In All Circumstances

First of all, let me just say that it’s really weird to drive to Memphis for the holidays. Annika drove in from Furman University, Mark drove in from the University of Alabama, and Karin and I drove in from Atlanta, GA. 

All of us are proud Memphians and are accustomed to Memphis being home. We miss our family, our friends, our church, and, most of all, our vision for the city. Right now, I’m especially missing my season tickets for the first season of Tiger Basketball under Penny Hardaway!

This week is Thanksgiving. 

How do the Conlees celebrate Thanksgiving?

  • How do you give thanks when it’s not the year of blessing?
  • How do you give thanks when it’s the year of loss?
  • How do you give thanks when it’s the year of grieving?

How do you honor 1 Thessalonians 5:18?
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

He can’t possibly mean “all circumstances.”

Does He really know the magnitude of my circumstances?

  • My wife lost her home, her friends, and her ministry.
  • My kids lost their home, their friends, and trust in the church.
  • I lost everything I believed in and built for 18 years.  

Yes, the valley of 2018 is deep. But I’m thankful for the One who promises to walk with us though the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). I’m also beyond thankful for my family and friends who’ve walked with me through this valley. It’s impossible for words to adequately express my gratitude and appreciation for those who have stuck closer than a brother during this season of adversity. By the way, we’re not out of the valley yet, so please keep walking with us. 

And I’m thankful that our God is a healer. At the beginning of November, Karin and I went to Bend, Oregon, for three days of intensive counseling with a friend named Joseph Dalton ( It was one of the most peaceful and powerful times I’ve ever had in the presence of God. 

In a prayer time during the counseling session, God showed up powerfully in a way that I can only describe as a vision. He showed me a picture of myself on a battlefield… and I’ll spare you the details, but Jesus met me right there and allowed me to experience the most incredible healing on so many levels. 

Please don’t over-think this or be weirded out by it. God wants to meet all of us where we’re at and heal our pain… and He chooses different ways to do that with each of us. This is simply how He chose to minister to me.

Our counselor was incredibly qualified and gifted in all the expertise of counseling, but I was grateful he was also sensitive to the Holy Spirit and knew when to lead us in prayer and ask God to heal what can’t be humanly healed. 

It was obvious that God was healing me in that moment, but it was even more obvious that God was speaking into my future life and ministry. 

So, what are the Conlees most thankful for this Thanksgiving?

  • For Jesus walking with us through the valley.
  • For family and friends walking with us through the valley.
  • For healing from God and the sensitivity of a gifted counselor. 
  • For true forgiveness. I’ll write more about that in my next blog…

9 thoughts on “In All Circumstances”

  1. Thankful for your friendship keep Leaning into the father and sharing
    I’m praying for you and for the next season God has for you., Karin and the family.

  2. I’m very glad to hear of your healing, and I will continue to pray for you all. My kids also lost their trust in the church, and I’m still praying for God to heal them (and continue my healing as well). I’m so thankful that God has held on to you and Karin, and that this targeted attack by the Deceiver hasn’t pulled your heart away from the Father. What God did during your ministry stands, and I pray that God will return blessings on you for all that you have given to others. I love you guys so much!

  3. I miss you all so much. Home just doesnt feel like home without your closest family and the people you love. I pray for many blessings and peace to you all. I alsonoray someday we will all be together again. Until then much love❤

    1. We miss you as well. Please know… once your pastor, always your pastor. Hopefully, through the blogs we can continue to encourage you. Let us know of specific ways we can pray for you.

  4. I go back to 16,17 before I get to 18. If I had to have a favorite verse this would be it. In all times and all circumstances when my mind is spinning or my heart hurting, the Lord tells me the answe to my question in these verses(the question being ‘what do I do about this or him or them…). It was my privilege to have had you as my pastor. Grateful for the update and God speed

  5. Margie Swenson

    Beautiful words from such a loving pastor. You are so missed (even by people you don’t know personally, like me) Your teachings resonate in the walls, halls and broken hearts at Highpoint. You are prayed for frequently and I’m so glad God is responding to your family’s needs and pain.

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