Reflecting, Rejoicing and Remembering:

Reflecting, Rejoicing, and Remembering: 6 Years of Ministry Partnership

Earlier this week, Bethany and I got away for a couple of days at the lake in celebration of our 16-year-anniversary in late July.  Time spent together over meals, hiking, and kayaking gave us opportunity to reflect on how our lives have changed since the day we said, “I do” and to rejoice in the rich blessings of God through years of laughter, tears, difficulty and joy.  Two days without the pressures of daily tasks and meeting the acute needs of our children provided the space to remember both the covenant we made to one another before God and man and the calling of God on our lives as husband and wife.

When we take the time, anniversaries provide the space for reflecting, rejoicing, and remembering what God has done, and this Sunday, August 25 marks another anniversary – 6 years since my first sermon as pastor at Calvary. 


As I think about these 6-years of ministry partnership, I am reflecting on the many changes the Lord has brought our way.  Our children, who were 7, 4, and under 1 when we unpacked out belongings in the summer of 2013, will begin 8th, 5th and 1st grade respectively this Monday.  Many people who worshiped with us that first Sunday are no longer with us, as God has providentially called some away and others home to be with Him.  Many empty chairs have been filled with new friends and partners in ministry, whom we’ve had the privilege to welcome, and some with whom we’ve experienced the sadness of saying goodbye.  And the building in which we gathered that first Sunday is today just weeks from an incredible transformation.

As I reflect, I’m also rejoicing in the blessings of God throughout these years.  He has faithfully enriched our lives with deep friendships and demonstrated His love to us through the kindness of His body, the church, through both the joys and sorrows of life.  He has brought our church through times of difficulty, and enveloped us with His presence, as we’ve gathered for worship, community and service.  He has enabled this ministry to bear fruit, not because of the strength of our plans, strategies, or talents, but because His Word will not return void and His strength is made manifest in our weakness.  And He has provided us with all we need to do all He is calling us to do in this and every season of life and ministry together.

As I reflect and rejoice, I also remember the calling that God has placed on this church is the same today as it was on August 25, 2013.  We have been called to bring glory to God in this generation and the next by making disciples right here in Raleigh and wherever we have been sent.  I’m always amazed that the “multi-everything” expression of the church is God’s great idea for enacting His mission in the world, but we at Calvary have the privilege of being called into His mission together.  And the promise of Jesus given to his disciples before He ascended to His throne is as true for us today, as it was for them 2,000 years ago, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

As I reflect, rejoice and remember on this 6th anniversary at Calvary, my heart is filled with the prayer of the Apostle Paul, as he engaged a similar exercise in considering his beloved ministry partners in Philippi:

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ (Phil. 1:3-4).

Happy 6th anniversary, Calvary!

With Gratitude and Love,

Pastor Nate

Opening Day and the Long Season of Life

Opening Day and the Long Season of Life

Baseball Opening day.  Few phrases produce in my heart a greater sense of longing, anticipation and excitement. 

In early spring 2001, I was a young, soon-to-be college graduate, embarking on my first career, as a play-by-play broadcaster in Minor League Baseball.  For me, opening day represented the culmination, not only of a long winter of moving; settling into a new community; learning a new job; and making new friends, but of a many years of working toward a moment I never thought would come.  Yet, on that cool spring evening in Macon, GA, with my stomach twisted in knots and a future Major League superstar on the mound, opening day finally came. 

But the truth about baseball opening day, with all its pageantry and excitement, is that it gives way to a long season, marked by hot days, long nights, unexpected thunderstorms, and hours of unnoticed, unseen work.  Periodically a walk-off homerun, a no-hitter, or a stadium packed with thousands of fans eagerly looking forward to the post-game fireworks breaks through as a reminder – this is really great!

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Standing at the Crossroads of Life’s Transitions

Standing at the Crossroads of Life’s Transitions

It was 2am.  After hours of packing and cleaning, my wife and I sat alone on the floor of our oldest daughter’s nursery, exhausted from a long day, preceded by an even longer week, and something happened that had rarely occurred in our 4-year old marriage – I began to weep.  As I sat in the house we planned and had built, the room we lovingly painted and furnished just over a year prior and considered all that had occurred in three years in our West Virginia home, the excitement of a move to St. Louis was overshadowed by the strange grief of change.  What had at one time been only an unknown future hope was now a package of past memories tenuously stored in our minds and hearts, as we set off on our next adventure.

Three states and six homes later, I’m increasingly aware of the simultaneous grief and joy that lie in the crossroads of life’s many transitions. 

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Signs of Life at the Dawning of Spring

Signs of Life at the Dawning of Spring

As the calendar flips from February to March, I have noticed that the city of Raleigh has begun showcasing signs of life.  Even on a cold, rainy day like today, the landscape is dotted with the white flowers of pear trees, the first wave of the promise that winter will soon give way to spring.  Soon, the white flowers will give way to green leaves and the dancing of daffodils will not be far behind.  Soon, daylight will hang on a little longer until one day I’ll look at the clock on my phone and see that the sun remains at 8pm.  Soon, the 40 degree days and nights will bow to more consistent warm temperatures.  Soon, the forest that looked like the death of winter will sing with the new life of spring.

As I look with eager anticipation to the promise of spring, I’m reminded that in many ways, Calvary Presbyterian Church is on the precipice of a new season, the hints of which have been evident for quite some time.  In His mercy, God has been pleased to bless our church with signs of life.

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3:21 Refresh Week of Prayer and Fasting

3:21 Refresh Week of Prayer and Fasting

(Note: The contents of this blog post were originally posted during the 3:21 Initiative in November 10, 2017.)

The elders of Calvary PCA have called for a week of prayer and fasting February 18-23, leading into the 3:21 Refresh commitment Sunday, February 24, as we pledge our gifts to the 3:21 initiative.  We have asked members of Calvary to set aside one day this week, dedicated to prayer and fasting that we might seek His will and not our own.  Click here to confidentially register for a day of prayer and fasting.

We are asking that the Lord would enable us to operate out of a position of our freedom in Christ, rather than out of a position of compulsion, duty, or fear.  As you pray and as you seek God’s wisdom for how He would have you contribute time, talent and treasure to the 3:21 initiative, remember that in Christ you are those who are:

  • Free From Bondage to live as those who are truly free (Gal. 5:1)
  • Free From Condemnation to live as those who are accepted by God (Romans 8:1-2)
  • Free From Fear to live as those who are the sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:15)
  • Free From Results to live as open-handed servants of God (1Peter 2:16)
  • Free From Selfish Desires to live out the great commandments of love for God and love for neighbor (Gal.5:13)

May God give us grace to pray, live, and give as those who are set free in Christ!

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Standing For Life: What Do We Do When Outrage Doesn’t Work?

Standing for Life: What do we do When Outrage Doesn’t Work?

We live in what many have called an outrage culture.  My social media feed is filled daily with posts expressing shock, anger, disdain and often disregard for those whose opinion differ from that of the one posting.  Often we reduce people down to lowest common denominator of the views they hold with little regard for the fullness of who they are.  The reality is that Christians are as guilty of these things as anyone else.  Yet, outrage-fueled posts have no effect on transforming the minds and hearts of those whose views do not reflect our own.

But what are we to do when the only rightful response to an issue or idea is righteous anger?  What must a Christian do when outrage doesn’t work?  This question has been on my mind since reading over a week ago that the New York state legislature passed a bill permitting abortion at any time up to the birth of a child.  Subsequent comments by prominent political leaders have left me saddened at the reality of sin in a world in rebellion against the God who has created human life in His image and likeness.  Perhaps like me, you have wondered what are we as Christians called to do.  While I do not have all the answers, I do believe the Scriptures would lead us in at least the following ways:

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And Yet, We Wait…

It’s beginning to look like Christmas at the Wilks home. Earlier this week, we trimmed this year’s tree with ornaments collected for our children and family over the years. Our hedges are decked with lights, two small lit trees welcome guests on our front porch, and a wreath is shining on our door. The enthusiasm of our three children has been palpable from the moment the music came on (after Thanksgiving dinner of course), to the process of decorating our home.  There is greater-than-usual excitement, as the promise of Christmas morning stares them in eye each day, and yet, we wait.

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In Appreciation For Faithful Men…

In Appreciation For Faithful Men who Entrusted to Me What they Had Been Taught

This morning I was looking through a few old pictures on Facebook.  It’s funny what one will find in looking back.  Old memories flood my mind like a tidal wave, reminding me of long-forgotten joys, oft-remembered pain and much appreciated people whose presence in my life have left an indelible mark.

One particular photo has elicited in me a spirit of incalculable gratitude.  In this picture, taken the occasion of my ordination to pastoral ministry over 7 years ago, I’m surrounded by three pastors – faithful men who took particular interest in passing to me what they had learned through years of following Jesus and serving his church.

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What Time is It?

What Time Is It?

“Daddy, what time is it?”  With little concept of the reality of time, my youngest daughter asks this question on many nights.  “It’s 9pm” is the equivalent to “it’s 7pm” to her.  It’s simply an answer from her daddy in which a meaningless number is attached.  But when I say, “It’s bedtime,” she knows it’s time to spring into action – brush teeth, get dressed, read a book, sing songs, say prayers, and go to sleep.  Without my specific reminder of just what time it is, I don’t know if my youngest child would ever go to sleep.

I wonder how many people walk around with no idea of just what time it is.  Oh, we know the time on our smartphone and the date on our Google calendar, but do we really know what time it is, and does it spring us into action?

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Presence is Better than Presents

Presence is Better than Presents

“Did you get the presents for my birthday yet?”  Even before, “Hello” or “Good Morning,” this is the question with which my youngest child greeted me moments after springing from her bed earlier this week.  Never missing an opportunity to meet audacious questions with silly answers, my response was, “You always have my presence!”  “Dad!” she replied in confused tone, “You know what I mean!”  After a few minutes of circular exchange, I said simply, “Sweetheart, presence is always better than presents.” 

For the record, of course we got presents for our child’s birthday, but as I’ve reflected on this playful conversation this week, I’m struck by how often I have the heart of a soon-to-be six-year-old child, as I think about and communicate with God in prayer. 

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