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In the fast few days, I have had the privilege of sharing in services to honor some special friends. On Wednesday, I took part in the funeral service for the man I wrote about last week, Lt. Jeffrey Norman. It was a blessing to be able to speak a few words about this dedicated husband, father, military veteran and firefighter. I ask you to continue to pray for his family, wife Ashley and son Parker, as they mourn their loss.

I also drove to Clarksville, TN on Sunday afternoon to join in a worship service in recognition of a precious couple, who have ministered faithfully at First Baptist Church for over 30 years. I served with Pat Van Dyke, and his wife Susanne, at Whitehaven Baptist Church here in Memphis. Pat was our Minister of Music, while I was the Associate Pastor responsible for Education and Administration. We forged a friendship that has survived the separation of miles and years. I wanted to be there to support them, as they launch into this next chapter of their lives together. It was a beautiful service, that brought laughter and tears to everyone there.

One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned in my 42 years as a pastor, and almost 69 years on this earth, is that true friendships are to be treasured. Worldly possessions, like money, houses and cars, will come and go. However, genuine friends are always there when you need them. They are there in times of joy and times of sorrow. Proverbs 18:24 talks about “a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). God has enriched my life with many precious friends, for which I am grateful.

Ralph Waldo Emerson is given credit for the saying: “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” While the saying is true, I am blessed to have better friends than I deserve. My goal in life is to be more like my best friend, Jesus, every day. “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!” I count our CBC family as among my dearest friends on earth!

Serving in love, Bro. Jim


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