Marshall Keeble Quotes

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I recently read a biography of Marshall Keeble called His Hand and Heart: The Wit and Wisdom of Marshall Keeble by Willie Cato. Keeble was a respected and well known preacher in Churches of Christ 50 years ago. He was an African American preacher during the time of segregation and seemed to be able to cross the racial lines that divided our country and even more sadly our churches in those days. Willie Cato traveled with Keeble and recounts numerous stories and gives us insight into Keeble’s perspective on a variety of issues in this book. I made a list of my favorite quotes:

“When mean things happen to you, don’t get angry, just pray for him, then go off and live so your prayers will be answered. Live so your friends won’t believe it, and your enemies can’t prove it” – 25

“I’ve never murmured or complained at anything that ever happened to me. I’ve just stood still while God handled it, and He’s brought me this far. The people of Israel murmured and complained and God told them, ‘Stand still, I’ll handle it.’” – 31

“The Law of Moses is like a shadow of a ham hanging in the smokehouse. You don’t go after the shadow, you go after the ham. You ought not to go after the Law – go after the real thing, The Gospel.” – 34

“You don’t have to be smart to obey the Gospel – just honest.” – 36

“The Gospel is so plain, a man in the asylum can understand it. Oh, his mind may come and go, but if it does, he can catch it coming even if he loses it while it’s going.” – 36

“Lift up Christ and he will do the drawing. Too many of us preachers lift ourselves up and as a result, we don’t draw anything.” – 38

“Preachers need to preach the Truth – bear down on it. We don’t need to make friends, we need to save souls.” – 38

“The Lord called people straight out hypocrites and blind guides. Some of my own members criticize me for talking straight.” – 38

“The Gospel has power, great power. All it needs is someone to preach it – someone with courage to tell it just like it is.” – 39

“What does it mean to preach the Gospel in season and out of season? Well, in season-when they like it and out of season—when they don’t like it. With many folks, the Gospel is almost out of season today.” – 39

“When Moses was told to stretch out that stick over the Red Sea, Moses didn’t meddle with God. We’re too meddlesome! We always want to meddle in God’s business. Why, to listen to us, you’d think we’re smarter than God. We tell me to do stuff that ain’t never been in the Bible.” – 40

“When the children of Israel marched around the walls of Jericho, they shouted. They made a great noise! Then the walls fell! When the walls of sectarianism fall, it will be when we Christians let the world know that we love the Gospel.” – 42

“I like to hear ‘amens’ out there from the audience. If you go to a football game and don’t yell, then the man next to you asks, ‘Don’t you like football?’ We need to let all of our neighbors know we like God and His Gospel.” – 42

“Jesus made a man out of mud and the man walked. I used to make men out of mud – mine wouldn’t walk. God did something man couldn’t do. Men try to save themselves can’t to it no more than my mud men could walk. But God can do what man can’t do. SAVE.” – 60

“A man is not saved and then baptized. A woman doesn’t wash clothes because they are already clean. I’ve seen a lot of smart women, but not that smart. She washes the clothes because they’re dirty. Man is baptized because he’s dirty and needs to be cleaned.” – 61

“Christ is down there in the water, but somebody says, ‘I don’t see him.’ He didn’t tell you to see Him, He said believe it. There’s power in gasoline but you can’t see it, but you believe it enough to put it in your automobile.” – 63

“Don’t put a man down on the mourner’s bench. If you’re going to put him down, put him down in the water (baptism) sho nuf put him down. There wasn’t no mourner’s bench on Pentecost. If so, it must have been a mighty big one to hold 3000 people.” 65

“Id love to see an evangelist today – a real one, not just one that thinks he is, one who goes to the house, sits down and crosses his legs, takes life easy and then on Sunday’s reads a few verses from the Bible. That’s not an evangelist. I don’t know what that is, but that’s not an evangelist. I’d like to see some real evangelists.” – p.71

“You’ve got a book and you can take that book and conquer the world, but you can’t do it with it under your arm. You’ve got to have it in your heart.” – 71

“Unless you are willing to practice Christianity, don’t preach.” – 72

“Want to commit spiritual suicide? Then take up with women – you’ll die in your tracks, with the Bible under your arm. Start messing with women and you get weak in the pulpit. You can’t fight what you want to fight, you’re dying.” 72

“A dead fish can float downstream. It takes a live fish to go up stream. Come alive!” – 91

“Your friends are your spare tire. You don’t ride on your spare, you save that for an emergency. Some men can’t ride without wanting to put on their spare and ride on it. If you work, you won’t have to do that.” – 91

“Obedience is the best thing in the world – no boy or girl can be anything unless they respect those who are over them.” – 92

“Never get to the stage where you don’t need correction – you will always need it.” – 92

“When you get to a place where you can’t recognize God, that’s when you’re in the wrong place.” – 92

“You can go anywhere you want to as long as you’ve got the right attitude. If you don’t have the right attitude, I’d advise you to stay away from a lot of places. A lot of us blame it on the other fella; it may be because of our attitude.” – 97

“The Bible says, ‘Pure religion, before God, visit fatherless and widows…in their affliction [audience began to laugh]. Now, you know them widows that you’ve been a visiting ain’t afflicted. Now you stop that…be pure.” – 100

“I’m nearly 90 years old. Most folks would say I’m too old, but I want to die on the battle field with the harness on. I want to die with the armor on, I want to preach Christ in season and out of season until I die.” 107

“You’re looking for the best girl you can find to marry, but what is she looking for? If you live a hog’s life down in the mire all the time, what angel would want to lay down with a hog?” 110

“Parents who fail to discipline children are preparing them to be disciplined by society. They’re headed for jail.” 113

“If any woman has a husband who is taken away from her by a little red-lipped girl, don’t go and kill her, thank her – go look her up and thank her, cause you didn’t have nothing no how.” 114

On Preaching

“I never preach for compliments. I always preach for salvation.” – 72

“If you would preach a little straighter, we wouldn’t be so crooked.” 72

“Don’t preach to make friends or so we will be loved – don’t do that. Preach so God will be loved and souls will be saved” 72

“Wrap up the words you say in love. If you went to the grocery story and ordered a steak, you would not want the clerk to hand it to you dangling over the counter. You’d want it wrapped up. People need the Truth, but they need it wrapped up—wrapped in love.” 73

“To operate on a man for sin, you can’t put him to sleep, you’ve got to get his attention.” 73

“You can hit a nail too many times, then you bust the plank. So, don’t keep hitting it, hit it then ease off. 73”

“A prize fighter plays around with his partner, sort of sparring with him, then he waits for the lick he wants to make, then he sends him to the shower. It’s the same in preaching. Prepare the audience for the lick you want to make. That’ll send them to the water – baptism.” 73

“You have to speak plain to this generation – it used to be that a hint would do, but not now. You have to tell them what you mean.” 74

16 Responses

    1. you can go listen to his sermons on youtube and have the man’s voice in your head. I was born long after he died, but he still speaks plain to me.

  1. I heard Marshal Keeble at least once – at Harding in a lectureship in the late 1950’s. I heard some of the “boys” he trained several times when I was growing up in Florida – and always loved going to their tent meetings.

    Later, when I was preaching in Cincinnati, my Mom and Dad were visiting when I had a “preacher exchange” with a black congregation in town. Dad went with me, and when we got back that evening Mom asked him how things went. He replied, “We did our son an injustice.” Mom asked how, and he added, “We let him be born the wrong color.”

    When I was in Detroit, I was chaplain at a church sponsored nursing home. Part of my job was to visit churches and tell them about the home. At one black congregation, a brother said to me after the worship, “You know that movie, White Men Can’t Jump?, well there’s folks that say ‘White men can’t preach.’ – but you proved them wrong today.”

    I’ve always been able to fit into the black churches I’ve visited and where I’ve had opportunity to preach. I love preaching in black congregations. They keep you on your toes. You sure can’t go to sleep in the pulpit when you’re in a spirit-filled black congregation!

    Marshal Keeble was one of the best preachers I ever heard, white or black.

    1. thank you for what seems to me a honest and mature christian, spoken here in word. Keep Standing up for the Lord, Brother.

  2. Yes Phillip your first comment was racist, and not humorous. You my friend need to mature and grow up!

    1. Nothing racist about it. He was comparing attitudes and he was right, Marshall did have that sassy attitude when it came to discussing people’s ignorance. It even shows in his grandson who is a personal friend. “You strain at a gnat then swallow a camel” Jesus said to humiliate the Jewish leaders. Yeah, HE was sassy too. Bryan, you might want to check your Bible again. “Walk like your friends can’t believe it and your enemies can’t prove it” (Marshall Keeble above). Take your own advice Bryan. Your like an immature child pointing a finger and “Tattle Taling” on someone. That’s being Judgement and like the Devil (who was a tattle tale in the book of Job).

  3. These quotes make me want to buy the book – thanks! As one who can be quick to grumble his reminders are helpful perspective. I can be Israel often.

  4. Is anyone familiar with a Keeble quote which referenced Adam and Eve, the forbidden fruit, and a conclusion which said, “God, send us bushels of this fruit”? If so, please post it here.

  5. Becky Blackmon spoke at our Ladies Day yesterday and she quoted Marshall Keebler as saying “God voted for you. Satan voted against you. You get to cast the deciding vote!”

  6. Brother Keeble was with God before my time; I would have love to hear him speak. I hope to hug him some day in the eternal kingdom of God.

  7. We need a 100000000 more preachers like Marshal Keeble today !!!!!!!!!!! One of the greatest !!

    Steve Pruitt

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