Friday, April 18, 2014
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I did it.          
 It happened Monday evening while making my way down 13th Avenue to Park Place Manor for our regular first Monday gospel singing.
 It is a route that I have traveled for many years, but there was a major difference as I approached the nursing home Monday evening.  Last month’s trip was in the daylight, but the time change imposed Sunday threw this month’s trip into darkness.
Add to the darkness a light rain.
The entrance to Park Place was not lit, and I misjudged where it was and turned left into the curb.
Traffic is heavy that time of day on 13th.  Suddenly there was light, but it was not light illuminating the entrance.  It was lights shining from cars approaching in the west bound lane that I was blocking.  Add the lights of the stream of vehicles fast approaching in the lane I had just left.

In my preaching experience, sermons that receive comments like “I needed that!” are messages that I myself need in the worst way. 
The following is a summary of such a sermon.
The Bible says, “One who trusts will not panic” (Isa. 28:16 NRSV).  The versions vary on the wording of the passage.  The King James reads,  “He that believeth shall not make haste.”  The New International,  “The one who trusts will never be dismayed.” Peterson’s paraphrase in The Message,  “A trusting life won’t topple.”
The message is not designed to comfort the lazy nor excuse the procrastinator, but it is a strong guard against allowing our lives to become frantic and frenzied.
So often decisions made in haste and actions taken in an atmosphere of panic prove to be unwise.   Hurried estimates of people, prompted by our prejudices, can rob us of potentially wonderful relationships.   Rushing into matrimony, believing “He’ll change” or “She’ll change,” can be the source of great regret.  Children cannot be properly nurtured in a hurry.  It takes YOUR time AND THEIRS.  The coin of love is time.

One of the joys of being “retired” these last 10 years, after serving the same pulpit for 33 years, is the privilege of visiting and serving other churches from time to time.  In addition to helping eleven congregations as interim minister during these ten years, there has been the delightful relationship that has developed from occasionally doing Sunday preaching for the Pearl Church of Christ and conducting the church’s summer revival for ten consecutive years.
Last Sunday, the third Sunday in October, marked the 118th anniversary of the founding of the church in 1895.  I spoke for the anniversary service a time or two, but in recent years have requested to be the song leader with Edward Schaub preaching.
Ed, a Baylor University professor, has done fill-in preaching at Pearl for 33 years.  As he began his timely message Sunday, he suggested that the church has not just survived during the long years of continuous worship, but it has flourished in service to the Lord and the community.  Eighty-six folks filled the little building built in 1895 with heartfelt praise.  We celebrated the Lord’s blessings through the past years and prayed for those blessings to continue in the years to come.

When I began writing this column in the fall of 1987, I chose to call it “Looking Up!”  With that decision came a self-imposed obligation to write material that is up beat, inspirational, positive, and bringing a bit of hope to readers.  Doubtless, I fall short of that goal from time to time, but it is not intentional.
Janelle and I have a habit of getting up early.  As we were getting our day started recently, Janelle handed her iPad to me and said, “You need to read this.” 
What she gave me was a column from The Optimist, the newspaper of Abilene Christian University written by our granddaughter Melany Cox, a senior journalism major.  Most of the semester, she admitted to writing what she called “preachy” articles about campus life.  The material she posted on October 3 was different.  It was titled “The house on Coconut Road.”  What follows is a large part of that article:
“I spent a week of summer vacation at the beach with my family.  My parents, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and I loaded our cars and caravanned to Surfside Beach, a tiny town nestled on the Texas coast.  We stayed in a rented beach house named the ‘Boat House,’ a blue dwelling situated on Coconut Road off the Blue Water Highway.  For most people, a trip to the beach doesn’t seem that unusual.  However, this was the 17th year my family spent our annual week on the coast.