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Connect!

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Yesterday, on Sunday, October 15, 2017, Pastor Ed Allen began a sermon series called "Connect."  He told us about a long-term Harvard study with a result that "Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.  Period."  (Dr. Robert Waldinger)

Being rightly connected is the main thing.

We looked at several sections of Scripture:  Genesis 1 and 2 ("It is not good for man to be alone."); Matthew 22:34-40 ("All the law and the prophets hang on these." - Love God & love your neighbor.); John 13:34-35 (Everyone will know that you are his disciples if you love one another).

The pattern for our lives, the blueprint from which we were made is a community.  Even God lives in community, and we were made in His image.

What happens when we're rightly connected to others?

Improves our physical health.

Loneliness kills us.  In study after study, relationships help physical and mental health.

Improves our relationship with God.

Connecting with people helps our connection with God and vice versa.  It's all summarized by:  Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

Plunges us into God's mission.

Connection gives our life purpose.

Church is a connection network.  Our gathering is only a crowd unless we connect.  We become a church to the degree we connect with one another.

What does being rightly connected look like?

It looks like love!

Your happiness and success are directly proportional to the degree of right connection in your life.

It's not about proximity, but about connection and involvement.

We need to grow in our ability to give and receive love.

We are going to be looking at how to love well.  That's what connection is all about.

Resilience - Live with the End in Sight

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Pastor Ed planned something truly special for us as he continued his current series on “Resilience - Living a resilient life!” The service itself was a bit more somber than usual as Tom shared his current battle with cancer. It was a beautiful and holy time. An opportunity to glimpse behind the scenes of a private battle; literally for life. 

Thank you, Tom, for your courage, your faith, and, most of all, for your willingness to allow us to see behind the curtain just a little. Yes! It was a truly Holy time.

Ed then transitioned to the theme of this week’s message. “Resilient people live with the end in sight.” His reference verses were Hebrews 11:13-16 where the writer reminds us that the “great cloud of witnesses” he speaks about in Hebrews did not actually see or experience the full promises of God but only were able to glimpse them from a distance. Even so, the writer of Hebrews reminds us that they were looking ahead in anticipation of the promise; resting in the assurance of who God is and his faithfulness to bring all things to completion.

Ed reminded us that this earth is not our home and that we are only passing through on our way to receive the promises and rewards of the Kingdom of God in its fullness. As Hebrews puts it we are “foreigners and strangers” on earth. Ed noted that, in 100 years, everyone in the room will have died in this world and, in fact, it may be that someone who was in the room might not make it to next Sunday.

While this may seem morbid to some, Ed used it to encourage us not to hold onto this world too tightly. We are looking forward to our true home, our eternal home at, as Jesus called it in Matthew 19, “the renewal of all things.” We are not to keep our eyes on the next promotion, the next new car, the next trip to our favorite place, or even our next episode of our favorite TV show or the next game of our favorite sports team. Yes, not even to the birth of our next child or grandchild.

Absolutely, we are to celebrate many of these. We can even enjoy them immensely but in reality they are not our goal, they will not and cannot make us “happy. ” To ensure our ability to live out a resilient life our eyes are to be fixed on Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith,” the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our redeemer, sustainer and the true end of everything including our lives. Our eyes, our hearts, and our greatest desire is to be as the saints of Hebrews longed for the coming of Jesus to restore, renew and redeem.

I get it. I too get wrapped around the axle about any number of things in my life that appear to be and, many times are, important and may have great immediate meaning. But I find that when I look to those things for the source of my happiness or contentment, instead of looking forward to the Joy set before me, I end up striving. Trying to make it all happen myself and, honestly, that is never a path that ends well for me.

God has been providing a theme for me over the last year or so, one that he has reiterated in Ed’s message this week … “I have this, Ray.” Not condemning or angry but gentle and as a simple matter of fact. And so, as Ed reminded us this week my prayer once again becomes … “My Father in the heavens, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come and your will be done, here on earth … as it is in the heavens.” Come Lord Jesus! Come!

To heal, to redeem, to restore and, yes, to renew! Godspeed everyone. Have a great week!

 

 

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