Love and enthusiasm are faith-based choices (a visit with Tim and Kelly and their family)

– The Blacks

Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic — be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! – Romans 12:9-11

You put your whole self in; You put your whole self out; You put your whole self in; And you shake it all about… The Hokey Pokey

Back when we lived in Brandon, Florida, Rebekah and I were blessed to enjoy a deep and productive relationship with the other pastor on staff, Tim Black, along with his family. Tim and Kelly had just married, and they embraced our church with all of their energy, commitment, imagination, creativity, and – most importantly – love.

Enthusiasm and love – as Paul points out in Romans 12 – are not reactions so much as they are choices.

Later, the Blacks and their growing family moved to Pennsylvania and, though we have seen each other infrequently over the years, we have always remained close.

I believe our relationship has a lot to do with that story I told about Rebekah’s mother at the retirement luncheon, and her advice to “Love the Lord, love the preacher, and love the church....” Tim and Rebekah shared that commitment and passion, and both Kelly and I made the conscious decision to choose to love God (and our preacher spouses) by loving and serving the church and investing ourselves in the people.

Ministry is about the hokey Pokey:

We haven’t seen Tim and Kelly in probably four years, so we were very excited when they told us they were driving to North Carolina for a visit. And now they have four wonderful, energetic, noisy, intelligent, beautiful children.

The resurgence of COVID kept us all out of the museums we would have taken them to enjoy, and temps in the mid-nineties kept us from visiting any outside attractions. So we hung around at Maul-Hall, and Rebekah taught the youngest two how to make angel biscuits, and the four adults talked, and talked, and talked, and talked.

The visit was a blessing in so many ways.

My point is not just, “How great it is to see old friends”, but how ministry is about love, and about relationships, and about authenticity, and about The Hokey Pokey (you put your whole self in). People read this blog from all over the map, so I don’t know what church you attend, or where you see the future of leadership in your congregation, but Rebekah’s mother’s words are timeless – she was onto something of critical importance.

– with the kids

It comes down to authenticity, and when such a level of commitment and love come together, what this world is gifted with is the powerful confluence of God’s providence and our faithful response.

So thanks, Tim and Kelly (plus Micah, Liam, Vivi, and Titus), for traveling all this way and for living out such conscious and momentous and beautiful decisions to love.

In love, and because of love – DEREK

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