Voices in my head

Published 10:58 am Wednesday, January 8, 2020

By MICHAEL J. BROOKS / Columnist

Note: This is an opinion column.

It was agonizing to purchase a new car lately. I shopped for 10 months and finally made a deal a few weeks ago. My old car was faithful for nine years, but now it’s gone and belongs to another. I purchased a vehicle that we used to call “foreign.” That’s when I heard my dad’s voice from heaven in my head.

Dad moved to Birmingham to work and raise a family before he and mom retired and moved back to north Alabama. He was a steelworker all those working years, and American steelworkers told us all to buy American. “Foreign” cars were a no-no. So whereas I heard my dad’s voice after all these years, I also had a comeback: “Dad, this car was built in Kentucky.”

I also have a phrase in my head one of our pastors used a lot when I was a boy. He said, “Israel is God’s chosen people, but we Americans are God’s favorite people!” Of course Romans 10 declares God has no favorites, but our pastor never seemed to notice.

A pastor friend and I conversed lately and agreed we’re thankful our sermons weren’t recorded in those early years because of the foolish things we said (and probably continue to say). We come from the Baptist tradition in which a young man declares God’s call to preach, and the church says, “Fine. Preach for us next Sunday.” Being 16 or 17 we didn’t know much, so this was always a challenge. I’m grateful for the wonderful people who listened patiently and encouraged me to study and grow.

A lady told me something interesting several years ago. She’d heard a lot of sermons in the years I was in her church, and she remarked that I often talked about the lordship of Christ. She insisted it was a theme I referred to frequently and how it remained in her memory. I’m grateful she told me this, and happy this voice in her head was good and positive.

President Trump pardoned Lt. Clint Lorance on Nov. 15. Lorance had been court-martialed and was serving the sixth year of his 19-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth Military Prison. Evidence at his trial was contradictory, but the military court convicted him of war crimes in Afghanistan. After his release, Lorance appeared on a cable broadcast and was asked what he wanted to say to the president. “I love you, sir—you’re awesome,” he said. “I’d march to the gates of hell for you.”

Whatever the merits of this case, I think Lorance gave a response worthy to be kept in the head and heart of every Christian when we think of our indebtedness to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.