Messages from 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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