Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thirsty Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011

Dear Friends and Family of Hope,

Last Sunday I opened my message by talking about the impact of words. While some of our words are positive, others are negative. What's more interesting is that we have no idea how much people have been affected, or are being affected by what we say - even when others aren't around. Think about that for a moment!

To illustrate this point, throughout my teenage years, kids would joke with me about my singing. Some would say I sang okay and had a fine voice, while others would say, "Don't quit your day job". As a result, even though I enjoy singing, I'm pretty self conscience about how loud I sing. The reason is that in my conscience I believe I really can't sing because of people's past comments. Perhaps you have an incident in your life about people's comments that have affected you. Maybe the incident is from the past, but maybe the incident may have been recent. The truth of the matter is that people are affected by the word's of others - a spouse, children, or even friends. Unfortunately, people may say, "They're just kidding", but maybe they aren't. The reason is that their comment struck a nerve and brought back a memory of an incident that happened when we were young. As a result, it still 'stings'.

What has come to light recently is when people have shared with me that they have become the critic, and not the one receiving the criticism. Even though their comments were well-intentioned, they stung. Few people I know of, including myself, set out to harm someone with their words - yet it often happens.

The Apostle Paul was an outspoken person (we are discovering this in our study of Galatians). However, throughout his letters to the churches, he languished about his early days of persecuting the Christians. He said it was something for which he must be eternally repentant. I believe that deep down in our life we are pretty good at figuring what's wrong with us. I also believe that the Holy Spirit also helps reveal things to us that we have to ask forgiveness for and give over to Him to help us in our life. This includes our relationship with other people. The reason is that the overall goal of self critiquing is transformation, that is, being transformed into a more Godly person and living a newness of life in Jesus Christ.

Walking with you,

Pastor Tom

Items of praise:
1. Scott Robinson was at Wednesday Night Bible Study. It was good to see him and the progress he's making.
2. A sincere thanks to Jeff & Gayle Ewen for volunteering to sit with Scott as Kathy travels back to North Carolina to see her brothers wedding.
3. Over 50 people have signed up for the Salmon dinner. There is still room to invite more people. Also, the salmon came in today and is already in the freezer.
4. Jeff Ewen has got a new job. He begins on Monday.
5. For the great support from the Central Conference women in making 925 pillow case dresses.

Prayer Requests:
1. For the Salmon dinner and the KICY presentation.
2. For people and their ongoing relationship with the Lord.
3. For people who need healing

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thirsty Thursday, May 26

Dear Friends and Family of Hope,

It has been a few weeks since I've written something for Thirsty Thursday but I haven't stopped praying on these days. However here's something for you to mull over and pray about.
The last few weeks people have shared two things with me as well as some other council members:
1. Some people don't see a lot of excitement at Hope.
2. Some people are feeling weary on Sunday mornings from the work that goes into making the Sunday worship service happen.

This has been talked about in council as well as the Worship Committee. Various things that have been shared, but I think it comes down to this:
1. Why do we come to worship? I hope it is to worship God, hear His Word, pray, share what God is doing in our lives and enjoying the fellowship of others. However, how that is done can be an individual thing. Some people like to raise their hands, say "Amen", clap during the songs. However, other people are more the silent type. They don't clap or say "Amen", but never-the-less are still worshiping God. It's just in a different way. So if you like to clap, then you better clap. If you like to say "Amen", you better say "Amen". Maybe that is why you are at Hope. People may want to but if nobody else does, then a blessing is missed. However, if you don't want to do these things, then don't - and that's okay! But let's not judge people or insinuate they are not spiritual because that's God's department, not ours.

2. How do you prepare for worship? So often people are in a hurry and rush to get to church. Therefore, people aren't prepared to worship. I've always believed Sunday worship begins Saturday evening. Saturday evening helps get one's mind focused on Sunday and what God wants to say. Mind I said, "What God wants to say." Too often we want to spill our guts to God, but aren't prepared to hear His voice.

3. Do you know that we are to worship God everyday. If we don't then we will be spiritually dry and become "lukewarm" in our walk with God. Believe it or not, we have a choice each day to see life from His perspective - the miracles, the God-moments, the answer to prayers, the opportunities, etc. Worship is a choice. We have to take the opportunity and the advantage that is before us each day - just not on Sunday's.

4. What does God's voice sound like? Maybe another way of saying this is, "Do you know that God wants to speak to you each day?" It's true! That is why as a follower of Jesus we have His Holy Spirit. It is so we can discern His voice, and what He wants to say and do in our life. The problem is that we can get so busy with things that His voice gets muffled by all the noise around us. Let me ask you - "Have you ever considered fasting?" Seriously! Maybe your diet prohibits abstaining from food, but there are other types of fasts: abstaining from the TV for an evening or even a week. The same can be true of the computer, or cell phone, the radio, etc. There seems to be so much noise around us that it blocks out God's voice. We need to remember what we read this past week in "Similac to Outback" (I Kings 19). When God spoke to Elijah, it was a "gentle and quiet whisper" (The Message). No wonder people don't hear God's voice - we're not accustom to whispers are we? This is one of the reasons I go to the Boundary Waters - no cell phones, TV, computers, car noise. Anyway, ponder on taking an evening, a week (or some time) and try to listen for God's voice. It may take awhile because we're changing a habit, but God will come through. Believe me - and Him!

5. Have you ever wondered how pastors do what they do every Sunday? I've been in the ministry for over 34 years and I look forward to Sunday's. For one thing we have been trained through Bible College and seminary, but there's more to it than that. I think Sunday's are one of the most special days of the week. This is a time for the community of His followers to gather together and share what He's been doing in their life throughout the week. But it also takes people to sing, play musical instruments, provide sound, projection, etc. However, a worship service cannot happen without people serving. What a privilege it is to come in and experience the giftedness of these people. They make worship happen and help people engage in worship. So the people who serve are very important. We at Hope are so blessed to have great people who lead us in worship. But pastors, worship leaders, and others who help have to know that it can be a sacrifice to do this, and sacrifice is a noble thing. But if a persons service is getting too much, then take a sabbatical for awhile and get your batteries recharged. However, don't fill it with something else because you're defeating what your desire.

6. Do you belong to a small group? A lot of personal care, fellowship and feeling a closeness to people happens in a small group setting. There are several offered at Hope, but we would like to see more small groups begin. If you would like to belong to one, check the worship folder for one listed. If not, then let your thoughts be known and maybe you will be a key ingredient to see another one begin.

7. Last, a person's spiritual life needs regular doses of the being in God's Word, prayer, and challenges from God. If we don't maintain a steady diet of these things then we're starving or getting spiritually fat. If people are in the Word regularly and praying, but they're not sharing their faith, or doing what God tells them to do through their reading, they are getting fat. On the other hand, if people are not praying and in the Word, then they are being malnourished so no wonder they  don't see God work or there is no enthusiasm in life. The key words are reading and obeying - that can be tough, but a person's life will definitely not be boring and they WILL see God at work.

Take time this weekend and pray about your enthusiasm and walk with Jesus. People do notice!

Things to pray for:
1. Sam Pullen, our new summer intern will be with us beginning this Sunday. Phone number and other information will be in this weeks worship folder.
2. Pray for those who are serving in the Arm Forces. They believe in what they are doing!
3. Thank those who have served our country and for those who gave their lives as a sacrifice for our freedoms.
4. Pray for those graduating from college and high school.
5. Anything else God lays on your mind.

Have blessed weekend! Hope to see you Sunday. We're going to be looking at II Kings 4:1-7 and God faithfulness

Pastor Tom

Friday, May 6, 2011

Many things!

Dear Friends and family of Hope,

What a week! However, it's Friday and the weekend is upon us. There are some things to convey to you to think about and include in your prayers:

1. This Sunday we will be focusing our worship on "the heart of a covenant". The term covenant is very significant to a follower of Jesus. It's not just a name of a denomination, but the heart of the Gospel and a relationship with God and with our deep friends. We will also be remembering Mother's Day.

2. Please remember Katrina and James Dinius in your prayers. Katrina's dad, Don Smith, died suddenly and unexpectedly on Wednesday morning. There is visitation from 1:00 - 2:00 Monday, May 9th, and the service at 2:00, at Kerchival Funeral Home at 306 East 10th Street, Sheridan, 46058.

3. Mark May 29th and June 5th on your calendar. On May 29th, Mr. Sam Pullen will be coming to Hope to do a summer internship for his North Park Seminary internship requirement. Sam is 26 years old, single, grew up in Columbia City, IN,  a graduate from Purdue with a degree in Sociology, and 2nd year seminary student at North Park. We will be having a Pitch-In on June 5th to welcome him as well as having a Congregational meeting to share some exciting events.

4. Next Thursday, Debbie Griffith will be coming to Hope to do a Leadership Training Seminar. This seminar will include a DISC survey (6:00-7:30 p.m.) and Teacher Training (7:30-9:30) for current and potential small group teacher/facilitators. I believe you will greatly benefit from the seminar. Talk to me if you have questions.

5. Laura, Anne, and the grandkids stopped by briefly (thurs)on their way through to NC. Even though it was brief (and they were very tired) it was good to see them before they left again this morning.

Have a blessed day and weekend!

Pastor Tom

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thirsty Thursday

Dear Friends and Family of Hope,

I went for my yearly physical the other day that included a heart scan. My heart and arteries are in great shape, and my weight stayed the same (better than 5 or 10 pounds more). However, I lost a 1/4 inch in height and my triglycerides were high. Therefore, the good doctor told me that I need to change my diet. Cut out sugar, candy, pie, cake, ice cream, fatty meats, potatoes, white bread, white rice, etc. UGH! I thought to myself, I might as well die. What no meat and potatoes? But I thought to myself, and the doctor reminded me, "If I don't change my diet, I will have health issues - GUARANTEED!"

In pondering about this health and food thing, I found there's a lot of correlation between one's physical health and their spiritual health. One one hand, a person can say they are doing well in certain parts of their walk with Jesus, like prayer, Scripture reading, going to Bible study or small group, etc.  But on the other hand, there may be certain areas that need attention, like giving to God, sharing one's spiritual journey with others, not gossiping or judging others, etc. Of course, the areas I mentioned may not be the one's you wrestle with, but that still doesn't let us off the hook. That's like patting ourselves on the back for the good things we do, but not being honest in the areas that need to change. What's more interesting, if we don't work at changing those areas, issues will arise - GUARANTEED! The good doctor, namely, the Holy Spirit, will let us know if there is an area we need to clean up. The issue is: "Will we heed his nudge and advise?"

So, take some time this week and do a spiritual heart scan of your walk with Jesus, as well as a spiritual health check. Don't be afraid of the results, because it will allow us to be honest with God and ourselves.

Prayer requests this week:
1. Linda S. recovering from foot surgery.
2. Laura and our daughter, Anne, as they travel cross country from Ontario, OR to Jacksonville, NC.
3. People who are listed in the worship folder
4. People we would like to see grow in their faith.
5. People making transitions (job and personal) in their life.
6. For less rain and more sun. Remember our neighbors in the south going through flood conditions.

Have a blessed week!

Pastor Tom

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thirsty Thursday

Dear People,
The other night I read a great article from John Kralik, a former attorney and now a judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. What makes his story interesting is that he was at a very low point in his life. He was going through a second divorce, hated his job as an attorney, hardly saw his two older sons, and the law firm he started was hemorrhaging money. He also was a person who did not wake up happy. However, one day on a hike he heard a "mysterious"voice tell him, "Unless you learn to be grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things you want." So John ventured out to write a thank you note to someone each day for a year. As a result he learned a few things along the way: (1) When things go wrong, people are quick to complain and assign blame. (2) When things are going well, people don't say anything or give credit - or thanks. (3) The more thank you notes he wrote, the more he found to be grateful. The interesting thing about John's story is that it doesn't have an ending. That is because he never stopped writing thank you notes. He have written over 700 thank you notes - and that was three years ago. He feels his life is abundant, full of blessings, a grateful person.

As we travel this down this Holy Week, how thankful are we? Do we grumble when things aren't going well, and we don't say anything positive when things are going well? When is the last time you said "Thank you" to someone - a cashier, a friend, your spouse, your children? So, how about picking up John's habit of writing "Thank you" notes. I like the idea and might try it. Who knows what might happen? You might get a "thank you" from me, or maybe someone else.

Remember to take time and pray today. It could be for our troops, a friend, someone listed in our worship folder, something you are facing. Pray about it. While you're at it, take some time to praise and thank God for your blessings. We serve a great God!

Pastor Tom

Maundry Thursday

Dear People,

Just a reminder that we will celebrate the beginning of the Easter Weekend on Thursday Night (Maundy Thursday) at 7:00 p.m. We will have a time of singing, celebrate communion, have a time for reflection, and look at the events that happened in the Upper Room from the Gospel of John. 

Have a blessed day as you look to the Lord for wisdom, strength, guidance, and care.
Pastor Tom

Friday, April 1, 2011

Thirsty Thursday...on Friday...

I know Thursday has past, but it's never too late to take time and pray. So, take a few moments today and remember to pray for those in need and who God brings to our mind.

I came across a great thought from Allen Bainbridge when he sent a reminder to the guys who meet on Saturday. He gave me permission to include it in my thoughts.  Let me share it with you:
"I want to share a powerful dream I had.  I dreamed I was in a semi (as a passenger) and we came up on an ugly wreck involving many cars.  I could see that people were hurt and needed assistance.  I asked the driver to stop but he would not.  He said there was nothing I could do to help them. I did not press the matter further because there was blood and horrible things present.  But I could have. They could have used my help. 
I am becoming more aware of the excuses I tell myself to not get involved where help is needed.  Too busy, family needs me, needing alone time, work, play, honey do list, the list goes on.  It all seems too much too big (like riding in a semi).  

Powerful dream isn't it? And it can be true. Last week I said that we can believe in lies. We believe that we can't be of help or assistance, but that's a lie that the enemy wants us to believe. However, God has given us a spirit of boldness and a sound mind. 

So, if there is an area that God wants you to venture out in - (1) pray about it with Him. (2) Ask Him for His strength and power. (3) Move ahead knowing that He and all of heaven are behind you.  

1. For Jerry Reed, former Cov. missionary. He has been diagnosed with lung and hip bone cancer.
2. For people who are listed in our weekly worship folder.
3. For continued prayer for the Tsunami victims. Also, Covenant World Relief is taken donations to assist with the victims.
4. For the Libya situation.
5. For our troops.
6. On a personal note: Our family has been going through a struggle with our dog, Lady, She had a seizure the other day and she hasn't quite been herself. We need prayer and guidance if this is her time. We've been on a roller coaster with this one this week. Thank you!
7. For my mother, Betty Jane. She has a cyst on her back which has been causing her a lot of pain. If the medication doesn't work, she will have to go through back surgery.
8. Gary T. going through some medical tests.
9. Other matters that God brings to your mind.

1. Brian M. is experiencing a new perspective in life.

We'll meet each other in prayer.

Pastor Tom

PS: This Sunday we will be going through Part 2 of Jeremiah (15:15-17; 16:10-15). Our theme will be "idolatry". I think you will it very relevant for our time and culture - both in society and the church. Hope to see you!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Thirsty Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dear People,

There are time when God opens the heavens and sends us a blessing. This happened to me today. Let me share it with you:
As some of you know, our conference superintendent, Jerome Nelson had a kidney removed a little over a year ago due to cancer. Everything went well and the doctors gave him a clean bill of health. However, this past year his other kidney wasn't functioning as it should and he was looking at the possibility of dialysis if his kidney didn't respond. This is something he didn't want to go through and he was praying for a miracle - that is, God would heal his kidney or something else would happen. His only alternative was a kidney transplant. We as a conference ministerium were informed of this matter at the Midwinter Conf. in late January, and the ministerium prayed for him, laying hands on him. 

Well, approx. a week after the midwinter conference, in a surprise move, Jerome had a kidney transplant. The doctors found a suitable donor and they proceeded with the surgery. Everything went well for Jerome and he is progressing well. However, what people didn't know was that it was Debbie Griffith that was Jerome's donor. Debbie is the Central Conference director of mission and outreach. Talk about a selfless act and having a servant's heart.

When we spoke today, she said, "I just knew I had to do it. It's something that Jesus would do and calls us to do." WOW! Isn't that great stuff!!! What an inspiration.

However, while she is recovering very well, her work load has piled up especially with the Central Conference Annual Meeting coming up at the end of April. (We know what that's like!). So to give her more time to rest, re-cooperate, and get her feet back on the ground, we are postponing our leadership/teacher training seminar to Sat. April 9th. The time will be: 8:30-9:00 a.m. - coffee, tea, refreshments, etc. 9:00-10:30 - DISC survey. (This is a great thing to go through); 10:30-12:30 - Teacher Training. So if you're a teacher, Small group leader, or desire to become on in the future, I ask you to set the date on your calendar and come out. I truly believe you will be blessed and inspired.

So, how's the "Similac to Outback" reading going? I know it's easy to start strong but get bogged down as time goes on. If you have floundered, don't worry. Just continue where we are and read on! For the next two Sunday's we are going to go through Jeremiah. Here’s the deal with Jeremiah – it is a tough book to tackle because it is a bunch of history, biography, prophecy and poetry that follows no chronological order or any sort of intuitive organizational structure. Then there are all these weird action sermons, like Jeremiah making pottery and then destroying pottery and then burying loincloths and wearing yokes and other interesting stuff. It’s 52 chapters covering about 40 years and we can’t really tell what’s going on when and where and how, but there is one undeniable message. God wants our hearts so desperately that He will go to ridiculous extremes to win them. He wants our hearts because that is what He is about. So what we see going on in the Book of Jeremiah is all this stuff that revolves around our heart and God’s purpose for us. If you haven't read Jeremiah, try it - and see God's love for you!!!

This week as we pray, continue to lift up the Tsunami victims in Japan. There was also another 6.8 earthquake today in NE Myanmar. Pray for the people in that region. Also remember to praise God for great things He is doing. The Nicaragua people gave a great report last week. Tim and Ann Carlson, along with Gayle Ewen are back from Ecuador. We are planning to hear what happened there this Sunday. It's also Lent - a time to reflect and ponder on our life and relationship with God.

Have a blessed day!!!

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lent 2011

The word “remember” is an important word in life. It is important to remember our ancestral roots, the seasons of life, as well as remember our spiritual journey with God. Throughout the Scriptures, we are reminded of the acts of God and especially the life of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

At the heart of our spiritual journey is our participation in the life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. We proclaim what John wrote in Ch. 1:14, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus was born into human history in the fullness of God’s time for our salvation. In the Gospels we read that Jesus lived, taught, suffered and was put to death. However that was not the end of the story. Paul says in Eph. 1:20,22-23, that God “…raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms …and God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything in the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fill everything in every way.” Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, people can be delivered from sin and death, and by the Holy Spirit be born into new life with God. This is Good News! This is heart of our worship and the life of the follower of Jesus.

One way to do this is by observing the church calendar and in particular the Season of Lent.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of this season. It is a day set aside that emphasizes a duality in life: (1) We are reminded of our own mortality and (2) We are sinners in need of forgive-ness. The ashes are a reminder that we came from dust and one day we will return to dust (Gen. 3:19), and were used by those who mourned or repented of their sins. Job 42:6 says, “There-fore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” (NASB)

Lent is 46 days in length and is based on a lunar cycle. Resurrection Sunday is the first Sun-day after the full moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox. Therefore Resurrection Sunday cannot be earlier than March 22nd or later than April 25th. During this season, follow-ers of Jesus are asked to pray, fast, and repent. Some people give up something they eat or drink to observe this season. One of the biblical models for this practice is found in the Gospels (Mt. 4, Mk. 1, and Lk. 4) where the Holy Spirit led Jesus after His baptism and He fasted for 40 days and nights. Although Lent is 46 days, the 6 Sundays in Lent are excluded as a day to fast because Sunday is noted as a “resurrection day”, a day of celebra-tion, when Jesus rose from the grave. People sometimes forget that the last day of the week (and the Sabbath) is Saturday, not Sunday. When Jesus rose from the grave, the Apostolic Fathers moved the celebration of worship from Saturday to Sunday.

The Covenant Hymnal and The Covenant Book of Worship describe the Lenten Season as the time when, “the church proclaims, remembers, and responds in gratitude and faith to Christ’s atoning death.” Lent can be a humbling yet enriching and growing time in one’s spiritual journey with God. It is a time when we can get our lives re-centered, our priorities straight and as David prayed in Psalm 51:10 to have God, “create in us a pure heart and renew steadfast spirit within us.

This Lenten Season create a new pace in your life. Cut the busyness that holds you back from knowing God better and take the time to renew your spirit and your time with Him. The result is that you will be richly blessed and your time with Him – priceless!

Walking with You,
Pastor Tom

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thirsty Thursday, January 27, 2011

I found an interesting quote from Raggedy Ann. It says, "If in our hearts we plant small seeds of kindness, and water them with generous thoughts, like dew, we wil soon have a garden filled with friendliness and love will come to be our gard'ner too."

This quote indicates some important factors to establishing and maintaining friends. First, friendship begins with us. We have to sow seeds of kindness and friendship that sprout into caring and closeness towards other people. We also have to nurture them with care, a thoughtful attitude, and even generosity of time. If we wait for friendship to find us, we could wait a long time.

This week, plant some seeds of kindness, love, and care to those around you. Also take time and pray for those people. I believe they will sprout some interesting results. 

Prayer requests:
1. For Erin from Hollis Adams who had a seizure and is in St. Vincient Hospital
2. For the Pastor's Midwinter conference in Chicago that begins next Monday.
3. For Sarah as she continues her chemo treatments.
4. For the safety of of our military.
5. For Mary Ann Arbogast's husband, Chip - needed job transfer to the Indy area.
6. For this years church goals and where God wants to take us as a congregation.

Be a blessing!

Pastor Tom

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thirsty Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dear People,

The New Year is already unfolding before us and like most people, there's always the hope that the new year will be better than the previous one. Personally, while I have goals and what I would like to see happen in 2011, I'm not a prophet nor a prediction expert, so I am leaning heavily on the Lord.

However, there is one thing I do know. Every year always brings with it defining moments (This is something I will be talking more about this Sunday). Defining moments will always impact one's life and their journey with God. Last week I had a defining moment as I wrestled with God about our son-in-law, Kevan, going to Afghanistan. The end result is that I saw God, the Father in a deeper light - one with an understanding and sympathetic heart. A father who also allowed His son to go to a foreign area and experience life's hardships. So I really KNEW that God understood my apprehension. A person wrote me on Monday with these words that brought comfort and understanding. They are also very true: 

"Head knowledge and heart knowledge are so different when it comes to letting go.  Your mind knows what you must do, your mind knows you need to totally trust God for whatever His will is for the lives that you care about, but your heart is so attached to the emotional love for those people, that tears flow easily when your heart thinks too much or aches too much.  There are days when we do fairly well, and then there will be moments..." 

Ever feel that way? I'm sure if God could have stopped Jesus from coming to earth, He would have. But He didn't. 

So last week, God and I had a defining moment together. I hope 2011 will bring more defining moments to both you and I because they are real testimonies that God is doing something in our life. So let me ask you: "What do you want God to do in your life in 2011? Write it down. Pray about it. Release it to Him. Then allow Him to bring defining moments in your life where your faith and journey with Him will prosper and grow.
Have a blessed day!

Pastor Tom