I’m not much of a slow-down-and-look-back person. Ask me right now about God’s greatest blessings, and I’m likely to tell you about what happened last Sunday or what I’m looking forward to in the coming days.
But I did something this December that I don’t normally do: I listed specific highlights of God’s blessings from the past twelve months.
To be honest, 2014 had its challenges. But it also had its blessings. And as I, with the help of my calendar, looked back over the past twelve months, I was amazed at some of the great blessings God gave our family and ministry in 2014.
Here are fourteen of the highlights—in the order they came:
- Spanish Leadership Conference—In the month of January, it was a privilege to host many godly, soulwinning, Spanish-speaking leaders who are laboring for the Lord throughout the States and Central and South America.
- Winter Revival—There was such a tender responsiveness in the hearts of our church family to this year’s revival. Dr. John Goetsch preached a series of messages from Psalm 51 that was just what our church family needed at the beginning of a year with the theme “renew.”
- Renew offering—In one of the most miraculous moments in our church history, we received the largest offering yet toward the ongoing expansion of ministry facilities. As a pastor, the most exciting aspect to me was seeing God’s grace at work in the hearts our church family. Through this offering, we were able to begin construction on the Walther Center, which we are praying will be completely paid for by its dedication.
- Resurrection weekend—Another incredible moment for our church was the soulwinning fruit of Resurrection weekend. In the weeks preceding, our church family reached tens of thousands of homes with gospel invitations and saw many saved at their doors. The choir and orchestra presented “Jesus Saves” Saturday evening and Sunday morning. At each service I preached a gospel message, and scores of people were saved.
- West Coast Baptist College graduation—This year the Lord gave us the privilege of sending the largest graduating class yet into the Lord’s harvest fields. With the 2014 graduation, there are now over 1,800 alumni serving around the globe. This graduation also began our twentieth year of West Coast Baptist College.
- Missions trip to Hermosillo, Mexico—What a joy it was to preach for Missionary Luis Montano last spring. Brother Montano was reached through the bus and student ministries of Lancaster Baptist Church and is a graduate of West Coast Baptist College. His heart for God and passion for God’s work is obvious, and God’s blessing on the young church there in Hermosillo is evident.
- Spiritual Leadership Conference—It goes without saying that Spiritual Leadership Conference is always a highlight of the year. This year’s theme was “Renew,” it was a privilege to invest in the renewing of God’s servants. (I wrote a few blogs of daily highlights during that week. Preparations for Spiritual Leadership Conference 2015 are already well underway, and we’d love for you to come.)
- Time with Terrie in Colorado—In the midst of the many opportunities for ministry, the Lord has been teaching me the need to periodically step out of the current for rest and perspective. Last July, Terrie and I spent a few weeks at my uncle’s farm in Colorado. The time we shared together of prayer, planning, and just enjoying each other’s company was priceless.
- McKenna’s birth—Another blessing of this summer was the arrival of our sixth grandchild—McKenna Grace. At almost five months old McKenna is a bundle of smiles and bringer of joy. Terrie and I love her dearly, and we rejoice in the blessings God has given us in each of our grandchildren.
- Preaching in China and Korea—In the fall Terrie and I had the privilege of going to Asia to preach. After a brief time with missionaries and underground pastors in China, we traveled to Korea to preach and teach in two Bible conferences with missionaries as well as pastors from across Asia. It is always a joy to serve God’s servants and to see the work God is doing around the world.
- Open House services—For our annual Open House services the Lord put on my heart to continue our Journey with Jesus preaching series and bring a message from Luke 16 on Hell and the salvation offered through Christ. I was overwhelmed and grateful for the response to the message as many people trusted Christ as Saviour.
- Missions Conference—This year’s missions conference was phenomenal. With thirty missionary families present (including many WCBC graduates) and dear, veteran servants of God preaching some of the greatest messages on missions our church family has heard, our hearts were drawn to the Great Commission. God’s grace was evident as our church family committed a record amount to give to the work of missions in the coming year.
- Christmas presentation—I was blessed by the incredible, Christ-exalting music by our choir and orchestra and the tremendous message of the film “The Gift” during our annual Christmas presentation. I preached from Luke 2 on accepting the gift, and the Lord allowed us to see many trust Christ as Saviour both Saturday evening and Sunday morning.
- Camden’s salvation—After the Saturday night Christmas presentation, our oldest grandchild, Camden, received Christ as his Saviour. It was an indescribable joy to see him receive the gift of God!
And now, it’s hard to stop at fourteen. I’m thinking of so many more blessings God gave this past year—people I’ve had the privilege to lead to Christ, the announcement from our youngest son and daughter-in-law of another grandson on the way, publications released this year, benchmark steps of growth in various church ministries, and so much more.
Although I’m still looking forward to the New Year and am still planning to hit January 1 full speed ahead, I’m thankful I took a few minutes to reflect on God’s blessings over this past year.
Now it’s your turn. Pull out a paper (or your phone) and list 14 highlights from 2014. Go.