September 1997 — This weekend I had the privilege of ministering the Word as guest of the Northside Church of Christ in Longview, Texas. Located southeast of Dallas and southwest of Texarkana, this spread-out town of approximately 70,000 is pleasantly situated among green rolling hills reminiscent of Middle Tennessee, which I consider the epitome of “God’s country.” Preaching minister Steve Barrett and wife Valorie serve the congregation with enthusiasm and devotion, and the brothers and sisters who compose this multi-gifted church also exercise mutual ministry with cheerful fervor and obvious love.
On Saturday, we spent four hours in the Scriptures, beginning at 2 Timothy 1:8-10, exploring the themes of “God who SAVED us” (Christ’s all-sufficient and finished work of redemption), “God who CALLED us” (the Spirit’s work in conversion and throughout the Christian life), and “God’s purpose and grace GRANTED us BEFORE ALL ETERNITY” (the Father’s sovereign, electing love). Following three lessons, we devoted an hour to questions and dialogue. In a combined Sunday class, we explored “How God Guides His Children” from the Book of Acts. That was followed by an expository verse-by-verse sermon concerning Christ’s perfect offering for sin as described in Hebrews chapter 10.
It was a special treat to meet a number of gracEmail friends from two states, some having driven four or five hours for the meetings. We witnessed the grace of the Lord and rejoiced (Acts 11:23). Joyfully, we drew water from the springs of salvation (Isa. 12:3), then gave thanks to the LORD and praised him in song (Isa. 12:4). God drew one dear gentleman to Christ, whom I had the pleasure of baptizing, upon his confession of trust in Jesus as Savior and affirmation of commitment to him as Lord. He said that he had attended church for years and had heard many exhortations. Today God opened his eyes to the finished work of Christ and gave him faith. Truly we enjoyed seasons of refreshment from the presence of God (Acts 3:19).