by Robert Earl Houston
It is COLD outside. It’s 5:30 p.m. and right now it’s just 28 degrees outside and snow is in the forecast for New Year’s Eve. But let me tell you, we had CHURCH today at First Baptist.
Attendance was down (obviously) in both services, but the Holy Spirit showed up in a mighty way. At the 8:00 a.m. service one of my faithful sons, Minister Tyrone Roberts, brought the message, “An Answer to Trouble” (Job 13:15). Snippet of his message:
One of my favorite things to do when I have free time is to go on Facebook. Facebook can be described as social media, where we can view the lives of others through pictures and we can read about what they are thinking and even how they feel about certain things that are going on in our world today. We can learn what a mother thinks about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, or the upcoming Fiscal Cliff; and you can even find out how much snow a person received in another part of the country; or you can be like a friend of mine that stated that he would be glad to see the year 2012 come to an end. He felt this way because he had lost some friends, lost some church members, had some health challenges…had personal hurts and pains…..and many other things that have caused him difficulty in this year. How many of us have had some ups and downs…set ups…and setbacks…. Some appointments and disappointments…but turn to your neighbor and say in spite of all we are still here!!!
In our text we meet a man named Job. Job was a man from the land of Uz. Uz was located between the city of Damascus and the Euphrates River, or the modern day border of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Job was an upright man that avoided evil at all costs. He was a blessed man. If I were to contemporize Job; he would be like the Warren Buffet of his day. He was married, he had 7 sons and 3 daughters, Job had 7,000 sheep, and 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys. For those of you who don’t know a lot about Job, I will give summary of the first 12 chapters.
He did a great job. Today we began offering DVDs of the services (yeah!) and we’ve invested in video and recording equipment this year as we prepare to go on local cable access television in January (Local Cable channel 10) and his sermon was the first mass-produced under our new system. Turned out very, very well.
I do something here that my father in the ministry, the late Dr. A. B. Devers, I used to do with us. After every sermon that the Associate Ministers preach, we do a “skull session” in where we peer critique the sermon. I think peer review has a great value in building up preachers.
Sunday School was filled with a great discussion about Ephesians 4 and the role of husbands/wives. I happen to teach the Married Couples class and it was a very interesting discussion to say the least.
At 11:00 a.m. the service was probably one of the most different services we’ve had in a long, long time. And that’s a good thing. We deviated from the normal order of worship and when we did the Holy Spirit did something awesome. We had testimonial period and one of the sisters said “The Holy Spirit told me to come ‘home.'” That led to us extending the invitation to Christ mid-way through service and one male joined the church. After the music by the Magnificent Mass Choir (who lifted us up with one of my favorite song, Charles Jenkins’ “Awesome”) it was preaching time.
I ended the year by preaching from John 8:10-11 and the conclusion of Jesus’ interaction with the woman caught in adultery. I was struck by Jesus’ compassionate alternate to the trifling accusations of the Scribes and Pharisees. Not that Jesus condones sin, but he offers Himself as the remedy to sin AND proves to us that His forgiveness of sin should draw us closer to Him. The woman didn’t go back into the arms of her lover. She did not run out and find another man. She ran into the arms of Jesus – and at the end of the story all was left was her and Jesus!
I used a story that Melvin Von Wade, Sr. tells across the country (most recently on the must-read blog by H.B. Charles, Jr.): However, I want to be in the hands of Jesus. One of my preaching mentors was Dr. Melvin Von Wade, Sr. of Los Angeles, California and his mother, Mama Wade, would tell him as a little boy, son I don’t trust nobody but me and Jesus. Well, Mother Wade is now in her mid-90s and she called her son up one day and said, Melvin, I have an update. You remember how I use to tell you that I trust nobody but me and Jesus. Well, I have an update. I trust nobody but Jesus.
God then sent TWO MORE MEN to unite with First Baptist Church. It was awesome. God be praised!!!! And of course we had those who came forward for prayer. Thank you Lord for a great year and a great day.
NFL UPDATES . . .
– Andy Reid was fired (actually the decision made on Friday) as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
– Tampa Bay defeats Atlanta. Season over for T.B. and ATL starts prep for post-season.
– Buffalo beats the Jets. My grandmama could beat the Jets.
– Cincinnati beats Baltimore. Impressive season by the Bengals, playoff bound.
– Chicago beats Detroit and needs Green Bay to beat Minnesota. May be a long off-season at this point.
– Indianapolis beats Houston. Both teams in the playoffs.
– Carolina plays New Orleans – who cares?
– Giants beats Philly and still is eliminated for the playoffs.
– Pittsburgh beats Cleveland – look for the Browns to contend next year, not this year, next year, not this year . . .
– Other games are at the half.