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There Was this Preacher in the Bar...

So, the bartender looks up, and this preacher comes in...
      Wait. Is this some kind of joke?
       Not exactly. But it is pretty much what happened one night in the bar of a hotel in Indianapolis...
       A few years ago a young Canadian studying ministry at Kentucky Christian College (now Kentucky Christian University) traveled to Indianapolis for a two-day national gathering of preachers. He, along with other students, anticipated hearing outstanding preaching in a gathering of more than four hundred men.
       The student's name was Jacques. But, since he was named after his father back on Prince Edward Island, everyone who knew him just called him Junior.
It was a little after midnight and Junior was sitting by himself at a table in the little club having a drink on the main floor of the hotel.
Typically bad club music was playing.  The atmosphere was also the typical dimly lit mixture of well-oiled conversation and laughter.  Junior sitting alone, slowly writing notes to himself on the napkin the waitress had left along with his drink. He was feeling pretty depressed at the time.
       At some point, this man, who had been looking at him for a long time, walked over to his table.   He stared at Junior, leaned down, and smelling of beer and whiskey, angrily asked, "What in the hell are you doing here?"

       Junior was speechless. He had never seen the guy before in his life.  Then, the man sat right down right by Junior and slowly leaned over and asked the same question again.
      Junior's blank look finally made it clear to the man he needed to explain some things.  "I know what you are. I saw the sign in the lobby.  I know what was going on here earlier tonight. And I look over and see you in this bar.  I know you're one of them.  So, I'm going to ask you one more time. What are you doing here?"
       Junior, who had an amazing gift at not being rattled in tense situations, used the question to began a long conversation with the angry intoxicated man sitting next to him. He discovered the man had been active in church as a child. He had even told his mother once the he was going to be a minister. She had been so proud of him. But, then he got sidetracked by bills and business and life. He stopped going to church and started going to clubs. He had a good job. He traveled, but he made good money. But, deep inside, he felt a nagging sense of regret. Some vague notion of what his life could have been. It was, as I said, a long conversation.
       Junior listened a lot. He talked a little. Finally, they bowed their heads and Junior prayed for the man.
      As I heard the story, honestly, I kept thinking of that scripture the commands, "Avoid the very appearance of evil." (1 Thess. 5:22) And, so, what have we got? In a bar. Having a drink. Midnight Friday. Not the best of images.
      But, there was this other scripture in there.  You know the one.  "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mt. 9:11-13)
      So, maybe it's exactly where he needed to be.
      Oh, and the drink, if you're wondering, was a diet Coke.   And the note he was writing on the napkin when the man interrupted?  It was a depressing moment and it simply read, "Over 400 preachers in this hotel right now, and no one here to share Jesus."

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