OK. I’m REALLY getting nostalgic as my time at First Baptist Church of Brooksville is drawing to a close. I’ve previously posted an article about why I’ll miss the center aisle. (How crazy is that?!) So, I thought that I would write about why I’ll miss the pulpit.
If you’re still reading, more power to you. lol
First, it’s one that I handpicked.
When the front of our worship center was undergoing a much needed upgrade, I was talked into (I’ll blame it on others) getting a pulpit that I had spoken of often. Instead of a bulky wooden pulpit, I wanted a transparent one.
1) It illustrated what I wanted to be as a pastor – transparent.
2) It allowed me to preach with my body. I gesture a lot and the wooden pulpit we had before blocked much of my attempts to explain God’s Word.
3) It allowed for things happening behind the pulpit to be easily seen by the congregation (i.e. children’s skits, choir specials, etc.)
4) It allowed me to peek past my Bible and notes to the clock at its base without making it obvious that I was looking at the time (even though folks at First Baptist would question whether I ever actually looked at the clock).
This list could go on and on but you get the idea.
Second, there is a powerful reminder taped to it.
I heard a quote many years ago that was credited to a preacher named Richard Baxter. I’ve never forgotten it. I believed that if I got the truth of it engrained in my mind and heart, it would powerfully impact how I preached. The quote is: “I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.”
As I approach the pulpit to preach each Sunday, that verse is directly in front of me. It reminds me that I may never preach to these people again. One of us could be moments away from death in a horrific car accident, a heart attack or any number of other possibilities. With that knowledge, I needed to be certain that what I was preaching and how I was preaching it would be sufficient if it was the last sermon they heard.
The quote, by in large, has kept things in perspective as I have stood to proclaim God’s Word to the folks at First Baptist Church.
Third, it has some very special verses under the carpet.
When the platform was being remodeled, I got an idea. The day before the carpet was installed, I took a black permanent marker and wrote some Scripture references in the area where I stand as I preach. I wanted to literally “stand on God’s Word” as I proclaimed His Word to the congregation. These are the verses under the carpet that I have stood on as I preached at First Baptist:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
2 Timothy 4:1-5 “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Finally, there have been some incredible people that I’ve invited to stand behind it and proclaim God’s Word.
The risk I run in naming anyone is that I will leave so many out. However, I’ll run that risk by saying I will name two special individuals who represent all of those who I’ve invited to preach behind the pulpit.
Robert Amaya (“Javier” in the movie “Courageous”) was at First Baptist Church in January 2012. I would invite him back to preach in a heartbeat! He is grounded in God’s Word and has a passion to call others, especially men, to take up their crosses and follow Jesus. He shared with me that he has an insatiable hunger to read theology books and wholeheartedly believes that in order to behave like Christ-followers, we must first think like Christ-followers. I could not have been more pleased as I listened to Robert preach God’s Word from behind that transparent pulpit. I hope to one day invite him to speak again. To view pictures I took of the time Robert spent at First Baptist, just click here.
Harry Bollback is another very special person that I invited to preach at First Baptist Church. Many know Bro. Bollback from his work at Word of Life Bible Institute. However, even with the incredible story of his involvement in Word of Life, I found out that there is so much more to his story.
After he preached at First Baptist, Bro. Bollback invited my family to join him and his wife, Millie, for a meal at Word of Life and then see the passion play at their Youth Camp in Hudson. While eating with him, I picked his brain and found out that he and his wife were missionaries in South America and were dear friends of Jim Elliott, Nate Saint and the other 3 missionaries killed by the Auca Indians in Ecuador in January 1956. He and his wife visited the widows in Shell, Ecuador after the murders. I continued to probe and found out that he and his wife had a very similar experience and someone had written a book about it.
Naturally, I was hooked and wanted to get the book. He gave me a copy and signed it for me. I was so glad that I had a chance to meet this incredible man of God during my time at First Baptist. To view the sermon he preached behind First Baptist’s pulpit, click here.
Come to think about it, maybe it’s not so silly to miss the pulpit at First Baptist Church after all. It IS pretty special!