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