I got a postcard today reminding me to submit a “fond memory” of John “Bull” Bramlett to his ministry. Mr. Paige Cothren, an old football buddy of “Bull’s,” is planning to compile a book of these special remembrances.
John went home to be with his Sweet Jesus on October 23, 2014. His wife Nancy was going to speak at our Enough Grace Ministries Ladies’ Retreat the very next day, but understandably, she wasn’t able to be with us.
A fond memory of “Bull” Bramlett? Yeah, I’ve got a few!
I’ll never forget the first time I heard “Bull” preach. It was a hot August day, back almost thirty years ago. I was in middle-school (junior high, they called it back then). My parents had told my little brother and me that we were going to Trenton that night to a stadium revival to hear this pro football player preach.
Earlier that afternoon, just an hour or so before my dad was to come home from work and get ready for us to leave, my brother and I had an accident. I was heading out the front glass door with an armload of books, when Jon Paul (my brother) decided to perform one of his typical acts of sibling aggravation. He stood on the outside of the door, pressed both of his hands against the solid glass pane of the door, and persisted in not letting me out. My solution to Jon Paul’s barricade was for me to backup to the door, and since my hands weren’t free, I would use my backside to issue a huge push against the door. You guessed it … glass went crashing everywhere. Jagged slivers hung from the top facing, and even more spiked up from the bottom of the door’s frame.
I knew it was bad. Mom came running. The racket had alarmed the neighbors. My brother was cowered like a whipped dog, and I was heading to the bathroom. I didn’t say a word, but I could feel the warm trickle down my back.
I was cut; I knew it. Cut pretty badly, and more than momma seeing her ruined door, I really didn’t want her to see the shape my back was in. By the time I got to the bathroom and turned my backside around to the mirror, my t-shirt was soaked in blood. One of the giant splinters of the glass had done its damage.
It was a family affair – the trip to the clinic. The doctor got me all stitched up, and my family and I still made it to the revival in Trenton.
It’s so vivid for me, even though many years have passed. I sat there that night in a stadium jam-packed with folks who had come to hear John “Bull” Bramlett give his testimony. The backless seats were metal; the setting sun was baking; and my arms were growing tired of having to hold an icepack to my bandaged back. But, as uncomfortable as I may have been, there was nowhere else I would have rather been.
- I was captivated by the story of this man – this wild man. I could envision every detail of his account.
- I was there with the pack of boys when they passed around the White Lightning.
- I could see the cover of The Clown at Second Base.
- I looked into the mirror painted with lipstick-stains of “God’s gonna get you.”
- I saw the giant can of beer being hidden behind the couch when the deacons showed up at the door.
- I was there. … In my mind’s eye, I was sitting ringside, listening, but at the same time, it was like I was watching the life of “Bull” Bramlett being transformed by the love of Jesus.
I had never heard anything like this kind of preaching in all my life. I had never seen anyone as passionate about Jesus as this preacher. I loved him, and I wanted his Jesus to be as real to me as He was to this man known as “Bull.”
That was the beginning of a glorious spiritual journey that the Lord let my family and me share with “Bull.” After that stadium event, my daddy began taking our family (and anybody else that would go) all over the place to hear “Bull” Bramlett preach. And then, he began bringing “Bull” to Paris, my hometown, for all kinds of events.
I’ve heard “Bull” preach all over Tennessee: McLemoresville, Atwood, Dayton, Jackson, Memphis, Pickwick; the list goes on. He’s been to Paris for wild game dinners, football banquets, church revivals, community tent revivals, Ironman meetings, stadium and auditorium events, FCA gatherings, youth retreats, and week-long crusades. And if I were to make a list of the top five Christian influences in my life, there is no doubt, the ministry of John “Bull” Bramlett would be among them. God truly used “Bull” for decades to shape my life and stir within me a love for Sweet Jesus.
I know much of “Bull’s” testimony by heart. I often find myself, even today, quoting some of his humorous and impacting “sayings,” but there is one “Bull-ism” (as I like to call them) that has profoundly influenced my spiritual life. I cannot think of “Bull” without his voice resonating this statement within my heart …
“Jesus is more real to me than you is.”
Yes, the grammar is flawed. That was Bull’s way. But didn’t you, like me, find that tendency so captivating as it was coming from the lips of such a brilliant man?
“Jesus is more real to me than you is.” I can hear “Bull” saying it now. It was true. There’s no doubt. Truly, Jesus was the biggest reality in John “Bull” Bramlett’s life.
Oh, Sweet Jesus, I pray … help me to be like “Bull” Bramlett and let You make Yourself the “realest” person in my life. More real to me than anyone. More real to me than what I can see, hear, or hold. Thank you for putting “Bull” in my life.
For more information about “Bull” and his life and legacy of ministry, please visit www.bramlett.org.