Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wise Men: Three Who Made a Difference for Me

Three wise men. No, not the shadowy Magi that rode camelback across the desert pursuing a mysterious star. The Christmas story never tells us how many Magi, only listing three gifts. And somewhere between the scripture and the carols they all were promoted to royalty. Tradition has even added names - Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar. Nothing like a little good fiction to fill in the gaps, inspire a few songs, and sell a few cards.

I'm thinking of three wise men who went far out of their way to give good gifts to me. And, if you give it a moment's thought, I'll bet you can remember two or three of your own. Special friends, wise mentors, difference-makers in your life. Let me introduce three wise men to you.

I begin with David O. Moore, my Old Testament professor and the consummate Christian gentleman even in the face of criticism and personal attacks. Dr. Moore helped me connect rigorous scholarship and passionate faith. He kept me headed in the right direction, not letting me give up on the local church. When Dr. Moore retired, he brought me two grocery sacks of books selected from his personal library to help me in my ministry as a pastor. I still treasure and use those books complete with his notes in the margins.

I cannot forget Jerry Cain, my campus minister, who gave me, a bright-eyed freshman, so many unique opportunities to use my fledgling gifts, allowing me to stick my tentative toe in the ocean of ministry, eventually finding the courage to jump in head first. Now Dr. Cain is a college president, slightly more dignified, but still the same Jerry who opened many doors and made a huge difference for me.

And last of all, I think of Lewis Krause, my mentor and friend and surrogate father after Dad died, who from the first time we met somehow believed in me. I cannot think of Lewis without a smile and a chuckle. He ministered for many years in hard times and tough situations around the world and yet he never lost his joy. What a remarkable gift of encouragement he gave to me.

There you have it. Three wise men. Where would I be if they had not arrived just when I needed them? Thank you, God, for sending them my way.

Care to share your wise men or women?

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