Why I Am So Thankful
On this Thanksgiving Sunday, I just want to sit down and have a family meeting. I feel like we just need to pause, on this Thanksgiving Sunday, and express our praise to God for the great things He has done, is doing, and is about to do here at The Point. “It is good to give thanks to the LORD…” – Psalm 92:1 (NLT)
Laurie and I were privileged to be a part of a team of 11, from here at The Point, who were a part of a rebuild team in Mayfield, Kentucky, September 18-23, 2022. As you can see, when someone has firsthand exposure to the destruction left behind by a disaster like the F-4 tornado like the one that hit Mayfield, there is a level of heartbreak and compassion that you will never experience by seeing pictures or hearing stories on the evening news.
This trip to Mayfield was the first we had taken in a while, and I hope it is just the first of what will be many more trips like it, in the months and years to come. There have been numerous disasters like this, including two hurricanes in Florida, just in the last few weeks. We are reminded of just how quickly life can be turned upside down for any of us. And that is when we begin to understand the importance of being the hands and feet of Jesus, not only here at home, but in places like Mayfield, or even far- away places on the other side of the globe. That means we will obediently preach the gospel and co-labor with Christ to love, serve, and heal the broken, hurting, and hopeless of this world.
Unfortunately, we have seen so much of this type of destruction on television, on the news, and in the movies, that it is easy to be desensitized to the needs around us. That is true whether the crisis is a natural disaster, hunger, or the global water crisis. But when you are there, you get a firsthand glimpse into the devastation and the heartbreak that real people like you and me are facing. We can’t solve every problem, but we can solve some.
I think most of us would admit that we are incredibly blessed. And it more than a cliché to say, we are blessed to be a blessing.
With BLESSINGS come RESPONSIBILITY.
In just a few days, many will gather with family and friends to express gratitude to God for the blessings, that if we are honest, we have taken for granted so much of the time. I don’t know about you, but my hope is that gratitude will be so much a part of the fabric of my life, that it will be a standard practice 365 days a year, not just an event that happens once a year on Thanksgiving Day.
This morning, I don’t really have a message. I just want to share my heart with you. Maybe it is more of a personal testimony than a sermon. I want to publicly express my gratitude to God for the great things He has done. Like so many of you, I feel like we have experienced the Lord’s blessings personally, and I want to say thanks for all that God been doing in the life of the church.
I want to share with you some reasons why I am so thankful today. I am thankful for people, like the Mayfield team, and many others, who understand the importance of giving of ourselves by serving others There is a sacrifice when we put the needs of others ahead of ourselves. People take off work, sacrifice income, vacation days, they invest their time, energy, and money, and they use their skills to make a difference. The Mayfield team shared some great memories, experienced great camaraderie, and experienced fulfillment that comes from making a difference by helping meet a need.
Nobody regrets being a part of an experience like that. Whenever someone experiences the satisfaction that comes in serving others in some tangible way, suddenly, a week off work, or a financial gift, or some other sacrifice, whether it be for a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks, can seem so small. I can tell you that we highly value the partnership that we have established with Samaritan’s Purse through the Mayfield rebuild. We look forward to aligning with them again on future projects.
In fact, we have plans to take another team and Return to Mayfield – April/May 2023. Email Jeff Lewellyn: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to be a part of that team, you can sign up now by emailing our Ministries Director, Jeff Lewellyn. Jeff’s email is email@example.com. Future teams may also be forming for eastern Kentucky flood victims. There is potential for disaster relief efforts as well as rebuild in eastern Kentucky.
Whether you can run a chain saw, use a hammer, operate equipment, or just provide a strong back and a willing heart, there is a place for everyone who has a heart to serve. We are in the process of restructuring our outreach team, and that will take shape more under the leadership of pastor Jon Gibson. If this is an area that inspires you, please let us know.
The Point is a generous church that has a heart to serve and make a difference, whether that is here in Seymour, Jackson, Jennings or Bartholomew counties, eastern Kentucky, western Kentucky, Florida, or some other far-away place in the future.
People are needed to PRAY, GIVE, and GO to make a difference for Christ and the Kingdom.
Opportunities like these are essential to living out our faith. If you have interest in leading a team or volunteering to serve in some capacity like this, we want to hear from you.
I am thankful God gave us the opportunity to go down to Mayfield to make a difference. Of course, we can turn off the television, look the other way, and forget about the need. Mayfield was only in the news until the next disaster, but the need will remain for years. Remember when Jesus said…“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40b (NIV)
Caring for the needs of others is a tangible way of showing gratitude for our blessings. When we are exposed to this kind of devastation, and to the needs around us, we realize just how blessed we are and how much we take for granted.
This past week, I was watching the evening news as I was having dinner. A story came on about the drought crisis in Somalia. The reporter was telling the story of a 2-year-old girl named Mallion. Mallion had been hospitalized because of malnutrition. There I am, casually enjoying my meal, in the comfort of my home, when the reporter said, “She has been hungry her whole life and last night she died.” The horrific images on the screen represented the final few hours of her brief life. There is something wrong with that picture.
Some might say, just turn off the TV and enjoy your meal. That is not your problem. Our calling is to be salt and light in a lost and dying world. We have been called to make a difference. I am not trying to shame or guilt anyone. I just want to acknowledge the fact that we take so many things for granted. We are blessed to be a blessing.
Most of us would agree that we really don’t appreciate things like we should.
November is when we celebrate Thanksgiving, the day set aside to intentionally give thanks for the great things God has done. What if we acknowledge the fact that Gratitude is all about FOCUS. Giving thanks is not just an event reserved for Thanksgiving Day, but a lifestyle we can choose to live out every day of the year.
What if gratitude could become a standard practice in our lives 365 days a year? We all have so much to be thankful for. I am convinced that HURRY and BUSYNESS can lead to ingratitude and missed opportunities. But when we slow down, pay attention to the needs around us, and give consideration to the blessings we enjoy, it leads to gratitude and Thanksgiving. Anyone can be a thankful person. That is because Gratitude is LEARNED behavior. Gratitude is a CHOICE. Gratitude can be directed to other PEOPLE, or it can be directed to GOD.
I want to be intentional about GRATITUDE, not just this week – not just on Thursday, but every day of the year. I believe God is pleased when we are grateful. My heart is overflowing with such incredible gratitude to God today. I am not only thankful for the Mayfield Team, but I am also amazed, and thankful for another incredible group known as Team World Vision.
Team World Vision seeks to help provide life-changing clean water to children and communities in the developing world. More than 800 children under age 5 die every day from diarrhea caused by contaminated water, poor sanitation, and improper hygiene.
Team World Vision is a group of people who have committed to making a difference by providing clean water for some of the world’s most vulnerable population. They believe the global water and sanitation crisis can be solved within our lifetimes. Participants raise money primarily through sponsorships as they participate in full and half marathons.
You have already heard that earlier this month Team World Vision raised over $120K for their participation in the Monumental Marathon at Indianapolis earlier this month. That is more than double any year in the past and this year’s team was the largest yet with 52 participants! The overall impact for 2022…
2022 Team World Vision Impact at The Point
(Indianapolis, Chicago & Hood to Coast)
$192,496 | 3,849 people receive clean water!
Approximately $600,000 has been raised to provide clean water since this partnership began in 2016! I want to express my sincere appreciation to Team Captain Brian Terrell and three of the top fundraisers in the state of Indiana, from right here at The Point – Amanda Wolfe $21,476 #1, Anita Reecer $20,020.25 #2, and Keith Rudge $10,320 #4.
I am sanctified proud to be associated with this great crew including other warriors like Diana Nolan, Chrissy Hubers, Annie Ferret, and David Reecer. A total of 56 participants made it happen! I wish we had time to name every one of the difference makers on this team. Lives will be changed because of their sacrifice and commitment.
We’ve been talking about the great things that have happened this year, and the impact that will be felt in other parts of the country and other parts of the world, but I want to bring it home right now and share my gratitude for what has been happening right here in the church these past few weeks. I have been praising God for His goodness, His faithfulness, and so many answered prayers this week
Laurie and I were a part of numerous meetings this past weekend with Jon and Heather Gibson. Jon will become the next pastor here at The Point in 2023. Friday night we had dinner with the Small Group Leaders. Saturday morning, we met with the Kids and Student Staff and Volunteers. Then Saturday evening we had dinner with members of the Arts Department and their families. There were also meetings with the Church Board and the staff over the weekend.
In each of those gatherings, we heard from members of the search them, I shared a few thoughts, then we heard from Pastor Jon. It was such a good weekend. It was wonderful to sense the presence of God as we worshipped together Saturday evening. Jon led us in a time of worship, and it was so right and so good.
I didn’t know it at the time, but a friend took a picture of Laurie and me then texted it to me Monday afternoon. I love it so much I made it my cover photo on Facebook this week. It will serve as a wonderful reminder of a great evening.
You can’t tell from this angle, but I was overwhelmed with such gratitude to see what God has done. The tears were flowing. There was such incredible peace in that moment. My gratitude, my hope, my optimism, and my confidence about the future of the church was truly at an all-time high.
Then came Sunday…Laurie and I chose not to be here this past Sunday. We wanted to give everyone the time and space to get to know the Gibsons. We were online for the 9:30 service. Later that morning we attended in person worship with our daughter and her family. And then Sunday evening, we watched the 11:00 service from The Point. It was truly an amazing day by every measure.
My gratitude soared to new heights when I heard about the nearly unanimous vote of affirmation. I received texts, Facebook messages, and saw social media posts throughout the day that were such an encouragement. Many of the posts and messages had similar themes. All of them were appreciated, but I want to share one in particular that was a special blessing to me.
TEXT MESSAGE from Angie McDonald – I share this with permission.
Good afternoon Pastor Steve. I feel a bit guilty, as if I have been doubting God – questioning what my church was going to be without you in it. Although I know that you don’t go to church for the pastor, I still felt that you gave me and my family such a gift. Hearing that you were leaving, I was scared. I was anxious. And to be honest, I was angry because I felt like we finally were in this place where God was in the center of our lives, and I didn’t know what that looks like without you.
While I am eternally, grateful for everything that you have done and what you mean to my family, any concern, doubts, or fear that I had about what the future looks like, was laid to rest today. I felt an overwhelming amount of peace while listening to Pastor Jon today. I felt so hopeful for the future. I feel guilty that I for one second doubted that God had this all along.
If I have never taken the time to say thank you, I’m doing that now. I am also apologizing to you for putting all of my fear and concern solely on your decision to follow God’s calling in your life. I am so thankful for your heart and your desire to find the person that is truly meant to carry on your mission and more importantly God’s mission in our church. Today, was a good good day.
That message meant so much to me. I have read it multiple times this week and it has been a genuine source of blessing to me. I know some of you are not on social media, and I don’t blame you one bit. In fact, I envy you, and intend to be you one day soon.
But I wanted to share this picture that I posted last weekend announcing Jon’s call to become the new pastor here at The Point. There were so many positive comments about the transition, but I thought Kristal Hubbard shared an especially beautiful perspective that I appreciate so much. I share it with her permission.
“This picture…..one pastor who has been a friend to us since we have called The Point our home and one pastor who we are welcoming with open arms. Pastor Steve, we are thankful for you and Laurie and know that we will continue to pray for you as you navigate this next chapter in your life. Pastor Jon, we welcome you and your family to the Point and Seymour, IN and will pray for your transition in every step of the way. #ThisIsThePoint”
I love that! Thank you, Kristal. There have been so many conversations, comments, calls, cards, texts that I could share. I have appreciated all of them. I wish I could individually tell each one of you what you mean to Laurie and me. There is so much love in our hearts for all of you. That includes people who were here when we arrived in June of 2002. And it includes people I have just met this month, as their journey of faith is just getting started here at The Point.
This past Sunday, Pastor Jon referred to 433 baptisms that have taken place here in the last 10 years. We certainly celebrate all of them on this Thanksgiving weekend, and I am thrilled to let you know we are going to add to that number today. We’ll have people in both services taking their next steps spiritually as they choose to make a public declaration of their faith through baptism today.
Before we get to that I want you to see some highlight from our most recent baptism. which was held as a part of the celebration following the completion of Rooted. For those who may not be aware, the path to membership at The Point is simple. We invite you to attend one of four Starting Point luncheons that are held each quarter after the morning services.
Then, you are invited to attend an 11-week small group experience called Rooted, where you develop relationships and learn foundational aspects of the Christian faith. Once you have completed the Rooted small group, you are given the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding baptism and church membership.