Today would be the birthday of one of my heroes, Logan Skiles.
This is a story about him from Stories from the Creekbank.
If you have a Logan Skiles memory, please comment at the end of this story.
He hit it right down the line…
I nervously stood in right field as a skinny thirteen-year-old softball player. At the plate stood the new preacher of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. Our greatest rival in church softball was Pleasant Hill and we were playing them in the most important game of the year. I was by far the youngest member of the men’s softball team. Usually they hid me behind the plate as catcher, but today they’d put me in right field because one of the older men was injured.
So I stood there under the lights in right field, knowing I was going to be tested, because that new preacher from Pleasant Hill liked to hit it right down the right field line.
He was probably in his late forties, but looked and played like a man much younger. He always played in khaki pants and a T‑shirt. This preacher switch-hit from both sides of the plate. But batting left‑handed was what he did best, and when he batted left he invariably hit line drives right down the foul line . . . just where I was standing. So I pounded my glove knowing that the Pleasant Hill preacher was fixing to hit it right down the line.
That experience was my first time to encounter Logan Skiles. Little did I know then how special this man would be in my life and the life of our church in Dry Creek.
Over the years Bro. Skiles and Dry Creek church became friends—through countless softball games, numerous revivals he led in our church, and his involvement in Dry Creek Camp.
In 1992, Bro. Skiles came to Dry Creek as our interim pastor. We could all write an entire book on the wonderful ministry he had in our church. During the years of his pastorate, he taught us so much, both by his words and by his example as he bravely battled cancer. I’ve always felt the sermon he preached with his life as our pastor was the greatest of the thousands of messages he’d faithfully preached.
… And preach he could! Just as in softball, he “hit it right down the line.” He had a way of saying things in a way that cut right to the meat of any issue. I can still hear him saying, after making a strong thought‑provoking statement:
“Are you there?”
He had a story for everything: Once when preaching on tithing, he told of a man, who as he awaited being baptized realized his wallet was still in his pocket. As he removed the wallet, the preacher said, “Put it back in your pocket. We need to baptize it too.”
Or his additional story on giving about the man who, when robbed, was shot and lived, but they shot him again in the wallet and he died.
He had a story or saying for every situation. When he hit it right down the line, he always said it with a smile, but nevertheless made his point in an unforgettable way. He was straightforward and honest without being offensive.
One of my friends, Charlie Carroll, told me of when Bro. Skiles came to Pleasant Hill as pastor. The church had a reputation for fighting within itself. During Bro. Skiles’ trial sermon, he told them, “If I become your pastor, I don’t want to hear anyone talking bad about another member. If you come up to me and bad-mouth someone, we’re going to get down on our knees and pray right there. I don’t care if we are standing in the aisle at Piggly Wiggly.” Charlie said no one tried Bro. Skiles on that one because everyone knew he meant it.
One of Bro. Skiles’s greatest teaching subjects was “keeping a short account.” By this he meant the importance of daily keeping our sins confessed to God. I still think often of how important this is to our Christian walk and fellowship with God and other people.
Logan Skiles served as our pastor during his brave battle with cancer. He preached right up to his death. His last Sunday sermon was about a brave character of the Bible, Daniel. How apt that this man of integrity and grit preached about this Old Testament hero.
He was a memorable pastor who meant what he said and said what he meant.
He hit it right down the line.