Counting My Blessings
September 9, 2010 /
A few weeks back, I found myself humming the old Christian classic, “Count Your Blessings”. Right then and there, I decided that on my fiftieth birthday, one of my closing posts would be “50 Blessings at 50”. Some of these will strike you as obvious, while others might, I hope, prompt you to consider things that perhaps many of us take for granted, and count them as your blessings as well. Here goes:
50 Blessings at 50
- Being born in America. Statistically, there was a 1-in-20 chance this would happen. When we count our blessings, we often overlook this one, it seems to me. What a huge difference it has made in all of our lives (at least the Yanks among us, eh, Graham?).
- Being born in good health, and continuing that good health more or less unabated for these 50 years. What an incredible, incredible blessing. I wake up every morning feeling good (well, unless I play tennis the night before…).
- Being born with a good (I think) and inquiring mind that has always made me want to know and do more.
- Being born to a Christian mom and a dad who would become one when I was still an impressionable kid.
- Having as a mother a woman who taught me all the right things—not only by actual teaching but by living.
- Having as a father the finest man I have ever known. Seriously.
- Having a wonderful sister with whom I’ve never had a serious fight, argument, or disagreement—and expect never to.
- Knowing all but one of my grandparents—and having an “extra grandmother” (due to divorce) who was always just “Grandma” to me.
- Being part of a church, as a child, where I understood enough of the gospel to make a decision to follow Christ at an early age.
- Growing up in a neighborhood and at a time in which I could play and do “normal kid stuff” without ever worrying that some freak would kidnap or molest me.
- Being able to be involved in athletics, and to experience some success as an athlete, and all of the sheer joy that comes from playing for the love of the game. This love continues to this day.
- Becoming part of a church, as a young teen, which nurtured my walk with Christ and provided me opportunities to develop leadership skills. Through that church, I became acquainted with several men who would greatly mold my life:
- Pastor Bob Alderman. I had the distinct privilege of being under the teaching of one of the finest Bible teachers I have ever heard.
- Youth Pastor Steve Futrell, whose influence in my life is best measured, not in the short time he was my Youth Pastor, but in the massive impact he made in my life.
- Bible Teacher Walter Craymer, who was a gem. Period. I consider it one of the top 2-3 honors in my entire life that, after his passing, and after the family went through Dr. Craymer’s personal library to claim what they wanted, I was selected to have the next “crack” at it. I still find that to be an absolutely incredible thing.
- Attending a great Christian high school, and being part of a great youth group during that time period.
- Being given opportunities, even as a teenager, to develop and exercise leadership skills. I developed confidence and at least a measure of proficiency which has stood me in good stead throughout life, due in significant measure to people who saw something in me which they considered good potential. Sometimes, it’s not what’s there, but what other people believe they see, that makes the difference.
- Attending a Christian college which, while having certain tendencies which today I would label “legalistic”, nonetheless provided me with a good grounding in the Bible and ministry ability.
- Attending a fine seminary which provided much of the same.
- Being able to graduate from each debt-free.
- Having been exposed to some great books, and having been influenced by some great men and women who wrote those books. I developed a love of reading as a child that I have, thankfully, never lost.
- Marrying a beautiful, wonderful wife who has been devoted and committed for over 28 years.
- Having a good cook for a wife. The battle of the beltline is a constant…
- Being “Dad” to three wonderful kids: Anthony Trenton,
- Brent Michael, and
- Chiannon Destiny.
- Having a wonderful extended family, including great in-laws and nephews and nieces and the like. I enjoy my sister and her family, as well as Karen’s siblings and their families. It’s always great to get together.
- Serving the folks at First Baptist, Bassett, Virginia, first as Youth Pastor and then, for a period of a little over a year, as Interim Pastor. These fine people put up with my mistakes and let me “cut my teeth” there, pastorally-speaking, and I love them for it.
- Finding, at First Baptist, a great ministry mentor, my friend Lew Bennett. Lew is a true pastor and a great friend to this day.
- Serving the folks at Brentwood Baptist, High Point, NC, as pastor.
- Serving the folks at Fellowship Community Church, Mercer, PA for over 13 years as pastor. This was, and in my heart always will be in the right sense of the word, “my church”. I love those folks dearly.
- Serving the good folks of Red Oak, an Evangelical Free Church, in Marietta, GA for 3½ years as pastor.
- For that matter, having had the privilege of being, for 17 years, a part of the Evangelical Free Church of America, an ordained EFCA pastor for ten, now. I love this movement; I am deeply impressed by the tremendous servants of God I’ve come to know through it; though I’m away from it for a season, I anticipate reuniting with the EFCA when the opportunity presents itself.
- Being gifted by God to teach and preach in a way that folks have told me has blessed them. Soli Deo Gloria.
- Being able to use that gift in teaching the Walk Thru the Bible experience. I want to do that more!
- The opportunity, on many occasions, to help people place their faith in Christ as Savior, and just as importantly, to look back now and see many of them who have grown and developed in their walks with Jesus. What a blessing, to see people become committed followers of Jesus.
- Being able to travel a lot and visit much of the continental U.S., as well as a few foreign countries.
- Two of those travels having been missions trips, the opportunity to impact people cross-culturally for Christ.
- Having some of the most wonderful friends in the world. I truly cherish my friendships, and if I have a regret about being in pastoral ministry for so many years, it’s that my moves have made it such that I’ve not lived very close to some of my closest friends. But I have friends of integrity and good humor who truly make life a delight when I’m in their presence.
- Strange as it sounds, having a wonderful pet, our Jack Russell terrier, SweePea. She is my first dog; never had one ’til I was 40. This little critter is a joy to come home to (and helps me understand the proverb: “may you become the person your dog thinks you are.”).
- Working a great new job that I am truly enjoying, with some new friends who make the experience very pleasant and (usually, at least) fulfilling.
- Living in a great place, Atlanta metro. I enjoy it very much. For that matter, I’ve enjoyed living most places we’ve lived.
- Having a nicer home than I ever anticipated having. It’s amazing that we have been blessed to have such a nice home—and it’s a blessing to be a blessing to others.
- Having the blessing of financial stability, particularly in these difficult financial times. My Source is not my job…
- Having, now that we are in the process of looking for a new church home (for the first time in our lives) some great options, including a church that is looking like a good fit. While I might bemoan some of the directions I see evangelical Christian faith taking, I’m grateful that there are many, many faithful churches that get the gospel right.
- Having been very blessed to not know much tragedy that came very close to home. Nobody in my immediate family, nor my wife’s immediate family, has experienced divorce (8 marriages; 8 stories of success). Nobody in our immediate families has died suddenly or “before their time”. Readers will know that the last two years have seen the tragic passing of two very close friends, Rusty Snyder and Bobby Edwards. These were quite painful, and I still miss these brothers dearly. These were also, in my life, quite rare. I am truly blessed in this regard.
- Having laughed a whole lot in life. A whole lot. What a blessing to be able to laugh, particularly at oneself—and goodness knows, I do enough goofy stuff to make myself and others laugh…
- Oh, and with football season at hand, having the good sense to be a Pittsburgh Steeler fan. I just had to throw that in…
- Being an optimist. I believe that with God, all things are possible, and that pessimism is ungodly. I look forward to the future. I’m 50, and my life is assumedly more than half-over, but I am excited about the time God will give me in the future. It is a gift, an adventure to live. I wouldn’t trade it.
- Finally, having an eternity to look forward to in the presence of Jesus, surrounded by the saints in a place where every tear will be wiped away.
50 is such a cool birthday… broad, meaningful, a bit scary I’m sure… but rife with blessing. Thanks for sharing your life with me and so many others.
Grace and Peace,
I know you wrote this a LONG time ago, but I wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed reading it 🙂 It makes me think of the blessings I’ve enjoyed in my own life, about what turns out to be important (and not) when you look back, and about opportunities I’d like to give my children. Thanks so much for sharing.
I think these are all great things to be thankful for. Great post. Sometimes it is all to easy to forget what is good around us.