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Friday, February 4, 2011

Giving Honor Where Honor Is Due

Titus 2:11-14

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Giving Honor Where Honor is Due

I met the Williams' only months after my born-again experience. I received salvation on the floor of my bathroom, but felt I needed to go to church to learn more about my new life and meet others who'd made the same commitment. I began (logically) at the church just down the road from me. It was a small Assembly of God church out in the country. The congregation was small—as in maybe 10-20 people small. Most of the people were sweet and welcoming, though many of them never learned my name and one insisted on calling me "sister Bobby's wife." But the thing was they were not kind to their Pastors. They found ways of starving out the ones they didn't like and they split the church four times in the months my family and I were there.

My husband got so frustrated he quit going to church at all. My kids wanted to quit too. But I'd had this experience with Christ that would not let me quit just because some Christians didn't behave the way I (and my family) thought they should. I suggested to my family that we go on an adventure to find a church where we "fit." My husband said to me, "You go. When you find the right place, I'll join you." My kids said it wasn't fair that dad didn't have to go and they did—and so, on my own, I went in search of the family of God that could love me and my crew.

I was only months old in the Christian faith—in fact—I didn't have much faith. I felt fairly sure I wasn't going to hell when I died, but that was about as far as it went. I knew little or nothing about God because I'd only been reading the Bible for a few months. But I knew the one scripture that said not to give up gathering with other believers so we could encourage one another. I knew that one because the first Pastor at the country church spoke it each time we gathered. What little Bible I knew, I grabbed onto, because I wanted this relationship with God.

So—being the baby Christian I was—I prayed. I asked God to direct my course so I found the place for me and my family to know Him. I prayed as I drove through the country roads and onto the highway. I prayed as I came into Poteau. "Where Lord? Where do I belong?"

I was shy then, as timid as timid can be. I came into the city limits of Poteau and saw a steeple. To me, that steeple was a beacon. It beckoned me to enter. I pulled into the parking lot of Calvary Assembly of God and watched all the people go in the glass double doors. I noticed they dressed in nicer clothes than I was wearing, and they all seemed to know one another, but I forced myself to enter that sanctuary. I was—after all—on a mission.

I sat in the back and sang the songs during song service. Then the Pastor, Kenneth Williams, stood up to minister and I knew I belonged. He preached about Bible prophesy and I heard every word with rapt attention. Fascinated, that God's word talked about this century—let alone the hour I was living in. After the service was over the Pastor stood at the door to shake every hand of the people as they left. His handshake was warm and his smile friendly—and I carried the fragrance of Polo cologne home with me to tell my family I'd found the place we belonged.

Pastor Ken's wife, Alice is a Bible teacher that kept me digging deeper into God's truth. Her teaching grounded me and Pastor's prophetic ministry encouraged me. I rarely missed a service. And I did get my kids to go with me. My husband decided not to go back to church. He didn't see the evidence of love among the faithful like he thought he should and decided that it wasn't worth the effort to go. It wasn't easy to go alone—to grow alone—but I wanted this relationship with God.

The Williams' teachings, watchful care and knowledgeable prayers anchored me in a deeply enduring association with God. If they hadn't been the Pastors they were—true shepherds—I may not have flourished and stayed plugged in as I did. I may not have been as trusting as I've been. They strengthened me for hard times to come and taught me that no matter what I see around me, God is with me and He cares. I can hold onto that when things get bumpy.

Pastors Ken and Alice Williams, I honor you today. I thank you for being the shepherds so faithful to what God called you to do. I celebrate with you the rewards He has for you, because you have been faithful. I bless you and pray for you. You are precious to me and few days go by that I don't think of you with gratitude in my heart. I love you.