Rick Barton Ministries, PO Box 1155, Gunnison, CO 81230 | 970-641-3583 | firstname.lastname@example.org
"In Everything Give Thanks!"
I was visiting a good church in the Denver area one Sunday evening. The guest preacher was a doctoral seminary student and a likable brother. However, during his message he made the comment, "The Bible tells us to give thanks in everything we go through (1 Thessalonians 5:18), but it doesn't tell us to give thanks for all the things we go through." As I listened, my heart was grieved. In Ephesians 5:20 God's word does instruct us to give thanks "always and for everything" (ESV). After the service was over I waited till the brother was alone and approached him about his comment. He looked at me and said, "I know it says that, but I've never been comfortable with it."
Why does God's word instruct us to give thanks for all things, and how can we possibly do so? Like every follower of Jesus I've had heart rending occurrences where I struggled to give thanks; the tragic death of a grandson, cancer, the passing of a beloved friend, and more. Still, God's Word says, "Give Thanks". The ability to do so comes as I remember His promise in Romans 8:28; that He is working all things out for the good of those who love Him, those who are called according to His purpose. As I begin to grasp that, Job's willingness to trust God makes sense, James' admonition to count it all joy when trials come, and Jesus' instruction to rejoice in suffering begin to come into focus. When Paul wrote that we are to rejoice in the Lord always, he was in a Roman jail! He was certainly practicing what he preached.
At this time of thanksgiving, may we not only give thanks for all of our blessings, but also for those difficult times which have been used of the Holy Spirit to deepen our compassion, our love and our trust in the Savior.
Speaking of trials, the month of October was filled with a variety of difficulties. My mother, Martha, who is recovering from cancer, developed unrelated medical issues and has spent many days in several hospitals. Melva missed a month of substitute teaching with painful sciatica and I developed food poisoning. Our wonderful co-worker Rich Townsend's wife, Shelba, contracted pneumonia, Rich's sister Alice went to be with the Lord, three other pastor friends had medical emergencies, and our daughter Joy and husband Stephen in Scotland had their car break down along with their clothes dryer! However, since our Saturday evening worship service has started studying the book of James, we were reminded to count these trials as joy. What on-the-job training the Lord is giving us. And, we're already seeing how His hand has been at work!
How? My mom has experienced the reciprocal love and care of many who she had faithfully served in their weaknesses. Melva has been able to minister in ways that her teaching schedule would have prevented. After a few days I recovered and was able to cover all our meetings, and Rich has the assurance that his sister is out of pain and with our Savior. Shelba returned home with a good report that there seems to be no lasting damage to her lungs. Joy and family in Scotland saw the wonderful hand of the Lord provide for the car and dryer repairs out of His providence, and Stephen got a better job and more preaching opportunities. When the enemy attacks us this hard, we know that the Lord is about to do something GREAT! (Isaiah 59:19 NKJV)
Ministry Opportunities: Melva and I held a chapel for her family reunion before I passed out with food poisoning. Between the hospital and doctor visits we've been able to share the gospel at two funerals for old friends. We held a music night at Trinity Baptist in Gunnison, began our sermons through the Letter of James on Saturday nights, began teaching church history at our West Elk Bible Institute, and conducted dinners in conjunction with the Billy Graham "My Hope" campaign. The Lord is truly blessing us.
Upcoming: Melva and I hope to take a few days off this month for rest and recuperation, depending on my mother's health. Then I preach several weeks for Trinity Baptist in Gunnison which is between pastors. As everyone's health issues settle down I hope to resume my DMin writing as well as a somewhat reduced ski instructing role. Please pray that I can make the time necessary to finish work on the degree. I believe the Lord has called me to finish but I almost have to leave town to have the time to devote to the writing. Lord willing, Rich and Shelba start their "rancher's Bible study" this month on the Cochetopa.
Family: Stephen and Joy are excited that the Lord not only has provided for their car and appliance repair, but also a better job for Stephen and most importantly, more and more opportunities to preach God's word throughout Scotland and England. Nick and Rebekah returned safely from Africa and Italy, Steve and Annie are active in their church and working, while Tim and Sarah are celebrating their 4th anniversary this month.
Prayer requests: For the anointing of the Holy Spirit as we share, and the boldness to call sinners to the Savior. For the healing of my mom, Melva, Shelba, Zach Rogers, Julie, and Pastor Tom. For new doors to open for the gospel to be shared and hearts open to hear. For the finishing of the DMin.
Finances: As the Lord continues to allow us to share the gospel as well as give away time and resources to those in need around us, He continues to replenish every expenditure. Thank you for your faithful prayers and financial support, they are bearing wonderful interest in the Father's Kingdom!
In Memoriam: Our faithful friend Bill Bever went home to the Savior last month. Bill was a loyal witness for Jesus and supporter of our work. "Well done good and faithful servant"! Please pray for his wife Mary Jane.
May this Thanksgiving be a time of true gratitude and expectation of our Lord's grace and provision!
Rick and Melva Barton Rich and Shelba Townsend
Blessed Thanksgiving Everyone! Thanks for your faithful prayers and support! The photo is of our Billy Graham Birthday Dinner where we showed the MY HOPE AMERICA video with Billy Graham. 35 folks showed up with at least 7 who don't know Jesus yet!