In All Things Give Thanks

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

With the thanksgiving holiday in the rearview mirror and Christmas stress on the horizon, I wanted to pause once again to remind you that what we celebrated on thanksgiving can last all year.

Sometimes, in the rush of everyday living, we simply don’t stop long enough to pause and thank our Creator for the countless blessings He has bestowed upon us.

When we slow down and express our gratitude to the One who made us, we enrich our own lives and the lives of those around us. Thanksgiving should become a habit, a regular part of our daily routines. God has blessed us beyond measure, and we owe Him everything, including our eternal praise.

As Christians, we are called to give thanks in all the things. Not just the good things, not just some things but ALL things. Are you a thankful person? Do you appreciate the gifts that God has given you? And, do you demonstrate your gratitude by being a faithful steward of the gifts and talents that you have received from your Creator? You most certainly should be thankful. After all, when you stop to think about it, God has given you more blessings than you can count. So the question of the day is this: will you thank your Heavenly Father . . . or will you spend your time and energy doing other things?

I hope you will join me today in giving thanks to God for all that we have. No matter what we must go through today, we are blessed!

We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility, and the contempt of this world along with the hope of our eternal country. – C. S. Lewis

Gratitude, therefore, takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference. – Thomas Merton

It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thanksgiving with the mouth stirs up thankfulness in the heart. – John Piper


Chaplain Dunbar

Water for the Thirsty Soul

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water” (John 4:7–11, esv)?

For anyone who is serious about becoming more like Jesus, this exchange between Him and the woman at the well in Sychar is a conversation to study.

“The Lord wants to draw your focus beyond the immediate to the eternal.”

Jesus’ opening line, “Give me a drink,” may read rather abruptly, but the woman’s reply reveals that His tone was a genuine request rather than an order. “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”

Her response could have been taken by Jesus as a personal affront. But He was not put off. When she asked, in effect, “Why are You talking to me?” His answer took the conversation to a whole new level: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

Jesus was basically saying, “You hesitate to give Me water I deserve; but I am not going to hesitate to give you living water you don’t deserve.” What an awesome way of expressing what He might also say to each of us: “You hold back your life from Me, when I am freely offering you eternal life.”

The Samaritan woman didn’t have this insight—she did not realize what He was telling her. She lacked the knowledge of two things: the gift of God and the identity of the One with whom she spoke. Her focus was on the impossibility of drawing water from a deep well without a bucket. She revealed she was stuck in the physical realm. Jesus wanted to give her a spiritual reality, but she couldn’t think beyond her immediate circumstances.

How often have we been stuck on what’s going on around us when the Lord is trying to take us into a spiritual reality? How often do we limit God to the ways and means we can see rather than remembering who He is? It’s so easy to have our attention focused on earth and glance at heaven, instead of fixing our eyes on the final prize and leaving the world to our peripheral vision. This woman shows us how we often miss the spiritual point.

How often do you do the same thing? How carefully are you listening and watching for God’s efforts to speak into your life? You’re in the middle of a busy, hectic day, going a thousand miles an hour—and God is trying to get your attention, trying to take you to the mat with the full weight of who He is.

God has something better for you. He wants to draw your focus beyond the immediate and obvious to the eternal and less-than-apparent. If your soul is thirsty, if you’re not hearing from the Lord or seeing Him at work, but you want to, maybe it’s time to slow down and pay attention.

Heavenly Father, I want my eyes to be more open and my heart more tuned to hear Your voice. Help me listen for Your true and eternal Word among the lies and distractions that surround me. Keep me aware that the life You have for me goes beyond my physical senses, and You invite me to fix my mind on things in heaven, not on things on earth. Thank You for drawing me into Your presence. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj, TN ANG

A Confession

I have a confession to make. The person you know as Travis Perry, isn’t the same person who was born a very long time ago. That Travis was a very insecure, shy individual with an inferiority complex who could easily be a loner. Now, what you see is evidence of the power of God to change an individual. Romans 12:2 “Let God transform you into a new person” (New Living Translation).

The Lord can take a person with a mixed-up childhood (I attended six different elementary schools, living in public housing as a teen without any real mentor or guidance) and allow him to become an ordained minister. At times, it’s even hard for me believe it happened. I know I would never have been able to do it on my own.

When I was a child, they didn’t have all the designations for troubled children, like ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). If they had, I’m sure I would have been included. I remember one time when a childhood disease was going around and I didn’t catch it. My Grandfather Blankenship said I never stopped long enough to catch anything. Even today, it is difficult for me to be completely still. Some part of me is always moving. I even like chairs that move.

I was in the second of those six elementary schools for nearly three school years, so if you do the math, I was averaging two schools per academic year. Childhood asthma keep me excused from physical education classes, so I missed out on activities that would connect me to other boys. While living in public housing as a teen, I attended the second wealthiest high school in San Diego. I never felt like I fit in.

I was never a good student, and received no academic honors. I was never taught phonics so spelling is a struggle, as is pronouncing long words. I sometime wonder how I was able to obtain a degree in Industrial Management from San Diego State University. I entered to become an engineer, but math changed it to management. I never finished seminary, thanks to Greek and Hebrew.

Even today, it still hard for me to make friends. I’ve traveled around the world, but some days never spoke to another person other than someone I had to. They say that one of most people’s greatest fears is public speaking. Not me. I’d rather be in front of a group than one-on-one. Small talk is not my thing. I still prefer working with groups. I never tried to learn a second language; I’m still trying to learn English.

The Lord obviously has a sense of humor. Why else would He have lead me into people businesses? I cannot believe I have been able to accomplish everything I have been able to do. That’s why I want to give all that glory to Christ who changed me and adopted me into His family. I am a new person.

Bro. Travis

The Year of the King

Between a Sunday whose emphasis is giving thanks and a Sunday when we rejoice in a baby born in Bethlehem, we get a Sunday packed with both cosmic joy and…Judgment! And if we are not intentional, all of the above can get lost on something called Black Friday! Shop till you drop?! It’s a wonder the church can get anybody’s attention this weekend! But we do because there is a loud Truth about both joy and judgment held together in one Person both a Shepherd and a King; Christ the King Sunday; it is the last Sunday in the cycle of the Christian Year.

Next Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, we begin anticipating 2018 and the 12 month cycle of retelling the old, old story from the cradle to the grave to the glory! If there is a beginning to the story of Jesus there is also an ending followed by…..the whole mystery of an Eternal Kingdom “not made by human hands.” An arrival of Cosmic Joy and Judgment; thus we celebrate the texts in Ezekiel, Ephesians, and Matthew all focused on a “wrapping up” of All Things! But, since we are living in between the Times we still need to hear “what saith the Lord” for our current day. We still have to shop (!), make decisions, tend to the relationships at hand, and find ways to enjoy what good things are given to us! God is not finished with us yet! Let us “jump for joy” and “flee from the wrath to come (Wesley)!” We CAN do two things at once!

See you this Sunday, Christ the King Sunday!

Pastor Barry

Demonstrations of Love

“[Gratitude] turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. – Psalm 119:76

Right before Thanksgiving, an elderly man in Phoenix called his son in New York and said, ‘Your mother and I are divorcing, 45 years of misery is enough. But I’m sick of talking about this, so please call your sister and tell her the news.’

The son called his sister in Chicago and she immediately called her father. ‘You’re not getting divorced!’ she said, ‘We’ll be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing.’

The old man hung up the phone and turned with a wry smile to his wife. ‘They’re coming for Thanksgiving and paying their own fares!’

If you’re a parent, you can appreciate the humor of this story. Yet I must say I’m glad we never have to worry about God using deception to get us to spend time with him. Instead, he demonstrates his great love through his Son, Jesus.

To think of God’s unfailing love for us is a reason to be thankful.

During this season of food, football, and family remember to stop and to say thank you. Remember to thank God for life, for health, and for family.

Remember to say Thank you!

It is in spending oneself that one becomes rich and it is in being thankful that a life is lived well. – Sarah Bernhardt

Have a Happy Thanksgiving,

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj, TN ANG

You’ve Got Talent!

It’s that time in the year when individual talents, giftedness, and strengths really begin to be noticed and appreciated. In school work, Fall sports, and election years! Gifted people get noticed! Talent in people, at whatever level, is applauded.

The scriptures, no less, speak to the talents each person has. Deborah is recognized as a leader in the early years of Israel’s becoming a nation of united tribes. Jesus tells his disciples and followers a parable about the faithful use of what each person has been entrusted with. Paul in First Thessalonians encourages us to “build each up and encourage one another.” People of faith have the “talents” to do just that! Young and old all have gifts to share with the community, eg, wisdom, knowledge, strengths, creativity, attributes of all of us being “made in the image of God!”

Imagine also that just being “loved by God our Creator” will bring out the best in each of us for the benefit of each of us! Quite a different way of viewing ourselves with less of an emphasis on competition as our culture tends to glorify.
Be the best that God has in store for you whatever your gifts and talents! Play as though unto the Lord!

Run hard, serve in the elected office, aim for the A+, go long, plant the seeds, be….all you can be while you can be!
Thanks be to God!

Pastor Barry

Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Part 3

Part 3 of 5.

Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name . . . Psalm 30:4

For the next few days, learn how to Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Within Your Home this Thanksgiving Season 7 simple ways


•Tell Stories.

•Serve… together as a family. Collect canned goods, rake leaves for your neighbors, volunteer in a soup kitchen, or invite an outsider (maybe a college student, a single person from church, or someone who is new to the area) to celebrate Thanksgiving with you. Ask your kids to think of someone from their school whom they might like to bless with a basketful of goodies. Start a “giving jar” where you put spare change or extra dollars with the goal of giving to someone in need. Ask your kids if they have any ideas regarding service. Get creative. The possibilities are endless.

•Create. Have your kids make creative place cards for Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of just cards with names, have them write, ‘I’m thankful for Grandma.’ Or be even more specific, ‘I’m thankful for Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies.’ ‘I’m thankful for Dad’s funny stories.’ ‘I’m thankful for trips to the fire station with Uncle Joe.’ This will cultivate a thankful heart in your children and bless the people who are sharing the meal with you. (Even if you’re not hosting Thanksgiving dinner, volunteer to bring place cards even if you don’t normally use them).

•Personal: Take a moment today to do a gratitude list. Write down 10 things you are grateful for today. Try doing it every day to remember that you are blessed with so many things.

Tomorrow, part 4.


Ch Dunbar

Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Part 2

A grateful heart is one that finds the countless blessings of God in the seemingly mundane everyday life.

For the next few days, learn how to Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Within Your Home this Thanksgiving Season—7 simple ways

Part 2 of 5.

2.Tell Stories. Share the story of Pastor Martin Rinkart with your family.

In 1636 the Thirty Years’ War was raging. Death, disease, and economic collapse enveloped Europe in a fog of terror. One German pastor, Martin Rinkart, is said to have buried five thousand of his parishioners in one year, an average of fifteen people daily! Yet under the shadow of death and amidst a crucible of chaos, Rinkart penned this beautiful table grace for his children:

Now thank we all our God

With heart and hands and voices

Who wondrous things had done

In whom His world rejoices.

Who, from our mother’s arms

Hath led us on our way

With countless gifts of love

And still is ours today.

Talk about this with your family. Was this man in denial? Out of touch? Hardly. Rinkart was a person of audacious faith. He knew thanksgiving flows from love of God, not outward circumstance. Share this story and sing the table grace he wrote for his children.

Remember you can be thankful no matter what the circumstance you are going through.


Tomorrow, part 3.

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj, TN ANG

Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Part 1

Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart. – Henry Clay

Every year as I approach thanksgiving I try to take a few moments to reflect on all the things I am thankful for. I was taught a number of years ago to do certain things to cultivate a thankful heart. So, for the next few days, I wanted to share ways and activities that may teach you and your family how to cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Within Your Home this Thanksgiving Season—7 simple ways

Part 1 of 5.

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. – William Arthur Ward

Thanksgiving is too wonderful a holiday to let slip by without some intentional, active gratitude. But unless we’re deliberate, that’s exactly what will happen. Already busy lives seem to be compounded this time of year, right? By the time Thanksgiving Day arrives, we can be so emotionally and physically tired from all the prep or travel that the actual “giving thanks” gets lost.

But the Christian heart is a heart of gratitude. And to the extent that we express gratitude, we reflect the heart of our Savior and brother, Jesus Christ. God’s word implores us:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! (Psalm 100).

We were made to worship and enjoy the triune God who has set his love upon us and lavished us with good gifts. Yet where or how do we begin this journey into the very heart of Christ? Here are some thoughts to assist you in cultivating a thankful spirit within your family this season!

1.Journal. In the beginning of November or a few weeks prior to Thanksgiving Day, place a journal on your kitchen counter (or a highly trafficked area) or attach a paper to your refrigerator. At the top of the page you can write or print, I’m thankful for… Then encourage your family to fill out the journal as things come to mind during this season. Include anything and everything that comes to mind from the simple pleasures of life, I’m thankful for hot coffee! To the profound, I’m thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning. Have the thankful person be sure to include his or her name next to the line of gratitude. Tell little ones who cannot write to simply share with someone in your home who can record it for him/her. On Thanksgiving Day, select a person to read the list or pass it around the table giving each person a chance to read.

Tomorrow, part 2.


Chaplain Dunbar

Come on….End!

Well, the news lately has not been so good. Local, national or international events….not so good. O, there are still many good days and moments with joy and laughter, work and leisure, but they seem dulled by violence, tragedy, and death. Innocence seems to come to a close a lot earlier in life than in The Good Old Days (which is what we all, of a certain age, look back to and then realize….really didn’t exist!). Since we live in a Super Information Age, we find out quickly about all the misery and suffering from the East to the West.

With this in mind, we get scripture this Sunday which points to both the bad and the good in the Day of the Lord (Amos), the “Rapture” (First Thessalonians), and The Wise and Foolish at The Final Wedding Feast (Matthew). The bible is both realistic in how it sees the suffering and evil in the world, and the wonderful hope that God will end that suffering and evil. The bible is about us staying alert, waiting, and participating in what God is doing and God will do. We can sleep…or stay alert. We can be Wise….or we can be Foolish. We can grow in faith….or we can be “content” to stay the same, but miss out on God’s call to be an ongoing New Creation in Christ!

I admit that having lived long enough to have gone through probably over ten predictions of the End of the World; I am weary of End Time “prophets.” I am NOT weary of seeing God continue to bring forth faithful people in spite of gloom and doom. People who “persevere to the end,” people who “are not just hearers of the Word, but are doers of the Word” as well!

This is the greatness of faith: we believe and experience God Now, to the End, and Beyond.

Praise be to God on Sunday and beyond! See you Sunday and beyond!

Pastor Barry