Monday, February 23, 2009

Helen Hartzo - Early Childhood Director

The Uncomfortable Zone

One thing is for certain - life always has a way of changing... family, friends, church and jobs. Lately in my life, I have been experiencing a lot of changes. Kids growing up and moving out of the house (empty nesters as some would say). A spouse, relative or friend loses their job and has to start over again. A new president. Uncertainty in a lot of ways as to what the future holds. We all experience change on a daily basis. The question is, how will we handle those changes? Will we try to stay in our comfort zone where we feel snug and secure or, will we be open to venture out into that UNCOMFORTABLE ZONE, “go where no man has gone before” to what God has for us and trust Him to lead and guide our paths.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6.

Change can bring excitement and apprehension. As the next few months unfold at Hope during this transition phase (sometimes uncomfortable zone) with the building, we as individuals have to be open to what God wants to do here and how He wants to use each of us. It isn’t just about “me” but about people’s lives being changed.

I have heard several well–known speakers say (paraphrased) “if you want to go where you have never gone before, you have to do what you have never done before.” The UNCOMFORTABLE ZONE. We can’t expect change to happen if we don’t change. If I want to draw closer to Him, I have to spend more time with Him. If I want to learn more of His Word, I have to spend more time reading His Word. If I want to have more faith, more faith comes by hearing His Word.
My prayer for our church family is that we will be open to the changes (those UNCOMFORTABLE ZONES) that God has for us in our personal lives as well as for the individual areas of ministry one is involved in (or maybe to get involved in) and let God use us how He wants to. Be open and sensitive to His will…His purpose! He wants to use YOU in a greater way than ever before!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Launa Vaughn - Communications Director

I categorize my life with doors. There are certain doors in my life that just don’t need to be opened, places I don’t need to go. Right now I’ve got one that’s wide open and I can’t seem to shut it. Its like a dam, you’ve got a small amount of water coming through and you can handle it. Maybe plug it up, but then a crack starts and more water comes through and before you know it the dam has been demolished and there’s a flood.

My doors are like that. The one that I can’t seem to shut right now is the door to chocolate and desserts. Usually I don’t eat sweets, but if I’ve indulged a couple of times, I start to crave them. Then I’m looking to satisfy that craving. I scrounge the Early Childhood area for treats. I eat my kid’s ice cream out of the freezer (and add nuts and chocolate syrup too, yum).

So, I’m in the process of trying to shut it, but it’s difficult. I fail sometimes but I can’t give up! We all have doors that we allow to be opened, even if ever so slightly. We always know better, but the temptation can seem too hard to resist.

Whatever your door is I know that God will help you shut it, no matter how difficult. His Word says so!

Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mark Lunsford - Executive Pastor


This morning as I am sitting in my office, there is a construction worker pounding on my window and using a loud saw trying to dislodge it from its current location. The window is being replaced to match our new church addition. Of course, since I am trying to write, this has me very distracted. Why is it that when I am trying to focus and accomplish a goal, distractions always come up? I don’t know, but it seems to happen a lot in life. Distractions can keep us from accomplishing the very things that we have talked about as being priorities. Goals that we have talked about or dreams that we have envisioned get pushed aside many times because distractions cause us to lose focus.

I’ve found that this can also happen in our spiritual lives. In Luke 10, we read about Mary and Martha. They were sisters who had invited Jesus and his disciples into their home. Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to what he said. “But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’ But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:40-42 NLT)

Sometimes we forget how important it is to simply sit as His feet and listen. With all that has to be done it’s easy to lose focus on why we’re even doing it in the first place! The things that Martha was doing were good and necessary, but they were causing her to be distracted and even made her miss out on hearing from her guest, the reason for the dinner in the first place! Recently I have felt that God has been saying that same thing to me; that the things I’m doing FOR Him are hindering my relationship WITH Him. It’s hard for me to slow down long enough to just sit at Jesus’ feet. But I know that when I do, I am able to hear Him more clearly. The apostle Paul said it well in Philippians 3:13-14, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

“God, help me this week to remember that without your help, I can do nothing. And help me not to be so distracted by everything going on, that I forget to spend time with you. Help me to listen and hear what you’re saying to me so that everything I do glorifies you. In Jesus name, amen.”

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Scott Berkey - Children's Pastor

I was driving home from church the other day when my wife and I got to experience something pretty cool. Madeline, our 4 year old, loves music (she is always saying “turn it up daddy”) and she is starting to learn how to listen to the words of the songs that are on. She likes to sing along (remembering as many of the words to the song that her 4 year old mind can). We were listening to a song from the Passion CD “God of this City.

The song was “Hosanna”, and I was almost brought to tears listening to my baby girl sing “ Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest”. I am pretty sure that she didn’t know what exactly she was singing, all she knew was that she was singing a praise song to her really big God. I went back and listened to the song one more time a little later, one of the verses jumped out at me. It said “I see a generation, rising up to take their place with selfless faith”. I couldn’t help but think of my little girls and all the children of Hope Fellowship rising up to take their place and do great things for the Kingdom of God.

Sarah and I are so blessed to be a part of the family of Hope Fellowship. Please join us and our entire kid’s ministry team as we pray for and raise up a “generation” that will soon “take their place” to do incredible things for God!

Scott Berkey
Children's Pastor