Monday, December 29, 2008

Aaron Alexander - Student Ministries Pastor

As most of you know (unless you've been living under a rock or in Siberia), we're smack dab in the middle of a construction project here at Hope. It's been talked about a few times on this blog mainly because it's completely consuming us. It's had it's crazy weeks, uncomfortable weeks, disastrous weeks, but it's definitely been interesting. But has it lost it's excitement? I surely hope not! So, I wanted to share the Top 10 Reasons we're Excited about the New Hope Fellowship campus expansion. Not all of these are completely true, but wouldn't it be better if they were?

10. The new lobby is perfect for impromptu games of bowling. 10 pin anybody? I'll provide the shoes.

9. Myrtle, the most powerful person in the church, gets her own underground paring area and security detail. Yes, she is that important.

8. They say the new playground area in the Adventure Kidz area is for the kids, but they are wrong. It's for all the adults who play on it when the kids aren't there. Anybody game? Just remember to take your shoes off and wear flexible clothing - Pastor Scott has torn many a pair of jeans sliding down the slides. Not pretty.

7. The TVs in the lobby will be put to great use with MacGyver marathons every Thursday. Pastor John loves MacGyver...and who doesn't?

6. I heard the Hope Cafe will have the BEST coffee around - and free WiFi. That's true.

5. I know our current portable stage is cool and all, but is anybody else tired of being so close to Aubrey while he's singing that you can actually see his tonsils?

4. Not having to walk across the "drawbridge" made of plywood across the "Hope Moat" to get into service. That was fun for a while, but it got old quickly after Watty started pushing kids into the water. Not cool, Watty. We totally caught you.

3. The new screens in the auditorium will be perfect for Wii Tennis. Pastor Larry Hopkins will probably win though with his amazing back swing - he's a monster not to be messed with!

2. John's entrance into the new facility at the Grand Opening involves fire-breathers, acrobats, and gorillas. Interested...aren't you?

1. We get to see Christ change more lives in Frisco. Period.

Is there any other reason to have a bigger campus than to see more people come to know Christ? Absolutely not. That is the reason we are excited about the new stuff all around Hope - not because of any gadget, not because of any new mural on the wall, not because of a new sound system. Those are just tools that we use to reach people for Christ. You can take this entire building away, every TV, microphone, light, coffee mug - it won't mean a bit of difference to God and it won't to us. We believe God will reach people whether or not we have the most advanced equipment or building on the face of the earth. Do you?

We aren't excited about the new "things" - but rather the new people that will step into our church building for the first time starting in April. That may be the first time they have ever stepped foot into a church building. Are we focusing on the right things when it comes to that moment? Yes, the lights are important. The sound system is important. If the windows are clean is important. But are they the MOST important? Of course not.

So let's remember why we are doing what we are doing. It's not to build an earthly kingdom made of concrete, metal, wood, or glass. But rather to be a part of building a Heavenly Kingdom of changed lives, forgiveness, grace, and redemption. God is in the business of changing lives. It's important to Him and is unapologetically important to us.

I couldn't be more excited about that! But are we ready? I have a feeling we better get ready - God is moving in Frisco - let's keep our priorities in order so we don't get in His way.

Aaron Alexander

Student Ministries Pastor

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Helen Hartzo - Early Childhood Director

I just finished reading “Just Courage” by Gary Haugen. In his book, Gary shares a story about a trip to the mountains he took with his Dad and brothers. It was the last “BIG” hike of the trip and he had no desire to hike – he was tired and worn out! Gary finally convinced his Dad into letting him stay at the visitor’s center. At first, it was a lot of fun hanging out at the center but as the day went on it became increasingly boring and “safe”. His Dad and brothers came back tired but excited and had many adventuresome stories to share of their final hike. Gary said he went on the journey, but missed out on the adventure along the way.

Some of my most favorite times have been hiking in the mountains of Colorado, especially the Thanksgiving Mike and I and the kids spent in the mountains, in a log cabin near Durango. Even though horseback riding is not my most favorite thing to do, we all went on the voyage! However, Amy and Cherish’s horses decided to run away! We wanted to get a family photo to memorialize the event and our guide kept getting us to back up and back up to the edge of the cliff for a “great picture”. The kids kept looking behind them because we were just inches away from the edge! Needless to say, we were all were glad that we survived the horse riding adventure and for the great memories it created for us. The kids still say that this was their favorite family vacation.

Even in Texas there are some small mountains (big hills) to climb, (like Lost Maples National Park in the Hill Country)…but even those small mountain journeys can turn into big adventures when we take that step of faith.

I know that sometimes it may seem easier to be indecisive and not make a definite decision. But if I had not of made a choice I would have missed out on the adventure God had for my family and me -even when it seems like sometimes it is not going to work out or looks hopeless. Taking that step of faith (courage) and trusting God to see it through, is like stepping out of the visitor’s center (or agreeing to go horseback riding) and continuing the journey with God - all the way. What about you? Are you ready to settle in at the “visitor’s center” in your journey or continue on the adventure God has for you? I know that I don’t want to settle… I want all that God has for me. What’s next God?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Scott Berkey - Children's Pastor

I am sitting here in my office listening to the fire alarm go off every fifteen minutes, the pounding of the sledge hammers knocking down walls (it feels like my office wall is the one they are trying to knock down), and the buzzing of drills and other power tools working steadily to construct our new auditorium. Hope Fellowship is certainly in a time of physical transition. It seems as though every day I come in there is something new and some change to the structure. Change can be very inconvenient, it is almost always messy (most of you only get to see it on the weekend when it has been “cleaned” thoroughly), and it is never easy! The only thing that keeps us going is the promise of the future.

It has been my experience that our journey with Christ is very similar. Each of us has a promise that we have received from God. God has incredible plans for our lives, He tells us in Jeremiah that He has plans to give us a future and a hope. You have probably received a “promise” from God. A promise for a future that looks so different from where you are at now, that you probably have no idea how it is going to happen. Before we can see the payoff of these “promises” (when it actually comes to pass) we have to go through a process. In that process God is preparing our hearts and our lives for the incredible payoff He has in store for us.

For us here at Hope, that process involves bulldozers, sledge hammers, and a bunch of concrete and metal. For each of us as individuals, it is usually a lot more complicated. Wouldn’t it be nice if God could send a “construction team” to take you from where you are to where He wants you to be! It doesn’t work that way though. I can remember singing a song as a little kid that talks about this very thing, it’s chorus said:

He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be.

It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,

The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.

How loving and patient He must be, He's still working on me.

What is God taking you through right now? How is it “making you what you ought to be?” Are you willing to trust Him through the Process, so that you can see the Payoff?

“Enjoy the Journey”

Scott Berkey
Children’s Pastor
Hope Fellowship

Monday, December 8, 2008

Larry Hopkins - Counseling Pastor

Blog, that seems to be an odd name for something to do with writing. But there are a lot of words used today that didn’t have the same meaning they did years ago, and I’m talking years ago. A megabyte back in my day was a big chunk of skin taken out of another kids arm with Johnnie or Susie’s teeth. A microchip was a small area of paint knocked out of your new car door. A dell was a small secluded, wooded valley. So I grabbed my trusty Webster’s New Compact Dictionary to find the latest definition of blog and guess what, it ain’t in there... but ain’t is! Sense I can’t seem to find a definition for blog, myself and one other anonymous staff person came up with our own.

Blog (blog) n. (1.) to self promote one’s own thoughts or ideas (2.) to ramble on about something no one else is interested in (3.) to spend time on a computer that could be more productive spent in personal relationships.

I am sorry if I have offended anyone but after all look at what I am doing right now.
My ministry here at Hope is to be a Godly counsel for those who seek it. Although my creditability as such may be gone after this “Blog”. I know that technical progress is needed and I am not saying we should stop progress. I do think we lose some of the personal relationships that brought an extra ordinary unity among the early church believers.

Act 2:41-47 in the Message says, “That day three thousand took Peter at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life of fellowship together, the common meal, and the praying together. Everyone around was in awe-all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! All the believers lived in a wonderful harmony (unity) holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s needs were met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their numbers grew as God added those who were saved”.

This sounds like more fun to me than blogging - but that’s just me.
There were four areas the early church devoted themselves to that caused them to grow spiritually and in numbers.

#1.) The teaching of the Apostles: They were in unity relationally by having the same mind set, speaking the same thing and making the same judgments based on God’s word.

#2.) A Life of Fellowship: We were created for fellowship with God and man. Really caring for one another takes personal relationship.

#3.) Having a Common Meal:
Communion is one way we have fellowship with the Lord. Inviting others for a meal is a good way to have fellowship.

#4.) Praying Together: Praying together can build strong relationships and that unity produces great power spiritually. So I guess what my rambling, self promoting, uninteresting thoughts are saying. Don’t stop blogging, but don’t stop bonding either.

Merry Christmas!
Pastor Larry Hopkins
Counseling Pastor

Hope Fellowship

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mark Lunsford - Executive Pastor

Identity- 1. the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another. 2. condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is.

As a pastor, one of the things I love is getting to know people. It’s one thing to be acquainted with someone so that I can say hi when I see them, but it’s even more fun to me when I get to know who they really are. I have been fascinated over the years by the number of times I have been surprised by the beauty and depth of people. There have been instances when I’ve been forced to admit that I had made snap judgments about them that proved completely wrong in the end. It’s apparent that God has carefully crafted each and every one of us, and that His handiwork is never shoddy. The funny thing is, I think it’s easier for us to believe this about others (Well, most others…) ☺ than it is to believe it about ourselves. I have met so many people who think that they have nothing to offer. They have started to believe the snap judgments of others; those who haven’t stopped to recognize the beauty within. It’s so disappointing to see people settle for less than their true identity. Here is what I have found. I must accept and acknowledge that God created me and designed me for a purpose, and that I am who I am not by accident, but because God specifically chose my unique qualities. I love the words of Psalm 139:13-15 in The Message:

“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God-you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration-what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”

It’s incredible to think that the God of the universe, who created the entire world, also cared enough to shape each one of us, both inside and out! So today, whose voice will you listen to? Who will shape your identity? “God, today I pray that I will see myself the way that you see me. Help me to also see the beauty in others, and see your craftsmanship in everyone I meet. Amen.”

Keep up with Mark by following his daily updates at or on his blog at

Thursday, November 13, 2008

John McKinzie - Lead Pastor

Welcome to our 3rd week of Hope’s new Blog Spot! I’m not one to read a whole lot of blogs (hardly any…), partly because of time and partly because of time… J But maybe you have time and love to read blogs and if that’s the case, hopefully you’ll find ours helpful & encouraging for your spiritual journey.

Speaking of journeys… since the very beginning of Hope, our theme has been “experience the journey”. The whole idea is that our relationship with God is a process not just an event. For so long I focused on getting people to “experience God” rather than inviting them on a journey with him. I most definitely believe our experiences with God are awesome & potentially “life changing” but in my view what happens between the experiences is just as important if not more.

Simply following Christ authentically each day is an “experience” in and of itself. It’s not always “touchy feely” or as some same “sexy”… but there’s nothing like it. I’ll leave you with some of my favorite words spoken by Jesus. They’re found in Luke 9:

Luke 9:23-25 (NLT)
23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?

John McKinzie
Lead Pastor
Hope Fellowship

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Libba Tullos - Programming Director

I love Tuesdays and the weekends! I love looking over my calendar, preparing for meetings, and seeing what lies ahead. I love working with a team to make things happen. I love dreaming and imagining what might be, what the future could look like, how we could make a difference. I love starting to change things, and setting things in motion that might make those changes happen. I love celebrating the wins along the way and learning from the losses. I love watching the team getting healthier and happier as it gets better and better at the work it does.

In just a few weeks, our team will come together for a time of prayer, brainstorming, and decision making. I'm living for December 2! What might God want to speak to us in 2009? What challenges will we face next year? Who should we interview? What passages in the Bible should we respond to? Inspire us. Challenge us. Surprise Us. Make us cry, laugh, think....

I'm most inspired whenever I take a look at what my long distance mentor, Willow Creek Community Church, is creating. I read this recently and wanted to share it with you! I'm INSPIRED when God speaks clearly to a group of artists in the local church. Check out this weekend experience:

Darren Whitehead delivered a powerful message about the "Potential of the Young", featuring a teaching about King Josiah who was only 8 when he led the people of God. But the major moments of the service were still to come. Darren described a young man now in his twenties, a guy named Joe, who grew up in a terribly difficult home which led to foster care. From the time he was 5 years old until the age of 7, his first foster care parents brought him to our church, to the ministry of Promiseland. Later the state moved this kid all over the place, and he completely lost his way. He got into a serious drug problem and was arrested for assault in his early 20’s. When Joe hit rock bottom, he called that first foster mother, sobbing and threatening to take his own life. She pleaded him to return to God, to turn his life over to the Father he had learned about years ago. And Joe made that decision! He also went to AA, and began a process of healing that ultimately led him to 4 years studying at Moody Bible Institute to be a pastor to the young.

At that point in the service, Darren called Joe up front along with those original foster care parents! Our church just went crazy. To see how the seeds sown in a child’s life two decades ago ultimately bore fruit and brought him home to a relationship with God was hugely inspiring. As if all that wasn’t moving enough, the service came to a rousing climax when the adult worship team began leading us in the song, How Great is Our God. One by one, the adult instrumentalists were replaced by junior high students, starting with the drummer, then the guitarist, bass player (a young girl!), and keyboard player. At that moment, three young vocalists took over for the adults, and no one over 18 was left on the stage! All of us were blessed with a vivid picture of what it means to pass the baton of the church intentionally and enthusiastically to its future leaders!

In 2009, I hope to focus on the power of stories. Philippians 1:6 says "And I am certain that God, who began a good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns"....

If you are open, I would love to hear YOUR story. E-mail me at

Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door. -- Emily Dickinson

What is now proved was once only imagined. -- William Blake

If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it. --Albert Einstein

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Aubrey McGowan - Worship Pastor/Student Ministries Pastor

Here it is! Hope Fellowship’s endeavor into the blogosphere! I know that you and the whole church world have been waiting on pins and needles to hear the meanderings and musings of your beloved Hope pastors and leaders. Well, wait no more… “Hope’s Blog Spot” is bursting on the scene and I have been entrusted with the great responsibility of startin’ this e-party off right.

Blogs are an interesting odd mixture of someone’s thoughts, opinions, grammatical prowess, wordsmithy-ness, sense of humor, and of course typographical accuracy. All of these things hopefully communicate the writer’s personal perspective. That, after all, is the attraction of a blog; it is an invitation to hear a person of interest’s private perspective that they are extending to the rest of the public world to see, hear, criticize, etc.

With that in mind, I was watching a video produced by a creative design firm today and in that video they talked about the importance of gaining fresh perspective. Here are some of the methods they suggested for gaining that fresh outlook: (1) Wear a patch over one eye for a day and see the world differently; (2) Wear earplugs while walking down the street and hear the world differently; (3) Take the long way to work and notice the things that go unnoticed. It is important that we gain fresh perspective because that is what keeps us from creating, writing, doing, living the same old things we’ve seen repeated over and over. You can do better than that. You were created by an Infinite Creative God for more than living a rutted routine ridden life. So, break out and stretch for a new perspective. Believe me, sometimes it takes hard work, but it is always rewarding when you see fresh color in those things that have faded into every day grey.

Ephesians 2:10
10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Maybe you should start by finding a new perspective on the masterpiece that is You! I hope that this blog helps you in some way to see things in a different way. May your perspective be changed and challenged revealing the endlessly fresh beautiful colors of God’s creation.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Hope's Blog Coming!

Get to know the staff of Hope Fellowship. Each week a different staff member will post a blog - a little insight into who they are and what they do.