Can you believe that it’s almost Thanksgiving again?! (Where does the time go?)
Well, whether you believe it or not, it IS, once again, that wonderful time when eat the food we love, surrounding by the ones we love as we give thanks for the blessings we love.
Tonight, as a church, we will enjoy our annual Thanksgiving celebration dinner. I hope you are making plans to join us. We will be thinking, tonight, about the good blessings of God over the past year. I hope that many of you will even come ready to share with your church family what you are most thankful for in 2011.
I’m sure that I will mention some more things this evening, but I thought I would go ahead and “count my blessings” right here and now. So, here goes:
This Thanksgiving, I am particularly thankful …
1. That my doctoral studies are finally coming to a close. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have loved being in school. In fact, I will always be a student. I am a nerd by nature; that will not change. However, I have been in school, now, for a solid 26 years of my life and I am ready for a break. For once, it will be nice to have no textbooks to read, no papers to write, and no classes to attend. (And all my family said, “AMEN!!!”)
2. That death is not the end, but only the beginning.
3. That, in the eyes of God, you and I are much more valuable than “grass” (Luke 12:28), “birds” (Luke 12:24), and “sheep” (Matt 12:12). (Sorry to disappoint any PETA advocates out there. But, yes, human life IS more precious than animal life.)
4. For the charmed chemists who created the decadent elixir which is now my favorite new drink, Dr Pepper Ten. 23 flavors + 10 calories = 100% DELICIOUS! Yum-yum!
5. For my three sons who are becoming future men right before my very eyes. My prayer for them is Psalm 144:12, “Let our sons in their youth be as grown-up plants…” So be it, Lord. So be it.
6. For Domino’s scrumptious Philly Cheese-steak pizza. Man, that stuff is good!
7. That my biggest sins have been overpowered by an even bigger mercy.
8. That five years ago, almost to the day, I was honored to be voted-in as the Pastor-Teacher of Forest Baptist Church. Each year that I serve as your pastor means that I grow older, (hopefully) wiser, and (undoubtedly) more in love with you, my wonderful church family. May God grant us, as shepherd and sheep, 50 more years together!
9. For the things that I so often take for-granted every single day: indoor plumbling, air conditioning, shoes, freedom, oxygen and the love of others.
10. That, as a nation, we have not experienced another major terrorist attack in the last 10 years. Words cannot express enough gratitude for our civil servants (e.g. police, firemen, military, etc.) who keep us safe from our enemies, both foreign and domestic.
11. That I discovered the joy and ease of using Craig’s List to sell my old stuff. Sorry eBay; your fees have become unconscionable.
12. That I am literate. I don’t know which elementary school teacher taught me how to do read; but my thanks to her (or him). I would have missed out on such wonderful works of literature like Moby Dick, Animal Farm as well as Calvin and Hobbes.
13. That “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son…” (Heb 1:1-2).
14. For my wife’s Beef Stroganoff recipe. It is heavenly! (Have you notice how many of these items are food-related? Hmmm….)
15. That during the fall season, God throws himself a parade complete with crisp, cool air, orange and brown leafs that litter our streets like confetti, and darkness that creeps up on the early afternoon.
16. For my amazing wife. You are proof that I have indeed “found favor with the Lord.”
17. For bacon.
18. For the 5,413 IMB missionaries who are taking the gospel to the ends of the earth (as well as the countless missionaries from other organizations.)
19. That gas is still less than $4/gallon (Try to look on the bright side, right?)
20. For the life, ministry and writings of the late John Stott (April, 1921 – June, 2011). Had there ever been a vote for an evangelical Pope, I would have voted for him. He will be missed.
21. For goose-down comforters.
22. For my new Monday afternoon disucssion and discipleship group. I love listening to people who think well about the intersection of life and faith. These men do.
23. That Jesus Christ lived the life I could not live, died the death that I deserve, and has given me a forgiveness that I could not earn. Hallelujah! What a Savior!