As I was driving around this past week and listening to my favorite radio station, Praise 103.9FM, I heard a song called “Grateful” by Hezekiah Walker. It is a great song and reminded me how much I have to be grateful for. At this time of year with Thanksgiving around the corner, I want to take some time to publicly share some of the things I am grateful for. Someone who is much wiser than I once said that the best antidote to fear and stress is gratefulness. This same person suggested that when I had reached my breaking point in any situation, that I should stop and write down ten things that I was grateful for right at that moment. Having done that exercise a few times in my life now, I can say truthfully that it is pretty hard not to break into a smile and see things in a new way after writing these things on paper. Praise God, I am not fearful or stressed at this particular moment, but I am very grateful and want to write it down anyway, so here it goes:
1. I am grateful for parents who raised me to love and honor Jesus Christ my Savior. As a missionary kid growing up overseas, this was certainly not a foregone conclusion. I unfortunately know too many missionary kids who rejected their parents’ faith at an early age and never really took the time to make it their own. I was blessed with parents who prayed for me, pursued me in love and “walked the talk” on a daily basis.
2. I am grateful for a wife and two boys who love, support and challenge me on a regular basis. My relationship with my immediate family has been the catalyst to grow and stretch my faith more than any other thing in my life. I praise God for allowing me to marry my best friend and to have two healthy and talented young men to be a father to.
3. I am grateful for meaningful and productive work in a ministry that I love. When I joined CLC in 1996, I had no idea that one day that I would be the U.S. Director. At every step along the way, first as the manager of one of the stores and then as retail coordinator, I have been blessed with work that I have enjoyed. At this stage in my life, I wake up every day with a sense of anticipation and excitement about what God will bring across my path that day.
4. I am grateful for hundreds of CLC colleagues around the world that I get to work with and support every day. CLC has ministry in 58 countries of the world. On any given day, I may get an e-mail or phone call from a fellow worker who works in a place I have never been. Having met many of these people, however, and having prayed for them on a regular basis, I am overwhelmed at their sacrifices and commitments to seeing the gospel made available in these nations through means of the printed page.
5. I am grateful that I have been able to travel and see what God is doing in some of these places. During my time in leadership I have been to Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Colombia, England, Russia and Liberia. As a young adult, I never imagined that allowing God to use me as a missionary would one day take me to places I could have only dreamed of going.
6. I am grateful for the incredible authors I have been allowed to work with and and publish as a part of CLC. For the past few years, I have functioned as the publisher for CLC USA and have come to greatly enjoy this aspect of my work. We are so blessed to work with current authors like Michael Catt and Warren Wiersbe and to keep publishing the work of Corrie Ten Boom and Watchman Nee among many others.
7. I am grateful for the dedicated and creative team members I work with here in CLC USA. It never ceases to amaze me how passionate and committed my fellow team members are to using books to spread the good news of the gospel. Whether serving in one of our stores, in our publishing house or in our mission sending base and administrative headquarters, my colleagues do so with a fervor that is a true example to me on a daily basis.
8. I am grateful for the many churches and pastors that we partner with on a regular basis. CLC functions as a key support to the local church in the communities we serve around the world by providing resources that they need. At the same time, churches all over the nation support our ministry by providing financial, prayer and emotional support for our missionaries. What a blessing it is to see these churches growing as they use the materials we are privileged to provide.
9. I am grateful for my local church—New Life Presbyterian Church. My church family has been a key part of my spiritual journey and a blessing to me and my family. The teaching I receive each week is rich indeed, and the people of New Life are part of the larger community that enriches my life. My pastor, Ron Lutz, is a true servant leader and someone who I love and respect greatly.
10. Finally, I am most grateful to serve a God who loves me and who chose me for Himself. It amazes me every day that God loves me enough that He sent His son to die for me. I do not deserve it, and yet, that is the point—grace is unmerited favor.
I look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving this year with a renewed sense of gratitude for all that I have been given and for all the people who make my life so full and complete.