Friday, March 14, 2008

I Really Don't Understand

In many ways, I feel like one of the most blessed and fortunate men to ever live. No, life has not always given me all that "I" wanted, but it has certainly given me more than I deserved!!

Back in 1994 I moved to Biloxi, MS, as pastor of the Bay Vista Baptist Church. Spending 6 years with that wonderful congregation and being able to stay in that "area" for another 5 years had and has its little perks. For instance, the friends established on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are friendships which will last a lifetime. Some of the best people I know live down there.

Being the golfer that I 'try to be' and loving golf as I do, Billy and Sheryl Applewhite (both golf professionals) became like family to us. We spent time in their home, they spent time in ours, we played golf together, fished together, and we even lived in their 'house' for a year! Needless to say, this is a relationship which we value greatly.

Along our journey, Billy and Sheryl have introduced us to some tremendous families. One of these families was Lowery and Kandi Anderson. In 1995, Lowery came to Bay Vista on a Sunday morning to sing for us. And SING he did. We were truly blessed by His ministry. Although the Anderson's were not in vocational ministry, it was obvious that God had a special place of service for both Lowery and Kandi.

Since that first meeting in 1995, I have counted it an honor to call this family friends. It has been a joy to have watched with Spiritual Excitement as Kandi has become involved in Christian Radio and as a Women's Speaker. Something which she continues until today.

Lowery (been trying to figure out how to spell his nickname. It's pronounced "loud" without the "d". Yet, "Lou" is not right nor is "Low", here Lowery is, once again, being unique - GRIN - way to go, Lowery) as I was saying, Lowery's story is one of personal, professional, and spiritual growth beyond what most of us can even imagine. Although he did "have a ministry", it did not become vocational in nature until he became worship leader at a really good church on the coast, Michael Memorial Baptist.

However, Lowery was so multi-talented and multi-gifted that one could sense his being a worship leader was only a temporary stop in his life. In fact, God had placed a calling on Lowery to preach, and preach He did. It was in 2003 that he was called to his first pastorate, Bel-Aire Baptist in Gulfport was the place of his calling. At that time, this church was a fairly small congregation averaging about 115 in Sunday School and 350 in worship. Compare that to this; In 2007 the church averaged over 235 in SS and over 600 in worship. During these years, they baptized over 150 people and had over 450 people to unite with the church. What a legacy!

This morning I learned that God called Lowery home. Although distance has separated us for several years, had we been reunited, the relationship would have picked up right where it left off, that was Lowery. From what I understand, what started out as symptoms of pneumonia or flu was discovered to be terminal cancer. Not only was it terminal, but it was quick.

Lowery's response? "I'm in a win-win situation. I stay here with my wonderful wife and kids, lead my wonderful church family, and serve my Lord here - or - God takes me to heaven. I win either way." While I do understand the attitude given to Lowery through the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, I don't guess I totally understand this situation at all.

Yes make no mistake, I believe in the sovereignty of God, trust the truth of Romans 8:28, and know that God's timing is always right. It just that, when a 56 year old man, who has been healthy as a horse and strong as an ox for all these years, leaves us so quickly, I find myself wishing God would give me a little more insight into what "HE'S" up to. He a good God and can be totally trusted, I guess I simply wish HE would trust ME, with a little more info.

For my part, I offer my love and prayers to Kandi, the family, and the friends (who number in the thousands). Plus, I rely on God's word for comfort and understanding, "Now we see in a glass darkly, then face to face. Now, we know in part---then, we will know as we are known." Even so Lord Jesus, come quickly. Shalom.

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