Monday, March 23, 2009

Dr. Nicki Coertze -- The Spurgeon Conference

Recently, there was a Spurgeon conference at my church (Founders Baptist Church). The basic theme I would label it as the Integrity of Preaching the Truth of the Word of God. The guest speaker was Nicki Coertze from Christ Seminary in South Africa (affectionately known as Brother Nicki). In addition to being an exceptional preacher of the Word, he has a special place in my heart as he ministers along side some friends of mine (the Beakleys and the Macks). Also, a supporting church of his happens to be in my dad's hometown in West Frankfort, IL. He addressed the issues of the trend of preachers compromising and "tickling the ears" instead of preaching the Truth.

While Brother Nicki addressed the seriousness of these issues, there were some memorable quotes of his during his week long series; some of which were hysterically funny! My favorite was in his response to a church organization criticizing Christ Seminary's training his pastors-in-training to be "dogmatic". His response in a written letter was as follows:

"I must humbly apologize for appearing to be too dogmatic. It was never my intention to be dogmatic. I meant to be "Bull-dogmatic". It is better than being "cat-matic" and be pussy-footing around the issues!"

Too funny!!!! More memorable quotes as follows:

"Goats like to bump heads. You can't build a church on goats."

"Repentance doesn't save, but no one is saved without repentance. ... "

"There's a difference between being crude and being honest."

"A positive message will fill the pews, but it will fill hell as well."

In all seriousness, Brother Nicki Coertze will likely be remembered for these classic quotes above. (There should be a Coertze book compiling his quotes, similar to one done for Spurgeon's) During his preaching, Dr. Coertze has a tone of humility and gratefulness for all that God has done in his life, yet is boldly firm in Biblical doctrine, and exhorts us to be faithful in adhering to the truth, and demonstrating genuine love among the brethren. Very memorable, and I consider him a personal hero.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Eola Dodson

A couple days ago, another personally impactful dear saint went to be with the Lord. This person, Eola Dodson was from my hometown in Marissa, Illinois where I grew up from Kindergarten through 11th grade. This was a tiny town, population just around 2200, so most people knew just about everyone by name and face.

Mrs. Dodson was my English teacher in jr. high and high school. Actually during my elementary years, she was actually the school librarian. As a little kid, my first impression was that she was a rather stern, dry personality, but nice enough. However, when I actually had her for a teacher, she taught english in a brilliant methodical manner. I have great understanding of the subject-verb agreement to this day, and I credit her for imparting this knowledge to me. Our classes continued through my first couple years in high school and my respect and fondness for her just grew deeply. Her faith in Christ was evident and she was very kind and compassionate also. I noticed that she had great patience for struggling students also. In a Facebook forum, one former student noted how she showed no partiality to any flashy, popular or intelligent students vs. anyone else average. I realized how true that was.

Mrs. Dodson herself was not a flashy personality who drew popular attention to herself. Therefore she often did not come to mind as a flashy fun-loving teacher. However, she certainly did not lack a sense of humor and she was a willing participant in those classic, hillarious faculty frolics of the late 70s and would also dress in the Meteor attire to display school spirit. She was not necessarily labeled popular, but she certainly was well-loved and respected by the student body.

What was nice about growing up in small-town USA was that many of our teachers were also contacts in the community; active in churches, running to them at local stores, dinners out, or community and school activities. Mrs. Dodson was known as a pillar in the community and a very active member of her local Methodist church. She served as a Sunday school teacher, and was a leader in women's ministry, even on a regional level. She was very much a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and a great-grandmother. I actually lived a couple blocks from her so she was considered a good neighbor also.

Her Christlike example and her teaching legacy has impacted countless lives and will pass to generations to come. Now that she is in the heavenly presence of the Lord, I quote Paula Buritsch's statement taken from scripture that God said upon her entrance "well-done good and faithful servant!" Eola Dodson will be missed!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

In Memory of Mary Lappala

I lost a dear friend tonight to melonoma of the lung...the worst possible cancer there is. Mary Lappala. She was among my best buddies during the 4 years I lived in Michigan...we had an unlikely friendship, as she was old enough to be my mother. She never married. She did confide that she would have liked to...however I never sensed any discontentment in her singleness. Not long after we first met in church, I discovered how like-minded we were in faith and the doctrines of grace so that is probably why we enjoyed fellowshipping together. We were both single and did not have a whole lot of like-minded singles in town..

Mary and I were both part of Cornerstone Community Church in Escanaba, MI. While most churches today seem to ignore singles, and sometimes setup singles groups for purposes seemingly nothing more than to acknowledge their existence or to simply keep them out of the way. However, Mary and I agreed that Cornerstone being the small church it was, was like a strong unified family and made us both feel valued for the ministry.

But knowing the need of individual families to have their own times, Mary and I sometimes hung out, looking out for each other's needs such as rides, food items, or a simple phone conversation...sometimes going out to eat on a Sunday afternoon..often being joined by other friends of hers such as Barb Waterman, or a couple of other widowed ladies in town...I guess I could have been labeled the ladies man...though I was easily 10-20 years younger than all of them!

But I admired Mary the most out of all of them, especially for her hunger for the Word.. In fact, she was a Grace To You subscriber, and she had checked out Cornerstone, not having any idea of our connection to Grace Community Church. So when she realized this, she was there to stay, and behold, became part of our family. As she soaked up the Word of God in the teachings and her faithful studies alone, she imparted what she learned to the children and served the saints in other ways. She was surrogate grandma to the Woodward kids while they lived there. She was a favorite aunt to her siblings' children and fact , it looked to me that her nephew Todd's children were almost like her own grandchildren she never had. Mary also was the spiritual advisor to most of her female peers and an example of what a godly woman is to be. She was also a great example and encouragement to me. She work heartily unto the Lord at her various positions as school teacher and medical field employee.

Mary's retirement was largely spent in cancer treatment. When I first heard of her melonoma, I personally thought it was a death sentence, but she pursued treatment with such great hope which was contagious. I would call her often, intending to minister and encourage her, only to have received this enocouragement from her. Finally, a short time ago, the doctors informed her that they did all they could do. She accepted the news with the gratefulness to God for the life she lived and anticipation of the Heaven that she was about to enter. What a tribute her life has been. While I miss this dear Sister, I rejoice that her homegoing was peaceful, and glorious. I along with others will always treasure our days together with Mary here on earth, and I long to enjoy the eternal fellowship with Christ that she is are now experiencing. In memory of our friend Mary Lynne Lappala--our dear loved one.
" Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones." Psalm 116:15
"I'll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now."
<-- A verse taken out of the hymn "My Jesus I Love Thee" by William Featherston...a hymn loved by Mary