Show Marvelous

As my role has temporarily expanded from worship to also encompass youth ministry, I have spent a bit of time thinking about one of the most awkward stages of life – middle school! When I look around at the middle school students at our church, I wonder what I could do differently to connect with them and help them feel grounded at Hope, even as they navigate this life stage filled with transitions. The article below is geared toward small group leaders, but I believe there is some valuable insight for parents of this youth demographic as well as the broader church body. I would like to encourage us all to remember the eternal implications of investing in the lives of our children and youth!

God bless,


Pastor Ryan


Show Marvelous
by Kristine Herring


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Let’s face it. Middle schoolers can be difficult. They are in such an uncertain time in their lives – one foot in childhood and the other in adulthood. Unsure of who they are, they spend their time trying to figure it out and that process can be a little rough. They can be awkward and annoying and sometimes, even, hard to love.

They actually remind me of my favorite flower, the Gerbera daisy. Although their blossoms are magnificent, Gerbera daisies are not pretty plants. Truth be told, they are fairly ugly. Their leaves resemble something much closer to a weed than a flower. They are jagged and rough, a stark contrast to the soft smooth flowers they surround. Only when the stunning, captivating blooms open is the true beauty of the plant revealed.

Often times, this is true of middle school students as well. Right now, in this tumultuous season of their lives it’s easy to only see their leaves. It can be tempting to dismiss them and get distracted by their ungainliness.

And yet, we are exactly the ones who need to dig and search further. We need discerning ears to hear them as they beg us to look closer. We need clarity of vision to see past the unlovable. We need soft hearts to be sure we don’t miss the very best parts of who they are.

I think one of the richest, most affirming passages in all of scripture is Psalm 139. From first verse to last it is full of promises and glimpses highlighting the glorious intimacy between God the Father and His creation. Sandwiched in the middle of that chapter is verse 14.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

As if that simple truth weren’t enough, there is further treasure to be found here. One of the possible translations of the Hebrew word for “wonderfully” is “show marvelous”. “Show marvelous or show extraordinary or splendid,” according to Webster’s dictionary. Again I was reminded of the daisy. Despite it’s ugly leaves, if you wait patiently and give it a chance, it will most definitely show itself to be marvelous. If you look past the unappealing mess that encircles the heart of the plant, you will be struck by just how marvelous it is.

This is true of these students we have chosen to share our journey with. If we withhold our judgment and wait patiently we will see that there is vibrancy beyond the baseness, there is softness amidst the roughness and there is beauty despite the awkwardness. That amidst all the unsightly tangles surrounding them, they are divine creations and in God’s time, He will complete them, reveal them and show them marvelous.

My 7th grade small group is full of Gerbera daisies. There are days when I wonder if they’ll ever bloom and have to remind myself of their great potential. And then there are days when I get glimpses. Days when the Creator gives me a hint of what’s to come and shows me a preview of their magnificent blooms. In those moments, I am profoundly grateful for this role I get to play. I am humbled by my unique opportunity to watch as they unfold and “show marvelous.”

Do you have Gerbera daisies in your group? Which leaves are the hardest to see past? Have you perhaps, amidst the awkwardness, caught glimpses of beauty and splendor? How is God moving your heart to nurture and encourage their fragile hearts and spirits?

Where's the Fruit?



Hi Hope Family, 

I spent this last week in California at the Children’s Pastor Conference. It was a wonderful time of learning and worshipping. I was again reminded of how important it is to reach children for Christ. Children learn so quickly. Research has told us that the greatest window of opportunity for children to learn is before they reach the age of 13. Not that it is ever too late to give your life to Christ, but odds drop that you ever will after age 13. I think God wired us that way because he knew we’d need help when we start to decide things on our own. 

It was so wonderful to baptize all those people on February 15th but I was especially proud of the 6 children that came forward. I’ve already seen their faith produced fruit in their lives and I can’t wait to see what God has planned for them. 

Can people see the fruit coming from your faith? The Bible tells us we will be known by our fruit (James 2:11-26). I was reminded of this at the conference this past week. We were encouraged to tell others when we see Jesus in them, by what we’ve seen them do, and then affirm them in their faith. That seems like such a simple thing but when Tina Freeman told me that she sees Jesus in me (and then told me when she saw Him), I was moved to tears beyond words. I want to encourage you to tell the people around you how you see Jesus in them, and pray that someone will tell you, too. 

I have attached the “Love Boldly Blessing” for each of you. May it encourage you as you bear fruit with your faith. 


Loving Boldly, 


Pastor Barb


love boldly

If Jesus Had A Smartphone



Ever since I purchased (Sheri made me!) a smartphone, I feel smarter… and dumber. I’m smarter because I have the Internet and information access 24/7. I’m dumber because I rely less on conversation and personal interactions that I used to. 

In an interesting commentary in Leadership Journal (Winter, 2015), David Kinnaman gives a unique perspective. Enjoy!



Pastor Duane 

“If Jesus Had a Smartphone”
Making disciples after the revolution. 
Commentary by David Kinnaman

The knowledge revolution is upon us. As with most revolutions, this one comes with a promise for the masses – a better life. In this case, the hyperlinked life: constant access to customized, personalized, on-demand information, what we want to know, when we want it.

And we are grateful for this. In research Barna did for our FRAMES project, three in 10 U.S. adults surveyed reported feeling that extra information gives them a sense of greater control over the decisions they make (29%). And even more said they have greater confidence in their decisions with this kind of access (41%). 

Even our faith journeys have benefited. People now have instant access to information that can help them grow spiritually: devotionals, sermon notes, Bible translations and expositions, podcasts, worship music, and so on. 

But, as with all revolutions, the knowledge revolution comes at a cost. Seven out of 10 U.S. adults say they are overwhelmed by the amount of information they need to stay up to date (71%). Even then, they do not wholly trust the information they find – a majority admit to believing only about half of what they read online (55%) more than half (54%) think they have actually too much information, and one in six says all that information hinders making a decision, instead of making it easier. 

Then, of course, there is the ever-present smartphone, the absence of which causes great angst. About one-third (34%) say they get anxious when their phone’s battery dies, and nearly half (46%) would struggle to go without the Internet for longer than a day. More than one-third of all adults (35%) and almost half of those under 40 (47%) admit their personal electronics sometimes separate them from other people. 

Still, three in 10 Millennials (30%) say they love their phone. Talk about an intimate relationship with our devices! 

Every revolution offers promises. Every revolution makes demands. 

How does the hyperlinked life jibe with the abundant life Jesus promised? We certainly have lives full of information, but our daily lives – our time, our intimacy with God and with others, our time to just think and be – seem to be depleted. 

All revolutions are meant to change the world, and the knowledge revolution has done that. Now we must work hard to live faithfully in this new world. 

We must begin by enlarging our definition of stewardship. We talk about stewarding time, treasure, and talent. Let’s add technology to that list. Today’s digital world drives how we spend our time, how we use our money, and what we make (or don’t make) of our talents. 

One aspect of this stewardship – and a critical one, particularly for those leading churches – involves recognizing the significance of parishioners who work in information and technology industries. 

This include print, digital, and broadcast journalism; arts, entertainment and media; computer and software companies; writing, research and analysis; and other sectors of today’s economy and culture. Everything we watch, read, or hear is a form of digitized information. A video game is a type of information content. Music and movies are, too. 

To equip people to follow Jesus in this new hyperlinked world, we must provide them with a broad understanding of stewardship. How can you help people make sense of the information barrage? How would Jesus use a smart phone? How can we make technology a useful servant than a cruel master? 

We need to prepare a generation of “knowledge workers” for lives of purpose in these and related fields, and empower them with a sense of the importance of their vocation. 

DAVID KINNAMAN is president of Barna Group and co-author of The Hyperlinked Life(Zondervan, 2014).

Prepare for Something Special

When company is coming over, when a big test is on the horizon, or a difficult conversation is coming later in the day, there is something important to be done.  It's called "preparation". We prepare for all kinds of things, and during this Easter season we want to extend an invitation to you to prepare for Easter. lent01

From Ash Wednesday (February 18th) to Easter is a season on the church calendar called, Lent. This span of about six weeks is a time when many Christians around the world focus on prayer, repentance, self-denial, and reflection.  This is a time to eliminate some of the distractions around us and pay attention to what really matters in life - Jesus. To this end, we want to offer you several things for this Lenton season:

  • Ash Wednesday Gathering: Next Wednesday morning, February 18th, we will have an open house time from 6am-9am.  During this time you are welcome to stop by to briefly pray, read Scripture, and receive the ceremonial ashes of the cross by one of our pastors.
  • Lenten Devotions: There are many wonderful devotionals that stretch from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday that you can commit to reading through during this season. The Evangelical Covenant Church in Canada has put together a great one that can be read online for free by clicking here. If you're interested in picking up a short book, I recommend N.T. Wright's Lent for Everyone.
  • Self-Denial or Fasting: Different forms of fasting have been practiced during Lent. The idea is that we give up something (e.g. usually food but perhaps, technology, alcohol, Facebook, TV, etc.) as a response to what Jesus has done for us. Often times in those moments of surrender and denial, we are able to focus and identify with God. You may want to consider fasting from something during this season as well.



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Pastor Brandon

2015 Midwinter Conference Updates

Evangelical Covenant Church president, Gary Walter, shares updates on Covenant mission and ministry at the 2015 Midwinter Conference in Denver, Colorado.

Click on the link to read the article or watch the video:
2015 Midwinter Conference in Denver, CO

Hope Covenant Church

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