Hope Notes 12/21/2022

December 21, 2022

Hello Hoper ~
     Are you Team Real or Team Fake Christmas tree?  I am now Team Fake after years of adamantly going Team Real tree. Let me tell you why. Trying to accommodate all of our schedules in order to find time to go and look for a tree was becoming increasingly difficult. Searching fruitlessly over what felt like all of South Jersey trying to find a tree that met our requirements was tiring. My back couldn’t take crawling commando style to water the tree almost every day while, unbeknownst to me, the container was continuously leaking! Imagine if you will three weeks’ worth of pine water dripping through our carpet and onto the flooring below.  The final tipping point was when we discovered that our tree was covered with minute spiders who came to life in the warmth of our family room.  We watched in horror as they billowed about on their webs.  Needless to say, the tree was immediately taken outside, decorations and all.  Since my daughter and I were the ones taking it out, there may or may not have been a lot of shrieking and frantic stomping involved.
     Now, how about Team Real or Team Fake Christianity.  Well Team Real of course, you say!  But are we aware of some of the insidious ways ‘fake’ Christianity can sneak into our lives? Unfortunately there are pastors who take God’s Word and tweak it just enough to make it say what they want it to. “…..do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.” (1 John 4:1 NLT) There are books written by Christians that will take Scripture out of context to drive home their desired point. Even well-meaning friends can unintentionally lead us down a wrong path when they are afraid to speak some hard Truth to us. The best way to prevent any of this from happening is to know what’s in the Bible.  Everything should be measured against that one standard. “…..but test all things. Hold fast to the good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
     Let us be on guard against anything that doesn’t line up with God’s Word. Real or fake Christmas trees both have their place, but when it comes to matters of faith, only Team Real is acceptable!
Team Fake Tree / Team Real Christianity  … Lois

SPIRITUAL CARE  

SUNDAY MORNING MESSAGE: 
Go and Tell (Acts 1:8; John 4:4-14)
This Christmas Morning we will share a very special service together as a family. We’ll sing Christmas Carols and hear the story of Jesus’ birth from the Gospel writers. Then we will take just a few moments to remember that there is a deep calling on our lives because Christmas is good news. Not only should we live in it, and live like it is good news, we should share it! Jesus told us to do that very thing and promised us the power to do it. As we celebrate how far He came to bring us the good news, let us be challenged to face whatever obstacles we need to in order to share Him with others.

LEVEL UP ON WEDNESDAY NIGHTS: Coming January 4th at 7:00!
Have you felt the need to take your relationship with Jesus to the next level? Wednesday nights in 2023 are your chance to do just that. We’ll be offering classes for our teens and adults that will create opportunities for you to deepen your faith in Christ and grow in your knowledge of the Bible. Be on the lookout as new classes rollout through January. (Childcare will be available for all ages.)

  • FOUNDATIONS: Open To All Adults We hear a lot about ‘deconstructing’ Christians today.  And we face questions as well as casual but presumptively certain statements about God, Christians, the Bible and truth. How can we navigate these waters without losing our faith?  We are returning on Wednesday Nights to continue our lessons on ‘Foundations’.  We talked about the Authority of the Bible and the Character of God last September. Now we will pick up where we left off and continue through the Nature of Salvation as well. If we are informed and trained in these areas, the chances of us being taken off guard by a skeptics comments or even losing our way when we question our faith are greatly diminished.  We want to find solid ground to stand on in the current cultural discussions and debates, so join us as we continue to target a few places to find our footing. 
  • BECOMING THE BRANCH: 9th-12th Grades Ready to take your faith to the next level? Students will learn how to grow in the Lord and produce the fruit that he calls us to produce. From fresh ideas to practical application, this devotional series will be a great opportunity for senior high teens to dig deep and firmly plant their roots in Christ!
  • I’VE GOT QUESTIONS: 6th-8th Grades What’s the trinity? How long ago did God create the world? What’s for dinner? All questions we have heard tweens ask, and while we might not have the answer to every question, we want to train our Junior High students on how to ask those questions, where to look for answers, and what to do with the answers that we get. Junior Highers are a naturally curious bunch and we are so excited to direct that curiosity toward Jesus!
  • COMING SOON: Stay tuned for more details on these upcoming classes for all adults!
    • “Unoffendable” led by Dave Hallahan
    • “The Panorama Bible Study” led by Mike Hartwell

WEDNESDAY NIGHT HOPEKIDS TEAM: Opportunity to Serve
Do you want to support our HopeKids, but you aren’t able to commit to Sunday morning classes? Consider joining our HopeKids Wednesday Night team! On Wednesday nights, our HopeKids programs are smaller and more focused on childcare. That means that joining our Wednesday night team is a great opportunity to build relationships with our HopeKids and invest in their families by freeing parents to attend one of our Bible study classes, with a smaller commitment than our Sunday programs! Join us in supporting our Hope families! If interested, email Pastor Ryan at ryanmoreno@hopechristianfellowship.org 

2023 BIBLE READING PLANS: 
Bookmarks are out in the lobby now! Pick one up and to begin a year-long bible reading plan put together by Pastor Mark & Pastor Dave. Plans can also be viewed here

PRAYER HUDDLE: 
If you’re volunteering on a Sunday morning, whether its greeting, HopeKids!, in the sound booth, etc., please join us for a team prayer huddle! We want to gather together everyone who is serving that morning to pray for the services. Beginning 1/1 we will meet at 8:40 in the GoZone!

SUNDAY MORNING PRAYER:
Beginning 1/1 join us Sunday mornings at 8:30 in Pastor Mark’s office to pray for that morning’s services. Contact Bob Baumiester for more information (rbaumiester@gmail.com). 

VERSE OF THE MONTH:
Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

DECEMBER BIBLE READING PLANS: 
Year 1: Proverbs 
Year 2: Job
Psalms 139-150

HOPE DAILY: Available on Apple Podcasts & Spotify!
We post a 10 minute episode daily, Monday through Friday. You’ll hear from a variety of our staff as they share devotional thoughts and scriptures. Listen on Apple, Spotify, or on our website

ANNOUNCEMENTS

DECEMBER COLLECTION: GWCM Food Pantry
For the month of December, Hope will be collecting non-perishable food items for the Greater Woodbury Cooperative Ministry food pantry. Specifically GWCM is in need of: cold cereal, mac & cheese, peanut butter, grape jelly, pasta, pasta sauce, and soups. Place donations in the bins at either entrance. To see what other items can be donated click here

CHRISTMAS SERVICES:
This year Christmas falls on a Sunday, which is extra exciting because it means we get to be together as a church family for this holiday! Please join us at 8:30 or 10:00 for a special hour long service with scripture reading and song. We’ll recount the Christmas story together and take time to celebrate the birth of our Savior! And we’ll even have a Hope mug for each adult (while supplies last)- our Christmas gift to you! Bring the whole family, HopeKids! will have childcare provided for children 2 and under. 

SUPPORT HOPEKIDS! MINISTRY:
Check out our new HopeKids! Donations Board posted outside of the GoZone. Stop by and “shop” the board for an item you’d like to donate, and be sure to return items to the “HopeKids!” donations baskets in the kitchen!

NEW YEAR, NEW TIMES:
Take note! Beginning Sunday, January 1st our service times will shift to 9:00 and 10:30! We will continue to livestream the second service. 

FELLA-SHIP EVENT: BATTLE OF BATTLES
From the minds that brought you Fight Club, we present AN EPIC ONE NIGHT EVENT on January 13th at 6:30! Battle of Battles will be a night full of competition (Chili Cook-Off, ping pong, cornhole, arm wrestling and more!) and a conversation on one of the hardest battles facing men today. This event is open to men 18+ and free to join. Sign-up in the lobby to attend and to enter the Chili Cook-Off. See Pastors Dave or Dan with any questions.

YOUNG ADULTS
Meets 1st & 3rd Tuesdays at 7:00
The Young Adults ministry at Hope is a group of post-high school through their twenties adults truly seeking to explore life, engage culture, and empower change while remaining ground in the Word of God. Any questions, contact Pastor Dave at dave@hopechristianfellowship.org

HOPE YOUTH
YOUTH GROUP: Sundays 6:00-8:00
Open to all teens 6th-12th grades! Contact Pastor Dan Lein with any questions: danlein@hopechristianfellowship.org

MESSY PARTY: 2023 KICKOFF! 
Hope Youth will return from its winter break on January 8th with a massive Messy Party! We don’t usually encourage students to make a mess but that is precisely the goal on Messy Night, where students will compete in various gross-out and mess activities with prizes in the line! So make sure you wear something you don’t mind ruining!

HOPE YOUTH CALENDAR:
Parents, stay up to date with everything happening on our

calendar here!

HOPE KIDS
HOPEKIDS HANGOUT: January 8th Kickoff!
All elementary kids are invited to join us in the GoZone on Sunday nights from

6PM-8PM for an extra dose of fun and Bible study. Just like on Sunday mornings, we gather together for games, Bible stories, and prayer—but with an extra hour there’s twice the excitement, bigger games, and more time to get to know each other! 

NEW YEAR, NEW TESTAMENT!
We’re kicking off the new year and picking up where we left off by jumping into a 12-week overview of the New Testament with our What’s in the Bible? friends. There will be special snacks, games and activities to celebrate both the new year and the new testament—you won’t want to miss it!

SUNDAY MORNING PROGRAMS:
We offer childcare and classes from our littlest Hopers to our 5th graders every Sunday morning at both the 8:30 & 10 services. Each classroom is staffed with friendly, enthusiastic, background checked team members to ensure your child’s safety. Our WonderZone! serves our youngest children from infants through Pre-K, who are full of wonder about who God is!  K-5th graders gather in the GoZone! where we GO for God, GO for growth and GO forever.

For any questions about HopeKids! Ministry contact us at: kids@hopechristianfellowship.org 

Check out our social media (and more) here!