Faith is the stuff of which hope is made. Our life experiences build up, or tear down our faith. Two people can be facing the same devastation, yet one has hope and the other doesn't. If the pieces of faith haven't been built up, hope is empty. Likewise, I find that my faith has been built up by people over the years. Jude 1:20 says we are building up each other in the faith. Tonight I am giving thanks to ten of the people who have influenced my faith in God. 
1)Paul Bolenbaucher - He was a church builder. He planted the church in my hometown, then left it in the hands of a young Pastor, after a few years, to build more churches. I was 13, and listening to him speak from the platform, I was caught on every word. He would talk about angels and demons in such a way that I could see he believed they were real. When I came to his church I was trying to find God. I had only weeks before decided that if there WAS a God, He was so far away that I would never know Him. But, listening to Him call God by name...Jesus, I knew He knew God personally. The light of the Spirit in his eyes lit the fire of my faith. Thanks to Paul Bolenbaucher.
2)Myrtice Daniels - Thanks Mrs. Myrtice for all your testimonies, and faith in God. You strengthen and encourage those around you. I love the faith you have in God's Word.
3)Ray Miller - You have always been a paragon of faith to me, from my teenage years to the present when I see you at Camp Meetings. You have always worked for God. I still remember you teaching in Children's Church in Dalton in the Sunday School Building with the Dixons. Some of the things you said really struck home with me. And, you are a soft spoken person with a firm faith in God. As long as I have known you, you always demonstrated that faith. And, you always were working in one ministry or another. No man works for a mission he doesn't believe in. When I saw you working, it built my faith from a young age. You were intent on the Lord's Work. Thanks for showing me you served a real God Ray Miller. 
4)Jimmy Van Winkle -  You gave me faith to withstand a storm. You spoke truth and not condemnation. You pointed in the direction of truth, and told me where I could find it. Thanks for your messages on faith Jimmy Van Winkle. You are a true man of God!
5)Burl Meek - Your comments in Bible Study are really faith building. You have a firm grasp on the Word, and can build faith when it is needed most. Thanks for speaking up in class Burl.
6)Vickey Davis - I heard you speak at a ladies meeting. You spoke about God's stars. It was just a few weeks after my first surgery, after the doctor had accidentally cut the wrong internal organs. I was devastated with the changes that had been made in my body. But, you talked about how beautiful we were to God. I was reminded that, though I had been hurt, I still belonged to God. You spoke and renewed faith in my heart. Thanks for the words of God... the words of life.  
7)Mr. Tom Honeycutt - I was extremely shy in High School. Tom Honeycutt taught me American Lit. He assigned books for the class to read and write about. He called on me to read aloud my paper in class one week. It had been about the book, "A Seperate Peace." I had identified well with the story, and was stuttering through trying to read my paper. He took my paper, and read it aloud for me. Then a big smile spread across his face and the whole class just looked at me shocked that I had actually written that. He made me feel like I cold write. And, he also accepted my faith in God. He never criticized my objections to reading certain topics, and my refusal to study evolution. Instead, he would tell me ahead of time if I would find a book objectionable, and allow me to read and write on a different book he had selected. I did have teachers who became outraged over religious objections. But, he always made me feel as if my faith in God was a good thing. Thanks for encouraging my faith Mr. Honeycutt.
8)Steve Waldron - Not long after I moved to Stockbridge, I fell asleep on my front porch and had a dream. I dreamed that God told me you had a letter with a message for me. I had "tried out" all of the pentecostal churches in the area before I chose one. I had prayed for God to lead me to a good church for me and my children. After I had the dream, I just came out and asked you directly at church did you have a message for me. You looked like you had no idea and like the question floored you, but then told me to sign up for the Excel Bible College classes. I believe the classes moved me in the direction that I needed to go to have my faith built. I was still young in the faith before then. I learned so much about the Bible in those classes, and it sparked the desire to learn more. Years later, I was caught up by a question and a situation that someone had thrown at me that almost wiped out my faith. I couldn't find the answer. I called you and you asked me a couple of questions and then gave me the answer just like that. You kept me from deceit and false teaching. You kept me in the Word. Thanks for building my faith in the Word Steve Waldron.  
9)Sam Latta - Your messages were always inspiring, and I found so many pieces to build my faith from you. I knew of your missionary work, and knew that you practiced what you preached. You taught me through your word and work that God is real and God is real in us. Thanks for the faith lessons Sam Latta.
10)Crissie Warren - Your grandsons Warren and Garrett built my faith more than you will ever know Crissie. When I taught them in Sunday School, you were always so kind and saying sweet things to me about the job I was doing. But, it wasn't me. God was speaking to those boys in Sunday School like I have never seen in my life. I would have my lesson prepared to the t. But, suddenly I would find words that God had put in my mouth to say directly to them, words that I knew weren't from my heart or my lesson plans. God wanted those boys. He was claiming them right in front of my eyes. This did something amazing to me and inside of me. This experience of seeing their big eyes listening to every word that I knew God wanted them to hear gave me faith in reverse. The way they listened intently on every word, for such little boys, built my faith. Isn't it amazing the way God works?! Thanks Crissie for telling me how God had worked in their hearts. This gave me more faith to keep teaching when I needed it most. I couldn't have done it without your encouragement.
     Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is of what hope is made. If your faith is weak, look at the people you are around. Are they building your faith? If they are, God has blessed you. Remember these blessings this Thanks Giving. Tomorrow night, (well, tonight now :) look for ten of the people who have helped me out when I needed them. It's always nice to have a helping hand, or two!
 


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