Welcome to Eternity!

I spent this week at Eternity Baptist Church in Alamogordo, New Mexico, home of White Sands National Park and Air Force base. I was sent there to preach as part of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s “Revive the Nation” program. It was my first time preaching. After 25 years teaching in the classroom , speaking to thousands of people in  corporate  settings (mostly about money, marketing and success)  I was charged with delivering the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Gospel!!

Wow! Where to begin? Let’s sum it up by saying that lives were changed at this meeting, and revival is under way at Eternity Baptist Church. Not least, my life has been changed forever. I am not sure what path the LORD has in store for me, but this week was evidence that the LORD has me firmly in his grip. The Spirit moved in this church. People were rocked during the services, under conviction, and openly confessed their sins and sought counsel. These brothers and sisters reached out to one another, to those in the community they know are lost, and their love was nothing less than an explosion of God’s outpouring of grace. Their love for one another, their love for their pastor and his wife, and their love for me was overwhelming. These are simple folks, but people who are rich in ways other than wealth. They are exceedingly generous of their time, their homes, their resources. I said to them with all earnestness that their church family truly is a FAMILY. They are growing, now with 40-50 members, and they are out of fellowship and classroom space. They are ploughing ahead with a purchase of an adjoining property for Sunday School space.Their love for God and for one another drew me in. I became their co-pastor for this week. We shared our testimonies and openly repented and rededicated our lives to the LORD.

One anecdote: I greeted and handed a sermon outline to a guy, tough looking dude, who escorted his blind girlfriend into the church. He was closed, maybe even hostile in appearance and his body language was awful. He was wound up so tight his face muscles were clenched! I saw him after the service standing waiting for his girlfriend. I cautiously approached him to thank him for coming, and he immediately opened up to me. He said “I have to apologize. I came in here with a lot of anger. I had a bad day. I have a reputation for anger. The prisoners (found out he’s a prison guard at the Fed pen) know it and they knew today I was having a bad day. But your message really helped me. It took all that weight off me. I feel relieved. So thank you and I’m sorry for the anger I had coming in here.”  I told Mo it was the LORD who was speaking to his heart; I was only the messenger. I reminded him that Diana (his girlfriend) and a whole bunch of folks at Eternity were praying for him.Well, turns out Mo had tried a brutal suicide a couple of years ago and his job is clearly not the best therapy for anger management. The next night he came back and he greeted me (almost) warmly, and I asked him if he’d had a better day. He said he had and the prisoners had noticed. He thinks he may have even smiled!I suggested to him “Think of how many inmates you could lead to the LORD just by being transformed yourself!” In hindsight, though he did not come to the altar, I think he may be saved.

The last night of our meeting, Pastor  invited the people to come and give their thanks and regards to me at the front of the church. Well, I was smothered with love. One woman gave me a confession of a bitter anger she was holding, and everybody embraced me like a family member about to leave forever. Angry Mo and Diana waited until last to visit with me and Mo thanked me for preaching the Word to him. He said he was better but still had a lot of work to do. I told him to remember this: “When man works, man works; when man prays, God works.” I reminded him of my testimony– I too had a control problem– and by praying and meditating on the bible, by coming to know who God is, we can understand how helpless we are and powerless. At that truth we can yield our control to Jesus and gain peace. He embraced me and I told him I’d be checking up on him.

This was my first meeting and my first time preaching. I had never set foot in a Baptist church before 2009! Although I have been a professional teacher, coach and corporate speaker for many years, this was special. The LORD was working in this church and the Spirit filled every service and the message I delivered, unlike the thousands I have given before, was not my own. My first sermon was on Psalm 24, ” Who is This King of Glory.” On my my intro notes  I had jotted own: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” since the Psalm speaks of Jesus as Creator and as King at his Second Coming. Lo and behold, the Scripture reading in between the opening hymns was Revelation 21, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” Clearly, the pastor and I did not plan this meeting; the LORD had it firmly in his control! Same thing happened Sunday night as the last hymn introduced my message on the Rich Young Ruler. God is good! The tools I brought in terms of speaking and presenting were only tools God gave me for his Word to be proclaimed. People were moved, fell under conviction, one lost soul whom the church had been praying for for two years was saved the first service,  two families joined the church, and people fell down on their faces at the altar. Many folks came up to me for advice, wanting to learn more about my testimony. I gave financial planning advice (I am a Wall Street veteran) to two pastors and job advice to a woman–she had an interview in less than 48 hours.Praise the LORD for divine appointments. For a small church this was and is a big move of God. .

The LORD sent me to Alamogordo with a purpose, in fact many purposes, and his work was accomplished and is still being accomplished, in that church family and in me. Oh yeah, I am part of that church family! I was blessed to be there and the blessing I received has changed my life forever. I will never be the same person.Thank you, Jesus!

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Published in: on March 18, 2011 at 9:54 am  Leave a Comment