On My Mind and Heart: Practicing the “Presents” of God

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During a recent conversation with a friend, she mentioned that we often hear about practicing the “presence” of God (i.e., remembering that God is always close to us) but don’t hear as much about practicing the “presents” of God (i.e., recognizing the numerous blessings that He gives to us each day).  So, this morning as I was praying I started thanking God for the many, many “presents” He gives me all the time.  There are way too many to list here, but I wanted to share a few from my list with you:

My wife, Carrie.  She loves the Lord, is a great mom and friend, and always is trying to make my life better. I experience Christ’s love deeper through her love and forgiveness of me.

My daughters, Sara Beth and Rachel.  I thank God for them every day and am proud of the young women they have become.

My family (Dad, Jamie, Al, Judy, Mike, Kim, Madeline and many more).  God has put awesome people in my life who love me and support me no matter what.

My church family, Adventure Christian Church.  I know that as a pastor I am super blessed.  Our church reaches people for Christ, new families join our church regularly, people are involved in serving and helping one another, we have a wonderful group of staff members, elders and leaders.  It’s an honor to pastor the Adventure family.  Thank you, God!

My country and our freedom.  Too often we forget that we have been blessed by being born into a great country.  Our country guarantees the exercise of freedoms given to us by our Maker in a way never before experienced in history.  (I recognize that some of these guarantees are constantly being challenged, but I’m still very happy I live here rather than anywhere else in the world).

The Bible and the ability to read and understand it.  The Bible transformed my life.  I am grateful for this present from God.

My awesome friends.  God has blessed Carrie and I with many friends who love us not because we can do anything for them, but just because.  That’s pretty wonderful.

Food and Water.  This may sound silly, but I really don’t mean it too.  I am grateful that I always have food and water.  Not a day goes by that I don’t have access to clean, healthy food and clean water.  Many, many in this world do not.

Opportunities to Help Others.  I am grateful for opportunities to help others and the ability and resources to often help.  Sometimes it’s a physical need, sometimes emotional, sometimes professional, and often it is spiritual.  I’m grateful that God gives me the present of reaching other people for Him in practical ways.

The Ministry of the Word.  I am very grateful to be able to teach the Word and share the Gospel with others.  It’s really the most important gift He gives me because it has such a direct, eternal impact.

I could go on and on and on, but these are just a few of the things for which I am grateful to God.  How about you?  What’s on your list?

On My Mind and Heart: Why I’m Thankful for My Church

i_love_my_churchAdventure Christian Church is a wonderful place to pastor.  Today, on Thanksgiving Day, I want to share just a few things for which I am thankful about ACC.  The list is much, much longer than the space here allows, but these things are at the top:

I am thankful that you’ve stuck with me.

It sounds awkward writing it down, but it’s true — I’m thankful that you still allow me to be the pastor at Adventure.  Over the past decade you allowed me to grow as a pastor, leader and man.  I’ve made some mistakes – some bigger than others (we won’t recall them right now though :-).  And, in spite of those mistakes, you stuck with me.  You kept coming.  You loved me when I was not lovable.  You forgave me when I needed forgiveness.  You’ve allowed me to grow as a preacher, teacher and leader.  Thank you!

I am thankful for the people with whom I serve.

The staff and current elders at Adventure are wonderful and I absolutely love serving with them.  All of the staff is great, but Pastor Richard Mosqueda is a true ministry partner.  We joke about how our gifts are so different that God put us together because together we are one good pastor!  But all of the staff and elders are more than just people I go to the office with or make plans and decisions with.  We are Christian brothers and sisters.  We love one another.  We pray for one another.  We care about each other.  That makes coming to “work” each day a real blessing and something for which I am truly grateful.  Thank you!

I am thankful for a church that loves Jesus more than themselves.

So many people have been impacted by Adventure Church.  Nearly 200 people have been baptized since we first started!  That doesn’t happen unless the church members love Jesus more than themselves.  I am grateful that our church is willing to try new things to reach people for the Kingdom, to look past things that don’t really matter like how someone is dressed on Sunday or whether we use a hymnal, and to change our methods to reach people where they are, knowing that God won’t keep them there.  It is a true blessing to be in a church that understands that church is about God and others way more than it is about them.  Thank you!

Happy thanksgiving to all of you!  God bless you and thank you!