Today I will be spending time with extended family, celebrating Thanksgiving and all of the many blessings God has given us. I hope you also have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

My thanksgiving list this year will include many of the same things that we always celebrate, but I would like to list a few of these.

I am thankful for all of my family. My father passed away 26 years ago. There are many things about my dad and mom that I am thankful for. My mother continues to be a constant source of love and support to all of us. I am especially thankful today for the memories I have of how much my father loved my mother, and that he was never embarrassed to show it!

I am thankful for my wife Vicky. She has lived most of her adult life as the wife of a Baptist preacher which is often a stressful way to live. We are so much more together than either of us could have been alone.

I am thankful for our children, Bethany and Daniel. I have a lot of happiness from the lives we have lived together and from watching them living their adult lives now. I can still see in Bethany the smile that has been the joy of heart since the day she was born. I can still see in Daniel the gentleness of spirit that has so often filled us with wonder.

Too often we miss the great gift God has given us in our families. I hope that your parents and spouse and children have given you joy and pleasure. But these are not the only benefits of family that God intends. Our family relationships provide us the greatest opportunity to grow in grace and holiness before God.

I know, holiness is an old-fashioned word. But holiness simply means to be and do what is right. Family is a gift God has given us to help fashion our character. Human laws provide incentives to get people to do the right thing. But the best kind of right living comes from the inside out.

People give up on family life in the modern world because they misunderstand its meaning and purpose. God created us so that our deepest joy would come from living the right way and giving others the gift of our love. But we lose that joy when we approach family as if it were fast food. A real family cannot be made if you only love when and where you feel like loving in the moment. God’s love is persistent. God’s love remains even when it is ignored.

People cannot have such love without God’s help. But He is more than willing. “For we are His workmanship…” (Ephesians 2:10). We are His family.

Love in Christ,

Greg Burriss

Pastor, Rocky River Baptist Church


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