It is very uncommon for me to write a personal blog about my life, but this week is a special week for my wife, Bonnie, and me. We are in Zihuatanejo, Mexico celebrating 35 years of marriage. This past Sunday marked 36 years of ministry so suffice to say, our married life has been intimately tied to all of our years in the ministry. I have always seen the church as an extension of our family. Growing up in a large family of 11 people, including my mom and dad, a big family is normal for me.
Of course, our church family has grown to thousands of people, but I can still relate to it from a family perspective. As a pastor, I have always loved to share in the life of others. From weddings to baby dedications to graduations, to family crises, and unfortunately, funerals, Bonnie and I have shared in all the aspects of people’s lives. We have shared both the joys and the sorrows of life. Now that it has been 36 years of ministry, we have shared in the generations of the families, too.
When I started the church, I was only 24 years old. When I officiated weddings back then, I was typically about the age of the couple getting married. I remember all the sudden realizing I was now the age of the parents and have actually now done weddings where I am the age of the grandparents! This was a little scary when I took the time to think about it. I love to see people involved in the church, knowing Bonnie might have changed their diapers when they were in the nursery. We have seen kids shyly sing in a children’s program who now confidently lead on our worship teams. I love the family of God.
I recently visited someone in the hospital who started attending Mt. Zion in our first year as a church. They were 19 years old when they started. Now, at age 55, they were in the hospital facing a major crisis. When we went to visit him at the hospital, he said how amazing it was to have found a family in the church and now to feel the comfort and security of that blessing in his time of crisis.
As a family grows and spreads out, we often fail to see the blessing until the crisis comes, then we realize family is really worth the investment. I said this to encourage you with your personal family life and also your church family life. Look at them as an investment worth the time and even perhaps the struggle. Many people find family to be a struggle. The reason for this is life is a struggle. But when we struggle together, we can grow in a safe and healthy environment.
Psalm 68:4 Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds, By His name YAH, And rejoice before Him. 5 A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. 6 God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.
Happy Anniversary to my amazing wife, Bonnie, and happy anniversary to Mt. Zion! Thank you for being part of our family all these years!