Ten years. My wife and I have been married ten years. I have been on staff at Red Rocks Baptist Church for ten years. A decade has passed. Wow. When a virus attacked my heart muscle several years back, my wife framed my EKG and engraved the words of Psalm 90:12 on the bottom: “Lord, teach me to number my days.” Spending time in Coronary ICU makes anyone number his days. The rest of the verse encourages us to apply our hearts to wisdom. The pursuit of wisdom should entail looking at our days to see if we are truly redeeming the time. So writing this letter has, in a way, been an exercise in examining our lives this past year to see just that—are we applying our hearts to wisdom?
Jen and I had a wonderful year with our children. Hudson continues to mature as the oldest brother of the bunch. His business, Hudson’s Pet Services, has taught him so much about money, service, responsibility, and work. At the age of eight, he often has more money in his checking account than I do. Champlin started school and has blossomed with this new venture. Paton continues to be our adrenaline-junkie, scaring us with his high-flying antics around the house. He got a new fish for his birthday, which he affectionately named “Killer.” Spurgeon came into the world back in March and is now just beginning to crawl and express himself. As a family, learning to love one another has been our constant theme this year. We endeavor to have family devotions several times a week right after dinner. We read from the Scriptures or a Bible storybook, pray, and sing. Our songs this year have been “Tis’ So Sweet To Trust in Jesus,” “My Jesus I Love Thee,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” and “Amazing Grace” (This musical emphasis was from an idea spawned here on SI). Our most enjoyable devotional moments were during the reading of The Story of Me by Stan and Brenna Jones. My wife and I were laughing so hard, we cried.
Bob Hughes at Clearwater Christian College impacted me when he shared with me about golfing as a parental discipleship time with his boys. He explained that golf can be played at all stages of life, it’s relational and conversational in its nature, and can be played anywhere. So, this year, we picked it up, and it’s been a blast! I had to explain many things such as not using your pitching wedge on the green and how to replace six divots after one shot, but they got the hang of it. Jen drives the cart, and we move heaven and earth. (Right: My wife with the boys on Champ’s first day of school.)
Personally, it has been a joyous year. I kicked my seminary studies back into gear, and I will complete my master’s degree in six months. Also, BJU press published my first book. Completing a project like that was a milestone for me as I have many dreams half-completed and awaiting attention. Several other books are rolling around in my brain. We’ll see what the future holds. SharperIron continues to be a challenging and rewarding aspect of my life. In 2006, the site tripled in readership. The development of relationships with hundreds of believers is a joy and a great responsibility. I have many plans for this upcoming year for the site and can’t wait to start working on them.
Our ministry here in Denver is about to undertake the largest transition in our history. After eight years, we will finally move into our new building. Estimates put our move-in date around mid-February to mid-March. You can see the latest developments on our relocation blog here—www.redrocksonthemove.com. Meanwhile, we endeavor to not get too focused on our building. As a pastor, I have fears for our people that once we move in, people will get comfortable. After a long transition though, our people are pretty solid. With the right emphasis, I trust we will see great things. Our pastor, Les Heinze, has been here now for twenty-two years, and his leadership has been a blessing to observe. Having been a member of this church for twenty-one years, I am beginning to taste the benefits of long-term ministry in one place. The local church is beautiful.
I had several ministry highlights this year. Teaching a six-week series on the Psalms was a blessing. Two biographical studies impacted me deeply—Hudson Taylor and John Newton. Also, discipling a new believer named Brian has brightened my Saturday mornings. We completed our third year of our addiction recovery ministry and are now seeing over one hundred attendees on Friday nights. Three years ago, I looked at radical transformation stories of rescue from sin as the greatest miracles of God’s grace. Now, after hearing over 700 stories of lives on the brink of ruin, I realize that getting saved at thirteen and being raised in a protective home was far more miraculous and rewarding than I ever imagined.
Jen and I had our best year together as a couple. In spite of rough external circumstances, we grew closer and stronger. One of the highlights of our year was ducking away for three days to a Family Life Weekend to Remember marriage retreat. It was hands down the best investment we’ve ever made in our marriage. We also went on a fun trip to the CCEF conference in Valley Forge, PA. We have always adopted the philosophy that family and ministry should not and will not compete in our home. We do much of ministry together, and going to an enrichment conference together was a blast. If you are the wife of a pastor, farm out the kids and take a trip with him. Yeah, I know, you don’t have the money and blah, blah, blah … but these should be the fun years. Remember, your kids leave … he doesn’t.
Life lessons for me this year
- Wisdom is still the most valuable asset that any person can possess (James 1, I Kings 3).
- At no stage of life does the Christian life become easier (Romans 7). The trials just get tougher (John 15).
- Any sin can be committed by any Christian and is no further than seven days away (I Corinthians 10:12).
- Age doesn’t necessarily equal maturity or wisdom (Hebrews 5:12). This year, I have been discouraged by the number of older saints who have given up.
- To stay in ministry for life will be a miracle of grace (II Timothy 4:7).
- Good relationships are valuable, extremely valuable. If you have a friend you trust implicitly, you are blessed (Proverbs 17:17). If you have someone who makes you his ministry, you will experience love in a new way (Romans 16:6, 9).
Merry Christmas to all in the SI family. We look forward to many good days ahead. My Christmas mediation this year was on the thought—“Immanuel, which means God with us.” Amazing.