I thought it would be best if I was to write this all down and read it since there have been many thoughts running through my mind since our meeting together with you and your wife the other day. I must say that I felt a great ache and loss in my heart when I first heard about your decision. This letter is a brief attempt on the part of my family to communicate to you and yours our love for you all. I also hope to encourage you with some thoughts as you prepare for this transition.
I am in debt to you personally in a great way since it is because of this church and it’s faithfulness to the gospel that I can count myself as being a part of the Kingdom of Heaven. I remember the first time that I met you; Tom had arranged for me to meet with you in your office for private counseling. I had a hard time believing that anyone could have so many books! The thing I remember from that meeting is that though I spoke to you about deep heart issues and my struggles with sin, you were very kind to me and listened thoroughly before giving your advice. It was here that I first heard of a guy named John Owen and the idea of “killing sin”. You taught me that I must kill sin or it will kill me. “Hamarteological Murder” was one of the phrases I remember from you over the last few years. I remember traveling back and forth with you when our church had the radio show back in 98'. I remember the first time that I had “boats” at your house. I can honestly say that I learned how to eat from you and your family, a tradition that has continued into my family. Garlic, salt, jalapenos cooked in olive oil, sausage cooked to well done levels...Your personal example of family worship is how I learned what that exactly is and how to do it in a practical way with children present, something that I hope to employ as my own son gets older. In retrospect I have much regret that I did not pay better attention to all of your teaching. I did not apprehend just how thorough it was. It was also through your example that I learned how men ought to sing during public worship. I am sure that I could multiply the lessons that I have learned from you by actual instruction or by the way you have lived in the midst of my life and the life of our church. I have seen in you a willingness to be challenged to change in areas that are not essential in the Christian life. I always tell Arlene that when I left our church and came back, I came back to a totally different Pastor B who was smiling and cracking jokes during his Sunday schools. I have continued to see this flexibility over the last few years and am very thankful for it. Now that you are being moved by the Master into a position of great strategic importance I have a number of encouragements to you. I encourage you to continue to do what you have been doing: faithful, simple devotion to Christ and His church. Don’t forget to be hospitable when you get there and feed everybody garlic as much as they can tolerate. I think that your moving to this position is simply a fulfillment of our church covenant in terms of the “global minded” section and it is a way for us as a people to be “other oriented” by giving you up to this great work. I personally consider it a privilege to be one of those who can give a “thumbs up” to your decision since I hope to see great fruit from your involvement in the seminary. You will be involved in training up many men who will go into many areas of the world and be used to further the gospel and kingdom of Christ on the earth. I can not go and do this; you have been particularly gifted to perform this service to the Church and I look forward to hearing reports of what God is doing through your ministry there. I also think that this will be a challenge to our church to grow in grace. Personally I feel as if my “training wheels” are being removed and now I have to ride by myself and I consider this a challenge to grow as a faithful church member and Christian man. Thank you for all your years of diligence in the ministry. Thank you for your friendship and all the clouds of smoke we have enjoyed together. Thank you for sharing your family with my family. We are going to miss you very much and hope that some of our vacations in the future will find us in Kentucky, if we can find it on the map, so that we can spend time with you. We have already been looking into how we can mail you your Trader Joe order utilizing dry ice, next day air, etc. Hopefully you can find a garlic dealer up there. We will pray for you and hope that you know that we always will have you in our hearts.