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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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G'Attitudes - Hospitality and Generosity

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Pastor Ed finished up his current series by giving us a double dose of “G’attitudes”! After a wonderful set of baptisms that officially christened our new “in-stage” baptismal pool (yes, that is correct no more horse trough) and a full praise and worship set (new sound system coming online next week), Ed presented in the last two of his “G’attitudes.” Attitudes that set the stage for Gateway as we engage our community in our new facility.

The first G’attitude, based in part on Deuteronomy 10:19 (“And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt”), was Hospitality.

Something that Gateway, as a church body has long been known for, Ed reminded us that we have always been strangers and “foreigners” from time to time throughout our lives. I know I myself only need to think back on every new school experience, every move, every new church, every new job, etc. It’s not hard to think of times when we have been the “new kid on the block” or the one on the outside looking in. It is also not hard to remember that special person who came along side you and “showed you the ropes” or made you feel welcome in some way.

Ed emphasized that many will come through the door in the days, weeks, months and years to come and as they enter it, part of each of our calling is to be one of those who come alongside and say “Hi, my name is ‘Ray’, welcome to Gateway. Can I show you around our home?”

The last G’attitude, based in part on 2 Corinthians 9:7 (“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”), was Generosity.

Again, something that has been a part of the Gateway DNA, Ed thanked the congregation for their consistent Generosity both financially and in action. Yet, he reminded us that we are just getting started and that now is the time to return to our knees and “give what you have decided in your heart to give.” He also reminded us that if everyone is leaning into God in this way and in this area, that Gateway will never be lacking in Kingdom resources.

Ed didn’t bring this up but, when I hear this text, I remember that the word translated as “cheerful” is the Greek word ἱλαρὸν or hilaron. This where we get our word hilarious from. So, if you want to look at it a little differently, “God loves a hilarious giver!” It always adds some emphasis for me. No matter the form our giving takes; money, deeds, prayer, etc., the joy with which we bring to that giving brings happiness to the heart of God.

Wrapping up the service, Ed noted we no long have to rush out of someone else’s building. We can stay and fellowship … for a while! How nice it is to be in our own home. Have a great week everyone!