|The Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays are here and I’m offering this article as an encouraging reminder to all of us who serve in a local church. A reminder that even on the tough days, there is no greater privilege. And even in the difficult seasons there is no greater joy. Regardless of the days or seasons, God’s faithfulness is constant as He reaches and blesses the world in and through His Church!
The points in the article are based on a foundation of scripture. There is much I could choose, but two of my favorites are in the book of Ephesians.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. –Ephesians 2:19-22
10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. –Ephesians 3:10-12
Why I’m Grateful:
1. The Church, through Jesus Christ, is the hope of the world.
I was filled with the Gift of the Holy Ghost at the tender age of nine. My life was changed and God immediately charted my life course. Through youth, ordination to the ministry, marriage, college graduation, and beyond, the local church has been a vortex of blessings and stability along the charted course.
This is my personal story, and Jesus provides salvation, purpose and hope for everyone who will say yes to Him. My gratitude is great toward our God who so loved the world that I, we — might have eternal life in Him. The local church is God’s chosen conduit for love’s greatest redemptionstory!
2. The Church gives more than it takes.
The local church is the only organization I know that will provide all that it offers, for free, for anyone, for as long as they want. You do not have to pay to receive what the church has to offer. That is amazing.
The Church is the body of Christ (the people) and they freely give so that others may receive the good news of Jesus Christ. I’m grateful for the bride of Christ! I serve alongside some of the most amazing, generous and selfless Christians I’ve ever known at Calvary Apostolic Church of Denver. They give so much of themselves so that we may reach the lost, care for the least, and raise up leaders for the next generation to have a brighter future.
3. The Church serves as a moral compass in a time when many have lost their way.
My “kids” will one day be married and have children of their own. These are complicated times to raise kids, much more so than when (not long ago) mine were little. Choosing between what appears to look or feel right and what is truly moral and Biblical, though perhaps not as clear as it once was, is even more crucial to discern.
I’m grateful that we have The Scriptures to point the way, to make clear what is right, and help keep us on track. I’m thankful for all the hard working pastors and teachers, who are diligent to teach the Word as it stands, and to speak the truth in love.
The local church is a safe place to ask questions, seek truth, and discover the path to “life to the full.” (John 10:10)
4. The Church makes a big difference in the lives of the next generation.
The more kids the better, and you can’t have too many teens! Healthy churches love kids of all ages, and kids help make churches healthy. Kids can be “messy” – life is messy, but it’s family at it’s finest. That’s a good thing. We learn better in community.
It’s crucial to be integrated into a church that does its best to teach parents about raising great kids to be mature young adults. From sermons to Parent Teacher Fellowship to LIFE groups, such training is eternally helpful. Since 1980, the K-12 ministry of Calvary Academy provides a “greenhouse” to directly nurture and prepare strong contributors for today and tomorrow; it’s hard not to be thankful for that!
5. The Church reminds us of what is important and what really matters.
I attended a memorial service recently at another wonderful local apostolic church. Though there was much human sorrow, there was also heavenly hope and joy. These moments always remind me of what really matters.
The person who passed away unexpectedly and young by comparison, was a precious mother and wife and a graduate of Calvary Academy. They told stories about how great a contributor to the ministry of the local church she was. They talked about how they will miss their great friend who served selflessly, made them laugh and was always there for them. They talked about how her faith never wavered, and that now she is home with Jesus. A life well lived. Her legacy carries on with honor.
I’m so very grateful today for the local church. As a shepherd under the Good Shepherd, I will not rest until “practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love.” Eph 4:15–16.
Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for reading!
Pastor Don Haymon II