It is only October and Thanksgiving is two months away but sometimes you have to give thanks just because. The dictionary tells us that thanksgiving is a public acknowledgement or celebration of Divine goodness. The Psalmist wrote many psalms of thanksgiving…often for what God had done for him or his people. Some psalms tell us, “O give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His mercy endures forever.” And Psalm 92 tells us, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the most high.” The apostle Paul often began or ended his letters with giving thanks for those who shared in ministry with him. And in Colossians 3:17 we read, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
I woke up this morning feeling very thankful for what God has given to me, and I would like to share that with you. Sometimes I fear I don’t say thank you enough. It is easy to get busy and preoccupied, but that is no excuse. So here is some of what I am thankful for today.
I am beyond thankful for my wife Barb. She keeps me focused and humble. God has blessed me with her for my wife. We have walked through fire together. There have been ups and downs and both of us could probably say there was at least one time in our marriage where we could say, “I love you to bits. I can’t imagine my life without you…but right now I am willing to try.” Barb is supportive and…brutally honest. She is also faithful, wicked smart and funny. And sometimes she uses scripture on me when we have discussions.
I am thankful for my favorite Grandma who introduced me to Jesus and then kept on teaching me as long as she lived. One day I get to see her again. I am thankful for my parents and my brother. I am thankful for Barb’s family who have welcomed me into their lives like I had always been part of their lives.
I am thankful for the RLC staff. I am thankful for my colleague Matt Robards who is an astute student of God’s Word. He sees what needs to be done and works to make things happen. He has a dry sense of humor and a ton of faith. Matt looks at scripture differently than I do so hopefully that means we learn from each other. Emily Cooksey has made our remote worship possible. When we made the decision to close on March 16th, she had precious little time to figure things out and she has done an amazing job. I have been on countless junior high retreats with her. There have been early mornings, late nights…and lots of caffeine! She is a student of The Word and teaches well. John Burritt is an accomplished musician. I could listen to him sing for a long time. He did not have an easy beginning here at RLC, but he has stayed the course. He has kept praying and being faithful and he is still smiling. I have watched him take the high road many times. Val Cooksey and I are veterans of F.R.O.G. camp. We have let our lights shine. We have played messy games and performed skits. We have gone sleepless until we were silly. Val doesn’t just play music. She teaches about the love of Jesus as she teaches songs. I will never forget the fruits of the Spirit thanks to one of her songs! She too teaches and is a faithful student of the Word. Denise Langlois is brand new to our staff as children’s ministry director. She comes on board at a challenging time due to COVID-19. But she brings enthusiasm and deep passion for God’s kids. She is working to connect to people, not an easy task when all you can see is eyes! Lawrence Jones has been a God send in terms of being our COO. Through his diligence we have changed contracts, looked at every expense and negotiated the best prices we could get. He is a man who is passionate about Jesus and he leads his family by example. Patti Wiese makes everything run. She knows our history. She knows most of us well and she prays for all she is worth. She has been a God send to me as I serve all of you. Patti always has time for people, no matter how busy she might be.
I am thankful for all those who have gone before us, paving the way for us to be a worshipping family of faith. There is an endless number of faithful volunteers who help make worship happen. Some serve on Sunday mornings. Others serve in leadership and still others work with children and youth. Some keep our property looking great and running smoothly. The list of volunteers is L-O-N-G!
I am thankful for all the people who pray for this family of faith, for our staff and for me. We have seen God do mighty things because of your prayers. Thank You!!! I am thankful for this family of Faith. We have grown together, and it has been good. I am thankful for all you who read what I write day after day…200 writings and counting. There are many who influenced my faith life growing up…pastors, Sunday school teachers and confirmation guides.
Mostly I am thankful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is an honor and privilege to serve in His name. He has given me gifts that I try to use to bring Him glory. He has given me an abundant life now and the promise of eternal life after I leave this place. And He has placed people in my life in whom I have seen Him.
Take some time today. Make a list of who you are thankful for. If those folks are still around, let them know you are thankful for their presence in your life.
In His grip,
Pastor Matt W.