Hope Notes 3/10/16

March 10, 2016

Hey Hopers!

 

This is Pastor Mark filling in for Lois this week.  Please keep Mike and Lois in prayer as they travel on family business because I believe God is at work to use them for His kingdom on this trip.  And I’m looking forward to having them back with us soon.

 

That reminds me of one thing I want to mention.  Maybe YOU have been away from church for a little bit (or even for a while).  Perhaps that is because you were traveling or because God had something for you to turn your attention to.  But I want to encourage you that it is time to come home!  Whatever it takes, please make it a point to come back out.  One of the simplest and best ways to follow Jesus is to settle the question of where you will be on Sunday morning.  There are plenty of reasons and lots of demands that will pull you away, but doesn’t it make sense that our enemy would want to pull us from church since it is central to our spiritual health and growth?  Don’t let the schedules and opportunities keep you away.  Carve out that time for you and your family to be together and to learn and worship and grow.  The pattern and the teaching of the New Testament is that everyone who called themselves a follower of Jesus met together on the first day of the week to worship Him.  As spring approaches, let’s renew this foundation of our faith!

 

I hope you’ve had a chance to reflect on the challenge verse this month. Proverbs 4:23 is one of the most profound and clarifying verses I’ve ever found in Scripture.  What does it mean to guard your heart?  Simply put, it means that we are to pay attention to what goes in and to what stays in.  We are to decide if it is something that will threaten the health of our soul.  As you know, we get lots of input from our world every day on everything from romance to career to priorities.  We are pressured to accept the new thinking on things that the Bible tells us are wrong and bombarded by the new ‘normal’ all the time.  Then we have things like worry, anxiety and stress that chase us down.  These things and many more want to come in and live in our heart.  But we are told to guard it.  Why?  Because it is the well-spring of life…. If we let these things take over, they will poison every aspect of our life.  A lot is at stake – so guard your heart!

 

I want to ask you all again to pray for our church.  Collectively, we are seeing God work in powerful ways.  But the enemy is also at work to undermine what God wants to do.  Pray for our leaders: right now I think every one of them is being stretched beyond belief.  On top of that, we are being called to very big challenges.  Some of them come from our continuous growth, while others come from the calling to make disciples of Jesus.  So please pray!  And help us.  We always do God’s work together as a family, so this year’s challenges are for all of us.  Let me talk quickly about our three keys this year.

 

First, we have said that a huge key to including and serving the new folks coming is to see our small groupshealthy, thriving, and growing.  We all need to do what we can to help everyone get in a group!  Ultimately, that means the small groups that meet every other week from September through April.  But if that is too big of a leap at the moment, there are many places people can start connecting to groups at Hope.  We have a men’s breakfast that meets the 2nd Saturday of each month,God’s Girls that meet the first and third Monday of each month, Young Adults that meet those same Mondays.  On top of that we have the Hope4Recovery group on Tuesday nights and we’re about to begin our softballseason.  As you can see there are many different types of groups that are ready made for you to step into!  (SIDE NOTE:  If you are already in a small group and you want to keep meeting through the summer, I am going to get some recommendations together for books you can choose to study together over the summer.   Our last Study Sheet will go out on 4/17, so after that we won’t have a ‘study’ for groups to do, but for any group that wants to keep meeting, those recommendations will give you something to dig into).

 

Second, we have worked hard to invite everyone into one or more of our serving teams.  We are currently organizing, integrating, and putting lots of volunteers to work. If you missed out on our Job Fair day, we can still use you!  Join our kid’s ministry, or our sound or media team.  Join one of our serving teams.  And if you have an idea of something you’d like to do at Hope that we haven’t been doing, let me know and we’ll pray about where, when, and how to start.

 

Lastly, with the challenges of more people, we have talked about the necessity of moving towards having Dave and Matt full-time as staff members.  Currently, they both sacrifice to work as our Youth Pastor and Kid’s Pastor, and both of them have to also work other jobs.  I’m thankful for their faithfulness and their impact on our young people.  For our church, it is a big challenge to step up financially, but we are praying that we will be able to do that – even before the year is out!  So do what you can do to help us go forward as you sacrifice and give faithfully to God’s work at Hope.

 

On that note, I wanted to update you on our giving from last month.  We averaged $8148 per week in the month of February, bringing our annual weekly giving average to $7122.  This is above our weekly target of $6700 and gives us plenty of reason to think that God is opening the door to getting our pastors full time as well as much more!

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

 

We have a few things coming up that you won’t want to miss.  First of all, next Wednesday night is our Worship Night.  We will start at 7 and have about an hour and a half of worship together.  It will refresh your soul and fill you up for whatever you’re facing.  Come as long as you can, whenever you can, and lift your voice and your heart with us!

 

The following week is the Passion Week leading to Easter Sunday. This is such a precious time of year and we all look forward to it.  Our Good Friday service will be on Friday March 25 at 7 pm and will include communion, lots of special music, and readings from all four gospels about the sacrifice of our Savior.  Then Easter Sundaywill be a wonderful celebration of the resurrection of our Lord.  It is probably the best Sunday of the year.  In addition to celebrating and worshipping together, we get to welcome lots of visitors that day.  So help us welcome them to Hope – even if they are just sitting next to you!  And invite out others – some will come on Easter that won’t respond to an invitation for any other Sunday.  I’m excited about this morning, in part because we will put the gospel in every person’s hands that Sunday!

 

A special reminder for teens: our teen retreat is coming up next weekend.  Don’t miss out!  Get info from Dave or one of the teen leaders, or check the bulletin board next to the youth room.  This will be a great weekend, and we’re praying that the Lord will take all the fun and friends and use them to transform our teens forever!

 

The Wednesday after Easter we’ll be back with regularWednesday night Bible study.  The first two weeks will be the Exodus video I’ve been talking about (Patterns of Evidence) and then we’ll dive back into 1 Corinthians.  Our Hope Kids Hangouts will be restarting too, so keep an eye out for info on that.  We’re almost done our study in Esther, so we’ll be starting a new series in April.  We’re going to be looking at the book of Proverbs and digging into the everyday practical wisdom it has for us.  There’s so much in store for us as a church family and I don’t want you to miss out on any of it!

 

Two other quick notes.  For the month of April, we’ll be redoing our church directory, and a major part of that is getting updated pictures of everyone to use.  Our plan is to take pictures on Sunday mornings before and after each service, so plan to gather your whole family one of those days and get your picture taken!
And don’t forget about our team planning to go toUganda this summer.  We’ll be hearing from the team on April 24th and taking a love offering to add to their support on May 1st.  Prayerfully consider what you can do to help them get to Africa!

 

Praying that your week has been filled with the presence and power of God.  Our God is an awesome God who saves, heals, and never leaves us or forsakes us. Hold onto that truth this day and every day!

 

Pastor Mark