From the Pastor

Following Jesus Together - August 19, 2021

Dear Friends,

It’s been an emotional week, watching the horrific scenes happening in Afghanistan. I happened to be reading Psalm 10 on the day the Taliban took over. I commend it to you as you pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering and scared. (Hebrews 13:3) Here’s a few lines from the Psalm, which gives us words to speak to God when we do not know what to say:

“Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.

He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket; he lurks that he may seize the poor;

he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net. The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might.  He says in his heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.” 

Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted. 

The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land.  Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; You will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.” 

Perhaps a good question to ask our neighbors – How are you processing the evil happening in Afghanistan? Why are you so angry? Perhaps your desire for justice is a sign of being made in the image of God – a God-given longing for the true King, Jesus, to come and mend all that is broken in this world. Imagine a day when terror never strikes again because Jesus has made the entire cosmos safe, subduing every enemy under his feet (Psalm 110:1-3) Maybe invite them to read Psalm 10?

May the Lord be with you as ambassadors of Jesus, God making his appeal through us. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)

Community Fun Day
Come out Saturday from 1:00-4:00pm to volunteer, as we seek to meet our neighbors and let them know we are here. Pray for good conversations and perhaps future friendships being forged through this event! Many thanks to Melanie and others who are coordinating and serving on Saturday!

Sunday – 10:00am
Another Sunday is coming. Pastor/Author Jared Wilson writes a brief helpful article one why regular church attendance is the God-ordained way to deeper faith and Christ-like maturity. Enjoy: 

https://ftc.co/resource-library/blog-entries/the-purpose-of-sunday-is-the-re-evangelization-of-the-people-of-god/

We are continuing to look at the life of David – God’s presence and power evoke two radically different responses in 1 Samuel 18. Jonathan knits his very soul to David, while Saul rages with murderous envy. The text shows us how God provides friends for David. He does the same for us in Jesus. 

“even David had his Jonathan and Jesus, His John.” 

Come and see Jesus with us on Sunday! He changes everything! 

Grace and peace,
Nate Thompson

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Following Jesus Together - August 3, 2021

Dear Friends,

First, a big thank you to all who helped us move on July 24th and the many offers of help that came from others. We are deeply grateful for your love and care for us!

Talking about Jesus In a Spiritually Apathetic Culture:

A couple weeks ago we looked at the idea that our culture has catechized (hear: intentionally taught us) to not care about religion in order to protect the world from religious extremism.

We are seeing the fruits of that reality now. The growth of the “Nones”, or those who don’t affiliate with a particular religion in 2015 was about 22%. That number has been increasing, especially among the younger generations. 

So, we have some work to do. For many of our neighbors, they don’t have a reason to care. Think of 1 Peter 3:15, where Peter imagines a non-Christian asking a Jesus-follower for the reasons they have for the hope within them. For the spiritually apathetic, they just won’t ask. Why not?

They have reasons to not care. They are comfortable with their way of seeing the world. It answers enough. Science explains enough. Religion seems like a crutch for the weak. In the past perhaps, before science, we needed religion to make sense of a frightening world. But now, in our modern world, religion is a coping mechanism for the weak. 

So, how do we engage in conversation with folks who do not have a reason to care about Jesus? It’s surely a multi-faceted answer. But consider this – we need to find ways to provoke their curiosity. It’s how TV shows become bingeable. They pique your curiosity and you have to keep watching to find out more. The story telling engages our interest. We have questions that need answers. We have to do the same in conversations with our friends and neighbors.

Pure philosophy and logic will probably fall on deaf ears if there is no reason to care. But emotions are running high these days. We can tap into that with good questions:

  • If there is no Creator – no God, personally invested in this world and humans, why are we so angry right now? In other words, why do we get so upset about right and wrong, if there is no such thing? Especially when our emotions are telling us there is a universal right and wrong for everyone (E.g. slavery, protection of women)? So where do you find a basis for human morality for all people that makes sense of our anger at injustice?
  • Have you considered how Jesus has radically changed the way we look at other people, made in the image of God? Jesus commands us to treat our enemies with kindness. Is that not the kind of extremism we need in the world? Does your worldview include that reality?

I keep praying that Hope Church will be a place where the spiritually apathetic want to know more about Jesus. And that the Holy Spirit would light a fire of curiosity about the things of the gospel in us and in our neighbors., 

Brief Summer Sermon Series – The Gospel According to David
Next week, August 9 – 14th, I will be at Cortland Bible Club Camp. I am scheduled to speak for their Family camp. I’d appreciate prayers for that time! I’m planning to talk about the life of David there. So the next three weeks will be using that material. 

The Bible’s story about David is the longest narrative we have about one person in the ancient world. Simply put: He’s important. David becomes the model of what a good king is. A model of what the Messiah would be like. Only better. David turns out to be the King Israel needed. They just couldn’t see it. 

So this Sunday we are going to look at God’s choice for King in 1 Samuel 16:1-13 – “God Sees to What We Need”.

See you Sunday!

Grace and peace,
Nate Thompson

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