Have you heard the term “TCK”? Well, that’s me. A “Third Culture Kid,” born and raised with four brothers in the 3rd world, in the Andes mountains of Venezuela, South America. Two cultures merged to create a third. Dad and mom were TEAM missionaries. Spent my early years in boarding school at Christiansen Academy in Rubio, Venezuela. So, that’s how God’s loving process of overhauling me got off the ground.
Come visit my overhauling office. In addition to a library of Greek exegetical tools, Puritan classics (I love John Owen, J.C. Ryle), works by Spurgeon and world history (all of which God has used to overhaul me), I have pictures and memorabilia of my home country: flags, pictures, but, alas, no food. You may think southern comfort food is tasty. But to me it tastes like dishwater compared to Venezuelan arepas, platanos, yuca, black beans and rice, and, of course, the best coffee: tinto (“ink”). I haven’t bit into a pumarosa (small fruit) for 40 years. Still looking. If you find some, send ‘em.
After returning to the states, the overhauling process continued when I earned degrees at Cornerstone University and Calvin College. Met a beautiful red-head from Tennessee in the college bookstore. Married in the dead of winter. God’s overhauling schedule for me went into high gear.
After teaching school for a few years and hearing God’s call, we were off to Texas for the ThM program at Dallas Theological Seminary. My major in NT Greek as well as four years under the tutelage of men of God equipped me to read, understand, and communicate God’s Word in its original overhauling language with accuracy, clarity and passion. I was privileged to complete my Master’s Thesis under world-class NT scholar and author, Dr. Darryl Bock. Several years later I received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Covenant Theological Seminary (PCA). Dr. John Sailhamer, OT scholar and author, was my dissertation supervisor. Since then, I’ve also had the opportunity to teach Greek for DTS’ Tampa Bay Extension for ten years. That really helped me to continue to hone my overhauling skills in handling the original text of the NT. And if that was not enough Greek for a lifetime, I’m currently working on a PhD in NT Greek (for more overhauling tools) at DTS. Can’t seem to stay away from the place. Overhauling is in my blood.
Why such an emphasis on the Biblical text? Well, God’s Word is the ultimate Chilton’s (ask me), the overhauling manual to restore our devious hearts. We come face-to-face with Jesus, the Ultimate Over-hauler, in its pages and hear truth about our desperate need for overhauling by Him. He challenges us to crawl out of our rusty comfort zones to love our neighbor, regardless of who that neighbor might be and what broken-down condition he might be in. The Scripture ransacks our hidden desires and distorted value systems and presses us to be gripped by eternity and its rewards. So, for me, there is no other choice or greater privilege. Daily I have to be in my “garage” preparing “home-made instructions” for God’s overhauling team. Daily I hear the DTS’ motto:
ringing in my ears. That’s Greek for “Overhauling.”
ringing in my ears. That’s Greek for “Overhauling.”
In my spare time, I overhaul classic Ford Mustangs. The adrenaline in my veins speeds up when I find a worn out ‘71-‘72 Mach 1 and bring it back to its original factory glory. (I’ve taken a short detour recently. I finishing a 1978 Ford Thunderbird Diamond Jubilee Edition right now.) One thing about overhauling cars though--no short-cuts.
Putting a Mustang back on the road again requires love of the vehicle, some know-how, bruised knuckles, dirty hands, and perseverance. Overhauling also requires trips to the junkyard looking for that hard-to-find part. But it’s all worth it when I am behind the wheel, sitting in that high-backed bucket seat, going through the gears and feeding 93 octane fuel to that solid-lifter, high-compression 351-4v H.O. Cleveland engine and fellow baby boomers are turning their heads to see and hear that overhauled Bright Lime 1972 Mach 1 in the fast lane. Ford rules. Chevy’s drool.
It’s a picture of what I love to do in the ministry: overhaul broken-down people, whether a group of teenagers in a juvenile-justice facility, adults in prison, or folks taken prisoner by drugs or other task-masters. I love to teach God’s Word - to expound it and apply it and work its lie-busting truth and restorative grace into the wounds and misplaced desires of people and relationships. Overhauling people is usually messy. Mustangs don’t resist the overhauling. People do. Some want to stay in the junkyard. Others want to be back on the road again. Regardless, there are cuts and bruises, dirty hands, and unfinished business. But it’s worth it when I look around my congregation and community see and hear Christ glorified in overhauled hearts that are free from the junkyard of slavery, families back on the road again, marriages firing on all eight cylinders, and relationships oiled by forgiveness and hope, people restored to their factory glory. Jesus rules!
Dick Neiser is the current chairman of the Elder Board. He and his wife, Joy have been members of Grace Bible Church for over thirty years. Dick is an attorney and practices law with his son in downtown St. Petersburg. In addition to his church responsibilities, Dick enjoys boating, woodworking, and attending Rays baseball games.
Bob Hendry, Chairman of the Board of Deacons is a St. Pete native and 5th generation Floridian. He began attending Grace Bible Church in 1980 and trusted Christ as his Lord and Savior shortly thereafter. He received his degree from the University of South Florida and entered the real estate business after graduating in 1974. He is the broker/owner of Hendry Realty Inc., a firm started by his father in 1962. He was past President of the St. Petersburg Association of Realtors. Bob is married to his lovely wife Pam and has two grown children, Erin & Drew. He attends Bible Study Fellowship and served 5 years as a children’s leader. Bob is an avid car guy and enjoys boating and traveling.
After graduating from the Eastman School of Music in 1959 as a piano major, Lee moved to St.Petersburg becoming a member of the St. Petersburg Music Teachers Association (SPMTA), the Florida State Music Teachers Association (FSMTA) and Music Teachers National Association (MTNA). He was elected President of SPMTA twice and Second Vice-President of FSMTA .
Central Presbyterian Church(CPC) called him to be organist and Minister of Music in 1964 and he continued as Minister of Music, librarian and administrator of Central Community Church (CCC) in 1970 upon the withdrawal of (CPC) from the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) in 1970.
In 1989 CCC merged with Grace Bible Church and Lee became Minister of Music at the combined church . He maintains a private Piano Studio , serves as an Elder at GBC and is actively involved in mentoring young men at Britt House in St. Petersburg.
He enjoys going to concerts, reading, walking and photography.
Gary Ripple, Worship Team leader and elder, attended Grace Bible Church for a while in the early 1970s, and then from 1982 until the present. He has also been on the deacon board, taught Christian Education, and helped with the Youth Ministry as well as various musical opportunities. Gary plays keyboards and guitar, and received a B.A. from Florida Bible College in Music and Biblical Education.
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