Happiness and Community
Over the years I have been interested in studies that focus on the reasons people are happy. It seems that at the start of a new year some of those finding have relevance as we make resolutions and dream of good outcomes in the days ahead.
Many people wrongly believe that they would be happy if only they had more money. Most happiness studies disprove this myth.
One study looked at the effects of winning the lottery and becoming a paraplegic. A year after winning money or loosing the ability to walk, both groups were at about the same level of happiness. The high of winning the lottery and the low of a serious accident evened out to the same level of wellbeing in about a year.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development started in 1938 and continues until today. The subjects of the study were 268 Harvard sophomores and later a control group of over 450 Boston intercity residences.
A key finding from this study is that loneliness is as harmful to one’s health as smoking or alcoholism. A key to a long and healthy life is that one lives with a strong network of trusted family and friends.
Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us,
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
At the time of these verses were written, some were avoiding church because of persecution. Hebrews makes it clear that we need each other for healthy living and encouragement.
We are living in interesting times when it comes to community. Technology has helped us create a form of community while sitting home alone in front of a computer screen. Community is also challenged by tribalism and the harsh tones of our political dialogue. The church feels the impact of these trends.
There is a movement within church life in America to find community in house churches or similar smaller contexts. This comes as a reaction against a mega-church culture where attendees feel disconnected. Many long for a deeper experience of community and are turning to smaller church communities.
For those of us who make Fort Lee Gospel our church home, may I encourage us towards greater community life in 2019. It will be good for your spiritual, social and physical wellbeing.
The challenge and the richness of community in our church is that we are a diverse congregation. We come from many cultural backgrounds, we are at different places in life, our families situations are different, and we come from various church and non-church religious backgrounds.
Many groups are formed around common beliefs or values. Schools organized around age and learning levels. Jobs bring people with similar skills and interests together. Political groups form around common beliefs.
Where the church is different is that our reason to connect is the person of Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus can help us overcome our many other differences. When Jesus is the center of our community we can work through many differences and be a place of healthy community. The happiness studies also tell us that we will be happier for it.
May we cultivate our relationship with God and healthy relationships with others in 2019. Happy New Year!
New Membership Class and Annual Meeting
January is a season when we adjust our active membership role and schedule an annual business meeting. If you are not a formal member of Fort Lee Gospel Church, we invite you to consider attending the class and joining our church. All members are strongly encouraged to attend our Annual Membership & Business Meeting.
We have scheduled a new membership class on Saturday, January 19th from 10:00 AM until Noon. The class will cover our church’s doctrines, history, and current programs. There will also be time to raise any question about the life of the church. Prospective new members will also meet with the pastor before joining.
After the class, new members will formally join the church. Our church maintains an active membership list with only those involved with church maintaining their membership.
We have also scheduled our annual members meeting for Sunday, February 3rd after the worship service. On that Sunday we will include a review of 2018 and plans for 2019 in our worship service. We plan to have a business meeting from 12:20—1:20 PM.
The business meeting will elect new members to the Governing Board, report on the finances and address new plans and programs for the new year. All are welcome to attend but only members can vote. All members are strongly encouraged to attend this important meeting and participate in the life of our church.
We encourage all who attend to prayerfully consider membership and participation in our Annual Business meeting.
International Workers Preaching
On the first two Sundays of January 2019 we have guest preachers who will share with us during our worship services.
On Sunday, January 6th, Jeff will minister to us from his context of working with Palestinians in the West Bank. Some of us met Jeff and his family on our last trip to the Holy Land in 2016.
On Sunday, January 13th, Ray will bring our morning message. Ray is Pastor Rick’s college roommate who most recently pastored an English church in Morocco.
As a multiethnic church, we have ties to the global church of Jesus Christ. The start of the year will remind us of some parts of the world where the church faces unique challenges. We look forward to these special services at our church.
Liberty International Bible Institute
The winter dates have been set for the next session of the Liberty International Bible Institute. This is the third session of the school started by Dr. Winston and Magna Sutherland. The session will run from January 15th—March 23rd. The school is accredited by the Evangelical Training Association.
Five classes are being offered this session. Classes will be taught on Tuesday evenings and Saturday afternoons at Christ Centered Community Church in Ridgefield. A new class will be taught on Wednesday evenings at Fort Lee Gospel Church.
Pastor Rick will teach the new class called “Understanding People: Ministry to all Stages of Life.”
There is a flyer with some information in the foyer of Fort Lee Gospel Church. For further questions about the school, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 201-640-1725.
Prayerfully consider if this is a time to learn more about the Bible, your faith, and your place in ministry.
January Events at Fort Lee Gospel Church
11:00 AM Worship Service Our weekly service including worship through singing, prayer, preaching and fellowship. Nursery and three children’s classes are available.
9:00 AM Chinese Worship Service The Chinese worship service is led by Pastor William Cheung. He can be reached at 914-282-3399.
1:30 PM Korean Worship Service Contact Pastor Jaedoo Lee for further details at (646)464-2448.
5:30 PM Spanish Worship Service Contact Rev. Esteban Canales at 973-510-8834 for more details.
7:00 PM, Jan 6 & 20 Evening Service Our Sunday evening service usually meets on the first and third Sunday of the month.
1:30 PM, Jan 14 & 27 NYC Nursing Home Ministry A group leads a service twice a month at a nursing home in NYC.
1:15 PM, Jan 20 Seniors Ministry A group leads a service at an assisted living facility in Teaneck.
12:30 PM, Jan 27 Church Dinner Our monthly meal will take place after the worship service.
12:30 PM, Tuesdays Men’s Lunch & Bible Study We meet for a meal before we study the Bible and pray together.
7:30 PM, Tuesdays Bible Study The group is going through the “Purpose Driven Life” study.
6:00 AM, Wednesdays Morning Prayer Morning prayer meeting on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
6:00 AM Morning Prayer Morning prayer meeting combining personal and group prayer meets every Saturday.
2:00 PM, Jan 5 & 19 Women’s Bible Study This group meets on alternating Saturdays.
5:00 PM, Jan 19 New Members Class See page 2 for details.
6:00 PM, Jan 12 & 26 Youth Group For those in 6th grade through their teens.
Read Through the Bible in 2019
Joshua 1:8 says, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
Knowing what God’s Word says and applying it to our lives lead to life that is ‘prosperous and successful.’ One way to get to know God’s Word better is to systematically read it through in a year. Some in our church do this reading every year and others may be up for the challenge this coming year.
The church has made available a reading guide which is divided between Old Testament, Proverbs, Psalms and New Testament. If you do the four daily readings, you will have read every verse in the Bible in 365 days.
The reading guide has been available through the month of December and can be started at any time. You can adapt it to include family readings or morning and evening readings. There is also instruction on journaling with the SOAP method.
Because this tool includes Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs daily readings, you can either read the whole Bible in 2019 or just a portion. Some will chose to only read the New Testament and Proverbs, while others will read all of the Bible.
Plan to grow in your faith this year by investing time in reading God’s Word. Pick up a reading guide at church. Your faith will be strengthen as you spend time with God’s Word every day.
New Year’s Resolutions
We have again come to that time of the year when people make promises to stop bad habits, and start good ones. The older we get, the less optimistic we become that we will actually stick to our new plan for more than a few days. One response is to quit making New Year’s Resolutions. A better solution is to tap into a power source beyond human effort. In other words, God’s strength is available to His people to even help us fulfill New Year’s Resolutions.
To be balanced, let me note that human effort has its place. Rarely does someone quit smoking by prayer alone, although prayer often helps. Going to church may not help you lose weight, but a life of faith can make you feel better about yourself, which can lead to health benefits.
II Cor. 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come!” The Bible calls the followers of Jesus Christ to radical transformation. C. S. Lewis has said, “Jesus did not come to make bad people good, or good people better, but to make dead people alive.” The Bible calls the faithless person, spiritually dead, until they invite Jesus Christ to be Savior and Lord. Becoming a disciple of Jesus is the start of a transformation.
An important part of successful health transformations is accountability. God designed the church to be a community of people supporting one another.
In many ways, we as Christians should set the example of how to make New Year’s Resolutions work. God has given us new strength in Jesus in order for us to make healthy changes. Our bodies are called temples of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19) and God is for our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. May God bless us all with a healthy and blessed 2019!