But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:27-31

I'm Terry. And I'm an alcoholic. I'm quite sure that for the first half century or so of my life those are words I never thought I would say. The idea never crossed my mind. It is not something I never considered. But here I am, an alcoholic. I'm not proud of that, but I'm also not ashamed. It doesn't define completely who I am, but it does inform who I am. I am a grateful alcoholic, grateful for what God as done in my life, what He has taught me, and the hope He has stirred to life within me. So my sermon today may be words you do not need or expect to hear, but they are words I need to say. I hope you understand.

I want to begin by saying how grateful I am. I'm thankful for Leslie. I put you through a very difficult time, and I am very sorry for that hard time. I'm sorry I didn't listen to you. There was nothing wrong with the words you said. An alcoholic is not a good listener. I could use a dozen different defenses to keep from seeing the truth. But you didn't give up on me. In fact, God used you to make the most important phone call you ever made. You called Leon on Monday night, November 5 and told him of your fears for me, and he came the next day to the office and told me, "We need to get you well." I don't know why those words got through to me. There is no formula for what makes an alcoholic finally listen. But I do know Leslie, you set that in motion. Thank you.

I'm grateful for Broadmoor Baptist Church and our wonderful staff (who did disgustingly well without me). You sent hundreds of cards, letters, notes, e-mails. I read each one, often more than once. One of the chief ways God loves us is through other people. You sustained me through your love. You helped me to see in a new and deeper way God's love and grace. What a gift! Thank you. And I also want to say that I am sorry for putting you in this difficult position. I missed some funerals, some parties, the weekly interaction in which you needed and looked forward to being with your pastor. But you still believed in me. Thank you.

And I'm grateful for Palmetto Addiction Recovery Center. The counselors, a small group I met with daily, the other 55 or so men I lived with, and maybe most importantly the 6-10 guys I lived with in cabins saved my life. Literally. Now I'm betting you have never had a pastor who was able to give a personal testimony about rehab, but I can. I'd sum it up this way: it was the best experience I'd never want to repeat. I learned so much there.

In fact, I think I can sum up what I learned in a single word. It's the title of the sermon: wait. Wait. I'm not good at waiting. I can relate to a story I read about a Russian comedian named Yakov Smirnoff. By the way, I paused and wondered about the irony of preaching a sermon like this and using a story about a guy named Smirnoff. Anyway. When Yakov Smirnoff came to the US he was especially impressed by the grocery stores. He said, "I'll never forget walking down one of the aisles and seeing powdered milk; just add water and instant milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice; just add water and instant orange juice. Then I saw baby powder. What a country!" (PT.com, "waiting on God").

We love speed. We want instant whatever. We don't like to wait. We try to speed up whatever we're doing. Fine. I like efficiency. I don't like waiting at traffic lights. (a guy this morning couldn't handle a turn right on red. Gonna lead me to relapse). I don't like the lines at the DMV. It may surprise you, but I don't like sermons that go on too long. The Methodists beat us to the restaurants. Speed is fine in many areas of life. But not in spiritual matters. If you're trying to grow spiritually you better be prepared to wait.

One of the most familiar and beloved passages in the Bible teaches us this. Let's read from the prophecy of Isaiah 40:27-31. This is the Word of God.

The first 39 chapters of Isaiah are pretty rough. He pronounces God's judgment on the people. Chapter 27 is called the Isaiah Apocalypse. That means bad things are about to happen.

And they did. Foreign armies marched through. The nations of Israel and Judah fell. The people were despairing and dispirited. They came to a point where they wondered if God really cared. They knew He existed, but they also knew they were disappointed in God.

This may come as a surprise to you, but disappointment with God is no sin. We bring certain expectations to the table and when God doesn't come through as we expected we are disappointed. That doesn't mean there's something wrong with God. Of course, it means there's something wrong with us. But God can take it. He's not surprised. Nothing hurts His feelings. By the way, that omniscience thing is really true. He already knows what you're thinking and feeling. That means He works best with an honest person. Just be honest. Get it out there. Tell Him how you feel. Then He can help.

Jacob and Israel, the twin kingdoms were disappointed with God. They had expectations. God didn't come through. Again, it was their fault. They had followed a bad course, and wandered away from God. They were in a spiritually vulnerable position, and they made a terrible mistake: they gave up hope.

Everyone of us reaches a point where we are spiritually vulnerable. The things we do to get there vary. The mistakes we make as a result vary. For me, one mistake of always trying to make things happen. Always pushing. Always evaluating, measuring, comparing, believing I could do anything better, and increasingly unable to enjoy the present blessing because I was worrying about the future challenge.

Now you must listen carefully. This church never put too much on me. Frankly, this is the easiest church I have ever served. Don't think for a minute that my drinking was caused by too much pressure at work. That's an easy and self-serving excuse. It sounds like I'm saying, "I just worked so hard I became a drunk."

No. Here's what happened with me. I gathered up disappointments, some resentments from the past lingered, and then self-pity set in. Then fears about the future. It all gets mixed up, and I became spiritually vulnerable. The chief spiritual problem I encountered, the chief character defect I faced was my own pride. Again, it can sound very noble. "I just wanted to do the best I could for God and for you." No I wasn't. I was trying to do the best for me. More and more everything around me became a measure of my own value. I can't tell you when it began, only that I know it was years and years ago. But little by little and then all at once I was living mainly in my own strength, relying on my own will.

Never take for granted your relationship with God. You can be in church, you can read your Bible daily (even in the original languages), you can speak with the silver tongues of men and angels but if you've lost that vital connection with God then you will fall exhausted. You will become spiritually vulnerable. I did.

And at one point about 2 years ago or so I began drinking wine. Listen carefully. There's nothing wrong with wine. The Bible says that God made wine to gladden the hearts of men. And Jesus' first miracle was not turning water into grape juice. The vast majority of people can enjoy alcohol safely. God bless you. I can't, and about 10% of the population or so can't. I can never drink alcohol in any form safely again. Most of you can. Don't worry about it. And you don't have to lock up the cabinets if the pastor is coming over, or not drink in my presence. My problem does not mean you have to change your behavior.

When I started drinking wine it was fine and good. In the first half century of my life the amount of alcohol I consumed wouldn't fill a single glass. But when I started, I enjoyed the effect. I drank to make me feel more comfortable about all the things swirling around in my head. It gave me a warm glow. It made me sleepy. It made me forget for a while. It numbed the pain I was experiencing and the pain I was creating. Then I relied on it. Little by little then all at once, I couldn't stop.

For any non-alcoholic or non-addict, this part of our story is very difficult to understand. I used to think the same way. If you just don't bend your elbow you won't drink! Problem solved. An alcoholic's mind and body are not like that. Alcoholism is a disease. It's a different kind of disease for sure. It's a mixture of genetics, environment, and choice. I have a gene that predisposes me to alcoholism, and when the stress rises and I exercised my choice badly, and I could not stop.

Again, I know this is very hard to understand. In fact, I think that unless you have an addiction it is extremely difficult to relate to what we go through in addiction. The best analogy I've heard is don't eat for three days. Nothing. Then try not to think about food. This does not excuse my drinking, but it does explain an important part of it and why I can never drink safely again. There is a real insanity to an addiction.

Spiritually I entered into an increasing blindness to God's ways. In fact, that is a major theme of the prophecy of Isaiah. The people in that day were willfully resisting the way God works. That's what I did. I relied more and more on my own strength and insight. This happened long before I began drinking. Little by little and all at once I was living in my own strength and operating along the lines of my own self-will.

That is selfish, self-centered pride that edges God out. My resisting God was not a conscious, angry rejection of Him. I still had spiritual knowledge. I still had spiritual convictions. I did not doubt God, and I was doing a lot of things right and well. But even a strong religious life is no substitute for a vital spiritual experience, a relationship in which I should have relied on God and been willing to WAIT on God.

So there I was in a shadowy world of increasing grayness, restlessness, and spiritual exhaustion, trying to fill a God-centered void with cheap chardonnay. Leslie described it as an unraveling. That's a good description. I would say that I became increasingly hollow. Spiritually desiccated. Dry as that valley of bones. I was right there with Jacob and Israel. Where is God? I was living on memories.

So what was the answer for me? The same as it was for the first readers of Isaiah. Isaiah told them to look at God's majesty, and that's what I did. I remembered. I remembered because at Palmetto you have time to think. You're out in the middle of a cow pasture in Rayville, that's what they like to say. No cell phones. No tvs in the rooms. You have to learn to live again without ESPN.

I thank God for that cow pasture. It gave me a chance to look up. The night sky has always stirred me, and the first month or so the planet Venus was bright and high in the western sky. You can feel pretty small under and open dark sky. It's easier for me to remember that the everlasting God is the Creator of the ends of the earth and the whole universe. He does not faint or grow weary. His understanding, His mind is limitless. God is great, and I am not apart from Him.

I began to hear the music of the spheres again, the celestial melody that God weaves into all of His stunning creation. He opened my ears and I heard His gentle voice, that's the way He has always spoken to me. A still small voice, easily obscured and easy to ignore. But I heard it again, and it was so good to know that God had never stopped singing. He was ready to give me strength.

And He did. What relief! The spiritual experience was back. The relationship was renewed. I'd been taught that I had to have that in order to be restored to sanity and health. I had it. It was back. By day 21 or so I was thinking clearly and God had restored me to a joyful faith. Thank God!

But there was more. We have a spiritual counselor at Palmetto, Stewart, and he told my therapist Phillip this, "Terry understands his addiction from the neck up." I heard that and thought, "That's right. That's great! What else is needed?" Phillip was not impressed. I was confused. He said, "I really hope you get it. I really do."

Get what? I had read the book, underlined important parts, and outlined it. I could quote page numbers so much it irritated people in my small group. Give me a text to study. Give me a paper to write. Give me a forum to vigorously discuss ideas. I love it all. So what have I not gotten? In therapy, in life, you don't change unless your uncomfortable. I was very uncomfortable, and I really did not know what to do. Apparently I could not figure my way through this problem.

We have a tennis court up there at Palmetto. Darren, the guy in charge, the fiery prophet of Palmetto, tells guys who are struggling with the whole idea of God to go out on that tennis court and 10:00 at night. Just stand there and look up and say "I'm willing."

Well, I already believed in God. Heck, I have a Master of Divinity! I have a doctorate in theology! But I decided to go out on that tennis court late one night. I said, "God you've put someone in my life to help me, and he says there's something important that I need to do. It goes beyond using my head. God, I don't know what that means. I don't know how to do that. I just know that I want what You want to give me." Heaven was silent, but I had done everything I knew how to do. I'd left it in God's hands.

That night as I lay in bed, a single word crystallized in my mind. Resign. Resign as director of my little world. Stop trying to be in charge. No matter how good I tried to make it out to be my efforts to lead a church or solve your problems in my own strength is nothing less than arrogant idolatry. I began to see how much I had been doing that. I realized that I was never in charge in the first place. God is. Always was. Always will be.

The only thing I'm in charge of is my attitudes and actions. Someone said, "you're only responsible for what's inside the hula hoop." I could stop all that confounded pushing. The success of my life, the success of my church is not a matter of my own strength and understanding. It always was up to God. I can't begin to tell you the weight that lifted off my shoulders when I let all that false responsibility fall away.

You see, I've been a man of action. Give me a problem, and I'll tell you how to solve it. Get things moving! Get things done! Let's rise up on wings of eagles, run and not be weary, walk and never faint. It's comical really. All my striving, all of my embracing that illusion of control is just a smokescreen for impatience. That is not of God.

The key word is wait. Wait upon the Lord. Nothing good happens when I push in my own strength. Nothing. In fact, I will accept worldly mediocrity if it means spiritual excellence. I've served mammon too long in the form of self-generated accomplishments. I want God. I want God's will. As long as it takes. God wants me to walk humbly before Him, not run proudly. Usually that means I wait, and that's ok.

That's what we all really need in this far-too-busy world. Just wait. Do the next right thing, but don't get in an anxious rush about it. That Hebrew word for wait literally means to wind or twist, as in a rope. It's good to think of it as a lifeline that God winds in His time and in His way, and He throws it out to you.

He threw it to me in a cow pasture in Rayville. The good news is that wherever you are that rope is always there for you to take hold of. Just grab it, hold on, and wait. You know who holds the other end.

Dr. Terry Ellis

February 16, 2014

  1. Terry:

    What a moving, heart-felt, powerful story of redemption, the power of God, and hope. Thank you for sharing your encouraging story of forgiveness, and restoration. It will be a such a help to so many. God bless you.

    • Thank you for all the response to "Wait." They are too numerous for me to answer individually. Please share this message any way you wish.

      Grace to all,


  2. Terry,
    God bless you for your candor and honesty. I am so glad that you are feeling better and that you are writing the devotionals once again. You and Leslie are in my prayers.
    Donna Wainwright

  3. Terry, thank you for your beautiful, heartfelt and gracious testimony that reveals your true character in God's likeness and with His guidance. Your words are enough for me, but as I read the comments of others whom you have served so wonderfully, I was overtaken by a feeling of immense awe of the power of God Almighty working through you, as He has done and as He will continue to do. Today, in church, you baptized a lovely young girl, as a thunderstorm raged outside. Just as she was being submerged, a giant clap of thunder shook the sanctuary. You said it was one of the most memorable and remarkable baptisms you had performed, signaling a special life ahead for that beautiful child. That was true. But, I also thought of it as a standing ovation from every angel in Heaven, celebrating that God's good and faithful servant, Terry Ellis, is back, and that we are eternally thankful. And all God's people said … AMEN!

  4. Thank you for your bravery to face a problem, and for your openness to help other people. I feel sure that sermon will touch countless lives.

    I remember your work at FBC, Murray. You presided over the program to affirm me in my supervised ministry, when I was a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I am grateful for your help. You showed skill, compassion, humor, and diligence. The result was a special moment in my life. Thank you!

  5. Terry – I have been in prayer for you and your family. I remember the times we ran in Brazil and you reminded me of God's grace regarding my marriage. That helped me. You were a preacher of grace and I know God is showering you with His grace now. None of us are immune from sin and battle with it every day. Sometimes we lose and God is there to restore the pieces. He is faithful and failure is not final….. I worked on a Habitat for Humanity house today and thought of you and your carpentry skills and wished for you and some guidance! I remember how you put that skill to work in Brazil – what memories we had there which I shall always cherish. ….You are in the pulpit once again and that is where you need to be proclaiming the gospel and God's goodness. I continue to pray for you, Leslie, Lauren, Gregory and the grandbaby. I did miss your birthday but thought of you; I trust it was a good one. God bless one and all as God continues to work in Mobile.

  6. It's been ten years since you stood with me and watched my dad take his last breath.
    The comfort you gave my family will never be forgotten.
    I'll be praying for you as you face this daily battle.

  7. Dr. Ellis, bless you and your family! We are so happy you have come through this terrible trial successfully. We love and miss you and regret not coming to SHBC years ago so we could have known you longer and better. Keep the GraceWaves coming — we looked forward to them every week and anxiously anticipate their return!. You will be in our prayers.

  8. Terry you are now and will always be "My Pastor" as you remember whay that means to me. I am sorry I could not have been there for you with all you have done for me and my family. If ever you need me just call! Love you always. Your Brother in Christ.

  9. These comments that have gone before say it all. You assured me of your theology 14 years ago and made it easy for me to join SHBC. I trust your heart, your theology, and your humbled spirit. Thank you for sharing your story and know that your friends will always be there for you. Barbara Davis

  10. Terry,
    This is not just a sermon, its an open heart confession, thank you for that. It reminds us that ministers are human just like the rest of us. Praise God for His great mercy and grace!! He is always there to pick us up when we fall, brush us off and send us on our way again to serve Him better. You and your family are in my prayers. God bless!!

  11. Dear Dr. Ellis,
    My heart broke for you when I first received your email. After four days and numerous readings of your sermon transcript I am finally able to write a comment. I am so sorry you and your family had to experience this but am equally glad you have come through with a renewed relationship with our God and Father.
    You are a good man and an excellent pastor and teacher. I love you and miss you every week at SHBC. I can only imagine how wonderfully God will use you going forward.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I don't know you, but I know you better now. I receive your letters through a friend of mine in Murray, Kentucky. God bless you and your family. In Christian love, Jan

  13. Dr. "T", my heart is so filled with joy and love for you and your family and your church. The best is still ahead and you stand ahead of the line! We will keep following our LEADER together. His grace is sufficient! Don Dendy

  14. We love you Terry, & miss you still everyday. God Bless You.

    Jane & Wayne Cave

  15. I loved you here at Spring Hill, I love you still.

  16. Terry:

    I am thankful to have known you in seminary, and then to know you as pastor @ Springhill. May God bless and keep you and give you peace!

  17. Love you and Leslie dearly, always! My husband and I direct a Celebrate Recovery program in Versailles, and your story will be such an inspiration to some in our group. I hope you will not mind if we share your words. (If you are ever near Versailles, KY on a Thursday evening, we would love to have you share your testimony with our CR group!) Prayers and hugs to you!

  18. Hey Terry- When I first read this I thought "welllll…I am at a loss for words…"
    That's strange in and of itself.

    But then I thought "…but I am not at a loss of love for this man".

    You were of great comfort to me during my divorce. I was so devastated and hurt and embarrased beyond belief- as if I had embarrased God, my family, my church and everyone by my failed marriage. It was an awful and dark time for me. Your understanding and humor and confidence in me as a Christian woman helped shape me into a much better wife and mother today.
    I can only imagine the emotions that being a recovering alcoholic entails. But knowing you and your faith, I cannot actually get my head around the ways you will become a much better Christian man and leader of that gracious church. It makes my heart explode with love to think of all the hurting people that you will be able to relate to and speak to and guide them back to being even better Christian men and women than they were before.

    It's what you did for little old me.
    And while I don't have any words to make anything any better for you, I do have a heart full of nothing but immense love (and laughter…always laughter) for you and your family as you continue to journey through this disease.

    All the peace and love in the world-
    your friend, Ashley

  19. We understand, only too well, the decision Leslie had to make the night she reached out on your behalf. My heart aches for both of you and all that you have gone through. But I must say, I have seen God's hand at work these past few years….it's impossible to describe in a few words. We serve a grand and glorious God whose grace still covers all our sins. When we come to Him in weakness, He hears, He answers, He walks the daily walk with us. Thank you for sharing your experience. We love you and Leslie dearly and will continue to pray for you both.

  20. Terry – Love ya brother….no matter what. Your voluntary self-exposure has, and will continue, to be a blessing to others. Hope to see you again soon.

  21. Terry, God is good and God is great….He never ever makes mistakes….and I believe that no experience is wasted. He has used you so greatly and continues to use your life to minister to all of us. I am so very thankful that you have been a part of my life. I love you and Leslie!! Will keep you all in my prayers. (Keep on writing!!). Marilyn

  22. Dr. Ellis,
    What an inspirational, awe aspiring testimony! I commend you for not only writng this semon but saying it. We are all human and we all sin. I miss you at SHBC but you are not only WHERE God wants you to be but you seem to be truly seeking and doing his will. You have always been kind to our family. I will keep you in my prayers. Love you.

  23. My heart broke when I read your sermon. I ached with sorrow for you and your family as you detoured down this road. But, knowing the man that you are, I am not at all surprised that you reached recovery. And what a testimony you are and WILL BE to others going down this path.

    George and I send our love, prayers and encouragement to you, Leslie, Lauren and Gregory. I still miss you as much today, as I did the day you left SHBC. May God bless you for your boldness for sharing this with your friends. For that, we love you more…

  24. Terry, my brother had been an alcoholic for years. My father committed suicide after years of addition to drugs. I have prayed for him for years and "waited". Now finally my brother is in a 12 month Christian program in north Georgia. I cannot thank you enough for this timely message. And yes I am so proud of you and Leslie and will continually pray for you both! Have loved you since your very first sermon @ SHBC. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am going to share this with my sister-in-law and ask you to pray for Tom Johnson.(my brother.)
    Love and prayers to you, my dear friends, peggy

  25. I love you and Leslie very much.
    Memories come flooding back of you conducting my mother’s
    funeral services, 1999, and the song at her funeral, “One Day at a Time”,
    she lived life that way as she dealt with my dad’s Alzheimers for some dozen yrs.
    With God’s guidance that’s all we can do.
    I’m thankful for your honesty and I pray your ministry will continue to be a blessing to many
    as you warn them of the dangers of alcohol – we know from personal experience since our
    daughter has had multiple surgeries as the result of a drunk driver rear ending her
    vehicle many years ago. Blessings on you as you take life one-day-at-a-time.

  26. Terry, I love you. I love your family. I am so thankful for who you are and what you have meant to me for so many years. More importantly, I am thankful that we serve a God of second chances (and third, fourth, fifth…). Your openness and honesty about your own struggles are a blessing to me and a reminder of how easy it can be to get caught up in studying the minutiae of the text of God's Word as substitute for spending time with God; to be consumed by the "jots and tittles" while overlooking the message; to allow myself to believe that doing good work for God is the same as doing God's good work. I know that your testimony has touched the lives of many already, and will continue to do so, but I cannot begin to express how much of myself I read in your sermon and how grateful I am to you for sharing your story. You have been, and will always be, a man I am proud to call "friend." Shalom lekha!

  27. Terry,
    Praise to our GOD who continues to love us through all of our faults and failures. I am so very grateful to know you as a friend. And I thank God moreso that HE obviously has given you a very wonderful church – to love you and nurture and care for you and your dear wife. I can only envision that your future in ministry will be better than ever. May all you do blossom and flourish. I'm praying for you, Leslie, and your children. Blessings my Friend!

    Michael Perry

  28. I'm Mike, an Alcoholic/Addict. Welcome and keep coming back. The Big Book tells us that all we need to be spiritual is to be open honest, and willing to change. Those of us who are Christians know the writers intended that all could recover if they had the capacity to be honest. God is the writer of our spiritual program, and the Fellowship lets us know we are not alone.
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  29. We all have bumps in the roads of our lives, but thru God's Grace,he gives us a level playing field. Thru this experience Your impact thru your preaching and teaching will be multiplied. We love you and your family sooo much.
    Grady and Inez

  30. What a terrific testimony, Terry! I am inspired by your courageous example. I know your life will continue to be an example of Christian love and courage to many people. As your friend, I am so proud of you. Sometime ago you wrote in an email to me, "Things do not always turn out the way we expect, but God is not surprised." I would add to that note, "And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: who are called according to His purpose." (HCSB). Also, what a wonderful insight by Leslie. Blessings to you, Leslie!

  31. Dear Dr Ellis,
    Words can not express my heart full of support for you and your family. As the daughter
    of an alcoholic, I understand the path you are on. As a member at Springhill Baptist Church
    you saved and baptized my oldest son, who at 22 still walks with God thanks to you
    and your great leadership. We have moved several times since then and are now in
    Huntsville and still sing your praises as one of our best pastors. May God bless you and your
    family and know that you are not forgotten at SHBC

  32. Terry –
    Love you and yours so much for SO long! This once again confirms my belief that we don't really know our brothers and sisters, or the burdens they bear. Thank you for sharing.

  33. Thank you, Terry, for your openness and honesty. It draws my heart to love and respect you and Leslie even more! Thank you for touching me so deeply.

  34. Hey Terry. Welcome to the Fellowship. God Bless. Don't forget to breathe. Give me a call sometime. Love you.

  35. Thank you and bless you and all the people this will touch.

  36. Stand tall….
    Remember, "Life is always going beyond"

  37. Anyone who listens to your story will understand what courage under fire means. Your testimony will save lives and families, as all of us learn from you how to stand and face problems directly. Stepping into the light is the beginning of Christian restorative healing. Broadmoor's example is inspiring. It is an honor to know you and a privilege to watch as your miracle unfolds. Thank you for illuminating the way. Amen.

  38. Bless you Terry + Leslie!! Prayers will be ongoing!! James 1:2-4

  39. Terry, I deeply appreciate your willingness to go public with your struggles. Your candor and transparency have touched me and all your readers. Bold. Courageous. Transformative. You have always been a wonderful pastor/preacher/teacher, but now you will take the skills to perform these tasks to a whole new level. God will use your experience to change so many lives. I am one. Thanks, my friend!

  40. Terry,
    You will always be my ideal of a real people's pastor. Thank you for being so honest with your many friends and supporters. How perfect that God never changes! Love and prayers to you and Leslie. Still miss you greatly,

  41. You have always been an inspiration to me and you are still an inspiration to me for your wonderful sermon. Your words will help more people than all the Sunday Sermons in all the churches preached every where! Remember what I shared with you that morning of my husband's surgery in 2008. "I walked a mile with pleasure and she chatted all the way. Not a thing did I learn from pleasure for all she had to say, I walked a mile with sorrow and not a word said she. But oh what I learned from sorrow when she walked a mile with me."
    I am so thankful for your "waiting" and being able to come back to all of us who love you!
    Love always.
    Mary Ann Tucker

  42. Terry, thank you for sharing your experience with such dignity and grace. When I was searching for a church home when moving back to Mobile, it only took hearing one of your sermons for God to let me know I was in the right place. Later, my mom came to love you as her pastor and her Christian life was renewed and is still growing. I believe God has a beautiful future for you in His service. I love and respect you and deem it an honor to to call you friend. God bless the Ellis family.

  43. Dear Terry ,
    Thank you for sharing your story. My husband is in recovery. Im proud of you for sharing your story and your success in sobriety. Mike says its is the hardest thing he has ever done. One day at a time 🙂

  44. Terry,
    To use a phrase from a Star Trek movie, "You have always been and forever will be my friend."
    I truly mean it. God has used you greatly and will continue to do so. You are a good and decent man. My life is richer and has been blessed having you as my pastor and friend.

  45. Terry, Kathy ,me and all our kids always have and always will LOVE you, Leslie, Lauren and Gregory. Please give Leslie a hug . We will continue to pray for all of you.
    Bob Summer

  46. God bless you Dr. Ellis. God bless you and keep you in His care is my prayer. There will always be a special place in my heart for you and Leslie. At the time of you leaving SHBC, I felt everything was so unfair. Then there were other things you had to bear. Yes, I had a pastor at TC First Baptist Church that had to preach that same sermon. He was a wonderful man as you are.I love you and will pray for you each day.

  47. Terry,
    You are and always will be a very close friend. I remember the sermon on our "Demons". I am so glad that you were able to overcome the struggles and demons in your life, and I know the God has big things ahead for you. I miss you as my pastor, but miss you more as my buddy on the mission field. Love to you and Leslie.

  48. You handled this bump in your road with the class, dignity and grace that can only come from a man that loves God…and knows that God loves him. Be Blessed my friend.

  49. Terry, I love you my brother. God will never let go of that rope. Lee

  50. Dr. Terry,
    I love and respect you more than words can say. I'm so sorry you have had this challenge, but thankful you have come through it well. You have had such a positive influence on so many lives. My wife and kids appreciate you and Leslie so much. Cathy still thinks Leslie is her ideal of a pastor's wife. The kiddos remember the Harley rides. God bless you and your family. You are dearly loved in Little Rock, AR.

  51. Love you my dear friend. Period.

  52. Praise the Lord, our REDEEMER! My Dad was a functioning alcoholic (died at age 54), and so is our middle son. Those so addicted who will leave denial behind and face their illness and need for help are especially blessed. Pastors who honestly expose their vulnerabilities wind up being exceptionally effective in comforting others with the comfort God has given them.
    By the way, you surely know this, God hits straight licks with crooked sticks. He doesn't throw
    away flawed clay, either, for that's all He has to work with. Even at your worst, He used your ministry.
    I count it a privilege to be among your friends,
    Tom Hudson

  53. Sunday, Feb. 16th

    Wow – How many people you will bless by your testimony & journey.
    (Now you will be even more effective than you already were!)
    I have been worried about you, as I have not been able to reach you or Leslie.
    Thanks so much for charing this chapter of your life.
    Glad you are better than ever!
    Much love to you & your family,
    Donna Ames

  54. Dear Dear Terry,
    Your Humanity only makes me respect and admire you more!
    You were given a gift from God. I hope to show up in your congregation soon on my way to Texas.
    Jane McKibbon

  55. You are a good man! Thank your for your transparency and love of others and God!

  56. Terry,i beg your forgiveness. I know conditions for leavig shbc were a strong. I'm sorry that i didn't come to uou n support u during that time. I pnce pastored a church whose pastor was the same. They went to the jail n brought him home. He pastored the remainder of his days. What a church family u must mow have. I'm so thankful god put u with people to luv u through.