Pastoral Series #4 (Westmoreland)

When we moved back to Hollis for the first time, Jim Westmoreland had been pastor there about a year.  We got to be around for most of his time serving our church.  He and his family are dear to us, and I still call on him from time to time for wisdom and prayer.
The one thing that I still hold up first about Jim is his passionate expectation for God to speak.  This came through his preaching, his prayer, and his invitations to the church to share testimonies.  Jim worships a God who speaks.  He trusted God to clearly lead His people--to make himself known.  He was not a preacher to fall back on old sermons when he was pressed for time or "things weren't really coming together."  He read God's word as all preachers should, like a herald of the gospel.  Where many preachers read Scripture like the necessary introduction to their important sermons, Jim was not afraid to read long passages and shorten his preaching.  He knew that the people needed a word from God, not a word from Jim.  When Jim opened his Bible, he had an excitement for what God was saying and what more He was about to say.
When Jim prayed there was never a doubt that he knew the God he was praying to, that he knew that his Father was listening to him, and that his prayers were important to God.  He would tell of getting clear guidance from God from prayers and assurances from God through prayers.  Although I do not remember many of his specific teachings about prayer, I learned a lot about prayer by praying with the man.
Also, there are few Baptists who trust the church and the Holy Spirit enough to open up the service for people to give testimony to what God had been doing in their lives.  He believed in the building up of the church through the testimony of the saints.  There were times when no one had anything to share.  There were a few times when people who love the sound of their own voices took advantage of the opportunity.  However, there were many times when the church was strengthened and God was glorified by people making public declarations of the power and love of their God.  These were great times for us: uniting us and encouraging us.
Jim's passionate expectation for the voice of God shone through in his messages, his prayers, and his trust in his church in worship.  It challenges me in my relationship with God and in my ministries.