Monday, October 21, 2013

Have You Ever Said Thank You?

First Presbyterian Church (ARP) Lake Placid, FL
     There is a story in the Bible of Jesus healing ten lepers.  It is found in Luke 17:11-19:  "On the way to Jerusalem He was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.  And as He entered a village, He was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices saying, 'Jesus Master, have mercy on us.'  When He saw them He said to them, 'Go and show yourselves to the priests.'  And as they went they were cleansed.   Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving Him thanks.  Now he was a Samaritan.  Then Jesus answered, 'Were not ten cleansed?  Where are the nine?  Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?'  And He said to him, 'Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well."  What struck me as I read this passage of Scripture was that so often we take God's mercy, grace and goodness so for granted.  Here were ten men that were very sick with a deadly disease.  They were outcasts from the community.  When they called to Jesus, He brought them all healing, but only one returned to say "Thank you."  The Lord called attention to that fact.  God is aware when we fail to give Him the glory and thank those servants who have helped us along life's way.
     With this in mind, I want to honor and highlight three dedicated servants of the Lord that God has used in our life to help us grow in maturity.  As many of you know, October is pastor appreciation month.  This is the time to let your shepherd know that you are thankful for their ministry.  However, October is not the only time we can let them know our gratitude for their efforts on our behalf.
     As many of you know from previous posts on this blog, my husband and I came to Christ through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971.  We had both been raised in a Presbyterian Church and even become members but we had never really had our appointment with God until this time at Ohio State University.  Then, the Lord brought all the previous seeds sown into our lives to fruition.
     Our Campus Crusade director encouraged us to plug into a good Bible believing church where we could begin to learn God's Word and grow in our understanding.  He took us on a Sunday to a Grace Brethren Church where Pastor Jim Custer preached the Bible faithfully.   For nearly four years, we sat under this man's faithful teaching and we grew in the Lord.  It seemed we could not get enough.  Pastor Jim's gift was in teaching about heaven and the Second Coming of Christ.  We left each Sunday filled with excitement about our relationship to Christ.  It was hard to leave when my husband completed his degree, but we knew God would bring us into another wonderful sheepfold when we moved.
     Having returned to Defiance, Ohio to commence his practice of optometry, my husband and I prayed to find another good church home where we could hear the Word of God faithfully expounded. It did not take us long to find First Baptist Church under the leadership of Dr. Russell Jones.  He is now with the Lord but we will never forget his excellent presentation of the Gospel.  He was direct, faithful, prayerful and above all a real Bible scholar.  He involved us in Evangelism Explosion, helped us develop a youth ministry there where we assisted in leading the teens in the study of the Word, but most importantly, he tended our souls with great care.   The impact of his ministry was tremendous.  He served up a banquet based on the truth of God's Word.  He stepped on our toes each Sunday by pointing out sin in his messages, but we loved him for his faithfulness.  When we decided to move to Florida,  it was very hard to say good-bye to this church family whom we loved.  However,  God would ultimately lead us to a new home to be fed.
     We came to our current church home after experiencing some deep spiritual wounding.  We had left another church, and in casual conversation, our pastor, Ray Cameron invited us to come to his church when we were ready.  This invitation opened a door for us to find rich fellowship in our Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.  Pastor Ray has not only been a personal friend but a mentor to our children as they grew up.  He introduced us to rich resources such as the Ligonier Conference where we learned more about our Reformed faith and in this church family, we found healing and restoration. It was good to sing the hymns we both had come to know as we were growing up, but more importantly, we were blessed to sit under the faithful preaching of God's Word.   For many years, Pastor Ray's home was open to many of the teens in our church and our son Reid often spent nights there.  How grateful we have been that for the last 23 years we have had the privilege of sitting under this minister of God's Word.
     Many times we forget to say thank you to the men that have taught us, prayed with us, cried with us, laughed with us and cared for our souls.  Not only have they prepared through study and hard work for the call that God has placed on their lives, but they also sacrifice much of their personal time to minister to the needs of others.  We must pray for them daily and ask God's protection on their ministry, their family and their time.  The enemy targets those who serve the Lord.  Likewise, we must realize that they suffer the same issues that many of us go through.  They are not immune from temptation, heartache or disappointment.  This is why it is so important to encourage them on a regular basis.  They are the under shepherds of our soul who are accountable to God for how they tend the sheep.  Therefore, lets remember to say thank you and to praise God for the man He has placed in the role of Pastor.  God is glorified when we honor those who have care over our souls.  Selah!

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