Tonight, I’m Thankful. Are You?

Two Sundays from now, Lord willing, I’ll be starting my new ministry in Tampa, Florida at the Northwest Tampa Church of Christ.

As a preacher, I don’t often have opportunities to visit other churches.  I’ve been blessed over the past few weeks to do so.  This weekend, we drove down to Huntsville and visited with friends and family.  We celebrated Valentine’s day at my wife’s sister’s home, and got to celebrate with her family.  I’m thankful for loving in-laws that care deeply about us.

I’m thankful that we got to see Kristen’s “Pa” – her grandfather, who was a gospel preacher for many years.  Old age has pushed him out of that career, but I have such an awe and respect for him and his years of service.  He never made fortunes.  He served humbly.

I’m thankful this weekend that I was able to visit my oldest and dearest friend, Jason.  He is doing such a marvelous work at the Mayfair Church of Christ in Huntsville, AL.  God has blessed him with such a talent.  I was blessed tonight to be able to speak to this fine church.

I’m thankful that my family got to spend an entire day with his family.  How sweet it was to watch our children play together.  Childhood friends watching their children play together is a great moment to witness.

I’m thankful for a God who loves me, forgives me, blesses me, and watches over me.

I’m thankful the most awesome wife in the entire world.

I’m blessed, and I’m thankful.  Are you?

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When Saying Thank You Doesn’t Seem Like Its Enough

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“O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name!
I Chronicles 29:13

We’ve been teaching our little girl to say “thank you” pretty much ever since she was born. Its a simple phrase that brings about such great feelings when someone does something for you. Its a simple formula really: someone does anything for you = you saying thank you.

Its good for us to say thank you to God also. After all, who has done more for any of us than God? Sure, there may be days, weeks, months, or even years where things seem to have only gone poorly or the wrong way. However, God continues to stand by our side.

The interesting thing about this passage is what it says in the verses beyond it. It says this:

13 “O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! 14 But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! 15 We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.

David recognizes that our time here is short. What possible good could it do to thank God, when we are just a mere blip on the radar of the universe? The simple answer is that God loves that blip. Even if you feel like you are here for a moment and then gone, or if you feel like there’s no way you can matter to God in the grand scheme of things – understand that God loves each and every one of HIS children. And for that we owe Him thanks AND praise.

Today, take time to just make a simple list of things to thank God for in your life.

2015: A Year of Praise

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As 2015 begins, I want to remind myself, my family, my friends, all of us – that God is awesome and worthy of our praise. You see, 2014 wasn’t the best year for us on many levels. I wrote about a major milestone in our lives which began an unexpected transition about 3 months ago. Through this time, we’ve learned we have some truly great friends, family, and even realized how large the Kingdom is by having complete strangers hold us close to them and their prayers.

I’m not the first to go through a rough end of a year, and I won’t be the last. My problems are petty compared to most, but they are my reality. One thing I have to remember through all of this is that I not blame God, but rather, praise Him. Its time to come back to the heart of worship. I declare 2015 as the year of praise to our Lord.

In I Chronicles 15, David brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. At the end of the chapter we read of David shedding some garments and dancing in the streets because of his jubilation, and while this upsets the daughter of Saul, it set forth a motion of worship that would seemingly be unequal in its day to God and His Glory!

You see, the Israelites worship had become, well, non-existent. David was bringing it back. Can you imagine what your life would be like without worship? The temple was not there, and David set up a sort of “temporary worship place” with the Ark. In I Chronicles 16, the Ark is placed, and David, the original “worship leader”, led the nation in worship to God. After this, David assigned specific tasks to several of the Levite nation, in order to establish an ongoing worship session, as they were to play their instruments before the Lord “regularly”.

What follows is a song of praise, taken from various verses in Psalm 96, 105, and 106. In this song of praise – we find a few things for us to take notice of:

1. If you consider yourself a Christian, you need to be offering praise to God. You can sing, you can tell others about what God has done for you, you can “tell of all His wonderful Acts.” (verses 8, 9)

2. You can rejoice proudly in His name. Be proud to wear the name of God. Look to the Lord for strength. (verses 10, 11)

3. We can remember what He does for people who belong to Him. (verses 12-22)

4. We can know that if we don’t praise Him, the earth certainly will – all the earth will Praise Him. (verses 23-27, 31-33)

5. We can know that whatever the world may dream up, think of, and try to pass of as “true” that the world is firmly established and cannot be moved. There is no good that will come to those who reject the Lord, so we should ascribe to Him. (verses 28-30)

6. Everyone should praise God, and everyone should seek Him as their Savior. (verses 31-36)

After this worship service, David assigns permanent positions to several of the priests. What does that mean for us? When we are done offering worship, perhaps we should not just consider things done for the week. Perhaps you have a permanent place of worship you can find yourself in if you just look. The last few verses of this chapter tell me a few things too. Read verses 37-43, and then consider:

Worship is not ever finished.

We all have talents to use for God.

Make your friends and your family part of your worship (verse 43).

2015 has just begun. Its not even close to being over. You have talents that you can use for God. Find them, use them. And finally, make sure you include those you love in your worship.

May 2015 be the year of praise to our Lord.

I Sound My Barbaric Yawp – Psalm 100

Last Wednesday, I asked my morning Bible class to take a moment and write out some things they were thankful for – here are some, not all of the responses and these are completely anonymous:

-Christian Friends
-Good health
-Grandchildren
-Health to be able to help others
-My well being
-Church and Christian friendships
-Children who live nearby and who are faithful Christians
-Mothers and Fathers who taught them how important the Bible is and how to live a Christian life
-Conquering cancer…twice
-Life’s hard knocks that taught me lessons and made me stronger
-American military for protecting me for so many decades through WWI and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm and more.
-God’s sustaining power throughout the problems of life.
-For children who decided to take me in and take care of me, and for God helping me realize that I needed -someone to be responsible for me in my older years.
-And of course my personal favorite was this one: I’m thankful for my handicap placard

Psalm 100 starts out by saying “Shout for joy to the Lord,” and I believe this starts with thankfulness.

I envision this being a shout of joy to the Lord that comes from the very depths of your being.


Maybe He has given you the direction to go. Maybe He has provided a blessing, and you realize that it has come from God. So from the depths of your being you proclaim your praise.

Back in 1989, a movie by the name of “Dead Poets Society” was released. It took place on the campus of Welton Academy Prep School, whose ethos is defined by the headmaster as “tradition, honor, discipline and excellence.”

The teaching methods of a new English teacher, John Keating (played by Robin Williams) are unorthodox by the standards of Welton Academy. He tells the students to call him “O Captain! My Captain” in reference to a poem by Walt Whitman.

In one part of the movie, Keating has asked his students to write a poem. One student named Todd who is very timid and does not fully appreciate the radical nature of Mr. Keating, does not write a poem. The students are reading their poems outloud.

Keating approaches Todd’s desk. and says “Mr. Anderson, I see you sitting there in agony. Come on, Todd, step up. Let’s put you out of your misery.

Todd says: I, I didn’t do it, I didn’t write a poem.

Mr Keating responds by saying: Mr. Anderson thinks that everything inside of him is worthless and embarrassing. Isn’t that right, Todd? Isn’t that your worst fear? Well, I think you’re wrong. I think you have something inside of you that is worth a great deal.

Keating walks up to the blackboard and begins to write.

“I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world.” W. W. Uncle Walt again. Now, for those of you who don’t know, a yawp is a loud cry or yell. Now, Todd, I would like you to give us a demonstration of a barbaric “yawp.” Come on. You can’t yawp sitting down. Let’s go. Come on. Up.

Todd reluctantly stands and follows Keating to the front.

Keating tells Todd: “You gotta get in “yawping” stance.”

Todd and Mr. Keating then go round and round. Mr Keating tries to get Todd to let out his barbaric Yawp, but Todd keeps mumbling, not getting into it. Mr. Keating starts to frustrate Todd, and finally Todd screams out YAWP!!

Mr. Keating looks at him and says “There it is. You see, you have a barbarian in you after all.

I think of this dialogue every time I read this verse – Shout for joy to the LORD! What the Lord has done for us deserves a Shout for Joy! And that is what the Psalmist is saying. “Suddenly you realize that God has been so good to you that you can’t keep it inside any more. From the depths of your being you shout your joy unto the Lord.” You let out your YAWP of praise.

So go ahead, shout for joy to the Lord!

T-Giving time.

In an effort not to go a week without posting, I thought I would update everyone on what’s going on for the Holidays.  Being 900 miles away from family makes it harder, but not impossible, to get together for the holidays.

On Wednesday, we will load up in the family CRV and drive about 8 hours to Gulf Shores, AL.  We will be meeting Kristen’s parents, and her sister and brother in law for Thanksgiving there.  We will stay there till Saturday, and then return home for services on Sunday at church, and a day of rest before the week starts again.

While I’m not looking forward to a an 8 hour drive with an 18 month old child in the back, I am looking forward to getting away from the big city and having a day or so to enjoy time with my wife and baby girl at the beach.

So at this time of Thanksgiving, I give thanks for another year with Josie and Kristen, a good job with a great church family, and so many other things I can’t list because I just don’t have the time.  I will get back to the final few chapters of the book review soon.  Until then, Happy Thanksgiving, be careful on Black Friday,  and I look forward to Cyber Monday, where the real deals can be had.  God bless us all.