The Address of Hope

by Ron Shank

Board of Directors 2017 (2)Joe Bailey in his book “A View From a Hearse” tells of the day his boy died of cancer. He had returned to the clinic to thank them for their kindness and care of his son. As he spoke to the receptionist, she motioned toward a woman whose son was playing quietly with toys in the waiting area. “He has the same cancer your son had” she said. “Why don’t you go over there and see if you can talk with her.”

Bailey went reluctantly over to sit next to the mother and they whispered just out of hearing of the boy. “It must be hard bringing him for the treatments,” he said, more a statement than a question. “Hard,” she turned with anguish in her eyes. “I die every time I have to bring him in. What makes it worse is that I know it’s not going to stop the cancer and he’s going to die.”

Uncomfortable, Bailey ventured: “Still it is some comfort to know that when that happens there is no more pain and suffering, and they go to a better place.”

With hardness in her voice the lady responded “No”. “When he dies I’m just going to bury him and the cemetery and never see him again.”

Bailey wanted to leave. It was uncomfortable to speak with this woman who obviously had no hope in any way. Then he spoke quietly, “I buried my son just yesterday, and I’ve only come today to thank the doctors and nurses for their kindness. I know what you’re feeling but I also know there is hope; a promise of a better life for my son now.” “How can you believe such a thing?,” she challenged. And then Joe Bailey told her about Jesus and the essence of real HOPE.

The hymn writer tells us:

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.                                    I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.                                   His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood.                            When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.                                 On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

Job 3:15a says, “Though He slays me, yet will I hope in Him.” Now Job was a man who know what it was like to have his whole life fall apart – to lose everything and yet he still had hope. Millions of people are living without hope; I see this firsthand everyday.

And yet I would tell you this truth: THERE IS HOPE!

And this hope is found in God alone and in a relationship with Him.

When I became a Christian I began to memorize scriptures I was taught to memorize the content of the verse and its address – the place it was found. Today, I believe the address of hope is found in John 3:16.

John 3:!6 has been called the greatest verse in the entire Bible – the Gospel in a nutshell. It is one of the first verses learned by children in Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. This verse is often quoted in sermons and it is even hung over guard rails in many football stadiums. It is so familiar to so many that I fear we often quote it or read it without deeply thinking about its meaning and the promise it holds.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son (one and only son) that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

It has been summarized in the following way:

  • For God – the greatest One
  • So loved – the greatest degree
  • The world – the greatest amount of people
  • That He gave – the greatest generosity
  • His only begotten Son – the greatest uniqueness
  • That whosoever – the greatest invitation
  • Believeth in Him – the greatest simplicity
  • Should not – the greatest certainty
  • Perish – the greatest possible loss
  • But – the greatest difference
  • Have – the greatest possession
  • Eternal – the greatest length
  • Life – the greatest gift

I would say to you if you know nothing of the Bible start with this verse. If you know everything of the Bible, return to this verse often. This is the Hope Diamond of scripture! If there was ever a verse that could change the world – this would be the one.

I would like to break this verse down and examine the beautiful intricacies found within this verse and also discover the hope that this verse holds for all of mankind. From this one verse we can find at least four truths about the love of God which produces such hope.

WE HAVE HOPE BECAUSE THE LOVE OF GOD IS UNCONDITIONAL

“For God so loved the world.”

  • Because these words are true, it changes everything, doesn’t it? The Greek word for world, kosmos, is defined as all mankind; the total human race. This is the world that God loved. It doesn’t say that God loved all the good guys. Or that God loved all the Jews. Or that God loved all the saints. It says, “For God so loved the WORLD”
  • God’s love clearly isn’t based on our spiritual condition or our goodness. It isn’t based on our behavior or attitude towards him. Rather we see here that God’s love for humankind is universal and unconditional. He loves everyone one. And this is one of the things that sets Him apart from every other god held up by every other world religion.
  • There is no love that can exceed the depth, breadth, length, and height of God’s magnificent love for humankind. Whenever you begin to wonder if His love is sufficient for your problems, know that His love far exceeds any dimensions of the human mind.
  • The word for love used in this verse is a form of “agape” – an unconditional love – a love that is not given because of any excellence or worthiness in its object but a love that is an exercise of divine and deliberate choice.
  • C.S. Lewis has stated that “Christianity uniquely claims that God’s love comes free of charge, no strings attached. No other religion makes that claim.”
  • So we have hope that God’s love for us is unconditional. It is as Philip Yancey once wrote: “There is nothing we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less.”

For God so love the world.

WE CAN HAVE HOPE BECAUSE THE LOVE OF GOD IS SACRIFICIAL AND VALUABLE

“that He gave His one and only Son…”

  • According to a footnote in the English Standard Version of the Bible an alternate translation to the first part of John 3:16 is as follows: “So this is how God so loved the world…” How did God love us? By giving, by serving, by sacrificing.
  • So here we learn something important about the nature of true love – God’s love
  • Some people think they love others because of what those people do for them or how they make them feel. But God shows us true love has nothing to do with what you can do for me, but everything to do with what I can do for you. Love is a deliberate choice!
  • Love – “agape” love is a verb. It has to be tangibly demonstrated. It has to be proven – lived out. The Bible says in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated (proves) His own love for us in that while we were still in our sin Christ died for us.”
  • The power and passion of God’s love comes across through the length to which God was willing to go for the sake of the world – to give “His one and only Son.” This was not giving out of abundance for Jesus was Gods one and only Son. This is what makes the sacrifice so valuable.
  • That sounds strange to many people. Some say, “I don’t need anything from God. I’ve led a good life. I don’t need God to give His Son for me.” But the Bible tells us, “Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s standard.” (Romans 2:23). Our sin separates us from God. So if any of us are going to have a real relationship with our Creator, then it’s up to Him to reconcile us. That’s where Jesus’ death comes in. Jesus built the bridge between us and God with an old rugged cross. Jesus gave Himself. God gave Jesus, His Son, to bring salvation to the world through His Son’s death.
  • We have hope because God’s love was sacrificial and valuable.

WE HAVE HOPE BECAUSE GOD’S LOVE IS ACCESSIBLE

“that whoever believes in Him…”

  • The really good news about God’s love is that it is not limited to a select few. It is not available only to those who were born with the right color of skin or on the correct continent. Nor is it difficult to obtain. Jesus calls us to do one thing: believe!
  • Listen to what the Bible says: “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to be called children of God (John 1:12 NIV)
  • “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe in the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on Him.” (John 3:35 NKJV)
  • “I tell you the truth, whoever believes has eternal life.” (John 6:47 NCV)
  • “Then he brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” (Acts 16:31 NLT)
  • “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8 ESV)
  • What Jesus wants us to see is that it’s not because of what I’ve done, but because of who He is. It’s not because of who I am, but because of what He’s already done! And all He asks is for us to put our trust in Him, and Him alone!

WE HAVE HOPE BECAUSE GOD’S LOVE IS BENEFICIAL

“…should not perish but have everlasting life.”

  • God’s only desire in sending His Son was to show you and I His love and to draw us into a love relationship with Himself.
  • Jesus didn’t come into the world in order to rebuke you – He came to rescue you.
  • He didn’t come to criticize you – He came to cleanse you.
  • He didn’t come to punish you – He came to pardon you.
  • He didn’t come to destroy you – He came to deliver you.

The benefit of God’s love which produces hope:

  • Deliverance from coming judgement and punishment. “Perish” depicts death, destruction, total loss and excluded forever from God – giving the thought of total hopelessness.
  • Receiving of everlasting life – eternal life. Everlasting life is not just eternal existence but it is also having Jesus – Christ living in me – speaking of the quality of life now. A growing relationship – a life that is better than any other life that there is. An abundant life Jesus said.

There is HOPE!

John 3:16 is the address of hope. Aren’t you glad that John 3:16 is true?

God did love the world and that means that God loves you.

  • If you were the only person on earth, God would have still sent Jesus to die just for you. That’s how much He loves you.

God did give His Son to die for your sins.

  • The blood He shed on the cross is the only thing that can save you from your sins. Jesus was your substitute who paid the debt and penalty for sin that you deserved to pay.

And God’s salvation is for whosoever-

  • That means anybody. That means young and old; smart and average; educated and not; lower class to upper class; all have sinned and are in need of a savior.

And God’s offer of salvation is by grace through faith alone – not your church, or your religion, or your works, or how much penance you’ve done, or if you’ve been baptized or confirmed.

No, it’s like this: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

That is the HOPE for you, me and all of humankind.

 

Ron Shank is the Director of Pastoral Care Services at Brook Lane in Hagerstown. He is a graduate of Liberty University. He and his wife, Nancy, reside in Washington County and have two adult children. He is currently serving as the Secretary of the Board of Directors at The Hope Center.

 

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Hopeful Hearts Benefit Concert

Members of the Youth For Christ Club at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts are hosting a special benefit concert for The Hope Center on October 21st, 2017 at 7pm at Bridge of Life Church at 14 S. Potomac Street in downtown Hagerstown.

Hopeful Hearts (2)This concert will feature the talented Youth for Christ students who attend the art school located in downtown Hagerstown.

The concert is a free event and open to everyone to attend but a freewill offering will be taken and all proceeds will go towards the various programs, ministries, and outreach events at The Hope Center, including our current plans to renovate our kitchen and dining area to increase the size to be able to feed more people on a daily basis.

Mark your calendars so you don’t miss this opportunity to see local students using their gifts and talents to help reach people in need in their community. It’s wonderful to see young people who have been given such incredible talent use their gifts to help their community. Please support these young people by coming to the Hopeful Hearts Benefit Concert later this month. And be sure to spread the word to your friends and family!

For more information about the various programs and ministries at The Hope Center please go to http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.

Yo Ho! It’s A Pirates Life!

On Tuesday, September 19th, we celebrated one of America’s most important holidays, Talk Like A Pirate Day!

That’s right, all guests who came to our daily Soup Line were a part of a pirate party! In addition to the delicious meal prepared by our fantastic kitchen staff, our guests were given pirate treats, prizes, candy, and even got a little free piratical entertainment thanks to our in-house pirate, Lynn Harney, who works in our residential men’s program, Foundations Life Recovery.

It was a fun day for everyone as we ate, laughed, and enjoyed great food & company.

Our Soup Line is a free lunch program that we host every day of the year, including holidays and during inclement weather. Anyone of any age is welcome to join us for a warm meal and the occasional random celebration like our Pirate Party this week. For more information on our Soup Line or other food services programs at The Hope Center please visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com or call us at 301.739.1165.

Want to help fight hunger in Hagerstown? You can easily help us in our daily fight against hunger in our community by donating food to our food services program. Between the several fresh meals we serve daily to our food bank program and various large community events like our annual Great Hagerstown Thanksgiving Feast, there’s a lot of food that we need to keep our pantry stocked and to make sure that no one in the greater Hagerstown area has to worry about their next meal.

If you’d like to donate food, host a food drive or just learn more about all of our various food programs then get click here: http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com/food-programs

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!

Camp Wild Volunteers Needed

Camp Wild 2017 is quickly approaching! Each summer the Trinity Center at The Hope Center comes alive with the sounds of kids laughing, playing and having a great time together.

Camp Wild 2

Camp Wild is our free summer day camp for kids ages 5-12. We provide four weeks of camp that include transportation, specialized activities, interactive Bible lessons, lunch, prizes, snacks and more. Again, all of this summertime fun is provided free of charge to all of our campers thanks to the generous support of people in our community.

But since Camp Wild is free, we rely on volunteers to help us make the whole experience exciting for our campers. And we’re still looking for volunteers to be counselors for Camp Wild 2017.

As a Camp Wild counselor you will spread the Gospel of Jesus to the campers in your small group by building relationships with them. This happens by connecting with them during Team Time, leading them in daily discussions, encouraging them as they play games, and eating lunch alongside of them. In the afternoons at our Camp Wild facility just outside of Hagerstown you will visit one of our many outdoor attractions with your small group during our Daily Adventures times. Afterwards you will assist in monitoring our many other activities.

Our Camp Wild volunteers make a huge impact on the lives of the kids who attend camp. There are many roles that our counselors play in making sure that each day the kids have a fun and safe environment to learn, study, play, relax and grow. If you have one week or multiple weeks that you can volunteer at Camp Wild please contact us immediately.

Camp Wild runs from 9:30am – 4:30pm, Monday through Friday. As a Camp Wild volunteer we ask that you arrive at 8:30am for our morning prayer and Bible study, and stay until 5pm.

Camp Wild operates the following weeks:

  • July 10-14: North End/Jonathan Street
  • July 17-21: West End/Gateway Crossing
  • July 31-August 4: South End/Noland Village
  • August 7-11: East End/Locust Point

If you’re interested in volunteering please contact us at 301.739.1165 or info@wildsideyouth.com. To learn more about Camp Wild go to http://www.campwildusa.com.

Thank You, JLG Hagerstown!

Recently we were pleasantly surprised to receive a very generous donation by the JLG Supplier Quality team from the Hagerstown office.

JLG Industries is a subsidiary of the Oshkosh Corporation headquartered in Wisconsin. In addition to JLG and the quality lifts they design & build, Oshkosh Corporation has a reputation for quality heavy-duty products that serve our defense industry, fire & rescue operations and other commercial products.

Each year, Oshkosh Corporation has a global competition where their team members compete in four categories: Delighting Our Customers, Human Development, Innovative Excellence, and Environmental Responsibility.

The JLG Supplier Quality team’s quality improvement project competed in the “Delighting Our Customers” category. Having gone through Site Level and Segment Level competition, the team eventually won second place and received the Oshkosh Excellence Award in the final Global Level competition!

 

DSC_0329 (2)

From L-R: Raj Kambalimath, Haibo Li, Becky Shank, Dale Baumbaugh and Sonny Shank

 

The prize for winning second place was a $7,500 donation to a local non-profit of choice. And we are so pleased and thankful to have been the recipient of that prize. JLG employees Dale Baumbaugh,  Haibo Li and Raj Kambalimath presented The Hope Center with the prize winning check on behalf of the team from JLG and the Oshkosh Corporation.

We cannot thank the JLG team enough for donating this prize to The Hope Center. This gift from their company will benefit so many people, especially as we are preparing to make major improvements to our dining room and food services programs to help feed and reach hundreds of people in our area.

Congrats to the hard-working team from JLG who excelled at the Oshkosh competition! Thank you for caring and helping your neighbors in need!

To learn more about all the programs and services at The Hope Center go to http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.

Rock the Run 5K is Coming!

5k Race Sign Take 3We are just one week away from our 3rd annual Rock the Run 5K sponsored by Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe.

There’s still time to register. Just go to http://www.rocktherunhagerstown.com to register. And don’t forget to bring your whole family. There’s even a kids fun run prior to the 5K.

Not interested in running/walking but want to be a part of the event? Great!! We are still looking for volunteers to help on Saturday. If you’re interested or want more info please call 301.739.1165 or email hagerstownrescue@verizon.net.

We’ll see you on Saturday at Fairgrounds Park!