Six kids from the Hopewell Bible Bee competition qualified to compete at the national level this past week. This is quite a feat as you must rank in the top 150 from all across the nation to be eligible to compete at nationals.
The first command tells us that we are have no other gods. That means we are to have God and put our full trust in him. But how do we do this? What does it look like in everyday life?
In his famous exposition Martin Luther fleshed out in clearest terms exactly what it meant to place your confidence in God alone. In sum, Luther said that we fulfill the command with...
1. Godly Stewardship: Luther makes the point that money, power, fame are gifts that God bestows. Thus, God is to be glorified by them. Too often though, we put our trust in them and regard them as our source of comfort. Luther says we can recognize the error "when you notice how presumptuous, secure, and proud people are because of such possessions, and how despondent when they no longer exist or are withdrawn."
2. Simple Prayer: Listen to how Luther laid low the superstitious practices of his day: "If any one had toothache, he fasted and honored St. Apollonia; if he was afraid of fire, he chose St. Lawrence as his helper in need; if he dreaded pestilence, he made a vow to St. Sebastian." Luther equated the invoking of saints with sorcery. His point was that God was to be regarded as the sole provider of good and that we should demonstrate our trust by resorting to Him alone.
3. Thanksgiving: It is easy to look to the strength of our own hand or find our help in others. But thanksgiving is the constant acknowledgment that all we have comes from the good hand of God alone. Luther says, "Creatures are only the hands, channels, and means whereby God gives all things...Therefore no man should presume to take or give anything except as God has commanded, in order that it may be acknowledged as God's gift, and thanks may be rendered Him for it"
4. Trust God's means of provision: If we are to look to God alone for our welfare, we then should trust His appointed means of provision, namely work and private charity. Taking public assistance, stealing, or making money through illegal activity is, according to Luther, "not receiving from God, but seeking of ourselves."
5. Patience: Faith means trusting God to do the right thing at the right time. But since it may seem to take a while, faith exemplifies itself in patience. Luther beautifully illustrates what God says in Scripture, "Whenever you suffer misfortune and distress, cling to Me. I, yes, I, will give you enough and help you out of every need; only let not your heart cleave to or rest in any other.
The most egregious sin in the Bible is not homosexuality, adultery, greed, or failure to serve on a church committee. It is idolatry.
We evangelicals like to think that are much more sanctified than the Israelites of old-- who seemed to thrown themselves down before every stone statue that came their way.
But the truth is: evangelicals are just as idol prone as our forefathers were. The following are a few prevalent forms of idolatry that may be found in the church today:
1. Evan-jelly-fish: A faith that has no spine is no faith at all. If you're not willing to stand up for biblical doctrine, acknowledge Christ's supremacy, or affirm the authority of His law, then you're bowing to the god of toleration and moderation. Such a faith has been so overrun by postmodernism that it is Christian in name only.
2. Christi-tainment: Neil Postman's classic book "Entertaining Ourselves to Death" continues to be prophetic in our day, especially in our churches. Worship that is driven by fun, amusements, and showmanship plagues the evangelical world. Choosing a church on the basis of its music or youth group events, rather than its focus on Christ & His word, is much like making an offering on an alter of entertainment.
3. Superstition: Symbols have their place. A cross necklace can be something that proclaims who you are. A sticker on your car can identify where you stand in your beliefs. But such things can also become objects of worship. When we impute divine power to them, depend more on a trinket than we do prayer, or trust it as "God's channel of help" we've essentially created a golden calf.
4. Cult of Personality: Protestantism has always eschewed popery --kissing rings, thinking he is the head of the church, etc. Unfortunately, it is still alive an well in Prot circles in the form of celebrity pastors. While honoring good teachers is good, infatuations can be overboard. Leader worship breeds discontent with "ordinary," everyday clergy and "groupies" can follow certain charismatic fellows more than they do Christ.
5. Biblical Mutts: Christians must biblical thoroughbreds. If you mix breeds by mingling beliefs from other faiths or philosophies, you're rejecting the God of Scripture and forming a new religion. It is idolatrous to claim to be a Christian and believe in abortion, homosexuality, Marxism, Buddhist meditation, alternative means of salvation, etc.
The Israelites' idolatry was rarely ever a complete rejection of the Lord. They typically provoked the Lord by their blending their faith with the customs of the surrounding nations.
See more in this week's Hopewell Weekly.
Some of the Hopewell membership joined with other believers from the Mansfield area to pray prior to the gay pride events in Mansfield this past weekend.
The prayers availed much as the morning events were rained out and the rest of the day did not see any significant turnout.
Some of us also went out to share the gospel with those who came to the gay pride festival. We thank the Lord that we were able to have so many good conversations and give witness to the saving power of Christ.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.
1 Thess. 5:11
Edification is the native tongue of heaven. Every angel and soul in that place speaks only that which will reinforce positive spiritual life in others. Every Christian this side of heaven ought to have a similar accent in his speech.
While our native tongue is earthly--being filled with words that tear down, we ought to be striving to speak the holy language of Christ's country. How can we develop this kind of speech? Consider these five pointers...
1. Fortify your vocabulary w/ good study - You can only take out of a cash register what has been put in. It is the same way with our lips. It is only out of the overflow of our heart that our mouth speaks. So if we want to reduce harsh, cutting words, we need to bulk up on sound spiritual doctrine. Remember that grace begets grace.
2. Keep a sense of our present misery - Nurses speak with extra tenderness when at the bedside of the sick. They are sensitive to the pains that person is experiencing and seek to offer nurturing tones. This is they way we should operate. We should remember that everyone around us is sick with sin and laden with miseries of every kind. If you remember that life is a string of miseries, you can be more readied to be light in the darkness.
3. Speak well with God - We are called to "rejoice in God," "extol His name" and "be thankful in every circumstance." If we are busy lifting up praise and celebrating God's goodness, its likely we'll reflect that on the streets. However, if our prayers are full of complaints, sighs, and bellyaching, we shouldn't be surprised if we speak to our fellow man in derogatory ways.
4. Glory in the smallest blossom of goodness & beauty - Encouragement is the art of commending that which is good, reinforcing the beautiful, and highlighting the virtuous--no matter how hidden or small it may be. Discouragement is usually easy because there is a lot of woeful things in the world to harp on. When a diamond sparkles in the rough, we should make every effort to embrace it and revel in it.
5. Keep the trap shut - Your mother said, "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say it." She was wise. Before a dog can learn to roll over or jump through a hoop, it needs to learn how to sit and stay. Our speech is not much different. Before we can do spiritual tricks with our tongues, we likely need to learn the discipline of silence.
[The following article was submitted by Matt Timmons, Hopewell's teaching elder, as a letter to the editor in Ashland's newspapers. It's aim was to help combat the rising problem of drug & heroin addiction in the Ashland area. For assistance with addiction recovery contact Matt or visit our addictions page.]
Heroin and drug use are the number one problems facing the Ashland area today. Reports of their destruction come out daily and drug related deaths are skyrocketing.
But users and their families should know that deliverance is possible. There is a way to escape the cult of addiction and religion of substance abuse. It is by turning to Jesus Christ, and beginning to worship the true and living God.
We’ve been conditioned to think that the answer to addiction is found in a twelve step program, a stint at a recovery facility, or better law enforcement tactics. But the ultimate solution is not in behavioral modification, educational programs, or conditioning. The only real and lasting remedy is wholesale religious conversion.
While we can be thankful for the existence of such programs we must recognize that something deeper is at stake. Addiction, at its most fundamental level, is a cult. It is primarily a religious issue having to do with servitude and worship.
The Bible says that we are either slaves to God or to something else. A slave of God will serve the Lord and have Him as the supreme object of his delight. An idolater will serve some other object (such as drugs, drink, sex, etc.) and will find his primary delight in it.
This is the nature of addiction. The drink or drug becomes your master. It once served you; it relieved your pain or gave you a little pleasure. But now it rules you. You have come to feel that you cannot live without it. You crave it, throw your money at it, and give it an absurd amount of attention.
It has become your religion.
It is deeper than mere appetite. It is a matter of faith. For the drug has become the object of trust: It is relied upon for happiness. It promises to save, fulfill, and relieve your pains. You believe in it and rely upon it as the only hope of satisfaction.
The worship is further seen in that the addict can’t bring himself to stop. Addicts will try to stop, but they can’t. The drug has become an idol to whom they are religiously devoted. It is the dominant force in their life.
If an addict is to be helped, he must acknowledge that he does not have a drug problem per se. He must admit that he has a faith problem. It is not so much about what is injected, smoked, or swallowed as much as it is about what is worshiped, adored, and served.
Thus, the road to recovery (i.e. redemption) lies in religious conversion. It is by repentance and turning to the one who is the one and only living God, the one who offers true life and eternal salvation.
All in all, the cleansing of the veins and clearing of the mind begins with a cleansing of the heart and clarity on the issue of idolatry.
In future articles we will explore more of the religious nature of addiction and how the Christian faith provides a means of escape. In the meantime, addicts (and affected loved ones) can explore the recovery helps that Hopewell offers at hopewellashland.com.
The sin of coveting is said to be "of all sins the most opposed to God" and "the most dangerous of all sins." If more people sought to rid themselves of it "most of our economic problems would be solved." If we'd take covetousness away "there would be no reason for men to fly at one another's throats."*
Since this sin is one of the most odious, it should be targeted as a prime enemy to be eliminated. We can begin a concentrated effort to slay this inordinate desire for another's goods with the following practices.
1. Praise God from whom all blessings flow - The opposite of covetousness is contentment. Replacing the one with the other must begin with a bountiful exuberance in God (and not just His gifts). It is difficult to be cross with someone else's favors when you are enraptured with the Giver of All.
2. Pray for, rejoice in, and be thankful for the good of others
Paul said that we must "rejoice with those who rejoice." These words are a defense against the evil of jealousy. If we see another's good as an opportunity to praise God and be happy, we will be less likely to want to be robbed of their blessings. This also makes for a much more positive attitude, which usually benefits us in the long run.
3. Repent of & mourn the grotesqueness of the evil.
If you sense the sickening stream of envy, confess it to God and lament its vileness before Him. Be open about what you really feel--that you regret this person should have more than you, that you want them to suffer misfortune, and that you'd rather see them dead than prosper. Then ask God to replace this murderous sin with charity, cheerfulness, and contentment.
4. Meditate on the radical peace that flow from a contented society.
James says that wars and fighting come as a result of envy. Think of the peace that would ensue if our hearts did not burn with this vice. Nations would no more pick up arms to battle one another, church's would have untold harmony, neighbors would probably not need fences.
5. Relish the blessings that could be had if we did not covet
The core of coveting is the "I want it all now" mentality. It thus leads to thieving, increased taxation, higher insurance premiums, etc. If the sin of coveting was less prevalent economies would burst with financial growth. Over time we'd see more wealth in our pockets and the inheritance of future generations would expand almost exponentially.
Check out the rest of what is in this week's Hopewell Weekly
Growth as a Christian is a lot different than growing a potted plant on your doorstep. The potted plant just sits there, soaking up sun and rain, and it grows. But to be a growing Christian you need to be much more proactive. Its the "working out your salvation" that Paul talks about.
As we enter the summer months, let's think about 5 simple ways to kickstart your walk with Christ and develop greater reverence for God.
1. The "Five Page" Rule - Reading good Christian literature is paramount to a robust faith. What people don't often realize is that just five pages a day can supercharge your spiritual life. Not only will you get a good dose of biblical teaching, you can burn through a book like this one in just a month's time.
2. Double up by Downloading - Multitasking is a great way to beef up your soul. Tapping into that grand reservoir of Christian audio on the internet can make that morning commute or "treadmill time" more spiritually productive. Next time you do the dishes, tune your phone into a sermon by Tim Keller or download a podcast from Nacey Leigh Demoss.
3. Sabbath like a Jew - The Lord designed Sundays to be the "market day of the soul" for the Christian. It's a day to say "no" to the busy-ness of life and concentrate on more God. If we "keep the sabbath day holy" through corporate worship, private reflection/meditation, extended times of personal prayer, or Christian fellowship, we'll see immense changes in our spiritual demeanor.
4. Prayer Challenge - Stonewall Jackson was a great military general, but he was also a great man of prayer. He trained himself to say a prayer every time he took a sip of water or mailed a letter. While you might not pray for every gulp you take, you can add prayer to more of your daily tasks. When you pick up their toys, ask God to bless your kids. When you punch in at work, as God to clock in grace for the day too.
5. Improve Your Baptism - Your baptism wasn't just something that happened long ago and far away. It's a God given tool in your spiritual arsenal. Reflecting on it's meaning and reality can be of great benefit in fighting temptation, dissuading doubt, and confirming you in grace. Martin Luther encouraged his congregation to simply repeat, "I've been baptized! I've been baptized!" from time to time as a way of reminding them of the saving promises of the gospel.
The Hopewell Bible Bee kicked off its summer of study this past Lord's Day at Brookside Park in Ashland with a picnic of families. Over thirty young people of varying ages have registered to participate in the intensive memorization program.
For the next two months these kids will be immersed in God's word, committing hundreds of Bible verses to memory and engaging in an in-depth study of Genesis 1-3. The group plans to meet together every two weeks for encouragement, Scripture games, and prizes. At the end of the program, students will seek to qualify for the national level competition by completing a standardized Bible test on the material.
Last year Hopewell member Sara Johnson (11) went to the national Bible Bee competition in Austin, Texas. She ended up memorizing over 400 verses of Scripture altogether.
This weekend (June 9-11) the Hopewell gang will be enjoying the great outdoors. Our annual camp out is a great time of fellowship & fun. We'd love for you to join us!
Can't stay for the entire weekend? No problem! You can drop in whenever you'd like and stay for however long you can.
Sunday morning services will be held at the campsite at 10:30 am.
3297 Walnut Rd
Willard, OH 44890
[Please note that there will be no services held at our Ashland location this weekend.]
This past weekend we enjoyed seeing Caitlyn baptized. Not only did we recall the promise of our cleansing, but we also were reminded of our new identity in Christ. An exhortation from Gal. 3:27 accompanied the sacrament: "As many of you who were baptized into Christ were clothed with Christ."
We give thanks to the Lord that two of our young people made a public profession of faith this past Sunday.
Geneva and Caitlyn both have grown up in Christian homes and have been nurtured in the gospel from their earliest days. Being that it was Mother's Day, it was a special blessing to remember the fruit of their mother's labors in discipling their children.
We are exceedingly glad that the Lord has stirred them early in life and given them a lively interest in personally following the Savior. We pray that they may grow to serve the Lord more and more and that their participation in the Lord's Table will continue to confirm them in the gospel all their days.
If you are looking for a Biblically grounded church in Ashland for your Easter celebrations, Hopewell Church welcomes you. Join us this Sunday at 10:30 am at 100 Hedstrom Drive in Ashland (directions).
Above all, remember: We live because Christ is ALIVE.
The Bible Bee is a tremendous opportunity for you and your kids to be immersed in the Scriptures through the summer. The program challenges kids to memorize Bible passages and gain a deeper understanding of God's Word.
Many families at Hopewell have profited from the Bible Bee over the years. Now we are happy to announce that we will be hosting a local competition right here in Ashland. We'd love for you and your child(ren) to join us!
The Hopewell Weekly is our weekly bulletin that contains all kinds of goodies: Scripture teaching, announcements, prayer requests, calendar events, and many other items that are sure to profit the soul.
Our latest issue contains a lesson on God's covenant with families, a great conference opportunity, and a chance for you to be involved in outreach. Check it out here. You can also subscribe and stay up to date here.
Hopewell Church is a Reformed church, holding to the traditional Reformed Confessions (Westminster and London Baptist). We make it our aim to reform our lives according to Scripture, and follow the philosophy of ministry that has characterized the biblical and orthodox church throughout her history.
Someone may ask, "Why should I attend this kind of church?" What benefit is there of being a part of a Reformed congregation? These questions were answered on a recent episode of Generations with Vision. Host Kevin Swanson gave an overview of data of several studies, and the Gen 2 Survey in particular.
The findings expressed that kids are walking away from mainline, Catholic, Pentecostal, and Fundamentalist Baptist churches to the tune of 50% or more. Surveys express that most of these are becoming atheists or agnostic. Reformed Churches, however, are seeing a 200% increase in attendance among millennials.
Reformed Baptist and Presbyterian churches have the ability to attract and retain young people for a variety of reasons. Typically the churches are smaller and stress accountability. They are usually family integrated, focused on discipleship, and dedicated to in-depth, Biblical preaching.
Additionally, Reformed churches stress the sovereignty of God in all areas of life. This translates into a fully developed Christian worldview rather than a piece-meal framework (or sacred/secular view), which easily allows a person to see the Christian faith as irrelevant.
The Gen 2 Survey also revealed that there was an "astronomical" difference when it came to the correlation of home education and young people continuing to hold to the Christian faith into adulthood.
Your and your friends are cordially invited to the Hopewell Ladies' Spring Tea, a special time of fellowship and spiritual edification!
The tea will be held on Saturday March 11th at 3pm at Hedstrom and will consist of light refreshments, conversation, and an uplifting message from guest speaker, Kathy Gangi.
Be sure to invite your friends and signify your participation on Facebook!
On Thursday Feb. 23 a group from Hopewell will be going to Cinemark Theaters in Ontario to watch Is Genesis History. Del Tackett, famed for his work in The Truth Project, hosts what looks to be a fabulous examination of Genesis and the science that backs the reality of it. Join us at 7pm!
Some of the families from Hopewell participated in Mansfield's March for Life this past Lord's Day. We are glad to have had this opportunity to show our deep love for children and earnest desire to see the the unborn protected.
Are you looking for a Bible based church in the Ashland area? Do you want strong biblical teaching and a chance to gain eternal wisdom?
Join the families of Hopewell as we begin to probe the book of Proverbs. Starting Sunday January 22 Hopewell will be examining various various texts that King Solomon has passed down to us.
Ashland is just like the rest of America in that it is seeing many of its young people slip away from the faith. The Millennial Generation may have been raised in a Christian home or in a conservative area, but their worldview is far from Christian.
Starting January 22 Hopewell will start a DVD series from Wretched Radio called "Untethered." This series of six episodes will examine the mind of the Millennial Generation and show how we may best reach them with the gospel.
We look forward to joining together on Christmas morning to offer our praise to the incarnate Savior. If you are looking for a worship service to attend, please feel free to join us at 100 Hedstrom Drive in Ashland.
Our message will come from the birth story in Matthew 1. We will have the gospel promises confirmed as we meditate on the name, nature, and nearness of Christ.
We want to invite you to join us for a rich time of fellowship & uplifting entertainment at our upcoming Christmas program.
Our families will be edifying one another through music, songs, and their other gifts and graces. Finger foods will also be available to enjoy afterwards.
The program is scheduled for December 11th at 6:30 pm and will be held at our regular meeting place in Ashland. Dress is casual.