The topic that I want to address this morning is fascinating. And, I believe that it will be of real benefit to you. And, some of us, you would think, it’s just common sense. Unfortunately, modern people don’t seem to use common sense. But, where I want to start is with some words that I know you’re all familiar with: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The opening words of the Declaration of Independence. Of course, that was 1776. And, you know, from those words, we as a nation, seem to have this foundational belief that there truly is a connection between liberty, or freedom, and the pursuit of happiness, and finding happiness. That’s why I’ve titled this talk, “Freedom and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Now, what’s interesting, if you fast-forward 13 years from the signing of the Declaration, 1789, George Washington gave his first inaugural address. And, in that inaugural address, he added a little something to that thought. He said, “There exists, in human nature, an indissoluble union between freedom, virtue, and happiness.” He threw in that word virtue. Because, here, 13 years later, Washington realized that in order to have a free society, there has to be a character to the people. There has to be an ability to, basically, self-restraint. He says, “This is necessary for any culture to flourish.” But, you know, we seem to have lost this understanding of what it really means to be free. And, I think this loss of understanding, some would say, goes back to the 1960s, but others would say it goes back to the 1920s. You see, what’s happened is that we have tried to apply the concept of freedom to every arena of life. And, therefore, I believe we have developed a perverted understanding of what it means to truly be free.
Back in the 1980s, Time Magazine was celebrating 60 years as a publication. And, so, they had this special edition. It was called “Those Amazing 60 Years.” And, the main essay of this special edition was titled, “What Really Mattered.” What really mattered during the past 60 years. They said, “You have to understand the idea or the spirit that characterized that age.” And the answer was one word; freedom. Freedom. They didn’t speak of freedom as a patriotic ideal, but a freedom in an absolute sense.
Let me read to you a couple of sentences from the article. “The fundamental idea that America represented corresponded to the values of the times. America was not merely just free, it was freed and unshackled. The image was of something previously held in check, an explosive force of a country that moved about in random particles of energy, yet, at the same time, gained power and prosper. To be free was to be modern. To be modern was to take chances. The American century was to be the century of unleashing, of breaking away. At first, from the 19th Century, and eventually, from any constraints at all.”
At the end of the essay, it says, “Behind most of the events of the last 60 years lay this assumption: almost a moral imperative, that what was not free ought to be free, that limits and boundaries were intrinsically evil.” Can you believe that? You see, more and more Americans have come to believe that freedom merely means the absence of restraints in your life. It’s the freedom to live outwardly, based on what I desire inwardly. You see, in the process, modern people have developed a world-view that believes, “If I’m gonna be truly happy, I have to be morally and spiritually free.” And, this approach to life is driven by this entitlement mentality, that, “I want to be left alone. I want to be free from the demands and expectations of others so that I can fashion a life that is pleasing to me. Because, in the end, life is all about me, isn’t it?” So, you can see how there is, in people’s minds, this indissoluble union between total freedom and happiness.
But, guys, I’m here this morning to tell you that it’s not working. People’s lives are breaking down. You see this, really, even in the millennial generation. Suicide is at an all-time high in our land. Depression is at an all-time high. Our generations are struggling 10-times more with depression than the previous generation, going back 50 years. Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Lisa Routh wrote a book, and in it they said, “Anxiety and depression are major public health problems, reaching epidemic levels in the United States.”
I don’t know how many of you read my blog, back in April. But, in it, I reported from an article written in the Harvard student newspaper, The Crimson. Harvard has 6,700 undergraduates. And, this article was about depression, and that 47% of the student body found themselves, during the course of the year, at one point, depressed to the point of having a hard time functioning. I mean, these are supposedly our best and brightest.
I don’t know how many of you saw in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, an article on depression. This was interesting. It says, “Women suffer from depression more than men.” And, then it said, “But, we’re not really sure about that because we’re not sure how many men suffer from depression because most men won’t come forward and admit it.” And, the reason is because men think, “We’re not supposed to get depressed. We’re not supposed to get down. Real men, this doesn’t happen to.” And, so, many men, therefore, suffer silently. As Thoreau said, “We experience and live lives of quiet desperations, silently.”
You see, our social scientists, and the research is there, guys. The social scientist will tell you “We’re not a very happy culture. But nobody wants to admit it.” And, the reason is, I’m convinced, is the modern approach to happiness just isn’t working. Because, the modern view of freedom breaks down, and it breaks down for three reasons, that I’m gonna share with you real briefly. And, what you’re gonna see, a lot of this is, just, kind of, common sense.
The first reason the modern approach to freedom breaks down has to do with our desires and the complexity of the human heart. Tim Keller asked, “Have you ever noticed the competing desires in your heart, and how our desires can be so contradictory?” Let me give you an example. Take a young man. He’s going off to college. Do you remember that day? You remember how exhilarating it was, how free you felt? And, that young man wants to make really good grades because he wants to go to a really good law school because he wants to be a lawyer. And, so, studying and his grades are important. He’s also, kind of, athletic, real healthy, and wants to keep in shape, take care of his body. The problem is, on the other end, he’s real social. And, in college, he finds there’s a lot going on socially. He likes to party. He likes to drink. He likes to drink a lot. He likes to stay out late. Do you see what he’s faced with? Do you see the competing desires of the heart? You see, this is a real problem. Our wants are endless, and they often, just collide. And wisdom, and I talk about this in this new book. Wisdom seeks to discern which of my desires are liberating, and which of my desires are destructive. We have to discover and discern which of my desires are aligned with who I really am, and what I really want for my life. But, also recognizing those desires which will prevent me from reaching my life goals.
Philip Yancey gives a great example of this with his older brother. His older brother, he says, “was one of the most gifted musicians he had ever encountered.” Apparently, he played the piano beautifully and dreamed of being on concert stages all over the world. But Yancey says, “The problem is, we had a pretty strict upbringing in South Georgia.” And, he said, “As my brother got older, he began to rebel.” And, he says, “In an attempt to break the shackles of a confining upbringing, my brother went on a grand quest for freedom. He tried on world-views like changes of clothing. Pentecostalism. Atheistic Existentialism. Buddhism. He joined the flower children of the 1960s, growing his hair long, and wearing granny glasses. Living communally. Experimenting with sex and drugs. And, for a period of time, he would send me these exuberant reports of how great his life was. But, eventually, I began to notice that a darker side began to creep in. I had to bail him out of jail when an LSD trip went bad. He broke relations with every other person in the family and burned through several marriages. And, then, I began to get late-night suicide calls.” He said, “Watching my brother, I learned, that apparent freedom can actually mask deep bondage. A cry from the heart of unmet needs. The most musically gifted person I have ever known ended up just tuning pianos, and not playing them on a concert stage.”
Guys, sometimes you have to deliberately give up your freedom to engage in certain things, which will enable you to release yourself to a richer and better type of freedom. And, as we look at the competing desires of the heart, it’s critical for us to discover which of our desires are truly liberating, and which ones are destructive. This is wisdom.
Now, a second reason the modern view of freedom breaks down comes from Steven Covey’s book, The Seven Habits. Covey says that “Every single one of us,” every one of us in this room has, what he calls, “a hierarchy of priorities.” A hierarchy of wants in your life. We all have that ultimate want. The ultimate desire. Covey calls it, “Our personal center.” You may not be aware of it, but you do have a personal center. He says, “Deep down, it’s what you ultimately live for.” And, he says, “Whatever is at the center of your life will be the source of your security. It will be the guidance of wisdom and power in your life.” He makes it clear that every aspect of your life is determined by your personal center. Another way to understand this is to realize that everybody lives for something. There is something out there in life that gives us a sense of significance and security. It’s what makes us feel valuable, and that our lives are worth something. Without this main thing, there’s no way that I could be happy. We’re convinced of that. If I don’t have, if I don’t get this or have this, there’s no way I can be happy. And, then, he gives all kinds of examples. For instance, if you’re a workaholic, generally, it’s because either money or status is at your personal center. And, you know what he’s ultimately telling us, guys? He’s saying, when he gets right down to it, nobody’s free. Nobody’s free. We all are controlled by our personal center. And, the problem is, our personal center can easily lead us down a path of disappointment and destruction. And, not the path to happiness that we think it’s leading us.
A third, and final reason that modern view of freedom breaks down, is that people just don’t understand how life really works. People don’t really understand that there is a pattern, or fabric, to all reality. That life is governed by certain principals and laws, and that you violate these at your own peril. On one of my blogs recently, I shared this story. It’s kind of funny, but it brings out this idea that there is a pattern or fabric to reality. And, wisdom recognizes that you seek to live in harmony with it.
Back in the late 1960s, there was a group of hippies living in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. They were seeking to be free. And, so, part of the deal was, they decided that hygiene was a middle-class hang-up that they could do without. Imagine! So, they decided to live without it! For example, they said baths and showers, while not actually banned, were frowned upon. The essayist and novelist Tom Wolfe was intrigued by this group. He said, “They sought nothing less than to sweep aside all codes and restrictions of the past, and start out from zero, with the goal of being completely free.” He said, “They desired to be totally autonomous. But before long,” he says, “these hippies’ aversion to modern hygiene had consequences that were as unpleasant, as they were unforeseen. At the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, there were doctors that were treating diseases that no living doctor had ever encountered before. Diseases that had disappeared so long ago, they had never even picked up Latin names, such as, The Mange. The Grunge. The Schroth, and The Rot. The itching and the manginess begin to vex these hippies, leading them to seek help from the local free clinic. And, step-by-step, they had to rediscover for themselves, the necessity of modern hygiene. I mean, guys, clearly, you can’t just live however you want with no restrictions. There is a fabric, or pattern, to all reality, and you have to honor it., or pay a price.
So, a really good question to consider then, at this point, is “So, what does it mean to be free?” I mean, this is such a valuable concept in our country, and in our land, the land of the free. You know, I think the greatest insight, provided in this subject, is by the great Oxford philosopher Isaiah Berlin. And Berlin says, “There’s two types of freedom. There’s negative freedom, and there’s positive freedom. Most people today,” he says, “see it only in negative terms. Freedom from. Freedom from restraints. Freedom from restrictions. Freedom from boundaries. Because most people believe restrictions and restraints keep us from fulfilling our hearts’ desires. But, there’s a positive freedom.” And, most people don’t understand this. It’s not freedom from, it’s freedom for. For instance, it’s freedom for excellence. It’s the idea of being all that you were ever meant to be. I mean, think about it. Positive freedom for a musician, for a dancer, for a scholar, for an athlete involves self-control. Involves training. Involves discipline.
Winston Churchill, who I just find to be an intriguing person, great sense of humor. He loved to quote Alexander the Great to make a point. He said, “Alexander the Great loved to mock the Persian people.” He says, “The Persian people will always be slaves to somebody because they can never say no.” He was saying true freedom thrives on self-restraint, and the power to say no. And, Churchill said, he used this to make this point, that “A culture that cannot curb it’s desires is a culture with no future.”
And, you know, that’s true, also, in a person’s life. To be truly free requires a clear refusal of what is false, of what is bad, of what is excessive, and what is destructive. And, yet, modern people, particularly, younger people, don’t seem to get this. Instead of thinking, “How can I live wisely?”, their first thought is, “How can I be happy?” And, they believe happiness comes from having the freedom to pursue whatever their heart desires. And, this is why, today, so many Americans seem to believe that no one should ever surrender their moral and spiritual authority to anyone. Particularly God. Especially God. So, many people have come to think that if you surrender your life to Him, and obey Him, He will abuse you. And, you know how I know this is true? Because I once believed that. That Jesus was here to steal my happiness from me. Because he would steal my freedom. But, you know, you have to ask yourself this question. Why would God want to do that? Why would He want to steal your happiness from you? Have you ever thought, maybe God has designed the ultimate path to happiness, and we just don’t like the path? I think so many of us believe that all God wants to do is cross my will, and deprive me of my freedom, and make me miserable. Seriously, that is a number of people’s world-view. And, what we don’t realize, is that sometimes you need your will to be crossed. You need your will to be crossed for the ultimate good and happiness of your life.
And, let me give you a great example of this. Let’s assume, it’s late December. The holidays are over. You’re approaching a new year. You wake up one morning. You’ve enjoyed all the holidays, all the festivities. You get up one morning, and you look in the full-length mirror at your body. And, you don’t like what you see. And, you just realize, you’ve gotten out of shape. You’ve gotten overweight, and you just don’t like what you see. And, so, you decide, “I’m gonna change this. And, on Monday morning, I’m gonna get up, and I’m gonna start a new routine.” And, so, Monday morning, your alarm goes off at 5:30, and it’s dark outside. It’s cold outside, and your bed feels so good. It feels so right to stay in bed. What do you do? You cross your will, and you get your rear end up, and you go to the gym, and you work out. And, once you do it, you’re glad you did it. That night, you go to a restaurant, you and your wife’s favorite restaurant. And, there’s your favorite dish. The only problem is, a lot of fat, a lot of carbs, and you realize, “This is not good.” And, so, what do you do? You cross your will. You order something on the menu that doesn’t taste as good but is better for you. And, you stick with that for a while. And, you begin to see a little progress, and you get encouraged. And, then you decide, “I’m gonna get a trainer to help me, to work with me.” Think about what you’re doing. You’re bringing an authority figure in your life, someone to have authority over you. And, they push you, and, it’s hard. But you stick with it. There are times that you want to quit, but you cross your will to keep going. And, a month and six weeks go by, and, all of a sudden, you begin to really feel better. And, your clothes fit perfectly. And, you look better. And, you get all these great comments. Because you’re healthy. You feel good about yourself. There’s even, kind of, a sense of, you use the word happiness, about it.
You see, this is what Isaiah Berlin means when he describes positive freedom. It’s paradoxical. You see, guys, it’s knowing the right restrictions. It’s saying, “know yourself.” It’s setting boundaries. Positive freedom is particularly at work in the moral and spiritual realm. You see, we were made to operate a certain way. And, this is what people don’t get. God designed us, and He knows, listen to this, what we need in this life. And, that’s why God’s Word is kind of, like, it’s prescriptive. It prescribes what we need to live full, and vibrant, and healthy lives. You know, when you go to a mechanic, he tells you what your car needs. He’s not making an arbitrary suggestion, is he? He’s saying, “You should do this because if you don’t, your car is gonna break down.” And the reason is, because, the mechanic knows the car, how it’s designed, and how it functions best. And, therefore, I hope this makes sense, that a life full of foolish, unwise choices is not freedom. And, Os Guinness says it best. Please listen to this. This is very powerful. Os Guinness says, “Freedom is not to be able to make whatever choice your heart desires. It is making the right choice, the good choice, the wise choice.” And, then he says this. This is powerful, guys. Very profound. He says, “When everything is permissible, no one is truly free.” So, it is ironic, but not accidental, that millions of American people, who live here in this country, the land of the free, are in recovery groups, from one addiction to another. The land of the free, in recovery groups.
So, what is true freedom? How can we be free? Tim Keller has an interesting observation. He says, “Modern people are so unhappy because we find ourselves continually enslaved and in bondage. And, the reason is, because we’re following our desires and emotions, wherever they lead us. And, instead of wanting and conforming our lives to what we need.” And, then he says, “The modern view of freedom fails us by its very nature because real freedom has to be compatible with our greatest need as human beings. And what is our greatest need as human beings?” He says, “to love, and to be loved.” To love, and to serve someone else. To love and serve someone else with your life. And, this is where the problem comes in, guys. Because, when you enter a love relationship, what happens? You lose your autonomy! It means you have an obligation to be accountable to this person you love. But, you know, you choose it. Why do you choose it? Because, it was the way you were designed to live, and you know it. You sense it. In once sense, you give up your freedom, in order to love. And, this is what positive freedom’s all about. This is positive freedom, as described by Isaiah Berlin. Because, when do you feel most alive? When you love. Remember what it meant to fall in love with your spouse? And, just, the love that you experience as the years go by. Even though, I know you go through tough times. Think of the love of when once of your children comes into the world. It changes everything. But the problem is, the deeper your love grows for somebody, the less you have control over your life.
This reminds me, some of you older folks will remember. This reminds me, and this is really profound. There was a famous song, written by Glenn Frey and Don Henley of The Eagles. It’s called “Desperado”. Any of you remember that song? “Desperado”? It’s about a cowboy who refuses to love and let anybody to love him. And, the lyrics are a picture of a man who just says, “I do not want to give up my freedom.” Kind of like, remember that old Marlboro Man? Always alone. Listen to these lyrics. “Desperado, oh you ain’t getting no younger, but your pain and your hunger, they’re driving you home. And, freedom? Oh yeah, freedom. That’s just some people talking. Your prison is walking through this world all alone.” And, the song ends with these words, “You better let somebody love you before it’s too late.”
You know, guys, if we’re going to find a life that leads to our ultimate joy and well-being, we have to submit to the structure that fits who we are. We must find the structure that fits our design because true freedom is doing what God built us to do. And, God built us for love relationships. But, the ultimate, most important relationship He built us for, is a relationship with Himself. Do you realize, that’s why you’re here? That’s why He put you here? In the Book of Isaiah, He talks about, “These are the people who I formed for Myself.” In the Book of Colossians, Chapter 1, Paul says, “We have been made by Him, and for Him.” And, then, 2Corithians 8:6, it says, “We exist for Him.”
Any of you who are parents, why do you bring children into the world? You know ultimately why you do it? You anticipate a life-long relationship with them. A relationship that brings you great joy. Why did God put us here? He anticipated a relationship, a life-long, not only life-long, an eternal relationship with us, His people. The problem is, there’s the built-in risk, and parents experience this well, is that the children will reject it. Please hear this, guys. God made us to live our life in a love relationship with Him, and if we miss this, we will have missed the very reason for our earthly existence. And, that’s significant. Augustine put it this way, “God, You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts will never find rest until they rest in Thee.”
So, I ask you, this morning, to confront this possibility. That, maybe, our ideas about freedom and happiness are wrong. That freedom with no restrictions and no restraints is not freedom at all. Over time, it will lead you, just, to disappointment, and, maybe, even, you’ll crash and burn. True, positive freedom is to find the right restrictions, the restrictions that fit your being and leads to harmony and peace and joy in your life.
Now, I’m gonna wrap this up with a great illustration. But, before I do, I want to go back and take one second to consider Steven Covey’s words. “Your personal center.” What is it that you’re really living for? He says, “Whatever is your personal center is your source of security, it’s your source of significance in life. And, what leads to your ultimate priorities in life.” And, the question is this, “What is it in your life? What’s your personal center?” Whether you realize it or not, something is there, at the center of your life. And, it’s important that you be able to identify it.
Now, I’m gonna leave you with, I need about another five minutes, to talk about a man. I want to give you a picture of someone who is totally free. The Apostle Paul. I mean, it was so incredible, as free as he was, he spent a lot of his later years in prison. First, what you see, Paul, on several occasions, talks about the desires of the body. And, he says, “You know, there’s so much in this life that is lawful, that is permissible for me to do,” but then he says, “but, I’m not gonna be mastered by any of my desires.” In 1Corinthians 9:27 he says, “I discipline my body, and I make it my slave.” Great question, guys. Am I slave to the desires of my body? Or, are they a slave to me? You see, the statistics are very real. By the way, when we say slaves, we’re talking about addiction, that’s more of a modern term. Seven out of ten men are addicted to either drugs, tobacco, alcohol or pornography. And, some are addicted to more than one. You know, if we’re in any way, a slave to the desires of our body, we’re not free. We’re in bondage.
Secondly, Paul talks about in Philippians 4, he says, “You know, I can live my life with humble means, or I can live in prosperity. I can have an abundance.” He’s not saying having abundance, having money, is bad. He just says, “I can take it or leave it.” He says, “I’ve learned to be content, whatever my circumstances are.” And, what you find from the Apostle Paul, he’s saying, “I’m not a slave to money and wealth.” And, this, I believe, is a major issue in so many of our lives. And, this is the real problem with it; we’re not aware of it. This is one of the flaws in our lives that we just don’t really see. We think, you know, “I’ve got real control of this area of my life.” And, Tim Keller says, “This is a reality.” I mean, he’s got, like, 20,000-something members. Most are professional people in Manhattan. And he says, “You know, I’ve been there all these years, and people come and share, with me, their problems. All professional people.” He says, “Do you know, in the 20-something years I’ve been there, I’ve never had one person come and say, Dr. Keller, I struggle with the love of money.” In fact, he says, he did a series, a seven-week series, kind of like, in a place like this. And, he says, “And, it was on the seven deadly sins.” And, he says, “We packed it out until I got to the section on greed.” And, he says, “Nobody showed up!” And, he said, “Nobody showed up because they felt like, you know, this is not a problem for me. But it is.”
In fact, Psychology Today had an article on an extensive study on the influence of money in our lives. And, one of the startling conclusions they came to was, those who are most preoccupied with money, not necessarily those who have the most, but those who are most preoccupied with money, are the least likely to be involved with satisfying love relationships. And, Steve Singletary will tell you, that the number one issue that causes conflict in marriage, is usually having something to do with money and finance.
So, Paul wasn’t a slave to the desires of his body, or to money and material possessions. And, thirdly, Paul, this is a biggie, guys. Paul was not a slave to the approval of man. He wasn’t consumed by the question, “What do people think about me?” One of the classic books written was Robert McGee’s book, The Search for Significance. And, he says, “If you want to get a good glimpse into your own soul, honestly, answer these three questions. One: how much different would my life be if it were not for the fear of failure?” How different would your life be? “Number two: How much different would my life be if it were not for the fear and worry about what other people think about me as a man?” And, then, finally, “How much of my life and money have I wasted, trying to gain the approval of others? Trying to impress the world?” How much of your time and resources have you wasted on that? I believe that our longing to impress the world and win man’s approval is one of the deadliest addictions in life. And, Paul says in Galatians 1:10, “Am I seeking the favor of men? Or, am I seeking the favor of God? If I’m still trying to please men, I cannot be a bondservant of Christ.”
Paul was not a slave to the desires of his body. Paul was not a slave to money and material wealth. Paul was not a slave to the approval of man, to the prestige that so many people yearn for. And, then, finally, this is probably the biggest. Paul was not a slave to the fear of death and dying. In Philippians 1 he says, “For me to live, is to live for Christ, for me to die is to gain.” To die is to go be at home with my Heavenly Father.
Blaise Pascal, I’m gonna wrap this up with this thought. He said, “Very few people will admit this.” Pascal is considered one of the most brilliant people to have ever lived, became a Christian later in life. But, he said, from his observation, “Unhappiness is, perhaps, the most obvious feature of human existence.” And, he says, “The reason we’re so unhappy is because of our mortality.” That deep down, we know, that this is all gonna end. He says, “It’s the most obvious fact of life.” And, he says, “The problem is, we go along living our lives, and it slaps us in the face when we least expect it. Because we realize our own helplessness in overcoming it.” And he says this, “Deep down, we are haunted by the fact that when we die, we will experience the loss of everything in this life.” And he says, “This is why we love pleasure, and diversion so much. To keep us from thinking about the fact that one day, we’re gonna die.”
I don’t’ know if Pascal is right, but I want to ask you this question. How different would your life be today, if you were completely delivered from the fear of death? Completely delivered. Or, so, what if, not only you were delivered, but you saw it as something that you really looked forward to? I can tell you, it would change everything in the way you live today. And, this is the good news. In Hebrews 2:15, we’re told, “This is one of the reasons Jesus came into the world. To deliver us from the fear of death, which we would otherwise be slaves all of our lives.” He came to deliver us from that. And, so, guys, Paul had found true freedom. And, the reason is this; because Jesus was now his personal center. He had surrendered to the One who had designed him, and now he was living in harmony with that design. Another way to see this is that Paul had given up his freedom to serve a King. And, the Bible describes Him in Revelation 19 as, “The King of all Kings.” But this is what people don’t recognize. He is a loving King. He is a wise King. He is a benevolent King. And, He loves you. And, He is committed to your well-being. And, so, this is the situation we find ourselves in. If you don’t choose Him to be your King, you’re gonna choose some other king to serve. And, it’s not a matter of freedom. It’s a matter of who or what is going to be Lord of your life. And, this is what’s so crucial to grasp. And, I’ll leave you with it. Jesus is the only legitimate King in life. And, this is the great irony. He is a King, that truly liberates those who choose to serve Him.
I’m gonna close with a prayer. Father, we are humbled by the fact that You’re so patient with us. But, we’re also thankful that You are truly the key to finding life, that abundant life, that Jesus speaks of. And, now as we leave this morning, I pray that we would give great and deep thought to what is the personal center in my life? Am I truly free? Am I finding the happiness that the world offers? I pray that we would realize that we were designed to live in relationship with You, now, and throughout all eternity. And, that, if we miss this, we miss the very reason for our existence. We thank You, Lord, for our lives. We thank You for the gift of friendship. We thank You for all of our families, our work that You’ve called us to do. I pray that You would bless each man here, as we leave this day. We pray these things in Christ’s name. Amen.