Friday, October 28, 2005


But first, some quick updates.

If you look in the menu bar at the top of this page, you'll see a new feature on our website called, "Harvest@Home". That link will take you to our repository of downloadable media, such as music, messages, and study guides. Try it out. Go ahead. Click it now. You can always come back here. In fact, I'll wait.....



...I hope you liked it. We'll add to that page regularly.

The message last week was on Hope. After watching some great clips from one of my favorite movies ever, The Shawshank Redemption, we talked about how "hope is a dangerous thing. It can drive a man insane." Especially when it goes unfulfilled. Repeatedly. Over time, we get cynical. We stop hoping. It's not that we become pessimistic, we simply get scarred.

People will always let us down. Circumstances beyond our control (and many within our control) have a tendency not to go our way. When we hope in our friends, or our spouse, or our jobs, or in circumstances, or in government, or in routine, or in a sports team, or in interest rates, we will always (eventually) find the opposite of hope: disappointment. But the Bible tells us that everything in it was written to give us hope. (Romans 15:4). And that hope "does not disappoint" (Romans 5:5) because God loves us. Our problem is that we search for our hope's fulfillment in things other than God or His Word.

So what are things we can confidently hope for, according to God's Word?

For one thing, we can hope for the relational blessings of knowing Christ. We have access to the ultimate power in the universe because we are friends with His Son. Kind of like that one rich kid down the street who everyone wanted to be friends with because she had a swimming pool and a bumper pool table, and she had Atari and cable TV before everyone else. There are perks to being friends with the Creator of all and the Giver of good things. We can hope for his goodness and his sustenance in hard times.

We also have the hope of spiritual genetics. The Bible says that we are being conformed into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). That means we can hope that we will increase our holiness quotient each day. We can say, "Man, I hope I can be a more patient person" or "I really hope my connection with the Father takes off soon" and be confident that those hopes will be fulfilled. We may not like the way we look today, and we may not look much like Jesus right now, but we can confidently hope for that to change, because of our new spiritual DNA.

The Bible also tells us to hope in our inheritance (Ephesians 1:18). We know that because of our position in Christ, we will share in his power, glory, and future inheritance. Like the man who sold all he had for the field with a treasure in it, we suffer little to lose hope in the treasures of this world in exchange for the inheritance of the next.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we are reminded to hope anxiously for Christ's return. Every generation in the church's history has held out hope that Jesus could return in their lifetime. We have short memories and cynical, postmodern hearts. We should look to the skies and expect them to rip open with the coming of the Rider on the white horse. Paul calls this event "the blessed hope" (Titus 2:13) that should motivate us to live godly lives in this present age. Against this event, all of our lives are a shadow. This is a hope for freedom. For vindication. For a long-awaited celebration. For a reunion with our friend.

We closed with another clip from Shawshank, when Red finally gets out of prison and celebrates a reunion with his free, vindicated friend, Andy. "Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Under Way

After a long wait and a lot of hard work, we held our weekend service kickoff last Saturday night. The move from Thursdays to Saturdays was long overdue, and thanks to the support of Fellowship Community Church, it was a smashing success.

We had 85 people come out and join us for our service, which featured some fun worship, great children's programming, and a nice time of communion. The message (on Faith) was good...or so I've been told. Unfortunately, we failed to get a recording for download. Fear not, however, for here is a summary of the message (taken from John 4:46-54):

There is a common misconception out there that faith is what you have when you run out of facts; that faith is, as one interviewee said, "the absence of reason". This is why Christianity is commonly referred to as "blind faith". Interestingly, this is actually the opposite of what the Bible teaches about faith.

The Bible encourages research and investigation. Jesus supported his claims with the physical evidence of miracles. Nowhere in the Bible does it say to believe anything in spite of evidence. Instead, we are instructed to "taste and see that the Lord is good", and investigate the claims of Christ. History supports the truth of the New Testament. Science doesn't contradict what's in the Bible, no matter what aggressive atheists try and tell you. The truth will always win out, so don't be afraid to weigh the evidence. Ironically, it is often the critics of Christianity who avoid researching the evidence. They believe the hype and assume that facts and faith (or science and faith) are mutually exclusive, without actually looking into any evidence. Anyone who rejects Christ without investigating is actually the "blind" one. Now, there are mysteries of the spiritual realm that we can't understand, but whether or not the Bible is true is not one of them. Gather the facts, and build your faith on them. Such investigation is the first stage of faith.

The second stage is dependent faith. This is when you depend on the word of God because you've found it to be true. Even if you don't feel like it. Far too often, we allow our feelings to dictate our faith. This is backwards. Someone who lets how they feel determine how they act is called a 4 year old. We need to mature past that level of development in our faith, and believe on God's word even if our feelings tell us otherwise. Do you think Abraham really felt like taking Isaac up on the mountain to kill him? No. But he did it because God told him to. The book of Hebrews tells us that Abraham had faith that God knew what he was doing, and would resurrect Isaac if he had to. Of course, God intervened before anyone was hurt, but Abraham was rewarded for having faith despite his feelings. If we wait to obey until we feel led, we are not living by faith. Facts are the engine of the train that pulls faith. Feelings are the caboose that will follow in time.

The third stage is confident faith. This is where we can release our fears, depend on God, and have confidence in his promises. This stage is all about focus. Throughout the Bible, God reminds His people to remember, remember, remember. Remember when he brought you out of slavery in Egypt. Remember when he brought you out of exile and back to the land. Remember the goodness of God. Why is it so important to remember? Because past performance sets future expectations. This is the basis for all of science. Past, observable precedent gives us expectations for future performance. When God comes through for you, make a note of it and remember. Search your life and see if he has been good to you. If you are short of such examples, search the Bible for times God came through on his promises. I have confidence that the sun will come up tomorrow because it comes up every morning. Likewise, I have confidence that God will come through on his promises because he always has.

Faith is believing and acting on the Word of God, no matter how I feel, because God promises a good result.


This week's topic is "Hope". As I watched the baseball playoffs this week, I was reminded of how important hope is to sports fans. As a Cub fan, I should have a PhD. in it.

We'll have pictures soon, as well as fun downloads of music and messages.

I hope.