But I love Thanksgiving because by its nature, it is a time to press pause on a busy year that seems to pick up speed as it careens toward Christmas. In fact, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to slow the mind and spirit and prepare for the thankfulness that should accompany the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior.
No matter how difficult our year has been to this point, we all have something for which we can be thankful, especially if we are followers of Christ. Truthfully, if God has been good to His people in the past – and He obviously has been – then we can be confident that He will continue to be gracious to us in the future. That makes for a celebratory Thanksgiving in itself.
The interesting thing about “thankfulness lists” is that once you get on a roll listing things for which you are thankful, the list rapidly grows in length. A spirit of thankfulness feeds a spirit of thankfulness.
So, here are some of the items on my 2023 Thanksgiving list. I’m thankful for …
• The honor and privilege of serving the Lord by serving Tennessee Baptists.
• At least 15,975 spiritually lost Tennesseans having their eternal destiny changed from hell to heaven through the gospel witness of local churches and were then baptized.
• The messengers attending the 2023 Tennessee Baptist Convention who overwhelmingly approved the Acts 2:17 Initiative recommendation laying the foundation for future priorities for the collaborative Great Commission work of our TBC network of churches.
• The launch of the year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Tennessee Baptist Convention that will culminate at Summit 2024 in Murfreesboro, where it all started. Just go ahead and begin now making plans to attend.
• A Tennessee Baptist Mission Board team that I work with day in and day out. Our staff is a group of incredibly gifted, committed, hardworking, church-serving and Jesus-loving people. They love Tennessee Baptists and their churches.
• Unbelievable generosity! Tennessee Baptists set a Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions record of $2,262,288 in giving. Combine Cooperative Program and other financial gifts given by Tennessee Baptists to support missions and ministries at home and around the world, and the total was $56,578,363.
• The growth in less than a year of the Amy Hood Adoption Endowment from an initial gift of $500 to $259,157. Can you imagine a day when any family in any TBC church that desires to adopt can do so without any concern of the associated financial cost? Talk about a Thanksgiving waiting to happen!
• Hosting more than 14,300 guests at the TBC’s two beautiful conference centers, Carson Springs and Linden Valley. Related, I’m thankful for the way God has used those sanctified places to call people to salvation, ministry and missions through the decades.
• Nearly 3,600 Tennessee Disaster Relief volunteers who consistently and compassionately respond to some of people’s most desperate needs in Tennessee and around the world.
• The more than two dozen fantastic TBMB Baptist collegiate ministers and missionaries sharing the gospel among almost 400,000 students on campuses across Tennessee and discipling thousands through small groups associated through BCM ministries.
• A deep and sweet unity enjoyed across the Tennessee Baptist network of churches.
• Every pastor and ministry leader I’ve had the opportunity to meet across our great state.
• The spiritually mature, sacrificial and focused TBMB directors who provide godly leadership. I love these folks.
• Jeanne, my First Lady. That sentence may be short but encompasses profound thankfulness.
So that’s some of my list. What’s yours?
I challenge you to step away from the busy-ness of the week and ask God to remind you of all the things about which you should be thankful. As He fills your pad, return each item to Him as a prayer of Thanksgiving.
And finally, I am thankful to be on this joy filled journey with you.
Happy Thanksgiving Tennessee Baptists! B&R