My Dad Retires

My dad preached his last sermon as pastor of Trinity Baptist Church yesterday and wrapped up his 39-year career as a pastor. My sister and I wrote a remembrance of what it was like growing up in the Lewis household and I gave this speech at the “Celebration Service” they threw for him.

Hi. I’m Josh, Ken’s son, and Emily (my sister) and I wrote this together.

She and I are two of only three people in the world today who can claim to have lived with Ken Lewis for two or more decades. What that means is that I’m a member of a small, elite crew of Ken Lewis experts who know what he’s really like, in all circumstances.

I’ve read Exodus 20 and I know there’s no command to “tease thy parents”, but I just know so many things about him that you probably don’t know, I have to share. For instance:

  • I know what he’s like while travelling for days on end across the country in a Volkswagen Jetta. 46 of the 50 states, and parts of Canada and Mexico. Because of that, I also know that the very first thing he does when he gets into a motel room is turn on the air conditioner under the window. Full blast!
  • I know he’s a late laugher. It’s not that he gets the joke later. I think it’s that he enjoys it along with everyone else, and then goes back one more time to savor it a little more.
  • I know more about jazz than almost anyone else my age, all due to him. I’ve spent hours with him listening to all the greats.
  • I know how frugal he is. I’ve watched him laying on his back under one of those aforementioned Volkswagen Jettas in the garage, doing who knows what to save a few bucks on a mechanic while an AM radio on a nearby shelf plays a barely-decipherable baseball game. Probably the Reds.
  • I know one of his most-used phrases is “C’mere, let me show you something.” He is constantly sharing what he loves.
  • I know how much he loves to whistle. In the late 80s, during a road trip, Emily and I conspired to see if we could trick him into whistling a song he would otherwise hate, without realizing what he was whistling. So we started humming Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”. He couldn’t stand Madonna, but he didn’t know the tune. So we hummed for a few minutes, and pretty soon he was whistling right along, totally unaware.
  • I know he loves recording important events, just like my mom does. When Emily and I were young, they had an actual Super-8 silent movie camera, and in order to get enough light for this thing to record well indoors, he had a set of intense white floodlights. So every Christmas when it was time to unwrap the presents, before the camera came out, this blinding array of floodlights would come out and get set on a stand, casting shadows as deep as astronauts on the moon, and smoke would rise slowly off of them and float up to the ceiling as we opened our gifts in a brilliant flood of pure white light. Christmas doesn’t feel the same once you get used to those, and then more modern cameras come out.
  • I know something scandalous about his toaster. It’s a Sunbeam, and it has a high wattage they can’t sell anymore. But because of that, the toast it makes is perfect. He has actually made a multi-toaster comparative chart demonstrating his Sunbeam’s unique qualities.
  • I know how he preaches. I’ve seen about a thousand Ken Lewis sermons live and in person.

So given how much I know about Ken Lewis, and how much experience I have in this particular subject area, I hope what I’m about to tell you holds extra weight. You may already know, but I want to confirm it. It’s just this: Ken Lewis is who he appears to be. He’s a man of great integrity.

It seems simple, and it kind of is, but it’s also extremely rare. I’ve spoken to so many pastors’ kids who are disillusioned in their faith, or left the faith completely once they got into their 20s, and you can usually trace their lack of faith back to the hypocrisy of their fathers.

But not my father.

It’s the faith that I saw every single day in him and in my mom that has kept pulling me back towards Christ over and over again, making me want to enjoy what he’s enjoying.

And what he’s enjoying is Jesus.

So I want you all to know without a doubt that the love Dad gave to you when he served you is completely real. 100%. He’s not perfect, but he is who he says he is. He’s the same guy at home that he is behind the pulpit. His passion for Jesus is gigantic and authentic, and Jesus’ love for him shows through in what he does and says, and it’s beautiful. I’d guess we’re all here, in part, because we’re glad we got to see that love and experience it in person.

Dad, thank you for your humor. Thank you for your integrity. Thank you for your love and your passion for Christ and His bride.

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