Thanksgiving 2011

Hard to believe but this is now my 5th year doing these posts ( 200720082009, 2010).  As always here are the things I’m thankful for in this past year.

  1. Jesus-  Well who else did you expect at #1?  As every year passes, I realize more and more how ugly, sinful and broken I am inside.  Yet Jesus loved me enough not to just be my friend, but to die for me so that my relationship to Him could be even greater.  I don’t deserve a love like that and so my only acceptable response is  to offer a life of sacrifice back to Him.
  2. Lisa-  Again who were you expecting?  Before each of my bi-monthly calls with my church planting coach (thankful for Vince’s friendship as well), I have to fill out a form reporting on various areas of my life and ministry.  One of the questions is, “How is your marriage”?  Recently during a time when I was feeling a bit down and depressed, I wrote for this question, “No matter what else is going on, this is the one area that I can count on to be great”.  Trust me, Lisa has far more to do with that than I do.  Every year I can’t imagine our marriage getting any better but yet it does…wow I’m such a lucky man that God gave me such a Godly wife.  Her passion, hunger for growth and servant spirit are truly an inspiration to me.
  3. My immediate family- I’ve seen my mom, dad, sister and niece as much in the past year as I probably did in the 10 years prior to that.  The irony is I had to move further away from them for it to happen.  Regardless, one of the highlights of my week is knowing that I’ll get to see them on Sunday mornings.   I’ll see them again today and tomorrow and I’m sure there will be times that we pick-on each other but underneath it all is a love and a bond with and for one another that can not be broken no matter how many miles the highway may now separate us.
  4. My cousins- This year has also given me a few times to reconnect with my cousins that I grew up with.  Life and circumstances have kept us a part for many years but I’m looking forward to hopefully more opportunities to  hang-out and reconnect.
  5. My long-term friends-   Andy, Gayle, Bill and Nicole.  It’s been an interesting year and not at all how I had envisioned it but yet these 4 at multiple times and in many ways continue to be there for and with me.  Words can’t describe how grateful I am for the 10+ years they’ve put up with me.
  6. My new friends I’m developing-  Some of these are at church but many of them are from the community.  As I mentioned in our current series, one of the problems many pastors have is waking up one day and realizing you don’t have any significant relationships with people who are far from God.  So this year I have been intentionally going out and building new friendships.  Not only have I been having fun meeting new people and hanging out, but a few I can see as becoming close friends.  Most significantly I can already see the difference I’ve been able to make in people’s lives.
  7. My staff- Chad, Bill and Chelsea.  To be quite honest, I’m in way over my head with this whole church planting thing, but these 3 make me look a lot better than I am.  I’m so grateful God has brought us together as a team and can’t wait to see how God will use us to further His Kingdom.  It’s an honor to be able to lead them and I pray I do it well.
  8. That survived it’s first year-  I wish this were hyperbole but it’s not.  Most church plants die within their first 3 years.  We’ve got one of those under our belts but we’re not out of the woods quite yet.  However, as I already mentioned we have a great staff that’s sold out to seeing God’s Kingdom advance.  More importantly we have many others who serve week end and week out because they realize that life is not about them but in helping people far from God come back into a relationship with Him and then grow to become more like Him.  Thanks to all for an incredible year where we’ve now seen over 120 people come into a relationship with Jesus…but remember…the best is yet to come!
  9. Lisa’s business/God’s blessing- In order to start, we had to sacrifice a lot to move here to Harrisburg.  One such sacrifice was I voluntarily took a 23% reduction in salary.  This meant the possibility that Lisa might have had to get a job (which would have been a huge sacrifice on her part because of health issues).  However, despite it all we continued to tithe and trust that you can’t out give God.  Sure enough He began to bless her business ,which for years had pretty much always made the same amount of money.  All of the sudden…through no real effort of her own, she has been swamped with work which has allowed her to stay at home!
  10. Chuck Frank- Chuck is a long-time friend and more recently became the Director of Church Planting for the Eastern Regional Conference of the Churches of God General Conference (catchy isn’t it).  It was Chuck’s email that spurred on the vision I had for Exponential originally.  Over the past year he and his team have been incredibly helpful and generous in numerous ways in helping us launch.  Chuck is a great cheerleader for planting and evangelism and his support this past year has been invaluable.
  11. Technology-  It can be both a blessing and a curse but for the most part I am very thankful for all that technology allows us to do.  Especially this past year I am grateful for two tools that make my life so much easier.  The first is  Audio books have been around along time, but now with the ability to download them to my smart phone and then play back through blue-tooth on my car stereo, life is so much easier.  Literally I turn my car into a mobile classroom and can usually get through 3-4 books per month just during my normal driving time.  The second tool I’m thankful for is the Getting Things Done Outlook Add-In Tool.  One of the audio books I listened to this past year was Getting Things Done by David Allen.  His system is tremendous and when I found out there was an add-in for Outlook, it was an easy decision to spend the $70+.  My life, tasks and schedule have never been more organized and de-cluttered and for that I am very thankful!

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