Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks – A Week of Thanksgiving (Wednesday).

Today is my final post before taking a break for Thanksgiving. Here are a few more things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for extended family. My guess is that I am using the term “extended” family in a non-traditional way. It seems that most people define “extended” family as those people with whom you are not related but are a part of your family. Today I am using the term to refer to my family members who are not a part of my immediate family—wife, daughter, son. My family is scattered across the United States. One member of our extended family is in the IC unit of a hospital in California. Another member of our extended family who lives thousands of miles away has some really good “stuff” happening in his life. My dad is having some complications with his diabetes. In our busy lives it is too easy to take our extended family members for granted! I am blessed to have such a great family—oh, we are strange and far from perfect, but it is a great group of folks! This Thanksgiving I am especially thankful for all of these family members.

I am thankful for my church family. Each person who is a part of the church family is very special. There is the guy who is in the Salvation Army’s rehab program in Seattle. The change in his life is unbelievable. Do you remember how Moses looked differently after he had met with God on the mountain? This guy “looks” different!! It is so cool. Then there is the older couple who are struggling with the normal things associated with aging, plus one of them having severe memory issues. What a special couple. Then there is the gentle giant of the man who use to move mountains (literally, he was a contractor) and now he has difficulties finding his way home (he has memory issues). Then there is the wonderful lady with a very rare brain disease. She has such a joy for the Lord and life! Then there is the little girl who sings and dances like an angel. She will be dancing during one of our Advent worship services. Then there is the church staff. They all do such an excellent job. The list could go on and on and on. Too often we take our church family members for granted. We treat them as though they are disposable. I am truly thankful for my church family.

I am thankful for the staff here at The Oasis. Most mornings you can find me here trying to get work done before heading to the office. I you are a pastor like me, holiday weeks are a challenge. I have to preach and teach whether or not there is a holiday. My whole work week has to be crammed into three days. Basically, this means more hours and less sleep for those days. Additionally, I still have a person in the hospital up by Seattle and it takes a lot of time to make that trip for a hospital visit. I was the first customer in The Oasis this morning. Kate had my coffee ready before I even got to the counter. She and Chelsea greeted me with smiles and with heart-felt warmth. Any second now one of them will be around to freshen up my coffee. Their constant friendliness can transform a “heavy” morning into a time of hope.

I am thankful for my Lord Jesus Christ. He never gives up on me. He encourages me when I am down. He gives me life. He gives me inspiration. He challenges me. He leads me. He knows when I lay down. He knows when I get up. He redeemed me and forgives me. He gives me life now and life forever.

Have a great Thanksgiving!


Psalm 30

A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David. [a]

1 I will exalt you, O LORD,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

2 O LORD my God, I called to you for help
and you healed me.

3 O LORD, you brought me up from the grave [b] ;
you spared me from going down into the pit.

4 Sing to the LORD, you saints of his;
praise his holy name.

5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

6 When I felt secure, I said,
"I will never be shaken."

7 O LORD, when you favored me,
you made my mountain [c] stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

8 To you, O LORD, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:

9 "What gain is there in my destruction, [d]
in my going down into the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?

10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me;
O LORD, be my help."

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Giving Thanks – A Week of Thanksgiving (Tuesday).

As I normally do on Tuesday mornings, I got to The Oasis early to get some work done before heading to the church office. I walked in and was absolutely shocked at what I saw—the Thursday morning Bible study was there on Tuesday morning! Every Thursday morning there are a group of guys who meet at The Oasis for Bible study. )They do not attend Evergreen Presbyterian Church.) I have gotten to know their pastor over the past two years (he hangs out The Oasis). His Thursday morning Bible study is filled with some great guys! They knew that Thursday was Thanksgiving so they moved their Bible study to Tuesday (just for this week) so that they wouldn’t miss their Bible study. Praise God!

Another Bible study that I am thankful for is led by a regular reader of this blog. Glenn is a very good friend and sings with our Saturday night worship team (his wife is the head of our deacon ministry that I have written about). For many years Glenn led a high school and college guys Bible study on Wednesday nights (not starting until around 8:30 or 9:00). He is now leading a smaller group of guys in a more intense Bible study. The guys who attend are just out of college. They are working their way through the entire Bible. This week they are to read 20 chapters in Isaiah—and, seek to understand it! Way to go guys! Praise God!

I am thankful for Glenn (the same guy listed above) for “trying” to keep me as technologically up to date as possible. Saturday night after church he was telling us about an exciting project he has been following for the past few years—One Laptop Per Child. The project was started by some folks at MIT. The project is trying to develop a $100 laptop computer that is suitable for use in very remote areas. They want to make the laptops available for kids all across the world. They are running a promotion right now—get two laptops for $400 (one for you and one for a child in the developing world or just give both computers to children in the developing world). Brenda and I are planning to participate. For more information click here… and here... and here... and here.

I am thankful for the men and women of this country who are willing to serve in the armed forces. The holidays are particularly difficult when loved ones are deployed at sites around the world. Our church is fairly near to two bases: one Army and one Air Force. We continually have people from the extended church family that are deployed. One C17 pilot just returned from being deployed (he and his wife attend our Saturday night worship service). The son of another couple from our church just flew in on Sunday evening from Kuwait for two weeks of leave. We should all be very thankful for the men and women of this country who are willing to sacrifice so much so that there can be freedom in this world.

I am thankful for my family. Brenda has put up with me for almost 25 years. Our 25th anniversary is next month. Brenda found some great prices on flights to New York so we are headed to there for our anniversary. She truly is the “brains” of the outfit. She truly is my better half. Our daughter Alyssa is home from the mission field—checking out her options. Her love for Christ is profound. It is quite likely that she will be on the mission field in Africa before the end of next year. She is looking at an extended time of service with a mission agency that is working in the Muslim parts of North Africa. It is joy to have her home while she sees where the Lord is leading her. Our son Forrest is still in college. His plan is to get a PhD in an insane field (like biochemistry) so that he can be a researcher trying to find curses for diseases. He has a love for life and is a joy to be around. Additionally, he just got hired by Best Buy!! I am truly thankful for my family.

What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Giving Thanks – A Week of Thanksgiving (Monday).

Thursday will be the national holiday that we call Thanksgiving Day. It is a time to eat turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, yams and pumpkin pie. Those who love football will get their fill of Thursday games. Many people will gather with their extend family for the day. For our family, it will be a time of giving thanks.

We need to give thanks on more than just one day a year! There is much for us to be thankful about. This week Full Court Presby will focus on giving thanks.

Brenda and I are very thankful that our daughter has returned from a five month stint on the mission field. The country in which she was serving will continue to be un-named. Several of those who served with her are returning to continue the work they started. We pray that the “seeds” that have been planted will yield a tremendous harvest!

I am very thankful for the deacons at our church. Sunday morning I found out that we have person in the hospital up by Seattle. The person had back surgery on Friday. I made the drive up to visit them today. Guess what? Their deacon had already been to the hospital to visit them this morning!

I am very thankful for our folks who are delivering “Thanksgiving baskets” to some needy families in our area. We work through a local elementary school. This particular school has a very high percentage of its students that qualify for free/reduced lunch and breakfast. Just this morning while delivering one of the baskets they “discovered” a woman who just walked out of a terribly abusing relationship. This woman didn’t even own a coat. This woman has now become one of the people we are assisting. We are making a difference in our community one person at a time.

I am thankful that we have a worship service that is at a time other than Sunday morning. Saturday night we had a new family join us for worship. The family has been very active in another church a few miles up the road. They love their church and its people. But there is a problem—the wife’s job now requires her to work on Sunday mornings. Their church doesn’t have their own building—they meet in a high school. They have visited a couple of churches that have worship on Saturday night. Evergreen is definitely the smallest church they have visited. They were just thrilled to be able to worship as a family. Will they return to Evergreen? Who knows! Yet, we were a blessing for them this past weekend and they were a blessing to us.

If you decide to comment this week… please post one or two things you are thankful for.