With Gratitude

Give Thanks 2

There’s something about annual celebrations that helps us slow down and focus on what really matters. Each time we celebrate a birthday, we may be moved to appreciate life a little more, or reminisce on past experiences. As a couple, when my wife and I celebrate an anniversary, we try to talk about what we appreciate about each other, our marriage and our energetic three boys. We may also take the time to share how we may love or serve one another better.

This week we will be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday – another of our revered annual holiday celebrations. You have probably celebrated a few of those before, and maybe took the time to consider what you are thankful for. Each year I try to come up with something new or different that I am thankful for. However, some things always make the list because they matter that much. Typically, it’s things like family, friends or our faith in God. Here is what I am thankful for this year.

Life – sometimes we take life for granted, until it starts ebbing away, or when we lose a loved one. This year, I am thankful for the life that God continues to give me. God has given me not just biological life but the “zoe” (Greek)  type of life. This is a spiritual type of life and it is eternal, abundant and only God can provide that.  This is the life that overflows even when our physical life is ebbing away.

Family – God has also blessed me with a beautiful family. My wife and three boys continue to be my joy and my inspiration. Their unconditional love and support cannot be overstated. They also laugh at my not-so-funny jokes and occasionally watch a few minutes of a soccer game with me! For this I am grateful!

Additionally, my parents, brothers and sisters, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews near and far (some very far) are a real blessing. I don’t see or talk to them as much as I wish to, but I am grateful for the blessing they are to me.

Friends – I have many friends that have come into my life at different points and in different arenas. One of my goals over the last year has been to keep regular contact with them. Their friendship is very important to me as a human being.  It is a privilege to share about where I am in my faith, talk through ministry challenges or family celebrations! And yes, an occasional gripe session or two find their way in there.

Ministry – This year my wife and I celebrated 10years as officers. Wow, where did the time go! We are now in our third appointment and we continue to experience the “overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God” (Cory Asbury). To be sure – serving the Lord in full-time ministry is something that I never imagined I would spend the rest of my days doing! But thanks be to God and His amazing grace, I am here. We see God’s hand at work in the lives of people God has brought in our care. We have leaders and mentors that have helped shape our ministry along the way!

We are blessed with staff that love the Lord and love what they do and are always willing to go the extra mile. This thanksgiving, I want to thank God for the lay people who are willing to serve in so many different areas as needed. Indeed, it has been a difficult year for our church as we have lost several dedicated church members that have gone to be with the Lord. But through it all, the church people have rallied alongside the sick and the grieving. They have been more than active in hospital and home visitations, making phone calls, sending flowers and lifting prayers up to the God of heaven.

If I could sing, I would be singing the words of this Psalm  Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1). I will settle for typing out the verse instead. This post is written with deep and heartfelt gratitude to the God for all the aforementioned blessings!

What are you thankful for this year?

I Am Thankful

 

We are hopeful today

We all need hope – especially hope in God. Hope in God is “confident expectation based on solid certainty”.

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Hopeful and Hopeless directions.  Opposite traffic sign.Isaiah 40:29-31, “God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (NIV) 

We are hopeful today.

There are times when we feel hopeless and helpless,
There are times when we feel weak and incapacitated.

There are times when we feel our efforts are in vain
There are times when we wonder if it’s all worth it.

Despite it all, we have every reason to be hopeful.

there-is-always-hope-orlando-espinosaWe are hopeful today.

We are hopeful for a better, brighter America.
We are hopeful for a meaningful, fruitful life.

We are hopeful for good health for us, our families and friends;

We are hopeful for success in our…

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Can You Hear Me Now?

Here’s a good word!

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Verizon

A few years ago, Verizon Wireless had a commercial where a man on a cellphone would walk a few steps and ask, “Can You Hear Me Now?” The commercial claimed that with a Verizon Wireless cellphone, you could get reception anywhere the guy in the commercial stood. The commercial asserted that there were no obstacles that would interfere with your hearing the other person, if you had a Verizon Wireless phone. With Verizon Wireless, whether you were in a valley, on a mountaintop, on a freeway in the middle of nowhere, you could still hear the person on the other side. We all know that is not entirely true. Also, that gentleman in the Verizon Wireless commercial, is now working for Sprint Wireless, claiming Sprint is superior to Verizon! Cellphones have their limitations, there are places where the reception is low. There are people with whom we cannot communicate because…

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Prioritizing People

“For even the Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45NIV).

People Silhoette However, when we take a closer look at our lives, such things as policies, programs, and even property tend to command a lot more of our time and attention than people. Here are a few thoughts on other things often take precedence over people:

Policies – The rule followers amongst us love policies. Before we do anything, we want to know what the rules are. Additionally, we are not afraid to point out those who fall short of the established rules. We take it upon ourselves to be enforcers (or reminders) of the rules – because someone has to do it!

If you know me well, I do love rules too and there is a place and time for stating and reminding people of the rules. However, our adherence to policies and procedures should not come at the expense of people. Policies and procedures ought to serve as a guide for how we can most effectively serve and protect people.

 Property – Most organizations need property in order to conduct business, carry out ministries and provide programs. I serve in a church that has several buildings. We have a church building for worship services and Sunday School classrooms. We also have a gymnasium for our basketball and other sports programs, along with a whole Education Building that houses after school and daycare programs. What a blessing!

The property enables us to serve people in a variety of ways. It means that the grounds, floors and walls may take beating from the traffic, along with an occasional unsanctioned drawing on the wall with a crayon by a 2year old! So we clean things up and keep serving people. It also takes a considerable amount of time and money to clean and make repairs to the property. We always want the building to serve the people rather than the other way around.

 Programs – This is our favorite one. As churches, we love programming because it helps us feel like we are doing something worthwhile. (To be sure, programs when done right, can be a great means to an end – i.e. reaching people). However, there are times then programs in themselves become the end – rather than the means. We must therefore resist the temptation to be so focused on programs that we miss people. Additionally, there is always a newer or more “hip” program – often costing money – that is out there for us to buy!

Propriety – this is the way things ought to be in any given organization or social setting. It is very important as people, to observe the cultural and social norms. These can be because of different ethnicities and cultures or simply organizational culture. Doubtless, every organization whether it’s a church or social club has a culture. In the New Testament times, we learn that the Jews and Gentiles didn’t mix. This was an acceptable yet dysfunctional norm. And Jesus along with later Gospel writers like Paul, would challenge this propriety as it meant perpetuating prejudice against certain people groups.

How are you doing so far? Does any of this ring true for you? Take an honest look at your personal and professional life and see where you may be falling short. We will talk more about this later!

To find out what else we tend to exalt above people, look out of my next post in a few days. 

Prioty is people