Message Tab

The Open Door

 

It was George Herbert who penned this memorable line: “O Thou who has given us so much, mercifully grant us one thing more – a grateful heart.” At a time in our culture when many are focused on what others can give them. When they seem to feel that they are owed by others. At a time when we are more self-absorbed and desire more to receive than to give. It is a good thing for us to give thanks for the blessings of the Lord so generously bestowed on our lives.

In this season of Thanksgiving, there are many things for which I am very thankful. I am thankful that God blessed me immeasurably by allowing me to be born into a wonderful Christian family. As a result, I came to Christ at the early age of eight. What an incredible joy it has been to love the Lord my whole life.

I cannot remember a day that I did not know about and love Jesus. From my earliest days singing, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” until today, I have known that Jesus loves me, and I love Him.

A few years ago I was invited to speak to a senior adult conference for the Alabama Baptist Convention. As I waited for my time on the program, I listened to one speaker who asked, “How many of you have been Christians for 50 years?” I thought to myself, as I saw a number of hands go up, “My, how amazing that is, 50 years as a Christian.” Just then I began to count forward in my mind from the age of 8 when I trusted Christ to the present and at once realized that I could have raised my hand.

I have now been a Christian for 56 years, and I would not take anything for the journey I have had with Jesus. Like the songwriter, I have to say that “Everyday with Jesus is sweeter than the day before. Everyday with Jesus, I love Him more and more. Jesus saves and keeps me, and He’s the One I’m living for. Everyday with Jesus is sweeter than the day before!”

I am thankful today for my precious wife, Janice. This year we celebrated our 42nd anniversary. Someone asked me last week, “How did you and your wife meet?” I responded, “We met in BSU choir at Samford University.” We had our first date after a BSU choir rehearsal and went to Shoney’s for a piece of strawberry pie. I do not remember that much about the pie, but I remember that I had the best time that evening with the most beautiful girl on campus.

Sixteen months later we were married at Miami Springs Baptist Church in Miami Springs, Florida. We took our honeymoon through the Smokey Mountains and ended the trip at Southern Seminary just before I began classes and Janice began teaching 4th grade at Greenwood Elementary School.

Across these years of marriage, God has blessed us with three beautiful daughters and eight of the smartest grandchildren you ever saw! Our sons-in-law are men who love Jesus and are leading their families as fine spiritual leaders.

I am so thankful that God has allowed me the honor and privilege of serving as Executive Director of the Georgia Baptist Convention for the past eighteen years. It’s difficult to imagine that much time has gone by, but it has and the Lord has been faithful through these years. We have had some challenges along the way, but the joys far outweigh the challenges.

I have been able to work alongside the finest Christian men and women I have ever known. We have seen our convention grow from 3,200 churches to over 3,600 churches during these years and our gifts to missions have climbed steadily over the years. Only recently have we seen some decline due to the flagging economy, but the faithfulness of God’s people and the vision of Georgia Baptists for reaching our state and our world with the Gospel of Christ will get us through these tough days.

In a few days, we will gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a good time to count your blessings and thank the Lord Jesus Christ for all He has done for you. Herbert’s quote was right on target. “O Thou who has given us so much, mercifully grant us one thing more – a grateful heart.”