Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Aubrey McGowan - Worship Pastor/Student Ministries Pastor

Stamps are interesting things:

1. The price of a first class stamp keeps going up… never down. Bummer.

2. $0.42 is still a pretty good deal for sending a birthday card from Texas all the way to Maine.
3. $0.42 is a rip off for sending my water bill from my house to city hall.
4. Although, it’s not such a rip off if I leave it in my car with good intentions of taking it to a convenient payment location, but forget until the bill is past due. At that point, I am charged a $10 late fee and in the end $10.00 is less than $0.42.
5. The cool commemorative stamps cost the same as the generic ones.
6. You can buy the generic ones in many places.
7. You can buy the commemorative ones if you feel like standing in line at the post office for three days.
Or you can get them online, but then you’ll have to pay postage to get them delivered… seems to defeat the purpose a little.
You don’t have to lick them anymore. No more awful stamp-adhesive taste.
On the other hand you don’t have the grace period once afforded to stamp lickers during which one could remove the stamp without wasting your 42 cents. So, make sure you get it perfectly aligned the first time!

We spend so much of our lives focusing on initiatives, goals, processes, strategies, and to do lists. It’s true that there are many great things that get accomplished when we are laser focused, but we often forget about something that is equally as important… our imagination. When is the last time you let your imagination run wild? I know. You say, “That’s just kids’ stuff.” Right? Wrong! Your mind, your imagination, and your creativity are all gifts from God. These form the foundation for many of the great things that initiatives, goals, processes, and initiatives accomplish. Don’t let them go to waste because you are too caught up in everything pressing on you right now. If you are in a place of imagination atrophy, I have a recommendation; an experiment of sorts. It may seem a little counter intuitive, but here ya go! Take a moment right now and plan out a few minutes in the next day or so specifically set aside to let your mind wander. Maybe you will think about something more important than stamps or maybe you won’t. It’s not “what” you are thinking about that matters, but rather “that” you are thinking. Don’t let your imagination go to waste. Use it and see what great things God may spark in you.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Larry Hopkins - Counseling Pastor

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog on Hope’s website. I may have been a little harsh on what the definition of a blog was, sorry Aaron. Part of the definition was that it is self promoting. Well, I must apologize because I am about to do that very thing in this blog.

Starting February 10th Hope will be offering five classes generally called Life Classes. Individually these classes are called:
  1. Discovery – Discovery is a four week class on the foundational doctrines of the Bible. Faith, baptisms, and spiritual gifts to name a few.
  2. Divorce Care – Divorce Care is a 13 week course for those who have experienced or are experiencing the trauma of divorce. It is to help those regain hope and healing.
  3. Financial Peace University – FPU is a 13 week action packed course that will help you manage your money better, eliminate debt, and build wealth biblically.
  4. The Life and Teachings of Christ – This is a 13 week study of the life and teachings of Christ based on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The content of this course will focus on ways for students to apply the principals of Christ to their own lives.
  5. Experiencing Spiritual Maturity and Freedom – Now here is where I get self promoting. The goal of experiencing spiritual maturity and freedom is to help us to grow and walk daily in the freedom Jesus promised through knowing the truth. Spiritual maturity is a life time process. This class will help you get started on that journey. Spiritual freedom on the other hand can be obtained in a relatively short time. Jesus said the spirit of the Lord is upon Him to proclaim freedom to the captives, the blind, and the oppressed. (Luke 4:18). Each one of these classes is to help us grow in maturity and gain our freedom from the bondage the world and the devil have put on us.

I read this story and thought it could fit some of us. “A general of the Persian Army always gave his condemned prisoners a choice, the firing squad or the black door. Most chose the firing squad. The prisoners were never told what was on the other side of the door. Few ever chose the unknown of the black door. When asked what was on the other side of the black door the general answered, “Freedom, and I’ve known only a few men brave enough to take it.” It seems like so many are willing to settle for where we are at instead of stepping out in faith choosing the freedom general Jesus has to offer…….Blog on fellow blogger.

Larry Hopkins
Counseling Pastor

Monday, January 12, 2009

Larry Evans - Pastoral Care Pastor

What a change! I am enjoying Hope Fellowship. I’m the “other” Pastor Larry, the Pastoral Care Pastor. I am doing what I love. I believe that pastoral care ministry is where the “rubber meets the road” in ministry. It is really where people are. I have been at home (I mean at Hope) for about six months. I’ve learned to love this place so much. It’s changing. Every week we change on the outside and on the inside.

I have learned that in this life there is one thing that is consistent: CHANGE. Every day we change. Paul wrote that from glory to glory He is changing me, into His likeness and image to perfect me. I’m kind of new to all this technology and stuff. I mean, a year ago I had no idea what a blog was, and now… I’m writing one. I am changing.

Change is often not easy though. Sometimes change is difficult and causes us to move out of our “comfort zones”. My son, Justin, wrote and recorded a song about our comfort zones. The song declares, “Lord, make my comfort zone uncomfortable.”

God brings about change in two ways: (1) He changes circumstances in our life, and (2) He changes me.
In Jeremiah 18, the Word says: “The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, go down to the shop where clay pots and jars are made. I will speak to you while you are there. So I did as he told me and found the potter working on his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so the potter squashed the jar into a lump of clay and started again. Then the Lord gave this message: O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.” Jeremiah 18:1-6

When God changes me, he sometimes has to squash me in order to make me right. Have you ever been squashed? It doesn’t feel good. It hurts! Who likes to be squashed? Not me. It really is important to realize that God isn’t mad at me when I get squashed. I have always been hard headed and stubborn. I get used to doing something a certain way and it is hard for me to change. I get familiar with the road I’m going down and I don’t want to go another way. God has to squash me sometimes to change me. The process of change is painful at times. God has to squash me to make me over again. God wants to make me better. Do you feel like you have been squashed? From one lump of clay to another, I want to encourage you to stay on the wheel. God is up to something good. It is only as we remain still can God re-make us. Remember Jeremiah 18, “As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.”

I love you all very much.

Larry Evans

Pastoral Care Pastor

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Launa Vaughn - Communications Director

I will never... that's a phrase I try not to say. Not that I haven't always felt that way about the phrase. My first memory of using it was "I will never marry a man in the military." (I don't know why I felt that way, I was young and stupid.) I was a sophomore at Macon College when I made that firm decision. Two years later I started dating a young military officer. Eight months later I was married... 

My second memory of using 'the phrase' was around the same time. "I will never live in the north." (It was just too cold up there for a Georgia girl.) One year after I was married, we moved to our first duty station, Fort Drum, New York. It was 20 minutes from the Canadian border. 

I really think when we use the phrase "I will never..." it's kind of like daring God, don't you think? We say, "I will never..." and He just kind of chuckles and thinks, watch this! I try really hard not to use that type of language any longer. Even my children realize the dangers. 

I wish I could say moving to New York was my last "I will never..." but it wasn't. I'm a pretty slow learner. I do know when life takes me in a direction I didn't want or plan, that I have a couple of scriptures I always go to. Words He's given me to reinforce the fact that regardless of what life has thrown my way, God's with me. 

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:8-9 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

So, regardless of whether we dare God, or life just takes us on an unexpected road in our life journey... He's always with us.

Launa Vaughn
Communications Director