Monthly Archives: September 2013

Growing our families in Christ

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.  And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”  Deuteronomy 6:4-7

Dear families of Hope,

With the school year underway and fall activities in go mode, it’s critical we don’t forget the foundational things and miss prayer time and talk time with our kids.

I hope all parents take time to model prayer and pray with your children each day. One of the ways we do this in our family, is each morning, while in the car, we say a simple prayer, “Lord, thank you for today.  Watch over these kids and keep them safe. Help them to learn and be good friends.  Amen.”

Another great idea my wife came up with as our Kindergartner started school was to laminate a few family photos and place them in his school bag.  Not only was it a way for our son to know who was picking him up, but every time he opened his school bag, he saw his family – one’s who love him dearly.

So, here are some upcoming things for families to participate in at Hope as it relates to building up, encouraging and growing our families in Christ:

  • Kingdom Quest, WOW, PowerLife and Ignition:  It’s not too late to sign-up your kids or for adults to volunteer.
    • Kingdom Quest: Hope’s version of Sunday School for children age 3 – grade 5. Just a friendly reminder for those families already signed up, please be sure to take a look at the weekly take-home given to your child each weekend at KQ. It’s a great way to lead conversation, prayer and other activities as a family.Haven’t yet registered your child? You can do so here!
    • WOW: A midweek, high energy evening for children grades 1-5 to come together and learn about God – kicks off Wednesday, Oct. 2. You can learn more or register your kids here!
    • PowerLife: Hope’s ministry for grades 6-8 where students have the opportunity to confirm their faith at the end of their 8th grade year.
    • Igntion: Hope’s high school ministry for grades 9-12.
  • Mother/Son Tailgate Party: Saturday, Oct. 5, 10:00 am – noon. A brand new opportunity for moms and sons (age 3 – grade 6)! Join us for a day of tailgating with food, crafts, outdoor games, photo opportunities and more. You can register here, or purchase tickets at Café Hope.
  • The Smart Step-Family: Tuesdays, Oct. 29 – Dec. 17. This 8-week study strives to help couples – whether dating, engaged, or married – who are blending a family together. Each session walks participants through discussion questions and practical advice to strengthen their home. Suggested reading, The Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family can be purchased in Café Hope. Register here.

Let’s grow and build our children in the things of the Lord.

Pastor Pat

Pastor’s Corner: Come, follow me

If you were at worship this weekend at any of Hope’s campuses you heard the message, “Follow Jesus”  (if you missed it, you can watch it by visiting hopeonline.tv). This message is about the very heart of what it means to be a Christian, to hear and live Jesus’ words to all of his disciples, including you… “Come, follow me!”

I certainly have a lot yet to experience (and learn) about life and faith, but I’ve also been at this “Christian thing” for a good amount of time now, too.

And, to tell the truth, I still feel an involuntary shudder when I hear the phrase, “Come, follow me.”  I feel a child-like fear and tininess overtake me, like I want to hide away in a shadowy corner, out-of-sight, clutching a worn blanky.

This phrase, which comes out of the Lord’s mouth, causes me to feel so… intimidated, inadequate, doomed to failure. Even if I wanted to fulfill those words (and I do, I really do); even if I wanted to cling to Jesus’ side (and I do, I really do), I know it’s only a matter of moments before I fall flat on my face and fail, or even worse and very likely, openly disobey.

I hear Jesus’ voice and I cherish the sound when he calls my name. But, the words, “Come, follow me,” only seem like an invitation to experience my own demise. How on earth can these words ever sound sweet, like the words of salvation?

So, the fear in my gut just wants to scream, “Go away from me Lord Jesus, I am simply not able. I am not worthy… I am a sinner.”

Funny thing, this very thing happens to the disciple Peter in Luke chapter 5, where Peter says those very words.

Jesus’ response?

“Peter, don’t be afraid.”  

So, where does fear fit in?

Apparently, fear is the key problem that Jesus needs Peter to face – not ability, will, or even obedience. It’s fear that keeps Peter from jumping up and clinging to Jesus. It’s fear that keeps Peter from experiencing the fullness of the Kingdom life right then and there.

But, then Jesus says those words, with the power of a King, “Peter, don’t be afraid.”

That call, that voice of Jesus rings loudly in Peter’s ear, and puts fear into perspective – into it’s rightful place where it belongs – right next to some of the world’s most silly lies that try to have great power over us, but in the reality of God’s Kingdom, have no power at all.

Jesus’ call, and his word, is the one of truth, life, joy and fullness, and he says, “Come on!”

What are you afraid of, right now, today?

What fear is trying to wield it’s lying power over you and is keeping you from experiencing a life lived together with Jesus?  

How might Jesus be trying to break you free right now, with his still calm voice saying, “Don’t be afraid?”  


Pastor Grant
Woodley

Pastor’s Corner: How many times do I have to tell you?

“How many times do I have to tell you?”

As a child I heard my parents ask that question of me on a frequent basis.  As a parent, I find myself asking that question even more frequently than I heard it growing up!

Of course, as children mature, parents have to ask that question less and less.

There’s a similar reality for followers of Jesus.  The new testament especially uses the imagery of maturing into Christ-likeness as a metaphor for what is supposed to happen in our lives the more time we spend following Jesus.

We will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.  Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ.  (Ephesians 4:14-15)

Here’s the hard reality.

I’m an adult from a physical development standpoint.  I have “grown-up.”

And there are times when my wife says to me, “How many times do I have to tell you?”

And there are times when my friends say to me, “How many times do I have to tell you?”

And, there are times when I say to myself, “How many times are you going to keep doing that before you learn your lesson?”

I’ve been following Jesus for several decades now.  I know my faith is more mature today than it was decades ago.  At the same time, there are times when I feel like a toddler when it comes to living a life of faith.

I have to be told again and again, because, well, because… I forget.

As much time as the New Testament writers give to the idea of growing up and maturing into Christ-likeness, the writers of the Old Testament give a lot of time to the idea of remembering.

In Numbers 15, on the journey from slavery in Egypt to the promised land of Israel, God tells Moses to tell the people over and over again to remember:

Throughout the generations to come you must make tassels for the hems of your clothing and attach them with a blue cord. 39 When you see the tassels, you will remember and obey all the commands of the Lord instead of following your own desires and defiling yourselves, as you are prone to do. 40 The tassels will help you remember that you must obey all my commands and be holy to your God. (Numbers 15:38-40)

I especially like verse 39. The tassels of blue cord will help the people remember to obey the Lord instead of follow their own desires, as you are prone to do.

One of my favorite hymns includes this lyric:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, O, take and seal it.
Seal it for they courts above.

I think that’s what Jesus is getting at in Matthew 6:

  • We are prone to wander.
  • We are prone to worry about every day life
  • We are prone to giveour hearts to our own desires.

Jesus says simply: Seek God’s kingdom above all else (Matthew 6:33)…

Last weekend at worship at Hope Ankeny, we made bracelets out of blue cord.  We encouraged one another to wear them as reminders of God faithfulness, patience and grace.

We’ll wear the bracelets as a way of remembering to seek God’s kingdom above all else. After all, it was Jesus himself who said in Mark 1:15:

The time promised by God has come at last! The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!

 

Pastor Scott Rains
Hope Ankeny Campus Pastor

Hope Story: Penny Schmidt

DSC_0383_sppI remember it vividly. I was a senior in high school sitting in an English AP class. We had been studying Greek mythology when one day the instructor said, “All religion is a myth.”

That was the minute I started questioning my faith.

I sat, stunned, realizing he was RIGHT! I was no smarter than those in the book, Iliad and the Odyssey. They believed in silly gods, maybe my belief in God was also silly? Someday, centuries from now, people would read stories about our belief in God and laugh at our simple-mindedness…

For the next 15 years, I had no desire to be considered a Christian. I found them to be hypocritical, judgmental and self-righteous (and definitely did NOT want to be a part of any group or organization affiliated with “those kind of people”).

Then, as often happens in adulthood, I found myself searching. I tried out a few churches. And, upon the recommendation of several friends, I ended up at Hope’s door.

DSC_0350_sppHope was different.

It felt friendly, welcoming, and energetic. And, even though it is, it didn’t feel big. Every time I walked into Hope, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit with me. I felt like I was home.

Shortly after I began attending Hope, there was a sermon on Jesus and whether or not he was God.

I had always thought Jesus was a ‘cool dude,’ but God, who rose from the dead? Wasn’t quite sure I was buying that.

During the sermon, the pastor explained we have three choices for who Jesus really is:

  1. You can believe he was a liar – he claimed to be God but was not.
  2. You can believe he was insane – because he believed he was God but was not.
  3. Or, you can believe he IS God.

I was blown away, I wanted more choices! In that moment I realized how much I didn’t know about Christianity and what it meant to be a Christian. I needed more information.

As my knowledge grew, my faith grew by leaps and bounds.

Years later when my oldest child was about to start PowerLife, I noticed in the bulletin that leaders were needed. I thought, “Huh, maybe I should be a small group leader?”

That thought was immediately followed by, “Are you crazy?! Junior high kids are scary! Don’t think about this again!”

During the sermon that day, the pastor mentioned being called by God to serve.

I knew He (God) was talking to me.This made it a little harder to ignore… but I still tried.

I asked several friends their opinions, all of whom I was sure would discourage me from volunteering… Disappointingly, they did not.

A few short weeks later, I found myself in front of 10, 6th-grade girls, serving as their ‘fearless’ small group leader.

DSC_0404_sppAnd, turns out, 6th graders aren’t that scary after all!

What an amazing journey – it was a joy to hang out with them each week, hear their questions and discuss their faith, their doubts and their struggles.

But, what absolutely blew me away was that those girls taught me more about faith than I ever could have taught them.

And, because I was so certain I couldn’t be a small group PowerLife leader at first, I know it wasn’t me, it was God leading me through…

***

 

powerlife_word_logo_2013

Interested in being a PowerLife small group leader? There’s still time! Click here to sign up. PowerLife kicks of Wednesday, Sept. 11! We are still in need of a number of leaders!