On February 26th, my dad will celebrate his 60th birthday. Since he will be in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico on his birthday leading a mission team to engage an unreached village in his role as Director of Field Training for To Every Tribe ministry’s Center for Pioneer Church Planting, I decided to post this early so he could see it before he leaves the country. My dad has always been a hero to me. He has been a faithful servant of God for over 35 years. Today, he is one of my best friends. We can laugh together and discuss theology together. I count it a privilege to have this relationship with him. In honor of his 60th birthday, I want to share ten reasons that I’m thankful for him.
- He is strong. My dad is a model of masculinity (think Tim “The Toolman” meets Ron Swanson). He loves to work with his hands and loves manly things, like hot rods (Chevys only!). I’ve never beaten him in a contest of strength, whether arm-wrestling or tests of strength of grip. I know I’m stronger than him now, but he has always had the mental edge over me. I know I will never best him, and I never want to.
- He is intelligent. My dad is one of the most intelligent men I know (and I know some smart ones!).He learns quickly and retains what he learns. He is has a quick mind, which he uses effectively for witty comments.
- He is studious. My dad loves to read and study. He never attended college or seminary, but after God called him to preach he began to study with a passion. I’m convinced that he knows more about the Bible than most Ph.D.’s in biblical studies. In all my years of college, seminary, and doctoral work, I never learned anything about the Bible that he was unaware of.
- He is sincere. My dad says what he means and means what he says. He is genuine. He’s the real deal. I know a lot of preacher kids who have become disillusioned with Christianity because they saw harshness or hypocrisy in their parents. I’m thankful that this was not my experience. My mom and dad genuinely love the Lord and have always tried to serve Him to the best of their understanding.
- He is spiritual. Related to my dad’s sincerity is his spirituality. As long as I can remember he has risen at 4 or 5 am for prayer and Bible study. I have memories of waking up early sometimes and finding him somewhere on his knees over an open Bible. What a blessing to have this heritage! His preaching reflects not only a detailed study of the text, but also a fervent appeal to the heart that only comes from hours of meditating and praying over a text. I can still remember some of his sermons from my childhood decades later.
- He is courageous. I’ve always known my dad to be a man of conviction who would preach what God’s Word says and live by what He believes it taught, no matter what the cost might be. He has always stood for his convictions, even if it cost him friends or financial gain.
- He is a lifelong-learner. One of the most impressive characteristics about my dad is that he continues to learn. He is a great example of someone who is always being changed by his study of the Word. While he is willing to stand on truth, he is not afraid to change his mind on matters of interpretation if he learns more information about the subject. He has shown me that a commitment to the truth does not mean never changing one’s mind, but being willing to change one’s mind to pursue the truth, wherever the evidence leads.
He is committed to global missions. My dad has always been committed to missions. He made his first mission trip to Mexico over thirty years ago and came back with a passion to take the gospel to those who did not have as ready access to the gospel as Americans. He took a young family with only a few hundred dollars a month support, trusting God to provide. We lived there for three years and I never knew we were poor. God met all our needs. Now, three decades later, he and my mom are living on faith again, this time helping to train a new generation of risk-taking missionaries to take the gospel to those who have never heard. He is a faithful husband. My dad has been a faithful husband to my mother for over forty years! They have served others together and served one another faithfully over four decades. I’m thankful for their example of faithfulness to one another. My dad preached a sermon decades ago on why he can’t quit the ministry. Among the reasons he gave, which included the Savior and his sons, was his spouse. I’m glad they’ve encouraged one another not to quit over the years and have not quit loving one another. He is a loving father. My dad has always loved me and my brother and sister unconditionally. Even when he disagrees with us, he still loves us, and we know it. He has always supported me in my decisions and encouraged me in my gifts and abilities. Needless to say, I would not be who I am apart from the influence of this godly man.
Happy birthday, Dad! I love you and thank God for you.