Easter is Coming...

This morning I discovered a large bruise on my right leg.  I do not bruise easily and was completely stumped as to how in the world this happened.  The obvious answer is that Cindy slugged me while I was asleep for snoring.  The big question though, is where in the world did that come from???

Easter is three weeks away.  My mind has been on all of the preparations that need to be made for the big day.  I am stressing on our building project and know that it will not be even close to complete.  Lots of details and oblivious to everything that is supposed to be important about this special day.

Here’s the thing, Jesus never looks at his nail-scarred hands and asks, “I wonder how those got there?”  He doesn’t rub his side and question, “When did that happen?”  Jesus took the abuse of the Roman empire and the Jewish leaders for you…and me…  He knows exactly how that happened…and so do we…

It is easy to forget about the why’s and how’s of Easter weekend.  Don’t let that happen.  Take time to embrace Jesus.  Take time to reflect upon the pain that Jesus endured for us.  Take time to thank Him for His willingness to accept the punishment that we deserve.  Don’t be so preoccupied with all of the hoopla that you miss the important aspects of Easter.

Cubs Fan

Yesterday I went into Walgreen’s to pick up a few things, and while I was there I picked up a baseball magazine in anticipation of the upcoming season. I have been a baseball fan for my entire life and love to both play and watch the sport.

While I was checking out, the man who was helping me made comment of the magazine, and asked who my team was. I have been a Chicago Cubs fan since 1972. I have stuck with them through thick and thin (emphasis on the thin). Last season (WE) finally did it. (WE) won the World Series. It was a little weird though when he asked me my team. I wasn’t quick to gush on my beloved Cubbies. I told him I was a Cubs fan, but without a breath and before he could say anything, I quickly added that I am not a bandwagon jumper and I have followed them for nearly 50 years. I wanted him to know that I am not a Johnny come-lately kind of a fan. I am a true RED, WHITE, and BLUE fan.

When it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ, we must remember that He loves all of us the same. There is no special affection for someone who has followed him for 50 years compared to someone who just gave their life to Him.

In Matthew 20, Jesus tells a parable (a made-up story to help us understand Him better) about workers in a vineyard. The gist of the story is that each one got the same pay, regardless of how long they worked. Those who worked longest have no gripe that they got the same pay, because they knew the wages when they signed on.

As followers of Jesus, we should be happy and rejoice with new believers. We should not look down on them and complain about them. We should take the time to encourage them and help them along in their walk with Christ. As my old high school teacher, Mr. Perigo used to say, “In 10,000 years we’ll all be singing!”

Don't Slip

This morning we woke up to a nasty ice storm. There is a clear glaze on top of the ground. All of the schools in and around the area were closed due to the weather. We decided last night to put the cars in the garage because of the poor weather. This morning when it was time to come to church, I did like I typically do, I walked from the parsonage to the church. Here’s the thing though, I’m not 15 anymore. At my age, it would be very easy to slip and break a bone. As we get older we do not bounce back up as quickly as we used to. I had to be very careful not to slip.

There are a lot of slippery things in life that we must be careful with. It would be easy to misstep and fall as well. It is important to stay in step with our Savior so that we keep our feet on solid ground. We must keep in our minds His Word and His instructions for our life. Deuteronomy 4:9 is a great reminder. It says, “Be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

The world wants to pull God’s Word out of your heart and mind, and without them, it is so easy to slip. Why not begin a new practice of memorizing God’s Word so that when things get slippery, you have something firm to hold on to.

Facebook Live

We have been doing a bit of an experiment over the last few weeks with Facebook Live. Facebook has made a feature available that we can put our services online for free. This is a great tool to be able to show folks what is happening at Hopewell on Sunday mornings.

Going live like this is not a way to encourage folks to stay home, rather it is doing a couple of other things. First, we realize that there are some people who would love to be with us but are either sick or out of town and cannot be here in person. Second, many recent studies have shown that people will check out your church multiple times before walking through your doors. Going live allows us to meet both of those needs.

Hopewell Church desires to spread the Good News of Jesus to the world. We are called to be light to a dark world. If putting our worship service on the internet reaches one single person with the Gospel, the effort is worth it.

As followers of Christ, we are called to be witnesses of what Jesus has done in us and for us. To point people to Christ, we don’t need to be able to explain every theological issue or answer every question. What we must do is explain what we have witnessed in our own lives through the cross and the resurrection of the Savior. Even better is that we don’t have to rely on ourselves alone to do this. Jesus said, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

So, with that said, what are you doing to be a witness for Christ? Are you going to any lengths to share His love and grace that has happened in your own personal life? If not, why not start today? It can start with a simple statement that you can easily say to someone you come across during your day, “I’m wondering if I could take three minutes of your time to tell you about why I love Jesus?” And then, give them an elevator conversation about your Savior. Who knows what God might do with that little conversation. Give it a try.

Happy New year

We are just a couple of days away from the beginning of a new year. As you think about 2016, was it a good year or would you call it a bad year? For Cindy and I, we would definitely call it a good year. In February, we were blessed to be a part of a tour of Israel. We spent about two weeks walking where Jesus walked. It was the trip of a lifetime, truly something that I have longed for my entire life.

In July, we agreed to come to Hopewell as the new senior pastor. It meant leaving the Christian and Missionary Alliance (in which we have been a part of for more than 25 years), but are excited to join the United Brethren and lead such a great group of people. It has been amazing how quickly we feel like this is ‘home’.

Best of all, in November, my Chicago Cubs won the World Series. I have been a Cubs fan since 1972. I remember watching ballgames with my grandfather. I would cheer for the Cubs and he would cheer for whoever the Cubs were playing. I have stuck with them through many ugly seasons and was just thrilled to see them finally win it all. Yes, 2016 was a very good year for us.

Now as we are prepared to begin again in 2017, the question that faces us is, ‘What’s next?’ Where do we go from here? How do we improve on 2016 to ensure that 2017 will be better? I believe that the answer to those questions are all wrapped up in one name…Jesus!

I would like to challenge you to give more of yourself in 2017 to Jesus. Schedule more time for Him in your day. Perhaps in 2016 you spent 10 minutes a day in Bible reading. Try to get up five minutes earlier and go for 15 minutes in 2017. Perhaps you attended church twice a month in 2016. Try to up that number to three times a month in 2017. Also, how about volunteering more of your time for the Lord’s service in 2017? You could spend an afternoon a month visiting shut-ins. You could spend a Sunday each month working in the church nursery or as an usher or greeter. You could volunteer to mow someone’s lawn that perhaps has some physical limitations. Find a place where you can serve and get started.

Do you want to be closer to God? The secret can be found in the first part of James 4:8. The Message Bible says, “Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time…” Just tell Him ‘YES’ and He is there! The ball is in your court. What will you choose?

Upcoming Events

Dec
17

12.17.2017 9:15 am - 10:15 am

Dec
17

12.17.2017 10:30 am - 11:45 am

Dec
20

12.20.2017 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Dec
24

12.24.2017 9:15 am - 10:15 am

Dec
24

12.24.2017 10:30 am - 11:45 am