Thanksgiving on the Clearance Aisle

 

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One stroll through such retailers as Target, Wal-Mart, Dollar General, etc., and you might be left with the impression that we went straight from Halloween to Christmas! Tucked over in a corner, like it was an afterthought, are the remains of fall decorations already clearance priced. What happened to Thanksgiving?  Did someone misplace it?  Did the Grinch steal it, too?

Aww, never fear!  Thanksgiving is always here!

Thanksgiving is every day.  In the words of Pastor Rick Johnson, “Soak your soul” in the following living words of God:

Ephesians 5:20 – Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:18- Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Hebrews 13:15 – Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.

This morning, as I have done in past years, I am daily logging a “note of thanks” in my journal.  A focus on gratitude redirects our selfish hearts to hearts warmed by the goodness of God seen all around us, even in the hard times.

How about joining me this month?  Start a thanksgiving journal. Communicate each day with others your note of thanks.  When asked, “How ya doin’?”— share your thanksgiving note!

Don’t let thanksgiving be on the clearance aisle.  Put it up front for all to see and hear!

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100)

My Greatest Heartache in Ministry

 

Africa Camp 1

For the past two weeks I have savored the awesome blessing of spending the first half of the month of July in Africa serving the Lord, seeing souls saved, and ministering together with dear brothers and sisters in Christ through the ministry of The Wilds Camps Abroad!  This trip to South Africa and Malawi was a definite “get-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone” trip.  Although I had made other mission trips, I had never visited a third-world country.

Since coming home, I have intentionally entered in my journal my “take-aways” from this journey.  One in particular stands out to me above all others.  I am ashamed to admit it, but I must say that before this trip, I had prayed, but I had not prayed so fervently, so frequently, so specifically, and as trustingly as I did while in Africa.

Without reservation, all that we experienced by the hand of the Lord was absolutely in direct response to prayer!  We watched God answer in so many ways, and we had a “front-row seat” to watch it happen for His glory and our good!!

Africa Camp 2

 

For instance, without going into great detail, after three days of training the nationals how to operate a teen camp, the first day arrived with great anticipation but a bit of fear of the unknown.  It’s 8:00 a.m.  Where are the campers? We looked out in the yard of the mission compound to see only one teen camper.  You read that correctly . . . one teen camper.  Undaunted but not knowing how to gather more teens, Dan, our leader make the absolute best decision.  He looked at all of the workers and said, “Let’s gather in small groups and PRAY for GOD to bring in campers.”  That’s exactly what we did.

As our group cried out to God for a manifestation of Jeremiah 33:3, for God to surprise us, He did exactly as He promised!

Within 30 minutes or less, the gates to the mission compound opened and a pick-up truck laden with a bunch of eager teens entered the grounds.  Moments later, the scene was replayed.  Eventually, we had 88 teens to begin our first day of camp!!  We saw God at work!! What a time of praise we had as we then saw some of those precious souls hear the gospel and respond to the call of salvation!!

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You may be puzzled as to why I have entitled my post “My Greatest Heartache in Ministry” when the past few paragraphs have been about God’s amazing work in my heart and the lives of others.  Quite frankly, I will say that my greatest heartache in ministry is the lack of prayer among God’s people . . . me included.

I’ve seen folks get up way early to be at church to go on some church fellowship trip.  I’ve seen believers pack out an auditorium or outdoor arena to hear their favorite singer or group and sometimes pay a hefty price for the ticket (Oh, and drive two hours to get there.) I’ve seen church members not miss a business meeting so they could vote their way.  And on and on I could go, but ask a group of believers to attend a prayer meeting, a prayer advance, or even pray, and . . . well, you know the rest of the story.

When are we as believers who have the very ear of our Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent God (Psalm 34:17), the blood-bought invitation by our Righteous Advocate and Great High Priest to enter into the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:14-16: 1 John 2:1-2), and the Holy Spirit to intercede for us (Romans 8:26), when are we going to make prayer a blessed, expectant, humble, dependent, relational priority of our lives?

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting (1 Timothy 2:1-8)

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

How To Overcome Dull, Lifeless Prayer

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Read carefully Paul’s words in reference to the church at Philippi:  I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now (Philippians 1:3-5).

Look at those words, making my prayer with joy.  Is prayer a joy in your life?  Do you have a joy-filled time praying?  In others words, is praying a happy time for you?  Is it a time of rejoicing, praise, thanksgiving, and sweet communion with your Heavenly Father?

If you pray in the power of the Spirit (Romans 8:26; Ephesians 6:18; Jude 20), you will be praying with joy because it is a fruit of the Spirit.

For many, prayer is a burden, a drudgery, and/or a duty.  May I encourage you today to find a place to meet with God and enjoy His presence?

  • Praise Him for Who He is and thank Him for how He has shown His character to you through answered prayer. (Psalm 145:3)
  • Thank Him for what He taught you in His Word. (Psalm 19:7-11)
  • Rejoice in a promise that He has shown you; that you can hang onto today. (Matthew 7:7-11)
  • Sing to Him. (Psalm 96:1)
  • Raise your hands in adoration and submission to Him. (1 Timothy 2:8)
  • Thank God in advance for how He is going to answer prayer, save souls, lead you through the day, give wisdom and grace,

I believe if you will make prayer with joy this morning, it will set your day to be one of joy and blessing.  Try it!  (Philippians 4:4-7)

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in the Ministry

Seeing Young Men Continue:  As was mentioned earlier in the week, Boones Creek Bible Church celebrated its 60th Anniversary last Sunday. What a special treat to have two young men in particular attend the service who once were integral servants in this ministry.

For seven years, Todd Jones, led our congregational singing and choir and taught Sunday School.  Every weekend, he and later on, his wife and family, would drive up from Greenville, SC, to serve with us.  Today, they are back in Greenville where he serves on the music faculty of Bob Jones University.

Along the same time, the Lord led Adam Smalley to our congregation as he completed his medical school training at East Tennessee State University.  While here, he taught Sunday School, used his musical talents, served as a Timothy member with the deacons and grew to be a major part of this ministry.  Now, he and his family are living in Indianapolis, Indiana, serving at Colonial Hills Baptist Church as a deacon and small group leader.

How honored to have these young men and their families back at BCBC for our special day.  May their tribe increase!

Seeing Older Men Continue:  Dr. Bill Hall has been an evangelist for 61 years.  He has been a part of my life for as long as I’ve been alive, and I’m 57.  He has held meetings in churches my father pastored as well as for me, and here at BCBC.  In 1963, although in evangelism, he started a church in nearby Greeneville, TN.  His evangelism challenge to us this past Sunday was what we needed to hear and heed!  How grateful I am to still have a man of his character, passion, and wisdom as my friend and co-laborer in the gospel ministry.  He’s in his early eighties, but his heart beats for Christ like a teen!  Check out his Personal Message.

Seeing the Gospel Continue:  Wednesday evening, we hosted “Trunk or Treat” in our gym.  What a thrill to see the gospel opportunities that came our way via children and parents alike! Lives are changed by the gospel, and we live each day by the gospel!!  The power of the gospel continues because the tomb is empty, and it motivates us to continue!

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The Most Important Word in Running

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That was the title to an article found within the pages of Runner’s World written by Mark Remy.  The subtitle was, “Here’s a hint: It has nothing to do with nutrition, form, or VO2 max.”

So now, you are asking, what did the article say was the most important word in running?  Are you ready?—-“Thank you.”

Often my wife, who power walks, and I remark about how grateful we are to be out exercising.  We both realize that all we are enjoying comes from the good hand of our God.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us, In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

So what are we grateful for?

  • The beauty of running in the country!
  • Ol’ Bossie watching us from the cow pasture.
  • Seeing a newborn calf.
  • Quiet.
  • Time to pray, memorize Scripture, and/or listen to sermon podcasts.
  • Fellowship with other runners and the encouragement they bring to keep going.
  • The ability to exercise. I promise you this is not taken for granted!
  • Meeting some our neighbors who are out as well.
  • The benefits of exercise.
  • Safety.  (This can be a challenge when faced with a driver who does not want to lose five seconds of his drive-time.)
  • Goal setting.
  • Being with my wife.
  • Camaraderie with other runners through the MapMyRun app.
  • Finishing the race.
  • Good shoes.
  • Water & Gatorade!
  • Strength & endurance
  • Memories of good and bad races.
  • The opportunity to run again in races that were special.
  • The fall colors.
  • Our Enduracool towels.
  • The Tweetsie Trail.
  • Eyes to see, ears to hears, and lips to rejoice in all that God has created around us.
  • Life in Christ that makes this life worth living.

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:20)

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. (Colossians 3:17)

Gratitude-poster
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Overflowing Gratitude

Recently, a friend of mine, Ken Turner of Ken Turner Ministries, a frontline outreach to high-risk and fatherless teens in Dayton, TN, sent out the following testimony via email:

The other day I led a Bible study at the Mountain View Juvenile Development Center in Dandridge, TN with a group of high school age boys. Since we are in the Thanksgiving holiday season, I decided to address the topic of… you guessed it… Thanksgiving. To be honest, I had to really pray about this and think it through carefully. How do you teach on the topic of gratitude to a group of high school guys who are locked in a detention facility and will spend Thanksgiving away from family and loved ones? How do you communicate the Biblical truth “in everything give thanks” when there could be so many things to steal your joy? After praying and asking God for help, I was led to share Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3. We studied Ephesians 4:17-32 and Colossians 3:12-17. After absorbing the truth of these passages and seeing a clear and specific list of things God wants us to “put off” and “put on” the guys came to the conclusion that you cannot be truly thankful if your heart is not right with God. Colossians 3 tells us to “let the peace of God rule in our hearts… and let the word of Christ dwell richly in us… and to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to Him.” Once they “got it” I closed the Bible and asked, “Okay, so what do you have to be thankful for?” And that’s when the gratitude began to flow freely. They didn’t struggle to think of things worth thanking God for. The list included, a warm bed top sleep in, three meals each day, a secure environment, family, people like us who care enough to come share the Word with them and even more interesting were things like “eyes to see, ears to hear and a nose to smell.” They got it! As much as I was worried about how awkward it might be to study Thanksgiving from a Biblical perspective I left knowing that on this Thursday morning, a group of boys locked in the detention facility in the mountains of Tennessee are going to wake up and thank God for some very specific blessings He has bestowed upon them. If they can be thankful… so can we.

When you consider the greatness and goodness of our God, overflowing gratitude should pour from our heart and lips every day, and especially today!  As you gather with your family, friends, co-workers, or . . . maybe you are alone, consider the awesome majesty of God!  Begin to praise Him for Who He is and thank Him for all He has done!  I promise you that the praises will begin to overflow! Indeed, if young men in prison can be grateful, so can we.

Psalm 9:1-2

I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;

I will tell of all Your marvelous works.

I will be glad and rejoice in You;

I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.

HAPPY, BLESSED THANKSGIVING!!

Ken Turner Ministries

I Rest My Case At the CrossI’m resting in my justification in Christ and praising, shouting, weeping, overflowing with gratitude when I hear this song!

We Were Made to Praise the Lord

TWO HYMNS OF PRAISE TO THE LORD

Psalm 96 – Praise of God’s Greatness & Glory

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.

For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the Lord made the heavens.
Honor and majesty are before Him;
Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
Give to the Lord glory and strength.
Give to the Lord the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come into His courts.
Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him, all the earth.

10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns;
The world also is firmly established,
It shall not be moved;
He shall judge the peoples righteously.”

11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord.
13 For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And the peoples with His truth.

You Are Always Good This is the second song of praise.  The whole video will be a blessing to you, but the song begins at the 31:00 mark.  A testimony about the song begins at 27:00.

Yes, while I live I will praise Him, but forever in Glory, our praise will be pure, perfect, and eternal!!  We were created to praise Him!

A Glorious Sunday Morning!

My hope is in the Lord,

Who gave Himself for me,

And paid the price

Of all my sin at Calvary.

Chorus:

For me He died;

For me He lives,

And everlasting life

And light He freely gives.”

This was the first song we sang as a congregation yesterday morning.  Having been out of church for the past two Sundays (Chronicled in last week’s posts), my heart rejoiced as we declared our faith in the cross work of Jesus Christ!  (Romans 3:21-25; 5:6-11; Colossians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:18-19)

Next, we declared our position in Christ as complete because He has done all that is necessary for a sinner to be delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of light (John 19:30; Colossians 1:12-14).

Complete in Thee! no work of mine

May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And I am now complete in Thee.

Chorus:

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!

And sanctified! Salvation wrought!

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And glorified, I too, shall be!

We concluded our congregational singing with “His Robes for Mine.” The lyrics of this hymn describe the exchange that takes place when in my sinful state, by faith I receive Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), the Righteous One (1 John 2:1), and for all eternity my standing before God is that I am accepted (Ephesians 1:6), clothed in Christ’s righteousness (Romans 3:23-26; 5:9-11; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!

Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage.

Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.

In Christ I live, for in my place He died.

Chorus:

I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost:

Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.

Bought by such love, my life is not my own.

My praise-my all-shall be for Christ alone.

What caused such rejoicing in my heart was threefold:

  1. The doctrine in the lyrics resonated in my own heart because I know Christ as my very own personal, Lord and Savior (John 1:12; 3:16; Romans 10:9-13; 2 Timothy 1:12).
  2. There is something special about corporate worship that cannot be duplicated in the world (Psalm 100; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12), especially through doctrinal hymns and songs.
  3. The preparation of my own heart before coming to church. As I sat in the quiet of our family room, the sun pouring in, I read Psalm 147 and especially these words recorded in verses 1, 7a:

Praise the Lord!

For it is good to sing praises to our God;

For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;

Yes, it was glorious Sunday morning of worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24), and in anticipation of what it will be like for all eternity.  What a glorious forever day that will be!!

Lessons From a Hernia

All my life I have lived in full speed, all-out, never-sit-still motion. Every day is an adventure. I believe in being loyal to the end and give it all you got. This can be a positive in many ways, but life lived like this can also have some disadvantages. My independency, impatience and let’s go attitude does not bode well at times with following the Lord, my Shepherd. So, when He needs to get my undivided attention to do some whittling and training, He chooses something to really slow me down. As a matter of fact, to literally stop me. Two years ago it was eye surgery. This time it is hernia surgery. So, what have I been learning in slow motion from my patient, merciful, loving, sovereign God?

Lesson #1 – You must slowdown in this busy world of good things and make time for the best thing.

When you are laid aside for a number of days, you have the opportunity to read more, pray more, listen more, worship more, think more, and prioritize more. What delight to spend a whole morning (after you come off of pain meds) in the Word, in communion with the Lord, reading books, blogs, and articles, in prayer, writing in your journal, listening to sermons, etc. All of that to say, a time like this makes you hunger for more. Because our lives are so busy with good things, we fail or are slack in the area of the best things. Therefore, such is the need to plan your week and your month to really spend time with the Lord. I don’t know what that will look like for you and your schedule, but if Christ is to be sought first (Matthew 6:33) because to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21), then what will you plan for this week, this month?

Hint: When you come to the end of this month of November, will your heart be filled to overflowing with gratitude for your God?

  • Spend a “Thanksgiving morning” reading the psalms, singing songs of gratitude, and writing in your journal what God reveals to you during this time.
  • Keep a gratitude list through the month, not of what God has done, but for Who He is.
  • Read articles, blogs, or books about giving thanks.
  • Have your family share points of gratitude at your daily meal times as well as what God has revealed to them during each day of their time in the Word.
  • As you study your SS lesson, ladies Bible study, or your regular Bible reading during the week, make a conscious effort to praise the Lord for what He teaches you. For instance, you have just answered a question that causes you to think about the greatness of God or His works, so you stop right there and have a session of praise before the Lord.

Psalm 100

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.