Welcome Home One
Belonging to Jesus
Where We Came From
Living Hope began as church made up of three different congregations in 1987. Yes, we have a history of blended families, and as with all blended families, we have had our challenges.
It is easy and natural for a church to become a religious institution or organization. From our beginning, we sought to blend our three organizations together into one group. We were more organization than family when we started.
Such an endeavor as to move from organization to family is near impossible to accomplish. It requires nearly a miracle.
Leaders have opinions on the way things should be done, the vision of the organization, and the drift or path the group as a whole should take. Add to each leader a religious zeal, a sense that this is the way God wants it, and you can have sparks.
Then imagine a church you want to be as big as possible, so you begin to manage it like a large corporation where employees become expendable for the profit, or, in church language, some members become expendable for the greater purpose of growth.
From our vantage point, this is exactly what got Jesus executed: leaders who thought religion should be done a certain way. Leaders tend to want things done in a certain way to focus power and even prosperity on a small group of the influential.
Sadly, it took Jesus some time—some years—to turn us from three blended organizations into His family.
Here is what we’ve learned along the way:
The church belongs to Jesus. He is the true Pastor.
The power of His church does not exist in the enormity of its size.
The goal of Jesus was never to make people behaviorally acceptable.
Eternal life is not what is experienced when right things are believed or right things are practiced.
The church Jesus builds must reflect to the world a sense of love where every person within a church family matters deeply.
The church is where we come to know and follow Christ, for apart from hearing His voice as He speaks to our thoughts, it is impossible to know Him or even experience eternal life.
The church is a place where we have learned, through experience, that whatever God has said in His Word He will do, no matter what may otherwise seem to be appearing.
The church is the place where the Holy Spirit is all over our life to comfort us, restore us, and heal us through every life tragedy.
The local church is family, Jesus-family, and His family grows numerically by Holy Spirit-formed relationships, not by programs.
Because our Father is a giver, the church is the most generous place on the face of the earth.
When we stopped trying to blend three families together, when we stopped seeking to fulfill my vision for the church and started becoming His church, things radically changed.
Perfect? No, not close. Don't even expect it. We are flawed, messy, and learning, but in the middle of it all Jesus is causing us to find His life, His rhythms, His love.
We are not the sum total of our numbers, our offerings, our accomplishments, nor our fame. We could recite them all to you, but we are honestly more interested in Jesus.
Who are we? Our name says it best: “Living Hope.” We were named based on a verse out of Peter.
… He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead …
… because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead … we live with great expectation … (1 Peter 1:3 ESV, NLT)
This name has literally defined us. It was not a name chosen by the pastor; it was born out of a season of prayer, and it has continued to define who we are.
We are a church who believes there is never-ending and living hope in Jesus. He is living Hope, but to us He is also the Living Hope. His resurrection proved, on our worst day, that God can do something amazing.
We live and we exist to offer hope and great expectation to all, hope which lives and thrives in our hearts because of Jesus.
We are today a product of not only trials and errors, but also devotion, hang-in-there love, and won't-quit affection. We are made up of people who have gone before. Even the mention of their names makes us weep with admiration—what sacred lives.
You may as well know now: we are an acquired taste. We are not for everyone. We lose interest in doing things just to do things. We are not ambitious to become a certain something but are passionately stirred to pursue and know Christ.
We've Been Given
Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4 The Message)
There are three things you should know about us:
1) Everything we have has been miraculously given to us. It is true—everything about us is a miracle, and if you become a part of this family, you should expect God to do things for and through you that you could never do for yourself.
“Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us …” (2 Peter 1:3 The Message).
“I came to give life—life in all its fullness” (John 10:10 NCV).
2) Everyone gets a personal invitation. We do not grow en masse. We do not view our fellowship as a block of people we pastor. We view everyone as an individual person who belongs to a family. We invite personally and disciple personally all we can. The only time we might do anything en masse is an invitation to a church event. Once here, we want everyone to be treated as they are—a valued person who matters to us and Christ.
“… getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God” (2 Peter 1:3 The Message).
“On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, ‘Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, “Rivers of living water will flow from his heart”’” (John 7:37-38 NLT).
3) We have been given timeless promises. Our relationship is not based on guesswork, odd religious metaphors, or confusing practices. We have been given promises, and allowing those promises to groom the very way we think and view life is of the highest priority. We do not hope to get lucky and for some promise come to pass. We are absolutely confident that what Jesus said He would do, He will do.
“We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you…” (2 Peter 1:4 The Message).
“The Lord is not slow to do what He has promised, as some think. Instead, He is patient with you, because He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants all to turn away from their sins” (2 Peter 3:9 GNB).
4) Everyone has a ticket to participate. If you become a part of the Living Hope family, then you will have a place to participate. We believe we can figure out together how God has gifted you and then provide some help and opportunities that will bless you and others.
“… your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust” (2 Peter 1:4 The Message).
“My sheep recognize My voice. I know them, and they follow Me. I give them real and eternal life” (John 10:27-28 MSG).
For a created human, any created human, to have a relationship with God is a miracle.
Imagine, God, through Jesus, has invited us into not just a relationship with Himself, but also a personal relationship with Himself.
It doesn't stop there—He has given us timeless promises so we can have a relationship with Him as He shares His eternal life with us.
In light of this relationship, the warning of Matthew 7:21-23 is sobering—we can do things for Him and not be doing the will of the Father. We can do mighty things for God and not have a relationship with Him. We can do supernatural things for Him and not know Him.
Not everyone who calls out to Me, “Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to Me, “Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.” But I will reply, “I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.” (Matthew 7:21-23 NLT)
Those who have a relationship with God will change the way they think. To enter into God's world is to enter into a whole new way of thinking. This was one of Jesus' first points.
From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17 NLT).
Repentance doesn't mean to feel bad, nor to confess sin or profess faith in Jesus. The word repentance in Scripture means to change the way you think. Before Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God was at the center of their lives and thinking. He was in the middle of every thought. One day they decided to have a conversation without God at the center of their thinking. That day led to sin.
Repentance is to change the way you think. Instead of self being at the center of our thoughts, God is put back at the center. Unconsciously, every thought we have is held up in His presence so we hide nothing from Him. Our day is full of, “What do You think, Jesus?” and, “Lord, give me Your mind on this matter,” and, “What does Your word say?” It is like taking a satellite dish and constantly aiming it at God to hear His thoughts.
To have God at the center of our thinking does not mean we think about sin or right behavior the same way God does. It means we think our thoughts before God and in His presence, so all our thinking becomes bathed in His loving goodness.
Those who repent—change the way they think—will find it necessary to spend time listening to Jesus’ voice. It is much like being on a journey, on a road with Jesus to His destiny for your life.
Taking some part of our day and separating it to Jesus is essential. There is something about taking twenty-four minutes spending time with Jesus doing four things.
Read a passage of Scripture. Where you read is not as important as reading some passage every day. We do know this: those who follow a reading plan and do so with others have the best chance at being consistent over a long period of time. Being on a plan with others is as encouraging as it is inspiring. If you read the same passages you can share insights from a common passage and share Jesus in a common way.
Living Hope has just such a plan. It averages somewhere between 20-30 verses a day. The plan is accompanied with a review of each chapter, called Bible Helps, to help everyone more fully understand what he or she is reading if stuck on some unfamiliar verse.
To find the plan, visit the Living Hope website, download the Living Hope app, or pick up a paper copy of the plan.
As you are reading, observe some portion of the passage. Usually this happens as something stands out or grabs your attention or something in the portion of Scripture creates within you some level of special interest. It might stand out because it creates a question or it might stand out because you sense the Holy Spirit’s leading you to apply it to a current circumstance. In some way, a portion of Scripture calls your attention and you are encouraged to recognize that portion and to highlight it in some way.
Answer the passage, at least the portion of Scripture you have highlighted. Answer by completing one of the following statements. We would encourage you to write the conclusion to one of these statements in a journal.
Jesus, You love me so much that You …
Jesus, You love (name of person or persons) so much that You …
Jesus, You love me so much that I sense You are leading me to …
Jesus, You love me so much that You are revealing to me …
Jesus, You love me so much that You are leading me to confess to You that I have …
After you have answered the rest of the statement from Jesus, then in a fresh way devote your life to Him. Devote your life to Jesus by responding to Him in prayer.
We encourage you to consider the Lord’s Prayer as you devote your life to be fully His. Notice the Lord’s Prayer begins by devoting your entire being to God.
Declare Yahweh as the Ultimate center of your life.
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.”
Call for the known will of God to be done, especially based on what you wrote in your journal for that day.
“Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.”
Request and depend upon the Lord for every provision.
“Give us this day our daily bread …”
Confess and Reconcile
Confess your sin to God and then restore every relationship and forgive every offense committed against you.
“… and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Ask the Lord to keep you from every circumstance that would stir up lust.
“And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
Give to God the full right to be King, the complete power to rule and all the accolades for your every accomplishment.
“For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.”
THE R.O.A.D. to Following
We believe those who listen to Jesus deeply and richly are on the R.O.A.D. (Read, Observe, Answer, Devote) to life with Jesus. To learn to hear Jesus’ voice will be the most important work of your life.
"This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the One He has sent” (John 6:29 NLT).
"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17 ESV)
This leads us to the next essential question: what is faith?
For years, faith has implied really strong believing or believing with great conviction. At the heart of the Greek word for faith is the thought of allegiance or devotion. Just to believe Jesus did or said or will do something will not necessarily change life.
To devote yourself to Jesus as the King of your life will radically change everything about you. Certainly to be devoted to Jesus includes believing, but devotion to Jesus is the giving of your complete life to Him. To give your allegiance to Jesus unleashes God's grace in your life and allows you to walk in Kingdom-saved life.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV).
Faith, allegiance to Christ, comes as we give ourselves to His Word. The more you read and meditate and pay attention to God's Word, the more you will notice that God keeps His Word, His Word never fails, and His Word is timeless.
At Living Hope, we are not asking you to give yourself to Living Hope but to give your whole heart and allegiance to Jesus. Let your belief in God come from your allegiance to Christ. If you do, you will find a grace to live God's life in God's way, experiencing the power of His Kingdom.
We would like you to consider four responses and considerations to tonight’s material.
1) If you have never given your full allegiance to Christ, sign up to be baptized.
2) If you do not have a personal devotional life that is really working for you, please download the app and read with us through our Bible Reading Plan. You may also wish to refer to the Bible Helps to read the chapter reviews. As much as you can, use the R.O.A.D. method while the Holy Spirit leads you to develop your own style.
3) Sign up for the next Welcome Home class.
4.) Sign up for the next Redemption Weekend.