Category Archives: Next Step

Ready for School?

By | Family, Just Thoughts, Message Series, NewSpring, Next Step | 2 Comments

This summer is almost gone — not the hot weather, but summer vacation. Our youngest son, Stephen will be attending band camp this coming week and the following week classes begin. It’s always sad to see summer vacation come to an end even though I’m not in school. I’m also still trying to get used to the fact that my youngest child is starting high school. At my age, four years go by so fast that I’m trying to prepare myself for the empty nest that’s coming all too soon.

As we prepare for this fall, we are very excited to anticipate what God is going to do at NewSpring Church. Even though summer attendance is usually down, the last two weekends we have had over 2,000 and from those two weekends, 15 people have let us know that they prayed to receive Christ. Last weekend, KidzWorld had their highest attendance (472) since Easter and as of last Monday, 103 people have registered to be baptized at Watermark on August 24. Forty-two people have signed up for Discovery Reception where we will introduce our leadership team and ministry opportunities. Discovery is also the place to find out how to become a member of the NewSpring Church family.

This weekend begins a new series and I have gotten some previews, so I can say that you won’t want to miss it. The first message is called “Filing Jointly.” Mark and I were sitting at the lunch table when he was telling me how he was still struggling with the illustration he needed. A minute or two went by and I saw the light come on! God gave him just what he had been asking for. Although I got a small sample, I’m very anxious to hear the whole message this weekend.

I can’t imagine a more exciting life than what God has given me. Even with another summer coming to an end, the best is yet to come!

Summer Stuff

By | Family, NewSpring, Next Step | 2 Comments

Our family is enjoying a great summer this year, mostly at home, but with a few “away” adventures sprinkled in. Stephen is participating in junior golf and also getting ready for camp coming up next week. Mark is preparing to speak at a church in the great state of Texas, however it will be in West Texas which is very different from northeast and south central Texas where our roots are. West Texas is a little more like the wilderness the Children of Israel wandered through — or at least that’s my opinion. When I visited there as a young girl, my cousin Carolyn and I went out to explore and I remember looking for a tree (of any size) or even a small patch of grass to get some relief from the hot summer sun, but to no avail, there was none to be found. It was a hot, barren desert.

Speaking of grass.. we’re trying to grow some in our yard. It’s one of the projects that goes with a new house. We are watching the weather patterns and looking out at our partial crop with great interest daily as we chose seeding over sodding. It’s definitely a long-term project.

In my world at NewSpring, we had a wonderful Discovery Reception on June 8 with a room full of people who want to be part of what God is doing here. This last weekend, we had a Starting Point orientation and will begin a new group this Sunday that will meet through the summer. I’m so thankful that God has now given us six couples to lead Starting Point groups, so at the present time, with two groups just concluded last weekend, we have three active groups going even through the summer months — awesome! AND we will plan to begin at least three new groups in the fall. What a great joy to get to know everyone that comes through Discovery and Starting Point!

Holiday Weekend

By | Family, NewSpring, Next Step | 2 Comments

It’s hard to believe that almost a week has gone by since we returned from Oklahoma City where we visited our son, Jonathan and his family. We were able to attend church with them, enjoy some local attractions and just hang out. I love my son and daughter-in-law, Wendy, but I particularly enjoy getting to visit with our

Cheyenne Hoover

granddaughter, Cheyenne. She is not only beautiful (see picture), but is also intelligent, well-mannered and articulate. In short, she is a delight! I treasure all the time we get to spend with her.

This particular picture was taken during a boat ride on the canal in Bricktown, which is in downtown OKC. She is great to pose for her Dad who is becoming a great photographer along with his many other talents.

Our daughter-in-law, Wendy is also muti-talented and is very involved at their church in several different roles. (You can see by the picture on the right that Cheyenne’s beauty comes from her mother.)

As we return to our ministry here at NewSpring, I’m very excited to be hosting our next Discovery Reception this Sunday, June 8. This is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to meet NewSpring ministry leaders, find out about volunteer opportunities and/or how to become a member of NewSpring. Questions are welcome. In fact, there is a little fun with the ministry leaders who compete to answer the most questions. (Usually, Lance gets the most. )

We are also beginning a new Starting Point group on June 15. If you are interested, now is the time to get signed up!

Matter of the Heart

By | Just Thoughts, Next Step | 2 Comments

Last night I saw the movie “Expelled” for the second time. If you haven’t seen it, it is certainly worth going. If you have grown up immersed in the secular education system, you might especially find it an eye-opener. In Starting Point groups, we discuss some of the same things that were brought up in the movie and also some of the implications that go with both sides of the debate. [By the way, new SP groups are beginning May 3 and 4 and there’s still time to sign up.]

One of the things I found most intriguingin the movie was an answer Richard Dawkins gave at the end of his interview with Ben Stein. I don’t have the exact quote, but Ben asked Richard if it turns out that indeed the God of the Bible exists, what would he (Richard) say to God if or when he should encounter Him. Richard’s answer was a quotation from another person, and again, I don’t have the exact words, but the essence of his answer was, “Why have you worked so long and hard to hide from me?” That made me think of many scriptures that speak of God’s revelation to us even through His creation — of which we are a part. For instance, Romans 1:19-21:

19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

 21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.  

But also, as I read our Odyssey ’08 passage today, I was taken by how specifically it speaks to the issues raised in the movie.

The first thing I saw was the parallel with Gideon. When God called Gideon to lead a special mission which would deliver Israel from her enemies, the first thing God told Gideon to do was to tear down the altar to Baal, burn the Asherah pole, and set up an altar to the true God.

One would think that since earlier in the passage, (Judges 6:6) it says the people had cried out to God to deliver them, they would be ok with seeing the Baal thing go down, but no! The next morning, a lynch mob came to kill Gideon because he had torn down their false worship system. Notice the answer Joash (Gideon’s father) gives to the mob, “If Baal truly is a god, let him defend himself and destroy the one who broke down his altar!” In other words, he’s saying, let’s just be honest, we all know Baal is just a fake. We’ve just created an alternative deity because we didn’t want to listen to the true God, even though He was very good to us.  I notice that Joash’s answer closed their mouths and stopped the lynching.

 In the Luke passage, we have Jesus’ mock trials before Pilate and Herod Antipas. There is so much here, but what parallels with the movie is the verse at the end of that passage. Luke 23:12 “(Herod and Pilate, who had been enemies before, became friends that day.)” I’m not good with quotes, but isn’t there one that says, “A common enemy makes for strange bedfellows”? Even though Herod and Pilate had been enemies, they now both shared a common enemy, Jesus, so they became friends. You might have noticed in the movie the discussion of an unusual partnership between the religious left and the atheistic evolutionists. Even Dawkins comments on the obvious contradiction between the two, but they share a common enemy – those who believe in intelligent design.

That reminds me of a Starting Point group member, who was condemned by his former pastor for teaching creation to teens in his previous church. This was in a church where one would just assume the Bible was regarded as truth.

In the Psalm passage, we really get to the bottom line. Psalm 95:6-7:

 6 Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker7 for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!

I hope you will read this entire passage, but I want to extract a couple of phrases from their context (regarding the nation of Israel) so that you can see how similar we are today. Psalm 95:9b & 10b

 9b …even though they saw everything I did. 10b … ‘They are a people whose hearts turn away from me.

This issue isn’t really about science, although creation is the only true scientific explanation for how life began, but the real issue is a matter of the heart. It’s a choice we all make whether or not to acknowledge and trust our Maker. I’ll end this post with another quote from Psalm 96:7-8a:

7 O nations of the world, recognize the Lord;
      recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong.
 8 Give to the Lord the glory he deserves!

 

Moving and Easter Weekend

By | Family, NewSpring, Next Step | 5 Comments

The big moving day finally came last week. We have now moved into a lovely house and it is wonderful! Lots of windows looking out at beautiful scenery, lots of cupboards, my own little TV in the kitchen that has HGTV and Food Network instead of news and sports… (although, I will say that Mark suffered through my favorite programs on many occasions while we were confined to the apartment) and the all-important laundry room — I love it!

After three long days of signing papers, packing, moving, cleaning, unpacking, etc. I was quite exhausted when the weekend came. Since it was Easter, my schedule for the weekend was a little unusual. One of the Starting Point groups that I’m in on Sunday chose to cancel for the weekend because several group members would be out of town. The other Starting Point group I’m in on Sunday chose to meet on Saturday evening before the worship service in order to help make room for our special guests on Sunday. So, on Saturday I participated in a Starting Point group at 5 and then attended the worship service at 6.

If you were in that Saturday worship service, you know it was absolutely awesome! I’ve never been in a service quite like that one. I left that night feeling I had truly been in God’s presence in a very special way.

Since I didn’t have an SP group on Sunday and I had already attended an absolutely awesome worship service, I decided to exercise my option to stay in on Sunday morning. It felt very strange, but after I got Stephen and Mark off to church, I really enjoyed having this wonderful, quiet house all to myself. Totally comfortable in jeans and my NewSpring hoodie, I relaxed with a cup of coffee and unpacked a few more boxes.

As I contemplated lunch and my still mostly empty refrigerator, I decided I really needed a little trip to the grocery store for a couple of things, but it was almost time for Mark and Stephen to get home, so I decided to wait until they arrived to let them know where I was headed. (That was my first mistake.) When they arrived, Mark decided to go along with me to the store, so he, in his dress slacks, sweater and dress shoes and me with no make-up, in my jeans, sweatshirt and sneakers, drove to Wal-Mart on this beautiful Easter Sunday.

As soon as we stepped out of the car, someone called out to Mark and wanted to tell him about how much they love NewSpring. I kept moving forward, hoping they would not realize we were together. As soon as we got our shopping cart, someone else spoke to Mark about the service as I moved straight ahead to my task. It seemed like with every aisle there was someone else, dressed for this wonderful day, who wanted to greet Mark and speak to him about either the broadcast or the weekend services. As I quickly turned around the corner of one aisle where another conversation had started, I heard Mark say to this couple, and I want you to meet my wi……., his voice trailed off as he looked and realized I wasn’t there. How embarrassing!

When he caught up with me he had a grin from ear to ear. I told him I just thought of something I needed from the other side of the store and could he please go get it for me and meet me at the checkout. While he was gone, I grabbed the last couple of grocery items I needed and made a dash for the express lane. I met Mark there and as the gentlemen scanned my items, I began to feel I was “home free.” Just as I swiped my card, the checker looked up at Mark and asked “Have you had a chance to relax a little since the service this morning?”

It’s a good thing I’m a good sport, because Mark was very amused at my self-consciousness and had to laugh out loud on our way home. Then, after I dealt with my embarrassment, we were both excited to realize how many people in our community are being blessed by the ministries of NewSpring. We are both so thankful and excited to be a part of what God is doing here! And next time I go to the store with Mark, I’ll make sure he’s in jeans too!

Mary Alice

Finish Never

By | Family, Just Thoughts, Next Step | 3 Comments

It was 31 years ago that Mark and I were planning our wedding. In 1977 personal  computers were not available to create wedding invitations, so we went to a printer to choose ours. As we looked at different poetic messages, I caught sight of one that said we were pledging our love forever. Now, at the tender ages of 18 and 20, even the concept of 15 or 20 years was difficult to really grasp, but I wanted to communicate that this young man I loved was so important to me that I couldn’t ever imagine us being apart — even in eternity.

I was so excited that day that he put that ring on my finger and changed my name to his. At that moment, we became a family. In 31 years together, we have experienced many wonderful times and many difficult times — sometimes simultaneously. During the most difficult times, I believe our commitment to one another, made before God, helped us to weather the storm together.  

As I talk with new believers, so often I am asked about my relationship with the Lord. How does it work in my life? Are my prayers answered? Do I have doubts? It’s a little difficult to describe a life time relationship in a few short sentences, but what it boils down to is that my relationship with Jesus Christ has grown over the years in many ways just like my relationship with my husband has as we’ve lived life together. Each day I know Jesus a little better. As I pray, I talk to Him about my life and through reading the Bible, He shares with me more about Himself and what His plans are for His kingdom and my place in it. He works in my life in such a way that I am constantly aware of His presence. It gets better and better everyday and I always look forward to tomorrow knowing that He will still be with me and He always has plans.

As I was reading “My Utmost for His Highest” today, Oswald Chambers was talking about our personal relationship with Christ. He concluded with “Begin to know Him now, and finish never.” That’s what’s really wonderful about my relationship with Jesus — it really is forever!

 Mary Alice

Good-bye and Hello

By | Family, NewSpring, Next Step | No Comments

In the morning, Mark will be speaking at the funeral of a dear friend, Dick Walker. Back when Mark was on staff at a church in Houston, TX, we met Dick and his wife, June. While we were in Houston, we faced several tough challenges and the Walkers were like adopted parents to us as we were still young kids in our early twenties and they were about the age of our own parents back home in Fort Worth. Since 1978, we have kept in touch and they have even made that long trip from Houston to visit us a time or two since we’ve been in Kansas. Although it’s difficult to say good-bye to someone we love so much, we look forward to being reunited when we join him in Heaven some day and knowing Dick, he’s already found a fishing boat and I expect to enjoy a fish fry with him when we get there.

In contrast to the sad good-bye, I have once again met some great new friends at NewSpring! I am co-leading one of the new Starting Point groups that began last weekend and as always, it is very exciting to get acquainted with every group member. They each have an incredible story to share and a refreshing point of view. In case you are not familiar with Starting Point, Mark and I talked about it during a recent weekend message entitled, Invite God Into Your Day.

If you are at a point in your life where you have questions about Jesus, faith, or the Bible, if you are brand new in your relationship with Jesus, or if you are returning to your faith after an absence, I hope you will join us in Starting Point! 

Mary Alice

Great Trip

By | Next Step | No Comments

newspring-group-north-point.jpg

I have just experienced some southern hospitality that I will not soon forget! At North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, the Starting Point Leadership and staff welcomed our group with open arms and we left with a great deal of encouragement and insight.

Here’s a picture of our group in front of the Starting Point Hallway at North Point. Our group attended a SP Leader Huddle, a worship service, a tour of the building and then enjoyed a meeting with the North Point leadership over a delicious lunch. What hospitality!

For a little fun, on Saturday night, we attended a taping session with Anita Renfroe and our ladies (Mary Lou Booker, Ginger Humble, myself, Doris Garrett and Diane Borg) had the opportunity to have our picture made with Anita.

ladies-with-anita.jpg

I’m Here!

By | Next Step | 4 Comments

Just responding to some of the comments ….

I do plan to blog on this new site and I’m very excited to share some things with everyone especially in the coming weeks. I am about to leave on a trip with our current Starting Point leaders. We are going to attend some leadership training in Alpharetta, Georgia at Northpoint Community Church. If I don’t forget to pack my camera, I’ll share some of our adventures along the way.

Love you all — thanks for asking for me!

Mary Alice

What’s this new blog about?

By | Family, NewSpring, Next Step | 4 Comments

I keep running out of time on the weekend. There’s so much exciting stuff going on that I can’t find a way to shoehorn it in an already cram-packed 65 minute worship experience. I go through the same thing every Sunday afternoon when I get in my car to drive home after our third awesome service. I think to myself, “Man, I left out so much incredibly wonderful news. So, here’s the deal. I’m going to put it in this blog.”

But here’s the best part, considering I’m a poster child for ADD, my love interest for the last 35 years is going to help me! Most of you know that Mary Alice leads Next Step Ministries here at NewSpring, and as jazzed as I get about what’s going on here, she’s out there even further.

Hey, what do you think Mary Alice and I talk about when we’re alone? Sure, it’s the stuff people talk about when they’ve been lovers for over three decades, have great kids, and a perfect granddaughter. But most of the time, we wind up telling each other wonderful stories of what God is doing at NewSpring. Since we lead different parts of the ministry, we hear different stories.

Happened just this morning, we were driving up to the campus on snow-packed roads and we began to talk about some individual stories of extraordinary life-change we were seeing, and suddenly the conversation trailed off. Each us had to look out our windows for a moment to regain our composure.

So here, we go. MarkandMaryAlice.com is a window into the life of two people in love with each other, with Jesus, and with the greatest people in the world.

Love you guys,

Mark