My F3 Raleigh brothers, what a way to close out 2017.  Many of you have posted on Tuesday’s at True Grit (530am – Shelley Lake) and if so, you may have seen and/or met the Preacher Man (Thomas Higdon).  In his 60’s, the Preacher Man (his honorary F3 name) has been working out regularly a few times a week at Shelley Lake on his own.  He typically runs laps around the lake and some time ago, noticed our COT and BOM closing prayer.  He introduced himself, encouraged us for the witness and shared that he was a local pastor at Bethlehem Baptist on Six Forks Road. Since then, he has often joined us for COT over the last year.  Several months ago, he mentioned he had the opportunity to preach at his church and invited us to come anytime.  In early December, he mentioned he had the opportunity to preach again on December 31 and the invitation to hear him preach was once again extended.

20 PAX (w/some M’s and 2.0’s) took Preacher Man up on his offer and were better for it yesterday.  YHC took notes from the sermon and wanted to pass them along in hopes that each PAX that reads them will be encouraged heading into 2018.

Some background (i.e. this is a dude you need to meet) – Preacher Man is from Brooklyn and spent 30+ years in New York City working as a first responder (police and/or fireman – can’t recall which).  From what I understood, he shared that he was there on 9/11, was a first responder and saw the towers fall.  There is more to our brother’s story and YHC invited him to join us for coffeeteria when he can to share more.

Preacher Man opened the service with words of thanksgiving.  He preached from the book of James, chapter 1, verses 1-12 and 22-25.

The message focused on the Trials and Tribulations we will all face in life.  As I reflected back on 2017, I looked around me and realized that most if not all of the PAX that attended had dealt with some significant trial over the last year.  My own trial began in late January with my dad’s accident and passing on February 7.  But, as I continued to reflect, many of my friends lost loved ones in 2017.  No less than 15 of them lost a parent or sibling with at least 10 of them losing a father.  Preacher Man’s sermon was very timely and nourishment to the soul.

Here are a few key points from the message:

  • James, the author, was a half-brother of Jesus and prior to the Resurrection of Christ, he and Jesus other brothers, did not believe in Jesus (John 7:1-5).
    • Have you ever been misunderstood by your own family or loved ones?
  • No matter what we face, in the end, for those who know and love Jesus Christ, you win.
  • The only way to prepare your heart for what God has in store for you is to PRAY more and BE in God’s Word
  • Be grounded in God’s word
    • example:  when buying a car, there are many features/functions/instructions/warnings/etc. we often never use or heed because we don’t read the manual.
    • Our LIFE manual is God’s word – RTM – Read The Manual – regularly – it is full of WISDOM
      • James 1:22-25 [22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.]
  • God uses our trials for good
    • The Apostle Paul was put in prison and used that time to write letters to the churches and people.  His suffering was used by God to generate most of the New Testament that all believers have benefited from for centuries.
    • You may not know how or why, but your suffering will be used by God – have faith.  Don’t give up hope!
  • Testing – part of maturity and growth in Christ
    • when we go through these trials, there is nothing wrong with emotions, but through it all, we still have hope.
    • the Bobby McFadden song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” – there is truth in that if you are grounded in Christ.  Again, in the end, you win.  “For to me, to LIVE is Christ, to die is gain” – Philippians 1:21

The service concluded shortly after his sermon and we all had a chance to meet and greet the Preacher Man, his wife and other members of the congregation.  Bethlehem Baptist is a wonderful group of believers and I know all who attended were blessed.

Finally, while they didn’t ask, YHC did take note that they had an announcement for all men of the church to come help with some yard work cleanup at the church on Saturday, January 13th at 8am.  PAX – if you are so inclined, let’s get a group of men together after our Saturday workout that morning and go help these brothers out.  Many hands make light work.  All you need to bring are some rakes, leaf blowers and a willing heart.

Happy New Year my brothers.  See you in the gloom!


ManRam (1 Timothy 4:8)