September 27, 2012
Last week was an emotional week. Gary & Elizabeth Inrig have been spiritual parents to me for the past 17 years, through their teaching, shepherding and example of what it looks like to love and follow the Lord Jesus whole heartedly, and to love his Church. Their announcement that they are stepping down from the leadership of Trinity Church next June gives me conflicting emotion. On the one hand, it is natural to pass the baton of leadership to the next generation. However natural it may be, that transition will not be easy for them or for me. I will be sad to not have them in that role in the same way. But I am thankful for the blessing that they have been and will continue to be. They have deposited in me an eternal investment that will continue to yield returns until that great day when God’s work is completed in me. “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” (2 Timothy 1:13–14 NIV) With the help of the Holy Spirit I will guard what I have heard from them, their pattern of sound teaching and their faith and love in Christ Jesus. That is a priceless treasure!
Gary’s main investment in my life has been the faithful, consistent, and rigorous teaching of God’s Word. If I look back to my love for and knowledge of the Lord 17 years ago compared to now, I can see tremendous growth. Much of that growth comes from seeking God in the worship services at Trinity and hearing His voice through his Word, teaching, correcting, rebuking and training me in righteousness. Gary’s gift of teaching, and his faithful exercise of it has been a major way that God has spoken to me, moving me to a greater love for God and for people, a joyful giving of myself completely to following all of God’s ways, guiding me toward being a better husband & father, opening my heart toward adopting two of our children, moving me with compassion, giving confidence to speak the life-giving words of the gospel to the lost, opening my arms & heart to reach out toward the poor and invite them in, strengthening my faith, and helping me become a better worshiper as a result of having a bigger view of our great God. Gary has been God’s servant to me in accomplishing his purposes in my life. I used to think of the big moments of my spiritual life being mountaintop experiences at camp or retreats where God really got my attention. Certainly these are important milestones. However, now I see that it is the consistent week-to-week, truth-giving exhortation and instruction that has had the long term & lasting impact on my life. Thank you Gary!
Gary’s gift of leadership saw hints of a capable worship leader in me and took a risk, giving me a shot at it in 2002. He entrusted the worship services to a high school math teacher without pastoring credentials and then empowered me to lead. That invitation was something I could not turn down. Our partnership in ministry has been a great joy over the past 10 years. Very few worship leaders get to craft a worship service around such great biblical teaching! Few worship leaders get to lead a congregation whose faith and expression of worship has been thus shaped. God moved me into full-time pastoral ministry and has given me a model of trust-based, non-micromanaged leadership through Gary Inrig. I am eternally grateful!
Elizabeth has also shaped my faith and love for God and his Word. Early on in our marriage, my wife Julie insisted that I attend a Walk-Through-The-Bible class taught by her. (How wonderful that she is teaching it again this fall!) I resisted, saying that I had taken all those classes at Biola. But finally I gave in to Julie’s wishes and went to the class. Boy was I humbled at what I didn’t know! More than that, I realized that it wasn’t knowledge of God’s Word that was the central thing to Elizabeth. It was knowledge of the God who spoke it. I was touched and inspired by her passion and love for the Lord, and the way she could communicate the Big Picture of how it all fits together. The Old Testament and New Testament are one story, God’s story with Christ being present from Genesis through Revelation. I hadn’t made sense of the main storyline of the Bible before. That class began my journey of studying the Word on my own, not just for knowledge, but for the joy of relationship – to know and love God more. Thank you Elizabeth!
I’m grateful for my spiritual parents and forever indebted because of their investment into my life. I’m committed to making these last 9 months of our partnership in ministry at Trinity together the best yet. Thank you Lord for Gary and Elizabeth!