Today is my Father's 75th birthday. He is not a bishop, however he is a man that the above passage could easily have been written about. I have been blessed to have been raised by an example of a true prince of a man and would love to share with you a little about this special person.
"... A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without..." ~1 Timothy 3:2-7
He was born in Ohio and raised in West Virginia. By no means is he someone who started out with everything handed to him in life. In fact, he left home at the age of 15 to begin working, to help provide for his family back in West Virginia who was struggling financially. As a man with great musical talent, he has traveled, seeing most of the U.S, and lived in many places, sharing his talent everywhere he went, and connecting with many others who shared the same love for music as him. He has always been well loved, by those who are familiar and strangers alike. If my mom and I are shopping somewhere and he decides to wait for us sitting on a bench, we know that by the time we come back he will know the life story of the individual who happens to sit down next to him...and that we will be introduced to them upon our return. :-)
My father's family came to first know of God in full truth in his early teens, when his stepfather, who had earlier been an atheist, was healed of cancer at a local tent revival. My father's complete surrender to God and His perfect will for his life came later, after he had married my mother and she had received the Holy Ghost. During this time, while living in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, where they would remain for around twenty years, my parents chose to fully commit their lives to God. For my father in particular, this meant forfeiting a likely career in the country music industry, due to realizing that it was a world that was not conducive to raising a Christian family. Having already made his first album in Nashville, and having many key connections, this was a big sacrifice for my dad and I greatly respect him for it. All my life I have been taught with a clear understanding that life is not about gaining fortune or fame, but simply about pleasing God.
As a child growing up in Missouri, many of my memories of my dad revolve around ministry. I remember participating in Sunday School bus ministry evangelism, going door to door on Saturdays, dressed up in cartoon character costumes, inviting little kids to service. My dad was often dressed as Bugs Bunny and little kids would bring him carrots. Him and my mom also were involved in nursing home ministry and always brought me along for this as well...two nursing homes, every other Saturday. Some of my best, squeeky solos, have been sung for elderly people. While it's doubtful that it ministered to them, it did always make them smile. :-) My Mom and Dad also, of course, have continued to minister in song in church services and at various events...only now they sing for God alone. My brothers and I also used to accompany them sometimes.
Later, after moving to Arkansas, in my teen years, I always appreciated how my Dad was so faithful to be there for me for big events, both for school events and for Bible Quizzing events. Due to being a self-employed contractor, and his busiest times usually being in the summer, we rarely were able to take summer family vacations. However, when Fall rolled around, if there was any way possible, I knew he would dedicate over a week to coming to the North American Bible Quiz Tournament/ General Conference to support and to encourage me and my team and to enjoy conference with us.
Throughout my life I have seen my parents counsel and help restore multiple couples who have been on the verge of divorce. In times of plenty, I have seen them assist those who were hurting financially. Throughout the years my dad has hired and mentored many young men, some whom no one else would have hired, such as former prisoners and a man with HIV. I have seen him become a father like figure to a young man whose father was in prison due to the father's terrible treatment of his family. My dad has indeed been a father to the fatherless; himself knowing what it's like to grow up in a rough environment, without a true father figure.
For 42 years, my dad has shown himself a true man of God to his wife, and for 40 years, to his children. I have never seen my dad lash out at anyone, inside the home or outside the home. If there were a word that I think would sum up him and his actions in a nutshell, it would be "humble." On any given morning in my parents home I know I will hear and see both of them reading the Bible and praying. True humility comes from one realizing their proper place in this thing we call life. I'm thankful for a father who realized it a long time ago, before I was even born. And I'm thankful for an evangelist, whom I will never meet, who years ago bothered to preach a tent revival in a small country town in West Virginia.
Below are some pics from a display for a surprise party we had on my Dad's 70th birthday. Enjoy!