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Our God never forsakes us

4 Mar

This morning I stood and prayed at a hospital bedside with a family facing a very serious health crisis. As I prayed with them, one verse echoed in my mind…

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”” (Hebrews 13:5, NKJV)

It’s the last phrase of that verse that really spoke to me today. Certainly, we can be content with what we have because we know we have the Lord. However, the fact that He never leaves us or forsakes us is relevant to our hearts in so many situations. Actually Hebrews 13:5 is quoted from four different occurrences in the Old Testament.  If you look at the verse in the original language, the emphasis is even more clear. The Holy Spirit inspired the writer of Hebrews to stack the negatives in order to make the point. Basically, Hebrews 13:5 says something like “I will never, no never, no never, under any circumstances leave you or forsake you.”

Our God hasn’t left us. No matter how you feel in this moment, He has not forsaken you. He has not forsaken your finances. He has not forsaken your marriage. He has not forsaken your family.  Hold tight to this great promise from scripture, even if you cannot see how God is at work in your situation. He has not left you, and He will not leave you under any circumstances.

To everything there is a season…

12 Feb

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For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, ESV)

That Bible verse echoed in my mind last night in the gymnasium of Homewood High School as a season in my son’s life and the life of our family ended.  Our Briarwood Lions lost to Pelham in the area tournament, ending our season and the high school basketball career of our oldest son, David.  It was not the easiest of nights for our family.  You cannot understand it until you have a night like that one.

It was an emotional night. On the way to the game, Becky and I talked about the first time David played basketball – in 2nd grade Upward Basketball. He did so well that the next year he got recruited to play on an RA basketball league team!  Every winter for the last ten years, we have been in the stands cheering for our son and his team. It’s just been part of our life. We do not know anything else. There has always been another season – “next season maybe we can…” Now it’s over. There is no next season. That’s hard.  The looks on the faces of the other senior parents (and the tears) told me they were feeling the same emotions.

It was a night to remember and celebrate our son. We remembered that undefeated RA team back in 3rd grade – with David being one of the leading scorers. We remembered that three-pointer David made at the buzzer in 8th grade against Whitesburg Middle. We remembered the night up at Skyline he was chosen All-Area as a 9th grader.  We remembered his 34 point 20 rebound game as a 10th grader at Paint Rock Valley.  We remembered his tw0-handed slam dunk in a game against Shelby County in 11th grade.

It was a night to see once more how basketball has helped my son grow up.  He learned to play on a team.  He learned to respect authority and accept instruction from his coaches. He learned that life (officiating) isn’t always fair, and you get mistreated. He learned to come back from failure after losses, and not to take success for granted after wins.  Our family moved to Birmingham after David’s 10th grade year, which meant he moved from playing 1A basketball to playing 6A basketball.  The players were bigger, stronger, and faster.  Points and rebounds were much harder to get. He wasn’t “the man” on this team. His new team played a different style, and was filled with experienced players who had been in the program for years. He struggled at first – and his playing time reflected that struggle. However, David hung in there, kept working and became a good contributor off the bench during the last few games of his junior year. This season, he started every game and was a key player at a 6A school.  Yes, David learned about basketball, but he mostly learned about life. He grew up. You can’t put a price tag on that.

It was a night to be grateful for coaches and teammates. We don’t have coach horror stories. Every coach David has had loved him and influenced him in a positive way.  David played many years with the same set of teammates up in Huntsville at Whitesburg Christian Academy. The memories made with those young men will never be forgotten. They are a treasure. Fittingly, those boys played their last game last night as well. David, Tanner, and Andrew went out together – just a few miles apart. When David walked through the doors of Briarwood Christian School his new teammates immediately accepted him even though most of them had been together for years. They let David into the circle, and their kindness to him at an awkward time will never be forgotten.  David’s teammates at Briarwood are some of the finest young men I know, and I am proud he got to go to battle with them.

It was a night to treasure friends. Parents of athletes have a special bond. You spend so many hours together in the stands. You eat so many meals together after road games.  You live and die together every time the whistle blows.  As the clock ticked down last night, I treasured the many games I sat by my great Huntsville friend Eddie Richardson as we – ahem – educated officials on some of the finer points of the game of basketball. I also treasured the looks on our wives faces! Here at Briarwood, the “pre-game analysis” with Ricky Miskelley and the detailed x’s and o’s breakdowns with Jeff Travis have been priceless.

Finally, it was a night to look ahead to the next season. It won’t be a basketball season, but the next season of life for our son and our family. It won’t be like this season that just ended, but I am praying it will be just as blessed and just as rewarding. God is good.

 

 

 

 

 

Being a friend to your pastor (or a staff member)

20 Apr

As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17, NKJV)

Recently Becky and I went out to dinner with a couple from our church with whom we have become friends.  It was a couple of hours filled with laughter, stories, and great food.  It wasn’t a sermon or a Sunday School class; it was just two couples having dinner like all of the other people in the restaurant.  Like everyone else, pastors and church staff members really need those times. Over the years, I have been blessed to have very good friends in every church I have served. It doesn’t threaten me when I see our staff members developing friendships with church members either. Many readers of this blog do not attend the church I serve. Please let me share a few thoughts about being a friend to your pastor (or a staff member).

(1)  Be faithful to pray. Some of the most treasured friends are those we know pray for us on a regular basis. There have been times the Lord has used the encouragement of a praying friend in a great way.

(2) Feel free to have fun & talk about “normal” stuff. Sometimes people think since they are talking with a pastor the conversation must be about spiritual things or the church. Those things are certainly important – eternally important – and we are glad to talk about them.  However, the truth is that we “do church” all the time, but we enjoy far more than just the church. We enjoy talking about college football, favorite vacation spots, hobbies, or a host of other things. We enjoy laughing, hearing your stories, and telling our stories!

(3) Be a “safe place.”    As I write these words I am thinking of a family in a previous church who had us over to their home on several occasions. The very first time we went to their home, the wife told us as soon as we arrived: “Here you are just our friends, Greg & Becky.”  That was her way of saying that they intended for their home to be a safe place for our family, and it was. There was never an agenda and never an expectation of anything other than friendship. Those were times filled with love, laughter, and generosity that I will never forget.

(4) Disagree but remain a friend. In one church I served I could always count on one phone call when the proposed budget for the next year was distributed: a call from one of my best friends. Every year he was bent out of shape about something in the budget and he would give me an earful.  Then it was over. He disagreed, but he remained my close friend. Our friendship meant far more to him than a line item in a budget or an item on the agenda of a business meeting.

(5) Understand when we can’t share.  One time we were having dinner with close friends and a particularly sensitive issue in the church were we serving at that time came up in the conversation. Realizing the position she had put me in, the wife looked at me and said, “I’m sorry; I know you can’t go there.”  Every pastor and staff member has things they cannot share with even their closest friends due to confidentiality, etc. A good friend respects that even if it means we can’t tell them.

Every pastor and staff member needs friends. I am so very grateful for the gift of friends for life.

 

 

Grateful for Whitesburg Christian Academy

23 May

Yesterday was a bittersweet day for the Corbin family.  It was the last day of school at Whitesburg Christian Academy – literally for the Corbin family. Because I began serving at Lakeside already three months into the school year, we made the decision to let Becky and the boys finish the school year out in Huntsville.  To have moved the boys at the Christmas break would have also meant removing David from the varsity basketball team in the middle of their season. So, since the end of October, Becky and the boys have been in Huntsville Monday-Friday each week finishing school and I have been getting my feet on the ground in Birmingham as Pastor at Lakeside. It has not always been easy, but we are grateful we made the decision to let them finish out the school year.  So, yesterday was bittersweet in that we are excited to finally be in a position where all of us will be together full-time in Birmingham where God has called us to serve, but we are saddened to see a wonderful chapter in our lives end and leave many wonderful friends.

For the last seven years, Whitesburg Christian Academy has been an integral part of our lives.  Seven years ago, David went to his first day of 4th grade as a new kid not knowing anyone. At that time, there were around 150 students and the entire school shared facilities with Whitesburg Baptist Church. Today, the Academy is blessed to have this wonderful facility with more on the way…

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So, David has spent the last seven school years at the Academy.  Daniel came into the Academy as a 1st grader and he just completed his fifth year.  My wife, Becky spent the last six school years as a 6th grade teacher.  During these last seven years of growth and change for the Academy, it has been part of the Corbin’s lives and the Corbins have been part of the Academy’s life.  It has a been a wonderful blessing to our family.  I am so very grateful for Whitesburg Christian Academy.  Please allow me to share why.

First of all, I am grateful for the blessing that the Academy has been to our sons.  Every single day that I have sent David and Daniel to school there, I have been confident that they were receiving a great education from a Christian worldview.  Every single day that I have sent David and Daniel to school there, I have been confident that they were loved and cared for by teachers and administration that had their best interests at heart.  The influences on the lives of my children have been overwhelmingly Christ honoring and positive, all while receiving a great education.

I am also grateful for Whitesburg Christiian Academy because of what it stands for.  The stated purpose of the school is “Developing students who are passionate followers of Christ and well-trained servant leaders…”   The Academy is serious about that purpose and it permeates the school.  In a culture filled with rapidly changing moral views and a Christian landscape too often filled with compromise, the Academy seeks to stand on the authority of Scripture and promote the historic, Biblical Christian faith.  That is no easy task in today’s world, but Whitesburg Christian Academy strives to do it out of conviction.

I am grateful for the people who are the Whitesburg Christian Academy family.  Certainly, our sons have friends for life from the Academy.  However, Becky and I both have friends for life there too.  As important as moving into the new building was for the school, the Academy’s two most important assets are its Lord and its people. Some of the greatest people in the world work, attend, and volunteer at Whitesburg Christian Academy.  It’s truly a family.  Like every family, there are occasionally some tough times when there is conflict, misunderstanding, and sin.  When these times come, the Academy seeks to handle them in a Christ honoring, redemptive way.  It’s a family.

Finally, I am grateful for Whitesburg Christian Academy because of its future. I truly believe that the best days are ahead.  I have utmost confidence in Headmaster Jerry Reeder and the leadership team he has assembled. They will continue to lead well.  However, the reasons I am bullish about the future of Whitesburg Christian Academy is because God is at work there; He has his hand on the Academy.  Trust me, in the last seven years, I have seen God do the miraculous at this school on more than one occasion – most of which I am not free to write about publicly.  The only reason that the Academy is still going and prospering is because of the blessing of God. Therefore, it has a bright future!

The Lord has called the Corbin family to leave Huntsville and Whitesburg Christian Academy and plant our lives in the metro Birmingham area. We look forward to staying in touch and seeing what God does in the future.  It’s been a great honor to be a small part of God’s work there.

Happy 15th birthday, David!!

31 Jul

There are a handful of truly life changing days in a person’s life. Certainly, the day in August, 1978 when I gave my life to Christ was one of those days.  December 18, 1993 was another – the day I married my wife and best friend, Becky.  July 31, 1998 was a third life changing day. It was on that day that I became a father. David Gregory Corbin was born.

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I love this picture of David that was taken on a recent family trip because it captures his personality.  That sly grin gives a window into the sense of humor that all who know David enjoy.  On that day fifteen years ago, it was impossible to imagine David being a 6’3″ athlete who would playfully put his arm on my shoulder and say, “You’re short!”  It was also impossible to imagine the many joys and occasional tears that being a father involves. Nothing quite changes your life like becoming a father.  Being David’s father has certainly changed me – for the better!

David is extremely smart and talented. He is a very good athlete who averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds per game on the varsity basketball team as a freshman.  He enjoys drawing and is a little “artsy.”  He is extremely funny – especially when he gets warmed up!  He is well liked by his peers and teachers at school. He is respected at school and at church and our student ministers tell me that other kids look to him as a leader. He is great with younger kids and one of his favorite ways to serve is as a leader in our AWANA ministry, helping with the younger groups.

Most of all, I am thankful that I see David growing as a Christian. I had the privilege of leading David to the Lord in his bedroom after church one Sunday night and baptizing him while we served in Pell City. THOSE were some special moments!  As he enters these crucial older teenage years, I continually pray that his faith will continue to blossom and truly be his own in a more real way than ever before.

David, your dad loves you and is proud of you.  Happy 15th birthday to my “eldest son” and to a wonderful young man!

Two moms I am most thankful for

12 May

Today is Mother’s Day 2013, and I wanted to use a post on the blog to mention two very special mothers in my life today. Here is their picture at our last family Christmas celebration…

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On the left is my mother, Janice Corbin. I am very blessed to have had a good mother who loved me and, most of all, taught me to love the Lord and His Word. In addition to those big things, she taught me countless “little things” that still shape me even to this day.  It’s a joy to me to see her enjoying my sons.  In fact, if you look closely at this picture, you will see Daniel opening Christmas presents next her. I almost cropped him out of this picture, but decided to leave him in because that captures my mom well. She’s actually holding one of Daniel’s Christmas presents. She’s a giver. She gave so much to me over the years and now she is giving to my boys.  Mom, I love you and thank the Lord for you on this day!

The other lady in this picture is my beautiful wife, Becky.  She is the love of my life and the mother of our two boys.  The sacrifices she makes for me and our boys are incalculable. In watching all that she does for our sons, I have a better appreciation of all my mother did for me. She is not a sports fan, but she certainly spends a good portion of her life at ball games because our sons are playing. In fact, she’s even been known to get excited at a few of them!  Thank you, Becky, for being a great wife and mother. I love you and thank the Lord for you on this day!