Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

May 14, 2010

Preacher Extraordinaire

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Dr. R.G. Lee was first, and foremost, a preacher.  For 33 years, he was pastor of Bellview Baptist Church in Memphis, TN.  His skillful preaching brought him opportunities within Baptist life.  He continually declined such invitations as president of colleges and seminaries.  The most prestigious pulpits in American constantly invited him to become their pastor.

Dr. Lee felt, always, that God had called him to be a pastor and preach the gospel from the pulpit.  Even after retirement, he continued to preach across this nation for the next 18 years.  Ministers sought for opportunities to sit under this man’s teaching and preaching.  He never considered himself a theologian, but he was true always to Scripture.  He was a great communicator of the Word of God.  His style of preaching was unique, and he possessed a special gift with alliteration.

His most famous sermon was Pay-Day Someday.  He preached it several thousand times.  (It is available through the internet from several sites.  Simply search his name or the name of the sermon.)  In his retirement he was consistently invited to preach that one sermon!

Ministers desired to spend time with Dr. Lee.  It seemed that every pastor felt if they could be around him for a period of time, it would be much like Elisha in the Old Testament desiring to have affirmation and direction from Elijah.  As Elijah could give counsel, guidance and an example to Elisha, pastors felt that Dr. Lee could be our Elijah.

In the early 70’s, we had the privilege to host Dr. Lee in our church.  Of course, the famous sermon Pay-Day Someday was requested.  He preached for us in the morning service and then preached this magnificent message that evening.

Following the morning service, Dr. Lee did not want to go to lunch.  Instead, he requested that he would like to return to the motel to rest for the evening service.  Judy and the children went on home, and I escorted Dr. Lee to the motel.  As we arrived, he invited me to come inside with him.

I must confess a moment of particular joy.  I felt that I was about to spend time with this dear man and that it would be an Elijah-Elisha moment.  As we went to his room, he pointed to a chair and told me to have a seat.  He went into the bathroom for a moment.  I anxiously awaited this special time that was about to occur.  As a young minister, it would be one of those great spiritual encounters.

Shortly, he came from the bathroom.  He had changed his clothes and was wearing his pajamas and robe.  Rather than taking a seat across from me, he went over to the bed.  Just before he laid down on the bed, he turned to me.  “Here it comes,” I thought.

The words that followed were, “Lawson, you can go now!”  Imagine my mental reaction.  What?  No great words of wisdom?  No counsel?  No nothing?  Simply, go?

I did as this great man said.  I got up and left.  What I realized was this man was so exhausted, and at his age he seemed to have some fear of falling while changing clothes.  I did not get those words that I longed for, but I assure you just those private moments will always be cherished.

Dr. Lee will always be remembered for two things, I believe — His love for people and his defense of the Word of God.  Such a legacy!  Can anything be more wonderful than to be remembered as a person who loved people?

As I seek to be a defender of the Word, I need only live a life that proves the Gospel is true as it changes and controls my life.  Loving people will be a true expression of my relationship with Christ.  Dr. Lee is a sterling example of this, but it is Christ who is our true model.  There is a mandate upon us.  The Word makes it plain.  Join me in seeking to be obedient.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Mark 12:30,31)



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