Monthly Archives: August 2013

Back to School

School_iStock_000018656792MediumWith the start of the school year among us and our family, probably like yours, bracing for a new norm as our two boys start school, I began to think about the past six years as a parent…

I have read in parenting books that some parents choose to take an inventory of their parenting with each child on the child’s birthday. Each year parents determine what needs to be a focus for them as a parent and what they see each child needing to grow in for the coming year.

So, in this new transition for our family, I began to ask some questions:

  • Am I modeling the right qualities to my child?
  • When I make mistakes do they see me asking for forgiveness?
  • Am I sharing with them what special traits I see emerging in them?
  • Do they know who they are?

As you and I reflect on those questions, I realized that for over six years, I have had countless hours together with my boys, seven-days a week. Those hours will now be squeezed into four hours each day, Monday through Friday. This began to challenge me as a parent, “How am I going to influence and make the impact on my kids in the future years?”

As I thought about the daunting years ahead, I recalled reading some years ago about Bell Rock Lighthouse. Bell Rock Lighthouse is 11 miles off the coast of Scotland, and endures high seas in the North Sea (not to digress, but think of the high seas and crashing waves many of us like to watch the brave men from the show Deadliest Catch endure in order to taste those delicious crabs). Bell Rock Lighthouse was built in 1811 and stands 115 feet above the one-acre island of solid rock. The island is covered by seawater for 20 hours each day. The builders of the lighthouse, Robert Stevenson and 65 workers, had only four hours each day to carve out, build and retreat from the island each day as the high waters climbed over the rocks.

In a similar way, we have a short period of time to build within each of our kids their ‘toolkit’, which will allow them to endure life and the storms found in it.

As a parent, I know I have to take advantage of every moment and make it count. Two words come to mind; consistency and faithfulness. I won’t always get it right, but I am going to give it my best!

So a word of encouragement (and challenge!) to parents, is to take some time and think about your kids and the role you have in their lives:

“Like turning water into wine, God turns our best efforts, which too often fall short, into something better than we could have offered on our  own. God makes his strength perfect in our weakness. Without God, in other words, we could never be the parents we want to be.” Parrott & Parrot, The Parent You Want to Be: Who You Are Matters More Than What You Do.

Amen to that.

Pastor Pat

Weekly E-news Message

Greetings Hope-sters!

Last Thursday and Friday, we had the incredible opportunity to once again host the Global Leadership Summit – along with over 230 churches from across North America.

450 leaders from Central Iowa joined more than 75,000 leaders from around the U.S. to focus on building leadership capability and capacity.

The participants ranged from CEOs of households (stay-at-home moms) to CEOs of multi-billion dollar corporations – all interested in learning practical ways to lead more like Jesus.

Along with thousands of other churches from around the world, we believe the local church is indeed the hope of the world (when it is working right). A culture of Christ-centered leadership can positively transform individual lives, churches, businesses, governments, communities, schools and homes. And, in today’s world, the stakes have never been higher.

The verse that seemed to be woven throughout all of the amazing speakers’ talks – from General Colin Powell to Sr. Pastor Andy Stanley — was Joshua 1:9:

“This is my command-be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Each of the presenters reminded us that leadership is hard and that we need to step-out in faith even when we are vibrating in fear. Servant-Leadership is not for the faint of heart – but it is exactly what Jesus is calling us to do this side of heaven. Kouzes and Posner, in their best-selling book, The Leadership Challenge, put it this way:

“For followers of Jesus, servant-leadership isn’t an option; it’s a mandate. Servant-leadership is to be a living statement of who we are in Christ, how we treat one another, and how we demonstrate the love of Christ to the whole world.”

But, to be effective leaders, we need to put on our own oxygen masks before we can truly help others. Here are three ways we’d like to encourage you to fill your own spiritual tank at Hope this weekend:

    1. Attend worship. Pastor Eric Voelker and Minister of Children & Students, Mark Brandt, will be helping us answer the question: “Is Following Jesus Really Possible?” (Spoiler alert – the answer is yes!)
    2. Join us tonight for In His Presence at 7:00 pm in the Chapel. A wonderful opportunity for you to just be in God’s presence and refuel at the end of your week.
    3. Lastly, checkout our fall classes lineup. Registration is now open for more than 100 classes and events this fall and we’ve made sure there’s something for everyone. You can click here to search for the one that’s just right for you!

Come and get poured into at Hope this weekend (so you can lead like Jesus from a full tank)!

Love and blessings,

Gus Gustafson

Chief Ministry Officer & Tank Filler

PS: For an update on Pastor Mike, please click here and continue to keep him in your prayers for rest and renewal during his sabbatical.

Hope Story: Pam Thompson

My childhood was very dysfunctional and included both alcoholism and abuse.

The verbal abuse became my self-talk. I felt unworthy, ashamed and afraid.

PamThompson_RPB_9025webI had a lifetime of bitterness, anger, failures and disappointments.

I attended a Baptist church and had aunts and uncles with strong faith, but my step-father was atheist, and we were not allowed to talk about God.

I believed a place in heaven was earned and I did not believe God could ever forgive a sinner like me. I hid from God and others for fear they would see the scars of my childhood and the sources of my shame…

The first time we came to Hope, Pastor Mike’s sermon discussed what having a “relationship with God” meant. I had so many questions…

How could a good God leave a child alone to suffer like I had?

My quest began with Alpha, various classes, and hours of reading the Bible. I began to feel my heart – and the way I felt about life – begin to change. I realized that this world is broken, because God gives us free will, but God’s heart breaks right alongside ours when we are in pain.

Although I began to realize that God could (and did) forgive me, I still had one big hurdle to clear… I needed to forgive myself. I learned that Jesus died on the cross just for me (how humbling is that?). The creator of heaven and earth would die for me!

PamThompson_RPB_9041_webGreat freedom came from knowing He bore all of my shame, guilt and sin. The chains that bound me for so long were finally gone. I was free because of the sacrifice Christ had made – and, it was a freedom that I never had to earn, it was always there waiting for me. Praise God!

Through my studies, prayers and circumstances, I felt God leading me into prison ministry. My husband and I signed up for a class called Experiencing God. In this class, I met a woman whose husband wanted to start a prayer ministry in the jails. Another woman, released from prison, shared her amazing story. I thought, “God, what are you doing?”

A week prior to the beginning of this class, my stepson told me he wanted me to connect with a woman he had met, but it didn’t happen. A month into the study, he was at our house and we discovered the woman he wanted me to meet was the one who had shared her moving story. This is how God works… there are no coincidences!

During the class I learned much and experienced more. I learned God is my shield. He will carry me, and only he can provide the hope to get me through.

My favorite verse is Psalm 73:26:

“God remains the strength of my heart; he is my portion forever.”

PamThompson_RPB_9181_webI live life constantly seeking for God to match my heart with his. I have grown so much through the classes at Hope – both spiritually and personally – and have a greater understanding of the love of Jesus Christ. Now, when I pray, I listen for Him to speak to me. He speaks to me through scripture, church, circumstances, people and music.

My family and friends see the difference in me. It all points to God.

I’m 60 years old and lived most of my life in darkness, but will live the rest of it in light!

Pam Thompson

Letter to Hope from Pastor Mike: Part II

August 14, 2013

Dear Hope Family,

Thank you for your outpouring of prayers and support for Sally and me. We absolutely feel and have been carried by your love.

A successful cardiac ablation on August 1 gave way to the development of some concerning new health issues, an extended hospitalization and a series of follow-up tests to search for a cause. As of yesterday, the most urgent and concerning possibilities have been ruled out clinically, for which we are praising God. A wonderful team of doctors and nurses, here in Des Moines and in Rochester, will continue to monitor my condition and search for answers. Lord willing, I’ll be back to full speed soon.

Yesterday – just outside the Mayo Clinic before a consultation with a world-renowned expert on a rare, life-threatening syndrome indicated as a possibility by my symptoms – Sally and I stopped in a beautiful prayer garden on the grounds of a neighboring church. We humbly asked God for help and healing. As soon as we said “Amen,” we looked up to see a huge advertisement painted on the side of a bus for a local computer company called “Miracle,” offering service “7 Days a Week.” I had to laugh. Hadn’t seen that bus once while spending a good portion of two weeks in Rochester. Haven’t seen it since.

A few hours later, we left the clinic with the good news that I had failed the test for this particular syndrome.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea … The Lord almighty is with us … He says, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’” Psalm 46:1-10

God is with you today. Open the eyes of your heart. Acknowledge God’s powerful presence in your daily life, and you’ll start to see his miracles.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Mike

P.S.- I’ll try to provide occasional updates on Twitter, where you can “follow” me at I’m hopeful that all subsequent news regarding my health will be boring and easily fit inside a 140-character limit tweet.

Update on Pastor Mike

Pastor Mike’s cardiac ablation (for persistent atrial fibrillation) was completed late this afternoon. The doctor who performed the procedure is “extremely pleased.”

Pastor Mike and his family would like to thank everyone for all your prayers today, and your continuing prayers as he heals and renews during his sabbatical.

It’s good to be the church, together.