Thursday, December 17, 2015

I have the most wonderful memories of Christmas.
God has been good in this area to me and my family.
I am grateful for the good people of Gallant First Baptist for it was they who shaped and loved me and showed me the heart of God, as a young boy growing up in that community.
People like:
W.A. and Geneva Lutes (along with Ronald and Nancy). They had a huge impact on me as a boy.I saw in them what a family should look like. They truly enjoyed each others company and yet at the same time, there was great respect for each other and the role they played in the family.

Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Whisenant. Mr. Whisenant was probably the most humble man I know. When he would lead a prayer at church, it was if heaven stopped to listen to this man pray. It was eloquent or flowery. When Mr. Whisenant spoke to God, it was one friend to another. Mrs. Whisenant was the epitome of the word "gentle". 

Kenneth and Linda Chandler- They were my training union teachers all through my teenage years. I saw what a marriage was suppose to be like. I saw a man who loved his wife and worked hard for his family. I saw God bring two together and make one.

Charles Bryson - He encouraged me to sing. Charles was an incredible talent and was gracious enough to sing at my mothers funeral. Charles was the choir director and really fueled my love of music.

Reverend Lewis Woods - He was our pastor and the one who lead me to Jesus. Back when it wasn't against the law, Bro. Woods came to our school and spoke. At the end of the talk he told of what Jesus had done because of my sin. I sat there heart beating out of my chest, and I knew that I was lost and was very much in need of a Savior. May of 1961, I gave myself to Jesus and I haven't regretted it ever.

Mr. Vivian Phillips - Mr. Phillips was instrumental in creating a love for the Bible in me. He did odd jobs around the house my parents rented (we rented from Mr. Phillips) so I had a lot of contact with him. I remember him sharing stories from Scripture and questioning me as to what I believed. Mr. Phillips did not treat me like a "little boy" but rather as a pupil.

Reverend Don Gentry - Brother Gentry showed me that the body of Christ was larger than Gallant First Baptist. When I was in the 7th grade, Bro. Gentry would show up at Alma Hinson Jr. High every Monday and load all us "Gallant Boy's and Girls" up in his car. We would then drive to a local church and visit. Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Church of God, Episcopalian. We visited them all, one a week. The pastor, priest, Rector would share with us the beliefs and traditions of that particular faith. We even visited St. James Catholic Church as well as Temple Beth Israel. Pretty heady stuff for a young boy from the country, but it made a huge impact on me and how I viewed the Body of Christ. It was much more than our simple church in Gallant. 

I guess the one man who had the greatest impact on Vicki and I would be Rev. George Creel. Vicki and I were coming out of a long 7 year journey of being away from God. We knew we needed to go to church for the sake of our children (or at least that is what we were telling ourselves) but we didn't know which one.
Vicki's mom kept after us to visit Central United Methodist and hear Bro. George. Well we did and the rest is history. Never, never, never had we ever heard anyone teach the Bible like this man. I remember the first message I ever heard him preach, I sat there dumbfounded as the Word of God poured over me. From then on it standard practice to take Bible, Notebook, Pen with us to each service. 

I am a blessed man and during this Christmas season I think back to all these people and so many more I did not have the time to mention. I truly am a composite of each of these folks as they gave of themselves to me.
I carry around a little piece of their spiritual DNA that has helped me to see God in a way that I probably would have missed. During this time, I am very grateful for the spiritual heritage that God has given to  me throughout my life. Now, I pray that I give away pieces of my Spiritual DNA to others that God would work in the them the same as He has worked in me. 
I am blessed.

Merry Christmas...
God on you.....

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