Reflections on My Other Birthday
Spiritual, that is.
December 14, 1972 the wind of the Spirit blew irresistibly (John 3:1-8) into my life through a gospel conversation.
My eyes opened, my chains fell off, my heart was free. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound indeed!
As I savored this morning’s coffee, overlooking the Idaho winter landscape, I marveled. That day nearly five decades ago, I decided to follow Jesus–and I’ve yet to look back, by God’s grace.
The Twists and Turns
So many on this faith journey! Here is just a sample . . .
Left home (1973)–long story–some poor choices on my part. Fabulous first wife, Nancy (1974). Two beautiful sons, Joshua (1978) and Joel (1980). Seminary MDiv (1979-82). DMin degree (1997). Y2K wilderness trial (1998-2000)–even longer story. Head and neck cancer/treatment (2005). Cancer free (2010)! Death of beloved firstborn (2014). Jaw failure (2015). Death of beloved bride (2016). Jaw reconstruction (2016). Rockstar second wife, Jan (2017). Semi-retirement and book published (2018). COVID-19 pandemic (2020).
The banner of certain Scriptures waves over all the above and more. All things work together for good (Romans 8:28). My grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9). The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21). Sorrowful yet always rejoicing (2 Corinthians 6:10). To everything there is a season (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Ever the Shepherd
Some may wonder, why no mention of all the churches served? Good question. They are so significant, so integral a part of my story, they deserve separate attention.
Christ Church of Valley Forge, now Calvary Fellowship (1972-79)
Grace Evangelical Free Church (1982-85)
Orlando Community Church (1985-1991)
Vista Community Church (1992-1998)
Orlando Grace Church (2001-2018)
Trinity Reformed Baptist Church (2019-present). Website under construction.
Each has served my spiritual growth with its own unique emphasis. I’m thankful for them all.
CCVF taught me the essential of servant leadership which does not lord authority over others but influences by godly example (Matthew 20:20-28).
Grace EV Free taught me a lead pastor’s first church is more about where he needs to slay his own idols and grow in Christ-likeness than how much he impacts others (1 Timothy 4:12).
OCC gave me a pastor to shepherd me through my cancer and always be my friend (Proverbs 18:24). Thank you, John Christiansen.
Vista taught me you can take calculated faith risks and see God work in amazing ways, but take nothing for granted along the way (Hebrews 11:6).
OGC taught me to never step into the pulpit with anything less than a passion to make much of God for the joy of His people (2 Corinthians 1:24).
TRBC is teaching me that God is always working to transform me by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:1-2) and, as in all the beloved churches above, He often ordains conflict as an opportunity to glorify God, grow in Christ-likeness, and love and serve others. There has never been a more challenging year to shepherd than 2020.
Lord knows I’ve made my share of mistakes and more are to come, but I praise God for the lessons learned.
Where My Reflections Land
It is God and His great power which has kept me thus far (Jude 1) and will keep me to the end (Jude 24-25). Thanks be to His mighty name!
I long to stay in the race running well by faith in Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2) to my 50th spiritual birthday and beyond, Lord willing.
Nothing less than steadfast, immovable, abounding in the work of the Lord, while He gives me grace, will suffice (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Why? Because, as the rest of the verse promises, the labor is not in vain. Hallelujah and Amen!