Living Hope Community Church

Loving God by Loving Others

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Pastor Ken’s Hopes for the New Year

Published / by Ken Cluck / Leave a Comment

With it being advent season, and then moving into the new year, I thought I would reflect a bit on my hopes for the upcoming year.

Like all of you, my hopes are for my family first. I hope for my expected grandbaby to be healthy. I hope for the happiness and well being of my children, and a chance to spend a great deal of time with them all.

For our church, I hope for holiness and righteousness to manifest in our people, but always through love.

For our community, I hope we continue as a place where the joys of small-town life are experienced by another generation.

For our world, I hope and pray for peace—the peace of Christ, for there is no other source for true peace.

Finally, I hope and pray to never hear about masks, mandates, or quarantines. I hope to never say the words, “For safety sake, we should not meet for a time.” But why do I list these last? Because, if our families are well, our church is loving, our community is joyful, and our world is at peace these are at least bearable.

The “F” word: FEAR

Published / by Melanie Franzen / 1 Comment on The “F” word: FEAR

Fear seems to be a constant in the lives of many, especially during these times. There are many facets to fear, but in this post, I’m touching on just a few ways it plays a role in our daily lives. This is a testimony of sorts about how scripture and being saved has helped me overcome fear-the big F word in my life.

Have you ever heard someone say “I’m a worrier.”? That’s fear. Do you or someone you know suffer from anxiety? That’s fear. Do you struggle with making decisions? That’s fear. Do you procrastinate? Perhaps a fear of failure is holding you back. Do you tend to keep other’s at arms length for fear of getting hurt?

At times I think about how much I used to worry or feel anxious about something; how much time I wasted worrying, how senseless it all was to ponder such petty things. What did I accomplish by feeling this way? Nothing! Did it change the outcome of the circumstance? Nope. These verses of scripture help me greatly when I find myself sliding back into that old habit: Matthew 6:27-34 “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?…Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Fear affects the decisions we make and can keep us from making decisions. We begin to wonder which is the “right” thing to do? Then we decide to be still and do nothing for fear of making the “wrong” decision. Now we are stagnant, stuck, in bondage. The reality is, without change there is no growth. The first thing to do is turn to the Lord in prayer and ask for guidance in the Holy Spirit. You may not get you the answer you want , or you may obey Him then feel that it turned out badly, but remember this: Romans 5:3-4 “…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance ,character; and character, hope.” Take the plunge. Either it will go great or you will learn a lesson and be strengthened in your struggle. I’m not saying it’s easy, but from a personal standpoint, I’ve gained the most hope and faith during some of my greatest suffering.

Do not live in fear, do not be afraid. This message is repeated hundreds of times throughout the Bible. One of my favorites is: Hebrews 13:6 “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

Fear can control us and greatly influence the person we become. It seeps its way into the crevices of the wall we’ve built to protect ourselves, infecting, creating doubt and a false sense of weakness. Tear down that wall. Let people in. Replace that wall with the only thing strong enough to defeat fear- the armor of God. Ephesians 6:14 “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace…take up the shield of faith…the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”