I returned yesterday after spending a couple of days in Florence, Alabama.  The alumni association of Heritage Christian University (formerly International Bible College) invited me back to speak on their annual alumni days.  The invitation came at the request of former students who were in some ministry classes I taught as an adjunct teacher while we lived in Florence during the 1980s.  I spoke twice.  One message was entitled: "How to Stay Fresh and Alive for the Long Haul."   The other message was entitled: "When I Am Tempted to Quit."  

This was an emotional/sentimental two days with these people.  I had not been on the campus but once in the last seventeen years.  (That was the occasion of my father-in-law’s death, the former president of the school.)  The highlight of these two days was seeing a number of people who had been students in my ministry classes.  All of them were so gracious, encouraging, and affirming. 

While in Florence during those years, I preached for the College Church, which met on that campus.  Thursday, when I walked into the main auditorium on campus, my mind was flooded with memories.  After all, this was the room where I preached for almost eight years.  This was the room where I participated in countless conversations with people who were a part of our church family or who were visiting our church.  This was even the room in which Charlotte and I were married almost 29 years ago.

I am so grateful for those people whose paths I crossed during those years.  On this occasion, I was especially grateful to former students.  So many of them contributed to my life in important ways.

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12 thoughts on “Gratitude

  1. In the 24 years I lived in Florence, I don’t think I ever visited the church at IBC.  Dennis was our interim minister in Cullman for over a year maybe I should go visit him. 

  2. It’s nice to go back home, isn’t it? I preached for a church on the east coast of Florida (you came down once, Jim, to be a part of a special weekend, the weekend my father died) for 8 years. I would never be invited, hardly allowed, to "come home" to that church. I’m finishing up my 13th year in Long Beach and will always be welcomed back. What a difference!

  3. Hey Jim, I ran into a couple of people who had heard you speak last week.  They really had good things to say, of course. Glad everything went well for you. Sometimes it is hard to go home.

  4. It was an awesome weekend Jim.  I really enjoyed the messages you brought.  It was fun to be there even though I went hesitantly at first.  Thanks for coming and the next time your in the area, we want you to speak at Creekside.  They still have many fond memories of you there.

  5. Truly enjoyed the 2 messages….
    friday was a day of refreshing for me also and forgiveness from God from events that took place at College Church of Christ that i was partly responsible for….
    i want a deep mature relationship with God like you have….
    you are so correct in that if Christ has not matured our character after we’ve been with him for so long then something is wrong with the religion they are with….
    i’ve discovered that being charismatic all the time is not always what people need…. donna reels also pointed this out to me at one point many years ago…
    i find that works oriented religion is not as beneficial either as it seems from the outside… it is true that it matters to be with Jesus more than doing for Jesus all the time..
    *keep the hesitancy…. that shows you’re deep and mature in christ… i like people that are that way….i’m deeper than you think too… i just have a problem with communicating, interpersonally and in group situations….
    thaks for the uplift and your relationship with God!!!

  6. Greg,I do remember coming to Florida to your church.  Some years ago but good memories.  I do remember that as the weekend when you father died.Thanks… 

  7. Keith,I’m so glad you came even though you were hesitant.  I’m glad that in some way, God blessed you and encouraged you through the weekend. 

  8. Sharon,It was a good couple of days.  I saw a lot of people who I haven’t seen in over fifteen years.  Hope you are doing well.

  9. Stan,I was honored that you would take the time and trouble to come hear me speak the other day.  I am so encouraged by your life.  You have hung in there.  I’m proud of you.Thanks for your comment.