Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart (Part 2)

Yesterday I shared with you how grateful I am for my LOBC church family.  Today, I want to talk about the two people who mean the world to me—my parents.

As far back as I can remember my parents have been teaching me about Jesus. Every evening we would turn off the T.V. and have a family time of Bible study and prayer.  They simply sat us down and read the Bible with my brother, sister, and I.  They made sure we understood that God’s love for us would never end and that He would meet all our needs.  After Bible study, we would say our prayers together.  My parents didn’t make us learn prayers that sounded all “churchy.”  They told us just to talk honestly to God sharing our needs, fears, concerns, but mostly to thank, praise, and worship Him.

Another lesson they taught me was responsibility.  I had chores that were my responsibility, and if I didn’t do them, they wouldn’t get done.  I was to complete my chores in the proper amount of time and with the right kind of attitude.  Trust me, it never paid to complain about my chores (I’ll let you figure out what happened when I complained).  My chores were also to be done to the best of my ability.  I was never allowed to do a job half-way.  In today’s standards all this may sound harsh, but they taught me lessons I am still applying today.  Everyday I try to do my best at my job; taking a sick day doesn’t happen unless I just can’t get out of bed.  I believe that my work is a direct reflection of my character, so I want everyone to know me by the work I do.  Besides, one of the Bible verses my parents taught me was Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do it as to the Lord Jesus.”  If I am working for Him, He knows when I am slacking off!

I also learned about commitment from watching my parents.  They have been married for forty-eight years.  They made a commitment to God to love each other no matter what, and they have stuck with it.  They have had lots of difficulties throughout the years, but they never gave up.  Through financial struggles, sickness, family loss, crippling injuries, and even getting older they have managed to stay together and still love each other in spite of the difficulties.  Their commitment even stretched to them fulfilling a promise—they never backed out of a promise.  No matter how difficult, they always kept their word.

The greatest lesson I learned from my parents is to just be myself.  Mom and Dad never tried to act like someone they weren’t.  They have always been down-to-earth and were never ashamed of who they were.  They never looked down on others because they had less, nor did they envy others who had more.  They were always happy for those who were blessed with more and were willing to help those who had less.  They taught me that it is okay to be Bob Pittenger.

So today, I want to honor my mom and dad.  I am so thankful that in God’s divine plan He allowed me to be the son of Bob and Geri Pittenger!  Mom and Dad I love you and want to thank you for everything you have taught me over the years!

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart

“Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings, see what God has done…” Every Thanksgiving I think about this wonderful old hymn and try to think specifically about the blessings from God.  With that in mind let me share a few of the blessings that have meant the most to me this year.

First off, I am so thankful for my church family.  On more than one occasion this year I have watched as they demonstrated the love of Christ to others in need. They have taken meals to someone who was recovering from surgery or to a family who had just lost a loved one. They have helped some of the senior adults by mowing their lawns, cutting wood, and repairing things around the house.  We’ve even had a couple of members give a car to someone in need.

They also reached out to our community to make a difference. For example, they adopted an elementary school here in town and provided school supplies for all the teachers; cooked hot dogs for the parents, students, and teachers during the “Meet the Teacher” night; as well as giving each child a back-pack.  When the movie “Courageous” came out, they raised money to rent out two theaters and gave away over 400 tickets so people could enjoy the movie for free.

They also focused on people outside our community. They collected items for newborns and donated them to the Hope Pregnancy Center.  They blessed the Owasso Home for Children with money to buy back-to-school clothing. They sent money to Samaritan’s Purse to provide goats, chickens, and even dig a well in a poor community overseas.

There are way too many things this loving family has done this year for me to mention them all; however, let me tell about my favorite. Each year, we have a church Thanksgiving meal the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  We invite the community to come and celebrate the holiday with us.  Afterward, we give needy families a basket with everything they will need for a decent Thanksgiving meal.  It is always heart warming to see our church family sitting with and getting to know the many visitors we have in attendance.  It is equally special to see the gratitude on the faces of those who bless us by receiving a basket.

Living Oaks Baptist Church is filled with kind people who just want to make a difference.  They want people to experience first-hand the love of Christ Jesus.  They want them to know that once you enter into a relationship with Him your life will never be the same. They love because Jesus first loved them!

In just a few weeks I will be celebrating seven years as the pastor of this wonderful church.  It is privilege to be a part of such a wonderful family.  I can not begin to tell you of all the ways they have blessed me.  They have been there during terrible losses, great pain and suffering, discouragement, as well as the times of celebration.  They have shown over and over again that they are Jesus’ disciples by the way they love one another and by the way they love me!

So, the first blessing for which I am thankful that I want to share with you is the people who make up Living Oaks Baptist Church.  Thank you LOBC!  I love you and I am eternally grateful that you allow me to be your pastor, brother in Christ, and your friend!