Leaving the Shell
Today, a friend drove me to Decatur, Alabama where I attended the memorial service of one of my longest, and dearest friends: Dr. Bill Compton. They played part of Bill’s sermon on the 23rd Psalm. I’m working on posting that on his page at www.biblewalking.com so you can listen to it.
I WAS ASKED TO BRING THE MESSAGE AND READ SCRIPTURE at the graveside. Three years ago, almost to the day, we were there to leave the remains of his dear wife, Jesse Compton. We need to be reminded constantly that we were made to be on this earth for only a very short time. At the gravesite, we do not leave the person. We only leave the house the person lived in. That’s important and that’s what this article is about. We leave the shell of the walnut behind.
THE BIBLE SAYS: …there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24) Bill Compton has been that to me. Thanks to the family for the privilege of participating in this special service.
JESUS SAID:…I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (John 11:25) and: …. because I live, ye shall live also. (John 14:19) When Jesus rose from the dead, it shook the Roman Empire. When Christians were fed to the lions in Rome, the Romans said: “They die well.” The Apostles were willing to die because they had seen the resurrected Christ and saw Him ascend into Heaven.
WHEN I'M INTO SOMETHING OVER MY HEAD, I like to listen to people who have been there and have something to say. When I think about dying, I’m in over my head. Paul wrote something about dying in Philippians 1:21-23. Fourteen years earlier, when he had been stoned, he went up into the third heaven and saw things he didn’t ordinarily see. In 2 Corinthians 12:4 he was caught up into paradise and he didn’t know if his body went with him or not, but his knowing part, his seeing part, and his hearing part were all there taking it in.
PAUL HAD A HEAD START ON EVERYBODY ELSE IN KNOWING WHAT HE WAS getting into. He had already seen that dying was gain and that dying was not “ceasing to exist.” I think he suspected that his body was still lying in the road, but he didn’t know for sure.
PAUL SAID: to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21) For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: (Phillipians 1:23)
PAUL USED HE WORD "DEPART" AND THAT GETS INTO DEEP WATER. In the context he has to be talking about his soul and spirit leaving his body. In the next breath he says: “to be with Christ.” Whatever is going to leave the body is going to be with Christ. He knew his head was coming off. He knew his body would instantly die on the spot.
WE ARE IN THE SAME FRAMEWORK OF FAITH AS PAUL. We can talk about departing and being with Christ. That’s a lot better than thinking that your body is everything and all of you is going to be covered with dirt. Paul didn’t talk that way. He talked about departing. He talked about being with Christ. He talked about being in Paradise. He talked about being in the Third Heaven. Brother Bill Compton is not here today. He left town several days ago. He’s in Heaven with Jesus. He and Jesse have been talking up a storm. He is well. She is well. They’re waiting for you.
NOW, YOU CAN BELIEVE IN SOME OF THE MODERN EVOLUTIONARY STUFF being taught in our schools if you want to. But, I’m not getting on that bus. What they teach is not science. It’s not observable. It’s not measurable. It’s not repeatable. It’s not predictable. They preach a faith of death and nothingness.
THEY PREACH THAT WHEN YOU HAVE BURIED THE BODY, you have buried everything. Paul, the Apostle of the Christian faith preaches that when you bury the body, you only bury the part that’s left behind, the shell of the walnut. If you know the Lord, in death there is a part that leaves the body and ascends into the third heaven to be with Christ. Do you have a firm grip on that? Does that have a firm grip on you?
THERE MAY BE SOMEONE HERE TODAY WHO DOES NOT KNOW that you are body, soul, and spirit and that when you die, only the body dies and your soul and spirit separate from your body. Your spirit is the part of you that knows and that can know God. Your soul is the part of you that makes you self -conscious and is the seat of your emotions. When you are born, you are born to be alive somewhere forever. You cannot kill your soul and spirit. Bill Compton believed and taught those things. If you need to be saved, he would want you to be saved today.
IF THAT IS YOU, PLEASE REALIZE THAT JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS FOR YOU and paid your sin debt for you and you can be saved today. Do you want someone to pray with you?
IN EARLY SEPTEMBER 1952, AFTER LUNCH, I entered the Temple Building at Tenn. Temple and climbed the stairs to the 4th floor, turned right and went to the end of the hall. On my right was Room 401. I set down my suitcase and accordion and knocked on the door. A voice said: “Come in!” Which I did. It was the corner room.
THERE WERE TWO ARMY BUNK BEDS, A TABLE, AND A SINK AND TWO WINDOWS. On the upper bunk opposite the door and in front of the window, lay a young man in his underwear…on his belly with his chin resting on his wrist and his wrist was on the rail of the iron bed.
I COULD TELL I HAD INTERRUPTED HIS AFTERNOON NAP. I waited for him to greet me and give me his name. The first thing out of his mouth was: “Are you a Southern Baptist?” I said, “I’m from a Baptist church in Stevenson, AL”. (At the moment, I couldn’t remember if it was Southern Baptist.
HE THEN SAID: "I'M BILL COMPTON. WHAT'S YOUR NAME? What I didn’t know was that as a young pastor he had just been through a tug-of-war in the church he had been pastoring and it had gotten ugly. Never mind that Tenn. Temple was housed in the old Highland Park Baptist Church that had been a Southern Baptist Church since the Roman Empire. He just saw a new face coming through the door and he wanted to know if “I was one of them.”
HE HAD FINISHED COLLEGE AT TENN.TEMPLE and was in Seminary. (Note: At that time, the Southern Baptist Convention was experiencing an explosion of unbelief and rank liberalism. Much of it has turned around today. It still has a way to go, But, some of the strongest pastors today are Southern Baptist.)
I HAD NO IDEA WHO THIS FELLOW WAS OR HOW WE WOULD GET ALONG, or how we would get along with two other students that might be assigned to that little room. I did know that not everybody likes to take a bath. We did get two more in the room and yes, we did have to urge one of them now and then to take a bath.
YOU DON'T KNOW ANYBODY UNTIL YOU LIVE WITH THEM. I never one time heard Bill Compton talk down to anyone or talk down about anyone. He knew what he wouldn’t do and he didn’t cross that line. He stood for God and the Word of God. He also was an encyclopedia of wit and humor and thrived on the exercise of it.
HE WAS CLEAN AND ORDERLY. Several times I saw him sitting at the table studying and suddenly, he would slam his book down on the table and say: “This place is a mess. I can’t study in this.” He would get up and begin putting everything in its place. Every shoe under the edge of somebody’s bed; every shirt and jacket hung up on the rack. “Is this yours? What do you want to do with it?” The sink was clean, the mirror was clean. He would then return to his studying.
BILL HAD DUBBED OUR ROOM AS: "THE CROW'S NEST," and was often a grand social station. Friends would drop by. If you wanted to study, just pick up your books and go down a couple of stories to the library. A lot of bulls were shot in that room. One night one of the visitors had brought in a book and laid it on our table. Bill wasn’t in a talking mood and saw the book. While the others talked, he sat on a lower bunk and leaned back against the wall to read the book.
I GLANCED AT HIM OCCASIONALLY AND NOTICED HE WAS SLOWLY TURNING A PAGE every few seconds. After a while he laid the book down and said: “That’s a good book.” The owner said, “do you want to borrow it and read it?” He said, “I just read it.” “No, you didn’t!” “Yes, I did. I read it.” The other guy had read the book and he began to ask Bill questions about the book and he answered all of his questions.” I quietly thought to myself: “Hmmmm. We’ve got a speed reader with a photographic memory on our hands here”.
I DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING. I just filed that little episode in the back of my mind and said to myself: “If I need to know anything, I’ll ask Bill.” So, we have talked, many times. It turned out that Bill has read most of the books worth reading. He knows the book title and who wrote it and if it’s worth reading.
THAT DAY WHEN I FIRST SAW THE YOUNG MAN IN HIS UNDERWEAR, I did not realize how much I would come to love him, that he would perform my wedding ceremony to Shirley Martin, would teach me many valuable things, (he was a teacher’s teacher) or that I would end up being his assistant in Jacksonville, Florida.
I CERTAINLY DID NOT EXPECT TO BE SPEAKING AT HIS MEMORIAL SERVICE or that he would be 88 years old….and I never thought about how much I would miss him when he was gone. I had planned to visit him soon and get him to sing our favorite duet: Day by Day. A friend had bought me a special little stand to hold my iPhone, so I could record it. It wouldn’t take much coaxing. He loved to sing and was quite good at it. He sang soprano and I filled in the harmony above and below it. He and Shirley and I sang several songs as a trio when we were in Jacksonville.
BEFORE I FORGET IT, I NEED TO MENTION THAT I HAD INVITED HIM TO HAVE A PAGE in his name on biblewalking.com. He posted a few things there and I’m going to leave his page as he left it. http://www.biblewalking.com/from-the-desk-of-pastor-bill-compton.html . I’ll need to do a little tidying up.
EARLY-ON, BILL FOUND JESSE AS THE GIRL OF HIS DREAMS and set out to win her heart. He made short work of it and they were soon a pair. He had his own unique ritual he went through in the Crow’s Nest after a date with Jesse. It was impossible for him to come back “normal” after being with her. No one was surprised when they tied the knot.
THE "CROW'S NEST," SERVED AS A DE-BRIEFING CENTER after the exciting dates. Lindsay Terry, a life-long friend of Bill Compton, also from Decatur, was sure to return from his date to tell how “out-of-this-world” his date of the evening was. Lindsay was a citizen of the Crow’s Nest for at least one school year. He had a bouquet of girls and they were all “wonderful.” He settled on Marilyn, a beautiful blonde from California. Marilyn is now his widow since Lindsay went home to be with the Lord a few weeks ago.
FAST FORWARD TO RECENT YEARS. When I called Bill, he had his phone on speaker. Jesse would call to me and we would have our little conversation. She was the jewel that fit with Bill so well. When she drifted into Alzheimer’s, Bill was right by her side. She was his priority until the Lord called her home.
I KNOW HIS HEART WAS BROKEN WHEN JESSE WENT HOME THREE YEARS AGO. We talked many times and Bill was content to lean on the goodness and providence of the Lord from day to day. A few weeks ago, he fell in his home and broke his shoulder. When it would not heal, he had surgery. He was undergoing rehab and as they tried to lift him out of his chair, he slumped over and was gone.
HE AND JESSE HAD A LOT TO CATCH UP ON WHEN HE WENT HOME THIS WEEK. More and more of those I know, and love have moved “over there.” It doesn’t seem such a strange place anymore. Some of the phone numbers don’t work anymore. There’s no one there to answer them. God was merciful to me 32 years ago to let Barbara come into my life.
PRAISE TO OUR GOD AND THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WHO DOETH ALL THINGS WELL. We shall rejoice and reign with Him forever when He comes as the King of Kings. Very soon, we will all be Home! The best is yet to come! Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
JULY 13, 2018 – FRIDAY
A.M. Psalms 10-12 P.M. Acts 17:16-34
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.) If you are behind in reading, read the passage for today and then go back.
●Good Memory Verse:
For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (Philippians 1:23-24) (Write verse on scrap of paper and put in your pocket to memorize.)
●Song for Today:
Beyond the Sunset (4:17) (Gaither Group)
Beyond the Sunset is such a great song, and so appropriate for today, I have left it for another day. Such a beautiful song. The poem: “Should You Go First, and I Remain” is outstanding. I hope you enjoy it!