As most of you know by now, the judge tossed the case out of her courtroom yesterday. The official/legal language was, “Dismissed with prejudice.” That is a strong statement in the legal world and a huge victory for the church.
On the day after, I simply wanted to say a few words that I have been communicating to the church at every turn along this journey. If you are a newhoper, or you are just interested in knowing my heart and the heart of this church, I hope you will read on.
The heartbeat of this church has never been anything other than love for our neighbors, both near and far away. Love is the very reason we started this church 12 years ago. Love is the very reason we have gone to extensive efforts to be good neighbors, including but not limited to hosting many meetings at the church to work towards resolution, spending resources on sound attenuation, adjusting our worship and rehearsal schedules, and taking detailed audio recordings and video recordings every time any music is played at our church, both on the inside of our Worship Center and at the property line to ensure that we are fully compliant with the Durham County noise ordinance.
Yes, the church has experienced two major victories in the last few months. (i.e. The denial of the neighbors request for a Temporary Restraining Order against the church and the criminal case against me thrown out yesterday) Yes, we praise God for these victories but we must also remember, every step of the way, that we do not gloat or ever allow our hearts to grow hard or mean-spirited towards our neighbor. As I have reminded us every step of the way, let us remember these key passages of Scripture:
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13)
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18)
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
“In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me. (Psalm 71:1)
As a church family, let us stay incredibly humble and desperate before Almighty God. At the end of the day, we still want to do two very important things. First, we want to fulfill the vision God has given for how we Worship Jesus as a church! Secondly, we want to continue to love our neighbors every step of the way!
Peace and much love…
Because of Jesus,
My Dear Saints of newhope,
Ahhhh – it was so incredible to be back in the saddle of newhope last weekend! I have so missed our church family and teaching the Word!
I have some very exciting news to share! For the third consecutive year, we are being listed in the reputable Outreach Magazine as one of the fastest-growing churches in America! Three years ago, we were the 10th fastest growing church, last year, we were something like 39th fastest growing church.
And this year, we are actually highlighted as the 5th fastest-growing church, with the 2nd fastest growing church in terms of percentage gains, and we were included in the magazine with two separate articles specifically about this movement to Reach, Teach, and Release throughout central, NC! How cool is that?! It all makes me a little uneasy because I fully understand, as I shared on Sunday, that this kind of stuff makes the Enemy mad! Also, just for the record, I have to make it crystal clear that we give God all the glory and honor for this recognition and pray His work continues in and through us so that JESUS becomes the famous One throughout central, NC and beyond!
This Sunday, we begin our brand new fall series titled, The Circle Maker! I have three questions for you:
1. Who are you bringing with you on Sunday? Remember from last Sunday, to have an intimate relationship with Christ, we have to care about the things for which he cared, namely, people far from God!
2. Have you purchased the book, The Circle Maker, from our Resource Center? If not, you can grab it on Sunday! This book will change the way you pray!
3. Have you joined a Life Group It is not too late to jump in one or start one for this fall series! You can reply to this email or mark your Connect Card this weekend!
I have always enjoyed American history. Moreover, I am a big fan of President Abraham Lincoln. He was not only a fantastic president during a difficult day in our history, but he was also an outstanding leader. For some reason, this morning, as I was thinking about this series on prayer, I remembered Lincoln’s words when he declared the National Day of Prayer in 1863. Lincoln wrote:
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.
We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
I find these words particularly fascinating and relevant as we begin this series in the midst of a highly debated political season. As you reflect upon Lincoln’s powerful and convicting charge, I hope you will pray for me, our church family, yourself, and this wonderful country in which we live! When we work, we work. However, when we pray God works! We need God, church! We need God to do that which we cannot do ourselves!
I also hope you will join me this Sunday as we seek the heart of God and make sure His church, the newhope movement, becomes nothing less than a house of prayer! (Mark 11:17) I can’t wait to Worship with you Sunday!
Because of Jesus,
I just received this as our first press release by some local papers – to God be all glory and praise!
30 December 2011
This Christmas season, the newhope church community of faith gathered around, what newhope calls, the Tree of Hope to assist thousands of needy families throughout central North Carolina. Together, the seven campuses of newhope church were able to bless over 750 families this Christmas. With an average household of 2.3 people, an estimated 1700 lives, or more, were touched by this generosity. Wrapped Toys, school supplies and personal hygiene items were piled high around the trees at the Durham campus, 7619 Fayetteville Rd, and the Garner campus at 2967 Benson Rd.
2011 made the 3rd year that newhope partnered with local organizations in the Tree of Hope to offer thousands of giving opportunities to bless adults and children in need. Some of the organizations participating included: A Helping Hand, Communities in Schools, Crayons2calculators, DurhamCares, Housing for New Hope, NC Correctional Institute for Women, Pregnancy Support Services, Samaritan HealthCenter, and Transforming HopeMinistries.
At the close of the 2011 Tree of Hope mission, newhope’s Senior and Founding Pastor Dr. Benji Kelley had this to say newhope members and attendees: “I am so proud of newhope once again! Your donations helped us fulfill the needs of so many and bless them with the love of Christ this Christmas season! In sharing your finances and gifts, God is demonstrating, through your generosity, just how much He so loves the world! (John 3:16) Way to go, newhope church! As I have said so many times before, you are the most remarkable and beautiful body of Christ I have ever known or served!”
For the second year, newhope has been named one of the fastest growing churches in America by Outreach Magazine. Thousands attend Sunday services each week for the contemporary, relevant teachings of Pastor Benji Kelley. newhope church will celebrate its tenth anniversary on January 22nd at the Durham Performing Arts Center where doors will open at 9 am and worship celebration begins at 9:45am. All are welcome!
More information can be found online at www.newhopenc.org.