The Blog of Pastor Mike Wilkins

In The Long Run

"The long run" referred to in the title of this blog is, in the first place, the many years Mike Wilkins served as West London's solo pastor, and then its Senior Pastor, since he and his wife Deb moved to London (and this church) in 1984.

In these past few years (beginning November 2011,) Mike's various health challenges, particularly a serious and ongoing case of cancer, has added another layer to the "long run" metaphor, and lots to blog about. Mike is currently on an extended Sick Leave, but generally worships with the church family on Sunday mornings.

With the publication of a book he wrote in 2016 entitled "Glory in the Face" (now available electronically and in paperback from Amazon.ca, and other online venders), Mike has just launched a new website, which will serve as a sort of scrapbook for readers of the book, with relevant background photos, for example, of That Last Final Solo Canoe Trip in May, 2011, as well as additional information about the book, and--coming soon--a new set of blog posts, mostly about the peace of God and the joy of the Lord and the face of Christ and the strength to face anything. You'll find the new website now at www.gloryintheface.com.

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    "Talk about making known the greatness of God by the lives we live"! Actually, that was what I did talk about this last Sunday (September 14, 2014). It was the first sermon in a three-week series on West London's "Statement of Intention": Making Known the Greatness of God. The sermon begins with a tribute to Pastor Arnold P. Reimer, who I worked for at Bayview Glen Church in Toronto from January 1981 until August 1984. During that time, I explained, the life that Arnie lived made known to me the greatness of God, specifically the greatness of God's purposes and love for the church of Jesus Christ.

    Here and now, a day before I turn sixty years old (!), and having just arrived at the thirtieth anniversary of my work as the pastor of West London Alliance Church, I note that Arnie was the fifth of five men whose impact on my life was used by God to direct me towards the privileges and duties to which I have now devoted exactly one half of my life. Here and now, I blog this blog to honour the other four men, noting that each one, by the life he lived, also made known to me at least one specific aspect of the greatness of God.

    Man #1. My father, Ross Wilkins.
    In the summer months of the middle years of the 1960s, while my mother was busy minding my baby brothers, my father attended our church's Sunday Morning Worship Services on his own. When the weather was fine in our little city of Brockville, Ontario, he walked rather than drove to church, just for fun. Dressed as the professional engineer he was, in a crisp white short-sleeved shirt with a skinny 1960s tie, my Dad walked the mile and a half quickly and cheerfully, producing in me, as I jogged along the sidewalk to keep up with him, the permanent conviction that God was very very great and so to be worshipped, and that to do so was both important and joyful.

    Man #2. Our minister, Les Renault.
    Like my father, Mr. Renault was a World War II veteran and also, I think, a hockey player. Sometime before we met him, he had experienced some sort of life-changing conversion to Christ, a change that eventually resulted in him becoming the minister of Brockville's First Presbyterian Church. His life and his pastoral work demonstrated to me that the great, great God he served was thoroughly worthy of such devotion, and that serving God as a minister was something that a manly man might do. (At the time, I privately hoped that I could grow up to be a manly man without having to become a minister.)

    Man #3. A retired scientist named Arthur Custance.
    In his retirement, Dr. Custance moved to a house he had built on a cliff overlooking the St. Lawrence River just outside of Brockville. There he proceeded to write six books and sixty-two monographs entitled "The Doorway Papers." (www.custance.org) In his writing, and also in some public addresses, he clearly and sometimes uniquely harmonized biblical truth and scientific knowledge. My parents, and then I, became acquainted with him and his writings, and we were all deeply affected by his own love and interest in the details of the Word of God. Meeting him, and reading his books, convinced us of the greatness of God as the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of the world. The experience made Bible students of all three of us.

    Man # 4. A university student named Phil Geldart.
    Phil, finishing his degree at the University of Guelph the same year that I was beginning mine, took me "underwing" and for that entire year urged upon me the great commitment required to be a whole-hearted and disciplined follower of Jesus Christ. That one-year experience thoroughly convinced me of what my life must be about, and that God was calling me to serve him by endeavouring to have the same effect on other young men as Phil had on me.

    All of which brings me to Pastor A.P. Reimer, my #5 Man, whose example taught me to love the church: all the churches of Jesus Christ, wherever in the world they might be. He inspired me to believe that it would be a great honour to be the pastor of one of them. (Maybe only ever one of them, I thought back then.) And so the vision of Man #2 came to pass.

    Getting to know the greatness of God by the lives I see being lived? I have personally experienced it and been greatly impacted by it -- and I will forever be grateful to our great God for these five men-- and others as well: some of whom lived and died many years before I was born.

    I really should add that it's not only been the influence of godly men that has shaped and defined me. There are two women in particular I must add to this high-impact list.

    Woman #1, my mother, Doreen Grainger Wilkins.
    My mother was the first person with whom I ever discussed the writings and the life of C.S. Lewis. It was something we did in the late 1960s --- and something we still do. My mother's interest in Lewis was to me contagious and led me to take him on as my first "Dead Man."

    Woman #2, Debbie Street, destined, it seems, to become my wife.
    I first saw her, and was smitten by her, in February, 1973. Today, forty-one and a half years later, I am pleased to report that I still feel the same way. Only more so. As for the "M.K.G.G impact" she has had upon me and my life… Well, that's a subject that requires at least one blog post of its own.