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.
Student Ministries Pastor
Monday, December 29, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
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
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”
Monday, December 8, 2008
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.
I am sorry if I have offended anyone but after all look at what I am doing right now.
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.
Pastor Larry Hopkins
Monday, December 1, 2008
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 www.twitter.com/marklunsford or on his blog at www.marklunsford.net.