[x_custom_headline type=”left” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″]Sometimes when you are facing the darkest, most awful storms in life, and when the battle is continually raging against you, it takes a step of faith to see beyond where you are right now, and to envision the days of sunshine and soft breezes again. I know, because I have faced this dilemma many times myself. So just like you, I know about vicious storms that seem to last for far too long. [/x_custom_headline]
In many ways, 2016 has been one of the most difficult years of my life. It’s been brutal for me personally, and for a number of reasons, although I try not to allow others to see this through my facial expressions, my attitude, or my ministry performance. Actually, I am only telling you this now, so that you can better understand my heart in all that I have written below.
You see, as we entered the month of November, I had to take a serious inventory of myself to make sure that I wasn’t becoming hard hearted in my approach to life, because of how intense the battles have been. For one thing, I noticed that I was approaching Thanksgiving this year with a very ho hum attitude, which is pretty uncharacteristic for me. But as I began to take inventory, I quickly realized what I already knew all along. And that is, that I have much to be thankful for. When I took an honest inventory, I realized once again that I am a very blessed man, and I am truly grateful to the Lord Jesus Christ for all of it.
For starters, I am thankful for my salvation, and that I am washed in the Blood of the Lamb (1 Peter 1:23; Revelation 1:5).
I am thankful that the Lord has filled me with his great Holy Spirit, and that I can pray in other tongues, speaking forth the divine mysteries of God (Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-4; 1 Corinthians 14:2, 15; Jude 20).
I am thankful for my Bible, one of the greatest treasures I possess (2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 2:2).
I am thankful for my Pastor, Dr. Mark T. Barclay, a true prophet and genuine man of God (Jeremiah 3:15; Ephesians 4:11-14).
I am thankful that the Lord called me into the ministry to feed, lead and equip His saints in these last days (1 Timothy 1:11-12).
I am thankful for Brenda, my wife of thirty-six years, without whom life would have no meaning. I know no one more dedicated to blessing her husband than she is. There is no one more dedicated to praying over me, our family, and our church family than she is. And there is no one more beautiful, inside and out, than she is. I am thankful for all the little things she does, like my cup of hot tea she makes me every single morning, and for the notes, the texts, and the emails she sends me constantly to encourage me. I am thankful that she still laughs with me daily, even when I tell the same worn out jokes and stories. In truth, space does not permit me to list all the ways Brenda blesses and enriches my life, all of which I am deeply grateful for. And I am extremely proud that Brenda is my bride. (Psalm 128:3; Proverbs 18:22; Proverbs 31:10-31).
I am thankful for my son Jason, who works faithfully beside me in the ministry. His endless hours of hard work and creativity have made such a huge impact on our local church and traveling ministry, in ways that words alone could never express. I am thankful for the fire of God that burns within him, and that the Lord has allowed me to watch him fulfill the call of God upon his life. It is a joy, and one of my greatest treasures, to hear him minister the Word of God. I am thankful that I am allowed to also watch him shine as both a wonderful husband and father. I am extremely proud of Jason. (Psalm 127:3-5; Proverbs 15:20; Proverbs 28:7, 20; Ephesians 6:1-3; Acts 2:17-18).
I am thankful for my daughter Jessica, who is always willing to go the extra mile, and for her creativity that adds so much to us, as well as for her dedication and commitment to prayer and to the House of God. I am thankful for the valuable role she plays in our ministry. And I am thankful for her heritage of faith, and for the way that she and Jason are raising their children to serve the Lord. She is a faithful woman of God, with a heart to serve Jesus until He comes. I am extremely proud of Jessica. (Psalm 101:6; Psalm 34:15; Acts 2:17-18).
I am thankful for my son Qwest, whose zeal and passion for the things of God is contagious, and rarely, if ever, equaled. Watching him minister in praise and worship every service under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, brings more joy to me than I can say. I am thankful for the enthusiasm he brings to our youth ministry, and his desire to assist me in the ministry continuously, adds a great strength to me. I am thankful that I am allowed to watch him minister in both Word and song, as well as watching him excel as a husband and father. I am extremely proud of Qwest. (Psalm 127:3-5; Proverbs 15:20; Proverbs 28:7, 20; Ephesians 6:1-3; Acts 2:17-18).
I am thankful for my daughter Lauren, who works diligently in the ministry to children at our church. She is gifted and inventive in her role in our ministry, which blesses and increases both the children and their parents. I am thankful for the way that she and Qwest lead their home, and that their children are all being raised to serve the Lord wholeheartedly. What an asset she is to us. I am extremely proud of Lauren. (Psalm 101:6; Psalm 34:15; Acts 2:17-18).
I am thankful for my son Graham, and for his passion for music, and his dedication to stand up for what is right. I am thankful for the ways his humor adds to my life, even when he is unaware. I am thankful that he is also faithful to the House of the Lord, where he uses both his musical gifts and other talents to increase our ministry. And I am thankful for the way the Lord has answered a specific prayer in his life, and for how that has placed a light in his eyes and a brightness to his face that has impacted me personally in ways only a dad could comprehend. I am extremely proud of Graham. (Psalm 127:3-5; Proverbs 15:20; Proverbs 28:7, 20; Ephesians 6:1-3; Acts 2:17-18).
I am thankful for each of my eight grandchildren (so far). For Sage, Malachi, Ella, Justus, Adeline, Ilana, Liam and Olivia. (Olivia who arrived early this morning 11-21-16!). (Psalm 103:17; Proverbs 17:6).
I am thankful for my Jesus who healed my granddaughter Ilana’s body. When the worst possible report came from the doctors, the Word of God prevailed, and she is alive and well today. (Matthew 8:17; 1 Peter 2:24).
I am thankful for all of our friends and partners in the two ministries where God has assigned me, who propel me and the gospel of Jesus Christ forward in these last days, and without which we could do nothing. (Philippians 1:4-5; Philippians 4:15-19).
I am thankful for all those who work closely with me in the ministry; my leadership team, armorbearers, assistants, and the greatest ministry of helps team in the world. (Exodus 18:17-24; 1 Corinthians 12:28).
And I am thankful for my church family who desire to know God more intimately, and serve Him faithfully. (Galatians 6:10; Colossians 2:19; Acts 4:23).
Sure I have faced some severe storms this year, and maybe you have to. But when I focus on just how much I truly have to be thankful for, it brightens my day! I praise the Lord for these abundant blessings.
I’d like to encourage you to also make a list of things that you are thankful for, and then begin to give God all of the praise and glory for what He has done, and for what He is doing, in your life today. Because those who have lost their thankfulness, will soon wither on the vine.