I had thought about opening my remarks with the comment “another loss”. Brother Bud Gillett made his journey to heaven this past Sunday. We have known each other for 50 years. I was thinking that now I have lost another person that is so dear to me. Then I was reminded in my devotional time that I have lost nothing.

The fact is that my Brother Bud just got ahead of me and has entered eternity with Jesus and I will be reunited with him and it will not be long as I have reached the ripe old age of 70. In the past few months in addition to Brother Bud I have witnessed the passing from this life of Bob Gregory, a brother who provided me a job and a place to live when I was released from prison nearly 30 years ago.

And then I lost Brother Ray Geisel the founder of Christian 12 Step Ministry, the ministry where God has placed me to serve. Brother Ray challenged me to come out of retirement and join the staff at Christian 12 Step. The news came following his passing of grandma Mary at Dunklin making her journey to heaven.

A few months another of my dearest brothers, Brother Mickey Evans, founder of Dunklin was called to his heavenly home. Brother Mickey was the greatest example of Jesus that I have ever known. He was the reference of unconditional love to literally thousands of men who graduated from the faith based recovery program at Dunklin.

Soon after Brother Mickey’s passing my dear Aunt Julia who became my mother after the passing of my mother in 1983. Aunt Julia was 3 weeks away from her 99th birthday. She and my Uncle had 4 girls and she said to me many times that I was the son she never had. Uncle E. E., as he was fondly known, and Aunt Julia were consistently showering me with encouraging words inspiring me to fulfill the call God had placed on my life.

And now Brother Bud, one of the most caring and loving individuals I have ever known, made his departure to the streets of Glory. In my time of crying out to God for comfort He gently reminded me that I have lost no one. Brother Bob Gregory, Brother Ray Geisel, Grandma Mary, Brother Mickey, Aunt Julia, and Brother Bud are now at home having entered heaven and seeing Jesus face to face.

It is the same home Jesus stated that He has prepared for me and for everyone who trust Him as Savior. In days, weeks, months, or years will pass and I too will be reunited with each of these. I will be privileged to spend Eternity with Jesus and reunited with those I was tempted to say “I have lost” but it was not a loss. It was a temporary separation.

It is only when we forget that we are aliens in a foreign land and fail to focus our attention on an Eternity with Jesus that we need to be reminded that we are headed home and some have gotten ahead of us. There was a glorious day this past Sunday when my brother, William A. “Bud” Gillett entered his eternal home to be reunited with his mother, his dad, Velma’s mother and dad, my mother and dad, and a host of others.

Then he was privileged to gaze upon a large host of folks gathered to welcome him and they placed on his head a crown of thanks for having been the person God sent to earth decades ago to share the gospel with them that they might be saved. Bud is now singing but changing a few words, “When I got to heaven, It was a day, glorious day for me, and when I saw Jesus I cried out and shouted what a victory”. And then he sang as never before,   “IT IS WELL,IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL”.

Thanks to the many faithful friends of the ministry we are now debt free. The mortgage of $60,000 has been retired. God is so good and continues to bless us in so many ways.

That is good news and I in no way diminish the significance of such an achievement made possible by so many faithful financial sponsors of the ministry. However, let me share with you some news that is most significant.

Lance came to this office a few years ago totally wasted as a result of his drug addiction.   He came with his father and the family was desperate and his wife and daughters had lost their husband and father. We were able to assist Lance through the ministry and he was recently ordained to the ministry and is now on staff with a Christian transitional house for men coming out of addiction.

Ken was brought to this office by a youth pastor several years ago to seek help from the ministry. Ken was homeless and his family had totally rejected him due to his drug addiction. Ken is now serving as an elder in his church as well as the youth pastor. He and his family has been reunited and he was privileged to baptize his wife, daughter and son.

Mike was serving time in jail once again and came across the study guide “Walking the 12 Steps with Jesus Christ“, a book provided free to inmates through the Christian 12 Step Ministry. Mike was born addicted to cocaine as a result of his mother’s addiction. He was raised by his grandparents who took him to church. However he had turned away from what he had been taught about Jesus.

Today Mike is pastor of a thriving church and is on staff of a neighboring church serving in the recovery ministry. He has been reunited with his children and married a beautiful lady who has become a most supportive wife and mother to his children. He graduated from college at the top of his class and will soon complete seminary studies for a master’s degree in theology.

I could go on and on and share many more success stories. It is my desire to share with you my belief that God is honoring this ministry as we reach out to so many hurting and wounded addicts. And we could not do it without the support of our faithful donors and volunteers. Thanks for being so faithful in your commitment to Christian 12 Step Ministry. We will continue to serve and honor the One who is the Life Changer and our Great Physician.

Last Friday I was able to witness a miracle. A very supportive volunteer of the Christian 12 Step Ministry stopped by the office for a visit. She asked the question, “What is the balance on the mortgage on the Christian 12 Step office building?”. I gave her the figure and she presented me with a check to pay off the mortgage. GOD is so GOOD!!!

We borrowed $60,000 in July of 2011 and today we are debt free. It has been such a blessing to see how God has used so many of you who are so faithful in sharing that in just over 3 years the mortgage is now retired. We will have a note burning March 7, 2015, at our 11th annual celebration banquet. We will now have an additional $478 a month to spend in ministry to hurting and wounded addicts.

There was another greater miracle that took place Friday. A lady that was brought to this office a week ago Friday called and shared with me that she was 1 week sober. We invited her to our home Sunday afternoon and she shared with us the beautiful experience she had at church that very morning. Abbie and I both talked to her about being a child of God and she assured us that she has asked Jesus into her heart and will be baptized very soon.

Abbie and I had a great time this past Sunday. I preached at the First Baptist Church Webster and Abbie sang the solo. A couple from the church took us out for a nice lunch. We had a wonderful time of fellowship. It always amazes me that you meet people you have never physically seen and yet the common denominator of faith in Jesus Christ creates an instant bond. God is to be thanked for how He orchestrates all things.

Hope you are having a blessed day and that your week will be a week of praising God for His Goodness!!

I just returned from an all day prayer meeting at Dunklin Regeneration Camp in Okeechobee, a place for addicts to find genuine recovery through a relationship with Jesus Christ. It was a day of celebration, praise and worship. Every staff member is a graduate of the Dunklin program.

My friend Mickey Evans, the founder of Dunklin, went home to be with Jesus last month and I was privileged to attend the celebration of his life with more than 2,000 others in the Agri-Center in Okeechobee. The wisdom of this man is exhibited in his plans for his departure to heaven for the ministry to continue.

Tears moistened my cheeks as I heard 20 plus men read their journals for the day, prayed and took communion. I was allowed to share words of encouragement and to recognize some of the men that God has allowed me to refer to the ministry and become their mentor upon their graduation after successfully completing the program.

I am leaving today to share with a group of over comers through Jesus in Titusville at their meeting tonight. I will be preaching at a church in Titusville on Sunday. The assistant director of the program met me in Dunklin this week to attend the prayer meeting and the NET meeting the following day. His dad brought him to my office a few years back.

This man was totally bankrupt and at the end of his rope. The drug dealer was threatening to kill him if he didn’t pay up and he had no money to pay him. We referred him to Dunklin; he graduated the program and is now giving away his recovery as he directs the program in Titusville. What a joy it is to see God at work and continuing to perform miracles in so many lives.

I was also privileged to attend the NET meeting the day following the prayer meeting. Fifteen men representing a number of ministries shared their heart and gave a report of what God is doing through their lives individually and through the ministries to which God has called them. What a joy to know that God is alive and well and doing a great work among His people.

A great blessing was mine to have the privilege of spending some time with Laura Maye Evans, the widow of my late friend Mickey Evans. She is rejoicing in his home going even in the midst of her loss but heaven’s gain. Laura Maye is a great witness for God and His Kingdom. Following a visit with her I stopped by and visited with Fred Beason and his gracious wife.

Fred who served as a board member at Dunklin felt the call of God on his life to begin a regeneration program for female addicts. He and his wife are blessing the lives of many women at The Refuge Ranch across the road from Dunklin. The two of them are an inspiration and what a joy to visit with them and share the miracles that God is bringing to pass in the lives of those we have been called to serve.

This has been a time of renewal for me as I have been made aware that all the bad news that the devil is throwing at us is absolutely no threat to the mercy and grace of a God who loved us enough to send His Son to the Cross that we might have the Gospel, the “Good News”, to share with the world. I was greatly encouraged and I wish to encourage you that God loves all the people He has created. We have the “Good News”. Don’t miss any opportunity to share it.

Tribute to Brother Mickey Evans, Dunklin Memorial Church, Okeechobee, Florida

My Mentor and Friend: Mickey Evans

January 8, 1932- August 22, 2014

The following was written by Joan Warren

 

Has Anybody?

Posted on 08/24/2014 by Joan Warren

 

“Has anybody told you today?”

“Well, just in case, I’m telling you again: I love you.”

It was his trademark; his brand, calling card. If you saw Mickey, you could count on hearing these words. You could count on a hug and a smile. If not from him directly, from many around you, as he facilitated groups and classes to “get up, tell someone you love them, hug a neck.”

 

He was the Cowboy Preacher. The Drunk Preacher, some called him. He’d chuckle. I doubt he’d ever had a drop of alcohol in his life.

He sought out drunks, with a purpose, to share God’s amazing love.

(That was back in the day, before political correctness and biochemical studies taught us to call drunks “people with alcoholism,” which, yes, is a gentler, kinder term, no harm ever intended by using the old word.)

 

In 1962, Mickey ventured into the snake- and alligator-infested backwoods, near the deep south’s Lake Okeechobee, cleared some land about ten miles down a bumpy dirt road, hauled in some used rustic cabins and created a place for drunks to sober up. His idea, to provide not just a bed to sleep it off, but a place where hard work meets prayer, and confrontational truth-speaking-in-love results in changed men. A City of Refuge. His hard work had just begun.

 

His idea grew. Today, Dunklin Memorial is an internationally-renowned center for people overcoming drug and alcohol addiction. It can boast recidivism rates far better than those of centers catering to the rich and famous. It is also a place where families of people with addiction can recover and transform. It is a ministry training and retreat center. It is a church, where the body of Christ is people using their gifts and abilities to help one another, rather than a building sitting empty all week. It is the center hub of a circle of half-way houses, home and community support groups. Cottage industries, like cattle farming, orange groves, and pallet recycling, give residents hard work to do and help the program be self-supportive. It is a model center that is willing to share its success secrets freely to any who want to replicate it in their part of the world. Its curriculum is translated into several languages.

 

That says a little something about this man, the Drunk Preacher, Mickey Evans. There is so much more to say. Words are inadequate, but in an attempt to describe him, I would choose words like

unassuming,

humble,

bold,

gentle,

serious,

fun,

innovative,

dedicated,

practical,

visionary,

tenacious,

unwavering,

creative,

resourceful,

and, most importantly,

loving, honest, and relational.

 

He continued to grow and adapt throughout his life, deepening his understanding of the recovery process and the need for transformation for leaders, helpers and addicts alike. He was the guru of the Daily Moral Inventory, a mirror to check and accept responsibility for your attitudes each day. He taught us to take the finger that so easily points at others (“but it’s all your fault”) and turn it (though it fights all the way) to point at ourselves (the only one we can change, after all). He taught us to use all of our capacities, including our senses, inner vision, imagination and even open eyes and ears when we pray, for God is in us, around us, and in our loved ones as well. God may speak to us from any of these sources. He worked toward responsibility in all areas, including sustainable agriculture, clean water, ecologically sound waste management and understanding cultural diversity.

“How old is that little boy?” –another trademark question. “Now take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth.” Only Mickey could get away with speaking this way to a defensive, angry man who needed to hear it. He could say it, with authority–a shocking blend of firmness and gentleness–and the hardest head would break down and listen.

 

When I met him, back in the eighties, I was a twenty-something transplant from Washington, D. C., all fired up for ministry training. I remember being amazed at Mickey’s servant-leadership style, but I was also a bit afraid of him! When his lip quivered and his grin bared his teeth, I held onto my seat, for someone was about to get a dose of truth. I had never witnessed a christian leader being confrontational before. It impressed me and scared me at the same time! Yet he was kind. And wise. Under his honest leadership, I learned to face my fears, and I grew up. By the time I graduated, I faced life with a new awareness, in large part due to Mickey Evans. I was aware of my ongoing need to heal and grow, aware of the value of relationships as a measure of recovery, aware of the complexities of life transformation. I was willing to be a facilitator of change for those who wanted to change. I learned to accept each person’s decisions as their own.

“I cannot change another person by direct action. I can only change myself, and that by the grace of God.”

This was Mickey’s mantra, which he lovingly entitled “The Bombshell Theory,” because “it’ll blow your mind.” It really does.

 

Mickey modeled health in family relationships. “This is my beloved wife, in whom I am well-pleased,” he would say, introducing his wife, Laura Maye. When families joined the men in the program each weekend, Mickey facilitated positivity, respect and appreciation for loved ones. Men responded to his example and held themselves accountable to making amends, to loving and respecting, where once they used, lied, stole and projected blame. Marriages rekindled.

 

As he aged, Mickey seemed at peace with gradually raising up leaders to take over his job. He used to quote Jesus, “greater works shall ye do. . .” His long-range planning to prepare others to carry on his work was nothing short of genius. It must have been challenging for him to let go of his baby, but he rested easy, trusting the One who had begun a good work to carry it through to completion. Mickey’s style of trust was practical, though: he planned, prepared, reeled in, and let loose, over and over again, until he knew he’d done all he could do.

 

Brother Mickey Evans passed this week, after a long life, shining brightly. His light stems from, and moves into, eternity. As one candle bows to light another, light spreads exponentially, filling the earth.

 

Brother Mickey, we will miss you here. We thank you for your amazing gifts and dedication. We are grateful to carry on this light; to be torch-bearers, humbly and quietly sharing life, transformed by love. Enjoy your new place; we’ll see you again soon.

 

Dear reader, has anybody told you today?

Well, just in case, I’m telling you again, I love you!

Pass it on ~

 

©Joan T. Warren

Heart to Heart in a Shielded World

 

Yesterday was a special day. I received a call from Lance inviting me to come and speak at his church. Some of you reading this blog will ask immediately “why does his invitation create what you are calling a special day”.

Several months ago Lance was in my office a broken man. He had lost everything. The drug dealer demanded payment for his drugs or face the consequences for failure to pay. Some of you know what the consequences can be for lack of payment.

We were able to get Lance into a FAITH-BASED recovery program. He repented and began a journey of commitment to Jesus Christ. He is now on staff of a transitional recovery ministry. His call was a reminder to me of God’s faithfulness.

During our time together on our first visit I was able to talk to Lance and share with him my testimony of how faithful God is in not just for salvation but also restoring His children who stray. Repentance is all that is required to experience God’s forgiven and His eternal grace and favor.

God is faithful to His Word. He has made numerous promises recorded in the Holy Bible. He never fails in fulfilling every promise. We are secure in what God promises. He tells us He will never leave us or forsake us in bad times as well as good times.

God is also faithful to sinners regardless of how broken or helpless they may be. He promises that if we call upon Him He will hear us. He died for sinners. He saves sinners. He is preparing a place for all sinners who repent to come and live with Him forever.

God is faithful to His children. He is our protector, defender, provider, as well as our Lord and Savior. He reaches out to the saved, the broken, lonely, weary, troubled, sick, fearful, and worried. He knows even after becoming His child that we are very much in need of His presence.

“I thank you God for always being FAITHFUL. We have no reason to be afraid. You have told us WE HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR, I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU.” AMEN!!!

Last week my 98 year old aunt went home to be with Jesus. In 3 weeks she would have been 99. My last visit with her a month ago was as always a time of inspiration and encouragement. She was blessed to have good health and was very mentally alert until the end.

My uncle who is her late husband was my dad’s youngest brother. He was a Baptist preacher. In his early years he would preach at several churches rotating the Sundays for each church family. My sweet aunt was a very committed and devoted preacher’s wife. She was a model for her children, nephews, nieces, young people, wives, mothers, grandmothers and lots of others.

She was always an encouragement to me in ministry. At each visit she would ask about the ministry and how things were going. She loved Jesus and demonstrated that love by her desire for everyone to have a relationship with Him.

I remember with fondness so many visits with Aunt Julia and her family at our home in Ruskin. Her husband, my Uncle E.E, would always come to the house during his vacation to spend time with my dad so they could try to empty Tampa Bay and all surrounding waters of all the fish that were good to fry. He too was one who recognized the blessing of a good wife and treated her as “Queen” of his household.

So often we forget that each individual will leave a legacy. Do we take time to make a genuine personal inventory to reflect on the legacy we may leave? In my lifetime I have made many mistakes. I have suffered many consequences of bad choices. However, by the grace of God and the influence of so many people in my life I have made some good choices in the last year that I am trusting will result in some positive attributes in the legacy I may leave.

My Aunt Julia and Uncle E. E. walked with me through some very difficult times. They never condemned me or ostracized me. Each visit with them was a time of encouragement as they demonstrated unconditional love and forgiveness for past wrongs.

I was most encouraged this past Saturday as a result of 37 people meeting in a local restaurant to be part of a surprise early birthday party for me. Several folks wrote down some words describing some fond memories of their association with me. I was humbled when mention was made of my compassion and caring for the hurting and wounded.

I cannot take credit for any positive remarks. It was God taking the mess I made and through His RESTORATION and GRACE giving me a message to share with others.   I was in the ditch and a good Samaritan found me and ministered to me. A number of good Samaritans, including my very special Aunt Julia, assisted me and was used by God to acquire recovery and restoration. It is a joy to be able as the director of Christian 12 Step to play and pay it forward.

Every day God provides me with opportunities to share with others His unconditional and restoring love. God is so good!!!

 

The following article really spoke to my heart. I hope it speaks to your heart as well. I share it with a prayer that God will use it to challenge and bless us.

 

Bitterness is a deadly malignancy of the soul. Its poisonous venom destroys both the physical body and the spiritual health of an individual. I once heard it said, “Bitterness is like the acid you have inside that you want to spew on others; but it may well eat you alive before you get the chance.”

 

Truly, bitterness is one of Satan’s greatest weapons in devouring all kinds of relationships. It seeks out those who have been offended or hurt by another, encouraging them to dwell on the offense until a deep-seated anger and resentment takes root. The Enemy whispers in their ear: You’re right… Look what he did to you… You don’t deserve this… And she calls herself a Christian… and so on, and so on, and so on.

 

As we see in Hebrews 12:15, what makes this anger and resentment so dangerous is “the root of bitterness” that springs up in the heart. From it, this Scripture warns, trouble is caused and “many become defiled.” In other words, the constant stream of venom spewing from the heart of a bitter person defiles nearly everyone encountered.

 

Unfortunately, I have seen this poisonous root spew its venom in the lives of numerous women I have counseled over the years at Pure Life Ministries. But bitterness isn’t unique to hurting wives.

 

Consider the account of Cain and Abel for a moment. (Genesis 4:1-16) We see that Abel brought the appropriate offering to God and received His favor, while Cain’s offering was not accepted because it was the wrong way to approach God. As a result, Cain was bitter at his brother. God warned Cain that if he did not deal with his simmering anger, sin was crouching at the door of his heart, desiring to master him. Although God’s desire was for Cain to rule over his anger, sadly, Cain did not heed God’s warning.

 

We see the ultimate fruit of this failure when he rose up and killed his brother Abel

 

One can look at this story and wonder, “How could Cain do such a horrible thing?” But I believe there is a simple explanation: Cain’s action stemmed from his bitter heart. Cain was angry, resentful and bitter over his brother’s offering. One can only imagine the thoughts repeatedly churning in his mind as a result of his bitterness. In warning him, God knew Cain’s heart would ultimately lead him to murder Abel if not dealt with in the right way.

 

Bitterness is invariably found in the heart of one who has not dealt with a hurt or offense in God’s prescribed manner. So what is the biblical way to deal with bitterness? Amy Carmichael has said, “There is only one way of victory over the bitterness and rage that comes naturally to us—to will what God wills brings peace.”

 

Paul laid out the biblical instruction for dealing with bitterness when he said: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32) It has been my experience in counseling women for almost two decades, that bitterness left unchecked will almost certainly yield the other rotten fruits of “wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking and malice” in our relationships with others. The biblical mandate is to forgive others of the offenses that have spawned our bitterness, doing so with the awareness that we also have been forgiven much.

 

It’s been many years ago now, but I once counseled a lady who is a beautiful example of how to overcome bitterness. This dear woman’s husband had been in sexual sin for many years when she began counseling with Pure Life Ministries. Because she was not dealing with her husband’s offense in a godly manner, this woman became very bitter toward her spouse.

 

She was miserable, both in her marriage and, more generally, over the person she had become. My heart would break for her as she came to my office for counseling. You could see the resentment and lack of joy all over her face as she slumped down in her chair. She would confess during our counseling sessions that she was nasty to everyone she came in contact with and would never smile at anyone, including me. Yet, I remember as she got involved in our Overcomers At-Home (OCAH) Program and began to do The Walk of Repentance Bible study, God began to do a work in her heart.

 

The Holy Spirit began to convict her of her cutting words toward her husband, of her ungrateful heart in the midst of the trial she was going through, of her grumbling and complaining spirit toward God for her lot in life, and over the great disdain that rose up in her heart every time she even saw her husband—to the point where they had been separated for several years.

 

As she began to apply God’s Word to her heart, entering into His prescribed remedy for this deadly poison which was, little by little, eating away at her soul, I began to see her countenance change right before my eyes. This dear lady desperately needed God just as much as her husband did. And gradually that realization dawned upon her.

 

As she allowed the living and powerful Word of God, which is sharper than any two-edged sword, to pierce into her soul and spirit and the joints and marrow of her heart, God began to cut this malignant root of bitterness out of it. It became very real to her that, if she were to die, she would have to give an account to God for what she had allowed to fester in her heart. She realized the Lord’s judgment would be without mercy to her, the one who would not show mercy to her husband. (James 2:13)

 

You see, she came from a sinful past (as we all do!), and God had forgiven her much. Yet, before contacting Pure Life Ministries for help, she had not been willing to give that same mercy to her husband. She was living as the unforgiving servant we read about in Matthew 18:21-35. She basically had her husband by the throat, demanding, “Pay me what you owe!”

 

She knew God had been merciful to her, and He was justly requiring that she have compassion on her husband, releasing and forgiving him from the debt she felt he owed her. This instruction was God’s prescribed medicine for her soul and brought the healing and deliverance she so desperately needed to eradicate this bitter poison from her heart.

 

I almost shudder to think about what would have become of her if she had not taken God’s counsel to heart. She was following the same path of bitterness Cain went down; only the Lord knows where her murderous heart was leading her.

 

You see, this woman had allowed her husband’s sin to steal her joy and her sense of God’s presence in her life. God was able to work in her life, however, because of her willingness to see her own sinful heart. To be sure, it was not easy to keep the focus on her own sin in the midst of so much temptation to keep focusing on her husband’s offenses against her. But even though she still had some ups and downs, she learned to repent daily of her unforgiving attitude and turn to God.

 

What about you beloved? You might be going through something right now, where the sin of bitterness is crouching at the door of your heart. Be assured, God’s desire for you is that you would master it.

 

Are you willing to take God’s medicine into your soul today and “be kind to one another,

 

tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you”? (Ephesians 4:32)   Are you willing even though your offender doesn’t deserve it? If not, I solemnly remind you of Jesus’ warning: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But it you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)   The choice, of course, is yours; but I pray that you will choose to forgive others just as Christ has forgiven you.

 

Rose Colón is the Director of Women’s Counseling at Pure Life Ministries, a position she has held since 1996. Rose has a Masters of Ministry in Biblical Counseling from Master’s Graduate School of Divinity in Evansville, IN and holds certification from the International Association of Biblical Counselors (IABC) in Denver, CO.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Pure Life Ministries. Permission is granted to use, copy, distribute, or retransmit information or materials on this page, so long as proper acknowledgment is given to Pure Life Ministries as the source of the materials, and no modifications are made to such material.

by Rose Colón

What a Memorial Day weekend. I accepted the invitation of the staff to visit with the men at Liberty Lodge in Titusville, a transitional house for men seeking to follow Jesus and live in genuine recovery. On Friday night at discipleship class I was asked to give my testimony.
I enjoyed a time of fellowship with my friend and partner in ministry Brother Lance. A few years ago Lance was brought to my office by his dad. He was a desperate drug addict. He agreed to get the help he needed and that was a relationship with Jesus Christ. Today he is an overcomer and the assistant director of the recovery program at Liberty Lodge. We have walked with him through some tough but victorious times.
I had dinner with Lance and his family on Saturday as they celebrated the high school graduation of their daughter, Jessa. Lance’s wife Jamie is a real support for her husband as they serve the Lord together and Leah, the 5 year old is the PR for the family. I am sure you that know her know what I mean.
I was able to get reacquainted with Jack the director of Liberty Lodge and Bob the house manager. I had met them at a NET meeting at Dunklin several months ago. I also had the privilege of spending time with Matthew, Isaiah and Seff as they sought me out for some time of counseling and sharing. I have such a great time sharing the miracles of Jesus and seeing them take place in the lives of genuine seekers of His Healing and His Restoration.
I spent time with Damaine who is on staff also and will be going to Nicaragua in a few days to share the good news. He is going on the mission trip with his pastor, Brother Cox. Christian 12 Step donated 50 Spanish copies of the study guide, “Walking the 12 Steps with Jesus Christ”, to take with them.
I was introduced to Pastor Cox who allowed me to share the work of Christian 12 Step Ministry on Sunday morning with the congregation at Christ Central Church that sponsors Liberty Lodge. He shared his testimony of God’s restoration in his life. He has invited me to come back one Sunday and preach to the folks there. The pastor blessed Lance, Damaine and me with a steak dinner following church. It was a great time of sharing.
It is with great joy that I am able to witness the work of our awesome God who saves, restores and equips men like Lance, Pastor Cox, Damaine, Jack and Bob to do His work. I cannot describe the emotions I experienced during my visit.
Now you understand why I started out by saying “What a Weekend”. It was so encouraging to witness the power and presence of my Jesus who is so loving, gracious and merciful. I was reminded of the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews Chapter 11 and realized I was among the heroes of faith that would be included in the list if the scriptures were being written today.

This past Wednesday I lost one of the dearest friends I’ve ever known, Chaplain Bob Gregory.  Not really, I did not lose him he simply got ahead of me and went on to heaven to see Jesus and be reunited with his parents, son, grandson and brother that had gone before him. I will see him again in the place Jesus has prepared for all those who know Him and trust in Him as personal Savior.

He leaves behind his wife, Janice, his daughter Susan, son Chip, their spouses, several grandchildren and a host of friends. Literally hundreds of folks gathered at Calvary Temple of Praise in Sanford to celebrate the Gospel lived out in the life of Chaplain Gregory. He served as chaplain at the Seminole County jail for a number of years. He also served as a member of the board of directors of Christian 12 Step Ministry. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten.

Bob was one of the most unselfish people I have ever known. He was always giving. When I was released from prison back in the 80’s he employed me in his business and moved me into his house to live with his family. I will never forget his example of compassion, his giving by sharing his material and spiritual blessings, and his overwhelming demonstration of an unconditional and non judging love.

When I spoke with his son at the service he said “I have one problem with my dad” and I asked what that could be. Then he made a statement I will never forget, “Dad set the bar so high I am not sure I can ever match the legacy he leaves”. What a challenge for all of us.

The eulogy given by his wife and daughter described the godliness and character of a husband and father that lived out his life according to the principles set forth in the words of Jesus. Chaplain Bob was honored by family and friends for a life lived in total trust and faith in a living God who gave us His Son, Jesus, to be our Lord and Savior. It was Chaplain Bob’s desire that all would know Him.

I have been privileged to know three men who have had a most meaningful influence over my life, Chaplain Bob Gregory, my brother Al Earnest and Brother Mickey Evans, founder of Dunklin Camp, a ministry to alcoholics and drug addicts. These three men have carved out a legacy and a life that continually challenges my commitment to the call God has upon my life. I will miss Bob and I will plan to spend as much time as possible with Al and Brother Mickey until we are called home.

My prayer is that as I continue to serve on the staff at Christian 12 Step Ministry that I will incorporate in my life the love, compassion and caring that these three have demonstrated and continue to demonstrate so that along with them I will hear Jesus say to me as I enter heaven, “well done good and faithful servant”.

So long Bob….for a season! I will be coming soon!!!