This past week, I spoke at the last three meetings outside of MSMBC that I have scheduled for 2006. Tuesday (11/7), I spoke at the Perfect Peace Bible Church in Los Angeles, where Charles Ashley is the pastor. Wednesday through Friday (11/8-10), I spoke at the Union Evangelistic Baptist Church in Chicago Heights, where Pastor James Flint has served for over thirty-five years. Pastor Flint began his ministry under my father, many years ago. And it was an honor to have this opportunity to preach to the warm congregation of the Union Church. I also had the opportunity to meet pastor’s son, James Jr., who serves with his father at Union. Of course, I am always moved when I see fathers and sons serving together in the work of ministry. It was a real joy to be in Chicago Heights (a suburb in south Chicago), until Friday. It was so warm and sunny Wednesday and Thursday. I thought I wouldn’t need all the stuff I brought to bundle up in. But Friday it was cold, windy, and raining (when I woke up from a nap Friday afternoon, I looked out the window and saw that it was raining sideways!). It was Chicago. And I couldn’t wait to get on that plane and get back to civilization.
Saturday morning, I flew to Houston to preach for Dr. A. Louis Patterson Jr. at the Mt. Corinth Baptist Church. I was a teenager when I first heard Pastor Patterson preach. I bought a tape of him in a church bookstore. And two things happened. First, I straight stole that sermon. I preached that thing all over town. In fact, today – almost twenty years later – I can recall that message well enough to steal it again, if need be. (I trust, however, that I have enough of my own work stored up so that I would not have to steal if I was in a jam). The second thing that happened is that Pastor Patterson became another strong link in the chain that pulled me toward expository preaching. Over the years, Pastor Patterson’s manner and ministry has been an example for me in so many ways. And I am overwhelmed by the fact that he has been a source of great kindness and encouragement to me – both he and his dear wife. So when Dr. Patterson asked me to preach for him a month or so ago, the answer way yes even before he asked. I do not usually leave my pulpit on Sunday mornings; but an invitation from Dr. Patterson is an instant and automatic exception.
Yesterday was Men and Women’s Demonstration Day at Mt. Corinth. However, there was only a brief acknowledgement of it. There was no pomp and circumstance connected to this annual day. In this, Dr. Patterson and I are kindred spirits. I preached both morning services. The congregation was attentive, warm, and responsive in both meetings. What can I say? Mt. Corinth is a great church! The members of the congregation reflect a genuine love for Jesus Christ, the scriptures, their pastor, Mt. Corinth, and one another. If there are unloving members of Mt. Corinth, Dr. Patterson must hide them in the basement before I arrive. Much of the spirit of the congregation is the result of the Lord’s work in and through Dr. Patterson. His often speaks of “joy for the journey.” And this is spirit seems to have become contagious in Mt. Corinth. It was a great blessing to worship and fellowship with the Dr. and Mrs. Patterson and the wonderful congregation at Mt. Corinth. The twenty-four hours I was there seemed to fly by. But I was glad to get home to Crystal, H.B., and Natalie last night. Praise God for his continued blessings of strength, guidance, and mercy.