“Into Our Quiver”–A Poem of Praise for Our New Son

Below is a poem I composed for the birth of Owen Warren Chase, who arrived today, February 12, 2013, at 8:55 pm, weighing in at 8 lbs 1 oz and measuring 20.5 inches long.

Our family is so blessed to have three boys. What a privilege to be a parent, what a heavy responsibility to shepherd young hearts.

“Into Our Quiver”
Written for Owen Warren Chase
February 12, 2013

Into our quiver You have given
Us a son, the third,
Another blessing from above, and
One more soul to herd.  

A bearer of Your image, he is
Made to have dominion.
His ev’ry path You have traced out,
His ev’ry day You’ve written.  

In Your hand his heart, like all,
Is in need of Your mercy,
The kind alone that saves from sin
And opens hearts unworthy.  

May our son, whom we name Owen,
Live out its meaning, “noble,”
A boy who grows to be a man
And is, in Christ, most hopeful.

O Father, hear this prayer we make,
And grant to him salvation,
That one day he might join the throng
Of saints from ev’ry nation.

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Goodbye, 20s

Turning 30 feels much more significant than when 20 came along, though I can’t put my finger on why. This post is a tip-of-the-hat to the previous decade of my life, which can be labeled an “adventure” of sorts. “Roller coaster” may be apt as well.

In the kind and merciful benevolence of God, my 20s consisted of:

  • Becoming engaged to and marrying the wonderful Stacie Leigh Passler, who has been a blessing ten thousand times over. 
  • Becoming a father to two boys, Jensen and Logan–and the third (Owen) is due next week.
  • Living in 4 cities (Houston, Fort Worth, Santo, Louisville), in 2 states (Texas, Kentucky), and in 7 different residences.
  • Graduating college from Houston Baptist University, earning two Masters degrees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and beginning the PhD program at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
  • Serving as the pastor of two churches: the First Baptist Church in Santo, Texas, and currently Kosmosdale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • Going out of the country for the first time and ending up over the years in places like Mexico, Cameroon, Honduras, and Thailand.
  • Writing two books, The Gospel Is For Christians and Behold Our Sovereign God.
  • Undergoing major and minor theological adjustments–some of which were smooth, others quite painful.
  • Officiating a wedding, and preaching lots of funerals.
  • Cultivating friendships in all the cities, churches, and schools we’ve been part of.

Alright, 30s, here we go. Let’s do this.

My 2012 Highlights

As with every year, 2012 contained blessings too numerable to keep track of. Here are some big ones:

January: I underwent surgery that repaired an abdominal hernia. What a way to begin a year! And why is this a blessing? Because the surgeon went in to repair one and found two more to fix. The fact that a doctor can find something wrong and repair it is amazing–and a blessing.

February: I went on a roadtrip to Chicago with Jim Hamilton and a small group of guys from Kenwood Baptist Church. We piled in a van and headed to a conference where Jim had a speaking slot, and lots of fun was had along the way. The whole extravaganza lasted a couple days, and there were memorable conversations and wonderful Chicago pizza. You really get to know people while traveling together!

March: I preached at Kosmosdale Baptist Church for the first time and met the wonderful people I’d eventually pastor. They welcomed us warmly, and we  began to pray specifically that God would open a door for us to serve there. The rest is, as they say, history.

April: I subbed for Jim Hamilton in his class “Messiah in the Old Testament.” It’s always a blessing to prepare to teach, especially at Southern Seminary, and I had the privilege of lecturing on “Resurrection Hope in the Old Testament.” The 11:30-12:45 timeslot seemed to rush by, because time flies when you’re having fun. And teaching the Bible is a constant joy.

May: School-wise, this was an important month because I completed all my course work at Southern Seminary. I’m a Biblical Studies major in the PhD program, so finishing my required classes was a huge relief!

June: Logan, our second boy, turned 1 year old. Logan is our introverted and smiley boy who gushes with happiness and adores his big brother Jensen. Also, and quite unexpectedly I might add, the week before Logan’s birthday we found out Stacie was pregnant with Baby #3–who turned out to be Boy #3.

July: We retreated for vacation to Bartlesville, Oklahoma to stay a week with the Schaffner clan, who are our good friends as well as family. A change in our routine was welcome, and we were happy to disrupt their routine for a stretch of days too. Sitting around talking, eating, and playing games is so much fun we never want to leave. We try not to overstay our welcome, but we want to come pretty close and then leave right before that happens.

August: My parents came to Louisville and kept the kids while Stacie and I went to Indianapolis to celebrate her 30th birthday. Later that month, Kosmosdale Baptist Church voted unanimously to make me their pastor, which was great news and a huge answer to fervent prayer. I had been serving for several months as their Interim Pastor, and they moved to the next step without hesitation. We love our church! What a privilege to serve there.

September: I found out I have Celiac Disease, which is a gluten-intolerance. I’m so glad this was discovered because it finally explained why I felt terrible and sick on many evenings. Now that an explanation had been found, the condition could be addressed. Cutting gluten out of my food regimine hasn’t been as burdensome as I imagined, and I certainly feel better as a result!

October: Our family moved into the church parsonage. This is the fifth place Stacie and I have lived in our seven years of marriage, so we’re used to moving in one sense, but we’d never moved with two children and Stacie being pregnant. We only moved from one end of Louisville to the other, so a 30-minute drive with a U-Haul sure was better than transferring our lives across several states like we did two-and-two-months earlier!

November: My second book, Behold Our Sovereign God: All Things From Him, Through Him, and To Him, was released. I’m thankful the project is done and has seen the light of day. My print copy arrived by mail during the week of Thanksgiving. An occasion for thanksgiving indeed!

December: We spent Christmas with my parents, who drove up from south Texas to spend 9 nights with us. But don’t think we’re deluded. We know they came for the grandchildren, and we’re totally okay with that.

God is good and God is great, and that won’t change in 2013.

“Ten Years Ago Today”

“Ten Years Ago Today”

Ten years ago today the Lord
Displayed His providence
And smiled upon a single man
Through planned coincidence.

O what gladness fills my heart
As I think of when we met!
Neither of us knew the course
That our wise God had set.

“My name is Stacie” were the words
That forever changed my life.
And while I did not know for sure,
I believed I met my wife.

——————————————

On an evening ten years ago today, I met Stacie on the campus of Houston Baptist University.  We spent that evening with her friends, going to Randalls, Starbucks, and Half-Price Books.  That evening changed my life.  Our conversation continued into the night, and we haven’t stopped talking yet.

One Year in Louisville: Faith, Fear, Family, and our Faithful Father

The Events of August 1-2, 2010

Today, August 2, marks one year since Stacie, Jensen, and I traveled the 1000 miles from Santo, Texas to Louisville, Kentucky.  In one sense, it seems like yesterday that we were packing up the parsonage of the church I pastored, loading the U-Haul, and preparing our hearts for a huge transition.

Through restrained tears, I preached my last sermon at Santo’s First Baptist Church on August 1, 2o10, and we pulled out that afternoon.  Four years of spiritual and emotional investment weighed heavily upon us, and we miss that church family very much.

My parents caravanned behind us, having agreed to help us move and stay to help for a couple weeks.  After staying overnight in Tennessee, we arrived the next day, August 2, at our townhome near I-71 and the Ohio River.  At first, the apartment didn’t feel like home at all.  It felt awkward, uncertain, strange.  But there we were and still are.

One Year Without A Full-Time Job

We moved so that I could begin PhD work at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS).  It’s amazing what we knew and didn’t know: I knew the classes on my fall schedule, but I didn’t know where I’d work for employment!  Before we moved, we had saved money for months, in anticipation of not finding a full-time job upon arrival.  Sure enough, I didn’t–and I still don’t have one.

Being without a full-time job for a year hasn’t been easy.  We’ve seen our finances dwindle.  We’ve had moments of real worry and anxiety.  We’ve penny-pinched like never before.  We believed a year ago that we were moving on faith–but in my weaker moments I’ve wondered whether it was foolishness.

Despite our occasional doubts, we are firmly committed to the biblical truths of God’s total sovereignty, gracious providence, and fatherly care.  Over this year, as with all previous ones, God has shown himself faithful, awesome, amazing, and trustworthy.  There is an anchor for our souls!

Seven Incredible Blessings

We have been immeasurably blessed in the span of these 12 months.  Such blessings are difficult to remember fully, but here are 7 huge ones:

(1) A Church Family.  Shortly after arriving in Louisville, we began attending (and eventually joined) Kenwood Baptist Church, pastored by my friend and PhD supervisor Jim Hamilton.  We love KBC!  Its members have been sources of great fellowship and encouragement to our family.  Stacie, especially, has forged strong bonds with other wives and mothers in our stage of life.  The calling of a stay-at-home mom is tough (some say the toughest job in the world), so these relationships are priceless.

(2) Our Second Son.  In October 2010, a pregnancy test confirmed what we suspected, and a doctor’s appointment projected a summer birth of our next child.  This summer our family of 3 became 4.  Logan Samuel Chase was born June 16 and is almost 7 weeks old now.  Jensen loves his new brother, and we love God’s gift of another child.  We’re reacquainting ourselves with spit-up, fragile limbs, exploding diapers, little sleep, and sustained periods of fussiness.  At times having a newborn seems inconvenient (like while I’m trying to write this blog post), even frustrating, but that’s only because we’re selfish people who easily forget the astounding mercies of our great God!

(3) My First Book.  Before moving to Louisville, I wrote The Gospel Is For Christians over a period of four months, and it was published in November 2010 by Lucid Books.  Over Thanksgiving, the publisher mailed me the first copy.  Holding a copy of your first book for the first time is a thrilling moment!  But then the question enters your mind, Who’s going to buy this book when there are so many books out there?  I’m still stunned and deeply grateful that people are buying it.

(4) Financial Provisions.  This past year has consisted of numerous financial miracles, all of which were needed.  Book sales, a part-time job at the SBTS Lifeway, and several preaching opportunities have all generated vital income.  We should have literally run out of money months ago, but the Lord has miraculously sustained us with this faithful provision.  Furthermore, we were and are the happy and humbled recipients of many unexpected blessings.  For example, when our only vehicle experienced car trouble, our tax return covered the mechanic bill exactly.  Later, when the car’s timing chain began making noise (which, I was told, is a really bad sign), some family members actually gave us one of their vans!  Over the months, various friends and family have mailed us checks and gift cards, telling us that the Lord placed us on their minds.  Amazing!  God has been so faithful through the generosity of others.  What mercy!

(5) More Time At Home.  While I won’t share here the various details, we are confident that God has a ministry position in store for us at some point.  Over this last year, I’ve eagerly pursued both ministry and non-ministry jobs, but his timing is everything.  When something hasn’t worked out, we know his will is leading us to something else.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying spending more time with my family.  Stacie and I just celebrated 6 years of marriage, and in this last year we’ve spent more time together than in any previous one.  As a blessing in disguise, my lack of a full-time job also allowed me to help Stacie throughout a tougher-than-last-time pregnancy.  I was even able to devote more undivided attention to the first year of doctoral studies.  And I’ve been able to be at home most of the time during the two months after Logan was born.  What blessings!  I wish I would have treasured those months even more.

(6) Lengthier Family Visits.  We like when family members come to stay for a long time, and Louisville facilitates such circumstances because of its distance from Texas.  Sometimes visitors have stayed a few days, other times three weeks!  But never before have we had such concentrated quality time with our families.  And as you might imagine, the grandparents love soaking up the grandkids for many, many days.  We love hosting guests, and we love it even more when they stay for awhile!

(7) Seasons That Live Up To Their Names.  Louisville takes its seasons seriously.  When we arrived exactly a year ago, we unloaded the U-Haul in over 100-degree heat.  Summer in Louisville is hot!  Moreover, fall, winter, and spring are beautiful with their respective features: the falling and changing leaves of fall, the snow and ice of winter, and the fresh green and warmth of spring are fantastic to experience.  Sometimes summer feels as hot as Texas, but the windchill of winter often took us into single digits.  True, the threat of flood sometimes looms over nearby areas, and the city has also had its occasional major ice-storm that wipes out power for days.  But don’t misinterpret my statements as a dislike of Louisville weather.  I love that we have 4 real seasons!

Forward in Faith

I don’t know what the months ahead hold, but I want to approach them with faith and confidence in our trustworthy God.  He is good and does good, even working all things for our good.

In truth, the previous paragraphs don’t scratch the surface of what the last year has been like.  But they do represent our yearlong concerns which were far outweighed and outnumbered by heavenly blessings.

This is definitely true: our worries didn’t add a single hour to our lives (Matt 6:27).  If you’ve read Jesus’ words “O ye of little faith,” have you ever had the sneaking suspicion he was talking directly to you?

The children of God are more valuable than birds (Matt 6:26) and more important to him than beautiful lilies (Matt 6:28-30).  God knows our needs (Matt 6:32).  We should still live wisely and in prayerful dependence on him, but we need not fear that he will neglect, forget about, or abandon us.

Above all else, we should seek his kingdom (Matt 6:33) as we long for the return of the King.

A Prayer Poem of Praise for the Birth of Logan Samuel Chase

O God of heaven, Lord of earth,
You have heard our prayer
To bring our second son to birth
In watchful, loving care.

Though he lives by Your good hand,
His heart is born in sin.
He needs the light of gospel truth
To make him born again.

You ordained all his steps and days,
In wisdom wrote them down.
Draw from him love and trust and praise,
All for Your Son’s renown.

O God of life, Giver of breath,
Sustain him by Your grace,
And lead his life in righteousness,
Save Logan Samuel Chase.

Pray for God’s Discipline

That may sound like a strange request, but it is thoroughly biblical. 

When we pray for God’s discipline, we are saying:

(1) God, treat me as a legitimate son or daughter of yours (Heb 12:8)

(2) Your rebukes and chastisements are wiser than those of even the best earthly father (Heb 12:9)

(3) Work in my life what is good for me (Heb 12:10)

(4) God, I want to live in holiness (Heb 12:10)

(5) I want my life to produce a harvest of righteousness and peace (12:11)

Take a moment and pray that God (as a loving, wise, perfect heavenly Father) would never cease to discipline you as His child, if you are His child.  God’s firm but loving discipline is for His children, but His righteous judgment is for anyone who is not a true follower of Christ.  God, use your rod of discipline in our lives to confirm whether we are your true children!