Wednesday, December 27, 2017


I think of my Preacher as one of those people whom you think you’ll never be without, and who will always be there for you.  Humanly speaking, he’s the anchor in my life, now that my husband is in Heaven.  He’s the one person I can always count on to be perfectly honest with me, encouraging me when I need it, but exhorting me when I need a little push in the right direction, and reprimanding me for my shortcomings.

You never have to guess where you stand with Bro. Vineyard.  He’s not one to try to score points with anyone, even if it means hurting your feelings.

And when you first meet him, you immediately make a decision:  you either love him, or you hate him.  There’s no middle ground. He can conjure up feelings of being annoyed with the way he preaches, or he can amuse you with his homespun stories about his boyhood.

He can be gory, and obnoxious, using very explicit illustrations in his sermons.  He can embarrass his wife, but there is never any doubt where his passionate love lies.  This lovely lady named Jo Ann is definitely the lovely “bride of his youth.

He’s tough.  My Preacher was a Green Beret.  He’s not afraid of rattlesnakes, or scorpions, or gangs, or presidents or kings.

But he will get choked up while he’s telling the story of someone who has suffered, even if it was over a hundred years ago.

He will take on any challenge, whether spiritual or physical.

He keeps going when he’s “sick unto death.”

He has a passion for the lost, for the Jews, for missionaries, and for young men who are potential preachers.

But the greatest attribute I can think of to describe my Preacher is Shepherd.  At least it is for this sheep.

The Lord is my shepherd, but I can’t see Him.  Although I can feel His presence and His nearness, I’m not a spirit.  I’m still human. So my Heavenly Shepherd gave me another shepherd that has a voice I can hear. I’ve cried over things his voice has told me, I felt conviction for my sins, I’ve listened amazed at his adventures, over his vivid illustrations, and laughed with him when he tried to sing.

His voice is a military voice.  When he speaks you are prone to stand or sit at attention.  He speaks with authority, and you feel confident as you carry out his “orders,” or his advice. And as John the Baptist, he is also “the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” as he speaks out in favor and on behalf of the Jewish people.

He has used his voice for over thirty years to warn his sheep not to stray from the fold, while he seeks those who are lost outside.

My Heavenly Shepherd has hands, hands that were pierced for me on the cross.  My earthly shepherd’s hands have pounded crooks, gang members, pulpits and desks.  They’ve fired machine guns, and they’re karate-trained hands, so they’ve broken 2X4’s.

But they have also reached inside his pocket, and taken out thousands of Gospel tracts for the lost, and thousands of dollars for missionaries, orphans, and widows.

They have shaken other hands, hands of lawyers, presidents, kings, rabbis, generals, war heroes, and those of countless preachers known around the world.

But they’ve also shaken Tom Sloan’s trembling hands, and as they did, my earthly shepherd spoke words of encouragement and admiration to him.

My Heavenly Shepherd’s feet led him along the shores of Galilee, and they were nailed to the cross.  My earthly shepherd uses his feet to carry him across the ocean and around the world ministering to the needy, helping the hurting, defending God’s chosen people, preaching the Gospel, and encouraging missionaries.

But the most precious thing about my Preacher is that I know he loves me, and he would never do anything to harm me, my children, or my ministry.  I believe he would give his life for us.  He has faith in me.  He has confidence that I can do things beyond anything I ever dreamed I could do.  And he encourages me and challenges me to reach my full potential.

“I love you, Preacher.  Thank you for being a wonderful Shepherd.  May our loving Shepherd carry you through this valley, and bring you safely to the other side, and back to us.”

One of your sheep.
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

No comments: