Yesterday I spent my second day interviewing an 82-year-old man who is telling me his life story. Born in 1929 to a poor Oklahoma whiskey bootlegger, losing his eye in a knife accident at the age of three, raised in a home where birthdays and Christmas were never celebrated because of abject poverty, and only hearing the name of God or Christ used in epitaths, this gentleman--and I mean gentle man--has overcome long odds against him to become a highly successful businessman in Oklahoma. I listened yesterday as this man shared with me how Christ changed his life at the age of 26. He and his 22-year-old wife were saved on the same day. How did it happen? A co-worker in the oil fields of New Mexico took the time to share Christ with the young couple. He wasn't pushy. He asked questions of a spiritual nature, but he expressed his love through his friendship toward the young couple. In time, because of the influence of this co-worker, the man and his wife attended church for the first time in their lives. They went at the invitation of their friend to a small Baptist church called Loveland Baptist Mission. "We didn't know what to expect, but the preacher--an older man who had experience in the oil fields himself--began to talk about Jesus Christ. He didn't use flowery words, and he didn't distract us with us with silly illustrations. He spoke from his heart and explained how Jesus Christ came and died for people who have messed up their lives like he had, and how Christ has the power to change the lives of those who will surrender to Him. At the conclusion of the message the pastor invited people to place their faith and confidence in Christ. As my wife and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes, we both knew that we needed Christ. That day my wife and me were both saved. God worked us over from head to foot. We were never the same. It was the most important day of my life!"
As I listened to my aged friend emotionally describe his conversion experience, and knowing the "success" he has (as the world defines success), I was struck by the depth of his feelings about the day of his conversion. You could see it in his eyes. You could hear it in his voice. Christ meant the world to him. I spent the next eight hours typing this portion of his narrative for his family members and arrived home around midnight. I checked my email and found a question from a pastor asking me about my Augustine post (from yesterday) and the feelings I had about Pastor Ed and his wife Lisa Young placing their bed on top of their church's roof for 24 hours to promote their new book on sex called Sexperiment: Seven Days to Lasting Intimacy with Your Spouse. I had heard about the promotion for the book, but I decided to log-in this morning and watch Pastor Ed and Lisa--in their bed on the roof of the church--as they answered interview questions about their sex life and the new book. I was still a little tired from the night before, but I listened carefully to Ed and Lisa as they bundled up against the twenty degree temperatures of early morning Dallas. After being given a vivid visual for the phrase "The Frozen Chosen," I found my mind drifting toward the interview I had the day before. My elderly friend had movingly described for me how he and his wife--at the time a young couple in the prime of their lives, the very group Ed and Lisa are targeting--had been transformed by a pastor's message on the person and work of Jesus Christ. A few questions came to mind as I gazed at the LiveFeed of Pastor Ed and Lisa on the roof of their church:
(1). Do people know that even if their sex lives improve, they are still headed for a date with hell, unless they come to place their confidence and faith in Christ?
(2). Do Christian people understand the importance of taking the time to thank those pastors and teachers who instruct us of Christ and His death--a message deemed "foolish" by the world and the cause of much ridicule--but the only message God uses to change lives?
(3). Could there possibly be some eighty-year-olds--sixty years from now--who curse the day they ever fell under the teaching of a preacher who taught them how to have better sex?
(4). Is it too harsh to say that any Christian preacher who spends time, money and effort to encourage people how to have better sex--while in bed with his wife on the roof of his church--may actually be guilty of leading the blind off a rooftop into hell?
When I get to heaven I want to find that pastor at Loveland Baptist Mission, Loveland, New Mexico. Fifty-five years ago he spent a week preparing a message about Christ. He walked into the church building that next Sunday morning and saw a new young couple had been seated on the front row. He didn't try to impress them with his knowledge about anything but Christ. He preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified. That preacher's message led my blind friend to saving faith in Christ and impacted an entire generation of people within the state of Oklahoma. Thank you, my pastor friend, for a job well done. May your tribe increase.