Immediately following Israel’s miraculous crossing of the Jordan River, Joshua received an unusual command from the Lord. “Have twelve men”, God said, “gather stones from the dry riverbed, and when you set up camp tonight, stack them up as a monument.” This nondescript rock pile was intended to serve the coming generations, for the day would come when a child would ask, “What do these stones mean?” A parent could then respond with a story that begins, “God did a remarkable thing right here.” The discipline of remembrance is important.

 

It’s the same reason God’s people marked particular feast days and festivals. It’s why October 31, 1517, stands out on the Christian calendar. The ordinance of communion serves the same purpose – the discipline of grateful remembrance. I was taught as a child that gratitude is entry-level civility. One way ingratitude is perpetuated is in our failure to recount God’s faithfulness, by speaking of it often. We must keep telling the stories!

 

A year ago this week, I wrote a blogpost reflecting with gratitude on our first year as a Family- Integrated Church. God’s kindness over those twelve months was so great that it simply had to be spoken of, preached, and blogged about. And again this year, I must point to our own rock pile and say, “God did a remarkable thing right there!” His steadfast love has not ceased so our praise mustn’t. So, below is a list of blessings (some more serious than others) after another year’s reflection. (I listed 104 as that’s the number of Sundays we have worshiped together.) It’ll be lengthly, I’m sure, so please indulge me.

 

I’m thankful . . .

  1. For the unmistakable spirit of joy in the auditorium any time the gospel is spoken. Or sung.
  2. For the sight and sound of happy children every week.
  3. For people who look for problems . . . not that they can complain, but so they can help fix them.
  4. For the God-given unity we enjoy.
  5. For believers who love their brothers and sisters way too much to speak uncharitably about them.
  6. I’m thankful for musicians who fear God too much to make Sundays a recital.
  7. For the joy of being around so many children who are being parented.
  8. For God’s faithfulness to provide our every need.
  9. That each week families open their trunks and share produce with their brothers and sisters.
  10. For a church that understands that family is not the point of family integration.
  11. For emails I receive from members of the congregation checking on the condition of our widows.
  12. For the joy and laughter that marks our gatherings.
  13. For a church that warmly welcomes guests.
  14. I’m thankful that little girls will, this Sunday, stand by their mothers and hear them sing, “Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord, God Almighty! Early in the morning, our song shall rise to Thee!”
  15. That little boys will, this Sunday, stand by their fathers and hear them sing, “This is my Father’s world!”
  16. For the many who exercise their spiritual gifting in service to the body. Week after week.
  17. I’m thankful for a people who are oblivious to and unaffected by the lure of novelty.
  18. That Elijah and Josiah will grow up speaking a language other than their own because their parents believe that God is worthy of every person’s worship.
  19. For a culture where reformation is expected, not resisted.
  20. For the ministry that occurs from the aged to the young.
  21. For the ministry that occurs from the young to the aged.
  22. For the unpredictability of children in church.
  23. To worship with folks who understand the value of hospitality and practice it.
  24. For those who graciously slip down the hall and into auxiliary seating each week in order to permit room for guests during worship.
  25. That this week, someone anonymously landscaped in front of the church.
  26. That this week, someone anonymously completed some much-needed concrete work at the church.
  27. For that team of young men who arrive early on Sundays to “work the parking lot”, assisting families with younger children, carrying crock pots and manning umbrellas.
  28. For a people who understand that family integration is not our message.
  29. I’m thankful for creative people who exploit technology for the purpose of edification and service to the body.
  30. For those bold witnesses who are blowing up every caricature of Reformed believers.
  31. For the perfectly viable, but less-discussed method of church growth: pregnancy! (And for the blessing of the several expectant mothers among us.)
  32. For whoever brings that wonderful, caramel chocolate thing!
  33. That a serious, methodical examination of Romans 9 is not only tolerated, but expected and celebrated.
  34. For every time I see the strong bearing the infirmities of the weak.
  35. I’m thankful for the beautiful way that a child’s voice blends with the aged in song.
  36. That our daughters worship alongside so many beautiful examples of motherhood done well.
  37. For scores of brothers who come each month to be equipped for household leadership and take it like men. Heroic.
  38. For a church that understands that reformed and family-integrated need not – must not — mean inward and self-focused.
  39. For people who notice when others need help.
  40. For that team of intercessors who gather at the church before daybreak every Tuesday to pray for their brothers and sisters.
  41. For those who see needs and meet them. Quietly.
  42. I’m thankful for the many Godly, unmarried young adults, serving God joyfully.
  43. For those who rise early, fill their gas tanks and cross state lines to worship with their friends at Basswood. (And never give the impression that its the least bit of a sacrifice!)
  44. For my friend and fellow-elder, Cecil Carmichael, whose love for this assembly exudes from him. We all flourish under his care.
  45. That this morning I drove to work in a tangible expression of the love of this Body (with the top off!)
  46. For our Theology Breakfast guys.
  47. For men who are visibly moved every time I quote Ephesians 5:25.
  48. For those precious ladies who quietly serve the body by providing meals for the sick, suffering or grieving.
  49. That children are being taught the chief end of man.
  50. For wise women who provide counsel and encouragement to young moms. It happens every week.
  51. For men who take seriously their duty to lead their homes.
  52. For people who never tire of celebrating their rescue.
  53. That our sons have so many examples of strength, discipline and courage within our congregation.
  54. For my friend and fellow-elder, Rick Liles: one of the most courageous leaders I know– always ready to humbly do the difficult right thing.
  55. I’m thankful that we sing Luther, Getty and Horatio Spafford.
  56. For young, single men with the wisdom to draw from older brothers.
  57. For older brothers who are willing to confessionally share lessons that were hard-learned in service to young men seeking counsel.
  58. For those who, years ago, began praying for God to do a work at Basswood.
  59. For the cross. And how contemplating the glorious rescue secured for us in Christ drives our Sunday gatherings every single week.
  60. For the joyful hum of celebratory feasting I hear each week at about 12:30!
  61. For our precious friends, the Schiffs, who left us to spread a passion for the supremacy of Christ for the joy of the Indonesian people.
  62. For those who, with joy and importunity, shoulder the burdens of their friends in prayer. Skipping meals. Being specific. Serving the body.
  63. For those who God has brought to us over the past 2 years – precious and trusted friends.
  64. That our children are learning the words to “Hark, the Voice of Love and Mercy”, rather than “Climb, Climb up Sunshine Mountain”.
  65. For great tools like the Heidelberg Catechism that have served the church so well for so many generations.
  66. For my friend and fellow-elder, Matt Hudson, whose careful, skillful exposition and joy in ministry serves us all. I trust his counsel.
  67. For the ridiculous number of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that came in when we heard that they’re unavailable in Bandung (and Misty Schiff craves them!)
  68. For young ladies who exhibit biblical femininity and kindness. There’s no question–they’ve been parented!
  69. For people who don’t complain about lengthy, hour-long expositions!
  70. For my collection of artwork and kind notes from children, often created during those lengthy sermons.
  71. For the knowledge that even among young ones, a sense of the sobriety of worship is caught when they see their parents sing, pray, give and hear the Scripture preached.
  72. For music that is theologically-driven and radically Christ-centered.
  73. That we eat. Every week, we eat. (Like the Scripture says to!)
  74. For people who approach worship with reverence and joy!
  75. I’m thankful that the Biblical pattern for gathered worship is weekly – not bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly.
  76. To see members of the Basswood family simultaneously well up with tears and beam with joy during our post-meal Skype sessions with our dear friends in Indonesia.
  77. For the many ladies who serve the church with Martha-like energy and serve Jesus with Mary-like devotion.
  78. For Sundays that pass with no talk of sports or hobbies as we are occupied with weightier matters.
  79. For my friend and fellow-elder, Jim Colley, a brother who is Nathaniel-like. Trustworthy and Gracious. “Behold [a man] in whose spirit there is no guile.” John 1:47
  80. That we sing Isaac Watts, William Cowper and John Newton.
  81. That over the past 104 Sundays (honoring 1 Timothy 4:13), we have read publicly the gospel of Mark.
  82. And Ephesians
  83. And Malachi
  84. And Galatians
  85. And Ecclesiastes
  86. And Psalms 120-134
  87. And Philippians
  88. And Micah
  89. And Colossians
  90. And Joel
  91. (And we’re working through Acts now!)
  92. I’m thankful for those fabulous cream-cheese stuffed jalapenos!
  93. For the leadership and insight demonstrated each week during Second Session.
  94. I’m thankful for our mischievous team of Sound guys.
  95. For the comforting doctrines of providence and decree.
  96. For young ladies who joyfully serve young moms by bouncing their babies and fixing plates for toddlers.
  97. For the grace of Cross-centered worship.
  98. And for those who anonymously subscribed to Ligonier’s Tabletalk magazine (for every church family.)
  99. For families who open their home each week for study and fellowship.
  100. For young men who have clearly been groomed by their fathers for manhood.
  101. That every Sunday is Easter Sunday.
  102. For people who are willing to think hard about important matters.
  103. That when I’m away (as I am now) I can say with no hypocrisy, I miss Basswood.
  104. I’m thankful for the unspeakable joy of worshiping with people we love and admire.