#30ThankYous: Lightning Round Part 2!!!

Let’s go with another lightning round of #30ThankYous posts! Today, I’d like to highlight 4 writers whose work has deeply affected me creatively, emotionally, and/or spiritually. (And please forgive the seemingly-random numbering–I’m trying to keep track of the days I skipped this month!)

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#19 – Ray Bradbury

Ray,

I don’t remember when I first encountered your work–it may have been a short-story that was given as part of a reading assignment for school. But from the first time I read your prose, I was hooked. I loved your imagination and the way you highlighted the enchantment and magic of everyday things, the mystery hiding just behind the ordinary. I think most people know you just as the Fahrenheit 451 or Martian Chronicles guy, but you had so much more to offer. Books like Dandelion Wine and The Illustrated Man captured my imagination even more, and made me want to be a short-story writer. Even now, I love the short-story format, and I find myself drawn back to it every time the writing bug bites. Thank you for sharing your magic with the world and inspiring a generation of writers who came after you.

#20 – John Bunyan

Brother John,

Your testimony is powerful and convicting, and your passion for the truth, no matter the cost, humbles me. But I want to thank you most for The Pilgrim’s Progress. Your little book has had a mammoth impact on me. Every page drips with Scripture, and every scene reveals truths about human nature and the Gospel. The stories of Christian and Christiana have become more and more affecting to me in recent years, and each time I read them, I am gripped again by the power of grace and the faithfulness of God. This is a book I encourage every Christian to read because it reveals a vault of wisdom and a treasure trove of insight with each reading. I praise God for your ministry, your witness, and your words.

#25 – Tim Challies

Tim,

It’s hard to think of another Christian writer or blogger today who has as much influence as you do and uses it so well. Your book reviews have become a trusted resource for me, and your frequent blog posts full of links and recommendations are helpful in directing my attention to edifying and insightful content. Your books, like your blog, are written in a clear and compelling style, full of humble exhortation. I was particularly helped by The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment and have used it more than once to prepare for Sunday School teaching. Even when you had to shift mediums due to your recent physical challenges, you have still kept your focus on serving your readers (and now, viewers) well. Thank you for honoring the Lord by striving for excellence and consistency in your use of the written and spoken word. Your contribution to the Church should not be underestimated.

#26 – Charles Spurgeon

Pastor,

It’s unavoidably trendy for a young (or, I suppose, now middle-aged) Calvinist to be an admirer of yours. Frankly, it’s almost become a cliche. I’m sure the surge of “Spurge” fandom would be embarrassing, if not infuriating, for you. But if you will allow me a moment (and how can you not, since you’re in heaven, enjoying the presence of God, so why would you care?), I want to express my gratitude for your writing.

Your preaching ministry is renowned and rightly so, but your writing has made a huge impact on my spiritual walk. Lectures to My Students and your articles in The Sword and the Trowel have been challenging to me both as a preacher and teacher and as a follower of Jesus. Books like All of Grace have brought me comfort and hope. Your handling of the “Downgrade Controversy” demonstrates a constancy and perseverance few in my day could muster. No doubt, the opposition you faced wore you down all the way to the end of your life, but while your candle burned, brother, you shined brightly, and generations who have come after you have seen your good deeds and praised your Father in Heaven.

Thank you, pastor, for your faithful pen, and for your faithful heart. You have strengthened multitudes with your work.

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Okay, that almost catches me up! Four more “Thank You’s” to go! See y’all tomorrow!

#30ThankYous: Lightning Round!

It’s the 27th day of month, and if I have any hope of hitting all #30ThankYous, I’m going to have to pick up the pace. So tonight, a handful of thank-you notes to a very wide-ranging group of individuals!

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#15 — Jeff Goins

Jeff,

I can’t think of anyone who has been a bigger influence in the last few years on my writing or my approach to creative communication than you have. You produce great content on a consistent basis (the 3-bucket method is genius!) and you have a clear love for your audience. You’re not just another writing guru or platform builder; you actively seek to make the lives of your readers better.

What impresses me most about you is that you are generous with your words and work. It so impressed me when I not only got advance physical copies of your books to review, but that you even follow up with additional material. You and your team are rock stars, and any success I have in growing my audience or reaching new readers is thanks in part to your great work.

Thank you for teaching and inspiring people like me to remember why we fell in love with writing in the first place. Keep it up. You can always count on me as a faithful reader and fan.

#16 — Dr. Albert Mohler

Dr. Mohler,

Thank you for providing clear, measured, and insightful commentary on cultural touchstones and world events. I can’t tell you how much your podcasts The Briefing and Thinking in Public have influenced and informed my understanding of current events, and your books continue to fill my shelves with helpful analysis of our cultural moment. Even your productivity and reading habits have become the stuff of legend–you’re basically the bibliophile equivalent of Chuck Norris, in a bowtie.

More than all this, your passion for and commitment to the Word of God inspires and challenges me. Your preaching and teaching were one of the major factors in my decision to begin taking seminary classes online with Southern. The rigor of thought and careful exegesis that you employ are an example I want to follow. Thank you for your commitment to the Lord, His Church, and the thousands of seminary students under your care. We are forever grateful to God for your faithfulness.

#17 — JJ Watt

JJ,

I try to keep spectator sports in perspective. For folks like me, it’s entertainment, a hobby, a fun activity to watch with friends and family. As such, I regularly remind myself that it’s just a game, and that the athletes who work and train to put on that uniform are just regular guys who have worked really hard for the opportunity to play the game they love as a career.

All that said, I’m a huge fan, man. I admire your tenacity and your hard work. I appreciate the way you lift up others on your team and cheer their successes. I am amazed to see how far you’ve come in bouncing back from serious injuries, and through it all, you champion hard work, perseverance, and responsibility. From all outside appearances, it looks like you’re going about things the right way, and conducting yourself with respect and dignity. This is not always common in professional athletes. Thank you for doing it the right way.

Not only that, but you demonstrate how much you love your adopted hometown. Houston has had a couple tough years, but guys like you have used your platforms to shine light on local needs and lend a helping hand to those who needed it. I respect that so much. As a “naturalized” Houstonian who has lived most of his life here, let me say on behalf of our community, thank you for caring about your neighbors.

I’m looking forward to cheering my Texans on through the rest of the season and into the playoffs. So please, stay healthy, boss. (And tell Deshaun to slide more, for goodness sakes!)

#18 — Wretched Radio

Dear Mr. Mr. Mr. Mr. Mr. Friel, Tony, Joey, and the rest of the gang at Wretched,

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the ministry of Wretched. I have listened to hundreds of hours of Wretched Radio over the last several years. I haven’t agreed 100% with some of the finer points Todd or Tony have argued (but after that much time, you can’t expect anybody to!), but for the overwhelming majority of the time, I have been edified, encouraged, and convicted by your teaching and commentary. You’ve helped me to improve not only my discernment but also my prudence and tact in how I speak about issues in the church. Your work on Wretched has made me a better disciple, as well as a better Sunday School teacher and preacher. Thank you.

One thing in particular that has really impacted me lately is Todd’s intentional choices not to name names in certain discussions. It seems like the bulk of “discernment ministry” or theological analysis hits either of the two extremes (name all the names and burn them all down, or never say “boo” about a false teacher), but Wretched walks the tightrope of warning about wolves while at the same time seeking to avoid gossip and gleeful tale-bearing. This has been so instructive for me on how to handle delicate issues in the wider church with a mind to what is edifying and what is just salacious.

Thanks also for highlighting great ministries that your listeners can support. My hope is that my family can start supporting some of these Gospel ministries financially (along with Wretched, Lord-willing) in the coming years.

God bless you with many years of fruitful work ahead, because there is much, much still to do.

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That’s all for tonight. 3 more days of #30ThankYous to go! Be sure to check back for more tomorrow!

 

#30ThankYous “Day 25”: William Tyndale.

Brother William,

Not enough people know your story, even among the Church. Not enough people appreciate what you sacrificed, and what gifts you gave to your brothers and sisters.

I must confess (to my great shame) that in the ease and comfort of my 21st century life, I take for granted that I can look across the room and count almost a dozen copies of the Scriptures in my own language on my bookshelf. I even have copies of the Greek and Hebrew texts (though I have yet to learn how to read or use them!). I even walk around all day with a digital copy of the Scriptures in my pocket, yet almost never open it. (I’m all too quick to open up Twitter, on the other hand.)

And yet with all these options available to me, I’m ashamed to say that it is only in my 38th year of life that I will complete a full read-through of God’s Word within the calendar year. Point of fact, there were some sections of the Old Testament that I don’t believe I’ve ever read before this year.

I praise God that I’m developing more of a hunger to read His word. And I thank God for the work of men like you, who have labored and studied (even at the risk of their own lives) to make it possible for me to satisfy that holy hunger by feasting on the Word of God in my own language, along with the notes and comments of faithful preachers and scholars to aid my understanding. I don’t need to rely on a pastor or priest or pope to tell me what God has said, because I can take up and read it myself. What a privilege this is!

Thank you, William. I look forward to shaking your hand and thanking you in glory. Until then, brother, I join all the generations of believers who have come after you in thanking God for your life and work.

–Dave

#30ThankYous “Day 24”: Olivia.

Hey kiddo,

I’ve been looking forward to writing this one.

I know the last few years have been tough. High school and college are tough, anyway; having to learn as much as you can, as quickly as you can, so that you can make these really huge decisions about the direction of your life. No pressure, right?

On top of that common level of stress, you have had to deal with some really ugly situations and cruel people–people who used their words and actions to slash at your heart and try to cripple your joy. At times, I know the shadows have threatened to creep in at the edges, choking out the light and hope you cling to. Yet through it all, you have fought to keep your heart open. Instead of growing more cynical and defensive, you haven’t given up on looking for the best in others, offering them friendship and welcome.

Some might argue that this kind of attitude is naive and recklessly optimistic. But do you know what I think? I think compassion and empathy are your superpowers. 

But like super strength and flight and any other superpower, these must be used carefully. You have to train yourself to know when and how to use them wisely, for the ultimate good of others, and when to pull back a bit and recognize danger–sometimes love demands you do battle against the darkness. But I hope you never lock these qualities away completely. You are stronger than you realize. You are braver than you can even admit to yourself. Your love for people is how you make a difference. You can take the grace you have received and extend it to others.

Thank you for not giving in to cynicism, and for holding on to hope. You bring so much joy and light into my life and the life of my family. You matter, sis. You are seen and loved. And I am deeply proud of you. As far as I’m concerned, you’re an all-star.

–d.

#30ThankYous Day “23”: Whitney

Hey sis,

Of course, I’m not going to leave you out of this.

I’m about to do something reckless: I’m gonna blow your cover. See, you have this “tough girl” persona you’ve cultivated over the years–the no-nonsense, take-charge, no-prisoners, tough-nosed woman who will stare down a charging bull just to make him flinch. Not for nothin’ either–you are indeed a tough cookie, and no one can argue that.

But see, I know the truth. I know that underneath all that armor and all that swagger, you’re a big softie. A softie who may threaten to punch your lights out from time to time, but a softie nonetheless. Like our mother, you have a generous heart and you love your family deeply, no matter how frustrated you may be with some of us from time to time. And you will bend over backwards to help out a friend in need, even at great cost to yourself.

I’m proud of the woman you have become. The way you are not afraid to be yourself, to take charge in times of uncertainty, to expect others to live up to the standard of excellence you yourself strive to achieve. Yet you can also be patient and tender, especially with children. That mix of strength and tenderness is sometimes confusing to those who don’t know you well, but it is a blessing to those who do.

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you better as an adult. Growing up, you were sometimes challenging for me, especially when I was reminded by dad that I (as the older child) had no excuse for losing my cool when you pushed my buttons. I’m glad we’re past that phase. (I hope we’re past it!) Now, I just enjoy getting to hang out with you. Turns out, you’re a pretty cool person. It’s a bummer that we’re now a bit too far away to see each other that often.

Thank you for loving me and my family well, for being an encouragement, and for sharing your generous heart. Thank you for bringing your equally-excellent husband into our family. (I didn’t want to leave him out of this–I love you, bro!)

You often joke about how you’re obviously the greatest of the three siblings. Well, I do think you’re pretty great, so I won’t bother arguing the point. (Besides, it may get me punched in the arm.)

Love you, sis,

David

#30ThankYous Day “22”: Dad.

Dad,

This past Thursday was the 7th or 8th Thanksgiving in a row for us to get up early and join a crowd of thousands at a Turkey Trot. This has become one of my favorite yearly traditions, and a reminder of one of my favorite memories of you.

Almost 9 years ago, I did something incredibly foolhardy: I attempted a half-marathon, despite being extremely overweight and having inconsistently trained over the previous several months. I started out okay, walking with the wind at my back on that tide-packed sandy beach, but when I had to turn into the wind around Mile 3, it got harder. By the last turnaround at Mile 8 or so, I was in agony. My feet were blistering, my hips were tight, and my back ached. I slowly trudged onward, knowing the only way out was through. Around Mile 10, I looked up to see you walking toward me. Truth be told, I wondered if I was imagining it, like a mirage.

When you arrived and turned to walk beside me back toward the finish line, my first words to you were an exhausted, almost accusatory, “What are you doing here?” You said you wanted to be with me the rest of the way in. You told me how proud you were of me for doing this. I couldn’t really process it in the moment, with several sore body parts screaming at me for my betrayal, but in the months and years afterward, that has become a treasured memory.

And in the process, I think you realized you could do something like this too. After all, that morning, you just about walked a 10K yourself. It wasn’t long after that when you started running on your own, and have kept at it whenever you had time, ever since. I’m glad I had a small part in helping you find an outlet for exercise and stress relief that you enjoy, something that will keep you healthy and around longer with us.

So I wanted to take a moment today and thank you for that morning on Surfside Beach, years ago, when you decided that being present to encourage your foolish and stubborn son was worth an hour or two of walking. It sums up a lot of who you are: a man who is willing to go the extra mile (or six, if needed) to encourage and strengthen your loved ones. You think nothing of sacrifice or sweat or loss of sleep, when it means making life better or easier for your family. It’s just what you do when you’re Dave Mitchell. And whether it’s hours spent helping with car repairs or lack of sleep due to working a second job for years on end, you’ve done what it takes to serve and love your wife and kids.

That’s the example I want to follow and the legacy I want to leave for my children.

Thank you, dad.

–David

#30ThankYous: Mom.

Mom,

You are irreplaceable and precious. I know I haven’t done a good job of consistently reminding you of this. There have been times and seasons where I have pushed you away or kept you at a distance as I tried to figure out how to stand on my own feet as an adult. I’m sorry for every time I ever made you think you didn’t matter to me. You always have. I just haven’t always known how best to demonstrate it.

Anyone who spends five minutes with you can tell that the thing you value and fight for above all else is family. There is nothing you wouldn’t do for your family, and especially for your children. And even when maintaining relationships with difficult family members can be a challenge (and a painful one), you still try to do so, because family is what matters to you. Family is what lasts. You don’t give up on it.

When I became a father, I began to understand just a bit of what you’ve been saying for so many years about how deeply you love us kids. I adore and delight in my daughter. I want to protect her and provide for her. I want her to grow up to be a wise and strong woman of God who loves and serves her family and her Lord. I know that Heidi and I won’t parent her perfectly, but we will do the best we can and trust that God is sovereign over our baby’s future. I dare not think of the day when she strikes off on her own; even though it seems so far away, I know it will be here in what feels like no time, and I already ache from the thought of it.

What I’m getting at is this: No matter what else was going on in your life, whatever challenges you and dad faced, you have loved your children deeply, and you have done your very best for us. I know it hasn’t been easy on you, either. We can be an ornery group, and difficult to know how to love. And these days, I know it can be challenging to  navigate how best to relate to us as adults. Like you say, we will always be “your babies.” I’m asking you not to give up when we’re frustrating, but to keep fighting to love us, as you always have. Because we really do appreciate it–all of us.

And I definitely know that as E. grows up, she will begin to beg for more visits to “Gramma and Grandpa’s house”! I look forward to watching your relationship with her continue to blossom and grow, along with any more kiddos God may choose to give us. (In case you were wondering, no, that’s not an announcement; we will let you know if/when the time comes!)

Thank you, mom, for your sacrifices, your love, and your desire to stay connected and be part of our lives.

I love you,

David

Still Feeling Thankful.

Hey friends! Thank you for your patience. Over the last several days, I’ve been busy with husband/dad stuff that always must take precedence, along with a challenging sermon to deliver this past Sunday.

But you know what? God is faithful. My wife is feeling better, the kiddo is still a sweetheart, and the sermon turned out okay, praise God. I worked a long day Monday so I could take the rest of the week off, and today I’ve tried to help out where I could around the house and honestly just rested up a little bit–I’m running on low power myself this week.

I am thankful for how God continues to show Himself faithful and provide me with everything I need. I’m thankful for the encouragement of friends and brothers over the weekend and in the days since, regarding my preaching. I’m thankful for my amazing, patient, and kind wife, and for my brilliant, affectionate, and (generally) sweet-natured daughter. I can’t wait to spend time with my parents and siblings on Thursday for the holiday.

Never fear–#30ThankYous resumes tomorrow. For the rest of the week, I’ll be writing more personal letters for ThankYou’s #21-25. Interspersed among those, I’ll try to play catch-up and publish ThankYou’s #14-20 (which feature a pastor, a president, and a pro athlete). My goal is still to post all 30 letters by the end of the month, as promised.

So once again, thanks for hanging with me, and let the thanks-giving continue!

And if you are posting your own #30ThankYous, please let me know in the comments! I’d love to check those out!

#30ThankYous Day 14: Dr. John MacArthur

Dr. MacArthur,

It’s hard to express how much your ministry has meant to me. I have been challenged by your preaching, aided by your commentaries, chastened by your books, and emboldened by your public comments. Your history of ministry faithfulness stands in stark contrast to generations of younger pastors who have shipwrecked their ministries in personal sin, public foolishness, or prosperity-gospel sell-outs.

If I were to consider the two or three theologians and pastors of the last century whose work has done the most good for the church, your name would be in that list. Your stalwart position during “lordship salvation” controversy would alone be enough for that honor. Beyond that, you have given the church dozens of books and commentaries that have been and will continue to be a blessing and a light for pastors and teachers (like myself) seeking to preach the Word faithfully and cut it straight.

Looking to the future, as the Christian church faces threats from within and without, books like The Truth War and Strange Fire will grow more and more relevant, as post-modern spiritualism and charismatic mysticism continue to spread. With each passing year, the people of God need pastors and teachers and writers to call them back to the Book, again and again. This is the hallmark of your ministry, and we praise God for you.

May God continue to bless you and guard you, so that you may finish strong. And by the grace of God, may you have many more years of faithful ministry before you step down from the pulpit for the last time. When that day comes, one fact will be undeniable: the church of Jesus Christ has been helped beyond reckoning by your work, and God will have used you mightily in the lives of thousands, if not millions. of believers. There is an entire generation of pastors who have been prepared to proclaim the Gospel boldly as they ought, because of your witness–following your example, as you follow Christ.

God bless you, Dr. MacArthur. Thank you so, so much for your faithfulness to our Savior.

–Dave Mitchell