I pray that your work in the Lord is a joy to you and a benefit to those around you — and I am grateful for the fellowship you have with me in the work that I do.
Early last month, I had the pleasure of visiting Dothan AL and preaching where my good friend Bill Wilcox is an elder. This church has supported me for many years, and it was a treat to be with them. This congregation is unusual in that its members come from a variety of backgrounds. I appreciate the leadership of its elders, and especially their passion for evangelizing their own community. Stuart Tullis, who is one of their evangelists, is a man whom I admire greatly, not only for his skills in the work but also for his attitude and heart.
Equally enjoyable was my meeting last month in Helena AL. This was one of those exceptional meetings that only come along once in awhile. Those in attendance listened with the kind of attention that preachers dream of, and I believe several people were impacted in some very specific ways. Ken Craig, who is one of the elders, has been a dear friend for many years, and it was invigorating to be around him, as it always is. It was also good to see Bryan Moody, who is one of their evangelists. And this time, it was a pleasure to be with Joe and Rachel Hickman, who are now helping the work at Helena. Joe and I go back many, many years, and it did me a huge amount of good to reconnect with him during this meeting. I was reminded how much I love and admire him in the Lord.
I just returned from Tyler TX where I was in meeting with the Rice Road congregation. That meeting was also very encouraging. I did my “Reaching Forward” series of lessons, which I had not done in a few years, and it was good for me to be reminded of the truths in those lessons. Certainly, we all need to be learning how to set our hope more fully on the grace that is to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).
As I write, I am back in Meridian MS where I spend some time each month, writing and doing what I can to encourage the small group that worships here on Seventh Street. As a preacher, this experience is helping me to remember the special needs of Christians who meet in congregations that are on the downside of their life cycle. We dare not write such congregations off as unimportant, and I want to do what I can to help the church in Meridian.
I want to say something that you may find unusual in a report like this, but I believe it needs to be said: I very much ENJOY the work that I’m able to do. My life has its difficulties, as you know, but I really do enjoy the circumstances in which my work takes place. I consider myself extremely blessed — and I am not exaggerating when I say that I do not know of a single gospel preacher with whom I would change places if I were given the chance. No one ever had a more pleasant work to do than I, nor more wonderful people to do it for. I truly love the life that I have.
As I reflect back on the many years of my work, I am amazed at the path that has led me to the kind of work you are helping me do at present. Every week, I receive feedback indicating that it is reaching many, many people. I appreciate the expressions of appreciation from readers and listeners, of course, but I appreciate even more the fact that you make it possible for me to do this work. I could not do it without your help, and I believe I speak for many who would (if they could speak to you directly) say they are thankful that you help me as you do.