Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lent Begins

Lent begins next Wednesday, February 25th. Here's a brief overview:

Lent, which comes from the word for springtime, can be viewed as a spiritual spring cleaning: a time for taking spiritual inventory and then cleaning out those things which hinder our corporate and personal relationships with Jesus Christ and our service to him. It recalls Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness and leads us up to Easter weekend. The purpose of Lent is to offer ourselves to God. If you'd like to look further into Lent's history checkout this website.

I'm looking forward to this season. We are kicking off Lent by burning palms this weekend. We will then get together on Ash Wednesday at 7.00pm (nursery will be provided). I encourage you to join us, learn a little more about the season, and see where God is leading you.

In addition, in a couple weeks, New Hope will begin a sermon series that leads us to making healing life choices. This series will help us assess where we are on our journey and where Jesus desires to heal and restore wholeness.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Friendly Weekend

This past weekend New Hope focused on relationships. It was fun to see four of New Hope's couples renew their vows. It was also fun to see so many New Hopers hang out after the gathering for the Good 'Ole Pot Luck (Thanks, Scott for using your phone's camera).

Jim & Gina Schiffhauer, Willie & Mona Barger, and Ray & Debbie Easterbrook renewed their vows on Saturday. Mark & Susan McConnell renewed their vows on Sunday (photos coming soon).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This Sunday - Official "Go Ahead and Ask Day"

You may or may not realize that this Sunday (which coincidentally coincides with New Hope's Pot Luck Dinner) is "OFFICIAL GO AHEAD AND ASK DAY." That means that that person that sits down the row from you every Sunday can feel free to go ahead and ask what your name is this Sunday without feeling bad for not remembering it the first or second or third time you told it to them. And YOU can feel free to ask too!

We all do it....we introduce ourselves, talk a little, go back to our seats and eventually to our life and when we return the next weekend, we know we've introduced ourself in the past but we feel a little silly because we can't remember the other person's we say something like "'s it goin'? OR Hey, Dude..."

So, this weekend, Go ahead and ask. Maybe you say something like, "so do you work close by here? or How long have you been at New Hope? or I know we've probably introduced ourselves before, but I'm just not pulling your name up..." No need to feel silly. Just go ahead and ask. It'll be fun. You may just make a new friend.

Here are the Pot Luck Details:
New Hope will provide the table service & drinks. Please bring additional items based on the first letter of your last name:

A-E: Dessert
F-L: Main Dish
M-Z: Side Dish

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Quiet Time

Morning: Psalm 42:1-6

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me continually, "Where is your God?"

These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng, and led them in procession
to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted
within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

As I look at these verses this morning, I am reminded of my day yesterday. Sometimes things get all screwed up, ya know? Sometimes we worry about stuff. Sometimes we get overwhelmed. Sometimes our focus is misaligned. I don't know about you, but it happens to me - a lot.

I started a new book last night. It chronicles the life of Smith Wigglesworth (1859-1947). He is regarded as a faith-healer. He was an evangelist who ended each of his gatherings with a time of healing - no matter the topic of his sermon....I don't know what to think of the healing stuff. I know I haven't seen it in my world to the degree that it is possible. It's hard to know what to make of it. I do know Wigglesworth lived a life of ever-increasing faith. Rather than allowing life to beat down, he allowed life to increase his faith.

Another appealing thing about Wigglesworth is that he was NOT into fame. He had a true sense of self. He knew that if ANYTHING was of his own power, it was messed up. He walked in God's power. He positioned himself to hear from God. And he understood what it meant to be crucified with Christ. His life was not his own.

We talk a lot about walking together at New Hope. Today I'm just thinking about how vital walking alone with God is as well. Our times when we quiet ourselves before God - to remember who we are and listen - are what bring us together on a path that makes a difference. I know for myself, if I do not FORCE myself to retreat from email and facebook and the telephone on a regular basis, I start to think that those are the only relationships that matter - that somehow my value comes only from what others think of me. That in turn, makes my life again about ME and not Christ.

The following is a prayer that helps me get back on track. Maybe it will be useful to you as well. It's from "Waking the Dead," by John Eldredge - pulled it right off his website.

"(Over the years we have grown in our understanding of prayer, and spiritual warfare, and of our need to be restored in the life of God each day. And so we have developed this prayer, which we call The Daily Prayer. It is entirely based on Scripture, almost like praying the Scriptures. For the details on that, see chapter ten in Waking the Dead. The prayer has sort of morphed through several generations, as we’ve learned something new about the work of Christ for us, or the ploys of the enemy. And so we offer you this, the latest version. May it be a source of life to you. Daily.)

My dear Lord Jesus I come to you now to be restored in you, to be renewed in you, to receive your love and your life, and all the grace and mercy I so desperately need this day. I honor you as my Sovereign, and I surrender every aspect of my life totally and completely to you. I give you my spirit, soul and body, my heart, mind, and will. I cover myself with your blood—my spirit, soul, and body, my heart, mind and will. I ask your Holy Spirit to restore me in you, renew me in you, and to lead me in this time of prayer. In all that I now pray, I stand in total agreement with your Spirit, and with my intercessors and allies, by your Spirit alone.

[Now, if you are a husband, you’ll want to include your wife in this time of prayer. If you are a parent, you’ll want to include your children. If this doesn’t apply to you, jump to the paragraph after this one.]

In all that I now pray, I include (my wife and/or children, by name). Acting as their head, I bring them under your authority and covering, as I come under your authority and covering. I cover (wife and/or children, by name) with your blood – their spirit, soul and body, their heart, mind and will. I ask your Spirit to restore them in you, renew them in you, and apply to them all that I now pray on their behalf, acting as their head.

Dear God, holy and victorious Trinity, you alone are worthy of all my worship, my heart’s devotion, all my praise, all my trust and all the glory of my life. I love you, I worship you, I trust you. I give myself over to you in my heart’s search for life. You alone are Life, and you have become my life. I renounce all other gods, all idols, and I give you the place in my heart and in my life that you truly deserve. I confess here and now that this is all about you, God, and not about me. You are the Hero of this story, and I belong to you. Forgive me for my every sin. Search me and know me and reveal to me where you are working in my life, and grant to me the grace of your healing and deliverance, and a deep and true repentance.

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me and choosing me before you made the world. You are my true Father—my Creator, my Redeemer, my Sustainer, and the true end of all things, including my life. I love you, I trust you, I worship you. I give myself over to you to be one with you in all things, as Jesus is one with you. Thank you for proving your love by sending Jesus. I receive him and all his life and all his work, which you ordained for me. Thank you for including me in Christ, for forgiving me my sins, for granting me his righteousness, for making me complete in him. Thank you for making me alive with Christ, raising me with him, seating me with him at your right hand, establishing me in his authority, and anointing me with your Holy Spirit, your love and your favor. I receive it all with thanks and give it total claim to my life—my spirit, soul, and body, my heart, mind and will. I bring the life and the work of Jesus over (wife and/or children, by name) and over my home, my household, my vehicles, finances, all my kingdom and domain.

Jesus, thank you for coming to ransom me with your own life. I love you, I worship you, I trust you. I give myself over to you, to be one with you in all things. And I receive all the work and all of the triumph of your cross, death, blood and sacrifice for me, through which I am atoned for, I am ransomed and transferred to your kingdom, my sin nature is removed, my heart is circumcised unto God, and every claim made against me is disarmed this day. I now take my place in your cross and death, through which I have died with you to sin, to my flesh, to the world, and to the evil one. I take up the cross and crucify my flesh with all its pride, arrogance, unbelief, and idolatry (and anything else you are currently struggling with). I put off the old man. I ask you to apply to me the fullness of your cross, death, blood and sacrifice. I receive it with thanks and give it total claim to my spirit, soul and body, my heart, mind and will.

Jesus, I also sincerely receive you as my life, my holiness and strength, and I receive all the work and triumph of your resurrection, through which you have conquered sin and death and judgment. Death has no mastery over you, nor does any foul thing. And I have been raised with you to a new life, to live your life – dead to sin and alive to God. I now take my place in your resurrection and in your life, through which I am saved by your life. I reign in life through your life. I receive your life – your humility, love and forgiveness, your integrity in all things, your wisdom, discernment and cunning, your strength, your joy, your union with the Father. Apply to me the fullness of your resurrection. I receive it with thanks and give it total claim to my spirit, soul and body, my heart, mind and will.

Jesus, I also sincerely receive you as my authority, rule, and dominion, my everlasting victory against Satan and his kingdom, and my ability to bring your Kingdom at all times and in every way. I receive all the work and triumph of your ascension, through which you have judged Satan and cast him down, you have disarmed his kingdom. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to you, Jesus. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to you, and you are worthy to receive all glory and honor, power and dominion, now and forevermore. And I have been given fullness in you, in your authority. I now take my place in your ascension, and in your throne, through which I have been raised with you to the right hand of the Father and established in your authority. I now bring the kingdom of God, and the authority, rule and dominion of Jesus Christ over my life today, over my home, my household, my vehicles and finances, over all my kingdom and domain.

I now bring the authority, rule and dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fullness of the work of Christ, against Satan, against his kingdom, against every foul and unclean spirit come against me. (At this point you might want to name the spirits that you know have been attacking you). I bring the full work of Jesus Christ against every foul power and black art, against every human being and their warfare. I bind it all from me in the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and in his Name.

Holy Spirit, thank you for coming. I love you, I worship you, I trust you. I sincerely receive you and all the work and victory in Pentecost, through which you have come, you have clothed me with power from on high, sealed me in Christ. You have become my union with the Father and the Son, become the Spirit of truth in me, the life of God in me, my Counselor, Comforter, Strength, and Guide. I honor you as my Sovereign, and I yield every dimension of my spirit, soul and body, my heart, mind and will to you and you alone, to be filled with you, to walk in step with you in all things. Fill me afresh. Restore my union with the Father and the Son. Lead me in all truth, anoint me for all of my life and walk and calling, and lead me deeper into Jesus today. I receive you with thanks, and I give you total claim to my life.

Heavenly Father, thank you for granting to me every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. I claim the riches in Christ Jesus over my life today, my home, my kingdom and domain. I bring the blood of Christ over my spirit, soul, and body, my heart, mind and will. I put on the full armor of God – the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel, helmet of salvation. I take up the shield of faith and sword of the Spirit, and I choose to wield these weapons at all times in the power of God. I choose to pray at all times in the Spirit.

Thank you for your angels. I summon them in the authority of Jesus Christ and command them to destroy the kingdom of darkness throughout my kingdom and domain, destroy all that is raised against me, and to establish your Kingdom throughout my kingdom and domain. I ask you to send forth your Spirit to raise up prayer and intercession for me this day. I now call forth the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout my home, my family, my kingdom and my domain, in the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, with all glory and honor and thanks to him."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saturday Lectionary Excerpt

Psalm 63.3-8
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Anger Lunch

Each week for the last month or so, we've been having a very informal lunch after the Sunday gatherings. There are a few of us who are consistent each week and others who pop in when they can. Yesterday was no exception - and the topic lent itself to conversation perfectly.

Who of us does not deal with anger? Is there a person on the planet that keeps their cool 24/7? I don't think so. If there were than the verses in the bible that speak to the idea of anger wouldn't say things like, "in your anger, do not sin..." We will get angry. That's a given. Where does it come from? And as people who are trying to follow Christ, what do we do with it?

Here are a couple 'anger' questions to consider:

Do you court anger? One of the lunchers yesterday shared of a story from work. She said that when her fellow-employee gets to work, he ALWAYS checks the work of the shift before them. He then proceeds to complain about what the prior shift did wrong. He chooses anger each day.

How do you deal with injustice around you? Another luncher shared of seriously poor working conditions. These guys are working in the freezing cold without a kerosene for the heater that was promised to them. The luncher went to his boss on Saturday to try and get some heat for his friends. His supervisor, void of sympathy, told him if he didn't like it he could just go home. The luncher did go home, but not before going out and buying kerosene with his own money to get the heat going.

Another luncher shared of difficult work circumstances she's dealt with for a year. She made the decision NOT to let her anger show at work, but at the same time, she feels a little inauthentic...

How does one distinguish between selfish anger and selfless anger? How does one ramp up one and tone down the other?

Regular people looking for real answers...and figuring things out as we walk together.