Goodbye 2013

IMG_8271by Robert Earl Houston

In about 7 hours the year 2013 will be history. For some people this has been a great year or a good year or a so-so year or a bad year or a horrible year. Wherever you place your marker, the year will finally be over.

I don’t have the vocabulary to describe 2013 it’s been a cornacopia of a year. There’s been all kinds of things that have made up the year.  Please allow me to narrow my list down to a few things:

First, this has been a year of sorrow. For me personally, I’ve lost some relatives, great friends, church members, and people I looked up to.  In that number: My father-in-law, Clarence Anderson, Pastor Clifford Williams, Bishop Wenzell Jackson, Dr. T.L. Lewis, Dr. Mack King Carter, Dr. Joseph Andrew Boles, Sr.,  Pastor Eddie James, Dr. Joseph McDowell, Rev. C.L. Buhl, Dr. John C. Raphael, Jr., Dr. Harold A. Carter, Sr., Prophet Robert Blakes, Sr., Bro. Broderick Huggins, Jr., Pastor Charles Hofort Bembry, Dr. Richard A. Rollins, and many, many others. Many of whom can be remembered by clicking here now.

Secondly, this has been a year of healing. In April 2013 I began testing and in May I was diagnosed with carcinoma (skin cancer) on the arch of my right foot. It was a journey for me and my wife, Jessica. We learned more about skin cancer than we could ever imagine and the possibilities (negative and positive). It was Dr. Bernard J. Sutton of Chicago who lifted my faith by saying, “Houston, don’t call it cancer. Call it an infirmity. Jesus heals infirmities.” I went into surgery on May 30, 2013 in Lexington, Kentucky and I’m excited to declare as of December 30, 2013 I celebrated six months CANCER FREE.

Thirdly, this has been a year of watching God work. My beloved congregation, First Baptist Church of Frankfort, KY,  has been through a lot this year. Just like most congregations, we have seen people come and seen people go – but the Lord continues to bless us with those who are committed to the work. We saw people do things and participate in worship that we had never seen before. We heard people pray that never prayed. We heard people sing we’ve never heard sing. And I’ve been able to trace the hand of God in what He was doing. During the year we continued from 2012, the restoration of the First Baptist Church sanctuary. Believe me, it wasn’t for the faint of heart. We had to cancel services, move services, it took a toll on us, but it developed a sense of faith and trust in God that only He could provide. By the end of this year, 99% of the original project has been completed and we have more projects upcoming in 2014.

Fourth, this has been a year of prayer. One thing we did at FBC was to scrub the normal “pulpit prayer” by ministers and have laypersons lead the church in prayer. I can’t begin to tell you how we were lifted to hear the people of God pray. Prayer is not just a function of those who sit on the platform. Our prayer emphasis even created our 24 hour prayer wheel at the church, conceived by our Assistant to the Pastor, Rev. Anna Jones. We have plans to do more praying and praying and praying. Matter of fact, our survival is not numerical, it’s dependent upon prayer.

Fifth, this has been a year of evaluation. For me, it’s been answering the question that Dr. A. Louis Patterson asks publicly of himself. Are you a better believer this year than last? Are you drawing more closer to God this year than last? Are you more attuned to His word this year than you were last year? I’ve added some to that list – Is your preaching making a difference? Is your teaching changing lives? Is participation with some groups and conventions really affecting change or are you in a stagnant situation? That process continues in 2014.

So it’s been quite the year. In 2014, the year will see the World Cup, the Winter Olympics, the Mid-Term Elections, all four traditional Baptist conventions either change or retain leadership, Full Gospel’s transition continues, weather changes due to global warming, a stock market that has historic gains but their businesses refuse to hire or expand the work base, other cities that are the brink of bankruptcy, the start of the 2016 election process for the next POTUS, and no doubt continued political bickering and “dangers seen and unseen.”

One thing I know. We are now closer that ever to the Lord’s return. And I say, “Come, Lord Jesus” and if He tarries, I still have more work to do.

Have a blessed New Year. YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED.

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by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

H.B. Charles Jr.

About life, preaching, church, books, and other stuff.

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