To WHOM is your thanksgiving?

No doubt the vast majority of Americans are, in some way or another, celebrating Thanksgiving today. We are giving thanks for various people and various blessings, whether we talk about them while we sit around the table together, share about them through social media, or remind ourselves of them in our own hearts and minds.

When you “give thanks,” though, to whom is your thanksgiving? Sure, you might be thankful for your spouse, for your family, for your friends, etc., but to whom are you thankful?

Generally, we give thanks to someone who has done something beneficial for us. For example, on a typical evening I certainly ought to give thanks to my wife for a delicious supper, for a clean house, and for the seemingly constant care she provides for our children. All of us ought to be able to think of people not only for whom we are thankful but also to whom we give thanks.

Most importantly for followers of Jesus Christ, of course, is our thanksgiving to God. Everything good we have is from Him and for His glory.

On Thanksgiving (and always) we ought not only to say, “I am thankful for ________.” We also ought to be saying, “Thanks be to God for ________.” And, at the top of that list should be resurrection life.

Lord willing, during our worship service with Richland Baptist Church Sunday morning, I will be preaching on “The Victory of Discipleship” from Mark 16:1-8. As I have been studying this passage of Scripture this week, I cannot help but think we do not rejoice and give thanks to God nearly enough for the victory that was and is won by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

If not for this victory of discipleship, my grief over the physical death of my dad (seen in the picture above teaching my sister Steph how to cut the turkey in 2013) would be too much to bear. If not for this victory, our lives would be hopeless. If not for this victory, we would ultimately have nothing for which to be thankful.

The victory over sin and death is the most important thing that has ever happened, and so God is the most important One to whom we need to give thanks.

Is your mind set on truly seeking and thanking Him, or are you more set on yourself? Are you intent about honoring Him, or are you more concerned about getting honored?

Seems like I have heard multiple people say (and I agree completely): the more life is all about you, the more miserable you are. May the Lord help us have the right focus and the right thanksgiving!

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Understanding: Essential but Limited

Although Silas learned how to ride a bike a few years ago, he did something new a couple weeks ago – he rode an adult-sized bike. Clearly, Silas already understood how to ride a bike. And, with a little explanation and demonstration, he was able to understand how to use those same skills to ride a much bigger bike than the one which he is accustomed to riding.

In order for Silas to actually successfully ride that bigger bike, though, he had to not only understand that it was possible; he had to embrace the task.

Similarly but in a much more important way, we must both understand and embrace the message of the gospel. We must understand who Jesus is and what it means to be His disciple, and we must choose to follow Him (to embrace who He is and what He has called us to be and do).

During our worship service this morning with Richland Baptist Church, I preached on “The Message of Discipleship” from Mark 8:27 – 9:1. Will you consider both seeking to understand and choosing to embrace the message? It all begins HERE.

Below is a one-minute video of Silas riding Grandma Jo’s bike (and Micah trying to tag along on a trike).

Off to Guatemala

Tomorrow morning, Noah and I, along with 15 other followers of Jesus, will be heading to Guatemala for a one-week mission trip. While there, we will be serving the children of Casa De Mi Padre, an orphanage ministry of Child Rescue. Also, we will be serving alongside a couple churches to do street evangelism, outreach in the local schools, ministry in a local hospital, and more.

Will you please be in prayer for our team? Lord willing, we will be gone June 1-8. Please pray that God will receive all the glory and use us for the sake of honoring His name, blessing those we are going to serve, growing in our faith and advancing His gospel. Thank you!

Casa De Mi Padre kids and staff

Thankless Heroes

Richland Baptist Church TeamKID Preschool
Richland Baptist Church
TeamKID Preschool

Churches often recognize a sermon that is preached, a meal that is served, a baptism that is performed, a Bible study that is led and other visible ministries. What often goes overlooked, though, is the ministry that so many faithful servants have with children, particularly preschool children. Children that age obviously don’t think to thank their teachers and leaders. Most of the church never knows what goes on in the nursery and preschool room – how thankless the ministry can be, how exhausting it is, how few people volunteer to help, and how much time leaders spend preparing while knowing that most of the kids will pay little attention to the teacher’s efforts.

I believe, though, that volunteers who work with our children and youth are the unsung heroes of the church. They are in the basement (both literally in our church building and figuratively), but their ministry is of a critically high calling. Praise God for them! They are more superheroes than I as a pastor will ever be.

I am particularly thankful for Marsha and Katie – the two women who are with our church’s preschoolers every single Sunday morning during Family Groups, at least one Sunday morning each month during worship, every Wednesday evening during adult prayer meeting and Bible study, and even many Sunday evenings during Life on Mission. In fact, not only do they do this as a ministry for the church, but they are also mothers to preschoolers.

My wife, Marsha, is a stay-at-home mother. That means she’s used to all this, right? “It should be easy for her to spend most of her church ministry time with her two youngest children and other children their age.”

Sadly, I’ve heard comments like that before. I can’t recall a time, though, when I’ve heard people thanking my wife for serving the preschoolers or serving in the nursery. Now, in fairness, I trust there are people who do thank her, as we have the privilege of being part of an amazing church family that is very gracious and loving. Because I don’t hear appreciation for those serving “in the basement,” though, I’m honestly afraid to ask my wife if she feels appreciated. I know I appreciate her and tell her that, but I don’t tell her nearly enough. Do I thank her each time she leaves the edifying adult conversations in the foyer or fellowship hall in order to go downstairs with sometimes unruly children? No. Instead, I take her for granted.

I fear there are many more who take her and the other unsung heroes in our church for granted, too. This is probably the case in most churches. Next time you drop your kids off in the nursery, in a Sunday School room, or in the youth area, be sure to thank the leader(s). Then, when you go to pick up your children, be sure to thank the leader(s) again. Write them notes of encouragement. Make sure they realize how much you appreciate their sacrifice.

Of course, there are many thankless ministries in our church and in every church. We as Christians need to do a better job of showing our appreciation and encouraging those who serve the Lord by serving His church. “God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:24b-26).

While I and many like me do not show our appreciation like we should, God will reward these faithful servants for their sacrifice and faithfulness. Let’s do better, though. Let’s be thankful and show our appreciation. Not sure if you’ve shown enough appreciation? Then show some more. Let’s err on the side of being abundantly appreciative, not secretly thankful.

FALLing behind

Mineola Baptist Fish Fry 2013
Mineola Baptist Fish Fry 2013
Members worked hard this past Saturday to fry a ton of fish and make a ton of food in order to serve the community. It was a blessing to be a part of it!

Well, summer is over and so, apparently, is my ability to keep up with DrakeCity. This is the last day of September, and yet this is DrakeCity’s first September post. Sorry.

I’d say the lack of posts are due to our busy schedule, but that would mean DrakeCity would never be updated. Rather, I just have not prioritized our website. Instead, I’ve attempted to keep up with posting pictures via social media and been somewhat “regular” in tweeting.

Of course, those of you who receive our email prayer updates are able to keep up with us much better. We certainly appreciate and thank you for your prayers!

While we are walking through an uncertain time (regarding our future) in our lives right now, we trust and know the Lord Jesus Christ has His perfect plan in place. We want to be where He wants us to be, and we want to do what He wants us to do. Most importantly, we want to be who He wants us to be – faithful hearers and doers of His Word.

Please pray that we will honor God as a family and seek Him above all else. May His name be made great in the Drake household and be made known in all the world!

A “cooler” haircut

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Before

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After

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Kelvin decided that before returning to America tomorrow he wanted to lose the afro. We looked for a Turkish barber, but they were all closed for the breaking-fast meal. Thus, Kelvin bravely allowed me to cut his hair. Fun times here in Istanbul.