Where’s the Reverend Doctor?


The Reverend Doctor, at least this is what comes up if you google images.

I just wrote to someone who said they would be praying for me as I prepare to speak at Arnold’s memorial service two weeks from Saturday, “Thank you so much. I really need your prayers. I’m already nervous about this one — excited, but nervous.”

The more I hear about Arnold’s storied career and the colorful people around him including his friends and his enemies, the more intimidated I become. All of the final services I have taken part in have had mostly believers present. People are sad, but they’re hopeful. They have a belief that sustains them. They welcome the truth about Christ and the resurrection; it bolsters their faith to hear it again. This will be different. This could easily swing the other way.

This is not necessarily going to be a sympathetic audience for the gospel, and it’s going to be an audience where Arnold’s conversion is going to be the farthest thing from a lot of people’s minds. They don’t know the long process of change he went through — the hours, days, weeks, months on his back with nothing but the ceiling to look at and his life and future to consider. They don’t know anything of the consistent presence Marie and I were in his life — the love and care extended. They don’t know that before his raucous career, he had a church experience as a child to think back on, and even though there were things in that experience that led him to turn away, the truth was still there, however shrouded.

I can just imagine these people going, “Who is this guy? Let’s get the Reverend Doctor to deliver the message. Where’s the guy with the robe, or at least the collar. We want the stock service. We don’t want to be faced with any decisions for ourselves. This is hard enough imagining a guy like Arnold facing his death. We know what he was like. He was no saint. God probably wants to send him back.”

I’m serious; I’ve never been quite like this. I was up half the night thinking about this and it’s over two weeks away. That’s why I’m asking you to pray for me — not just on the 28th when the service is, but now, as I prepare my thoughts. Thank you in advance for taking this up.

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11 Responses to Where’s the Reverend Doctor?

  1. Sandie says:

    John – remember that you are never alone. Trust the Holy Spirit – Jesus promised that we’d have the words we need when you stand to give your witness. When I was in the band, my prayer preparation and song set picks and structure were wrapped around this one thing: “Lord, break my heart for the people you will bring.” He never failed me – the songs we performed and the words I spoke always broke the heart of at least one person there. What this person did afterwards was between him and Jesus. As for the rest of the people, the seed was planted and the rest was between them and Jesus.Remember John – we don’t save anyone – we just serve as a conduit for His love and Spirit to work through. I used to tell my son before his games – “Relax and do what you know.” It never failed him.

  2. peter leenheer says:

    As soon as you informed us some time ago of your eulogy commitment, I began to pray for you.
    The Holy Spirit will give you the words. This is a crisis of belief for you…..will God come through?
    The answer is YES!!!!! This is not about you but about all those in the audience who perhaps need to forgive Arnold, perhaps learn of his commitment to Christ……I don’t need to tell you all this stuff. John, I have prayed and am praying that you will be filled with the Spirit so that it will even surprise you. I have also prayed and am praying that the peace that passes all understanding (John 14:27) will be in the room, and the word of God will fall in fertile soil!

    Looking forward to a positive, miraculous report two weeks from now! God be with You!!

  3. Suzan says:

    I am praying for you, John, and it looks to me that you already have a pretty good message to share. Just capture what you’ve told us through The Catch. You don’t have to be the Reverend Doctor to speak honestly about your experience with Arnold or even your anxiousness in preparing for the memorial service. You don’t need to impress anyone with your great wisdom or authority. The more human and less “reverend” you are, the more relatable you are, which in turn, opens a door to the skeptical. Just bring your perfectly imperfect, child of God self to the message, and let the Spirit blow through you. There is a powerful message of hope and incredible faithfulness that runs through this story, and it’s not just for believers. A little humor, especially about how surprising this whole experience turned out to be, might be useful too. What a testament to the ability for people to grow and change, right up to their last minute. Amazing grace! Have no doubt, God had you in mind for all of this!

  4. Mark D Seguin says:

    Prayers 4 you Pastor John

  5. TimC says:

    Ask for prayer and prayer you shall have. Ask for God’s message for that group of people and His message you shall have.

  6. Appreciate your humble honesty, John.
    When I think of the numerous times Paul humbly asked for prayers so that he would boldly “make known the mystery of the gospel” wherever he found himself, regardless of the audience, and no matter his circumstances, well… John, you’re in pretty good company!
    Be encouraged, my friend: You were meant for such a time as this.
    As you humbly seek God’s guidance and wisdom, may you be filled with His Perfect Peace. You have my daily prayers as well as my confidence in your teamwork with the Holy Spirit.
    Shalom, Shalom to you…

  7. Paul says:

    I, too, will be praying for you.

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