Wednesday, December 09, 2009

John Rymer -- Sticking By the Stuff

When I began my academic preparations for ministry, I sensed God leading me to Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute. One of the people who influenced me to take that step was Dr. John Rymer. On a whim, wondering if God may be drawing me to Fruitland, Donia and I drove up to Fruitland one day and met Dr. Rymer and had lunch with him. That experience and conversation confirmed that this was where God was leading me. I was blessed to spend two quarters studying under Dr. Rymer in Old Testament and Theology. To this day, I find myself going back to information I learned in those classes. On my second day at Fruitland, July 5, 1995, Dr. Rymer preached in Chapel. He preached a sermon that I understood he had become well-known for -- "Sticking by the Stuff." By his own admission in that message, it was not one of homiletical greatness, but it certainly has been a blessing to me in encouraging me to be faithful to what God has called me to do.

Today, Dr. Rymer is being honored at Fruitland for his retirement from 56 years of service as a professor, many of which he also served as Vice President and Academic Dean. I couldn't be there, but my heart is there with this great man of God whom God used in my life in so many ways as I started out in ministry. But I am doing what I can to honor Dr. Rymer in my own way today. I have pulled out some tapes of sermons he preached while I was at Fruitland, and I am listening to them all over again. What a blessing! As I listen to "Sticking By the Stuff," I can feel myself sitting there in that old plastic chair in chapel with the flip top desk (you who never were in Fruitland Chapel before about 1996 have no idea!) listening to this man bring this wisdom from Fruitland's old BIG wooden pulpit (which has been replaced, sadly, by a small plexi-see-through-plastic job). Here are some of the more salient points that strike me today even more proundly than they did almost 15 years ago when I first heard them.

Click here to listen to this message, or right-click to download.
"One of my gifts is not preaching to great crowds of people, but one of my gifts is teaching. And I've tried to hone that gift, and sharpen that gift, and practice that gift, and fulfill that gift in the light of the will of God for my life."

"When we graduated from the seminary ... we just all left. They went their way. I climbed into a 1938 Chevrolet, that was in 1953. I drove up the mountain 40 miles, and I ain't been nowhere since. Except I've spent a lifetime at Fruitland. Hundreds of students all over the world have come through my classes. I'm sure not all of them appreciated my methodologies. Not all of them appreciated my expertise. Or my mannerisms, or my personality. And come to think of it, some of them, I didn't appreciate. My calling has been here. I don't brag about it. I'm just saying that I did what God told me to do, and the thing that He equipped me with which to do it."

"God never called you to be successful, but He did call you to be faithful."

"First church I pastored had a pot-bellied stove right in front of the podium. You could see the ground between the boards in the floor. Very small, insignificant place. And Mr. N. A. Melton, for 40 years pastor of the Fruitland Baptist Church and one of the first four faculty members of this school, he was a real small man, N. A. Melton, Noah Abraham Melton, he came up to here on me and looked up into my eyes as a young preacher, and he said, "John, you go to Mills River, and you love those people, and you minister to those people, and you work with those people as if you are going to stay there a lifetime. And for a while I thought I was going to stay there a lifetime. But if God had wanted me there, I'd have stayed. I was determined to love those people and minister to those people in Jesus' name as long as He wanted me to do that. And if you have that kind of philosophy, you'll be successful. You may not be prosperous, but you'll be successful. You may not be popular, but you'll be successful. God wants faithful people."

Today, I give thanks to God for Dr. John Rymer and the influence he has had on countless men of God who have come through Fruitland these last 56 years. Dr. Rymer has taught every one of Fruitland's students in the entire history of the school except its first seven years. He has stood by the stuff! And his influence and example keeps us standing by the stuff too.


Anonymous said...

I am thankful to God for this blog and I am even more thankful for the wisdom of a man named John Rymer! Doc Rymer, as my class called him, was an inspirtation, and today I have been renewed in my passion to serve God because of the quotes on this blog! God bless John Rymer! He is truly one of God's precious jewels in this life!!

George L. Ferrell
Class of 1993

Russ Reaves said...

Amen brother George. Thanks for sharing that with me. Glad you found this page.