“I’m Not As Scared As I Might Appear”

Transparent Pulpit

I had the privilege of serving on the board of the Kelly Green Evangelistic Association for about 10 years during the 1990’s. I first met Kelly in 1987 when he came to First Baptist Church in El Dorado, Arkansas to lead a revival that lasted for 5 days. Mark Coppenger was our pastor then, and he was familiar with Kelly’s ministry and confident our church was ready for a meeting of this type. The church was indeed ready and over the course of that 5 day meeting, there were several hundred decisions made for either salvation or re-dedication. I have never been part of such a spiritual harvest.

Within several years of that meeting I was invited to serve on Kelly’s board, and it gave me the opportunity to know Kelly on a personal level, and also the privilege to get to know some outstanding Christians who also served on the board. Kelly loved including his board members at his revival meetings if their schedule permitted. Prior to most of the meetings there was a time scheduled for counselor training when local church lay leaders were trained to deal with people who made spiritual decisions. Kelly would have board members and other strong laymen give their Christian testimony to the group in order to encourage everyone to use their spiritual gifts to minister. The testimonies were effective because they were from laymen and not from seminary trained preachers.

Kelly called me one evening to say he was doing a meeting within a month at the First Baptist Church in Grapevine, Texas and wanted me to give my testimony during their counselor training. That training was scheduled a week prior to the revival. My schedule had some flexibility, so I planned a 2 day break in my surgical schedule which allowed me time to drive the 6 hours to Grapevine and return the following day. The training meeting was to be held at 7 pm, so I had to leave prior to lunch in order to be there on time. As was typical of my schedule, there were unexpected patient problems, and I left home about an hour later than planned. I wanted to get to the church at least an hour before speaking so I could meet the pastor, a few of the counselors and check out the stage, the sound equipment and other technical things used in a large meeting of this type.

Grapevine is a suburb of Dallas near DFW Airport, so I got there with no problems; but I didn’t know the directions to the church, and this was prior to the use of GPS technology. I had to stop at 2 different places to ask directions, even though the church was one of the largest churches in Grapevine. I arrived about 10 minutes prior to the beginning of the training, so I barely had time to wash my face and hands. I discovered there was to be a 5 minute break in the program after the first 45 minutes of training, and I was to be the next speaker after the break.

The first part went quickly, and I don’t remember anything the speaker said. I was trying to get my thoughts collected, and to calm the anxiety and the feeling I was being rushed. I was thankful for the time to sit and relax a little bit after the tension-filled drive through Dallas traffic. During the break time I welcomed a hot cup of coffee which always has a relaxing effect on me. The coffee table which was covered with a clean, white cloth was located in the back of the large conference room. I was sitting on the back row and thus was the first one to the table at the break. I got my cup filled with coffee and wanted to add some creme and sugar, so I set the cup aside. The process  requires two hands especially when you are in a hurry. What I didn’t know was underneath the cloth there were two tables pulled together to make one large table. The tables were not exactly the same height, and there was a slight discrepancy in height where I was placing my cup. When I set the cup down, it tilted slightly, and fearing it would turn over I quickly reached for the cup and accidentally flipped it backwards dumping all the coffee directly into my lap. Fortunately I was not burned, but there I stood with a gigantic spot on the front of my pants that extended from just below my belt to slightly above my knees. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life and to compound the embarrassment I was scheduled within 3 minutes to stand in front of 250 people to give my testimony. There was no time to change my trousers and not enough time to allow the coffee stain to dry. Even if it had dried, there was still the monstrous spot!

I was hoping the podium was large enough to shield me if I stood directly behind it. When I focused on the podium for the first time, I saw it was the type that was transparent and offered no concealment whatsoever. These few minutes prior to walking to that platform were the most anxiety filled for me I can ever remember.  I just simply prayed the Lord would calm my emotions, and my testimony would bring Him honor. The person introducing me was saying some very nice things about “the surgeon who had driven such a long distance to give his testimony of how Christ had changed his life,” and then he said, “let’s give a big hand for Dr. John Moore from El Dorado, Arkansas!”

As people were politely clapping and I was walking the long walk to that platform I was certain that all eyes were focused on the front of my pants instead of my face. When the clapping stopped and I placed my Bible on the podium, I said, “I am so thankful to you and to the pastor for the privilege of being here tonight, and want all of you to know this;  I am not as scared as I might appear.” There was immediate laughter because I knew what everyone was thinking. I explained the cause for the giant wet spot on my trousers which had just happened not giving me the opportunity to change trousers. There was no more discussion about the coffee spot, and I was able over the next 15 minutes to tell of the work of Christ in and through my life in order to encourage those counselors.

God used a very embarrassing moment for me to get the undivided attention of everyone, so I know they heard what I said, and I trust they were edified. I was very thankful to the Lord it ended well.

Dr. John

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2 thoughts on ““I’m Not As Scared As I Might Appear”

  1. Back in high school, my prayer partner Bruce (now a pastor in Texarkana) and I went to hear our friend Jimmy Meeks preach. Before the service, Bruce and I went into the back of my van to pray. Kneeling, I heard rrrrriiiiippppp! Yep. My bell bottom blue jeans. Bruce and I sat on the back row until the end of the service when I heard “Brother Todd, Brother Bruce, come down front here to pray with those making decisions for Christ.” Oops!

    I walked gingerly down the center aisle, somewhat like an Asian woman in a long dress. Fortunately, there wasn’t a choir in the choir loft or they would have seen a whitetail deer when I turned around to face the crowd. Ah yes… ministry memories!

    You have once again pointed out that there’s nothing wasted in God’s economy. He uses it all!

    • Great story Todd. It reminds me that God uses us when our hearts are open to Him alone in spite of our warts, carbuncles, and ripped and stained britches. He is not looking for perfect people or none of us would qualify!

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