ST. PETERSBURG — The Rock of Jesus Missionary Baptist Church hosted its First Seasonal Tea Banquet at the Gateway Christian Center Fellowship Hall, 4355 Central Ave., last Sat., June 13.
Anchored on the scripture Ecclesiastes 3:1: There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun, the tea banquet was the brainchild of Rev. Shirley J. Thornton.
“It’s not about Shirley tonight, it’s not about anybody but the Lord,” Thornton said, “because we want to praise and worship him and give him the glory.”
The night was full of song and prayer, and of course, tea. The tea helped washed down the baked chicken, green beans, rice, cornbread and a host of desserts catered by Heavy’s FoodTruck. But, the big draw for the evening was former pastor of Bethel Metropolitan Church Reverend Dr. Henry J. Lyons. He was back in town, and with a message.
Robert Vinson took to the microphone to introduce Lyons and spoke of how he has influenced many to serve as ministers.
“There are many examples I can give of pastors and reverends who have said to me that ‘I’m at my church because of Reverend Lyons,’” Vinson said. “This is a man of God, a man who can preach, a man who will answer the phone when you call him.”
Lyons took to the pulpit with a message about raising children in a righteous way and setting Godly examples for them. Reading from 2 Samuel 18, he used the story of King David and his favorite son, Absalom, who went to battle against him.
He focused on David’s love for Absalom and how, despite his son turning against him, David was primarily concerned for his son’s safety, asking battlefield messengers if he was safe.
Lyons said David’s woes about his child and the concerns parents have today are relatable.
“There is no greater pain for a mother and a father to experience in their lives than when their son or their daughter turns against them. And let’s face it, it does happen. You love them and you do all you can for them, you give them the best rearing and you work for them, you sacrifice for them, but somehow it just happens,” said the pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Tampa.
Lyons related today’s issues between parents and children back to the story of David and Absalom saying that part of the problem was that Absalom surrounded himself with the wrong people.
“That’ll get you every time—you have to watch who you run with,” Lyons said. “Even when you get older, you still have to watch that, because some folk will poison your mind, your spirit and everything else about you.”
Lyons said another lesson learned from that biblical passage is the wisdom of listening to others, just as David listened to his generals when they implored him not to be involved with the battle against his son.
“Do you know that’s a great commodity—that you have sense enough to listen,” Lyons asked. “We all need to learn how to listen. You may be the boss, you may be the pastor, you may got it all going on, but I stop here tonight to tell you that sometimes you need to listen,” he said to a roaring applause.
Back to the issue of parenting as related in 2 Samuel, Lyons feels it’s important to raise children the right way and for parents to know when to be stern with their children.
“The Bible says we need to bend the sapling, which is a young tree,” Lyons stated. “When the tree is young you really can bend it, but when that boy gets old and rusty, there’s nothing you can do with an old tree.”
Lyons quoted a verse from the Bible in which King David asks his generals to deal gently with Absalom, and applied it to today’s parents.
“When we let [our children] get away from us, sometimes all we can do is sit down somewhere and wait for the phone call,” Lyons explained. “Waiting for the lawyer to call you, or for the policeman to call you. Sometimes we get so far out there that there’s nothing we can do but ask somebody to deal gently with our children.”
Since David continued to ask messengers if his son was safe, Lyons feels he must pose that same question to today’s parents.
“Let me bring it down here to 2015,” Lyons continued. “Is the young man safe from the habits of his father? Is he safe from the habits of his mother?”
Absalom saw his father commit a multitude of sins from adultery to murder. This had a profound effect on him. Lyons wants parents to ask themselves what sins have their children seen them commit.
“One thing I found out when I was a boy, I didn’t always have to be in the kitchen to know what was cooking. I could smell what was happening,” he said as he asked if the audiences’ children are safe from them.
“Are they safe if they go to church with mama and daddy? Are they safe if they got to church and watched how mama is dressed? Is the child safe if it sits there and watches mama and daddy playing in church, gossiping in church, disrespecting the leaders in church,” he asked bringing the point home how parents must set good examples for their children.
Lyons finished the story of Absalom warning that parents need to guide their children by example, discipline when necessary and raised them in the Lord.
After his sermon, Rev. Frank Peterman, Jr. of The Rock of Jesus Missionary Baptist Church addressed the crowd. He lauded Lyons’ sermon, calling him “a master preacher.”
Rev. Lyons has served as pastor at two churches in Georgia—Abyssinia Baptist Church in Brunswick and Macedonia Baptist Church in Thomaston—as well as at Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church in St. Petersburg. He served for 13 years as president of the Florida General Baptist Convention and also served five years as the president of the National Baptist Convention, USA. Currently, Lyons serves as pastor at New Salem Baptist Church in Tampa. He is also president of the General Baptist Convention of Florida, Inc. and leads Christ Alive, a worldwide evangelistic movement.