Archive for the ‘Tom Hawkes’ Category

By Tom Hawkes

While we are called to pray for the leaders of our country, we are not required to agree with them. Let me point out the error of our President’s thinking on abortion in light of his statement yesterday, on the sad anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.

I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.

And on this anniversary, I hope that we will recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.


Here are just the more glaring logical problems with this statement, which at first blush might seem to be very pro-woman and pro-freedom.

1. “ Protects women’s health.” 500,000 infant women will be killed in the womb this coming year, for them Roe v. Wade is simply a death sentence, not healthy at all. Further, having an abortion is far worse for a woman’s health than having a baby. The long term risks of an abortion are high. The certain spiritual and emotional damage of murdering your own child are even deeper and darker. All of the 1.2 million women who will have an abortion, whether they think it is murder or not, are actually guilty before God of murder, guilty in reality of murder. (The unjust taking of human life.) The weight of committing murder will weigh on a woman’s soul, heart and mind and do more damage to her health. The studies are there to back up this reality. But the simple truth is ignored by our culture of death.

2. “Protects women’s reproductive freedom.” Women are free in this country to decide to get pregnant or not, there is nearly total access to contraception, additionally they can choose whether to engage in sexual activity or not.  They are free to reproduce or not, without having “freedom” to kill the life they have already reproduced.

3. “Private family matters.” Currently there is a high publicity trial going on over a “private family matter.” An American Muslim killed his daughter in an “honor killing.” In some parts of Islam, apparently, you can kill your children at any stage of their life if they dishonor the family. But US law does not agree that this is private, so the man is on trial for murder. Were a mother to drown her 1 month old would our President concur that this was a “private family matter?” There is no difference in the humanity of a child between one month before he is born and one month after. From conception a human baby is a human baby. The taking of innocent human life is not a private family matter, but a matter of the state protection of the life of all. Our government’s failure to protect the unborn is one of the great, perhaps, the greatest, failure of leadership in our age.

4. “Constitutional rights.” Read the Constitution, there is nothing there that grants the “right” to kill your unborn children. Nothing.

5. “Daughters have the same rights…as our sons.” They do, every one of them is the same already, apart from abortion. They both have the freedom to chose to marry or not, freedom to choose to engage in sexual activity or not, freedom to use contraception or not, all apart from abortion. Actually abortion laws grant women far more power than men have in this matter. Granting women the sole and sovereign “right” to kill an unborn child, actually disenfranchises the father, giving the woman absolute power over the man’s offspring. Mr. President, what about equal rights for our sons who are fathers?


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By Tom Hawkes

Though our nation is increasingly confused over the subject, the Bible is clear that marriage is meant to be between one man and one woman for life.  “The two will become one flesh,” affirmed our Lord Jesus.  Recently a group of leaders from various faiths published a joint letter calling for the preservation of this understanding of marriage for the good of all.  It is sad that we must fight our culture over such an issue, but good to see Christian leaders, and those of other faiths, standing up for marriage.  Here is the link to the letter and list of signers.


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Understanding Vocation

By Tom Hawkes

Acts 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit
said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have
called them.”

Here we find the great doctrine of vocation or calling. From the particular
call of Barnabas and Saul we learn some important truths about God’s calling
not only on pastors but on all who are called by God to serve him, that is,
every believer.

1. The call of God came in the midst of doing their duties and indeed
conducting themselves in worship of the Lord, even praying with fasting
before him. While God can call anyone at any time, so sufficient is his
voice that he could raise from the pigsty the pig to serve him, yet we see
he is more often seen calling those who are already about their Father’s
business, however humble it may be. So Moses was tending his flocks when he
heard the voice of the Lord call him to deliver Israel, king David was
busily tending the flocks he had been charged with when Samuel anointed him,
Joshua was leading God’s people already when God called him to replace
Moses.  We should not be surprised then if when we are deliberately running
from the Lord we find that his voice is distant to us, even as it was for
Jonah in the belly of the great fish. It was not until Jonah was spewed upon
the land again and had ceased his running from the Lord’s voice that the
Lord summoned him a second time to Nineveh. So too when we are deliberately
engaged in sin, running from the command of God, we should not be surprised
to find God strangely quiet as we seek his direction for our life. I like
the story told of Norman Vincent Peale.

When Peale was a boy, he found a big, black cigar, slipped into an alley,
and lit up. It didn’t taste good, but it made him feel very grown up …
until he saw his father coming. Quickly he put the cigar behind his back and
tried to be casual.
Desperate to divert his father’s attention, Norman pointed to a billboard
advertising the circus. “Can I go, Dad? Please, let’s go when it comes to
town.” His father’s reply taught Norman a lesson he never forgot. “Son,” he
answered quietly but firmly, “never make a petition while at the same time
trying to hide a smoldering disobedience.”

How often have we cried out to God with a petition, even begging for
direction and guidance, while surreptitiously thinking we have hidden our
smoldering disobedience? If we would hear the call of God for any direction
in our lives let us spend them already in the holy things to which he has
presently appointed us. No matter how humble our current calling, obedience
to it is the usually prerequisite to hearing a new call from our Lord. Let
the seminarian who wants to serve God, serve first in his studies. The
teacher who longs to be a missionary, teach as a missionary already. The
banker who wants to lead many, lead himself well to his work each day. The
mother who longs for something more ‘important,’ work as important all the
duties of motherhood.

2. The Call of God came from the Holy Spirit, not men, who commanded that
Barnabas and Saul be set aside from what they had been doing for a new call.

No pastor is called first by men to serve the church. Every true call
originates with God and then is subsequently confirmed, though not
originated, by the church. These two should always correspond. If God has
not called a man to pastor, then neither should the church, and if God has
called a man, then the church ought to as well. What is clear here is that
the idea did not originate with any man. Neither men in the church, nor
Barnabas and Saul either. For nothing makes a more miserable minister than
one who imagines himself to be called when he is not truly called. This sad
circumstance is far too common. Men carried away by either the glory of the
office, or the desire to serve God more fully, wrongly feel their inner
desires as a call from God. Oh how sad that pastors preach today with no
more call than a guilty conscience, and how could God ever bless such a
ministry with the fruits of grace?

As a pastor cannot first be called by himself then neither should his call
only come from outside himself, from a church. A church eager to see itself
succeed in raising up laborers for the harvest may send out bright young men
for seminary hoping that there at least they will finally be called. If a
man is not called before seminary, seminary makes a bad place to hear a
call. Better that the church hears God’s call confirmed and only then send a
man to train for that calling. At some schools fewer than half the graduates
go on to ministry! And many of the half that do, subsequently leave
disillusioned when either the glory or the inner desire fades.

No, to serve God rightly as pastor a man must first be truly called of God!
Calvin comments on this passage:

No man is to be counted a lawful pastor of the Church, as the same Paul
witnesseth, save he which is called of God; neither doth God point out false
prophets by any other mark, save only by this, that he hath not sent them;
therefore, we gather that the Holy Ghost is God indeed, whose authority is
sufficient to choose pastors, and who hath the chief rule in choosing them,
which is likewise confirmed out of the words of Isaiah, “And now, behold,
the Lord hath sent me, and his Spirit.”

But what about all the rest of his people who are not called to be pastors
in his church, does he leave them without call? Do they simply choose what
they want to do apart from his will and voice? No! In the doctrine of
vocation we learn that God has a plan for each person, that we do not invent
our vocations but discover them from the hand and the mouth of God. So we
are rightly told that whatever work the Lord has given us to do is sacred to
the Lord and for him. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as
working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:23) Calvin again teaches
us on the importance of understanding and following our vocation.

The Lord bids each one of us in all life’s actions to look to his calling..
It is enough if we know that the Lord’s calling is in everything the
beginning and foundation of well-doing. And if there is anyone who will not
direct himself to it, he will never hold to the straight path in his
duties… From this will arise also a singular consolation: that no task
will be so sordid and base, provided you obey your calling in it, that it
will not shine and be reckoned very precious in God’s sight.  Institutes 3.10.6.

We are, each of us, to seek and follow the voice of the Lord which calls us
to our own vocation.

3. The Call of God is to a specific work and purpose which fits within God’s
greater plan.

While Barnabas and Saul were already gainfully employed in the life of the
church at Antioch being teachers there and certainly of great benefit to the
church in that capacity, God had other intentions for them. So too we have
over the years sent off many good men whom God has called away from service
at Uptown Church to serve the Lord of the harvest elsewhere in his harvest

Pastor Frank looms large in this way. He gave himself fully and faithfully
to God here, as elder and pastor. Yet God did not design to leave him here
for too long, only five years, before calling him to the Middle East. Just
as clearly as the church in Antioch heard the call on Saul’s life, Uptown
heard the call on Frank’s life. While their work in Antioch was good and
holy, and might be the work of a life-time, God decided, neither they nor
the church, that Saul and Barnabas should be set apart for another service,
in particular, to go into the world to reach Gentiles.  They did not leave
Antioch because they were tired, or discouraged, or hated the work. They did
not leave for greater prestige, money, or opportunity. They left because God
called them to go somewhere else.

So too, no pastor should ever leave a church for the sake of his own career,
ease or advancement. Yet how often do we see this?! How often does doing
“God’s will,” entail much more money or prestige or both! Odd isn’t it that
God who called his own Son to set aside his glory should call so many other
sons to find their glory?! Again after visiting Frank in the Middle East one
cannot help but see what was left behind, and what suffering was taken up
for the glory, not of himself, but of God.

Then what of the Christian called to serve in the world for the Lord? There
is a similar limitation. One is not free to move about for one’s own
advancement, but the call of God must be the driving concern. One must hear
and heed the call. Nothing is more dangerous to work where we have not been
summoned, or to neglect the work where we have been called! Calvin yet

Each of us, casting all his cares on God,  should follow his own calling,
and not be led away from the performance of his duty by any fears. Yet let
no man go beyond his own bounds; for confidence in the providence of God
must not go farther than God himself commands.  Commentary John 7:30

We know that men were created for the express purpose of being employed in
labor of various kinds, and that no sacrifice is more pleasing to God, than
when every man applies diligently to his own calling, and endeavors to live
in such a manner as to contribute to the general advantage.  Commentary Luke 10:38

Let us then, as did Barnabas and Saul, listen for and follow the voice of
the Lord, who alone calls us to our vocation, as he has planned it to work
in his providence, for his glory.

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On Creation

By Tom Hawkes

I was struck again this past weekend with what a great job our Lord has done in creating the earth as he has. Three of my sons and I went canoe camping on the Catawba River south of Rock Hill, SC, stopping to camp on a little island in the middle of our 18 mile paddle. The beauty was stunning, the wildlife plentiful (several bald eagles and too many blue herons to count) and the weather delicious. (Here a view from our campsite) http://www.catawba-river-expeditions.com/

The ancients, better than we, understood that to look on creation was to see the hand of God and to taste his love and beauty. I was reminded at a lecture recently that there are in essence two views of the world. One says the universe is impersonal governed by chance, the other rightly understands that the universe is intimately personal, created by a loving Father to express his love to his children. There is nothing impersonal about creation, or nature! Every flower we see, every Fall leaf, each sun set, each mountain peak is created out of a love more intense than any we have ever known. A love directed at us, his children, his beloved. The greatest American theologian, Jonathan Edwards, argued that clearly in his essay, The End for Which God Created the World.

Edwards writes:
“The communication of God’s virtue or holiness, is principally in communicating the love of himself. And thus we see how, not only the creature’s seeing and knowing God’s excellence, but also supremely esteeming and loving him, belongs to the communication of God’s fulness. And the communication of God’s joy and happiness, consists chiefly in communicating to the creature that happiness and joy which consists in rejoicing in God, and in his glorious excellency; for in such joy God’s own happiness does principally consist. And in these things, knowing God’s excellency, loving God for it, and rejoicing in it, and in the exercise and expression of these, consists God’s honour and praise; so that these are clearly implied in that glory of God, which consists in the emanation of his internal glory.” (Chapter 2, Section 7)

God creates the world not only to communicate his love to us, but that sensing his love might return to him love and praise, and find our joy there.

Last Saturday, waking up before the boys did, I was walking around our campsite and taking it all in (that is Brandon in the orange hammock, generously shared by his older brother Collin, Brandon had the best nights sleep!) The moon was setting, the sun rising the air cool and nice. I could sense from it all that my Father has loved me, loved me long before I knew him, and that this morning was no accident of ‘nature’ but a gift from my Father meant to let me know how much he cares.

The understanding stayed with me the entire trip, each new bend brought a new picture of my Father and his love.

Next time you go outside take the time and look around with this understanding: all creation communicates the Father’s love for us. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” Romans 1:20

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Embracing the Providence of God

By Tom Hawkes

“For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1:6)

There is a daily, even moment by moment, fight going on for our hearts.  From one side the devil would have us doubt God and from the other side God would have us believe him. It is a battle between unbelief and faith, doubt and confidence. In each instance the fight is waged on the same battle field: the daily occurrences of our lives.  As we experience life in daily portions enough struggles come our way that we live with some measure of disappointment or hurt, this even before we talk of the major crises we may face. It is in the daily circumstances though that this fight rages and it rages constantly.

Right now in the lives of the Hawkes’ family we have several of those small daily struggles. A tile in our laundry room lifted up last week revealing rotten floor, turns out the hot-water heater has been leaking, it must be replaced along with the floor. My car was in for an oil change and we discovered one thousand dollars of needed repairs. Ann has a crown that fell out again last night, for the fifth time. I broke a rib (second one this year! Maybe I should slow down.) tubing at the officer’s retreat, which makes sleeping every night difficult. Preston went to bed last night with a reaction to something he ate, struggling to breathe and with his face swollen. Brandon, who turns 18 on September 30th has been shopping for a cheap car for the last two months and has found nothing but frustration. Taylor, who has his own software business in California, has been so nervous over meeting project deadlines that he has developed a sick stomach. Collin is struggling in a relationship with a girlfriend. These are just the highlights for today; the list goes on and on. So does yours! The point is there are enough struggles small and large that there is plenty of fodder for the battle to be fought here amid the daily occurrences of our lives.

Here is how the battle unfolds in the daily circumstances of life. The Devil, aided by the world and our own sinful flesh, would have us look at our daily lives and doubt God saying: “See, look at the evidence, if God were good and powerful and he loved you, he would not let this happen to you. Clearly he either does not love you, is not powerful enough or not very good, therefore it is no use putting your confidence in Him, you had better do something about this yourself. You had better stop having faith and instead turn from trusting in this Uncaring God and fix your life yourself.” At the same time God will fight for us to believe amidst the same circumstances. As we experience the daily circumstances he bids us: “You must hear my Word to understand what is happening to you. My Word tells you that I am here in the midst of the struggles.  I am your God whose providence rules over all your circumstances, and I rule in power and love for your good. No matter how bleak the daily circumstances may be, believe my Word that I am ruling over them all in my good providence and trust in me, the God of Providence, to make all things work together for your good.” As Jesus said: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Matthew 10:29-31

The battle rages on daily, moment by moment, the same circumstances but with two different interpretations, doubt always bidding us to panic and think that we are alone in an uncaring universe where only the strong survive and might makes right, faith always leading us to peace and assurance thinking that “whatever my Father has ordained is right.” With each new struggle small or large, the Evil One hopes to gain a foot hold, “See, look at the difficult circumstances, yet another struggle!” With each new struggle the Good One advances our salvation, “Listen, do not just look at what you can see, but also hear my Word, my voice. I am near to save you and deliver you, only turn to me and trust in me.”

In the middle of the Battle the Word of the Lord comes to us: “For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1:6) The Lord assures us that our way, the way of those righteous in Christ, is known to him in such a way that he watches, guards and superintends all the activities of our lives. At the same time he wants us to understand that while our way is protected, the way of those who doubt God, the way of the wicked, is not protected. Whether their lives are easy or hard, they lead to one end: destruction. While our lives, easy or hard, day by day, lead to blessing and life.  This is the doctrine of the Providence of God. It may sound distant, remote and overly theological, but its essence is this: God watches over the way of the righteous, he will see that finally they prosper in Him, that every single circumstance in their lives is used for their benefit in the midst of his very carefully considered plan.

In his commentary Calvin makes the same point: the righteous in Christ can have confidence in any circumstance because “it is the peculiar office of God to defend them and take care of their safety, they must be happy under his protection.”

Moreover, as things appear to be here driven about at the mercy of chance, and as it is not easy for us, in the midst of the prevailing confusion, to acknowledge the truth of what the Psalmist had said, he therefore presents to our consideration the grand principle, that God is the Judge of the world. Granting this, it follows that it cannot but be well with the upright and the just, while, on the other hand, the most terrible destruction must impend over the ungodly. According to all outward appearance, the servants of God may derive no advantage from their uprightness; but as it is the peculiar office of God to defend them and take care of their safety, they must be happy under his protection. And from this we may also conclude that, as he is the certain avenger of wickedness, although, for a time, he may seem to take no notice of the ungodly, yet at length he will visit them with destruction. Instead, therefore, of allowing ourselves to be deceived with their imaginary felicity, let us, in circumstances of distress, have ever before our eyes the providence of God, to whom it belongs to settle the affairs of the world, and to bring order out of confusion. John Calvin, Commentary on Psalm 1:6

In the ‘dailyness’ of life the battle between faith and unbelief is waged, over every leaking hot-water heater, car repair, sick child and broken relationship. The Devil would have us turn from God in desperation, our Good Father would have us turn to him confident in his love, his good providence and ask, “Yes, Father I see the difficult circumstance, now, what good thing will you do this time?”  For it is true finally, the Lord does watch over the way of his children.

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By Tom Hawkes


John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

In saying “if” Jesus did not mean that the world might hate us or it might not, but rather ‘when’ we experience the hatred of the world, we should always bear this in mind, that long before it hated us it hated him first. Not only first in order of time, but first in order of intensity. Certainly we can see the first in order of time, he lived before us and before we drew a single breath Jesus was hated. But this too, he is hated more than any of us. Even at his birth Herod’s hatred raged against the new born King, it raged so intensely that he put to death all the boys in the region under two yeas of age. Just as we might spray the entire house after we see one bug, Herod wanted to crush this new born king so badly that he was willing to bring mourning to thousands of homes in the hopes of squashing the one little prince.

So we should expect similar hatred, though perhaps not at the same intensity level. Where do we see it? Around the world it is more easily seen than here. The Chinese prisons are kept in business by Christian house church pastors. The war in Sudan is aimed by Northern Muslims against the Christians in the South. In Egypt, this past Christmas, Muslims targeted Coptic churches to be burned down. In the Arab world Christians are insulted, marginalized and persecuted. And let a Muslim call on Jesus as Lord,  and we see real hatred fall on their heads.

The hatred we undergo in the West is more subtle—for now! We will find opposition from those near us, even our own families. The first words spoken to me by a member of the world when I first became a Christian, from my own family, were these:  “This is just a phase you are going through you will get over it in few months, you are just being stupid!”  Followed quickly by words such as these from other members of my families: “Never speak the name of Jesus in this house again!” “I do not want to hear any more about Jesus, if I ever decide I want to be saved I will call you.” “Oh, no, our younger brothers have become Republicans, where did we go wrong!” “When you Christians are not around all we do is talk about you and how bad you all are.”

For those of us raised in non-Christian homes we may find the words of Jesus very understandable.

Matthew 10:34-36   34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–  36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

I had first thought that Jesus meant that Christians would have a natural antipathy towards our non-Christian family, but I do not think that is the point he is making. Rather the means that the non-Christians would hate and turn against the Christian family members. In the end, those that hate us the most will be the members of our own household. The King of Peace has brought a sword into our lives that divides us from others who reject him.

Beyond our families we find the rest of the world ready to hate us for following Christ.  Some of this is subtle, things that we miss out on for being Christians. The promotion that does not come at work because we are not ‘team players.’ The neighborhood party that you are not invited to because of your views.  The ski trip your buddies plan and don’t invite you too because you will cramp their style and fun. These subtle but important signs of hatred occur every day.

Then we face the out right hatred of the world. The behind your back comments about being ‘holy’ or self-righteous. The in your face comments! While participating with a group of pastors on a Habitat building last year one of the pastors, from a more theologically liberal church led the devotional. He was very respectful of all the various clergy there, saying nice things about Muslims, Hindus and other groups represented. But in his devotional as he spoke of the cross of Jesus he picked out one single group to castigate. With a derogatory tone he began: “Evangelicals say that Jesus died to save us.” His intention was clear, that evangelicals are wrong and not just wrong but ignorant to assume something so obviously wrong.  Then he concluded, ”But I say that Jesus died to save himself.” The crowd murmured their approval at a sentence that instantly declared 2000 years of Christian Orthodoxy heretical.  Out of all the religions in the world why did he have to pick on Historic Christianity? The answer is in his teaching. Notice how he demeans the work of Jesus, the glory and holiness of Jesus, supposing that Jesus needed saving, supposing that his death could not possibly save anyone else but himself.  Why pick on Christians? Because of his natural hatred for Jesus. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”

In keeping this in mind, in understanding and knowing that Jesus was hated first, there is cause for rejoicing, for we undergo the same treatment as our King and Master, whom we love. Our Lord means to comfort us, to assure us, and at the same time excite us to love him all the more, for when we feel the pain of hatred we must remember that he felt it far worse, far more deeply and far more freely–all for our sake. Even the world’s hatred should teach us to love our Lord more, who bore such disgrace for us. When we feel the sting of the world’s hatred we should turn to Jesus, we should go to him, “outside the camp,” and in fellowship with him bear the disgrace that he bore. “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.  Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.” (Hebrews 13:12-13)

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By Tom Hawkes

It hit me last week as my wife, Ann, was saying grace over dinner. She was giving thanks that our oldest son, Collin, 25,  had just accepted a job offer to work at Bank of America in Charlotte. When it hit me: I am living an incredibly blessed life. Even as she prayed images flashed through my mind.

  • I had lunch with the other three pastors from Uptown earlier that week, Mike, Dave and Jeff. These are unusually great guys to be working with and we really enjoy each other, each different but somehow it all works together.
  • Ann and I had dinner with Phil and Shanna Davis, talking about what God is doing in Prague through the church plant there. We reminisced about my doing their wedding 11 years ago, and then being older than Shanna’s mom.
  • I had watched last Saturday as Mike performed the wedding of Tom Queen and Angela Boyd, then celebrated with these friends in the café.
  • Shane Martin, our last worship director,  had come to play at the Queen wedding and we had a great visit and a tearful embrace good-bye.
  • Phil Parshall had just taken some of the church staff to a Mosque the week before and we were all struck by how grace is so much better than works.
  • Two weeks before I had done the wedding for one of the “children” of the church, David Samuelson, son of Ken and Ruth, it was so special to see this boy-become-a-man vowing to love ‘till death do us part.’
  • At the Prague oversight commission meeting that week I had really enjoyed not only thinking about the future of Faith Community but doing it with great leader like Bob Dyar, and Howard Brown, pastor of daughter church Christ Community.
  • I had spend much of the day preparing some teaching for a seminar for church planters in Chicago coming up this next week, I really love helping new pastors get started, and Jeff and I will be going up together, good times.
  • We had a meeting two days before of the oversight commission for our new church plant with Jeff Hardy, many people are excited about helping with this and the Lord seems to be paving the way.
  • Tay, our 23 year old who lives in Southern California, was planning to come out to join us all for our summer vacation.
  • Brandon and Preston were both getting ready to go on the youth mission trip to Nashville.
  • The Session had recently voted to move Wes Andrews from intern to part time youth ministry director and I think he is really, really good at this.
  • My work on the doctorate is so enjoyable, I keep learning so much, reading such outstanding works and the writing is coming faster and clearer with each week. Now that I can read French passably, I am learning Latin, and find I really enjoy Latin too!
  • Many other images of friends, family and church members swirled around in my head from just the last couple of weeks, great images!

And my wife was praying… thanking God for his goodness, and she is a deep and profound woman of God who is far better than I deserve, and I was thankful for her too, the way she prays, the way she love Jesus, and our boys. And as she prayed, it all washed over me, that none of this, not one part, was produced by me. It was all given as a gift. A gift that I was not owed, a gift that left me speechless with gratitude. And this realization, I am a blessed man, blessed more than I had seen a few moments before. Oh sure, I have suffered, there have been tragedies and hardships, and pain. But as I sat there that night, dinner before us, holding hands with our two sons still at home,  those seemed to fade into the background and I could not help but see—I am blessed. And grateful.

And I wonder, if we all stopped and thought about it, if we might not think the same thing. We are blessed.

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