In a recent blog post, Dusty Rush asked who would make our list of the top five preachers. His list is hard to beat, and I would likely have to put his top five on my list as well. I’d like to put a twist on that subject and list some memorable sermon moments … and I’d like to hear yours as well. As I think about this I’m finding it a little hard to get started. For one thing, many of my friends are preachers and I would be happy to hear any of them anytime. In another way, this could turn of a ‘best of’ list of moments at Tulsa Workshop. For two decades I’ve been traveling to Oklahoma for this great gathering of believers. But, be that as it may, there are some moments that stand out in my memory. It may not have been as much what was said … as the condition of my heart … and the setting … and God’s work where it was needed.
The first one I want to mention wasn’t even live. I was a senior in college and my friend Glenn Jarrett handed me a cassette that was worn and obviously had been in his tape player numerous times. The sermon was called, “Reach Out or Fade Out“. I had a two hour trip in front of me and so I plugged it in and hit the road. I really wasn’t prepared for this super-fast-talking hyper preacher with a funny accent that tied together an Oklahoma drawl with an aussie influence. Marvin Phillips was preaching at the Darby Drive Church of Christ in Florence, Alabama when the soul-winning workshops were the rage. Many years later Marvin Phillips is my friend and he has made several trips to Pascagoula to encourage the people here. He’s still hyper.
I don’t remember where I was when I first heard it, but I heard it more than once. And each time, it was a masterpiece. It was a simple concept, but it truly built my faith and drew me closer to God’s word. It was a sermon tracing the presence of Jesus Christ in each of the books of the Old Testament. I have heard Cecil May, Jr. preach many sermons, but this one stands out in my mind. Brother May has always been a mentor … and more… to me. My admiration has grown for his ability to present pertinent and bibical lessons with relevant points without belittling other believers. He finds himself in a variety of settings, I think, because his interest is in teaching Scripture, and not tearing others apart with his words. I learned a lot from brother May, and I wish I had more of his temperament.
Wow…these descriptions are getting long…let me throw a few more and let that be that!
I cried all the way through Craig Hicks’ message at Tulsa Workshop one night as he talked about growing up in the church of Christ, when the church really was his family. His love for Christ was just blazing that night and even though I had never met him, I felt like I knew him when it was over. Craig has something special … gotta love that guy. I’m glad to say that these days I claim him as a friend, although we’re way overdue for a phone call.
One night at Youth In Action in Birmingham I was sitting there with the youth group from Central. Dusty Rush was introduced and walked out on that big stage. He started talking and looked up suddenly … right at me … and in front of 1200 people pointed and said, ‘There’s John Dobbs’. I’m sure 99% of the people were saying, ‘who’? But then they forgot about me as he told his famous sausage story. It’s a great story. I love that story. I request it when he comes to do retreats at Gulf Coast Bible Camp. However, he has now surpassed that story with a new one. One that he got down here in Pascagoula. Figuring out how to tell it in a sermon will be a challenge.
My buddy Danny Dodd and I were at the Spiritual Sword Lectures at the Getwell Church of Christ in Memphis, TN many moons ago. I’m thinking … 20 years ago? 25? I honestly can’t remember the brother’s name … but he ascended the pulpit and blandly and boringly read through his manuscript. I have no idea if the content was good or not, he was boring us out of our skulls. However, once he got through with that, he slapped it down on the pulpit and started animatedly shouting about Rubel Shelley and the other liberals. He happily gave them a one way ticket to the eternal flames. I think that was one of my first steps away from hateful legalism and graceless religion in my heart. Two other interesting things happend that same week. I met Ira Y. Rice Jr., then editor of Contending for the Faith. Also that week we all watched Garland Elkins’ appearance on The Donahue Show. Those were interesting.
Terry Rush throwing down his referee’s flag, demonstrating how some brethren object to every change was classic.
Don McLaughlin’s salad sermon was a good one.
I have a title to an old sermon of Danny Dodd’s in mind, but I think he’ll prefer me to keep that to myself.
I know I’m rambling now. Dusty’s idea was probably better, because he kept it short and sweet. And what’s up with him posting more than one blog a day? I don’t understand that. I appreciate you reading. Check out a few links below.
I think everyone should listen to Gary Kirkendall’s latest podcast called Why We Fight. There’s a second part coming next week!
Danny Dodd wrote about pacifism and got good responses on his latest blogpost.