By Connie W. Adams
Holes in the Floor of Heaven
Steve Warriner, a country singer and guitarist, won a CMA award recently for his recording of “Holes in the Floor of Heaven,” a nostalgic piece about departed loved ones who, on special occasions shed tears which leaked through these holes in the form of rain. I must admit I liked it better than songs about drinking and cheating. But Bill Anderson interviewed Steve later and good-naturedly asked how could tears fall down from Heaven when there are not supposed to be any tears in heaven. Good question. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). The Preacher said of the dead: “Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun” (Eccl. 9:6). I guess it must be poetic license. At least that is how we explain some of the unscriptural songs we offer in worship to God.
Blue John Preaching
In recent years I have taken to drinking skim milk, something I would never have thought of doing during my younger years. Back then such milk was considered fit only for the pigs. We called it “blue John.” All the good stuff was removed. I believe we have too much blue John preaching. We have extracted anything which might possibly offend or mess up someone’s “self-esteem.” We have deleted doctrinal teaching with any teeth for fear that our denominational friends might get the idea that we think they are wrong and need to change. We have watered sin down to the point where it does not seem so bad after all. We must not be judgmental. Anything but that! Even our nation is divided over whether or not it is as bad to lie under oath about immoral behavior as it would be on other things. There are congregations that have never practiced corrective discipline on the disorderly. Well, maybe we will just leave their name off the next directory. Some discipline! We have had to strip away preaching that identifies error among brethren and goes so far as to name those who have promoted it. I hope you understand that the “we” of this article is used accommodatively and is not meant to indicate that every single preacher has succumbed to “blue john” preaching. Could that be more “poetic license”? By the way, who issues these licenses? “Let your Yea be Yea and your Nay, Nay” (Jas. 5:12).
As Others See Us
A brother in Texas has taken a special liking to me. He regularly consigns me to Hell. He thinks I am some sort of clergyman. Recently I wrote a little piece in this column about preaching in the dark and commented that much of the preaching done these days is in the dark. He wrote me a note that said if I wanted to see a perfect example of one who preaches in the dark, “just look in the mirror.” Critics are good for us. I am blessed.
Paul said of Onesiphorus, “for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain” (2 Tim. 1:16). We get to meet and spend some time with people who truly love the Lord and whose zeal and dedication, often amid great trials in their own lives, indeed refreshes us. For starters, we meet many fine young people who have their heads on straight and are not ashamed of the Lord. Many of these come to our meetings. They have to work after school, late at night, early the next morning, to complete homework assignments. Many of these sit near the front, often in a group, listen attentively, take notes and many of them bring friends. Then we have parents with small children who never miss a time. There are young mothers (and fathers) who cope with restless children whose routine has been interrupted, or are cutting teeth, or who are disturbed for who knows what. Still they come. I have had young mothers say to me: “That sounded good, what little I was able to hear.” Then there are people who have worked late (some starting very early in the day) who come straight to an evening meeting without eating. Others have rushed home just in time to grab something to eat quickly, changed clothes, rushed through traffic, and still manage to stay awake. Then there are the older members whose gait is slow, some with canes or walkers. But you can set your watch by them. They will be there. They not only listen well, but they often say the most encouraging things. Many of them have quick wits and I love to banter with them. They have not given up or given in to the ravages of time. These folks don’t do all this to impress anyone. They would be surprised that a visiting preacher in a meeting would even notice. But in moments of discouragement (even preachers get the blues) these Christians are there to refresh our spirits and make us want to keep on trying. Thank you folks for the refreshments.
An Interesting Event
Recently, while in a meeting at Mooresville, Indiana, Bill Cavender was also in a meeting the same week at Lafayette Heights in Indianapolis. They asked brother Cavender and me to speak and briefly review our experiences in preaching and impressions of the present state of affairs as we see them. They advertised this as “Over 100 Years of Gospel Preaching.” Brother Cavender has been at it for 52 years and I am now in my 53rd year of trying to declare the unsearchable riches of Christ. Our experiences have often run along parallel lines and our assessment of the present state of affairs is very much alike. After both of us spoke, we fielded questions for about an hour. We had a good turnout with good interest and good questions. A number of preachers and elders and their wives, along with others were present.