So I am sitting at my desk in Mason and the phone rings. On the line is the chairman of the pulpit committee from Baird, Texas. I did not know a soul in Baird nor did they know me. A young man whom I had helped get started in ministry had insisted that they meet me. They soon came to visit our church. We talked briefly after the service and they left. About two hours later they called and asked if they could talk with us some more. I never sat with a more thorough and thoughtful committee. It was obvious that they had already decided that I was the pastor they were looking for. Baird was not a bigger town than Mason. In fact, it was smaller. The church was slightly larger than FBC Mason. The salary was not larger either. The appeal for me was that the church was very near to Abilene and could potentially connect with the region. I also was well aware that the high school would be wide open to my ministry to students. We went in view of being called and for the first and only time in our forty years in ministry, there were two or three dissenting votes to my being pastor. I was assured that this was nothing to be concerned about. I actually considered not going, but the warm and enthusiastic pulpit committee drew me to accept the invitation. Once again we would enjoy a very fruitful ministry with great evangelistic results.
By now, if you are reading these blogs, you may be asking if we ever experienced failure. The answer to that question is that on a personal level I am keenly aware of things that should have been better in my life and ministry, but so far as the experience of the churches is concerned, God graciously blessed our ministry in every place. Every church grew numerically and financially. Every church became known far beyond its immediate context. Doors opened in every area for me to preach the gospel in revival meetings in other churches around each place where we served. I have a saying that describes my experience in ministry. “God can take a crooked stick and hit a straight lick.” I am only a crooked stick, but God has graciously used me through the years in spite of my shortcomings.
We moved to Baird in the fall of 1979. It was a couple of weeks into football season. I had met one coach at the high school and so felt comfortable attending a practice. I only knew one player on the team. His mother was our church secretary. As I watched from the sidelines, I kept noticing the players looking over at me and asking one another who I was. I met all of the coaches and stayed throughout the practice. My own background as a high school football player on a championship caliber team served me well. In fact in those days I looked like I could still play. My visit to practice paid off. There must have been two dozen football players in our services the very next Sunday. The church was ecstatic. I became a regular on the sidelines and a welcome guest at the high school. The principal became a close friend and was a faithful deacon at the church. I was frequently asked to substitute teach, especially in math. I had been a very strong math and science student through the years and could easily help students to understand equations. I came to know almost every student and teacher in the high school. These would be days of opportunity. One of our faithful members who now serves on our staff at Crestview was in high school in Baird and a member of First Baptist. In fact, she was one of several students that I spent personal time with in discipleship at one point in our ministry there. Through the years I have been invited back to Baird to preach and teach and to conduct funerals.
More to come . . .