Messages 
from Pastor DeHope

 

Pastor DeHope's May 16th Message

“You never cease to amaze me!” This was the compliment I received from a friend after I shared some knowledge on a subject. It was sure nice hear. It felt good to be encouraged, to be recognized, to know that I, or at least information I had, was useful and valuable and that it helped him. It made me smile. It made me want to reciprocate. There was a part of me that was tempted to say, “I know – I’m an expert, an amazing expert”.  And while I might be at some things, I really lack in others. It was convicting as well. I surely don’t encourage and build up a lot of people like I should, like I could, if I looked a little harder or more frequently for opportunities. Each day is a new day, right?

It’s so easy to fall into the temptation of thinking that we truly are amazing, that WE can do anything by ourselves and that we are responsible for all our successes. We amaze ourselves. It’s easy to get too big for our britches, as they say; or like Icarus, to fly too close to the sun.

Does God amaze you? Does He ever cease to amaze you? Do you think about it much? How often do we bask in His amazing work? Thank Him for his gifts and providence? Recognize that God is the builder of everything (Heb 3:4)? Do you appreciate his perfect ways – even when they’re not your way? Do you give him credit for your successes? These are hard things. It’s easy to get caught up in the business of life, and the reliability of God’s good gifts. Every day our heart still beats, and we wake up in the morning; the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

This week we celebrate confirmation and several of our young members will confess their faith in Christ before the congregation. How fitting that this is on Pentecost Sunday as we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit! Our Lord Jesus promises the Holy Spirit, the Helper. The work of God the Holy Spirit is to point us always to Jesus who is our salvation, our life and our light. The Holy Spirit has led these young members to believe and confess their faith in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit has brought us to faith so that we believe, confess, and gather around Word and Sacrament for the forgiveness of sins. All these things truly are miracles each time they happen and keep happening since the devil the world and our own sinful flesh fight against it constantly.

Dear friends, think on these things. Thank, praise, and glorify God for the wonders he has done and continues to do in our lives and for our good.  Pray. Dear God, Thank you for providing for my needs of body and soul and for the forgiveness Jesus has won for me. Guide me by your spirit in paths of righteousness for your names’ sake that we remain faithful and live to serve you and our neighbor. Open our eyes to see you clearly and to be amazed. Draw us to seek you where you have promised to be for us and for our salvation in your Word and Supper. To you alone be the glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope

 

 
Pastor DeHope's May 9th Message

Dear friends in Christ,

It’s not fair…. That’s been the morning mantra at our house lately. It usually goes something like: it’s not fair Josh gets… or you get… or my friend gets… or not fair, sister had…. Todays’ complaint was: It’s not fair I have to get up and get dressed EVERY SINGLE DAY! It was hard to keep a straight face for a minute. Oh, the injustices at the DeHope house abound! The horror! Leah did calm down when she saw that everyone has to do that, and that mommy had it rougher with all the wake-ups and feedings though the night. Even though Mommy does get to sleep in, her job isn’t easy.

Life is not fair. Leah didn’t like that part, but it’s the truth! What’s fair isn’t always equal, and what’s equal isn’t always fair. Harsh truths for kids and adults alike. Honestly, after her heartfelt complaint, and after I stopped laughing inside, I thought; I don’t want to do any of that either! But it’s my job, my duty to get up, get the kids up, get them dressed, ready and fed, take them to school and go to work. EVERYDAY! That doesn’t stop me from complaining to you, to my family, and to God about all the injustices in the DeHope house, in His house the church – both here in greater Topeka as I see it, in synod and in the world, as well as life in general. I complain: my friend has..., that Pastor has…, I used to have…, I want…, I wish… my brother has…, my sister did…it’s not fair….! I’m just like kids, and so are you! It’s not so funny when it comes from us, is it? 

It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others – whether the circumstances are truly the same or not, whether we know the whole story or not. Someone else always has greener grass or a fuller glass. We know 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” but we forget the second part of the verse: Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. It wasn’t fair that God died on the cross for our sins. Jesus was perfect and innocent, and yet he willingly suffered in our place and took what we deserve so that He can give us what is His, which we do not deserve.

When you’re tempted to compare yourself and complain, remember that you are equal with them in your need for a Savior, for you have both sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. They are no better than you in this regard. And you both receive the same forgiveness from a loving, gracious and merciful God in equal, full portions, so that you both are counted as righteous for the sake of Christ.

So, smile and laugh when you are tempted. Rejoice that you have Jesus; the same Jesus everyone else has. He is enough, and He is all you need. Neither Jesus, nor His forgiveness, nor your place nor your portion are any less because He is shared. You will remain full and forgiven, so spread that joy and forgiveness we have in Christ, and it will grow. Your joy will be complete.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


Pastor DeHope's May 1st Message

Dear friends in Christ,

Scams are everywhere it seems. Thieves are out for your money, your identity, control of your device, your information etc. We really have to be vigilant and watch out. If you pay attention and ask yourself the right questions you can spot and avoid many dangers. Why would a Nigerian prince be contacting me to give me free money? That’s a scam. Click here to claim a prize for a contest you did not enter… also a scam. Oh no! There’s a problem with your account for a certain retailer – call now to fix it. That would be a problem until you realize you don’t actually have that type of account there. Good eye! You caught it and avoided trouble. Act now, and risk-free are also things we know to avoid.

Other times we’re not sure it’s a scam. Did the person I just gave $4 to really use or need it for food? What about the oil change on your car that came out with $1200 worth of needed repairs? These might be a little harder to determine. If you can spare $4 and you’ll sleep better at night then it’s worth the risk. Maybe it’s a scam, but on the other hand, many have entertained angels unawares…. Perhaps it’s a good idea to get a second opinion on your car or ask a friend who knows about those sorts of things before you shell out the big bucks so quickly.

 The Bible warns us about scams and worldly troubles too. Our Lord warns us that our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings (1 Peter 5:8-9). Matthew ch. 10 is full of warnings about how the world will treat us because of our Lord Christ and his word. A student is not above his teacher so we should not expect to be treated better than he was. He says “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men for they will deliver you over to the authorities…”. 

We are also encouraged because we know what the tricks are; we know it’s coming. So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, hidden that will not be known. We know the devil is the father of lies, and we can test all things against the word of God. God’s gift of grace to us is sufficient and his power is made perfect in weakness. We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that the crown of life awaits us. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us in 29:11 that the Lord has plans to prosper us and not to harm us; plans to give us a hope and a future. This is far better those riches of the Nigerian prince, offered in exchange for my banking info.

 Our Lord invites us to come to him “all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. He promises “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go”, and that no one can snatch us out of his hand.

So, be warned, be wise, and be of good cheer! No scam here. The Lord is with you… always! He loves you, AND, He is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia!

Blessings on your week.

Pastor DeHope



Pastor DeHope's April 25th Message

Dear friends in Christ,

Alicia and I are elated to celebrate Benjamin's baptism into Christ this Sunday, with you all. As a bonus Benjamin's Godfather, Pastor Trevor Mankin will be the guest preacher. He's here with my sister Lisa Mankin and their two girls, Maggie & Evie. My mom and dad will be here too! We hoped for nice sunny weather; but got rain instead. On the bright side, it's a nice reminder of our baptisms; not as a washing away of dirt from our bodies, but the forgiveness of sins as we are brought into God's family the church - sometimes kicking and screaming... or Benjamin's case, crying. 

In Acts 16:25-34 we read of the Philippian jailer and his family coming to faith and all being baptized. I rejoice that my whole family now is baptized into Christ, and that you are too! 

What a joy to share this common bond with you as your Christian family. Please join us for some cake after church. 

God's blessings,

Pastor DeHope


 
Pastor DeHope's April 19th Message

Dear friends in Christ,

When a big or meaningful event takes place in our lives. we have a tendency to fixate and focus heavily on them; at least I do. Because of all that concentrated focus on one area, our thoughts and words become all about that big thing, or one event or at least directed by them. This could be a big trip, a job change, a surgery, a loss, or in our case, an addition. So much of our lives right now, even our thoughts are about Benjamin and things pertaining to him. I'll try to be mindful of that and not make everything about him and his effects - at church, at home, and in emails... though he does provide some good illustrations.

Psalm 139:13-16 says: "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."

I look at little Benji and I see God's marvelous work literally sitting there in my hands. I also see it in the clouds against the backdrop of the clear blue sky. No two are ever alike. Some of them look fluffy, I want to go take a nap on them. Others resemble animals, objects, or countless other things at times - really whatever our mind can imagine. Even if all your eyes see is a cloud, or a baby, God has stitched everything in all creation together so uniquely and wonderfully. We can see that God creates order and beauty, complexity, and harmony as all these pieces of the universe fit together and function day in and day out. God has given all of this to serve us that we would enjoy it, tend it, and have dominion over it because he loves us.

We ultimately see God's love for us, not in the clouds, or in creation, not even in cute little babies, but in His Son, Jesus, who became a baby for us, taking on flesh and living a perfect life without sin for us. Jesus died on the cross for me, for you, for baby Benjamin - for the sins of the world and gives us eternal life through his resurrection from the dead.  While we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5) - THAT is love.

As you go about your week full of joys, struggles, pains, and uncertainty, take your eyes off the big things for a moment. Look at the clouds, look at your body, look at the world around you, everything has a unique beauty to it in some way. It is wonderfully made by an all-powerful God who loves you and works all things ultimately for you good. Confess your sins; your sins of worry, of selfishness, of doubt, anger and misuse of God's gifts, and lack of trust in Him - all these and more! Receive your Lord's forgiveness and trust wholeheartedly that it is so, that it is for you. Then go about your day in good cheer with the Lord's cross always before you. Let your joy be in Jesus, His empty tomb, and his love for us in ALL our circumstances. Enjoy His gifts and the mighty works of His hands!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope


 
April 12th message

Dear friends in Christ,

 

Benjamin is two weeks old today, doing well and cleared from any further doctor visits. Praise God!  But where did the time go? This week seems to have just flown by. Several have made remarks about how I got through holy week with a newborn... it was just one thing at a time bouncing from one service to the next it seemed. And yet the days since seem like more of a blur in many ways. A blessing for sure, but a blur. He has already changed so much.  

Thursday there was a fatal accident on 53rd St & Indian Hills. A young mother was killed, and we mourn this terrible loss. It really rattled me. It was close to our home. She was known to members of our congregation, and Leah's school. She had recently had a child, and so have we. We drive this road daily. In the wake of such a tragedy we often ask why this happened, and wonder how could God have allowed it? Why didn't he intervene? I don't know, or have any answers, though I wish I did. This is part of the hidden will of God, and in these difficult times we must stick to what we know and remind one another of God's promises. 

God has promised to work all things, even the terrible awful things for the good of those who love him - even this. Though we know not how. God has promised us that he will never leave us or forsake us. He loves us and has shown that by sending his Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. He has promised to be among us with his gifts whenever two or three are gathered in his name. God has also promised to prepare a place for us, and to take us to be with him. I sure do hope this young mom knew her Savior. And while I don't know that; what I do know is that her Savior and ours knew her, and loved her and her family and friends, just as he loves all of us. His desire is to gather us to himself that we may know him, repent of our sins and be forgiven and have life in his name. 

This loss is a reminder that all our days are a gift from God and are ultimately in his hand. Our Lord knows our sufferings, and he cares for us. It is a reminder of how quickly life could change for any one of us, and yet God does not change. His love for us is constant and his promises are always trustworthy and true. 

As you count your blessings this week and thank God for all of it, even your sufferings, lift up all those who struggle and those who mourn. Lift up this dear family, and your own. Pray for your Pastor and his family. Make your wants and requests known to God. He loves to hear it and your neighbor needs it.

The Lord be with you all,

Pastor DeHope


March 21st letter

Dear Prince of Peace,

 Palm Sunday is already here! The kids are excited, and so are we. It's almost Easter, but first we see just how bad our sin is; that it sent God to the cross to die for us and our salvation. That is what makes the Easter resurrection news so good, so joyous! As we begin Holy Week, Palms in hand, I'm pondering again just how quickly the crowd turned on Jesus. We hailed you as king and welcomed you with our shouts, our coats, and our palms but you didn't deliver. It was fun, but I've lost interest; I expected more and better.... crucify!

Those highs and lows cycled so quickly. I see that same dichotomy in our life and in our parenting. One minute you're watching your kids play nicely and your heart is brimming with joy; the next they're at each others throats and you lose your mind, or temper.... Give it 6 minutes and they're back to being nice. Depending on how that exchange went or how deep in it you got, you might not have calmed down yet. There are so many things in life that don't go as we expect. If you go in with low expectations, you might be pleasantly surprised, but if you get too excited, you may soon be disappointed and want your money back.

One thing grandma said a lot was "it could always be worse...." and that was and is usually right. I try to temper my thinking and approach with that in mind. It often helps if I'm able to see it through that lens.

Right now, we're on high alert with baby Benjamin. He's not born yet, sorry to say. It probably won't go as planned. It's like the old joke goes - how do you make God laugh? Make plans. And yet God made a plan for us and for our salvation. It was to become one of us in the incarnation; to live a perfect life in our place and to be our substitute on the cross - to die the death we deserve, in our place so that guilty as hell, like Barabas, we go free. For Jesus, things could NOT always be worse. Nothing is worse than death by crucifixion, except being completely innocent, and then crucified. That is Jesus. There He shows His love for us. 

No matter how quickly things turn for you, or on you... whether things are better than your wildest dreams or pan our worse than you feared... Jesus’ death and resurrection are for you. They are yours also. It could be worse, but it's not. Your life, your salvation, both in this life and the next are secure and certain in Jesus. Fear not, he has overcome the world.

A blessed Holy Week to you and yours!

Pastor DeHope


 
 
March 14th letter

Whether you like corned beef & cabbage or not; whether you celebrate big with Topeka's St. Patick's Day Parade & Irishfest with as much green beer as you can find, or you don't know what I'm talking about, Happy St. Patrick's Day! Whether you're Irish or not, every Christian should know a little bit about St. Patrick who was a brave hero of the Christian faith.

 

As with many heroes, history and legend have combined when it comes to Patrick. From his writings we know he was born near the end of the 4th century in Britain during a very rough time. Irish raiders kidnapped Patrick and his sisters and took them back to Ireland where they were sold as slaves, and he was forced to live in terrible conditions. Patrick was not particularly religious before his captivity, but during these rough and lonely years he prayed and meditated relying on the Lord. 

 

One night in a dream he saw a vision from God to go to a specific harbor, and a certain boat to take him back home to Britain. So, he went and found things exactly as he had dreamed them and went home. After some time reunited with family, he had another vivid dream that he was to return to Ireland, to that pagan land of idol worship and to preach Christ to them so that Ireland would be converted. This became his life's work - to study, become a priest, and eventually return to Ireland with a small group.

 

God was surely with him, and even facing certain death he boldly proclaimed the gospel and Ireland was converted from paganism to Christianity. That one sentence covers an enormous amount of ground and almost sounds like it came from a fairytale. There was no doubt many others there doing God's work at the time, but we should remember Patrick as a champion of the Christian faith. Patrick's love for literature and history also led the Irish Christian monks to seek out, copy and protect many Christian and secular works that may have been destroyed otherwise. Otherwise, we may not have Homer's Iliad or lectures of Cicero among other great works.

 

There is a hymn "I Bind Unto Myself Today" LSB #604 that is attributed to St. Patrick and deals with the topic of the Trinity - One God in 3 persons. 

 

I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
By pow’r of faith, Christ’s incarnation,
His Baptism in the Jordan River,
His cross of death for my salvation,
His bursting from the spiced tomb,
His riding up the heavn’ly way,
His coming at the day of doom,
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today
The pow’r of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need,
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The Word of God to give me speech,
His heavn’ly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile foes that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In ev’ry place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me those holy pow’rs.

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three,
Of whom all nature has creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation;
Salvation is of Christ the Lord!

So, this was a long one.... thanks for reading or skimming this far. We remember St. Patrick on his day as a bold confessor of the Christian faith, and we pray that we too boldly confess Christ as Lord and do good, even to our enemies all our days. To God be the glory!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 
March 7th letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

Today is a rainy day, and I love rainy days. There’s one problem though….they’re not particularly motivating, at least to me, not quite like the sunshine is. I have the utmost respect for those who work outside in the elements and the rain, because I just want to stay dry and listen to the calming sounds.  The gloominess of the day fits with tone of the Lenten season of sorrow and repentance over our sins. In the gloom of today God is busy watering the earth making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater. The rain is contrasted with the word of God that does not return to him empty but accomplishes the purpose for which he sent it (Isaiah 55).

Our Lord’s journey to the cross, (which is our focus) also produces fruit for the earth, and for us! This was the plan from the fall in the garden of Eden to save the world. Jesus endured suffering and darkness for us because we could not. Lucky for us, Lent does not end on Good Friday or in darkness. The light of Easter dispels all darkness as Christ is risen from the grave. He is the light of the world. So, while we endure dark days in our lives, our country, and our church (I’m not talking about the weather), it is only for a time. The light will prevail. The light of Christ endures. Christ has risen! Christ has triumphed. And so will we. He is our light and our salvation. Whom shall we fear?

I pray this week that your burdens are light as you walk in the light of the risen Christ who FOR you!

God’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope

P.S. Speaking of light…. We’re about to have some more of it!  Don’t forget to set your clocks and “spring forward” so you don’t miss church or something else important!


 
February 29th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

This morning as I stepped into the shower, I was surprised to find a tape measure. Surely Josh left this there….and thankfully it was not harmed. A rain shower can be a pleasant surprise assuming you’re not caught in need without an umbrella. Sunday, Prince of Peace threw a very nice baby shower for us, and while the shower itself did not catch us unaware, we were surprised by everyone’s kindness and generosity that far exceeded our expectations. We received many wonderful gifts and words of kindness surrounding baby Benjamin’s arrival. Thank you all for being such a loving and supporting congregation to your Pastor and his family. It was a shower of blessings for sure!

Ezekiel 34:26 and surrounding verses talk about God showering his blessings on his people. He will bless his people and be their God. One of the ways God blesses his people is by being faithful to his words of promise. God's promise to send a savior is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ. His promise to crush the serpent's head is fulfilled in Jesus' journey to the cross to bear our sins in his death and grave; leaving them buried there and rising in victory Easter morning. 

This Lenten season we fix our eyes and ears on Jesus and his cross recognizing our sins sent him there; but seeing the faithfulness of God to keep his word and save us by this same cross. From this cross we receive the showers of God's blessings upon us each and every day reminding us of God's love and care for us in all the ways he provides. It's a joy to receive God's blessings with you, but also a joy to receive God's blessings from you. Thank you for sharing all good things with us (Galatians 6:6).

We appreciate you all very much! Blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope & family

 
February 22nd letter

This week our gospel reading from Mark ch. 8 includes Peter’s good confession that Jesus is the Christ. Shortly after that when Jesus is teaching about his sufferings that must take place, Peter takes Jesus aside and rebukes him for saying such things, which in turn earns him our Lord’s rebuke “Get behind me Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”  So often we get in trouble when we’re trying to do good; when we’re trying to be good and even help.

The struggle for sinners, which is all inclusive of every living, breathing human being, is that it’s so easy to be focused on the things of man, our things, the daily grind, our responsibilities, and even our vocations given by God…while failing first and foremost to keep our eyes on Christ and letting all the other things fall into place. This comes to us by nature. It takes a lot of strength and effort and focus to set our minds on Godly things and it’s a struggle. We’re very much like Peter who nails it one minute and the next has his foot in his mouth and has it all wrong. The call of Lent is to repent and to fix our eyes on Christ and His cross. But we’re not left alone to struggle, and neither is Peter.

Jesus teaches. He teaches the crowds, the disciples, and he teaches us. Continually, and without fail or abandon. Peter is not just roasted for what was wrong, Jesus taught him why it was wrong, and what was right. Jesus speaks plainly concerning his death and resurrection. He speaks plainly about our salvation in him, and that there is no other way. He is the way the truth and the life.

With all the trials and struggles and temptations you face, focus on Jesus words of life to you; meditate on His word, and what he plainly speaks to us concerning what had to happen to Him in His suffering and death so that 3 days later He rose from the grave. This was so that the glory of the resurrection and the forgiveness of sins and the eternal kingdom of heaven could happen to you dear friends.

Pastor DeHope

 


February 16th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Our Bible study this morning in John’s gospel got me thinking about our adversaries. They are many! It seems they come from within and from without. They can even be in the church. God does not always or necessarily see them the same way as we do. They are another of God’s children for whom Christ died. He wants them in the heavenly kingdom – same as us, and the whole world.  And what about our suffering at their hand? It is neither right, nor fair and yet the wrongs against us seem so often to go un-avenged. Deuteronomy 32:4 tell us that God is “A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” Yet we fail to be vindicated. The ways we want to make things right are not always God-pleasing either. We definitely tend more toward the eye for an eye way of thinking – or giving a two for one special and repaying the evil double.

Psalm 103 states: “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities; great is his steadfast love! We see God’s love for us in Christ, and he promises to make all things new, and right all that is wrong. We’re always looking for this to happen quickly – to happen now. But God’s time is not ours. Everything will be made right in the end. When Christ returns, THEN everything will be right. THEN we will see him face to face and there will be no division between us. Until that time, Lord, keep us steadfast in your word, and come quickly!

Pastor DeHope


 
February 2nd letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Dear friends in Christ,

Tomorrow is Groundhog day, and some may wonder whether Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow predicting a longer winter, or give us an early Spring if he does not... I don’t put much much stock in that sort of thing - It’s not a holiday so nothing will close.  it’s just a coincidence that I’ll have the day off because it falls on Friday, so don’t think I’m getting all superstitious!

After those sub-zero weeks we had, and the warm wonderful days this week, I wouldn’t mind an early Spring! From what I read Phil is only right 39% of the time, but it got me to thinking about how we can be tempted to approach the circumstances of life and our christian walk and the struggles of faith a little like groundhog day.

Suffering and stuggle is a part of life for everyone – not just believers. Yet for those of us believers we sometimes question God’s love, his providence or even salvation when hardships befall us – even though Jesus warned us it would be this way….

Did Phil see his shadow? Does God love me? Then why won’t this suffering go away? Why does it have to be so long? Why did I lose my loved one so quickly? Why have I had to endure multiple losses/hardships back to back? What did I do wrong? Do I not have enough faith? All these questions, except for Phil’s shadow, are a temptation from the evil one – a distraction from the word and promise of Almighty God. So, let us always pray: “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”

God is faithful to his word, and he cares for us. His plans are mighty and good, even if his timing is different than ours. He does not allow us to suffer for no good reason. He’s not torturing us or ignoring us. Here are a few verses that may help with some perspective:

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the might hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

 Psalm 40.17 As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God! 

Psalm 34.17-18 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Ephesians 2.13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 

Don’t worry about the shadows. Jesus Christ is your light and your salvation. In him alone do we trust. God help us to do so all our days in all circumstances.

Pastor DeHope


 
January 25th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Topeka traffic is the worst. I said this to myself in frustration at 5:30 p.m. as I crept through the slow-down to one lane on 21st Street for the second time this week because of the broken water main. My next thought of frustration, focused on myself, was why didn’t I remember the first experience and return home another way?  Once I was through the mess only moments later I was convicted. After coming from CA, having experienced northern and southern rush hour traffic, did I really just complain about that little slow down? Was that even really traffic? Had I really forgotten how bad traffic can be in just 2 years? Why was I so upset – I didn’t even have a place to be – I wasn’t late for anything! (Recall this was my new year’s resolution – to be more timely).

When we’re focused on ourselves it is so easy to lose perspective and forget. In the scope of the day, the week, the year – all my struggles, and all of yours, those of our nation and world, was this truly anything? The Israelites wandering in the wilderness comes to mind from Numbers ch. 4: And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” The people complained against the Lord who had brought then out of slavery in the land of Egypt and they longed to return for the free food! That’s gratitude for you! They were focused on a moment, on themselves, and not on God’s faithfulness, not on God’s promises, and not on God’s provision – past and present.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t feel frustrated about little things. I don’t want to create guilt, especially if there was none there before. Certainly, God cares for you and ALL your struggles from the greatest to the least – even little trivial things. What I am suggesting is that when you have little moments, when you’re “stuck in traffic” that you consider the bigger picture of your life, what’s going on in the world, and that you see God’s continued blessings for you and your neighbor. In that very moment of frustration find something good that God has provided. For me, I had a reliable car to be in traffic with. One that I even love! I had the ability to get out, money to buy things with a home to return to….the list just expanded from there and I felt much better about the situation. My frustration was gone and I had a good laugh. God was really providing for me and all my needs of body and soul.

God grant us all some perspective this week to focus on his care and mercy.

Pastor DeHope


January 18th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

How are you feeling today? I’m a little bit tired, and a little bit sore from moving wood and I wish I had a little bit more time on my hands. Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe it’s aging…but I’ve been thinking a lot this week about humanity and our frailties, and limitations. Alicia did point out this week that I’m slowly revealing a bald spot on the top of my head, so there’s that….

 So many things have to be just right for us – like the conditions on Earth to sustain life that are not equally present on any other planet. We need food and rest and water – everything is in balance. Our bodies are marvelous and wonderful but also delicate and easy to damage, yet they’re very resilient. Then there are our emotions… We’re really seeing those develop in Joshua, and how he is struggling with them as they overwhelm him. And with all of this, God has chosen us to work for the good and the increase of his kingdom. Wouldn’t this be a better job for the angels? Yet, even they are not made in God’s image. We are. And this really gets to the heart of my thoughts this week, that Jesus took on our flesh. He’s fully man, and fully God. 100%. Not 50/50 and not 200%.

 

Jesus didn’t just experience what it was “like” to be human. He was fully human and still is, even with his body. He suffered in every way that we do. To be sure, our Lord was in better physical shape than I am, but we know he hurt, we know he was tired. We know he ate, and we know he wept. Even though he knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, he wept true tears of sorrow full of and overwhelmed with emotion at the death of his friend.

 Everything we live through, Christ our Savior lived through. He truly knows what we’re going through. There is great comfort for us in this. Our Lord knows our struggles and our joys because he’s walked the road. He is like us in every way, yet without sin.

 Just because he’s God doesn’t make it easy. He’s not using his power and authority to help himself or show himself to be God or glorify himself. He’s putting in the hard work; calling disciples and establishing the New Testament church as works his way to the cross for us and for our salvation.

So, as you age, as you suffer, as you celebrate and enjoy, know that not only is the one true God your Savior and your friend, he’s like you, he knows you, and he’s walked through it just like you. God is for you, and your salvation.

Blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope

 

 
January 4th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Happy New Year, dear friends!  This week we celebrate Epiphany and the visit of the wise men to see Jesus recorded in Matthew ch. 2. This is really the culmination of our Christmas celebration over these last twelve days. Have you stopped to think about these wise guys and the gravity of the situation? They had been studying the stars for a long time and when they saw something, they stopped everything and followed a star for a significant length of time until it stopped. Then they inquired of the king where the child was. When they saw Jesus, they offered their gifts. Then an angel appears warning them not to return to evil King Herod and they go home another way. Every year I marvel at the amount of and strength of faith it would require for such a display…. And yet they did. They were not wrong, and God did not disappoint. Their faith and action was not in vain.

As we embark on a new year of God’s blessings, having just successfully ended a year of the same that God brought us through, your faith and actions are not in vain, and never will be. We do not know what the future will hold for our lives, God’s church, or the world, but we do know that he is with us and that he is faithful. God promised a Savior to our first parents Adam & Eve in the garden and He delivered on the promise in the manger. Our Savior was born, died and rose again for the sins of the world to save us. God keeps promises. We don’t know what he has in mind for the future, or how he will bring it about – what blessings he’ll give or what crosses and hardships we’ll need to endure, but he will work it for the good of those who love him. He is with us through it all; each day of this new year ahead of us. Through every personal struggle you will face, and through every struggle that is upon our church, Prince of peace, we are not alone – God is with us. Your faith and your actions are not in vain.

Wise men still seek him…. So, the saying goes. God is faithful. We see his compassion in Isaiah 55, and the promise that his word is powerful and accomplishes his purpose. It is that same word of God that pronounces your sins forgiven and peace with God. That same word of God promises that He is with you all your days through every year – both new and old.

So, Happy New Year!

Pastor DeHope


 
December 28th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

 

Merry 4th day of Christmas! Yes, it’s still Christmas! This is a very big deal to me, and I think it should be for all Christians! The world says Christmas over. Everything is 50&-70% off – clearance it out!  It’s time to take down and put away the decorations. Get ready for the next holiday.

Christmas has only just begun! The 25th of December begins the 12 days of Christmas which reaches its high point Jan. 6th on Epiphany. This celebrates the wise men coming to worship Jesus. They confess him as Lord with their gifts – it’s gentile Christmas. We really should make a bigger deal about Epiphany than many of us have been taught or have a habit of doing! Christ was born to die for the sins of the world – for all people of every nation, tribe and language, and Epiphany gives us a very clear picture of that!

So, keep those decorations up! Let those lights brightly shine. Celebrate the birth of your Savior a little longer and let your Christmas joy be extended. We all need this. The world needs this. Let’s enjoy the good news of Jesus birth for us a little longer. Maybe your lights on and up will spark a conversation with your neighbor? Maybe the cashiers at the store will do more than give you a funny look when you wish them a merry 8th day of Christmas? Maybe it will help you find a little more peace and joy in this special season? I hope it will.

Not all your days will be merry & bright, but I do pray that these next Christmas days will bring you peace and joy in Jesus your Savior and the truth that He came to save. One day every knee will bow in heaven, and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11). Until that day, let’s share the good news and celebrate!

Merry Christmas,

Pastor DeHope

 


 
December 21st letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Merry Christmas to you and yours as we celebrate the birth of our savior this week. Jesus, our Immanuel is not only God with us, but God FOR us! The devil has really been working hard to focus me on the wrong things - what I don’t have, what is not right and what or who is missing from life and our preparation and celebration of this joyous season. He’s good at that, but I’ve been counting my blessings and focusing on what I do have and what God has promised.

He has given us each other. I’m thankful for you all, and for Prince of Peace as a congregation. I’m grateful for your support, your gifts, and your appreciation. It is good to be working in God’s kingdom with you, and a joy to worship the one true God with you. God’s peace at Christmas is given in the manger – the child who is born to save us from our sins. We sing in the hymn - Once in Royal David’s city: “He came down to earth from heaven, who is God and Lord of all; For he is our childhood’s pattern, Day by day like us He grew; He was little weak, and helpless, tears and smiles like us He knew; And he feels for all our sadness, and he shares in all our gladness.

God did not promise an easy trouble-free life without difficulty. He joined himself to our humanity and experienced everything we do in every stage of life – through every moment of joy and pain. He shares it all with us. He has promised that he is with us always, and he is! God is not far off, he right there with us and for us – in the manger, on the cross, and in glory on his throne ruling over all things.

So…. our Christmas joy and our Peace with God is not just found in the present moment or in our feelings of the season, but the Christ child born for us, placed in a manger, hung on a cross, risen from the dead and ascended into heaven to take his place to rule with all authority having accomplished our salvation. While many uncertainties abound with regards to the new year and the future, but we can trust God for all things needful. Our future is secure. God’s promises hold fast. It is finished. It is good. It is yours in Christ.

That’s why we can sing “And our eyes at last shall see Him, Through His own redeeming love; For that child so dear and gentle Is our Lord in Heav’n above. And He leads His children on, to the place where He is gone. NOT in that poor, lowly stable with the oxen standing by shall we see Him, BUT in heaven, set at God’s right hand on high. Then like stars His children, crowned, All in white, His praise will sound!”

Let us look forward to Christmas and joyfully proclaim with the angels, “Glory to the Newborn King!”

Merry Christmas dear friends!

Pastor DeHope & family

 

December 14th

Dear friends in Christ,

Things don’t always make sense to us, at least not fully, not the first time through. If I’m looking at assembly instructions for a kids toy there may not be any hope. If I’m listening to my dear wife (or half listening) I might need it repeated. I might have something else in mind that’s keeping me from understanding. We run into these same struggles with God’s word. Perhaps you feel something is lost in translation (like those toy instructions), or you weren’t listening to God all that carefully, or you think He should do it an entirely different way and you have lots of “why” questions in your mind.

As I read over Luke’s account of the birth of Christ, and how it all came to pass…. I marveled once again at the faith of Mary and Joseph to believe, trust, and accept all these things that the angel told them. Yes, God did choose them for this special calling, but God has also put us in our place and time for his purpose. Nothing went according to plan for this engaged couple, even though they did everything right by God. Their engagement was not focused on a big wedding, but rather an unexpected child (by God’s doing) and an unplanned trip to visit cousin Elizabeth. All the details surrounding the birth were far from ideal – from the very pregnant and painful travel for the tax to the birth in the stable instead of a comfortable place. Once Jesus was born, and the wise men visit, what may have otherwise been a honeymoon of sorts became fleeing to Egypt by night to escape evil Herod.

There is great comfort for us in our calling as Christians even when things are not going well by our estimations or expectations. We’ve been preparing the way of the Lord the last few weeks and yet things just aren’t quite prepared to me; despite my attempts to heed my own preaching. During our midweek advent services we’ve been praying Mary’s song of praise, the magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) – “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation… He has helped his servant in remembrance of his mercy as he spoke to our fathers….to his offspring forever”.

Mary has great faith and extols the Lord, her God and Savior because He is the source of mercy and blessing. He shows his strength and his mercy, and he keeps His promises. Remembering what God has done, trusting Jesus’ strength, his mercy, and his promise, I too can be peace – whether ready….or not. God grant us the faith and trust of Mary and Joseph to cling to the Word of God and all his promises as we celebrate this season and always. Jesus is the reason for this season, and all of them.

The peace of Christ be with you always!

Pastor DeHope


December 7th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I’d like to start by saying Thank you to everyone who sent us a note or a gift for Pastor & staff appreciation. The presentation after church, Sunday was very nice, and all your kind words of encouragement were very much appreciated. It really is a joy to be here and to be your Pastor. Alicia and I appreciate you all very much.

The season of Advent leading up to Christmas and culminating with the 12 days of Christmas that end with Epiphany on Jan. 6th really emphasizes gratitude, God’s grace and kindness shown to us. This is why we give gifts in the first place – in joy and thankfulness because God gave first to us and provides all that we have from his fatherly hand.

I got curious and did a quick internet search on gratitude in the Bible, and one site said the only thing that appears more frequently in the Bible than gratitude is “fear not”. We hear that a lot this time of year from the angels when they appear to Mary, to Joseph and to the Shepherds. “And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). Our Lord Jesus also calms the fears of the disciples, and us his people with these same words. There is no need to be afraid; Jesus has come, and his presence brings us peace.

I encourage you to take every opportunity you can this busy holy season to stop and think about just how “good” this good news of Jesus is for you and the world. Our theme for this short Advent season is “Peace Came to Earth” and God’s peace really does take away our fear, our doubt, and our worry.

Lord’s blessings to you this week as you prepare for our Lord’s coming which is for you.

Pastor DeHope


November 29th

Dear friends in Christ,

“C’mon, let’s hurry” – I said to the kids rushing through the store. I’m on a mission for the one thing we came for, yet there are so many bright, shiny, things that have lights and make noise that they want to look at. Gah! There’s just not time if we’re going to get to the other place too and get to our commitment on time. Somehow we made it, even with a 2 kid potty stop, and a pause for the lights and sounds, but the store adventure just wasn’t the enjoyable experience any of us wanted.

Maybe it wasn’t possible the way I had designed it. Perhaps if we had more time or if we’d found what I was looking for all would have been well? I didn’t choose time, I chose another store. I tried to do too much. I was rushed. It’s a common theme not just during the holidays, but in everyday life.

It’s always about time. On time, out of time, in time. Sunday we begin the season of Advent where we prepare for our Lord’s coming for us both at Christmas celebrating his birth, and his 2nd, final coming to take us to be with him. In the meantime, we’ll have lots of choices to make about time.  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son” Galatians 4:4.

When everything was right for God’s plan Jesus came to save us. The time was right. I may never quite be right with time, but I know that I am right with Jesus. It is my hope that as this joyous season kicks up we take the time and make the time for what matters most. Less hurry, less stress; more Jesus, more lights, more quality time with the kids and people that matter.

The holidays (read holy-days) mean different things to us all depending on the year and the circumstance, yet there is joy to be had in Jesus and his coming which is for YOU. Don’t let all the other things steal your joy. The fullness of time has come. Christ is here, with his cheer; never will he leave me!

Blessings on your week and your Advent preparations!

Pastor DeHope


November 22nd

Dear friends in Christ,

What are you thankful for? That’s the question we’ve been asking at POP this month. There’s really no wrong answer, and hopefully you’ve got more than one!  This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, and while it’s not a religious holiday, it is good to stop and give thanks to God for what we DO have, remembering that “Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:17). We’re reminded in Hebrews 2:10 that everything is God’s – we’re just using it and caring for it for a while.

One of my favorite hymns comes to mind: “God gives me my days of gladness, and I will trust him still, when he sends me sadness. God is good; his love attends me, day by day, come what may, guides me and defends me. From God’s joy can nothing sever, for I am his dear lamb, he, my shepherd ever. I am His because he gave me, his own blood for my good, by his death to save me. (LSB 756).

I am thankful for God’s eternal wisdom and that he has safely brought me to this day. I hope that whatever your week entails, and however it goes, that you find joy and thanksgiving in being a child of God and knowing Jesus as your savior and that he loves you. I’m most thankful that we both know and believe this to be true. Thanks be to God!

A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Pastor DeHope


November 9th 

Dear friends in Christ,

The hard thing about leaving on a trip (at least for me) is the amount of work it takes to pack and prepare at home and at work both physically and emotionally. There’s the anxiety about it all and worry about what might happen. It takes so much less effort and struggle to stay close to home, to not miss a Sunday. I guess that’s what makes me a bit of a home-body. The other side of that though, is that if you don’t take that trip you’ll miss out on what’s ahead – the opportunity or adventure. I may grumble about going sometimes, but I always enjoy the trip without regret. It all turns out ok in the end.

The same is true for many other aspects of life, and taking chances – stepping out on a limb, so to speak. The words of Moses to Joshua are a helpful reminder for me that I’d do well to keep in mind regularly: “Be strong and courageous… It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8-9).

Be strong and courageous no matter which of life’s journeys you’re on, even if there’s a cross to bear. Don’t be afraid; it is the Lord who goes before you. You’re never alone in anything. You’ve always got a traveling companion and he’s been through it all – even unto death. And he conquered death and lives! Do not fear or be dismayed.

Hopefully by the time you read this we’ll have reached our destination safely with much joy, but please do keep us in your prayers as we travel about.

God’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope

 


November 3rd

Dear friends in Christ,

One of the ways God keeps us humble is to teach us through our children. This week our family is preparing for the loss of our dog Gromit. Gromit is almost 14 and has been with me from the beginning. I took him in as a stray when he was just a pup and we’ve been family ever since. The family has grown – with Alicia, Leah, and Joshua. We’ve adopted and lost other dogs, but none were quite like Gromit. Everybody loves Gromit. I had hoped against the odds that he’d be around to welcome child #3 - little Benjamin Carlton with us, but it looks like God has other plans. When we told Leah how sick Gromit was, that he was hurting - and he was going to be with Jesus on Saturday – she cried and cried. But then she stopped and said, “Let’s have a party for Gromit”. So, tonight we’re having a party for Gromit. He’ll feast! We’ll all feast. It will be a celebration of God’s gift of Gromit to us, our family, and friends. Truthfully, we’ve really been spoiling him all week. Dog treats. Halloween candy. The kids have not held back.

I had been dreading this day for a long time, but this last week was also a gift. Rather than dwelling on how I might feel when I had to say goodbye, or what life would be like after Gromit, I spent the week showering him with treats, with care, with attention, and appreciating him. My life is so much better because God put him in my life, at a time I never would have thought to get a dog. God is funny like that – knowing what we need and bringing it about in ways we haven’t considered.

We so often focus on what might happen when it’s not even a sure thing. We become consumed with a problem and a struggle – or a whole set of them, so we lose sight in the moment of what’s really good. We forget what we do have, and how God has fulfilled his promise to work all things for our good and to provide for us in all circumstances. We worry that our neighbor has more than we do, when really, we should only be looking in their bowl to make sure they have enough.

God has shown his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and yet we’re troubled about many things. We know that God did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32), yet it can be hard to live like we truly believe it. So, let’s have a party! Let us celebrate what we do have. We have Jesus, we have family - both the one we’re born into, and the one God has made us a part of in his church, bound by a common faith. We have food and shelter and all those 1st article gifts (from the catechism’s explanation of the 1st article of the Apostles’ creed).

What we have is truly more than what we lack. Thanks be to God! So, this week, have a party! We’ll meet back here in church and really celebrate together around the altar where God forgives our sins, feeds, and unites us together in him.

Blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


October 25th

This week we celebrate the Reformation! The old joke is that Lutherans never change, and yet the Reformation brought about a LOT of change. It was a good change. It was a call for the church to return to the Word of God in many ways where she had erred. God’s Word was put in the hands of the people as Luther translated the Bible into German so they could read it for themselves.

God’s agenda is change. Our need is change. He continues calling us to repentance through this same unchanging Word to give us forgiveness and life in Jesus Christ our Savior. That is one thing that will never change!

C.S. Lewis said that we may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is trying to remember, to attend – in fact to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.

As you contemplate all that God has given to guide and sustain his church through the ages, with the reformation, and everything after, pray that you stay awake. As you think of all the blessings God has provided for POP, and for you individually, pray that he leads and guides us all in the ways that we should go – to serve him and to serve our neighbor. Lord, keep us steadfast in your Word; help us stay awake!

Lord’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


October 19th

Dear friends in Christ,

In the last several months we’ve noticed some cracking on walls inside our home and figured that it’s an old house; that patch must have been poorly done. Then we noticed under our feet there was a crack in the slab that wasn’t there before and also on an outside wall. We’ve been told that the ground moves a lot here in Topeka, but we’ve called in some help. This is beyond normal. It’s concerning and not right. There could be consequences if we just try to “live with it”.

Yet we live with a lot of things that need attention, that are not the way they’re supposed to be. The car is signaling us with a light on the dashboard, but drives fine so we’ll get to it soon, when we have the time, or money, or when it gets worse. A small machine we have seems to be making a different sound today, but it works fine so it must be fine. You’ve got a small ache or pain, but it’s not constant so perhaps it will heal itself. If it doesn’t, we won’t see a doctor until we’re in so much pain we can’t ignore it any longer.

So many things in life are on a spectrum of good or bad with a lot of ground in the middle. I got a “B” on that assignment. I’d hoped for an “A”, but at least it’s not a “C”. I’ll take this jacket today because it’s not as warm as my other coat. This car is newer than that car. We buy one product over another because we perceive it is a better value. We reason many things in life this way.

God is different. He’s constant. He does not change. That means his love for us and his attitude toward us is always the same. We sing about these truths: “On Christ the solid rock I stand – all other ground is sinking sand” or “Christ is our cornerstone, on him alone we build”. In Matthew 7:24ff Jesus says “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

God’s word is solid. It’s secure. It’s trustworthy and true. The church stands solely on Christ our Savior who is for us. The same is true for us Christians. No matter what happens everything will be ok, if we have Christ, if we remain in him. Our shifting house is a great example of the world and it’s shifting values that are not those of our Lord. It will fall. All the things we worry about that are on the spectrum, the things we wonder how bad can we let them get, before we have to deal with them, might not trouble us so much if we kept our eyes on Jesus. Things in life will be less shaky with our feet firmly planted on our Rock.

When you’re troubled this week thinking of all the “things”, remind yourself that Christ is your rock and your salvation. Keep your focus on him and these other things will fall into place.

God’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope


October 12th

Dear friends in Christ,

 Monsters are scary! Joshua worries about them at night and is scared to go to bed because of the monsters. We ask him if monsters are real or pretend, and he says they’re pretend – not real. Yet he’s still scared of them. The world is a scary place. We all have things we worry about; things that cause fear and trepidation.

Very often we fall victim to our own minds and many worldly influences. The future, the economy, trouble in the middle east and fear of domestic attacks. The safety of our kids and grandkids in a hostile world that is far more mature at a young age than what we grew up with.  Could this be your anxiety? Yes. Could it be a real concern? Yes. Sometimes we struggle to be at ease and find peace and balance day to day. Even at the pastor’s conference this week in Wichita I was worried and afraid of several things that never actually came to pass. Even though the monsters weren’t real, I was afraid of them.

And this happens more often than I’d like to admit. I’m just not at peace. This is what the devil wants. It’s what he lives for – to sow the seeds of strife, discord, and fear. I have mentioned before in these notes how the Bible so often addresses our fears with the directive “do not”. He encourages us by saying:  think like:  The Lord is with you, the Father has given you the kingdom, I will help you, I came near when you called me, and you are worth more than many sparrows. One of my favorites is from John 16:33 where Jesus tells his disciples: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Did you catch that? In the world there will be trouble, and in Jesus we have peace. Jesus has overcome the world. He’s overcome all the “monsters” in the world – everything we worry about and all forces of evil. They have been overcome and defeated by our Lord Jesus.

So. when you hear me say “The peace of the Lord be with YOU”, think of this verse. You have the peace Jesus gives, because he gives you himself. He has given you his victory over sin, death, and the devil. You have peace in a troubled and hostile world, come what may, because Jesus have overcome the world and given you, His peace.

Lord’s blessings on your week.

Pastor DeHope


October 5th

Dear friends in Christ,

Good-byes are hard. Some people avoid them like the plague. Some are very emotional. Some pass by us casually because we’ll see them again soon. At least, that is the assumption. We said goodbye to Auntie Joyce this morning and it was tough, even though we know we’ll see her again in about 5 weeks. Then after that we’ll see her daily as she’ll become an official Kansan!

It is one of God’s gifts and blessings that he puts us in community. He gives us family, unites us in a family of faith, and gives us good friends to rely on for support. Thank you Lord for this joy that you give and for guiding us all our days. And yet, our days on this earth will one day come to an end. There is an urgency to life. There is a time and a season for everything under heaven.  There is an urgency to share the good news, for the harvest is plentiful says the Lord!

So let us purposefully make time to enjoy all the relationships God has given us in life. Let us worship and praise him and let us share that same good news with purpose, urgency, and joy.

God’s blessings on all your days,

Pastor DeHope


September 29th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week we’re celebrating the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) and their work for the Gospel of Christ both here at home and around the globe. One of the ways they do that mission work is through the little purple “mite” box whose name is taken from the widow’s mite in Mark 12:41-44 & Luke 21:1-4. All those “mites” really add up together for the sake of the gospel, yet there is far more going on than the sum of the funds and compounding interest.

All our offerings, be they to the LWML, our church, or some other gospel centered mission are given in faith that God will bless them for his purpose. And he does. God is able to do great things with nothing. Look at the world and all that was made. Consider all the places you’ve been or want to go; all the people you love and know. God made them all from his dirt and combined them with his word. And it was good (Genesis 1&2).

This week in your devotions and prayers consider all the little things God has put in your life for good and for struggle to produce growth. Look at all that he has done with that for your good and enjoyment. We give back to God with our time, our treasure and our talents. How might he be using these for the good of his kindgom? We don’t always see the fruit of God’s work through us, but he does. It’s fruitful and good because he is working it for our benefit and our salvation in Jesus Christ.

Blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


September 21st

Dear friends in Christ,

What are you having? No, it’s not down to the steak or the salmon. While both of those are deliciously pleasant thoughts, and I’d like one of each, people have been asking about the baby. When will we find out if we’re having a boy or a girl? Well, now we know! We’re having a boy! Josh is excited to have a little brother and as much as Leah wanted a little sister, she’s happy that God gave her another brother. We know she’ll be a great big sister!

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate” Psalm 127:3-5.  What a wonderful reminder of how the Lord sees children. It’s a good encouragement to Alicia and I when we’re feeling a bit too old and overwhelmed for this, or wonder if we’re ready for 3. No, we certainly are not! Yet God says yes, and he gives us all of life’s challenges so that we may walk in him, depending on him to see us through it. He has provided for every day in the past and he will not stop. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.

No matter the challenge or the daily struggle God will bless us. We are his children – his heritage. Through Jesus Christ our savior we are the heirs of his eternal heavenly kingdom. So, while we eagerly await the arrival of Benjamin Carlton DeHope this Maundy Thursday, we gather at the cross to receive God’s gifts of forgiveness and mercy placing our trust in him all our days.

God’s blessings on all YOUR days!

Pastor DeHope


September 14th

Dear friends in Christ,

Relationships are hard. We don’t always speak the same language as our spouse. Friendships can be fraught with misunderstanding, or sometimes hard to maintain. Work relationships are…. well, work sometimes. The fact is we’ve never had a relationship in our lives that was free of disappointment. Nothing lives up to the ideal. Not even our relationship with God. Why is that? It’s because of sin. We know this, but it is hard to accept.

Sin causes us to be focused on ourselves. It makes us more demanding than serving, more accusing than forgiving, more defensive than approachable and more critical than understanding and patient. We shouldn’t be surprised our relationships all have problems. Does this tough reality ever make you want to give up and quit? Does it make you want to live on a peaceful island by yourself? We don’t need to be afraid or lose hope because there is grace for our struggle.

Our hope is not found in ourselves or the relationships we have. Hope is found in another. We’re never alone. God is always with us and he is for us in all our relationships – with him and with each other. He gives us grace, even when we’re not up to the task. James 4 begins with a very honest and direct discussion of conflict in our relationships that we all face, and why we face it. We’re not left without hope. Right in the middle of the passage there is this phrase that changes everything: “But he gives you more grace” (v.6). There is grace for every hurtful moment. There is grace for every time you sin or are sinned against. And the grace we’re given for our relationships and everything else will never, ever run out or end. There is always more.

You can give yourself to love, to forgive, to confess, to confront, to trust and to persevere even when things are hard, because “he gives more grace.” That grace in Christ makes all the difference in word for us and all our relationships – with God and with each other.

God’s blessings on your week in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


September 7th

Dear friends in Christ,

How is your devotional life? Do you read your Bible every day? These questions strike fear in the heart of many Christians. Very often things in life are not the way we wish they were, not the way they should be. This can include our time in God’s word and our devotional life. One thing leads to another and soon our worship life together and even our prayer life can suffer. No need to check in with God if we already know we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing…. or as well. So, the thinking goes.

 

Now, dear friends! Don’t let any guilt from the past interfere with the present. Each day is a new and a new gift from God that is full of opportunities to do better. If today you don’t succeed, try again tomorrow. God’s forgiveness and mercy are new each morning regardless of past performance.

 

A friend once remarked to me how much he had read in a year and I was shocked! To my surprise, all he did was read a little each day. Such as simple idea – slow and steady wins the race. My devotional life and reading time are not what I’d like them to be. This is one of those things I’m working to change as part of my new routine with the start of the school year. So far, those little changes are paying big dividends.

 

There are so many other voices that are calling for our attention and telling us what is right. The best way for us to stand firm in our faith and know what is good and God-pleasing if to be in his word. Portals of prayer or some other devotional resources that are organized by the day are helpful to me so that I can pick up where I left off and move one. If you’re ambitious, there are schedules to read the bible in a year. (I’d be happy to share one with you if you have difficulty finding one). There are even Bibles laid out by the day to help.

“Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” - Proverbs 3:5-6.

 

Blessings on your week.

Pastor DeHope


August 31st

Dear friends in Christ,

The End. I bet you didn’t expect that at the beginning, did you? Some things are over before they begin. When the storyline in a movie wraps up nicely with a happy ending and the guy gets the girl the end can be a happy one. When a long meeting ends, we rejoice. We wish some happy times would never end. Endings are sad when they are marked with a loss, especially if we were not prepared for them – like the loss of a loved one. Still, some endings are bittersweet because one thing is over and another begins.

Today is the last day for us to bowl with the kids for free. Summer is over; it has ended.  And with it, many of the activities and fun things that went with it. Our perceived freedom gives way to a more structured routine. The kids are back in school, and the seasons will be changing. In reality, summer didn’t really change my schedule much. We had church every week like we always do. We didn’t take a vacation (we’ll save that for November – just before the busy season of Advent and Christmas). Still, I had planned extra projects for the summer months. There were extra outings with the kids, house projects that were necessary, some for fun; others were unplanned, some necessary and NOT fun. Many things remain undone. What do I do about them now?

The beauty of a new season, or a new schedule or a big change is that it comes with a do-over. There is a new opportunity for order and a chance to reset priorities and goals. Our new routine is more consistent day to day. It’s given us a new chance to add helpful things like singing and a bible story with few more prayers at bedtime. We see more clearly what the kids need, and what we need. We adjust. All this is a gift of God.

We know that there is a time and season for everything under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) and we know that our God is a God of peace and order (1 Cor. 14). He’s made all things and continues to sustain them all – through all of life’s seasons. We rejoice every day that we are God’s baptized child for whom Jesus died. We thank him for all the seasons we go through in life and all the new opportunities he gives us.

So, how will you use this new season? What will you do with God’s blessing of order? As you carve out your week will the Lord be a top priority? Will you come to church? Make time for prayers and devotions? When God is truly first, all the other things seem to fall into place.

God, bless our week and all that it will bring. Give us the strength that we need and help us to put you first so that everything else fits in its proper place. Keep our eyes on Jesus so we see your promises and handiwork in our lives. Help us to use each day wisely and call a do-over when we need it. There is always forgiveness in you. Amen.

Lord’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope

 


August 24th

Dear friends in Christ,

Everybody has secrets. Some information is sensitive and important to protect – like your bank card PIN and other such information which is good to keep secret. A surprise party can be a fun secret to keep (assuming the recipient isn't mortified by that kind of thing). Often a friend will confide in us. Perhaps this is just time sensitive information that will be revealed in greater detail at a later time, but it can be deeply private and personal as well. We know that a gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret – Proverbs 11:13.

There are some things which are our own to keep private or to share all over social media, and there can be lots of ground between the two. Sometimes the news is just too exciting NOT to share. Alicia and I shared that we’re expecting last week. After a good healthy checkup this week, baby is on track to be born on Maundy Thursday – right before Easter. We just couldn’t keep it a secret anymore so the cat is out of the bag so to speak and Leah and Josh now know a baby brother or sister is on the way. No need to keep this secret anymore!

Thanks be to God for Good News and joy to spread and share with each other. We share this joy of our growing family with you our church family; yet we rejoice in even greater news that we share with the world – Jesus Christ died to save sinners. He is risen from the dead and all who believe in him have eternal life in his name!

So, rejoice with us that there will be a baby DeHope for Easter, Lord willing. Rejoice even more that we have seen the light of Christ. Let it shine in your life and bask in its glow.

Lord’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


August 17th

Dear friends in Christ,

“I know where to go. I’ve got this”. That’s how Leah replied with confidence when we asked if we should drop her off or walk in with her on this first day of kindergarten. It brought mom to tears, so Leah let us walk her in for our sake. I just marvel at how much my little girl has grown, and how loving and courageous she can be. I did not possess that kind of confidence in kindergarten!

Our life in this world is fraught with difficulty and uncertainty. The future sometimes looks grim amd we are confronted with hard things. The church also is not immune to these struggles. St. Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 1:7-8 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord”! There are a great many things that strike fear in our hearts and cause great anxiety, and yet as Christians we know that no matter what happens in this life, we know exactly where we are going. Jesus’ death and resurrection assures us of this. He has put his name on us in baptism. We are his children. We’ll be with him in heaven forever.

We may worry about how the rest of the story will go, but fear not – you know how this will end. It ends with Jesus! He is the victor! He has triumphed over all our enemies. He is with us, and we are in him. The victory is ours as well. So put away fear. Take up the gospel armor; have the spirit of power and love with a sound mind in Christ our Lord.

God, grant us courage to put our trust in you. Give us boldness to speak the truth in love. You know where we are going. YOU are the way. Bless all our days and our deeds in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessings on your week! You got this!

Pastor DeHope


August 10th

Dear friends in Christ,

In our Sunday Gospel readings, we’ve been talking about God’s kingdom and how it grows; about things hidden and revealed; about treasure and joy.

Today I would like to share something with you that covers all these bases. It is one of the ways God grows his kingdom, and certainly is a treasure that brings much joy – to Alicia and I, as well as Prince of Peace…hopefully. Alicia is pregnant again! We’re excited to share this happy news with you all, our friends!

Leah and Josh DO NOT KNOW yet. Please help us protect their little ears from this just in case things do not go well again. We hope and pray that in a few months time, we’ll be able to share this wonderful news with them as well. We appreciate your encouragement, prayers and support; please just be mindful when those little ears are present. They have a tendency to hear things even when you don’t think they’re listening!

We ask that you keep our family, and especially Alicia in your prayers. God relieve our anxiety and grant us peace and trust in him during this time of joy.

You are welcome to share our joy with others as you see fit. Just not with Leah and Josh just yet.

God’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope

 


August 3rd

Dear friends in Christ,

Leah is anxiously anticipating kindergarten; and us with her. There is so much joy and excitement about positive things that await her: new friends, new opportunities, learning new things, making discoveries about the world and its workings, and about herself. The list is almost endless. Sometimes when I get excited I can’t even sleep!

We can also become anxious in a negative way about those very same things, or about different things when we’re dreading the outcome or worried about walking through those challenges. Sometimes the difference can simply be a matter of perspective. Knowing that God is in control of all things and that he works them all together for the good of those who love him is a great comfort to us when we’re struggling and anxious about new and unknown things – so also with known things that we may not see a way out of.

God has good things for our future and we need not be anxious in the waiting. Yes, the waiting is the hardest part – sometimes. Our Lord understands our worry. He experienced all the emotions, with the joys and the woes in his body, just like we do. God was fully man, though he was fully God. “ For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” Hebrews 4:15-16.

Psalm 46 reminds us that God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of trouble. It is my hope that you cling to him this week and always as you navigate all the changes life may bring.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 


July 27th

Dear friends in Christ,

Albert Einstein said, “ People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results”.  Smart man. This is why I enjoy mowing the lawn – instant gratification! That lack of “results” can often be a struggle in life because we don’t see the fruits of our labor with that positive encouragement to continue, or that what we’re doing is working or worthwhile. The struggle might even be worse in the church.

We don’t always get to see the growth, the fruit of our labors for the kingdom. The time after Pentecost in the church year is the time of growth – some call it the green season where we receive teaching from our Lord. Right now, that teaching is in the form of parables and the subject is the growth of the kingdom. The seed as the word of God is sown on all types of ground, where God makes us good soil; or the wheat among the weeds where we’re told NOT to root out the weeds, lest we root out wheat, or rob the weed of it’s chance to become wheat for the kingdom. We struggle to comprehend the vastness of the kingdom, our Lord’s desire for all to be in it, and the reckless abundance Jesus distributes the gospel of forgiveness with.

So we also struggle when we don’t see great results in the world or in the church. It doesn’t always appear that the seed of the Word is growing, or that the harvest is as plentiful as God says that it is. We don’t necessarily see it with our eyes or in our church. Yet God says it is. God says his word IS powerful and does what it says. It makes bad soil good, and can turn weeds into wheat and unbelievers into Christians. And we trust God, really we do. We’d just like to see some results.

Trust the word and promises of God. Know that the Kingdom grows in secret. One will plant, another will water, another will see the fruit - but God gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:6ff). Jesus Christ is our rock and our foundation. Everything built on him will stand. So do the tasks you’ve been given to do – for the kingdom or otherwise. Take joy in your labor. Trust that God will provide what is necessary. He’ll give you the growth.

God’s peace be yours this week.

Pastor DeHope


July 20th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week has been Stellar!  That was the theme of our Vacation Bible School where we learned to “Shine Jesus’ Light”! When life feels dark… shine Jesus’ light! When people don’t get along… shine Jesus’ light! When good things happen… shine Jesus’ light! When people are sad… shine Jesus’ light! When people need help…shine Jesus’ light! Each day we had a memory buddy from space that taught us something wonderful about God and how he made the earth and how we can see him in creation. A Bible story was paired with that as an example of the light of Jesus. We had so much fun!

We invite you to join us this Sunday for a special worship service where we’ve invited all the kids back to share what they learned this week, to sing their VBS songs and shine Jesus’ light!

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


July 13th

Dear friends in Christ,

My email this week was especially frought with trouble. My amazon account was suspended! My eBay account was on hold, and there was a problem with my debit card (at a bank I don’t hold an account). Three separate attempts to gather personal information about me, take my money, to compromise or steal my identity. Phishing scams! Don’t worry, I didn’t bite. I didn’t click on anything, or even feel the need to login to my accounts the proper way to check on things. I saw them for what they were. Scams.

The devil is constantly trying to scam us. He’s on a phishing expedition to see if we’ll bite. He wants us to follow the world. He wants us to search for ourselves, to try and find some temporal meaning and purpose for our life in our job, our house, our family & friends, our hobby, our abilities, our…. our….our….  He’s trying to distract us and keep our focus on worldly things instead of godly things. And then he tells us that’s not enough. Or what happens when we lose one of those things, we found identity in? Despair.

You don’t work in the hope of getting an identity; you work in celebration of the identity that; in Christ Jesus you have been given. This is freedom for the Christian. We have worth and value because God has said so. He has made us his own dear children. We can have hope and find joy in all those other things – in all the gifts and blessings God has given us in this life. They just don’t define us and who we are. God does. We are his and he is ours. And this is an identity that we can share with others. It’s not a scam – it’s reality. It’s resurrection life in Christ. 

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


July 6th

Dear friends in Christ,

How wonderful it was to have two days off in a row for the 4th of July! A rarity for Pastors! I got a couple big projects taken care of, or nearly so – and wrapped up some small things too. It got me thinking about the kingdom and what it looks like. How it grows in secret, and yet Jesus tells us to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers because the harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few. The Gospel is simple enough for a child to believe, and complex enough that learned scholars can spend their lives studying the Scriptures and never mine it for all its treasure.

In our Thursday Bible Study, we see Jesus calling his disciples simply by saying “Follow Me”. And they do! The word of God is powerful. Phillip finds Nathaniel and confesses Christ as Lord. Then he simply invites him to “Come and see”. That’s what we do too. The church grows as it always has – with the invitation to hear the Gospel of Jesus – “Come and see”. Sins are forgiven. And the church grows.

Leah has been taking swimming lessons this summer which is good – she needs to hone her skills and brush up on what she’s learned. She’s doing well. We often approach our Lord and his church with a swimming lesson mentality to simply brush up on our skill, get a little encouragement, learn something new and be on our way.

What we receive here in God’s house every week as we hear the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins isn’t just swimming lessons, but divine rescue as my friend Ed has said. We don’t just need a helpful hint or a trick, we need rescue, forgiveness, and life in the cross of Jesus Christ.

It’s a life and death rescue. Christ’s death for our life. That’s our rescue in the gospel. We need it. The world needs it. And it’s simple. Come and see! Jesus is here with his gifts of life and salvation – rescue from the world, sin, struggle, and all that plagues us.

Blessings on your week. The mercy and peace of Christ be with you!

Pastor DeHope


 

June 30th

Dear friends in Christ,

I wish you all a joyous Independence Day as you celebrate our great nation and freedom; our equality and our unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness endowed by our creator! What a joy and blessing for us as Christians to know our creator by name. To know God’s love for us shown in Jesus Christ. And to know the true freedom that brings.

It's freedom from sin and hell and judgement. It’s Jesus’ not guilty verdict handed down from the cross. It’s not a freedom to live however we like, regardless of God’s will and is word, but a freedom to receive his gifts, his benefits and his forgiveness, time and time again. It’s freedom from fear and freedom from separation. It’s a freedom to know nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So, let’s celebrate God’s good gifts in our nation and our neighbor! Let’s continue to pray for our nation and our leaders and those who have served God and country. Let us rejoice and be glad that we are free in Christ. Lord keep us ever faithful! Help us to share all our joy!

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


June 24th

We fight a lot of battles in life. We battle each other and we battle ourselves. We battle our enemies. We battle illness or even a messy room. Sometimes we even do battle with God. In that battle of wills God will wrestle with us. He's patient, loving, and good, but his will is always right. When our will doesn't line up with his will for us; when our will doesn't line up with what God's word says.....guess who needs to change? We do. We must always strive to align our wills to God's. 

I've been doing some battling of my own over the last week and a half and it's gotten harder to fight and win this battle. It wasn't any of the usual suspects this time (like myself, family, or even a fight against the clock) - it was an ailment. I got poison ivy or some other kind of allergic reaction with a rash and it kept spreading. This morning I finally admitted I needed help. I just couldn't bear the intense itching and desire to scratch any longer. That desire to tear my legs off was always there. It just wouldn't let me be. It was SO annoying I almost couldn't stand it. I had been praying the whole time; I always pray.... well almost always.... God will never leave us or abandon us; he will not forsake us. He lets us wallow in our sin if we choose that, and we often suffer great consequences because of our sin, but God continues calling us back to himself. He continues to call us to repent and receive forgiveness - to be restored. His continued calling might get really annoying like a rash until we can't deny it. We may come to blows with God and even try to sucker-punch him but we're the ones who get hurt. We must call evil evil, and the good we must call good. We can't trick God into switching them or changing his mind about it. God's will is done. We pray in the Lord's prayer that it would be done among us also.

Please continue to pray for me this week, and for my relief from this temporary ailment. I'll continue to pray for you as well. Lord, lead us in paths or righteousness for your name’s sake, and let us lean not on our own understanding! 

Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


June 15th

Dear friends in Christ,

I’ve been thinking about learning – how we learn, what we learn, and why we study. Our Bible study Thursday mornings on the Gospel of John is going well and has given me much to think about. I’m also taking a continuing education class at Redeemer, Lawrence this week on the Seven Ecumenical Councils that’s being taught by Pastor Bruss who is now teaching at the seminary. It’s a little intimidating, but I know it will also be good, and I know I’ll learn something – even on my day off!

There are many Bible verses about learning. Colossians 3:16 comes to mind – “Let the message of Christ dwell among your richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts”. Proverbs 1:7 teaches us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction”. Psalm 25:5 helps us see why we have a thirst for knowledge and a desire to learn, especially why we study God’s word: “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

Knowledge is a gift that comes from the Lord, and his word teaches us of his love for sinners, and the salvation he gives freely in Jesus Christ. So, while I’m off learning more about church history, I encourage you to do a devotion today. Take an extra minute for God’s word. It makes us wise unto salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord!

Blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


June 8th

Greetings POP,

I’ve been trying to spend more time in the Psalms in my devotional life and during shut-in visits. The Psalms have been called the prayer-book of the Bible. There are different types of Psalms: Psalms of prophesy, instruction, comfort, prayer, and thanksgiving - collections of prayer and praise that cover all aspects of the Christian life.

This week I commend Psalm 121 to your reading; a psalm of consolation. God watches over us and cares for us; he has not abandoned us.

My Help Comes from the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

121 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


June 1st

I hope you all enjoyed your Memorial Day celebrations and those who made it possible. The extra day was a blessing and made it a short week. My family has returned, and it was a joyous homecoming! You can miss someone a lot in a short time. I’m sure that as the days and weeks pass all the excitement at seeing each other again will fade into normal…. Until next time. And no, I did not finish all the things on my list. Those will have to be saved for a future date!

Praise for the past… Faith for the future! That’s what one of our church banners says that’s currently hanging in B/C. I enjoy seeing this banner because it’s a nice reminder that God has brought us to this day. He’s faithful and unchanging. He’s dependable. Better than an old Chevy truck – Like a Rock! You can count on God. Things will work out, even if it is not the way we planned.

I have been reconciling that with something a friend of mine posted on social media recently: You are not your past. You are today years old. Live in God’s new and present mercies through Jesus Christ. He’s right. Our past doesn’t matter. It is forgiven in Jesus Christ. Praise be to God! What matters is that we were forgiven then, and we are forgiven now. Nothing in the future can change that either. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. God grant us faith for the future you have planned for us. It might be a wild ride, but the Good Lord always keeps his promises.

Cheers to the future and all that God has in store! Strengthen our faith!

Under the mercy of Christ,

Pastor DeHope


May 24th

Dear friends in Christ,

Everything changes so quickly. We had the excitement of Auntie Joyce visiting, and now she went home, and Alicia and the kids are visiting her family. It's quiet in the house. A time and season for everything under heaven indeed. I have a list of projects to keep me busy that is more than likely over-ambitious, but I'm doing what I can to make the most of it before they come back late Tuesday night. 

Thankfully God is constant and unchanging. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We don't need to worry about where he'll be, how to find him, or whether or not he loves us. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow (James 1:17)

So, while our circumstances may change, as does rain and the weather, our loving gracious God does not. He is your Rock, your Light and your Salvation! 

Lord's blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


May 18th

Dear friends in Christ,

The school year is over, or nearly over and it’s a time of endings and new beginnings. Saying goodbye to teachers and friends; looking ahead to new opportunities, summer break, a change of schedule and maybe even a vacation. For us it means Leah is saying goodbye to her teachers and friends at POPP and looking forward to Kindergarten and all the new friends and adventures that will bring. While we’re very sad that Topeka Lutheran isn’t an option, because they are closing, we know God will open other doors and opportunities for growth.

Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that for everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven. God has made everything beautiful in its time and put eternity into our heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man.

One of my favorite hymns of hope and comfort wraps this up in the last verse “ Before all time had yet begun, You, Father, planned to give Your Son; Lord Jesus Christ, with time-less grace, You have redeemed our time-bound race; O Holy Spirit, Paraclete, Your timely work in us complete; Blest Trinity, Your praise we sing – There is a time for everything! (LSB #762 – There is a Time for Everything)

For some, nothing changes. Your nose is still to the grindstone, and your routine is the same. There is a time for that too! No matter what life may bring, or what season we find ourselves in at the present moment, God has given us joy in our lives, and eternal unending joy in him. So, I encourage you to eat and drink and take joy in all that you do this week, this summer, and always! God’s gifts are plentiful! Enjoy them through all seasons!

 

The peace of Christ be with you,

Pastor DeHope


May 11th

Greetings in Christ dear friends,

It’s been a wet week. It was just coming down in buckets with lightning and thunder while I drove to KCI to pick up Auntie Joyce who will be visiting us for two weeks. We’re hoping to avoid any and all tornado watches and warnings while she’s here, but we praise the Lord for the rain.

Psalm 148 reminds us that all the heavens, the angels, the sun, the moon, the shining stars and the waters above the heavens praise the Lord. God commanded and they were created. He established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all the deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! Kings of the earth and all people, young and old, praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above the earth and heaven. All people and everything in all creation praise the Lord! Let Prince of Peace and all Topeka praise the Lord!

We are the Lord’s people because he has called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. We are forgiven and redeemed by the blood of Jesus and united to him in our baptism. What a marvelous cleansing flood where God put his name on us and makes us his own! Praise the Lord for that water! Praise the Lord for his faithfulness to us in all times and circumstances. Not only does he guard and keep us in the one true Christian faith, he daily provides for our needs. The rain that waters the earth and everything under heaven.

Praise the name of the Lord dear friends! Lord’s blessings on your week and all it entails – rain or shine, travels and visitors, graduations and daily routines same as always. Praise the name of the Lord!

Pastor DeHope


May 4th

Dear friends in Christ,

May the fourth be with you! ….and also with you! It’s a fun day for Star Wars fans….and my Aunt and my friend are celebrating birthdays this day also. Even if this isn’t a special day for you, the force is with you – the greatest force of all. Almighty God claims you as his own and his put his name on you. He’s with you no matter where you go, or what you do, watching over, blessing and protecting you.

This was especially on my mind while we traveled to the Great Wolf Lodge for an early birthday celebration for the kids this week (we got a special deal to beat the summer rush)! We were safe the whole time, no injuries, or real trouble of any kind. The blessing of joy and laughter abounded, and the parents had plenty of energy to keep up with the kids. It really was a nice getaway. Looking back, every moment was in the Lord’s control, even though I wasn’t thinking about it. It reminds me of one of my favorite hymns “Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me” and a few lines from it. Why should Cross and Trial Grieve me? Christ is near with His Cheer; Never will He leave me. God gives me my days of gladness, And I will Trust Him still when He sends me sadness. God is good; His love attends me. Day by day, come what may, guides me and defends me.

The hymn is very comforting to me, and while it fits in nicely with anxiety and the struggles I talked about last week, it’s a nice reminder and reassurance that God’s favor rests upon me no matter what or where. Even when we’re off enjoying God’s blessings and are busy having a good time, our Lord is ever “busy” with attending AND defending us.

Lord’s blessings on your week and all your days. From God’s joy can nothing sever, For I am His dear lamb, He my Shepherd ever. I am His because He gave me, His own blood for my good, By His death to save me. That’s a done deal and nothing can change it.

So, enjoy this day the Lord has made!

Christ has risen!

Pastor DeHope


April 27th

Dear friends in Christ,

One theme that has been common in many of my conversations lately – inside the church and far reaching outside and even in my own life is the topic of anxiety. The world is an anxious place full of anxious people. I count myself as one, maybe you do too? Many of us have anxiety as we pack our lives and schedules full of things like taking care of kids, our pets, crushing it at work, squeezing in a workout, trying (and possibly failing) to connect with our spouse, and maintaining a social life when we can. 2020 is three years in the rear-view and yet there seems to be so many things still causing us to worry and be filled with uncertainty and fear. The point hit home for me this week when one of the news blogs I follow shared nothing new and dedicated the day just to encourage and point out positive truths of some of their recent “gloomy” reportings.

Some of their advice and encouragement included: Fear is a choice. Choose hope! Don’t be distracted and despondent. Stay focused and hopeful. Focus on the progress, not the problems. Things WILL get better. Look, change is uncomfortable. The discomfort caused by BIG change is even bigger and more uncomfortable. We’re on the world’s biggest roller coaster and we are slowly pulling up to the tallest hill. Everyone knows what happens next. Helpful tips included: cut back a little on all the doomsday Youtube videos. Focus on things you CAN control. If we’re afraid, they win.

 This is some good practical wisdom. Take a deep breath, or 3. Let it out slowly. We KNOW things will be ok, and we know that they already ARE ok. Why? Because God is on his throne. The tomb is empty, Christ is risen and sits at the right hand of the Father ruling all things. He is in control no matter what it might look like day to day. The real battle is against the devil and evil, and Christ has triumphed. The battle is over, the victory is won. And it is ours in Christ. God has promised. Don’t loose sight of that in your day-to-day. You already have that victory. The faith God gives you also gives you confidence and hope in the future and what is yet to come. Don’t let the enemy steal your joy. Don’t be afraid. Remember the promises of God. There are those 5 words you can count on your fingers: I am with you always. You have eternal life. Jesus has promised NOONE can snatch you out of his hand. His Father is YOUR Father and He is greater than all. They are One (John 20:28-30). They are FOR you. God’s on your side. You got this! God’s got this, and he’s got you. 

CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA!

Blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


April 20th

Dear friends in Christ,

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA!

We’re enjoying a short visit this week from my parents this week. Leah and Josh are soaking up every minute of it – bedtimes have been extended and the excitement is high. It’s a little like Easter, and that added joy of the season. This week in Church we’ll be talking about Jesus appearing to the disciples on the road to Emmaus and how they didn’t recognize him at first, how he explained the scriptures to them and then Jesus revealed himself to them in the breaking of bread. Then with boldness, they return to Jerusalem to share the good news.

All this got me to thinking about God’s presence among us all the time. We ARE God’s children and there is never a moment when we’re not under his care; there’s never a time when we’re not the object of his love. So, the question is NOT whether or not God cares for me. The Bible says over and over again how much he does. Yet we compare ourselves to others; we want what they have – that which God has not given us and we analyze each moment of our lives for evidence that God love us and is with us. It’s tempting to do all this and yet we need not worry about that. Questioning God’s love won’t lead us anywhere good. When you’re tempted this way, run to his word for peace and assurance. Picking apart each little moment won’t give you God’s peace. His promises in his word WILL give you peace.

So, the real question, isn’t whether God cares, because he does. The real question is: will I recognize God’s care when it comes? Maybe the problem is our definition and expectation of God’s care. God’s care comes in a variety of ways – it’s not always a cool drink and a soft pillow. His care is not always relief from circumstances or trouble. There are many moments in our lives when the very thing that causes us to wonder about God’s care IS his care. He knows that trouble will reveal our hearts or display his glory. Often trouble is a tool of his care in the hands of the One who knows best what we need. God cares; therefore, make sure your definition of his care is not too narrow.

Jesus loves you and is for you. The proof is in the empty tomb. Enjoy your week in that ever-present reality.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 


April 14th

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA!

Our Easter joy continues! Every Sunday really is a mini Easter celebration because the empty tomb is a new constant reality that we live in. Easter is a season we celebrate as a church, but also a way of life. “He is not here…. He is risen, just like He said”. That means we can trust the word and promises of God who raised Jesus from the dead! We can say with all confidence, along with Job, I know that my Redeemer lives! I know that when everything else is done and gone, that I myself will see my Lord and Savior with my own two eyes! It doesn’t mean life won’t be rough. It does not mean life will be any easier for Christians – it won’t be. But what it does mean is that no matter the struggle or the triumph we’re not alone. God loves us and is for us and is with us.  Easter changes everything!

St. Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Christ is not raised, our faith is in vain and we’re still in our sins; we are to be pitied! But in fact, Christ HAS been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. Easter is real; it’s all real. There was no body in the tomb. Christ is risen, Christ is living, alleluia! Since Christ is living, we too will live eternally with him. We also live in him now. We are set apart. We are free. We are forgiven. We can accept whatever befalls us in life – whatever struggle we must endure, whatever hard things we must get out hands and feet dirty with because Christ is with us. We can have Easter joy through it all. We can share that grace and mercy freely with everyone because it will never run out. We can forgive with reckless abandon because Christ has forgiven us. Easter changes everything.

Go live, be free, and forgive. Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Pastor DeHope


April 7th

Dear friends in Christ,

How often do we hear, feel, or say: “It’s been a long week!” Sometimes they are just that way, and I don’t want to take anything away from those rough weeks we have.  It’s Holy Week, and our services are just beginning. For me, it’s already been a long week and we’ve only just begun. Our Lord Jesus knows all our struggles and our cares as we know from Hebrews 4:15. Yet how often do we think about just how long, how rough, how crazy, and just how BUSY our Lord’s last few days and hours were before his death?

After Palm Sunday and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, he angers the leaders by throwing vendors out in the cleansing of the temple. He confronts the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders and Judas is bribed to betray him. On Maundy Thursday in the evening, our Lord celebrates the Passover, the Last supper with his disciples. This was a family meal celebration that Jesus is celebrating with his disciples. I’ll save some comments on that for another time. Then Jesus washes their feet; as their teacher and Lord he would serve them. He always serves, cares for, and loves us. Then he institutes the Lord’s Supper – something totally new, and he communes with them.

After communion, Jesus and the disciples journey out of Jerusalem to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. In agony with the intensity of the situation our Lord sweats drops of blood. So much has happened even by this point that sleep overtakes the disciples and they fail to watch and pray. Then Judas arrives with the soldiers to betray Jesus. Peter draws his sword to fight, and Jesus has compassion and heals the servants ear that Peter has just sliced off. He’s then arrested, bound, and dragged off to court where he is falsely accused and questioned by various leaders.

The Good Friday events don’t turn out “Good” for Jesus. He’s condemned, flogged, mocked, and beaten. He’s nailed to the cross and crucified. Saturday Jesus is in hell proclaiming victory over sin death and the devil. And we all know what happened, Easter morning!

What a week!  All of this was for you, dear friend! Our Lord Jesus went the way of the cross for you, for the sins of the world. It was the will of the Father so that we could have access to Him and call Him OUR Father. We are forgiven and set free. The gavel has come down and the verdict is in: NOT GUILTY! We got away with murder. Yet we are at peace with God who does not hold our sins against us. All of this was for us. God showed his love for us in that while we were YET sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8-10). So….. enjoy ALL your weeks. The hectic, the crazy, the smooth sailing, and everything in between. All is forgiven. Be at peace. God loves you! Happy Easter! Shout your alleluias and sing! We’ve got so much to celebrate! Always!

The peace of the RISEN Christ be with you always!

Pastor DeHope

 


March 28th

Dear friends in Christ,

Easter is very near, and Lent is near its end. We begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday and shout with joy to the son of David – Hosanna! Save us now! And we wave our palm branches and sing to Jesus “Ride on, ride on in majesty, all the tribes Hosanna cry” as he enters Jerusalem . And things so quickly take a turn for the worse when they don’t go as we expect. We then sing “In lowly pomp, ride on to die…” for Jesus did not come to be an earthly king as expected. He came to go the way of the cross, to save sinners, to redeem us!

So, the cries of Hosanna so quickly turn to CRUCIFY!!! Jesus is betrayed and arrested Maundy Thursday and He’s dead by Friday. We call it “Good Friday” because of the “good” that God is doing for us in his death. He is defeating Satan once and for all and giving us the victory over sin and death as he rises in victory Easter morning. When God hangs dead on the tree, he appears least able to help or save us, and yet it is in that moment of submitting to death, that he defeats it and is accomplishing the most for our salvation.

How often in life do things NOT go as we expect? They take an unexpected turn for the worse; we are betrayed. Our hopes are raised high, and we’re let down. Our feelings are hurt by those we care about. Some illness or tragedy befalls us. We might be tempted to ask and wonder, “where are you Lord” or “how could you let this happen?” Remember the joy and promise of Easter. Jesus is victorious! All evil – all our enemies are defeated – the strife is o’er, the battle done! Awake my heart with gladness – Christ the Lord is Risen today! Have no fear you sons and daughters of the King! Even if it appears your Lord is not listening or is far off, rest assured that He loves you! He is with you always, even to the end of the age; nothing can separate you for the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). Absolutely nothing!

So, rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say rejoice (Phil 4:4)! Everything has been made right in time & eternity for you. Easter triumph, Easter joy is yours dear friends! A blessed Holy Week and Easter celebration to you and yours!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 


March 23rd

Dear friends in Christ, 

This Sunday our Gospel is the raising of Lazarus from John Chapter 11.  There are a few thoughts I want to share with you before then.  First, Jesus loves Lazarus, and he loves you!  Jesus is the friend of sinners.  He cares for you.  Jesus loves Mary and Martha along with their brother Lazarus and can heal him as he has done before...just as he does for us today each time we recover for a common cold or more serious ailment or malady.  And yet Jesus waits until Lazarus is asleep in death before he returns to help so that God may be glorified.  The sisters say that If...Jesus had been there, Lazarus wouldn't have died...just like us, and while we believe Jesus is the Messiah the son of God as they confess, we have trust issues too that it's going to work out according to God's plan, that might be different from our own.  We forget Romans 8:28 - "All things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are called according to his purpose".  God is in control.  Always.

When Jesus sets his face towards Judea, to go back for Lazarus, the disciples are afraid of death by stoning at the hands of the Jews.  Our Lord is not afraid.  He also sets hsi face to the cross, our cross to suffer death in our place and destroy it, only to rise in victory.  Even though Jesus knows his will momentarily raise Lazarus from the dead, he still cries in sorrow.  Our Lor shares the sorrow of his friends, or us!  And then he calls to Lazarus, "come out!"  And Lazarus comes out alive.  And so shall we on the last day when our Lord returns in glory raising all flesh.

This Lententide and always, be comforted by the promises of your savior who loves you, who is your friend, who is for you, and who has done something about death and all that troubles you.  He is your life, your light, your hope and your salvation!

Blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope      


March 16th

Dear friends in Christ, 

I hope your week is going well at whatever point you read this and that your Lententide is one of meaningful reflection on our Lord’s cross and passion and the benefits that brings to your life now and eternally. We’ve been talking about the problem of sin in our world and its depth which was the reason our Lord Jesus came into our world to save us. In John chapter 9 we read about the man born blind and the question is raised about whose sin caused this blindness. Jesus creates some controversy by healing the man on the Sabbath and restoring his sight. 

Our Lord contrasts light and darkness, blindness and sight as matters of faith and belief. Those who see are spiritually blind and don’t know the truth of the Gospel. Those who are in the darkness of unbelief see the light of Christ. I urge you to read this chapter during the week. Think of Jesus who is the light of the world – YOUR light; the light no darkness can overcome. Pray the Lord’s prayer – call upon him in all times of trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. The light of Christ has come and dispelled the darkness! 

God’s blessings, 

Pastor DeHope      


March 9th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I was sipping a cup of coffee and it just tasted SOOOO GOOD! And it looked so nice outside…. I just wanted to go sit out there and forget all the things I must do today. Then a smile came to my face. I am thankful for all those small things in our daily life that bring us joy that are gifts and blessings from God’s hand whether I see and acknowledge it or not. There was nothing special about the coffee in hand, or the view from the window – the same as always. It was the same gift God regularly gives for me and all the world, the world of sinners who deserve none of it. And yet it’s all gift; it’s all grace. None of it is deserved by me or anyone else. And yet all these little gifts are there. So, are the big ones.

I’ve been thinking about the Lord’s prayer which is our focus this year for Lent and I came across this: ‘If you don’t acknowledge sin, you won’t value grace. If you don’t value grace, you won’t see the forgiveness and rescue it provides”. God’s name is holy and his kingdom comes in spite of us, and yet we pray it would be kept holy and come to us as well. He provides daily bread and all we need for this body and life.  I hope this week you keep your eyes peeled for all the gifts and blessings, large and small that God gives, and the opportunities he provides to give and share about him. He’s given and FORgiven everything. It’s all gift and it’ll never run out.

God’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope     


March 2nd

Dear friends in Christ,

What is something we all do, probably daily, that we don’t even realize we’re doing; something that has a huge impact on the way we view ourselves and the way we respond to others? It’s one of the reasons we have so much relational trouble – even in God’s house, the church. So, what’s this harmful thing we do? WE FORGET.

I had a few good opportunities this week to see how I have NOT treated people I care about with the patience and respect I intended to. I did not respond with mercy, kindness, and forgiveness that I wanted to be shown. I was wrapped up in myself and the moment and I FORGOT. We get so busy and focused on ourselves that we do not see God’s new mercy in our lives each day. We fail to see the mercy that has been shown to us every step of the way. Mercy is not in our minds or on our tongues. Mercy means I am so deeply grateful for the forgiveness I have received that I cannot help offering you the same.

It’s dangerous to forget mercy. Dangerous because it shapes how we see ourselves and others. When you remember mercy, you remember that you did absolutely nothing to earn those things that you’ve been blessed with in the first place. Our Redeemer has written mercy into your story. When you remember mercy, you are humble, thankful, and tender and complaining gives way to gratitude and our self-focused desire gives way to worship.

Our Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross for our forgetfulness. He went to the cross to show us mercy, to be merciful to us and to redeem us. We all stand before God with nothing. We deserve nothing. And yet we’ve been given EVERYTHING in Christ. We’ve been FORGIVEN EVERYTHING in Christ. We can be merciful to others because God has shown us mercy. I pray this Lenten season is a merciful one for you. Given and received.

God’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope


February 24th

Dear friends in Christ,

And we’re off! Our 40 day Lenten journey has begun! In my daily devotions I came across this question: “Why do we say we place our hope in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ and yet practically ask the law to do what only grace can accomplish”? We do it every day. We think if we just have the right set of rules to follow, the right policy in place and the right threat of punishment with consistent enforcement we’ll be ok. Our kids will be ok. With this thinking we’ve reduced parenting and our lives to being law-givers, prosecutors, juries and jailers.

Two Bible truths this denies is that first before sin is a matter of behavior it is a matter of the heart. We sin because we’re sinners. Anger is first a matter of the heart before it is an act of physical aggression. No person can change the heart of another person. If threats of punishment, deadlines could produce lasting change Jesus would not have had to come. This thinking denies the Gospel of Jesus we hold so dear. It really does ask the law to do what only God can do with the gospel.

Thankfully God has not left us to the law, to our own devices. During Lent we focus on our sin, the severity of it, and how we can’t fix it. Only God can. And he does – in Jesus. We come to the cross in repentance and sorrow. We see that sin required the death of God, but we see redemption in his resurrection and that is our own as well.

Every year I encourage people to consider adding a small task that is beneficial to their devotional life and growing in faith rather than giving something up that you’ll eagerly return to when it’s done. Consider a daily devotion or making our weekly Lenten services part of that new habit. It might stick.

As you walk the road of the cross, keep your eyes up, on your Savior and how he has shown his love for you and forgiven you everything. You’re free!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope


February 16th

Dear friends in Christ, 

That’s slick!  No, I’m not talking about the roads or our parking lot this morning, though I did do a little sliding around – unintentionally on my way to the door. Time has been going so fast this year, for us anyway, that we seemingly slipped from Christmas and New Year’s right into Lent with this coming Wednesday 2/22 being Ash Wednesday! I’m not ready for that yet. The sermons and services will get done; that’s not a problem. I’m not ready to think on all the things of Lent like our Lord’s cross and passion and yet the time is very near. I felt the same way about Advent, and not being ready, but there is comfort in that. Despite our readiness or our feelings on the matter Jesus our Savior comes into our broken sinful world to redeem us. His suffering and death is not a pretty picture, but it’s the only way to save a world of sinners. Focusing our minds and hearts on that gives us cause to celebrate at what comes next – Easter joy in the Resurrection of Jesus which is also the assurance of our resurrection in Him. So, steady your feet for our Lenten journey. Our Lord comes to us with good news and blessings in his name.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope 


February 9th

Dear friends in Christ,

As some of you know I've had a cold all week. What Joshua picked up and gave to Alicia last week, I now got a turn with. Sharing is caring.....right? I had many plans for the week that were quickly unraveled and it was a struggle to do anything. No energy, no motivation, no drive, nothing. I felt like doing absolutely nothing, and I didn't even enjoy it. It wasn't relaxing, it was just all that I could do. For some reason Philippians 4:13 came to mind: "I can do all things through him (Christ) who strengthens me". No I couldn't - it wasn't that easy. It occurred to me how often this passage is mis-quoted and misused. 

Paul is speaking about God's provision and being content in all of life's seasons and circumstances whether they are times of prosperity and plenty or times of scarcity and need. God's wisdom in the Word and the work of the Holy Spirit help us through all these life experiences in ways that benefit us and others. It doesn't mean it will easy. It doesn't mean that we lack faith if it is difficult.  2Cor. 12:9 tells us that God's grace is sufficient and his power is made perfect in weakness. Romans 8:28 assures us that God works ALL things to the good of those who love him. So doing all things through Christ who strengthens me is a call to "buck-up" and get through it. It's God promise that he is with you in all your struggles. Though it feels like hell, he'll see you through it. 

Our Lord has suffered all things in his body, even death. He has triumphed in victory over death, so he knows ALL our struggles. He is with us. He is for us. He loves us, and he'll see us through all things.

The peace of Christ be with you,

Pastor DeHope


February 3rd

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I’ve been thinking of just how much I love listening to music. I picked up a few used CD’s to listen to in the car (and yes I realize how much that dates me…. and the car)! But I really do enjoy music, lots of different types and genres too. I really see it as a precious gift from God that I just can’t imagine being without. I’ve found it carries more weight with some than others, and that’s ok. As the body of Christ, we all have different gifts and abilities, unique qualities, hobbies, likes & dislikes.

In recent weeks I’ve mentioned God’s promises and those 5 powerful, comforting words “I am with you always”, that God is for us, not against us, and that he is the friend of sinners, OUR friend. Psalm 40 came to mind as I pondered this: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God”.

So, whether music is a big deal to you or not, God has given us a song of praise to sing. Joy in the midst of sorrow and hope in a world of gloom. God has made our steps secure on the rock of his word, and he is the rock of our salvation. This is his gift to us in our Savior Jesus Christ, and this gift is for the whole world. That’s something to sing about!

We sing and praise God in worship as a response to all that he has given us, all that he has done for us, and the new identity we have in him. What are your favorite hymns and songs of praise? We would be happy to include your favorites in worship as much as we can. Just write a note on the back of your attendance card or send me an email.

 Blessings on your week, and on your song. Even if you can’t carry a tune.

Pastor DeHope


January 26th

Greetings in the name of Jesus!

Joshua did so well in a big boy bed at Grandma & Grandpa’s house that we decided to keep that momentum going now at home and converted his crib into a toddler bed. What a challenge…..the new sleep training that is – the conversion was a breeze and Alicia had it done in just minutes. He’s in and out of bed, loud, keeping Leah up – it’s quite the show every night. Every time he’s caught, Josh runs to his bed, lays down and says “no, me sleep.” This week after being told to return to bed I found him on a pile of blankets beside his bed pretending to be asleep. We’re hoping and praying that both kids sleep better so that mommy and daddy can do the same!

This got me thinking about our relationship with God and how we as Christians follow him and act towards him and his words to us and how we keep his commands (or don’t as the case may be). God’s word comforts and directs us. It lifts us up and is meant to be for our good to guard and protect us. But we don’t always see it that way. Try as we might we struggle to listen to God and do what he says, despite our best intentions sometimes we are like Josh – always climbing out of the fences God has put to guard us, and running back saying No, I’ll do it when we’re confronted. We’re constantly tempted and pulled in all directions.

Yet God is always faithful….always calling us back to him. Not only does he promise those 5 words “I am with you always” as I mentioned last week, the Bible is full of I AM statements of God that show his love, his care, and his continual presence among us. Psalm 46:11 says The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our stronghold. We are reminded in Jeremiah 32:27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me? One of my favorites is from Isaiah 41 where God calls us his friend, and says “fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

So, be strengthened and encouraged in all that you do this week. God is for you and not against you. He knows your struggles and is with you always.

Pastor DeHope


January 19th letter

Greetings in the name of Jesus!

I am with you always. This is God’s promise to you. No matter what! Five simple words you can count on your fingers with one hand (so it’s easy to remember) and yet they are powerful to calm and bring comfort. I taught this to Leah last night when she was scared and having trouble sleeping. Scary thoughts just wouldn’t go away, she said. So, I had her put out her hand and those 5 little piggies helped us count God’s words of promise. I am with you always.  If God is with us always, then he is with us everywhere – on a plane, in the car, at the store, in church or school, at work or play. At Grandma and grandpa’s, or a friend’s house, no matter what we do or where we go. “Yes” she said. So that means God is with you when you’re scared and sad or worried too. Yes! He’s with us always, no matter what. I told Leah to just keep repeating this to herself.

I really need to practice what I preach here and remind myself of God’s promise when I’m struggling with or worried about something. We had a wonderful, albeit wet trip in CA visiting family and friends, and I was tired, so I fell right asleep last night. But they’re not all like that. I’ll need to remember God’s 5 words of promise. I am with you always. You should too. Whenever you’re struggling, wherever you are – just keep repeating it yourself. Speak it out loud if it helps.

God has given his word of promise. He can do no other. 

The peace of God in Christ be with you this week and always!

Pastor DeHope

 


January 12th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

By the time you read this our family will already be in CA visiting family. It’s funny to think the January weather we left in Kansas will be much nicer than what we’re experiencing out west in the rain. Oh well. I always enjoy the visits; but wish there was a way to avoid the “traveling” part. There is a little bit of fear and loathing that goes with that for me, so I try to remain hopeful and focus on the joys ahead. That was my encouragement to everyone at our congregational meeting Sunday as well. God is still on his throne and always provides what is necessary.

For the believer, fear is always God-forgetful. If God is in control of all things, if he is righteous and good and wise and for us, why should we fear? Sometimes it is easy to forget our identity in God and that Christ has made us his own. The land of Judah had the same struggle, especially going up against the Assyrians in battle. King Hezekiah did not want them to think they were left to their own courage in battle, their experience, or their own will. He wanted them to know that they had been blessed with something else, that they must not forget, so he said “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him… With him is and arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8). There will be moments when we ask and wonder where courage will be found for what we must face. Hezekiah gives us the answer. “Look up and remember you God.” As God’s child you are never left to battle on your own.

So, dear friends, be of good cheer, be strengthened and encouraged as you look ahead. It’s all going to be ok. God is with you and for you. And if God is with you, who can be against you?

The peace of Christ be with you!

Pastor DeHope


January 5th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

A blessed Epiphany to you!  The 12 days of Christmas culminated in the feast day of Epiphany on Friday which celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ to the Gentiles in Matthew 2 with the visitation of the Magi or wise men. This is a celebration that the Kingdom of God is open to all believers through faith in Christ as a symbol of the new covenant in Jesus!

This is sometimes called Three Kings’ Day, but we don’t actually know how many came from the east to worship our young Lord Jesus – we just know that three gifts given. There could have been more than three in attendance. I remember several good birthdays growing up where I received more than one of the same toy at a party! The 3 gifts that were presented to Jesus had meaning, and they also traveled well. The gold was a symbol of his kingship and earthly authority, the frankincense (a type of incense) was a symbol of his diety – that he was God, and the myrrh which was used in embalming symbolizes his death to save us.

As I write this (on Thursday), our kids are still waiting for their “big gift” tomorrow on Epiphany. Our celebration of Jesus continues! All year long we live in and celebrate the reality of Christmas and Easter and the gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation that are ours in Jesus!  Last week I was explaining the “12 days of Christmas” carol and its Christian symbolism and blessing for us as we celebrate our coming Savior.  I didn’t finish explaining all the gifts…

Day 6 – 6 Geese Laying – the 6 days of creation

Day 7 – 7 Swans for the gifts upon Jesus in Isaiah 11:2-3

Day 8 – 8 Maids A-Milking are identified in Matthw 5:3-10 the 8 beatitudes.

Day 9 – 9 Ladies Dancing – one for each fruit of the Spirit

Day 10 – 10 Lords a-leaping for the 10 commandments

Day 11 – 11 Pipers Piping for the 11 faithful disciples

Day 12 – 12 Drummers Drumming are the 12 points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed.

So as Christians we get to celebrate the Christmas and Epiphany season longer than the rest of the world. We know where true joy and forgiveness is found – in Jesus who is the reason for the season.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope 

THANK YOU

Pastor DeHope, Glenda Hammel and Mary Hume want to thank everyone for the Christmas and New Year wishes and a big thanks for thinking of us at Christmas time.  We appreciate everything and everyone.


December 29th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Merry 5th day of Christmas! I hope you all had a nice Christmas Day celebration or will get to follow through with plans still in the works. At our house we’re counting down the 12 days of Christmas (just like the song) to Epiphany on January 6th when we celebrate the wise men offering their gifts in worship to our young Lord Jesus. To teach our kids about this, they have a small gift to open each day to keep the Christmas spirit alive and well with their “big gift” coming on Epiphany which happens to be a Little Tykes kitchen & workbench. We know that they’ll love it, and of course it won’t be more than a year or so before Leah will be reading and I won’t be able to write things like that!

The world delivers Christmas as a one and done day in the midst of a “holiday season” that we’re conditioned to prepare for from black Friday to Christmas Eve; to consume and purchase….and then return or exchange later. This leads to a lot of confusion about the 12 days of Christmas and what or when they are.  But as Christians we are still celebrating Christmas! It’s just getting started on the 25th!  The “12 days of Christmas” carol is rich in Christian symbolism and blessing for us as we celebrate!

Christmas Day – the First Day –– Jesus is the partridge in the pear tree.

Day 2 – 2 Turtle doves are for the 2 Testaments – Old & New in our Bible

Day 3 – 3 French Hens – Faith, Hope & Love as revealed in 1 Corinthians 13:13

Day 4 – 4 Calling Birds – The 4 Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke & John

Day 5 – 5 Golden Rings – The 5 Books of Moses (The first 5 books of the Old Testament – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)

So, dear friends, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Stay tuned next week for the rest of the gifts!

God’s blessings!

Pastor DeHope


December 22nd letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Merry Christmas to you and yours as you celebrate our Savior Jesus Christ who was born to save us!

I don’t quite know when or how this line of thinking came about….. but I have been pondering the first Christmas for much of Advent. I saw a funny meme of Joseph apologizing to Mary for NOT making reservations ahead of time at the inn and it made me laugh. But no matter how I look at it, every single aspect of the first Christmas is less than ideal for the holy family! There’s nothing to laugh about.  It’s hard for me to actually imagine how rough and uncomfortable it was making that kind of journey on foot and pregnant. The birth in the stable….the registration, the threat to the newborn and the escape to Egypt….They had probably hoped so much would be different but it wasn’t. Maybe you’ve had or are having one like that? And yet God provided. His presence, His protection, His sign, His joy, His strength, His peace – all these became Mary & Joseph’s too, despite the circumstances.

All these gifts of God are ours as well! I can’t recall a Christmas that went as expected. Some have been filled with so much joy I could hardly keep it contained; others failed to measure up, and there were a few I’d wished to skip all together, and yet each year God shows up with His presence and his presents! Jesus was born to die for the sins of the world. He was born to rise for us and our salvation. In Christ we are free, we are forgiven and we are family.

So….no matter what kind of Christmas you’re having this year, or how it stacks up to the others - I pray that God’s JOY, His gifts, and his presence give you cause for rejoicing – that in all circumstances you pray praise and give thanks! Christ is here! There is none to fear!

May your Christmas be Merry in Jesus!

Pastor DeHope & family


December 15th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Jesus says “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness but will have the Light of life (John8:12). Our Lord Jesus is the light that no darkness can overcome. As Christmas approaches and is nearer every day, we see and speak of this light more and more. Even Leah and Josh notice the lights at Christmas time and point them out!  These lights are just a reminder of the true light of Christ that has come into our lives and our homes to dispel the darkness. It is a busy time, but take a moment each day to stop, pause and rejoice in the light and consider what God has done for you and what a difference that true light makes in your life. Rejoice and be glad in all circumstances that our Lord of life and light has come! And he will come again to make all things right. For now, bask in the light and let it shine!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 

THANK YOU, PRINCE OF PEACE

A big thank you to our congregation for all your hard work and contributions, making Oktoberfest and the Craft Bazaar/Cookie Walk such a wonderful success! From the proceeds of these two events we are able to contribute $3,688.49 to our churches general fund. Also, thank you to those who purchased from the silent auction and the gift cards on the Christmas tree for the seminary students.  We were able to send them $160.00 in cash along with the gift cards that you purchased for them.  THANK YOU! Everyone at Prince of Peace is the BEST!!


December 2nd letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

God is love. Three simple words. They change everything. Hope is found!

December has only just begun and my calendar is filling up. So many places to go, people to see and things to do. I am doing my best to prepare and I have high hopes for the season and all that it will bring. I’m excited to celebrate Jesus, his coming and his birth because that really is the REASON for the season! It’s why we have hope.

There are only two places to look for hope. We can look for hope horizontally in the world, thinking that something in creation will give us security, peace, and that inner sense of well-being that we seek, or we can seek it vertically, putting our life and trust into the hands of our loving creator. God is love (1 John 4:16). People put their hope in creation all the time – thinking a relationship, success & achievement or stuff will do the trick and satisfy their heart. Yet these things were all meant to point us to the place where we truly will find rest, in our creator. We need to face this reality that creation will never be our savior.

But we know who is! Jesus is! God is love and he has shown his love in Jesus….for us, and for the world. Here in these 3 words we find hope that won’t disappoint. These 3 words have the power to change everything about us and they can end our searching and give our weary heart rest. God has given us his love to sustain us and carry and protect us always in every season of life.

Remember these 3 words and cling to them for all they are worth in this busy season. There is hope. God is love!

To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


November 25th letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

“Today You’ll envy the blessings of another or you’ll bask in the wonder of the amazing grace you have been given”. I read that in my devotion this morning and found it quite fitting as we prepare to celebrate thanksgiving. He went on to describe our struggle - I want to be content in all things and I wish I could say that I was, that I never wanted what someone else had or envied their life; that I never thought God gave something to someone else that he meant for me. I wish I could say I am better at counting my blessings than assessing what I don’t have – that my appetite for things wasn’t so large and that my heart would finally be satisfied. These are all wishes because they’re not totally true of us this side of heaven.

The Bible speaks very strongly against envy because it is a constant struggle. An attitude of gratitude thinking ‘I am blessed’ easily turns to ‘I deserve’ because envy is selfish to its very core. Envy causes us to question God’s goodness, his faithfulness and his wisdom. It accuses God of being incompetent or dishonest and not doing what he promises. Most of our problems of envy with another person are actually not about them, but about God and our view of him.

Envy causes us to question God’s goodness so we stop going to him for help because why would we go to or rely on someone we don’t trust? Do you see the danger here? Envy also causes us to forget God’s amazing grace and blessings to us because we’re focused on someone or something else.

God daily and richly provides all that we need to sustain this body and life. God has given us enormous blessings of his grace, that we could not earn and do not deserve. Let us focus this Thanksgiving on all that we have in this life and celebrate it as a gift of our loving merciful God. And let us ALWAYS rejoice and celebrate with thanksgiving that God has shown His grace and love for us in giving His son Jesus into death to save us. In Jesus’ resurrection we have life! We have a place at the table, we’re included in his family forever with His name on us as His treasured possession!

So let us bask in the wonder of God’s amazing grace shown to us in Christ. Everything is going to be right in the end.

To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


November 17th letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

The end is near… Christ is coming back for us, so that we may be where he is. That’s been our theme the last couple weeks and now it’s the last week of the church year before Advent begins. It always seems to come so abruptly. I’m not ready. I’m not ready for Christmas, and it’s not because I’m defending Thanksgiving and the need to celebrate it first. I’m not ready for Thanksgiving either! You’re free to put up Christmas early if you like – it certainly is worthy of extended celebration. It is just hard to be prepared.

The furnace died last night so that had to be fixed before I could get ready for work (luckily it was a quick fix with the pocketbook shut – just a dirty flame sensor). But then the kid from the cable company drove his van off my driveway and got stuck in the culvert…. He was supposed to be at my neighbors’ house! A floor jack, some blocks, a tow strap and a few minutes  later he was free, and on the road to work and so was I.

I was not ready for those inconveniences. I am not ready for the holidays, but they will come and go whether I’m ready or not. That’s life and that’s ok. But when Jesus comes…. That’s different. Ready or not has eternal consequences. I AM ready for Jesus to come back. That is one thing I’m sure of more than anything else. I trust in the mercy and forgiveness of Christ. I know that I am a redeemed child of God, marked with his name. And that makes all the difference for eternity. Jesus will come abruptly. For that, we ARE ready. Let us use this season of Advent to try and help others be ready for his coming too. It matters more than anything!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope 


November 10th letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

This week I celebrated another trip around the sun…. it was good birthday. A lot has happened in the last year, and I have a lot to be thankful for. The devotion I read that day said, “While sin is still a sad and ever-present reality in each of our lives, it is simply no match for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I find this to be very comforting in my own life as I reflect on my own sinfulness and shortcomings. It is also of great comfort to me as a Pastor. I hear things….people tell me things… not just about their sins and shortcoming, but about how they’ve been wronged by others. It is the latter that I sometimes struggle with the most – not being able to make right or fix or help the hurt someone has experienced at the hand of another person – another person whom God also loves and wants in heaven. Another person for whom Jesus died on the cross to forgive. One that Jesus loves, even though it is a person I want to hate for what they have done and how they have hurt someone I care for. And yet this is no match for the grace of Jesus Christ my Lord who has forgiven me. And this is where I must leave it – in the hands of Jesus. Help me forgive as you have forgiven Lord. Let me trust that you will sort it out and make it right. Help me love and forgive like you. Help me forgive and reflect YOUR forgiveness. Help me trust you to be God. I am not.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


November 2nd letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Gratitude. This week has been one of gratitude for me.  James 1:17 comes to mind: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”. This side of heaven, nothing is perfect, that’s for sure! Still God daily and richly provides for all our needs of body and soul, and then some. You all as Prince of Peace sure are one of those good gifts to me and to my family. Pastor Appreciation month took on new meaning for us this year with all the kindness, generosity, and support we’ve been shown in so many ways. Your thoughts, prayers, and kind gifts have been a blessing to us.  Galatians 6:6-10 comes to mind here as well: “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” You have shared good things with me. Thank you. God be praised. To God be the glory!

 Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


October 29th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Last week I shared the sad news that Alicia and I lost baby #3 at eight weeks. The amount of care, love and support that Alicia and I have received over this last week is incredibly heart-warming. Your calls, cards and conversations have been a wonderful encouragement and blessing to us during this difficult time. Galatians 6 talks about bearing one another’s burdens and caring for one another in Christ and we feel as if Prince of Peace has done that for us and shown us the love of Christ. You are our church family and we appreciate you, your understanding, love and support. Thank you!

 To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


October 6th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I have been wrestling with something that is hard to understand. One way or another it will resolve in time – like most things do. Still…. I wonder and question. I read a quote in one of my devotions this week that said, “You don’t have to understand everything in your life, because your Lord of wisdom and grace understands it all”. I don’t always handle this very well. God gave me my reason and my senses and I have a desire to know and to figure it out, and yet I won’t experience inner peace simply because all my questions are answered. I might not like the answers. God may not give me an answer. Sometimes God’s will is hidden and it will always be a mystery to us – he will not reveal all the things he will do in our life for our good and for his glory.

Yet, that is the promise in Romans 8:28 that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. So where is peace to be found? Isaiah 26:3-4 gives us the answer: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock”.

True peace is not found in trying to figure out God’s hidden will. It’s not found in our planning or trying to control our circumstances and people in our lives. True peace is found in trusting the person who controls all the things that we don’t understand and who knows no mystery because he has planned it all. We get this peace that remains even when disappointments come by keeping our minds focused on the Lord. Meditate on his glory, his grace, his faithfulness, his patience and his forgiveness; remember all that he has done for us – both in this life, and in the next through our Savior Jesus Christ. Some things remain a mystery, but the one behind the mystery is gloriously good, he is the author and sustainer of life and he is in control of all things. And he has plans to prosper us and not to harm us. God is FOR us!

Lord’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


September 30th letter

LETTER FROM OUR PASTOR:

Dear friends in Christ,

I’m not a big fan of monarchies. The big events and upsets of the royal family never interested me. I never had childhood (or adult) dreams of being a Prince or any kind of royalty, so it probably won’t surprise you that I wasn’t terribly moved of effected by the death of the Queen. However, I did come across a very meaningful expression of faith from the queen that I’d like to share with you. And please note that there’s absolutely nothing wrong if you feel differently about the royal family and it matters a great deal to you.

Queen Elizabeth exclaimed: "How I wish that the Lord would come in my lifetime." "Why" asked the Chaplain. The Queen replied with quivering lips and her whole countenance lighted up by deep emotion, "I should so love to lay my crown at His feet." 

THIS is a marvelous example in my mind of how we should regard our Lord and HIS reign in, and over our lives now on earth, but also eternally. It fits nicely with many of the themes we’ve had in recent weeks in the parables with Jesus teaching us about where our priorities should be set, what our treasure should be….etc.

We also sing about this reality of Christ’s authority over us as our Prophet, Priest, and King. We sing “Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne” and “I will cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it someday for a crown”. So, while I may not be a big fan of the Queen’s earthly authority, I do think she got it right when it came to submitting to the ONE true authority on earth as it is in heaven.

Lord’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


September 22nd letter

Dear friends in Christ,

This week has been a little trying on my nerves as Joshua’s vocabulary expands and he LOUDLY repeats the same 3-4 word phrase again and again and again and again…. you got it. Leah is full of shouts and enthusiasm for school, her friends and so many good things. It’s often in small spaces like the car. It’s tough. Yet, I consider that in light of Psalm 33 which says Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Give thanks to the Lord with instruments…. Sing to him a new song. For the word of the Lord is upright and all his work is done in faithfulness.

My kids are joyfully making noise…. And it’s a blessing from God. I will pray for more patience. God’s work is always done in faithfulness, even when it doesn’t occur to us that he is even working for us and our benefit. Don’t be bashful to make some noise to the Lord. Let your joy be heard. We all have so much to be joyful about, even in difficult times, even in small spaces….like cars. Sing it Leah! Shout it Joshua. And belt it out, all of YOU! Make that sweet music and that joyful noise to the Lord.

God’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


September 15th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Prayer – it’s one of those things we could probably all do a little better at or do more often.

I stumbled upon a little prayer for a wife whose husband can be difficult. Though I’m sure Alicia will NEVER need such a prayer, here it is:         

“Dear God, my husband. He can be a pain! But at least he is my pain. Help me to love him in spite of all the annoying little things he does. Because I do love him, and I want to love him more. Amen”.

While it might make you laugh a little, I think it’s a good little prayer. Swap ‘husband’ for wife, son, daughter, friend, cousin, aunt, uncle etc. and thank God for all the people God has put in your life to help, guide, bless or even grow your patience and compassion. Please add Pastor to the list too. I both need and covet your prayers (and I’m sure I give Alicia cause to pray this prayer often)!

God teaches us to pray; he invites us to pray. Not because he needs our prayers, but because we benefit from them. They’re good for us, kind of like vitamins. They help us focus our attention on God, what he’s done for us in Christ and all that he daily and richly provides for us in this life; plus they teach us to rely on him, to come to him at all times, and all situations. I encourage you to pray the Lord’s prayer, pray this prayer or make one up. Two of my favorite (short) prayers are “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief” and simply. “Lord Help!”  Because he does. Always. Don’t be bashful! God’s ear is always inclined towards you; HE is always FOR you!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope


September 8th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Happy Thursday! I hope this finds you well. Rejoicing seems to be the theme for the week.  Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin in our Gospel for Sunday and the joy of finding what was lost and how that relates to the kingdom. There is much rejoicing in heaven when the lost are found – when sinners repent. I love the parables. There is always more going on than is immediately apparent. Our house has been full of anticipation and excitement as Grandma arrived this week from California. Neither my mom or her luggage got lost, but we rejoiced anyway. We’re thankful for the visit and our time together.

I have been searching for a few items this week that are still “lost” from our move. They must be somewhere! I want them NOW! When you lose your keys you NEED them now – before you can go anywhere…. Sometimes it seems like joy, can be at a minimum if it’s there at all. We must experience a loss first, frantically search for, or try to repair something, and then find or fix it before that wave of joy and relief sets in. Why is that? Why do we not have more joy in our day simply because something or someone is already there and NOT lost? Why do we fail to fully appreciate the value of someone or something until it is lost or we don’t have it anymore? I think we should work on this…..

Jesus is blasting the Scribes and Pharisees in the parable. He does that a lot. They’re grumbling that Jesus wants to grow the kingdom. Jesus wants to bring more people to himself – to welcome sinners. Notice how the Lord is always harsher on the sin of hypocrisy (usually the Pharisees) than he seems to be on other sinners. The Pharisees don’t see their sin; they think they’re better than others. They are blind to the fact that they need Jesus every bit as much as everyone else. We need Him just as much ourselves. 100%. We’re all sinners. We all need Jesus 100% - there is not sliding scale here; nobody needs Jesus any less….

This is where the JOY and the rejoicing comes in. Rejoicing is the business of heaven! There is more joy in heaven over 1 repentant sinner than a whole gaggle of self-righteous people that think they need Jesus less than someone else. When we rejoice at finding our keys or other lost items – that’s good. But we already had them to begin with. We had already been blessed with it (before we lost it). There is rejoicing in heaven when the numbers grow! When those outside the kingdom are brought inside. When they are added. Don’t be a Pharisee – don’t compare yourselves more favorably to others. We all need Jesus 100%. There is plenty of him to go around. Repent, rejoice and be glad that you’re ALREADY in the kingdom. Rejoice and be glad that the kingdom grows daily and abundantly in spite of us! When you find what you’ve lost, rejoice. Rejoice also in what you already have and that it is NOT lost.

To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


August 30th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Has anyone ever said to you “loosen up, you look so serious” or “have fun, let go a little”? I’ve heard it, so I’m sure you have too. In that moment, I check in with myself and ask if that’s accurate. There is a time and a place for everything, or as Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”. There is a time to be serious, and a time to be silly. There are times to be happy and times to be sad. 

I came across a C.S. Lewis quote this week (he’s one of my favorite authors): “Joy is the serious business of Heaven”. I wholeheartedly believe that, but then I thought, why not work to make that true in our own lives here, now, on earth too. Of course, it will never be possible to have heaven on earth because of sin. There are times that are not joyous, and places that it may not be right even to smile. But as Christians, even in rough times, even now, we have something the world does not have. We have Jesus; we have the good news of the gospel. We have a joy in knowing we belong to the Lord, and nothing can separate us from his love. 

Everything we have and everything we are, is a gift. Everything we have done wrong or left undone has been forgiven. We see things differently than the world does. For us it is different. I can’t wait to get to heaven and experience the unimaginable Joy that is there – that serious business of heaven. But there is great joy even now – knowing what we know, having what we have. Don’t let the devil, the world, or your own flesh steal your joy; don’t let them rob you of it. It’s far too valuable of a thing to not keep better tabs on. I am trying to “check-in” more often and find joy in more things, and even rejoice in my sufferings. I have something special the world doesn’t have. I want to share it, and I want to ENJOY it. I want our JOY to be serious business here too!

To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


August 25th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Leah has learned to work the TV remote. We’re now taking steps to ensure that when, and if she turns it on, she won’t find things that scare her or that will require unnecessary explanations for a 5 year old. It reminded me of many times when my dad would quote Titus 1:15 “to the pure, all things are pure”. And while I want to protect my kids and their child-like innocence as best I can, there’s a problem. None of us are completely pure – not even Leah, because of sin. We see the effects of sin all around us in the world, our relationships and ourselves with our thoughts, words and actions. It’s a real struggle, a daily one. Our Lord sends us to be salt and light to the world, carrying the good news gospel message of Jesus Christ with forgiveness life and salvation in him. And yet still we struggle.

We live in a world where evil still exists all around us, but the one who conquered sin and death is still with us. As Jesus was sending out his disciples into the dark world with the gospel he said something that changes everything. He promised “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” Matthew 28:20. We’re not sent out into the world with a list of principles, nor does he guide us with rules to follow. HE COMES WITH US! And not just to jump in a save the day when we need a hand. He knows we’ll never make it unless he’s with us every moment of every situation, location, and interaction. He IS with us in every trial and struggle because he’s been with us all along. In our struggle with evil, he gives us himself. He knows that in HIM we have everything thing we need.

Let this comfort you in your times of worry and struggle. Give thanks in times of joy. Your Lord is truly with you ALWAYS, in everything. Even when you turn on the TV. Fear not! The Lord is with you always – even to the end of the age.

To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


 

August 21st letter

Dear friends in Christ,

We’re back from MN, mostly rested and thankful for the opportunity to see friends. This week I’ve been catching up on meetings and it occurred to me that very often when I pray with a group before a meeting, at Bible study or some other gathering I thank the Lord of his mercies new to us each day, but then often forget that as the day gets busy or as I become distracted by work, thoughts or some other task and it gets sidelined in my thinking. 

Lamentations 3:22-23 says “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”. So often we allow ourselves to have a view of ourselves, of others, of circumstances, of daily joys and struggles, of God, of meaning and purpose and what life is about that is completely lacking of this gorgeous redemptive reality: mercy. His mercies are new every morning – we should post this somewhere it will be seen each day multiple times. 

Mercy is the theme of God’s story, and the thread that runs through all of Scripture. Mercy is the reason for Jesus’s coming and it’s what our desperate heart needs. Mercy is what gives you comfort in weakness and hope in times of trial. Mercy does what the law is powerless to do. Mercy not only meets you in your struggle, but guarantees that someday your struggle will end. Let the amazing words of this passage sink in. 

As God’s child they describe your identity and your hope. They give you reason to get up in the morning and to continue. They allow us to face and admit how messed up we really are and they allow us to extend mercy to the failing people around us. They allow us to be comforted by God’s presence rather than be terrified at the thought that he is near. God’s love for us will never end, his grace and forgiveness will never end. It’s not left-over, recycled or one size fits all mercy. It’s new mercy for each of us, each day - unique to our struggles and the crosses we bear. So be encouraged, strengthened and renewed by God’s mercy new each day, and keep it always before you – it’s FOR you. 

To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


August 11th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

By the time you read this, Lord willing,  we’ll be safely in Grand Rapids, MN visiting friends. We’re hoping for an uneventful drive and a peaceful relaxing time with friends and that their 5 kids and our 2 play nicely together as they have in the past. This peaceful  theme seems to be the opposite of our Gospel text for Sunday where our Lord Jesus claims that he’s come to bring division instead of peace. Christianity is a peaceful religion, so what is our Lord saying here? Truly our Lord’s mission and purpose is to seek and save the lost (Like 19:10). What he is saying here is that what you confess about him, who you say he is may cause division in our world and in our homes. Surely you’ve seen or experienced this first hand. Yet who we believe Jesus is makes all the difference for us here now and in eternity.  He says earlier in this chapter in verse 8 that he will acknowledge us before his father, and our father. We need not be anxious about a thing – God always cares for and provides for us – it is his joy to give us the kingdom. HIS kingdom. We are to be ready for his coming, for we don’t know the day or the hour, but we can take heart and be comforted knowing that even in all the troubles of this life, whether they about our confession of Jesus or not, he is with us. We can look forward to seeing him with our own eyes when he returns in all His glory. Even more than I’ll look forward to seeing you when we get back!

The Prince of Peace be with you always!

Pastor


August 4th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Life has been crazy, hectic, and wonderful lately with all its changes; the blessings the Lord has provided. Sometimes I find myself lamenting all the things I want to get done, and the people I want to see and how it seems the days pass so quickly and yet my to do list never gets checked off as quickly as I’d like…. There always seems to be an interruption or something that comes up. Perhaps you can relate, even if just a little bit? I came across a C.S. Lewis quote this week that has stuck with me – “The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life”. I’m trying to regard those little interruptions whether they’re an unexpected call or something else differently. 

Church can often seem like an interruption with all the things we’ve got going on, yet it’s possibly the most important interruption to make time for. It is here that God equips and strengthens us for all the other interruptions with His gifts of word and sacrament FOR us. This is exactly where God has promised to be to give us stuff that we can’t get anywhere else. 

We’re preparing for a waterpark adventure to celebrate birthdays for both kids with vacation to MN to see some friends next week. We hope it will be a wonderful interruption for us. We pray God’s blessings on your interruptions great and small.

God’s blessings,

Pastor


July 26th Letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Monumental VBS continues this week at our house as Leah can be heard throughout the day singing all the songs; even I catch myself humming along from time to time. But at church it’s much quieter…. It almost feels lonely after such a bustling week despite the fact that Mary and Glenda and Amy are faithfully at their desks and many visitors have come and gone. 

Life is like that sometimes though. Despite being busy and active you can feel alone or weighed down by hardships and struggle. Truly we’re never alone, and we know that God is always with us, even in our sufferings. One passage I’ve been pondering this week is Isaiah 42:3 “A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench.” This is such a beautiful picture of God’s tender care; he is a giver, not a taker. He’s slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and mercy. He’ll never give up on us – not even when we’re weakest or at our worst. He is unchanging, he’s constant, so regardless of how we’re tossed about by the waves of the world our Lord is with us. He is also FOR us - through all our seasons whether we’ve got a song in our heart or can’t bear the thought. 

The peace of the Lord be with you!

Pastor


July 21th Letter

Dear friends in Christ,

We’ve had a MONUMENTAL week of Vacation Bible School here at Prince of Peace! It was wonderfully encouraging to see all the kids learning about God’s love for us in Jesus – how he sticks with us no matter what, and that nothing can separate us from his love. We sang about God watching over us 24/7 and his plan for us in Jesus. Psalm 118 talks about the strength of the Lord and his steadfast love – that he is my helper and my refuge. We can call on him and he will answer us. God is in charge of all things, even when we try to take matters into our own hands. We simply can’t debate it – God’s way is better than our way. His plan is infinitely better than any plan we could have for ourselves. God is in control. We can try to exercise our free will, but ultimately our will is bound to God’s will and we can’t overpower him to get our own way – no matter how much we try. He always prevails. God is like Huckleberry Hound – he always gets him man. It doesn’t matter when or how he got you. You are his. Nothing can separate you from God’s love.

A big thanks to everyone who volunteered and helped make VBS such a special week! There was a monumental amount of work that went into all the preparation and execution of our VBS! THANK YOU! To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


July 17th Letter

Dear friends in Christ at POP,

I have been thinking a lot about identity lately – who am I? Who do I want to be? I can say with certainty that I am not Justin – though I have been getting a lot of calls for him from some mortgage lending outfit. Sigh. I do really hope those stop. But those calls did get me thinking that as Christians we don’t work in the hope of getting an identity; we work in celebration of the identity that; in Christ we have been given. Galatians 4:4-7 talks about the identity we have in Christ who has redeemed us by his cross and reconciled us to God so that we are heirs and can call God OUR Father. We don’t need to wonder who we are or what we will be or look for meaning and identity in the things of the world. We have been given something much better. Our identity is God’s child and an heir of heaven through our baptism.  

Here at church the week has been full of preparation for Vacation Bible School that starts on Monday! You might not even recognize the place right now. Everyone is excited to have all those kids here at POP and teach them about Jesus and his love for us – it’s truly “Monumental”! Our hope and prayer is that the kids will have fun this week and grow in their understanding of their Lord and Savior Jesus, and the identity they have in him.  That’s my hope and prayer for all of us each day too!  God’s richest blessings to you all!  

Pastor DeHope


July 10th Letter

Dear friends in Christ,

hope you all survived and enjoyed our Independence Day festivities this week! In addition to the freedoms we enjoy in our country I have been contemplating the "hope" we have as Christians (Ephesians 1:18-19 and Eph. 2:11-22).  We hope for many things - good weather, lower prices and a better economy, for our marriages, our kids and other relationships, for our church and many other things that are future focused. Looking ahead to the future and the tasks before us can be daunting and we can lose hope before we've taken the first step of the climb. The hope we have as Christians isn't just wishful thinking about what might be, IT IS a present reality we live in that is rooted in our Savior Jesus Christ and what he has already done for us on the cross. It is a hope with an expectation in a promise being fulfilled already by our gracious Lord.  

Alicia and I took advantage of some appliance sales for 4th of July so we could have a gas stove and an opportunity to bear witness to this hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15) presented itself and I had an interesting conversation about faith, life, and our church with a fellow believer at Lowe's of all places. Turns out he was even a Lutheran! 

Your hope is no ordinary hope as the world sees it. Your hope is in the rock of our salvation who has given you, life and many blessings now, but also the promise and "hope" of life everlasting. I hope you enjoy your upcoming week in the peace of the Lord. Let us "have the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which God has called us". 

Pastor DeHope

 

 

 

ecember 14th

Dear friends in Christ,

Things don’t always make sense to us, at least not fully, not the first time through. If I’m looking at assembly instructions for a kids toy there may not be any hope. If I’m listening to my dear wife (or half listening) I might need it repeated. I might have something else in mind that’s keeping me from understanding. We run into these same struggles with God’s word. Perhaps you feel something is lost in translation (like those toy instructions), or you weren’t listening to God all that carefully, or you think He should do it an entirely different way and you have lots of “why” questions in your mind.

As I read over Luke’s account of the birth of Christ, and how it all came to pass…. I marveled once again at the faith of Mary and Joseph to believe, trust, and accept all these things that the angel told them. Yes, God did choose them for this special calling, but God has also put us in our place and time for his purpose. Nothing went according to plan for this engaged couple, even though they did everything right by God. Their engagement was not focused on a big wedding, but rather an unexpected child (by God’s doing) and an unplanned trip to visit cousin Elizabeth. All the details surrounding the birth were far from ideal – from the very pregnant and painful travel for the tax to the birth in the stable instead of a comfortable place. Once Jesus was born, and the wise men visit, what may have otherwise been a honeymoon of sorts became fleeing to Egypt by night to escape evil Herod.

There is great comfort for us in our calling as Christians even when things are not going well by our estimations or expectations. We’ve been preparing the way of the Lord the last few weeks and yet things just aren’t quite prepared to me; despite my attempts to heed my own preaching. During our midweek advent services we’ve been praying Mary’s song of praise, the magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) – “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation… He has helped his servant in remembrance of his mercy as he spoke to our fathers….to his offspring forever”.

Mary has great faith and extols the Lord, her God and Savior because He is the source of mercy and blessing. He shows his strength and his mercy, and he keeps His promises. Remembering what God has done, trusting Jesus’ strength, his mercy, and his promise, I too can be peace – whether ready….or not. God grant us the faith and trust of Mary and Joseph to cling to the Word of God and all his promises as we celebrate this season and always. Jesus is the reason for this season, and all of them.

The peace of Christ be with you always!

Pastor DeHope


December 7th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I’d like to start by saying Thank you to everyone who sent us a note or a gift for Pastor & staff appreciation. The presentation after church, Sunday was very nice, and all your kind words of encouragement were very much appreciated. It really is a joy to be here and to be your Pastor. Alicia and I appreciate you all very much.

The season of Advent leading up to Christmas and culminating with the 12 days of Christmas that end with Epiphany on Jan. 6th really emphasizes gratitude, God’s grace and kindness shown to us. This is why we give gifts in the first place – in joy and thankfulness because God gave first to us and provides all that we have from his fatherly hand.

I got curious and did a quick internet search on gratitude in the Bible, and one site said the only thing that appears more frequently in the Bible than gratitude is “fear not”. We hear that a lot this time of year from the angels when they appear to Mary, to Joseph and to the Shepherds. “And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). Our Lord Jesus also calms the fears of the disciples, and us his people with these same words. There is no need to be afraid; Jesus has come, and his presence brings us peace.

I encourage you to take every opportunity you can this busy holy season to stop and think about just how “good” this good news of Jesus is for you and the world. Our theme for this short Advent season is “Peace Came to Earth” and God’s peace really does take away our fear, our doubt, and our worry.

Lord’s blessings to you this week as you prepare for our Lord’s coming which is for you.

Pastor DeHope


November 29th

Dear friends in Christ,

“C’mon, let’s hurry” – I said to the kids rushing through the store. I’m on a mission for the one thing we came for, yet there are so many bright, shiny, things that have lights and make noise that they want to look at. Gah! There’s just not time if we’re going to get to the other place too and get to our commitment on time. Somehow we made it, even with a 2 kid potty stop, and a pause for the lights and sounds, but the store adventure just wasn’t the enjoyable experience any of us wanted.

Maybe it wasn’t possible the way I had designed it. Perhaps if we had more time or if we’d found what I was looking for all would have been well? I didn’t choose time, I chose another store. I tried to do too much. I was rushed. It’s a common theme not just during the holidays, but in everyday life.

It’s always about time. On time, out of time, in time. Sunday we begin the season of Advent where we prepare for our Lord’s coming for us both at Christmas celebrating his birth, and his 2nd, final coming to take us to be with him. In the meantime, we’ll have lots of choices to make about time.  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son” Galatians 4:4.

When everything was right for God’s plan Jesus came to save us. The time was right. I may never quite be right with time, but I know that I am right with Jesus. It is my hope that as this joyous season kicks up we take the time and make the time for what matters most. Less hurry, less stress; more Jesus, more lights, more quality time with the kids and people that matter.

The holidays (read holy-days) mean different things to us all depending on the year and the circumstance, yet there is joy to be had in Jesus and his coming which is for YOU. Don’t let all the other things steal your joy. The fullness of time has come. Christ is here, with his cheer; never will he leave me!

Blessings on your week and your Advent preparations!

Pastor DeHope


November 22nd

Dear friends in Christ,

What are you thankful for? That’s the question we’ve been asking at POP this month. There’s really no wrong answer, and hopefully you’ve got more than one!  This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, and while it’s not a religious holiday, it is good to stop and give thanks to God for what we DO have, remembering that “Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:17). We’re reminded in Hebrews 2:10 that everything is God’s – we’re just using it and caring for it for a while.

One of my favorite hymns comes to mind: “God gives me my days of gladness, and I will trust him still, when he sends me sadness. God is good; his love attends me, day by day, come what may, guides me and defends me. From God’s joy can nothing sever, for I am his dear lamb, he, my shepherd ever. I am His because he gave me, his own blood for my good, by his death to save me. (LSB 756).

I am thankful for God’s eternal wisdom and that he has safely brought me to this day. I hope that whatever your week entails, and however it goes, that you find joy and thanksgiving in being a child of God and knowing Jesus as your savior and that he loves you. I’m most thankful that we both know and believe this to be true. Thanks be to God!

A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Pastor DeHope


November 9th 

Dear friends in Christ,

The hard thing about leaving on a trip (at least for me) is the amount of work it takes to pack and prepare at home and at work both physically and emotionally. There’s the anxiety about it all and worry about what might happen. It takes so much less effort and struggle to stay close to home, to not miss a Sunday. I guess that’s what makes me a bit of a home-body. The other side of that though, is that if you don’t take that trip you’ll miss out on what’s ahead – the opportunity or adventure. I may grumble about going sometimes, but I always enjoy the trip without regret. It all turns out ok in the end.

The same is true for many other aspects of life, and taking chances – stepping out on a limb, so to speak. The words of Moses to Joshua are a helpful reminder for me that I’d do well to keep in mind regularly: “Be strong and courageous… It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8-9).

Be strong and courageous no matter which of life’s journeys you’re on, even if there’s a cross to bear. Don’t be afraid; it is the Lord who goes before you. You’re never alone in anything. You’ve always got a traveling companion and he’s been through it all – even unto death. And he conquered death and lives! Do not fear or be dismayed.

Hopefully by the time you read this we’ll have reached our destination safely with much joy, but please do keep us in your prayers as we travel about.

God’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope

 


November 3rd

Dear friends in Christ,

One of the ways God keeps us humble is to teach us through our children. This week our family is preparing for the loss of our dog Gromit. Gromit is almost 14 and has been with me from the beginning. I took him in as a stray when he was just a pup and we’ve been family ever since. The family has grown – with Alicia, Leah, and Joshua. We’ve adopted and lost other dogs, but none were quite like Gromit. Everybody loves Gromit. I had hoped against the odds that he’d be around to welcome child #3 - little Benjamin Carlton with us, but it looks like God has other plans. When we told Leah how sick Gromit was, that he was hurting - and he was going to be with Jesus on Saturday – she cried and cried. But then she stopped and said, “Let’s have a party for Gromit”. So, tonight we’re having a party for Gromit. He’ll feast! We’ll all feast. It will be a celebration of God’s gift of Gromit to us, our family, and friends. Truthfully, we’ve really been spoiling him all week. Dog treats. Halloween candy. The kids have not held back.

I had been dreading this day for a long time, but this last week was also a gift. Rather than dwelling on how I might feel when I had to say goodbye, or what life would be like after Gromit, I spent the week showering him with treats, with care, with attention, and appreciating him. My life is so much better because God put him in my life, at a time I never would have thought to get a dog. God is funny like that – knowing what we need and bringing it about in ways we haven’t considered.

We so often focus on what might happen when it’s not even a sure thing. We become consumed with a problem and a struggle – or a whole set of them, so we lose sight in the moment of what’s really good. We forget what we do have, and how God has fulfilled his promise to work all things for our good and to provide for us in all circumstances. We worry that our neighbor has more than we do, when really, we should only be looking in their bowl to make sure they have enough.

God has shown his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and yet we’re troubled about many things. We know that God did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32), yet it can be hard to live like we truly believe it. So, let’s have a party! Let us celebrate what we do have. We have Jesus, we have family - both the one we’re born into, and the one God has made us a part of in his church, bound by a common faith. We have food and shelter and all those 1st article gifts (from the catechism’s explanation of the 1st article of the Apostles’ creed).

What we have is truly more than what we lack. Thanks be to God! So, this week, have a party! We’ll meet back here in church and really celebrate together around the altar where God forgives our sins, feeds, and unites us together in him.

Blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


October 25th

This week we celebrate the Reformation! The old joke is that Lutherans never change, and yet the Reformation brought about a LOT of change. It was a good change. It was a call for the church to return to the Word of God in many ways where she had erred. God’s Word was put in the hands of the people as Luther translated the Bible into German so they could read it for themselves.

God’s agenda is change. Our need is change. He continues calling us to repentance through this same unchanging Word to give us forgiveness and life in Jesus Christ our Savior. That is one thing that will never change!

C.S. Lewis said that we may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is trying to remember, to attend – in fact to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.

As you contemplate all that God has given to guide and sustain his church through the ages, with the reformation, and everything after, pray that you stay awake. As you think of all the blessings God has provided for POP, and for you individually, pray that he leads and guides us all in the ways that we should go – to serve him and to serve our neighbor. Lord, keep us steadfast in your Word; help us stay awake!

Lord’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


October 19th

Dear friends in Christ,

In the last several months we’ve noticed some cracking on walls inside our home and figured that it’s an old house; that patch must have been poorly done. Then we noticed under our feet there was a crack in the slab that wasn’t there before and also on an outside wall. We’ve been told that the ground moves a lot here in Topeka, but we’ve called in some help. This is beyond normal. It’s concerning and not right. There could be consequences if we just try to “live with it”.

Yet we live with a lot of things that need attention, that are not the way they’re supposed to be. The car is signaling us with a light on the dashboard, but drives fine so we’ll get to it soon, when we have the time, or money, or when it gets worse. A small machine we have seems to be making a different sound today, but it works fine so it must be fine. You’ve got a small ache or pain, but it’s not constant so perhaps it will heal itself. If it doesn’t, we won’t see a doctor until we’re in so much pain we can’t ignore it any longer.

So many things in life are on a spectrum of good or bad with a lot of ground in the middle. I got a “B” on that assignment. I’d hoped for an “A”, but at least it’s not a “C”. I’ll take this jacket today because it’s not as warm as my other coat. This car is newer than that car. We buy one product over another because we perceive it is a better value. We reason many things in life this way.

God is different. He’s constant. He does not change. That means his love for us and his attitude toward us is always the same. We sing about these truths: “On Christ the solid rock I stand – all other ground is sinking sand” or “Christ is our cornerstone, on him alone we build”. In Matthew 7:24ff Jesus says “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

God’s word is solid. It’s secure. It’s trustworthy and true. The church stands solely on Christ our Savior who is for us. The same is true for us Christians. No matter what happens everything will be ok, if we have Christ, if we remain in him. Our shifting house is a great example of the world and it’s shifting values that are not those of our Lord. It will fall. All the things we worry about that are on the spectrum, the things we wonder how bad can we let them get, before we have to deal with them, might not trouble us so much if we kept our eyes on Jesus. Things in life will be less shaky with our feet firmly planted on our Rock.

When you’re troubled this week thinking of all the “things”, remind yourself that Christ is your rock and your salvation. Keep your focus on him and these other things will fall into place.

God’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope


October 12th

Dear friends in Christ,

 Monsters are scary! Joshua worries about them at night and is scared to go to bed because of the monsters. We ask him if monsters are real or pretend, and he says they’re pretend – not real. Yet he’s still scared of them. The world is a scary place. We all have things we worry about; things that cause fear and trepidation.

Very often we fall victim to our own minds and many worldly influences. The future, the economy, trouble in the middle east and fear of domestic attacks. The safety of our kids and grandkids in a hostile world that is far more mature at a young age than what we grew up with.  Could this be your anxiety? Yes. Could it be a real concern? Yes. Sometimes we struggle to be at ease and find peace and balance day to day. Even at the pastor’s conference this week in Wichita I was worried and afraid of several things that never actually came to pass. Even though the monsters weren’t real, I was afraid of them.

And this happens more often than I’d like to admit. I’m just not at peace. This is what the devil wants. It’s what he lives for – to sow the seeds of strife, discord, and fear. I have mentioned before in these notes how the Bible so often addresses our fears with the directive “do not”. He encourages us by saying:  think like:  The Lord is with you, the Father has given you the kingdom, I will help you, I came near when you called me, and you are worth more than many sparrows. One of my favorites is from John 16:33 where Jesus tells his disciples: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Did you catch that? In the world there will be trouble, and in Jesus we have peace. Jesus has overcome the world. He’s overcome all the “monsters” in the world – everything we worry about and all forces of evil. They have been overcome and defeated by our Lord Jesus.

So. when you hear me say “The peace of the Lord be with YOU”, think of this verse. You have the peace Jesus gives, because he gives you himself. He has given you his victory over sin, death, and the devil. You have peace in a troubled and hostile world, come what may, because Jesus have overcome the world and given you, His peace.

Lord’s blessings on your week.

Pastor DeHope


October 5th

Dear friends in Christ,

Good-byes are hard. Some people avoid them like the plague. Some are very emotional. Some pass by us casually because we’ll see them again soon. At least, that is the assumption. We said goodbye to Auntie Joyce this morning and it was tough, even though we know we’ll see her again in about 5 weeks. Then after that we’ll see her daily as she’ll become an official Kansan!

It is one of God’s gifts and blessings that he puts us in community. He gives us family, unites us in a family of faith, and gives us good friends to rely on for support. Thank you Lord for this joy that you give and for guiding us all our days. And yet, our days on this earth will one day come to an end. There is an urgency to life. There is a time and a season for everything under heaven.  There is an urgency to share the good news, for the harvest is plentiful says the Lord!

So let us purposefully make time to enjoy all the relationships God has given us in life. Let us worship and praise him and let us share that same good news with purpose, urgency, and joy.

God’s blessings on all your days,

Pastor DeHope


September 29th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week we’re celebrating the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) and their work for the Gospel of Christ both here at home and around the globe. One of the ways they do that mission work is through the little purple “mite” box whose name is taken from the widow’s mite in Mark 12:41-44 & Luke 21:1-4. All those “mites” really add up together for the sake of the gospel, yet there is far more going on than the sum of the funds and compounding interest.

All our offerings, be they to the LWML, our church, or some other gospel centered mission are given in faith that God will bless them for his purpose. And he does. God is able to do great things with nothing. Look at the world and all that was made. Consider all the places you’ve been or want to go; all the people you love and know. God made them all from his dirt and combined them with his word. And it was good (Genesis 1&2).

This week in your devotions and prayers consider all the little things God has put in your life for good and for struggle to produce growth. Look at all that he has done with that for your good and enjoyment. We give back to God with our time, our treasure and our talents. How might he be using these for the good of his kindgom? We don’t always see the fruit of God’s work through us, but he does. It’s fruitful and good because he is working it for our benefit and our salvation in Jesus Christ.

Blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


September 21st

Dear friends in Christ,

What are you having? No, it’s not down to the steak or the salmon. While both of those are deliciously pleasant thoughts, and I’d like one of each, people have been asking about the baby. When will we find out if we’re having a boy or a girl? Well, now we know! We’re having a boy! Josh is excited to have a little brother and as much as Leah wanted a little sister, she’s happy that God gave her another brother. We know she’ll be a great big sister!

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate” Psalm 127:3-5.  What a wonderful reminder of how the Lord sees children. It’s a good encouragement to Alicia and I when we’re feeling a bit too old and overwhelmed for this, or wonder if we’re ready for 3. No, we certainly are not! Yet God says yes, and he gives us all of life’s challenges so that we may walk in him, depending on him to see us through it. He has provided for every day in the past and he will not stop. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.

No matter the challenge or the daily struggle God will bless us. We are his children – his heritage. Through Jesus Christ our savior we are the heirs of his eternal heavenly kingdom. So, while we eagerly await the arrival of Benjamin Carlton DeHope this Maundy Thursday, we gather at the cross to receive God’s gifts of forgiveness and mercy placing our trust in him all our days.

God’s blessings on all YOUR days!

Pastor DeHope


September 14th

Dear friends in Christ,

Relationships are hard. We don’t always speak the same language as our spouse. Friendships can be fraught with misunderstanding, or sometimes hard to maintain. Work relationships are…. well, work sometimes. The fact is we’ve never had a relationship in our lives that was free of disappointment. Nothing lives up to the ideal. Not even our relationship with God. Why is that? It’s because of sin. We know this, but it is hard to accept.

Sin causes us to be focused on ourselves. It makes us more demanding than serving, more accusing than forgiving, more defensive than approachable and more critical than understanding and patient. We shouldn’t be surprised our relationships all have problems. Does this tough reality ever make you want to give up and quit? Does it make you want to live on a peaceful island by yourself? We don’t need to be afraid or lose hope because there is grace for our struggle.

Our hope is not found in ourselves or the relationships we have. Hope is found in another. We’re never alone. God is always with us and he is for us in all our relationships – with him and with each other. He gives us grace, even when we’re not up to the task. James 4 begins with a very honest and direct discussion of conflict in our relationships that we all face, and why we face it. We’re not left without hope. Right in the middle of the passage there is this phrase that changes everything: “But he gives you more grace” (v.6). There is grace for every hurtful moment. There is grace for every time you sin or are sinned against. And the grace we’re given for our relationships and everything else will never, ever run out or end. There is always more.

You can give yourself to love, to forgive, to confess, to confront, to trust and to persevere even when things are hard, because “he gives more grace.” That grace in Christ makes all the difference in word for us and all our relationships – with God and with each other.

God’s blessings on your week in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


September 7th

Dear friends in Christ,

How is your devotional life? Do you read your Bible every day? These questions strike fear in the heart of many Christians. Very often things in life are not the way we wish they were, not the way they should be. This can include our time in God’s word and our devotional life. One thing leads to another and soon our worship life together and even our prayer life can suffer. No need to check in with God if we already know we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing…. or as well. So, the thinking goes.

 

Now, dear friends! Don’t let any guilt from the past interfere with the present. Each day is a new and a new gift from God that is full of opportunities to do better. If today you don’t succeed, try again tomorrow. God’s forgiveness and mercy are new each morning regardless of past performance.

 

A friend once remarked to me how much he had read in a year and I was shocked! To my surprise, all he did was read a little each day. Such as simple idea – slow and steady wins the race. My devotional life and reading time are not what I’d like them to be. This is one of those things I’m working to change as part of my new routine with the start of the school year. So far, those little changes are paying big dividends.

 

There are so many other voices that are calling for our attention and telling us what is right. The best way for us to stand firm in our faith and know what is good and God-pleasing if to be in his word. Portals of prayer or some other devotional resources that are organized by the day are helpful to me so that I can pick up where I left off and move one. If you’re ambitious, there are schedules to read the bible in a year. (I’d be happy to share one with you if you have difficulty finding one). There are even Bibles laid out by the day to help.

“Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” - Proverbs 3:5-6.

 

Blessings on your week.

Pastor DeHope


August 31st

Dear friends in Christ,

The End. I bet you didn’t expect that at the beginning, did you? Some things are over before they begin. When the storyline in a movie wraps up nicely with a happy ending and the guy gets the girl the end can be a happy one. When a long meeting ends, we rejoice. We wish some happy times would never end. Endings are sad when they are marked with a loss, especially if we were not prepared for them – like the loss of a loved one. Still, some endings are bittersweet because one thing is over and another begins.

Today is the last day for us to bowl with the kids for free. Summer is over; it has ended.  And with it, many of the activities and fun things that went with it. Our perceived freedom gives way to a more structured routine. The kids are back in school, and the seasons will be changing. In reality, summer didn’t really change my schedule much. We had church every week like we always do. We didn’t take a vacation (we’ll save that for November – just before the busy season of Advent and Christmas). Still, I had planned extra projects for the summer months. There were extra outings with the kids, house projects that were necessary, some for fun; others were unplanned, some necessary and NOT fun. Many things remain undone. What do I do about them now?

The beauty of a new season, or a new schedule or a big change is that it comes with a do-over. There is a new opportunity for order and a chance to reset priorities and goals. Our new routine is more consistent day to day. It’s given us a new chance to add helpful things like singing and a bible story with few more prayers at bedtime. We see more clearly what the kids need, and what we need. We adjust. All this is a gift of God.

We know that there is a time and season for everything under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) and we know that our God is a God of peace and order (1 Cor. 14). He’s made all things and continues to sustain them all – through all of life’s seasons. We rejoice every day that we are God’s baptized child for whom Jesus died. We thank him for all the seasons we go through in life and all the new opportunities he gives us.

So, how will you use this new season? What will you do with God’s blessing of order? As you carve out your week will the Lord be a top priority? Will you come to church? Make time for prayers and devotions? When God is truly first, all the other things seem to fall into place.

God, bless our week and all that it will bring. Give us the strength that we need and help us to put you first so that everything else fits in its proper place. Keep our eyes on Jesus so we see your promises and handiwork in our lives. Help us to use each day wisely and call a do-over when we need it. There is always forgiveness in you. Amen.

Lord’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope

 


August 24th

Dear friends in Christ,

Everybody has secrets. Some information is sensitive and important to protect – like your bank card PIN and other such information which is good to keep secret. A surprise party can be a fun secret to keep (assuming the recipient isn't mortified by that kind of thing). Often a friend will confide in us. Perhaps this is just time sensitive information that will be revealed in greater detail at a later time, but it can be deeply private and personal as well. We know that a gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret – Proverbs 11:13.

There are some things which are our own to keep private or to share all over social media, and there can be lots of ground between the two. Sometimes the news is just too exciting NOT to share. Alicia and I shared that we’re expecting last week. After a good healthy checkup this week, baby is on track to be born on Maundy Thursday – right before Easter. We just couldn’t keep it a secret anymore so the cat is out of the bag so to speak and Leah and Josh now know a baby brother or sister is on the way. No need to keep this secret anymore!

Thanks be to God for Good News and joy to spread and share with each other. We share this joy of our growing family with you our church family; yet we rejoice in even greater news that we share with the world – Jesus Christ died to save sinners. He is risen from the dead and all who believe in him have eternal life in his name!

So, rejoice with us that there will be a baby DeHope for Easter, Lord willing. Rejoice even more that we have seen the light of Christ. Let it shine in your life and bask in its glow.

Lord’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


August 17th

Dear friends in Christ,

“I know where to go. I’ve got this”. That’s how Leah replied with confidence when we asked if we should drop her off or walk in with her on this first day of kindergarten. It brought mom to tears, so Leah let us walk her in for our sake. I just marvel at how much my little girl has grown, and how loving and courageous she can be. I did not possess that kind of confidence in kindergarten!

Our life in this world is fraught with difficulty and uncertainty. The future sometimes looks grim amd we are confronted with hard things. The church also is not immune to these struggles. St. Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 1:7-8 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord”! There are a great many things that strike fear in our hearts and cause great anxiety, and yet as Christians we know that no matter what happens in this life, we know exactly where we are going. Jesus’ death and resurrection assures us of this. He has put his name on us in baptism. We are his children. We’ll be with him in heaven forever.

We may worry about how the rest of the story will go, but fear not – you know how this will end. It ends with Jesus! He is the victor! He has triumphed over all our enemies. He is with us, and we are in him. The victory is ours as well. So put away fear. Take up the gospel armor; have the spirit of power and love with a sound mind in Christ our Lord.

God, grant us courage to put our trust in you. Give us boldness to speak the truth in love. You know where we are going. YOU are the way. Bless all our days and our deeds in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessings on your week! You got this!

Pastor DeHope


August 10th

Dear friends in Christ,

In our Sunday Gospel readings, we’ve been talking about God’s kingdom and how it grows; about things hidden and revealed; about treasure and joy.

Today I would like to share something with you that covers all these bases. It is one of the ways God grows his kingdom, and certainly is a treasure that brings much joy – to Alicia and I, as well as Prince of Peace…hopefully. Alicia is pregnant again! We’re excited to share this happy news with you all, our friends!

Leah and Josh DO NOT KNOW yet. Please help us protect their little ears from this just in case things do not go well again. We hope and pray that in a few months time, we’ll be able to share this wonderful news with them as well. We appreciate your encouragement, prayers and support; please just be mindful when those little ears are present. They have a tendency to hear things even when you don’t think they’re listening!

We ask that you keep our family, and especially Alicia in your prayers. God relieve our anxiety and grant us peace and trust in him during this time of joy.

You are welcome to share our joy with others as you see fit. Just not with Leah and Josh just yet.

God’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope

 


August 3rd

Dear friends in Christ,

Leah is anxiously anticipating kindergarten; and us with her. There is so much joy and excitement about positive things that await her: new friends, new opportunities, learning new things, making discoveries about the world and its workings, and about herself. The list is almost endless. Sometimes when I get excited I can’t even sleep!

We can also become anxious in a negative way about those very same things, or about different things when we’re dreading the outcome or worried about walking through those challenges. Sometimes the difference can simply be a matter of perspective. Knowing that God is in control of all things and that he works them all together for the good of those who love him is a great comfort to us when we’re struggling and anxious about new and unknown things – so also with known things that we may not see a way out of.

God has good things for our future and we need not be anxious in the waiting. Yes, the waiting is the hardest part – sometimes. Our Lord understands our worry. He experienced all the emotions, with the joys and the woes in his body, just like we do. God was fully man, though he was fully God. “ For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” Hebrews 4:15-16.

Psalm 46 reminds us that God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of trouble. It is my hope that you cling to him this week and always as you navigate all the changes life may bring.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 


July 27th

Dear friends in Christ,

Albert Einstein said, “ People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results”.  Smart man. This is why I enjoy mowing the lawn – instant gratification! That lack of “results” can often be a struggle in life because we don’t see the fruits of our labor with that positive encouragement to continue, or that what we’re doing is working or worthwhile. The struggle might even be worse in the church.

We don’t always get to see the growth, the fruit of our labors for the kingdom. The time after Pentecost in the church year is the time of growth – some call it the green season where we receive teaching from our Lord. Right now, that teaching is in the form of parables and the subject is the growth of the kingdom. The seed as the word of God is sown on all types of ground, where God makes us good soil; or the wheat among the weeds where we’re told NOT to root out the weeds, lest we root out wheat, or rob the weed of it’s chance to become wheat for the kingdom. We struggle to comprehend the vastness of the kingdom, our Lord’s desire for all to be in it, and the reckless abundance Jesus distributes the gospel of forgiveness with.

So we also struggle when we don’t see great results in the world or in the church. It doesn’t always appear that the seed of the Word is growing, or that the harvest is as plentiful as God says that it is. We don’t necessarily see it with our eyes or in our church. Yet God says it is. God says his word IS powerful and does what it says. It makes bad soil good, and can turn weeds into wheat and unbelievers into Christians. And we trust God, really we do. We’d just like to see some results.

Trust the word and promises of God. Know that the Kingdom grows in secret. One will plant, another will water, another will see the fruit - but God gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:6ff). Jesus Christ is our rock and our foundation. Everything built on him will stand. So do the tasks you’ve been given to do – for the kingdom or otherwise. Take joy in your labor. Trust that God will provide what is necessary. He’ll give you the growth.

God’s peace be yours this week.

Pastor DeHope


July 20th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week has been Stellar!  That was the theme of our Vacation Bible School where we learned to “Shine Jesus’ Light”! When life feels dark… shine Jesus’ light! When people don’t get along… shine Jesus’ light! When good things happen… shine Jesus’ light! When people are sad… shine Jesus’ light! When people need help…shine Jesus’ light! Each day we had a memory buddy from space that taught us something wonderful about God and how he made the earth and how we can see him in creation. A Bible story was paired with that as an example of the light of Jesus. We had so much fun!

We invite you to join us this Sunday for a special worship service where we’ve invited all the kids back to share what they learned this week, to sing their VBS songs and shine Jesus’ light!

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


July 13th

Dear friends in Christ,

My email this week was especially frought with trouble. My amazon account was suspended! My eBay account was on hold, and there was a problem with my debit card (at a bank I don’t hold an account). Three separate attempts to gather personal information about me, take my money, to compromise or steal my identity. Phishing scams! Don’t worry, I didn’t bite. I didn’t click on anything, or even feel the need to login to my accounts the proper way to check on things. I saw them for what they were. Scams.

The devil is constantly trying to scam us. He’s on a phishing expedition to see if we’ll bite. He wants us to follow the world. He wants us to search for ourselves, to try and find some temporal meaning and purpose for our life in our job, our house, our family & friends, our hobby, our abilities, our…. our….our….  He’s trying to distract us and keep our focus on worldly things instead of godly things. And then he tells us that’s not enough. Or what happens when we lose one of those things, we found identity in? Despair.

You don’t work in the hope of getting an identity; you work in celebration of the identity that; in Christ Jesus you have been given. This is freedom for the Christian. We have worth and value because God has said so. He has made us his own dear children. We can have hope and find joy in all those other things – in all the gifts and blessings God has given us in this life. They just don’t define us and who we are. God does. We are his and he is ours. And this is an identity that we can share with others. It’s not a scam – it’s reality. It’s resurrection life in Christ. 

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


July 6th

Dear friends in Christ,

How wonderful it was to have two days off in a row for the 4th of July! A rarity for Pastors! I got a couple big projects taken care of, or nearly so – and wrapped up some small things too. It got me thinking about the kingdom and what it looks like. How it grows in secret, and yet Jesus tells us to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers because the harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few. The Gospel is simple enough for a child to believe, and complex enough that learned scholars can spend their lives studying the Scriptures and never mine it for all its treasure.

In our Thursday Bible Study, we see Jesus calling his disciples simply by saying “Follow Me”. And they do! The word of God is powerful. Phillip finds Nathaniel and confesses Christ as Lord. Then he simply invites him to “Come and see”. That’s what we do too. The church grows as it always has – with the invitation to hear the Gospel of Jesus – “Come and see”. Sins are forgiven. And the church grows.

Leah has been taking swimming lessons this summer which is good – she needs to hone her skills and brush up on what she’s learned. She’s doing well. We often approach our Lord and his church with a swimming lesson mentality to simply brush up on our skill, get a little encouragement, learn something new and be on our way.

What we receive here in God’s house every week as we hear the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins isn’t just swimming lessons, but divine rescue as my friend Ed has said. We don’t just need a helpful hint or a trick, we need rescue, forgiveness, and life in the cross of Jesus Christ.

It’s a life and death rescue. Christ’s death for our life. That’s our rescue in the gospel. We need it. The world needs it. And it’s simple. Come and see! Jesus is here with his gifts of life and salvation – rescue from the world, sin, struggle, and all that plagues us.

Blessings on your week. The mercy and peace of Christ be with you!

Pastor DeHope


 

June 30th

Dear friends in Christ,

I wish you all a joyous Independence Day as you celebrate our great nation and freedom; our equality and our unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness endowed by our creator! What a joy and blessing for us as Christians to know our creator by name. To know God’s love for us shown in Jesus Christ. And to know the true freedom that brings.

It's freedom from sin and hell and judgement. It’s Jesus’ not guilty verdict handed down from the cross. It’s not a freedom to live however we like, regardless of God’s will and is word, but a freedom to receive his gifts, his benefits and his forgiveness, time and time again. It’s freedom from fear and freedom from separation. It’s a freedom to know nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So, let’s celebrate God’s good gifts in our nation and our neighbor! Let’s continue to pray for our nation and our leaders and those who have served God and country. Let us rejoice and be glad that we are free in Christ. Lord keep us ever faithful! Help us to share all our joy!

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


June 24th

We fight a lot of battles in life. We battle each other and we battle ourselves. We battle our enemies. We battle illness or even a messy room. Sometimes we even do battle with God. In that battle of wills God will wrestle with us. He's patient, loving, and good, but his will is always right. When our will doesn't line up with his will for us; when our will doesn't line up with what God's word says.....guess who needs to change? We do. We must always strive to align our wills to God's. 

I've been doing some battling of my own over the last week and a half and it's gotten harder to fight and win this battle. It wasn't any of the usual suspects this time (like myself, family, or even a fight against the clock) - it was an ailment. I got poison ivy or some other kind of allergic reaction with a rash and it kept spreading. This morning I finally admitted I needed help. I just couldn't bear the intense itching and desire to scratch any longer. That desire to tear my legs off was always there. It just wouldn't let me be. It was SO annoying I almost couldn't stand it. I had been praying the whole time; I always pray.... well almost always.... God will never leave us or abandon us; he will not forsake us. He lets us wallow in our sin if we choose that, and we often suffer great consequences because of our sin, but God continues calling us back to himself. He continues to call us to repent and receive forgiveness - to be restored. His continued calling might get really annoying like a rash until we can't deny it. We may come to blows with God and even try to sucker-punch him but we're the ones who get hurt. We must call evil evil, and the good we must call good. We can't trick God into switching them or changing his mind about it. God's will is done. We pray in the Lord's prayer that it would be done among us also.

Please continue to pray for me this week, and for my relief from this temporary ailment. I'll continue to pray for you as well. Lord, lead us in paths or righteousness for your name’s sake, and let us lean not on our own understanding! 

Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


June 15th

Dear friends in Christ,

I’ve been thinking about learning – how we learn, what we learn, and why we study. Our Bible study Thursday mornings on the Gospel of John is going well and has given me much to think about. I’m also taking a continuing education class at Redeemer, Lawrence this week on the Seven Ecumenical Councils that’s being taught by Pastor Bruss who is now teaching at the seminary. It’s a little intimidating, but I know it will also be good, and I know I’ll learn something – even on my day off!

There are many Bible verses about learning. Colossians 3:16 comes to mind – “Let the message of Christ dwell among your richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts”. Proverbs 1:7 teaches us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction”. Psalm 25:5 helps us see why we have a thirst for knowledge and a desire to learn, especially why we study God’s word: “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

Knowledge is a gift that comes from the Lord, and his word teaches us of his love for sinners, and the salvation he gives freely in Jesus Christ. So, while I’m off learning more about church history, I encourage you to do a devotion today. Take an extra minute for God’s word. It makes us wise unto salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord!

Blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


June 8th

Greetings POP,

I’ve been trying to spend more time in the Psalms in my devotional life and during shut-in visits. The Psalms have been called the prayer-book of the Bible. There are different types of Psalms: Psalms of prophesy, instruction, comfort, prayer, and thanksgiving - collections of prayer and praise that cover all aspects of the Christian life.

This week I commend Psalm 121 to your reading; a psalm of consolation. God watches over us and cares for us; he has not abandoned us.

My Help Comes from the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

121 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


June 1st

I hope you all enjoyed your Memorial Day celebrations and those who made it possible. The extra day was a blessing and made it a short week. My family has returned, and it was a joyous homecoming! You can miss someone a lot in a short time. I’m sure that as the days and weeks pass all the excitement at seeing each other again will fade into normal…. Until next time. And no, I did not finish all the things on my list. Those will have to be saved for a future date!

Praise for the past… Faith for the future! That’s what one of our church banners says that’s currently hanging in B/C. I enjoy seeing this banner because it’s a nice reminder that God has brought us to this day. He’s faithful and unchanging. He’s dependable. Better than an old Chevy truck – Like a Rock! You can count on God. Things will work out, even if it is not the way we planned.

I have been reconciling that with something a friend of mine posted on social media recently: You are not your past. You are today years old. Live in God’s new and present mercies through Jesus Christ. He’s right. Our past doesn’t matter. It is forgiven in Jesus Christ. Praise be to God! What matters is that we were forgiven then, and we are forgiven now. Nothing in the future can change that either. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. God grant us faith for the future you have planned for us. It might be a wild ride, but the Good Lord always keeps his promises.

Cheers to the future and all that God has in store! Strengthen our faith!

Under the mercy of Christ,

Pastor DeHope


May 24th

Dear friends in Christ,

Everything changes so quickly. We had the excitement of Auntie Joyce visiting, and now she went home, and Alicia and the kids are visiting her family. It's quiet in the house. A time and season for everything under heaven indeed. I have a list of projects to keep me busy that is more than likely over-ambitious, but I'm doing what I can to make the most of it before they come back late Tuesday night. 

Thankfully God is constant and unchanging. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We don't need to worry about where he'll be, how to find him, or whether or not he loves us. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow (James 1:17)

So, while our circumstances may change, as does rain and the weather, our loving gracious God does not. He is your Rock, your Light and your Salvation! 

Lord's blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


May 18th

Dear friends in Christ,

The school year is over, or nearly over and it’s a time of endings and new beginnings. Saying goodbye to teachers and friends; looking ahead to new opportunities, summer break, a change of schedule and maybe even a vacation. For us it means Leah is saying goodbye to her teachers and friends at POPP and looking forward to Kindergarten and all the new friends and adventures that will bring. While we’re very sad that Topeka Lutheran isn’t an option, because they are closing, we know God will open other doors and opportunities for growth.

Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that for everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven. God has made everything beautiful in its time and put eternity into our heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man.

One of my favorite hymns of hope and comfort wraps this up in the last verse “ Before all time had yet begun, You, Father, planned to give Your Son; Lord Jesus Christ, with time-less grace, You have redeemed our time-bound race; O Holy Spirit, Paraclete, Your timely work in us complete; Blest Trinity, Your praise we sing – There is a time for everything! (LSB #762 – There is a Time for Everything)

For some, nothing changes. Your nose is still to the grindstone, and your routine is the same. There is a time for that too! No matter what life may bring, or what season we find ourselves in at the present moment, God has given us joy in our lives, and eternal unending joy in him. So, I encourage you to eat and drink and take joy in all that you do this week, this summer, and always! God’s gifts are plentiful! Enjoy them through all seasons!

 

The peace of Christ be with you,

Pastor DeHope


May 11th

Greetings in Christ dear friends,

It’s been a wet week. It was just coming down in buckets with lightning and thunder while I drove to KCI to pick up Auntie Joyce who will be visiting us for two weeks. We’re hoping to avoid any and all tornado watches and warnings while she’s here, but we praise the Lord for the rain.

Psalm 148 reminds us that all the heavens, the angels, the sun, the moon, the shining stars and the waters above the heavens praise the Lord. God commanded and they were created. He established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all the deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! Kings of the earth and all people, young and old, praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above the earth and heaven. All people and everything in all creation praise the Lord! Let Prince of Peace and all Topeka praise the Lord!

We are the Lord’s people because he has called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. We are forgiven and redeemed by the blood of Jesus and united to him in our baptism. What a marvelous cleansing flood where God put his name on us and makes us his own! Praise the Lord for that water! Praise the Lord for his faithfulness to us in all times and circumstances. Not only does he guard and keep us in the one true Christian faith, he daily provides for our needs. The rain that waters the earth and everything under heaven.

Praise the name of the Lord dear friends! Lord’s blessings on your week and all it entails – rain or shine, travels and visitors, graduations and daily routines same as always. Praise the name of the Lord!

Pastor DeHope


May 4th

Dear friends in Christ,

May the fourth be with you! ….and also with you! It’s a fun day for Star Wars fans….and my Aunt and my friend are celebrating birthdays this day also. Even if this isn’t a special day for you, the force is with you – the greatest force of all. Almighty God claims you as his own and his put his name on you. He’s with you no matter where you go, or what you do, watching over, blessing and protecting you.

This was especially on my mind while we traveled to the Great Wolf Lodge for an early birthday celebration for the kids this week (we got a special deal to beat the summer rush)! We were safe the whole time, no injuries, or real trouble of any kind. The blessing of joy and laughter abounded, and the parents had plenty of energy to keep up with the kids. It really was a nice getaway. Looking back, every moment was in the Lord’s control, even though I wasn’t thinking about it. It reminds me of one of my favorite hymns “Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me” and a few lines from it. Why should Cross and Trial Grieve me? Christ is near with His Cheer; Never will He leave me. God gives me my days of gladness, And I will Trust Him still when He sends me sadness. God is good; His love attends me. Day by day, come what may, guides me and defends me.

The hymn is very comforting to me, and while it fits in nicely with anxiety and the struggles I talked about last week, it’s a nice reminder and reassurance that God’s favor rests upon me no matter what or where. Even when we’re off enjoying God’s blessings and are busy having a good time, our Lord is ever “busy” with attending AND defending us.

Lord’s blessings on your week and all your days. From God’s joy can nothing sever, For I am His dear lamb, He my Shepherd ever. I am His because He gave me, His own blood for my good, By His death to save me. That’s a done deal and nothing can change it.

So, enjoy this day the Lord has made!

Christ has risen!

Pastor DeHope


April 27th

Dear friends in Christ,

One theme that has been common in many of my conversations lately – inside the church and far reaching outside and even in my own life is the topic of anxiety. The world is an anxious place full of anxious people. I count myself as one, maybe you do too? Many of us have anxiety as we pack our lives and schedules full of things like taking care of kids, our pets, crushing it at work, squeezing in a workout, trying (and possibly failing) to connect with our spouse, and maintaining a social life when we can. 2020 is three years in the rear-view and yet there seems to be so many things still causing us to worry and be filled with uncertainty and fear. The point hit home for me this week when one of the news blogs I follow shared nothing new and dedicated the day just to encourage and point out positive truths of some of their recent “gloomy” reportings.

Some of their advice and encouragement included: Fear is a choice. Choose hope! Don’t be distracted and despondent. Stay focused and hopeful. Focus on the progress, not the problems. Things WILL get better. Look, change is uncomfortable. The discomfort caused by BIG change is even bigger and more uncomfortable. We’re on the world’s biggest roller coaster and we are slowly pulling up to the tallest hill. Everyone knows what happens next. Helpful tips included: cut back a little on all the doomsday Youtube videos. Focus on things you CAN control. If we’re afraid, they win.

 This is some good practical wisdom. Take a deep breath, or 3. Let it out slowly. We KNOW things will be ok, and we know that they already ARE ok. Why? Because God is on his throne. The tomb is empty, Christ is risen and sits at the right hand of the Father ruling all things. He is in control no matter what it might look like day to day. The real battle is against the devil and evil, and Christ has triumphed. The battle is over, the victory is won. And it is ours in Christ. God has promised. Don’t loose sight of that in your day-to-day. You already have that victory. The faith God gives you also gives you confidence and hope in the future and what is yet to come. Don’t let the enemy steal your joy. Don’t be afraid. Remember the promises of God. There are those 5 words you can count on your fingers: I am with you always. You have eternal life. Jesus has promised NOONE can snatch you out of his hand. His Father is YOUR Father and He is greater than all. They are One (John 20:28-30). They are FOR you. God’s on your side. You got this! God’s got this, and he’s got you. 

CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA!

Blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


April 20th

Dear friends in Christ,

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA!

We’re enjoying a short visit this week from my parents this week. Leah and Josh are soaking up every minute of it – bedtimes have been extended and the excitement is high. It’s a little like Easter, and that added joy of the season. This week in Church we’ll be talking about Jesus appearing to the disciples on the road to Emmaus and how they didn’t recognize him at first, how he explained the scriptures to them and then Jesus revealed himself to them in the breaking of bread. Then with boldness, they return to Jerusalem to share the good news.

All this got me to thinking about God’s presence among us all the time. We ARE God’s children and there is never a moment when we’re not under his care; there’s never a time when we’re not the object of his love. So, the question is NOT whether or not God cares for me. The Bible says over and over again how much he does. Yet we compare ourselves to others; we want what they have – that which God has not given us and we analyze each moment of our lives for evidence that God love us and is with us. It’s tempting to do all this and yet we need not worry about that. Questioning God’s love won’t lead us anywhere good. When you’re tempted this way, run to his word for peace and assurance. Picking apart each little moment won’t give you God’s peace. His promises in his word WILL give you peace.

So, the real question, isn’t whether God cares, because he does. The real question is: will I recognize God’s care when it comes? Maybe the problem is our definition and expectation of God’s care. God’s care comes in a variety of ways – it’s not always a cool drink and a soft pillow. His care is not always relief from circumstances or trouble. There are many moments in our lives when the very thing that causes us to wonder about God’s care IS his care. He knows that trouble will reveal our hearts or display his glory. Often trouble is a tool of his care in the hands of the One who knows best what we need. God cares; therefore, make sure your definition of his care is not too narrow.

Jesus loves you and is for you. The proof is in the empty tomb. Enjoy your week in that ever-present reality.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 


April 14th

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA!

Our Easter joy continues! Every Sunday really is a mini Easter celebration because the empty tomb is a new constant reality that we live in. Easter is a season we celebrate as a church, but also a way of life. “He is not here…. He is risen, just like He said”. That means we can trust the word and promises of God who raised Jesus from the dead! We can say with all confidence, along with Job, I know that my Redeemer lives! I know that when everything else is done and gone, that I myself will see my Lord and Savior with my own two eyes! It doesn’t mean life won’t be rough. It does not mean life will be any easier for Christians – it won’t be. But what it does mean is that no matter the struggle or the triumph we’re not alone. God loves us and is for us and is with us.  Easter changes everything!

St. Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Christ is not raised, our faith is in vain and we’re still in our sins; we are to be pitied! But in fact, Christ HAS been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. Easter is real; it’s all real. There was no body in the tomb. Christ is risen, Christ is living, alleluia! Since Christ is living, we too will live eternally with him. We also live in him now. We are set apart. We are free. We are forgiven. We can accept whatever befalls us in life – whatever struggle we must endure, whatever hard things we must get out hands and feet dirty with because Christ is with us. We can have Easter joy through it all. We can share that grace and mercy freely with everyone because it will never run out. We can forgive with reckless abandon because Christ has forgiven us. Easter changes everything.

Go live, be free, and forgive. Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Pastor DeHope


April 7th

Dear friends in Christ,

How often do we hear, feel, or say: “It’s been a long week!” Sometimes they are just that way, and I don’t want to take anything away from those rough weeks we have.  It’s Holy Week, and our services are just beginning. For me, it’s already been a long week and we’ve only just begun. Our Lord Jesus knows all our struggles and our cares as we know from Hebrews 4:15. Yet how often do we think about just how long, how rough, how crazy, and just how BUSY our Lord’s last few days and hours were before his death?

After Palm Sunday and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, he angers the leaders by throwing vendors out in the cleansing of the temple. He confronts the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders and Judas is bribed to betray him. On Maundy Thursday in the evening, our Lord celebrates the Passover, the Last supper with his disciples. This was a family meal celebration that Jesus is celebrating with his disciples. I’ll save some comments on that for another time. Then Jesus washes their feet; as their teacher and Lord he would serve them. He always serves, cares for, and loves us. Then he institutes the Lord’s Supper – something totally new, and he communes with them.

After communion, Jesus and the disciples journey out of Jerusalem to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. In agony with the intensity of the situation our Lord sweats drops of blood. So much has happened even by this point that sleep overtakes the disciples and they fail to watch and pray. Then Judas arrives with the soldiers to betray Jesus. Peter draws his sword to fight, and Jesus has compassion and heals the servants ear that Peter has just sliced off. He’s then arrested, bound, and dragged off to court where he is falsely accused and questioned by various leaders.

The Good Friday events don’t turn out “Good” for Jesus. He’s condemned, flogged, mocked, and beaten. He’s nailed to the cross and crucified. Saturday Jesus is in hell proclaiming victory over sin death and the devil. And we all know what happened, Easter morning!

What a week!  All of this was for you, dear friend! Our Lord Jesus went the way of the cross for you, for the sins of the world. It was the will of the Father so that we could have access to Him and call Him OUR Father. We are forgiven and set free. The gavel has come down and the verdict is in: NOT GUILTY! We got away with murder. Yet we are at peace with God who does not hold our sins against us. All of this was for us. God showed his love for us in that while we were YET sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8-10). So….. enjoy ALL your weeks. The hectic, the crazy, the smooth sailing, and everything in between. All is forgiven. Be at peace. God loves you! Happy Easter! Shout your alleluias and sing! We’ve got so much to celebrate! Always!

The peace of the RISEN Christ be with you always!

Pastor DeHope

 


March 28th

Dear friends in Christ,

Easter is very near, and Lent is near its end. We begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday and shout with joy to the son of David – Hosanna! Save us now! And we wave our palm branches and sing to Jesus “Ride on, ride on in majesty, all the tribes Hosanna cry” as he enters Jerusalem . And things so quickly take a turn for the worse when they don’t go as we expect. We then sing “In lowly pomp, ride on to die…” for Jesus did not come to be an earthly king as expected. He came to go the way of the cross, to save sinners, to redeem us!

So, the cries of Hosanna so quickly turn to CRUCIFY!!! Jesus is betrayed and arrested Maundy Thursday and He’s dead by Friday. We call it “Good Friday” because of the “good” that God is doing for us in his death. He is defeating Satan once and for all and giving us the victory over sin and death as he rises in victory Easter morning. When God hangs dead on the tree, he appears least able to help or save us, and yet it is in that moment of submitting to death, that he defeats it and is accomplishing the most for our salvation.

How often in life do things NOT go as we expect? They take an unexpected turn for the worse; we are betrayed. Our hopes are raised high, and we’re let down. Our feelings are hurt by those we care about. Some illness or tragedy befalls us. We might be tempted to ask and wonder, “where are you Lord” or “how could you let this happen?” Remember the joy and promise of Easter. Jesus is victorious! All evil – all our enemies are defeated – the strife is o’er, the battle done! Awake my heart with gladness – Christ the Lord is Risen today! Have no fear you sons and daughters of the King! Even if it appears your Lord is not listening or is far off, rest assured that He loves you! He is with you always, even to the end of the age; nothing can separate you for the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). Absolutely nothing!

So, rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say rejoice (Phil 4:4)! Everything has been made right in time & eternity for you. Easter triumph, Easter joy is yours dear friends! A blessed Holy Week and Easter celebration to you and yours!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 


March 23rd

Dear friends in Christ, 

This Sunday our Gospel is the raising of Lazarus from John Chapter 11.  There are a few thoughts I want to share with you before then.  First, Jesus loves Lazarus, and he loves you!  Jesus is the friend of sinners.  He cares for you.  Jesus loves Mary and Martha along with their brother Lazarus and can heal him as he has done before...just as he does for us today each time we recover for a common cold or more serious ailment or malady.  And yet Jesus waits until Lazarus is asleep in death before he returns to help so that God may be glorified.  The sisters say that If...Jesus had been there, Lazarus wouldn't have died...just like us, and while we believe Jesus is the Messiah the son of God as they confess, we have trust issues too that it's going to work out according to God's plan, that might be different from our own.  We forget Romans 8:28 - "All things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are called according to his purpose".  God is in control.  Always.

When Jesus sets his face towards Judea, to go back for Lazarus, the disciples are afraid of death by stoning at the hands of the Jews.  Our Lord is not afraid.  He also sets hsi face to the cross, our cross to suffer death in our place and destroy it, only to rise in victory.  Even though Jesus knows his will momentarily raise Lazarus from the dead, he still cries in sorrow.  Our Lor shares the sorrow of his friends, or us!  And then he calls to Lazarus, "come out!"  And Lazarus comes out alive.  And so shall we on the last day when our Lord returns in glory raising all flesh.

This Lententide and always, be comforted by the promises of your savior who loves you, who is your friend, who is for you, and who has done something about death and all that troubles you.  He is your life, your light, your hope and your salvation!

Blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope      


March 16th

Dear friends in Christ, 

I hope your week is going well at whatever point you read this and that your Lententide is one of meaningful reflection on our Lord’s cross and passion and the benefits that brings to your life now and eternally. We’ve been talking about the problem of sin in our world and its depth which was the reason our Lord Jesus came into our world to save us. In John chapter 9 we read about the man born blind and the question is raised about whose sin caused this blindness. Jesus creates some controversy by healing the man on the Sabbath and restoring his sight. 

Our Lord contrasts light and darkness, blindness and sight as matters of faith and belief. Those who see are spiritually blind and don’t know the truth of the Gospel. Those who are in the darkness of unbelief see the light of Christ. I urge you to read this chapter during the week. Think of Jesus who is the light of the world – YOUR light; the light no darkness can overcome. Pray the Lord’s prayer – call upon him in all times of trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. The light of Christ has come and dispelled the darkness! 

God’s blessings, 

Pastor DeHope      


March 9th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I was sipping a cup of coffee and it just tasted SOOOO GOOD! And it looked so nice outside…. I just wanted to go sit out there and forget all the things I must do today. Then a smile came to my face. I am thankful for all those small things in our daily life that bring us joy that are gifts and blessings from God’s hand whether I see and acknowledge it or not. There was nothing special about the coffee in hand, or the view from the window – the same as always. It was the same gift God regularly gives for me and all the world, the world of sinners who deserve none of it. And yet it’s all gift; it’s all grace. None of it is deserved by me or anyone else. And yet all these little gifts are there. So, are the big ones.

I’ve been thinking about the Lord’s prayer which is our focus this year for Lent and I came across this: ‘If you don’t acknowledge sin, you won’t value grace. If you don’t value grace, you won’t see the forgiveness and rescue it provides”. God’s name is holy and his kingdom comes in spite of us, and yet we pray it would be kept holy and come to us as well. He provides daily bread and all we need for this body and life.  I hope this week you keep your eyes peeled for all the gifts and blessings, large and small that God gives, and the opportunities he provides to give and share about him. He’s given and FORgiven everything. It’s all gift and it’ll never run out.

God’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope     


March 2nd

Dear friends in Christ,

What is something we all do, probably daily, that we don’t even realize we’re doing; something that has a huge impact on the way we view ourselves and the way we respond to others? It’s one of the reasons we have so much relational trouble – even in God’s house, the church. So, what’s this harmful thing we do? WE FORGET.

I had a few good opportunities this week to see how I have NOT treated people I care about with the patience and respect I intended to. I did not respond with mercy, kindness, and forgiveness that I wanted to be shown. I was wrapped up in myself and the moment and I FORGOT. We get so busy and focused on ourselves that we do not see God’s new mercy in our lives each day. We fail to see the mercy that has been shown to us every step of the way. Mercy is not in our minds or on our tongues. Mercy means I am so deeply grateful for the forgiveness I have received that I cannot help offering you the same.

It’s dangerous to forget mercy. Dangerous because it shapes how we see ourselves and others. When you remember mercy, you remember that you did absolutely nothing to earn those things that you’ve been blessed with in the first place. Our Redeemer has written mercy into your story. When you remember mercy, you are humble, thankful, and tender and complaining gives way to gratitude and our self-focused desire gives way to worship.

Our Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross for our forgetfulness. He went to the cross to show us mercy, to be merciful to us and to redeem us. We all stand before God with nothing. We deserve nothing. And yet we’ve been given EVERYTHING in Christ. We’ve been FORGIVEN EVERYTHING in Christ. We can be merciful to others because God has shown us mercy. I pray this Lenten season is a merciful one for you. Given and received.

God’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope


February 24th

Dear friends in Christ,

And we’re off! Our 40 day Lenten journey has begun! In my daily devotions I came across this question: “Why do we say we place our hope in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ and yet practically ask the law to do what only grace can accomplish”? We do it every day. We think if we just have the right set of rules to follow, the right policy in place and the right threat of punishment with consistent enforcement we’ll be ok. Our kids will be ok. With this thinking we’ve reduced parenting and our lives to being law-givers, prosecutors, juries and jailers.

Two Bible truths this denies is that first before sin is a matter of behavior it is a matter of the heart. We sin because we’re sinners. Anger is first a matter of the heart before it is an act of physical aggression. No person can change the heart of another person. If threats of punishment, deadlines could produce lasting change Jesus would not have had to come. This thinking denies the Gospel of Jesus we hold so dear. It really does ask the law to do what only God can do with the gospel.

Thankfully God has not left us to the law, to our own devices. During Lent we focus on our sin, the severity of it, and how we can’t fix it. Only God can. And he does – in Jesus. We come to the cross in repentance and sorrow. We see that sin required the death of God, but we see redemption in his resurrection and that is our own as well.

Every year I encourage people to consider adding a small task that is beneficial to their devotional life and growing in faith rather than giving something up that you’ll eagerly return to when it’s done. Consider a daily devotion or making our weekly Lenten services part of that new habit. It might stick.

As you walk the road of the cross, keep your eyes up, on your Savior and how he has shown his love for you and forgiven you everything. You’re free!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope


February 16th

Dear friends in Christ, 

That’s slick!  No, I’m not talking about the roads or our parking lot this morning, though I did do a little sliding around – unintentionally on my way to the door. Time has been going so fast this year, for us anyway, that we seemingly slipped from Christmas and New Year’s right into Lent with this coming Wednesday 2/22 being Ash Wednesday! I’m not ready for that yet. The sermons and services will get done; that’s not a problem. I’m not ready to think on all the things of Lent like our Lord’s cross and passion and yet the time is very near. I felt the same way about Advent, and not being ready, but there is comfort in that. Despite our readiness or our feelings on the matter Jesus our Savior comes into our broken sinful world to redeem us. His suffering and death is not a pretty picture, but it’s the only way to save a world of sinners. Focusing our minds and hearts on that gives us cause to celebrate at what comes next – Easter joy in the Resurrection of Jesus which is also the assurance of our resurrection in Him. So, steady your feet for our Lenten journey. Our Lord comes to us with good news and blessings in his name.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope 


February 9th

Dear friends in Christ,

As some of you know I've had a cold all week. What Joshua picked up and gave to Alicia last week, I now got a turn with. Sharing is caring.....right? I had many plans for the week that were quickly unraveled and it was a struggle to do anything. No energy, no motivation, no drive, nothing. I felt like doing absolutely nothing, and I didn't even enjoy it. It wasn't relaxing, it was just all that I could do. For some reason Philippians 4:13 came to mind: "I can do all things through him (Christ) who strengthens me". No I couldn't - it wasn't that easy. It occurred to me how often this passage is mis-quoted and misused. 

Paul is speaking about God's provision and being content in all of life's seasons and circumstances whether they are times of prosperity and plenty or times of scarcity and need. God's wisdom in the Word and the work of the Holy Spirit help us through all these life experiences in ways that benefit us and others. It doesn't mean it will easy. It doesn't mean that we lack faith if it is difficult.  2Cor. 12:9 tells us that God's grace is sufficient and his power is made perfect in weakness. Romans 8:28 assures us that God works ALL things to the good of those who love him. So doing all things through Christ who strengthens me is a call to "buck-up" and get through it. It's God promise that he is with you in all your struggles. Though it feels like hell, he'll see you through it. 

Our Lord has suffered all things in his body, even death. He has triumphed in victory over death, so he knows ALL our struggles. He is with us. He is for us. He loves us, and he'll see us through all things.

The peace of Christ be with you,

Pastor DeHope


February 3rd

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I’ve been thinking of just how much I love listening to music. I picked up a few used CD’s to listen to in the car (and yes I realize how much that dates me…. and the car)! But I really do enjoy music, lots of different types and genres too. I really see it as a precious gift from God that I just can’t imagine being without. I’ve found it carries more weight with some than others, and that’s ok. As the body of Christ, we all have different gifts and abilities, unique qualities, hobbies, likes & dislikes.

In recent weeks I’ve mentioned God’s promises and those 5 powerful, comforting words “I am with you always”, that God is for us, not against us, and that he is the friend of sinners, OUR friend. Psalm 40 came to mind as I pondered this: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God”.

So, whether music is a big deal to you or not, God has given us a song of praise to sing. Joy in the midst of sorrow and hope in a world of gloom. God has made our steps secure on the rock of his word, and he is the rock of our salvation. This is his gift to us in our Savior Jesus Christ, and this gift is for the whole world. That’s something to sing about!

We sing and praise God in worship as a response to all that he has given us, all that he has done for us, and the new identity we have in him. What are your favorite hymns and songs of praise? We would be happy to include your favorites in worship as much as we can. Just write a note on the back of your attendance card or send me an email.

 Blessings on your week, and on your song. Even if you can’t carry a tune.

Pastor DeHope


January 26th

Greetings in the name of Jesus!

Joshua did so well in a big boy bed at Grandma & Grandpa’s house that we decided to keep that momentum going now at home and converted his crib into a toddler bed. What a challenge…..the new sleep training that is – the conversion was a breeze and Alicia had it done in just minutes. He’s in and out of bed, loud, keeping Leah up – it’s quite the show every night. Every time he’s caught, Josh runs to his bed, lays down and says “no, me sleep.” This week after being told to return to bed I found him on a pile of blankets beside his bed pretending to be asleep. We’re hoping and praying that both kids sleep better so that mommy and daddy can do the same!

This got me thinking about our relationship with God and how we as Christians follow him and act towards him and his words to us and how we keep his commands (or don’t as the case may be). God’s word comforts and directs us. It lifts us up and is meant to be for our good to guard and protect us. But we don’t always see it that way. Try as we might we struggle to listen to God and do what he says, despite our best intentions sometimes we are like Josh – always climbing out of the fences God has put to guard us, and running back saying No, I’ll do it when we’re confronted. We’re constantly tempted and pulled in all directions.

Yet God is always faithful….always calling us back to him. Not only does he promise those 5 words “I am with you always” as I mentioned last week, the Bible is full of I AM statements of God that show his love, his care, and his continual presence among us. Psalm 46:11 says The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our stronghold. We are reminded in Jeremiah 32:27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me? One of my favorites is from Isaiah 41 where God calls us his friend, and says “fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

So, be strengthened and encouraged in all that you do this week. God is for you and not against you. He knows your struggles and is with you always.

Pastor DeHope


January 19th letter

Greetings in the name of Jesus!

I am with you always. This is God’s promise to you. No matter what! Five simple words you can count on your fingers with one hand (so it’s easy to remember) and yet they are powerful to calm and bring comfort. I taught this to Leah last night when she was scared and having trouble sleeping. Scary thoughts just wouldn’t go away, she said. So, I had her put out her hand and those 5 little piggies helped us count God’s words of promise. I am with you always.  If God is with us always, then he is with us everywhere – on a plane, in the car, at the store, in church or school, at work or play. At Grandma and grandpa’s, or a friend’s house, no matter what we do or where we go. “Yes” she said. So that means God is with you when you’re scared and sad or worried too. Yes! He’s with us always, no matter what. I told Leah to just keep repeating this to herself.

I really need to practice what I preach here and remind myself of God’s promise when I’m struggling with or worried about something. We had a wonderful, albeit wet trip in CA visiting family and friends, and I was tired, so I fell right asleep last night. But they’re not all like that. I’ll need to remember God’s 5 words of promise. I am with you always. You should too. Whenever you’re struggling, wherever you are – just keep repeating it yourself. Speak it out loud if it helps.

God has given his word of promise. He can do no other. 

The peace of God in Christ be with you this week and always!

Pastor DeHope

 


January 12th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

By the time you read this our family will already be in CA visiting family. It’s funny to think the January weather we left in Kansas will be much nicer than what we’re experiencing out west in the rain. Oh well. I always enjoy the visits; but wish there was a way to avoid the “traveling” part. There is a little bit of fear and loathing that goes with that for me, so I try to remain hopeful and focus on the joys ahead. That was my encouragement to everyone at our congregational meeting Sunday as well. God is still on his throne and always provides what is necessary.

For the believer, fear is always God-forgetful. If God is in control of all things, if he is righteous and good and wise and for us, why should we fear? Sometimes it is easy to forget our identity in God and that Christ has made us his own. The land of Judah had the same struggle, especially going up against the Assyrians in battle. King Hezekiah did not want them to think they were left to their own courage in battle, their experience, or their own will. He wanted them to know that they had been blessed with something else, that they must not forget, so he said “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him… With him is and arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8). There will be moments when we ask and wonder where courage will be found for what we must face. Hezekiah gives us the answer. “Look up and remember you God.” As God’s child you are never left to battle on your own.

So, dear friends, be of good cheer, be strengthened and encouraged as you look ahead. It’s all going to be ok. God is with you and for you. And if God is with you, who can be against you?

The peace of Christ be with you!

Pastor DeHope


January 5th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

A blessed Epiphany to you!  The 12 days of Christmas culminated in the feast day of Epiphany on Friday which celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ to the Gentiles in Matthew 2 with the visitation of the Magi or wise men. This is a celebration that the Kingdom of God is open to all believers through faith in Christ as a symbol of the new covenant in Jesus!

This is sometimes called Three Kings’ Day, but we don’t actually know how many came from the east to worship our young Lord Jesus – we just know that three gifts given. There could have been more than three in attendance. I remember several good birthdays growing up where I received more than one of the same toy at a party! The 3 gifts that were presented to Jesus had meaning, and they also traveled well. The gold was a symbol of his kingship and earthly authority, the frankincense (a type of incense) was a symbol of his diety – that he was God, and the myrrh which was used in embalming symbolizes his death to save us.

As I write this (on Thursday), our kids are still waiting for their “big gift” tomorrow on Epiphany. Our celebration of Jesus continues! All year long we live in and celebrate the reality of Christmas and Easter and the gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation that are ours in Jesus!  Last week I was explaining the “12 days of Christmas” carol and its Christian symbolism and blessing for us as we celebrate our coming Savior.  I didn’t finish explaining all the gifts…

Day 6 – 6 Geese Laying – the 6 days of creation

Day 7 – 7 Swans for the gifts upon Jesus in Isaiah 11:2-3

Day 8 – 8 Maids A-Milking are identified in Matthw 5:3-10 the 8 beatitudes.

Day 9 – 9 Ladies Dancing – one for each fruit of the Spirit

Day 10 – 10 Lords a-leaping for the 10 commandments

Day 11 – 11 Pipers Piping for the 11 faithful disciples

Day 12 – 12 Drummers Drumming are the 12 points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed.

So as Christians we get to celebrate the Christmas and Epiphany season longer than the rest of the world. We know where true joy and forgiveness is found – in Jesus who is the reason for the season.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope 

THANK YOU

Pastor DeHope, Glenda Hammel and Mary Hume want to thank everyone for the Christmas and New Year wishes and a big thanks for thinking of us at Christmas time.  We appreciate everything and everyone.


December 29th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Merry 5th day of Christmas! I hope you all had a nice Christmas Day celebration or will get to follow through with plans still in the works. At our house we’re counting down the 12 days of Christmas (just like the song) to Epiphany on January 6th when we celebrate the wise men offering their gifts in worship to our young Lord Jesus. To teach our kids about this, they have a small gift to open each day to keep the Christmas spirit alive and well with their “big gift” coming on Epiphany which happens to be a Little Tykes kitchen & workbench. We know that they’ll love it, and of course it won’t be more than a year or so before Leah will be reading and I won’t be able to write things like that!

The world delivers Christmas as a one and done day in the midst of a “holiday season” that we’re conditioned to prepare for from black Friday to Christmas Eve; to consume and purchase….and then return or exchange later. This leads to a lot of confusion about the 12 days of Christmas and what or when they are.  But as Christians we are still celebrating Christmas! It’s just getting started on the 25th!  The “12 days of Christmas” carol is rich in Christian symbolism and blessing for us as we celebrate!

Christmas Day – the First Day –– Jesus is the partridge in the pear tree.

Day 2 – 2 Turtle doves are for the 2 Testaments – Old & New in our Bible

Day 3 – 3 French Hens – Faith, Hope & Love as revealed in 1 Corinthians 13:13

Day 4 – 4 Calling Birds – The 4 Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke & John

Day 5 – 5 Golden Rings – The 5 Books of Moses (The first 5 books of the Old Testament – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)

So, dear friends, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Stay tuned next week for the rest of the gifts!

God’s blessings!

Pastor DeHope


December 22nd letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Merry Christmas to you and yours as you celebrate our Savior Jesus Christ who was born to save us!

I don’t quite know when or how this line of thinking came about….. but I have been pondering the first Christmas for much of Advent. I saw a funny meme of Joseph apologizing to Mary for NOT making reservations ahead of time at the inn and it made me laugh. But no matter how I look at it, every single aspect of the first Christmas is less than ideal for the holy family! There’s nothing to laugh about.  It’s hard for me to actually imagine how rough and uncomfortable it was making that kind of journey on foot and pregnant. The birth in the stable….the registration, the threat to the newborn and the escape to Egypt….They had probably hoped so much would be different but it wasn’t. Maybe you’ve had or are having one like that? And yet God provided. His presence, His protection, His sign, His joy, His strength, His peace – all these became Mary & Joseph’s too, despite the circumstances.

All these gifts of God are ours as well! I can’t recall a Christmas that went as expected. Some have been filled with so much joy I could hardly keep it contained; others failed to measure up, and there were a few I’d wished to skip all together, and yet each year God shows up with His presence and his presents! Jesus was born to die for the sins of the world. He was born to rise for us and our salvation. In Christ we are free, we are forgiven and we are family.

So….no matter what kind of Christmas you’re having this year, or how it stacks up to the others - I pray that God’s JOY, His gifts, and his presence give you cause for rejoicing – that in all circumstances you pray praise and give thanks! Christ is here! There is none to fear!

May your Christmas be Merry in Jesus!

Pastor DeHope & family


December 15th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Jesus says “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness but will have the Light of life (John8:12). Our Lord Jesus is the light that no darkness can overcome. As Christmas approaches and is nearer every day, we see and speak of this light more and more. Even Leah and Josh notice the lights at Christmas time and point them out!  These lights are just a reminder of the true light of Christ that has come into our lives and our homes to dispel the darkness. It is a busy time, but take a moment each day to stop, pause and rejoice in the light and consider what God has done for you and what a difference that true light makes in your life. Rejoice and be glad in all circumstances that our Lord of life and light has come! And he will come again to make all things right. For now, bask in the light and let it shine!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 

THANK YOU, PRINCE OF PEACE

A big thank you to our congregation for all your hard work and contributions, making Oktoberfest and the Craft Bazaar/Cookie Walk such a wonderful success! From the proceeds of these two events we are able to contribute $3,688.49 to our churches general fund. Also, thank you to those who purchased from the silent auction and the gift cards on the Christmas tree for the seminary students.  We were able to send them $160.00 in cash along with the gift cards that you purchased for them.  THANK YOU! Everyone at Prince of Peace is the BEST!!


December 2nd letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

God is love. Three simple words. They change everything. Hope is found!

December has only just begun and my calendar is filling up. So many places to go, people to see and things to do. I am doing my best to prepare and I have high hopes for the season and all that it will bring. I’m excited to celebrate Jesus, his coming and his birth because that really is the REASON for the season! It’s why we have hope.

There are only two places to look for hope. We can look for hope horizontally in the world, thinking that something in creation will give us security, peace, and that inner sense of well-being that we seek, or we can seek it vertically, putting our life and trust into the hands of our loving creator. God is love (1 John 4:16). People put their hope in creation all the time – thinking a relationship, success & achievement or stuff will do the trick and satisfy their heart. Yet these things were all meant to point us to the place where we truly will find rest, in our creator. We need to face this reality that creation will never be our savior.

But we know who is! Jesus is! God is love and he has shown his love in Jesus….for us, and for the world. Here in these 3 words we find hope that won’t disappoint. These 3 words have the power to change everything about us and they can end our searching and give our weary heart rest. God has given us his love to sustain us and carry and protect us always in every season of life.

Remember these 3 words and cling to them for all they are worth in this busy season. There is hope. God is love!

To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


November 25th letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

“Today You’ll envy the blessings of another or you’ll bask in the wonder of the amazing grace you have been given”. I read that in my devotion this morning and found it quite fitting as we prepare to celebrate thanksgiving. He went on to describe our struggle - I want to be content in all things and I wish I could say that I was, that I never wanted what someone else had or envied their life; that I never thought God gave something to someone else that he meant for me. I wish I could say I am better at counting my blessings than assessing what I don’t have – that my appetite for things wasn’t so large and that my heart would finally be satisfied. These are all wishes because they’re not totally true of us this side of heaven.

The Bible speaks very strongly against envy because it is a constant struggle. An attitude of gratitude thinking ‘I am blessed’ easily turns to ‘I deserve’ because envy is selfish to its very core. Envy causes us to question God’s goodness, his faithfulness and his wisdom. It accuses God of being incompetent or dishonest and not doing what he promises. Most of our problems of envy with another person are actually not about them, but about God and our view of him.

Envy causes us to question God’s goodness so we stop going to him for help because why would we go to or rely on someone we don’t trust? Do you see the danger here? Envy also causes us to forget God’s amazing grace and blessings to us because we’re focused on someone or something else.

God daily and richly provides all that we need to sustain this body and life. God has given us enormous blessings of his grace, that we could not earn and do not deserve. Let us focus this Thanksgiving on all that we have in this life and celebrate it as a gift of our loving merciful God. And let us ALWAYS rejoice and celebrate with thanksgiving that God has shown His grace and love for us in giving His son Jesus into death to save us. In Jesus’ resurrection we have life! We have a place at the table, we’re included in his family forever with His name on us as His treasured possession!

So let us bask in the wonder of God’s amazing grace shown to us in Christ. Everything is going to be right in the end.

To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


November 17th letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

The end is near… Christ is coming back for us, so that we may be where he is. That’s been our theme the last couple weeks and now it’s the last week of the church year before Advent begins. It always seems to come so abruptly. I’m not ready. I’m not ready for Christmas, and it’s not because I’m defending Thanksgiving and the need to celebrate it first. I’m not ready for Thanksgiving either! You’re free to put up Christmas early if you like – it certainly is worthy of extended celebration. It is just hard to be prepared.

The furnace died last night so that had to be fixed before I could get ready for work (luckily it was a quick fix with the pocketbook shut – just a dirty flame sensor). But then the kid from the cable company drove his van off my driveway and got stuck in the culvert…. He was supposed to be at my neighbors’ house! A floor jack, some blocks, a tow strap and a few minutes  later he was free, and on the road to work and so was I.

I was not ready for those inconveniences. I am not ready for the holidays, but they will come and go whether I’m ready or not. That’s life and that’s ok. But when Jesus comes…. That’s different. Ready or not has eternal consequences. I AM ready for Jesus to come back. That is one thing I’m sure of more than anything else. I trust in the mercy and forgiveness of Christ. I know that I am a redeemed child of God, marked with his name. And that makes all the difference for eternity. Jesus will come abruptly. For that, we ARE ready. Let us use this season of Advent to try and help others be ready for his coming too. It matters more than anything!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope 


November 10th letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

This week I celebrated another trip around the sun…. it was good birthday. A lot has happened in the last year, and I have a lot to be thankful for. The devotion I read that day said, “While sin is still a sad and ever-present reality in each of our lives, it is simply no match for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I find this to be very comforting in my own life as I reflect on my own sinfulness and shortcomings. It is also of great comfort to me as a Pastor. I hear things….people tell me things… not just about their sins and shortcoming, but about how they’ve been wronged by others. It is the latter that I sometimes struggle with the most – not being able to make right or fix or help the hurt someone has experienced at the hand of another person – another person whom God also loves and wants in heaven. Another person for whom Jesus died on the cross to forgive. One that Jesus loves, even though it is a person I want to hate for what they have done and how they have hurt someone I care for. And yet this is no match for the grace of Jesus Christ my Lord who has forgiven me. And this is where I must leave it – in the hands of Jesus. Help me forgive as you have forgiven Lord. Let me trust that you will sort it out and make it right. Help me love and forgive like you. Help me forgive and reflect YOUR forgiveness. Help me trust you to be God. I am not.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


November 2nd letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Gratitude. This week has been one of gratitude for me.  James 1:17 comes to mind: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”. This side of heaven, nothing is perfect, that’s for sure! Still God daily and richly provides for all our needs of body and soul, and then some. You all as Prince of Peace sure are one of those good gifts to me and to my family. Pastor Appreciation month took on new meaning for us this year with all the kindness, generosity, and support we’ve been shown in so many ways. Your thoughts, prayers, and kind gifts have been a blessing to us.  Galatians 6:6-10 comes to mind here as well: “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” You have shared good things with me. Thank you. God be praised. To God be the glory!

 Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


October 29th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Last week I shared the sad news that Alicia and I lost baby #3 at eight weeks. The amount of care, love and support that Alicia and I have received over this last week is incredibly heart-warming. Your calls, cards and conversations have been a wonderful encouragement and blessing to us during this difficult time. Galatians 6 talks about bearing one another’s burdens and caring for one another in Christ and we feel as if Prince of Peace has done that for us and shown us the love of Christ. You are our church family and we appreciate you, your understanding, love and support. Thank you!

 To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


October 6th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I have been wrestling with something that is hard to understand. One way or another it will resolve in time – like most things do. Still…. I wonder and question. I read a quote in one of my devotions this week that said, “You don’t have to understand everything in your life, because your Lord of wisdom and grace understands it all”. I don’t always handle this very well. God gave me my reason and my senses and I have a desire to know and to figure it out, and yet I won’t experience inner peace simply because all my questions are answered. I might not like the answers. God may not give me an answer. Sometimes God’s will is hidden and it will always be a mystery to us – he will not reveal all the things he will do in our life for our good and for his glory.

Yet, that is the promise in Romans 8:28 that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. So where is peace to be found? Isaiah 26:3-4 gives us the answer: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock”.

True peace is not found in trying to figure out God’s hidden will. It’s not found in our planning or trying to control our circumstances and people in our lives. True peace is found in trusting the person who controls all the things that we don’t understand and who knows no mystery because he has planned it all. We get this peace that remains even when disappointments come by keeping our minds focused on the Lord. Meditate on his glory, his grace, his faithfulness, his patience and his forgiveness; remember all that he has done for us – both in this life, and in the next through our Savior Jesus Christ. Some things remain a mystery, but the one behind the mystery is gloriously good, he is the author and sustainer of life and he is in control of all things. And he has plans to prosper us and not to harm us. God is FOR us!

Lord’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


September 30th letter

LETTER FROM OUR PASTOR:

Dear friends in Christ,

I’m not a big fan of monarchies. The big events and upsets of the royal family never interested me. I never had childhood (or adult) dreams of being a Prince or any kind of royalty, so it probably won’t surprise you that I wasn’t terribly moved of effected by the death of the Queen. However, I did come across a very meaningful expression of faith from the queen that I’d like to share with you. And please note that there’s absolutely nothing wrong if you feel differently about the royal family and it matters a great deal to you.

Queen Elizabeth exclaimed: "How I wish that the Lord would come in my lifetime." "Why" asked the Chaplain. The Queen replied with quivering lips and her whole countenance lighted up by deep emotion, "I should so love to lay my crown at His feet." 

THIS is a marvelous example in my mind of how we should regard our Lord and HIS reign in, and over our lives now on earth, but also eternally. It fits nicely with many of the themes we’ve had in recent weeks in the parables with Jesus teaching us about where our priorities should be set, what our treasure should be….etc.

We also sing about this reality of Christ’s authority over us as our Prophet, Priest, and King. We sing “Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne” and “I will cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it someday for a crown”. So, while I may not be a big fan of the Queen’s earthly authority, I do think she got it right when it came to submitting to the ONE true authority on earth as it is in heaven.

Lord’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


September 22nd letter

Dear friends in Christ,

This week has been a little trying on my nerves as Joshua’s vocabulary expands and he LOUDLY repeats the same 3-4 word phrase again and again and again and again…. you got it. Leah is full of shouts and enthusiasm for school, her friends and so many good things. It’s often in small spaces like the car. It’s tough. Yet, I consider that in light of Psalm 33 which says Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Give thanks to the Lord with instruments…. Sing to him a new song. For the word of the Lord is upright and all his work is done in faithfulness.

My kids are joyfully making noise…. And it’s a blessing from God. I will pray for more patience. God’s work is always done in faithfulness, even when it doesn’t occur to us that he is even working for us and our benefit. Don’t be bashful to make some noise to the Lord. Let your joy be heard. We all have so much to be joyful about, even in difficult times, even in small spaces….like cars. Sing it Leah! Shout it Joshua. And belt it out, all of YOU! Make that sweet music and that joyful noise to the Lord.

God’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


September 15th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Prayer – it’s one of those things we could probably all do a little better at or do more often.

I stumbled upon a little prayer for a wife whose husband can be difficult. Though I’m sure Alicia will NEVER need such a prayer, here it is:         

“Dear God, my husband. He can be a pain! But at least he is my pain. Help me to love him in spite of all the annoying little things he does. Because I do love him, and I want to love him more. Amen”.

While it might make you laugh a little, I think it’s a good little prayer. Swap ‘husband’ for wife, son, daughter, friend, cousin, aunt, uncle etc. and thank God for all the people God has put in your life to help, guide, bless or even grow your patience and compassion. Please add Pastor to the list too. I both need and covet your prayers (and I’m sure I give Alicia cause to pray this prayer often)!

God teaches us to pray; he invites us to pray. Not because he needs our prayers, but because we benefit from them. They’re good for us, kind of like vitamins. They help us focus our attention on God, what he’s done for us in Christ and all that he daily and richly provides for us in this life; plus they teach us to rely on him, to come to him at all times, and all situations. I encourage you to pray the Lord’s prayer, pray this prayer or make one up. Two of my favorite (short) prayers are “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief” and simply. “Lord Help!”  Because he does. Always. Don’t be bashful! God’s ear is always inclined towards you; HE is always FOR you!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope


September 8th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Happy Thursday! I hope this finds you well. Rejoicing seems to be the theme for the week.  Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin in our Gospel for Sunday and the joy of finding what was lost and how that relates to the kingdom. There is much rejoicing in heaven when the lost are found – when sinners repent. I love the parables. There is always more going on than is immediately apparent. Our house has been full of anticipation and excitement as Grandma arrived this week from California. Neither my mom or her luggage got lost, but we rejoiced anyway. We’re thankful for the visit and our time together.

I have been searching for a few items this week that are still “lost” from our move. They must be somewhere! I want them NOW! When you lose your keys you NEED them now – before you can go anywhere…. Sometimes it seems like joy, can be at a minimum if it’s there at all. We must experience a loss first, frantically search for, or try to repair something, and then find or fix it before that wave of joy and relief sets in. Why is that? Why do we not have more joy in our day simply because something or someone is already there and NOT lost? Why do we fail to fully appreciate the value of someone or something until it is lost or we don’t have it anymore? I think we should work on this…..

Jesus is blasting the Scribes and Pharisees in the parable. He does that a lot. They’re grumbling that Jesus wants to grow the kingdom. Jesus wants to bring more people to himself – to welcome sinners. Notice how the Lord is always harsher on the sin of hypocrisy (usually the Pharisees) than he seems to be on other sinners. The Pharisees don’t see their sin; they think they’re better than others. They are blind to the fact that they need Jesus every bit as much as everyone else. We need Him just as much ourselves. 100%. We’re all sinners. We all need Jesus 100% - there is not sliding scale here; nobody needs Jesus any less….

This is where the JOY and the rejoicing comes in. Rejoicing is the business of heaven! There is more joy in heaven over 1 repentant sinner than a whole gaggle of self-righteous people that think they need Jesus less than someone else. When we rejoice at finding our keys or other lost items – that’s good. But we already had them to begin with. We had already been blessed with it (before we lost it). There is rejoicing in heaven when the numbers grow! When those outside the kingdom are brought inside. When they are added. Don’t be a Pharisee – don’t compare yourselves more favorably to others. We all need Jesus 100%. There is plenty of him to go around. Repent, rejoice and be glad that you’re ALREADY in the kingdom. Rejoice and be glad that the kingdom grows daily and abundantly in spite of us! When you find what you’ve lost, rejoice. Rejoice also in what you already have and that it is NOT lost.

To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


August 30th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Has anyone ever said to you “loosen up, you look so serious” or “have fun, let go a little”? I’ve heard it, so I’m sure you have too. In that moment, I check in with myself and ask if that’s accurate. There is a time and a place for everything, or as Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”. There is a time to be serious, and a time to be silly. There are times to be happy and times to be sad. 

I came across a C.S. Lewis quote this week (he’s one of my favorite authors): “Joy is the serious business of Heaven”. I wholeheartedly believe that, but then I thought, why not work to make that true in our own lives here, now, on earth too. Of course, it will never be possible to have heaven on earth because of sin. There are times that are not joyous, and places that it may not be right even to smile. But as Christians, even in rough times, even now, we have something the world does not have. We have Jesus; we have the good news of the gospel. We have a joy in knowing we belong to the Lord, and nothing can separate us from his love. 

Everything we have and everything we are, is a gift. Everything we have done wrong or left undone has been forgiven. We see things differently than the world does. For us it is different. I can’t wait to get to heaven and experience the unimaginable Joy that is there – that serious business of heaven. But there is great joy even now – knowing what we know, having what we have. Don’t let the devil, the world, or your own flesh steal your joy; don’t let them rob you of it. It’s far too valuable of a thing to not keep better tabs on. I am trying to “check-in” more often and find joy in more things, and even rejoice in my sufferings. I have something special the world doesn’t have. I want to share it, and I want to ENJOY it. I want our JOY to be serious business here too!

To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


August 25th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Leah has learned to work the TV remote. We’re now taking steps to ensure that when, and if she turns it on, she won’t find things that scare her or that will require unnecessary explanations for a 5 year old. It reminded me of many times when my dad would quote Titus 1:15 “to the pure, all things are pure”. And while I want to protect my kids and their child-like innocence as best I can, there’s a problem. None of us are completely pure – not even Leah, because of sin. We see the effects of sin all around us in the world, our relationships and ourselves with our thoughts, words and actions. It’s a real struggle, a daily one. Our Lord sends us to be salt and light to the world, carrying the good news gospel message of Jesus Christ with forgiveness life and salvation in him. And yet still we struggle.

We live in a world where evil still exists all around us, but the one who conquered sin and death is still with us. As Jesus was sending out his disciples into the dark world with the gospel he said something that changes everything. He promised “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” Matthew 28:20. We’re not sent out into the world with a list of principles, nor does he guide us with rules to follow. HE COMES WITH US! And not just to jump in a save the day when we need a hand. He knows we’ll never make it unless he’s with us every moment of every situation, location, and interaction. He IS with us in every trial and struggle because he’s been with us all along. In our struggle with evil, he gives us himself. He knows that in HIM we have everything thing we need.

Let this comfort you in your times of worry and struggle. Give thanks in times of joy. Your Lord is truly with you ALWAYS, in everything. Even when you turn on the TV. Fear not! The Lord is with you always – even to the end of the age.

To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


 

August 21st letter

Dear friends in Christ,

We’re back from MN, mostly rested and thankful for the opportunity to see friends. This week I’ve been catching up on meetings and it occurred to me that very often when I pray with a group before a meeting, at Bible study or some other gathering I thank the Lord of his mercies new to us each day, but then often forget that as the day gets busy or as I become distracted by work, thoughts or some other task and it gets sidelined in my thinking. 

Lamentations 3:22-23 says “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”. So often we allow ourselves to have a view of ourselves, of others, of circumstances, of daily joys and struggles, of God, of meaning and purpose and what life is about that is completely lacking of this gorgeous redemptive reality: mercy. His mercies are new every morning – we should post this somewhere it will be seen each day multiple times. 

Mercy is the theme of God’s story, and the thread that runs through all of Scripture. Mercy is the reason for Jesus’s coming and it’s what our desperate heart needs. Mercy is what gives you comfort in weakness and hope in times of trial. Mercy does what the law is powerless to do. Mercy not only meets you in your struggle, but guarantees that someday your struggle will end. Let the amazing words of this passage sink in. 

As God’s child they describe your identity and your hope. They give you reason to get up in the morning and to continue. They allow us to face and admit how messed up we really are and they allow us to extend mercy to the failing people around us. They allow us to be comforted by God’s presence rather than be terrified at the thought that he is near. God’s love for us will never end, his grace and forgiveness will never end. It’s not left-over, recycled or one size fits all mercy. It’s new mercy for each of us, each day - unique to our struggles and the crosses we bear. So be encouraged, strengthened and renewed by God’s mercy new each day, and keep it always before you – it’s FOR you. 

To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


August 11th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

By the time you read this, Lord willing,  we’ll be safely in Grand Rapids, MN visiting friends. We’re hoping for an uneventful drive and a peaceful relaxing time with friends and that their 5 kids and our 2 play nicely together as they have in the past. This peaceful  theme seems to be the opposite of our Gospel text for Sunday where our Lord Jesus claims that he’s come to bring division instead of peace. Christianity is a peaceful religion, so what is our Lord saying here? Truly our Lord’s mission and purpose is to seek and save the lost (Like 19:10). What he is saying here is that what you confess about him, who you say he is may cause division in our world and in our homes. Surely you’ve seen or experienced this first hand. Yet who we believe Jesus is makes all the difference for us here now and in eternity.  He says earlier in this chapter in verse 8 that he will acknowledge us before his father, and our father. We need not be anxious about a thing – God always cares for and provides for us – it is his joy to give us the kingdom. HIS kingdom. We are to be ready for his coming, for we don’t know the day or the hour, but we can take heart and be comforted knowing that even in all the troubles of this life, whether they about our confession of Jesus or not, he is with us. We can look forward to seeing him with our own eyes when he returns in all His glory. Even more than I’ll look forward to seeing you when we get back!

The Prince of Peace be with you always!

Pastor


August 4th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Life has been crazy, hectic, and wonderful lately with all its changes; the blessings the Lord has provided. Sometimes I find myself lamenting all the things I want to get done, and the people I want to see and how it seems the days pass so quickly and yet my to do list never gets checked off as quickly as I’d like…. There always seems to be an interruption or something that comes up. Perhaps you can relate, even if just a little bit? I came across a C.S. Lewis quote this week that has stuck with me – “The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life”. I’m trying to regard those little interruptions whether they’re an unexpected call or something else differently. 

Church can often seem like an interruption with all the things we’ve got going on, yet it’s possibly the most important interruption to make time for. It is here that God equips and strengthens us for all the other interruptions with His gifts of word and sacrament FOR us. This is exactly where God has promised to be to give us stuff that we can’t get anywhere else. 

We’re preparing for a waterpark adventure to celebrate birthdays for both kids with vacation to MN to see some friends next week. We hope it will be a wonderful interruption for us. We pray God’s blessings on your interruptions great and small.

God’s blessings,

Pastor


July 26th Letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Monumental VBS continues this week at our house as Leah can be heard throughout the day singing all the songs; even I catch myself humming along from time to time. But at church it’s much quieter…. It almost feels lonely after such a bustling week despite the fact that Mary and Glenda and Amy are faithfully at their desks and many visitors have come and gone. 

Life is like that sometimes though. Despite being busy and active you can feel alone or weighed down by hardships and struggle. Truly we’re never alone, and we know that God is always with us, even in our sufferings. One passage I’ve been pondering this week is Isaiah 42:3 “A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench.” This is such a beautiful picture of God’s tender care; he is a giver, not a taker. He’s slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and mercy. He’ll never give up on us – not even when we’re weakest or at our worst. He is unchanging, he’s constant, so regardless of how we’re tossed about by the waves of the world our Lord is with us. He is also FOR us - through all our seasons whether we’ve got a song in our heart or can’t bear the thought. 

The peace of the Lord be with you!

Pastor


July 21th Letter

Dear friends in Christ,

We’ve had a MONUMENTAL week of Vacation Bible School here at Prince of Peace! It was wonderfully encouraging to see all the kids learning about God’s love for us in Jesus – how he sticks with us no matter what, and that nothing can separate us from his love. We sang about God watching over us 24/7 and his plan for us in Jesus. Psalm 118 talks about the strength of the Lord and his steadfast love – that he is my helper and my refuge. We can call on him and he will answer us. God is in charge of all things, even when we try to take matters into our own hands. We simply can’t debate it – God’s way is better than our way. His plan is infinitely better than any plan we could have for ourselves. God is in control. We can try to exercise our free will, but ultimately our will is bound to God’s will and we can’t overpower him to get our own way – no matter how much we try. He always prevails. God is like Huckleberry Hound – he always gets him man. It doesn’t matter when or how he got you. You are his. Nothing can separate you from God’s love.

A big thanks to everyone who volunteered and helped make VBS such a special week! There was a monumental amount of work that went into all the preparation and execution of our VBS! THANK YOU! To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


July 17th Letter

Dear friends in Christ at POP,

I have been thinking a lot about identity lately – who am I? Who do I want to be? I can say with certainty that I am not Justin – though I have been getting a lot of calls for him from some mortgage lending outfit. Sigh. I do really hope those stop. But those calls did get me thinking that as Christians we don’t work in the hope of getting an identity; we work in celebration of the identity that; in Christ we have been given. Galatians 4:4-7 talks about the identity we have in Christ who has redeemed us by his cross and reconciled us to God so that we are heirs and can call God OUR Father. We don’t need to wonder who we are or what we will be or look for meaning and identity in the things of the world. We have been given something much better. Our identity is God’s child and an heir of heaven through our baptism.  

Here at church the week has been full of preparation for Vacation Bible School that starts on Monday! You might not even recognize the place right now. Everyone is excited to have all those kids here at POP and teach them about Jesus and his love for us – it’s truly “Monumental”! Our hope and prayer is that the kids will have fun this week and grow in their understanding of their Lord and Savior Jesus, and the identity they have in him.  That’s my hope and prayer for all of us each day too!  God’s richest blessings to you all!  

Pastor DeHope


July 10th Letter

Dear friends in Christ,

hope you all survived and enjoyed our Independence Day festivities this week! In addition to the freedoms we enjoy in our country I have been contemplating the "hope" we have as Christians (Ephesians 1:18-19 and Eph. 2:11-22).  We hope for many things - good weather, lower prices and a better economy, for our marriages, our kids and other relationships, for our church and many other things that are future focused. Looking ahead to the future and the tasks before us can be daunting and we can lose hope before we've taken the first step of the climb. The hope we have as Christians isn't just wishful thinking about what might be, IT IS a present reality we live in that is rooted in our Savior Jesus Christ and what he has already done for us on the cross. It is a hope with an expectation in a promise being fulfilled already by our gracious Lord.  

Alicia and I took advantage of some appliance sales for 4th of July so we could have a gas stove and an opportunity to bear witness to this hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15) presented itself and I had an interesting conversation about faith, life, and our church with a fellow believer at Lowe's of all places. Turns out he was even a Lutheran! 

Your hope is no ordinary hope as the world sees it. Your hope is in the rock of our salvation who has given you, life and many blessings now, but also the promise and "hope" of life everlasting. I hope you enjoy your upcoming week in the peace of the Lord. Let us "have the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which God has called us". 

Pastor DeHope

 

 

 

anuary 25th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Topeka traffic is the worst. I said this to myself in frustration at 5:30 p.m. as I crept through the slow-down to one lane on 21st Street for the second time this week because of the broken water main. My next thought of frustration, focused on myself, was why didn’t I remember the first experience and return home another way?  Once I was through the mess only moments later I was convicted. After coming from CA, having experienced northern and southern rush hour traffic, did I really just complain about that little slow down? Was that even really traffic? Had I really forgotten how bad traffic can be in just 2 years? Why was I so upset – I didn’t even have a place to be – I wasn’t late for anything! (Recall this was my new year’s resolution – to be more timely).

When we’re focused on ourselves it is so easy to lose perspective and forget. In the scope of the day, the week, the year – all my struggles, and all of yours, those of our nation and world, was this truly anything? The Israelites wandering in the wilderness comes to mind from Numbers ch. 4: And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” The people complained against the Lord who had brought then out of slavery in the land of Egypt and they longed to return for the free food! That’s gratitude for you! They were focused on a moment, on themselves, and not on God’s faithfulness, not on God’s promises, and not on God’s provision – past and present.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t feel frustrated about little things. I don’t want to create guilt, especially if there was none there before. Certainly, God cares for you and ALL your struggles from the greatest to the least – even little trivial things. What I am suggesting is that when you have little moments, when you’re “stuck in traffic” that you consider the bigger picture of your life, what’s going on in the world, and that you see God’s continued blessings for you and your neighbor. In that very moment of frustration find something good that God has provided. For me, I had a reliable car to be in traffic with. One that I even love! I had the ability to get out, money to buy things with a home to return to….the list just expanded from there and I felt much better about the situation. My frustration was gone and I had a good laugh. God was really providing for me and all my needs of body and soul.

God grant us all some perspective this week to focus on his care and mercy.

Pastor DeHope


January 18th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

How are you feeling today? I’m a little bit tired, and a little bit sore from moving wood and I wish I had a little bit more time on my hands. Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe it’s aging…but I’ve been thinking a lot this week about humanity and our frailties, and limitations. Alicia did point out this week that I’m slowly revealing a bald spot on the top of my head, so there’s that….

 So many things have to be just right for us – like the conditions on Earth to sustain life that are not equally present on any other planet. We need food and rest and water – everything is in balance. Our bodies are marvelous and wonderful but also delicate and easy to damage, yet they’re very resilient. Then there are our emotions… We’re really seeing those develop in Joshua, and how he is struggling with them as they overwhelm him. And with all of this, God has chosen us to work for the good and the increase of his kingdom. Wouldn’t this be a better job for the angels? Yet, even they are not made in God’s image. We are. And this really gets to the heart of my thoughts this week, that Jesus took on our flesh. He’s fully man, and fully God. 100%. Not 50/50 and not 200%.

 

Jesus didn’t just experience what it was “like” to be human. He was fully human and still is, even with his body. He suffered in every way that we do. To be sure, our Lord was in better physical shape than I am, but we know he hurt, we know he was tired. We know he ate, and we know he wept. Even though he knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, he wept true tears of sorrow full of and overwhelmed with emotion at the death of his friend.

 Everything we live through, Christ our Savior lived through. He truly knows what we’re going through. There is great comfort for us in this. Our Lord knows our struggles and our joys because he’s walked the road. He is like us in every way, yet without sin.

 Just because he’s God doesn’t make it easy. He’s not using his power and authority to help himself or show himself to be God or glorify himself. He’s putting in the hard work; calling disciples and establishing the New Testament church as works his way to the cross for us and for our salvation.

So, as you age, as you suffer, as you celebrate and enjoy, know that not only is the one true God your Savior and your friend, he’s like you, he knows you, and he’s walked through it just like you. God is for you, and your salvation.

Blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope

 

 
January 4th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Happy New Year, dear friends!  This week we celebrate Epiphany and the visit of the wise men to see Jesus recorded in Matthew ch. 2. This is really the culmination of our Christmas celebration over these last twelve days. Have you stopped to think about these wise guys and the gravity of the situation? They had been studying the stars for a long time and when they saw something, they stopped everything and followed a star for a significant length of time until it stopped. Then they inquired of the king where the child was. When they saw Jesus, they offered their gifts. Then an angel appears warning them not to return to evil King Herod and they go home another way. Every year I marvel at the amount of and strength of faith it would require for such a display…. And yet they did. They were not wrong, and God did not disappoint. Their faith and action was not in vain.

As we embark on a new year of God’s blessings, having just successfully ended a year of the same that God brought us through, your faith and actions are not in vain, and never will be. We do not know what the future will hold for our lives, God’s church, or the world, but we do know that he is with us and that he is faithful. God promised a Savior to our first parents Adam & Eve in the garden and He delivered on the promise in the manger. Our Savior was born, died and rose again for the sins of the world to save us. God keeps promises. We don’t know what he has in mind for the future, or how he will bring it about – what blessings he’ll give or what crosses and hardships we’ll need to endure, but he will work it for the good of those who love him. He is with us through it all; each day of this new year ahead of us. Through every personal struggle you will face, and through every struggle that is upon our church, Prince of peace, we are not alone – God is with us. Your faith and your actions are not in vain.

Wise men still seek him…. So, the saying goes. God is faithful. We see his compassion in Isaiah 55, and the promise that his word is powerful and accomplishes his purpose. It is that same word of God that pronounces your sins forgiven and peace with God. That same word of God promises that He is with you all your days through every year – both new and old.

So, Happy New Year!

Pastor DeHope


 
December 28th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

 

Merry 4th day of Christmas! Yes, it’s still Christmas! This is a very big deal to me, and I think it should be for all Christians! The world says Christmas over. Everything is 50&-70% off – clearance it out!  It’s time to take down and put away the decorations. Get ready for the next holiday.

Christmas has only just begun! The 25th of December begins the 12 days of Christmas which reaches its high point Jan. 6th on Epiphany. This celebrates the wise men coming to worship Jesus. They confess him as Lord with their gifts – it’s gentile Christmas. We really should make a bigger deal about Epiphany than many of us have been taught or have a habit of doing! Christ was born to die for the sins of the world – for all people of every nation, tribe and language, and Epiphany gives us a very clear picture of that!

So, keep those decorations up! Let those lights brightly shine. Celebrate the birth of your Savior a little longer and let your Christmas joy be extended. We all need this. The world needs this. Let’s enjoy the good news of Jesus birth for us a little longer. Maybe your lights on and up will spark a conversation with your neighbor? Maybe the cashiers at the store will do more than give you a funny look when you wish them a merry 8th day of Christmas? Maybe it will help you find a little more peace and joy in this special season? I hope it will.

Not all your days will be merry & bright, but I do pray that these next Christmas days will bring you peace and joy in Jesus your Savior and the truth that He came to save. One day every knee will bow in heaven, and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11). Until that day, let’s share the good news and celebrate!

Merry Christmas,

Pastor DeHope

 


 
December 21st letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Merry Christmas to you and yours as we celebrate the birth of our savior this week. Jesus, our Immanuel is not only God with us, but God FOR us! The devil has really been working hard to focus me on the wrong things - what I don’t have, what is not right and what or who is missing from life and our preparation and celebration of this joyous season. He’s good at that, but I’ve been counting my blessings and focusing on what I do have and what God has promised.

He has given us each other. I’m thankful for you all, and for Prince of Peace as a congregation. I’m grateful for your support, your gifts, and your appreciation. It is good to be working in God’s kingdom with you, and a joy to worship the one true God with you. God’s peace at Christmas is given in the manger – the child who is born to save us from our sins. We sing in the hymn - Once in Royal David’s city: “He came down to earth from heaven, who is God and Lord of all; For he is our childhood’s pattern, Day by day like us He grew; He was little weak, and helpless, tears and smiles like us He knew; And he feels for all our sadness, and he shares in all our gladness.

God did not promise an easy trouble-free life without difficulty. He joined himself to our humanity and experienced everything we do in every stage of life – through every moment of joy and pain. He shares it all with us. He has promised that he is with us always, and he is! God is not far off, he right there with us and for us – in the manger, on the cross, and in glory on his throne ruling over all things.

So…. our Christmas joy and our Peace with God is not just found in the present moment or in our feelings of the season, but the Christ child born for us, placed in a manger, hung on a cross, risen from the dead and ascended into heaven to take his place to rule with all authority having accomplished our salvation. While many uncertainties abound with regards to the new year and the future, but we can trust God for all things needful. Our future is secure. God’s promises hold fast. It is finished. It is good. It is yours in Christ.

That’s why we can sing “And our eyes at last shall see Him, Through His own redeeming love; For that child so dear and gentle Is our Lord in Heav’n above. And He leads His children on, to the place where He is gone. NOT in that poor, lowly stable with the oxen standing by shall we see Him, BUT in heaven, set at God’s right hand on high. Then like stars His children, crowned, All in white, His praise will sound!”

Let us look forward to Christmas and joyfully proclaim with the angels, “Glory to the Newborn King!”

Merry Christmas dear friends!

Pastor DeHope & family

 

December 14th

Dear friends in Christ,

Things don’t always make sense to us, at least not fully, not the first time through. If I’m looking at assembly instructions for a kids toy there may not be any hope. If I’m listening to my dear wife (or half listening) I might need it repeated. I might have something else in mind that’s keeping me from understanding. We run into these same struggles with God’s word. Perhaps you feel something is lost in translation (like those toy instructions), or you weren’t listening to God all that carefully, or you think He should do it an entirely different way and you have lots of “why” questions in your mind.

As I read over Luke’s account of the birth of Christ, and how it all came to pass…. I marveled once again at the faith of Mary and Joseph to believe, trust, and accept all these things that the angel told them. Yes, God did choose them for this special calling, but God has also put us in our place and time for his purpose. Nothing went according to plan for this engaged couple, even though they did everything right by God. Their engagement was not focused on a big wedding, but rather an unexpected child (by God’s doing) and an unplanned trip to visit cousin Elizabeth. All the details surrounding the birth were far from ideal – from the very pregnant and painful travel for the tax to the birth in the stable instead of a comfortable place. Once Jesus was born, and the wise men visit, what may have otherwise been a honeymoon of sorts became fleeing to Egypt by night to escape evil Herod.

There is great comfort for us in our calling as Christians even when things are not going well by our estimations or expectations. We’ve been preparing the way of the Lord the last few weeks and yet things just aren’t quite prepared to me; despite my attempts to heed my own preaching. During our midweek advent services we’ve been praying Mary’s song of praise, the magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) – “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation… He has helped his servant in remembrance of his mercy as he spoke to our fathers….to his offspring forever”.

Mary has great faith and extols the Lord, her God and Savior because He is the source of mercy and blessing. He shows his strength and his mercy, and he keeps His promises. Remembering what God has done, trusting Jesus’ strength, his mercy, and his promise, I too can be peace – whether ready….or not. God grant us the faith and trust of Mary and Joseph to cling to the Word of God and all his promises as we celebrate this season and always. Jesus is the reason for this season, and all of them.

The peace of Christ be with you always!

Pastor DeHope


December 7th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I’d like to start by saying Thank you to everyone who sent us a note or a gift for Pastor & staff appreciation. The presentation after church, Sunday was very nice, and all your kind words of encouragement were very much appreciated. It really is a joy to be here and to be your Pastor. Alicia and I appreciate you all very much.

The season of Advent leading up to Christmas and culminating with the 12 days of Christmas that end with Epiphany on Jan. 6th really emphasizes gratitude, God’s grace and kindness shown to us. This is why we give gifts in the first place – in joy and thankfulness because God gave first to us and provides all that we have from his fatherly hand.

I got curious and did a quick internet search on gratitude in the Bible, and one site said the only thing that appears more frequently in the Bible than gratitude is “fear not”. We hear that a lot this time of year from the angels when they appear to Mary, to Joseph and to the Shepherds. “And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). Our Lord Jesus also calms the fears of the disciples, and us his people with these same words. There is no need to be afraid; Jesus has come, and his presence brings us peace.

I encourage you to take every opportunity you can this busy holy season to stop and think about just how “good” this good news of Jesus is for you and the world. Our theme for this short Advent season is “Peace Came to Earth” and God’s peace really does take away our fear, our doubt, and our worry.

Lord’s blessings to you this week as you prepare for our Lord’s coming which is for you.

Pastor DeHope


November 29th

Dear friends in Christ,

“C’mon, let’s hurry” – I said to the kids rushing through the store. I’m on a mission for the one thing we came for, yet there are so many bright, shiny, things that have lights and make noise that they want to look at. Gah! There’s just not time if we’re going to get to the other place too and get to our commitment on time. Somehow we made it, even with a 2 kid potty stop, and a pause for the lights and sounds, but the store adventure just wasn’t the enjoyable experience any of us wanted.

Maybe it wasn’t possible the way I had designed it. Perhaps if we had more time or if we’d found what I was looking for all would have been well? I didn’t choose time, I chose another store. I tried to do too much. I was rushed. It’s a common theme not just during the holidays, but in everyday life.

It’s always about time. On time, out of time, in time. Sunday we begin the season of Advent where we prepare for our Lord’s coming for us both at Christmas celebrating his birth, and his 2nd, final coming to take us to be with him. In the meantime, we’ll have lots of choices to make about time.  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son” Galatians 4:4.

When everything was right for God’s plan Jesus came to save us. The time was right. I may never quite be right with time, but I know that I am right with Jesus. It is my hope that as this joyous season kicks up we take the time and make the time for what matters most. Less hurry, less stress; more Jesus, more lights, more quality time with the kids and people that matter.

The holidays (read holy-days) mean different things to us all depending on the year and the circumstance, yet there is joy to be had in Jesus and his coming which is for YOU. Don’t let all the other things steal your joy. The fullness of time has come. Christ is here, with his cheer; never will he leave me!

Blessings on your week and your Advent preparations!

Pastor DeHope


November 22nd

Dear friends in Christ,

What are you thankful for? That’s the question we’ve been asking at POP this month. There’s really no wrong answer, and hopefully you’ve got more than one!  This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, and while it’s not a religious holiday, it is good to stop and give thanks to God for what we DO have, remembering that “Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:17). We’re reminded in Hebrews 2:10 that everything is God’s – we’re just using it and caring for it for a while.

One of my favorite hymns comes to mind: “God gives me my days of gladness, and I will trust him still, when he sends me sadness. God is good; his love attends me, day by day, come what may, guides me and defends me. From God’s joy can nothing sever, for I am his dear lamb, he, my shepherd ever. I am His because he gave me, his own blood for my good, by his death to save me. (LSB 756).

I am thankful for God’s eternal wisdom and that he has safely brought me to this day. I hope that whatever your week entails, and however it goes, that you find joy and thanksgiving in being a child of God and knowing Jesus as your savior and that he loves you. I’m most thankful that we both know and believe this to be true. Thanks be to God!

A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Pastor DeHope


November 9th 

Dear friends in Christ,

The hard thing about leaving on a trip (at least for me) is the amount of work it takes to pack and prepare at home and at work both physically and emotionally. There’s the anxiety about it all and worry about what might happen. It takes so much less effort and struggle to stay close to home, to not miss a Sunday. I guess that’s what makes me a bit of a home-body. The other side of that though, is that if you don’t take that trip you’ll miss out on what’s ahead – the opportunity or adventure. I may grumble about going sometimes, but I always enjoy the trip without regret. It all turns out ok in the end.

The same is true for many other aspects of life, and taking chances – stepping out on a limb, so to speak. The words of Moses to Joshua are a helpful reminder for me that I’d do well to keep in mind regularly: “Be strong and courageous… It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8-9).

Be strong and courageous no matter which of life’s journeys you’re on, even if there’s a cross to bear. Don’t be afraid; it is the Lord who goes before you. You’re never alone in anything. You’ve always got a traveling companion and he’s been through it all – even unto death. And he conquered death and lives! Do not fear or be dismayed.

Hopefully by the time you read this we’ll have reached our destination safely with much joy, but please do keep us in your prayers as we travel about.

God’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope

 


November 3rd

Dear friends in Christ,

One of the ways God keeps us humble is to teach us through our children. This week our family is preparing for the loss of our dog Gromit. Gromit is almost 14 and has been with me from the beginning. I took him in as a stray when he was just a pup and we’ve been family ever since. The family has grown – with Alicia, Leah, and Joshua. We’ve adopted and lost other dogs, but none were quite like Gromit. Everybody loves Gromit. I had hoped against the odds that he’d be around to welcome child #3 - little Benjamin Carlton with us, but it looks like God has other plans. When we told Leah how sick Gromit was, that he was hurting - and he was going to be with Jesus on Saturday – she cried and cried. But then she stopped and said, “Let’s have a party for Gromit”. So, tonight we’re having a party for Gromit. He’ll feast! We’ll all feast. It will be a celebration of God’s gift of Gromit to us, our family, and friends. Truthfully, we’ve really been spoiling him all week. Dog treats. Halloween candy. The kids have not held back.

I had been dreading this day for a long time, but this last week was also a gift. Rather than dwelling on how I might feel when I had to say goodbye, or what life would be like after Gromit, I spent the week showering him with treats, with care, with attention, and appreciating him. My life is so much better because God put him in my life, at a time I never would have thought to get a dog. God is funny like that – knowing what we need and bringing it about in ways we haven’t considered.

We so often focus on what might happen when it’s not even a sure thing. We become consumed with a problem and a struggle – or a whole set of them, so we lose sight in the moment of what’s really good. We forget what we do have, and how God has fulfilled his promise to work all things for our good and to provide for us in all circumstances. We worry that our neighbor has more than we do, when really, we should only be looking in their bowl to make sure they have enough.

God has shown his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and yet we’re troubled about many things. We know that God did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32), yet it can be hard to live like we truly believe it. So, let’s have a party! Let us celebrate what we do have. We have Jesus, we have family - both the one we’re born into, and the one God has made us a part of in his church, bound by a common faith. We have food and shelter and all those 1st article gifts (from the catechism’s explanation of the 1st article of the Apostles’ creed).

What we have is truly more than what we lack. Thanks be to God! So, this week, have a party! We’ll meet back here in church and really celebrate together around the altar where God forgives our sins, feeds, and unites us together in him.

Blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


October 25th

This week we celebrate the Reformation! The old joke is that Lutherans never change, and yet the Reformation brought about a LOT of change. It was a good change. It was a call for the church to return to the Word of God in many ways where she had erred. God’s Word was put in the hands of the people as Luther translated the Bible into German so they could read it for themselves.

God’s agenda is change. Our need is change. He continues calling us to repentance through this same unchanging Word to give us forgiveness and life in Jesus Christ our Savior. That is one thing that will never change!

C.S. Lewis said that we may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is trying to remember, to attend – in fact to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.

As you contemplate all that God has given to guide and sustain his church through the ages, with the reformation, and everything after, pray that you stay awake. As you think of all the blessings God has provided for POP, and for you individually, pray that he leads and guides us all in the ways that we should go – to serve him and to serve our neighbor. Lord, keep us steadfast in your Word; help us stay awake!

Lord’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


October 19th

Dear friends in Christ,

In the last several months we’ve noticed some cracking on walls inside our home and figured that it’s an old house; that patch must have been poorly done. Then we noticed under our feet there was a crack in the slab that wasn’t there before and also on an outside wall. We’ve been told that the ground moves a lot here in Topeka, but we’ve called in some help. This is beyond normal. It’s concerning and not right. There could be consequences if we just try to “live with it”.

Yet we live with a lot of things that need attention, that are not the way they’re supposed to be. The car is signaling us with a light on the dashboard, but drives fine so we’ll get to it soon, when we have the time, or money, or when it gets worse. A small machine we have seems to be making a different sound today, but it works fine so it must be fine. You’ve got a small ache or pain, but it’s not constant so perhaps it will heal itself. If it doesn’t, we won’t see a doctor until we’re in so much pain we can’t ignore it any longer.

So many things in life are on a spectrum of good or bad with a lot of ground in the middle. I got a “B” on that assignment. I’d hoped for an “A”, but at least it’s not a “C”. I’ll take this jacket today because it’s not as warm as my other coat. This car is newer than that car. We buy one product over another because we perceive it is a better value. We reason many things in life this way.

God is different. He’s constant. He does not change. That means his love for us and his attitude toward us is always the same. We sing about these truths: “On Christ the solid rock I stand – all other ground is sinking sand” or “Christ is our cornerstone, on him alone we build”. In Matthew 7:24ff Jesus says “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

God’s word is solid. It’s secure. It’s trustworthy and true. The church stands solely on Christ our Savior who is for us. The same is true for us Christians. No matter what happens everything will be ok, if we have Christ, if we remain in him. Our shifting house is a great example of the world and it’s shifting values that are not those of our Lord. It will fall. All the things we worry about that are on the spectrum, the things we wonder how bad can we let them get, before we have to deal with them, might not trouble us so much if we kept our eyes on Jesus. Things in life will be less shaky with our feet firmly planted on our Rock.

When you’re troubled this week thinking of all the “things”, remind yourself that Christ is your rock and your salvation. Keep your focus on him and these other things will fall into place.

God’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope


October 12th

Dear friends in Christ,

 Monsters are scary! Joshua worries about them at night and is scared to go to bed because of the monsters. We ask him if monsters are real or pretend, and he says they’re pretend – not real. Yet he’s still scared of them. The world is a scary place. We all have things we worry about; things that cause fear and trepidation.

Very often we fall victim to our own minds and many worldly influences. The future, the economy, trouble in the middle east and fear of domestic attacks. The safety of our kids and grandkids in a hostile world that is far more mature at a young age than what we grew up with.  Could this be your anxiety? Yes. Could it be a real concern? Yes. Sometimes we struggle to be at ease and find peace and balance day to day. Even at the pastor’s conference this week in Wichita I was worried and afraid of several things that never actually came to pass. Even though the monsters weren’t real, I was afraid of them.

And this happens more often than I’d like to admit. I’m just not at peace. This is what the devil wants. It’s what he lives for – to sow the seeds of strife, discord, and fear. I have mentioned before in these notes how the Bible so often addresses our fears with the directive “do not”. He encourages us by saying:  think like:  The Lord is with you, the Father has given you the kingdom, I will help you, I came near when you called me, and you are worth more than many sparrows. One of my favorites is from John 16:33 where Jesus tells his disciples: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Did you catch that? In the world there will be trouble, and in Jesus we have peace. Jesus has overcome the world. He’s overcome all the “monsters” in the world – everything we worry about and all forces of evil. They have been overcome and defeated by our Lord Jesus.

So. when you hear me say “The peace of the Lord be with YOU”, think of this verse. You have the peace Jesus gives, because he gives you himself. He has given you his victory over sin, death, and the devil. You have peace in a troubled and hostile world, come what may, because Jesus have overcome the world and given you, His peace.

Lord’s blessings on your week.

Pastor DeHope


October 5th

Dear friends in Christ,

Good-byes are hard. Some people avoid them like the plague. Some are very emotional. Some pass by us casually because we’ll see them again soon. At least, that is the assumption. We said goodbye to Auntie Joyce this morning and it was tough, even though we know we’ll see her again in about 5 weeks. Then after that we’ll see her daily as she’ll become an official Kansan!

It is one of God’s gifts and blessings that he puts us in community. He gives us family, unites us in a family of faith, and gives us good friends to rely on for support. Thank you Lord for this joy that you give and for guiding us all our days. And yet, our days on this earth will one day come to an end. There is an urgency to life. There is a time and a season for everything under heaven.  There is an urgency to share the good news, for the harvest is plentiful says the Lord!

So let us purposefully make time to enjoy all the relationships God has given us in life. Let us worship and praise him and let us share that same good news with purpose, urgency, and joy.

God’s blessings on all your days,

Pastor DeHope


September 29th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week we’re celebrating the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) and their work for the Gospel of Christ both here at home and around the globe. One of the ways they do that mission work is through the little purple “mite” box whose name is taken from the widow’s mite in Mark 12:41-44 & Luke 21:1-4. All those “mites” really add up together for the sake of the gospel, yet there is far more going on than the sum of the funds and compounding interest.

All our offerings, be they to the LWML, our church, or some other gospel centered mission are given in faith that God will bless them for his purpose. And he does. God is able to do great things with nothing. Look at the world and all that was made. Consider all the places you’ve been or want to go; all the people you love and know. God made them all from his dirt and combined them with his word. And it was good (Genesis 1&2).

This week in your devotions and prayers consider all the little things God has put in your life for good and for struggle to produce growth. Look at all that he has done with that for your good and enjoyment. We give back to God with our time, our treasure and our talents. How might he be using these for the good of his kindgom? We don’t always see the fruit of God’s work through us, but he does. It’s fruitful and good because he is working it for our benefit and our salvation in Jesus Christ.

Blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


September 21st

Dear friends in Christ,

What are you having? No, it’s not down to the steak or the salmon. While both of those are deliciously pleasant thoughts, and I’d like one of each, people have been asking about the baby. When will we find out if we’re having a boy or a girl? Well, now we know! We’re having a boy! Josh is excited to have a little brother and as much as Leah wanted a little sister, she’s happy that God gave her another brother. We know she’ll be a great big sister!

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate” Psalm 127:3-5.  What a wonderful reminder of how the Lord sees children. It’s a good encouragement to Alicia and I when we’re feeling a bit too old and overwhelmed for this, or wonder if we’re ready for 3. No, we certainly are not! Yet God says yes, and he gives us all of life’s challenges so that we may walk in him, depending on him to see us through it. He has provided for every day in the past and he will not stop. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.

No matter the challenge or the daily struggle God will bless us. We are his children – his heritage. Through Jesus Christ our savior we are the heirs of his eternal heavenly kingdom. So, while we eagerly await the arrival of Benjamin Carlton DeHope this Maundy Thursday, we gather at the cross to receive God’s gifts of forgiveness and mercy placing our trust in him all our days.

God’s blessings on all YOUR days!

Pastor DeHope


September 14th

Dear friends in Christ,

Relationships are hard. We don’t always speak the same language as our spouse. Friendships can be fraught with misunderstanding, or sometimes hard to maintain. Work relationships are…. well, work sometimes. The fact is we’ve never had a relationship in our lives that was free of disappointment. Nothing lives up to the ideal. Not even our relationship with God. Why is that? It’s because of sin. We know this, but it is hard to accept.

Sin causes us to be focused on ourselves. It makes us more demanding than serving, more accusing than forgiving, more defensive than approachable and more critical than understanding and patient. We shouldn’t be surprised our relationships all have problems. Does this tough reality ever make you want to give up and quit? Does it make you want to live on a peaceful island by yourself? We don’t need to be afraid or lose hope because there is grace for our struggle.

Our hope is not found in ourselves or the relationships we have. Hope is found in another. We’re never alone. God is always with us and he is for us in all our relationships – with him and with each other. He gives us grace, even when we’re not up to the task. James 4 begins with a very honest and direct discussion of conflict in our relationships that we all face, and why we face it. We’re not left without hope. Right in the middle of the passage there is this phrase that changes everything: “But he gives you more grace” (v.6). There is grace for every hurtful moment. There is grace for every time you sin or are sinned against. And the grace we’re given for our relationships and everything else will never, ever run out or end. There is always more.

You can give yourself to love, to forgive, to confess, to confront, to trust and to persevere even when things are hard, because “he gives more grace.” That grace in Christ makes all the difference in word for us and all our relationships – with God and with each other.

God’s blessings on your week in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


September 7th

Dear friends in Christ,

How is your devotional life? Do you read your Bible every day? These questions strike fear in the heart of many Christians. Very often things in life are not the way we wish they were, not the way they should be. This can include our time in God’s word and our devotional life. One thing leads to another and soon our worship life together and even our prayer life can suffer. No need to check in with God if we already know we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing…. or as well. So, the thinking goes.

 

Now, dear friends! Don’t let any guilt from the past interfere with the present. Each day is a new and a new gift from God that is full of opportunities to do better. If today you don’t succeed, try again tomorrow. God’s forgiveness and mercy are new each morning regardless of past performance.

 

A friend once remarked to me how much he had read in a year and I was shocked! To my surprise, all he did was read a little each day. Such as simple idea – slow and steady wins the race. My devotional life and reading time are not what I’d like them to be. This is one of those things I’m working to change as part of my new routine with the start of the school year. So far, those little changes are paying big dividends.

 

There are so many other voices that are calling for our attention and telling us what is right. The best way for us to stand firm in our faith and know what is good and God-pleasing if to be in his word. Portals of prayer or some other devotional resources that are organized by the day are helpful to me so that I can pick up where I left off and move one. If you’re ambitious, there are schedules to read the bible in a year. (I’d be happy to share one with you if you have difficulty finding one). There are even Bibles laid out by the day to help.

“Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” - Proverbs 3:5-6.

 

Blessings on your week.

Pastor DeHope


August 31st

Dear friends in Christ,

The End. I bet you didn’t expect that at the beginning, did you? Some things are over before they begin. When the storyline in a movie wraps up nicely with a happy ending and the guy gets the girl the end can be a happy one. When a long meeting ends, we rejoice. We wish some happy times would never end. Endings are sad when they are marked with a loss, especially if we were not prepared for them – like the loss of a loved one. Still, some endings are bittersweet because one thing is over and another begins.

Today is the last day for us to bowl with the kids for free. Summer is over; it has ended.  And with it, many of the activities and fun things that went with it. Our perceived freedom gives way to a more structured routine. The kids are back in school, and the seasons will be changing. In reality, summer didn’t really change my schedule much. We had church every week like we always do. We didn’t take a vacation (we’ll save that for November – just before the busy season of Advent and Christmas). Still, I had planned extra projects for the summer months. There were extra outings with the kids, house projects that were necessary, some for fun; others were unplanned, some necessary and NOT fun. Many things remain undone. What do I do about them now?

The beauty of a new season, or a new schedule or a big change is that it comes with a do-over. There is a new opportunity for order and a chance to reset priorities and goals. Our new routine is more consistent day to day. It’s given us a new chance to add helpful things like singing and a bible story with few more prayers at bedtime. We see more clearly what the kids need, and what we need. We adjust. All this is a gift of God.

We know that there is a time and season for everything under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) and we know that our God is a God of peace and order (1 Cor. 14). He’s made all things and continues to sustain them all – through all of life’s seasons. We rejoice every day that we are God’s baptized child for whom Jesus died. We thank him for all the seasons we go through in life and all the new opportunities he gives us.

So, how will you use this new season? What will you do with God’s blessing of order? As you carve out your week will the Lord be a top priority? Will you come to church? Make time for prayers and devotions? When God is truly first, all the other things seem to fall into place.

God, bless our week and all that it will bring. Give us the strength that we need and help us to put you first so that everything else fits in its proper place. Keep our eyes on Jesus so we see your promises and handiwork in our lives. Help us to use each day wisely and call a do-over when we need it. There is always forgiveness in you. Amen.

Lord’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope

 


August 24th

Dear friends in Christ,

Everybody has secrets. Some information is sensitive and important to protect – like your bank card PIN and other such information which is good to keep secret. A surprise party can be a fun secret to keep (assuming the recipient isn't mortified by that kind of thing). Often a friend will confide in us. Perhaps this is just time sensitive information that will be revealed in greater detail at a later time, but it can be deeply private and personal as well. We know that a gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret – Proverbs 11:13.

There are some things which are our own to keep private or to share all over social media, and there can be lots of ground between the two. Sometimes the news is just too exciting NOT to share. Alicia and I shared that we’re expecting last week. After a good healthy checkup this week, baby is on track to be born on Maundy Thursday – right before Easter. We just couldn’t keep it a secret anymore so the cat is out of the bag so to speak and Leah and Josh now know a baby brother or sister is on the way. No need to keep this secret anymore!

Thanks be to God for Good News and joy to spread and share with each other. We share this joy of our growing family with you our church family; yet we rejoice in even greater news that we share with the world – Jesus Christ died to save sinners. He is risen from the dead and all who believe in him have eternal life in his name!

So, rejoice with us that there will be a baby DeHope for Easter, Lord willing. Rejoice even more that we have seen the light of Christ. Let it shine in your life and bask in its glow.

Lord’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


August 17th

Dear friends in Christ,

“I know where to go. I’ve got this”. That’s how Leah replied with confidence when we asked if we should drop her off or walk in with her on this first day of kindergarten. It brought mom to tears, so Leah let us walk her in for our sake. I just marvel at how much my little girl has grown, and how loving and courageous she can be. I did not possess that kind of confidence in kindergarten!

Our life in this world is fraught with difficulty and uncertainty. The future sometimes looks grim amd we are confronted with hard things. The church also is not immune to these struggles. St. Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 1:7-8 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord”! There are a great many things that strike fear in our hearts and cause great anxiety, and yet as Christians we know that no matter what happens in this life, we know exactly where we are going. Jesus’ death and resurrection assures us of this. He has put his name on us in baptism. We are his children. We’ll be with him in heaven forever.

We may worry about how the rest of the story will go, but fear not – you know how this will end. It ends with Jesus! He is the victor! He has triumphed over all our enemies. He is with us, and we are in him. The victory is ours as well. So put away fear. Take up the gospel armor; have the spirit of power and love with a sound mind in Christ our Lord.

God, grant us courage to put our trust in you. Give us boldness to speak the truth in love. You know where we are going. YOU are the way. Bless all our days and our deeds in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessings on your week! You got this!

Pastor DeHope


August 10th

Dear friends in Christ,

In our Sunday Gospel readings, we’ve been talking about God’s kingdom and how it grows; about things hidden and revealed; about treasure and joy.

Today I would like to share something with you that covers all these bases. It is one of the ways God grows his kingdom, and certainly is a treasure that brings much joy – to Alicia and I, as well as Prince of Peace…hopefully. Alicia is pregnant again! We’re excited to share this happy news with you all, our friends!

Leah and Josh DO NOT KNOW yet. Please help us protect their little ears from this just in case things do not go well again. We hope and pray that in a few months time, we’ll be able to share this wonderful news with them as well. We appreciate your encouragement, prayers and support; please just be mindful when those little ears are present. They have a tendency to hear things even when you don’t think they’re listening!

We ask that you keep our family, and especially Alicia in your prayers. God relieve our anxiety and grant us peace and trust in him during this time of joy.

You are welcome to share our joy with others as you see fit. Just not with Leah and Josh just yet.

God’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope

 


August 3rd

Dear friends in Christ,

Leah is anxiously anticipating kindergarten; and us with her. There is so much joy and excitement about positive things that await her: new friends, new opportunities, learning new things, making discoveries about the world and its workings, and about herself. The list is almost endless. Sometimes when I get excited I can’t even sleep!

We can also become anxious in a negative way about those very same things, or about different things when we’re dreading the outcome or worried about walking through those challenges. Sometimes the difference can simply be a matter of perspective. Knowing that God is in control of all things and that he works them all together for the good of those who love him is a great comfort to us when we’re struggling and anxious about new and unknown things – so also with known things that we may not see a way out of.

God has good things for our future and we need not be anxious in the waiting. Yes, the waiting is the hardest part – sometimes. Our Lord understands our worry. He experienced all the emotions, with the joys and the woes in his body, just like we do. God was fully man, though he was fully God. “ For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” Hebrews 4:15-16.

Psalm 46 reminds us that God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of trouble. It is my hope that you cling to him this week and always as you navigate all the changes life may bring.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 


July 27th

Dear friends in Christ,

Albert Einstein said, “ People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results”.  Smart man. This is why I enjoy mowing the lawn – instant gratification! That lack of “results” can often be a struggle in life because we don’t see the fruits of our labor with that positive encouragement to continue, or that what we’re doing is working or worthwhile. The struggle might even be worse in the church.

We don’t always get to see the growth, the fruit of our labors for the kingdom. The time after Pentecost in the church year is the time of growth – some call it the green season where we receive teaching from our Lord. Right now, that teaching is in the form of parables and the subject is the growth of the kingdom. The seed as the word of God is sown on all types of ground, where God makes us good soil; or the wheat among the weeds where we’re told NOT to root out the weeds, lest we root out wheat, or rob the weed of it’s chance to become wheat for the kingdom. We struggle to comprehend the vastness of the kingdom, our Lord’s desire for all to be in it, and the reckless abundance Jesus distributes the gospel of forgiveness with.

So we also struggle when we don’t see great results in the world or in the church. It doesn’t always appear that the seed of the Word is growing, or that the harvest is as plentiful as God says that it is. We don’t necessarily see it with our eyes or in our church. Yet God says it is. God says his word IS powerful and does what it says. It makes bad soil good, and can turn weeds into wheat and unbelievers into Christians. And we trust God, really we do. We’d just like to see some results.

Trust the word and promises of God. Know that the Kingdom grows in secret. One will plant, another will water, another will see the fruit - but God gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:6ff). Jesus Christ is our rock and our foundation. Everything built on him will stand. So do the tasks you’ve been given to do – for the kingdom or otherwise. Take joy in your labor. Trust that God will provide what is necessary. He’ll give you the growth.

God’s peace be yours this week.

Pastor DeHope


July 20th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week has been Stellar!  That was the theme of our Vacation Bible School where we learned to “Shine Jesus’ Light”! When life feels dark… shine Jesus’ light! When people don’t get along… shine Jesus’ light! When good things happen… shine Jesus’ light! When people are sad… shine Jesus’ light! When people need help…shine Jesus’ light! Each day we had a memory buddy from space that taught us something wonderful about God and how he made the earth and how we can see him in creation. A Bible story was paired with that as an example of the light of Jesus. We had so much fun!

We invite you to join us this Sunday for a special worship service where we’ve invited all the kids back to share what they learned this week, to sing their VBS songs and shine Jesus’ light!

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


July 13th

Dear friends in Christ,

My email this week was especially frought with trouble. My amazon account was suspended! My eBay account was on hold, and there was a problem with my debit card (at a bank I don’t hold an account). Three separate attempts to gather personal information about me, take my money, to compromise or steal my identity. Phishing scams! Don’t worry, I didn’t bite. I didn’t click on anything, or even feel the need to login to my accounts the proper way to check on things. I saw them for what they were. Scams.

The devil is constantly trying to scam us. He’s on a phishing expedition to see if we’ll bite. He wants us to follow the world. He wants us to search for ourselves, to try and find some temporal meaning and purpose for our life in our job, our house, our family & friends, our hobby, our abilities, our…. our….our….  He’s trying to distract us and keep our focus on worldly things instead of godly things. And then he tells us that’s not enough. Or what happens when we lose one of those things, we found identity in? Despair.

You don’t work in the hope of getting an identity; you work in celebration of the identity that; in Christ Jesus you have been given. This is freedom for the Christian. We have worth and value because God has said so. He has made us his own dear children. We can have hope and find joy in all those other things – in all the gifts and blessings God has given us in this life. They just don’t define us and who we are. God does. We are his and he is ours. And this is an identity that we can share with others. It’s not a scam – it’s reality. It’s resurrection life in Christ. 

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


July 6th

Dear friends in Christ,

How wonderful it was to have two days off in a row for the 4th of July! A rarity for Pastors! I got a couple big projects taken care of, or nearly so – and wrapped up some small things too. It got me thinking about the kingdom and what it looks like. How it grows in secret, and yet Jesus tells us to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers because the harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few. The Gospel is simple enough for a child to believe, and complex enough that learned scholars can spend their lives studying the Scriptures and never mine it for all its treasure.

In our Thursday Bible Study, we see Jesus calling his disciples simply by saying “Follow Me”. And they do! The word of God is powerful. Phillip finds Nathaniel and confesses Christ as Lord. Then he simply invites him to “Come and see”. That’s what we do too. The church grows as it always has – with the invitation to hear the Gospel of Jesus – “Come and see”. Sins are forgiven. And the church grows.

Leah has been taking swimming lessons this summer which is good – she needs to hone her skills and brush up on what she’s learned. She’s doing well. We often approach our Lord and his church with a swimming lesson mentality to simply brush up on our skill, get a little encouragement, learn something new and be on our way.

What we receive here in God’s house every week as we hear the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins isn’t just swimming lessons, but divine rescue as my friend Ed has said. We don’t just need a helpful hint or a trick, we need rescue, forgiveness, and life in the cross of Jesus Christ.

It’s a life and death rescue. Christ’s death for our life. That’s our rescue in the gospel. We need it. The world needs it. And it’s simple. Come and see! Jesus is here with his gifts of life and salvation – rescue from the world, sin, struggle, and all that plagues us.

Blessings on your week. The mercy and peace of Christ be with you!

Pastor DeHope


 

June 30th

Dear friends in Christ,

I wish you all a joyous Independence Day as you celebrate our great nation and freedom; our equality and our unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness endowed by our creator! What a joy and blessing for us as Christians to know our creator by name. To know God’s love for us shown in Jesus Christ. And to know the true freedom that brings.

It's freedom from sin and hell and judgement. It’s Jesus’ not guilty verdict handed down from the cross. It’s not a freedom to live however we like, regardless of God’s will and is word, but a freedom to receive his gifts, his benefits and his forgiveness, time and time again. It’s freedom from fear and freedom from separation. It’s a freedom to know nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So, let’s celebrate God’s good gifts in our nation and our neighbor! Let’s continue to pray for our nation and our leaders and those who have served God and country. Let us rejoice and be glad that we are free in Christ. Lord keep us ever faithful! Help us to share all our joy!

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


June 24th

We fight a lot of battles in life. We battle each other and we battle ourselves. We battle our enemies. We battle illness or even a messy room. Sometimes we even do battle with God. In that battle of wills God will wrestle with us. He's patient, loving, and good, but his will is always right. When our will doesn't line up with his will for us; when our will doesn't line up with what God's word says.....guess who needs to change? We do. We must always strive to align our wills to God's. 

I've been doing some battling of my own over the last week and a half and it's gotten harder to fight and win this battle. It wasn't any of the usual suspects this time (like myself, family, or even a fight against the clock) - it was an ailment. I got poison ivy or some other kind of allergic reaction with a rash and it kept spreading. This morning I finally admitted I needed help. I just couldn't bear the intense itching and desire to scratch any longer. That desire to tear my legs off was always there. It just wouldn't let me be. It was SO annoying I almost couldn't stand it. I had been praying the whole time; I always pray.... well almost always.... God will never leave us or abandon us; he will not forsake us. He lets us wallow in our sin if we choose that, and we often suffer great consequences because of our sin, but God continues calling us back to himself. He continues to call us to repent and receive forgiveness - to be restored. His continued calling might get really annoying like a rash until we can't deny it. We may come to blows with God and even try to sucker-punch him but we're the ones who get hurt. We must call evil evil, and the good we must call good. We can't trick God into switching them or changing his mind about it. God's will is done. We pray in the Lord's prayer that it would be done among us also.

Please continue to pray for me this week, and for my relief from this temporary ailment. I'll continue to pray for you as well. Lord, lead us in paths or righteousness for your name’s sake, and let us lean not on our own understanding! 

Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


June 15th

Dear friends in Christ,

I’ve been thinking about learning – how we learn, what we learn, and why we study. Our Bible study Thursday mornings on the Gospel of John is going well and has given me much to think about. I’m also taking a continuing education class at Redeemer, Lawrence this week on the Seven Ecumenical Councils that’s being taught by Pastor Bruss who is now teaching at the seminary. It’s a little intimidating, but I know it will also be good, and I know I’ll learn something – even on my day off!

There are many Bible verses about learning. Colossians 3:16 comes to mind – “Let the message of Christ dwell among your richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts”. Proverbs 1:7 teaches us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction”. Psalm 25:5 helps us see why we have a thirst for knowledge and a desire to learn, especially why we study God’s word: “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

Knowledge is a gift that comes from the Lord, and his word teaches us of his love for sinners, and the salvation he gives freely in Jesus Christ. So, while I’m off learning more about church history, I encourage you to do a devotion today. Take an extra minute for God’s word. It makes us wise unto salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord!

Blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


June 8th

Greetings POP,

I’ve been trying to spend more time in the Psalms in my devotional life and during shut-in visits. The Psalms have been called the prayer-book of the Bible. There are different types of Psalms: Psalms of prophesy, instruction, comfort, prayer, and thanksgiving - collections of prayer and praise that cover all aspects of the Christian life.

This week I commend Psalm 121 to your reading; a psalm of consolation. God watches over us and cares for us; he has not abandoned us.

My Help Comes from the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

121 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


June 1st

I hope you all enjoyed your Memorial Day celebrations and those who made it possible. The extra day was a blessing and made it a short week. My family has returned, and it was a joyous homecoming! You can miss someone a lot in a short time. I’m sure that as the days and weeks pass all the excitement at seeing each other again will fade into normal…. Until next time. And no, I did not finish all the things on my list. Those will have to be saved for a future date!

Praise for the past… Faith for the future! That’s what one of our church banners says that’s currently hanging in B/C. I enjoy seeing this banner because it’s a nice reminder that God has brought us to this day. He’s faithful and unchanging. He’s dependable. Better than an old Chevy truck – Like a Rock! You can count on God. Things will work out, even if it is not the way we planned.

I have been reconciling that with something a friend of mine posted on social media recently: You are not your past. You are today years old. Live in God’s new and present mercies through Jesus Christ. He’s right. Our past doesn’t matter. It is forgiven in Jesus Christ. Praise be to God! What matters is that we were forgiven then, and we are forgiven now. Nothing in the future can change that either. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. God grant us faith for the future you have planned for us. It might be a wild ride, but the Good Lord always keeps his promises.

Cheers to the future and all that God has in store! Strengthen our faith!

Under the mercy of Christ,

Pastor DeHope


May 24th

Dear friends in Christ,

Everything changes so quickly. We had the excitement of Auntie Joyce visiting, and now she went home, and Alicia and the kids are visiting her family. It's quiet in the house. A time and season for everything under heaven indeed. I have a list of projects to keep me busy that is more than likely over-ambitious, but I'm doing what I can to make the most of it before they come back late Tuesday night. 

Thankfully God is constant and unchanging. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We don't need to worry about where he'll be, how to find him, or whether or not he loves us. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow (James 1:17)

So, while our circumstances may change, as does rain and the weather, our loving gracious God does not. He is your Rock, your Light and your Salvation! 

Lord's blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


May 18th

Dear friends in Christ,

The school year is over, or nearly over and it’s a time of endings and new beginnings. Saying goodbye to teachers and friends; looking ahead to new opportunities, summer break, a change of schedule and maybe even a vacation. For us it means Leah is saying goodbye to her teachers and friends at POPP and looking forward to Kindergarten and all the new friends and adventures that will bring. While we’re very sad that Topeka Lutheran isn’t an option, because they are closing, we know God will open other doors and opportunities for growth.

Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that for everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven. God has made everything beautiful in its time and put eternity into our heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man.

One of my favorite hymns of hope and comfort wraps this up in the last verse “ Before all time had yet begun, You, Father, planned to give Your Son; Lord Jesus Christ, with time-less grace, You have redeemed our time-bound race; O Holy Spirit, Paraclete, Your timely work in us complete; Blest Trinity, Your praise we sing – There is a time for everything! (LSB #762 – There is a Time for Everything)

For some, nothing changes. Your nose is still to the grindstone, and your routine is the same. There is a time for that too! No matter what life may bring, or what season we find ourselves in at the present moment, God has given us joy in our lives, and eternal unending joy in him. So, I encourage you to eat and drink and take joy in all that you do this week, this summer, and always! God’s gifts are plentiful! Enjoy them through all seasons!

 

The peace of Christ be with you,

Pastor DeHope


May 11th

Greetings in Christ dear friends,

It’s been a wet week. It was just coming down in buckets with lightning and thunder while I drove to KCI to pick up Auntie Joyce who will be visiting us for two weeks. We’re hoping to avoid any and all tornado watches and warnings while she’s here, but we praise the Lord for the rain.

Psalm 148 reminds us that all the heavens, the angels, the sun, the moon, the shining stars and the waters above the heavens praise the Lord. God commanded and they were created. He established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all the deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! Kings of the earth and all people, young and old, praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above the earth and heaven. All people and everything in all creation praise the Lord! Let Prince of Peace and all Topeka praise the Lord!

We are the Lord’s people because he has called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. We are forgiven and redeemed by the blood of Jesus and united to him in our baptism. What a marvelous cleansing flood where God put his name on us and makes us his own! Praise the Lord for that water! Praise the Lord for his faithfulness to us in all times and circumstances. Not only does he guard and keep us in the one true Christian faith, he daily provides for our needs. The rain that waters the earth and everything under heaven.

Praise the name of the Lord dear friends! Lord’s blessings on your week and all it entails – rain or shine, travels and visitors, graduations and daily routines same as always. Praise the name of the Lord!

Pastor DeHope


May 4th

Dear friends in Christ,

May the fourth be with you! ….and also with you! It’s a fun day for Star Wars fans….and my Aunt and my friend are celebrating birthdays this day also. Even if this isn’t a special day for you, the force is with you – the greatest force of all. Almighty God claims you as his own and his put his name on you. He’s with you no matter where you go, or what you do, watching over, blessing and protecting you.

This was especially on my mind while we traveled to the Great Wolf Lodge for an early birthday celebration for the kids this week (we got a special deal to beat the summer rush)! We were safe the whole time, no injuries, or real trouble of any kind. The blessing of joy and laughter abounded, and the parents had plenty of energy to keep up with the kids. It really was a nice getaway. Looking back, every moment was in the Lord’s control, even though I wasn’t thinking about it. It reminds me of one of my favorite hymns “Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me” and a few lines from it. Why should Cross and Trial Grieve me? Christ is near with His Cheer; Never will He leave me. God gives me my days of gladness, And I will Trust Him still when He sends me sadness. God is good; His love attends me. Day by day, come what may, guides me and defends me.

The hymn is very comforting to me, and while it fits in nicely with anxiety and the struggles I talked about last week, it’s a nice reminder and reassurance that God’s favor rests upon me no matter what or where. Even when we’re off enjoying God’s blessings and are busy having a good time, our Lord is ever “busy” with attending AND defending us.

Lord’s blessings on your week and all your days. From God’s joy can nothing sever, For I am His dear lamb, He my Shepherd ever. I am His because He gave me, His own blood for my good, By His death to save me. That’s a done deal and nothing can change it.

So, enjoy this day the Lord has made!

Christ has risen!

Pastor DeHope


April 27th

Dear friends in Christ,

One theme that has been common in many of my conversations lately – inside the church and far reaching outside and even in my own life is the topic of anxiety. The world is an anxious place full of anxious people. I count myself as one, maybe you do too? Many of us have anxiety as we pack our lives and schedules full of things like taking care of kids, our pets, crushing it at work, squeezing in a workout, trying (and possibly failing) to connect with our spouse, and maintaining a social life when we can. 2020 is three years in the rear-view and yet there seems to be so many things still causing us to worry and be filled with uncertainty and fear. The point hit home for me this week when one of the news blogs I follow shared nothing new and dedicated the day just to encourage and point out positive truths of some of their recent “gloomy” reportings.

Some of their advice and encouragement included: Fear is a choice. Choose hope! Don’t be distracted and despondent. Stay focused and hopeful. Focus on the progress, not the problems. Things WILL get better. Look, change is uncomfortable. The discomfort caused by BIG change is even bigger and more uncomfortable. We’re on the world’s biggest roller coaster and we are slowly pulling up to the tallest hill. Everyone knows what happens next. Helpful tips included: cut back a little on all the doomsday Youtube videos. Focus on things you CAN control. If we’re afraid, they win.

 This is some good practical wisdom. Take a deep breath, or 3. Let it out slowly. We KNOW things will be ok, and we know that they already ARE ok. Why? Because God is on his throne. The tomb is empty, Christ is risen and sits at the right hand of the Father ruling all things. He is in control no matter what it might look like day to day. The real battle is against the devil and evil, and Christ has triumphed. The battle is over, the victory is won. And it is ours in Christ. God has promised. Don’t loose sight of that in your day-to-day. You already have that victory. The faith God gives you also gives you confidence and hope in the future and what is yet to come. Don’t let the enemy steal your joy. Don’t be afraid. Remember the promises of God. There are those 5 words you can count on your fingers: I am with you always. You have eternal life. Jesus has promised NOONE can snatch you out of his hand. His Father is YOUR Father and He is greater than all. They are One (John 20:28-30). They are FOR you. God’s on your side. You got this! God’s got this, and he’s got you. 

CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA!

Blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


April 20th

Dear friends in Christ,

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA!

We’re enjoying a short visit this week from my parents this week. Leah and Josh are soaking up every minute of it – bedtimes have been extended and the excitement is high. It’s a little like Easter, and that added joy of the season. This week in Church we’ll be talking about Jesus appearing to the disciples on the road to Emmaus and how they didn’t recognize him at first, how he explained the scriptures to them and then Jesus revealed himself to them in the breaking of bread. Then with boldness, they return to Jerusalem to share the good news.

All this got me to thinking about God’s presence among us all the time. We ARE God’s children and there is never a moment when we’re not under his care; there’s never a time when we’re not the object of his love. So, the question is NOT whether or not God cares for me. The Bible says over and over again how much he does. Yet we compare ourselves to others; we want what they have – that which God has not given us and we analyze each moment of our lives for evidence that God love us and is with us. It’s tempting to do all this and yet we need not worry about that. Questioning God’s love won’t lead us anywhere good. When you’re tempted this way, run to his word for peace and assurance. Picking apart each little moment won’t give you God’s peace. His promises in his word WILL give you peace.

So, the real question, isn’t whether God cares, because he does. The real question is: will I recognize God’s care when it comes? Maybe the problem is our definition and expectation of God’s care. God’s care comes in a variety of ways – it’s not always a cool drink and a soft pillow. His care is not always relief from circumstances or trouble. There are many moments in our lives when the very thing that causes us to wonder about God’s care IS his care. He knows that trouble will reveal our hearts or display his glory. Often trouble is a tool of his care in the hands of the One who knows best what we need. God cares; therefore, make sure your definition of his care is not too narrow.

Jesus loves you and is for you. The proof is in the empty tomb. Enjoy your week in that ever-present reality.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 


April 14th

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA!

Our Easter joy continues! Every Sunday really is a mini Easter celebration because the empty tomb is a new constant reality that we live in. Easter is a season we celebrate as a church, but also a way of life. “He is not here…. He is risen, just like He said”. That means we can trust the word and promises of God who raised Jesus from the dead! We can say with all confidence, along with Job, I know that my Redeemer lives! I know that when everything else is done and gone, that I myself will see my Lord and Savior with my own two eyes! It doesn’t mean life won’t be rough. It does not mean life will be any easier for Christians – it won’t be. But what it does mean is that no matter the struggle or the triumph we’re not alone. God loves us and is for us and is with us.  Easter changes everything!

St. Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Christ is not raised, our faith is in vain and we’re still in our sins; we are to be pitied! But in fact, Christ HAS been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. Easter is real; it’s all real. There was no body in the tomb. Christ is risen, Christ is living, alleluia! Since Christ is living, we too will live eternally with him. We also live in him now. We are set apart. We are free. We are forgiven. We can accept whatever befalls us in life – whatever struggle we must endure, whatever hard things we must get out hands and feet dirty with because Christ is with us. We can have Easter joy through it all. We can share that grace and mercy freely with everyone because it will never run out. We can forgive with reckless abandon because Christ has forgiven us. Easter changes everything.

Go live, be free, and forgive. Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Pastor DeHope


April 7th

Dear friends in Christ,

How often do we hear, feel, or say: “It’s been a long week!” Sometimes they are just that way, and I don’t want to take anything away from those rough weeks we have.  It’s Holy Week, and our services are just beginning. For me, it’s already been a long week and we’ve only just begun. Our Lord Jesus knows all our struggles and our cares as we know from Hebrews 4:15. Yet how often do we think about just how long, how rough, how crazy, and just how BUSY our Lord’s last few days and hours were before his death?

After Palm Sunday and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, he angers the leaders by throwing vendors out in the cleansing of the temple. He confronts the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders and Judas is bribed to betray him. On Maundy Thursday in the evening, our Lord celebrates the Passover, the Last supper with his disciples. This was a family meal celebration that Jesus is celebrating with his disciples. I’ll save some comments on that for another time. Then Jesus washes their feet; as their teacher and Lord he would serve them. He always serves, cares for, and loves us. Then he institutes the Lord’s Supper – something totally new, and he communes with them.

After communion, Jesus and the disciples journey out of Jerusalem to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. In agony with the intensity of the situation our Lord sweats drops of blood. So much has happened even by this point that sleep overtakes the disciples and they fail to watch and pray. Then Judas arrives with the soldiers to betray Jesus. Peter draws his sword to fight, and Jesus has compassion and heals the servants ear that Peter has just sliced off. He’s then arrested, bound, and dragged off to court where he is falsely accused and questioned by various leaders.

The Good Friday events don’t turn out “Good” for Jesus. He’s condemned, flogged, mocked, and beaten. He’s nailed to the cross and crucified. Saturday Jesus is in hell proclaiming victory over sin death and the devil. And we all know what happened, Easter morning!

What a week!  All of this was for you, dear friend! Our Lord Jesus went the way of the cross for you, for the sins of the world. It was the will of the Father so that we could have access to Him and call Him OUR Father. We are forgiven and set free. The gavel has come down and the verdict is in: NOT GUILTY! We got away with murder. Yet we are at peace with God who does not hold our sins against us. All of this was for us. God showed his love for us in that while we were YET sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8-10). So….. enjoy ALL your weeks. The hectic, the crazy, the smooth sailing, and everything in between. All is forgiven. Be at peace. God loves you! Happy Easter! Shout your alleluias and sing! We’ve got so much to celebrate! Always!

The peace of the RISEN Christ be with you always!

Pastor DeHope

 


March 28th

Dear friends in Christ,

Easter is very near, and Lent is near its end. We begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday and shout with joy to the son of David – Hosanna! Save us now! And we wave our palm branches and sing to Jesus “Ride on, ride on in majesty, all the tribes Hosanna cry” as he enters Jerusalem . And things so quickly take a turn for the worse when they don’t go as we expect. We then sing “In lowly pomp, ride on to die…” for Jesus did not come to be an earthly king as expected. He came to go the way of the cross, to save sinners, to redeem us!

So, the cries of Hosanna so quickly turn to CRUCIFY!!! Jesus is betrayed and arrested Maundy Thursday and He’s dead by Friday. We call it “Good Friday” because of the “good” that God is doing for us in his death. He is defeating Satan once and for all and giving us the victory over sin and death as he rises in victory Easter morning. When God hangs dead on the tree, he appears least able to help or save us, and yet it is in that moment of submitting to death, that he defeats it and is accomplishing the most for our salvation.

How often in life do things NOT go as we expect? They take an unexpected turn for the worse; we are betrayed. Our hopes are raised high, and we’re let down. Our feelings are hurt by those we care about. Some illness or tragedy befalls us. We might be tempted to ask and wonder, “where are you Lord” or “how could you let this happen?” Remember the joy and promise of Easter. Jesus is victorious! All evil – all our enemies are defeated – the strife is o’er, the battle done! Awake my heart with gladness – Christ the Lord is Risen today! Have no fear you sons and daughters of the King! Even if it appears your Lord is not listening or is far off, rest assured that He loves you! He is with you always, even to the end of the age; nothing can separate you for the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). Absolutely nothing!

So, rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say rejoice (Phil 4:4)! Everything has been made right in time & eternity for you. Easter triumph, Easter joy is yours dear friends! A blessed Holy Week and Easter celebration to you and yours!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 


March 23rd

Dear friends in Christ, 

This Sunday our Gospel is the raising of Lazarus from John Chapter 11.  There are a few thoughts I want to share with you before then.  First, Jesus loves Lazarus, and he loves you!  Jesus is the friend of sinners.  He cares for you.  Jesus loves Mary and Martha along with their brother Lazarus and can heal him as he has done before...just as he does for us today each time we recover for a common cold or more serious ailment or malady.  And yet Jesus waits until Lazarus is asleep in death before he returns to help so that God may be glorified.  The sisters say that If...Jesus had been there, Lazarus wouldn't have died...just like us, and while we believe Jesus is the Messiah the son of God as they confess, we have trust issues too that it's going to work out according to God's plan, that might be different from our own.  We forget Romans 8:28 - "All things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are called according to his purpose".  God is in control.  Always.

When Jesus sets his face towards Judea, to go back for Lazarus, the disciples are afraid of death by stoning at the hands of the Jews.  Our Lord is not afraid.  He also sets hsi face to the cross, our cross to suffer death in our place and destroy it, only to rise in victory.  Even though Jesus knows his will momentarily raise Lazarus from the dead, he still cries in sorrow.  Our Lor shares the sorrow of his friends, or us!  And then he calls to Lazarus, "come out!"  And Lazarus comes out alive.  And so shall we on the last day when our Lord returns in glory raising all flesh.

This Lententide and always, be comforted by the promises of your savior who loves you, who is your friend, who is for you, and who has done something about death and all that troubles you.  He is your life, your light, your hope and your salvation!

Blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope      


March 16th

Dear friends in Christ, 

I hope your week is going well at whatever point you read this and that your Lententide is one of meaningful reflection on our Lord’s cross and passion and the benefits that brings to your life now and eternally. We’ve been talking about the problem of sin in our world and its depth which was the reason our Lord Jesus came into our world to save us. In John chapter 9 we read about the man born blind and the question is raised about whose sin caused this blindness. Jesus creates some controversy by healing the man on the Sabbath and restoring his sight. 

Our Lord contrasts light and darkness, blindness and sight as matters of faith and belief. Those who see are spiritually blind and don’t know the truth of the Gospel. Those who are in the darkness of unbelief see the light of Christ. I urge you to read this chapter during the week. Think of Jesus who is the light of the world – YOUR light; the light no darkness can overcome. Pray the Lord’s prayer – call upon him in all times of trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. The light of Christ has come and dispelled the darkness! 

God’s blessings, 

Pastor DeHope      


March 9th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I was sipping a cup of coffee and it just tasted SOOOO GOOD! And it looked so nice outside…. I just wanted to go sit out there and forget all the things I must do today. Then a smile came to my face. I am thankful for all those small things in our daily life that bring us joy that are gifts and blessings from God’s hand whether I see and acknowledge it or not. There was nothing special about the coffee in hand, or the view from the window – the same as always. It was the same gift God regularly gives for me and all the world, the world of sinners who deserve none of it. And yet it’s all gift; it’s all grace. None of it is deserved by me or anyone else. And yet all these little gifts are there. So, are the big ones.

I’ve been thinking about the Lord’s prayer which is our focus this year for Lent and I came across this: ‘If you don’t acknowledge sin, you won’t value grace. If you don’t value grace, you won’t see the forgiveness and rescue it provides”. God’s name is holy and his kingdom comes in spite of us, and yet we pray it would be kept holy and come to us as well. He provides daily bread and all we need for this body and life.  I hope this week you keep your eyes peeled for all the gifts and blessings, large and small that God gives, and the opportunities he provides to give and share about him. He’s given and FORgiven everything. It’s all gift and it’ll never run out.

God’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope     


March 2nd

Dear friends in Christ,

What is something we all do, probably daily, that we don’t even realize we’re doing; something that has a huge impact on the way we view ourselves and the way we respond to others? It’s one of the reasons we have so much relational trouble – even in God’s house, the church. So, what’s this harmful thing we do? WE FORGET.

I had a few good opportunities this week to see how I have NOT treated people I care about with the patience and respect I intended to. I did not respond with mercy, kindness, and forgiveness that I wanted to be shown. I was wrapped up in myself and the moment and I FORGOT. We get so busy and focused on ourselves that we do not see God’s new mercy in our lives each day. We fail to see the mercy that has been shown to us every step of the way. Mercy is not in our minds or on our tongues. Mercy means I am so deeply grateful for the forgiveness I have received that I cannot help offering you the same.

It’s dangerous to forget mercy. Dangerous because it shapes how we see ourselves and others. When you remember mercy, you remember that you did absolutely nothing to earn those things that you’ve been blessed with in the first place. Our Redeemer has written mercy into your story. When you remember mercy, you are humble, thankful, and tender and complaining gives way to gratitude and our self-focused desire gives way to worship.

Our Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross for our forgetfulness. He went to the cross to show us mercy, to be merciful to us and to redeem us. We all stand before God with nothing. We deserve nothing. And yet we’ve been given EVERYTHING in Christ. We’ve been FORGIVEN EVERYTHING in Christ. We can be merciful to others because God has shown us mercy. I pray this Lenten season is a merciful one for you. Given and received.

God’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope


February 24th

Dear friends in Christ,

And we’re off! Our 40 day Lenten journey has begun! In my daily devotions I came across this question: “Why do we say we place our hope in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ and yet practically ask the law to do what only grace can accomplish”? We do it every day. We think if we just have the right set of rules to follow, the right policy in place and the right threat of punishment with consistent enforcement we’ll be ok. Our kids will be ok. With this thinking we’ve reduced parenting and our lives to being law-givers, prosecutors, juries and jailers.

Two Bible truths this denies is that first before sin is a matter of behavior it is a matter of the heart. We sin because we’re sinners. Anger is first a matter of the heart before it is an act of physical aggression. No person can change the heart of another person. If threats of punishment, deadlines could produce lasting change Jesus would not have had to come. This thinking denies the Gospel of Jesus we hold so dear. It really does ask the law to do what only God can do with the gospel.

Thankfully God has not left us to the law, to our own devices. During Lent we focus on our sin, the severity of it, and how we can’t fix it. Only God can. And he does – in Jesus. We come to the cross in repentance and sorrow. We see that sin required the death of God, but we see redemption in his resurrection and that is our own as well.

Every year I encourage people to consider adding a small task that is beneficial to their devotional life and growing in faith rather than giving something up that you’ll eagerly return to when it’s done. Consider a daily devotion or making our weekly Lenten services part of that new habit. It might stick.

As you walk the road of the cross, keep your eyes up, on your Savior and how he has shown his love for you and forgiven you everything. You’re free!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope


February 16th

Dear friends in Christ, 

That’s slick!  No, I’m not talking about the roads or our parking lot this morning, though I did do a little sliding around – unintentionally on my way to the door. Time has been going so fast this year, for us anyway, that we seemingly slipped from Christmas and New Year’s right into Lent with this coming Wednesday 2/22 being Ash Wednesday! I’m not ready for that yet. The sermons and services will get done; that’s not a problem. I’m not ready to think on all the things of Lent like our Lord’s cross and passion and yet the time is very near. I felt the same way about Advent, and not being ready, but there is comfort in that. Despite our readiness or our feelings on the matter Jesus our Savior comes into our broken sinful world to redeem us. His suffering and death is not a pretty picture, but it’s the only way to save a world of sinners. Focusing our minds and hearts on that gives us cause to celebrate at what comes next – Easter joy in the Resurrection of Jesus which is also the assurance of our resurrection in Him. So, steady your feet for our Lenten journey. Our Lord comes to us with good news and blessings in his name.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope 


February 9th

Dear friends in Christ,

As some of you know I've had a cold all week. What Joshua picked up and gave to Alicia last week, I now got a turn with. Sharing is caring.....right? I had many plans for the week that were quickly unraveled and it was a struggle to do anything. No energy, no motivation, no drive, nothing. I felt like doing absolutely nothing, and I didn't even enjoy it. It wasn't relaxing, it was just all that I could do. For some reason Philippians 4:13 came to mind: "I can do all things through him (Christ) who strengthens me". No I couldn't - it wasn't that easy. It occurred to me how often this passage is mis-quoted and misused. 

Paul is speaking about God's provision and being content in all of life's seasons and circumstances whether they are times of prosperity and plenty or times of scarcity and need. God's wisdom in the Word and the work of the Holy Spirit help us through all these life experiences in ways that benefit us and others. It doesn't mean it will easy. It doesn't mean that we lack faith if it is difficult.  2Cor. 12:9 tells us that God's grace is sufficient and his power is made perfect in weakness. Romans 8:28 assures us that God works ALL things to the good of those who love him. So doing all things through Christ who strengthens me is a call to "buck-up" and get through it. It's God promise that he is with you in all your struggles. Though it feels like hell, he'll see you through it. 

Our Lord has suffered all things in his body, even death. He has triumphed in victory over death, so he knows ALL our struggles. He is with us. He is for us. He loves us, and he'll see us through all things.

The peace of Christ be with you,

Pastor DeHope


February 3rd

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I’ve been thinking of just how much I love listening to music. I picked up a few used CD’s to listen to in the car (and yes I realize how much that dates me…. and the car)! But I really do enjoy music, lots of different types and genres too. I really see it as a precious gift from God that I just can’t imagine being without. I’ve found it carries more weight with some than others, and that’s ok. As the body of Christ, we all have different gifts and abilities, unique qualities, hobbies, likes & dislikes.

In recent weeks I’ve mentioned God’s promises and those 5 powerful, comforting words “I am with you always”, that God is for us, not against us, and that he is the friend of sinners, OUR friend. Psalm 40 came to mind as I pondered this: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God”.

So, whether music is a big deal to you or not, God has given us a song of praise to sing. Joy in the midst of sorrow and hope in a world of gloom. God has made our steps secure on the rock of his word, and he is the rock of our salvation. This is his gift to us in our Savior Jesus Christ, and this gift is for the whole world. That’s something to sing about!

We sing and praise God in worship as a response to all that he has given us, all that he has done for us, and the new identity we have in him. What are your favorite hymns and songs of praise? We would be happy to include your favorites in worship as much as we can. Just write a note on the back of your attendance card or send me an email.

 Blessings on your week, and on your song. Even if you can’t carry a tune.

Pastor DeHope


January 26th

Greetings in the name of Jesus!

Joshua did so well in a big boy bed at Grandma & Grandpa’s house that we decided to keep that momentum going now at home and converted his crib into a toddler bed. What a challenge…..the new sleep training that is – the conversion was a breeze and Alicia had it done in just minutes. He’s in and out of bed, loud, keeping Leah up – it’s quite the show every night. Every time he’s caught, Josh runs to his bed, lays down and says “no, me sleep.” This week after being told to return to bed I found him on a pile of blankets beside his bed pretending to be asleep. We’re hoping and praying that both kids sleep better so that mommy and daddy can do the same!

This got me thinking about our relationship with God and how we as Christians follow him and act towards him and his words to us and how we keep his commands (or don’t as the case may be). God’s word comforts and directs us. It lifts us up and is meant to be for our good to guard and protect us. But we don’t always see it that way. Try as we might we struggle to listen to God and do what he says, despite our best intentions sometimes we are like Josh – always climbing out of the fences God has put to guard us, and running back saying No, I’ll do it when we’re confronted. We’re constantly tempted and pulled in all directions.

Yet God is always faithful….always calling us back to him. Not only does he promise those 5 words “I am with you always” as I mentioned last week, the Bible is full of I AM statements of God that show his love, his care, and his continual presence among us. Psalm 46:11 says The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our stronghold. We are reminded in Jeremiah 32:27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me? One of my favorites is from Isaiah 41 where God calls us his friend, and says “fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

So, be strengthened and encouraged in all that you do this week. God is for you and not against you. He knows your struggles and is with you always.

Pastor DeHope


January 19th letter

Greetings in the name of Jesus!

I am with you always. This is God’s promise to you. No matter what! Five simple words you can count on your fingers with one hand (so it’s easy to remember) and yet they are powerful to calm and bring comfort. I taught this to Leah last night when she was scared and having trouble sleeping. Scary thoughts just wouldn’t go away, she said. So, I had her put out her hand and those 5 little piggies helped us count God’s words of promise. I am with you always.  If God is with us always, then he is with us everywhere – on a plane, in the car, at the store, in church or school, at work or play. At Grandma and grandpa’s, or a friend’s house, no matter what we do or where we go. “Yes” she said. So that means God is with you when you’re scared and sad or worried too. Yes! He’s with us always, no matter what. I told Leah to just keep repeating this to herself.

I really need to practice what I preach here and remind myself of God’s promise when I’m struggling with or worried about something. We had a wonderful, albeit wet trip in CA visiting family and friends, and I was tired, so I fell right asleep last night. But they’re not all like that. I’ll need to remember God’s 5 words of promise. I am with you always. You should too. Whenever you’re struggling, wherever you are – just keep repeating it yourself. Speak it out loud if it helps.

God has given his word of promise. He can do no other. 

The peace of God in Christ be with you this week and always!

Pastor DeHope

 


January 12th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

By the time you read this our family will already be in CA visiting family. It’s funny to think the January weather we left in Kansas will be much nicer than what we’re experiencing out west in the rain. Oh well. I always enjoy the visits; but wish there was a way to avoid the “traveling” part. There is a little bit of fear and loathing that goes with that for me, so I try to remain hopeful and focus on the joys ahead. That was my encouragement to everyone at our congregational meeting Sunday as well. God is still on his throne and always provides what is necessary.

For the believer, fear is always God-forgetful. If God is in control of all things, if he is righteous and good and wise and for us, why should we fear? Sometimes it is easy to forget our identity in God and that Christ has made us his own. The land of Judah had the same struggle, especially going up against the Assyrians in battle. King Hezekiah did not want them to think they were left to their own courage in battle, their experience, or their own will. He wanted them to know that they had been blessed with something else, that they must not forget, so he said “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him… With him is and arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8). There will be moments when we ask and wonder where courage will be found for what we must face. Hezekiah gives us the answer. “Look up and remember you God.” As God’s child you are never left to battle on your own.

So, dear friends, be of good cheer, be strengthened and encouraged as you look ahead. It’s all going to be ok. God is with you and for you. And if God is with you, who can be against you?

The peace of Christ be with you!

Pastor DeHope


January 5th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

A blessed Epiphany to you!  The 12 days of Christmas culminated in the feast day of Epiphany on Friday which celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ to the Gentiles in Matthew 2 with the visitation of the Magi or wise men. This is a celebration that the Kingdom of God is open to all believers through faith in Christ as a symbol of the new covenant in Jesus!

This is sometimes called Three Kings’ Day, but we don’t actually know how many came from the east to worship our young Lord Jesus – we just know that three gifts given. There could have been more than three in attendance. I remember several good birthdays growing up where I received more than one of the same toy at a party! The 3 gifts that were presented to Jesus had meaning, and they also traveled well. The gold was a symbol of his kingship and earthly authority, the frankincense (a type of incense) was a symbol of his diety – that he was God, and the myrrh which was used in embalming symbolizes his death to save us.

As I write this (on Thursday), our kids are still waiting for their “big gift” tomorrow on Epiphany. Our celebration of Jesus continues! All year long we live in and celebrate the reality of Christmas and Easter and the gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation that are ours in Jesus!  Last week I was explaining the “12 days of Christmas” carol and its Christian symbolism and blessing for us as we celebrate our coming Savior.  I didn’t finish explaining all the gifts…

Day 6 – 6 Geese Laying – the 6 days of creation

Day 7 – 7 Swans for the gifts upon Jesus in Isaiah 11:2-3

Day 8 – 8 Maids A-Milking are identified in Matthw 5:3-10 the 8 beatitudes.

Day 9 – 9 Ladies Dancing – one for each fruit of the Spirit

Day 10 – 10 Lords a-leaping for the 10 commandments

Day 11 – 11 Pipers Piping for the 11 faithful disciples

Day 12 – 12 Drummers Drumming are the 12 points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed.

So as Christians we get to celebrate the Christmas and Epiphany season longer than the rest of the world. We know where true joy and forgiveness is found – in Jesus who is the reason for the season.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope 

THANK YOU

Pastor DeHope, Glenda Hammel and Mary Hume want to thank everyone for the Christmas and New Year wishes and a big thanks for thinking of us at Christmas time.  We appreciate everything and everyone.


December 29th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Merry 5th day of Christmas! I hope you all had a nice Christmas Day celebration or will get to follow through with plans still in the works. At our house we’re counting down the 12 days of Christmas (just like the song) to Epiphany on January 6th when we celebrate the wise men offering their gifts in worship to our young Lord Jesus. To teach our kids about this, they have a small gift to open each day to keep the Christmas spirit alive and well with their “big gift” coming on Epiphany which happens to be a Little Tykes kitchen & workbench. We know that they’ll love it, and of course it won’t be more than a year or so before Leah will be reading and I won’t be able to write things like that!

The world delivers Christmas as a one and done day in the midst of a “holiday season” that we’re conditioned to prepare for from black Friday to Christmas Eve; to consume and purchase….and then return or exchange later. This leads to a lot of confusion about the 12 days of Christmas and what or when they are.  But as Christians we are still celebrating Christmas! It’s just getting started on the 25th!  The “12 days of Christmas” carol is rich in Christian symbolism and blessing for us as we celebrate!

Christmas Day – the First Day –– Jesus is the partridge in the pear tree.

Day 2 – 2 Turtle doves are for the 2 Testaments – Old & New in our Bible

Day 3 – 3 French Hens – Faith, Hope & Love as revealed in 1 Corinthians 13:13

Day 4 – 4 Calling Birds – The 4 Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke & John

Day 5 – 5 Golden Rings – The 5 Books of Moses (The first 5 books of the Old Testament – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)

So, dear friends, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Stay tuned next week for the rest of the gifts!

God’s blessings!

Pastor DeHope


December 22nd letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Merry Christmas to you and yours as you celebrate our Savior Jesus Christ who was born to save us!

I don’t quite know when or how this line of thinking came about….. but I have been pondering the first Christmas for much of Advent. I saw a funny meme of Joseph apologizing to Mary for NOT making reservations ahead of time at the inn and it made me laugh. But no matter how I look at it, every single aspect of the first Christmas is less than ideal for the holy family! There’s nothing to laugh about.  It’s hard for me to actually imagine how rough and uncomfortable it was making that kind of journey on foot and pregnant. The birth in the stable….the registration, the threat to the newborn and the escape to Egypt….They had probably hoped so much would be different but it wasn’t. Maybe you’ve had or are having one like that? And yet God provided. His presence, His protection, His sign, His joy, His strength, His peace – all these became Mary & Joseph’s too, despite the circumstances.

All these gifts of God are ours as well! I can’t recall a Christmas that went as expected. Some have been filled with so much joy I could hardly keep it contained; others failed to measure up, and there were a few I’d wished to skip all together, and yet each year God shows up with His presence and his presents! Jesus was born to die for the sins of the world. He was born to rise for us and our salvation. In Christ we are free, we are forgiven and we are family.

So….no matter what kind of Christmas you’re having this year, or how it stacks up to the others - I pray that God’s JOY, His gifts, and his presence give you cause for rejoicing – that in all circumstances you pray praise and give thanks! Christ is here! There is none to fear!

May your Christmas be Merry in Jesus!

Pastor DeHope & family


December 15th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Jesus says “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness but will have the Light of life (John8:12). Our Lord Jesus is the light that no darkness can overcome. As Christmas approaches and is nearer every day, we see and speak of this light more and more. Even Leah and Josh notice the lights at Christmas time and point them out!  These lights are just a reminder of the true light of Christ that has come into our lives and our homes to dispel the darkness. It is a busy time, but take a moment each day to stop, pause and rejoice in the light and consider what God has done for you and what a difference that true light makes in your life. Rejoice and be glad in all circumstances that our Lord of life and light has come! And he will come again to make all things right. For now, bask in the light and let it shine!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 

THANK YOU, PRINCE OF PEACE

A big thank you to our congregation for all your hard work and contributions, making Oktoberfest and the Craft Bazaar/Cookie Walk such a wonderful success! From the proceeds of these two events we are able to contribute $3,688.49 to our churches general fund. Also, thank you to those who purchased from the silent auction and the gift cards on the Christmas tree for the seminary students.  We were able to send them $160.00 in cash along with the gift cards that you purchased for them.  THANK YOU! Everyone at Prince of Peace is the BEST!!


December 2nd letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

God is love. Three simple words. They change everything. Hope is found!

December has only just begun and my calendar is filling up. So many places to go, people to see and things to do. I am doing my best to prepare and I have high hopes for the season and all that it will bring. I’m excited to celebrate Jesus, his coming and his birth because that really is the REASON for the season! It’s why we have hope.

There are only two places to look for hope. We can look for hope horizontally in the world, thinking that something in creation will give us security, peace, and that inner sense of well-being that we seek, or we can seek it vertically, putting our life and trust into the hands of our loving creator. God is love (1 John 4:16). People put their hope in creation all the time – thinking a relationship, success & achievement or stuff will do the trick and satisfy their heart. Yet these things were all meant to point us to the place where we truly will find rest, in our creator. We need to face this reality that creation will never be our savior.

But we know who is! Jesus is! God is love and he has shown his love in Jesus….for us, and for the world. Here in these 3 words we find hope that won’t disappoint. These 3 words have the power to change everything about us and they can end our searching and give our weary heart rest. God has given us his love to sustain us and carry and protect us always in every season of life.

Remember these 3 words and cling to them for all they are worth in this busy season. There is hope. God is love!

To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


November 25th letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

“Today You’ll envy the blessings of another or you’ll bask in the wonder of the amazing grace you have been given”. I read that in my devotion this morning and found it quite fitting as we prepare to celebrate thanksgiving. He went on to describe our struggle - I want to be content in all things and I wish I could say that I was, that I never wanted what someone else had or envied their life; that I never thought God gave something to someone else that he meant for me. I wish I could say I am better at counting my blessings than assessing what I don’t have – that my appetite for things wasn’t so large and that my heart would finally be satisfied. These are all wishes because they’re not totally true of us this side of heaven.

The Bible speaks very strongly against envy because it is a constant struggle. An attitude of gratitude thinking ‘I am blessed’ easily turns to ‘I deserve’ because envy is selfish to its very core. Envy causes us to question God’s goodness, his faithfulness and his wisdom. It accuses God of being incompetent or dishonest and not doing what he promises. Most of our problems of envy with another person are actually not about them, but about God and our view of him.

Envy causes us to question God’s goodness so we stop going to him for help because why would we go to or rely on someone we don’t trust? Do you see the danger here? Envy also causes us to forget God’s amazing grace and blessings to us because we’re focused on someone or something else.

God daily and richly provides all that we need to sustain this body and life. God has given us enormous blessings of his grace, that we could not earn and do not deserve. Let us focus this Thanksgiving on all that we have in this life and celebrate it as a gift of our loving merciful God. And let us ALWAYS rejoice and celebrate with thanksgiving that God has shown His grace and love for us in giving His son Jesus into death to save us. In Jesus’ resurrection we have life! We have a place at the table, we’re included in his family forever with His name on us as His treasured possession!

So let us bask in the wonder of God’s amazing grace shown to us in Christ. Everything is going to be right in the end.

To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


November 17th letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

The end is near… Christ is coming back for us, so that we may be where he is. That’s been our theme the last couple weeks and now it’s the last week of the church year before Advent begins. It always seems to come so abruptly. I’m not ready. I’m not ready for Christmas, and it’s not because I’m defending Thanksgiving and the need to celebrate it first. I’m not ready for Thanksgiving either! You’re free to put up Christmas early if you like – it certainly is worthy of extended celebration. It is just hard to be prepared.

The furnace died last night so that had to be fixed before I could get ready for work (luckily it was a quick fix with the pocketbook shut – just a dirty flame sensor). But then the kid from the cable company drove his van off my driveway and got stuck in the culvert…. He was supposed to be at my neighbors’ house! A floor jack, some blocks, a tow strap and a few minutes  later he was free, and on the road to work and so was I.

I was not ready for those inconveniences. I am not ready for the holidays, but they will come and go whether I’m ready or not. That’s life and that’s ok. But when Jesus comes…. That’s different. Ready or not has eternal consequences. I AM ready for Jesus to come back. That is one thing I’m sure of more than anything else. I trust in the mercy and forgiveness of Christ. I know that I am a redeemed child of God, marked with his name. And that makes all the difference for eternity. Jesus will come abruptly. For that, we ARE ready. Let us use this season of Advent to try and help others be ready for his coming too. It matters more than anything!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope 


November 10th letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

This week I celebrated another trip around the sun…. it was good birthday. A lot has happened in the last year, and I have a lot to be thankful for. The devotion I read that day said, “While sin is still a sad and ever-present reality in each of our lives, it is simply no match for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I find this to be very comforting in my own life as I reflect on my own sinfulness and shortcomings. It is also of great comfort to me as a Pastor. I hear things….people tell me things… not just about their sins and shortcoming, but about how they’ve been wronged by others. It is the latter that I sometimes struggle with the most – not being able to make right or fix or help the hurt someone has experienced at the hand of another person – another person whom God also loves and wants in heaven. Another person for whom Jesus died on the cross to forgive. One that Jesus loves, even though it is a person I want to hate for what they have done and how they have hurt someone I care for. And yet this is no match for the grace of Jesus Christ my Lord who has forgiven me. And this is where I must leave it – in the hands of Jesus. Help me forgive as you have forgiven Lord. Let me trust that you will sort it out and make it right. Help me love and forgive like you. Help me forgive and reflect YOUR forgiveness. Help me trust you to be God. I am not.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


November 2nd letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Gratitude. This week has been one of gratitude for me.  James 1:17 comes to mind: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”. This side of heaven, nothing is perfect, that’s for sure! Still God daily and richly provides for all our needs of body and soul, and then some. You all as Prince of Peace sure are one of those good gifts to me and to my family. Pastor Appreciation month took on new meaning for us this year with all the kindness, generosity, and support we’ve been shown in so many ways. Your thoughts, prayers, and kind gifts have been a blessing to us.  Galatians 6:6-10 comes to mind here as well: “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” You have shared good things with me. Thank you. God be praised. To God be the glory!

 Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


October 29th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Last week I shared the sad news that Alicia and I lost baby #3 at eight weeks. The amount of care, love and support that Alicia and I have received over this last week is incredibly heart-warming. Your calls, cards and conversations have been a wonderful encouragement and blessing to us during this difficult time. Galatians 6 talks about bearing one another’s burdens and caring for one another in Christ and we feel as if Prince of Peace has done that for us and shown us the love of Christ. You are our church family and we appreciate you, your understanding, love and support. Thank you!

 To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


October 6th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I have been wrestling with something that is hard to understand. One way or another it will resolve in time – like most things do. Still…. I wonder and question. I read a quote in one of my devotions this week that said, “You don’t have to understand everything in your life, because your Lord of wisdom and grace understands it all”. I don’t always handle this very well. God gave me my reason and my senses and I have a desire to know and to figure it out, and yet I won’t experience inner peace simply because all my questions are answered. I might not like the answers. God may not give me an answer. Sometimes God’s will is hidden and it will always be a mystery to us – he will not reveal all the things he will do in our life for our good and for his glory.

Yet, that is the promise in Romans 8:28 that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. So where is peace to be found? Isaiah 26:3-4 gives us the answer: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock”.

True peace is not found in trying to figure out God’s hidden will. It’s not found in our planning or trying to control our circumstances and people in our lives. True peace is found in trusting the person who controls all the things that we don’t understand and who knows no mystery because he has planned it all. We get this peace that remains even when disappointments come by keeping our minds focused on the Lord. Meditate on his glory, his grace, his faithfulness, his patience and his forgiveness; remember all that he has done for us – both in this life, and in the next through our Savior Jesus Christ. Some things remain a mystery, but the one behind the mystery is gloriously good, he is the author and sustainer of life and he is in control of all things. And he has plans to prosper us and not to harm us. God is FOR us!

Lord’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


September 30th letter

LETTER FROM OUR PASTOR:

Dear friends in Christ,

I’m not a big fan of monarchies. The big events and upsets of the royal family never interested me. I never had childhood (or adult) dreams of being a Prince or any kind of royalty, so it probably won’t surprise you that I wasn’t terribly moved of effected by the death of the Queen. However, I did come across a very meaningful expression of faith from the queen that I’d like to share with you. And please note that there’s absolutely nothing wrong if you feel differently about the royal family and it matters a great deal to you.

Queen Elizabeth exclaimed: "How I wish that the Lord would come in my lifetime." "Why" asked the Chaplain. The Queen replied with quivering lips and her whole countenance lighted up by deep emotion, "I should so love to lay my crown at His feet." 

THIS is a marvelous example in my mind of how we should regard our Lord and HIS reign in, and over our lives now on earth, but also eternally. It fits nicely with many of the themes we’ve had in recent weeks in the parables with Jesus teaching us about where our priorities should be set, what our treasure should be….etc.

We also sing about this reality of Christ’s authority over us as our Prophet, Priest, and King. We sing “Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne” and “I will cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it someday for a crown”. So, while I may not be a big fan of the Queen’s earthly authority, I do think she got it right when it came to submitting to the ONE true authority on earth as it is in heaven.

Lord’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


September 22nd letter

Dear friends in Christ,

This week has been a little trying on my nerves as Joshua’s vocabulary expands and he LOUDLY repeats the same 3-4 word phrase again and again and again and again…. you got it. Leah is full of shouts and enthusiasm for school, her friends and so many good things. It’s often in small spaces like the car. It’s tough. Yet, I consider that in light of Psalm 33 which says Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Give thanks to the Lord with instruments…. Sing to him a new song. For the word of the Lord is upright and all his work is done in faithfulness.

My kids are joyfully making noise…. And it’s a blessing from God. I will pray for more patience. God’s work is always done in faithfulness, even when it doesn’t occur to us that he is even working for us and our benefit. Don’t be bashful to make some noise to the Lord. Let your joy be heard. We all have so much to be joyful about, even in difficult times, even in small spaces….like cars. Sing it Leah! Shout it Joshua. And belt it out, all of YOU! Make that sweet music and that joyful noise to the Lord.

God’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


September 15th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Prayer – it’s one of those things we could probably all do a little better at or do more often.

I stumbled upon a little prayer for a wife whose husband can be difficult. Though I’m sure Alicia will NEVER need such a prayer, here it is:         

“Dear God, my husband. He can be a pain! But at least he is my pain. Help me to love him in spite of all the annoying little things he does. Because I do love him, and I want to love him more. Amen”.

While it might make you laugh a little, I think it’s a good little prayer. Swap ‘husband’ for wife, son, daughter, friend, cousin, aunt, uncle etc. and thank God for all the people God has put in your life to help, guide, bless or even grow your patience and compassion. Please add Pastor to the list too. I both need and covet your prayers (and I’m sure I give Alicia cause to pray this prayer often)!

God teaches us to pray; he invites us to pray. Not because he needs our prayers, but because we benefit from them. They’re good for us, kind of like vitamins. They help us focus our attention on God, what he’s done for us in Christ and all that he daily and richly provides for us in this life; plus they teach us to rely on him, to come to him at all times, and all situations. I encourage you to pray the Lord’s prayer, pray this prayer or make one up. Two of my favorite (short) prayers are “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief” and simply. “Lord Help!”  Because he does. Always. Don’t be bashful! God’s ear is always inclined towards you; HE is always FOR you!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope


September 8th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Happy Thursday! I hope this finds you well. Rejoicing seems to be the theme for the week.  Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin in our Gospel for Sunday and the joy of finding what was lost and how that relates to the kingdom. There is much rejoicing in heaven when the lost are found – when sinners repent. I love the parables. There is always more going on than is immediately apparent. Our house has been full of anticipation and excitement as Grandma arrived this week from California. Neither my mom or her luggage got lost, but we rejoiced anyway. We’re thankful for the visit and our time together.

I have been searching for a few items this week that are still “lost” from our move. They must be somewhere! I want them NOW! When you lose your keys you NEED them now – before you can go anywhere…. Sometimes it seems like joy, can be at a minimum if it’s there at all. We must experience a loss first, frantically search for, or try to repair something, and then find or fix it before that wave of joy and relief sets in. Why is that? Why do we not have more joy in our day simply because something or someone is already there and NOT lost? Why do we fail to fully appreciate the value of someone or something until it is lost or we don’t have it anymore? I think we should work on this…..

Jesus is blasting the Scribes and Pharisees in the parable. He does that a lot. They’re grumbling that Jesus wants to grow the kingdom. Jesus wants to bring more people to himself – to welcome sinners. Notice how the Lord is always harsher on the sin of hypocrisy (usually the Pharisees) than he seems to be on other sinners. The Pharisees don’t see their sin; they think they’re better than others. They are blind to the fact that they need Jesus every bit as much as everyone else. We need Him just as much ourselves. 100%. We’re all sinners. We all need Jesus 100% - there is not sliding scale here; nobody needs Jesus any less….

This is where the JOY and the rejoicing comes in. Rejoicing is the business of heaven! There is more joy in heaven over 1 repentant sinner than a whole gaggle of self-righteous people that think they need Jesus less than someone else. When we rejoice at finding our keys or other lost items – that’s good. But we already had them to begin with. We had already been blessed with it (before we lost it). There is rejoicing in heaven when the numbers grow! When those outside the kingdom are brought inside. When they are added. Don’t be a Pharisee – don’t compare yourselves more favorably to others. We all need Jesus 100%. There is plenty of him to go around. Repent, rejoice and be glad that you’re ALREADY in the kingdom. Rejoice and be glad that the kingdom grows daily and abundantly in spite of us! When you find what you’ve lost, rejoice. Rejoice also in what you already have and that it is NOT lost.

To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


August 30th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Has anyone ever said to you “loosen up, you look so serious” or “have fun, let go a little”? I’ve heard it, so I’m sure you have too. In that moment, I check in with myself and ask if that’s accurate. There is a time and a place for everything, or as Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”. There is a time to be serious, and a time to be silly. There are times to be happy and times to be sad. 

I came across a C.S. Lewis quote this week (he’s one of my favorite authors): “Joy is the serious business of Heaven”. I wholeheartedly believe that, but then I thought, why not work to make that true in our own lives here, now, on earth too. Of course, it will never be possible to have heaven on earth because of sin. There are times that are not joyous, and places that it may not be right even to smile. But as Christians, even in rough times, even now, we have something the world does not have. We have Jesus; we have the good news of the gospel. We have a joy in knowing we belong to the Lord, and nothing can separate us from his love. 

Everything we have and everything we are, is a gift. Everything we have done wrong or left undone has been forgiven. We see things differently than the world does. For us it is different. I can’t wait to get to heaven and experience the unimaginable Joy that is there – that serious business of heaven. But there is great joy even now – knowing what we know, having what we have. Don’t let the devil, the world, or your own flesh steal your joy; don’t let them rob you of it. It’s far too valuable of a thing to not keep better tabs on. I am trying to “check-in” more often and find joy in more things, and even rejoice in my sufferings. I have something special the world doesn’t have. I want to share it, and I want to ENJOY it. I want our JOY to be serious business here too!

To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


August 25th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Leah has learned to work the TV remote. We’re now taking steps to ensure that when, and if she turns it on, she won’t find things that scare her or that will require unnecessary explanations for a 5 year old. It reminded me of many times when my dad would quote Titus 1:15 “to the pure, all things are pure”. And while I want to protect my kids and their child-like innocence as best I can, there’s a problem. None of us are completely pure – not even Leah, because of sin. We see the effects of sin all around us in the world, our relationships and ourselves with our thoughts, words and actions. It’s a real struggle, a daily one. Our Lord sends us to be salt and light to the world, carrying the good news gospel message of Jesus Christ with forgiveness life and salvation in him. And yet still we struggle.

We live in a world where evil still exists all around us, but the one who conquered sin and death is still with us. As Jesus was sending out his disciples into the dark world with the gospel he said something that changes everything. He promised “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” Matthew 28:20. We’re not sent out into the world with a list of principles, nor does he guide us with rules to follow. HE COMES WITH US! And not just to jump in a save the day when we need a hand. He knows we’ll never make it unless he’s with us every moment of every situation, location, and interaction. He IS with us in every trial and struggle because he’s been with us all along. In our struggle with evil, he gives us himself. He knows that in HIM we have everything thing we need.

Let this comfort you in your times of worry and struggle. Give thanks in times of joy. Your Lord is truly with you ALWAYS, in everything. Even when you turn on the TV. Fear not! The Lord is with you always – even to the end of the age.

To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


 

August 21st letter

Dear friends in Christ,

We’re back from MN, mostly rested and thankful for the opportunity to see friends. This week I’ve been catching up on meetings and it occurred to me that very often when I pray with a group before a meeting, at Bible study or some other gathering I thank the Lord of his mercies new to us each day, but then often forget that as the day gets busy or as I become distracted by work, thoughts or some other task and it gets sidelined in my thinking. 

Lamentations 3:22-23 says “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”. So often we allow ourselves to have a view of ourselves, of others, of circumstances, of daily joys and struggles, of God, of meaning and purpose and what life is about that is completely lacking of this gorgeous redemptive reality: mercy. His mercies are new every morning – we should post this somewhere it will be seen each day multiple times. 

Mercy is the theme of God’s story, and the thread that runs through all of Scripture. Mercy is the reason for Jesus’s coming and it’s what our desperate heart needs. Mercy is what gives you comfort in weakness and hope in times of trial. Mercy does what the law is powerless to do. Mercy not only meets you in your struggle, but guarantees that someday your struggle will end. Let the amazing words of this passage sink in. 

As God’s child they describe your identity and your hope. They give you reason to get up in the morning and to continue. They allow us to face and admit how messed up we really are and they allow us to extend mercy to the failing people around us. They allow us to be comforted by God’s presence rather than be terrified at the thought that he is near. God’s love for us will never end, his grace and forgiveness will never end. It’s not left-over, recycled or one size fits all mercy. It’s new mercy for each of us, each day - unique to our struggles and the crosses we bear. So be encouraged, strengthened and renewed by God’s mercy new each day, and keep it always before you – it’s FOR you. 

To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


August 11th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

By the time you read this, Lord willing,  we’ll be safely in Grand Rapids, MN visiting friends. We’re hoping for an uneventful drive and a peaceful relaxing time with friends and that their 5 kids and our 2 play nicely together as they have in the past. This peaceful  theme seems to be the opposite of our Gospel text for Sunday where our Lord Jesus claims that he’s come to bring division instead of peace. Christianity is a peaceful religion, so what is our Lord saying here? Truly our Lord’s mission and purpose is to seek and save the lost (Like 19:10). What he is saying here is that what you confess about him, who you say he is may cause division in our world and in our homes. Surely you’ve seen or experienced this first hand. Yet who we believe Jesus is makes all the difference for us here now and in eternity.  He says earlier in this chapter in verse 8 that he will acknowledge us before his father, and our father. We need not be anxious about a thing – God always cares for and provides for us – it is his joy to give us the kingdom. HIS kingdom. We are to be ready for his coming, for we don’t know the day or the hour, but we can take heart and be comforted knowing that even in all the troubles of this life, whether they about our confession of Jesus or not, he is with us. We can look forward to seeing him with our own eyes when he returns in all His glory. Even more than I’ll look forward to seeing you when we get back!

The Prince of Peace be with you always!

Pastor


August 4th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Life has been crazy, hectic, and wonderful lately with all its changes; the blessings the Lord has provided. Sometimes I find myself lamenting all the things I want to get done, and the people I want to see and how it seems the days pass so quickly and yet my to do list never gets checked off as quickly as I’d like…. There always seems to be an interruption or something that comes up. Perhaps you can relate, even if just a little bit? I came across a C.S. Lewis quote this week that has stuck with me – “The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life”. I’m trying to regard those little interruptions whether they’re an unexpected call or something else differently. 

Church can often seem like an interruption with all the things we’ve got going on, yet it’s possibly the most important interruption to make time for. It is here that God equips and strengthens us for all the other interruptions with His gifts of word and sacrament FOR us. This is exactly where God has promised to be to give us stuff that we can’t get anywhere else. 

We’re preparing for a waterpark adventure to celebrate birthdays for both kids with vacation to MN to see some friends next week. We hope it will be a wonderful interruption for us. We pray God’s blessings on your interruptions great and small.

God’s blessings,

Pastor


July 26th Letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Monumental VBS continues this week at our house as Leah can be heard throughout the day singing all the songs; even I catch myself humming along from time to time. But at church it’s much quieter…. It almost feels lonely after such a bustling week despite the fact that Mary and Glenda and Amy are faithfully at their desks and many visitors have come and gone. 

Life is like that sometimes though. Despite being busy and active you can feel alone or weighed down by hardships and struggle. Truly we’re never alone, and we know that God is always with us, even in our sufferings. One passage I’ve been pondering this week is Isaiah 42:3 “A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench.” This is such a beautiful picture of God’s tender care; he is a giver, not a taker. He’s slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and mercy. He’ll never give up on us – not even when we’re weakest or at our worst. He is unchanging, he’s constant, so regardless of how we’re tossed about by the waves of the world our Lord is with us. He is also FOR us - through all our seasons whether we’ve got a song in our heart or can’t bear the thought. 

The peace of the Lord be with you!

Pastor


July 21th Letter

Dear friends in Christ,

We’ve had a MONUMENTAL week of Vacation Bible School here at Prince of Peace! It was wonderfully encouraging to see all the kids learning about God’s love for us in Jesus – how he sticks with us no matter what, and that nothing can separate us from his love. We sang about God watching over us 24/7 and his plan for us in Jesus. Psalm 118 talks about the strength of the Lord and his steadfast love – that he is my helper and my refuge. We can call on him and he will answer us. God is in charge of all things, even when we try to take matters into our own hands. We simply can’t debate it – God’s way is better than our way. His plan is infinitely better than any plan we could have for ourselves. God is in control. We can try to exercise our free will, but ultimately our will is bound to God’s will and we can’t overpower him to get our own way – no matter how much we try. He always prevails. God is like Huckleberry Hound – he always gets him man. It doesn’t matter when or how he got you. You are his. Nothing can separate you from God’s love.

A big thanks to everyone who volunteered and helped make VBS such a special week! There was a monumental amount of work that went into all the preparation and execution of our VBS! THANK YOU! To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


July 17th Letter

Dear friends in Christ at POP,

I have been thinking a lot about identity lately – who am I? Who do I want to be? I can say with certainty that I am not Justin – though I have been getting a lot of calls for him from some mortgage lending outfit. Sigh. I do really hope those stop. But those calls did get me thinking that as Christians we don’t work in the hope of getting an identity; we work in celebration of the identity that; in Christ we have been given. Galatians 4:4-7 talks about the identity we have in Christ who has redeemed us by his cross and reconciled us to God so that we are heirs and can call God OUR Father. We don’t need to wonder who we are or what we will be or look for meaning and identity in the things of the world. We have been given something much better. Our identity is God’s child and an heir of heaven through our baptism.  

Here at church the week has been full of preparation for Vacation Bible School that starts on Monday! You might not even recognize the place right now. Everyone is excited to have all those kids here at POP and teach them about Jesus and his love for us – it’s truly “Monumental”! Our hope and prayer is that the kids will have fun this week and grow in their understanding of their Lord and Savior Jesus, and the identity they have in him.  That’s my hope and prayer for all of us each day too!  God’s richest blessings to you all!  

Pastor DeHope


July 10th Letter

Dear friends in Christ,

hope you all survived and enjoyed our Independence Day festivities this week! In addition to the freedoms we enjoy in our country I have been contemplating the "hope" we have as Christians (Ephesians 1:18-19 and Eph. 2:11-22).  We hope for many things - good weather, lower prices and a better economy, for our marriages, our kids and other relationships, for our church and many other things that are future focused. Looking ahead to the future and the tasks before us can be daunting and we can lose hope before we've taken the first step of the climb. The hope we have as Christians isn't just wishful thinking about what might be, IT IS a present reality we live in that is rooted in our Savior Jesus Christ and what he has already done for us on the cross. It is a hope with an expectation in a promise being fulfilled already by our gracious Lord.  

Alicia and I took advantage of some appliance sales for 4th of July so we could have a gas stove and an opportunity to bear witness to this hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15) presented itself and I had an interesting conversation about faith, life, and our church with a fellow believer at Lowe's of all places. Turns out he was even a Lutheran! 

Your hope is no ordinary hope as the world sees it. Your hope is in the rock of our salvation who has given you, life and many blessings now, but also the promise and "hope" of life everlasting. I hope you enjoy your upcoming week in the peace of the Lord. Let us "have the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which God has called us". 

Pastor DeHope

 

 

 

ecember 14th

Dear friends in Christ,

Things don’t always make sense to us, at least not fully, not the first time through. If I’m looking at assembly instructions for a kids toy there may not be any hope. If I’m listening to my dear wife (or half listening) I might need it repeated. I might have something else in mind that’s keeping me from understanding. We run into these same struggles with God’s word. Perhaps you feel something is lost in translation (like those toy instructions), or you weren’t listening to God all that carefully, or you think He should do it an entirely different way and you have lots of “why” questions in your mind.

As I read over Luke’s account of the birth of Christ, and how it all came to pass…. I marveled once again at the faith of Mary and Joseph to believe, trust, and accept all these things that the angel told them. Yes, God did choose them for this special calling, but God has also put us in our place and time for his purpose. Nothing went according to plan for this engaged couple, even though they did everything right by God. Their engagement was not focused on a big wedding, but rather an unexpected child (by God’s doing) and an unplanned trip to visit cousin Elizabeth. All the details surrounding the birth were far from ideal – from the very pregnant and painful travel for the tax to the birth in the stable instead of a comfortable place. Once Jesus was born, and the wise men visit, what may have otherwise been a honeymoon of sorts became fleeing to Egypt by night to escape evil Herod.

There is great comfort for us in our calling as Christians even when things are not going well by our estimations or expectations. We’ve been preparing the way of the Lord the last few weeks and yet things just aren’t quite prepared to me; despite my attempts to heed my own preaching. During our midweek advent services we’ve been praying Mary’s song of praise, the magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) – “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation… He has helped his servant in remembrance of his mercy as he spoke to our fathers….to his offspring forever”.

Mary has great faith and extols the Lord, her God and Savior because He is the source of mercy and blessing. He shows his strength and his mercy, and he keeps His promises. Remembering what God has done, trusting Jesus’ strength, his mercy, and his promise, I too can be peace – whether ready….or not. God grant us the faith and trust of Mary and Joseph to cling to the Word of God and all his promises as we celebrate this season and always. Jesus is the reason for this season, and all of them.

The peace of Christ be with you always!

Pastor DeHope


December 7th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I’d like to start by saying Thank you to everyone who sent us a note or a gift for Pastor & staff appreciation. The presentation after church, Sunday was very nice, and all your kind words of encouragement were very much appreciated. It really is a joy to be here and to be your Pastor. Alicia and I appreciate you all very much.

The season of Advent leading up to Christmas and culminating with the 12 days of Christmas that end with Epiphany on Jan. 6th really emphasizes gratitude, God’s grace and kindness shown to us. This is why we give gifts in the first place – in joy and thankfulness because God gave first to us and provides all that we have from his fatherly hand.

I got curious and did a quick internet search on gratitude in the Bible, and one site said the only thing that appears more frequently in the Bible than gratitude is “fear not”. We hear that a lot this time of year from the angels when they appear to Mary, to Joseph and to the Shepherds. “And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). Our Lord Jesus also calms the fears of the disciples, and us his people with these same words. There is no need to be afraid; Jesus has come, and his presence brings us peace.

I encourage you to take every opportunity you can this busy holy season to stop and think about just how “good” this good news of Jesus is for you and the world. Our theme for this short Advent season is “Peace Came to Earth” and God’s peace really does take away our fear, our doubt, and our worry.

Lord’s blessings to you this week as you prepare for our Lord’s coming which is for you.

Pastor DeHope


November 29th

Dear friends in Christ,

“C’mon, let’s hurry” – I said to the kids rushing through the store. I’m on a mission for the one thing we came for, yet there are so many bright, shiny, things that have lights and make noise that they want to look at. Gah! There’s just not time if we’re going to get to the other place too and get to our commitment on time. Somehow we made it, even with a 2 kid potty stop, and a pause for the lights and sounds, but the store adventure just wasn’t the enjoyable experience any of us wanted.

Maybe it wasn’t possible the way I had designed it. Perhaps if we had more time or if we’d found what I was looking for all would have been well? I didn’t choose time, I chose another store. I tried to do too much. I was rushed. It’s a common theme not just during the holidays, but in everyday life.

It’s always about time. On time, out of time, in time. Sunday we begin the season of Advent where we prepare for our Lord’s coming for us both at Christmas celebrating his birth, and his 2nd, final coming to take us to be with him. In the meantime, we’ll have lots of choices to make about time.  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son” Galatians 4:4.

When everything was right for God’s plan Jesus came to save us. The time was right. I may never quite be right with time, but I know that I am right with Jesus. It is my hope that as this joyous season kicks up we take the time and make the time for what matters most. Less hurry, less stress; more Jesus, more lights, more quality time with the kids and people that matter.

The holidays (read holy-days) mean different things to us all depending on the year and the circumstance, yet there is joy to be had in Jesus and his coming which is for YOU. Don’t let all the other things steal your joy. The fullness of time has come. Christ is here, with his cheer; never will he leave me!

Blessings on your week and your Advent preparations!

Pastor DeHope


November 22nd

Dear friends in Christ,

What are you thankful for? That’s the question we’ve been asking at POP this month. There’s really no wrong answer, and hopefully you’ve got more than one!  This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, and while it’s not a religious holiday, it is good to stop and give thanks to God for what we DO have, remembering that “Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:17). We’re reminded in Hebrews 2:10 that everything is God’s – we’re just using it and caring for it for a while.

One of my favorite hymns comes to mind: “God gives me my days of gladness, and I will trust him still, when he sends me sadness. God is good; his love attends me, day by day, come what may, guides me and defends me. From God’s joy can nothing sever, for I am his dear lamb, he, my shepherd ever. I am His because he gave me, his own blood for my good, by his death to save me. (LSB 756).

I am thankful for God’s eternal wisdom and that he has safely brought me to this day. I hope that whatever your week entails, and however it goes, that you find joy and thanksgiving in being a child of God and knowing Jesus as your savior and that he loves you. I’m most thankful that we both know and believe this to be true. Thanks be to God!

A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Pastor DeHope


November 9th 

Dear friends in Christ,

The hard thing about leaving on a trip (at least for me) is the amount of work it takes to pack and prepare at home and at work both physically and emotionally. There’s the anxiety about it all and worry about what might happen. It takes so much less effort and struggle to stay close to home, to not miss a Sunday. I guess that’s what makes me a bit of a home-body. The other side of that though, is that if you don’t take that trip you’ll miss out on what’s ahead – the opportunity or adventure. I may grumble about going sometimes, but I always enjoy the trip without regret. It all turns out ok in the end.

The same is true for many other aspects of life, and taking chances – stepping out on a limb, so to speak. The words of Moses to Joshua are a helpful reminder for me that I’d do well to keep in mind regularly: “Be strong and courageous… It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8-9).

Be strong and courageous no matter which of life’s journeys you’re on, even if there’s a cross to bear. Don’t be afraid; it is the Lord who goes before you. You’re never alone in anything. You’ve always got a traveling companion and he’s been through it all – even unto death. And he conquered death and lives! Do not fear or be dismayed.

Hopefully by the time you read this we’ll have reached our destination safely with much joy, but please do keep us in your prayers as we travel about.

God’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope

 


November 3rd

Dear friends in Christ,

One of the ways God keeps us humble is to teach us through our children. This week our family is preparing for the loss of our dog Gromit. Gromit is almost 14 and has been with me from the beginning. I took him in as a stray when he was just a pup and we’ve been family ever since. The family has grown – with Alicia, Leah, and Joshua. We’ve adopted and lost other dogs, but none were quite like Gromit. Everybody loves Gromit. I had hoped against the odds that he’d be around to welcome child #3 - little Benjamin Carlton with us, but it looks like God has other plans. When we told Leah how sick Gromit was, that he was hurting - and he was going to be with Jesus on Saturday – she cried and cried. But then she stopped and said, “Let’s have a party for Gromit”. So, tonight we’re having a party for Gromit. He’ll feast! We’ll all feast. It will be a celebration of God’s gift of Gromit to us, our family, and friends. Truthfully, we’ve really been spoiling him all week. Dog treats. Halloween candy. The kids have not held back.

I had been dreading this day for a long time, but this last week was also a gift. Rather than dwelling on how I might feel when I had to say goodbye, or what life would be like after Gromit, I spent the week showering him with treats, with care, with attention, and appreciating him. My life is so much better because God put him in my life, at a time I never would have thought to get a dog. God is funny like that – knowing what we need and bringing it about in ways we haven’t considered.

We so often focus on what might happen when it’s not even a sure thing. We become consumed with a problem and a struggle – or a whole set of them, so we lose sight in the moment of what’s really good. We forget what we do have, and how God has fulfilled his promise to work all things for our good and to provide for us in all circumstances. We worry that our neighbor has more than we do, when really, we should only be looking in their bowl to make sure they have enough.

God has shown his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and yet we’re troubled about many things. We know that God did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32), yet it can be hard to live like we truly believe it. So, let’s have a party! Let us celebrate what we do have. We have Jesus, we have family - both the one we’re born into, and the one God has made us a part of in his church, bound by a common faith. We have food and shelter and all those 1st article gifts (from the catechism’s explanation of the 1st article of the Apostles’ creed).

What we have is truly more than what we lack. Thanks be to God! So, this week, have a party! We’ll meet back here in church and really celebrate together around the altar where God forgives our sins, feeds, and unites us together in him.

Blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


October 25th

This week we celebrate the Reformation! The old joke is that Lutherans never change, and yet the Reformation brought about a LOT of change. It was a good change. It was a call for the church to return to the Word of God in many ways where she had erred. God’s Word was put in the hands of the people as Luther translated the Bible into German so they could read it for themselves.

God’s agenda is change. Our need is change. He continues calling us to repentance through this same unchanging Word to give us forgiveness and life in Jesus Christ our Savior. That is one thing that will never change!

C.S. Lewis said that we may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is trying to remember, to attend – in fact to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.

As you contemplate all that God has given to guide and sustain his church through the ages, with the reformation, and everything after, pray that you stay awake. As you think of all the blessings God has provided for POP, and for you individually, pray that he leads and guides us all in the ways that we should go – to serve him and to serve our neighbor. Lord, keep us steadfast in your Word; help us stay awake!

Lord’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


October 19th

Dear friends in Christ,

In the last several months we’ve noticed some cracking on walls inside our home and figured that it’s an old house; that patch must have been poorly done. Then we noticed under our feet there was a crack in the slab that wasn’t there before and also on an outside wall. We’ve been told that the ground moves a lot here in Topeka, but we’ve called in some help. This is beyond normal. It’s concerning and not right. There could be consequences if we just try to “live with it”.

Yet we live with a lot of things that need attention, that are not the way they’re supposed to be. The car is signaling us with a light on the dashboard, but drives fine so we’ll get to it soon, when we have the time, or money, or when it gets worse. A small machine we have seems to be making a different sound today, but it works fine so it must be fine. You’ve got a small ache or pain, but it’s not constant so perhaps it will heal itself. If it doesn’t, we won’t see a doctor until we’re in so much pain we can’t ignore it any longer.

So many things in life are on a spectrum of good or bad with a lot of ground in the middle. I got a “B” on that assignment. I’d hoped for an “A”, but at least it’s not a “C”. I’ll take this jacket today because it’s not as warm as my other coat. This car is newer than that car. We buy one product over another because we perceive it is a better value. We reason many things in life this way.

God is different. He’s constant. He does not change. That means his love for us and his attitude toward us is always the same. We sing about these truths: “On Christ the solid rock I stand – all other ground is sinking sand” or “Christ is our cornerstone, on him alone we build”. In Matthew 7:24ff Jesus says “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

God’s word is solid. It’s secure. It’s trustworthy and true. The church stands solely on Christ our Savior who is for us. The same is true for us Christians. No matter what happens everything will be ok, if we have Christ, if we remain in him. Our shifting house is a great example of the world and it’s shifting values that are not those of our Lord. It will fall. All the things we worry about that are on the spectrum, the things we wonder how bad can we let them get, before we have to deal with them, might not trouble us so much if we kept our eyes on Jesus. Things in life will be less shaky with our feet firmly planted on our Rock.

When you’re troubled this week thinking of all the “things”, remind yourself that Christ is your rock and your salvation. Keep your focus on him and these other things will fall into place.

God’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope


October 12th

Dear friends in Christ,

 Monsters are scary! Joshua worries about them at night and is scared to go to bed because of the monsters. We ask him if monsters are real or pretend, and he says they’re pretend – not real. Yet he’s still scared of them. The world is a scary place. We all have things we worry about; things that cause fear and trepidation.

Very often we fall victim to our own minds and many worldly influences. The future, the economy, trouble in the middle east and fear of domestic attacks. The safety of our kids and grandkids in a hostile world that is far more mature at a young age than what we grew up with.  Could this be your anxiety? Yes. Could it be a real concern? Yes. Sometimes we struggle to be at ease and find peace and balance day to day. Even at the pastor’s conference this week in Wichita I was worried and afraid of several things that never actually came to pass. Even though the monsters weren’t real, I was afraid of them.

And this happens more often than I’d like to admit. I’m just not at peace. This is what the devil wants. It’s what he lives for – to sow the seeds of strife, discord, and fear. I have mentioned before in these notes how the Bible so often addresses our fears with the directive “do not”. He encourages us by saying:  think like:  The Lord is with you, the Father has given you the kingdom, I will help you, I came near when you called me, and you are worth more than many sparrows. One of my favorites is from John 16:33 where Jesus tells his disciples: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Did you catch that? In the world there will be trouble, and in Jesus we have peace. Jesus has overcome the world. He’s overcome all the “monsters” in the world – everything we worry about and all forces of evil. They have been overcome and defeated by our Lord Jesus.

So. when you hear me say “The peace of the Lord be with YOU”, think of this verse. You have the peace Jesus gives, because he gives you himself. He has given you his victory over sin, death, and the devil. You have peace in a troubled and hostile world, come what may, because Jesus have overcome the world and given you, His peace.

Lord’s blessings on your week.

Pastor DeHope


October 5th

Dear friends in Christ,

Good-byes are hard. Some people avoid them like the plague. Some are very emotional. Some pass by us casually because we’ll see them again soon. At least, that is the assumption. We said goodbye to Auntie Joyce this morning and it was tough, even though we know we’ll see her again in about 5 weeks. Then after that we’ll see her daily as she’ll become an official Kansan!

It is one of God’s gifts and blessings that he puts us in community. He gives us family, unites us in a family of faith, and gives us good friends to rely on for support. Thank you Lord for this joy that you give and for guiding us all our days. And yet, our days on this earth will one day come to an end. There is an urgency to life. There is a time and a season for everything under heaven.  There is an urgency to share the good news, for the harvest is plentiful says the Lord!

So let us purposefully make time to enjoy all the relationships God has given us in life. Let us worship and praise him and let us share that same good news with purpose, urgency, and joy.

God’s blessings on all your days,

Pastor DeHope


September 29th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week we’re celebrating the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) and their work for the Gospel of Christ both here at home and around the globe. One of the ways they do that mission work is through the little purple “mite” box whose name is taken from the widow’s mite in Mark 12:41-44 & Luke 21:1-4. All those “mites” really add up together for the sake of the gospel, yet there is far more going on than the sum of the funds and compounding interest.

All our offerings, be they to the LWML, our church, or some other gospel centered mission are given in faith that God will bless them for his purpose. And he does. God is able to do great things with nothing. Look at the world and all that was made. Consider all the places you’ve been or want to go; all the people you love and know. God made them all from his dirt and combined them with his word. And it was good (Genesis 1&2).

This week in your devotions and prayers consider all the little things God has put in your life for good and for struggle to produce growth. Look at all that he has done with that for your good and enjoyment. We give back to God with our time, our treasure and our talents. How might he be using these for the good of his kindgom? We don’t always see the fruit of God’s work through us, but he does. It’s fruitful and good because he is working it for our benefit and our salvation in Jesus Christ.

Blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


September 21st

Dear friends in Christ,

What are you having? No, it’s not down to the steak or the salmon. While both of those are deliciously pleasant thoughts, and I’d like one of each, people have been asking about the baby. When will we find out if we’re having a boy or a girl? Well, now we know! We’re having a boy! Josh is excited to have a little brother and as much as Leah wanted a little sister, she’s happy that God gave her another brother. We know she’ll be a great big sister!

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate” Psalm 127:3-5.  What a wonderful reminder of how the Lord sees children. It’s a good encouragement to Alicia and I when we’re feeling a bit too old and overwhelmed for this, or wonder if we’re ready for 3. No, we certainly are not! Yet God says yes, and he gives us all of life’s challenges so that we may walk in him, depending on him to see us through it. He has provided for every day in the past and he will not stop. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.

No matter the challenge or the daily struggle God will bless us. We are his children – his heritage. Through Jesus Christ our savior we are the heirs of his eternal heavenly kingdom. So, while we eagerly await the arrival of Benjamin Carlton DeHope this Maundy Thursday, we gather at the cross to receive God’s gifts of forgiveness and mercy placing our trust in him all our days.

God’s blessings on all YOUR days!

Pastor DeHope


September 14th

Dear friends in Christ,

Relationships are hard. We don’t always speak the same language as our spouse. Friendships can be fraught with misunderstanding, or sometimes hard to maintain. Work relationships are…. well, work sometimes. The fact is we’ve never had a relationship in our lives that was free of disappointment. Nothing lives up to the ideal. Not even our relationship with God. Why is that? It’s because of sin. We know this, but it is hard to accept.

Sin causes us to be focused on ourselves. It makes us more demanding than serving, more accusing than forgiving, more defensive than approachable and more critical than understanding and patient. We shouldn’t be surprised our relationships all have problems. Does this tough reality ever make you want to give up and quit? Does it make you want to live on a peaceful island by yourself? We don’t need to be afraid or lose hope because there is grace for our struggle.

Our hope is not found in ourselves or the relationships we have. Hope is found in another. We’re never alone. God is always with us and he is for us in all our relationships – with him and with each other. He gives us grace, even when we’re not up to the task. James 4 begins with a very honest and direct discussion of conflict in our relationships that we all face, and why we face it. We’re not left without hope. Right in the middle of the passage there is this phrase that changes everything: “But he gives you more grace” (v.6). There is grace for every hurtful moment. There is grace for every time you sin or are sinned against. And the grace we’re given for our relationships and everything else will never, ever run out or end. There is always more.

You can give yourself to love, to forgive, to confess, to confront, to trust and to persevere even when things are hard, because “he gives more grace.” That grace in Christ makes all the difference in word for us and all our relationships – with God and with each other.

God’s blessings on your week in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


September 7th

Dear friends in Christ,

How is your devotional life? Do you read your Bible every day? These questions strike fear in the heart of many Christians. Very often things in life are not the way we wish they were, not the way they should be. This can include our time in God’s word and our devotional life. One thing leads to another and soon our worship life together and even our prayer life can suffer. No need to check in with God if we already know we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing…. or as well. So, the thinking goes.

 

Now, dear friends! Don’t let any guilt from the past interfere with the present. Each day is a new and a new gift from God that is full of opportunities to do better. If today you don’t succeed, try again tomorrow. God’s forgiveness and mercy are new each morning regardless of past performance.

 

A friend once remarked to me how much he had read in a year and I was shocked! To my surprise, all he did was read a little each day. Such as simple idea – slow and steady wins the race. My devotional life and reading time are not what I’d like them to be. This is one of those things I’m working to change as part of my new routine with the start of the school year. So far, those little changes are paying big dividends.

 

There are so many other voices that are calling for our attention and telling us what is right. The best way for us to stand firm in our faith and know what is good and God-pleasing if to be in his word. Portals of prayer or some other devotional resources that are organized by the day are helpful to me so that I can pick up where I left off and move one. If you’re ambitious, there are schedules to read the bible in a year. (I’d be happy to share one with you if you have difficulty finding one). There are even Bibles laid out by the day to help.

“Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” - Proverbs 3:5-6.

 

Blessings on your week.

Pastor DeHope


August 31st

Dear friends in Christ,

The End. I bet you didn’t expect that at the beginning, did you? Some things are over before they begin. When the storyline in a movie wraps up nicely with a happy ending and the guy gets the girl the end can be a happy one. When a long meeting ends, we rejoice. We wish some happy times would never end. Endings are sad when they are marked with a loss, especially if we were not prepared for them – like the loss of a loved one. Still, some endings are bittersweet because one thing is over and another begins.

Today is the last day for us to bowl with the kids for free. Summer is over; it has ended.  And with it, many of the activities and fun things that went with it. Our perceived freedom gives way to a more structured routine. The kids are back in school, and the seasons will be changing. In reality, summer didn’t really change my schedule much. We had church every week like we always do. We didn’t take a vacation (we’ll save that for November – just before the busy season of Advent and Christmas). Still, I had planned extra projects for the summer months. There were extra outings with the kids, house projects that were necessary, some for fun; others were unplanned, some necessary and NOT fun. Many things remain undone. What do I do about them now?

The beauty of a new season, or a new schedule or a big change is that it comes with a do-over. There is a new opportunity for order and a chance to reset priorities and goals. Our new routine is more consistent day to day. It’s given us a new chance to add helpful things like singing and a bible story with few more prayers at bedtime. We see more clearly what the kids need, and what we need. We adjust. All this is a gift of God.

We know that there is a time and season for everything under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) and we know that our God is a God of peace and order (1 Cor. 14). He’s made all things and continues to sustain them all – through all of life’s seasons. We rejoice every day that we are God’s baptized child for whom Jesus died. We thank him for all the seasons we go through in life and all the new opportunities he gives us.

So, how will you use this new season? What will you do with God’s blessing of order? As you carve out your week will the Lord be a top priority? Will you come to church? Make time for prayers and devotions? When God is truly first, all the other things seem to fall into place.

God, bless our week and all that it will bring. Give us the strength that we need and help us to put you first so that everything else fits in its proper place. Keep our eyes on Jesus so we see your promises and handiwork in our lives. Help us to use each day wisely and call a do-over when we need it. There is always forgiveness in you. Amen.

Lord’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope

 


August 24th

Dear friends in Christ,

Everybody has secrets. Some information is sensitive and important to protect – like your bank card PIN and other such information which is good to keep secret. A surprise party can be a fun secret to keep (assuming the recipient isn't mortified by that kind of thing). Often a friend will confide in us. Perhaps this is just time sensitive information that will be revealed in greater detail at a later time, but it can be deeply private and personal as well. We know that a gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret – Proverbs 11:13.

There are some things which are our own to keep private or to share all over social media, and there can be lots of ground between the two. Sometimes the news is just too exciting NOT to share. Alicia and I shared that we’re expecting last week. After a good healthy checkup this week, baby is on track to be born on Maundy Thursday – right before Easter. We just couldn’t keep it a secret anymore so the cat is out of the bag so to speak and Leah and Josh now know a baby brother or sister is on the way. No need to keep this secret anymore!

Thanks be to God for Good News and joy to spread and share with each other. We share this joy of our growing family with you our church family; yet we rejoice in even greater news that we share with the world – Jesus Christ died to save sinners. He is risen from the dead and all who believe in him have eternal life in his name!

So, rejoice with us that there will be a baby DeHope for Easter, Lord willing. Rejoice even more that we have seen the light of Christ. Let it shine in your life and bask in its glow.

Lord’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


August 17th

Dear friends in Christ,

“I know where to go. I’ve got this”. That’s how Leah replied with confidence when we asked if we should drop her off or walk in with her on this first day of kindergarten. It brought mom to tears, so Leah let us walk her in for our sake. I just marvel at how much my little girl has grown, and how loving and courageous she can be. I did not possess that kind of confidence in kindergarten!

Our life in this world is fraught with difficulty and uncertainty. The future sometimes looks grim amd we are confronted with hard things. The church also is not immune to these struggles. St. Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 1:7-8 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord”! There are a great many things that strike fear in our hearts and cause great anxiety, and yet as Christians we know that no matter what happens in this life, we know exactly where we are going. Jesus’ death and resurrection assures us of this. He has put his name on us in baptism. We are his children. We’ll be with him in heaven forever.

We may worry about how the rest of the story will go, but fear not – you know how this will end. It ends with Jesus! He is the victor! He has triumphed over all our enemies. He is with us, and we are in him. The victory is ours as well. So put away fear. Take up the gospel armor; have the spirit of power and love with a sound mind in Christ our Lord.

God, grant us courage to put our trust in you. Give us boldness to speak the truth in love. You know where we are going. YOU are the way. Bless all our days and our deeds in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessings on your week! You got this!

Pastor DeHope


August 10th

Dear friends in Christ,

In our Sunday Gospel readings, we’ve been talking about God’s kingdom and how it grows; about things hidden and revealed; about treasure and joy.

Today I would like to share something with you that covers all these bases. It is one of the ways God grows his kingdom, and certainly is a treasure that brings much joy – to Alicia and I, as well as Prince of Peace…hopefully. Alicia is pregnant again! We’re excited to share this happy news with you all, our friends!

Leah and Josh DO NOT KNOW yet. Please help us protect their little ears from this just in case things do not go well again. We hope and pray that in a few months time, we’ll be able to share this wonderful news with them as well. We appreciate your encouragement, prayers and support; please just be mindful when those little ears are present. They have a tendency to hear things even when you don’t think they’re listening!

We ask that you keep our family, and especially Alicia in your prayers. God relieve our anxiety and grant us peace and trust in him during this time of joy.

You are welcome to share our joy with others as you see fit. Just not with Leah and Josh just yet.

God’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope

 


August 3rd

Dear friends in Christ,

Leah is anxiously anticipating kindergarten; and us with her. There is so much joy and excitement about positive things that await her: new friends, new opportunities, learning new things, making discoveries about the world and its workings, and about herself. The list is almost endless. Sometimes when I get excited I can’t even sleep!

We can also become anxious in a negative way about those very same things, or about different things when we’re dreading the outcome or worried about walking through those challenges. Sometimes the difference can simply be a matter of perspective. Knowing that God is in control of all things and that he works them all together for the good of those who love him is a great comfort to us when we’re struggling and anxious about new and unknown things – so also with known things that we may not see a way out of.

God has good things for our future and we need not be anxious in the waiting. Yes, the waiting is the hardest part – sometimes. Our Lord understands our worry. He experienced all the emotions, with the joys and the woes in his body, just like we do. God was fully man, though he was fully God. “ For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” Hebrews 4:15-16.

Psalm 46 reminds us that God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of trouble. It is my hope that you cling to him this week and always as you navigate all the changes life may bring.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 


July 27th

Dear friends in Christ,

Albert Einstein said, “ People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results”.  Smart man. This is why I enjoy mowing the lawn – instant gratification! That lack of “results” can often be a struggle in life because we don’t see the fruits of our labor with that positive encouragement to continue, or that what we’re doing is working or worthwhile. The struggle might even be worse in the church.

We don’t always get to see the growth, the fruit of our labors for the kingdom. The time after Pentecost in the church year is the time of growth – some call it the green season where we receive teaching from our Lord. Right now, that teaching is in the form of parables and the subject is the growth of the kingdom. The seed as the word of God is sown on all types of ground, where God makes us good soil; or the wheat among the weeds where we’re told NOT to root out the weeds, lest we root out wheat, or rob the weed of it’s chance to become wheat for the kingdom. We struggle to comprehend the vastness of the kingdom, our Lord’s desire for all to be in it, and the reckless abundance Jesus distributes the gospel of forgiveness with.

So we also struggle when we don’t see great results in the world or in the church. It doesn’t always appear that the seed of the Word is growing, or that the harvest is as plentiful as God says that it is. We don’t necessarily see it with our eyes or in our church. Yet God says it is. God says his word IS powerful and does what it says. It makes bad soil good, and can turn weeds into wheat and unbelievers into Christians. And we trust God, really we do. We’d just like to see some results.

Trust the word and promises of God. Know that the Kingdom grows in secret. One will plant, another will water, another will see the fruit - but God gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:6ff). Jesus Christ is our rock and our foundation. Everything built on him will stand. So do the tasks you’ve been given to do – for the kingdom or otherwise. Take joy in your labor. Trust that God will provide what is necessary. He’ll give you the growth.

God’s peace be yours this week.

Pastor DeHope


July 20th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week has been Stellar!  That was the theme of our Vacation Bible School where we learned to “Shine Jesus’ Light”! When life feels dark… shine Jesus’ light! When people don’t get along… shine Jesus’ light! When good things happen… shine Jesus’ light! When people are sad… shine Jesus’ light! When people need help…shine Jesus’ light! Each day we had a memory buddy from space that taught us something wonderful about God and how he made the earth and how we can see him in creation. A Bible story was paired with that as an example of the light of Jesus. We had so much fun!

We invite you to join us this Sunday for a special worship service where we’ve invited all the kids back to share what they learned this week, to sing their VBS songs and shine Jesus’ light!

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


July 13th

Dear friends in Christ,

My email this week was especially frought with trouble. My amazon account was suspended! My eBay account was on hold, and there was a problem with my debit card (at a bank I don’t hold an account). Three separate attempts to gather personal information about me, take my money, to compromise or steal my identity. Phishing scams! Don’t worry, I didn’t bite. I didn’t click on anything, or even feel the need to login to my accounts the proper way to check on things. I saw them for what they were. Scams.

The devil is constantly trying to scam us. He’s on a phishing expedition to see if we’ll bite. He wants us to follow the world. He wants us to search for ourselves, to try and find some temporal meaning and purpose for our life in our job, our house, our family & friends, our hobby, our abilities, our…. our….our….  He’s trying to distract us and keep our focus on worldly things instead of godly things. And then he tells us that’s not enough. Or what happens when we lose one of those things, we found identity in? Despair.

You don’t work in the hope of getting an identity; you work in celebration of the identity that; in Christ Jesus you have been given. This is freedom for the Christian. We have worth and value because God has said so. He has made us his own dear children. We can have hope and find joy in all those other things – in all the gifts and blessings God has given us in this life. They just don’t define us and who we are. God does. We are his and he is ours. And this is an identity that we can share with others. It’s not a scam – it’s reality. It’s resurrection life in Christ. 

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


July 6th

Dear friends in Christ,

How wonderful it was to have two days off in a row for the 4th of July! A rarity for Pastors! I got a couple big projects taken care of, or nearly so – and wrapped up some small things too. It got me thinking about the kingdom and what it looks like. How it grows in secret, and yet Jesus tells us to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers because the harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few. The Gospel is simple enough for a child to believe, and complex enough that learned scholars can spend their lives studying the Scriptures and never mine it for all its treasure.

In our Thursday Bible Study, we see Jesus calling his disciples simply by saying “Follow Me”. And they do! The word of God is powerful. Phillip finds Nathaniel and confesses Christ as Lord. Then he simply invites him to “Come and see”. That’s what we do too. The church grows as it always has – with the invitation to hear the Gospel of Jesus – “Come and see”. Sins are forgiven. And the church grows.

Leah has been taking swimming lessons this summer which is good – she needs to hone her skills and brush up on what she’s learned. She’s doing well. We often approach our Lord and his church with a swimming lesson mentality to simply brush up on our skill, get a little encouragement, learn something new and be on our way.

What we receive here in God’s house every week as we hear the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins isn’t just swimming lessons, but divine rescue as my friend Ed has said. We don’t just need a helpful hint or a trick, we need rescue, forgiveness, and life in the cross of Jesus Christ.

It’s a life and death rescue. Christ’s death for our life. That’s our rescue in the gospel. We need it. The world needs it. And it’s simple. Come and see! Jesus is here with his gifts of life and salvation – rescue from the world, sin, struggle, and all that plagues us.

Blessings on your week. The mercy and peace of Christ be with you!

Pastor DeHope


 

June 30th

Dear friends in Christ,

I wish you all a joyous Independence Day as you celebrate our great nation and freedom; our equality and our unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness endowed by our creator! What a joy and blessing for us as Christians to know our creator by name. To know God’s love for us shown in Jesus Christ. And to know the true freedom that brings.

It's freedom from sin and hell and judgement. It’s Jesus’ not guilty verdict handed down from the cross. It’s not a freedom to live however we like, regardless of God’s will and is word, but a freedom to receive his gifts, his benefits and his forgiveness, time and time again. It’s freedom from fear and freedom from separation. It’s a freedom to know nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So, let’s celebrate God’s good gifts in our nation and our neighbor! Let’s continue to pray for our nation and our leaders and those who have served God and country. Let us rejoice and be glad that we are free in Christ. Lord keep us ever faithful! Help us to share all our joy!

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


June 24th

We fight a lot of battles in life. We battle each other and we battle ourselves. We battle our enemies. We battle illness or even a messy room. Sometimes we even do battle with God. In that battle of wills God will wrestle with us. He's patient, loving, and good, but his will is always right. When our will doesn't line up with his will for us; when our will doesn't line up with what God's word says.....guess who needs to change? We do. We must always strive to align our wills to God's. 

I've been doing some battling of my own over the last week and a half and it's gotten harder to fight and win this battle. It wasn't any of the usual suspects this time (like myself, family, or even a fight against the clock) - it was an ailment. I got poison ivy or some other kind of allergic reaction with a rash and it kept spreading. This morning I finally admitted I needed help. I just couldn't bear the intense itching and desire to scratch any longer. That desire to tear my legs off was always there. It just wouldn't let me be. It was SO annoying I almost couldn't stand it. I had been praying the whole time; I always pray.... well almost always.... God will never leave us or abandon us; he will not forsake us. He lets us wallow in our sin if we choose that, and we often suffer great consequences because of our sin, but God continues calling us back to himself. He continues to call us to repent and receive forgiveness - to be restored. His continued calling might get really annoying like a rash until we can't deny it. We may come to blows with God and even try to sucker-punch him but we're the ones who get hurt. We must call evil evil, and the good we must call good. We can't trick God into switching them or changing his mind about it. God's will is done. We pray in the Lord's prayer that it would be done among us also.

Please continue to pray for me this week, and for my relief from this temporary ailment. I'll continue to pray for you as well. Lord, lead us in paths or righteousness for your name’s sake, and let us lean not on our own understanding! 

Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


June 15th

Dear friends in Christ,

I’ve been thinking about learning – how we learn, what we learn, and why we study. Our Bible study Thursday mornings on the Gospel of John is going well and has given me much to think about. I’m also taking a continuing education class at Redeemer, Lawrence this week on the Seven Ecumenical Councils that’s being taught by Pastor Bruss who is now teaching at the seminary. It’s a little intimidating, but I know it will also be good, and I know I’ll learn something – even on my day off!

There are many Bible verses about learning. Colossians 3:16 comes to mind – “Let the message of Christ dwell among your richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts”. Proverbs 1:7 teaches us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction”. Psalm 25:5 helps us see why we have a thirst for knowledge and a desire to learn, especially why we study God’s word: “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

Knowledge is a gift that comes from the Lord, and his word teaches us of his love for sinners, and the salvation he gives freely in Jesus Christ. So, while I’m off learning more about church history, I encourage you to do a devotion today. Take an extra minute for God’s word. It makes us wise unto salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord!

Blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


June 8th

Greetings POP,

I’ve been trying to spend more time in the Psalms in my devotional life and during shut-in visits. The Psalms have been called the prayer-book of the Bible. There are different types of Psalms: Psalms of prophesy, instruction, comfort, prayer, and thanksgiving - collections of prayer and praise that cover all aspects of the Christian life.

This week I commend Psalm 121 to your reading; a psalm of consolation. God watches over us and cares for us; he has not abandoned us.

My Help Comes from the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

121 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

God’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


June 1st

I hope you all enjoyed your Memorial Day celebrations and those who made it possible. The extra day was a blessing and made it a short week. My family has returned, and it was a joyous homecoming! You can miss someone a lot in a short time. I’m sure that as the days and weeks pass all the excitement at seeing each other again will fade into normal…. Until next time. And no, I did not finish all the things on my list. Those will have to be saved for a future date!

Praise for the past… Faith for the future! That’s what one of our church banners says that’s currently hanging in B/C. I enjoy seeing this banner because it’s a nice reminder that God has brought us to this day. He’s faithful and unchanging. He’s dependable. Better than an old Chevy truck – Like a Rock! You can count on God. Things will work out, even if it is not the way we planned.

I have been reconciling that with something a friend of mine posted on social media recently: You are not your past. You are today years old. Live in God’s new and present mercies through Jesus Christ. He’s right. Our past doesn’t matter. It is forgiven in Jesus Christ. Praise be to God! What matters is that we were forgiven then, and we are forgiven now. Nothing in the future can change that either. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. God grant us faith for the future you have planned for us. It might be a wild ride, but the Good Lord always keeps his promises.

Cheers to the future and all that God has in store! Strengthen our faith!

Under the mercy of Christ,

Pastor DeHope


May 24th

Dear friends in Christ,

Everything changes so quickly. We had the excitement of Auntie Joyce visiting, and now she went home, and Alicia and the kids are visiting her family. It's quiet in the house. A time and season for everything under heaven indeed. I have a list of projects to keep me busy that is more than likely over-ambitious, but I'm doing what I can to make the most of it before they come back late Tuesday night. 

Thankfully God is constant and unchanging. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We don't need to worry about where he'll be, how to find him, or whether or not he loves us. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow (James 1:17)

So, while our circumstances may change, as does rain and the weather, our loving gracious God does not. He is your Rock, your Light and your Salvation! 

Lord's blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


May 18th

Dear friends in Christ,

The school year is over, or nearly over and it’s a time of endings and new beginnings. Saying goodbye to teachers and friends; looking ahead to new opportunities, summer break, a change of schedule and maybe even a vacation. For us it means Leah is saying goodbye to her teachers and friends at POPP and looking forward to Kindergarten and all the new friends and adventures that will bring. While we’re very sad that Topeka Lutheran isn’t an option, because they are closing, we know God will open other doors and opportunities for growth.

Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that for everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven. God has made everything beautiful in its time and put eternity into our heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man.

One of my favorite hymns of hope and comfort wraps this up in the last verse “ Before all time had yet begun, You, Father, planned to give Your Son; Lord Jesus Christ, with time-less grace, You have redeemed our time-bound race; O Holy Spirit, Paraclete, Your timely work in us complete; Blest Trinity, Your praise we sing – There is a time for everything! (LSB #762 – There is a Time for Everything)

For some, nothing changes. Your nose is still to the grindstone, and your routine is the same. There is a time for that too! No matter what life may bring, or what season we find ourselves in at the present moment, God has given us joy in our lives, and eternal unending joy in him. So, I encourage you to eat and drink and take joy in all that you do this week, this summer, and always! God’s gifts are plentiful! Enjoy them through all seasons!

 

The peace of Christ be with you,

Pastor DeHope


May 11th

Greetings in Christ dear friends,

It’s been a wet week. It was just coming down in buckets with lightning and thunder while I drove to KCI to pick up Auntie Joyce who will be visiting us for two weeks. We’re hoping to avoid any and all tornado watches and warnings while she’s here, but we praise the Lord for the rain.

Psalm 148 reminds us that all the heavens, the angels, the sun, the moon, the shining stars and the waters above the heavens praise the Lord. God commanded and they were created. He established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all the deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! Kings of the earth and all people, young and old, praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above the earth and heaven. All people and everything in all creation praise the Lord! Let Prince of Peace and all Topeka praise the Lord!

We are the Lord’s people because he has called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. We are forgiven and redeemed by the blood of Jesus and united to him in our baptism. What a marvelous cleansing flood where God put his name on us and makes us his own! Praise the Lord for that water! Praise the Lord for his faithfulness to us in all times and circumstances. Not only does he guard and keep us in the one true Christian faith, he daily provides for our needs. The rain that waters the earth and everything under heaven.

Praise the name of the Lord dear friends! Lord’s blessings on your week and all it entails – rain or shine, travels and visitors, graduations and daily routines same as always. Praise the name of the Lord!

Pastor DeHope


May 4th

Dear friends in Christ,

May the fourth be with you! ….and also with you! It’s a fun day for Star Wars fans….and my Aunt and my friend are celebrating birthdays this day also. Even if this isn’t a special day for you, the force is with you – the greatest force of all. Almighty God claims you as his own and his put his name on you. He’s with you no matter where you go, or what you do, watching over, blessing and protecting you.

This was especially on my mind while we traveled to the Great Wolf Lodge for an early birthday celebration for the kids this week (we got a special deal to beat the summer rush)! We were safe the whole time, no injuries, or real trouble of any kind. The blessing of joy and laughter abounded, and the parents had plenty of energy to keep up with the kids. It really was a nice getaway. Looking back, every moment was in the Lord’s control, even though I wasn’t thinking about it. It reminds me of one of my favorite hymns “Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me” and a few lines from it. Why should Cross and Trial Grieve me? Christ is near with His Cheer; Never will He leave me. God gives me my days of gladness, And I will Trust Him still when He sends me sadness. God is good; His love attends me. Day by day, come what may, guides me and defends me.

The hymn is very comforting to me, and while it fits in nicely with anxiety and the struggles I talked about last week, it’s a nice reminder and reassurance that God’s favor rests upon me no matter what or where. Even when we’re off enjoying God’s blessings and are busy having a good time, our Lord is ever “busy” with attending AND defending us.

Lord’s blessings on your week and all your days. From God’s joy can nothing sever, For I am His dear lamb, He my Shepherd ever. I am His because He gave me, His own blood for my good, By His death to save me. That’s a done deal and nothing can change it.

So, enjoy this day the Lord has made!

Christ has risen!

Pastor DeHope


April 27th

Dear friends in Christ,

One theme that has been common in many of my conversations lately – inside the church and far reaching outside and even in my own life is the topic of anxiety. The world is an anxious place full of anxious people. I count myself as one, maybe you do too? Many of us have anxiety as we pack our lives and schedules full of things like taking care of kids, our pets, crushing it at work, squeezing in a workout, trying (and possibly failing) to connect with our spouse, and maintaining a social life when we can. 2020 is three years in the rear-view and yet there seems to be so many things still causing us to worry and be filled with uncertainty and fear. The point hit home for me this week when one of the news blogs I follow shared nothing new and dedicated the day just to encourage and point out positive truths of some of their recent “gloomy” reportings.

Some of their advice and encouragement included: Fear is a choice. Choose hope! Don’t be distracted and despondent. Stay focused and hopeful. Focus on the progress, not the problems. Things WILL get better. Look, change is uncomfortable. The discomfort caused by BIG change is even bigger and more uncomfortable. We’re on the world’s biggest roller coaster and we are slowly pulling up to the tallest hill. Everyone knows what happens next. Helpful tips included: cut back a little on all the doomsday Youtube videos. Focus on things you CAN control. If we’re afraid, they win.

 This is some good practical wisdom. Take a deep breath, or 3. Let it out slowly. We KNOW things will be ok, and we know that they already ARE ok. Why? Because God is on his throne. The tomb is empty, Christ is risen and sits at the right hand of the Father ruling all things. He is in control no matter what it might look like day to day. The real battle is against the devil and evil, and Christ has triumphed. The battle is over, the victory is won. And it is ours in Christ. God has promised. Don’t loose sight of that in your day-to-day. You already have that victory. The faith God gives you also gives you confidence and hope in the future and what is yet to come. Don’t let the enemy steal your joy. Don’t be afraid. Remember the promises of God. There are those 5 words you can count on your fingers: I am with you always. You have eternal life. Jesus has promised NOONE can snatch you out of his hand. His Father is YOUR Father and He is greater than all. They are One (John 20:28-30). They are FOR you. God’s on your side. You got this! God’s got this, and he’s got you. 

CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA!

Blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


April 20th

Dear friends in Christ,

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA!

We’re enjoying a short visit this week from my parents this week. Leah and Josh are soaking up every minute of it – bedtimes have been extended and the excitement is high. It’s a little like Easter, and that added joy of the season. This week in Church we’ll be talking about Jesus appearing to the disciples on the road to Emmaus and how they didn’t recognize him at first, how he explained the scriptures to them and then Jesus revealed himself to them in the breaking of bread. Then with boldness, they return to Jerusalem to share the good news.

All this got me to thinking about God’s presence among us all the time. We ARE God’s children and there is never a moment when we’re not under his care; there’s never a time when we’re not the object of his love. So, the question is NOT whether or not God cares for me. The Bible says over and over again how much he does. Yet we compare ourselves to others; we want what they have – that which God has not given us and we analyze each moment of our lives for evidence that God love us and is with us. It’s tempting to do all this and yet we need not worry about that. Questioning God’s love won’t lead us anywhere good. When you’re tempted this way, run to his word for peace and assurance. Picking apart each little moment won’t give you God’s peace. His promises in his word WILL give you peace.

So, the real question, isn’t whether God cares, because he does. The real question is: will I recognize God’s care when it comes? Maybe the problem is our definition and expectation of God’s care. God’s care comes in a variety of ways – it’s not always a cool drink and a soft pillow. His care is not always relief from circumstances or trouble. There are many moments in our lives when the very thing that causes us to wonder about God’s care IS his care. He knows that trouble will reveal our hearts or display his glory. Often trouble is a tool of his care in the hands of the One who knows best what we need. God cares; therefore, make sure your definition of his care is not too narrow.

Jesus loves you and is for you. The proof is in the empty tomb. Enjoy your week in that ever-present reality.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 


April 14th

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA!

Our Easter joy continues! Every Sunday really is a mini Easter celebration because the empty tomb is a new constant reality that we live in. Easter is a season we celebrate as a church, but also a way of life. “He is not here…. He is risen, just like He said”. That means we can trust the word and promises of God who raised Jesus from the dead! We can say with all confidence, along with Job, I know that my Redeemer lives! I know that when everything else is done and gone, that I myself will see my Lord and Savior with my own two eyes! It doesn’t mean life won’t be rough. It does not mean life will be any easier for Christians – it won’t be. But what it does mean is that no matter the struggle or the triumph we’re not alone. God loves us and is for us and is with us.  Easter changes everything!

St. Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Christ is not raised, our faith is in vain and we’re still in our sins; we are to be pitied! But in fact, Christ HAS been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. Easter is real; it’s all real. There was no body in the tomb. Christ is risen, Christ is living, alleluia! Since Christ is living, we too will live eternally with him. We also live in him now. We are set apart. We are free. We are forgiven. We can accept whatever befalls us in life – whatever struggle we must endure, whatever hard things we must get out hands and feet dirty with because Christ is with us. We can have Easter joy through it all. We can share that grace and mercy freely with everyone because it will never run out. We can forgive with reckless abandon because Christ has forgiven us. Easter changes everything.

Go live, be free, and forgive. Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Pastor DeHope


April 7th

Dear friends in Christ,

How often do we hear, feel, or say: “It’s been a long week!” Sometimes they are just that way, and I don’t want to take anything away from those rough weeks we have.  It’s Holy Week, and our services are just beginning. For me, it’s already been a long week and we’ve only just begun. Our Lord Jesus knows all our struggles and our cares as we know from Hebrews 4:15. Yet how often do we think about just how long, how rough, how crazy, and just how BUSY our Lord’s last few days and hours were before his death?

After Palm Sunday and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, he angers the leaders by throwing vendors out in the cleansing of the temple. He confronts the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders and Judas is bribed to betray him. On Maundy Thursday in the evening, our Lord celebrates the Passover, the Last supper with his disciples. This was a family meal celebration that Jesus is celebrating with his disciples. I’ll save some comments on that for another time. Then Jesus washes their feet; as their teacher and Lord he would serve them. He always serves, cares for, and loves us. Then he institutes the Lord’s Supper – something totally new, and he communes with them.

After communion, Jesus and the disciples journey out of Jerusalem to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. In agony with the intensity of the situation our Lord sweats drops of blood. So much has happened even by this point that sleep overtakes the disciples and they fail to watch and pray. Then Judas arrives with the soldiers to betray Jesus. Peter draws his sword to fight, and Jesus has compassion and heals the servants ear that Peter has just sliced off. He’s then arrested, bound, and dragged off to court where he is falsely accused and questioned by various leaders.

The Good Friday events don’t turn out “Good” for Jesus. He’s condemned, flogged, mocked, and beaten. He’s nailed to the cross and crucified. Saturday Jesus is in hell proclaiming victory over sin death and the devil. And we all know what happened, Easter morning!

What a week!  All of this was for you, dear friend! Our Lord Jesus went the way of the cross for you, for the sins of the world. It was the will of the Father so that we could have access to Him and call Him OUR Father. We are forgiven and set free. The gavel has come down and the verdict is in: NOT GUILTY! We got away with murder. Yet we are at peace with God who does not hold our sins against us. All of this was for us. God showed his love for us in that while we were YET sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8-10). So….. enjoy ALL your weeks. The hectic, the crazy, the smooth sailing, and everything in between. All is forgiven. Be at peace. God loves you! Happy Easter! Shout your alleluias and sing! We’ve got so much to celebrate! Always!

The peace of the RISEN Christ be with you always!

Pastor DeHope

 


March 28th

Dear friends in Christ,

Easter is very near, and Lent is near its end. We begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday and shout with joy to the son of David – Hosanna! Save us now! And we wave our palm branches and sing to Jesus “Ride on, ride on in majesty, all the tribes Hosanna cry” as he enters Jerusalem . And things so quickly take a turn for the worse when they don’t go as we expect. We then sing “In lowly pomp, ride on to die…” for Jesus did not come to be an earthly king as expected. He came to go the way of the cross, to save sinners, to redeem us!

So, the cries of Hosanna so quickly turn to CRUCIFY!!! Jesus is betrayed and arrested Maundy Thursday and He’s dead by Friday. We call it “Good Friday” because of the “good” that God is doing for us in his death. He is defeating Satan once and for all and giving us the victory over sin and death as he rises in victory Easter morning. When God hangs dead on the tree, he appears least able to help or save us, and yet it is in that moment of submitting to death, that he defeats it and is accomplishing the most for our salvation.

How often in life do things NOT go as we expect? They take an unexpected turn for the worse; we are betrayed. Our hopes are raised high, and we’re let down. Our feelings are hurt by those we care about. Some illness or tragedy befalls us. We might be tempted to ask and wonder, “where are you Lord” or “how could you let this happen?” Remember the joy and promise of Easter. Jesus is victorious! All evil – all our enemies are defeated – the strife is o’er, the battle done! Awake my heart with gladness – Christ the Lord is Risen today! Have no fear you sons and daughters of the King! Even if it appears your Lord is not listening or is far off, rest assured that He loves you! He is with you always, even to the end of the age; nothing can separate you for the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). Absolutely nothing!

So, rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say rejoice (Phil 4:4)! Everything has been made right in time & eternity for you. Easter triumph, Easter joy is yours dear friends! A blessed Holy Week and Easter celebration to you and yours!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 


March 23rd

Dear friends in Christ, 

This Sunday our Gospel is the raising of Lazarus from John Chapter 11.  There are a few thoughts I want to share with you before then.  First, Jesus loves Lazarus, and he loves you!  Jesus is the friend of sinners.  He cares for you.  Jesus loves Mary and Martha along with their brother Lazarus and can heal him as he has done before...just as he does for us today each time we recover for a common cold or more serious ailment or malady.  And yet Jesus waits until Lazarus is asleep in death before he returns to help so that God may be glorified.  The sisters say that If...Jesus had been there, Lazarus wouldn't have died...just like us, and while we believe Jesus is the Messiah the son of God as they confess, we have trust issues too that it's going to work out according to God's plan, that might be different from our own.  We forget Romans 8:28 - "All things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are called according to his purpose".  God is in control.  Always.

When Jesus sets his face towards Judea, to go back for Lazarus, the disciples are afraid of death by stoning at the hands of the Jews.  Our Lord is not afraid.  He also sets hsi face to the cross, our cross to suffer death in our place and destroy it, only to rise in victory.  Even though Jesus knows his will momentarily raise Lazarus from the dead, he still cries in sorrow.  Our Lor shares the sorrow of his friends, or us!  And then he calls to Lazarus, "come out!"  And Lazarus comes out alive.  And so shall we on the last day when our Lord returns in glory raising all flesh.

This Lententide and always, be comforted by the promises of your savior who loves you, who is your friend, who is for you, and who has done something about death and all that troubles you.  He is your life, your light, your hope and your salvation!

Blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope      


March 16th

Dear friends in Christ, 

I hope your week is going well at whatever point you read this and that your Lententide is one of meaningful reflection on our Lord’s cross and passion and the benefits that brings to your life now and eternally. We’ve been talking about the problem of sin in our world and its depth which was the reason our Lord Jesus came into our world to save us. In John chapter 9 we read about the man born blind and the question is raised about whose sin caused this blindness. Jesus creates some controversy by healing the man on the Sabbath and restoring his sight. 

Our Lord contrasts light and darkness, blindness and sight as matters of faith and belief. Those who see are spiritually blind and don’t know the truth of the Gospel. Those who are in the darkness of unbelief see the light of Christ. I urge you to read this chapter during the week. Think of Jesus who is the light of the world – YOUR light; the light no darkness can overcome. Pray the Lord’s prayer – call upon him in all times of trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. The light of Christ has come and dispelled the darkness! 

God’s blessings, 

Pastor DeHope      


March 9th

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I was sipping a cup of coffee and it just tasted SOOOO GOOD! And it looked so nice outside…. I just wanted to go sit out there and forget all the things I must do today. Then a smile came to my face. I am thankful for all those small things in our daily life that bring us joy that are gifts and blessings from God’s hand whether I see and acknowledge it or not. There was nothing special about the coffee in hand, or the view from the window – the same as always. It was the same gift God regularly gives for me and all the world, the world of sinners who deserve none of it. And yet it’s all gift; it’s all grace. None of it is deserved by me or anyone else. And yet all these little gifts are there. So, are the big ones.

I’ve been thinking about the Lord’s prayer which is our focus this year for Lent and I came across this: ‘If you don’t acknowledge sin, you won’t value grace. If you don’t value grace, you won’t see the forgiveness and rescue it provides”. God’s name is holy and his kingdom comes in spite of us, and yet we pray it would be kept holy and come to us as well. He provides daily bread and all we need for this body and life.  I hope this week you keep your eyes peeled for all the gifts and blessings, large and small that God gives, and the opportunities he provides to give and share about him. He’s given and FORgiven everything. It’s all gift and it’ll never run out.

God’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope     


March 2nd

Dear friends in Christ,

What is something we all do, probably daily, that we don’t even realize we’re doing; something that has a huge impact on the way we view ourselves and the way we respond to others? It’s one of the reasons we have so much relational trouble – even in God’s house, the church. So, what’s this harmful thing we do? WE FORGET.

I had a few good opportunities this week to see how I have NOT treated people I care about with the patience and respect I intended to. I did not respond with mercy, kindness, and forgiveness that I wanted to be shown. I was wrapped up in myself and the moment and I FORGOT. We get so busy and focused on ourselves that we do not see God’s new mercy in our lives each day. We fail to see the mercy that has been shown to us every step of the way. Mercy is not in our minds or on our tongues. Mercy means I am so deeply grateful for the forgiveness I have received that I cannot help offering you the same.

It’s dangerous to forget mercy. Dangerous because it shapes how we see ourselves and others. When you remember mercy, you remember that you did absolutely nothing to earn those things that you’ve been blessed with in the first place. Our Redeemer has written mercy into your story. When you remember mercy, you are humble, thankful, and tender and complaining gives way to gratitude and our self-focused desire gives way to worship.

Our Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross for our forgetfulness. He went to the cross to show us mercy, to be merciful to us and to redeem us. We all stand before God with nothing. We deserve nothing. And yet we’ve been given EVERYTHING in Christ. We’ve been FORGIVEN EVERYTHING in Christ. We can be merciful to others because God has shown us mercy. I pray this Lenten season is a merciful one for you. Given and received.

God’s blessings,

Pastor DeHope


February 24th

Dear friends in Christ,

And we’re off! Our 40 day Lenten journey has begun! In my daily devotions I came across this question: “Why do we say we place our hope in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ and yet practically ask the law to do what only grace can accomplish”? We do it every day. We think if we just have the right set of rules to follow, the right policy in place and the right threat of punishment with consistent enforcement we’ll be ok. Our kids will be ok. With this thinking we’ve reduced parenting and our lives to being law-givers, prosecutors, juries and jailers.

Two Bible truths this denies is that first before sin is a matter of behavior it is a matter of the heart. We sin because we’re sinners. Anger is first a matter of the heart before it is an act of physical aggression. No person can change the heart of another person. If threats of punishment, deadlines could produce lasting change Jesus would not have had to come. This thinking denies the Gospel of Jesus we hold so dear. It really does ask the law to do what only God can do with the gospel.

Thankfully God has not left us to the law, to our own devices. During Lent we focus on our sin, the severity of it, and how we can’t fix it. Only God can. And he does – in Jesus. We come to the cross in repentance and sorrow. We see that sin required the death of God, but we see redemption in his resurrection and that is our own as well.

Every year I encourage people to consider adding a small task that is beneficial to their devotional life and growing in faith rather than giving something up that you’ll eagerly return to when it’s done. Consider a daily devotion or making our weekly Lenten services part of that new habit. It might stick.

As you walk the road of the cross, keep your eyes up, on your Savior and how he has shown his love for you and forgiven you everything. You’re free!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope


February 16th

Dear friends in Christ, 

That’s slick!  No, I’m not talking about the roads or our parking lot this morning, though I did do a little sliding around – unintentionally on my way to the door. Time has been going so fast this year, for us anyway, that we seemingly slipped from Christmas and New Year’s right into Lent with this coming Wednesday 2/22 being Ash Wednesday! I’m not ready for that yet. The sermons and services will get done; that’s not a problem. I’m not ready to think on all the things of Lent like our Lord’s cross and passion and yet the time is very near. I felt the same way about Advent, and not being ready, but there is comfort in that. Despite our readiness or our feelings on the matter Jesus our Savior comes into our broken sinful world to redeem us. His suffering and death is not a pretty picture, but it’s the only way to save a world of sinners. Focusing our minds and hearts on that gives us cause to celebrate at what comes next – Easter joy in the Resurrection of Jesus which is also the assurance of our resurrection in Him. So, steady your feet for our Lenten journey. Our Lord comes to us with good news and blessings in his name.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope 


February 9th

Dear friends in Christ,

As some of you know I've had a cold all week. What Joshua picked up and gave to Alicia last week, I now got a turn with. Sharing is caring.....right? I had many plans for the week that were quickly unraveled and it was a struggle to do anything. No energy, no motivation, no drive, nothing. I felt like doing absolutely nothing, and I didn't even enjoy it. It wasn't relaxing, it was just all that I could do. For some reason Philippians 4:13 came to mind: "I can do all things through him (Christ) who strengthens me". No I couldn't - it wasn't that easy. It occurred to me how often this passage is mis-quoted and misused. 

Paul is speaking about God's provision and being content in all of life's seasons and circumstances whether they are times of prosperity and plenty or times of scarcity and need. God's wisdom in the Word and the work of the Holy Spirit help us through all these life experiences in ways that benefit us and others. It doesn't mean it will easy. It doesn't mean that we lack faith if it is difficult.  2Cor. 12:9 tells us that God's grace is sufficient and his power is made perfect in weakness. Romans 8:28 assures us that God works ALL things to the good of those who love him. So doing all things through Christ who strengthens me is a call to "buck-up" and get through it. It's God promise that he is with you in all your struggles. Though it feels like hell, he'll see you through it. 

Our Lord has suffered all things in his body, even death. He has triumphed in victory over death, so he knows ALL our struggles. He is with us. He is for us. He loves us, and he'll see us through all things.

The peace of Christ be with you,

Pastor DeHope


February 3rd

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I’ve been thinking of just how much I love listening to music. I picked up a few used CD’s to listen to in the car (and yes I realize how much that dates me…. and the car)! But I really do enjoy music, lots of different types and genres too. I really see it as a precious gift from God that I just can’t imagine being without. I’ve found it carries more weight with some than others, and that’s ok. As the body of Christ, we all have different gifts and abilities, unique qualities, hobbies, likes & dislikes.

In recent weeks I’ve mentioned God’s promises and those 5 powerful, comforting words “I am with you always”, that God is for us, not against us, and that he is the friend of sinners, OUR friend. Psalm 40 came to mind as I pondered this: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God”.

So, whether music is a big deal to you or not, God has given us a song of praise to sing. Joy in the midst of sorrow and hope in a world of gloom. God has made our steps secure on the rock of his word, and he is the rock of our salvation. This is his gift to us in our Savior Jesus Christ, and this gift is for the whole world. That’s something to sing about!

We sing and praise God in worship as a response to all that he has given us, all that he has done for us, and the new identity we have in him. What are your favorite hymns and songs of praise? We would be happy to include your favorites in worship as much as we can. Just write a note on the back of your attendance card or send me an email.

 Blessings on your week, and on your song. Even if you can’t carry a tune.

Pastor DeHope


January 26th

Greetings in the name of Jesus!

Joshua did so well in a big boy bed at Grandma & Grandpa’s house that we decided to keep that momentum going now at home and converted his crib into a toddler bed. What a challenge…..the new sleep training that is – the conversion was a breeze and Alicia had it done in just minutes. He’s in and out of bed, loud, keeping Leah up – it’s quite the show every night. Every time he’s caught, Josh runs to his bed, lays down and says “no, me sleep.” This week after being told to return to bed I found him on a pile of blankets beside his bed pretending to be asleep. We’re hoping and praying that both kids sleep better so that mommy and daddy can do the same!

This got me thinking about our relationship with God and how we as Christians follow him and act towards him and his words to us and how we keep his commands (or don’t as the case may be). God’s word comforts and directs us. It lifts us up and is meant to be for our good to guard and protect us. But we don’t always see it that way. Try as we might we struggle to listen to God and do what he says, despite our best intentions sometimes we are like Josh – always climbing out of the fences God has put to guard us, and running back saying No, I’ll do it when we’re confronted. We’re constantly tempted and pulled in all directions.

Yet God is always faithful….always calling us back to him. Not only does he promise those 5 words “I am with you always” as I mentioned last week, the Bible is full of I AM statements of God that show his love, his care, and his continual presence among us. Psalm 46:11 says The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our stronghold. We are reminded in Jeremiah 32:27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me? One of my favorites is from Isaiah 41 where God calls us his friend, and says “fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

So, be strengthened and encouraged in all that you do this week. God is for you and not against you. He knows your struggles and is with you always.

Pastor DeHope


January 19th letter

Greetings in the name of Jesus!

I am with you always. This is God’s promise to you. No matter what! Five simple words you can count on your fingers with one hand (so it’s easy to remember) and yet they are powerful to calm and bring comfort. I taught this to Leah last night when she was scared and having trouble sleeping. Scary thoughts just wouldn’t go away, she said. So, I had her put out her hand and those 5 little piggies helped us count God’s words of promise. I am with you always.  If God is with us always, then he is with us everywhere – on a plane, in the car, at the store, in church or school, at work or play. At Grandma and grandpa’s, or a friend’s house, no matter what we do or where we go. “Yes” she said. So that means God is with you when you’re scared and sad or worried too. Yes! He’s with us always, no matter what. I told Leah to just keep repeating this to herself.

I really need to practice what I preach here and remind myself of God’s promise when I’m struggling with or worried about something. We had a wonderful, albeit wet trip in CA visiting family and friends, and I was tired, so I fell right asleep last night. But they’re not all like that. I’ll need to remember God’s 5 words of promise. I am with you always. You should too. Whenever you’re struggling, wherever you are – just keep repeating it yourself. Speak it out loud if it helps.

God has given his word of promise. He can do no other. 

The peace of God in Christ be with you this week and always!

Pastor DeHope

 


January 12th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

By the time you read this our family will already be in CA visiting family. It’s funny to think the January weather we left in Kansas will be much nicer than what we’re experiencing out west in the rain. Oh well. I always enjoy the visits; but wish there was a way to avoid the “traveling” part. There is a little bit of fear and loathing that goes with that for me, so I try to remain hopeful and focus on the joys ahead. That was my encouragement to everyone at our congregational meeting Sunday as well. God is still on his throne and always provides what is necessary.

For the believer, fear is always God-forgetful. If God is in control of all things, if he is righteous and good and wise and for us, why should we fear? Sometimes it is easy to forget our identity in God and that Christ has made us his own. The land of Judah had the same struggle, especially going up against the Assyrians in battle. King Hezekiah did not want them to think they were left to their own courage in battle, their experience, or their own will. He wanted them to know that they had been blessed with something else, that they must not forget, so he said “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him… With him is and arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8). There will be moments when we ask and wonder where courage will be found for what we must face. Hezekiah gives us the answer. “Look up and remember you God.” As God’s child you are never left to battle on your own.

So, dear friends, be of good cheer, be strengthened and encouraged as you look ahead. It’s all going to be ok. God is with you and for you. And if God is with you, who can be against you?

The peace of Christ be with you!

Pastor DeHope


January 5th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

A blessed Epiphany to you!  The 12 days of Christmas culminated in the feast day of Epiphany on Friday which celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ to the Gentiles in Matthew 2 with the visitation of the Magi or wise men. This is a celebration that the Kingdom of God is open to all believers through faith in Christ as a symbol of the new covenant in Jesus!

This is sometimes called Three Kings’ Day, but we don’t actually know how many came from the east to worship our young Lord Jesus – we just know that three gifts given. There could have been more than three in attendance. I remember several good birthdays growing up where I received more than one of the same toy at a party! The 3 gifts that were presented to Jesus had meaning, and they also traveled well. The gold was a symbol of his kingship and earthly authority, the frankincense (a type of incense) was a symbol of his diety – that he was God, and the myrrh which was used in embalming symbolizes his death to save us.

As I write this (on Thursday), our kids are still waiting for their “big gift” tomorrow on Epiphany. Our celebration of Jesus continues! All year long we live in and celebrate the reality of Christmas and Easter and the gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation that are ours in Jesus!  Last week I was explaining the “12 days of Christmas” carol and its Christian symbolism and blessing for us as we celebrate our coming Savior.  I didn’t finish explaining all the gifts…

Day 6 – 6 Geese Laying – the 6 days of creation

Day 7 – 7 Swans for the gifts upon Jesus in Isaiah 11:2-3

Day 8 – 8 Maids A-Milking are identified in Matthw 5:3-10 the 8 beatitudes.

Day 9 – 9 Ladies Dancing – one for each fruit of the Spirit

Day 10 – 10 Lords a-leaping for the 10 commandments

Day 11 – 11 Pipers Piping for the 11 faithful disciples

Day 12 – 12 Drummers Drumming are the 12 points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed.

So as Christians we get to celebrate the Christmas and Epiphany season longer than the rest of the world. We know where true joy and forgiveness is found – in Jesus who is the reason for the season.

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope 

THANK YOU

Pastor DeHope, Glenda Hammel and Mary Hume want to thank everyone for the Christmas and New Year wishes and a big thanks for thinking of us at Christmas time.  We appreciate everything and everyone.


December 29th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Merry 5th day of Christmas! I hope you all had a nice Christmas Day celebration or will get to follow through with plans still in the works. At our house we’re counting down the 12 days of Christmas (just like the song) to Epiphany on January 6th when we celebrate the wise men offering their gifts in worship to our young Lord Jesus. To teach our kids about this, they have a small gift to open each day to keep the Christmas spirit alive and well with their “big gift” coming on Epiphany which happens to be a Little Tykes kitchen & workbench. We know that they’ll love it, and of course it won’t be more than a year or so before Leah will be reading and I won’t be able to write things like that!

The world delivers Christmas as a one and done day in the midst of a “holiday season” that we’re conditioned to prepare for from black Friday to Christmas Eve; to consume and purchase….and then return or exchange later. This leads to a lot of confusion about the 12 days of Christmas and what or when they are.  But as Christians we are still celebrating Christmas! It’s just getting started on the 25th!  The “12 days of Christmas” carol is rich in Christian symbolism and blessing for us as we celebrate!

Christmas Day – the First Day –– Jesus is the partridge in the pear tree.

Day 2 – 2 Turtle doves are for the 2 Testaments – Old & New in our Bible

Day 3 – 3 French Hens – Faith, Hope & Love as revealed in 1 Corinthians 13:13

Day 4 – 4 Calling Birds – The 4 Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke & John

Day 5 – 5 Golden Rings – The 5 Books of Moses (The first 5 books of the Old Testament – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)

So, dear friends, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Stay tuned next week for the rest of the gifts!

God’s blessings!

Pastor DeHope


December 22nd letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Merry Christmas to you and yours as you celebrate our Savior Jesus Christ who was born to save us!

I don’t quite know when or how this line of thinking came about….. but I have been pondering the first Christmas for much of Advent. I saw a funny meme of Joseph apologizing to Mary for NOT making reservations ahead of time at the inn and it made me laugh. But no matter how I look at it, every single aspect of the first Christmas is less than ideal for the holy family! There’s nothing to laugh about.  It’s hard for me to actually imagine how rough and uncomfortable it was making that kind of journey on foot and pregnant. The birth in the stable….the registration, the threat to the newborn and the escape to Egypt….They had probably hoped so much would be different but it wasn’t. Maybe you’ve had or are having one like that? And yet God provided. His presence, His protection, His sign, His joy, His strength, His peace – all these became Mary & Joseph’s too, despite the circumstances.

All these gifts of God are ours as well! I can’t recall a Christmas that went as expected. Some have been filled with so much joy I could hardly keep it contained; others failed to measure up, and there were a few I’d wished to skip all together, and yet each year God shows up with His presence and his presents! Jesus was born to die for the sins of the world. He was born to rise for us and our salvation. In Christ we are free, we are forgiven and we are family.

So….no matter what kind of Christmas you’re having this year, or how it stacks up to the others - I pray that God’s JOY, His gifts, and his presence give you cause for rejoicing – that in all circumstances you pray praise and give thanks! Christ is here! There is none to fear!

May your Christmas be Merry in Jesus!

Pastor DeHope & family


December 15th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Jesus says “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness but will have the Light of life (John8:12). Our Lord Jesus is the light that no darkness can overcome. As Christmas approaches and is nearer every day, we see and speak of this light more and more. Even Leah and Josh notice the lights at Christmas time and point them out!  These lights are just a reminder of the true light of Christ that has come into our lives and our homes to dispel the darkness. It is a busy time, but take a moment each day to stop, pause and rejoice in the light and consider what God has done for you and what a difference that true light makes in your life. Rejoice and be glad in all circumstances that our Lord of life and light has come! And he will come again to make all things right. For now, bask in the light and let it shine!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope

 

THANK YOU, PRINCE OF PEACE

A big thank you to our congregation for all your hard work and contributions, making Oktoberfest and the Craft Bazaar/Cookie Walk such a wonderful success! From the proceeds of these two events we are able to contribute $3,688.49 to our churches general fund. Also, thank you to those who purchased from the silent auction and the gift cards on the Christmas tree for the seminary students.  We were able to send them $160.00 in cash along with the gift cards that you purchased for them.  THANK YOU! Everyone at Prince of Peace is the BEST!!


December 2nd letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

God is love. Three simple words. They change everything. Hope is found!

December has only just begun and my calendar is filling up. So many places to go, people to see and things to do. I am doing my best to prepare and I have high hopes for the season and all that it will bring. I’m excited to celebrate Jesus, his coming and his birth because that really is the REASON for the season! It’s why we have hope.

There are only two places to look for hope. We can look for hope horizontally in the world, thinking that something in creation will give us security, peace, and that inner sense of well-being that we seek, or we can seek it vertically, putting our life and trust into the hands of our loving creator. God is love (1 John 4:16). People put their hope in creation all the time – thinking a relationship, success & achievement or stuff will do the trick and satisfy their heart. Yet these things were all meant to point us to the place where we truly will find rest, in our creator. We need to face this reality that creation will never be our savior.

But we know who is! Jesus is! God is love and he has shown his love in Jesus….for us, and for the world. Here in these 3 words we find hope that won’t disappoint. These 3 words have the power to change everything about us and they can end our searching and give our weary heart rest. God has given us his love to sustain us and carry and protect us always in every season of life.

Remember these 3 words and cling to them for all they are worth in this busy season. There is hope. God is love!

To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


November 25th letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

“Today You’ll envy the blessings of another or you’ll bask in the wonder of the amazing grace you have been given”. I read that in my devotion this morning and found it quite fitting as we prepare to celebrate thanksgiving. He went on to describe our struggle - I want to be content in all things and I wish I could say that I was, that I never wanted what someone else had or envied their life; that I never thought God gave something to someone else that he meant for me. I wish I could say I am better at counting my blessings than assessing what I don’t have – that my appetite for things wasn’t so large and that my heart would finally be satisfied. These are all wishes because they’re not totally true of us this side of heaven.

The Bible speaks very strongly against envy because it is a constant struggle. An attitude of gratitude thinking ‘I am blessed’ easily turns to ‘I deserve’ because envy is selfish to its very core. Envy causes us to question God’s goodness, his faithfulness and his wisdom. It accuses God of being incompetent or dishonest and not doing what he promises. Most of our problems of envy with another person are actually not about them, but about God and our view of him.

Envy causes us to question God’s goodness so we stop going to him for help because why would we go to or rely on someone we don’t trust? Do you see the danger here? Envy also causes us to forget God’s amazing grace and blessings to us because we’re focused on someone or something else.

God daily and richly provides all that we need to sustain this body and life. God has given us enormous blessings of his grace, that we could not earn and do not deserve. Let us focus this Thanksgiving on all that we have in this life and celebrate it as a gift of our loving merciful God. And let us ALWAYS rejoice and celebrate with thanksgiving that God has shown His grace and love for us in giving His son Jesus into death to save us. In Jesus’ resurrection we have life! We have a place at the table, we’re included in his family forever with His name on us as His treasured possession!

So let us bask in the wonder of God’s amazing grace shown to us in Christ. Everything is going to be right in the end.

To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


November 17th letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

The end is near… Christ is coming back for us, so that we may be where he is. That’s been our theme the last couple weeks and now it’s the last week of the church year before Advent begins. It always seems to come so abruptly. I’m not ready. I’m not ready for Christmas, and it’s not because I’m defending Thanksgiving and the need to celebrate it first. I’m not ready for Thanksgiving either! You’re free to put up Christmas early if you like – it certainly is worthy of extended celebration. It is just hard to be prepared.

The furnace died last night so that had to be fixed before I could get ready for work (luckily it was a quick fix with the pocketbook shut – just a dirty flame sensor). But then the kid from the cable company drove his van off my driveway and got stuck in the culvert…. He was supposed to be at my neighbors’ house! A floor jack, some blocks, a tow strap and a few minutes  later he was free, and on the road to work and so was I.

I was not ready for those inconveniences. I am not ready for the holidays, but they will come and go whether I’m ready or not. That’s life and that’s ok. But when Jesus comes…. That’s different. Ready or not has eternal consequences. I AM ready for Jesus to come back. That is one thing I’m sure of more than anything else. I trust in the mercy and forgiveness of Christ. I know that I am a redeemed child of God, marked with his name. And that makes all the difference for eternity. Jesus will come abruptly. For that, we ARE ready. Let us use this season of Advent to try and help others be ready for his coming too. It matters more than anything!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope 


November 10th letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

This week I celebrated another trip around the sun…. it was good birthday. A lot has happened in the last year, and I have a lot to be thankful for. The devotion I read that day said, “While sin is still a sad and ever-present reality in each of our lives, it is simply no match for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I find this to be very comforting in my own life as I reflect on my own sinfulness and shortcomings. It is also of great comfort to me as a Pastor. I hear things….people tell me things… not just about their sins and shortcoming, but about how they’ve been wronged by others. It is the latter that I sometimes struggle with the most – not being able to make right or fix or help the hurt someone has experienced at the hand of another person – another person whom God also loves and wants in heaven. Another person for whom Jesus died on the cross to forgive. One that Jesus loves, even though it is a person I want to hate for what they have done and how they have hurt someone I care for. And yet this is no match for the grace of Jesus Christ my Lord who has forgiven me. And this is where I must leave it – in the hands of Jesus. Help me forgive as you have forgiven Lord. Let me trust that you will sort it out and make it right. Help me love and forgive like you. Help me forgive and reflect YOUR forgiveness. Help me trust you to be God. I am not.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


November 2nd letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Gratitude. This week has been one of gratitude for me.  James 1:17 comes to mind: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”. This side of heaven, nothing is perfect, that’s for sure! Still God daily and richly provides for all our needs of body and soul, and then some. You all as Prince of Peace sure are one of those good gifts to me and to my family. Pastor Appreciation month took on new meaning for us this year with all the kindness, generosity, and support we’ve been shown in so many ways. Your thoughts, prayers, and kind gifts have been a blessing to us.  Galatians 6:6-10 comes to mind here as well: “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” You have shared good things with me. Thank you. God be praised. To God be the glory!

 Yours in Christ,

Pastor DeHope


October 29th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Last week I shared the sad news that Alicia and I lost baby #3 at eight weeks. The amount of care, love and support that Alicia and I have received over this last week is incredibly heart-warming. Your calls, cards and conversations have been a wonderful encouragement and blessing to us during this difficult time. Galatians 6 talks about bearing one another’s burdens and caring for one another in Christ and we feel as if Prince of Peace has done that for us and shown us the love of Christ. You are our church family and we appreciate you, your understanding, love and support. Thank you!

 To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


October 6th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

This week I have been wrestling with something that is hard to understand. One way or another it will resolve in time – like most things do. Still…. I wonder and question. I read a quote in one of my devotions this week that said, “You don’t have to understand everything in your life, because your Lord of wisdom and grace understands it all”. I don’t always handle this very well. God gave me my reason and my senses and I have a desire to know and to figure it out, and yet I won’t experience inner peace simply because all my questions are answered. I might not like the answers. God may not give me an answer. Sometimes God’s will is hidden and it will always be a mystery to us – he will not reveal all the things he will do in our life for our good and for his glory.

Yet, that is the promise in Romans 8:28 that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. So where is peace to be found? Isaiah 26:3-4 gives us the answer: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock”.

True peace is not found in trying to figure out God’s hidden will. It’s not found in our planning or trying to control our circumstances and people in our lives. True peace is found in trusting the person who controls all the things that we don’t understand and who knows no mystery because he has planned it all. We get this peace that remains even when disappointments come by keeping our minds focused on the Lord. Meditate on his glory, his grace, his faithfulness, his patience and his forgiveness; remember all that he has done for us – both in this life, and in the next through our Savior Jesus Christ. Some things remain a mystery, but the one behind the mystery is gloriously good, he is the author and sustainer of life and he is in control of all things. And he has plans to prosper us and not to harm us. God is FOR us!

Lord’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


September 30th letter

LETTER FROM OUR PASTOR:

Dear friends in Christ,

I’m not a big fan of monarchies. The big events and upsets of the royal family never interested me. I never had childhood (or adult) dreams of being a Prince or any kind of royalty, so it probably won’t surprise you that I wasn’t terribly moved of effected by the death of the Queen. However, I did come across a very meaningful expression of faith from the queen that I’d like to share with you. And please note that there’s absolutely nothing wrong if you feel differently about the royal family and it matters a great deal to you.

Queen Elizabeth exclaimed: "How I wish that the Lord would come in my lifetime." "Why" asked the Chaplain. The Queen replied with quivering lips and her whole countenance lighted up by deep emotion, "I should so love to lay my crown at His feet." 

THIS is a marvelous example in my mind of how we should regard our Lord and HIS reign in, and over our lives now on earth, but also eternally. It fits nicely with many of the themes we’ve had in recent weeks in the parables with Jesus teaching us about where our priorities should be set, what our treasure should be….etc.

We also sing about this reality of Christ’s authority over us as our Prophet, Priest, and King. We sing “Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne” and “I will cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it someday for a crown”. So, while I may not be a big fan of the Queen’s earthly authority, I do think she got it right when it came to submitting to the ONE true authority on earth as it is in heaven.

Lord’s blessings on your week!

Pastor DeHope


September 22nd letter

Dear friends in Christ,

This week has been a little trying on my nerves as Joshua’s vocabulary expands and he LOUDLY repeats the same 3-4 word phrase again and again and again and again…. you got it. Leah is full of shouts and enthusiasm for school, her friends and so many good things. It’s often in small spaces like the car. It’s tough. Yet, I consider that in light of Psalm 33 which says Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Give thanks to the Lord with instruments…. Sing to him a new song. For the word of the Lord is upright and all his work is done in faithfulness.

My kids are joyfully making noise…. And it’s a blessing from God. I will pray for more patience. God’s work is always done in faithfulness, even when it doesn’t occur to us that he is even working for us and our benefit. Don’t be bashful to make some noise to the Lord. Let your joy be heard. We all have so much to be joyful about, even in difficult times, even in small spaces….like cars. Sing it Leah! Shout it Joshua. And belt it out, all of YOU! Make that sweet music and that joyful noise to the Lord.

God’s blessings on your week,

Pastor DeHope


September 15th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Prayer – it’s one of those things we could probably all do a little better at or do more often.

I stumbled upon a little prayer for a wife whose husband can be difficult. Though I’m sure Alicia will NEVER need such a prayer, here it is:         

“Dear God, my husband. He can be a pain! But at least he is my pain. Help me to love him in spite of all the annoying little things he does. Because I do love him, and I want to love him more. Amen”.

While it might make you laugh a little, I think it’s a good little prayer. Swap ‘husband’ for wife, son, daughter, friend, cousin, aunt, uncle etc. and thank God for all the people God has put in your life to help, guide, bless or even grow your patience and compassion. Please add Pastor to the list too. I both need and covet your prayers (and I’m sure I give Alicia cause to pray this prayer often)!

God teaches us to pray; he invites us to pray. Not because he needs our prayers, but because we benefit from them. They’re good for us, kind of like vitamins. They help us focus our attention on God, what he’s done for us in Christ and all that he daily and richly provides for us in this life; plus they teach us to rely on him, to come to him at all times, and all situations. I encourage you to pray the Lord’s prayer, pray this prayer or make one up. Two of my favorite (short) prayers are “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief” and simply. “Lord Help!”  Because he does. Always. Don’t be bashful! God’s ear is always inclined towards you; HE is always FOR you!

In Christ,

Pastor DeHope


September 8th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Happy Thursday! I hope this finds you well. Rejoicing seems to be the theme for the week.  Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin in our Gospel for Sunday and the joy of finding what was lost and how that relates to the kingdom. There is much rejoicing in heaven when the lost are found – when sinners repent. I love the parables. There is always more going on than is immediately apparent. Our house has been full of anticipation and excitement as Grandma arrived this week from California. Neither my mom or her luggage got lost, but we rejoiced anyway. We’re thankful for the visit and our time together.

I have been searching for a few items this week that are still “lost” from our move. They must be somewhere! I want them NOW! When you lose your keys you NEED them now – before you can go anywhere…. Sometimes it seems like joy, can be at a minimum if it’s there at all. We must experience a loss first, frantically search for, or try to repair something, and then find or fix it before that wave of joy and relief sets in. Why is that? Why do we not have more joy in our day simply because something or someone is already there and NOT lost? Why do we fail to fully appreciate the value of someone or something until it is lost or we don’t have it anymore? I think we should work on this…..

Jesus is blasting the Scribes and Pharisees in the parable. He does that a lot. They’re grumbling that Jesus wants to grow the kingdom. Jesus wants to bring more people to himself – to welcome sinners. Notice how the Lord is always harsher on the sin of hypocrisy (usually the Pharisees) than he seems to be on other sinners. The Pharisees don’t see their sin; they think they’re better than others. They are blind to the fact that they need Jesus every bit as much as everyone else. We need Him just as much ourselves. 100%. We’re all sinners. We all need Jesus 100% - there is not sliding scale here; nobody needs Jesus any less….

This is where the JOY and the rejoicing comes in. Rejoicing is the business of heaven! There is more joy in heaven over 1 repentant sinner than a whole gaggle of self-righteous people that think they need Jesus less than someone else. When we rejoice at finding our keys or other lost items – that’s good. But we already had them to begin with. We had already been blessed with it (before we lost it). There is rejoicing in heaven when the numbers grow! When those outside the kingdom are brought inside. When they are added. Don’t be a Pharisee – don’t compare yourselves more favorably to others. We all need Jesus 100%. There is plenty of him to go around. Repent, rejoice and be glad that you’re ALREADY in the kingdom. Rejoice and be glad that the kingdom grows daily and abundantly in spite of us! When you find what you’ve lost, rejoice. Rejoice also in what you already have and that it is NOT lost.

To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


August 30th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Has anyone ever said to you “loosen up, you look so serious” or “have fun, let go a little”? I’ve heard it, so I’m sure you have too. In that moment, I check in with myself and ask if that’s accurate. There is a time and a place for everything, or as Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”. There is a time to be serious, and a time to be silly. There are times to be happy and times to be sad. 

I came across a C.S. Lewis quote this week (he’s one of my favorite authors): “Joy is the serious business of Heaven”. I wholeheartedly believe that, but then I thought, why not work to make that true in our own lives here, now, on earth too. Of course, it will never be possible to have heaven on earth because of sin. There are times that are not joyous, and places that it may not be right even to smile. But as Christians, even in rough times, even now, we have something the world does not have. We have Jesus; we have the good news of the gospel. We have a joy in knowing we belong to the Lord, and nothing can separate us from his love. 

Everything we have and everything we are, is a gift. Everything we have done wrong or left undone has been forgiven. We see things differently than the world does. For us it is different. I can’t wait to get to heaven and experience the unimaginable Joy that is there – that serious business of heaven. But there is great joy even now – knowing what we know, having what we have. Don’t let the devil, the world, or your own flesh steal your joy; don’t let them rob you of it. It’s far too valuable of a thing to not keep better tabs on. I am trying to “check-in” more often and find joy in more things, and even rejoice in my sufferings. I have something special the world doesn’t have. I want to share it, and I want to ENJOY it. I want our JOY to be serious business here too!

To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


August 25th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Leah has learned to work the TV remote. We’re now taking steps to ensure that when, and if she turns it on, she won’t find things that scare her or that will require unnecessary explanations for a 5 year old. It reminded me of many times when my dad would quote Titus 1:15 “to the pure, all things are pure”. And while I want to protect my kids and their child-like innocence as best I can, there’s a problem. None of us are completely pure – not even Leah, because of sin. We see the effects of sin all around us in the world, our relationships and ourselves with our thoughts, words and actions. It’s a real struggle, a daily one. Our Lord sends us to be salt and light to the world, carrying the good news gospel message of Jesus Christ with forgiveness life and salvation in him. And yet still we struggle.

We live in a world where evil still exists all around us, but the one who conquered sin and death is still with us. As Jesus was sending out his disciples into the dark world with the gospel he said something that changes everything. He promised “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” Matthew 28:20. We’re not sent out into the world with a list of principles, nor does he guide us with rules to follow. HE COMES WITH US! And not just to jump in a save the day when we need a hand. He knows we’ll never make it unless he’s with us every moment of every situation, location, and interaction. He IS with us in every trial and struggle because he’s been with us all along. In our struggle with evil, he gives us himself. He knows that in HIM we have everything thing we need.

Let this comfort you in your times of worry and struggle. Give thanks in times of joy. Your Lord is truly with you ALWAYS, in everything. Even when you turn on the TV. Fear not! The Lord is with you always – even to the end of the age.

To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


 

August 21st letter

Dear friends in Christ,

We’re back from MN, mostly rested and thankful for the opportunity to see friends. This week I’ve been catching up on meetings and it occurred to me that very often when I pray with a group before a meeting, at Bible study or some other gathering I thank the Lord of his mercies new to us each day, but then often forget that as the day gets busy or as I become distracted by work, thoughts or some other task and it gets sidelined in my thinking. 

Lamentations 3:22-23 says “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”. So often we allow ourselves to have a view of ourselves, of others, of circumstances, of daily joys and struggles, of God, of meaning and purpose and what life is about that is completely lacking of this gorgeous redemptive reality: mercy. His mercies are new every morning – we should post this somewhere it will be seen each day multiple times. 

Mercy is the theme of God’s story, and the thread that runs through all of Scripture. Mercy is the reason for Jesus’s coming and it’s what our desperate heart needs. Mercy is what gives you comfort in weakness and hope in times of trial. Mercy does what the law is powerless to do. Mercy not only meets you in your struggle, but guarantees that someday your struggle will end. Let the amazing words of this passage sink in. 

As God’s child they describe your identity and your hope. They give you reason to get up in the morning and to continue. They allow us to face and admit how messed up we really are and they allow us to extend mercy to the failing people around us. They allow us to be comforted by God’s presence rather than be terrified at the thought that he is near. God’s love for us will never end, his grace and forgiveness will never end. It’s not left-over, recycled or one size fits all mercy. It’s new mercy for each of us, each day - unique to our struggles and the crosses we bear. So be encouraged, strengthened and renewed by God’s mercy new each day, and keep it always before you – it’s FOR you. 

To God be the Glory,

Pastor DeHope


August 11th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

By the time you read this, Lord willing,  we’ll be safely in Grand Rapids, MN visiting friends. We’re hoping for an uneventful drive and a peaceful relaxing time with friends and that their 5 kids and our 2 play nicely together as they have in the past. This peaceful  theme seems to be the opposite of our Gospel text for Sunday where our Lord Jesus claims that he’s come to bring division instead of peace. Christianity is a peaceful religion, so what is our Lord saying here? Truly our Lord’s mission and purpose is to seek and save the lost (Like 19:10). What he is saying here is that what you confess about him, who you say he is may cause division in our world and in our homes. Surely you’ve seen or experienced this first hand. Yet who we believe Jesus is makes all the difference for us here now and in eternity.  He says earlier in this chapter in verse 8 that he will acknowledge us before his father, and our father. We need not be anxious about a thing – God always cares for and provides for us – it is his joy to give us the kingdom. HIS kingdom. We are to be ready for his coming, for we don’t know the day or the hour, but we can take heart and be comforted knowing that even in all the troubles of this life, whether they about our confession of Jesus or not, he is with us. We can look forward to seeing him with our own eyes when he returns in all His glory. Even more than I’ll look forward to seeing you when we get back!

The Prince of Peace be with you always!

Pastor


August 4th letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Life has been crazy, hectic, and wonderful lately with all its changes; the blessings the Lord has provided. Sometimes I find myself lamenting all the things I want to get done, and the people I want to see and how it seems the days pass so quickly and yet my to do list never gets checked off as quickly as I’d like…. There always seems to be an interruption or something that comes up. Perhaps you can relate, even if just a little bit? I came across a C.S. Lewis quote this week that has stuck with me – “The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life”. I’m trying to regard those little interruptions whether they’re an unexpected call or something else differently. 

Church can often seem like an interruption with all the things we’ve got going on, yet it’s possibly the most important interruption to make time for. It is here that God equips and strengthens us for all the other interruptions with His gifts of word and sacrament FOR us. This is exactly where God has promised to be to give us stuff that we can’t get anywhere else. 

We’re preparing for a waterpark adventure to celebrate birthdays for both kids with vacation to MN to see some friends next week. We hope it will be a wonderful interruption for us. We pray God’s blessings on your interruptions great and small.

God’s blessings,

Pastor


July 26th Letter

Dear friends in Christ,

Monumental VBS continues this week at our house as Leah can be heard throughout the day singing all the songs; even I catch myself humming along from time to time. But at church it’s much quieter…. It almost feels lonely after such a bustling week despite the fact that Mary and Glenda and Amy are faithfully at their desks and many visitors have come and gone. 

Life is like that sometimes though. Despite being busy and active you can feel alone or weighed down by hardships and struggle. Truly we’re never alone, and we know that God is always with us, even in our sufferings. One passage I’ve been pondering this week is Isaiah 42:3 “A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench.” This is such a beautiful picture of God’s tender care; he is a giver, not a taker. He’s slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and mercy. He’ll never give up on us – not even when we’re weakest or at our worst. He is unchanging, he’s constant, so regardless of how we’re tossed about by the waves of the world our Lord is with us. He is also FOR us - through all our seasons whether we’ve got a song in our heart or can’t bear the thought. 

The peace of the Lord be with you!

Pastor


July 21th Letter

Dear friends in Christ,

We’ve had a MONUMENTAL week of Vacation Bible School here at Prince of Peace! It was wonderfully encouraging to see all the kids learning about God’s love for us in Jesus – how he sticks with us no matter what, and that nothing can separate us from his love. We sang about God watching over us 24/7 and his plan for us in Jesus. Psalm 118 talks about the strength of the Lord and his steadfast love – that he is my helper and my refuge. We can call on him and he will answer us. God is in charge of all things, even when we try to take matters into our own hands. We simply can’t debate it – God’s way is better than our way. His plan is infinitely better than any plan we could have for ourselves. God is in control. We can try to exercise our free will, but ultimately our will is bound to God’s will and we can’t overpower him to get our own way – no matter how much we try. He always prevails. God is like Huckleberry Hound – he always gets him man. It doesn’t matter when or how he got you. You are his. Nothing can separate you from God’s love.

A big thanks to everyone who volunteered and helped make VBS such a special week! There was a monumental amount of work that went into all the preparation and execution of our VBS! THANK YOU! To God be the Glory!

Pastor DeHope


July 17th Letter

Dear friends in Christ at POP,

I have been thinking a lot about identity lately – who am I? Who do I want to be? I can say with certainty that I am not Justin – though I have been getting a lot of calls for him from some mortgage lending outfit. Sigh. I do really hope those stop. But those calls did get me thinking that as Christians we don’t work in the hope of getting an identity; we work in celebration of the identity that; in Christ we have been given. Galatians 4:4-7 talks about the identity we have in Christ who has redeemed us by his cross and reconciled us to God so that we are heirs and can call God OUR Father. We don’t need to wonder who we are or what we will be or look for meaning and identity in the things of the world. We have been given something much better. Our identity is God’s child and an heir of heaven through our baptism.  

Here at church the week has been full of preparation for Vacation Bible School that starts on Monday! You might not even recognize the place right now. Everyone is excited to have all those kids here at POP and teach them about Jesus and his love for us – it’s truly “Monumental”! Our hope and prayer is that the kids will have fun this week and grow in their understanding of their Lord and Savior Jesus, and the identity they have in him.  That’s my hope and prayer for all of us each day too!  God’s richest blessings to you all!  

Pastor DeHope


July 10th Letter

Dear friends in Christ,

hope you all survived and enjoyed our Independence Day festivities this week! In addition to the freedoms we enjoy in our country I have been contemplating the "hope" we have as Christians (Ephesians 1:18-19 and Eph. 2:11-22).  We hope for many things - good weather, lower prices and a better economy, for our marriages, our kids and other relationships, for our church and many other things that are future focused. Looking ahead to the future and the tasks before us can be daunting and we can lose hope before we've taken the first step of the climb. The hope we have as Christians isn't just wishful thinking about what might be, IT IS a present reality we live in that is rooted in our Savior Jesus Christ and what he has already done for us on the cross. It is a hope with an expectation in a promise being fulfilled already by our gracious Lord.  

Alicia and I took advantage of some appliance sales for 4th of July so we could have a gas stove and an opportunity to bear witness to this hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15) presented itself and I had an interesting conversation about faith, life, and our church with a fellow believer at Lowe's of all places. Turns out he was even a Lutheran! 

Your hope is no ordinary hope as the world sees it. Your hope is in the rock of our salvation who has given you, life and many blessings now, but also the promise and "hope" of life everlasting. I hope you enjoy your upcoming week in the peace of the Lord. Let us "have the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which God has called us". 

Pastor DeHope

 

 

 

 

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