Many years ago Three Dog Night sang “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” It was and still is a haunting song of love and love lost. And many years before 3DN the Cowboy/Western themed comic strip Rick O’Shay, was wonderfully written and penned by Stan Lynde (I do wonder if Millennials and those younger know what a comic strip is). I recall one particular recurring story line only appearing in the full color, multi-page Sunday comics section of the newspaper featuring the tough as nails, good to the core, silent but wise, doesn’t miss, fast draw, Hipshot Percussion (picture Curly from the movie, City Slickers). Hipshot was high in the mountains, deep in the beauty and wonder of the wilderness, all by himself, sitting on his trusted horse talking with God. “Here I am again, Lord,” were his words. This was his church; in nature, solitary, silent and still. This notion of “High Sierra Chapel” seems to resonate with many. I recall talking with a number of people who didn’t attend church saying this is the “church” for them, where they felt the closest to God. I wonder if they ever listened to Three Dog Night.
Pastor Brian kicked off the new sermon series Start with the Why with an excellent presentation on why church is the place to be. Using Hebrews 10:23-25 for the Scriptural text, Brian outlined three answers to Why Church. The second answer was, “to get something.” This week I experienced a wonderful instance of getting something from being a part of our church. On Thursday I began teaching a six-week class on the book of Philippians at our Venture Ministry. I love teaching from the Word of God and sincerely believe this is one of the things God created me to do. It’s the feeling that “I was made for this.” (The other instance where this feeling overcomes me was when I would make my closing arguments in a jury trial.) Even though I have this confidence in my heart and mind, I still feel the trepidation of presentation. Beginning the session I asked why everyone was here for the Philippians breakout sessions. All answers were excellent but one reply was priceless. Bob Hefner said he was here to “support me.”
Bob and Sheila Hefner have been “supporting” me ever since Judy and I came to First Baptist/GateWay Church. I believe we have a very welcoming and friendly church. Bob and Sheila epitomize this trait. I have been encouraged, blessed, stimulated to good works, inspired and just plain old loved on by Bob and Sheila for well over 20 years. Last Thursday was simply another instance of countless many. I would never have experienced “getting this something” unless I was a part of GateWay Church. Although the connection between the Hefner Clan and the Yoshimoto’s go far beyond when I first arrived in Visalia back in 1977, the spiritual encouragement and challenge, has only come about because of our being together at GateWay. Even though solitude and time alone with God is essential from time to time, we were made for relationship. I love that I am getting something from church, that something being Christ-infused relationships, like the one with Bob Hefner. I like too, that I get to give something and be a part of something. Why Church? Because we were made for this. Let’s go deeper together at GateWay.