All of us have a lot of reasons for giving thanks this week. Most of us will express our gratitude to God for all of His blessings to us, if only as we offer a blessing for a sumptuous Thanksgiving meal. Many take time to single out family and others for whom they are grateful or whose actions merit a heartfelt thanks.
The old hymn "Count Your Blessings" suggests in its first verse: "When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done."
The language is a bit stilted, but the author is suggesting getting our minds off ourselves and on God's more-than-adequate provision.
God likes to hear His followers say thank you to Him. But I would guess He has a little bit of Missouri in Him. In a different way, He says to us: "The words are nice. I am glad you noticed my blessings and said, 'Thanks.' Now, show me you are grateful."
We are at our best when our gratitude for blessings bubbles up into words and deeds that in turn bless others. For sure, take time to name and count your blessings. Let the resulting gratitude prompt you to find ways to be a blessing. "Show me," God says.
Word&Way readers have many opportunities to bless others, particularly at this time of year. We can be better friends than usual. We can be more attentive parents. Or better children. We can be more conscientious employees. We can notice and respond to needs in our community that we normally overlook.
Our readers also tend to think big.
There are at least three overseas missions causes Missouri Baptist churches and their members take particular note of between now and the end of 2009. Some churches promote all three.
Most of our readers know the name of legendary missionary Lottie Moon, who gave up a life of comfort in Virginia to spend herself in service as a missionary to China. The Southern Baptist International Mission Board promotes the Week of Prayer for International Missions (Nov. 29-Dec. 6) and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
IMB leaders are especially conscious of the effect of the economic downturn on individuals and their churches. They are cautiously optimistic that the $175 million goal will be met.
The holiday offering for missions is the single largest source of funding for the IMB, larger than the agency's share of the Cooperative Program, the plan that enables churches to fund state convention and Southern Baptist missions and ministries at home and abroad.
The IMB promises every penny given will go toward funding missionaries and their work on the field. (For more information, see www.imb.org.)
Many congregations also lend end-of-year support to the work of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's missions enterprise.
Leaders say the Fellowship's Offering for Global Missions is what keeps many CBF field personnel on the mission field. The offering goes toward salaries and benefits for field personnel and their ministry expenses. It is the primary way CBF's field personnel are funded. One hundred percent of each donation helps sustain domestic and international ministries.
This year's offering goal is $6.1 million, but the organization especially promotes its overseas emphasis in conjunction with the Christmas holiday. (For information, go to www.thefellowship.info.)
Still another opportunity to fund Baptist missions and ministry around the world is through the Baptist World Alliance, promoted in Missouri by the Baptist General Convention of Missouri.
BWA coordinates a number of evangelism, human needs and human rights ministries through a network of about 200 Baptist bodies around the world, representing about 80 million members. BWA currently is meeting the needs of hurting people in the wake of a typhoon in the Philippines, an earthquake in Indonesia, and tsunami-induced earthquakes in American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga. (Go to www.bwanet.org.)
These are hardly the only channels for undergirding Baptist work. In Missouri, The Baptist Home, Baptist Children's Home, four Baptist colleges, Missouri Baptist Foundation, Windermere Baptist Conference Center, Word&Way and a number of other entities make needed holiday appeals for their ministries.
All are grateful for the support of Baptist individuals and churches. Thank you for being a blessing.
Bill Webb is editor of Word&Way.