To Be, Or Not To Be, A Light?

By Matthew Sargent

Matthew 5:14a “You are the light of the World…”

Matt SargentI was sitting in the break room the other day, with a handful of coworkers, watching the latest news cast of all the turmoil happening here in the US and around the world. Quick and sharp reaction was voiced to the events that are currently unfolding. While listening to everyone’s concerns, it was interesting to note, that the bottom line in everyone’s mind was not on a specific issues or event that was being broadcast, but more about the overall critical state of the world that we live in. One main underlying factor that was voiced by all was… “People in the world seem to be going crazy! Too much hate.”

State of the current culture:

  • We are a society that loves three things: self, money, and pleasure
  • We are a society that is a tinder box ready to explode at the slightest offense
  • Our political climate, alone, is turning families, communities, and people against one another
  • There is a constant stream of negative news fueling our great divisiveness and hate

Simply put, in almost every fabric of our culture today, love for one another is being snuffed out. Being replaced by every form of this self-centered, “what can the world do for me?”, “please don’t offend me, or else!”, attitude! It is getting pretty cold in our world, and it is just as God warned us of what is to come.

A sign of the end times: a world that lacks love 

Mathew 24:10 — “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other…”

Matthew 24:12 — “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…”

2 Tim 3:1-5 — “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”

Rise to your calling: be the light

John 13:34-35 — “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

I John 2:5a — “But if anyone obeys His word, God’s love is truly made complete in Him”

I John 2:6 –“Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.”

I John 2:9 — “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the
darkness.”

I John 4:11-12– “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.”

I truly believe there is no greater time on earth that we as God’s children need to heed God’s call when Jesus said, “You are the light of the world”. We are living in the “End of the Age” Era, and this dark world that is increasing with hate, so desperately needs to see the light and love of God in the people of God.

It is clearly stated in God’s Word that His light can only be seen in our lives when we love one another. God’s love is so special and unique, it has its own fingerprint. When we love one another unconditionally, the way God loved us through Christ His Son, God Himself is manifested through our lives in which the world can see. That is how they will know that we are followers of Christ, not because of what we say, but what is seen living in and through us.

Our challenge:

It is time that we the children of God become a bonfire of light in this dark world that we live in. It means living a life of love and service as Christ lived, and modeled for us. A life Jesus commanded us to live. It truly is the worlds only hope. That is my challenge and calling every day, is it yours?

Challenge question: 

Is God’s fingerprint seen in your life today? How bright is the light of Christ shining through you?

 

Matthew Sargent is the former director of Extreme Impact Teen Ministries and Foundations Life Recovery Men’s Ministry at The Hope Center. Matt is a graduate of Liberty University with a degree in Pastoral Studies. He currently lives with his wife and four children in Wesley Chapel, Florida

 

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Happy Labor Day!

Labor Day 4On Monday we celebrate the American worker! Our nation was built on the backs of great people who sacrificed and poured their own blood, sweat and tears into making this such a successful, diverse, and creative nation. Even today people from all over the world do anything they can to be a part of this nation of hard workers.

We’re happy to celebrate the women and men who keep this nation moving forward. Thank you to each of you who work hard at your jobs and then give back some of your earnings to support our mission to bring hope to the less fortunate. We appreciate your hard work and your kind and generous heart to give to others. Our supporters, donors, and partners are an example of everything that is good about America.

So we honor each of you hard workers on Monday! Thank you for all you do!

Our Administrative Offices, Thrift Stores, Wildside Youth, Sorting/Donation Center, and Recycling Facility will all be closed on Monday, September 4th, so that our staff can enjoy a time of relaxation and celebration.

Our daily food service and overnight shelter will be open and operational on Monday, September 4th. If anyone is hungry and needs a delicious meal on Labor Day then please join us at 1:15pm for our Soup Line. And men looking for a place to sleep for the evening can check in beginning at 5:30pm. If anyone has any questions about Labor Day schedules or any other inquiries please call 301.739.1165 or visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.

We hope everyone has a safe and fun Labor Day!

Happy Memorial Day!

“In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,

With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;

As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!

While God is marching on”    -Battle Hymn of the Republic

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As Americans we love our freedoms but sometimes we often forget the extreme price that has been paid for those freedoms. We can easily get caught in our day-to-day routine of balancing family with work and navigating such busy lives that we sometimes forget how blessed we are to not just live in a prosperous nation but also one that enjoys such incredible freedoms.

As we go to picnics, parties and gatherings today, we need to remember the thousands of patriots who have gone before us sacrificing their lives, their blood and their families so that we can enjoy such human freedom that was once only imagined as a dream.

We thank God everyday for our military and their families who give up so much so that we can be free. Thank you to each of you who are currently serving right now to make sure that these shores are protected and our rights and freedoms continue.

Thank you to the families who watch as their loved ones leave for long periods of time to put their lives on the line for millions of fellow Americans that they’ve never met.

And we thank God for giving us the honor of living in a country where we value freedoms and each other so much. We hope that each day serves as a reminder of the blessings given to each of us from above. May we continue to fight for freedom, both here and elsewhere, defending those whose voices have been silenced and whom God asks of us to help.

On this Memorial Day, we hope that we all can come together, in spite of our differences, to thank those who have given their lives so that we can all live in peace and be free.

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

 

Happy Independence Day, America!

There’s just something about Independence Day that just makes you feel down right good.

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Whether it’s the cookouts with the family, basking in the warm summer sun, jumping into a refreshing pool, or gazing into a sky glittered with dazzling fireworks, the Fourth of July is the crown jewel of the summer break.

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And while it’s a great day to celebrate all that is summer, Independence Day is one to be remembered as a the day that God sparked a fire inside the hearts of brave men & women to stand up and chart their own destiny.

The Fourth of July is a celebration of rebellion against tyranny, oppression and a victory of the rights of man. Our founding fathers put their lives on the line so that their children and future generations of Americans would be able to live free and successfully without an oppressive government controlling every detail of their lives.

Today we celebrate all that it means to be free, to be American. We have been given the opportunity, within reason, to choose our own path and be whomever we want to be.

But on this day of celebration against tyranny, we can’t forget that the real fight is not yet over. This is not the fight against man, it’s the fight against spiritual tyranny.

So many of our fellow Americans are not free because of various opportunities or choices made. They are bound by seriously destructive sins. They are being controlled by a tyrant of epic proportions whose whole goal is their destruction.

And that’s why we’re here. The Hope Center values freedom. We want people to be free spiritually to be all that God intended them to be. Whether their choices left them addicted, homeless, broke, hungry, angry, alone, scared, desperate or confused, we’re here to tell them about true freedom, freedom in Christ.

We want them to know that God has written, for them, a Declaration of Independence and signed it in the blood of Christ. They’re already free from sin. God already fought the enemy and won the victory. All they need to do is choose.

At The Hope Center we help them understand that they are not alone. We want them to know that mistakes, bad choices, unfortunate circumstances don’t dictate their spiritual freedom for eternity. We don’t force anyone to choose, but we don’t hide the truth from them. Just like our Founding Fathers wanted, they are free to make their own decisions, and we are here to help them choose wisely.

As you join with your family & friends to celebrate America’s independence, remember to pray for those who are still battling for their own independence from sin. Pray that Satan will lose his grip on their hearts and minds. Pray that our staff & volunteers will show them the love, compassion and understanding that is needed to win this fight.

Thank you for helping us help others. Through your prayers, donations, financial support, and volunteer hours you have helped us continue to fight the good fight and encourage, help and heal those who are hopeless and lost. We appreciate and value your contributions to The Hope Center and all the various ways that your generous heart has helped us change lives for Christ!

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Enjoy your holiday with those who are important to you! Thank God for your freedom! And pray for those still searching for their own day of independence!

Celebrate National Coffee Day!

Coffee is probably the most important part of everyone’s breakfast routine. We all need a good cup of joe to jolt the brain awake and prepare us for the stresses and happiness of each new day.

coffee2On September 29th, America is celebrating our most beloved hot beverage! Stores and businesses across the country are offering free cups of coffee or special coupons to celebrate the day.

A coffee lover comes in many different shapes & sizes. We hail from the Northeast to the Southwest and even places like Alaska & Hawaii. Coffee lovers come from all social backgrounds and are all ages. Pretty much, everyone is a coffee lover.

As you enjoy your morning brew or celebrate with an afternoon latte, remember that not everyone has the opportunity to enjoy a hot cup of coffee each day. There are people who have fallen on hard times and don’t have the resources to drink a cup of coffee each day.

Join us in helping to restore hope to these people by starting with a cup of coffee. It may sound silly, but a cup of joe can help break down barriers and be the first step to building a relationship that could change a life forever!

At The Hope Center, we go through a lot of coffee. From our residents, to our transient guests, to our daily meal guests, to our weekly Koffee Klatch ladies group, there is a lot of coffee consumed. And all that coffee consumption can quickly add up.

Our pantry runs low on essentials, like coffee & sugar, quite often. So why not help celebrate National Coffee Day by grabbing a cup for yourself and a container of coffee for those in need?

This weekend as you go to your favorite grocery store, pick up an extra can or jug of coffee for The Hope Center. Something as small as a can of coffee can go along way. By supplying us with coffee, you allow us to use our resources for other programs & ministries to help reach people in need for Christ.

Money that would be spent purchasing coffee & sugar can go towards helping men break from their addictions that have destroyed their lives. This money can go towards providing comfortable beds and warm blankets for the homeless during the cold winter months. There are so many ways that your coffee donation can actually help make a difference in our city.

But the most important way that your coffee donation can make a difference is that someone who feels lost, desperate and alone knows that there are caring, loving people in this world and there is a great, loving and compassionate God who wants the best for them.

Restoring hope and changing lives is too big for humans. It’s a God-sized task. He just asks that we show His love so He can rescue lives.

And love can come in all forms, even a cup of coffee.

If you would like to donate coffee or get involved on a regular basis at The Hope Center, please call 301.739.1165 or email hagerstownrescue@verizon.net.

To drop off coffee & sugar donations, please stop by our Administrative Office, Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm. If you need to arrange another time, please call us at 301.739.1165.

If your church, Sunday School class, youth group, civic organization, Boy/Girl Scout troop, business or any other group would like to host a Coffee & Sugar Drive, please contact us for details. This is a wonderful way for the community to pull together to help make a difference.

Thank you for caring & sharing! Your support helps tremendously!

For more info on The Hope Center, please go to www.hagerstownrescue.org.

Happy Independence Day!

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Every year during the month of July we celebrate Independence Day.  There will be parades, picnics and fireworks in celebration of our freedom and to honor those who have served and remember those who have given their lives for our freedom.  In fact, freedom is one of the cornerstones for which our country was founded!

We cherish being free.  And yet, unfortunately, many Americans are not free.

That child being abused is not free from fear, pain and rejection.

That woman living in the bonds of a violent relationship or prostitution is not free.

What about those who are slaves to destructive habits such as drug and alcohol addiction?  They are not free.

Countless children and adults are enslaved by hunger, hatred and poverty.

The Hope Center at Hagerstown Rescue Mission is making a difference every day in the lives of those living in bondage right here in Hagerstown and throughout Washington County!  Through the programs and services offered here at The Hope Center, men, women and children are experiencing a freedom they have never known!

The Hope Center provides hot, nourishing meals, clean beds, clean clothing, the opportunity to shower and be refreshed.  We also offer comforting words, encouragement, empathy, someone to listen, someone who cares.  Ours is a mission with a message:  we share the life-changing message of Jesus Christ!  And Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).

With your assistance and support, The Hope Center continues to help individuals and families find true independence.  These people are coming to know what it truly means to live FREE! Thank you so much for helping to provide hope and independence for so many people in Hagerstown!

On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff here at The Hope Center, may you and your family enjoy a wonderful Independence Day celebration!

The Dream Continues

On August 28th, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of the most inspiring and socially motivated speeches in modern American history. His “I Have a Dream” speech would become one of the most widely-known speeches around the world.

His dream of an America where people of all races can live peacefully together is more alive now than ever before in American history. But with that being said, there is still much work that needs to be done to create a society of love and acceptance.

At The Hope Center, we are proud to say that we strive to be a facility which shows God’s love to all people and accepts each one for the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

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God looks on the heart, not the outward appearance of a man. And so do we. No matter the race or ethnic background, our doors are open to help people in need. Our program is designed to bring people to God and teach men how to change their lives through the transforming power of God’s love. And when you’ve learned how deep God’s love is for you, you learn to show that love to others, no matter who the person is.

The men who live in our residential program are a living witness of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream. These men, from all different backgrounds, social levels and races have come together and formed the bond of brotherhood that can only be done through the unconditional love of Christ.

These men live together, eat together, pray together, learn together, worship together, work together, struggle together, heal together and succeed together. They are the body of Christ. Brothers in Christ. They’ve learned to put aside the childish things that separate people and have discovered the deep truths that bring us all together.

Kevin and Curtis

They know that at the core of each human is a deep need to have a relationship with their Creator. They understand that hate is what destroys lives and that love truly conquers all.

So today, as we remember MLK Jr and celebrate his legacy of brotherhood, please join us in thanking God for His unfailing love and acceptance of us. He truly sees us as the person that we are. He doesn’t love us more or less because of our skin color, or our social standing, or our family name, or our degrees, or our bank account. He loves us just for us.

And when we all start to love each other the way that God loves us, then the desperate people of America and the entire world, will see the difference of Christ in us and will come running to be apart of what we have.

We are so proud of our residents. To see the bond of brotherhood through Christ that these guys have created is a living testament to the power of God!