Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"Put Your Finger on the Verse."

Shortly after I came to Lawrence County, Tennessee, I met an older preacher named Fulton Smith. Fulton was a man with a lot of experience. He really loved the Bible and he loved the souls of men. What impressed me most about the times I was able to spend with him was his passion for preaching the truth. He was very plain in his preaching - no minced words. He was not going to negotiate. His message was Biblical, lots of verses, not too many poems or stories or time wasted on "warm and bubbly" religion. If you just wanted a man to tell you the truth about the doctrine, and give it to you straight, Fulton Smith was the man to see and hear.

He and his wife, Jo Ann, loved to go to Friday night singings everywhere. They had a great marriage and she was fully dedicated to his work. Most of the time I spent with him was when we would share duties for a funeral. I always appreciated working with him. He respected me even though I was young and inexperienced. I think he allowed for my mistakes because he looked past my inadequecies and saw where my heart was. Younger preachers need older preachers. They need to be told by the older generation that their preaching is sound, that their heart is pure, and that their work is effective. Fulton Smith did that for me. Fulton passed from this life in 2010. He was a great man.

A week ago I was back in Lawrence County for a funeral. While there I went to the nursing home to see a good friend, Bob Belew, who is brother-in-law to Fulton's wife Jo Ann. Jo Ann and her sister, Martha Belew, were also there, and the four of us had a good visit. We talked some about Fulton. In a few minutes Jo Ann went to the car and returned with a very special gift. It was a copy of Fulton's sermons, which she had typed out this year and put into print in his memory. The title of the book is, "Put Your Finger on the Verse." This was a phrase coined by Fulton that he used in his sermons. The emphasis was simply, if you can't find it in the Bible, if you can't put your finger on the verse, then why practice it? There is great wisdom in this approach when it comes to us and our relationship with God.

We need to be a people who know what the Bible actually teaches. We need to be a people who practice what the Bible actually teaches. We need to be a people who preach and teach what the Bible actually teaches. We need to be a people who will not just sit on a pew and let the preacher preach to us without opening our Bibles. We need to be a people who will put our fingers on the verse.

"If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen." ~ 1 Peter 4:11


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