Good morning! Thank you so much for joining us today. Wether you are listening online, or you are here in the room, we are glad that you are here today.
Today we are starting a new series called The Good Old Days. Over the course of the next 3 weeks we are going to be taking a look at what it means to reclaim some of the most important relationships that we have. Do you remember the good old days? What were they like for you?
For me, when I think back to the good old days I think of Bazooka bubble gum. Back in the day when I was a kid there was a man in my church who would give out candy and one of the things that I would root around for was Bazooka Gum. Do you all remember Bazooka Bubble Gum? Well, let me help you jog your memory…
I’ve got a piece of Bazooka gum for all of you in here today. Ushers, come on down, let’s get everyone a piece of Bazooka Gum…
Bazooka gum was amazing… It was this perfect piece of gum that came wrapped in it’s own comic. These comics told the story of Bazooka Joe and his friends. Every comic also included a comical fortune…. Like this one, “Something you want is just within your reach.” Now all we get is a puzzle… See, those were the good old days!
You could save your comics and send them in for something cool. In this one, the offer is for 200 comics, or 40¢ and 5 comics, you could get your very own telescope. Come on! How incredible is that?
This gum, reminds me of the Good Old Days. Even just the smell of it brings me back. The days when it was about collecting comics and trying not to loose your teeth on some really hard gum! It makes me think back to some great moments, back to the Good Old Days.
Can you remember the Good Old Days? What do you think of when you think back to the “good old days”? Maybe for you it was a particular restaurant that you would visit with your grandparents. Or maybe it’s a certain location… You drive over the same bridge for vacation every year and you think about the good old days when you were vacationing with your family. Or maybe for you it’s a song that reminds you of your first dance or your first kiss.
The Good old days are those days that stir deep memories inside of us. They are more than just remembering, they are stirring memories. Memories that move us to action.
Very often the Good Old Days include people that are near and dear to us. Our family, our friends, or our Spouse. In this series, we are going to look at what it means to cultivate the moments that cause us to remember the Good Old Days. Together we will learn how to build a bond that lasts a lifetime in our relationships.
I started thinking, What if these were the good old days? As a kid you rarely think about the moments in time as being significant, or being the moments that you will think back to years down the road. But what if today was the day that 20 years from now you will be talking about? What would you need to do to ensure that you relationships were memorable? How do we ensure that our days make a difference? Your relationships around you are begging for it. Your kids are begging for it. We’re going to talk about that next week. THey’ll be so happy you were here for that message. Your spouse is pleading for this type of relationship. She’ll be dragging you to week 3 and you’ll be glad she did.
Because what if these are the Good Old Days? And yet, oddly enough some times it just doesn’t feel that way. There are times when our relationships are so broken and dysfunctional that we are tempted to give up, and go rogue… To shut everyone else out and leave them behind.
In Genesis 2:18, way back in the beginning of where the Bible first records human interactions, we find a very serious problem. We find a man named Adam who is all alone. He has no one to live life with. No one to experience the beauty of God’s creation. There is no one to laugh with, no one to share a meal with, no one to look back on the good old days with. Look with me at Genesis chapter 2, verse 18.
But God steps in and says,
“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
God makes an incredible statement here. It is not good for humans to be alone. God intends for humanity to be in relationship with one another. God put something inside of us to crave connection with other people.
I experienced this feeling last summer. My wife Tiffany and the kids went up to stay with her parents in NJ for a little over 2 weeks last summer. It was a great chance for them to connect with the kids and enjoy a break from the summer heat. This was me preparing for them to head up North (Braveheart)… FREEDOM!!! I started to think about everything that I was going to do while they were away. I was going to go spearfishing… I was going to build some shelving in our garage… I was going to hit the beach… I was going to read all the books that I’ve been waiting to read. I was going to enjoy peace and quiet!
Two days into this and my tune changed… (Finding Dory, sad fish)
It was like a scene from Finding Dory. Have you seen my family? Do you know where my family is? I felt like I was loosing my mind! I knew it was bad when I was surrounded by cereal bowls, I had started talking to the dog and binge watching old Tom Hanks movies… I remembered Castaway being way better! 😉
Sometimes you and I, we think we want to disappear but all we want is to be found!
God tells us something that we know deep down, life is better when it’s lived connected with others. We believe that following Jesus makes you better at life and makes your life better. In every way, including your relationships. In fact, the Bible talks a lot about relationships and the way that we relate to one another.
Today we are going to focus on what God has to say about our relationship with others in Ephesians chapter 4.
So, click over in your smart phone or flip over in your Bible to Ephesians 4. Have you guys downloaded the free Bible App You Version yet? There are so many great features on YouVersion. Did you know that on YouVersion you can have it actually read the Bible to you? That way you can get some time in the word of God in the car, or on the treadmill. Check it out!
Ephesians is a letter written to the early church in Ephesus. Ephesians can be found in the New Testament, right after Galatians, but before Philippians. If you don’t have a Bible with you today, we’ve got some provided for you in the back on your way in. We’d love it if you’d pick one up for service, or if you’d like to pick one up to take it with you today as well.
But let’s jump in and see what Ephesians Chapter 4 has to say about the Good Old Days and the relationships that define those days.
“25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
When we think of relationships, there is no greater game to play with others than the blame game, right? It is so easy to blame other people for why your relationship with them isn’t healthy and enjoyable. In fact, it is easy to write people off, and isolate yourself. If everyone else is the problem, than you never have to feel the sting of humility, or say the words I’m Sorry.
But God is clear in Genesis, that it is not good for humanity to be alone. We can’t write everyone off, and push everyone away. We need to dig in and fix our friendships, and restore the relationships.
And Ephesians makes it clear from the beginning of this passage that it isn’t about other people! The writer says, “Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor.” He doesn’t say, make sure that your neighbor gets his act together and gets his trash cans from the curb on time. I just got my HOA letter yesterday. Reminding me about this. Who is he talking to here? YOU!
If you’re taking notes with us this morning, we come to our first point… and that is, It’s about YOU! The Good old Days aren’t dependent on someone else, you are critical to those days.
Last week I introduced you to my family… Well, as I mentioned Tiffany and I have three kids, Noah, Grace, and Leah. It is inevitable that at some point in time during the week, one of my kids will start to correct another kid for something they are doing.
Your not allowed to have chips for snack…
You need to brush your teeth…
Go put your dishes in the sink….
These are all good statements, and if Tiffany and I were saying them, it would be fine, but when one of these kiddos says it to another, they are out of bounds. They are focusing on the actions of the others while forgetting that they haven’t brushed their teeth yet, or that their dish is still sitting on the counter.
But can we be honest with one another? It’s easy to say it’s just the kids. fortunately we adults don’t have this same problem. It’s simple to point out their faults and in doing so we accomplish the very thing we are accusing them of doing. Saying one thing and doing another.
This is when we complain about our spouse for being selfish, needy, or high maintenance. And yet we load them up with a list of expectations. We are all tempted to point out the faults in others while ignoring the areas in our own life that are horribly out of whack. We need to be very careful when we are pointing out the faults of others because often our own life is a minefield of issues. It’s about you! This may be one of the times when you should go first. Go first in inspecting your behavior towards others.
This may seem like a small point, but often the way to get lost is by taking the first step off course.
It’s about you! It’s about what you do, and the way that you interact with your neighbors. And then he says, something we all know, we are all members of one body. In the last year, I have seen more us verse them situations arise than ever before in my lifetime. Everyone is a part of something, and in being a part of that particular group it puts those who don’t agree outside that group. This is a potentially damaging way of life. We need to see that it is about who we are and what we are doing for our neighbors and friends.
Ephesians is also clear that while it is about You, it is also important how you behave with these people. It says, put off falsehood. Speak truthfully. I suppose a modern translation of this would be put off fake fronts, and post truthfully.
Right? Facebook, and Instagram, are ripe with this kind of stuff. Like this…
We go through life trying to make it look like this, when this is what is really going on. It’s the snapshot principle. If I only show you a snapshot of what is going on, you’ll think I’ve really got my stuff together. And that is incredibly unhealthy. This is damaging to your relationships, and this is damaging to you. It causes you to work hard at being a persona rather than a person.
This isn’t good for you, and it isn’t good for our culture. Authenticity and Honesty have been pushed to the wayside to make way for presentation and performance. Ephesians calls us back to honesty and authenticity. But it doesn’t stop there either.
26“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. 28Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
This brings us to our second point this morning. Ephesians reminds us that Your Moments Matter. The small moments matter in the big picture.
Many of us have heard this instruction, “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry”. Maybe you thought that this was just a good adage. Not only is it a good adage, it is more than just that. It is a directive from God! Anger can flair up in a moment.
Try getting cut off in traffic! Right? Instant Anger…. We all know what that feels like. But let’s be real. Our anger is often not limited to our driving. Too often this hits far closer to home. Let’s be real. There are people who are close to us but because of anger, we have pushed them away. They have said something that hurt you, that disappointed you, or let you down. And in the moment you responded by pushing them away, or cutting them off.
It was easier to say I’ll keep them away or at bay, in order to not feel that way again.
What we do with Anger is key. Your moments matter. In fact, the instruction here is to not let your anger last longer than the remaining portion of your day. Allowing anger to linger, puts you at risk to let that be the lens you see life through. It clouds your vision, skews your judgement and forces you to relate to others out of a place of hurt and elevated emotions. A moment of anger can translate to a lifetime of regret. And unchecked anger can lead you to sin.
Sometimes we think that in order to make things right, or to create those moments that make up the Good Old days that it needs to be that big trip, the expensive cruise, or the enormous gift. It’s not actually the big things that matter most, sometimes it’s as simple as a piece of bazooka gum. Very often it’s the small actions repeated across multiple moments that will stand out years from now. It’s the fact that you have quick mid course corrections. It’s being quick to say sorry, quick to make it right. Not letting the sun go down on your anger.
But our moments aren’t just limited to Anger management. It is also about snap decisions. Snap decisions like stealing. Taking something that isn’t yours, or positioning yourself for gain that doesn’t actually belong to you. This isn’t a discussion about what is right and wrong. It is an opportunity to discuss what is important, your attitude. We see here that we shouldn’t steal, because the act of stealing focuses on yourself. Ephesians reveals that our moments should be focused on others rather than ourselves. Look back at this passage.
28Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
We don’t go through life to accumulate more for ourselves. We aren’t trying to pad our wallet…. We should be saving some to share with someone. Each week we receive an offering here at Hope City, not because we are all about money, but because what we do with our money honors God. We can choose to hoard it for ourselves, or use what God has given us to bless others. Those moments come quickly and your decisions make a difference in the lives of others…
Let’s look back and see what else Ephesians has to say about the way we relate to others.
29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
We find a helpful list of things to be aware of… Starting with what we say about others, how we feel towards others, and ultimately how we act towards others. Ephesians says that what we say, how we feel, and how we act makes a difference. If you want to have relationships that matter, relationships that you look back on and say, those were the good old days, you need to pay attention to these things. When you speak about others, do you put them down, do you call out all of the negative things about them? Or do you find ways to build them up and encourage them.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, has said, “Our chief want is someone to inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
People are desperate for encouragement. The world has a thousand critics… Every person has an opinion… yet few people focus their energy on building up others and calling out God’s goodness and God’s design in others life.
It isn’t limited to just our speech. Ephesians makes certain to include our thoughts as well. Bitterness, rage, & anger can poison and derail your relationships.
Our speech and thoughts often direct our actions, and Ephesians is quick to include this as an expectation for healthy relationships.
What Ephesians says here impacts both your current and future relationships. We find our third point here, Your Today Matters to Your Tomorrow.
The way that you treat people, think of others, and talk to them directly impacts the type of relationship that you will have. When we think about the good old days, we often think about days gone by. We think about people who loved us, supported us, encouraged us, walked with us, held us, and were there for us. But those days were moments that someone chose to live like Christ, and pour into your life.
See the most meaningful times of life are when you are meaningfully connected to others.
These are the good old days. These are the days that matter. We won’t have anything to look back on if we don’t actively work towards creating those moments in time. The relationships around you are begging for it. Your kids are begging for it. We’re going to talk about that next week. They’ll be so happy you were here for that message. I’ve got some thoughts I can’t wait to share with you about that. Your spouse is begging for this type of relationship. And we’ll get to that in week 3! Don’t miss that!
Tomorrow’s memories are todays actions.
We all want to look back and swap stories of the good old days, but what are you doing right now to create those stories? We are in the midst of an incredible choose your own ending book. God has given you a gift… He woke you up today. He put breath in your lungs. And He’s given you an invitation and an opportunity to live life to the fullest.
Maybe you’ve been listening to me and you’d say, I don’t think that I’m actually meaningfully connected to anyone. Well, I want to challenge you to change that. Here at Hope City, we have some of the most amazing people. People who give their time, their energy, and their resources to pour into the lives of others.
We have people right now in classrooms investing in the lives of our kids. You might be tempted to say, ah, they are just babysitting… Let me tell you they are doing so much more than just child care. They are pouring into the lives of all these kids. They are making a difference.
Maybe you’d be interested in making a difference in the life of a kid.
Or today when you walked in there were people who greeted you and some of you mentioned to me last week or left feedback on your cards that you felt welcomed and cared about when you showed up. Maybe you want to be on the front lines of welcoming people home.
You can go out to our next steps booth after service today and we’d love to have a conversation with you and get you all the information you need to get connected on a team here at Hope City.
What would it look like for you to get meaningfully connected to others this week? What about today? What could you do differently today to live out the Good Old Days that you desperately want?
As I was talking today, maybe you thought of a specific person. Maybe it’s a coworker, a friend, or even a family member.
Maybe today you need to RESTORE those relationships. You need to make it about you and you need to go first. What if this week you set a goal of saying sorry, and owning your portion of the problem. It may be as simple as a phone call this afternoon, or scheduling a coffee conversation this week.
Some of you in this room quite honestly, this stirs a fire in you and you are motivated to RECLAIM those relationships that you once had. There are people who you need to just drop a text to and say what’s up. Last week I got a text from my childhood best friend. It was simple. Just a quick touch and connection, letting me know he was thinking of me. It brought back years of friendship in just a quick text.
And yet some of you this has caused you to REIMAGINE what your relationships could be like. Maybe you’ll be the guy handing out bazooka gum. Maybe you’ll start a tradition with your friends, your family or in your work place that seems small yet builds a bond that lasts a lifetime!
What could it look like if we were serious about this. Imagine the type of relationships that we would develop, the types of friendships that would be restored, and the types of marriages that would be enjoyed by so many.
Think about the ripple effects of living for others rather than for yourself. Our community, our neighborhoods, and our workplaces would never be the same. There would be generations of people who would look back one day and say, Do you remember the days?
Those were the Good Old Days.