The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Category: View All

Completely Shades

*This afternoon, at our annual SVCC family meeting, I briefly reflected on 2018. Below are the thoughts I shared in the form of a letter.

My Dearest Shades Valley,

Something happened in my heart during 2018. I don’t know quite how to describe it, but I’m going to try anyway. For the first time in my adult life, I feel like an adult. I have long felt like a kid pretending to be grownup, just faking it and hoping nobody notices. See, I have no clue how to be a husband, a father or a pastor, but something changed last year. I still don’t think I have a clue what I’m doing, but I no longer feel like a fake. I feel real. I feel at home in my skin. I feel completely… me.

Version 2In Scripture, the number seven occurs frequently and is symbolic for completion. Now, I’m not big into numerology, nor am I trying to be superstitious, but 2018 was my seventh year at Shades… and I feel completely at home as your pastor. In 2018, our final child was born, causing our family to now number seven… and I feel completelyat home as a father and husband. I could be wrong, but I believe I have felt this “completely at home” vibe reverberate throughout our body this past year.

img_7793-10In the last seven years, we have experienced a lot of growth as a body. There has been growth in our membership, our ministries, our staff and more. Such growth has brought much joy, but it has been accompanied by growing pains. Yet, such aches don’t last forever, and like any kid after a growth spurt, the awkwardness of our new size has begun to wear off, and we again feel at home in our skin. 2018 felt that way in this body we call SVCC… like we are completely at home as one body of believers no matter if we have been here twenty-five years or two months. We all really belong to this body. We are all really at home in the skin of this place. We feel completely… Shades.

Let me mention just a few of the ways I believe I’ve seen this body be completely Shades in 2018… and this is not to brag on us, but to boast in Christ! He is the head of this body, and he empowers all that we do so that he gets the glory!

a6a109d7-7d06-4c43-b109-5ddc095b9e6eSo… in 2018, we, the body of Shades Valley Community Church, became completely at home with our artistic side. Not only did our artists put on another amazing event called “The Realm Revealed,” but an EP of original songs was birthed out of this community and there are more on the way. Speaking of births, this community has been completely at home embracing baby after baby. In 2018, the Lord allowed us to witness spiritual births and baptisms as well as many physical births. Further, coming alongside the Doroughs and the Ballards during their adoption processes filled the heart of this place with more joy than we’ve been able to handle!

7fc1b782-73a4-41de-81b1-4b2d31c1bd56Last year also saw us completely at home in our role of training future ministers of the Gospel. We ordained Brad as our Discipleship Pastor and have officially called John-Mark as our Worship and Community Pastor. Both of these men came into these roles through Shades investing in them, training them and loving them. We also hired John Kegley as a Pastoral Assistant last year as a spiritual investment is his calling and future. Beyond official staff, in 2018 we commissioned out over thirty college students to various places across this country and around the globe. We also saw the Lord raise up and send out the Gilmores, the Littons, the Belknaps, James Spencer, Patrick Smith and many others to serve in various callings. We have become completely at home with the Lord calling and commissioning people from our body. It is just part of who we are, and it is an amazing evidence of God’s grace on this place.

5913a01e-8eac-4974-80c1-ab8a80ba0844In 2018, the Lord also worked in several incredible and unexpected ways in our midst. Out of seemingly nowhere, the kitchen fundraising was brought to completion in an instant. In a matter of weeks, our children’s ministry was completely revamped. And, in December, the Lord poured out a generous spirit in our body, and the largest giving month in our history helped us make budget!

There are so many more things I could talk about. So many more ways Shades continues to be completely Shades. Things like loving on each other through times of sicknesses, sorrow and death. Things like celebrating marriages, births and countless other joys. Things like growing together in Catechesis classes, community groups and our continued partnerships with Green Springs, 100 fold and our mission efforts in Haiti and South Asia. There are endless things I could talk about if I had the time, but undergirding them all is one body… Shades Valley Community Church… empowered by one Spirit, through one Savior, for the glory of the one triune God! Undergirding all of this is each one of you who really belong to this body… who are really at home in the skin of this place… because of Christ, you all are completely Shades.

So…in 2019, let’s keep being completely Shades completely for the glory of Jesus! Let us go into the world in peace, having courage, holding on to what is good, honoring all men, Version 2strengthening the faint-hearted, supporting the weak, helping the suffering and sharing the Gospel. Let’s love and serve the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit, knowing that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with us all until we stand before Him at last truly, completely at home.

I love you all,



Come and Adore

1Long, long ago
In a land far, far away
Lived a Jewish girl named Mary
Who worked hard every day.

You see her family was so poor
Like everyone around.
And life was pretty hard
In their rinky-dinky town.

In fact, things weren’t so great
For the entire Jewish nation.
And they were longing for a savior
Who would come and bring salvation.

But the people had been waiting
For like four hundred years!
It seemed that the messiah
Simply never would appear!

2But suddenly something happened!
Suddenly everything changed!
An angel came to Mary
And said something very strange…

“Mary,” said the angel,
“God’s favor rests on you
And through your obedience
His promise will come true!

Mary, you will have a baby,
And he will be God’s son.
The savior you’ve been waiting for
finally will come!”

Mary was in shock,
But still she bowed her head,
“The Lord’s will be done, O angel,
Just as you have said.”

So, a baby boy began to grow
Inside of Mary’s womb.
God himself took on flesh
To come to me and you.

3Now Joseph, Mary’s fiancé,
Did not know what to do,
But the angel came in a dream
And said, “Joseph, it’s all coo’!

Take Mary as your wife
And do not feel ashamed.
This child is the Lord himself
Jesus shall be his name!

4So, Joseph took Mary
And they went on a little trip.
The government demanded it
Ask your parents, it’s the pits!

They soon arrived in Bethlehem
Yet found no place to stay.
So, Christ was born among some cows
And slept upon the hay

5But our story is not over
Cause the angels were not done.
They could not keep from speaking
Of the birth of God’s own son!

They told the shepherds on the hills,
“Good tidings of great joy,
Peace on earth, God’s grace toward men
Has come and “it’s a boy!”

6The shepherds ran with haste to see
The face they’d waited for.
They came to Christ, fell on their knees,
They came and they adored.

And the invitation is the same
For you, and yes, for me…
We’re all invited to “come and see”
At the crib side of our king.

7We can come and adore
By the manger side
‘Cause Jesus Christ was not just born,
No, he lived, and he died

Jesus took on all our sin
And bore its punishment.
The cross, dear child, was the purpose
Of his first advent.

8But Jesus did not stay dead
Cold and lying in a tomb!
The grave it could not hold him
For again there was no room!

On day three he rose again
Now he reigns from his throne!
Soon he’ll return, a second Advent,
To claim us as his own!

9So, come let us adore him
That invitation is for you.
Like Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds
We’re included too.

So, come let us adore him
The savior who has come,
The savior who is coming,
Our savior who has won!


*Illustrations by Noah Stalcup
*Poem by Jonathan Haefs

Solomon Means Peace

Holly and I always go to war over baby names.

Thus, when she was unexpectedly expecting for the fifth time the name war began once more! I would fire a volley of favorites, which she would shoot down with her anti-aircraft artillery. Then she would cross enemy lines, dropping name bombs all over the place.

The whole process was brutal.

But wouldn’t you know it that our final engagement in the baby name war would end with peace… quite literally peace…

Solomon means peace.

The name itself is a variation of the Hebrew word Shalom. Even many non-religious people will recognize that word as the standard Hebrew greeting, but it is much more than a mere “hello” or “see you later.” The words itself expresses a deep-seated hope… a hope for peace.

Shalom is the way the world should be… in perfect peace under the perfect rule of God. Shalom is what Jesus taught us to pray for with the words “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Shalom is what Christ has achieved through his cross, and it is what he will bring to full consummation when he comes again.

Shalom… Solomon… Peace.

At 8pm on July the 20th, I stepped into an experience of Shalom unlike any other. Yes, I have been present for the birth of Charis, Levi, Talitha, and Asher, but this fifth-time things were different. Our doctor very graciously offered to let me be as involved with Solomon’s entry into the world as I wanted to be…


At 8pm I stepped away from my typical place during delivery, my wife’s side, and I made my way to the end of the bed. I found myself in a position I never dreamed I would be in… a position I never would’ve imagined I could handle… a position for which nothing could have prepared me.

The next seven minutes seemed to move so slowly, but at 8:07pm, I laid my hands on Solomon’s head… and amidst my wife’s pain, I stepped into a place of transcendent peace. I’m told that I was laughing uncontrollably as Holly pushed and I pulled Solomon into the world.

I was aware of nothing, but the moment.

I wasn’t even aware of what I was feeling. I was just feeling. Pure and perfect joy, awe, wonder, glory… pure and perfect peace.

Shalom… Solomon… Peace.

Through pain, came peace. What a glimpse of glory. What a glimpse of the Gospel of peace. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, and a virgin pushed peace into the world. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son to be crucified that through pain, peace would bleed into the world. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that he might rise, perfectly purchasing peace for the world. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and his name shall be the prince of peace.

I stood there holding Solomon… feeling Shalom… and I gave him to Holly… to his momma. I handed her the peace that proved her pain was at an end… now she could know joy in him.

I will treasure this moment for the rest of my life, but even more, I treasure the coming moment to which it points me… the moment when my heavenly Father will bring all my pain to a conclusion… and I will possess the person who proves my pain is at an end… Jesus! I will be his and he will be mine to know and enjoy for the rest of forever.

O’ I pray that every time I even hear Solomon’s name, that it causes me to look forward to that coming day… the day of full and final shalom… the day of full and final peace…

…for Solomon means peace!

%d bloggers like this: