Monthly Archives: June 2013

Weekly E-news Message

Dear Hope-sters,

It’s hard to believe that July is just around the corner and next week many of us will be firing up the BBQ, heading to parades, and preparing to watch fireworks.

The busyness of summer is definitely in full swing!

Parents are busy transporting kids to and from various practices, lessons and games. Families’ calendars are filling up with vacation plans and weddings of loved ones and friends.

Here at Hope, we are busy getting ready for our summer celebrations,Vacation Bible School and Taste of Hope, which are right around the corner.

Even during the summer, many of us live in a constant mode of “go, go, go” – not having much time to focus on one thing for too long before we shift to what we have to do next. Not having time to really dive in to what we’re doing. To go deeper.

If you joined us last weekend, you know we kicked off our new sermon series, Since You Asked, where we are tackling some of life’s big questions. This weekend, Pastor Scott and Pastor Nicole will be answering the question, “How Can I Grow Deeper in Faith?”

Too often we get so lost in the busyness of our daily lives that we don’t take the time to focus on what’s really important – on what God calls us to focus on.

Growing deeper in faith involves so much more than just showing up for worship on the weekends. Yes, this is extraordinarily important BUT Jesus calls us to do (and be) so much more!

Join us this weekend to learn how to grow deeper in your faith. We’re ready and waiting to jump in with you with both feet…

Blessings,
Gus Gustafson
Chief Ministry Officer & Growing Deeper Advocate

PS: We have thousands of kids already signed up for VBS, July 15-19 & 22-26. Registration is still open AND there are still plenty of opportunities to serve. Great way for both you and your kids to grow deeper together!

Weekly E-news Message

Good morning, Hope folks!

We live in a distracted world, flooded with almost unlimited access to overwhelming waves of information on practically any subject, digitally illuminated in high definition for our viewing pleasure. Plus, we’re surrounded by a constant temptation to fill our calendars with a full slate of activities from morning to night.

We live in fast times, getting faster. Days fly by. Seasons and years blur together. To quote the famous 1980s philosopher, Ferris Bueller: “If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Truth is, culturally, we’re dangerously close to “missing it” … as more and more distracted people look away from the body of Christ to find life (and meaning).

Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)

Ponder that statement for a while. Is he? Or are Jesus’ words just an overstated claim made by a good religious teacher, and now by his followers, in an attempt to attract more attention to our cause?

This weekend at Hope, Pastor Jeremy and I will start a new sermon series called “Since You Asked” with an honest and confessional look at a timely question, “Do I Still Need Jesus (and His Church)?”

Get the kids up early. Bring a Bible, or grab a free one off the shelf at Hope. Invite all your friends, and a few of your enemies. It’s time for church!

Peace,
Mike Housholder
Jesus follower

 

P.S.- Weekend service times for the summer are the same as the rest of the year: Saturday 5:00 & 6:30 pm, Sunday 7:45, 8:15, 9:15, & 11:00 am and 5:00 pm.

Hope Story: Chad Holtz

I’m a “crockpot Christian,” if you will.

I grew up in a small rural Iowa town, in a Christian home, with Christian parents.

I put on the 3-piece suit every Sunday and went to Sunday school and then worship service.

As I got older, I went to Wednesday night Confirmation class, was an acolyte and an usher, and went through “public questioning” and was confirmed.

In high school and college, I went through a little bit of a lull in my Christian journey.

Chad-Holtz-2_WebIt wasn’t until my wife and I (and our boys) spent a few years at different churches in the Midwest that I started to re-explore faith.

When we moved back to the Des Moines area, I said to my wife, “I used to go to this little church on Ashworth [Hope]. It was really great except the Pastor was a Bears fan.” (Sorry Pastor Mike!)

So, we visited again. And, although Hope was no longer “small,” just like so many Hope Stories go, we found a home.

Michelle and I continued to grow in our faith walk through getting involved in numerous ways at Hope – through Alpha (both taking the course and then leading), joining a small group, serving for Ignition, leading PowerLife and volunteering in various other ways.

We loved it all! But, something about my spiritual life still didn’t seem complete. I hadn’t found my calling…

So, we stepped back and re-evaluated. We talked and prayed about it. We waited for God to speak.  

Just when I was getting pretty comfortable (ie: lazy), I asked Michelle, “What about a mission trip?” Without hesitation she said, “I think that would be amazing!”

Soon thereafter, Pastor Pat preached about a new mission – Mission Ghana.

I said to myself, “Ok, I’m interested!”

Pastor Pat explained, “We’re going to help them with computers and technology.”

Wow! That was my job at the time.

He went on, “We’re going to help them learn how to farm.”

I was raised on a farm!

“If you’re interested, please get in touch with us.”

So, I did.

And, you’d think the story would end with me going to Ghana.

Not so.

Juarez dump2

Mission Juarez

We ended up joining a mission trip headed to Juarez, Mexico, to serve God by helping the “poorest of the poor” who lived in a reclaimed dump, bringing God’s hope and light to living conditions unseen in our part of the world.

And, yet again, it felt like home.

There, our team brought improvement to the community.

We built a house in five days, even without knowing what we were doing.

We brought a load of donated shoes and distributed them. Children, without shoes of their own, scattered around us, trying on multiple pairs – even those those who couldn’t be helped remained gracious.

During the week, our group bonded with one another, and also with the community, most of whom are non-English speaking.

new shoes

Mission Juarez

One boy, Martin (pronounced Mar-teen), tagged along with me for the week, and even though he didn’t speak English, we communicated effectively.

One of our most memorable interactions was when he constructed a small battery pack with a wire and played a practical joke, lining up a circle of people and sending around a small jolt. At the end of the week, Martin sent his brother to present me with the contraption—a gift he wanted me to have (a meaningful gesture from a boy who had nothing). I found an interpreter to explain that I couldn’t accept the gift, but thanked and hugged him, fighting back my own tears.

It was incredibly hard to leave.

In a preparation meeting for our first of many trips to Juarez, our leader explained that we would get more from the people of Juarez than we could ever give to them.

This was something I had a hard time both believing and understanding at the time.

But, I can now tell you – without a doubt – the people of Juarez gave me more than I could have ever given them.

Martin_shock2

Mission Juarez

They changed my thinking. They changed my view of the world. They changed my heart.

The experience rocked my perception of faith and changed my life. I’ll never be the same again. I thank God for transforming me through loving and happy people that live in a place where they have close to nothing.

I’d have to check the stamps on my passport to remember how many mission trips I’ve been on. Every time I’ve come home better than when I left.

Every. Single. Time.

I’ve had the privilege to serve, and serve alongside some truly amazing people. I’ve seen some of the poorest people, hugged them, helped them, cried with them, laughed with them, sang praises with them and learned from them.

Juarez, El Paso, Jamaica, South AfricaDes Moines… the list is growing and growing.

Imagine, a young farm boy in rural Iowa, sitting with his brothers and parents in a small church and singing his Father’s favorite hymn:

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made

To me, as a young boy in that church pew, the world was pretty small. Today, it is big. Who knows where I’ll be called to serve God next?

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!

Traveling the globe and doing mission work may not be everyone’s calling, but I believe it’s what God has called me to do.

Indeed, how GREAT thou art!

 Chad Holtz

 ***

Interested in getting involved with Missions at Hope? Here’s a few ways you can learn more:

  • Visit the Mission’s page on our website.
  • Stop by the Mission Fair this upcoming Monday (June 24) at 6:00 pm, where you can hear from both local and global mission partners. 2014 Mission Trips will also be announced!
  • Join the monthly Missions e-newsletter.
  • Email the Missions team.

Pastor’s Corner: Talking about cancer

Starting next weekend, we will kick off with a new sermon series titled “Since You Asked,” where we will tackle some big questions.

Not surprisingly, I have been enlisted to preach on the weekend of July 6-7, wrestling with the oft-asked question, “What do you do when a loved one has cancer?”

Just about everyone at Hope has a cancer story, in one form or another. And, the question so many people ask is, “How do I respond to cancer?”

My wife, Jackie, and I have an existing cancer story, with our daughter, Deanna, being diagnosed four-and-a-half years ago with breast cancer that had metastasized in two of her vertebrae.

I have been enormously aided in thinking about the subject of this sermon and about cancer in general by reading a book that Deanna wrote a couple of years ago titled: Hoping for More: Having Cancer, Talking Faith, and Accepting Grace. You can find it at Café Hope.

As a professor of religion at Hamline University in St. Paul, Deanna is used to wrestling with the big questions of life and combines her academic prowess and deep and profound Christian faith with her firsthand experience of the suffering caused by cancer.

Here’s a quote from the beginning pages of her book to help give you a quick look at her story:

This story takes place in the Minnesota neighborhoods, hospital rooms, classrooms and sanctuaries where I live, love, teach, worship and pray. It is in those spaces—accompanied by those who incarnate the hands and feet of divine love—where I grieve what is lost and slowly embrace what is not. As words return and I learn to talk about cancer, while talking about faith, the conversation pushes beyond the predictable parameters of prayer, the church, even hope in life after death.

Refracted through the lens of cancer, my life as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and professor looks very different than it did before cancer. Refracted through the lens of cancer, faith looks different too. Through the telling of this story of life with stage 4 cancer, I hope to offer what I wish I had had; a story about talking faith in the midst of cancer, and talking cancer in the midst of faith; a way of speaking that resists conventional language about God’s relationship to suffering, particularly in its cancerous form. The story that follows is no sentimental “God saved me from cancer” tale; instead it is an accounting of faith’s faltering speech in the face of grim prognoses and brief glimpses of hope…

I continue to hope for more in this life—more chances to be gracious, kind, loving. Beyond these basic hopes, new hopes for this life have become important too; hope for continued inactivity of the cancer in my body and the bodies of so many others, for psychological and spiritual courage to live with the disease, for the gift of living long enough to see my daughters grow into adulthood.

In addition to hoping for more in this life, I also hope for more beyond. I hope the promises of God are true; that there is more to life beyond this earthly one; and that in the life beyond there will be no more crying, no more dying, only light, only love, only joy.

It is always illuminating to see how God works in the midst of suffering. Deanna has been asked to do a lot of speaking about her story with cancer, and Jackie and I have attended several of these sessions.

Thus, when I was asked to preach on how to respond to cancer in a loved one, I immediately decided to ask Deanna to participate. But, the more I thought about it the more I concluded that I could not ask her to drive down to Des Moines and participate in seven worship services on a weekend; that is exhausting for someone in perfect health!

So, it was instead suggested that we send our videographer to the Twin Cities to put Deanna on video, following her around in her busy life.

On July 6-7, Deanna will be sharing her story in several segments, and as the preacher of the day, I will be in dialogue with her via the video. I highly encourage you to be there!

I believe that Deanna, and of course now Pastor Nicole, are bringing the mysteries of cancer out in the open and helping each of us understand more fully what it means to be truly mortal and yet filled with hope.

I close with one other passage from Deanna’s book, Hoping for More:

In one cancer memoir I read, the author writes about the scene in the exam room after she learns that she has breast cancer. She looks at the doctor through her tears and whispers, ‘I’m sorry, I just don’t know how to have cancer.’ The doctor puts his hand on her shoulder and says, ‘None of us know how to have cancer.’ Deanna then wrestles with this statement throughout the book: How does one have cancer?

So often cancer stories come from two perspectives: being cured, or facing imminent death.

Deanna talks about living in the “gaps.”

She most likely will never be cancer free – it is just sitting there in her back, trying to again create havoc (it happened again a year ago). Yet, she is not facing death anytime soon.

So, she lives in the gaps.

She tries to process what it is like to live with cancer.

To have faith in the midst of cancer.

To find hope when you have cancer.

To experience relationships while having cancer.

She talks about the importance of CaringBridge in her journey (she calls it “the virtual body of Christ.”)

This is what her book is about and this is what the sermon will be about.

How do we have cancer? How do we love and support loved ones who have cancer? How do we find hope in the midst of illness? How do we find life in the shadow of death? What does God say about illness, death and eternal life? How do we respond to miracles, or the absence of a miracle? How does Jesus deal with illness?

None of us have all the answers, but we can ask the right questions and connect our experience with our Christian faith…


Pastor Merv

PS: For those looking to connect with others who have had cancer, walked alongside someone with cancer or are currently battling cancer, we invite you to check out Hope’s support group, Cancer Connect. The group meets the second Sunday of every month. You can email Kimberly with questions or for more information.