Thanksgiving and Christmas Greetings Friends and Acquaintances, December ‘21
A couple of months we sent a letter describing where we were as a family. Today I’d like to bring you up to date and then afterwards go silent for at least the next year and a half. That is, no more mass mailings for a while – I’ll imagine your relief!
Last I wrote to you we were church-less, job-less, and even our housing situation was far from settled. Well, though taking us down a rather circuitous route, our Heavenly Father has directed and met our needs, yet without allowing us to “look too good nor talk too wise.”
We are becoming members of a tiny congregation that calls itself Sovereign Grace Community Church, no relation to the Sovereign Grace church network. The preaching elder at the church is this guy, Kit Culver, a 65-year-old who also hails from the west and was originally an engineer. Kit was born a Lutheran, has Anglican and Church of Scotland theological influences, and practices believer’s baptism. In other words, “the dogma lives loudly in him.”
Kit’s at the ripe age when even pastors start to imagine life after the slog of career. We’ve discussed that perhaps…just PERHAPS…our paths have come together at a fortuitous time. In fact, every time he coughs a little, a stab of hope passes through me – maybe the time has arrived to reclaim my former pastoral glory?
IN ALL SERIOUSNESS, brothers and sisters, it’s been a delight and consolation to sit under Kit opening the Word to us week after week, and we (Tonia and I) are content, grateful, full of joy that God has brought us to this church. I have to say that I’ve never experienced a preaching style like Pastor Kit’s, and I find it difficult to describe. In some ways it’s extremely simple. “Simple,” though the sermons are around 65 minutes (!). And to say that his speaking style isn’t flamboyant would be a gross understatement. And yet for all its length and lack of explosiveness, the sermons, as I said, are a delight and consolation.
Check out the church here. You’ll notice the website could use some updating, and I intend to attend to that very soon. I look forward to working with Kit and contributing where I can, probably more and more officially.
So, the church situation God has resolved wonderfully. Living Quarters: At the start of November we learned that we needed to leave our rental in just over two weeks. At the time we got the news I was still jobless, even after casting the job search net over most of the USA. Well, this housing deadline forced us to decide to stay in CO, since we couldn’t very well pack up a truck and start driving without a destination.
Finding a rental house whose landlord will tolerate a shedding, drooling giant dog while being in the state of job-less-ness is an uncertain matter. But again, our Heavenly Father supplied, and we find ourselves in a comfortable, attractive house in southern Denver, in a place called “highlands.” I take a walk most morning and within 20 minutes am ambling among hills – hills which contain plenty of deer so that Teddy the Newfoundland can pretend that he’s a hunter for the few moments and yards that he lacklusterly runs after them. No tricks: here’s a photo from walk just this morning at the break of day:
But you ask, how are we funding the lavish lifestyle we’ve moved into? Answer: I’ve taken a high-powered job as a door-to-door milk salesman (100% commission) with Longmont Dairy:
I applied for well over a hundred jobs, including pastoral jobs, and at the time that our severance pay ran dry Longmont Dairy was the only one that followed up with me. You wouldn’t believe the many rejection e-mails from all kinds of businesses: I was even turned down from being a courier… using my own car!
The job is difficult, almost entirely for reasons unrelated to the actual work: the voices in my head: I have an MDIV degree, and I’ve been pastoring for 20 years, and when I recall those facts this very much feels like I’m in some penalty box. Also, sometimes when I’m walking up to a door I imagine my departed dad looking over the rim of heaven, shaking his head at me: I didn’t raise my boys to be door-to-door salesman, he’s muttering to himself.
But besides these internal dalliances with a little shame, I have to say that I’m enjoying this job right now. I’m outdoors, meeting a lot of people, learning a lot. The schedule is flexible – I can work whenever I want – allowing me time to do church work. Right now, in several ways this feels optimal. (And I hope it’ll end up paying the bills – that remains to be seen!)
It can get confusing – currently I’m bearing two messages of good news: the gospel and the freshest, healthiest milk you can buy. I worry that in a tired moment the messages could be conflated, and I’d start spouting something about justification without steroids, antibiotics or pesticides and free ranging cows on streets of gold. Oh well, we all have things to sort out!
Friend and acquaintances, Christian brothers and sisters: they’ve been a challenging few months, and we wouldn’t trade them for anything different. We worry about falling into cliches and religious cant, but in this letter we want to bear witness to God’s wisdom, His faithfulness to his creation and specifically his people in Christ, his generosity. In many ways things have been WONDERFUL. God has been WONDERFUL and so kind and thoughtful toward us. It is surprisingly invigorating (life-giving) to be humbled so obviously. God knows I needed that. In particular I’m grateful to my extended family for constantly encouraging us, not turning away in embarrassment at the rough patch we’re going through. We’re thankful to friends who have kept up with us, not felt sorry for us and reminded us to enjoy all the developments. Thank you for the practical and impractical gifts, little and big.
As I said at the start, now after this rather lengthy missive, we’ll abandon the impersonal large updates. We hope to keep up with many of you individually.
A few closing notes:
- The songs “Even If” and “Almost Home” by Mercy Me have been tremendously encouraging.
- Our new address is 7053 Townsend Drive Highlands Ranch CO 80130.
- My phone number is 720 400 9504. Tonia’s is 720 394 6271.
- If you are receiving this e-mail, you are invited to Denver and to stay with us. You can use us and our house as a base to explore the Rockies. At end of day we’ll eat supper together and exchange milk and mountain stories.
- Individuals in my family are doing great, thank God – no, really THANK GOD.
- I’m continuing to post quotes and write brief theological notes here.
- Merry Christmas. The Lord is born, lived, was crucified, rose up in power, and is using every moment and every circumstance to subdue all things to Himself. YES!
- Remember not to hold grudges.
Warmly, respectfully, and in Christ, and with love,