History of Thanksgiving

History of Thanksgiving

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for His mercy endures forever” (1 Chron. 16:34).

Thanksgiving Celebration is a time to focus on God. It dates back almost 4 centuries in America. Such celebrations occurred as early as 1607 at Cape Henry, Va. Our current tradition of Thanksgiving came to us from the Pilgrims.

Sailing from England on Sept. 6, 1620, the Pilgrims spent two months braving the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea. After finally landing on shore at Plymouth Rock, they held a prayer service and began building shelters.

Nothing prepared them for the bitter winter ahead. Before Spring time, half of them were already dead. Yet through perseverance in prayer and the help of neighboring Indians, they reaped a bountiful harvest the following summer.

In the fall of 1621, the grateful Pilgrims declared a 3-day feast to thank God and celebrate with their Native American friends. America’s first Thanksgiving festival began an annual tradition that slowly spread to other New England colonies.

The first Nationally recognized Thanksgiving Day occurred in 1789 on September 25. After approving the Bill of Rights, Mr. Elias Boudinot said he could not think of letting the congressional session end without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them.”

Mr. Elias then moved that the following resolution be delivered to President George Washington: “Resolved, that a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer…”

Mr. Roger Sherman justified the practice of thanksgiving not only as a praiseworthy one in itself but also warranted by a number of precedents in Holy Writ…this example he thought worthy of a Christian imitation on the present occasion. And the President heartily concurred with this congressional request declaring this:

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protections and favor…Now therefore, I do appoint Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789…that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection.”

Most official Thanksgiving observances still occurred only at the state level. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln responded by setting aside the last Thursday of November, declaring:

“We often forget the Source from which the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies come…No human wisdom hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God…I therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States…to observe the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the heavens.”

For the next 75 years, Presidents followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day. Then in 1941, Congress permanently established the 4th Thursday of each November as a national holiday.

Thanksgiving is not just an American Day…not just a national day…not just 1 day. Thanksgiving is a Christian lifestyle. It is an attitude of a Christ follower. It is something we choose to live – a LIFE OF THANKSGIVING! sbb

Thrive – Going Up the Down Escalator

Life as a Jesus follower in this world is somewhat like walking up a down escalator. As long as you keep moving ahead with your commitments, you’re fine. But try to stand still…and you will find yourself moving in the wrong direction!

The book of Second Kings is about a time in Israel’s history when the escalator was moving down very quickly. During this time, there were three kings who stood out for their Thriving faith even in the toughest of times: Joash, Hezekiah and Josiah. They each have some great lessons to teach us for our tough times about the commitments we can make to keep moving ahead.

Worship Keeps Your FAITH Strong
Joash
repaired the temple in 2nd Kings 12. He rebuilt the place of worship! The place of worship must remain strong in our lives if we’re to swim upstream without being washed down or worn out.

I’m talking about more than just attending a worship service, but giving your attention to worship. Joash’s experience reminds us of a vital truth regarding keeping worship at the center of our inner lives.

We have to be willing to pay the price. It takes time…valuable time, to worship the Lord.

Your Commitments Cause Your Faith to Thrive
Hezekiah
in 2nd Kings 18 removed the “High Places,” – the places of false worship. A growing faith comes when we deal with the destructive and the distracting influences in our lives.

Look at how Hezekiah dealt with such places. He removed, smashed, cut down and broke them into pieces! There was no compromise…they were completely dealt with.

You can’t deal with “high places” with halfway measures. It takes commitment.

God’s Word is Vital to Daily Living
Josiah
rediscovered God’s Word in chapters 22-23. Even if you haven’t picked up your Bible for a while, you probably know what shelf it’s on. That’s better than the people of Israel had done. They had literally lost the Lord’s law.

When Josiah rediscovered and read it everything changed. You may need to make a rediscovery of your own…to rediscover the meaning of God’s word for your daily life.

Start reading it again as if your very life depends upon it…it does!

Family Discussion Question: Whose example do you most need right now: Joash, Hezekiah or Josiah?

Children’s Activity: Draw a picture of a fish swimming upstream (against the flow of some trash going downstream) and put your name on the fish.

Faith Always Comes Out in the OPEN

Thriving Faith is one that is dedicated to God.  What do we mean when we say dedication?  To one person it may mean giving up a part of a football game to come to church on Sunday mornings, to another it may point to a decision to begin giving some of their money to the Lord’s work, while to another it may add up to leaving all that they know to serve the Lord as a missionary in a foreign country.

“So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of the LORD” (1 Ki 8:63 NIV).  What does it mean to dedicate a temple, a church, a child, and a life – to dedicate them to the Lord?  In 1 Kings 8, Solomon dedicates the great Jerusalem Temple to the Lord. In so doing he teaches us some important lessons about the character of dedication.

Dedication means I Declare Something Openly

Dedication is a public announcement of your intentions and commitments.   Many see dedication as some inner commitment that no one can really see or understand. Not true…it is expressed in public commitments and public actions. You know when dedication begins to happen? When you begin to place your faith on the line in terms of public commitments. It’s that willingness to declare to others that add up to dedication.

  • When our forefathers penned the Declaration of Independence, they turned a philosophy into a dedication to freedom.
  • When John Kennedy said, “We will put a man on the moon before the end of the decade.” He transformed a scientist’s dream into a country’s dedication.

God asks us to make “open commitments” of our faith. Baptism is an open statement that you’ve dedicated your life to Christ. Prayer is a way that we bring out into the open our dependence on God. Worship is one way that we say openly and publicly that God is important to me.

Discussion Question: When others look at your life, what do you think they would say you are “dedicated” to?

 

Thriving FAITH Takes the Pressure Off

“By faith Abraham, even though he was past age–and Sarah herself was barren–was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise.”   Heb 11:11 (NIV)

Have you made faith’s great change exchange? Have you learned to exchange life’s pressures for God’s promises? We all live in one of two ways, under life’s pressure or within God’s promises. The secret to promise living is faith…believing what God has told me in His Word about Himself and His world.

When you believe God’s promise you belittle life’s pressure. When you trust God’s promise you trample life’s pressure. When you count on God’s promise you count out life’s pressure. When you depend on God’s promise you defeat life’s pressure. When you receive God’s promise you reject life’s pressure. Is that clear? Promise and pressure are mutually exclusive…they can’t exist together.

There are two common attitudes that push the promises of God out of our lives as believers. Watch out for these! (You can see them in the life of Abraham as he struggled with believing God’s promise about sending he and Sarah a son).

I’ll have to settle for less…..or……I’ll have to get it myself

Although Abraham struggled with these attitudes, he ended up putting his faith in God. Just because you struggle does not mean that you cannot end up making the great “change exchange.”   You can be a person of genuine faith.

Family discussion question: Where do you feel pressured right now? As a family, pray for each other. Pray the promises of God over each other and allow God’s peace to ease your pressures.

Children’s activity: Show how promises “push out” pressure by filling a cardboard tube (paper towel or toilet tissue) with crumpled paper. Once the tube is filled show them how the new paper you put in always pushes out the old. sbb

EASTPOINTE is THAT Church.

It’s interesting to see most people who make Eastpointe their church home come from different church styles and structure. The most common style is a church with a few key people (usually with a Pastor title) who do all the important jobs around the church.

I have never really seen myself as the most important person. I am just Shon. I know it is not the best plan for Shon to be the only one doing things around church.

Eastpointe is that church that is interested in empowering people by helping YOU discover what God has put in your heart. We invite you to participate with your talents, passions, calling, and strengths.

Why don’t more Churches involve their people?

Lesser Paradigm. Like an Old Testament church perspective. If you think the Church should be modeled like the Israelites (God’s people), they had a group of God-appointed priests (ministers) called the Levites who were the pastors.

They did everything at CHURCH – the cleaning, singing, praying, offering. All of the –“ings.”   That is a Lesser Plan if only a few people are doing the majority of the church.

But Jesus shows up to build the Church, using people who SERVE others, give generously, treat the outsider with love, and care for the insider with grace. Jesus proves the Father’s heart to be with all people, to give you His gifts, and He wants your life to bear fruit.”

The way Jesus drew people (disciples) around Him and gave them permission to use His name – to help others, to lay hands on sick people, to forgive sins, etc.

When the Church Started…when Jesus ascended to heaven to be with the Father, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Jesus followers to empower them to continue what Jesus started.  You only get 6 chapters in the book of ACTS to see Pastors need people to HELP.  

That’s why we NEED YOU – because the Holy Spirit is here to empower you with gifts, passions, and abilities to be used by God. We all must realize God does not just use a few select people called priests…but YOU!

But this does not look like most Churches or what most people think about Church. They are still looking for the Clergy to be used by God. No way — the word Clergy is not even in the Bible.  

At Eastpointe – our Pastors are not the only ones who can do the praying, the hospital visits, counseling, and leading people to salvation. We are not looking for a few experts while everybody else is just a common person.

Church is not 2 groups of people, (priest, then saint) but we are ALL priests. We can all talk to God. We all have a purpose to fulfill. God wants to use all people for His glory. Don’t look for the Preacher! Look at your life, hands, feet, voice, personality, gifting, passion — God wants to use you to build His church.

So Eastpointe is THAT Church — That Church that turns common, everyday, ordinary people into serving, people connecting, Bible leading, next generation moving, God-worshipping, lost reaching people of the Church. Let’s be THAT Church.

As your Pastors, we believe in you…believe in God’s gift in you…and believe when you decide to do something with it — something great will happen!

sbb

5 Actions That Make You a Great DAD

Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions as a man? (if you don’t read the entire blog, at least read the bold headings).

  • What does it mean to be a spiritual leader in your home?
  • How do I know if I am involved enough with my family?
  • What are the responsibilities?
  • What are the tasks?
  • How in the world do I know if I’m being a good father or not?

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, there are certain roles you’re called to play in life and one of them is to be a huge influence to those around you.  The ultimate goal of life is to bring glory to God. So whatever Jesus did (give you 5 actions), He brought glory to God by the influence He was to the people around HIM.

Here are 5 Actions of Great Dads

  • You Have the Connections…So Use Them.

I want to remind you that you don’t own your kids. They belong to God. They are not yours. They are God’s children. They were God’s before. They’ll be God’s after. God just loaned them to you for a period of time in which He wants you to parent them. Lead by example.  How you father your kids is how your kids will view God. Help them know God.  Read John 17:3,6.

  • Your Words Are All-Powerful.

Your prayers for your kids are powerful because you have spiritual jurisdiction.  When you pray over your family, God hears you and answers.  5 Simple Prayers – I Pray that my kids will know Christ.  I Pray my kids will grow spiritually. I Pray that (insert names) will serve God with their talents. I Pray my kids will choose the right friends.  I Pray (names) will be a leading influence for Jesus in this generation. Read John 17:9.

  • You Reproduce WHO You Are…Not What You Say.

Dads, for good or bad, like it or not, this is going to be true of your kids too. Your life is on display in them. Take the qualities of integrity, generosity, humility, keeping your word, and being a servant and build them into your life and then your kids life.  That takes confidence, persistence, and endurance. You have to spend t-i-m-e with your kids.  Read John 17:22.

  • Get Your Kids Ready to GO.

The whole goal of parenting is to eventually release your children. From the moment they are born you are preparing them to be released in the world, not to hold on to them and micro manage and control their lives the rest of your life. But to encourage and prepare them for life by helping them serve God’s purpose.  Talk destiny with your kids.  Read John 17:18.

  • Travel the Road Ahead of Them…so You can show them the way.

Very important question: What do your kids see that you are dedicated to? What do your kids see that you are committed to? You cannot lead your kids farther than you are yourself.  Find your purpose and begin to live your life with full commitment to all God has for you. Read John 17:19.

You are a great father.  Take some time everyday to make the GREATEST impact on the future.  Be a DAD!  Happy Father’s Day.

Comment below or send your questions to shon@eastpointe.tv

sbb

Why I Give Online to Eastpointe

I am hearing so many great reports of what God is doing as people choose to put God first in the finances. Truly, when we learn to BE GENEROUS, it changes the way God is involved with our life.

So I wanted to write today about – Why I Give Online to Eastpointe.

Besides being the Pastor of Eastpointe, I’m also a member who generously contributes to the financial budget of Eastpointe. I give more than 10% of my pre-tax income to my church, and I wanted to share some of the reasons why.

First, I believe in the mission of our church, which is helping people WIN IN LIFE. I’m proud to be a part of a church that cares about reaching people far from God and helping them say “YES” to God one day at a time.

I get pumped every time I hear a story about a family put back together. When a student decides to follow Christ or a man who finally gets back in church, I know that my generosity played a small part in that. People’s lives are being changed in our Church.

Secondly, I want to be an example to my children. I’m so tired of hearing people complain about the younger generation…they are just following our example! I don’t want selfish children, caring only about their iPods, clothes, cars, and friends. I want my kids to care about other people.

That’s not gonna happen by accident…I have to be intentional about modeling that. I cannot tell them to care about others and then spend 100% of my paycheck on our own needs and wants. Parents, we’ve got to be responsible for teaching our kids to be generous, and we can’t do that if we are not generous ourselves.

Thirdly, I give because Jesus says where I put my treasure…that’s where my heart really is. Even the OT talks about bringing God the first 10% of our income, and obedience wasn’t an option.

In the New Testament, Paul writes about money. He tells Christians this: “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Every paycheck, we automatically give to our church because that honors God. We want to honor God, even when it’s difficult, even when things are tight. There have been times that we’ve gone without something, but we never forget to give to the church. I’d rob the mortgage company before I robbed God.

I do all of this online. I set up a profile on our website and it’s easy, automatic, and convenient. If giving is really important, then it needs to be automatic.

I want to encourage you to automate the important by setting up your online giving profile today. Log onto Eastpointe.tv and click the GIVE ONLINE link (top right). Then click the GREEN GIVE NOW BUTTON. Fill in the minimum information, and if you want it to be automatic, select RECURRING to have it automated.

Get ready for God’s amazing blessings. sbb

Great Testimony!

We have been seeing some amazing things that God is doing among the families of Eastpointe.  I just wanted to share one of the stories we have seen recently.

We have been talking about believing God for the impossibilities of life.  So many times, God is asking for us to trust Him and take a step believing His Word.  Until we do, we will never experience how awesome God is in our life.

A single mom approached me a couple of weeks ago.  She said in a kidding way, “Hey, I am mad at you.”  I said “What did I do to make you mad?”  She said “When you did that whole 3-month Tithe challenge.”

She proceeded to tell me that she was raised in a Catholic church so giving to her was seen as a “You got to or else” type of religious thing.  So into her adulthood, she has always struggled with being generous with her finances.  Obviously, for a single mom with 2 boys, it can be very tight to meet the budget every month.

She told me at her previous church she had never really given much, or consistently that is.  Her giving was never based on a percentage for sure.  It was just hard for her to take that step of faith.

When she started attending Eastpointe many months ago, she reminded me that I had offered the 3-month tithe challenge.  This challenge basically gives a nudge to people who give here and there to step up to God’s generous challenge of the blessing of the tithe.

She shared with me how she endeavored to keep her generous giving to God as best she could.  But when you have a bill here and an unexpected expense there – it can be difficult.  So she admitted the tithing challenge did not last for 3 months for her.  It was more like a couple of weeks.

But in February, I taught the series on Beyond the Numb3r5.  At the end of that series on how to BE A GENEROUS PERSON, I again offered the 3 month tithe challenge to give God the 1st 10% before you spend your paycheck anywhere else.  She leaned into the challenge again for a 2nd try.

Meanwhile, she had been reading a book on learning how to dream with God.  She began to put a vision board together with all of the things she was dreaming about and believing God.  On her board, she put that she needed a full-time permanent position with paid medical benefits.

So she had just take the 3-month tithe challenge and she was staying faithful with it.  Now, she was believing God to turn her temporary job into something permanent.

She told me it was just a matter of days that God began working.  She was at work and her supervisor walked up to her and asked her if she had checked her email yet.  After reading her email, God had opened the door right there in her company to move from temporary to a permanent position with a $1.00 per hour raise and added paid benefits.

It is amazing when we begin to trust God in the small steps.  They may seem like BIG leaps and bounds.  But when we step out, God causes us to step up.  sbb

Are you living in the ZONE?

Are you zoned in? Or do you find yourself zoned out?

I am referring to the ZONE as God’s “Sweet Spot” of success & victory for your life. The ZONE is the way we can live our life in God where we WIN. So we are free from lack of any kind; we are free from inability…it’s that Blessed Life.

Solomon, the writer of Proverbs and one of the wealthiest men, said “the blessing of the Lord richly provides and no worrying can improve on it” (Prov 10:22).

You have probably heard this phrase before — “I’m Blessed” …but what does that exactly mean? Is it just good karma? Are we talking about somebody who is lucky?

The Bible tells us that those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing. Like God will bless us and No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

Did you know that a person can have “things” in their life, but that does not mean they have God’s blessing & favor. Without it, they will only be “Things.”

What does it mean to be blessed? I love the quote I heard before — To be on the receiving end of the tangible and intangible favor of God. – Ed Young, Jr.  There is both a tangible and intangible blessing of God.

The Intangible blessings are the “spiritual stuff.” We all definitely know we need the spiritual blessings of God. But God also wants His blessing in tangible ways—physically, materially, financially. God loves to bless his people with “THINGS” — yet, for some reason a lot of people have a hard time accepting that truth.

The question that is often left unanswered is – What do we do with the tangible blessings once we receive them from God’s favor?  That’s the TEST we all must pass.  We do what I learned years ago that changed everything for me.

We realize we are in the ZONE when we understand this — “I am Blessed to be a BlessING.” If you want God’s Blessing on your finances, you & I must GET our Life IN THE ZONE. Not living zoned in or zoned out!

How do we do that — the key is “I must trust God as my source!” Your source of income is not your job…your source is God. God can use a job or anything else to get His blessing to you.

The moment in your life WHEN you realize everything you are and everything you have, is given to you by God. It changes everything. If you want to move into the ZONE know …He Owns It All. You and I are just a Manager!

So gone are the days where we try to HOLD ONTO everything that God brings into our lives.  Just because God’s favor brings to you doesn’t mean you are to consume on you.

Open up your hands and be a blessing to others.  If God can get His blessing to you in the first place.  Trust Him.  He can and will continue to bring things your way.

When I turn on a faucet, I don’t really think the faucet is the source of that water. Right? The faucet is the channel that gets the water to me from a source. A person’s job is a channel; it is never the source.

When we live in the ZONE, if one faucet gets turned off, God can turn another one on just as easily. Not only is God the supplier of your financial blessing and the source of it, He is the security.

How do you know when something other than God is your security? Real simple. You worry. Worry is the warning light that you are trusting something other than God for your Source. Don’t live in worry – take the limits off of God.

Decide right now – God, You are my Source. I take the limits off of my life. I am living in the ZONE of God’s blessing.

sbb

Leader’s ID

One of the key things we need to discover as a Extra Mile person is to Know Our Identity. Any strong family, church, and business have leaders who have identified who they are!  As a result, they are confident & effective in school, at home, in ministry, and at work.

John 8:18 — Jesus said, “I am the one who testifies for Myself.”

John 4:10 — “If you only knew who I am, you’d ask Me for some living water.”

Jesus was one of the best leaders on the planet.  He had no self-doubts.  He knew exactly who He was. Eight times in the Gospels, He said, “I am” and then He defines Himself.

Like “I am the bread of life…I am the way, the truth and the life…I am the door…I am the resurrection…I am the Good Shepherd.” 

To WIN in life, 2nd Mile people have to be confident in our leadership.  Who are you as a person?  Who are you as a parent?  What is your ID as a student?  When you see yourself as a business person or in the workplace, what do you see about yourself?

Why is it important to know your identity?

  •  Your ID affects what you do, how you do it, and why you do it.
  • Everything you believe about you and your outlook on every part of life comes through your ID.  Even your relationship with God and others is all filtered through your ID.
  • So if we don’t SEE right things about our lives, it affects us and our growth potential.

The 1st thing you need to believe about you is that you are a leader. Just as Jesus was a leader, so He has called you to influence the people around for His good.

I believe that God has called every Christian to be a leader. The problem comes when you don’t think of yourself as a leader.  That’s your ID.  

Many people think that a leader is a certain kind of personality. They have to be outgoing or a good communicator.  Those can be 2 good attributes to being a leader.  But that’s not totally true. It’s incomplete.

God uses all kinds of people, personalities, and strengths to be leaders.

  • God used teenagers to lead entire nations.  God used the elderly. He used both women and men as leaders.
  • He uses people who are very bright and He uses people with average intelligence.
  • God uses leaders who are shybolddon’t like to be on a stage…rather work behind the scenesfunny.
  • Regardless — they’re all still a leader…I want to bust the idea of what you think a leader is.

A leader is what God wants you to be, and He’s not wanting to change your personality.  He wants to use you as a leader the way you are.  

Challenge — Write down 8 “I am _______” (fill in the blank) statements that define who you are.  Think about your best one and write it in the comments below.  sbb