Happy Memorial Day!
Today is an anniversary, of sorts, for me. I first preached at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church the last weekend of May, six years ago.
Unfortunately, I did not get to worship with my congregation today, as I was away on assignment. But I heard it was a great day of worship. Thanks to our pastors, staff, and volunteers for carrying on in my absence. You make it happen!
I preached today at the Parkside Church in Cleveland, where Alistair Begg is Pastor-Teacher. I have read Alistair Begg’s books and listened to his Truth For Life messages for many years. And I was honored to preach the three morning services at Parkside for him today. What a church!
Last Fall, I preached with Alistair Begg at The Expositors Summit at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. During our time together, Begg told me it wasn’t fair that I was stuck with just initials. So he named me, “Henry Billingsworth.” And he told me I could call him, “A.B.”
My friend, Keelan Atkinson, preached in my absence at Shiloh today.
I blame Keelan for me being at Shiloh. Six years ago, Keelan persistently gave the Shiloh’s deacon chairman my name, until he called and invited me to preach. But he made it clear that it was just an invitation to preach, which was fine by me. I was content where I was and had no desire to leave Mt. Sinai Church in Los Angeles.
I preached at Shiloh for the first time Memorial Day weekend, 2008.
The week before my visit, a pulpit committee member called me to say there was some who thought I should be seriously considered for their pastoral opening. And they asked me to meet with the committee, deacons, and trustees over the weekend. I did. And it was the worst “candidate” interviews in church history!
THEM: So what is your vision for Shiloh?
ME: I don’t have a vision for Shiloh? I have a vision for Mt. Sinai.
THEM: How would you handle counseling situations here?
ME: I don’t know. This is how I do it at Mt. Sinai. How do you handle it here?
THEM: What would yo do to minister to the youth?
ME: I have absolutely no idea.
You get the picture.
At the end of the meeting with the deacons, one of the young deacons bluntly asked, “Why are you here? Why did they bring you here? Can you even preach? (This young man would later drive me to my room. Awkward ride. Sorry, Patrick. LOL).
When I made it to the room, I was beat. I prepared for bed and called Crystal before I turned in. “How did it go?” she asked. I told her that I had two sermons to preach in the morning and then I would be on the first plane back to Los Angeles to get back to my life and ministry.
I preached Sunday morning and returned home to get back to business. Less than three months later, I was ending my ministry in Los Angeles and packing up my family to move to Jacksonville.
The Lord dragged me to Jacksonville kicking and screaming. But I am so glad the Lord knows better than I do and that the Lord has the last word.
I am blessed to serve a wonderful congregation where the Lord is doing great things. And I pray the Lord will give us many more years of fruitful labor as partners in the gospel to the glory of God!