Building CommUNITY p2 [v69]

NOVEMBER 2004

BETTER TOGETHER—We Americans  ‘love’ our independence—our country was even ‘founded’ on it.  We love it so much that we write songs about it…you know, “I got to be me,”  “I did it my way,” and  “I don’t need anybody to tell me what it’s all about.”

We have been taught that “happiness” is the result of independence and that if we’re financially and relationally independent—independent in every way—then we will be the happiest. Yet, as a culture, we have never had more unhappy people—and the suicide rate continues to go up. Why? Because, the truth is, happiness does not come from being independent, isolated, living your life with all the barriers up, or putting on all the masks and keeping people at an arm’s distance. Happiness comes from interdependence—from being in ‘COMMUNITY’.

We need each other—and we just don’t realize how much, since we have all been ‘taught’ that independence is the most important characteristic anyone can possess.

Last year I talked to you about the “Purpose-Driven Life” book ( http://www.spiritedesign.com/pdl ) and the “purposes” it sited of why we are here on this earth.

Well, let me suggest to you a bigger ‘idea’—none of us can fulfill any of those purposes on our own! We are all ‘wired’ in such a way that we can only FULFILL THE PURPOSES for our lives in community—in relationship to each other.

So why do we ‘need’ each other? Let me give you five reasons why you need to be a part of a ‘community’, and get to know people on a deeper ‘level’ than just casual acquaintance.

Firstly, since life a ‘journey’, we don’t even know all the ‘stuff’ to pack, let alone be able to ‘carry’ it all—so, we need others to ‘WALK’ with us—to help us along the ‘path’ of life.

We were never intended to walk through life alone. For one, it’s ‘safer’—here’s always safety in numbers. It’s a whole lot less risky to walk through a ‘dark alley’ or an unfamiliar place, especially at night, with a few other friends, than it would be alone (unless you’re Bruce Lee, Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, or Neo).

It’s also ‘supportive’—it keeps you from giving up. When other people are ‘walking’ with you, they keep you going. Have you ever run/walked a race where, all of a sudden, you get a ‘stitch’ in your side and you want to give up? If other people are with you, they will encourage you keep on going. There’s an old Zambian proverb, “When you run alone, you run fast. But when you run together, you run far.” Life is not a 50-yard dash—it is a ‘marathon’— and you want to run far.

As I mentioned last month, geese fly in V-formation. The reason they do is that they can fly farther in that formation because it creates an updraft and they don’t get as tired when they fly together.  So, when we ‘fly’ through life together, we’re a whole lot less tired.

It’s also a ‘smarter’ to be together. You’ll learn a whole lot more, and there will be someone to tell you that you may be walking in the wrong ‘direction’.

Another thing that you will learn by going through life with a few intimate friends that you wouldn’t learn any other way, is cooperation and how to get along. If you remember, one of those “purposes” for us here on earth is to learn to love other people—and you can’t do that alone.

To be a part of a community is also the ‘answer’ to loneliness. We need a few people in our lives that we know really well, and they know us really well. We all need a ‘place’—a group—where we can ‘practice’ relationships and really learn to love.

Do you realize that in every human being’s heart there is a longing for belonging? Everybody wants relationships—nobody wants to be lonely. That’s why solitary confinement is the worst form of ‘punishment’.  That’s also the reason why people join all sorts of ’causes’—just to belong to something. They’re looking for an opportunity to get to know other people—to ‘connect’.

The second reason one needs community is that we all need others to WATCH OUT for us. We need people who will defend us, who will protect us, who will stand up for us, and who will help us stay on ‘track’.

Have you ever seen any of these “Neighborhood Watch” signs? That’s a sign of community. It says that they watch out for each other there—they take care of each other. If you went on vacation this summer and you were gone for a week or two, you probably asked your neighbor to ‘look out’ for your stuff. Because we all want our ‘stuff’ looked after.

Well, let me ask you, do you have anybody looking out for your soul? Because your soul is more important than your stuff. Is there anybody who is helping you out in your spiritual journey? Is there anybody in your life who is so close that they are helping you and making sure you don’t fall into the typical traps that mess us up? If you don’t have that person, I ‘strongly suggest’ you get one since right now you’ve got a big ‘bull’s eye’ on your back for the devil to ‘aim’ at.

Here’s another question: Who’s back are you watching out for? You can’t expect anybody to watch out for you if you’re not watching out for anybody else. If you care enough about anybody else, you’ll say, “You know what, I’m going to be with you through thick and thin.” Just like an experienced mountain climber knows, you never go by yourself—never. You take a buddy with you because you never know what’s going to happen. Similarly, it would be ‘disastrous’ to go through life by yourself.

The third reason we need community is that we need others not just to ‘walk’ with us but to WORK with us—we always get more done by working with other people.

Nobody’s good at everything. So, the ‘key’ is that we need people in our lives that are strong at the things we’re weak at. Everybody has a role to play—and we do it BETTER TOGETHER.

You see, together, each of us can make a difference if we each just do a little part—just a little something—but with a few people, you can make a big impact! Just like snowflakes—one or two aren’t much of a worry, but when there’s a bunch of them together, they can stop traffic!

The fourth reason for community is to WAIT and WEEP with us. What am I talking about here? We need people who are going to be there in the inevitable crises of life. When we’re waiting for the bad news or when we’re ‘weeping’—when we get the bad news—we need people in our life.

Nobody should ever have to sit alone in a hospital, waiting during a life or death surgery. No woman should have to wait alone while she’s waiting back for a lab test from a problem pregnancy. No one should ever have to wait for the news from the battlefield alone. No one should ever have to sit in the home, waiting for the coroner to identify the body of a loved one who just had a heart attack. No one should ever have to stand at an open grave alone. We shouldn’t have to wait alone.

We were not meant to face the crises of life alone. The fact is some of these things are going to happen in our lives—and only a fool would go through life unprepared for what they know is inevitably going to happen. We all need a support ‘network’ in our lives, because we don’t know when the crisis is going to come—when the ‘earthquake’ is going to happen. We all need a ‘group’ of five or six people in our lives who are going to be there when we need them—and the time to prepare for these ‘inevitabilities’ is now.

Lastly, I need community so that others can WITNESS with us. What does that mean? Well, one of the “purposes” for your life (  http://www.spiritedesign.com/pdl — Click on “PURPOSE #5,” then select “CHAPTER 37”) is to tell others about how your “faith” has helped you ‘through’ life—and if you don’t share it, it will not be able to help others through their ‘times’ of crisis. Your faith should be the ‘main’ reason you do what you do.

Now that’s kind of scary sometimes, sharing your life ‘message’ with the world. That’s why you need other people in your life—and there’s great ‘power’ in a group witness—and the best way to show this to the ‘world ‘ is to love one another.

I am sure that you have heard the saying, “People don’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In the Bible, the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians,  “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Paul’s definition of love was based on the words Jesus spoke to His disciples on the night before He died on the cross. Seated around the “Last Supper” table in some “upper room” in Jerusalem he said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”[John 13:34-35].

Love is the key attribute of those who ‘belong’ to the Kingdom of God, love is what God is in His essence, and love is what God the Father revealed to us in Jesus Christ.

While Jesus was on this earth, He taught many things—but none more important than the concept of ‘love’. Primarily, He taught that He was the “source” of our love—and He will “pour out His love” into our hearts as we ‘strive’ to receive it.

Jesus also taught that He should be our “model” for ‘love’—showing us how to be “tender,” “tough,” “truthful,” and “sacrificial.”

Are you willing to “sacrifice” a bit, to be ‘uncomfortable’; to take a ‘risk’; to put yourself ‘out; or to invest your time and riches if that’s what is required to SHOW LOVE to someone else? Jesus ‘performed’ the ultimate example of sacrificial love, but dying on the cross and ‘absorbing’ the punishment that we all deserve—so that we could be forgiven, ‘right’ with God, and ‘possess’ the gift of eternal life!

So, if you consider yourself a “Christian,” does your faith in Jesus make a ‘difference’ in your everyday life? Do you demonstrate it with ‘practical’ expressions of the tremendous love Jesus has shown to you? Remember, Jesus said that, “All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (as yourself).

If you are not a Christian, let me encourage you to investigate the ‘person’ of Jesus. Consider the ‘example’ of love and community He showed, and more importantly, the claim that He was God ‘incarnate’—it could entirely change what you define as “community.”

We all need each other. We need others to “walk” with us, to “work” with us, to “watch out” for us, to “wait” for us, to “weep” with us, and to “witness” with us.

I want to encourage you to really, really, really, get ‘connected’ in to a community—consider it to be your own ‘DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE’.

[Excerpts from: Ken Larson; Rick Warren; Lance Witt ]

P.S. If you would like to investigate further what it really means to “experience life together in community,” visit the following link:  http://www.spiritedesign.com/pdl — Click on “PURPOSE #2, then select CHAPTER 17 or 18).

Blessings…Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v69) for NOVEMBER 2004
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

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“ANGEL TREE”
The ‘project’ our “40 Days of Community” group has decided to do deals with delivering gifts of ‘love’ and a ‘message’ of hope to children of prisoners.

Angel Tree gives people an opportunity to share love by helping to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the families of prisoners. Participating in Angel Tree is a powerful way for your community to lovingly ‘minister’ to some of the most overlooked members of our culture.

Angel Tree works by connecting parents in prison with their children through the delivery of Christmas gifts. In most cases, volunteers purchase and deliver gifts and a ‘message of hope’ to children in the name of their prisoner-parent.

Contact me if you are interested in more information about this program, or visit the link below (especially if you are in another state):

http://www.angeltree.org/site_hmpg.asp

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HOW TO ‘BUILD’ OF COMMUNITY:

– Create a “small group”
– Be intentional
– Offer hospitality
– Show acceptance
– Build friendships
– Give practical help
– Admit your need for one another
– Commit to one another
– Respect one another
– Support one another
– Get along with one another
– Be patient with one another
– Be honest with one another
– Encourage one another
– Warn one another
– Confess to one another
– Forgive one another
– Serve one another
– Be generous to one another
– Be humble with one another
– Use your talents for one another
– Sacrifice for one another
– Cooperate with one another
[Rick Warren; “Better Together” workbook]

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DEEP THOUGHT:
Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some people will ever read.

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Last month I started talking about “building community” and that great civilizations have “progressed” when accompanied by a “unified effort.”

On November 2nd you can be a part of an effort to determine the ‘direction’ of our country’s ‘progress’ by VOTING YOUR CONSCIENCE. This has been said to be the MOST IMPORTANT election in the past 50 years, and as a citizen, it should also be important to you!

As you ‘prepare’ yourself to vote, consider the following issues—they have been said to be some of the most significant facing America today—and will determine of ‘direction’ of our country for the next 40 years!!

– Sanctity of Life: Abortion, Euthanasia, Cloning, and “Embryonic” stem cell research.
– Terrorism: Strengthening America’s homeland security and the spread of “radical” Islam.
– Marriage: What the definition of marriage and the family is.
– Judiciary Roles: Restoring the constitutional role of the Supreme Court and restricting judicial activism.
– Education: Improving education and promoting choices within the educational system.
– Religious Liberty: Defending the freedom of religious expression.
– Marginalized Citizens: Caring for the poor and preserving health care for the elderly and disabled.
– Media: Challenging the negative impact of the mass media on culture—like pornography, sexual exploitation, and gratuitous violence.

The U.S. election of 2000 was a clear reminder that EVERY VOTE COUNTS and that every voter has a DUTY to be involved.

VOTE THIS TUESDAY!!!

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I hope you enjoyed some of these insights. Share them with your friends and colleagues, so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from—and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” especially if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” [1 Corinthians 13:1-13].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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