Chris' Blog

03.31.09

Chris Philbeck

3-31-2009

It’s Sunday night and after a great day of worship and a frustrating afternoon of watching my team get pummeled in the NCAA tournament, I find myself reflecting about the previous week. I flew to Tulsa on Tuesday of this past week to meet with both of my brothers and one of my sisters about what the future looks like for my mother now that my younger brother is moving to Savannah, Georgia. The meeting was originally scheduled for Thursday but got postponed until Friday. I left on Tuesday so that I could be at my old church on Wednesday night when they had a “going away” celebration for my brother and so he and I could drive to Springfield, Missouri and play golf with our dad and one of our uncles. It ended up being a very full and emotional four days.

When we met with the woman who runs Regency House, the place where my mother currently lives, she told us that she was convinced my mother has Alzheimer’s. This isn’t a medical diagnosis, but she has spent her entire professional life caring for older people. The woman who comes in a few times a week to help my mother out was also at the meeting, and she agreed with the conclusion. We learned at the meeting that my mother’s situation is worse than we thought and that her actions and inability to live beyond the moment have jeopardized her ability to stay in her current home. I can’t tell you right now what we will be doing about this, but we all understand that some big decisions need to be made in a relatively short period of time. Please keep my brothers, sisters, and me in your prayers.

The thing that I am most thankful for with regard to my mother is that she always took me to church. My mother wasn’t raised in the greatest family environment and made some really poor choices early in her adult life. I never knew my biological father because they divorced when I was very young. When my mother remarried, her second husband adopted my older brother and sister and me, and he is the only father I’ve ever known. They were married for eighteen years and divorced twenty-seven years ago at the exact same time Sandy and I were getting married. In those twenty-seven years, I have probably seen my father less than ten times, but thankfully, that number is on the increase. While I was growing up, my mother never really seemed to have the time or maybe even the inclination to be what I would call a nurturing mother (not the way Sandy has always been with our children). But she took me to church and that church became the nurturing family that I needed and longed for. Maybe you have heard me say it before, but I have long believed that local church saved my life. It was in that church I gave my heart to Christ and discovered God had a plan and purpose for me that was greater than anything I had ever thought or dreamed of before. And it all happened because my mother took me to church. There were plenty of times I didn’t want to go, but that was never an option for me. My mother took me to church.

I’m going to be honest and tell you that I don’t understand why some parents today allow their children to make their own choice about whether or not they attend church, not just weekend services but various children and student ministry activities as well. Those were never an option for my children just like they were never an option for me. I could have looked at my kids and said, “You know they’re good kids, they’re spiritually mature, they get what they need from me,” and then let them make their own choice. But here’s something I always understood about my children. Even though they both were really good kids and had a certain level of spiritual maturity, they were still kids. Over the years I made them do several things they didn’t want to do because I knew it was good for them. I don’t have any regrets about those things today.

I don’t have a perfect mother, but I have one who took me to church. She doesn’t remember today that I was just home for a visit with her, but forty years ago she was able to see past my complaints and excuses and keep me focused on what she knew was best for me. Maybe that was because she didn’t have those opportunities growing up, and she didn’t want me to make the same mistakes she did. All I know for sure is that it was the right thing to do. I’m not a perfect father, but today my children are very active in church. My son is a middle school youth pastor in Grand Prairie, Texas, and my daughter is actively involved as a youth coach and worship leader in our student ministry. I can’t help but believe that one of the reasons why is because I took them to church. Not going was never an option. They didn’t always have dynamic youth pastors, and there were times when the churches I served didn’t even have any other kids their same age. But I always took them to church. Thankfully for Sandy and me, they always wanted to go. But even if they didn’t, I still took them.

There’s no such thing as a perfect church. Mount Pleasant isn’t a perfect church. But we serve a perfect God who accomplishes His purposes through imperfect people. And after all, that’s what the church is, people. So, as I reflect on my mother, my strong admonition to any parent who might take the time to read this incredibly long post is take your children to church. Don’t leave it up to them, don’t make it optional, and don’t let other things get in the way. One day, I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Pastor Chris