One of my favorite things about the Bible is that after years of reading and studying it, there will always be more to learn. One of the most quoted verses in the Bible, especially regarding thanks, is found in this passage:
34 Give thanks to the Lord because he is good,
because his faithful love endures forever.
35 Say: “Save us, God, our savior!
Gather us! Deliver us from among the nations
so we can give thanks to your holy name
and rejoice in your praise.”
36 Bless the Lord, Israel’s God,
from forever in the past to forever always.
And let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the Lord!
I’ve always just kind of assumed that verse 34 was from one of the Psalms. I was relieved to find out that it is a song written by David, therefore it may as well be a Psalm, even though it’s found in an entirely different book. So on this Thanksgiving day, here are some things for which I’m thankful.
Cindy- In a couple of weeks, Cindy and I will have been married six years. If you know anything about my life, you’ll know how I still find that remarkable and overwhelming. She’s already stood by me through a lot, but hopefully, we’re just getting started. Having been in relationships that were full of drama and unrealistic expectations, I’m thankful to have a woman who seems to be happy with me as I am.
Family-We’ve grown since last year. After several miscarriages and trips to the doctor we finally were able to have a healthy pregnancy. I’ll never forget the Friday afternoon my cousin, Ken called to tell me that he and his wife Kari had been praying we would have a healthy pregnancy. We found out a few days later Cindy was pregnant with Justus and from that point on, it was just good news after good news. We feared if we did get carry to full term the baby would be sickly and unhealthy because we had lost babies before, even in the second trimester. As you can see, the Bug is all there! Peyton started volleyball this year and really seems to enjoy it. Her last game was her best of the season as she scored on three serves and had some really good shots. I’m proud of her! I’m also thankful that my parents are both with me and healthy. It is a blessing to be close to them, especially when Peyton has a ball game or when we get together for dinner. I also want to point out that I have about the greatest mother-in-law ever. Most men make jokes about their mothers-in-law, but not me. She has been so generous and accepting of me. I’m blessed!
My church-This year I finally was able to be licensed as a local pastor in the United Methodist Church. I have more schooling to go to become and elder, but I am glad to be in ministry. One of the big reasons I decided to enter the United Methodist clergy is because of the people at First United Methodist Church in Palestine. When I came to the church in 2006, I didn’t really know what it meant to be Methodist. They showed me quickly and I really enjoyed the way they approached the gospel and ministry. Through this church, I’ve met many other pastors and church leaders who have become great friends and colleagues. Developing these relationships has given me the peace of knowing I’m in the right place.
Health-In August, I decided to begin exercising regularly again. I really don’t know how much I “exercise”, but I run. Through this, I’ve noticed better heart and lung function as well as some weight loss. I’ve lost 27 lbs. from my peak weight in 2009. I should probably stop writing about this now, as due to the weather, I haven’t been able to run in over a week and may eat more calories today than any other day of the year. I hope I don’t fall off the wagon.
Tommy-If you live in Palestine with me, you’ve probably heard me talk about my friend Tommy. Tommy and I went to college together, later served in ministry together as we were both youth pastors at churches in Rockdale. But it was after we moved from Rockdale we really got to be close, usually through finding time to enjoy the outdoors-hunting, fishing, hiking, camping. Tommy was my best man in my wedding. Tommy has chewed me out in the love of the Lord for being an idiot. We have been to the highest point in Texas (over 8,000 ft), and we’ve been 750 ft. below the earth’s surface (Carlsbad Cavern’s). We’ve fed the fish together on deep sea outings. We’ve shared a blind on numerous hunting trips and sent texts back and forth on many others. We’ve talked about God and his church. We stayed up all night in a school building full of junior high students trying to help them understand a tiny glimpse of the gospel. We’ve prayed for each other. Tommy is one of the first people I call when I’m going through a lot. Everyone should have a friend like him. If you go camping with him, hide your Ice Breakers mints.
God-Not to be cliche, but I am thankful for God. I’m thankful for a God that pursued me; a God that chased after me with all of my bumps, bruises and scars. I’m thankful that before the world began, God knew me and loved me. I’m thankful that despite my sin, God allowed Jesus to die for me. I’m thankful that God has victory over death. I’m thankful that this world is not all there is. I’m thankful that I will see my loved ones again.
I know Christmas is coming soon, but this really is my favorite holiday. I know Christmas has tremendous religious significance, but the commercialization loses some of that. But Thanksgiving is still about giving thanks. So today, I thank God for his blessings. What are the things in your life for which you are thankful?