Hopeful Assurance

Wednesday was Silas’s 11th birthday, and the day before his birthday, a memory popped up on my phone from the day before he was born. Marsha’s parents, her sister Amber, and our niece Emery were visiting us in Istanbul in preparation for Silas’s birth. Surprisingly, Silas was a few days overdue, and on November 23, 2010, we decided to visit a famous attraction – the Rumeli Fortress – along the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul. As you can see in the pictures, this 475-year-old fortress has a lot of steps, so we did a lot of stair-climbing that day.

Over nine months pregnant, Marsha did not sit out the adventure either. She joined us, climbing those steps, and there were some in our group who wondered aloud if that was very wise. “What if she goes into labor while we’re up on one of these towers?!” Well, she did not go into labor then, but it was just hours later, early in the morning of November 24, that labor began. Silas was born a healthy boy, and perhaps that hiking adventure helped ensure his birthday was not after November 24. God only knows.

When we were well-over an hour from the hospital and climbing those steps on November 23, 2010, there were certainly no guarantees that Marsha would not go into labor. Of course, I was confident she would not, and more importantly, she was confident she would not – at least not so quickly that we would not have time to get to the hospital. Based on her understanding of her body, having given birth to two sons already, and how she was feeling that morning, there was enough assurance that we could safely explore Rumeli Fortress. Okay, perhaps I remember things slightly differently than Marsha, but all went well.

Still, no guarantees. In thinking through all of that this week, I was challenged by what I will be preaching on this coming Sunday, Lord willing. As we begin the Advent season with Richland Baptist Church, I hope to talk about the “HOPE” that only comes in and through a relationship with Jesus Christ (looking specifically at Luke 21:25-36).

Everyone wants hope. We all need hope. We long for hope and assurance, especially regarding things as important as the birth of a child. Yet, we are unable to assure hopefulness in most things. Only the Lord can do that, and He secured that hope by taking on flesh, living a perfect life, dying on the cross for our sins, and rising from the dead for the salvation of all who call upon His name. One day, He will come again – His Second Advent – to bring to completion the salvation of all who know Him.

Jesus said, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near!” (Luke 21:28).

Are you looking forward to that day with hopeful assurance? If you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, you can and should and will. Without Jesus, though, that will not be a day of hope but rather a day of fear and devastation. Be certain of hopeful assurance by turning to Him today.

We cannot be certain of good health, safe deliveries, smooth circumstances, etc., but we can be certain that God never fails to keep His promises. Like only He could, Jesus declared, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away” (Luke 21:33).

Happy 11th birthday to Silas Stephen Drake!

My Crown

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a wife who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones” (Proverbs 12:4). I praise God that I have a crown – and no rottenness in my bones. While I might not have many other crowns, if any, I have been blessed for nearly 20 years with a wife of noble character.

Last month was “pastor appreciation month” for many churches across our country, and in my 8+ years of pastoring Richland Baptist Church, our church family has done an amazing job of expressing appreciation. They are a joy to serve and minister alongside, and we praise God for our church family!

The reality, however, is that I would be a terrible pastor (though I am far from great anyway) if not for my amazing wife. If not for all she does for me, for our kids, in our home, in children’s ministry with our church, in so much behind the scenes for our church, etc., I cannot fathom how I would begin to keep up with the demands of pastoral ministry.

I do very few household chores because Marsha is always on top of things. Instead, when I am home, I am able to devote most of my time to hanging out with Marsha and the kids, having fun, and relaxing. Furthermore, with five kids, there are what seem like constant needs for rides to various school events, activities, practices, games, etc. Marsha handles the vast majority of those.

During church services and activities on Sundays and Wednesdays, Marsha is practically a single mom as I try to keep up with everything. Yet, she never complains.

Phone calls and emergency requests come up during inopportune times, but Marsha is always supportive, prayerful, and helpful.

Unfortunately, though, I often take her for granted. Our kids do, too. Shame on us! Instead, we need to embrace and live out the words of Proverbs 31:28-29 – “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also praises her: “Many women have done noble deeds, but you surpass them all!”

I praise God for Marsha! In her, God has blessed me with an incredible wife, an excellent mother to our children, and a faithful partner in gospel ministry. She surpasses all others!

Thank you, Marsha! No blog post, thank you note, gift, or anything else could ever be sufficient in expressing how much I appreciate you and how much of a blessing you are to our family, our church, and me.

A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22). Praise the Lord for His favor!

Family Picture in front of U.S. Bank Stadium in August 2021 #skol

Memories in Minnesota

Our family cherishes the memories from vacation, and our trip to Minnesota was no exception. We had a great time with my side of the family. Praise the Lord for family and the time we have together! Here are just a few of the highlights (click on any picture for the full view)…

Vacation with Creation

When I go on vacation, I love to enjoy God’s amazing creation. I like to spend a lot of time outside, doing active things with my family. We did a lot of that last month during our annual vacation with Marsha’s family, and we had a blast.

Here are just some of the pictures from our trip to southeast Missouri, although there were a lot of moments we did not get pictures of because of jumping off cliffs and climbing rocks…

Family Time in Illinois

Last month, we had a great time hanging out at my sister and brother-in-law’s house in Illinois and doing a day trip to Chicago. We do not see our nieces, my sister Stephanie, and my brother-in-law nearly as often as we would like, so times like this are sweet. Here are just a few pictures from our trip…

A Mother’s Sacrifice

For those of us who have been blessed and fortunate enough to have great mothers and then marry women who became great mothers, God has shown His grace and kindness to us in unforgettable ways. My mom is incredible, and my amazing wife is an outstanding mother to our five children. Furthermore, I have an awesome mother-in-law and three grandmothers who are not only still alive but who are also awesome. How much do I take all of these blessings for granted? Far too much, I am ashamed to say.

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching through 1 Corinthians 9:1-18 on “The Answer (to Christian Division): Love of the Gospel.” While this passage of Scripture is not about mothers, and my message is not a Mother’s Day message, I cannot help but consider the incredible, sacrificial love of mothers and how that is used of God to point us to the gospel.

Paul’s teaching and example in 1 Corinthians 9 are a challenge for all of us to have a passion for the gospel that proves itself in and through a growing love for others. Great mothers teach us what that looks like, do they not? Their commitment to the healthy formation and development of their children causes them to lovingly sacrifice themselves for the sake of that commitment.

Likewise, faithful followers of Jesus care about the healthy formation and development of other followers of Jesus. Disciples make disciples who make disciples who make disciples who make disciples… Thus, the love of the gospel – Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for our salvation – is the answer to the problem of division in the body of Christ. The more we love the gospel, the more united we will be. The more we love the gospel, the more we will care about one another. The more we love the gospel, the more we will fulfill Jesus’ calling on our lives – to make disciples of all nations.

Do you love the gospel? How is that love evident in the way you are committed to Jesus’ church and Jesus’ mission?

A good mother’s sacrifice can help us better understand God’s love. To truly experience that love, though, we must fully surrender ourselves daily to follow Jesus and help others to follow Jesus. How are you doing?

My mom (“Grandma Jo”) with her eight grandchildren this past Christmas

Reason to Celebrate

As Zoe smiles about in the picture above, Marsha recently painted the walls and bookshelves in my office. The picture does not do the great job much justice, though, as it looks amazing, especially when compared to before. Since Marsha completed this project and all the books were put back onto the shelves, I have found myself, many times over the past week, just looking around my office in satisfaction, gladness, and celebration. Might sound silly to you, but I truly am thankful. Might seem like a small cause for celebration, but I spend many hours in this office every week doing sermon preparation, writing, meeting with people, talking on the phone, and working on various ministry tasks. This fresh, new, clean look is a reason for me to celebrate.

Life is full of reasons to celebrate, whether we recognize the reasons or not. Of course, many reasons, just like the fresh paint in my office, are fleeting. They are temporary. They will not endure.

What truly brings the church together, though, and what lastingly keeps the church together is not temporary at all. Jesus is His name, and our worship of Him is a celebration. So much greater and infinitely more satisfying than a fresh coat of paint, Jesus is the Only One who can give us cause for celebration that never ends.

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching through Psalm 98 on the great joy of the “Worship Celebration.” If you know and follow Jesus, then worshiping Him (both corporately and individually) really is a celebration. Not a meaningless religious ritual, worshiping the Lord with others and worshiping the Lord with our lives ought to be a growing passion.

Have you given your life to Jesus? Do you have a growing passion to worship Him? In what areas can you grow in faithfulness in your corporate and private worship? He is our reason to celebrate!

Sing a new song to the Lord, for He has performed wonders; His right hand and holy arm have won Him victory. The Lord has made His victory Known; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations.

Psalm 98:1-2
If you are unsure of your lasting reason to celebrate, would you consider checking out The Story?

Because of Faith, Not Politics

When I became a Christian during my sophomore year of college, a lot of things changed in my life – praise be to God! About a year after trusting in Jesus, I began to think a lot about the kind of woman I would want to marry and began to desire getting married, particularly after I met and got to know my amazing wife-to-be. Truly, of all the things I wanted most in a future wife, genuine faith in Jesus Christ was the most important. Growing Christian faith was a non-negotiable for me, as I had no desire to marry someone who did not believe what I believed and was not committed to following Jesus.

Do you know what never even entered the equation? Politics. Never once did I consider political parties or voting history when having the initial conversations I had with Marsha about our future.

Yes, there are certainly plenty of times when faith and politics intersect, but because Marsha and I both desire to follow Jesus and live according to His Word, we completely agree on those “political” issues that are what we believe to be important (i.e. protecting the lives of the unborn, preserving traditional marriage and the family, religious liberty, caring for the vulnerable, etc.).

Are you Democrat, Republican, or Independent?“, though, was never a question we asked one another. Foreign and economic policy are not issues we discussed, not because I did not or do not enjoy talking about politics. I do enjoy it.

Faith, not politics, though, is the foundation of our unity, and I praise God for Marsha’s enduring faith in Him. I want to plead with you too, Christ-follower, to make sure faith, not politics is your reason for unity… our reason for unity.

Faith in Jesus, not politics, transcends culture and religion to form a foundation that cannot be shaken (by the grace, mercy, and power of God).

Faith in Jesus, not politics, creates a unity that is eternal (when our hearts are set on Him and not giving in to sinful temptation and division).

Faith in Jesus, not politics, is our source of hope and peace (if we have trusted the gospel).

Faith in Jesus, not politics, is our reason for joy and contentment (as we continue to trust in the gospel).

Faith in Jesus, not politics, is what unites and sustains a biblical church.

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I am going to finish our short “political” sermon series – The Red and The Blue – and preach through 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 on “Unity in Jesus, Not in Politics.” Unity in Jesus is unity we ought to long for and unity we ought to sincerely seek.

How about you? Is Christian unity something you value and prioritize? Or, are you allowing lesser things to control your time and energy? Do not settle for less than Jesus has for you. Trust and follow Him, and let faith, not politics (or anything else), be your foundational source of unity.

If you find yourself unsure of whether or not you have the saving faith that is necessary for Christian unity, will you check out THE STORY?

What a week in Tennessee!

We had a blast in Tennessee over the past week, spending time with our dear friends the Fries family, followed by vacation with Marsha’s parents, sisters, and their families. Praise the Lord for the amazing gift of family and friends!

To see some photos and videos of our trip, click HERE.

Cliff jumping with the Fries family and white-water rafting with Marsha’s family were probably the two favorite highlights (for most of us) from the trip.

Summer Time before Summer

Summer officially began this past Saturday, but because of COVID-19 and our kids being home from school since mid-March, summer already feels half-over. Here are just a few pictures of us enjoying summer before real summer even arrived…