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Going On, Not Getting Out

The phone rang late at night in the home of a local librarian. On the other end of the line, a young voice asked, “What time does the library open?” Angrily, the librarian retorted, “It doesn’t open until 9:00 in the morning. Why in the world would you be calling at this hour to get into the library?” “Get in!” said the young boy on the other end of the phone, “I don’t want to get in; I want to get out!” In our church, hopefully no one feels locked in, but rather set at liberty. We are not trying to get out but go on in the Lord.

All of us need time to get away from the daily grind and have family time of rest, relaxation, reflection, and renewal. Janet and I have not “escaped from the library,” but we have gotten away for some vacation, just the two of us, with no preaching or ministry responsibilities. As busy as both of us are, this is necessary for us just as it is for you. As Francis of Assisi noted about the bow used in archery, “The bow must be unstrung after its use in order for it to be effective in shooting arrows.” He was referring to times without tension and toil.

We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Jeff Crook to the pulpit this weekend, Senior Pastor of the Blackshear Place Baptist Church in north Atlanta. Jeff is a dear friend, and for the sixth year his family is spending their vacation time in Naples. He and his precious family love our church and all that is involved here in “paradise.” He is a great encourager to me personally and one of our nation’s most outstanding young preachers and pastors. I was privileged to be the guest preacher for his 10th year anniversary at his church.

Jeff and Becky have two children, Macie, and Josiah. He has pastored in Florida and Mississippi. He has degrees from The Baptist College of Florida and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and has been in the ministry for 25 years.

Jeff’s personality is submerged in his message, as “he decreases so that Jesus might increase” (John 3:30). He preaches the Word of God with conservative conviction, doctrinal integrity, Spirit-anointing, and authority. Please allow the Spirit to storm the citadel of your will and allow God to change you and rearrange your priorities. Nothing could thrill me more than to know that life-changing decisions have been made in my absence under the biblical preaching of a brother in Christ.