With thanksgiving coming, I thought it only appropriate that I share some things I am thankful for…
1. The changing of the seasons. One of my best friends, my old roommate from seminary, is from southern Georgia whereas I have spent the vast majority of my life in central Missouri. He always hated this time of year outside of the south—because 40 is just too cold, and everything dies (green going to brown and falling off, that is). But I will take cool weather, the smell of fire places, the changing leaves, the morning haze through the brown trees, the snow, and my 4 wheel drive any year over constant heat and humidity and green… I enjoy the weather being unpredictable, and am thankful for such spice to life!
2. Pinto bean soup, cornbread, and fried potatoes—or fried okra in season (and I’m not talking about that deep fried abomination, I mean that lightly corn-meal-dusted skillet fried variety). But only if I “go back home” and my mom makes it. I’m not a bad cook, but there are some things I just can’t get to that right state of perfection. The bean soup and the fried potatoes are two of those (and they seem so simple!). But, ma, I’m coming home in a few days for Thanksgiving—maybe this year instead of turkey we can break out the beans and cornbread. I know, I’m crazy right—but it’s my favorite meal, and I’m thankful I grew up with it.
3. Jack, my Jack Russell Terrier. I hear the jokes. I get it—it’s funny to see the 6’5 man walk around town with this small dog at the end of a long leash. It’s even funnier that the Jack Russell is named Jack as if I couldn’t exercise some creativity (but the joke’s on you—I didn’t name the dog, I have previous owners to thank for that!)… Yes a man of my size should be walking around town with a Rottweiler wearing a studded collar and named Spike. But my Jack Russell thinks he’s a Rottweiler wearing a studded collar and named Spike…and if you know anything about the breed you know exactly what I am talking about. He’s a goofy dog and I tell him that frequently, but he keeps life somewhat interesting.
4. Good friends. Friends are those people who get glimpses of you at your best but seem to always remember the heights of your stupidity, but they love you and stick by your side anyway. They’re also the ones who will kick your rear or deck you all in the name of Jesus to keep you in line. Good to have them.
5. An awesome family. Yeah, I wouldn’t trade my family for any other family in the world. We love Jesus and we love each other (even when we’re irritated at each other). What else do you need? (And remember ma, I’m comin’ home and love cooks beans and cornbread—I think that’s 1 Corinthians 13:19…or maybe in the Book of Hezekiah)
6. A church that is willing to push out of their comfort zone. This past Sunday we had Bob Loggins from the Missouri Baptist Convention to lead us in a Solemn Assembly—two hours combining our Sunday School and morning service together, dividing us into groups, spreading us out from our normal seats, and focusing on confronting individual and corporate sin with the word and prayer… lots and lots of prayer. It was different. The start made some people nervous. But by the end, people had been touched, some confessed, and many wanted more. May it be a spark for something greater to come, and may the challenge to our lives continue to grow and push us closer to God.
7. A missions opportunity. If I’m not on here posting much in the next couple of months, it is because I am frantically working to get stuff together for the end of January. I’ve never been overseas before, but I am going to Zambia with a group from my friend’s dad’s church to teach for two weeks at the International Bible College operated by GospeLink. I’m both excited and nervous. I’ve taught high school math. But even as a preacher of the Word, a college class on wisdom literature in a foreign country—that’s a whole other beast (good beast, not a bad beast, mind you). I’m grateful I have this opportunity, but I think I also need to listen to the words of some old schoolmates of mine, “You’ll be fine. Quit freaking out, you always do this. You get yourself worked up in stress, but then you’re always prepared and ready to go.” Deep breath. Thankful heart.
8. Finally, but far from last and least for it is the very thing that encompasses all of the above… I am thankful for God’s love, mercy, and grace. Amazing grace how sweet the sound… Marvelous, wonderful, infinite grace… Jesus suffered, bled, and died on a cross. But more than the physical pain, he suffered the wrath of God poured out on him because he chose to become my (our) sin and give me (us) his righteousness and perfection. With him I gain everything. Without him I am nothing.
“Thank you God, Father, Lord, and Savior.” Though those words are infinitely too small…