Nov. 2004 — Pleasant Street Church of Christ was the venue and the weekend just ended matched well the name. It was pleasant for the natural surroundings in Springdale, Arkansas, a family-oriented city of 58,000 adjacent to Fayetteville (home of University of Arkansas) near both Oklahoma and Missouri. It was especially pleasant for the loving church family hosting the Saturday seminar on “Surprises from a Study of Hell” and for the hospitality of minister Larry Branum and his wife Reba.
The giant yellow oak in front of the church building and the 50-foot tall pecan tree in the parsonage yard next door were pleasant to the eyes, but the warm affection, enthusiastic interest and encouraging feedback of the appreciative and engaged audience cheered the heart and restored the soul. Visitors included octogenarian Roy Key, venerable retired Disciples pastor from nearby Rogers, Ark.; scholar and publisher Dr. Leonard Allen and wife Dr. Holly Allen, a teacher at interdenominational John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark.; and Bill Hooten, whom I knew nearly three decades ago in North Alabama. I was most pleasantly surprised to see my paternal cousin Dan Copeland and wife Joneen, lately returned from 13 years serving Christ in China and Korea, and also my maternal cousin Vonnie Corsini and husband Gene, who drove all the way from Kansas.
Saturday’s sessions on the final end of the lost included three presentations titled “Bible Teaching that Got Overlooked,” “Bible Explanations of Well-Known Language” and “The Influence of Pagan Philosophy and Church Politics.” On Sunday morning I preached from John 3 regarding God’s sovereign grace and the miracle and mystery of regeneration under the title “A New Nature from Above.” All these talks were recorded and are available on cassette tapes or CD. For information, write to Larry Branum at firstname.lastname@example.org . The weekend prompts me to thank God anew for pleasant people, pleasant places and pleasant occasions of teaching, fellowship and worship. Such joys are truly divine gifts of grace.