Central Baptist Church of Westerly
16 Elm Street, Westerly, RI   02891
Phone: (401) 596-4929   

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Eliminating the degree of separation

                                                              January 30, 2019

Dear Friends,

When the movie, Marshall, came out last year, my daughter
told me that her friend's father was in the film. So we
watched with great anticipation. She told me that he
appeared in two scenes in the movie. As the story played
out before us, she suddenly jumped up and said, "That's
him!" I have to be honest. I actually got excited when I saw
him. It meant I knew someone, who knew someone, who's
father was famous now.

You've probably heard of the six degrees of separation
game? In the 1990's American playwright, John Guare,
came out with a script based on the idea that everyone is
separated from any particular person on the planet by no
more than five other people. The idea actually dates back
even further. In 1929 a Hungarian author, Frigyes Karinthy,
wrote a short story titled, Chains, in which he suggests that
we are all connected in this way.

These theories, made popular in fiction, have been the
subject of much study in the area of social networks. By
the 1960's mathematicians at M.I.T. had taken up the cause.
They extrapolated that in a country the size of the United
States we may be linked by even fewer connections.
Psychologist Stanley Milgram followed up on this idea.
His article on the Small World Problem in Psychology
Today magazine vaulted this notion to new heights.

Do you remember the popular contest surrounding actor
Kevin Bacon. It was started by three students at Albright
College in Pennsylvania. They were watching the movie,
Footloose, when the idea hit them. The goal was to link any
actor to Kevin Bacon through no more than six connections
where the two actors had appeared in a movie together. The
result was a person's "Bacon Number."

No wonder I was excited. My "Bacon Number" was three to
the actor in Marshall. It was almost as if I had a role in the
movie myself. Of course, I didn't really know the man. I
didn't even know his daughter. The whole idea started feeling
pretty absurd. Then it hit me that if I made it a point to meet
Becky's friend, I might meet her father as well. That would
be a real connection and not just an extension of a relationship.  

Real is always better than imaginary. It is better to know
someone than to know about them. It struck me that this is
especially true when it comes to God. You can read the Bible
and learn a lot about God. You can sit in a Bible study and
discuss the inns and outs of our faith. You can debate issues
of morality and talk about what Jesus would do. Yet, unless
you actually take the time to get to know God, there will
always be a degree of separation.

So here's three ways to deepen your relationship with God.
First, spend time with him in prayer. Come to him in humility
and honesty. Confess your sins. Ask his forgiveness. Rest in
his love. Second, study the Bible. God reveals his heart in it.
You'll find God's promises there. You will be blessed and
able to live more confidently. Finally, go out and serve him.
You'll quickly realize that when you are doing God's will,
God is always with you.

God bless! See you in church. Cal
Pastor Cal Lord's Weekly Epistle
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