Casting Call



I am excited to announce the Broadway musical, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” will be presented this December 5-7, 2014 at 7 pm nightly at Hope Harbor Church.  Come be a part of our presentation of one the most transformational family friendly stories in the history of motion pictures and the stage.  All interested potential cast members, crew members, technology team members, set designers and builders, and house volunteers are encouraged to contact Hope Harbor Church at 270-753-6695 or  Casting auditions are open to the community and will be held beginning September 21st.  Make plans to spend part of your Christmas season reaching out to others with the good news of God’s life-changing love.  

A Party in Your Heart

Joy PicOne doesn’t have to be on this earth very long to discover that most people live a life based almost entirely on their emotions. The supreme goal in life is happiness and each decision, small and large, is based primarily on the idea that personal happiness is the optimal objective, the greatest pursuit, and the ultimate accomplishment in life. Our rights as citizens in this nation include the tenet of “the pursuit of happiness,” but for the true born again believer in Jesus Christ and citizen of the Kingdom of God, is this still an inferior and earthly goal? The answer, from the biblical, perspective is yes. The revelation of the Word of God teaches us that happiness is no substitute for the joy of the Lord.

Unlike happiness, joy is not an emotion but a force of the born again spirit. The joy of the Lord, said to be the source of our strength as believers (Nehemiah 8:10), is actually a deeply seated sense of calm delight that springs forth from the realization that we have peace with God through Jesus Christ and that we are in right standing with God by faith and that through grace. In other words, joy, unlike happiness is tied to an eternal spiritual truth and a spiritual reality that can only be understood by those that have experienced it. Happiness, on the other hand, is directly tied to our circumstances in life at any given moment or snapshot in time. If things are going well with our marriage, family, kids, work, finances, and health, then we will be happy (in theory). The problem, however, is that when things go south, so does our sense of well-being and happiness. Additionally, there are countless people who seemingly have it all together – great wife or husband, kids, meaningful career or other pursuit, a sound financial situation, and yet they are miserable. Why? Because the only thing that can give us true joy and peace – things that transcend mere happiness and that last despite changing circumstances – is a deep, abiding relationship with Jesus Christ.

I’ve often defined joy as a non-stop party in your heart with Jesus as the life of the party. In other words, there is nothing external to our heats and lives that we need to experience a fulfilling, significant, and joy-filled life. The devil, who comes to steal, kill, and destroy, is working overtime in the minds of people (including God’s people) to convince them that there is something outside of Jesus in our hearts that will bring us fulfillment and joy in life. This lie has led to countless believers veering off the path of God for their lives. This horrible deception has been responsible for the destruction of countless marriages because one or both individuals in the marriage bought the lie that the key to genuine happiness would be found outside of the spiritual soundness of their own hearts. Unfortunately, too many do not realize they’ve been duped until they have left God’s best path for their lives and settled for mediocrity or until that marriage is destroyed and the new relationship has left them feeling hollow.

There are basically two big reasons people in the body of Christ lose their joy. First, a loss of joy for the Christian is directly tied to a diminishing of their personal relationship with God. Rather than seeing a loss of joy as a sign we should withdraw from the Lord, His Church, and His plan for our lives, we should see this for what it truly is – we are lukewarm or cold with the Lord and when the fire returns the joy will come with it. See your joy level as an indication of the health of your relationship with Jesus Christ. Second, no matter who we are or what we do in the body of Christ, from preacher to greeter at the church, if we begin to turn our eyes from the Word of God and focus on the problems and circumstances, we will be defeated and lose our joy. When the adversity or setback strikes, we must discipline ourselves to keep the Word going into our eyes, going into our ears, and coming out of mouths in consistent confession. When the circumstances in our lives turn sour, we must choose to think on the Word of God rather than the problems we are facing because our lives will go in the direction of our most dominant thoughts.

When I think about the shepherds in the Christmas narrative who received the glad tidings of joy from the angels, I find in their reaction an example of how to maintain our joy as believers. First, joy comes in hearing the good news. They received the good news and it brought joy to them as it does to all who truly hear and lay hold of it. The principle could not be any clearer. We cannot maintain joy unless we continue to hear the Word of God. We need to continue to listen to the Word, read the Word, and speak the Word. Second, joy comes in experiencing the good news. It’s not enough just to hear and hear and hear the Word of God. The Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. The gospel, including all of its redemptive benefit, is something to be experienced. The Word we hear is to be made manifest in our lives. We are not just to hear about salvation – we are to experience it. We are not just to hear about the power of God – we are to experience it. Third, joy comes in spreading the good news. Many Christians today that are hearing the Word and experiencing the Word still seem to walk in less joy than they should. Why? It’s because we are failing to keep the third and perhaps the greatest aspect of the example of the shepherds – they heard, experienced, and then SPREAD the good news to others. Believers who are constantly receiving but never sharing what they have received from the Lord will typically lose their joy. Many are surprised to discover that if they will hear the good news, experienced the good news, AND spread the good news, their joy level will remain constant. 

So, how is the party in your heart these days? If you feel like the party has died out don’t look to some radical life change that will cause you to veer off your path, a new relationship, or a material purchase to fill the void. Realize that your joy level is tied to the health of your walk with Jesus and your focus in life. Before you make a catastrophic decision in the pointless pursuit of happiness, stop and first consider where you stand with the Lord and also turn your eyes away from your circumstances and back onto the Word of God. You will find your joy level rising and discover that the pursuit of happiness is no substitute for the authentic joy of the Lord.

The Charlie Browniest

In the Charles Schultz classic 1965 animated CBS Christmas special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown, being his usual pessimistic self can’t seem to find the spirit of the season. Linus very astutely points out to him, “Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest.” Like Charlie Brown, many people walk around despondent and hopeless during what is supposed to be a season of hope and restoration for all. For too many people, Christmas has become a time of stress, pressure, painful reflection, and depression. In fact, the depression and suicide rates climb sharply during the Christmas season. Leave it to the devil to drive people to hopeless self-destructive behavior when the rest of the world is celebrating the coming of the Lord and the uncovering of the good news!

People were not created to live without Bible hope. Bible hope, unlike the wishful thinking the world tries to pass for hope, is literally a spiritual force which means Bible hope causes amazing things to happen in our lives. Bible hope is a blueprint for our faith. It is our horizon for life that gives us a clear picture for the future. It is an inner mage of an eager expectation whereby we live life with our necks outstretched looking and longing for the breakthrough rather than for the other shoe to drop. Bible hope is said to be the anchor for our souls or the force that anchors the mind, will, and emotions on the truth of God’s Word so that we are steady and stable no matter what storm is brewing around us. Without Bible hope we are easily tossed to and fro based on the circumstances we find ourselves in at the time. In other words, true hope as the Bible describes is an indispensable gift and necessity in the life of every believer.

Proverbs 13:12 says that, “hope deferred makes the heart-sick.” This means that when our hopes in life are delayed or destroyed, the heart or the spirit or core of the man is made sick or afflicted. This “spirit of Charlie Brown” or hopelessness is at the root of so many of the negative consequences in the lives of people (even believers) like depression, suicide, apathy, lack of ambition, lack of self-respect, and even addiction. It is a terrible thing to watch a dream delayed or fade away, but the condition of heart sickness and hopelessness need not be permanent or terminal.

Our hopelessness may be related to a single issue or about life in general but we can get the hope back and get the Charlie Brown out of our lives by applying some powerful Bible principles. First, stop putting your hope in the wrong things like the government, the economy, relationships, employers, etc. or you will be chronically disappointed. Psalm 42:5 encourages us to put our hope in God. Second, wait daily on the Lord. In keeping with Isaiah 40:31, as we wait upon the Lord our hope and strength is renewed and restored. In fact, we cannot absence ourselves from the presence of God and expect to live a hope-filled life. Third, always stay in love with all people because strife, bitterness, and unforgiveness have a way of draining the hope right out of our hearts. 1 Corinthians 13:7 says that love always hopes. Fourth, keep your focus squarely on Jesus because he is the very source of our hope (Ephesians 2:12-13). Fifth, call to mind God’s faithfulness in your life. Think about all the times He has come through and trust him because the mercies of God are limitless and new every morning (Lamentations 3:18-22). Finally, build your hope on the Word of God. The written Word of God is an inexhaustible source of hope for the believer. If we are feasting on the Word regularly, our hope level will stay strong. There is no question that our expectation rises and falls in life based on the time we have been investing in reading, studying, memorizing, and applying the Word of God to our lives.

Decide today that you are not going to walk around this Christmas season like Charlie Brown. Make up your mind that when people see you coming they are going to be excited to see you because you exude life, hope, and the joy of a person that has a burning inner image of expectation in your life. Charlie Brown takes people down but the hope-filled believer lifts others up. It’s time for Charlie Brown to move out of our hearts and welcome the hope of God back in.

Christmas Eve 2010

I want to invite you to attend one of the most special and meaningful services of the year at Hope Harbor Church – our Christmas Eve service. The festive worship service will begin at 7:00 p.m. Christmas Eve at all Hope Harbor sites (with the exception of Paducah – click here for directions) and will feature the Christmas hymns and carols you’ve come to know and love, the reading of the Christmas story, a timely and powerful message, communion (all Christian faiths are welcome to participate in the Lord’s Supper with us), and carol singing by candlelight.

It would be our honor and joy to have you and your family join us in Murray, Cadiz, Paris, or Hopkinsville for this hope-building and faith-filled Christmas Eve celebration. Remember during this Christmas season that wise men still seek Him and finding Him (being found by Him) is the greatest joy and treasure in life. I hope to see you here!

You are blessed to be a blessing,

Pastor Art

Where’s Baby Jesus?

I recently heard that one of our new church families had a Christmas party and unbelievably someone went around and swiped the baby Jesus figurines from their nativity displays. While the world obviously has more pressing concerns and problems than a few missing pieces of porcelain, this event does point out the larger general cultural trend of removing Christ from Christmas. From rabid commercialization to Christian apathy to hyper political correctness, the star of Christmas is slowly fading to the background of this increasingly secular and pluralistic society.

The problem with the trend is that the answer to our country’s woes is directly tied to the prominence of Jesus Christ in our nation and individual lives. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” is a promise that cannot be claimed when that Lord is now rejected. We prove we’ve removed Jesus from the throne of our land and hearts when we prosecute people for dog fighting (and I am certainly a dog lover and despise this deplorable crime) and fight for the right to terminate human life (and even make the taxpayer pay for it). Someone recently told me about the horror of forced abortion in China for population control. I remarked that what’s worse is doing this by choice in the land of the free and the home of the brave!

I encourage you to keep the Lord Jesus Christ at the front and center of everything you are and everything you do this Christmas season and throughout the coming year. Christians in this great land need to rediscover their moral compass, their courage, and their voice once again. Speak up and stand up and let’s put Jesus back in his rightful place for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of our future as a nation.

There’s something on you this Christmas…it’s the blessing!

Descrooging Your Life

I love the Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale, A Christmas Carol, because of its redemptive message. So many people are carrying hurts and disappointments in life that literally turn them into a Scrooge in their own right. Through the talented pen of Dickens, Scrooge is guided through Christmases past, present, and future, to help him come to terms with his fears, rejection, and sense of abandonment and discover a transformation, a sudden new found hope, and a kindness of spirit.

Through the use of modern technology and state-of-the-art animation, Disney has produced a life-giving masterpiece from Dickens’ story. I want to invite everyone to attend our brand new Christmas sermon series based on the movie, Descrooging Your Life, this December 6th, 13th, and 20th. Join us as we discover how to learn from the past, live in the present, and look to the future and find our own transformation through the truth of God’s Word. If God can do it for Ebenezer Scrooge he can do it for you too!

The new sermon series will be shared at all four Hope Harbor Church locations. Visit for church locations, directions, and service times. I’m really looking forward to sharing this powerful sermon series with you and God bless us every one.

The Power of Hope

nativity-picThe world Jesus came into was not all that different from our own. People are people and they haven’t changed much in two thousand years. At the time of Jesus’ birth, Israel was occupied by a foreign power, there was political intrigue and upheaval, the people faced economic hardship, there was a national identity crisis, cultural confusion, and serious and overt religious suppression.

We could easily pull the same description from today’s newspaper or internet headlines. The world has always known how to spread and recycle hopelessness (lacking optimism and expecting disappointment – desperate, despairing, and bleak in its outlook). Fortunately, our hope is not in a government, a man, or an ecomony. No, our hope is in the person of Jesus Christ who builds into every heart an inner image of a white hot expectation that with Him we can expect great things ahead of us.

First, with Jesus we have hope for a fresh start. Who hasn’t made a mess of things from time to time. Lamentations 3:22-23 promises that the mercies of God are new every morning. This means that God never tires of helping his people out of messes that they create. It means that his commitment to alleviate our distres will never run dry. Every person that comes to Christ soon experiences the joy of a new positive outlook and fresh start in life.

Second, with Jesus we have hope for new strength. This world has a way of sapping even the strongest of us (and being a Christian does not shield us from growing weary and getting tired). The promise of Isaiah 40:31 is that if we will wait or hope in the Lord he would renew our strength. If we will learn to wait upon the Lord in his presence our strength, vigor, and vitality will be soon restored.

Third, with Jesus we have hope for a great future. Every believer should become familiar with Jeremiah 29:11 which reveals a God that is not for our hurt or destruction but for our well being. He truly has a futue and a hope for each of his children. It’s up to us to seek the Lord in prayer and his Word to discover the path he has for us in this life. But be sure he has a wonderful plan and path just for you!

Finally, with Jesus we have hope for His soon return. 1 John 3:2-3 explains how believers are purified as they long and expect the soon return of the one that came so long ago as a babe. That child grew in wisdom and stature with God and with man. That man – the God man – fully God and fully man – taught and ministered on this earth in great wisdom and power – he died for our sins, was raised from the dead, and ascended into heaven where he sits at the right hand of the Father and waits for the command of the Father to return to this earth again in victory and total dominion.

I encourage you this Christmas season to call out to the Lord if you’ve never met him or if you’ve made some mistakes and you find yourself feeling distant from God. He will accept you, brush you off, heal your hurts, restore your hope, and reveal to you the wonderful and bright future he has planned for you from the beginning of time.

It’s Merry Christmas

christmas-2008The Christmas season is a time of great joy and a time that much of the world’s population pauses to reflect on the gift of God to the world, Jesus Christ and what he would accomplish on the cross for the world. It’s easy for the simple message of redemption and reconciliation to get lost in the hyper commercialism and secularization of Christmas. In fact, the agenda of the agnostic, atheist, and humanist to force Christmas to the background of American life is more prevalent today than ever (including a bus advertising campaign by the humanists that challenge the observer, “Why believe in a god…just be good for goodness’ sake”). The problem is that without a standard for goodness (the Lord and His Word) there is no way to define what is good. That’s why belief in God translates into practical goodness. [See the foxnews story at:,2933,450445,00.html]

It started years ago with the introduction of more and more secular images of the season: talking reindeer, likable animated snowmen, and jolly Santas showing up in schools, in storefronts, and all over the television set. The collective result of this flurry of secular images in our culture is a population that has become so detached from the reality of Christmas that “X” has replaced Christ in the greeting “Merry Christmas” and in schools and department stores the phrase is almost treated like profanity (the wonderful contribution of the politically correct thought police). They prefer to say, “Happy Holidays” and they now call Christmas Trees, “Holiday Trees” (barf). I just want to remind you that the correct greeting is “Merry Christmas,” and I encourage you to say it often. Say it in faith. Say it in joy. Say it to everyone you can. Remind your community that Christmas is about the coming of the anointed one.

Still, Christmas is one of the greatest outreach opportunities of the year. This year we will be presenting our Living Christmas Tree featuring a cast and crew of over 100 people. I invite you to volunteer to help with the set construction or tear down, or help with hospitality one or more nights of the production. Also, please help us spread the word to our community. With your help and the blessing of God we will see many come to Christ this December 5-7 and help make this their best Christmas yet. MERRY CHRISTMAS!