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TO BE OR NOT TO BE... A BLOG

Saturday
Mar172012

SPORTS MONKEY IN THE HOUSE!

For those of you that know me well, know that I don't follow sports.  It is the dark shame of my life :-)  

So when people talk trash around the water cooler about one sports team or another - the best i can do is say, "Uh...Yea"!  It only takes a few questions from them to learn i really have no idea what they are talking about. 

So at times like these, when March Madness roles around and brackets are flying everywhere - i hang low and have always managed to avoid them.

THIS YEAR IS DIFFERENT!  i came an article called: NCAA Bracketology: Man vs. Monkey and decided to become the Official SPORTS MONKEY!.  After hearing much trash talk and pompenstance from a group of "sports experts", i came out of the non-sports closet and declared myself as their official sports monkey.  I filled out the bracket and told them that i had no where to go but up!  If i loose - whatever, i am a self declared sports money!  Any time i do better than one of them, well JOKE ON THEM!

FIRST ROUND RESULTS IN ARE IN!!!  I HAVE PLACED 3RD OF 16 AND I HAVE THE HIGHEST OVERALL SCORE!

THE MONKEY ALWAYS WINS! (pretend like you are hearing a baboon beating is chest off in the distance and a thousand monkeys laughing in the trees)

Saturday
Mar172012

In the spirit of St Patricks Day! 

Read about St Patrick  

http://www.brucehopler.com/my-tattoo/

Saturday
Mar172012

My new world

I am in a whole new world now and want to start blogging about it!  My plan is to revamp my blog and keep a spiritual formation piece that i add to regularly and add in a Vegas peice - feel free to kick my butt when i get behind in my post!

Thursday
Jan192012

From Bluefield to Las Vegas... for real.

Posted below is the post about having to bring the Bluefiled church plant to a halt.  You can read about it by clicking here.

Since that decision was made things happened so fast that my head is still spinning.  The best description I can give you is the letter i just sent out to the Students, faculty and staff of Bluefield College.

 

Dear Bluefield College, 

This news is going to come as a shock to you.  My family and I will be moving to Nevada.

In short, on the front end of Christmas break I learned that the funding for the church plant fell through.  I do not have resentments, nor regrets nor do I think anything was misrepresented.  It was just simply one of those things that happened.  There are risk in church planting.  I had to respond quickly.  

A church in Las Vegas, called The Crossings, one of the fastest growing churches in America, called me, asking that I would help them develop a spiritual formation strategy for their church.  This church of 3000 realizes that they have grown wide, but needed help in growing deeper.  I had turned down similar offers to this to come to Bluefield because I really believe you guys are remarkable and I was impressed with Dr. Olive's leadership.  With this new revelation about the church plant funding, I agreed to an interview.  They quickly flew Terri and me out and offered a position.  God made it clear to us that it is where He wanted us to go next.

We will be moving in February.

Even though my time with you was short, Terri and I fell deeply in love with Bluefield College.  We love President Olive, the faculty, staff, and students.  We believe that God is up to extraordinary things here. I was blessed enough to be involved in a breathtaking movement of God here on the campus.  Yet the reality is that God was actively at work long before I came and He has amazing plans in the weeks, months and years to come.  I have been so impressed with what I have seen here, I am convinced God has the tools in place with the students/ faculty/ staff to turn this world upside-down.  I cannot wait to hear the stories.

While we will live far away, we will always positively promote the college, as it is easy to do.  We have a lot of east coast contacts, soon west coast friends, and will  always let them know that Bluefield College rocks; it is the best college ever. BC is a part of Virginia Baptist, I have learned while I was here what an impressive organization they are as well.

We really are sorry this happened.  We know that God has big plans for BC,and one day in heaven we will learn as to why our journey with BC turned out to be so short.  We felt so loved here, we believe the students are incredible, the faculty and staff are second to none and Dr. Olive along with the executive leadership are truly extraordinary and will lead this college far.

I have convocation lined up for the rest of the semester with great speakers and music and they will all keep focused on what it means to be missional.  Remember, it is all about two things.  First to love God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength and then secondly to love your neighbor as yourself.  You do those two things, Jesus told us that there would be no stopping you!

I would love to keep in touch.  I will be around for a while, and I would be happy to talk to anyone in person about this.  

Warmly in Christ,

Bruce Hopler

Soon-to-be Former Spiritual Formation Director for Bluefield College

Thursday
Jan192012

Bringing a halt to my church plant in Bluefield

Yes, you read the title right.  The best explanation i can give is the letter i wrote to my church planting board on December 29th 2011.

LETTER TO BLUEFIELD CHURCH PLANTING BOARD

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dear David, Chris, Jim and Michael

As you know, Jim, Terri and I had a painful but honest conversation two weeks ago. It was one that followed numerous conversations that had taken place over the past three months. The realization became clear that the anticipated funds simply were not there for this church plant. No one mislead anyone and everyone believed there were lots of resources available, but it simply was not the case. Even though Terri and I have shouldered far more of the fundraising to this point than was previously projected, it became clear that this trend would only need to ramp up, as the anticipated outside funds are not coming in. As you know, when we were interviewing, there was a much different picture of available resources for this  church plant.

Had we all known what we know now, a much different process of fundraising would have been set up on the front end, one where the planter would have delayed coming to the field, up to a year, to financially prepare. Had we known what we know now, Terri and I would not have chosen that process at this juncture of our lives. Again, no one mislead anyone, everyone went into this honorably and filled with hope.

After certain financial fleeces were not being met and after experiencing wonderful pastoral care from Jim, Terri and I came to the conclusion on December 15th that we were going to have to halt the church plant for the health and well being of our family.

Out of love and care for our family, Jim expressed his deep belief that the church planting board would help us find financial resources to help us during this transition.

On December 16th I met with David in his office to deliver the news. Of course, being the amazing individual he is, he wanted to take that burden off our shoulders and put it on his, to keep the Hopler family in Bluefield. Truly an extraordinary man, in light of the many other burdens he carries on behalf of the college. I found it very tender and meaningful that he was not going to let us go without a fight. I felt very loved. My immediate reaction was that I needed to process it all. It was the only way I could give David, the church plant and my family a fair answer. So off to Christmas break we went, with so much to process.

Michael reached out to me after we met with Jim, and of course he was consistent to what I have always known, as he wanted to know first and foremost how Terri and I were doing.

Chris and I talked quite a bit and he helped me with the time sensitivity of making a decision.

After much prayer and evaluation, Terri and I have determined to stick with the decision that we made with Jim. While we believe a church is needed and the great potential is there for Bluefield (to be explained in a separate report), it turns out that it will not be started by Terri and me. I will be sending out my resume to seek a new ministry position. We have no regrets, no resentments and do not think anything was intentionally misrepresented. Terri and I are personally convinced that from all angles, God had a reason for the Hoplers to be in Bluefield for the time we have been, though only He knows why it was meant to be so short of a season.

Terri and I concluded that despite the wonderful offer of David helping to raise the funds, in the long run that is not a role he can or should carry. The responsibility of fundraising would still rest on our shoulders. With the dramatic shift of the type of fundraising that would now be required we concluded that it is not what we signed up for, it is far more risky, and it is a method that is usually only effective when begun long before the planter enters the field. Further, once my salary was raised, significant funds still need to be raised for the rest of the church plant. The amount of funds necessary with the new form of fundraising required, as previously noted, put us on the field earlier than we should have been.

This is so sad for us, as we have fallen deeply in love with Bluefield College; the students, the faculty and the staff. We have become fans and will promote and support Bluefield College in every way we can. Beyond the communities at large, there are many individual students, faculty and staff that just grabbed our hearts, all of which are too numerous to name. Therefore I will limit it to one family, each of which had a tremendous impact on each of my family members: David, Kathryn, Kayla and Will Olive. Bluefield College and community are blessed to have them and we hope to have them as life-long friends.

Pray for my family in this transition, because I will admit it is pretty scary. We know God is good and God will guide us, yet I will admit it is emotionally challenging right now.

My family and I will need your help in this transition. Terri and I will work hard in raising support for this transition, but we need you to take a high level of ownership on this too. We put everything on the line for this, and it would be a terrible tragedy for my family to go under. It is my plan to continue to work at Bluefield College as Spiritual Formation Director and stay in the cottage until the Lord leads us elsewhere. I will not be teaching a class next semester.

We deeply love Virginia, so any help with resumes would also be greatly appreciated.

We in turn will pray for Bluefield College during this time of transition. We love this place. We love these people.

Warmly in Christ,

Bruce

Thursday
Jan192012

What is Spiritual Maturity? more coming soon

I continue to be excited about this topic

As you will see soon, my last four weeks have been rather crazy.  Info to continue soon!

Monday
Dec052011

What Is Spiritual Maturity?

Yesterday, the church I visited had an impressive missionary from Indonesia speak on discipleship.  An unassuming guy who may never be listed as a “Top Ten Preacher”, but wow, was his message deep.  While certainly not downplaying the value of evangelism, this missionary was burdened by the fact that the “evangelical world” has so championed the cause of getting converts over the past 50 years; the mission has been lost. Rather than being a part of a healthy discipleship process, it has become about statistics, power and short-term results.

There is a tendency for churches in the U.S. to live where numbers are everything, therefore being a mile wide and an inch deep is counted as a successful church in our modern era.  He had noted how this has really become evident in Indonesia.  Mission organizations declared that their work has become so “successful” in Indonesia that in the early 90’s, many of mission efforts pulled out of the country, to conquer some other region in the world. As he has spent the last three years there, less than 20 years later, he is finding little to no evidence of the Christian faith left.  Most of the people in the region he serves have not even heard of Jesus.  The previous missionaries got “good statistics”, but left before the hard work of spiritual maturity had begun.  As the missionary put it: They were having spiritual babies like crazy, and then left those infants to fend for themselves.

The question he raised is one I have wrestled with for years.  If spiritual maturity is the goal – what does it look like?  How do you know that you got there when you get there?   To be certain, no one is ever done growing.  To think you are, only reveals your extreme immaturity, not maturity.  Yet there comes a point that you are “mature enough” that growth will continue, despite how crazy life gets AND you will be mature enough to be a spiritual mentor to others.

C0NFESSION: I am saddened by the high numbers of Christians that I encounter, whom are considered “mature enough”, although they are shallow at best.  The folks that race across my mind are not even new believers, instead I am thinking of church leaders, church staff, pastors, deacons, elders and long time believers.  Some know how to play the church game well.  Some know how to play the church system well with passive- aggressive behaviors.  Some have attractive personalities that draw a crowd (for some they are funny, for some they have the ability to be “cool”, for some they are charismatic) and they don't have use for depth.  I have seen pastors/ Christian leaders create their own little elite crowds, creating a buffer from the real world, to allow them to live in denial of how shallow their little group/ congregation really is.  I have seen more concern over ego and “turf” than for the people themselves.

I have become convinced that Christianity is losing ground rapidly, not because they can’t figure out how to be really attractive, not because they lack numbers in “converts”, but rather because they lost sight of spiritual depth.  Losing sight of the mission.  Quite frankly, non-believers and even many mature believers see right through it and have grown weary of the Christian game, so they have lost hope in the local churches and Christian organizations.  This world is full of slick presentations that lack substance; the last thing that people are interested in is going to one more thing that promises much, but truly lacks transformation.

This has inspired me to unpack what spiritual maturity really looks like.  Again, I’m not creating a model of the perfect Christian, which does not exist outside of Christ.  Rather, how do messy people be real in their Christian walk?

Below are a series of posts that I plan to work on:

THE GREAT COMMISSION – BOY, HOW WE HAVE FLUBBED THAT ONE UP.

HOW JESUS DEFINES MATURITY FROM THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

JESUS’ SUMMARY OF SUMMARIES

SPIRITUAL FORMATION IN AN ENTITLED CONSUMERISTIC CULTURE

REFRAMING SPIRITUAL FORMATION IN THE CHURCH GROWTH MOVEMENT 

THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION

ESSENTIALS FOR DISCIPLESHIP

PAUL LAYS OUT SPIRITUAL MATURITY TO THE THESSALONIANS 

BEING PEOPLE WHO ARE OVERFLOWING IN COMFORT: THE FIRST SIX CHAPTERS OF 2 CORINTHIANS 

Tuesday
Nov292011

An Oldie but a Goodie on Attitude by Charles Swindoll 

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.
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