Happy Thanksgiving | 30 Days of Thanksgiving #20

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Happy Thanksgiving

I started writing this post on Tuesday, November 24, 2015, but I didn’t get it finished until Thursday, November 26, 2015. Some of the date references are a little “off,” but I’ve chosen to keep them.

I didn’t get to post yesterday. I had a busy, busy day (formatting a book is always hectic). I finally sat down to start writing about 9:00 yesterday evening, and my #1 University of Kentucky Wildcats were proving why they’re the #1 team in the country (did I mention that my beloved Wildcats are ranked #1?). I chose to watch the game instead of blog (sorry), and I’ve traveled today to my in-laws to spend Thanksgiving Day with my wife’s family tomorrow – It will be only the second Thanksgiving Day we have spent with my wife’s parents through the years. From watching the Cats win last night to coming to Kentucky today, I’ve found reasons to offer my thanks to God.

  • I got to watch the Cats win!

    I grew up in a family who loved the Cats, and we lived not far from Lexington; I married a girl who graduated from the University of Kentucky. My blood runs blue, and I’m thankful.

    I’m thankful because:

    • I have something I enjoy.

      My life is not such a bleak existence where I’m constantly struggling to survive that I cannot find joy. My life is peaceful enough that I can sit down and watch a ballgame.

    • I have a cable bill.

      No, I’m not interested in whether cable or satellite is better (I think we’re going to switch to satellite very soon) – I’m thankful that I can afford some entertainment. I personally do not watch television except for sports and major news events (in the last year, I have only watched sports and a little news about the attacks in Paris), but my family loves a good show. We have the ability to enjoy entertainment every now and then.

    • I have electricity.

      It would be useless to have the cable bill without electricity. Think about all the benefits we have from electricity: easy food preparation, easy defense against the cold and heat, and easy light in the darkest night. As I watched the Cats last night, I really couldn’t help but thank God for the electricity which made watching my team possible.

    • I have tradition.

      I take the Cats seriously. When UK won the 2012 National Championship, I cried – yeah, I know how hokey that sounds, but that’s the truth (we were in a very bad place then and the championship brought Tammy and me great joy). My mom’s mother loved the Cats, my parents love the Cats, my brothers love the Cats, and my wife’s parents love the Cats. You see, it’s a family thing. We text back and forth during games (I get mad at Mom sometimes – don’t let her know – because she texts me when I’m most nervous and tells me that UK’s going to lose).

    Even in the midst of nothing more than a ballgame, I can find reasons to be thankful.

  • Starbucks

    I drove through Starbucks this morning, and I ordered a peppermint mocha and that’s exactly what I got. Yet, I was looking at the Frappuccino and I got the latte. I was a little disappointed for a second, but it dawned on me: If that’s the worst of my problems, I have it made. How many other people in the world would love to have the problem of getting a latte over a Frappuccino?

  • Tammy’s driving

    I stayed up late last night watching UK play basketball, and I had a meeting on the other side of town this morning, so I got up at 5:00. By the time, we had drive a little while, I pulled off at a McDonald’s and told Tammy I was going to take a fifteen-minute powernap. I did, but I didn’t want to start driving again after fifteen minutes. Tammy was able to take over the driving responsibilities and let me sleep for a while.

  • Medication

    The trip was hard on me physically. In fact, I didn’t even go to Bible study this evening; instead, I got in a recliner at the in-law’s and slept. When we got to Kentucky, I was in horrendous pain, but with the swallow of a medication, I slept and began to fill better.

  • Love

    There’s nothing like coming to your wife’s home and finding love and acceptance. Grammy has fixed cookies and other things I like to eat, they’ve left the recliner for me, and they were very understanding about not attending Bible study tonight. I may have married into them, but they’re still my family.

I started this entry on Tuesday evening, and I’m concluding it on Thanksgiving Day. I’m thankful that we as a nation pause to remember the blessings of God on the fourth Thursday in November. I’m reminded that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (Js 1:17). Thank God for His blessings today. May He richly bless each of you.

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Preachers | 30 Days of Thanksgiving #19

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Preacher. I used to be one. Whether when living at home or when at college or when married, for most of my life, preaching has put food on my table. As I transition out of full-time preaching, I’m facing one of the most painful times in my life; you see, I love preaching and I sorely miss the opportunity to open up Scripture to those who hear me. God loves preaching, too – in fact, His own Son was a preacher and began proclaiming the gospel of God after John’s arrest (Mk 1:14-15).

As I give thanks to God for the bountiful blessings in my life, I would be most foolish to ignore the influence preachers have had in my life.

Several preachers have influence me as I have sought to grow in the grace and knowledge of God:

  • My father, Randy Imel

    Dad taught me prayer: I can’t tell you how many times I saw him in prayer, and I learned that prayer comes before preaching. I learned faith: Dad left a good job to preach because he trusted God and knew God needed him in the pulpit. I learned a love of the Word: Dad didn’t spend time preaching pop psychology or other junk, but he preached the Word of God.

  • Dr. Bill Bagents

    Bill is one of the most humble and servant-minded men I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing: He serves without any desire to be noticed, and he’s willing to do whatever he can to help whomever he can.

  • Joseph Pauley

    Joe taught me a new way of preaching: he taught me to teach people, not the Bible. Oh, I don’t at all mean that preaching centers on people, not on the Word of God: anything like that does not deserve to be called preaching. But, Joe taught me to take the text and help people understand how the Word impacted their lives on Monday morning. My emphasis moved away from great oratory about some nuance in Greek syntax (no kidding – my wife said that I was far too scholarly and preached over people’s heads before I started listening to Joe) and moved to how that nuance in Greek syntax helped the people of God walk in the light. That’s important, and I’ll always be grateful to Joe for that lesson.

  • Cory Collins

    Cory taught me a love of people. Cory encourages people: that’s the gift God gave him in abundance. Cory taught me to look for the good in people, to highlight that good, and to encourage people to make their good even more good.

I’ve mentioned preachers who have greatly influenced my outlook on life, but there are many others who have played their own role. I have been privileged to hear some of the greatest preachers in the brotherhood: Phil Sanders, Dale Jenkins, Glenn Colley, Tom Holland, Basil Overton, David Underwood, Jerry Davidson, and Charles Coil.

Facebook is a great tool for being encouraged. There are brothers whom I have never heard in person (some of whom I have never met in the flesh) who encourage me by the great work they are doing in the kingdom: Scott Elliott, Steven Hunter, Michael Whitworth, James Farris, Adam Faughn, and Wes McAdams, for example.

God chose the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe (1 Cor 1:21). May God continue to bless the preaching of His Word!

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Saturdays | 30 Days of Thanksgiving #18

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Saturday Logo

Today has been a nice day. It’s Saturday. Saturdays are nice. I’m thankful for Saturdays because:

  • My family is home.

    I love my family, and it’s hard spending days by myself – in fact, I’ve started spending my days at Starbucks just so I’m not by myself. There’s no need for Starbucks on Saturday; I have my family.

  • I get to sleep in.

    This morning I slept until almost 10:00. I can’t do that through the week because I have so much to do, but it’s nice to spend some extra time in bed on Saturdays.

  • I get to watch football.

    I enjoy football, and being an SEC boy I get to see the best football in the country. There’s nothing like a Saturday in the South.

  • I get to spend extra time at the gym.

    There’s little need to hurry up and get a swim in. I can swim as long as my fat body can swim.

  • Tammy goes to the grocery store.

    No, I’m not glad to spend some time away from her, but I love it when she comes home: she brings all sorts of goodies for me to eat. I like that (maybe a little too much!).

Today has been a nice day filled with family. I pray you’ve had a good day, too.

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Prayer | 30 Days of Thanksgiving #17

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I'm thankful for prayer

Tammy was cooking supper, the boys were doing homework at the kitchen table, and I was in the living room. My phone vibrated; Mom had texted, and her message was simple: “Pray hard.” I called, and, through the tears and anguish, Mom told me that Dad was being rushed into surgery and things did not look all that promising. I was devastated – I called Tammy into the living room, told her what was going on and that I couldn’t eat (I cannot eat when I’m upset), and I went to our bedroom – and, through the tears and the screams – I asked God to spare Dad’s life. I emailed my coworkers at Heritage Christian University and asked them to pray. Dad came through surgery, and, while he has had a long and difficult recovery, continues to preach the Word on God’s behalf.

I’m thankful to God that He, on that occasion, spared Dad’s life. You and I both know, however, that God is not at all bound to answer my prayers the way I wish. He is sovereign. He is God. He does what pleases Him to further His will (think Jesus praying in the Garden in deeply tormenting anguish). Yet, prayer can change God’s mind (think Hezekiah’s extra 15 years), and we pray. We pour our hearts out to God in expectation of an answer. Yet, we pray, as did our Lord Jesus in the Garden, for God’s will, not our own to be done.

As I give thanks for God’s bountiful blessings this month, I cannot forget prayer. I’ve prayed long and hard, and God has never failed to answer. He hasn’t always answered me as my whims and fleeting thoughts wished, but He has answered as fits His purpose and His will. I’ve been driven to my knees over my dystonia, and God hasn’t taken it away. Yet, I’ve learned trust and prayer and courage and humility in ways that would never have been possible otherwise. Oh, yes, God has answered my prayers, but He has answered them in a way that continues to mold me into the vessel He needs me to be, and I’m thankful. He has shown over and over and over that He knows far better than I – He leads, I follow; He blesses, I receive; He answers, I pray.

Today, I want to provide reasons I’m thankful for prayer.

  • I can pray for wisdom.

    I tend to be stupid; I make foolish decisions; I desperately need wisdom. God answers when I pray for wisdom (Js 1:5).

  • I can pray for workers in the kingdom.

    I have been saved from my sins through the redeeming blood of Jesus. Why would I ever wish to keep that gift for myself? In prayer, I am able to pray for workers to be sent into the vineyard (Matt 9:37-38).

  • I can pray for the church.

    The church is the precious bride of Christ. Why not pray that she be kept free from error, that she stands under the test of persecution, and that she enlarges her boundaries? Read the epistles of Paul and see how often he prayed for the local church.

  • I can pray for those who preach the Gospel.

    Preaching the Gospel is the most glorious work in all the world – I would much rather my sons be Gospel preachers than President of the United States. Yet, as I know full well, the work of preaching the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ takes its toll and prayers are both sorely needed and appreciated. Throughout Paul’s epistles he often asked churches to pray for him.

  • I can pray for the world’s leaders.

    Syrian refugees. Attacks in Paris. Threats around the world. At this moment in history (as with every other moment), our leaders need prayer, and God, through Paul’s inspired pen, instructs us to pray for world leaders (1 Tim 2:1-4). Why not get on your knees now and ask for God’s richest blessings on the leaders of the world?

  • I can pray for the sick.

    Because we live in a fallen world of sickness and death, every church in the world has a prayer list a mile long. Why not take the prayer list from where you worship and implore the Father for His will to be accomplished in the lives of the suffering? After all, we’re to pray for the sick (Js 5:15-16). While the context of James 5 is unmistakably spiritual, not physical illness (at least in my opinion), the principle of praying for the sick remains.

  • I can pray about ALL of my burdens.

    No matter what is bothering me – from a sick pet to the bills in the mailbox – I can pray for God’s richest blessings. We may cast “all your anxieties on him, because he cares for” us (1 Pet 5:7). Oh, what a blessing to take everything to God in prayer!

I’m thankful – oh, so very thankful – that the Creator of all will bend His ear to listen to me and take all my burdens away. Why not thank God for prayer today? Why not take your burdens to Him in prayer? Oh, by the way, don’t forget to ask Him to walk with you – I know He’ll walk with you as He has walked with me.

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Wednesday Evening Bible Study | 30 Days of Thanksgiving #16

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Wednesday evening Bible study

Today is Wednesday, and that means my family and I will drive to the Star City church of Christ for Bible study. Mom and Dad dragged me to Wednesday night at church as far back as I can remember. Homework? Didn’t matter. Something good on TV? Didn’t matter. Really just didn’t want to go? Didn’t matter. We were going to Bible study on Wednesday night and we weren’t going to discuss the issue.

Tammy and I have raised our boys the same way. We’ve taken them off the baseball field because it was Wednesday night. We’ve pulled them out of martial arts classes because it was getting too close to church time on Wednesday. Stephen King, my absolute favorite author, was doing a reading at a theater not far from us, and Tammy was going to get me tickets for Christmas – until we realized it was a Wednesday night, and we didn’t discuss the matter any further.

My family attends Wednesday evening Bible study for many reasons: Tammy and I were raised to attend, we believe every word of Scripture, and we believe our boys need to be taught the Word of God in a corporate setting as well as at home. And, I’m thankful for Wednesday night Bible study. I’m thankful for Wednesday night Bible study for a number of reasons:

  • I get my batteries recharged.

    Satan torments me every day, and it’s nice to get a shot in the arm on Wednesday evening.

  • I get to see my friends.

    God created man as a social creature (Adam realized he was alone and God made him a helper, remember?). Since I’ve stopped working and started spending the day by myself, I’ve found myself going somewhere to be around people – Starbucks is my favorite, but I’m writing this at McDonald’s with a cup of coffee beside me. On Wednesday evening, I get to see my brothers and sisters and encourage them as they encourage me.

  • I get to study the Bible.

    The Bible will judge me at the last and great day (Jn 12:48; cf. Rev 20:12); therefore, I can think of nothing more important to study. I get to study the Bible on Wednesday evening.

  • I get to learn.

    I love studying the Bible for myself, and, yes, I learn in my private study. But, there’s something about studying the Bible with others who have different viewpoints and different ideas and different experiences. It’s not at all unusual for me to have a “eureka” moment and to see something in Scripture I’ve never seen before.

  • I get to learn of prayer needs.

    The prayer list can change rapidly. On Wednesday evening, I learn what other needs I should add to my prayer list.

  • I get to examine my own life.

    It’s not fun, but sometimes I need to take a step back and look at my life. During the invitation and the Bible class, my life and my obedience, or lack thereof, to Scripture come into clearer focus.

I’m thankful it’s Wednesday. I can’t wait to gather with my brothers and sisters for Bible study tonight. See ya there!

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