THE APPRENTICE AND THE JOURNEYMAN!
Fighting through tear-filled eyes, I dedicate this week’s Sunday’s Monday to a man that I learned to love more than life itself. On April 17, 2022, I found myself completely helpless as I watched the best man God has ever led me to, expire from this life. Pastor Joe Dillard was my mentor, best friend, and father in Christ who taught me to follow Jesus through the life he led. His words matched his life! He loved the poem titled the dash by Linda Ellis which explains it’s not the date of birth nor the date of death that are important, it is the life represented by the dash. The poem’s main theme that Joe used often is, “For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash. What matters is how we lived and loved and how we spend our dash.” I have to tell you His dash “is” long and overflowing as it will carry on throughout my life!
I realize many never see a Sunday’s Monday post but several weeks ago there was one titled Inheritance and God gave me James 2:14 (NLT), 14 What good is it, dear brothers, and sisters if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? God used this to explain that it is in the daily humdrum activities of life that we find those valuable nuggets which help others to find a better way. Joe told me many times a person can’t live contrary to what they truly believe. I think Joe was remarkable at reading people and many times he would not tell them he was a pastor upon first meeting them because he said their whole demeanor would change. Joe has brought people to Jesus without quoting scripture because as he said, “they wouldn’t understand it anyway.” He told me over and over when things get questionable, “I would rather err on the side of Jesus than on man’s version of right.”
Joe never made the big time with TV spots; he never accumulated a fortune because he gave a lot away. He never got the big church he deserved because God kept getting in his way, as He guided him toward the world as his church. He excelled in getting the most out of following Jesus and getting it before people in words, deeds, and life in general. He became a master at conformity while remaining a stranger to compromise. Jesus taught him how to reach people right where they are, just as they are, for who Jesus says they are. His greatest desire was to teach people “who they are in Christ”, and he did it in the most encouraging ways. He squeezed life till it oozed with the sweet fragrance of Jesus! The man had a God-given gift to touch the hearts of others in an authentic loving way and they in turn responded to it. He was a firm believer in relationships and was a master relationship builder. He lived Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT), 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things.
Joe’s major pet peeve was all the rules and regulations of today’s churches and the denominational barriers. When in truth it is Jesus plus nothing equals everything! Jesus’s only call was “come follow me” as in Matthew 4:19 (NLT), Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” If one is truly following Jesus, He will direct their steps. Joe firmly believed in networking; he did life with people, connecting them with helpers, as he strived to help them be the best they could be “in Jesus!” He read hundreds of books on counseling, encouragement, and spiritual living. As he knew relationships require work and he endeavored to prepare people for the what when and how.
I’ll never forget the third sermon I heard him preach from John 14:6 (NLT), Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. He told the congregation that he was on a train and that train was following Jesus into the gates of heaven. He explained the only requirement for a ticket to ride was to be following Jesus as best one could through developing a personal relationship with Him. Then he emphasized the fact that the train (death) would be pulling out soon and it wasn’t waiting on anyone to decide. He said I’m on board my train bound for heaven, how about you? Don’t wait till you find yourself on the wrong train, it will be too late. Well, Joe’s train pulled out Easter Sunday, and I know he was on board, following Jesus in that Heaven Bound Express…. Hallelujah!
Father God, I thank you for the 25 years you gave me with Joe Dillard. I thank you that our love for each other became that of a spiritual son and father. Help me Lord to live out your love for all as elegantly as I was taught by Pastor Joe. I cry out to you, my great physician, to heal my shattered heart, as I pray 2 Timothy 4:18 (NLT), Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.
HAVE A BLESSED WEEK BY BEING A BLESSING TO OTHERS!
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