Update from Pastor Jonathan at New Hope Church
June Update from New Hope
Dear Friends and Family,
Thank you for your ongoing interest in and support of New Hope Church. Here are a few updates from the past two months here in Bangor…
Wedding: As of May 8, I (Pastor Jonathan) am engaged! My fiancée, Minet Marrin, teaches Latin at Saint Paul’s School in Concord, NH, and it has been a delight and privilege to grow in relationship with her over the past months—and now as we anticipate marriage. Our wedding will be on July 3, which will allow us to enjoy some time together this summer before she returns to complete her teaching contract at Saint Paul’s (teaching the 2015/2016 academic year). We covet your prayers on our behalf—that our focus would be on God in the midst of wedding planning, for smooth preparations as we balance them with each of our full-time work, that those who come to our wedding would see Jesus, and for wisdom and God’s provision as we figure out what this next year (likely involving a commuting marriage for a time) will look like.
Mentoring Ministry: As a leadership team, we spent a couple months discussing both strengths and weaknesses/growth areas at New Hope, and where God might be leading us to focus in the next year. One of the areas that came up was a lack of depth of discipleship. With this in mind—as well as seeing how God has been working through the youth group in so many ways—we have begun to take steps in starting a mentoring ministry at New Hope. We hope that, as we pair interested youth with mature Christian adults in the church, this will bridge the generational gap, allow the youth to experience a Christian adult investing in their life, and for both to grow in relationship with God as they get to know one another. We also plan to have training for mentors as they work with the youth, and for mentors to meet regularly with each other to allow for mutual growth. We appreciate your prayers as we approach potential mentors and begin this program.
Praying the Psalms: Our most recent Bible study is entitled “Praying the Psalms”. The Psalms teach us how to pray honestly and with faith, expressing everything from praise and gratitude to anger and grief. It’s been a privilege to walk through Psalm 51, 139, 22, 1, and 119, as God gives unique prayer “vocabulary” in each. In each study, we take time to read through the psalm, study and discuss it, and then have a time of prayer in line with the focus of the particular psalm for that week.
Tough Questions: Prior to our study on the psalms, we did a did-week study called “Tough Questions”. Here is the description of the study which we shared with the congregation: “This week, our Thursday class begins our “Tough Questions” series. We will engage questions that are often unaddressed, approaching them from a Christian worldview and a Reformed accent. This may be a great opportunity to invite neighbors or friends as well. While we may not always be able to fully “answer” all questions, we will go to Scripture and offer a biblical framework in approaching these topics. All (adults, youth, and visitors) are welcome to join, provided each participant come prayerfully and with a desire to grow: This is not first about “debating” as much as growing as disciples of Christ in the context of challenging situations and questions.
- 3/26/15: How do we address these “tough questions” with grace and truth?
- 4/2/15: Assurance of Salvation
- 4/9/15: End of Life Issues/Medical Ethics
- 4/16/15: Predestination
- 4/23/15: Marriage and Divorce
- 4/30/15: “Problem of Evil” and Suffering
We had a good time both preparing for each week’s question as a leadership team, as well as within the study each Thursday evening. It was helpful to have a context in which to address these topics, and the group had good discussions.
E-Newsletter: New Hope sends out a weekly newsletter via email (recently nicely updated by a congregant!). Please email [email protected] if you would like to receive these weekly updates via MailChimp—or to have one week’s update forwarded to you as an example.
Website: We have been continuing to update our website. Please feel free to explore it at www.newhopebgr.org.
Reflection: Disappointed by God: We all find ourselves disappointed by God at times. We pray, and pray, and pray for God to heal now, provide in our time, fill the gap we feel…and yet the diagnosis comes; yet we receive another rejection letter; yet we feel alone. In our sermon text this week from 2 Samuel 12, David pleads with God for the life of his child born of his adultery with Bathsheba…and the child dies. And David’s response? “…he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped” (v. 20). Even when we can’t see God, remember His absolute justice and goodness pledged and provided for you in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He is good, and while we anticipate the day when all will see Him, in the meantime we can still worship.
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
Worship is about who God is, not just the gifts He gives us. With the Holy Spirit’s power, in times of suffering and disappointment, we can still rejoice in God. He is still good; He does still love us in Christ; He will still prove true to His word—no matter how far away He seems at the moment.
One of my favorite songs can also be a prayer in these times:
“Blessed be Your name / In the land that is plentiful / Where Your streams of abundance flow / Blessed be Your name / And blessed be Your name / When I’m found in the desert place / Though I walk through the wilderness / Blessed be Your name / Every blessing You pour out / I’ll turn back to praise / When the darkness closes in, Lord / Still I will say[:] / Blessed be the name of the Lord / Blessed be Your name / Blessed be the name of the Lord / Blessed be Your glorious name.” (http://www.metrolyrics.com/blessed-be-your-name-lyrics-matt-redman.html)
(This is one of a weekly reflection in our e-newsletter and on our website, entitled “Pastor’s Column”. You can find previous ones at http://www.newhopebgr.org/#/welcome/pastors-column.)
Thank you for taking time to read, and for your prayers and support—and partnership in so many ways.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly should you have any questions, or if you find yourself in the Bangor area!
In our Lord,