Loose the Chains

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There may not be any group more vulnerable in this world than those without a mom or dad to care for them. Orphans are among those God clearly told us to care for in our world (James 1:27). This "Orphan Sunday" will be a chance to learn about how each of us can play a part in eradicating the orphan crisis in our world. Each of us can do something to "loose the chains" of injustice for kids who desperately need someone to intervene on their behalf.


This past week in NYC, there was another terrorist attack on our soil. This tragedy reminds us of the challenge we have as followers of Jesus to wrestle with what we are to do with immigrants, refugees, and those who invoke "terror" in us. Join us this Sunday at 10am as we talk about a Christian response to the immigrants and refugees that come to our own backyard of Fort Wayne.


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There is nothing like spending time with friends visiting from out of town! Mike, Connie, and Tiffany Tabor from The Happy Church will join us Sunday and add insight into how we can get busy helping "loose the chains" of injustice where they serve in the poorest region of the US. We will also unveil several action steps we are taking to begin doing something about these injustices. Join us Sunday at 10am, as we continue to learn how to be a blessing other people, near and far, with the love of Jesus.


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Childhood is difficult. But it is not equally so for all. Some kids have it really difficult! This Sunday we will welcome back two different leaders who used to attend CofH and will hear their hearts to help young people within their respective organizations. Join us as Jeff Wike from The Center for Whitley County Youth and Dawnna Plummer from Beloved, Not Forgotten share about the challenges many youth face today and how we can help them overcome the difficult challenges they face.

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Homelessness is a reality for far more people than we think--even right here in our own community. What causes homelessness? What can we do about it? The Lighthouse is Whitley County's transitional housing facility committed to helping those caught in homelessness become whole again. We hear from Shawn Ellis, Executive Director of The Lighthouse, share how we can participate in bringing real solutions to help "loose the chains" of injustice for the homeless in our own community.


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Before God can use us to "loose the chains" of injustice on behalf of others, He might need to "loose the chains" of misunderstanding or pride in our own hearts first. How can we remember to "keep the main thing the main thing" with all the angry rhetoric pummeling us from all directions daily? We desperately need a foundation of biblical truth. Join us Sunday at 10am as we learn that the Gospel is Jesus plus nothing else and is for everyone minus no one!

Access

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It's been said by many that, " We were created for relationship," and we agree! Even the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) have eternally lived in relationship. In the church, we call it a Christian community. This Sunday morning, Jeff Gill will be sharing form Romans 12:10, a message entitled, "Every Believer's Role in Christian Community."


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Somebody said, "The Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints." Community of Hope, then, is a place where all of us find support and healing in our lives so that we can invest ourselves fully into the work of the Kingdom of God. Join us as we articulate our vision for the future as God's people doing God's work in our communities and around the world.


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Where are you going? Most of us just try to get through the countless things demanded of us in the week, let alone have time for such frustrating questions. But God wants to re-shape our imaginations in order to give purpose and passion to all that we do. God wants us to pursue the Kingdom of God, the places where Jesus is present and joy, peace, justice, and righteousness are found. Join us as we cover that the Kingdom of God lays claim to everything about us because it is that amazing!


"Who Are We?" God has given those of us in His family a corporate identity that we share together. We are much stronger together than we would ever be by ourselves. Join us  as we see that each of us has an invaluable role to play in God's Church.


"Who are you?" God wants us to answer this question based upon the access we've gained to God through Jesus and the access we give to others because of what Jesus has done for us. The Bible paints a beautiful mosaic of our identity in Christ that is both overwhelming and refreshing.


Pastor Jeremy is back from his sabbatical. From the mountains of Tennessee he was asking God to speak in a fresh way. He shares how God answered a gut-level question we probably all ask at times in our lives: "God, am I good enough...?" Join us as we honestly create space to hear God's answer!

Staying in the Ring

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You may have someone close to you who has a serious heart condition which requires medication, surgery, or other forms of treatment.  Thankfully, in many cases these serious conditions can get caught before it’s too late. The Bible often uses the word “heart” to refer to our souls, the innermost part of who we are. We will be looking at 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to examine or own heart condition and how to make/keep it healthy.


“If you’re like me, it’s easy to be distracted and miss some of the most important aspects of life, including listening to God! In 1 Thessalonians 4 Paul gives us clear instructions on how to live a life that is pleasing to God and brings Him glory, but we must pay attention.” Dr. Jeff Gill, Vice President and Dean of Grace Seminary, shares a message on this topic



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This week we continue exploring how genuine faith is lived out in difficult times. We will discover, as one of Paul's first churches did, that the messenger is the message.


Peer Pressure

What does a "real man" look like? There's plenty of pressure to fit a certain kind of description, but God's definition is simple: a real man is one with character and integrity. This Father's Day, we contrast the character of King Saul and the anointed King David and see that meekness is not weakness; meekness is a humble patience with God's timing and God's plan.


Have you ever been thrust into the middle of something you weren't sure you were ready to do? That's how Saul felt when he is made the first king of Israel. Just like us, God asked Saul to trust Him and obey Him so that things would go well for him and the nation of Israel. However, Saul's leadership turns tragic because of Saul's unwillingness to fully trust God. We see that you cannot partially obey God and expect His full endorsement in your life.



We want the best for the next generation, but do we take the time to show God's best to the next generation? As we study the life of Samuel this week, we'll see that the next generation will embrace what we prioritize and reject what we trivialize. We courageously seek to honor God in the face of intense peer pressure to do the opposite.


Sometimes the most obviously gifted people are not the best leaders. The story of Samson in Judges 13-16 reminds us that true strength is measured not in outward qualities, but in one's trust in God. We rediscover how God powerfully works through his people to accomplish his purposes despite their many inadequacies.


Everyone talks about what they "are going to do." Few people seem to follow through and act. God doesn't mind us asking questions when we have fear or doubts, as long as we continue walking forward. Join us as we see the story of Gideon that God doesn't care about our private commitments as much as out public actions.


Ever find yourself wishing you had the abilities of someone else? When times get difficult, it is not the most gifted that succeed but rather the most courageous! The Bible is filled with unlikely heroes who leverage their weakness to become a strength and become a powerful change agent around them. We study one of the judges who teaches us that godly influence depends more upon your courage than your charisma or natural abilities.


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Someone once said, "A smart man learns from his own mistakes. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others. Wouldn't it be better if we didn't have to learn painful life lessons by experiencing them ourselves? As we begin to study the book of Judges, we will glean wisdom to help us in our lives. Join us as we see that when we find ourselves on the "sin merry-go-round", we need to get of!


While some people crave leadership, many people have misgivings about being called leaders. In a world pushing against God, however, we need leadership more than ever. As we begin a new, often unpalatable look in the Old Testament we will honestly look at how each of us are called to lead someone against the grain and toward godliness. Join us Sunday at 9:30am as we see that godly people understand who's watching them and who's leading them.

ACCESS

He is not Here
For He Has Risen!


When a church acts radically different than the way other people act, there is a magnetic attraction that others want to join. If we are doing what God has called us to do--just as the church in Acts 2--there will be natural growth and synergy over time. This is appropriate because it is Jesus' Church, not ours! Join us Sunday at 9:30am as we answer the question, "What if Community of Hope isn't 'my' church or 'your' church, but 'His' Church?"

Not too many people are going to say praying and reading the Bible shouldn't be part of Christian's life. But too many Christians don't make praying and reading the Bible part of their lives! God wants to speak to His children regularly, but it requires us to take the time to listen. Join us as we answer the question, "What if God would speak more frequently if we would listen more intently?"


Part of being community is sharing our resources with each other. But this creates potential stress and anxiety sometimes. Can we talk about our money and possessions without stirring up jealousy and guilt? Is there a way for us to get past our initial feelings and suspicions about this conversation? Join us Sunday at 9:30am as we ask the question, "What if everything we own is simply on loan from God?" 


The early church witnessed an explosion of numerical growth and spiritual energy that is perhaps unparalleled in the past 2000 years. Are there explainable, repeatable patterns we could imitate in order to tap into the success of this bygone era? The book of Acts gives us clues if we're willing to re-learn some things about being disciples of Jesus. Join us Sunday at 9:30am as we ask the question, "What if our dining rooms were more effective places for discipleship that the church auditorium?"


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What if the Christian life were better caught than merely taught? Just because someone knows the rules of a game doesn't mean they can play the game well. Just because someone read a book about heart surgery doesn't mean you want them to perform your heart surgery! And just because someone knows some things the Bible says doesn't mean they know how to become a mature follower of Jesus. Join us as we see that we need to "show and tell" each other what it looks like to become fully devoted followers of Jesus. 


What if surrender was the doorway into true freedom? Would you relinquish control if you knew that an unspeakable power and peace would then come into your life? Join us as we continue our study of Acts 2 and see that the power of Jesus Christ is stronger than any bondage we can experience.


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Every great movement begins with a question: "What if...?" So what if there was more to what we call "church" and "God" than we've ever experienced? What if once we experienced "more" we would never go back to the way things used to be? We ask the question, "What if God's surprises were doorways into His blessings?"

Grit

Is there any place left in our culture to disagree and still accept and love each other as people? Is there a place where everyone ought to refuse to let judgment supersede unconditional love and genuine acceptance? If there's such a place, it is supposed to be the Church! Join us Sunday at 9:30am as we learn that God has called His people to a higher standard, and better way of life, than the negativity and moral superiority we are seeing in our culture.


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No one wakes up in the morning desiring to suffer pain and agony. But it is a daily part of life. Instead of avoiding suffering at all costs, God desires that we see our circumstances through His eyes. Join us as we learn how joy emerges from our suffering as faith erodes our fears.


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We are all bombarded with messages each day. With the onslaught of information we absorb, how do we know that what we believe, how we act and talk, and what we do pleases God? How do we know we aren't being lied to or deceived? God gave us the Bible not to be admired on our bookshelf, but to nourish our hearts and our minds toward godliness and spiritual health. 


We live in a culture-even among Christians-which idealizes "radical" practices while devaluing the mundane aspects of life. But this kind of thinking doesn't come from God. Instead, God calls for radical thinking about the mundane responsibilities of life. Join us as we get "gritty" about what will really change the world in Jesus' name (especially in our corner of it).


There's something about people who are not afraid to get their hands dirty. They have a certain "grit" to them that is endearing. The next few weeks we are going to look at a few texts that are not complicated, but have tremendous potential for good in our lives. However, they require a certain amount of grit. Listen here to see how the right kind of conversation can move others toward Jesus (while the wrong kind of conversation has the opposite effect).

White as Snow

Jesus came to earth to shine a light in the midst of a dark world filled with sin and death. Those who come to God through faith in Jesus are called the light of the world. Join us Saturday evening at 4pm as we celebrate the coming of the light and the privilege of sharing the light with a world desperately in need of hope and healing.


They say that behind every storm is a rainbow. The story of Christmas is the rainbow following the storm of God's righteous judgment against His rebellious people. And it's the story of enduring hope because God would not abandon the world He loved so much. Instead, he'd dwell among it as King.


Is God mean? If not, then why does He make a big deal about sin? The story of Christmas is a reminder that God does everything in His power to be reconciled to sinners like us. Join us as we see that God does judge sin, but His motivation is to restore us to a relationship with Himself. And because of Jesus, we can be forgiven!


Christmas is the annual reminder of the birth of the Christ-child--Jesus. We read the story backwards, knowing that this child grew to become a man who would put the weight of sin on his shoulders by dying on a cross as an innocent sacrifice. But have you ever read the story forward, through the eyes of those who did not yet know how the story would end? This Advent season we will read the story of Jesus' birth by first reading the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Join us as we see a faithful God heartbroken over His faithless people, yet executing His perfect plan to rescue His prized creation.

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse is Whitley County's only transitional housing shelter. This week begins a defining new chapter in the organization's future. Shawn Ellis is the new Executive Director and is passionate about helping hurting people in need. She's also got big plans for churches like Community of Hope! Join us as we hear Shawn's story, her vision for the future, and how we can be on the front lines of God's transforming power in the lives of people in our own communities that can't thrive unless people like us help them.

You Are What You Love

The Center for Whitley County Youth was launched out of a heart for young people by Community of Hope more than 10 years ago. Today it is a thriving, influential organization that is connecting young people with vital Christian adult relationships. As we continue our conversation about spiritual disciplines, Adam Stetzel will come and share how God is using spiritual disciplines to grown young people closer to Jesus at The Center. Join us Sunday at 9:30am as we celebrate what God's doing there and how we can learn to practice spiritual disciplines in our own faith journeys.
 


Have you every been afraid to tell someone the truth? Have you ever wondered why you were afraid? In the book of 1st John, we read that God is in the light, and those who "walk" in the light with Him find fellowship with the children of God. If it is biblical to "live in the light", why is it so hard? Join us Sunday at 9:30am as we continue our series on the heart and look at the importance of confession in our faith journey.
 


The only time the disciples asked Jesus to teach them something was when they asked how to pray (Luke 11:1). Prayer often gets over-thought and is under-practiced. When we ask whether it "works" or not, we miss the point. The point of prayer is that the Creator of the Universe invites us into a relationship with Him! Join us Sunday at 9:30am as we see how prayer is where heaven meets earth in the most practical way in the most mundane of moments.


God wants to speak to you. He's willing at any time of any day. We simply need to listen. He's given us His Word, the Bible, and invites us to rediscover theLover of the biblical story each day. Then His love will flow from us. Join us Sunday at 9:30am as we explore how God speaks to us through the Bible if we're willing to listen.


What does the church have in common with the drive-thru at McDonald's? Very little, actually. We will eventually become disappointed when our expectations of the church are to provide "made-to-order" services at our personal convenience. Instead, God made us to live in community with other imperfect people who serve one another, worship God, and pursue God-honoring ministry together. Join us Sunday at 9:30am as we affirm each of our roles as vital to a healthy church filled with healthy contributors!


Love isn't always easy. Even though God's love for us never changes, we must grow in our love for Him as we face life's challenges. When we stay true in our love for God, we cross new thresholds of understanding and gain depth of perspective in life. Join us Sunday at 9:30am as we see from the story of Elijah that God wants a dynamic relationship with each of us!

In God We Still Trust

How can two Christians end up on different sides of political issues? How should Christians think about the challenges facing our country and world? Is there one "correct" way of looking at social issues? Join us Sunday at 9:30am as we plant ourselves firmly upon the foundation of the values of the Kingdom of God, which were taught and modeled by the world's true King, Jesus!


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Do politics and our faith intersect? Whether you follow the political debates rigorously or avoid them like the plague, this political season has re-shaped the religious landscape and further divided our country. How do we navigate this and maintain our sanity, let alone our faith? Join us Sunday at 9:30am as we affirm "In God We (Still) Trust" even in the midst of these disturbing times.

The Great Escape

What do you do when you feel "stuck" in your circumstances? It is easy to focus on all that is wrong that we miss what God is doing! Instead of trying to escape at any cost, God wants to change our perspective so that we can see when He shows us our next step. Join us as we learn from the Apostle Paul how to move forward in God's timing when it's easier just to stay where we are.