Jerry Vines was my pastor for about 16 years at FBC Jacksonville. My family and I have fond memories of those days sitting under the bible teaching of Jerry Vines and Homer Lindsay. We still remember the night Vines and his wife came to share a private dinner with us and our extended family back around 1999 or 2000.
Sunday morning at the 2011 FBC Jax Pastor's Conference, Vines delivered a sermon entitled "Come Before Winter" from 2 Tim 4. A wonderful sermon about the importance of acting now, today, to do things that need to be done - including apologizing to people you are to love, and doing things today for God that you know you should do. He demonstrates he really is a heart preacher as he speaks gently and lovingly to the Christian's heart.
Some personal thoughts on Vines:
- Vines still is, and always has been a happy preacher, comfortable in the pulpit. In the pulpit he delivers his Bible message clearly and plainly, contented to allow the Holy Spirit to fit the truths to the listeners. So many preachers today are showmen who are over-bearing as they are pre-occupied with playing the role of the Holy Spirit. Not Vines.
- Vines come across as a humble man when he preaches. He isn't preaching about himself or his family incessantly. He just sticks to the Bible, doesn't try to impress with too much Greek or history or trivia. Just Bible mostly, with relevant stories of application mixed with some humor. He never takes himself too seriously.
- Vines is not too big to say he is sorry. He stressed the importance in this sermon of apologizing to people you love before it is too late. He has some great words of wisdom for family members, parents, children, church members. In this sermon he expressed humility and love to the people of FBC Jax in a very sincere way, apologizing to anyone that he may have hurt or may have been cruel to when he was pastor here. And let me say, I know this is not just show. I know of Vines' willingness in being able to take the first step and deliver mercy and grace and love, even to someone who he feels has wronged HIM. "A gentle word turns away wrath", Proverbs 15:1. I have great love and respect for Vines in this regard.
- He isn't a whiner. So many of the mega church pastors today of the next generation are obsessed with criticism, or pointing out how rough it is to be a pastor. They want everyone to know "it ain't easy being me". This is not Vines. Vines never, ever took shots at his critics from the pulpit. Make no mistake, he had as many critics in his days at FBC Jax as any of the mega church pastors do today.
- There is an intangible aspect of preaching that is hard to put a finger on, as to why some preachers connect with their congregations allowing their messages to inspire their church members while other preachers' sermons just fall flat. Vines said it best when he described what is "heart" and "annointed" preaching in the last two chapters of his 1986 book on sermon delivery. Vines' and Lindsay's sermons were always from the heart, motivated not by trying to coerce people to agree with them or to twist people's arms to do what the pastor wants them to do - but rather motivated out of genuine love for Christians and for Christ and Christ's mission. It was annointed preaching, in that they preached the Bible and the sermons spoke to the young and old alike, the saved and unsaved, the mature Christan and the new convert. Thank God for heart and annointed preaching, which seems to be in short supply in these days of mega celebrity preachers.
I've been tough on Vines over the past few years - but I still have great respect for him and have fond memories of our time at FBC Jax when he was our pastor. I am grateful for his preaching ministry at FBC Jax as we raised our family there until late 2008.
Great sermon, recommend that Watchdog readers watch it at the FBC Jax website.
Other related Watchdog posts:
"Heart and Annointed Preaching" - November 21, 2008
"Let Me Show You How We Grew a Church, Boys" - February 9th, 2009