Saturday, April 30, 2005

[Thoughts] In praise of Mr. Phillips

Things didn't start off so well, but they soon got better...

Two Thursdays ago, DJ, a friend from Saint Peter, picked me up on the way to retrieve Doug Phillips from the airport along with his daughter, Jubilee, and his personal assistant, Peter. Just before we got to the exit for the airport, the transmission went out on the car. We coasted to a stop on the side of the road... and, well... stopped.

Doug's plane was due to land in 20 minutes and here we were, three miles from the airport, stranded. A quick call to RC and a vehicle and driver were dispatched from Mendota, 45 minutes away. Another call and a tow truck would be there within the hour. After waiting 50 minutes, another car and driver were dispatched from the Tennessee side of Bristol—15 minutes away, I was told. Twenty minutes later, I had a short phone conversation with Peter assuring him our ride was "five minutes away." Ten minutes later, Driver A pulls up. I hop out and meet him while DJ waits for Driver B and the tow truck.

We finally arrive at the airport an hour and 10 minutes after the plane landed. Doug and Company are waiting for us with smiles and quickly load up. We're finally on the way to the Sprouls. (As we pass DJ, we see that indeed, Driver B and the tow truck have arrived.)

Now, I find it a rare pleasure to get to work with RC. This is the great encourager who writes those convicting articles for dads (for me, that is!) in Homeschooling Today; the author who wrote the book that challenges me daily in leading my family, When You Rise Up; the teacher who helps me understand the battle between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent; the pundit who helped me see the validity of not voting for the lesser of two evils; the agrarian who is the reason I'm considering getting chickens this summer.

He's also my pastor; the baptiser of my children, who presented them to the congregation as three of the "stars" or "grains of sand" promised to Abram; my neighbor; my friend... and my boss. That God would bless me with the job of serving this man is a great testimony to His grace and I thank Him for the privilege, while begging for the wisdom to serve him well.

But, here I am, riding in a van with Doug Phillips, the great encourager who first exhorted me to lead my family well; the preacher of the Gospel who first challenged me to believe the Bible that children are a blessing, a reward from God; the promoter of Beautiful Girlhood and Courageous Boyhood who offers tools for training boys for manhood and girls for womanhood; a pundit who helped me see the validity of not voting for the lesser of two evils; the standard-bearer of honor and loyalty who has taught me the meaning of honoring those in authority over me.

Thinking Peter and I would be working out the details of Doug's visit while Doug worked on his presentations or relaxed from the flight and the wait at the airport, I didn't expect to have much talk time with Doug. In actuality, he spoke more than anyone. After interrogating our driver, young Jonathan Kiser, Doug turned his attentions to me.

"So, are you here doing work for RC or did you just decide this is place for your family?"

"I decided this was the place for my family."

"Oh! And have you found work here?"

"Yes. I work for RC."

"Oh! You're the one we've been praying for!" Doug exclaimed.

Wow! I hadn't thought about the fact that I was an answer to the prayers of so many people who read ETC and support the work of the Highlands Study Center... including Doug Phillips! That was inspiring and humbling all at the same time.

A little later in our journey, Doug stated that he wished to share something that was unprecedented and unsolicited and asked my permission to share it. What was I going to say? Out with it, man! RC wrote a squib after Vision Forum's Christian Film Festival last year about that fact that Doug's parents had given him the wrong name; that they should have named him Barnabus ("The Encourager"). I'm here to tell you... it's not just to his peers that this is true. He spent the next 15 minutes encouraging me, exhorting me, mentoring me.

I was privileged to spend several other occasions with Mr. "Please call me Doug" Phillips during his 4-day visit to the Highlands Study Center: lunch, brief chats in the speakers' lounge, driving him to his hotel, dinner with the Sprouls and Windhams, third Sunday picnic, breakfast, and driving him to his flight on Monday. He was always considerate, always encouraging, always respectful, always honoring.

I can't wait until next year when he comes back with his father, Howard Phillips, to speak at our annual conference again. He'll join the intrepid Dr. R. C. Sproul Jr., and his father, Dr. R. C. Sproul. If you want to know more about next year's conference (including registering for it), visit the Highlands Study Center website.

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Posted by Jim Bob Howard to Thoughts at 4/30/2005 12:07:00 PM
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