Hope Community Church

A Message for You

September 6, 2012 // 0 Comments

Prayer is a Relationship by PASTOR SCOTT SWIX Hope Community Church “Oh, God, please HELP with ____.” (Fill in the blank here—job, wife, husband, health, school, kids, mortgage, loved one, fear of flying, etc.) That’s a very popular prayer indeed, and has been for thousands of years. It’s often combined with “if you do, I will ____.” (Fill in this blank too, such as “never do it again,” “start going to church again,” “become a monk/pastor/priest,” etc.) Yeah, that’s a common prayer combination. Hey, we are human, and usually a bit self-absorbed, and tend to turn to God when are in a spot of trouble. And that’s not all bad. While making “deals” with God is discouraged, God encourages us to ask for help. There are lots of great examples of that in the Bible. Then again, is that the only time we talk to God? If it is, or if the rest of our prayer life is just a short nightly Lord’s Prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” a Hail Mary, or something similar, then we really should ask ourselves, “How does God feel about that?” How would we feel if someone claimed to be our friend, our really, really good friend, and the only time they called was when they needed something? Or, maybe they occasionally call really quickly, like a Facebook status post, and simply say, “I did this today” and then hang up. That’s a pretty one-sided and disappointing relationship. But it is an easy habit to fall into. Most of us tend to want God to be there when we need God, and want God to listen and answer our prayers, and then… well, then we’d really like to get back to our own life until we hit the divine 911 again. Listening to God takes time, and there’s always the risk God might actually say something that I don’t want to hear. It doesn’t take much to admit that God probably doesn’t find that a very fulfilling relationship. The really sad part, perhaps, isn’t that God is disappointed; it is that we are short-changing ourselves. Our own bad habit keeps us from God’s blessings. God wants to be part of our lives, wants to hear about our […]

A Message for You

April 5, 2012 // 0 Comments

Loving Words by PASTOR SCOTT SWIX Hope Community Church A couple of years ago there was a wonderful animated movie called “Up” in which a house is carried away by thousands of helium balloons to take the old man and the young scout on an adventure. No one balloon could do it, but put enough together… and you could fly. The idea of each of those balloons helping lift the house is a bit similar to how the words we choose and use help lift our relationships with others and help them fly—or drag them back down to the ground. Think of each caring, loving, encouraging word as one of the balloons. It provides lift. Each negative word, each insult, each put-down, each word of anger drags the relationship back into the mud again. What’s worse, studies have shown that negative words weigh more than loving words lift up. Seems that we remember those mean words longer. It takes 10 words of encouragement to balance one harsh one; sometimes even more than that, depending on what was said. It’s hard to believe and trust the nice things someone says if we keep hearing nasty ones as well. Well, there’s lots of wisdom in keeping our tongues in check and our words to ourselves. The Bible’s book of Proverbs is full of great advice and reminders of the damage that harsh words cause and the benefits of loving ones, such as 12:18, “Reckless words pierce like a sword but the tongue of the wise brings healing,” and 16:23, “A wise man’s heart guides his mouth,” which are just two of many. Jesus reminds us that what comes out of our mouths really defines us. But in this electronic age it isn’t just the spoken word. One on one, live, we can have enough trouble. Texting and instant messaging appear to make us choose worse words—the person isn’t right there with us, and folks say things that they wouldn’t say in person. Verbal bullying in online social media is another example, where blogging and website “comment” sections take it even further. Reviews of these remote and often anonymous electronic forums show them often full of extremely judgmental, disrespectful and insulting responses—all to people we don’t really even […]

CPR-First Aid seminar to be held at Hope Community Church

February 9, 2012 // 0 Comments

Accidents and cardiac emergencies happen all too often, and being prepared for them saves lives. Hope Community Church is welcoming back instructor Tim O’Connor for a third annual CPR-First Aid class on Saturday, Feb. 25, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. “This popular class provides the first-response skills we need at work, in the home or on the road,” shared Pastor Scott Swix, “and Tim O’Connor is an excellent, enthusiastic and humorous instructor.” At the conclusion of the course, participants will be able to provide infant, child and adult CPR and first aid, including stating the warning signs of a heart attack, operate an Automatic External Defibrillation (AED), demonstrate CPR techniques on a mannequin, protect themselves against blood-born pathogens, perform an emergency situation scene survey, and treat a variety of illnesses and injuries. Certificates will be issued at the end of class, valid for childcare providers and others. O’Connor, certified by the American Heart Association and National Safety Council, is a firefighter/emergency medical technician and a member of the Kentwood Professional Firefighters Union. He has been conducting classes for 16 years. A $10 fee covers the cost of the class and completion certificate. Refreshments and light snacks will be provided. Please RSVP to Hope Community Church by Wednesday, Feb. 22, by calling (616) 874-4673 or e-mailing to office@hoperockford.org. Hope Community Church is located at 7000 Myers Lake Ave., Rockford, a quarter-mile north of Belding Rd.

A Message for You

January 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

The End is Near! Or Isn’t! by PASTOR SCOTT SWIX Hope Community Church, Rockford The year 2012 is here! The world did not end in 2011 as some predicted. Though others are convinced the Mayan calendar, Nostradamus, Biblical prophecy and other signs assure us that this year is the last year. Well, perhaps. But I’d not bet on it. That’d be a silly bet anyway, wouldn’t it? If you’re right, and you win, you can’t collect. So how do we live in this new year of slowly improving economy, a world of great change? With European crisis, Arab Spring, global warming, Lions winning, China ascending, presidential elections, Washington gridlock (oops, sorry, that’s not new) and on and on, what are we to do? Be faithful. Live as though Christ shall return tomorrow. And as though he won’t. Live faithfully. A faithful Christ-like life is lived the same way, either way. Love God and others, care, forgive, share the good news of the Gospel, give generously. Change a life for the better—our own, and others’. Live in the joy of the holy present moment while prudently considering the future that may come. But do not worry about it, or ignore it. Remember the past, but do not dwell upon it either. We cannot change it, nor can we recapture it. Be faithful. That’s mostly an internal thing. Focus on becoming what God is calling us to be, and less on making others into what we think God expects them to be. Concentrate on our blessings, and less on all the things we want or think we need, and we’ll find more joy and contentment and less anxious depression. Be faithful. Martin Luther said, “Even if I knew that the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today.” Take care of what we have, and use it wisely, for one day or for many, for we may need it for a very long time. It is a new year. Live it!

‘Blue Christmas’ worship to help heal heavy hearts

December 15, 2011 // 0 Comments

When our hearts are heavy, hearing Christmas songs that describes “the most wonderful time of the year” rings a bit hollow. Instead we might feel we are living the lyrics of the 1957 hit “Blue Christmas” when Elvis Presley sings, “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you. I’ll be so blue just thinking about you.” Yet, even in the midst of this pain, there is the desire to somehow connect with God. We often feel afraid, angry, ashamed. That’s OK. God is there with us in our pain. Putting words to this season can often be difficult, but we do this together in our address to God. Hope Community Church of Rockford will again be celebrating a “Blue Christmas” this year for those who are coping with grief, loss, worry or fears. It may be the first Christmas without a loved family member who has recently died, or it may be filled with stress related to loss of employment or a broken relationship, or serious illness. The constant refrains on radio and television, in shopping malls and churches, about the happiness of the season, about getting together with family and friends, reminds many people of what they have lost or what they are missing. The anguish of the death of a loved one can make us feel alone in the midst of everyone else celebrating. We need the space and time to acknowledge our sadness or emptiness; we need to know that we are not alone. We need encouragement to live the days ahead of us. The Blue Christmas service is a bit quieter, with a couple of softer Advent and Christmas hymns, Scripture readings, special prayers and experiences where we can give God our burdens that are hard to carry. The service is shorter than normal worship and, at Hope, does not include a sermon. If your heart is heavy, or you wish to give the gift of encouraging presence to those that are, attend the special Blue Christmas worship service on Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. at Hope Community Church, 7000 Myers Lake Ave., Rockford (quarter mile north of Belding Rd.). For more information, contact the church at (616) 874-4673 or www.hoperockford.org.

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