Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Sermon Series Starting June 27 at New Hope

One day Jesus’ disciples came to him and made this request: “Lord, teach us to pray.” Of all the requests and questions the disciples brought to the master, I have a feeling that this was one of His favorites. This was music to Jesus’ ears! “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Who taught you how to pray? When did you learn how to pray? Was it bedtime prayers with mom and dad? Someone saying Grace before a meal? Sunday School? A Prayer group? Maybe it was the night you knelt by your bed and asked Christ to be your Lord and savior? Maybe it was in the hospital? Or by a graveside? Whenever and wherever it was and even if you don’t remember - at some point you learned how to pray.

I am intrigued by this idea of learning how to pray. Is prayer really something we have to learn how to do? Doesn’t it come naturally? Why can’t I just pray in a way that I enjoy, that feels comfortable to me, that suits my schedule, that makes me feel fulfilled and happy? Well, that would make sense if you were simply talking to yourself or only talking to the four walls. But if prayer is talking to God, then I am in a conversation with a person. And if I am having a conversation, then I am part of a relationship - a relationship with the Lord God king of the universe. And maybe, just maybe God has some preferences on how he would like to be addressed.

This example might help. I was teaching the children’s Sunday School class a few years ago and one of the children wanted my attention and called out over all the others. She got my attention!

“Hey, Steve!”
“Just who are you talking to? I don’t want you to just call me Steve.”
“Oh, so do you want me to call you Pastor Steve like everyone else does?”
“No, I don’t want you to call me Steve or Pastor Steve because you are not everyone else. You are one of a select group of the only three individuals on this planet who are allowed to call me Dad - and I don’t want either of us to forget that.”

It was my daughter who was trying to get my attention. She accomplished her goal, but I don’t think she was pleased with the attention she received. I was not happy with the way she addressed me. It is important that she call me, Dad, because that is our precious relationship to each other. Jesus teaches us to pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven” because that is how God wants His children to address Him. We never can forget that God is a person and not a force or a thing. Prayer is conversation with the Living God, who loves us deeply, and is always to be honored, respected and worshiped as Lord and God.

I hope you join me in worship as we learn how to pray by studying the Lord’s Prayer.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Church Sign

Summertime is coming soon!

There is an old blues song that is ringing in my ears this morning:
Summertime, and the living is easy.
Catfish are jumping, and the cotton is high.

May is just getting here, but this is the time when most of us are firming up our summer plans. The days have been getting nicer. The sun is shining. Summertime is right around the corner. I’ve been thinking of camping, getting away to Lake Almanor, fishing, Spirit West Coast, Vacation Bible School and all good things summer. And of course my upcoming wedding in June is foremost in all my thoughts about summer.

As you get your summer plans in order, I want to plant a seed and get a plug in for the Lord. Vacations are good and God wants us to find times of rest and reconnection, but we never take a vacation from God. It is easy to allow worship and time with God to fall to second or third place and even be forgotten during the summer. I would encourage you to keep God present in your summer plans. Think of things like: How can I arrange my plans so I don’t miss worship on Sunday? If we’re away over a Sunday, what church could we visit? What can I do to help my family be aware of God’s presence during our vacation time?

That old blues song has another line that I love:
One of these mornings, you're gonna rise up singing
You're gonna spread your wings and take the sky

I feel like that is happening at New Hope. I have been so pleased and energized by the good participation and growing attendance on Sunday mornings. There have been many good reports from members and visitors of how they have been growing closer to God through being a part of New Hope. A recent visitor commented, “I really enjoyed your services - very on the mark and informal. I loved the message on love and the spirit-filled worship.” I also keep hearing great reports that we are warm and welcoming church. I am hoping that over the summer this trend will continue. May all our vacations and summertime fun bring us closer to God and renew and refresh us to serve the King of Kings with heart and soul and mind and strength at New Hope Community Church!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

New Hope Church Signs

Hey - It has been a while since I've posted!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

New Sermon Series

I am currently preaching a verse-by-verse series on First John. At first glance John’s letter may not look like much. It is one of the shorter books of the Bible. The vocabulary is very limited. John uses few and very simple words. He repeats himself a lot. You could read through it in less than 20 minutes. But don’t judge this little book by size or vocabulary. Take a second look. Spend some time in it and you will see that is rich and full and jam packed with meaning, insights and application.
It’s a lot like my fiancĂ©’s chocolate decadent cake. On the outside it looks like a nice simple little cake. But one bite in you realize that you have bitten into much more than you ever expected! This cake is much more rich and flavorful than expected. It must be savored and eaten in small bites to be appreciated. That’s why we are taking 1 John in small verse-by-verse sections each Sunday and slowing down, taking our time and truly savoring the rich message of 1 John.
John’s message comes from the heart of a man who was best friends with Jesus. They worked side by side. They laughed together, ate together, walked many miles together and shared both joys and sorrows. When John wrote this letter it was near the end of his life. He was an old grandfather in the faith writing to his spiritual grandchildren, second and third generation believers who did not see Jesus when He walked the earth. They did not witness the miracles, hear the preaching, or touch the risen body of Christ. John is concerned that they know the true authentic Gospel. That is the core of this letter.
First John is very much a message for us. As Jesus said in John’s Gospel: "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." That’s us! We live centuries after the 33 short years that Jesus walked the earth. In those 33 short years Jesus did so much that John says the world could not contain all the books that could be written about Jesus the Messiah. Yet John packs the main ideas about what it means to follow Jesus in five short chapters! I hope you will join me as we unpack First John and apply it to our lives Sundays 9:30 AM at New Hope.

Monday, January 04, 2010

HANDBOOK for 2010

Someone sent me this today. I really like it! It is being posted on my desk wall.
1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants & eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.
5. Make time to pray.
6. Play more games.
7. Read more books than you did in 2009.
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
9. Sleep for 7 hours.
10. Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

11. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13. Don't over do. Keep your limits.
14. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
15. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
16. Dream more while you are awake.
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
18. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with His/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more.
24. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

25. Call your family often.
26. Each day give something good to others.
27. Forgive everyone for everything.
28. Spend time w/people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. What other people think of you is none of your business.
31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

32. Do the right thing!
33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
34. GOD heals everything.
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
37. The best is yet to come.
38. When you awake alive in the morning, thank GOD for it.
39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.