This past week I was privileged to get to spend some time with some of the greatest pastors in the SBC at an intimate time of quail hunting and fellowship outside of Jackson, TN. The week began with a trip to Atlanta to pick up my long time friend, Alfred Burgess, who serves as the Next Generation Pastor at Crosspointe Church in Duluth. We made the four hour trip from Atlanta to Nashville (across Monteagle Mt, in a snow storm) to pick up a great layman from Austin, TX named Andy. We arrived in Milan in time for a quick bite to eat and then were treated to some great times behind some great bird dogs (yes, I took mine with me) hunting quail.
After an afternoon of hunting, about 25 pastors and laymen gathered together at the West Jackson Baptist Church for supper and fellowship. The physical food was great, but the spiritual food was amazing. Dr. David Wheeler from LBTS shared an encouraging and convicting word about the purpose of the church out of Acts 1-4. To say that this “devotion” was powerful would be a classic “British understatement.” I’m still trying to digest what he shared that night.
Early the next morning we were back out in the fields again with a different bunch of pastors. (We swapped guides and shooters at the beginning of each hunt.) It was encouraging and really edifying to hear how the Lord was working in these different churches, all while sharing a morning enjoying God’s creation together.
Lunch was amazing! Paul Spain, Jr. put on a spread that was unbelievable. Pork chops, stuffed jalapenos, boiled corn on the cob and potatoes and banana pudding hit just the right spot before heading back out for another couple of hours behind the dogs.
That evening several pastors spread out to different churches across West Tennessee to preach. I was honored to get to preach the Wednesday night service at West Jackson. This was a very special time for me, as I shared with the audience, because it was at a Wednesday night service at the old WJBC building that I surrendered to the Lord’s call on my life to be a preacher. Steve Evans provided the special music that night and did a terrific job as usual. Also, as usual, after the different Wednesday night services, the preachers gathered back together at WJBC for supper. Pastors – food – enough said.
The next morning several pastors had to start heading home, while those who stayed enjoyed some of the best hunting all week.
Alfred and I got back in the Explorer about 2 o’clock central time and headed toward Nashville to drop Andy off at the airport.
After hours and hours of driving, I finally got Alfred back to his sweet family, found an inexpensive hotel about midnight and drove home the next morning.
You might wonder why I have gone through all of these minute details. The answer is simple. The hours on the road were long. The hours getting up were early. The morning’s were COLD. The hunting was “hard.” BUT the time spent sharpening the stone with these other pastors was PRICELESS. The Bible says that in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom. Additionally, the friendships made during times like this last a lifetime.
I counted it an honor to be able to spend time this week with great pastors like Ken Whitten, Steve Gaines, Bruce Chesser, and John Hays and others. It refreshed me. It challenged me and I can’t wait to go back next year.
Thank you Temple Baptist Church for affording me the opportunity to go to great retreats like this. I hope and pray that I’m a better, more effective pastor because of it.