Monday, November 23, 2009


Yesterday was a rich day for Beverly and me. We were able to return to our 1st full-time ministry in Crockett, Texas to be a part of their 40th anniversary. The worship was great! I taught during the Bible class hour, and my son Josh hit a grand slam during the worship hour.

We served in Crockett from 1988 to 1993. Only 5 years. But it is incredible how deeply that 5 years impacted us. I made deep friendships there. When we occasionally go back, there are 3 guys in particular that are such good friends that when we see each other, it's like we just pick up from the last time.

I wish I had mentioned to the church yesterday about an "ah-ha" I have had. When I was in Crockett as a young, wet-behind-the-ears preacher, there was another preacher in town who was mean, who did not mind slandering people in public -- but who claimed to be the protector of "the truth." He made all kinds of false accusations about me, and I must admit that it really bothered me then. His tag line was, "Do I make you mine enemy because I tell you the truth?"

At that time, I was also a legalist -- thinking that what was REALLY important was what we did during our hour of worship each week, church organization, etc. It's just that my legalism and his were a little different.

Here is my point: Many in Crockett still feel badly for the way he treated me. But I have come to see that it is one of the most important events in my spiritual journey. I was headed down a path in which I could have ended up being somewhat like him. I don't think I could have ever been as mean and dishonest as he was -- but I could have been as "zealous" in my misplaced gospel. But seeing him and how UNLIKE Christ he was brought me to a crossroads. It made me realize that what the gospel is about is not those things that I had made of primary importance. The gospel is about a loving God extending His unbelievable grace to me. It's about me being allowed to journey with Him through life -- allowing Him to complete His work of transformation in me. To what goal? To become like Jesus. To be filled with the fruit of the Spirit -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Qualities that are amazingly absent in the lives of people who pursue legalism.

God works in mysterious, unexpected ways to get our attention. And looking back on those times, I am SO glad He got mine.


randy said...

It seems to me that once we get started on the path of examining legalism in the light of revelation there is no turning back.

Jeff said...

While I wish I would have made different decisions at points in my history, I also see evidence of how God can work through the mess I make to bring me closer to him.

Josh Ross said...

Well said. Crockett was a great place to teach us about God's extraordinary grace!