“And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (I Corinthians 2:3-5)
Our paychecks at the answering service are ready early on Friday evenings. This Friday evening as I stopped by the office to pick up my check, Bill the owner and Cassandra his daughter were there. Bill said he had something he wanted to give me and stepped into another room. He was gone for at least a minute and I wondered what he could possibly want to give me. Bill walked out and handed me a cassette tape. He said, “It’s you preaching; it’s one of your sermons.”
The date on it said Feb. 21, 2010 and that it was a sermon from Acts chapter 19. The typing was on a blue ribbon. I thought that tape couldn’t POSSIBLY be from 2010. I did preach a series of sermons from Acts in the early 2000s. I thought it must be from 2001 and I must have transposed the numbers. Also, I had a typewriter with a blue ribbon many years ago, so that also caused me to think it was from the distant past.
This evening (Saturday) I popped the tape into my “boom box” (combination radio, CD player, and cassette player). To my amazement the tape WAS from February of 2010! (I’d forgotten at that time I was making tape labels on an old MAC computer and printing them in blue.) By 2010, Jon was digitally recording each sermon and making up sermon CDs for anyone who wanted them. We DID, however, continue to make up two or three “old fashioned” cassette tapes every sermon.
That February 21, 2010 tape was of a NIGHT service. We only had Sunday night services once in awhile, but that was the FINAL one. In fact, there were ONLY a total of two more services after that at First Assembly of God of Framingham. That afternoon, February 21, 2010, Mary Ann and I had been informed the decision had been made to close the church down. I remember being very, very sad that afternoon, and greatly wishing I had NOT planned to have a Sunday night service for that day! I billed it as a “God Encounter Service”. Instead, I wanted to go home, get in bed, pull the covers over my head, and have a good cry. But I did what preachers try to do on days like that. I went ahead with the service and the sermon.
Jon used to start recording at prayer time and that’s where the tape comes in. For THAT part of the tape I DO sound nervous, a little sad, and a little unsure of myself. I wondered if the whole tape would sound like that, because if it WOULD, I was not sure I’d really want to listen to it. That was not the case however.
Second Corinthians 12: 4 says, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness”. Some of you will not understand this, but it’s SO true. My experience through all my years of pastoring and preaching was that when I went into the pulpit feeling very happy, capable, and confident, I sometimes didn’t do so well in my preaching. It was the Sundays that I was depressed, didn’t feel well, didn’t feel capable, and didn’t want to be there that God would surprise me. The Holy Spirit would “show up” and I would preach almost like I was a completely different person. Once I got into that sermon on Acts 19, I sounded full of faith, happy, joyful, cheerful, confident, and like I could sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo! The sermon was interesting, informative, and inspiring. More than that, it was anointed...with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Jon also chose some great “altar songs” for prayer over people after the sermon. My eyes kind of filled up hearing that music and hearing me praying for people in the background.
I’ve got a confession to make. I did not remember how good that service was. I’d always kind of regretted holding that service that night. And, I felt it was kind of unfair to have to run a service and preach a sermon right after being told the church was closing. After hearing that tape, for the first time I was glad I scheduled that service and preached that sermon and so glad I had not canceled it!
At the church office, we had sermon tapes of mine going back almost ten years. I hate to admit it, but I was so down after the church was closed that I threw all of those in the dumpster. So there were VERY few tapes or CDs left of my sermons. I will cherish that tape given to me by Bill. In so many ways, it “fit the Bill”!
Jon DOES have a few sermons from the final few months of the church still available to burn onto CDs. I would love to have anyone who is interested hear that tape of my Acts 19 sermon...the Feb. 21, 2010 evening service. I asked Jon if we could somehow put it on line for people to download. He said we probably COULD but that it could get kind of involved and he’d rather not do that. I don’t blame him. Our church website was very simple and we never had sermons available to download or anything like that- and now the website is gone. But Jon CAN still burn CDs of that sermon. Should anyone WANT a CD of that sermon and service, just drop $5 in the mail to: Bob Baril, P.O. Box 4702, Framingham, MA 01704. Jon will make you a Cd and we’ll mail it off to you. (Listen this is certainly not all Jon does, and it may take a few days to get it back to you, but if you want a CD of that we’d be happy to share it with you.)
Again, thank you Bill for handing me that tape. And, God, thank you for reminding me through that of your desire to use a weak and fallible vessel for Your purposes.
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