My pastor, Jeff, issued a challenge on his blog. His post focused on honoring the people in his life who fear the Lord. As he explained it, these are the people who have pushed him closer to Christ throughout his life. His challenge to readers was to think about people who fear the Lord and find a way to honor them. His way of doing that was to mention them by name, intending to encourage them as they made it through their day.
For me, this is a challenge. I don’t mean that I can’t think of anyone who has encouraged me in my walk with Christ. It isn’t as if I was born with an innate desire to study the Bible and enter into a relationship with God. There have been a lot of people throughout my life who have pushed me to grow in that walk. But the ravages of time and an imperfect memory will absolutely cause some important people to be unintentionally omitted in my attempt to honor those who fear the Lord. But here’s my attempt to say thank you to those who have pushed me to become the man I am today.
- My parents and grandparents – These six people were my first examples of living a life that seeks to be Christlike. They weren’t perfect, but I learned that perfection isn’t required to have a relationship with Christ, because through Him we are perfected.
- Cecil Hicks – He taught Sunday School as I was growing up in church. I remember thinking of him as kind of intimidating when I was still too young to join his class. But by the time I hit 5th grade, I understood him to be a fantastic teacher who had a heart for teaching kids about Jesus. Without him and the passion he conveyed, it may have taken me many years to understand the importance of studying and meditating on God’s word.
- Ken Lyle – He was the campus minister and New Testament professor at Bluefield College throughout my entire time at that school. I learned a lot of practical knowledge from him and learned how to use that knowledge to affect ministry.
- Eddie Stepp – Another Bluefield professor, from whom I learned the history of the Church and the religions of the world. As with Dr. Lyle, there’s a lot that I learned from him that has helped me to understand more clearly the character of God.
- David Lowe – I met this guy when he transferred in during my sophomore year. The next year, we were roommates. We could geek out over a lot of the same things (despite the fact that he was a Marvel while I was a DC), but we also spent a lot of nights in the dorm sharing what God was doing in each of our lives as we tried to grasp the concept of adulthood. When I think of Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another,” I think of Dave.
- Mark Hipes, Brandon Caldwell, & Andy Berry – I also think of these guys. They’re the best friends I could possibly ask for and it’s impossible to separate them in my mind. Over the years, no matter the distance or where each of us have ended up in life, I know they’re the ones that I can always count on to be there if I need them. They’re the ones who have challenged me over and over again, with brutal honesty when necessary. They’ve seen me at my best and my worst. They point me back to the Lord when I stumble and fall.
- Nicole Holden – She’s the kind of person who’s faith in God is unshakable. In fact, if anyone’s faith could be broken by their circumstances, it should have been hers. But it wasn’t. She fully relies on God to see her through every trial that comes her way and the way she relies on Him is inspiring.
- Julie Jewell – She’s sort of my boss. Julie is the children’s ministry director at Northstar Church. And since I’m the children’s ministry assistant, that sort of makes her my boss, right? I don’t think I’ve ever left a conversation or meeting with Julie where I haven’t felt uplifted and encouraged. She has a sweet spirit and is always ready with a kind word.
- Jeff Noble – The issuer of this particular challenge. As the pastor of Northstar Church, he has pushed me to invest in the life of the church, which has led to so many wonderful opportunities to get involved in various ministries and to form relationships with people that I know will last for the rest of my life. I’m blessed to say he’s my pastor, I’m honored to call him a friend.
That’s all I have at the moment. And I’m typing these words through tears. Don’t worry, they’re tears of joy. I look at that list and I thank God for all the amazing people he has placed in my life throughout each season. I see these people and know that God has put them in my life at various times, even when I was far from Him, He had people who feared Him to come alongside me to push me back in the right direction. Thank you for the blessing you all have been in my life, and in the lives of so many others.