The Blessings of a Partner
The wise man Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:
"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken."

A primary lesson to be learned here is this: you are blessed if you have a good partner. Having a partner that you can depend upon is a tremendous blessing and one that should not be taken lightly. Today's lesson is special in several ways. I have been richly blessed by several "partners" in various aspects of my life. Since it is appropriate to give honor to whom it is due (cf. Rom. 13:7), I would like to do that very thing at this time.

In my 31 years of life thus far, I've been influenced in a positive way by thousands of people. Space and memory would preclude mentioning them all. However, of that number there are a few who have been "partners" with me in certain aspects of life in very significant ways. Without their help, encouragement, and love--and the kind providence of Almighty God--I may have fallen, been overpowered, or been broken long ago.

Let me begin chronologically with my first "partner," so to speak--Kathryn Bradd, my mother. Mom was my primary "partner" for my first 18 years of life. She lovingly took care of my physical needs when I was too young to care for myself. More significantly, she provided a spiritual home environment where the Bible was loved and read. Everyday she showed me what it meant to live as a Christian as she nurtured me in the path of righteousness. Without Mom, I probably wouldn't be half the man I am today. Thank you Mom!

At 18, a new "partner" rose to great significance in my life--Larry Fryer. Larry changed the direction of my life overnight. As I began college, a mathematical-related career seemed imminent. Larry, who was the evangelist for the Lord's church in Clinton at that time, challenged me to consider becoming a gospel preacher. The thought had not occurred to me previously. Larry, a modern-day Barnabas, convinced me that I could be a successful preacher and have a great impact for good upon the world. For over four years Larry mentored me as I grew rapidly in knowledge and understanding (thanks to the excellent resources available via World Video Bible School). The ability to work with a wise, experienced preacher was an invaluable blessing to me. Without Larry, I'd likely be working as an actuary right now or teaching mathematics at a university. I'm glad I'm a preacher! Thank you Larry!

At 22, a young woman who had been a friend for many years formally became my wife and partner for life--the former Ranae Breeden. My wife is top-notch in every way. She is beautiful to the eye and even more so spiritually. Ranae is a great wife and mother, an immeasurable blessing. She has given birth to 3 wonderful sons and another child is on the way. She works hard at home and effectively educates our boys. For nearly a decade now, we have continued to grow in love for each other. Each year seems to get a little sweeter and filled with more delight than the one before it. Being a partner with Ranae is a great joy as we continue to weave our lives together. Without Ranae, my life would be lacking in so many ways. Thank you Ranae!

Over 5 years ago, I became good friends with a Christian man who would become a "partner" to me in a short span of time--Patrick English. He is a good student of the word and a great friend to ponder important matters with. When an opportunity presented itself to host a live, half-hour, Bible radio program, Patrick was ready to help. Although the radio program only lasted about 7 months, Patrick was full of bigger and better ideas, namely Whether you are listening to this transcript or reading it, it is because of Patrick's continued dedication, immense technical skills, and labor in this internet ministry. In recent days I typically write and record the lessons, and Patrick takes it from there and brings it to you. There are many good brethren who help out with AE, but my chief co-laborer is certainly Patrick. Without Patrick, AE would have never been born. And today we joyfully announce the posting of the 1000th lesson on this website! 1000! Thank you Patrick!

There are many others who could be mentioned, but the above are in a class by themselves in my estimation. As King David had his mighty men, and three elites among them (cf. II Sam. 23:8ff), so I have been richly blessed by God with some exceptional "partners" in life. Thank you Lord! It is my prayer that God would continue to richly bless them as they continue serving Him!