Tuesday, December 30, 2014


As another year comes to an end I find myself reflecting on the past year.  I have had an interesting year with many bumps along the way.  The reflection that I see is a gentle reminder that I am not in charge of my life.  God is the one with ultimate and total control.  Why we experience the bumps in our journey here on earth is a question that we may never receive an answer to until we meet God face to face.  On occasion we may even catch a glimpse of how our bumps can be helpful to someone else who is hurting. 
When I come into contact with someone else that is hurting it is as if I am looking into a mirror and viewing my own likeness.  Another question comes to mind as to why God would put that individual into my life.  How am I to help this person?  That is when I am reminded of I Corinthians 13 and the Greatest Gift that God gave us!  He gave us His very own Son; who came to earth, lived among us, felt the same pain and heartaches that we have and He died to save us. He knows not only my pain but everyone’s pain and through my own experiences He gives me the words to say to help others through their bumps in the road.
 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.  I Corinthians 13:12 NKJV 
So when I don’t understand why those bumps on this journey are there I can rejoice and know that someone bigger than you and I has been there with me carrying me all the way!

Elaine Campbell, MA, MHC

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rejoicing in the Season!

I always feel sort of unsettled between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think it is a little bit of stress and a little bit of peer pressure to "do Christmas right." This season can often consume us with a multitude of activities--buying and decorating the Christmas tree, Christmas shopping, Christmas presents, Christmas pageants, Advent, cookie baking. etc. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with it all and wish for "normalcy" in my life.
However, after reading Kara's blog, I have decided to enjoy these normal, seasonal activities that can at times make me cranky. Kara is dying of cancer. She is mourning the loss of not being able to do the normal Christmas activities with her family and at times finds herself jealous of those of us who can. She writes:
So, last night...I was in agony. I was weeping hot and angry tears over the pain. And all I kept saying over and over- is “I’m so jealous of normal people.” I just want to be kissing my kids goodnight and sitting down for a glass of something and adult conversation next to my man- not calling the hospital and debating if I need to go there to spare the kids from hearing my agony. I want a bad hair day, to worry over a spelling test, or upcoming lines in a play coming out smoothly for my brave young lady that has taken on drama with a stutter. I’m so proud. So proud of her. I want to go to a thrift store and buy old wool sweaters and make ugly stuffed animals with my kids and bake over Christmas break. I do not want to be back in radiation battling to kill what is killing me…. or hurting me. I want to be decorating my house for Christmas.
She goes on to say:
I’m going to open my Bible, and I’m going to hunt down the grace, the peace, the source of what living- true living really is. It’s not the absence of this pain, it’s not the presence of normal. It’s the ability and strength that I covet so desperately. It’s Jesus. He is who I need. But I also know He’s not disappointed in my wrestling, weary heart this morning. He will show me, once again, that he is enough. Maybe I can’t run to the store and Christmas shop or decorate, but after I search out peace...I plan to find a few treats for my people for Christmas. That feels almost normal. And tonight as a family- we can read scripture, and as a family we are going to curl up in my bed and pick a Compassion Child to support together.  Oh- I feel the peace coming just making this plan. A moment not focused on me- glory. I feel a contented face coming right now- thank you Jesus.
Wow!  I don't think there is much more I can add to that. I am just going to be grateful that I can physically do those "normal" things that Kara wishes she could do. I don't have to worry about whether my house is as beautifully decorated as my friend's or whether my cookies taste as good as another lady's at church, or whether I can buy the perfect gifts for my family. Christmas is about so much more. It is about life and life is beautiful. I want to embrace every day that God gives me and be thankful that God chose to send his son to earth as a baby so that I can have life, not only on this earth but also for eternity.
My prayers are with Kara and her family as she continues her struggle. As hard and as difficult as her journey is, her strength, courage, and faith are such an inspiration to many. It has helped me to put into perspective the things in my life that are really important and to count each day as a blessing from God.
PS - The sign is a Christmas gift to myself that I purchased from a friend who makes them. I LOVE it! Life is indeed beautiful. Let's be thankful for it.
Mary Lehman

Monday, December 8, 2014


Moses had an amazing encounter with God where God tells Moses that he is the man who will bring the Israelites out of Egypt. It doesn't take Moses very long to come up with several excuses why he should not be the one to lead the people out of Egypt.
Have we ever looked at this exchange and believed that we would have responded differently? In the past few months, I have had my own questions for God about why He allows me to oversee the ministry at New Hope Community Closet and so I have been relating to Moses.
There are over 50 volunteers who process donations, run the register and allow the store to run with a low overhead. God allows me to interact with these wonderful volunteers week in and week out. But, I am an introvert. God knows this. There are many days when I would love to sit at a desk by myself, check my emails and learn how to market a thrift store better.
I rarely have time to sit at the desk to check emails, and it is rarely quiet. But I am able to speak truth into volunteers' lives each day.
With over 50 volunteers, the same task may be completed in many different ways. I love order and consistency. How do I accept it when there are inconsistencies? And again, I need to remember that I have many opportunities each day to show God's love, instead of showing  my impatience.
I answer many questions each day ranging from what hours we are open, what donations we accept, or how much should we price a particular item. All of these questions are important to answer and it is part of my job. I love answering questions of strategy, and some of the questions I hear each day are strategic questions.
But many of the questions I answer are questions of information. And, I question God about where He has allowed me to be.
When it comes down to it, my life is not about my strengths being used, or me helping to make "important" decisions. What my life should be about is to love others well. God has taken an introvert who would often rather be away from people, and put me in the midst of people every day. If I love people well, it is because at the beginning of my day I spend time with God. I read his Word to me. I talk to Him about the day ahead. And, I try to listen to His voice reminding me of what is really important in life.
What it really comes down to is do I trust God? Do I really believe that He knows what He is doing? Am I wiling to submit to Him? Will I let my life be about showing God's love to those in my life?
And so, I am thankful for the example of Moses. He was not afraid to ask God questions. But, he had to listen for God's answers. Moses did do what God asked. God led Moses and the Israelites through their long journey. He will lead me through my journey also.

Deb Riddell
Closet Manager

Monday, December 1, 2014

Don’t Get Tangled in Holiday Debt!

     In my current role as New Hope’s life coach, I meet with many clients who have financial assistance needs. Usually, the debt for these clients is overwhelming and they face the loss of their basic needs if something does not change rapidly.

     Unfortunately, once a person finds themselves in this level of financial crisis, desperate steps need to be made in order to get one on the right path to freedom.

The Christmas season is now upon us and many people will be caught up in the moment of impulse buying. By January, one may be calling me to help them recover from unwise choices being made in December. I write this article to address the steps one needs to take now to prevent long term consequences that will affect you throughout 2015.

     The first step is to realistically look at your money. Determine a reasonable budgeted amount that is not taking funds from your basic needs, (like rent, electric and food). If you don’t have the funds, then don’t spend what you don’t have.

     Set Your Limits – Decide what you can realistically afford this holiday season without causing yourself a lot of stress and anxiety. If you haven’t set anything aside for holiday shopping, you may need to use money from a different area of your budget to cover these expenses. For example, if you have money set aside for “fun money” to treat yourself or money set aside for dining out, you could cut back in both of these areas and use the savings towards your holiday spending bill. Remember, gifts don’t have to cost money.

     This will be my first Christmas without my dad. He passed away in August of this year. As I remember back to my best Christmas memories they were the times we spent together. As a kid, my dad would drive us all around through the neighborhood looking at the Christmas lights, or the times spending Christmas Eve as family together. We would first go to Chestnut Level’s candle light service and then return to mom and dad’s house for homemade cookies and punch and conversation. Oh to hear my father’s voice again! One cannot wrap up in sparkly paper the things that really mean the most!

      If there’s one time of the year when people shop with their heart, not their head, it’s the holiday season. Emotional spending during the holidays is often the tipping point that pushes people over the edge financially, as common sense can take a backseat during this time of the year.

     The NFCC offers the following five reminders of the long-term consequences of over-spending, some of which can last far after the lights are taken down and the tinsel is packed away.

  • Paying additional interest – Adding new debt to an existing debt load, one which cannot be paid in full when the bill arrives, equals paying a larger dollar amount of interest due to the higher outstanding balance. Even worse, when a balance is carried over from month-to-month on an account, interest is paid on the previous months’ interest. People often boast of buying an item on sale, then pay for it over time, thus wiping out any savings.
  • Diminished future borrowing power – An increased level of debt decreases the amount of credit currently available, and could cause lenders to decline applications for new lines of credit or loans. Since no one knows what the future holds, not being in a position to tap into new credit is something to guard against.
  • Diminished future buying power – Buying on credit is a contractual agreement to pay the debt later, often with money that has yet to be earned. Committing tomorrow’s money for today’s expenses could compromise future spending.
  • Lower credit score – Excessive debt often leads to paying late, skipping payments, and utilizing too high a percentage of open credit, all of which could lower your credit score. Further, applying for new lines of credit simply to save money on today’s purchase will not only increase the temptation to spend, but will show as an inquiry on the credit report, potentially lowering the score.
  • Debt interferes with life – Debt is a 24/7 problem, distracts people from their job and home-life, interrupts sleep, and potentially causes marital strife. 

     Consumers would be well-served to take stock of their current debt obligations before adding to them. Continuing to pay for holiday expenses well into the New Year doesn’t create the kind of holiday memories anyone wants.

     Final thought, Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Jesus was not born to offer an excuse to be in financial bondage; He came offering the free gift of salvation.

 Wishing you a Merry and Debt-Free Christmas!

Connie Hanten, BCMCLC
New Hope Life Coach

Monday, November 24, 2014

How Can Anyone "Delight in the Fear of the Lord?"

Part 5 – Then the Prophets, and Now the Saints, Adore Jesus

Having fully established Isaiah’s prophetic identification in chapter 11, of the coming Messiah as none other than Jesus of Nazareth, we can now more specifically investigate the core of this passage, regarding the very person and attitude of our divine human Savior, Jesus himself!
Jesus is indeed the Shoot from Jesse’s stump, the Branch that bears much fruit, and also the Stone who grows into a mountain, as revealed to the prophet Daniel, recorded in his second chapter.
Knowing, without any doubt, that we have the prophetic spiritual bona fides of Jesus, unfolded before us here by Isaiah, we can then clearly see our Lord in all His magnificence, and more specifically in His perfect characteristic of “delighting in the fear of the Lord.”
We can then carry on to learn from and to emulate Jesus, as we grow in grace and by the workings of the Holy Spirit, within our own hearts.
With Isaiah, we also choose to gaze lovingly and longingly at our Lord Jesus, who not only fulfilled everything prophetically written about Him hundreds of years before, but was so astounding in His self-revelation of the full Godhead, that He completely reduced the prior conceptualizations of His followers, and totally redirected those who believed in Him, into new dimensions of revelation.
As the apostle Peter wrote so aptly, for all of us who have been called to leave behind our small worlds of self-centered comfort and false fulfillment, to grow more completely in our own following of Jesus unconditionally, unapologetically, unabashedly, unreservedly, and unswervingly:
1 PETER 1:8 Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy. 9  [At the same time] you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10 The prophets, who prophesied of the grace (divine blessing) which was intended for you, searched and inquired earnestly about this salvation. 11 They sought [to find out] to whom or when this was to come which the Spirit of Christ working within them was indicating when He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow [them]. 12 It was then disclosed to them that the services they were rendering were not meant for themselves and their period of time, but for you. [It is these very] things which have now already been made known plainly to you by those who preached the good news (the Gospel) to you by the [same] Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Into these things [the very] angels long to look!
Though we are looking at Him from our vantage point centuries in future, just as the prophets did from their place in the long past, yet all seeing one single revelation of who He really is now in glory, and who He was as He walked the earth in His own day, overflowing with love and ministry wherever He went, with whoever He touched.
This focus should bring all of us into the same state of marvelously joyful reverie, as we deepen our true knowledge of Jesus, coming closer together with all those past saints and beings who worship Him face-to-face in the throne room of heaven itself, as believers and children of God, from every time and place!
We are each so privileged and grateful to be enabled, as we joined together with this adoring eternal company of the prophets and the angels, in one company glimpsing our Lord Jesus, through His word and by His Spirit, preparing our hearts to be in His presence forever and forevermore!
Our united, adoring company can also begin to see in some measure just who Jesus is, not only from the outside, but through the Holy Spirit inspired insights of the Prophets and the Apostles, into the very core of His divine human being!
Neil Uniacke
Executive Director

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Closer Look at Marriage (Part 2)

As I wrote in my last blog (September 30), I am looking at the gift of marriage, and now, specifically, about honoring the gift of sex in marriage.
Recently I was prompted by some discussions I've been a part of to think more about the importance of sharing about sexuality in the context of the church. I believe if we can't talk about sex in the context of the church, Scripture, and the fellowship of believers, then where can we talk about it? Where can our young people talk about it? And, of course, we need to learn to talk about sex with our children as well, because if we don't teach them, they will learn it from places we don't feel good about.

So a little more about the gift of sex, because that's really what it is, a gift from God. When God looked at his creation in Genesis 1, after he had made man and woman in his image, he said, "It's VERY good." We are created male and female in God's image...girls have special bodies and boys have special bodies and God planned it that way.

When girls and boys get to be teenagers, something interesting happens. Their bodies change and they start to have a new interest in each other; we call this attraction. Like magnets, they start to feel pulled toward a special person.

When we reach late teenage, young adult years, we zero in on a special person and we eventually want to get married, and we show our love by being together, by being close and touching (hugs and kisses), we get married, and in many cases we begin a family, a further expression of our love as man and woman.

God made us with feelings and the capacity to show our feelings of love to that special man/woman in our lives.

And in God's Word we find the Song of Songs - in our Bibles! The language is about marriage; the language is so beautiful and so descriptive we usually don't read it in church. The text is sexual and it celebrates the gift of sex in marriage. I often suggest to engaged couples that they consider, maybe in the first weeks of marriage, reading this together, taking the lover and the beloved voice parts.

Some theologians over the years have tried to say this book is an allegory of Christ and the Church, but I don't think so. It is much too graphic and suggestive for that. It is about the passionate sexual love between a husband and wife and is blessed by God. Even though it may use imagery that is a bit out of date for us:

      A lover who says his beloved's hair is like a flock of goats, "your teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep...your temples are like the halves of a pomegranate...your neck is like the tower of David...your breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle."

      A beloved (the woman) who says of her lover: "His head is purest gold...his eyes are like doves...cheeks like beds of spice...lips like lilies, dripping with myrrh."
Yet this book also teaches the beauty of affirmation, of recognition of beauty in each other, and stating it verbally. This is one thing that so often lacks in marriages - the verbal affirmation of each other and the thankfulness each has for the gift they find in the other.

And so it is important to understand that sex is a gift from God and as married persons, sexual intimacy is a part of our relationship that we naturally expect to enjoy, as is our right and privilege. If we are having difficulties or conflicts in our marriages around the issue of sex, whatever the issue may be, it is good to seek outside help to find answers to our questions.

In my next blog post I will conclude this series on sexuality by looking at some factors that cloud or damage our awareness of others and ourselves as sexual beings, created in God’s image.

Tom Horst, Therapist, New Hope Community Life Ministry

Monday, November 10, 2014


            On Wednesday, October 22, 2014, my pastor was scheduled to speak for the chapel service at Lancaster Bible College. After I arrived there to hear him speak, it was getting closer to the time for the chapel to start and it appeared to me that I was either in the wrong place or maybe there was a change as I did not see him. I asked someone who told me that he had been rescheduled for another day. I felt God leading me to stay anyway and that is what I did.

The speaker that was there changed the rest of my day. His name was Claudio. He was from Brazil. Although he had spoken at many different places around the world, this was his first time speaking in the United States. He was born with a condition that has been described as “with his head upside down”. A power point presentation was given from which we learned that doctors tried to convince his mother to abort the pregnancy when it was known that there were problems. She refused.
            What impacted me most was the fullness of the joy of the Lord within Claudio. He shared his testimony (which included graduating from college), sang a song to us, and drew a picture for the college by using a marker in his mouth. I cried, but not tears of sadness. Instead my tears were a result of the overwhelming joy that I felt to see how someone could be so joyous and bring such glory to God in spite of difficult circumstances.

I thought about how so often when we are asked to do something we respond with a reason why we cannot so quickly. Claudio also reminded me that there is something that all of us can do to be a blessing to others no matter our circumstances.
Submitted by: Ann L. Gantt, Ph.D., LCSW, NEW HOPE counselor
He welcomed getting pictures taken with him:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How Can Anyone "Delight in the Fear of the Lord?" - Part 4

Part 4 – Prophetic Picture of Jesus, Eternal Son and Savior

Isaiah has given us an amazing prophetic picture of Jesus, both to understand Him and to adore Him.
First, the prophet identifies Jesus as the fulfillment of Israel’s longing for a living Hope, the Messianic Savior they had been waiting for.
Next, Isaiah gives us deep insights into His very heart and His internal attitudes as the only begotten God, the eternal Son of His Father, through which we can both worship Him and by His grace, emulate Him as well.
After describing in great detail what the effects of Jesus’ Presence as the Prince of Peace would be, both in the lives of those He walked among during His earthly sojourn among the Galileans and Judeans of the first century, and in all of those who would be gathered to Him throughout the ages to come beyond His ascension, Isaiah turns to write about His eternal nature and future fulfillment:
10 And it shall be in that day that the Root of Jesse shall stand as a signal for the peoples; of Him shall the nations inquire and seek knowledge, and His dwelling shall be glory [His rest glorious]  
By referring to the future coming of Messiah as the “Root of Jesse,” just a few verses beyond already describing Him as the ‘Shoot’ that would come from that same stump, and the ‘Branch’ that would bear fruit from that same stump, Isaiah showed that this Person would have an existence not known by any other human being. The great prophet placed the coming “Son of David,” beyond any historical period, into a timeless dimension, only inhabited by God Himself.  Isaiah also told us that “the Root of Jesse shall stand as a signal,” indicating that the Messiah to come was literally a human ‘sign’ to the entire world, which would draw all the nations to inquire and seek knowledge.
We know that Jesus has fulfilled this prophecy, with an understanding even by fair minded nonbelievers that He stands far above most, if not all historical figures, in His Personal impact on the world over many centuries. The glory spoken of here in verse 10, could be the general regard for the “Holy Land” or Israel, and especially Jerusalem, as a very special place. The glory may be more specifically, the much greater significance that true followers of Jesus give to all the geographical locations where He lived, worked, preached, did miracles, shed His blood, was buried and resurrected, or appeared after His resurrection. His rest being glory or glorious, could also be symbolic of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, His return to the glory of His Father and heaven, until His coming again.
All these insights focus on the fulfillment of Jesus in His first coming, which we would be looking back on from vantage point 20 centuries further out.
Another focus could be on the effects of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, on the many nations of the world since His first coming, in His bringing of them all into His own Kingdom, through many millions of disciples going forth into all the earth and preaching of the Gospel, over all those centuries. This focus leads us right into Isaiah’s next verse, in which he reveals the hand of Lord God being lifted up a second time, to draw in the remnant of His people from all the nations of the world. This could be seen either as a literal ingathering of Jewish people from many lands across the earth, or a symbolic beckoning of the true lsrael of God, those with hearts circumcised by faith, coming to Jesus from around the globe into the Body of Christ: 
11 And in that day the Lord shall again lift up His hand a second time to recover (acquire and deliver) the remnant of His people which is left, from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam [in Persia], from Shinar [Babylonia], from Hamath [in Upper Syria], and from the countries bordering on the [Mediterranean] Sea.  12 And He will raise up a signal for the nations and will assemble the outcasts of Israel and will gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
While any of these perspectives, whether fulfilled at the time of Jesus’ first coming into the earth or in the intervening periods, do involve some or all of the significant supernatural elements revealed in this entire passage, there is also a fuller picture of Jesus offered to us in the whole of Scripture, both in this section and in the broad sweep of the entire catalogue of the apocalyptic Scriptures.
Both in His first coming and in the period since His ascension, Jesus is shown to us in many ways, with each revelation as a prophetic milestone along the way, moving toward a greater fulfillment. The emphasis in verse 11, on the hand of the Lord being lifted up again a second time, written just after declaring the rest of the Stump of Jesse being glorious, “also in that day” indicates a frame of reference of opening and closure, and pointing to the greatest fulfillment in Jesus’ second coming, unveiling, revealing, or apocalypses.
Ultimately, God’s “signal” will find its absolute and final manifestation only in the actual physical return of Jesus, when He is to be seen by the whole world, and Who will then judge all humanity from all time periods, and every variety of rebel spiritual forces, inaugurating His absolute reign forever.
Once again, we can clearly see from both the substance and the prophetic unfolding of this passage, which totally parallels the manifold variety of eschatological visions throughout the whole Bible, both from the Old and the New Testaments: this Messianic Personage being spoken of by Isaiah, is undoubtedly Jesus of Nazareth.

Neil Uniacke
Executive Director

Monday, October 20, 2014


In this day and age, businesses are told that the best way to promote their company is through social media. For those of us who are over fifty this is not the easiest thing to do. I was relieved to become fairly accomplished with Facebook and my Smart Phone. Did I really need to learn how to navigate Instagram and Twitter too?
Recently here at New Hope we began working with a Senior in college who is majoring in communication, specifically focusing on writing and graphic design. We asked Hannah to critique our website and social networking skills and give us some feedback and suggestions for improvements. She is very knowledgeable and friendly and she kindly looked through our website and checked out our Facebook page and gave us some very helpful insights on how to upgrade our website and use our Facebook page more wisely. She recommended that we begin to use Twitter and Instagram as well. This all sounds like a wonderful idea, but inwardly I am thinking, "can I master yet another social media tool?"
Sometimes I find myself afraid to try something new because I am afraid of failure. "What if I really can't learn this? What if I try hard, but in the end I still can't do it? I don't want people to think I am stupid." These are the thoughts that run through my mind when I am faced with a situation that I am not sure I can handle. I often choose what I feel is the safest route which is usually running away from the new experience rather then tackling it. I wonder how much I have missed out in life because I was not willing to try or to face a problem head on.
The Bible has quite a few verses about fear. David spent sleepless nights worrying and then wrote psalms that address why he shouldn't be afraid.
Psalms 27:1 - The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalms 118:6 - The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
I like this last verse. Why should I be afraid? What can man do to me? I do not need to worry about what others will think. I need only to put my faith and trust in the Lord. He will never fail me and He will give me the strength that I need to face the complications of life. I can do everything through Him, who gives me strength ~ Philippians 4:13
So...I will not be afraid of Twitter (or Instagram). We now have a Twitter account and I am learning how to use it. I am understanding that there are proper and improper ways to post and I am trying to conquer the language of hashtags. I may make some mistakes, but so what? If you would like to follow my/our progress, please click on the link below and become one of our followers!

Mary Lehman

Monday, October 13, 2014

Customer Service

Some of the things we hope you find when you shop at New Hope Community Closet are clean, quality merchandise, a peaceful environment and caring friendly service.  While we hope to always deliver these, sometimes we struggle.  Lately I have been thinking about how caring and friendly my service is to our customers.
Some customers are easy for me.  I want to offer caring service to them.  But, some who shop in the thrift store are a little more difficult to be kind to and love.  How do I love the customer who talks without seeming to take a breath?  Their chatter can interrupt my interaction with other customers.  They ask question after question.  They take up a lot of my time.  And, they often come at the end of the day when I am tired and ready to go home.  Will I really show this customer caring service?  Or, will I seemingly show them caring service while in my mind I am being less than kind?
Or, what about the customer who really just does not smell good?  This customer is offensive to my sense of smell and is also very difficult to be around.  Other customers also notice and are offended by this customer's seeming lack of hygiene.  It is easy to hope that they quickly exit the store.
Have I shown either of these customers caring service?  Do I really show them love?  When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replied “Love the Lord your God with all your mind.”  The second commandment is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 
This may be easy when I like those around me, but what about those who are difficult to be around?
I do not have any answers to these questions.  Just questions.  I wonder how I really should live out these commandments.  But, do I even want to be a disciple and follow what Jesus taught?  Or, do I want to take the easy out.
I would love to hear your ideas on how to love those who are difficult.  But, I guess for each of us the answer comes when we listen for God's still small voice whispering to us-”This is how I would love that one.  Are you willing to do the same?  Remember-  I love you when you are difficult and your odor is offensive.  What will you do?”  Jesus patiently waits for me to decide which way I will go this time.  Hopefully, I am learning to love better and I really am offering caring, friendly service.
Deb Riddell
Closet Manager

Monday, October 6, 2014

Financial Dependence: Real Security

Financial coaching is more than helping you to set up a budget or be able to find resources that will enable you to pay all of your creditors. It is first helping you to find your security from your faith in God and gaining the understanding that He is the One who gives us the ability to acquire wealth.  My best bet is that when our finances are out of order, so is our spiritual life.

Often we can have a false sense of security dependent upon what our check-book says. If there is a substantial balance in our bank accounts we can feel secure, especially if we find our security in money. However when there is a lack, we can feel like our entire lives are on the brink of destruction.
It just dawned on me recently after going through a faith test that it really doesn’t matter whether it is easy or difficult to trust God. As my circumstances began to “look” better, I noticed myself trusting a bit less in God and a bit more in myself. After all, my circumstances weren’t requiring as much faith. I kind of slapped myself a bit and realized that I am no less dependent on God when things are going good as I am when they are going terrible.

The good circumstances are only an illusion of security. When things look good, it is easy to understand how things will all work out. But isn’t it amazing how quickly I can go running back to God in faith when things look bad again? I quickly realize that “good circumstances” provide no true security.
The great news is that for believers, bad circumstances are only an illusion of a lack of security.

It reminds me of Jesus sleeping on the boat during the middle of the storm. He said, “let us go to the other side.” But yet when things started looking bad enough, they started to doubt that would happen. The truth is, no matter how bad things looked, they were just as secure. They had God in the flesh on the boat with them! How could they really think that they wouldn’t make it?
When they finally were freaking out enough, they woke Him up and frustrated with their lack of faith, He told the storm to calm down. They just didn’t get it. They didn’t realize who Jesus was. They didn’t realize that it didn’t matter how bad it got, He was there with them.

It is no different for us today. We have the promise of God that He will never leave us, nor forsake us. It doesn’t matter how bad things look, it is merely an illusion. Don’t be deceived: when your trust is in God, you could not be more secure.

Connie Hanten, BCMCLC
New Hope Financial Coach

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Closer Look at Marriage (Part 1)

I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage. This is probably because I am a marriage and family therapist and work with a lot of couples. Another reason for me thinking a lot about marriage right now is that yesterday (September 22) my wonderful wife and I celebrated 35 years of blissful life together. Thank you Thelma, for showing me how wonderful marriage can be! You are the best!
Marriage is one of those subjects people can't really feel neutral about. All of us have our views about marriage, for whatever reason. Some of you who read this are recently married, others are looking forward to marriage; some of us are in the mid-years of marriage, married 15-35 years, while still others are celebrating 50-plus years together.

Some of you have never married; maybe some wish they would have never married; still others were married and lost your spouse and remarried or decided not to remarry. So we've had a variety of experiences around marriage.

Marriage is that relationship that has become fodder for a lot of jokes, sarcasm, and grief. Here are a couple of good ones I’ve heard:

      We were visiting friends when they received a telephone call from their recently married daughter. After several tense minutes on the phone, the mother told the father to pick up the extension. The newlyweds had had their first big fight. In a few moments, the father rejoined us and tersely explained, "Our daughter said she wanted to come home.” “What did you tell her?" I asked. The father replied: “Simple. I told her she was home."
      Or this one (Told by a woman): Soon after our last child left home for college, my husband was resting next to me on the couch with his head in my lap. I carefully removed his glasses: "You know, honey," I said sweetly, "without your glasses you look like the same handsome young man I married." "Honey," he replied with a grin, "without my glasses you still look pretty good, too!"

In the Bible, the concept or term used to portray and describe marriage is "one flesh." Genesis 2:24: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." So what does "one flesh" really mean?

First of all, it’s important to understand the context of this Genesis passage. Just what was happening here?

The time is as far back as one can go! God had just finished creation not long before this passage in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. God had placed Adam, the first man, in the Garden of Eden. But Adam was alone and God was about to do something about that; God says: "I will make a helper suitable for him." So God performs a special creation - woman – and she was taken out of the man and brought to Adam. What a time that must have been! Adam recognizes the woman as part of him, yet distinctly different.

What is the meaning of "one flesh"? what's interesting to note is that when Jesus quotes these same words in Matt.19 he ascribes them to God, the Creator ("at the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, 'For this reason a man will leave...'") So what's the meaning here?

      Leave - a new family unit is established. A man doesn't stay under the custody of his parents, nor the woman of hers, but the two leave their families of origin, their parents, and establish a new family unit. Problems arise in marriages when this leaving doesn't happen.
      Cleave (KJV) or "be united" emotionally, physically, spiritually. There is so much focus today on sexual fulfillment, and there's a place for that, but I contend that if a couple is becoming one spiritually, emotionally, the physical union - sexual union - will take care of itself, and be great!
      One flesh - marriage is oneness - in purpose, goals, spiritually, serving the Lord together, growing together toward Christ, one sexually. The two retain their individuality, but in marriage there is an overarching commitment to oneness, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
In my next blog entry I will talk more about honoring the gift of sex in marriage.

Tom Horst, Therapist

New Hope Community Life Ministry

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How Can Anyone "Delight in the Fear of the Lord" - Part 3

Part 3 – The Bible Shows Us the Way to Peace

The ideal of loving community which King David longed for centuries before the times of either Isaiah or of Daniel, he himself described in what we now call Psalm 133:

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.

 It is like the precious ointment poured on the head, that ran down on the beard, even the beard of Aaron, that came down upon the collar and skirts of his garments [consecrating the whole body]. 

 It is like the dew of [lofty] Mount Hermon and the dew that comes on the hills of Zion; for there the Lord has commanded the blessing, even life forevermore [upon the high and the lowly].

This deeply beautiful sentiment and passionate desire for peace has been, in some form or another, given voice by many generations of people, all over the earth, as they were facing violence, upheaval, and chaos in their own time, and in their own personal experiences.

Isaiah longed for this supernatural peace or shalom as well, and must have rejoiced to see it coming someday, as he received these prophetic communiques regarding the Messiah to come.

And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatted domestic animal together; and a little child shall lead them.

And the cow and the bear shall feed side by side, their young shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

 And the suckling child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.                                           

They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. 10 And it shall be in that day that the Root of Jesse shall stand as a signal for the peoples; of Him shall the nations inquire and seek knowledge, and His dwelling shall be glory [His rest glorious]  

This wondrous, restful reality corresponds perfectly with the worldwide thrust and spread of the Good News to all nations, changing everything from the inside out.

Daniel pictured this spread of God’s Kingdom, as the Stone hewn without human hands (a supernatural Person – Jesus!), growing into a mountain, and as the Gospel message of Jesus as King of kings and as Lord of lords, once rejected and crucified, now risen, ascendant, exalted, and forever glorified, being established in every land and on each continent.

Once again, we know that any specific fulfillment during this current interim period we call the Church Age, will have its most fruitful season for an indeterminate timeframe, and then may morph away from its initial blossoming, into religious ritual or empty structure, unless we allow ourselves and our organizational systems to be constantly renewed by the Holy Spirit and His word.

We also know that whatever is manifested in human history, will only find its absolute completion in whatever lies beyond Jesus’ return to this physical universe, to literally and visibly rule eternally. The actual events of the last of the last days, and the second coming of the Messiah, certainly seems to be moving into view, in these last few verses of Isaiah’s prophetic word in this section of the Scriptures.

The ingathering pictured in these verses, obviously represents specific scattered Jewish enclaves, called back from New Testament times to receive Jesus as their true Messiah and enter refreshed into His growing, eternal Kingdom.

In a symbolic fashion, this specified ingathering may also represent alternately and more broadly, all people in all places at all times, who are true followers of Jesus. These have been made personally, and corporately into citizens of the one true Israel of God, (Galatians 6:15-16), who are circumcised spiritually (Colossians 2:11-13), through their personal receiving of Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and who live peacefully, scattered throughout the whole earth in faithful believing communities.

Neil Uniacke
Executive Director

Monday, September 15, 2014

Falling in Love With Jesus

      I was asked to speak at the Annual Women’s Day Brunch at my church yesterday. This year’s theme was “Falling in Love with Jesus”. I was asked to use this theme in conjunction with Mark 7:24-30 where we see how Jesus honors a Greek Woman’s faith. It reads:

24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.[a] He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

            As I read this passage, I reflected on the qualities of her faith that prompted Jesus to honor it in such a way. I shared three qualities:

1.      She humbled herself. We see that because it says she “fell at his feet” (vs.25).

2.      She persisted in spite of him initially ignoring her. In Matthew 15:23, it says “But He answered her not a word”. She also persisted in spite of His saying that He was not sent to her. He had replied “for it is not right to take the children’s (referencing the Jews to whom he was first sent to reconcile back to God) bread and toss it to the dogs (symbolic for the Gentiles which she was) (vs, 27).

3.      She believed that even the smallest of crumbs that falls from God’s table was sufficient for her needs. She knew He was the only One who could help her.

This is a powerful passage. It certainly shows that Jesus never turns away anyone genuinely seeking His help.

There have been many times in my life that God has honored my faith, The more that I put my faith in Him and the more that he honors my faith like He did for this woman, the more I trust Him and the deeper I fall in love with Him. I’m falling in love with Jesus more and more each day.

Submitted by: Ann L. Gantt, Ph.D., LCSW, NEW HOPE counselor