Monday, January 30, 2012

Survey time!

Hi Women of Hope!

Whether you've read the Women at Hope Blog once ever or once a week for the last year, we would like to get some feedback from you. What do you like to read about? What types of posts will challenge your head and your heart? We see this blog as a way to encourage each other and connect as a community by sharing personal stories and keeping you informed on Hope events.

To help us better serve you, please take a moment to answer our short survey. If you have ideas other than the 10 answers we've compiled below, feel free to share your ideas with us in the comments section at the end of this blog post.

Thank you!
-Michelle

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The LDI Chronicles: Created in God's image, and that's a BIG deal.

by Kari K.


Second semester of LDI has fully begun. 

After spending three weeks on break over Christmas and New Years, I knew I was ready to get back to Hope. I am someone who thrives off of a schedule and having a daily routine. The week I spent in Wisconsin with my family was a sweet time, but I knew I was ready to get back to Hope full-time. I've been really jazzed about this semester. Thinking back to last semester and how much I learned about who God is, who I am in Christ, and how much fun/challenging it is to work on ministry, I can't imagine how much God will move me this semester if I allow Him to do so.

Just through the nature of LDI, I feel like I am in a constant state of reflection. For me, this has been really good because I normally don't make myself go through the reflection process. One insight from last semester that has really struck a chord with me is the bold fact that we are created in God's image. This is a big deal.

It’s humbling to think that God created me/us separate from animals, separate from the fish in the sea, gave us rule over all of the animals. And still, I knew that I was going to sin and ultimately taint His name. While God created us in His image, I believe that we all still have a choice to live under the Image of God. When we are not under the Image of God, we tend to follow our natural instincts, like how animals live on this earth. Animals follow their senses, hoping that they will lead to something good. As people who choose not to live under the Image of God, we also do this. We follow our senses, and try to find something good, which is normally not glorifying to God. Our natural instincts, in a fallen world, do not resemble God’s character; rather they are the exact opposite. This is why deciding to live under God’s image is a big deal.  When we do this, we place God in the highest place in our lives and work to bring him the glory. Our self-worship then turns to Godly worship and our natural instincts are overridden by wanting to honor and glorify God. Genesis 1:26-27 says:

 “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God created humans to live in his likeness. This doesn’t mean that we are the exactly replication of God, rather a representation of God. I continually ask God why he decided to create us in his image when he knew all along that we were going to screw it up. And God keeps bring me back to Ephesians 1:5-12, which says: 

"In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reach their fulfillment-to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of this will in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory."

God created us in his image for the praise of his glory. We are no longer under the animalistic, instinctual rule when we choose to live under his image and accept the responsibility that comes with making that decision. 

This matters, a lot. This has changed the way that I live. While we have all made the decision to live under the Image of God at some point in our lives, I also believe that it is a decision we/I have to consciously make every day. It’s a huge reminder of God’s grace in my life, that He will allowing me to live in a deeper connection with Him as I decide to live under the image of God. Also, I know what it’s like to live under my own strength and power. I know what it feels like to live under ‘animalistic’ rule. With God, we no longer have to work from our own strength and fend for ourselves.

My prayer is that we, as women of Hope, would turn from our animalistic, instinctual tendencies, and continue to return to Christ. This is something I know we will strive for as this semester of LDI continues.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Plant updates: Hiawatha Church

Hiawatha ladies conjure up some morning smiles at a ladies' retreat.

by Nicole D. 

To the church in downtown Minneapolis, the communion of saints committed to honoring God by helping as many people as possible become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ - grace and peace to you in our glorious Lord and Saviour, who has redeemed and keeps on redeeming our sin-sick shriveled up souls. It is because of God’s generous mercy towards us that we joyously write to share news of his Spirit’s work in the Longfellow Community of South Minneapolis, and, indeed, his plans for us across the world.

As you know, just over five years ago, it pleased the Spirit and the elders of Hope Community Church to commission the Devereaux and Wachter families, along with a small group of other devoted servants, to begin laboring together to spread the gospel in South Minneapolis. Through the Father’s abundant provision, we acquired a building - as you yourselves have been the undeserving beneficiaries of TWO buildings by his powerful hand - and we quickly saw how he had gone before us to give us favor in the neighborhood. Many opportunities have opened for us to build relationships with those in darkness and to share, through word and deed, the unwavering hope that we have in the Father of Light.



The Hiawatha men practice their cannon shooting at the annual Dads and Lads trip.

In addition to these unmerited blessings, Hiawatha Church has carefully been kept in unity by the bond of Christ’s peace, particularly between our two pastors and all our leaders. This can only be attributed to God’s holy work among us. Therefore we urge you, dearly beloved, to be on guard against the pride of your heart and the greed of your flesh, which always seek to cause dissension between brothers and sisters and deceive us to believe we are more important than Jesus. Let no earthly dispute rob you of full satisfaction in our Lord, which comes through the difficult responsibility to love and serve his messy bride. Always remember that Christ found you in an ugly and unlovable state, and that he humiliated himself on your behalf in order to give you his glorious radiance - and his strength to do the same for others.

Pray for us as well, as God increases our numbers, and as we obediently send out messengers of the gospel to the nations of France, Costa Rica, Haiti, and Germany, and, as the Lord wills, plant another church. May we not grow weary in doing good, in shepherding the flock of Christ, and in faithfully witnessing to his saving grace amidst this lost and dying world. Pray for the many children in our community to grasp the mysteries of God’s will and to persevere in truth until they meet him face to face.

There are many more burdens and joys that we could recount to you, but all of them pale in comparison to the wondrous duty we have to delight ourselves in our Lord Jesus. He is always faithful to us! Our dangerous prayer is that he will thwart all of our plans and frustrate all of our ambitions so that we will remain needy, dependent, and weak enough to enjoy our adoption as children of God.

All of the saints at Hiawatha Church send their greetings. Greet your elders and all those who hold fast to the cross of Christ. Stand firm until the end and prevail, with all power, against the gates of hell. Take up the full armor of God and trash the kingdom of darkness!  

For more information on Hiawatha Church, click here.   
For more information on Hope CC's church plants, click here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Anchored by the Author of gravity


by Jordan N.

I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.”  That was what Naomi said after she lost her husband, 2 sons, and a daughter-in-law and had returned to Bethlehem.  That’s what my heart is saying now. 

I’m a senior in college and over this winter break I’ve been thinking about the last 3 ½ years. Looking back, I feel like I had so many aspirations, so many things I wanted to accomplish.  I came to Minneapolis from a small town in southern Illinois having dreams of curing diseases, saving lives, making discoveries. I was convinced I would forever get out of my small town and make something of myself. Now, with graduation looming, I have a sense of accomplishing nothing.  I feel like I took my brain, my work ethic, and my bubbly personality 600 miles to make something of myself, and instead came up empty-handed.
            
Now, I know that’s not really true. These past 3 ½ years have yielded blessings I never imagined I’d get to experience. I have amazing friendships. I’ve found a church I love – one that helps me grow closer to Christ through community and preaching the Gospel.  I went on 2 mission trips to France and spent a semester abroad there. All of these are great things; they are arguably better than my original desire for success. Why do I feel as if I have failed?
            
Throughout my entire life, I have had a plan for myself. I wanted to go to college, become a scientist (the field depended on what age I was), and be famous. Those were my 7-year-old aspirations; they were my 19-year old ambitions as well – at 19 I was just less outspoken about the famous part.  I felt so full of potential. 

Then, spring semester of my sophomore year, after having worked in a lab for a year, I realized that was not what I wanted at all. All I really wanted to do was tell people about Jesus. So, I decided to go into full-time ministry after graduation. But old habits die hard. Even when looking forward to ministry, I constantly have to be aware of the fact that God is using me – it is not about me and what I can do.  It is a struggle to know that my worth is not in what I accomplish.  It is a struggle to not feel like I’m coming back empty because I haven’t succeeded in what I originally set out to do.
           
My biggest struggle right now is the fight for control over my life. I want to know what I’m doing after graduation to be prepared for it. I plan so I can be ready. I’m constantly telling my friends and family how I crave stability in my life, but seem to be lacking it greatly.  My dad is on the verge of proposing to his girlfriend. Right now, I’m in the midst of applying for jobs. After May, I have no idea what I’ll be doing. Some days, I feel as if it takes all my energy to keep both feet planted on the ground, and many times I can’t even do that. It's not a good feeling.
            
But throughout all of this, Christ keeps whispering to me, “I have you.”  I am not meant to keep my own feet on the ground – the Author of gravity is. I’m not meant to have a job and a plan for my life right now – the Keeper of time is in charge of that. My job is to keep my eyes on Him. He is all the stability I need.  

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” – Hebrew 6:19.  Hope in Christ and trust in Him is the anchor that my soul needs in this time that appears to be so full of insecurity.  I need to completely give up control to him. He’s much better at directing my life than I am anyway.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Upon closer inspection we discover the white knights' flaws.



By Jordan N.

I’m single.  This tends to be something I define myself by – I am alone, I have no significant other, I’ve yet to settle down.  I came face to face with this reality while I was at home for the holidays.  My aunts, uncles, father, and sister all wanted to know what was going on in the love department, and I had to disappoint them.  I had nothing to report.  As in the past, I was then plagued with the question of what was wrong with me.  After days and days of being asked that question, I was so thankful when I stumbled upon this article by Tim Keller, because the truth is not that there’s nothing wrong with me.  

That’s what the world tells me; it lies and says that I will find the perfect husband to save me from my aloneness. But the truth is that there is something wrong with all of us.  We are sinful, so we will never be truly compatible with another person.  Finding the “one” will not fix my problems – only Jesus can do that.  

A copy of the article I read is also pasted (below) in this blog post. For another take on how people respond to "singleness" you should also check out Shannon's post: Oh my gosh! You're single?!?! I'm sooooo happy for you! 

What do the rest of you think? Let's start a discussion on this!


You Never Marry the Right Person
By Tim Keller
How our culture misunderstands compatibility.
In generations past, there was far less talk about “compatibility” and finding the ideal soul-mate. Today we are looking for someone who accepts us as we are and fulfills our desires, and this creates an unrealistic set of expectations that frustrates both the searchers and the searched for.
In John Tierney’s classic humor article “Picky, Picky, Picky” he tries nobly to get us to laugh at the impossible situation our culture has put us in. He recounts many of the reasons his single friends told him they had given up on their recent relationships:
“She mispronounced ‘Goethe.’”
“How could I take him seriously after seeing The Road Less Traveled on his bookshelf?”
“If she would just lose seven pounds.”
“Sure, he’s a partner, but it’s not a big firm. And he wears those short black socks.”
“Well, it started out great ... beautiful face, great body, nice smile. Everything was going fine—until she turned around.” He paused ominously and shook his head. ”... She had dirty elbows.”
In other words, some people in our culture want too much out of a marriage partner. They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it. Rather, they are looking for someone who will accept them as they are, complement their abilities and fulfill their sexual and emotional desires. This will indeed require a woman who is “a novelist/astronaut with a background in fashion modeling,” and the equivalent in a man. A marriage based not on self-denial but on self-fulfillment will require a low- or no-maintenance partner who meets your needs while making almost no claims on you. Simply put—today people are asking far too much in the marriage partner.
You never marry the right person
The Bible explains why the quest for compatibility seems to be so impossible. As a pastor I have spoken to thousands of couples, some working on marriage-seeking, some working on marriage-sustaining and some working on marriage-saving. I’ve heard them say over and over, “Love shouldn’t be this hard, it should come naturally.” In response I always say something like: “Why believe that? Would someone who wants to play professional baseball say, ‘It shouldn’t be so hard to hit a fastball’? Would someone who wants to write the greatest American novel of her generation say, ‘It shouldn’t be hard to create believable characters and compelling narrative’?” The understandable retort is: “But this is not baseball or literature. This is love. Love should just come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul-mates. “
The Christian answer to this is that no two people are compatible. Duke University Ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas has famously made this point:
Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become "whole" and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.
We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.
Hauerwas gives us the first reason that no two people are compatible for marriage, namely, that marriage profoundly changes us. But there is another reason. Any two people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things means to be self-centered—living life incurvatus in se. As author Denis de Rougemont
No false choices
The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the Gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The Gospel is—we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, and at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us. Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.
The hard times of marriage drive us to experience more of this transforming love of God. But a good marriage will also be a place where we experience more of this kind of transforming love at a human level.
Excerpt from THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE © 2011 by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller.  Published by Dutton, A Member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Excerpted with permission from the publisher. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The simple truth about where we glean satisfaction.


By Julie H.

When I went to Slumber Party two months ago, and someone at my table read the question “Are you gleaning only from Christ’s field, or are you seeking satisfaction and fulfillment somewhere else?” Of course I knew the answer. I was seeking satisfaction from somewhere else; we all are. But I couldn’t think of any glaring examples. I knew I cared too much about what other people thought of me, but who didn’t?  Little did I know, God would practically hit me in the face with this same question about a month later.

The other day I asked my friend why cliché sayings are so true.  She told me that the fact that these sayings are true is exactly why we use them so much, making them cliché. She’s right. I also think people speak in clichés because the simplest truths in life are the ones that are the easiest to forget.  The cliché that hit me about a month after Slumber Party was this: “You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone," or in this case: You don’t know what fields you’re gleaning from until you can’t glean from them anymore.

About a month ago, one of my friends passed away in an accident. Since then, I’ve been filled with a lot of different emotions: sadness, anger, grief, doubt, etc. After the accident, I wanted to live a life of clichés like “carpe diem” and “live in the moment” because “life’s too short,” but when I went back to school after Thanksgiving with no desire to seize the day. I felt useless, and life felt pointless. I remember sitting in my living room trying to read for my education class and listening to two of my housemates talk about how excited they were to put the information they were learning into practice when they were nurses someday. When I started school this semester, I thought I wanted to be a teacher. Then I took my first education class and realized it wasn’t for me. Before I made that decision, I didn’t think my career was something I put my identity in, but as I sat in my living room listening to my housemates, I found myself thinking that maybe I would have more motivation to study if I felt like my studying was propelling me toward a career. Then maybe I wouldn’t feel so angry, bitter, or scared about life. If only I had some kind of educational goal, then maybe life would feel like it had a purpose.

I gave up studying and headed from the living room to my bedroom where I found my roommate skyping with her boyfriend. Here I found myself thinking that maybe if I had a boyfriend or even just a really close friend, I would feel better. Maybe if I had someone to go through this experience with, I wouldn’t feel so alone. I wouldn’t feel so lonely, sad, or doubtful. Maybe I would feel like I had a reason to get up in the morning.

While I know that neither of those things, a career or a relationship, are capable of giving me purpose, those fleeting thoughts made me realize how much I do glean from those fields, even subconsciously. When I thought back on how I’ve reacted to past trials, I realized that I have always busied myself with work or clung to a boyfriend or best friend. Those are the first things, or people, I turn to. I didn’t realize how much I used those aspects of my life as crutches until I went to lean on them and they were gone. I fell to the ground hard.

You might as well have called me Naomi and called me bitter.  But after eventually going home for a while, and spending time thinking and talking through these things with people, I came to a point where I realized that I could either let this experience totally dismantle my faith, and I could go back to gleaning in those fields of careers and relationships, or I could turn to God. (The old cliché, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”). So I decided to turn back to God and now I’m trying desperately to glean only in his field. Each day it’s a struggle, and I know that it’s going to be a struggle for a while. It’s a struggle on the days when I’m feeling hurt and full of grief to acknowledge that God is good and that he never intended the world to be this way. It’s almost harder on the days when I get a good grade on a paper or I’m having a fun night with friends because in those moments I feel a little more in control. I feel like maybe I don’t need to glean only from God’s field. 

When I wake up in the morning and wonder why I am getting out of bed, the answer in my head is normally, because I have to. I have obligations. Obligations to people, school, work, etc.  But when all of those things were gone, I had no reason to get out of bed other than to acknowledge that Jesus is my savior and that I need him. What if everyday I get out of bed to glorify God? Not because I’m obligated to him, because we’re not, but simply because he deserves to be glorified. He is the one thing in our life that is always there for us.  His is the one field we can always glean from. The simple truth that I need Jesus every day and that he is the only thing I need is one of those truths that is easy to forget. So I’m going to keep saying it to myself until it becomes a cliché because it’s a truth that I so desperately need.

John 6: 27
Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.  For on him God the Father has set his seal.

John 6: 35
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Get your bouffant hairdos out, Beth Moore is back!

By Laura K. and Amber H.

We are excited to announce that it is almost time for a new Beth Moore Bible Study at Hope!  Register NOW by requesting to join the Beth Moore Bible Study group on The City!  We will be going through the study James: Mercy Triumphs.




The Fast Facts:

What: An in-depth Bible study on the book of James 
Where: Hope CC, in the fireside room
When: Monday nights at 7pm. Begins January 23.
Cost: $20, payable the first night of class.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long does it last?  There are 8 sessions.

What happens each week?  We spend the first hour in small groups discussing the Bible study we completed at home each week.  We spend the second hour as large group, viewing a video of Beth Moore’s dynamic teaching. 

I heard this is really all about fashion, is that true?  While we do love to look at Beth’s big hair and latest fashion trends from Texas, this is actually all about the Bible and getting to know our Lord and Savior better, in the context of a great community of women.

Am I the right age? There is no “right age” –the study is open to anyone (well, any woman) whether you are in college or 92.

Why should I join?  Hope Community Church is all about Gospel + Community. This Bible study truly is a beautiful blend of those two values.  When I asked women from the fall study why they signed up, the most common answers were to get to know women from Hope, build community, learn from the wisdom of others, and have a resource to help them dig into God’s Word and grow in their faith.

How do I sign up?  Click here to go to the Beth Moore Bible Study group on The City. Request to join the group. That is it! Easy as pie.

Please sign up by January 16 so that we can make sure to have the right number of workbooks on the first night!

If you have further questions, feel free to contact Laura or Amber at laurakarsjens@hopecc.com or amberhelbling@hopecc.com