God is a Good Father: 1 Corinthians 15:58

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 (KJV)

On April 7, 2024, my husband, Arlin, and I traveled to Frisco, Texas and attended the early service at Stonebriar Community Church. If only we could meet Pastor Swindoll and shake his hand. That’s what I prayed for. How could I ever thank him for decades of his Insight for Living messages via radio, podcast, and online? Messages like “Laugh Again: Experience Outrageous Joy,” “The Grace Awakening,” and “Listener Favorites.”

I knew God would have to inspire this providential encounter. The odds of Pastor Swindoll preaching that morning were as improbable as being in the path of a total solar eclipse. Like an eclipse, we needed three divine elements to align, starting with Pastor Swindoll preaching during the early morning service, receiving people after recent health issues, and the sentries surrounding him not saying, “That’s enough, sorry.”

God answered my prayer. I greeted Pastor Swindoll and shared how grateful I felt for his Insight broadcasts and for helping me through tough times filled with obstacles.

Like a daily mantra, I clicked on his podcast every morning—something encouraging and enlightening—while I walked my dogs around the pastures. The lessons made me look at life and Scripture from a different perspective. It was like my Good Father in heaven reached through the airwaves, lifted me, and held me closer to Him.

That morning, as I stood near the front of Stonebriar Community Church and shook Pastor Swindoll’s hand, I glanced over his shoulder and spotted the magnificent organ. The organ pipes reached the top of the sanctuary like saluting soldiers of the faith, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That tied beautifully into the message from 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” Words like beloved, steadfast, and unmovable reminded me of Swindoll’s more than fifty years of dedicated service, unstoppable faith, and ministry.

Charles and Cynthia Swindoll married in 1955 and served in the ministry as co-captains of the faith. Charles served sixteen months of military duty in the Marine Corps base in Okinawa. Perhaps that’s why he held military veterans in high regard—he’d walked in their boots. Pastor Swindoll’s education at Dallas Theological Seminary significantly shaped his young life as a preacher, as he used his natural ability to extend outrageous joy and humor to his congregation and me.

Over the decades, I’ve witnessed Pastor Charles and Cynthia live out their faith by pursuing a vision for local and global ministry. These efforts include weekly food drives, prison ministries, divorce care, Spanish-language ministries, small groups, Memorial Day celebrations, community groups, missionary Christmas cards, and nurturing children, youth, and adult orchestras and choirs— all pictures of their church motto: Love God. Love Others.

Less than a week after visiting Texas, my husband and I returned to Montana and attended Stonebriar Community Church online, learning that Dr. Jonathan Murphy would become the Senior Pastor on May 1, 2024. Pastor Swindoll would still serve as the Founding Pastor. My husband and I have listened to Dr. Murphy preach numerous times, so I was happy to hear the news.

Pastor Swindoll mentored Dr. Murphy for years. I love listening to his messages and Irish accent. His biblical knowledge and insight keep us engaged and flipping through the pages of our Bibles, and my husband and I are excited to hear more of his sermons.

Having experienced several churches that spent a year, two, or more searching for that perfect pastor, Arlin and I know how difficult it can be. The congregations dwindled to survival mode, and a few ended in church splits. I felt relieved to encounter a proactive board of elders at Stonebriar. In God’s sovereignty and timing, the pastors and church leaders had the discernment, wisdom, and grace to wait upon the Lord and share God’s pulpit with Dr. Murphy in a prayerful transition. Based on the cheering and ovation as Dr. Murphy walked to the pulpit last Sunday, I’m not the only one excited to hear his expository preaching!