Greetings and Happy New Year from the Bishop family!
We did not get a chance to send out Christmas cards or pictures this year so we are sending an update letter for the New Year about our family. Thank you so much, as our friends and family, for all the love and support you have given to us!
2009: A Year of Triumphs and Trials
In January, I (Barry) began the year by traveling to Monclova, Mexico as part of a team of seminary students, in order to share the Good News of Jesus Christ there. Once again, I was amazed at the awesome power of God to change lives for eternity, as many responded to the message and put their faith in Jesus. Our team distributed 15,000 gospel booklets, hundreds of Bibles, and proclaimed the Good News door-to-door, in special church services, through music, and children’s activities. God blessed the trip immensely. Here’s a link to a video from last year.
While I attended classes at seminary, Karen (a stay-at-home mom) held things down at home. In addition, she earned a certificate in Seminary Studies for Student Wives and was awarded it in April. This meant that she had to take seminary level classes at night over three semesters. For the last year of seminary, Karen, the kids, and I would travel every weekend 120 miles south in order for me to pastor at Hay Valley Baptist Church in Gatesville. My wife is truly an amazing woman!
In May, I graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity. After 3 years, 97 credit hours, (not to mention several part-time jobs and ministry positions) I finished! Seminary was one of the hardest things I have ever done but a wonderful time of spiritual growth. There were some low points where I thought we could not make it—the demanding schedule, turning in papers, finances—but God always brought us through.
One example of how God was good to me is that I won the 2009 LifeWay Pastoral Leadership Award in May. It was awarded to one graduating student who is going into pastoral ministry. But more than the award, I was happy to get a $500 gift certificate that went with it which allowed me to buy books for my ministry library.
In June our family took a much needed vacation to San Antonio to see Karen’s parents. Our good friends, the Kurths, joined us and we had a great time together at the Riverwalk and Alamo. Our kids played with their kids and ignored all the cultural things that the adults enjoyed.
By July I had almost forgotten that we had a baby on the way, but John Dalton Bishop came into the world on the 15th. He was a chubby little cherub (9 lbs. 1 oz., 18.5 in. long) that reminded us of what it was like to have a newborn.
Less than two weeks later, we bought a house and moved to Gatesville, Texas, my hometown. Once again, God worked out the details for us to get a newly remodeled house that we could afford. Also, the house is one street over from my mother and she has been an immense help to us with our kids! Best of all, we finally live in the same town as the church that I pastor.
In August, I started a rewarding (yet challenging) job as a high school Spanish teacher. I took this job to supplement my income as a pastor. However, the job has some great advantages such as allowing me to make a difference in young peoples’ lives and helping me identify better with those church members who are in education as well.
Karen joined a group called HOT Moms (Heart of Texas Moms). It is a group of Christian mothers that meets for a Bible devotional and fellowship while the kids play.
Abigail (4 1/2 yr) is in a Ballet/Tap Dance class. She likes it and is quite the comedienne. She pretends to fall down and dances to only the songs she likes. Karen has been homeschooling her with a preschool curriculum from My Father’s World. Abigail loves it and knows all sorts of stuff I never knew at her age, like all the names of the planets and that “Pluto is icy cold.”
Reuben (a.k.a. “Mr. Mess”) is a typical boy. He is 2 1/2 yr old and is into clobbering things with toys and playing with everything that is not a toy. He loves to tackle me and be tickled. I love his roughness too, except when he scores a solid hit against me.
John Dalton is 5 months old now and he is a very happy, chubby baby. He is at a fun age. Lately, he has started swiping at things like glasses and noses.
We always thought that after completing seminary the pace of life would slow down, but it seems to be just as busy as ever! Karen is a wonderful wife who keeps me and the kids going each day. She is a hard worker and a great encourager. On any given day in our household there is drama with the kids and laughter at ourselves.
One day recently Karen said, “I sometimes wonder why I worked so hard in the business school at UT only to be wiping bottoms now.” I told her that Moses probably felt the same way, because although Moses was schooled “in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” he spent 40 years in the desert tending sheep before God called him and used him in mighty ways (see Acts 7). Sounds like a pretty good answer, right? But I, too, have had similar moments.
And so, like Abraham, we walk by faith. “For he was looking forward to the city... whose designer and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:10.) I do not regret basing my life on Jesus Christ, I only regret times when I have been disobedient to Him. Jesus is my King and my Savior. He loves you and can be yours, too. Yet, you will never be reconciled to God until you confess that you have broken His laws and been an enemy to Him. Then put your faith in Jesus alone and trust that his payment on the cross can make you clean and forgiven before God the Father.
The Christian life is not easy, but there will be rewards in eternity. After all, there are only Two Ways to Live.
Happy New Year! I pray that you too might walk in the “newness of life” that is available through faith in Jesus Christ. And please keep our family in your prayers as well, that we will keep to our new year’s resolutions to lead more disciplined and godly lives.
The Bishops (Barry, Karen, Abigail, Reuben, and John Dalton)
We [believers in Jesus] were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.