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“Then Jacob called his sons and said, ‘Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come‘” (Gen. 49:1).

In my earliest years my family was intact. Dad and mom were together in ministry and connected in rearing my brother and me. There are a few things I remember from those early days – things that were said or done – treasures which I hold closely to my heart.

I remember our parents asking us if we’d care for them when they got old and needed extra attention. That made an impression on me as it gave me a window into the future reality that these rocks in my life would someday not be rocks – they’d need my strength.

My dad was in bi-vocational ministry in those days; that is, he served in ministry but supported his family by other means. He had a heart for serving Jesus. He took the call of God on his life very seriously. I commend him for his commitment.

“My sons: Philip, you’re going to be an evangelist, and James, you’re going to be a pastor. Evangelist Philip and Pastor James,” my dad used to tell us repeatedly.

Who knew his words would prove to be prophetic? Though he had a severe mental, emotional, and spiritual breakdown in life; nevertheless, his words live on in fulfillment. My brother has been serving in the role of an evangelist as a missionary on the continent of Africa for more than 20 years, and I am a pastor. I don’t believe that it was necessarily the force of our father’s spoken words that caused this course of our lives. It is the hand of our Heavenly Father. But I have to wonder if God graciously revealed His intention to my dad’s soul – which then came out through my earthly dad’s words?

Maybe someday God will let us know. In the meantime, I’m enjoyed a rare visit with my brother this past weekend, and, for the first time as a pastor, I had the privilege of hosting Philip at the church where I serve. Phil preached on Sunday morning and gave a mission’s presentation in the evening. The evangelist and the pastor – together again – even if for just a moment.

“Dear Lord, help me to use my words carefully when I speak to my children. May they serve You all the days of their lives. Give me insight into Your desire for them and help me to speak accordingly. Amen.”