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The Barefoot Pastor

The pastor of the church I attended as a young man was a distinguished, dignified and always impeccably dressed man who also happened to have a warm and compassionate heart. He was so formal and well-groomed that newcomers would expect this tall, handsome man with a PhD from an Ivy League school serving a large, affluent suburban church to be cold and distant. But he wasn’t; he was warm and sincere.

Then I had one lesson in how he remained that way.

I signed on to serve as Scripture reader, and on the first Sunday sat on a chair behind the pastor’s podium. It was rather large, semi-circular pulpit with a chair directly behind it. The pastor entered and sat down. He was, as always, impeccably dressed: blue pinstriped business suit, silk tie carefully knotted, starched white shirt with cufflinks, and on his feet, black shoes polished like mirrors. This was not a man who wore a Rolex or drove a Porsche. But he was always careful to dress well, from his pocket handkerchief to his tiepin.

Then, just before the sermon, I watched the pastor reach down and untie both of his expensive leather dress shoes. He slid his feet out of them, and then reached under the cuffs of his tailored suit. He pulled off his black dress socks as well. I was completely bewildered. He then pushed both shoes and socks to the side and stood up for his sermon. No one else knew it, but our dignified, dapper, classy pastor preached his sermon barefoot, in his tailored suit and silk tie.

When the sermon was over, he unobtrusively pulled on both shoes and socks, and left the podium.

I said nothing and just assumed he had reasons of his own. Perhaps his feet hurt? I forgot about it, especially as it did not happen again for the next few Sundays.

Then, two months later, I noticed the pastor sliding his feet out of a pair of spit-polished tasselled loafers, followed again by the socks. I was again confused and slightly amused by the contrast between the fancy business suit and the soles of his bare feet which appeared when he leaned forward with enthusiasm.

After the service ended, I went up to the still barefoot minister and respectfully asked why he did this.

The pastor looked slightly embarrassed, picked up the shoes and socks and told me a story from his student years:

"My seminary professor told me I was a fine preacher, but that I had one fault. I was too arrogant. Too proud. I remembered that. And I remember my roots, too."

He then told me that he had grown up as a janitor’s son and took his shoes off when he visited his Dad. Those were his roots. In the years since, he had earned several degrees and his gifts had brought him to this church. He was successful and praised, but he never wanted to forget where he came from.

"Whenever I start getting too proud and smug, I look down at my shiny Brooks Brothers shoes and fancy socks and realize it’s time to take off my "successful well-dressed suit-and-tie pastor" feet and put on the feet of a janitor’s boy. It keeps me humble. It’s hard to be smug when I’m barefoot."

And with that the pastor grinned, put on his Italian tasselled shoes and socks and left the pulpit.

"Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." Proverbs 11:2 NLT

©2004 Ken Wells

Loyalty of a Best Friend

Earl C. Willer tells the story of two men who grew up best friends; though Jim was just a little older than Phillip and often assumed the role of leader, they did everything together. They even went to high school and college together.

After college they joined the Marines. By a unique series of circumstances they were sent to Germany together where they fought side by side in one of history’s ugliest wars. One sweltering day during a fierce battle, amid heavy gunfire, bombing, and close-quarters combat, they were given the command to retreat. As the men were running back, Jim noticed that Phillip had not returned with the others. Panic gripped his heart. Jim knew if Phillip was not back in another minute or two, then he wouldn’t make it.

Jim begged his commanding officer to let him go after his friend, but the officer forbade the request, saying it would be suicide. Risking his own life, Jim disobeyed and went after Phillip. His heart pounding he ran into the gunfire calling out for his friend. A short time later his platoon saw him hobbling across the field carrying a limp body in his arms.

Jim’s commanding officer upbraided him, shouting that it was a foolish waste of time and an outrageous risk. Your friend is dead, he added, and there is nothing you could do.

"No sir, you are wrong," Jim replied. "I got there just in time. Before he died, his last words were ‘I knew you would come.’"

Think of it friends. Someday, we’ll be together in Heaven and I’m certain that we’ll be rejoicing and saying pretty much the same thing. Jesus, I knew you would come back for me. He is the epitome of Loyalty. His love was so great for us that He gave up His life on the cross. He said that He would come back and take his Church back to Heaven to spend eternity with Him. You can count on that! I don’t believe that it’s a long time off in the future either.

Be ready.

The Willing Heart

Here is a true story about a nine year old boy who lived in a rural town in Tennessee. His house was in a poor area of the community.

A church there had a bus ministry that came knocking on his door one Saturday afternoon. The kid came to answer the door and greeted the bus pastor. The bus  pastor asked if his parents were home and the small boy told him that his parents take off every weekend and leave him at home to take care of his little brother. The bus pastor couldn’t believe what the kid said and asked him to repeat it. The youngster gave the same answer and the bus pastor asked to come in and talk with him. They went into the living room and sat down on an old couch with the foam and springs exposed. The bus pastor asked the kid, "Where do you go to church?" The young boy surprised the visitor by replying, "I’ve never been to church in my whole life."

The bus pastor thought to himself about the fact that his church was less than three miles from the child’s house. "Are you sure you have never been to church?" he asked again.  "I sure haven’t," came his answer. Then the bus pastor said, "Well, son, more important than going to church, have you ever heard the greatest love story ever told?" and then he proceeded to share the Gospel with this little nine year old boy. The young lad’s heart began to be tenderized and at the end of the bus pastor’s story the bus pastor asked if the boy wanted to receive this free gift from God. The youngster exclaimed, "You betcha!"

The kid and the bus pastor got on their knees and the lad invited Jesus into his little heart and received the free gift of salvation. They both stood up and the bus pastor asked if he could pick the kid up for church the next morning.  "Sure," the nine old replied.  The bus pastor got to the house early the next morning and found the lights off. He let himself in and snaked his way through the house and found the little boy asleep in his bed. He woke up the little boy and his brother and helped get them dressed. They got on the bus and ate a doughnut for breakfast on their way to church.

Keep in mind that this boy had never been to church before. The church was a real big one. The little kid just sat there, clueless of what was going on. A few minutes into the service these tall unhappy guys walked down to the front and picked up some wooden plates. One of the men prayed and the kid with utter fascination watched them walk up and down the aisles. He still didn’t know what was going on.  All of a sudden like a bolt of lightning it hit the kid what was taking place. These people must be giving money to Jesus. He then reflected on the free gift of life he had received just twenty-four hours earlier. He immediately searched his pockets, front and back, and couldn’t find a thing to give Jesus.

By this time the offering plate was being passed down his aisle and with a broken heart he just grabbed the plate and held on to it. He finally let go and watched it pass on down the aisle. He turned around to see it passed down the aisle behind him. And then his eyes remained glued on the plate as it was passed back and forth, back and forth all the way to the rear of the sanctuary. Then he had an idea. This little nine year old boy, in front of God and everybody, got up out of his seat. He walked about eight rows back, grabbed the usher by the coat and asked to hold the plate one more time. Then he did the most astounding thing I have ever heard of. He took the plate, sat it on the carpeted church floor and stepped into the center of it. As he stood there, he lifted his little head up and said, "Jesus, I don’t have anything to give you today, but just me. I give you me!"

Do you have a willing heart… willing enough to give Jesus

EVERYTHING… anywhere, anytime, any place… your whole self?