The intro and conclusion was different:
It is Sunday. This means that we are supposed to be at church, right? We are here to worship, we are here to grow, we are here to see our friends and maybe learn something and then we are done. True?
I don’t think so. We need each other through the week.
Have you ever been lonely?
I remember being in elementary school and at that time I had school friends and then friends at home. I did not want to cross connect those groups. If I knew you from school and saw you outside of school, I think it was a reminder of school. Obviously, as I got older I got over that. But during that time, I was also very lonely at school. I was an extreme introvert and that plagued me up until high school. In addition to that when I was in kindergarten they started taking me out of class and making me take special tests. Eventually, the specialist teacher, not my actual kindergarten teacher, was walking me back down the hall to my kindergarten class. She sat me on the bench and said, “You may wonder why we are doing these things.” I said, “Yes.” She then explained that some people need some special education or something like that in kindergarten terms. From first grade through half way through third grade I would leave my normal kindergarten class at certain points in order to join this learning disability class. That is what they called it, though till this day I don’t really know what my real disability was. I remember being told, “You will always have a learning disability, it will always be more difficult for you to learn things.” Well, I hated it. At least through first grade and part of second grade I felt different. I was already a shy and introverted kid and had a difficult time making friends, but it didn’t help that I was in and out of my home room class. The learning disability teacher would give me a picture of a clock and say, “At this time get up and walk out of the room and come to my class.” For a second grader it just felt like everyone was looking at me when I left and came back in. I remember entering my normal class and they had books out and were in the middle of something and I was wondering what they were doing. I always felt behind the rest of the class, even though I was really being helped. I remember in second grade we had three sessions of recess: morning, after lunch and then afternoon. At the beginning of the school year I went out to recess with my class. Then my learning disability teacher came out and yelled at me all the way into the school telling me that I am not supposed to go to recess because I am supposed to join her class during that time. She said I was told that. Therefore, for the rest of that year, I did not have morning recess. I know they meant well and I know I was helped, but it was hard emotionally. By third grade I was excelling and half way through the year I was able to exit the learning disability class for good. I did have to go to a tutor, but I was so relieved. Sometimes that catches up with me. I am still a very slow reader, though I think I learn things better now than ever and maybe it is because of that class. They always reminded me how grateful I should be that I had a school with a special class like that. I remember in an inductive Bible study class in seminary and something hit me. It was as if the devil was telling me, “What are you doing? Who do you think you are looking at these Greek words. Remember those days in the learning disability class? You can’t learn this stuff.”
I don’t write all that to make you feel sympathy for me. My point is that I was lonely. I hated school. I couldn’t make friends and that experience made my introvert self have a more difficult time making friends. I needed friends. I needed a friend my age, or more friends my age at school. I needed support. Now, they came eventually and I got through. I am here. But it was rather difficult. I remember thinking about what it would be like to be a normal kid, as if there is such a thing. We need each other. We all need each other. We are not meant to be alone.
I heard someone say:
“A friend is someone who walks in when everyone is walking out.”
Today, let’s talk about the church:
My theme: You are the church all week long.
The Application: Stay connected, support each other emotionally, spiritually and with real-felt needs.
Let’s read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. 
- We must let people into our lives.
- I do not doubt that many of you are connected with others. But I wonder, are you connected with others?
- Do you let other people into your life? Do I let others into my life?
- A problem with social media is that we only allow people to see what we want them to see. Many times I can only show the face that I want to.
- There are major problems with depression because of Facebook and social media. Truly, we get online and we see how happy these other families look, we see the vacation spots they are going to, but we don’t see their struggles.
- Of course because of this we don’t let others into our lives. We are ashamed.
- Don’t compare everything you know about yourself with everything you don’t know about someone else.
- We are stronger together.
- We must be willing to be humble and let others in our lives.
- We must get rid of pride and let others in.
- We must get rid of envy and let others in.
- We must understand that many times they are dealing with things we are as well.
- It will feel so good to share what you are going through with others.
- We must let people in in three ways: emotionally, spiritually and with real felt needs.
- Emotionally: many times this is really difficult. It is for me. It is hard to share emotions; they are so personal. But we aren’t meant to live alone. We need the support.
- Spiritually: This is difficult because we have privatized religion. But we cannot be helped if we not share with others. Listen, we can’t live the Christian life alone. We cannot discern God’s will on our own.
- We must check ourselves and see why we will not share our spiritual state with others.
- We must check for pride. Maybe we will feel less than someone else.
- Oftentimes the spiritual and the emotional go together.
- Meet with another believer and pray about your struggles and also your desires.
- Are you waiting on a spouse? Pray about that with a close friend.
- Are you struggling with your job? Pray about that with a close friend?
- Are you struggling with weight and diet? Pray about that with a close friend?
- Are you lonely? Pray about that with a close friend.
- Do you have a son or daughter or grandchild dealing with drug abuse or maybe an abusive relationship? Pray about that with a close friend.
- In praying with another believer you are supporting yourself emotionally and spiritually. You are also helping the situation.
- We become like rope weaved together and strengthened.
- Physical felt needs: This is the easiest to get help with. It is not humbling, or nearly as humbling asking for help with a move as it is asking for emotional help. It is hard to admit to depression. But for someone it is. So, the challenge is to let people in to help you with physical, felt needs.
- We must be willing to be involved in the lives of others.
- I must be willing to sacrifice for others.
- This goes both ways. We must be willing to listen to others and to pray with others.
- We must be willing to be that close friends.
- The Bible says a friend sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
- Also, if someone shares their heart with you. Share something back. Share a struggle you have.
- We grow as Christians together. We grow stronger together. We weave that rope together as a Christian family when we add tension to the rope.
- The passage says that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. George Sheen once told me that he has a rope machine and it takes more than one person to make the rope.
- It also takes a church sharing together through the week to really be the church and really help us grow.
High school youth group and JROTC changed me.
You know, I had trouble making friends all the way through Jr. High. I was heavily bullied in Jr. High and I fought back which made it worse. The kids were cruel. We were the class of 2000 and so many people made a big deal of that. My aunt taught our class and said she never had a class like we were. She meant we were the worst. Maybe it was all the entitlement. But high school came and in ninth grade I was invited to a youth group. I met good friends at the youth group and I saw them at school as well. Now, I had friends at school with similar interest to me. Now, at school I could talk about the Bible and Christian things with friends who I knew through youth group. It was great. These new friends introduced me to other friends. I joined Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp. which is a high school military training group. I met more friends that way and I came out of my shell. I also had a few part time jobs and that helped me get out of my introvert shell as well. Things changed. School was not as bad. I still have friends that I met in high school youth group who I still keep in touch with. One of them is my wife and she became my permanent room-mate.
We need each other.
We need each other emotionally, spiritually and with physical felt needs.
I encourage you to join one of the Christian Connections opportunities at the church. Most of you know each other pretty well on the surface. Go deeper. Meet with one of our brothers or sisters for prayer. Meet often. Don’t just meet every other month.
We are the church through the week. God speaks through His Church. You won’t discern His will alone.
Do you know Christ?
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)
 The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ec 4:9–12.