Stories from my life: My call to preach the gospel

As I share vignettes from my life, they will not all be in chronological order. Since this is the last day of 2020, which seemed for many people to be a very long year, and what we hope is a bright new year begins in about six hours, I think it is the perfect time to tell the story of a major turning point in my life.

I was sixteen years old, and I had life figured out. Or so I thought. I had been working since I was thirteen in what we called a supermarket in Kennett, Missouri. Walsh’s Big Star was really just a rather small grocery store. With only a brief break during my four high school years, I earned fifty cents an hour on this job every week of each year. During the summer months, I worked as much as sixty-four hours per week for thirty-two dollars.

Two of the married men with whom I worked, Joe Cook and Vernon Davidson, were members of the church I attended. My father, Glen Segraves, was our pastor. My grandfather, L. D. Segraves, had been pastor of the church before him.

Joe and Vernon and I saw each other almost every day and had lots of opportunities to talk. Such talk among young married men and a high school student could be expected to touch occasionally on our big plans for the future.

I played the trumpet and stand-up bass in our church band. Joe invited me to join him and Glen Helton to form a gospel bluegrass trio. Glen played the banjo and mandolin. Joe played the guitar. Trumpets don’t belong in bluegrass. I played the bass. We sang songs like “I’m Using My Bible for a Roadmap.”

Vernon and I talked about plans to move to Chicago and open our own grocery store. That never happened, but Vernon stayed in the grocery business for many years. I was serious about the idea, though, and took classes in my final year of high school to prepare for that kind of career.

But when I was sixteen, something happened that sent me down a different path. Our church was participating in a twenty-four-hour prayer chain. Here’s how it worked: Each participant selected an hour of the day to come to the church building and pray. Upon arrival, the person with the previous hour would leave, and the next hour would be filled by the newcomer until his replacement arrived. I selected a nighttime hour. I think it was one or two a.m.

Some people are curious about how a person is “called” to preach. Here’s all I can say: At some time during this prayer meeting, my heart was changed. I was no longer interested in a business career. God gave me a desire to preach the gospel.

As I reflect on this, it is quite interesting that my father and I had never discussed the possibility that I would become a preacher. My dad’s father was also a preacher. He died when I was twelve years old. I had never talked with him about preaching. But now I felt that was what I wanted to do.

I think it was the next day that I told my father, “I believe God has called me to preach!” Dad said, “Wonderful! You can preach next Wednesday night!”

As I stepped into the pulpit for that first attempt to exercise my calling, Alma Harper, a spiritually gifted woman who often exercised the gifts of tongues and the interpretation of tongues, used those gifts in confirmation of my call.

I stayed in the pulpit for fifteen minutes. The title of my sermon was “Journey through the Halls of Hell.” I didn’t know what I was talking about. I can’t remember anyone coming to pray at the altar.

Not long afterward, my father asked, “Son, where did you get that message?”

“There’s a book of sermon outlines in your library. That’s where I got it,” I answered.

“Don’t get your sermons out of books. Get them from the Bible,” Dad said.

Now I’m seventy-four years old. I’ve been attempting to follow Dad’s advice for many years now.

(c) 2020 by Daniel L. Segraves



Daily Wisdom 242: Proverbs 11:26

Proverbs 11:26 (NKJV) — 26 The people will curse him who withholds grain, But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.

Free enterprise. The Bible endorses the concept of free enterprise and private ownership. The commandment “Thou shalt not steal” would have no meaning if there were no private property. However, enterprise should be conducted according to basic rules, not by unrestrained greed. Those who withhold basic necessities from the marketplace in hopes of creating a shortage and thus increasing price and profits will be cursed by the people. Merchants who freely sell necessities at a just price will prosper. This admonition particularly applies to people who are engaged in providing goods or services basic to human life.


Daily Wisdom 241: Proverbs 11:24-25

Proverbs 11:24–25 (NKJV) — 24 There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty. 25 The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.

The key to plenty. Generosity produces plenty. There is an eternal law that works regardless of economic policy or conditions. Giving produces a return, just as planting produces a harvest. (See Malachi 3:10-12; Luke 6:38; II Corinthians 9:6-7.) Stinginess produces poverty.

It is helpful to think of money or other goods as seed. This analogy certainly does not mean money is to be thrown to the winds in a careless, thoughtless fashion. Rather, it should be sown carefully in good ground. Christians should be just as concerned about the integrity of the ministry in which they invest as farmers are about the condition of the field in which they plant. Those who give directly to those who are genuinely in need have planted seed in good soil.


Stories from my life

I would have appreciated knowing more about my parents’ histories earlier in my life. It would also have been good to know more about my grandparents on both sides of my family.

During my mother’s final years, she shared with me stories of events in her life I had never before heard. My father died about seventeen years before Mom, and some of the things she told me fleshed out events in his life.

It occurred to me this morning that I could, and probably should, take advantage of today’s technology and snippets of time to record some of my life stories for the sake of my family and others who may be interested. Susan and I visited recently with my son, Mark, his wife, Robin, and their daughter, Christiana. As we shared amusing events from our collective memories, it was obvious that they were new to my granddaughter.

So, I plan to commit some of my life stories to memory here. I don’t know how often I will do so, and I’m sure the conversations I recall will not be verbatim. I will attempt, however, to represent the past with accuracy.

With the next post, I will tell the story of my call to preach the gospel.


Daily Wisdom 240: Proverbs 11:23

Proverbs 11:23 (NKJV) — 23 The desire of the righteous is only good, But the expectation of the wicked is wrath.

Right and wrong desires. The righteous person wants only what is good. But the wicked person has wrong values, wrong goals, wrong desires. The wicked person’s future is tainted by his character. He does not care if a thing is good or not; he wants what he wants.


Daily Wisdom 239: Proverbs 11:22

Proverbs 11:22 (NKJV) — 22 As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, So is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.

Gold, swine, and discretion. This proverb tells us something about the value of gold, the nature of swine, and the need for discretion. Discretion relates to proper taste, reason, and discernment. Beauty is not defined by outward appearance, but by the quality of character.

Proverbs 31:30 (NKJV) — 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.


Daily Wisdom 238: Proverbs 11:21

Proverbs 11:21 (NKJV) — 21 Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished; But the posterity of the righteous will be delivered.

No safety in numbers. Humanism teaches that right is determined by majority rule. But if every person on earth agreed in opposition to God, God would still be true (Romans 3:4). No matter how many people do evil together or how strong their covenant, their combined strength will not spare them punishment. Regardless of how small the number of those who do right, they will be vindicated and delivered.


Special Christmas Post

I have blogged 237 “Daily Wisdom” posts. These are comments on the Book of Proverbs taken from my book Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World. So far, we have reached Proverbs 11:20.

But this is Christmas Day, so I will offer a special post that includes the only reference to Christmas in my commentary on Proverbs. Merry Christmas!

Proverbs 18:16 (NKJV) — 16 A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.

The skill of giving gifts. There are two common interpretations of this verse that do not appear to be correct. The first one suggests that this proverb uses the word gift in the sense of a talent, ability, or even a gift of the Spirit. According to this view, a person’s ability, natural or spiritual, will open doors of opportunity for that person. While this concept is valid, it does not seem to be the most accurate understanding of this proverb.

The second view suggests that the word gift is synonymous with bribe as in Proverbs 17:8, 23. Thus, the verse would mean that a bribe will open doors and bring the giver into the presence of the great. Those who hold this view do not suggest the proverb condones the use of bribes; it merely recognizes them as a fact of life.

A third view, however, seems more accurate. It recognizes that the English word gift in this proverb is translated from an entirely different Hebrew word than in Proverbs 17:8, 23. In those proverbs, the word gift is from the Hebrew shachad and suggests a bribe. It seems to have this meaning throughout the Old Testament. In this proverb, however, the word gift is from the Hebrew mattan, which seems to refer consistently to a present, with no suggestion of a dishonest bribe. Under this view, the proverb teaches the proper use of giving presents, or gifts, a skill largely lost in our society. People sometimes give presents simply out of a sense of duty or obligation, which is an inferior motive for gift giving. At other times they give out of generosity. While this is certainly superior to the previous motive, it is still not the finest use of gifts.

The finest use of gifts is based on a careful selection of a gift to have a positive impact on the recipient’s life. A well-chosen properly presented gift can serve to motivate the recipient to be a better person. A hastily selected gift, chosen without consideration of the recipient’s needs, weaknesses, and strengths, can be a snare. For example, many Christmas or birthday gifts are given only to fulfill an obligation and so have limited value. But a gift carefully chosen and thoughtfully given can motivate the recipient to greater achievement or spirituality as well as cement healthy relationships between the giver and the receiver. There is nothing evil about this positive effect of a gift.



Daily Wisdom 237: Proverbs 11:20

Proverbs 11:20 (NKJV) — 20 Those who are of a perverse heart are an abomination to the Lord, But the blameless in their ways are His delight.

Abomination and delight. The person whose heart is perverse is an abomination (i.e., something detestable or loathsome) in God’s eyes. God delights in those who are blameless. God instructed Israel not to bring an abomination into their houses (Deuteronomy 7:26). Even today there is the danger of contamination by abominable things. Christians must guard their homes against abominable influences (Psalm 101:2-7). They must prevent rebellious, lawless people from influencing their homes by means of technology, including any kind of media. Instead, they should actively seek to have their homes influenced by those who have faith in the true God.