Yes, I am fully aware that the world is still pretty much on fire. Just today, I have watched videos of Hamas sympathizers in New York City yanking down American flags and replacing them with Palestinian flags (on Veterans Day, no less), 15 school-age thugs stomping a classmate to death and millions of people marching in London in support of antisemitism. But while all of that and so much more is happening, the command of 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you," still holds true even now. And so on this, the lead-up to Thanksgiving, please bear with me as I do just that.
› I am thankful, first and foremost, that I am saved. I was 9 years old when I told Jesus I was sorry for my sin and that I believed he rose from the dead and asked him to save me. And while I have regretted many things in my life, that is one thing that I have never for so much as a moment regretted.
›I am thankful for a godly mother and for amazing in-laws. And I am thankful for my amazing wife of nearly 30 years. Having made it this far, I feel sorry for those who bail out along the way; marriage really does get sweeter and sweeter as the days go by. And I am thankful for the three wonderful, godly, hard-working, sarcastic children that have come from this union; no people on Earth can simultaneously make me want to pinch their heads off and hug them tightly like these three.
› I am thankful for my church. They have put up with me as a pastor for 26 years and counting, including all of the early days when I often had much more enthusiasm than good sense.
› I am thankful for the many churches that have me in to preach special meetings each year. I get to travel the country and beyond, not just spreading the Gospel, but enjoying the world God has made as well.
› I am thankful for weightlifting. Not only is it fun and healthy, nothing focuses the mind and emotions quite like getting under a heavy weight and realizing that the only options left to you are to lift it or be squished.
› I am thankful for very good friends, some of whom enjoyed beating me up on the way to my black belt, others of which I preach alongside, and others with whom I have just clicked through the years and can call or text at random times, day or night.
›I am thankful for dad jokes. And on that note, you should know that if I had been the inventor of the Whoopie Cushion, I would have absolutely called it the Substitoot.
› I am thankful for my Bible. I have read it pretty much every day for the past 44 years, and it never gets old to me or fails to provide me with what I need, whether it be comfort or guidance or even correction. I am also thankful that I can pray anytime, anywhere, and have an immediate audience with God (Hebrews 4:16).
›I am thankful for my home, which our family affectionately calls "The Miracle House." It is exactly what we wanted and where we wanted, and God let us find it when it was in really horrible condition and thus for a price we could afford. And I am thankful that he allowed me to know how to fix it myself.
›I am thankful for my 2014 Ford F150 (best vehicle I have ever owned) and a few very good knives. No man is truly poor who has a good truck and a good knife.
› I am thankful for all of the people who buy and read and enjoy my books. That is literally one of the highlights of my life. And I am thankful for every paper that carries my column, and for all of you who read them and especially those of you who write to tell me you enjoy them. Or that you hate me; those letters are always pretty entertaining as well.
› I am thankful for my personal library. I know that many people are going to e-books now, and I have no problem with that. But I guess I am just a bit old-school; to me, there is nothing better than being in the middle of thousands of books. It is the mental, grown-up version of a candy store where one actually owns all of the candy.
› Flaws and all, I am still thankful for America. This is still, to me, the greatest country on Earth. But having said that, I am more than willing to hear from anyone as to how bad it is — as long as they have already proved their point by moving to some other country.
› I am thankful for steak and shrimp and chicken and pork, and for all of the vegans who so graciously refrain from those things so that there will always be more for me.
›I am thankful for good new biblical songs, old gospel hymns, people who cry and raise their hands during service as God moves on their hearts and for an actual altar. There is nothing so needful in a church as a spot where people can come and kneel and talk to God over what they have just heard, or over their heartaches, or just to say "thank you."
› I am thankful for hot apple cider, the sound of leaves crunching underfoot as I walk through the woods and family gatherings.
› I am thankful for a church made up of Whites, Blacks, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Costa Ricans, Lebanese, Hawaiians and who knows what else. Not only is it just downright cool to see people of most every skin tone worshiping together as family, our potluck dinners are absolutely the bomb.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.