Before I begin, I would like to quote some Scripture:
- “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you…” – Rom. 1:8
- “I give thanks to my God always for you…” – I Cor. 1:4
- “For I wrote to you…to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.” – 2 Cor. 2:4
- “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers…” – Eph. 1:16
- “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy...I hold you in my heart…” – Ph. 1:3
- “…my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown…” – Ph. 4:1
- “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you…” – Col. 1:3
- “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thess. 1:2-3
After reading these Scriptures, it is obvious that Paul loved the Church deeply. In fact, Paul not only loved the Church in general, but he loved these congregations of the Lord’s Church in very personal ways. His love for them and his thankfulness for them was something that the Holy Spirit deemed appropriate to be included in the inspired Word of God.
It is with these sentiments in mind that I would like to share some personal thoughts with you this week.
1.I love this church. I suppose I’ve loved the Lord’s Church since I was old enough to know what it was, but there is something very special about this one. My family and I have felt at home here since the first time we stepped through the doors. We love worshiping with you. We love talking with you (to the point that our kids’ bedtime becomes an afterthought:). We love working and serving the Lord - and each other - withWe love laughing, crying, praying, playing, eating, studying, and traveling with you. I can genuinely and sincerely tell you that we love you, and that we hold you in our hearts in a way that I didn’t know was possible after only 8 months.
2.I am thankful for this church. When you work in ministry, you see everything about the Church: the good, the bad, and the ugly (whether you want to or not). This experience is unique, and it can create its own category of struggles and temptations. To be honest, I’m sure that Satan would love nothing more than to create bitterness, disenchantment, and a defeated spirit in the heart of ministers; and he certainly has those within the Lord’s Church who will help him accomplish his mission. However, I want you to know that my family and I are extremely thankful for this church. We thank God every single day for the Buford church of Christ, and we mean it. We feel loved by you, and we feel that our family has grown by 600+ in a very short time. We always thank God for all of you in our prayers. When we count our blessings, this church is towards the top of the list.
3.I love my job. I have been a Youth Minister for 14 years now, and I have NEVER loved my job as much as I love it right now. We have the best elders (and elders’ wives), the best deacons (and deacons’ wives), the best preacher (and Jenny:), the best secretaries (and their husbands:), the best teachers, the best preschool, the best parents, and CERTAINLY the best teens in the entire world. I look forward to coming into the office EVERY SINGLE DAY, and I absolutely love spending time with this youth group as often as possible. My short time here at Buford has inspired me and renewed my desire to serve in as many ways as I possibly can. Whether it’s studying for a Bible class, leading singing, preaching, planning a retreat, designing a logo, meeting in someone’s home for a devotional, having a personal Bible study, or just talking in my office with a teenager, I love my job. I want you to know that, and I want to thank you for making that possible.
I am fully aware (as Paul certainly was) that this isn’t about me writing a “feel good” article so that everyone feels warm and fuzzy. I am also fully aware that there will be times when this blog contains difficult teachings and challenging thoughts that could be described as anything BUT “feel good”. But for now, I want you to know – as Paul often did – that I love you and that I’m truly thankful for you. I pray that God blesses us with a long, fruitful, wonderful ministry here, and we look forward to being part of your lives for a very long time.