Happy Thanksgiving! In some of my driving back and forth from home to the office … meetings… churches, etc. I have been listening to the radio and on KOST 103.5 they have been playing Christmas music already. I like it! And I know… Thanksgiving week hasn’t even come up just yet, so what’s with all the Christmas music? For me, it’s just fun, festive and puts me in a good mood.
Many of you will be getting the home all ready for family to come and gather around the turkey… others of you will travel to be with family. Some by road, others by air. Any by boat? I used to travel that way many years ago. But, I just love Thanksgiving. It’s always been one of my favorite holidays in the year. While growing up in our small jungle boarding school, it was the only holiday in the year (during the school year) when we ONLY had a half day of school. Classes were out by noon. The dorm-parents would gather us in the dining hall, along with some of the teachers, and we’d ALWAYS enjoy a feast. There was always plenty of food… even for seconds. We got mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, camote (pronounced CAMOTAY) which was similar to sweet potatoes, turkey, corn and peas, Jell-o, and we always had ice-cream for dessert. But that wasn’t the only reason Thanksgiving was so special for me.
You see, the school year started in August, and we’d be away from our families… mom, dad, siblings, for much of August, September, October, and November. And when Thanksgiving would roll around, it meant that there were only ten days left before we’d be heading home for Christmas. So… a half day of school, a great meal to enjoy, and then the whole afternoon free… WOW! In 10 days I’d see mom and dad…. I always had a great deal to be thankful for.
Allow me a moment to make this quick comment of thanks to you. All of you… You see, when I was growing up on the mission field, there were some churches that had recently embarked on a new “missions” idea called FAITH PROMISE… a systematic method to care for the needs of what was then THE GENERAL BUDGET… today we call it WEF (World Evangelism Fund). Some churches relied heavily on Easter and Thanksgiving Offerings to cover the missions’ needs. Many churches did both.
Today… I want to thank all of you who supported The General Budget or the WEF today. Did you know, that because you gave to missions… I was able to fly home to be with mom and dad for Christmas? I received an education in various boarding schools because you gave… and many of you gave sacrificially. Thank you! But, I am most grateful that you gave… and gave beyond your own ability for missions. And I NEVER missed a summer or Christmas vacation with my family. Because you participated in WEF… I was able to return home and spend these special holidays and summertime with mom and dad.
May I remind you, this Sunday is a golden opportunity for every local church to receive a special Thanksgiving Offering for Missions? Thank you for your generous support through your faithful giving towards the Unified District allocation… Thank you for your WEF contributions. You bless me and my family today!
ENCOURAGEMENT: “I thank my God every time I remember you.” (Philippians 1:3) This verse is repeated over and over and over again in all of Paul’s letters to the churches he had planted or ministered to. It may not be these exact words, but in nearly all of his writings he clearly gives thanks to the church and to the Lord early on. I do thank my God for so much in life today. Sure, there are many needs in the world. There is pain and suffering. We have questions. Things we do not know or understand. And people across the world are in need of our prayer support. How many of us were tuned in to the happenings in Paris only a week ago?
And Paul, from prison, writes to the church… “I thank you!” “I thank God.” As we enter this week of Thanksgiving, I hope you will join me and thank God for those around you. I love the church. I enjoy traveling from church to church to be with you. I love the times we spend in worship. I am thankful for the Word of God that is shared each week. I am thankful for His presence as we seek His face each and every week. May you enjoy the greatest of days as you join your church family this Sunday in worship… and remember to give Him thanks. He loves you and He cares for you.
HILLSIDE COMMUNITY IN ROWLAND HEIGHTS: Last Friday night Leslie and I were invited to an Outreach Banquet, Pastors Sam Chung and Samuel Martinez had set up for their community. What a special night we enjoyed together! They had various dance groups come and provide entertainment for us. We heard some special music by JR and Bayaya Cabuntug, children of our Filipino pastors… and then I was privileged to share a little from God’s Word. There is such great potential for incredible ministry here at Hillside. I love it!
NORTH HOLLYWOOD ARMENIAN: Last Saturday night Leslie and I were invited to take part in another banquet… that’s why I need to keep running. And WOW!!! The Armenians really know how to make a feast! Bill Alajaji was there to greet us, as were Pastors John Tashjian and Carlos Perla. When I sat down at the table… I began to eat all that was around the table… “those were only the appetizers,” I was told later. Oops. I had no room for the main meal… but managed to find a compartment in the side pocket of my belly for a little bit more. What a special night we enjoyed together, listening to the Leone’s share in special music, the passion from the pastors, and they allowed me the chance to share as well.
XARIS: Some of you may not know where Xaris is located… it’s in West Covina, and Pastors John and Michele Lee are doing a fabulous job in ministry. Following the music and worship, I was given the opportunity to preach and really loved being with our people there. When the service was done… we all stayed around for dinner afterwards. Do you see a trend here? In each of these places… I ate, and ate, and ate… Of course, there is something biblical about that. In Acts we find that the early church went from house (church) to house eating. Xaris also has some items they are looking to donate to another church or ministry if interested: 2 glass display cases, piano, electric organ, some sound equipment (a used mixer, a roll away rack, and power amp). Contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org or 626-482-7043.
MARCUS TRAYLOR: On Sunday night I returned to my home-church at NewNaz, where there was a special concert and silent auction to help assist the Traylors following multiple surgeries Marcus has undergone this past year. Bonnie is a district licensed minister and serves as a volunteer staff member at NewNaz. She also has served on various district committees such as NMI. Marcus has been a great churchman and a blessing to many. Yet, following a special music presentation last Christmas (literally), Marcus managed to barely sing his way through the song on the platform, and nearly passed out. He was taken to the hospital to never come home… until yesterday. The MRI revealed several cavernous malformations in his brain, including a large one in the brainstem. We are praying for the Traylors in the adjustments they will be making as Marcus comes home.
So as I finish up these Few Thoughts of mine… I reflect on the many reason I have to be thankful. And guess what? TONIGHT… yes, tonight, I’m taking the night off to be with my family. Aubree got 4 tickets from the company she works for… and we’re going to the Clippers – Warriors game. If you know me… you know that I love basketball. And we’ve got great seats too.
On Friday night we’ll be with the Casa Robles gang to celebrate Thanksgiving… and then at Point Loma for our 30 year reunion on Saturday. I can’t believe that Leslie is THAT old!
I love you all… and again, THANK YOU for your support and encouragement. Enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving! See you down the road…
With a Thankful Heart,
Los Angeles District Superintendent
Church of the Nazarene