Today’s blog comes to you from a humble and hopeful heart. This pandemic has been life changing for many. Some have lost family members, jobs, relationships and their sense of security. It has forced us to prioritize the most essential people and daily activities in our lives. Life looks exceptionally different. Yet, our fundamental needs for security, healthy relationships, purpose and belonging remain the same. In a season of uncertainty, where do we turn?
We are reminded that we need one another and relationships do matter. Our communities desperately need the church to be the hands and feet of Jesus. When Living Branch Church chose to launch in the Vail community, we chose to embrace this phrase, “Life’s Better Connected.” Friends, we were made for such a time as this. God's design for us was never to live life alone. We come together by drawing closer to God, closer to one another, and deeper in our communities. Christians are not made to sit alone in a corner, reading our Bible and praying, never sharing our personal relationship to Jesus with others. While this pandemic has robbed us of many things, it has also given us unique opportunities to grow in our faith, love on our families, connect with both old and new friends, and be a vital resource in our community. This new year is the perfect time to acknowledge that each interaction can be purposeful as we join together to establish meaningful relationships in the following areas:
We come together by drawing closer to God, closer to one another, and deeper in our communities.
Connecting to God
There are times in our lives when we are completely broken. This could be a failed marriage, an unexpected death, a sick child, financial ruin, or a shattered dream. Some people run to God and cling to Him with all of their might. Others can't seem to find God in their circumstances. Sometimes, moments of brokenness are so severe that there are no words to pray, the Bible feels foreign, and we have a strong desire to isolate due to shame or judgment. God can use these times to draw us closer to Him in unique ways. A song on our favorite Christan radio station, a note of encouragement from a friend, or a kind word from a stranger can subtly change the course of our despair. In these desperate moments, it is vital to do what you can to stay connected. Be honest with God. Pray uncensored emotion to God and ask Him to touch you in ways only He is able. He hears your silence and He knows your pain. If you cannot find the words to pray, ask others to pray for you. For now, connect with God by adopting this command, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Start small if you are unable to do it all. Read God’s Word: one verse each day until you are ready for more. Take action by continuing to connect to God through faith and love, remembering that He gave His life for you.
Connecting to One Another
“We love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19). This is so simple but so easily forgotten. We must never forget that we are loved by God. EVERYONE is loved by God. Loving those that love us is easy. Loving those that we are not like is difficult. How we share God’s love with a struggling world sets the stage for relationships. Pray for God to put people in your life that need Jesus. Ask God for wisdom to be a good example to others. Get rid of judgement when others do not share our same beliefs. Embrace others by accepting them just as they are. We can accept one another without total agreement. Jesus was the ultimate example of this. There was nobody like Him. When Jesus connected with others, they were valued. Encountering Jesus removed their shame and empowered them. In John 13:6 we are told, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” God knows your exact need and will intervene at just the right time with just the right person. Be open to how He delivers; it might just surprise you.
Connecting to Church
When Jesus chose His twelve disciples, He chose twelve individuals with very different backgrounds to unite for two goals...to spread the Word of Jesus and the love of Jesus. This is exactly what God is doing at LBC. He is bringing individuals together from various denominations and parts of the city to be of one mindset. Being of one mind does not mean we agree on all things all the time. God has given each of us different, but specific talents and abilities to find our place in the church. However, it can be difficult to take the initiative. Begin by serving with a friend or in a comfortable area: technology, sound, music, preschool, children, teenagers, teaching, and praying are just a few opportunities. Sometimes, we serve but connections are not made. This can be frustrating and lonely. Do not lose hope. Pray that God puts you in the right place at the right time for you to bless others or for others to bless you. The church needs you and you need the church. It is ironic that the last time Jesus was with His disciples He humbly reminded them to serve others. He did not meet with them individually or in a large gathering; He met with His small group.
God has given each of us different, but specific talents and abilities to find our place in the church.
During a recent life group, this question was asked, “What relationships guided your walk with Jesus?” I was brought to tears as I recalled person after person that loved me, discipled me, and held me accountable as I grew in my faith. I was saved because of a couple that loved me as their own. They watched me grow, they shared Jesus with me, they held me accountable, and they showed me the love of Jesus from beginning to end. In October, this beautiful lady that was instrumental in my salvation passed away. Her husband called me the day after Thanksgiving and we talked for an hour. Connections do not stop once a person leaves us; connections remain in our hearts forever. By having people invest in me time after time in various seasons of my life, I learned how important connections are. Without them, people stray, become discouraged or feel alone. Connections hold us accountable, draw us together and bring us closer to our Savior. That’s why at LBC, we believe life’s better connected.