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Things I'm Thankful for Today

I’m actually thankful for these things every day, but today in the U. S. is especially set aside for the purpose of saying (or blogging) thanks for such things. Gratitude is life-changing and invites the blessings of God into our lives. So let me offer my thanks to God for…

  • Being a holy, wise, perfect, immutable, unchanging, sovereign, loving, gracious, awesome Creator!
  • Giving His only Son, Jesus, who died on the cross to pay the penalty of my sins.
  • Granting me salvation and the forgiveness of my sins merely on the basis of my believing in Christ and receiving Him as my Savior.
  • My call to ministry – to touch lives, to change the world, to spread His Word.
  • Being born in a place and time in which I have the freedom to worship Him without fear of persecution.
  • My beautiful, sweet wife, for all the reasons I wrote about yesterday.
  • My precious daughter who has one of the sweetest spirits of any kid in the world, and who happens to be smarter than her Dad sometimes.
  • My cool son who is now learning to “run” on all fours and climb stuff. He belly laughed this morning – I’m thankful for that!
  • My little dog, Beau. He’s nice.
  • My parents, my brother Kevin and his wife, Robin, and their sweet kids, Emma and Carter.
  • My in-laws including Angie’s parents, the Perry clan and Josh’s crew.
  • My church family, along with my Pastor and my boss and fellow staff members.
  • The opportunity to be creative, to design stuff, to think and strategize about communications and missions.
  • All the physical stuff like food, a roof, cars, furniture and all the things we take for granted around us.
  • Creation – which shows off the awesomeness and beauty of our majestic God.
  • Lifelong friends from the places where we’ve served… and I do mean lifelong!
  • The future, from here to heaven. It’s all in God’s hands and I’m believing that He’s going to do some pretty awesome things in, around, and through us!

I know I missed things. That’s the point. There’s no end to our giving of thanks to such a giving God! We’re never more like God than when we’re giving, and “thanks” and “giving” go together. So may God help us be more thankful and more giving all year long!

In closing, hear the challenge of the apostle Paul…

Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.

[youversion]Ephesians 5:17-21[/youversion]

10 Things I’ll Miss About Life In Arkansas

We’ve made the move. It’s been crazy, hectic, stressful, and lonely. It’s been exciting, mysterious, and thrilling as well. We have much to anticipate, not because of where we are or what we’re doing, but because of Whom we serve.

Looking back is always bittersweet. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last seven days reflecting on the last few years of our lives which we’ve joyfully spent in the “natural state.” I wanted to share with you (from our past and from our future) some of my favorite aspects of life in northwest Arkansas.

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Merry Christmas To You All

christmas lights

I wanted to pass along the letter that we’re mailing out to everyone in our church family, just in case someone misses it…

Dear Family and Friends,

We want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

It’s so hard to believe that 2009 has slipped away so quickly. We continue to feel so blessed under God’s care and are so happy that He has placed us into such a wonderful church family!

The year has brought about some major developments in our family’s life. Angie moved from being a Therapist to teaching Bible in a Christian school, which also meant a change in school for Ella as well. The biggest development, of course, is that we’re now expecting little Samuel David to be born in April of next year.

Within the church, we’ve seen the launch of our food pantry and growth in different areas of the church’s life. We stand amazed at the willingness of people to get involved in seeing lives touched and changed. It’s also been a great privilege to meet new people and welcome them into Bethel this year.

We count it such a joy to serve alongside each of you and can’t wait to see the great things God will do in, around, and through us in the upcoming year

May God bless each and every one of you!

Creative Commons License photo credit: alicepopkorn

The Secret to Having Friends

John R. Rice often described biblical theology as “profundity wrapped in simplicity.” This is one of those truths that is both deeply profound, and wonderfully simple. If you want friends… (wait for it) be friendly!

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Don’t Miss the Joy of Loving People

I became a Pastor in February of 1997, almost 12 years ago. In that 12 years, I’ve learned a lot about the Scriptures, about theology, and about the methodologies of ministry. But one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned is to really love people. In one of my early pastorates, I received some advice that, had I taken it, would have in some respects stripped joy all but completely from my life. I was told never to get close to anyone. Always remember that “they” might turn on you. Never trust, never have close friends. I’m so glad I refused that advice.

Even in a leadership situation where I was hurt by many of the words of other people, God also taught me to love people without condition. When Angie and I moved to Kentucky, we fell in love with many people. We enjoyed almost eight wonderful years at Scottsville Road Baptist Church because we loved the people, and they loved us back. It made parting difficult, but God taught us so much there.

Now, living in northwest Arkansas and serving Bethel Baptist Church, we feel overwhelmed and blessed with some of the best friends we’ve ever had and one of the most loving churches in the entire world. This morning, I was reading a sermon by W. A. Criswell on love and he had these words to share…

However, eloquent we may be, however gifted, however wonderfully blessed of God with nine and ten talents, if our spirit is crude and rude and rough, if our heart is not filled with the milk of human kindness, if we’re not actuated and motivated by a wonderful care and concern for God’s fellow creatures, our eloquence is like sounding brass and clanging cymbal. Our gifts of the spirit are nothing and our very philanthropies fall to the ground.

I want to challenge every Pastor, every leader, every fellow human being reading this post to remember to love people. Open up, take the risk, make a connection, trust someone, show affection and appreciation, and lavish upon yourself the joy of loving others, beginning with Jesus Christ.