Bet you thought this was Tom writing to give you a weekly dose of encouragement before the announcements about what’s going on in the life of our church. Well, I am trying to do that encouragement thing, only it’s not Tom writing you, it’s Lee. Or rather, I am Lee.
You probably thought I was Tom because he’s the dude who always writes these little meditations every week to give us something fun, sweet, true, good and even surprisingly deep to think about at the end of the work day before we head into our weekend.
He writes to keep us encouraged…
To keep us pumped up about Jesus and our walk with Him…
To help us remember all the little things that are really big things in our faith…
To keep us putting one foot in front of the other as we walk with our Lord…
You probably also thought this was Tom because of the way I started it out. You see, as I sat down to start writing this thing, I automatically typed, “Hey Everyone!” just like Tom always does. I didn’t even mean to. The keys “H-e-y - E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e-!” just sort of typed themselves without any planning on my part whatsoever. I inadvertently did it like he does it.
Actually, that’s becoming kind of a theme in my life. Over the past 18 years or so, I have picked up a lot of stuff from our pastor. Little-by-little, that guy - his heart, his way of doing things and his style is creeping into who I am more and more. To be honest, I think that could be said of most of the folks at Triple C. In fact, I bet lots of us would stand up and say that the most mature parts of our thinking and the most solid parts of our faith are the parts we picked up from Tom. Probably, most of us Triple C-ers would say that the Tom-ish parts of our hearts are the most “Awesome” parts about us. (and we totally would say “Awesome” with four or five exclamation points!!!!!)
Tom would probably croak (whoa, I never used that word before meeting him) if he heard me talking like this, but actually, it’s a pretty appropriate response. If God puts someone sweet, sincere, servant-hearted, faithful, wise and full of love in your life, then by all means, become like him! If God puts a shepherd like that over the flock where you’re grazing, then by all means, follow him!
In 1 Corinthians chapter 4 and in chapter 11, Paul is even so bold as to talk this way about himself! He says, “I urge you to imitate me.” and “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” And he was right! Those crazy Corinthians needed to become like Paul!
Around 18 years ago, I was a punk. I was an over-confident, selfish senior in high school who was shipwrecking my heart and my life as fast as I knew how. I was distressed and destructive and as haughty as I acted, I felt so unbelievably alone. I needed someone to talk to and Tom answered the phone. He met me for lunch. Tina made us sandwiches. He looked me in the eye. He asked me about my life. I could tell he cared. It was the best day…
And now, almost twenty years later, I have a life, a marriage, a ministry and a heart that loves Jesus more than I ever imagined was possible. Because of Tom, I love John Wesley, William Wilberforce, Augustine, Spurgeon, Newton, Bunyan, Campbell Morgan, Hudson Taylor and the dang Earl of Shaftesbury! Because of him, I have a church family in all of you folks - my brothers and sisters in Christ! And together, we’re growing and changing!
Because of Tom, we care about widows and orphans in India and ex-gang members in Chicago! (Psst! Don’t forget to make cookies for us this Sunday!) Because of Tom, we love prisoners in Morgan County and Bible translators in Africa! We care about lost people in Missouri, Houston, Anderson County, France, Spain, Italy, Jerusalem and on and on! Because of that dude, our hearts are growing and our faith is seasoning. Because of him, we all cry a little more than we used to, and that’s not a bad thing.
When God gives you a gift like Tom, you do whatever it takes to become as much like him as you possibly can.
So, let’s all crank up the bluegrass, turn on a baseball game and have an AWESOME day!! It’s what he would do.