I have so many reasons to be thankful this year, I can’t help but write them down.
From a professional point of view, I cannot express how thankful I am to be in a full-time ministry of taking people to Israel. Sometimes we get on a plane and go there, but most of the time we lead virtual tours in churches, schools, prisons, businesses and even orphanages. There can be no doubt that God has called us to this work. But there can also be no doubt that this would not have happened without the generous help of Shirley Hills Baptist Church and a handful of supporters who knew early on that we’d need some financial support and many prayers in order to get here. If you’ve been a part of that team of encouragers, thank you. Thank you so very, very much.
I am thankful that I have a wife who is brave enough to launch out into a new ministry just as we entered the years when security was becoming more and more important. She trusted me when she was just 19 and I wanted to get married. She trusted me when she was 28 and I felt God was calling us into ministry. And to know that she has trusted me one more time is the most priceless gift any person has ever given me.
I am thankful for children who love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul and minds. For Christmas five years ago, they gave me the very first financial gift that would help launch Experience Israel Now. Back then, it was only an idea. A dream. Something that wasn’t real. But when I opened that envelope and saw that they believed in my dream, I couldn’t hold back the tears. I’m tearing up again just thinking about it.
I am thankful for godly parents in every branch of our family tree. Trace it back through my parents, Melody’s parents, their parents and their parents before them … they were all committed believers. Not many people can rest on a heritage like that, but we can. They are the ones who taught us how to be thankful every day.
I am thankful for the three churches that gave me the honor of being their pastor. I’ve reconnected in the last few weeks with Cedar Rock First Baptist, near Southeastern Seminary in North Carolina, and First Baptist Soperton, which is near the onion fields of Vidalia. The reunions have been sweet. The realization that we changed our little corners of the world together is sweeter still. And of course there is Shirley Hills in Warner Robins. This was the home of Walk Through Bethlehem and too many other miracles to count. What an honor to have served there for 18 wonderful years!
I am thankful for my brother, who reminds me on a regular basis that’s it’s a good thing to dance, even if you’re going to look ridiculous while you’re dancing. Dany is what we call a “special needs” adult. If, by chance, you’ve taken a body and mind that works properly for granted, you need to spend some time with my brother. Not only will you immediately appreciate the gift of “normalcy,” you’ll probably learn a few new dance steps before you return home.
I am thankful for my friends in Israel and all the incredible things that are happening there. Only in our generation has archeology unveiled the treasure chest of information that the land has hidden for centuries. Only in our time have airplanes and video technology existed so all of us can learn the secrets from these ancient paths. And only in our time have the words of prophecy come true … for Israel is here. Your great-grandparents never imagined it possible. Their pastors saw only symbolism in the Bible’s promise of a Jewish state. But you and me? We know the reality of prophecy fulfilled!
And I am thankful for you.
Whatever caused you to stop and read these words probably means the two of us have connected in some special way over the years.
At the end of our lives, neither one of us will care how much money’s in the bank or whether or not we ever lost those 15 pounds that kept hanging around our waist. Instead, we’ll be overwhelmed with the treasure of family and friends. You’ve made my life better. You’ve made my time on earth sweeter.
So thank you. And have a wonderful day of giving thanks.