Pastor Paul’s Ponderings – Thanks!
Happy Tuesday New Hope!
What a joy it is to be the pastor of New Hope! As I reflected over the almost 4 years I have been here my heart is filled with thanks. You welcomed Dana and I as if we had been here forever. There never seemed to be a time of “getting to know us before you embraced us”. You welcomed us as family and have loved us from the beginning and we are very grateful.
I’m not sure if you remember that before coming to New Hope I had been out of the pastoral ministry and away from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church for several years. I left after a very discouraging experience and was deeply questioning my call of being a pastor. Even as I followed God’s leading to return to the pastoral ministry, I had doubts about finding a place to serve. .You have been a huge part of reaffirming God’s call, and you have provided a wonderful opportunity for me to once again be faithful to God’s call. Dana and I are very thankful for our New Hope Family and look forward to serving alongside you for many years!
Happy Thanksgiving to our New Hope Family!
Grace and peace,
Good evening New Hope!
You really know how to make a guy feel great! Your wonderful expressions of kindness for Pastor Appreciation were a tremendous encouragement to me. You have always been very supportive of me and Dana and you have once again reminded us of what a wonderful family of faith we are a part of. It is a joy to serve as your pastor and your cards and kind words filled my heart to overlfowing
Then on Sunday Dana calls me into the room where she is sitting saying she has something I need to see. I was prertty down since I had made another trip to the ER with a migraine the day before and was not able to be with my New Hope family for worship that morning. She turns her phone around for me to see (and hear) and there is my New Hope family with smiles on their faces singing happy birthday to me. You really lifted my spirits and once again demonstrated your great love for Jesus by showing your great love to me.
Thank you for being such a great family of faith and for the tremendous love and support you show to me and Dana!
Grace and peace,
Hey New Hope!
Was October amazing or what? The New Hope family certainly “showed up” with two great ministries. Worship in the Park was a wonderful day of worship and fellowship at Don Fox Community Park. I have already told you all about that day and how proud I was of my New Hope family. Then only two weeks later you “brought it” again at the Fall Festival/Trunk or Treat. Over 70 people came out this year which is by far the most in the time I have been at New Hope. There were children of all ages and several teenagers as well who came out and spent time with us. Hot dogs, chili, soup, and desserts galore. Several folks set up for trunk or treat, and we even had a ‘trip to the morgue” activity. And the place was decorated spectacularly! What an amazing job everyone did. It was a great joy to sit on the tailgate of my truck and watch my New Hope family doing ministry. Then shortly after arriving home I received a notification that a new message had been posted on our FaceBook page. I opened it up to find this message, “Thanks to all of you for making myself, daughter and 2 grands feel welcome during Trunk and treat tonight!! We thoroughly enjoyed meeting all of you and having a safe place to bring the kids for Halloween!!”
My excitement over what God is doing and the plans God has for us continues to grow!
Grace and peace,
Hello from Haiti!
Communication this trip has been very limited. I am now back in Port-au-Prince waiting for my flight home. I have had a short but eventful trip. Most of my time was spent with Pastor Smith in the Lexi community. I spent the night in his home and an entire day getting video of the area where a road is to be built up the mountain, at the church and school, and interviewing Pastor Smith. Dana and I will be leading the effort to raise the money for the road project. I will be contacting other CP churches to schedule a time to share the need for this road. It is needed so that construction materials can be delivered and also to improve the overall well-being of the Lexi community. I will be sharing more with you in the near future.
My flight leaves Port-au-Prince at 3:05 pm (EST). I have a layover in Atlanta and will arrive in Nashville around 8 pm. Thank you for your prayers and your support of the ministry in Haiti.
Grace and peace,
Hello New Hope!
You ever heard of a “good tired”? Well that is what I had by the time I got home Sunday (and I’m sure many of you did as well). I was totally exhausted but my heart was overflowing! On a day when it would have been easy to say, “Let’s cancel and just have everything where we usually do”, you stepped out in great faith and with tremendous enthusiasm. As a result we experienced a wonderful outpouring of God’s Spirit! We scheduled to begin loading everything at New Hope at 7:30. At 7:15 the rain stopped! Everything was loaded, taken to the park, and set up and no rain fell. As we set up everything for the meal to be shared after service one brief shower led to placing a few table covers over the serving tables. A few drops fell as we worshiped together under the pavilion. And how about that worship! On a cloudy, rainy day in the park, sitting in chairs (most of them folding metal chairs) instead of nice padded pews, with a lectern and an electric keyboard (that was not amplified) as the only normal worship items, we worshiped in a very meaningful way. In fact I heard the following two comments repeated by many, “This was wonderful!” and “We need to do this again!” And we had several visitors join us!
In a matter of just a few minutes after worship, due to awesome preparation by many, we shared an amazing meal and time of fellowship. One couple even came from another church after their service to eat and fellowship with us. As I walked around during the meal my heart that was already filled begin to overflow as I witnessed the real fellowship that was taking place. People talking and laughing together as they truly enjoyed each others company. No one seemed in a hurry to leave and I noticed very few had left after the worship service. As we began the process of cleaning up and loading up there were so many who stayed to help. People still talking about what a wonderful time we were having together. Everything was loaded and taken back to New Hope. As the last stack of chairs was being unloaded the rain began to fall again.
Real faith is not what we do when everything goes according to plan. Real faith, the kind of faith you demonstrated on Sunday, is what we do despite things not going as planned. With joy in your heart and smiles on your faces you gave of yourselves in great love, choosing to ignore the clouds and rain and focusing on the showers of blessings from God. You have filled my heart to overflowing with a great joy!
Now, do you believe that this is only the tiniest tip of the iceberg of what God will do as we continue to step out in faith? I certainly hope so because that is what God promises. In Luke 6:38 Jesus is recorded as saying, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, shaken down, pressed together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Faith is measured not in our thoughts, but through our giving. The more we show our faith through the giving of ourselves, both our money and our abilities, the more we will experience the amazing generosity of God. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, “However, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no human mind has conceived – the things God has prepared for those who love him – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.'”
Keep on believing!
Grace and peace,
Happy Saturday New Hope!
A few folks have been asking if we are still having Worship in the Park with the forecast for rain. The answer is Yes! It may or may not rain – consider praying that it doesn’t. There is no option for an alternative date with our rental of the pavilion. There is no undoing all the preparations that have been made. Our ability to worship is not determined by the weather – physical or spiritual! In fact our commitment to worship no matter the weather is a tremendous testimony to all those around us. So make those phone calls, send those text messages, and remind all those you have invited that we will be worshiping and fellowshipping at Don Fox Park tomorrow. Here are a couple of suggestions for tomorrow. One, bring your lawn chairs. They may be more comfortable than the chairs we bring from church. Two, be ready to welcome visitors and invite them to sit with you – especially those you invited.
If you volunteered to help load things up at the church and set up at the park we have decided we need to be at the church by 7:30 a.m. if we are going to have everything set up by 9:00 a.m. Our greeters need to be there by 9:00 a.m. to be prepared to welcome our guests. There will be games both for getting up and being active and for sitting at tables so something is available for everyone.
Finally, pray, pray, pray! Pray for no rain. Pray that those who have been invited will come. Pray for all who come to feel the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Pray for those who will be leading the worship service. Pray for yourself, that God will use you to reach out to others.
Grace and peace,
I just got a text from Anita Drew, a New Hope member, and the Food Pantry Director at Wilson County Community Help Center. She wanted to let me know that New Hope donated 546 pounds of food to WCCHC in September. If my memory is working today (and I’ll make no promises about that) the New Hope family has donated right at 2,000 pounds of food over the last 3 months. You guys are amazing! This coming Sunday is our designated Sunday to bring food donations (but you can bring them every Sunday) so as you do your grocery shopping this week remember Jesus said when we feed one of the least among us we are feeding him. Items that are always in great need are pork-n-beans, canned fruit, canned soups (look for soups that have meat and/or veggies in them), canned meat (other than tuna), and crackers which make soup go further and feed more. I’ve seen what you can do when you commit to it.
I don’t know about you but I was immensely blessed on Sunday! Several minutes before service started someone grabbed me and asked if I had the worship programs (aka – bulletins) in the office. I assured them they were placed in the same place they are every Sunday. As we went together to look one of the greeters meet us and informed us we had run out of bulletins. It was one of those moments when I think – Oh no! That’s great! – at the same time. Even with some of our regular folks out our attendance was well above what we have been averaging over the last several months. Ain’t God good! Then God proceeded to continue pouring out of the Spirit as we shared together in an awesome time of worship. But wait – there’s more! Sunday evening we had the best turn out we have had in a long time for our 5th Sunday Special. Food galore was shared and wonderful fellowship was experienced as we broke bread together. Than the Spirit was at it again during a very meaningful worship experience through music. We are beginning to experience what God has promised will happen when we commit to prayer and following God’s leading. You are stepping up your game!
I came into this office today and began looking through the communication cards and other notes that are left in the offering plate on Sunday. Glory and hallelujah! I had forgotten about asking you to place the names of those you had invited to Worship in the Park in the offering plate. We prayed for those individuals during our prayer time Sunday and I am now getting ready to pray again for those people. Over 20 names were placed in the offering! I know that represents just a few of those you have invited to join us. I invite and encourage you to bring more of those names to place in the offering this Sunday so that we can continue to pray that God will be working on their hearts. I also encourage you to follow up with all those you invite on Friday or Saturday next week. If they need a ride, offer to pick them up. If they seem nervous, assure them you will be there at the park looking for them so that they will see a familiar face. If they need a ride and you can’t pick them up, let me know and transportation will be arranged. I know you probably can’t tell but I’m pretty pumped up about how God is using you to reach out to your family members, friends, neighbors, work associates and whoever else you have invited. I sure hope you plan on showing up cause I know God is going to!
God is doing something wonderful at New Hope! You are catching the fever of what God is doing! And the most wonderful part is – WE AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET!
Grace and peace,
Happy Friday New Hope!
I am so fired up and excited about what God is doing at New Hope and what God has in store for us. It is awesome to see our Worship in the Park signs as I am driving around Lebanon. When I got into the office on Tuesday I got the sign up sheet for Worship in the Park and there were only two or three slots left. Every time I see one of my New Hope family they are asking or talking about Worship in the Park. If you haven’t gotten a sign (or two or three) and put out in your yard or other locations you can get permission, then I only have one question for you – “Where’s your sign?” There are plenty more signs and stakes. This Sunday get as many as you can and get them placed this as soon as you can. Also, remember to get your invite cards and start inviting your unchurched friends, work associates, neighbors, and family members. It is going to be a great day in the park!
But lets not get ahead of ourselves. We have a wonderful evening of fellowship and worship coming up this Sunday. We’ll gather for dinner and fellowship at 5 p.m. and then move to the Worship Center for a time of worship through music. There will be some special music provided by our New Hope Choir and others from our New Hope family and a special guest as well. We will also have a time of hymn singing where you can request your favorite hymn (we may put Ben to the test on this). You are encouraged to invite folks to join us for this 5th Sunday Special as well. I also encourage you to remember during our fellowship meal to refrain from sitting together with only your own family members or with your usual group. Look around for visitors or some of our New Hope family you don’t know very well and get to know them better. It really isn’t fellowship if we are always sitting with the same people. We become a stronger family the better we get to know each other.
I am also starting to hear more people praying specifically for New Hope to grow during our prayer time on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. I believe this is an indication that more of you are praying on a regular basis for God to provide growth. This is the most important element of church growth and the more of us that are praying and the more often we are praying for growth the more growth we will experience. A part of our prays for growth should be asking God to use each of us in any way possible to contribute to that growth. But we must also remember that the second most important element of church growth is the people who call New Hope their church home inviting others to join us. We are particularly called to reach out to those who are not in church and/or do not have a personal relationship with Jesus. It has been shown over and over again that a large majority of new people in a church come because of a personal invitation. The worship service, music, pastor’s message, and other ministries available will have an impact of who chooses to come back after a first visit. But the number one factor influencing a return visit is whether or not that first time visitor truly felt welcomed! Pray, pray, pray! Invite, invite, invite!
I look forward to worshiping with my New Hope family this Sunday!
Grace and peace,