Sometimes it's striking how our own lives parallel church history. The subtitle of Ligonier's biography series, "A Long Line of Godly Men" has been ringing in my head this past week. Not only is it an appropriate phrase to celebrate how God has blessed his church through many godly men, it's also an appropriate title for his grace in my life.
As God often chooses to use secondary means to accomplish his wonderful purposes, he has chosen to use a long line of godly men in my life to bring his saving and sanctifying grace to me. As we approach Thanksgiving, I wanted to give God my public thanks for this long line of godly men he's used in my life.
More than any other man, God has used my dad as a vessel of his grace to me. I was blessed to be born in a Christian home, but it didn't start that way. My dad was brought to a sincere faith through the testimony of my mom and her family after they were married, so I was blessed to be brought up in a Christian family. Along with my mom, my dad taught and showed the gospel often enough so that even I could get it. To this day, my dad continues to be a role model to many as well as a friend and counselor to me.
When I was in junior high, our church brought Tom N. as an associate pastor. Outside of my dad, Tom was the first man to get to know me personally and purposefully. For a couple years, we would often meet together after school, studying God's Word together. I had never heard of the concept of "disciple-making", but that's what it was. Looking back, I wish I would have taken his counsel and friendship more seriously! Tom now serves the Lord overseas as a leader of missionaries and church planting in Europe.
Upon my arrival at college, I pretty quickly fell in with the Navigators Christian group. John H. was new on staff with the Navigators and quickly began meeting with me on a weekly basis. It's hard to express how much growth God granted to me during my freshmen year of college, and most of that was through John's friendship and mentoring. It was during this time that God stirred a thirst for his Word in my heart that still hasn't been fully quenched. John is also now serving the Lord overseas as a missionary in a Muslim country.
Lisa and I got married after our third year of college; she was already a member of the local Reformed Presbyterian church, so we began attending there. Despite a rocky road (on my part, not the church's), I eventually warmed up to this group and began following the pastor, Dave Long, around, learning how to do discipleship within the context of a local church. In the years that followed, Dave has continued to be a true friend and a ready counselor. He's taught me (and several others) more about being a pastor than anyone else.
Finally, I am continually thankful for Ben and David, the two other elders at Immanuel RPC. Since our congregation began almost seven years ago, these men have been my most frequent partners in prayer and ministry. They have challenged me, encouraged me, rebuked me and upheld me more times than I can count.
To sum up, God has been very good to me. Most often, his goodness has come through other people, especially these men. I often pray he might see fit to use me in others' lives in similar ways and I often hope the men of our church will have a similar vision to be used for God's grace for those around them.
p.s. - this post is not intended to be full or complete, especially in its lack of the godly women who have impacted me. That's for another time (probably a whole book...).