There Comes a Time

There comes a time in life when changes are necessary. My new situation with Parkinson’s Disease has accelerated the pace of change for Connie and me. We have decided to move from our home here in Oklahoma to a retirement community in South Georgia. We are trusting in the guidance of God as we relocate.

This disruption has involved the sale of our house. (It has sold quickly.) It has meant that we are engaged in a process of downsizing and letting go of familiar things. (Our children are coming next week to help us with that.) It means saying goodbye to many, many friends whom we love and with whom we have shared life for over thirty years. (We are going to miss you.)

Connie and I are exceedingly grateful for the people of Metropolitan Bible Church who supported and encouraged my ministry. In every season, we served the Lord together seeking to grow in his grace and knowledge. Metropolitan has been, and remains, a congregation committed to love, grace, and sacrificial service in the advancement of the gospel. I can never thank you enough for the privilege of being your pastor.

We are also thankful for the friendship of the members of Heritage Presbyterian Church who welcomed Connie and me, Baptists though we are, with kindness and affection. We will never forget you.

Moving away means I must say goodbye to my racquetball buddies at the Northside Y.  I have known some of them for many years. They have given me friendship, laughter, and some pretty fierce competition. It’s been good for my mind, body and spirit.

The deep fellowship of the Penlights, a small group of men who love to read, is special indeed. We have met monthly for over thirty years discussing books of biography, history, philosophy. politics, theology and fiction. We have prayed for and supported each other through life’s changes. I am sure these friends are going to be praying for me now.

There is another long-standing relationship which I doubt can ever again be duplicated this side of heaven. It is a monthly gathering of fellow pastors for prayer. This interdenominational prayer group has been for us a source of strength as we have faithfully prayed for each other, for our churches, and for our city.

I will miss making music to the Lord with the choir at Heritage. They graciously welcomed me, an aging wanna-be tenor. Singing harmoniously with these wonderful people has been a source of joy.

I will miss my quiet neighborhood, the bike trails around Lake Hefner, the arts festival, Braum’s ice cream, reading Berry Tramel’s columns in The Oklahoman, watching the OKC Dodgers play at Bricktown Ballpark, the Patience Latting Library, the Oklahoma City Thunder, classical music on KUCO, and two, count ’em, two NPR radio stations, KOSU and KGOU!

The wise man of Ecclesiastes wrote, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). There comes a time to let go of the past and to embrace the future. That is what Connie and I are called to do now. And the future is as bright as the promises of God.

Pastor Randy Faulkner



Goodness and Mercy

I can’t help thinking about my future with Parkinson’s disease. Frankly, some of the information I’ve been given is depressing to read. I prefer to live one day at a time and try not to let Parkinson’s define me. I intend to stay as active as I can for as long as I can. I’ve continued to play racquetball, tremor and all. Today I rode my bike for fourteen miles around Lake Hefner. It was great. I feel alive.

Since I received my diagnosis, I have been meditating on Psalm 23 and writing about it on this site. The assurances offered by this inspired poem have  given me renewed confidence in the Good Shepherd who faithfully watches over his sheep. He is watching over me.

The psalmist, David, a shepherd himself, wrote, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (v.6).” Here are promises for time, and eternity, for this life, and for the afterlife. “All the days of my life” means just that. All the days, whether they are days of health or days of disability. Whatever changes may be ahead, the promise is that the Lord’s goodness and covenant love (mercy) will shepherd me.

I have heard the Lord’s goodness and mercy compared to sheep dogs that guard and pursue the sheep, rounding them up to protect them and to keep them from straying. These strong, intelligent, well-trained animals move the sheep along to pasture at the command of their master, the shepherd.

The word “surely” implies certainty. The certainty is not that life will always be easy or pleasant. The certainty is that God’s character and promises never fail. His nature does not change. His goodness and mercy will pursue me like sheep dogs, all my days on earth, and beyond.

Speaking of “beyond,” there is a truth here that gives assurance of immortality. Death, to David, is not the end of the story. Even the grave cannot deprive him of the hope of eternal life. His words, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever,” point forward to a promise of Jesus: “My Father’s house has many rooms . . . I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14: 2-3).

David is writing about the future, eternity.  He is grateful for the Lord’s faithful care throughout all the days of his life. Now he knows he will be cared for after he dies, in an eternal home in the presence of the Lord.

I once heard a radio interview featuring folks who were describing memories of their childhood homes. They talked about kitchens, furniture, musical instruments, bedrooms and gardens. But it was not those things that stood out most prominently. It was the people who inhabited their homes. They told about following Mom around in the kitchen, waiting for Dad to come home, pillow fights, family meals, and holiday reunions with extended family members. They were saying that home is what it is because of the people who are there.

That is what David had in mind as he closed the 23rd Psalm. He was looking forward to an eternal home in the presence of the Lord. “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” can surely be taken to mean an afterlife for the believer in actual communion with God. His goodness and unfailing love are expressions of his eternal character. They pursue God’s sheep through death into eternal life.

True fellowship with God is what is offered. The Christian understanding is that this is possible because of the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who laid down his life for his sheep, and who has gone ahead to his Father’s house to prepare a place for them.

I hope you can say with certainty that you know that you too have an eternal home in the house of the Lord. It is available to you if your faith is in the Lord Jesus.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

My Cup Overflows

I have been thinking quite a lot lately about the 23rd Psalm. It reminds us of the care of the Good Shepherd for his sheep. As I reflect on  my life story I can only give thanks to the Shepherd for his care throughout my life.

Verse 5 says, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” In beautiful Hebrew poetry, David, the inspired writer, continues to describe the lavish provision the shepherd makes for his sheep. He is reminding us that the Lord doesn’t mete out his blessings with a medicine dropper or a thimble. He is generous in his provision for his people.

When the Near Eastern shepherd anointed his sheep with oil, he was applying a remedy for the irritations caused by insects and parasites. The oil-based medicine was also to treat injuries the sheep might have incurred. Bruises and wounds would need the shepherd’s gentle doctoring. “You anoint my head with oil.”

This text reminds us of the Holy Spirit. (In the Bible oil is one of the symbols of the Spirit of God.) John 3:34 says that “God gives the Spirit without limit,” abundantly, generously. We who follow the Shepherd can pray for the fullness of his Holy Spirit when the irritations and injuries of life threaten to distract and defeat us.

When David wrote, “My cup overflows,” he was expressing gratitude for the ample provision of God for him. A cynic might say, “Well, David could say that. He was a king. He had power and wealth. No wonder his cup overflowed.”

But David’s experience is a reminder that the abundant spiritual life is often lived in spite of tragedy and and pain. David had his cup of sorrow as well as his cup of blessing. His beloved son Absalom led an insurrection against him. His trusted advisor Ahithophel betrayed him. His wife Michal mocked him. Another son, Adonijah, tried to steal his throne, to name just a few of his troubles. Yet here he gives praise to God for the overflowing cup of spiritual blessing.

As a pastor I have prayed with and stayed with people in countless painful circumstances. I have seen them respond with grace and courage even when facing suffering and death. I have heard their words of testimony about the way God provided for them in their hour of need. Their words have sounded very much like David’s: “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

Pastor Randy Faulkner