m thankful that Jesus established the church, for the church has blessed my life tremendously over the years. Today, I want to think about specific ways some congregations of God’s people have blessed me.

Camargo church of Christ

The Camargo church will always be “home.” There’s a rich history there: J. W. McGarvey dedicated the building (I even knew a lady who was baptized the day he preached there). But, there’s a great deal of personal history at Camargo for me – it’s where I obeyed the Gospel and it’s where I preached my first sermon. Dad left a good paying secular job to preach full-time for the church, and at the urging of Ruth Newkirk, it’s where I began teaching Bible class. I will forever be indebted to the Camargo church for helping shape me into who I am today.

Florence Boulevard church of Christ

While a student at International Bible College in Florence, Alabama, I placed membership with the Florence Boulevard congregation. Dr. Bill Bagents who was preaching there at the time would become a life-long friend and mentor. The church kindly endured my Bible classes and patiently worked with me as a summer intern. Keith Davis even got me hooked on Subway and Dr. Pepper.

Main Street church of Christ

My work with the Main Street congregation was my first full-time position. I was the youth minister, and I was absolutely horrible – made out to be a youth minister I am not. The church, though, was so very kind and loving and patient. They did fall in love with my pulpit work, and I fell in love with a young lady and made her my bride.

Owingsville church of Christ

The Owingsville church has the patience of Job and were so kind to a young preacher trying to do the right thing – they told me my sermons were good when they were only so-so, they tried my silly ideas, and they wanted to be as on fire to win the community for Christ as was I. While my bride and I were there, RJ came into our family and our world would never be the same. It was also at Owingsville that a slip of the tongue led to a confession of adultery from the pulpit – if you want the details, ask Janie Jones, she will gladly fill you in!

Alum Creek church of Christ

While we were living in Alum Creek, Tammy gave birth to our second (and last!) son, Wilson. The church blessed me by providing Tammy a few years to stay home and raise our boys. We were happiest when she was home during the day. During my time at Alum Creek, I grew to love and adore Gerald Watts, a mentor and elder. While Gerald and I were sitting next to each other at a Christmas party, the beloved elder fell over into my lap unresponsive. The bursting of an aortic aneurysm took Gerald from this world.

Greenwood church of Christ

Unfortunately, I was only the part-time minister with the Greenwood church for about six weeks; when I was let go from Heritage Christian University (HCU), I had to inform the church that I would be leaving and could no longer be their minister. Oh, how that hurt! I have the “preaching bug,” and simply working at HCU was not good enough – I had to be back in the pulpit. Greenwood provided me that opportunity – we’d leave our little apartment in Florence, Alabama, early on Sunday morning and drive to Pulaski, Tennessee, where I would preach. The Greenwood church did everything in their power to hold us up during the long days of my unemployment.

Dale Ridge church of Christ

The Dale Ridge church loved and supported us while I was preaching there. The elders were kind and generous with me – I was told on many occasions that I was working too hard and that I needed to slow down. Joe Tate has proven himself to be a true and constant friend; Joe, a true man of God, has taught me much about patience, about service, and about generosity. Craig and Courtney Hodges have demonstrated time and time again Jesus’ love and service. The Hagermans and the Martins have shown how to have faith in the midst of dire circumstances.

Oh, God is good! I’m thankful that Jesus died for the church and built His church. I have been richly blessed by the people of God, and I’m thankful.

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