Good Gifts: Final Reflections From Our Time in Michigan and With FWB People

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

Today, for my last blog as pastor of Central Oaks, I want to reflect on some of the good gifts God has given us.

King Jesus is coming

I’ve had this song in my mind off and on since Sunday. I was raised on southern gospel and the Gaither Vocal Band in particular. Our glorious King is coming again, and I am so thankful and expectant to see Him.

My Beautiful Wife

I don’t love her more than Jesus, but it’s a close second, if that’s possible. She has been so wonderful to me and our daughters, by God’s grace. He has grown her spiritually in the last 10 years and I’m humbled to have the privilege of being her husband.

Our Daughters

Caroline and Meredith are also wonderful gifts from the Lord. A few months ago, Tim Boehnlein told me about something that happened while teaching Caroline in Sunday School. He asked what the best day of their life was. Caroline said the best day of her life was when her sister was born. Oh, how I don’t deserve these girls!

God’s Word

It has sustained me time and time again. It has calmed my spirit and body in the midst of panic. It has given me courage and strength when I was afraid of doing difficult things. It has corrected me when I was astray. It has been food for my soul and water for my heart. I love it with all I am, and yet I don’t love it nearly enough.

godly family

To have parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents that all love the Lord is unheard of. To have in-laws that love Him too is a gift I take for granted too often. What a blessing it is to have biological family that is part of my forever family!


I think of meeting with Bert Tippett in his office once a week for a semester or two in college.

I think of writing an article for Jack Williams to look at and give me feedback on. He was so encouraging!

I think of Steve and Chari Lindsay serving me and many other teens at New Hope Free Will Baptist Church in Joelton, TN.

I remember Allen Pointer talking to me as a nervous Sophomore in high school during my second year of Truth and Peace in the student center at FWBBC telling me why I was accepted that year to the conference: “Well, Dean sees something in you so there’s that” (my paraphrase).

I remember playing in “Surprised By Joy” with David Jones on bass, Ryan Lewis on keys, Derek Lambert on the skins and Matt Bracey on acoustic electric.

I remember opportunities to lead worship at a ton of church camps various summers.

I remember confessing my sin at the altar with my brother Jeremy one year at the National Youth Conference when Curt Gwartney was speaking.

I remember seeing a very attractive Lynsey Stripling sing at the National Youth Conference and asking Steve Greenwood if she had a boyfriend.

I remember Jared Martin finding me playing guitar on the roof of the music building in colelge and encouraging me to take lessons with him.

I remember talking with Matt Price and Jesse Owens during seminary about theology and pastoral ministry.

I remember Dr. Picirilli letting me grill him one day about what I needed to know about being a pastor.

I remember seeing Mr. Tippett sing with joy at Cofer’s Chapel week after week as his body was being eaten by cancer.

I remember Brother Barry Simpson preaching Romans at New Hope and being drawn into and challenged by the depth of God’s Word.

I remember Katie Greenwood and Janice Waldrop encourage me at Randall House. I remember Ron Hunter’s willingness to invest in me by giving me a job there and then nudging me out of the nest when it was time to go.

I remember Tom McCullough’s heart for Central Oaks when we met at Westy’s Bar and Grill on the river in Memphis, TN. I remember the day he called to tell me he had cancer. I remember carrying him to the restroom in his home while he was on hospice. I remember him smirking at me in between his labored breathing when I couldn’t remember where Psalm 139 was.

I remember praying so earnestly that God would give us an opportunity at Central Oaks to serve our neighbors when a man from Samaritan’s Purse knocked on our door and asked if we would be willing to host them during the flood in 2015.

I remember visiting Clifford Fairchild in assisted living when his pants were down below his knees. Since he could barely hear, I essentially yelled, “Mr. Clifford don’t you want to pull your pants up?!” He replied (again, a paraphrase, but yelling of course), “Well when you get my age you don’t worry so much about these things.”

I remember praying over Tom and Diane Zoppa before they moved to Grand Rapids.

I remember the kindness the deacons showed me and my family by giving me a sabbatical in the lowest moment of my life.

I remember watching many of you all from Central Oaks cry when I told you Meredith took her first steps.

There are many, many more, but these are what come to mind in this moment.

We will miss you all and pray God’s best for you.


The Lord keeps graciously opening door after door for us as we lean toward moving to NW Indiana. Hopefully I’ll have the time in the future to be able to articulate all the ways He has answered our prayers in and through Lake Hills Baptist Church. The most recent way He has provided for us is by sending us a buyer for our home–we signed the contract today!

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

All the glory and the honor belong to my Father. None can compare to His mercy and power. Praise ye the Lord, O my soul.