Every church has its challenges. Some of ours include our rural setting and transient population, with a large number of ailing seniors on fixed incomes, and busy military families with young kids. But it would be terribly unjust to ignore God’s many graces.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 reminds us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

It may be tempting to develop a victim mentality about challenges to ministry, but the fact is, God’s blessings far outweigh any challenges. A few of the blessings that come to mind are a congregation that is hungry for the Word of God (and doesn’t complain when I get long-winded and preach longer than 45 minutes!). A gospel that is true and has the power to transform lives. A building that is paid in full.

Other reasons to “give thanks in all circumstances” include a part-time secretary and music directory who free me up to spend more time in the ministry of the Word and prayer. Valuable training at The Master’s University and The Master’s Seminary. Elders who have a humble heart and cherish the same core convictions, who offer their prayers and offer wise counsel. And for a supportive wife and children who love the Lord and allow the church to be a big part of our lives.

I also praise God for our small town that allows local churches to be so active in the community, including writing Minister’s Message in the local newspaper, walking in the Memorial Day parade, and airing sermon broadcasts on the radio. For a Marine base nearby that protects our country and brings precious new families to our church. And for Joshua Tree National Park with its breathtaking views, wide open spaces, and a steady stream of out-of-town visitors.

These are just a few of the things that make our church special, and make it a joy to serve in Yucca Valley!