9 – How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to Your Word.
10 – I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands.
11 – I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
12 – Praise be to You, Lord; TEACH ME Your decrees.
13 – With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth.
14 – I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
15 – I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.
16 – I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word.
Back in the 1980’s a young man named Lee Buono was a student at the Medford Memorial Middle School in Medford, New Jersey. Lee loved biology and one day, he stayed after school to remove the brain and spinal cord from a frog. He did a perfect job—so perfect that his science teacher, Mr. Siedlecki, told him,
“Lee, you have the hands of a surgeon—and an excellent mind. In fact, you could become a brain surgeon someday.”
Well, that’s exactly what Buono did—after high school and college he went on to med school and today he is a world-renowned neurosurgeon who practices in the Dallas area.
A couple years ago, Dr. Buono was operating on a judge who had a brain tumor. The tumor was in the area of the brain that controls speech—and this judge had not been able to talk for some time because of it. Dr. Buono found the tumor, removed it, and after the judge woke up from the procedure he was able to talk again. Both the judge and his wife were so thankful they cried tears of joy. They thanked Lee for his skillful work—and told him he should THANK whoever it was who inspired him to become a surgeon.
So, the next day, Dr. Buono did exactly that. He called the Medford Memorial Middle School in Medford, New Jersey and asked to speak to Mr. Siedlecki. Mr. Si, as he is called by his students, was thrilled to hear from Lee. He asked him why he called and Lee said, “I called to thank you. You taught me so much. In fact, you inspired me to become a surgeon.” Lee went on to tell Mr. Si about the day he had taken out the frog brain—-and how Mr. Si’s words had impacted his life.
Mr. Si was floored. He broke into tears and said, “Of all the people in your entire career, you want to thank me?”
Well—Lee did more than thank him. He went to New Jersey to visit Mr. Si. They embraced—and Mr. Si, who had saved the frog brain and spinal cord in a vial—had it mounted on a plaque and gave it to Dr. Buono. Mr. Si later said, “That phone call changed the way I looked at every student. Before then I was almost afraid to admit to people that I am a teacher. Because of that call I’m going to help as many students as I can to find their passion too.”
I love this story—because it shows a teacher—who was reminded of his purpose—which is to help his students find their purpose in life—-and one of those students who went out of his way to say THANK YOU. If you’ve been a Redland long enough then you know it is our custom to set aside a service near Thanksgiving to THANK GOD for His blessings over the past year. And just like we have in years past—we have much to be thankful for: For example, I’m praising God for our men’s ministry rebirth. We’ve had two very successful men’s events—and every week about 25 of our men are meeting for Bible Study. I’m thankful for our Mission trip to Kenya earlier this year—for the great privilege it was for our team to come alongside the women of Amani Ya Ju and encourage them in their work—while they did the same for us. I constantly thank God for the fruit of our summer camps: the bell camp, the sports camps, the All About Kids Camp—and our RBC Camp where we saw eight children make professions of faith. I’m thankful for another record setting enrollment in Upward Basketball this coming year. I can hardly wait to meet my team in a couple weeks. I’m praising God for the fruit of our 30-30-30 campaign. If you see the posters you see it’s going very well. The fact is we have much to be thankful for—but this year I want us to focus our thanks on the things Jesus has taught us in our study of Rick Warren’s book, What On Earth Am I Here For? By the way, I don’t know if you realize this but the title most often given to Jesus by His followers was “teacher” and our TEACHER has taught us a lot in this six week study. Like Mr. Si, Jesus has helped us to remember and better understand our purposes as Christians seeking to SOAR to becoming more like Him.
I have to mention, I am personally thankful for the way Jesus has used our amazing staff to deliver the sermons on these five purposes. Bill, Kevin, and Peggy did excellent work in their teaching and gotta admit, I kind of like this every-other-Sunday preaching deal! All kidding aside, with the past six weeks of “soaring” in mind I’ve asked five Redlanders to share prayers of thanksgiving—one for each purpose we have studied. They’ll come in the order printed in the bulletin and then after they are done, I’ll give you an opportunity to voice your own prayers of thanks to our Master Teacher—-for His mercies that are new every morning—and for the things He has taught us in our daily readings. So, let us now enter a time of conversational prayer—a time of communicating together with God—eyes and ears open—as we hear these prayers of thanks and offer our own. So, now, let us pray, “Heavenly Father, Hear now these, the prayers of Your people:”
CALLED TO LOVE – Elizabeth Byrd
This morning I have so many things to thank You for: food, health, shelter, a job I enjoy, friends, family, good people that surround me–and above all, I want to thank You for caring about each and every part of my life. I am especially thankful for the last 42 days to delve deeper into my purpose in Your story. Thank You for the reminder that our first purpose is to know and love You and that our lives should be focused on you 24/7, not just Sunday mornings. Please continue to remind us that worship is about You, not about us. Thank You for allowing us to be open and honest with You about our struggles and doubts. Thank You for creating us. Thank You for taking care of us, even when we aren’t trusting you 100 percent. Please help us to get out of our own way when we are worshiping and serving You. Please help us to refocus our lives so that You, again, are in the center. In this coming year, please help me maintain my focus on You and my trust in you. Thank You for being loving, unchanging, all powerful, and a promise-keeper. Amen.
CALLED TO BELONG – Toiya Goodlow
Toiya: Dear God, Thank you for our many blessings this year. We are especially grateful for restored health, unwavering support from family and friends—and the fulfillment of God’s promises to us–His purposed people. Lord, this year I am most thankful to you for bringing me back to good health. I am grateful that in Your timing I am able to stand here today with my family and friends at Redland Baptist Church—a home where we are welcomed and fully loved.
In What on Earth Am I Here For, Rick Warren talked about the four levels of fellowship: the fellowship of sharing together, belonging together, serving together, and suffering together. We rejoice in the fellowship we experience at Redland at the deepest levels. This summer our church family carried my family’s burdens and supported us through several hospital stays. The study, along with Redland’s example, helped me emotionally process and accept fellowship through suffering as a part of my calling—by being willing to accept help when in need and giving help to those enduring life’s trials. My prayer is that I will be more sensitive to people’s needs and be ever ready to support them through challenges just as my church body has done for me.
Trey: Lord, we want to thank You for the service men and women in our Armed Forces. We pray that you keep them safe as they defend our freedom. I especially want to ask You to protect our favorite service member, Daddy, as he trains in Germany. Please help him to study to show himself approved and increase his knowledge in the field You created. Thank you for keeping all of us as Daddy nears the end of his training at Walter Reed, and we ask that You bring him back home safely.
Toiya: Finally, Lord, we thank You for Your goodness, grace, and mercy. Thank You for loving us while we were sinners. Thank You for blessing us with a spirit-filled body of believers that lift us up when we need help. Please fill our hearts with the Holy Spirit so that we can be servants for Christ in all that we do and wherever we go. Thank You for choosing us to do Your work. Please bless us individually and collectively. In JesusIs name, Amen.
CALLED TO BECOME – Matt and Lisa Jenkins
Dearest Father God, we come before You today with hearts overflowing with thankfulness. You give such wonderfully good gifts, even though we very clearly do not deserve them. Thank You for this opportunity to look back and see the gifts and tell You how much we appreciate them.
Thank You for our families. They have supported us, taught us to know and love You, taught us to serve our church and community, and taught us to care for one another. Thank You for my grandfather, who continues to model a life lived in service to You, who has modeled unconditional love and sacrifice. Thank You that now, we can help care for him and can show him how much he has meant to us. Thank You also for our new nephew, Charlie, who will be here in just a few weeks. He will be an incredible gift to Amy and Andy, as well as to us, and we are so thankful that he is coming soon and healthy. We pray that You will continue to protect him, and that You will give his parents wisdom as they raise him, so that he will grow to know and love You. Please help us to support him and his parents, to be there when we are needed, so that we can also be your light to him. Thank You for the wonderful blessings of special birthday events with our nieces and nephews. We have enjoyed getting to spend a day each with Jake, Drew, and Dylan, and we look forward to days with Robbie and Kaylee. These have been such incredible times, they have given us the opportunity to spend time with them one-on-one and get to know them better. We have gotten to see sides of them we don’t normally get to see, chat about whatever comes to mind, and make memories with them. Thank You for these chances to be involved with our nieces and nephews, to support our siblings as they raise these wonderful kids. Please continue to surround them in love, that they will know You and love You as much as we do. Please help us to continue to model your love and light in their lives. Father God, we know You already know, but it can be very hard to make friends as an adult. And because You know that, You have given us this wonderful church and helped us form strong friendships.
Thank You for the friends we have made here at Redland, friends who let us crash their date nights and who are willing to let us visit even when their houses aren’t in perfect order. Thank You for friends who know they can ask hard questions, who are willing to do so, and who truly want to hear the answers. Thank You for allowing us to be friends back, to be there for those precious friends following death, birth, illness, surgery, and on days when they just need a break.
Father God, this church is like a family to us, and we are so thankful for the people here and for the many ways they have improved our lives. The thing I am most grateful for, Father, has only come clear as I have looked back over this year. I see myself now and I see myself then, and I not the same person. I have grown and changed, and now I make different choices than I would have made then. I think of myself less and others more. Rather than selfishly refusing to give up my time, I have willingly and gladly done so for others. Rather than snapping at things that irritate me, I have been slower to anger and tried to remember that there is more going on than I know. I have stepped up when asked, when in the past I might have run for cover. I have studied and participated and done, and sometimes I cannot imagine why I do, except that I know it is the right thing to do and, somehow, it is what I want to do. And, I know that these changes I can see in myself only in hindsight, they are changes that You are making in me. You have blessed my feeble efforts and done amazing things in me, changing me to be more like you. Thank You so much for not leaving me alone in my misery and sin; thank You for continuing to work in me, to make me a new creation. I know I’m not done, that I really have a long way to go, but I am amazed at how far You have brought me, and I look forward to see where we will go together. The thing I am most grateful for is the positive change in attitude and life that I have experienced over the last year. I was in a job that I gave so much of myself to others that there wasn’t anything left to give to my family and to our church. The opportunity to change jobs to a less stressful one with better hours has given me opportunities that I couldn’t have dreamed of. I’ve been able to see my wife almost every evening, and I have weekends again! I’ve been able to share my love of technology with the church by building a network that all of our members can use in the future. You’ve given us land to grow vegetables that we have shared with the community. And most importantly You have sent a stranger to me seeking Your guidance. It will be a long road ahead for him but the hardest step, the step of asking about You, has already been taken. Guide me in spreading Your word and helping him to know Your love.
Thank You Father, for the many blessings of this year. Thank You for teaching us this year that it is particularly the gifts of relationships that matter most, that You have put people in our lives and we should appreciate. Thank You for continuing to change us and grow us. Thank You for loving us. Thank You for everything. Thank You. Amen
CALLED TO BLESS – Dan Johnson
Hello and good morning church. I am Dan Johnson I ninth grader who attends Quince Orchard high school—and I am here to today to share about how God blessed me in the past year and how he taught me about one of my assigned purposes, being called to bless. In the past year I have been blessed by God in so many ways but I can’t share all of them, so here are some highlights. I was able to go to the Virgin Islands this summer with my dad and part of my boy scout troops high adventure camp program. I just finished the last performances of my high school musical this year, James and the Giant Peach—which was great. I’m thankful for being able to finish off middle School with all A’s and B’s—as well as being able to start my first year of high school knowing I have a lot in store for me. While I have been blessed this year, we can’t forget, WE are here to bless others and if WE as the Christian church don’t, who will?
Surely there will be others will, but they might not as much as us. I remember once when a good friend of mine had a grandparent pass away. I got my knees and prayed for them to help. I asked God to help their family and the bless them. And that they will be okay, and as cheesy as this may sound, that it’s the circle of life. And everyone losses loved ones and while we might get mad at God for taking then away from us and we might ask for them back, that’s not fair to the loved one—since we would be taking them from God. Two days later, they were all okay. I also remember hearing a story once about a man who stopped to help another man on the side of the road. When the man stopped to help the other man. They started talking about the problem. As it turns out the man had a flat tire. So instead of driving that man on the side of the road to his house to get tools to fix the flat, he used his own tools. After the tire was fixed the other man said thank you and drove away. The first man being proud shared this story with some people at his church—and as it turns out on of the elderly women in his Sunday school class said that something exactly like that happened to her son yesterday. As it turns out, it was the same people in both stories. That story shows how even if you know you might be late or miss something, if you have the opportunity to do something as easy as praying, or as difficult as changing a tire. Don’t go, ‘oh they can work it out themselves.’ Help them. Since WE are called to bless. So what are you waiting for. If a 14 year old can do it, so can you. Thank you.
CALLED TO BE SENT – Joed and Carrie Carbonell
Abba Father, Thank you! Thank you for being you, for your love, for your mercy, and for your grace. I don’t want to know where we’d be without you. You have blessed us beyond anything we deserve, particularly this past year; and what a year it has been, Lord! Thank you for healing, health and protection through a brief battle with cancer. Thank you for the wonderful staff and providers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center who took care of me—and who continue to provide for the needs of my family and families of our Armed Forces. Continue to bless them and guide their hands. More importantly guide each of their souls to a personal relationship with You. Thank you for the blessing of family. What a blessing it is to be part of a family which refused to be a statistic. Through your grace it overcame a legacy of addiction, broken homes, and poverty and has created a new legacy of service to you, service to this great nation, and service to others. Thank you! Thank you for the opportunity to pass on this new legacy to our children…all ten of the Carbonell Clan.
Speaking of them, thank you for entrusting us with these precious lives. Equip us to lead them, serve them, and prepare them for your purpose in their lives. We pray each one of them will be used by you to be a positive change agent in this world. And, Lord, thank you for the reminder these past six or so weeks that we each have a specific mission that you have given us. We are each called to tell our story, the story of our relationship. The part about how we met and how and why we decided to be friends. The part about how we talk regularly.
Oh, yea, we can’t forget about all those times you bailed us out when we might have gotten in to somethings a little over our head. Or all those times you stood by our side even though we had our backs turned to you. I’m honestly not sure why you have never left us. Thank you! I guess that’s why we have to tell our story. It’s a story of love and redemption; one of true friendship and faithfulness. Who wouldn’t want to share it? Who wouldn’t want to hear it? Give us the strength to never be ashamed or embarrassed about our friendship. More importantly, provide us with the boldness, sense of pride, and strength to tell everyone we know about you, our best friend. That is our mission and purpose and we want to fulfill it. Thank you for the opportunity!
Now it is your chance to JOIN in this time of thanks-praying. As the instrumentalists continue to play, let us all bow our heads and all thank God—praying together at the same time. Pray out loud if you want—in your seat—or on your knees—but pray and thank God for what He has taught YOU in this study. Praise Him for ALL of His blessings not just these past six weeks but all year.
THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Father God, We are Your people—the sheep of Your pasture and we have come this morning to worship You with glad and joyful songs—inspired by Who You are and for What You have done. Thank You for they many ways You have blessed us as a church—blessed our labors to further Your kingdom. Thank You for the principles You have taught us in this study. Help us to remember them and live by them. We can clearly see that You are good and Your love endures forever; Your faithfulness continues through all generations.
And all God’s people said….A-MEN
Perhaps as we have acknowledged all God has taught us in this study—you have remembered the many ways He has blessed your life. And as you did, you felt the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit to give back to God in some way. You may feel led to come forward and publicly show your thanks to God—by recommitting your life to Him—or by joining this church as we use all that God provides us with to minister to this community. You may want to acknowledge for the first time that God gave His Son to die for you—and today publicly give Him your life as you accept Him as Savior and Lord. But however God leads won’t you come and share your decision with us?