Pulpit Committee’s and Trial Sermons

I was ordained to the gospel ministry by Calvin C. Inman and the Sardis Springs Baptist Church is August of 1970. I was licensed to preach in March of 1969. I am 66 years old and have preached on one “Trial Sermon” [what we call it with a preacher auditions for a job]. It was way back in 1975 at the Harris Chapel Baptist Church in Cherokee, Alabama. I preached on Sunday morning and again on Sunday night. I remember it well because the power went off during the night service. In terms of getting a call to a church: I have only dealt with two pulpit committees. Two of my sons in the ministry was on the first. Samuel Franklin Wallace was the chairman of the first if my memory served me correctly. Hugh Fitzgerald was the chairman of the committee at Danville where I have served for some 37 plus years.

Two or three committees had expressed some interest in me just after Seminary but none of them were really serious. An old preacher friend, Charlie Thompson had recommended me to a church in Florence but they said I was too young; I was 24 at the time. When Sam called me a couple of months later, I was discouraged and one of the first things I told him was…”Mr. Wallace, I am only 24 years old, I’ll be 25 next month.” He said, “We know how old you are.”

The Danville Committee came to Cherokee on the day that I had planned to resign but when I saw visitors, I did not resign that morning; I waited until the evening service. Hugh and committee waited for all my folks to leave and then he ask be if we could talk. I think I said something like, “It will not do any good but we can talk.” I was very direct and a little shocked when I realized that Hugh was more direct. He said, “You act like you are mad, what are you mad about?” I said, “Well for one thing, I planned to resign this morning and then you all showed up.” Hey it was a sparing match. Hugh finally said, “It is pretty clear that you don’t want to be our pastor but would you consider filling in for us until we can get one?” I agreed to come on Sundays and preach Sunday morning and Sunday night. He agreed that they would take care of Wednesday night.

On the first Sunday in April, 1979, the family and I rolled into Danville in that old Chevelle Station Wagon with the woodgrain paneling on the side; it was one sharp buggy. My kids would love that old car. Hannah was almost five, Joe David had just turned three and Hope was about to be one. I never preached a so called trial sermon at Danville. We kept coming each week to fill in until June got tired of living with her mother. That is when we really got serious about doing something one way or the other. I told the LORD that Danville was not the right fit for me and I really did not want to come. I don’t think anyone would have grieved in Danville I had not come. Only two people really encouraged me and one of them didn’t last long. He left a few years after I came. It took me a few years to realize that God knew what He was doing and that He had called me to pastor rural churches. Once I accepted His will, things got a lot better.

Danville is a very settled community. They don’t get stirred up easily. I tell people that I have been able to stay here because the people are so tolerant. That coupled with the grace of God. When folks ask Hugh why they had kept me so long, he would say: “We never expected much and Bro. Jack is the closet thing to nothing that we’ve ever found so we decided to keep him.” I miss Hugh, the way we argued in the early days, who would have dreamed that we could become close friends.

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One Too Many Jokes

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I became friends with an old retired preacher. He loved to tell jokes and could remember them, hundreds of them. When it came to remembering jokes, his mind was like a steel trap. He had to use notes for his sermons but he needed no notes for his jokes. He was serving as an interim pastor at a small church in Southeast Morgan County, in a little village called Eva. He had a guest speaker from Samford University. In the old days, they sent their ministerial students into local churches to preach. Back when Samford was Howard College, they called it H-Day. This young man had studied and was primed to preach.

Preacher

My old retired preacher friend felt a need to introduce him and while he was at it, he decided to tell a joke which lead to another and another until he had taken 15 minutes of this boys precious time. The kid was agitated and annoyed with the old fellows jokes. He came to the pulpit and began…There was a big bull out in the pasture and he began to feel his oats, so he began bellowing to the top of his lungs. There was a lion in the forrest beside pasture and he heard the bull bellowing proudly. The lion followed the sound, found the bull and ate the bull. Then the lion, feeling the pride of his kill and the fullness of his stomach, began to roar at the top of his lungs. A hunter was near by and when he heard the lion roaring, he followed the sound, got a bead on the lion, dropped the hammer and boom the old Lion lay dead on the ground.

The young preacher said, “The moral of that story is, when you are full of bull, keep your mouth shut.” A few months later the old preacher thought it was funny and would tell the story as a joke but he did admit that it was not so funny the day that it happened.

 

Saved From Burning Building [Part one]

Until I was six, my family lived in an old two story house with a tin roof. The upstairs was more like the loaf of a barn than a house but it was spacious. So big in fact that mother had a close line up stairs but that is another story. We also had a wood heater upstairs just as we did down stairs. All the boys slept upstairs and Mother, Daddy and the three girls slept down stairs. It was a cold January night and we had a fire in both heaters. Daddy and the girls had gone to my aunt Cora’s for a visit. My oldest two siblings were out and I don’t remember where. This left my brother John [age 13], Mother and myself. It wasn’t late, probably around 6:00 PM but I had already gone to sleep on the couch. The next thing I knew, I was being carried by my 13 year old brother. He carried me outside and put me down and told me not to move. He went back in to help mother who was trying to put out the fire that had started from the upstairs heater but there was no use, in minutes the flames were soaring through the roof into the cool dark January night. Neighbor started pouring in from all directions. It was cold and I was in my fruit of the looms, no pajamas. I doubt anyone in the family having pajamas but I know I didn’t. The men were bringing out furniture and they brought out our old wooden box that mother used to store clothes in and so I got in the box just to keep warm. The box and I were at a safe distance and the fire kept me from freezing. In all the trauma, they forgot all about me. Mother went into shock and eventually was carried to the hospital. My baby sister and sister two years older were with Daddy. Our neighbors found me and put me in their pick up truck with the motor running and the heat on. I had also found some all clothes that I was using as a blanket. I was there for awhile and had a good view of the fire. There was no hope is saving the house are most of the contents. Most of Daddy’s WWII relics were destroyed along with Mother’s pictures and keep sakes. Everything went up in flames and in just a few short horrifying minutes, it was all gone.

burning house.jpg

We didn’t have all that much but it was upsetting to Mother and although Daddy never let it show, I am sure that he was upset as well. Every thing was so confused and Mother went into shock but the neighbors took charge. Everything that needed to be done was done. James Newby, one of our close family friends and neighbors told Daddy not to worry about me. I had been warming in his truck for more than an hour. He said “Jack can go home with us and he can stay with us as long as he needs to”. Daddy had his hands full and he agreed so off I went. I don’t know whether it began that night or not, but the Newby’s basically adopted me. I stayed with them several days before our family got settled in my Grandmother’s house.

We lived in my grandmothers house that winter but neighbors and friend came together and helped daddy build the house back. I don’t think any one charged him for labor and I am sure that some helped with the material. We were in the new house by the next Winter. We moved it without any of the house being finished. It was framed, blacked in, had a roof and a chimney. We lived in the basement for a good while. There were no steps to the second floor nor the third for the first few weeks. My brother and I would climb a ladder to the attic that had only a tongue and groove pine floor. We had no electric blankets. My brother did find an old radio that he and I listened to. We had to sleep under so many quilts that you couldn’t turn your toes up. Looking back, I don’t know how Daddy did it. He would work all day and then come home at night and work on that house. This went on for years.

We all pitched in and finished Mother’s closets in the 1980’s. Some of her closets did not even have doors. Mother and Daddy loved that old house. It was home to me for many, many years.

Now for the rest of the story. The Newby’s not only took care of me the night of the fire and the week after, they gave me a job when I was in the 7th grade. I was in hog heaven. I rode the back of a four-row John Deere planter. At the end of the day, I was covered in dust but I loved every minute. A man couldn’t have a better boss than Jimmy Newby. They helped me through high school and college. At times, they created jobs just to help me through school. I love tractors and they owed big powerful tractors. 

Jerry and I attended high school and college together. From college, I went straight to Seminary where I graduated in May of 1974. Needless to say, the life of a rural pastor in those days [1970’s] was not very lucurtive but this family never stopped supporting me. I think the Christmas Cards started coming in 1976 and they never stopped. Had it not been for them, I would have had more than one blue Christmas. In those days, we lived 82 miles from home and Hannah loved the golden arches. Hey, I love the golden arches and because of their love and generosity, we got to stop on the way home every year. It is not a big deal today, but in those days, it was huge.

October Baby

I got a call from a friend about a friend. His daughter had taken a drug overdose and was in an area hospital. By the time I got there, the crisis had abated; she was stable and actually talking to medical personnel and family members. When I walked in I was shocked at this girl’s beauty. I’m telling you, she had the face of an angel, an absolutely gorgious girl. She was raise by adopted parents who loved her dearly but she could remember her biological parents who basically abandoned her and wanted wanted nothing to do with her.

This amazed me because I had just seen the movie OCTOBER BABY about a young girl going through similar situation. She had tried to establish a relationship with her biological mother only to be cruelly rejected  a second time. The young lady bravely returned to her adopted parents who were waiting with open arms. The young girl [in the movie] was very troubled because her adopted parents had tried to shelter her from the painful truth. She seems to be at peace because she tried and with the help of a good priest, she forgave her biological parents for trying to abort her. The story has a happy ending because the young girl is extremely loved by adopted parents, family and friends. Rejection is hard for anyone at any age to deal with but it is cruel and mean to reject a child.

OctBaby_KAwT_1528x2162

Standing there in a hospital room with a young lady who had tried to take her life, I felt breath of inspiration and so I began to share with this beautiful young lady who I had not meet until this day. I moved around to the foot of the bed but still I had trouble getting her to make eye contact or to focus. She would look at me for a split second and then look away. I talked to her gently and finally got her to focus. I told her about the movie and recommended that she go see it. I also mentioned that she could not let the rejection of her biological parents turn her bitter. She was surround by parents who loved her which is far more than most kids have these days. It was not so much what I said that startled me: It was refreshing way the Holy Spirit took control of my lips and literally gave me words to speak. The Doctor, a female psychiatrist, came in and ask me to leave which I was obliged to do but the father stopped me. He said to the doctor, I want my friend who is a pastor to stay: I want him to hear the entire story.” Out of courtesy to my good friend, I stayed and listened. I never said a word because I am not a professional counselor and certainly not a psychiatrist. Shortly after the doctor left, I finished my conversation, had prayer and then left.

I thought about this beautiful girl all the way home. Why couldn’t she accept her adopted parents as her real parents. Why was she giving them the grief when all they had done was love her? Do you think it is because her biological parents didn’t care? How can you hurt someone who doesn’t care? It’s like, “Hey mom, I going to kill myself!” The biological parents–“Go ahead, we don’t care.” This is bound to be painful for a child to deal with.

Not long after I got home, I got a text from the friend who encouraged me to make the visit. He had just got off the phone with the dad [a good man], he said, “Jim wanted me to tell you, how much he appreciated the visit. It meant a lot to the family.” This was one of the exceptional moments of my life: the Spirit of God just took control. I could sense what was happening while it was happening and I was excited to be a part of it.  I wish every visit went so well but they don’t.

Out of The Mouth of Babes

A child was ask to give a report on the entire bible and this is what he wrote:

In the beginning, which occurred  near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, water and gas. The bible says, “The LORD your God is one.” But I think He has to be older than one. Anyway, “God said, give me a light,” and some one gave Him a light. Then God made the world. He spilt the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked but not embarrassed because mirrors had not been invented. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one rotten apple so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. I don’t know what they were driven in, I don’t think they had cars back then. Adam and Eve had a son whose name was Cain and he hated his brother as long as he was Abel.

Noah was one very important person in the Old Testament but one of his sons was a Ham . Noah built this huge boat and put some animals on it, he asked his neighbors to join him but they said they would take a rain check. Then there was this man named Jacob who was more important than his brother Esau. Jacob talked Esau into trading him birthmark for a bowl of soup.

Jacob had 12 sons but one of them stood out because he wore a really loud sports coat made of many colors. Joseph was as smart as a whip but his bothers were as dumb as a rock. Another guy I really like is Moses; he was the cool dude who lead the Israel Lights out of Egypt. Moses shook his stick at Pharaoh and brought on the ten Plagues. I can’t remember all ten but there was lice, mice and nothing nice. He send gnats, frogs, hail and quale. Pharaoh also took their cell phone and cut off their cable.

God took Moses up on this high mountain and shattered a rock with his bare fist and then God shot fire out of his finger and wrote the Ten Commandment. I did learn all Ten:

  1. Don’t let anyone or anything come before God.
  2. Don’t make carved images.
  3. Don’t use God name when you mad.
  4. Remember Sunday and go to church.
  5. Humor your father and mother.
  6. Don’t murder stuff.
  7. Don’t take what don’t belong to you.
  8. Don’t cheat on your wife.
  9. Don’t tell lies on your neighbor even if he’s a jerk.
  10. Don’t drink, smoke, chew tobacco or covet your neighbor’s new Polaris Ranger.

And yeah, I know general Joshua who fought the battle of Geritol and the walls came tumbling down. Then there was David who became king by killing a giant with his sling shot. David had a spoiled son name Solomon who had 300 wives and 700 porcupines. My teacher said he was wise but he doesn’t sound wise to me because he had 1,000 mother-in-laws. I can’t imagine buying 1,000 birthday presents. If his wives were like my mom, Solomon had 1,000 bosses. He just doesn’t sound that wise.

Then there were the minor league prophets. Men like Jonah who was a hardhead. He did not want to obey God so he went deep sea fishing and he hooked a fish so big that it pulled him overboard. Then the fish swallowed Jonah. God was through with Jonah so He made the fish sick at its stomach and it barfed Jonah up on the beach.

Then there is the New Testament. Jesus is the Star of the New Testament. He was born in a born. I may have been born in a barn myself because my mother is always saying, “Close the door, were you born in a barn?” During His life time, Jesus had a lot of run ins with the Pharisees and Republicans. Jesus had 12 disciples and one of them was bad to the bone. His name was Judas Asparagus. He was so bad that they named him after a terrible vegetable. Jesus was great;  he could heal leopards and he preached famous sermons like: the Germans on the mount.

The Pharisees and Republican kept on until they got Jesus arrested. Jesus stood trial before Pontius Pilot. He is the one who flew Jesus to Egypt when he was a baby. The bible says, In the days of Herod the king, when Pontius was Pilate, Joseph took flight to Egypt. He may have been good at flying air planes but he was a lousy judge. He didn’t even try to do the right thing, he just washed his hands and threw in the towel.

Anyway, Jesus died because of our sins but He didn’t stay dead; maybe He just took a long nap. He appeared out of nowhere and spooked His Disciples. Then He went up to heaven but He said He was coming back someday.

Hallmark Movies, A Christmas Tradition

My wife and I have established a Christmas Tradition. On Sunday nights, we watch the Hallmark Christmas movie that she has taped from the night before or from Sunday night. You have to understand how this tradition got started.

Our taste, my wife and I, is totally different:

  • She likes the NFL–I’d rather watch paint dry.
  • She loves Golf–I’d rather watch grass grow.
  • She likes the YOUNG AND RUTHLESS–I’d rather have a root canal.
  • She likes Wheel of Fortune–I’d rather be water boarded.
  • She watches the Morning Show {religiously} with Kathy Lee and Michael Strahand. [The black guy with the space between his teeth. He is a very smart man and I suppose the females would say he is good looking. He is no Jason Bowling but who is?]–I’d rather hear be on the computer.
  • She watches Island Hunters-I’d rather have a spend the night party with my nine grandkids. [She found an Island last night for 4 million. We ought to buy it and put all these Muslims on it]

I could go on and on but you get the point: we do not like the same programs. We are married and we intend to stay together so we agree to watch certain things together but it is a short list. The HALLMARK Christmas movies is on the list.

Earlier tonight, we watched THE BRIDGE. Don’t waste your time. It is about a heathen woman who believes in works and refuses to go to church with her sweet husband, even on Christmas Eve. She is a goody-two-shoes who thinks her works will get her into heaven. Her faith is in herself and her husband. He wants her faith to be in something bigger.

I am an incurable romantic but the romantic plot is just not right. The guy breaks up with his life time sweet heart who I find attractive and falls in love with a twiggy. The girl is so skinny, if she wore a hat, she would look like an 8 penny nail. Listen, I am an old man and I want to see at least one attractive woman per movie. The old heifer that refuses to go to church is no longer pretty to me.

C-old-sexual-relations

By the way, the setting goes back and forth between Seattle, Washington and Franklin, Tennessee where the two lovers are attending Belmont College known for its conservatory in music. I like both cities but if I had pick one, it would be Franklin. Twiggy’s father, living in Seattle, is a control freak who cares more about himself than he does his daughters happiness. I don’t like the guy.

I am not finished but close: it is what I call a slow starter and I wanted to go to my computer after the first commercial break which June FF through but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. This is important to her and I am a sensitive husband. The movie just didn’t get any better until the last 20 minutes or so: suddenly I was hooked but there was not enough time for it to end right.

I am telling June–

  • This is not going to end right and I don’t like it.
  • This old heifer is not going to church, she is full of herself.
  • The controlling father is ruining his daughter’s [Twiggy] life. He lies, he manipulates and has her promised to a nerd. How be it, the boy in Franklin is a musician but I will take a musician over a nerd any day. Actually, I would prefer a guy with a good job who loves to work.
  • It gets down to the two minutes mark and the young lovers [miles a part] are talking on the phone: Control Freak has driven a wedge between them and they don’t understand what is going on. So you have two ‘pitiful’ lovers separated by a lying, conniving, compulsive control freak.
  • There is less than a minute and I telling June…It’s not ending right. The good man ask his unbelieving wife to go with him to the Christmas Eve service and she gives him this speech about how much she adores him and she does not need church or God, he is her object of worship. What is this hussy smoking.
  • THEN IT HAPPENS–scrolling across our 55 incher is the caption…TO BE CONTINUED ON CHRISTMAS 2016.

a payback is hell

Are you kidding me? Our composite age is 135 years. The first thing June said was, “We may be dead by Christmas of 2016.” Listen folks this is no way to treat Senior Adults. I’m going to see if Hallmark has a Facebook page: look out if they do- As Yosemite Sam would say, “I ‘ma goner blast them.”

I told June, I will not remember the first part if I have to wait a year to see the second part. What are these people thinking. Matter of fact, I will forget the entire movie in a few months. I’m telling you, it is crazy: it is not the way you treat Senior Adults, it’s just not right. I’d just as soon watch a movie with a sad ending as to watch one that has no ending.

I know what is going to happen: the stubborn and unsubmissive wife {Metaphorically, the heifer} is going to go to church with her beloved husband. Daddy Control Freak is going to wake up and realize that he can not control his daughter’s life without destroying her happiness. The two lovers will end up under the mistletoe in a full embrace but dog gone it, I wanted to see it on screen. I hate teasers!

Thanksgiving 2015

To be honest with you, I never envisioned a Thanksgiving 2015, my 66th upon this earth. When I was a kid, the year 2000 seemed like science fiction. When I was a child, I thought Christmas would never come and now it’s like a carousal, it comes around very quickly. I was out visiting yesterday: getting the application for kids who need help at Christmas and I stopped by one of our Senior Adults.

This sweet lady is 80 and lives alone in a small cottage. She gave birth to six children and has attended the COLS of three: two killed in motorcycle accident in their teens. The oldest was born in 1953. His little sister was on the cycle with him. It was a tragic night in Danville, Alabama. Then in 2009 her husband passed way on Christmas Eve. The following Christmas at a little past 12:00 none her almost 50 year old daughter was promoted. Perhaps you have faced a lot of tragedy in your life but would you want to swap places with her. She still has three children; two girls and boy and 5 grand children. She now has 6 greats, the same number she began with.

She has her pictures and her memories. A more gracious woman you will not meet. If she is not the lady in Proverbs 31, I don’t know who it would be. She has an humble and thankful attitude. That’s right, I said thankful. She told me during the visit, I am thankful for my children, grandchildren and greats and on this Thanksgiving Eve, she was excited about the all come or Thanksgiving dinner.

She and I reminisced while I was there as both of us recalled thanksgivings long, long ago. I cannot lie, as a child Christmas was the biggest day of the year. There was no day running a close second but as I have aged, THANKSGIVING my be my favorite. For one thing, it kicks off the holiday season and I know that Christmas in just around the corner. I remember our first year in Seminary: we had not planned to come home but June got both Thursday and Friday off at the hospital where she worked and we decided on Wednesday after she got home from work to load up and head for North Alabama. It was during the first energy crisis and I had one Gulf credit card which was good for gas only or a Holiday Inn. In our haste we forgot to fill up the gas tank. It had over a half of a tank which would take us a long way but by the time we got to the Alabama line, it was after 9:00 and we could not find a gulf station open. With less than 1/8 of tank, we were extremely anxious praying our heart out. Our only hope was a gulf station on I-59. In those days the interstate was not complete so we had to go through York where nothing was open. North bound we are praying: Lord let that Gulf station be open. O what a beautiful sight: it was open. You talk about happy campers; we were thrilled. Did we have any money? We had one dime that we found somewhere and it was for a pay phone if something went wrong. No cokes, candy bars or burgers just the desire to me with our family for thanksgiving. We got to Mothers about 2:00 am, crawled in a warm bed and had a great day of thanks.

My greatest THANKSGIVING came in 1986. I had been on an 11 day mission trip to Nigeria. I was a kid, green as a gourd, I got homesick before we got to Atlanta going over and I will not lie, it was the longest 11 days of my life. Out of 24 preachers, I was the only one with an assignment outside of town. Everything imaginable when through my mind. The Nigerians love to make music and it’s a lot like the music in a Tarzan movie, practically every member of choir has a drum. They don’t sit when singing, they stand and they jump, just like in the movies. I was looking around for a big pot of boiling water. I finally got acclimated the day before we came home but I was still anxious to get out of Africa. The instability there creates a certain anxiety. The Missionary who carried us to the airport [later retired in this County and came to see me at DBC a couple of time] carried us before dark. They did dare get out after dark in Lagos.

I was happy to be at the airport and the glass of ice tea that we had at the Missionaries was indeed refreshing. Once inside the airport, we had to wait three hours but I didn’t. We had flown in on a small Nigerian Airliner and that is what I expected to see but in rolls a KLM 747. I told one of the guys, “I sure wish that was our plane.” He said, “It is our plane and they are going to allow us to board early.” I have never been so happy to be on a Dutch Airliner in my life. Once in Amsterdam, I got the first bath I had had in 11 days but I was so excited I could sleep. The next day we boarded another KLM 747, after a one hour delay on the tarmac we lifted off and were Atlanta bound. I have never been so glad to see Atlanta in my life. But, there was a delay in Atlanta: the airline had plane but no crew; the crew was stuck in Detroit in a snow storm. I pestered the airline to death and after telling us in would probably be Thanksgiving, they came up will a crew and we were in the air by 9:00. I felt bad because half of the folks were not close enough to the gate to catch the plane but I warned to leave the gate area.

Be sure your sins will find you out, the little plane that we were in got caught in a horrible thunderstorm and I was already sick with dysentery and diarrhea and I spent most of my time in the john even thought I was supposed to be buckled in my seat.  I assumed we were not going to make it and begin repenting but just a few minutes later we got above the storm and it was raining lightly in Huntsville but no storm. Huntsville was a beautiful sight. June and the kids were there to pick me up and it was a wonderful ride home. We went home for THANKSGIVING the next day but I could not eat; I sat in a recliner the entire time we were there but it was the best THANKSBGIVING ever.