Ben Beat Me Home!

 I learned today that an old friend beat me home!  Ben Haden, long time pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga was taken home to glory after 88 years in his "earthly tent."

I got to know Ben while serving as the youth pastor at Hixson Presbyterian Church which many years earlier had been planted through an effort of First Presbyterian. As is my pattern, I was sitting in the back row at a Tennessee Valley Presbytery meeting sometime in the late 80's.   On this particular occasion Ben came and sat next to me.  In the middle of some sort of deliberation, Ben got up and waved for me to follow him out the back door.  Those of you who knew Ben understand why I did!  We found a classroom and sat down.  He looked at me in the eye and said, "Tell me about yourself young man."  From that day on we were friends!

I learned a lot about life in the church from Ben, stuff they never teach you in seminary.  He was a unique guy who called it for what it was.  In my many visits with him - often at the Burger King at the foot of Signal Mountain. . .  plain whopper special ordered so it was hot - he mentored me.  When I moved away he gave me his direct line and always took my call.  I hadn't called him for well over a year, but I already miss him.

There are three distinct ways that Ben left a mark on my life.  First, it was Ben who convinced me to be a church planter.   Come to think about it, I am not sure he gave me a choice!  I think he just told me to do it! Second, Ben had a passion for the lost!  He was utterly convinced that the Gospel of Jesus Christ really does change lives!  I will never forget how excited he was when he realized the potential audience on the web!  Third, Ben challenged me to be a faithful preacher, and not compromise for anything.  He gave me homiletical insights that I have yet to find in a book.

I pray that God will grant me the privilege to invest in younger men like he invested in mine!

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