Friday, December 29, 2017

Introducing our New Worship Arts and Communications Director!

Ronald Morrell, Jr. has been hired and will begin serving at Hanfield on January 1, 2018
He and his wife, Arianna, are both from Marion. They were married in 2017. 
Ronald is a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University and
has served as a worship leader since he was 17 years old. 

Ronald and Arianna Morrell

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Reflecting on...

...Christ’s Incarnation
John 1:1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
...Christ’s Redemption
Galatians 4:4-7
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
...Christ’s Salvation
Titus 3:4-8
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
...Christ’s Exaltation
Revelation 5:1-14
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
...Christ’s Promise to the Nations
Revelation 7:9-12
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
...Christ’s Future Restoration for Believers
Revelation 21:1-5
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Praying for the Enright Family

We received word and got verification that John and Kendra Enright were involved in a car accident. John was killed and Kendra is in critical condition. Please pray for the family and all those in ministry with them in Zambia.

God our Father, 
Your power brings us to birth, 
Your providence guides our lives, 
and by Your command we return to dust.

Lord, your faithful ones still live in Your presence, 
their lives change but do not end. 
I pray in hope for your faithful servant John
for his family and those he ministered to
and for Kendra who stands on the edge of eternity. 

In company with Christ, 
Who died and now lives, 
may they rejoice in Your kingdom, 
where all our tears are wiped away. 
Unite us together again in one family, 
to sing Your praise forever and ever.


10 Practical Lessons (Four of 10)

Lesson 4 - Choose Your Friends Carefully

It’s often said that you are the average of your five closest friends. And there’s a lot of truth to that saying. As human beings, we tend to reflect and to imitate the behavior of the people closest to us.
This makes a strong case for being careful to choose friends who represent your beliefs, values, goals, and preferences in life. Are your friends the kind of people you respect and look up to? Are they the kind of people you would go to if you have a problem? Can you rely on them if you are in trouble? Do they reflect the kind of person who you would like to be?

Friends aren’t just people who we hang out with. They’re people who shape who we are – that means that you need to choose them wisely.

Keep Reading! 1 Corinthians 15:33; Proverbs 18:24; 22:24-25; 13:20

Sunday, December 24, 2017

From our Christmas 2017 Congregational Letter

Dear Hanfieldites,

“Good News!” That was the cry of the angels on the first Christmas night. It’s still our cry over two thousand years later! Hanfield is actively proclaiming that same Good News to our community and we have other news that is good too! After months of debate and delay, we have secured the rights to the architectural plans we had drawn up through the process of preparing to build! The Building Construction Committee will begin meeting again in January to tweak these plans for a building that better meets our needs while staying within budget. It is our hope that during these winter months, we can get those plans finalized and build in 2018!

When we began dreaming for this building and implemented the fundraising campaign, we did not anticipate the complications that would arise. In review, the original bids for construction ballooned into something that we could not afford with what we had raised and we had to reevaluate. The project was then rebid, but then we were informed that we no longer had rights to the blueprints. And the waiting began.

If we are completely transparent, we hate to wait. Quite often we say things like, “I can’t believe this is taking so long” or "I don't have time for this.” That’s because most of us consider waiting to be wasting, but that's not the case with our God.

God works while we wait. Even when we couldn’t see what He was doing, God was always orchestrating the events of heaven and earth to accomplish His purposes. We’ve better learned how to trust in His unfailing love—love that moved Him to send a Savior from heaven to restore and rescue us. So, we’ve waited patiently and had to learn that waiting is never wasted when we are waiting on God.

During these long months of waiting you may have asked those same questions and wondered, like us, what was really happening. The Administrative Council, Trustees and staff continued to pray and invite you to pray with diligence and intensity. It is time to proceed! Whatever happens next in our building plans must conform to our mission to worship, connect, and serve in order that we will become Witnesses.

This season of waiting is coming to a close at the end of 2017 just as the Trust Movement does, too. We want to thank so many of you who gave sacrificially and have allowed us to be ready with a considerable building fund in place to begin these next steps. I hope that God has built your trust in Him in the uncertainty of waiting. Chances to add to the Trust Movement giving are coming to a close. What’s next? We know for sure that whatever comes our way will be groundbreaking (See what we did there?) because that is the character of the God that we serve. Let’s celebrate this good news in the midst of declaring Good News to our community. Now on to 2018 as we chase hard after God.

Witnesses to the Good News,

Rev. Brad Terhune Cris Bragg         Dave Brown
for the Staff for the Administrative Council         for the Trustees

Monday, December 18, 2017

10 Practical Lessons (Three of 10)

Lesson 3 - “Do For Others As You Would Have Them Do For You”

That’s actually a paraphrase from Matthew 7:12. Most of us expect people to treat us better than they often do, but do we hold ourselves to the same standard?

If you want to be treated better, start treating other people better. People tend to respond to the way you deal with them, and if you find yourself being mistreated too often, it may have something to do with your own behavior. If you don’t like the way people are interacting with you, it’s entirely possible that they’re simply responding to how you’re treating them.

This is especially true when you’re dealing with someone in a tense situation. Before reacting, ask yourself, “How would I want someone to treat me if the shoe were on the other foot?”

Monday, December 11, 2017

10 Practical Lessons (Two of 10)

Lesson 2 - Failing Doesn’t Make You A Failure

Failing is a necessary step on the way to success – and that’s how you need to view it. Very few people are successful right out of the starting gate in any venture. In fact, the path to success is usually marked by a series of failures. As long as you learn something from your failures, they are almost always a step in the right direction.

It’s equally important to understand that defeat isn’t permanent. Never believe that you’re a failure simply because your most recent goal didn’t materialize. It may simply be that it was never meant to be. That being the case, get busy on the next venture. Success is assured as long as you don’t quit.

Check it out! Jeremiah 8:4; Proverbs 24:16; 2 Corinthians 4:9

Monday, December 4, 2017

10 Practical Lessons (One of 10)

Lesson 1 - God Loves You More Than You’ll Ever Know
You must understand and embrace this fact, no matter how you feel about yourself or how some others may feel about you.

What it means is that you are never unloved. Quite the opposite – you are dearly loved by the Creator of the universe. You must believe this.

The Apostle Paul confirmed this when he wrote:
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)

Monday, November 27, 2017

10 Practical Lessons - Preview (Zero of 10)

Preview of a 10 Week Series:

We often focus our attention on attaining success in life – having a good job, saving up plenty of money, and having a nice house, car and other possessions might be long-term goals, but we might start with having lots of friends or winning at video games.

The prevailing culture indoctrinates us on this path from an early age. The world is already training up children in the same way.

But is this how we should live? Is this how children should live?

There’s a world of difference between success – which is often an external definition of our lives for public consumption – and happiness – which is more about how we truly feel on the inside.
Because the world encourages us to seek success so diligently, we almost need to have an entirely different mindset in order to find happiness.

Along those lines, we'll take 10 weeks to talk about things we should tell students – and ourselves – about how to find true happiness in life – even if financial success never comes your way.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

IC XC NIKA - Jesus Christ Conquers

In Christ, two of our greatest enemies—sin and death—have already been defeated.

By dying on the cross and being raised from the dead, Christ conquered death and made forgiveness of sins possible. Christ rescued us from the darkness of our sin and guilt and the power of the devil, giving us victory over what we could not defeat ourselves.

"It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!" (1 Cor. 15:56–57)

"God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating." (Col. 1:13-14)

If God can conquer death, he can conquer anything, from the powers and authorities of this world to our own fears.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Congregational Letter

Dear Church,
Our Hanfield family had a vision years ago for reaching the Bend of the River Neighborhood for Jesus. More recently we celebrated the collective gifts God gave us through the Hanfield and God’s Grace ministries that led us to establish a second Hanfield site, the BORN Campus. Early in 2017, BORN Campus leadership asked us to consider participating in a different kind of partnership with them, feeling this would allow them to minister more effectively to the BORN community. After months of prayer, study, struggle and consideration, the Administrative Council, made up of congregants of both campuses, voted unanimously on October 10 to commission BORN as a new church. This church-to-church partnership is scheduled to replace our current campus-to-campus partnership effective January 1, 2018.

In light of our recent sermon series at Crossroads, a correlation with Paul and Timothy is appropriate. Both were called to make disciples and, for a season, partnered closely in this responsibility. A point came when Paul and Timothy recognized that while God was still calling them to make disciples, God was also calling them to change their relationship as they fulfilled that call. Their partnership shifted from serving together in every capacity to blessing and supporting each other to follow the individual visions God had given them. In like manner, we want to commission our family at the BORN Campus as the BORN Church.

It is with gratitude to God and to both campus congregations that we recognize the successful commissioning of a new church. God exceeded our expectations! While we envisioned a second site, God granted us a second church!

Moving forward, we want to recognize that this church-to-church relationship is an ongoing, supportive partnership where each church is welcomed to offer support to the other.

Kingdom Partners,

Rev. Tim Helm            Rev. Chuck Vernon            Mr. Scott Hoeksema

Senior Pastor                      Campus Pastor                            Administrative Council Chairman

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

E-giving Update

We do not usually post this kind of thing here on the main page, but our online giving partner, E-giving, made some changes to the way they handled our transactions. It was really a technological and administrative move so I will not bore you with the details, but it did affect our giving link. If you experienced any difficulties this weekend in your E-giving, you can now use the link provided on the giving page and at the bottom of this post just as you have in the past.

Why Should I Give?

At Hanfield, we believe all Christians are called to be good stewards of the resources they have been given. These resources include time, talents, gifts, and money. What does it mean to be a "good steward?" It starts by understanding that all we have is a gift from God. It is not ours to give to Him; it's His already! Then, when we use those resources in a way that helps further God's kingdom, we are being good stewards. As an added bonus, most gifts given to Hanfield are tax deductible.
"So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?" (Luke 16:11)

Tithes? Offerings?

tithe is generally one-tenth of a person's income and has roots as far back as Abraham (Genesis 14:18-20). Tithing is a practice that prompted the only time in scripture when God tells us to test Him (Malachi 3:10). When Jesus was asked about tithing, He focused attention on one's inward attitudes and regarded stewardship of finances as an indication of trustworthiness with spiritual things (Luke 16:11). At Hanfield, we challenge our congregation to tithe faithfully.
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." (Malachi 3:10)
Offerings are financial contributions that are given above and beyond the tithe. These are more commonly for one-time or periodic ministries or projects.
Let's face it—a church cannot survive without the financial contributions of its members. Hanfield is no exception. Your tithe is what keeps the church running—supporting evangelism, outreach, and missionaries as well as maintaining the property, equipment, and staff. Special offerings (above the tithe) are what helps support special causes or projects such as BEST Bags, Sweet Dreams and more.

How Do I Give?

Cash or Checks

It's easy! Financial contributions can be made via cash or check made payable to Hanfield UMC. You can place your offering in the offering basket during Sunday morning services, drop it in the drop box outside the church office during office hours, or mail it to Hanfield UMC, 101 N 400E, Marion, IN 46952.


You pay your bills online, why not give your tithes and offerings online, too? We are excited to provide an E-giving service to you. You can make a one-time contribution, or set up a recurring contribution schedule. Contributions can come directly from your checking account (ACH) or you can use a credit card. This is a convenient way to remember your tithes and offerings, even when you're not in town!
CLICK THIS LINK: Get started with E-giving now!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

8 Things You Didn’t Know about Rich Mullins

Rich Mullins: A Ragamuffin's Legacy
Twenty years ago this month, singer-songwriter Rich Mullins lost his life in a car accident on his way to a benefit concert in Kansas. We remember him from hit songs like “Awesome God” and “Sing Your Praise to the Lord.”
At the peak of his career, Mullins turned his back on fame and success to live on a Native American reservation in New Mexico, teaching music to children and sharing his simple hope in the gospel of Jesus.
But who really was the enigmatic performer whose bold honesty ruffled the feathers of the music industry.
We get to know him better in Rich Mullins: A Ragamuffin’s Legacy. In this documentary (available on Faithlife TV with a free trial subscription), those who knew him best remember his lasting influence and how his deep devotion shaped their lives.
Here are eight things you might not know about Rich Mullins.

Mullins struggled with “fitting in.”

Friends said he was a complicated mix of talent and magnetism, piety and mystery. “Every single place he went,” recalled one, “he created community.” Yet those same friends sensed a lingering loneliness as if he was never fully a part of the communities that grew around his popularity.

Mullins was a piano prodigy.

He began playing the piano at age 4, practicing in their rural Indiana church and picking up tunes in between his sister’s piano lessons. He always wanted to add his own flourishes to the music as written.

But he couldn’t change a lightbulb.

In a part of the country where sports ability and mechanical savvy were highly valued, Rich was the artistic one. “He literally could not change a lightbulb,” said his sister. “He was incapable.”

His compassion made him different.

At about age six, Mullins announced he wanted to be a missionary. And from an early age, he was known for his caring heart. His brother shared that when they watched John Wayne movies, Mullins would cry if Indians were shot.

The family pastor challenged him to think.

During their years in Indiana, the Mullins family’s pastor challenged them to read Scripture for themselves as he preached. He insisted they not take his word for it, but look for context in verses before and after sermon texts. Years later, Mullins said the Bible “does not give us answers fitted to our small-minded questions, but truth that goes beyond what we even know to ask.”

He struggled with the spotlight.

After the first time he played the piano in church (around age 10), Rich was asked how he thought he did. “Pretty well,” he replied. “People seemed to enjoy it. They clapped.” He was promptly told that if people clapped for his performance, he did not point them to God. That early influence helped shape his later ministry.

Rebellion marked his early life.

Mullins was known to skip school, and one day his high school administrators called home to ask where he was. His mother replied that he had left on time; she assumed he was in class. But then she knew where he was: at the local Methodist church, playing music. Of course.

College friends gave him a boost.

Mullins got his performing start with a Christian band called Zion, playing at coffeehouses, high schools, and youth group gatherings in the Cincinnati area. As he preached between songs, the group grew into a ministry. Many of his Zion friends would remain with him the rest of his life.
“During his life, Rich Mullins challenged the sensibilities of what it means to follow Jesus in today’s world,” said James Bryan Smith, a professor and author who wrote a biography on Mullins. “And now in his death, he challenges all to build upon his legacy of joy, compassion, brokenness, unblinking honesty, and wonder of an Awesome God.”

Sunday, August 13, 2017

How to love someone you hate...

We live in a world brimming with rude manners, selfishness, hatred, malice and poor intentions. At some point, we've all been let down, manipulated, bullied, physically hurt or criticized. And when we are backstabbed, heart-broken or betrayed, it’s empowering to hate the people who have hurt us. Often, our first reaction is to strike back or feel bitter. Maybe you’ve even wished someone was dead.

1 John 4:20-21 says, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

John, one of Jesus’s best friends, makes it clear that you can’t love God and hate God’s people. And guess what? All people are God’s people. If we love God, we have to love others. So how do we love those we hate?

4 Ways to Love Someone You Hate:

1. Put the situation in context.

“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24).

Jesus was often judged during His ministry by people who doubted He was the Messiah. In John 7, the Jews claimed Jesus was demon possessed because He healed someone on the Sabbath, a day set aside for rest. Was Jesus possessed by demons? No! But the Jews let appearances, not realities, determine their opinions of Jesus.

We often judge people based on what they’ve done or how they look instead of who they are. Before you judge on looks or actions, remember that every person is created by God. When we put others in the context of being God’s loved creation, it’s a lot more difficult to hate them.

2. Forgive them.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

We love that God has forgiven us, but for some reason, we find it hard to forgive others. But if our sin is forgivable, others’ sin is forgivable! Unforgiveness is a burden that keeps us chained to our past and incapable of reaching our future. When we forgive those we hate, it brings us freedom. Forgiving releases our hearts from carrying around resentment and bitterness. And, it demonstrates to those who have hurt us the ultimate forgiveness Jesus made possible when he died on the cross.

3. Pray for them.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).

It is impossible to hate someone you’re praying for! Pray for the person who has hurt you, broken your heart or betrayed you, and you will find that as you ask God to move in his or her life your hate will slowly fade.

4. Encourage them.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

The best way to kill hatred is celebration. When we celebrate the blessings of others, our hatred will eventually turn to love.

Monday, June 5, 2017

If you did not get to see the painting
that was done during service this week,
here is your chance to see it up close!

Friday, May 26, 2017

A boy with a bb gun on his grandfather’s farm and the entire summer before him is the richest man in the world.
I was eight years old. My grandfather bought me a pump-model rifle and one of those milk cartons full of bb’s, and I had endless acres of irrigation ditches to explore, hunting frogs. They’re naturally camouflaged little buggers—all green and brown blotches just the color of muddy water and moss—and they’re smart enough to lie very still until you’re almost upon them. They know if they move they’ll reveal their location (a lesson learned by many a lost frog thanks to the herons that have hunted them since time gone by).
My early successes were minimal. I tried sneaking up, but the little amphibians would remain hidden in the reeds and mossy bays, lying stock-still, and my untrained eyes couldn’t pick them out. The technique involved walking slowly along the banks, intentionally disturbing the frogs but not scaring the bejesus out of them, so that they would dive or hop or swish and catch my eye, and then I could stand still as the heron and wait for them to re-surface and take my shot. 
It was the beginning of a boy’s education in one of the fundamental lessons of life: There is a way things work.
You can’t ignore the oil level in your truck and expect it to run forever. You can’t go out and run a marathon without training. If you try to put a stalk on a whitetail, you’d better be downwind. If that canoe you overloaded turns sideways in the current, you’re all going for a swim. There is a way things work.
I learned a lot of that glorious lesson at Pop’s farm over the years. You can’t forget your gloves when you’re out fixing the fence or you’ll have blisters for a week. You can’t run up to the horses feeding at the trough or they’ll spook (keep repeating that trick and they won’t feel safe around you). The magpie is a smart fellow—a genius compared to a pigeon—and you can’t just stroll out the back porch swinging your rifle or he’ll be gone in a whiff. You’ve got to hide that rifle in your pant leg and act as if you aren’t hunting at all.
There is a way things work.
This is one of the essential lessons in every boy’s life. Every man’s as well.
The brand new thought for most of us is that the very same thing holds true for the spiritual life—there is a way things work.
You can’t walk around with heaps of guilt on your heart and expect to be a joyful person. Confession does wonders for the soul. You can’t just blast out into your day without first dialing into God—not if you want his help. The relationship needs maintenance, like any other. If you move into a new apartment and start having nightmares, maybe you should have cleaned the place out first. There is a way things work.
Jesus acted like this in all his teaching. In fact, his fundamental lesson wasn’t so much about “salvation” but what he called the ways of the Kingdom of God:
Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the Kingdom... (Matthew 4:23).  
Jesus went through all the towns and villages teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the Kingdom… (Matthew 9:35).    
    The Kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his a mustard seed which a man took and planted in his field…like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour...the Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. He even called his message “the gospel of the kingdom:”
“And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
Now, just like you have to learn the ways farm-life works, you have to learn the way God’s Kingdom works. Apparently, Jesus was so committed to teaching his followers how things work in the Kingdom of God (there is a way things work), he actually hung around for more than a month after his resurrection so he could make sure they got it right:
After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the Kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
That’s a mind-blower—he lingered for forty days simply to finish their instruction in the ways of Kingdom living. He must have thought it was important.
A boy-becoming-a-man—and a man-who-is-still-two-thirds-boy—has a journey to take. Not only must he learn that there is a way things work, he must also learn to adapt himself and his way of living to that fact—from the frog, to the oil, to the job, to the heart of a woman. This is how wisdom enters the soul.
The next frontier is one most men never venture into, to their everlasting regret. It’s learning how things work in the Kingdom of God and learning to adapt themselves and their way of life to accommodate for those realities. That man gets to reap the harvest of the greatest adventures, the greatest victories, and the greatest amount of happiness.
Christianity is not only about a few things like “heaven” and “salvation” and “sin.” It’s a Kingdom we’ve been invited into, an entire realm of wonder and danger and joy unspeakable—if we will commit ourselves to learn its ways.
There's a way things work.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

If you are a mother, we're thankful for you. If you miss your mother or miss your children, we're praying for you. If you ache to be a mother, we're hoping with you. If you are a woman who nurtures others as a friend, aunt, neighbor, grandmother, or in any other role, we're grateful for you. Whether Mother's Day is a joy for you or something you dread, we want to see you; we're with you. Thank you for being just exactly who you are.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Open Communion

The Passion Passion from Hanfield UMC on Vimeo.

“Ecumenically, the term ‘open communion’ … means that all of the baptized are welcome to receive,” This distinguishes our invitation from some other Christian denominations that may require additional rites before one is welcome to the table.
“United Methodists do not practice ‘wide open communion,' We are instructed to use the invitation as it appears in our ritual to make clear whom Christ does invite to his table. It is those who ‘love him, earnestly repent of their sin, and seek to be at peace with one another.’ While we serve all who present themselves, not questioning their integrity in response to the invitation, these are actual conditions.”

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Revival Thoughts

I get so fired up about what would happen here if the Spirit were to work in extraordinary power among us. The signs of revival would be obvious. We would experience a raging hunger to hear and obey God’s Word; overwhelming awe of God and a desire to glorify him; true sorrow for sins and a commitment to get things right with God and each other. We would see lost people coming to Christ for salvation.

Genuine revival is a sovereign work of God. We can’t demand it, manufacture it, or schedule it. But we can prepare for it. Preparation begins with a commitment to pray for revival; with a sense of desperation; with a hunger for more of God. We will pray like this: “O Lord, give us revival. And start with me.” It’s no coincidence that the Acts 2 revival in Jerusalem was preceded by ten days of concerted, intense prayer” “Send your promised Spirit.”

The question is this: will you commit to pray?

Leonard Ravenhiil was correct when he wrote:

“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.”

Pray! Don’t delay! This is urgent. This is the need of the hour. We need revival. Pray now!

Friday, March 24, 2017


The first church was a worshipping church:

“They devoted themselves to … the breaking of bread (Lord’s Supper) and the prayers (the daily three times of formal prayer) . 43 And awe (holy, reverent fear/respect) came upon every soul.”

In times of revival, we forget about ourselves because God is THE center. We’re consumed with our encounter with the living God through faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. There is a vivid illustration of this God-entranced worship in Revelation 4. We’re given a portal into the throne room of God. There, in the presence of Almighty God himself, the elders and angels around the throne can’t help themselves. They fall down before him. They cry out “holy, holy, holy Lord.”

Such worship makes no sense to a cold heart. But it makes perfect sense to a revived heart. The Holy Spirit makes us sensitive to and grateful for our mighty salvation in Jesus Christ. We respond to the mercy and grace of God to us.

A revived heart wants to bring glory to God - in every part of life. This is reflected at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Their mission statement reads:

“We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.”

When the Holy Spirit is poured out in extraordinary measure, he makes God so huge in our minds and hearts that we want our whole lives to bring praise to him. We respond like the psalm writer:

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” - Psalm 34:1-3

In times of revival, we become 24/7 worshippers (see, for example, Romans 12:1-2). We live to bring glory to Jesus. It’s not so much about singing as it is about showing God’s majesty at home and work and everywhere through our joyful, faith-filled delight in and surrender to. We obey for the glory of the God who has saved us and kept us and loves us in his Son. A revived Christian believes his purpose is to be an all-out, in all things, all-the-time, “glorifier” of God.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Holy Spirit revival creates a raging hunger for the Word of God. These believers in Acts 2 “were devoted to the apostles’ teaching.” - v. 42. Every day, the apostles taught in the temple courts and in homes. And every day, the new Christians showed up to feast on the Word.

Revived Christians have an insatiable appetite for God’s voice. They have an experience similar to Jeremiah’s:

“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart …” - Jeremiah 15:16

I was a college student when I first turned to Jesus as my Savior and God. And my new Christian friends insisted that I go to church with them. The pastor’s name was William Still. He was a phenomenon in Scotland. Beginning in the 1940’s his preaching drew large crowds even when other churches were empty. I believe it was a revival that latest for decades. When I heard him explain and apply the Bible, I was gripped by God. It was a devastating experience. I wanted more and more and more. I started reading the Bible AND Bible commentaries. I couldn’t get enough of the Word. And I wasn’t alone - there was a whole church full of people with the same hunger.

There was a mighty revival when the Jews returned from exile in Babylon and the clearest sign was their hunger to heart the Bible:

“And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” - Nehemiah 8:1-3

Churches in revival cry out, “Bring the Book!” They demand more Bible teaching. But that’s not all they do. When you’re in revival, you will love the Word, believe the Word, and OBEY the Word.

King Josiah was a godly young man who tried to bring Israel back to God. He destroyed pagan worship sites. But he had a huge obstacle to overcome: he had never read the Bible. He was mostly guessing at what the Lord wanted. Then, Hilkiah - the high priest - found a scroll of the Bible buried in a storage room in the temple. It was read to King Josiah. And it sparked a revival in the land:

“Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 And the king went up to the house of the Lord, with all the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the Levites, all the people both great and small. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. 31 And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. 32 Then he made all who were present in Jerusalem and in Benjamin join in it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. 33 And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord, the God of their fathers. 1 Josiah kept a Passover to the Lord in Jerusalem. And they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the first month. 2 He appointed the priests to their offices and encouraged them in the service of the house of the Lord.” - 2 Chronicles 34:29-35:2

Will you pray for an outpouring of the Spirit that results in a hunger to hear God’s voice in the Bible and a demand for more Bible teaching along with a commitment to obey whatever it teaches?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Revival Thoughts

Revival is not necessary. What is necessary is the ordinary, invisible, steady, work of the Holy Spirit and the Gospel. The ordinary work of the Holy Spirit is to keep us in faith, following Jesus, growing in grace. This is good and normal most of the time. It will get you all the way home (Romans 8:28-30).

Revival is not necessary, but it is very, greatly, deeply, desirable. When the Holy Spirt visits a church in extraordinary power, he sets the church ablaze and it leads many to Jesus and salvation and new loves. And most of all it glorifies God.

On June 20, 1630, during a church service at the Kirk o’ Shots in central Scotland, a revival broke out. The church was meeting outdoors for their annual celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The crowd was large - drawn from all over the area by the Holy Spirit.

In 1669, Robert Fleming wrote about it:

“There was so convincing an appearance of God, and down-pouring of the Spirit. . . that near 500 had at that time a discernible change wrought on them, of whom most proved lively Christians afterward … many of the most eminent Christians in that country, could date either their conversion, or some remarkable confirmation in their case from that day.”

When I read about that outpouring, I want it. I want to see it here, now. Don’t you?

Every day, at 9:00 am., a notification pops up on all my devices. It says, “Revival Generation.” It’s a reminder to stop what I’m doing and to take a moment to ask the Lord to make us a revival generation - and to start with me. Would you consider adding this to your daily prayers? “Lord, please make us a revival generation - and start with me.”

Friday, March 17, 2017


By church I’m talking about people not buildings. These first Christians were “devoted to (intense & constant commitment to - see 1:14; 2:46) … the fellowship” - verse 42.

In seasons of revival we “re-commit” to each other. We …

Look forward to meeting together - verses 44, 46.

Sacrifice to take care of each other - verses 44-45.

Open our homes for worship together - verse 46.

This sort of devotion to the church is modeled for us in Philippians 1:

“God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more …” - Philippians 1:8-9

It is the Holy Spirit who gives us a deep yearning, affection, and love for each other. In seasons of revival, that commitment to the fellowship is renewed and intensified. Church takes on a new important and priority in our lives.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss is something of a revival expert. She said this:

“Revival is something like the roof coming off and the walls coming down. When the roof comes off, people get right with God. That's the vertical dimension. Then, the walls come down—the horizontal dimension—as people make things right with others … some of the fruit of revival can be seen in forgiveness, clearing of consciences, reconciliation, and restitution.”

Forty-five years ago, there was a revival in the churches of Saskatchewan. Thousands were converted. Thousands more who were already saved, got things right with God. The pastor of the church where the revival began was Bill McLeod. He explains this horizontal dimension in the story of Gordon, one of the men in the church:

“During the revival on Sunday morning in our church, he came to the front, stood by the communion table and laid his heart on the table. He said, “You know, people, for three years I've been sitting in the back pew. The reason I sit in the back pew is because I don't like some of you people. I used to sit there and shoot arrows of hatred at the backs of your heads. God has dealt with me and I want your forgiveness. I want to be right with God.”

We’ll know we’re in revival when we have that kind of deeper love for our fellowship.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hearing God's Call

As we come to Him, we can have confidence to pray that He will come to us.  David heard God's call to seek His face and made it a lifelong pursuit.  In Psalm 27 David says,

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek Him in His temple.
(v. 4)

As David sought God's face, he grew in confident hope that God would bring His transforming goodness into the predicaments in which David and his people lived.  That is why he called for a persistent kind of prayer that would not let go of God's promised goodness:

Wait on the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
(v. 14)

David sought God's face, which led him to seek God's kingdom in full-hearted hope.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


What happens when the Holy Spirit shows up in extraordinary power at church? The answer is found in Acts 2. This was a church in revival.

Before we go further, let's read Acts 2:41-47.

Our passage begins where Peter’s sermon ends. He preached to a large and hostile crowd of Jews. 40 days earlier, they had condemned Jesus to death for claiming to be their God, Savior, and Messiah. But Peter stood and preached with boldness: Jesus. Crucified, risen, exalted. God. And then something completely unexpected happened. They were "cut to the heart." Peter pointed them to salvation in Jesus and 3000 men trusted in Jesus as their God and Savior. And were immediately baptized.

It was an extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit that opened their hearts to Jesus. Nothing else can explain the immediate transformation of their thinking about Jesus. That’s revival. Unbelievers come to Jesus - they see him as he is: Savior and God. Also, in times of revival the believing church returns to Jesus as our first love. That’s why the ministry here is all about Jesus! Jesus first, Jesus last, Jesus always. This was Paul's heart when he preached:

“I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” - 1 Cor. 2:3

The Great Awakening was a revival that shook Colonial America. In the 1730s, God used the “Jesus-only” preaching of George Whitefield to bring new life into the churches of New England. Christianity had become “routinized.” Most people assumed they were OK with God by virtue of their birth into church culture, but they lived careless, godless, lives. God drew great crowds to hear Whitefield. He preached with such laser beam focus on Christ - the need to turn from sins in order to cling to Christ alone - that the people were shaken out of their sleepy false assurance and awakened to the absolute necessity of Holy Spirit rebirth and salvation in Jesus alone. Tens of thousands turned to Christ.

Here is an excerpt from the conclusion of one of Whitefield's sermons. I've adapted it slightly for use here:

“O that you would seek the Lord to be your righteousness! You will be the children of God, if you believe in Jesus. Did you never read of the eunuch belonging to the queen of Candace? He believed. The Lord was his righteousness. He was baptized. When you also believe, you shall be saved. Christ Jesus is the same now as he was yesterday, and will wash you in his own blood. Go home then, turn the words of the text into a prayer, and entreat the Lord to be your righteousness. Even so, come Lord Jesus, come quickly, into all our souls! Amen, Lord Jesus, Amen and Amen!” George Whitefield, adapted from the sermon The Lord Our Righteousness.

In seasons of genuine revival even the most godless people turn to Jesus. They trust, love, cherish, worship, and obey him - as their precious Lord, Leader, and Loving Friend.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Co-working with God

As you pray and display God's kindness
in practical ways, watch for God-given
opportunities to share His love.
They can come up suddenly with
such perfect timing that it's hard
not to believe that you are
co-working with God.

Simplicity and sincerity:
Following God's Lead

Instead of dreading evangelism as something
that will make you a bother or a bore,
you will find yourself following God's lead
with timely authenticity and 
heartfelt sincerity.

Confidence to be His story-teller

Because you've been praying along with
God's Word and heart, don't be surprised
to find that ideas to creatively convey
God's love occur to you.

As you pray God's story, you will find
confidence to tell your own story to
communicate the Gospel in fresh,
relevant ways.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Seeking God for the City Makes a Shift

This devotional 40-day season has two parts.

During the first 11 days we've been seeking God's face - claiming Zechariah 1:3, "Return to me... that I may return to you."  It is today that a shift happens and the devotions will nudge us to seek God's kingdom.

I hope that you have found God in face-to-face nearness over the past 11 days.  As you turn your attention toward him, his love will examine you - lifting and changing you.

To seek God's face means that we are coming to God.  To seek God's kingdom means we are callling for God to come to us.  We want his presence moving in our homes, neighborhoods and throughout the entire city.  We may not be able to do either without doing both.

We pray with this in mind over the balance of our 40-day devotional: "Not all times are equal.  Sometimes God make it possible for an entire people to make a u-turn back toward him."

Thursday, March 9, 2017

As we do the seeking,
we will find God's way of serving.

As you envision God's best intentions for
particular people with your prayers, you will
be seeking them along with God.  They may
or may not know you are praying for them, but
as you pray, look for God to open practical ways
for you to serve the very people you have been
praying for with simple acts of kindness.

Kindness: God's love on display

Discover the joy of demonstrating God's love
in practical, tangible ways.  Don't be afraid to
show kindness to those you don't know.  Team
up with others to give back to those that you've
been lifting up in prayer.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Think of Peter—God built His church on Peter. But long before he was "Peter," he was "Simon."
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said to Simon, And I tell you that you are Peter, which means rock, and upon this rock I will build my church." Christ gave Peter a new identity that pointed to his calling. Just like Peter, who you are in Christ must come first. God cares so much more about who you are than what you do. 
Before you walk into this busy Easter season, remind yourself who you are in Christ. From that stable foundation, you'll be able to do exactly what He has asked you to do to reach more people for Christ.