Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Small things done with great love

Maybe you are like me. I believe with all my heart that part of following Jesus is to share my faith with others, but in reality I find this very hard to do. When it comes to talking to someone about my faith, I can think of a hundred reasons why it is not the time or place and oh- by the way did I forget to take out the trash or brush the cat? I recently rediscovered a classic book on sharing the good news of Jesus that is helping me with this. You might have read it or heard about it. It is Out of the Salt Shaker and Into the World by Rebecca Pippert. This book was written about 32 years ago has much to say that the church still needs to hear and practice.
Rebecca Pippert kick’s off the book with her now famous quote, Christians and non-Christians have something in common. We’re both uptight about evangelism. The idea of telling other people about our faith in Jesus seems awkward at best and offensive at worst. It seems like an extra chore or task added to an already busy and weary life. Becky turns that around and shows how faith sharing can be a normal, natural part of our Christian lives. Sharing about our faith becomes something we get to do instead of something we have to do. When we are relaxed with ourselves and in love with Jesus the good news just flows from us with out us even realizing it. On the other hand if we are uptight, bitter or cynical about life and God, that flows out too. Sheldon Vanauken wrote, The best argument for Christianity is Christians; their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the biggest argument against Christianity is also Christians – when they are somber and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths.

The reality is that we can only authentically share what we know to be true and have come to experience in our own lives. The Apostle John writes We saw it, we heard it, and now we're telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! (1 Jn 1:3,4 The Message) We must know Jesus if we are to share Jesus and even then we only can bear witness to what we know from the word and from experience.
We can share with words and we can share with deeds. Usually words and deeds work best in tandem. God knew that words alone lacked power and credibility and that actions alone could be easily misunderstood. That is why the word became flesh and dwelt among us. That we would hear, see, know and experience God among us.
One of the many ways we share our faith at New Hope is by connecting with people through simple acts of kindness (deeds) that hopefully, by God’s grace, might lead to spiritual conversations (words). Since this doesn’t come naturally we need to practice so we can grow and it can become a natural normal part of our lives. On Nov. 5th we will practice kind deeds by going through the neighborhood and offering to replace batteries in smoke detectors. Starting in September we will be collecting batteries. Right now you can begin praying that God would open doors for good connections and good conversations that will bump people a bit closer to Jesus.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Easter is coming!

Easter is a special Sunday when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, victorious over sin and death. What good news we have to share with the world around us. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! I think we sometimes loose sight of the wonderful message that God has given us to share. This world seems to be in a tailspin, with earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear meltdowns, wars and rumors of wars. It is important that God’ people remember that God has not given up on us. The risen Lord is still moving across the world, reaching the lost, healing the broken and changing lives. The surprising thing is that He has chosen to do this through us. Those who love and follow Jesus are his hands and feet in the world today.
There are many ways to serve the Lord and share his love. Isaiah puts it this way: and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. Is 58:10 We can boldly spend ourselves on behalf of God because He has freely given himself for us. God desires that we bless others as He has blessed us. And He has blessed us abundantly.
Saturday April 23, the day before Easter, we will be sharing the good news of Jesus by way of a simple act of kindness. We will meet at the church at 10 Am and then head over to a local self-serve car wash to dry cars. Why dry cars? It is a simple way of letting people know that God loves them. It is also a simple way for us to learn how to bless people. I hope you can come and help. Many towels are needed for this event, so please bring towels to worship and leave them in the basket in the lobby.
Another way you can spend yourself in blessing others is to step outside your comfort zone and bring a friend or neighbor to worship. When surveyed about how people came to be part of a church the number one answer is that someone brought me to church. Think of someone you know who needs a touch from the Lord, ask them if you can pick them up on Easter Sunday. Come worship the Lord!
Pastor Steve

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

lent at New Hope

A special addition to worship during lent is art work by Ron Garcia. Most folks at church know Ron as our bass player, but he is also a very accomplished artist. Each Sunday, Ron is painting a picture based on the sermon and theme for the day. Jim Olsen has made big cut out letters for each Sunday's theme. Thanks Jim and Ron! After worship the pictures are hung along with the theme word in the lobby. Ron also is a professional picture hanger and art display person. We will use all the pictures on Maundy Thursday for our worship celebration that evening.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lent 2011

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
These are the well-known words of the best known and best loved Psalm – Palm 23. Many of us memorized it as children and we hear it read at many funerals. We see it on plaques, wall hangings and sympathy cards with a portrait of Jesus carrying a lamb.
The Psalm does reference the valley of the shadow of death, but it is not a death chant forever to be lost in funeral liturgies! This is a life song! It is a hymn of praise and joy about a living relationship with a living God. Lambs can be cute, but this psalm is not a children’s story. This is a song about real life. Life packed with danger, predators and enemies. Life packed with joys, wonder and adventure.
What could a song about a shepherd and his sheep, written some thousand years before Jesus, have to do with us? Plenty! Come to worship during Lent and discover and explore the 23rd Psalm. Each week we the message will apply a line or phrase of the psalm to our lives and walk with God. Ron Garcia will create a work of art based on the message each Sunday while I preach. We will have moving music and other visuals – but most of all we will gather to praise God and come to a deeper understanding of what it means to be his people and the sheep of his pasture.
Lent is about our walk with God. Let’s walk through the 23rd Psalm together as we prepare our hearts during lent (March 9 – April 17) for the celebration of Easter Sunday (April 24).