Oh Give Thanks to the Lord

turkeyThis week marks the celebration of Thanksgiving.  Turkey, dressing, and desserts will be devoured on Thursday.  Families will gather to eat and give thanks.  But why?  For Americans, we give thanks for many reasons, not least of which is our freedom to live in a land that is free (for now) to worship without the dictates of government.  Giving thanks is not a new idea; it’s actually rooted in a Judeo-Christian worldview.

Both the Old and New Testament calls us to give thanks to the Lord.  For example, the people of Israel were to give thanks to the Lord when King David brought the ark of God to the city of Jerusalem.  The ark symbolized the presence of God among His people. The day that the ark arrived in Jerusalem was a day of great celebration.

The writer of 1 Chronicles 16 records for us the song of thanksgiving that was offered to God on that momentous day.

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples.  Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders.  Glory in His holy name; Le the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.  Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.  Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth” (vv 8-12).

Giving thanks was a normal response of the people of God in the Old Testament to who God is and what He has done for them.  The people of Israel were to give thanks for what God had done for them, so that the peoples (other nations) would know this one true God.

Thanksgiving to God, therefore, is not only to be vertical but also horizontal.  In other words, our thanks is to be directed to God as a testimony to others of who He is and what He does.  While we give our thanks to God for what He has done for us, we do so in order that the nations might know what He has done on their behalf.

So give thanks to the Lord this season of Thanksgiving, but do so in order that you might “make known His deeds among the peoples.”  As you give thanks to God for all He has done for you, remember to make Him known to those who yet do not know Him.

We all have family, friends, and neighbors who need to hear of the wonderful deeds of the Lord.  So give thanks, and in so doing make Him known.

Winter Readiness

Winter StormIf you have never prepared for winter, you may want to begin this year.  Many experts are predicting an early winter with potential for harsh temperatures and large amounts of snow and ice.

Severe weather is more than an inconvenience, it can be life-threatening if you are unprepared.  Here are a few tips to help you be ready for winter weather:

  • Heat – If your main heat source does not work without power, then the first thing you should consider is purchasing an alternative source of heat.  Never use outdoor grills inside.  If you utilize a kerosene heater, then be sure that you have ventilation, as fumes can be dangerous indoors.
  • Generator – Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  Never operate a generator inside the home, as generators produce carbon monoxide fumes.   It is best to have an electrician install a generator switch to prevent back feed to the electrical grid.
  • Heavy Clothing – A good coat, hat, pair of gloves, thermal underwear, pair of wool socks, and a set of insulated boots are good clothing items to have on hand for bitter weather.
  • Food – It is good to have 3-7 days of easily preparable food on hand for emergencies.  Bottled water is also a good resource to have available.  Be sure to have a manual can opener.
  • Radio – In order to stay informed in severe weather settings, a portable radio that runs on batteries is essential.  You might also want to consider solar chargers for your phone or computer, so that you can continue to have a means of communication.
  • Light – Candles, flashlights, and extra batteries are always useful in emergencies.  For extended outages, oil lamps are more long-lasting and efficient.

Preparation always increases your ability to survive and endure times of severe weather, power outages, and disasters.  Be Prepared!

“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”      (Proverbs 27:12)



They were Called to Go – and Went!

I was reminded this week about Abraham who was called to go out to a new land.  Although he didn’t know what would happen, Abraham showed great faith by obeying and going (Hebrews 11:8).  Think about the practical application of this verse.  It doesn’t appear that Abraham hesitated or argued with God.  When he was called – he went!  I believe that God still calls many to go, but few respond with the faith and obedience that Abraham did.  The scripture calls those who don’t respond to God’s call – hearers of the Word only, and not doers (James 1:22).

Kelsey, Daniel & Sarah

I helped a modern day Abraham and his wife move last weekend. Daniel and Sarah were called by God to go to a new place, not knowing exactly what to expect. They only know that God called and they are going to be obedient and faithful to Him.  Daniel and Sarah moved from their nice, modern, safe, clean and comfortable apartment to a barn apartment in a neighborhood of poverty where they will live on mission for Him.

It’s unclear exactly what God has planned, maybe after school activities for the many children they saw getting off the school bus.  Perhaps it will be a community group meeting in their home to study God’s word.  Maybe special events, community activities or a new Hispanic church in the barn.  One thing is certain, Daniel and Sarah will be Christian neighbors who have chosen to live out their faith in a community that is watching and curious.

I’m excited about the opportunities that God will place before Daniel and Sarah to shine as lights in a dark world.  But I’m saddened by the many others who have refused to obey the call of God in their lives. Those who hear and don’t go are losing wonderful opportunities for sharing the love and witness of Christ to a world that is searching for an authentic witness. The call may be to the other side of the world, down the block or across town.  The only thing that matters is our obedience to the call.  Many excuses are given for not going, but few are those who respond, yes Lord.    

It’s interesting to note the concluding comment to Abraham’s life in Genesis 24:1, Abraham was now old, getting on in years, and the Lord had blessed him in everything.”  Only God knows the rest of Daniel & Sarah’s story.  But I believe He is smiling and will bless them because of their obedience.  Will you covenant with me to pray for them as they go – not knowing what God has in store for them or their new neighbors?   

Eastern Kentucky Ministry Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary

Haven of Rest Pic

It seems like only yesterday that we stood for the groundbreaking ceremony on the hill where Haven of Rest Family Ministries now stands.  God had laid on the heart of Eileen Mullins the need for hospitality houses near prisons so that those visiting their family members would have a place to stay.  Many of them travel for hours and hundreds of miles and just do not have the means to always stay in a motel.

Several ladies joined Mrs. Eileen in praying for this need and one day, while reading the local newspaper, Mrs. Eileen saw where a federal prison was coming to their local area.  The rest is history.  A piece of land was donated and building was begun.  Today Haven of Rest has two dorms and a lodge with a recreation room, commercial kitchen, and chapel.

On October 18th Haven of Rest celebrated her 10th anniversary of ministry to prison inmates’ families.  But Haven of Rest is not just about sleeping quarters.  The families prepare their meals in the large commercial kitchen and are ministered to while there.  Each year hundreds of volunteers come to serve alongside the ministry.  These volunteer teams and individuals help with laundry, cleaning the dorms, and yard work at the facility.  Some of them go out into the community and lead VBS, Backyard Bible Clubs, block parties, sports camps, and home repairs.  Smaller groups may come on the weekends and minister to the guests.   All of this is done in order to meet physical needs and share the love and message of Christ with Haven of Rest guests and those in the local community.

Mrs. Eileen retired as director of Haven of Rest in August 2012 and Missionaries Harold and Joyce Scroggs came to direct the ministry.  Assisted by Missionaries Robin and Becky Botkin, the Scroggs continue to carry on the vision of reaching out to prison inmates’ families and into the local community.  And, through these efforts, many lives are changed for eternity as they come to a personal relationship in Christ, with eleven so far this year.

Happy 10th Anniversary, Haven of Rest!!  Thank you for your service.  May you continue this ministry for many years ahead.