Five Years of Ministry

August 1, 2015 I showed up at Rudy’s at 8:00 a.m. for Men’s Breakfast.  That was my first official duty as pastor of the Houston First Church of God.  Now here we are five years later, and let me just tell you, we have a lot to celebrate!  This celebration isn’t about me though.  This celebration is about what God is doing through all of us as a church.

The highlight of my year each year is to celebrate what God is doing through the many volunteers who give time, energy and other resources to carry out the work of God for his kingdom’s sake.  This year we take the month of August to shine a spotlight on the ministry that you are doing through Volunteer Appreciation Month.  In these weeks the rest of the staff and I will highlight some of our amazing volunteers that are truly influencing the world with the kingdom of God.

I wish that we could do all of this in person so that I could personally thank each and every one of you.  You deserve it for all that you have done.  For now though, please accept my extreme thanks and gratitude through these simple words.  I love you.  I am so glad that God has allowed us to live as disciple makers together.  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else with anyone else, and I can’t wait to see what the next five years will bring… together.

In Him,
Pastor Tim


Praying for You!

There a so many things that we can do to fill our time… before you know it the day is over, the week is gone and the years have passed…

Time has become more precious to me with every birthday that passes. Watching our children grow up, move out of our home and begin their lives is just crazy to me. I still remember them as babies and young kiddos in school as if it was yesterday. Knowing that this is Charles senior year and hearing his plans for the future is exciting, but also bitter sweet…

The feelings that I have about time, kids growing up, family dynamics shifting, and just “change” in general makes me think about my spiritual growth, my relationship with Christ, relationships with others and most importantly am I doing what God wants me to do.

I have come a long way – but I also know I have a long way to go – truth be told, I don’t believe we ever “arrive”. We may be more knowledgeable, or able to hear God’s voice clearer, but every single day we must be intentional for the kingdom.

Every day it is a choice – we have to strengthen our relationship with God our Father so that we seek His will, learn to love what He loves and learn to love others as He loves us.

So to try and wrap this up with a pretty bow on top… I want to challenge you to be intentional daily in reading your Bible, prayer, listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in every part of your life – at home, at work, with family, with friends, with everyone that crosses your path. Connect with someone from HFC, your learn group, or someone that has been on your heart to call. Don’t let another day, week, or year pass…

At the end of the day, I pray that you have connected with someone in some way that shows them God love. I also pray that you feel God’s love for you and that He is able!

Praying for you!
Naomi



But then there is YOU!

Dear Church,

Beth and I had plans to go to Colorado to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.  Because of COVID 19 we had to cancel.  The kids had plans to go to Ohio in June.  We had to reschedule.  Then we were all going to go to Ohio in July.  We had to cancel.  Does this sound like your life too?  How can we schedule anything when we don’t know what “normal” is going to be next week, next month or next year?

But then there is YOU!  Because you have given with such generosity the HFC staff and Elders have been empowered to plan for a future that is unpredictable.  We have purchased a video system that will be built into our sanctuary that will allow us to do multiple things. 

  1. When we are not able to be in the building it will allow us to record services with exceptional sound and video quality.
  2. When we have some at the building and some at home we will be able to stream a live broadcast on both Facebook and YouTube with words for songs and slides for the sermon.
  3. When we are all back in the building we will be able to give guests a great understanding of what our services are like even before they step into the building.

During this time we have also spent more funds on counseling services than in any three month stretch of my five year history with HFC.  Your giving to benevolence is making it possible for these individuals and families to gain the tools they need to be emotionally and spiritually healthy.

Your generosity is still needed as well.  Since the video system wasn’t budgeted you may want to give a special gift to help offset that significant cost.  As COVID 19 continues there will continue to be benevolence needs that you can provide.  Also, don’t forget your Faith Promise.  We are currently about 14% behind budgeted giving for the year and those ministries are relying on our faithful support as well.

Church, we are in this together so if your life is feeling unpredictable, let me know how we can help.  As each of us faithfully gives to God’s mission work through HFC we will all together reap the benefits of God’s kingdom here on earth.  God is able.

In Him,

Pastor Tim


Our New Normal?

Before Jesus left this earth he told his disciples, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).  Throughout the rest of the New Testament we get a glimpse as to what that looked like.  Paul in particular traveled by foot and by boat to share the good news of Jesus Christ as he started house-churches all around the Mediterranean Sea.

Until March we got used to sharing God’s word as we met together in the church building and worked through Learn Groups to make disciples.  Now however we are worshipping online with Learn Groups on Zoom.  Each day we all become less and less sure what the future will look like but we know the mission Jesus gave us is still the same.

I wanted to let you know about two things that HFC is doing now that will empower you to go and make disciples where you are and allow you to reach the nations at the same time.  First, Community Groups are starting in September.  These groups will be a place for you to form real relationships that will show you what it looks like to be a disciple that makes disciples.  These will be places where you will grow deeper with current members of the church and also invite your neighbors, friends and coworkers.   You will get a chance to sign up for one of these groups in August.

We are also purchasing a video system that will be installed in the sanctuary.  This system will make it easier for the worship team to record and live-stream worship services on Facebook and YouTube.  This will provide all of us with a high-quality worship experience no matter where we are, and it will be a tool you can use to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who won’t be in the church building.  The expense for this was significant but I believe it will show great fruit even in the unpredictable times in which we find ourselves.

We might not know what normal is going to look like tomorrow but we do know that the mission of Jesus remains the same: go and make disciples.  Let’s use everything we have to accomplish the mission for the glory of God!

In Him,
Pastor Tim.


Prove It!

I have a clear memory of kids being disgusted and almost impressed by how I ate dirt at recess. I know it’s weird and honestly I don’t know why I did. It was a bad habit of mine. No I don’t still eat dirt but I do still carry around bad habits like biting my fingernails nails when I nervous or taking off my shoes in the living room and forgetting about them. I do my best to take them off in my closet where they go but once in a while I forget.

The whole world has been in lock down—not as much anymore however we are still not at what we know as normal. During this time I got a closer look at other bad habits of mine. I wasn’t doing so great at managing my money and I wasn’t making great choices in my diet. During all this time being home I read The Total Money Makeover and The Whole30 and they have changed my life. I would have never imagined the freedom I have gained by living debt free. I should say I’m not completely done but I’m half way there. It is liberating! I also have learned to say no to foods that are not healthy. It started due to my mom finding out she has diabetes. In order to avoid the medication we started our journey with the Whole30. The book taught me what’s good and bad by doing what the book said. My body is feeling the reward.

What if we applied what the Bible teaches us in the same way? We would find true love and our bad habits of anger, lying; coveting would not be who we are. We would be disciples filled with the Spirit bragging about the Lord, about the freedom He gives and how He has changed our lives. We would read the scriptures—the love letter written to us—and it would fill our hearts. We would gain a reward in heaven and it will be the only reward to look forward to?

My question now is what is holding us back? What’s holding me back from living wholeheartedly for Him? I’ve been thriving and learning during this quarantine so why am I so afraid to give into the Almighty I’m not the same little girl that ate dirt. I’m not the same woman I was at the beginning of the year. No, I’m a woman who is able to succeed—a woman chosen by God to deliver good news and all I can hear is PROVE IT.

With Love,

Jackie



Jesus Quarantined

One of the hardest parts of being quarantined is not being able to help Beth around the house and with the kids. From time to time I would hear something going on downstairs but, because I was stuck in my 12×12 room, I wasn’t able to intervene. It was hard on her because she had to handle everything but it was hard on me because I wanted to.

Which makes me wonder if this is how Jesus feels sometimes. Have we quarantined Jesus to certain parts of our lives? Is he listening from a distance wanting to help? Are we growing tired because we are trying to figure things out on our own?

This past Sunday we started a new sermon series called, “Wholehearted” which investigates the life of King Amaziah in 2 Chronicles 25. Verse 2 says, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord but not wholeheartedly.” Instead, he quarantined God to certain areas and then he tried to control the rest. Church, a divided heart never ends well.

However, we can overcome the times that we have quarantined Jesus. By faith we can submit ourselves fully to him and to his wholehearted love for us. By faith we can relinquish control and invite Jesus to be Lord of all that we are. Through his wholehearted love for us we can respond with a wholehearted love for him and those around us.

In Him,
Pastor Tim.


Day by Day and Play by Play

I am a planner. I know, shocker, right? I love a color coordinated calendar. Pens with matching highlighters? Where can I get them?! A zipper bag that also matches and snaps into the calendar rings? Take my money already! I really like to be organized. I really like to organize things too. (Almost every room of my house twice over thanks to Corona-staycation.) I like to make a plan, to go step by step until a goal is reached, always knowing what comes next.

But that is not really realistic, is it? Even the best made paths can have dips and curves and detours. You cannot plan for every possible circumstance in your day to day life. Right now, it is really hard to plan ahead to next month. It is hard to even plan this week. And even by tomorrow my plan might need to change! Change is hard for a “planner”. It doesn’t come easy or naturally to me. But I have had to get used to it over the last year.

A lot has changed since this time last year. I got a big health diagnosis last spring. And then another one. And then another one! My health was really fragile and I was facing a surgery in the fall that would leave a scar and have a long recovery time. My apartment life was miserable (I had a great roommate, but the neighbors/neighborhood was a nightmare.) I was learning the new parameters my health was forcing me to set up, and I was fighting it, trying to hold on to ‘my plan’ of what I thought my life was supposed to look like.

Last summer, having a major surgery was the last thing on my mind. Last summer, buying a house was the last thing on my mind. Last summer, a global pandemic that would shut down the city and the world was the last thing on my mind.

But it was on God’s mind.

He was beginning to answer prayers that weren’t even a thought yet. He was already putting into motion the pieces that needed to change in order to line up in the perfect timing. I reconnected with a friend who is a realtor. I was guided to a different doctor who had a second, and very different opinion, about my surgery. God was already moving to find me a peaceful home to ride out this pandemic in. A home without loud neighbors. A home without stairs. A home with outdoor space to enjoy fresh air. A home with lots of windows. A home with extra rooms for a guest room AND for an office. He already knew I would be working from home shortly after moving in. A home next door to a Christian on one side, and a cop on the other who has beautiful kids; I can hear their laughter over the fence and it brings me such joy. He also has a dog. A big dog. We met a few weeks ago when he broke through the fence and scared me to death. We’re great friends now.

Nothing that is currently in my life is the way I planned it. I would never have planned to buy a house on my own; no I was waiting to get married and have kids to do that. I would never have planned that my health would be fragile and I would spend my time carefully planning around the sun and the heat and a strict medication schedule; no I was waiting for old age to need to do that. There are so many things that are in my life today that I would never have chosen in a million years. But I am thankful that God has a plan for me. He knows every single step, twist and turn. He has planned it that way for a reason. Whenever I get impatient, and I want to know ‘the plan’, to know what is coming next, He gently reminds me that HE is the plan. I just have to follow where He leads. So I am taking it “Day by Day and Play by Play”. He is in control, and I will follow wherever He leads me. He has always been a Faithful Father, so I know I can trust Him every day with every play.

 

Many Blessings,

Pastor Sarah



Keeping Up With… Community Groups

Meet the Jones family.  They live next door to you.  You have invited them to worship with you a couple times but so far they haven’t shown up.  They seem interested when you mention Jesus or the church but not interested enough to attend.

Then one day you invite them to your home and because they know you it is easy for them to accept the invitation.  While in your home, not only do you get to talk to them about their lives and family, but they also get to meet other members of the church who are also in your home—they are your Community Group.

After meeting with your Community Group for a couple weeks they start talking about attending a worship service.  The first week in the building they already have 8 friends that they have gotten to know over the last couple weeks.  They are so moved by the worship service they quickly invite other family members and coworkers to worship services and THEIR Community Group.

Now that the group has grown so large the Community Group has to multiply to a new group that the Jones are excited to host.  The Jones soon become the family that invites so many new people that everyone is trying to keep up with them.

Would you like to help us meet the Jones?  Would you like to learn more about what that would look like?  You can do that by signing up to lead or host a Community Group.  Beth and I are so excited to be hosting a group!  We hope you will join us in this endeavor.  Sign up at www.hfcog.org/community-groupsThe first training will be Saturday, July 11.  We can’t wait to see you there!
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim


Power Force Team

I consider myself stronger than most people my age because I have always been active one way or another. Now, we are not born with superhuman strength but over time people can become physically stronger if they train and exercise regularly. 
 
Someone asked me: what about our spiritual lives? Do we have to exercise our spirits?
 
If we substitute dumbbells, squat machines, treadmills, for prayer, fasting, bible reading and more we are going to be spiritually fit for Jesus. John Jacobs is the leader of the power force team, and they combine both things exercise and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Can you imagine being physically strong but also using that to share the gospel with people that do not know our lord and savior, I say that is awesome.
 
The Power Force Team is coming to Houston First on June 21st! From MMA athletes to NFL athletes, they are a strength team that delivers a message of hope to lift the world as well to share their testimonies on how God has touched their lives to use their skills to share Jesus everywhere they go. This event will take place in our church building and is completely free. I do hope you can be there but more importantly that you can invite someone in need of Jesus.
 
Get the word out and invite your family and friends to experience the unbelievable on June 21st right here at the Houston First Church at 6pm. This is a completely free event! Make sure to go to our Facebook event page and share the link with others.
 
Hope to see you there, Pastor David.


Sanctuary 6-4-2020

Sanctuary is a place of retreat. At one time it was even a place where criminals might hide out
to avoid being caught by those who would pursue them. This goes all the way back to the
Israelites when they entered the Promised Land. They were to set up Places of Refuge to
which people could escape.
 
This week some of us were able to get back into the sanctuary for worship. It wasn’t what we
were used to back in March but the energy in the room was great. So many people worked
really hard to bring that to pass and I’m so thankful to each one. It was a great retreat in
worship together!
 
This week also presented us with a disruption to sanctuary in the wake of the murder of
George Floyd. One police officer—sworn to provide sanctuary—broke that oath. This, along
with other incidents in the recent past have brought about protests, riots and destruction. It
seems there are no safe places to hide which is also how people of color feel regarding
potential interactions with certain white individuals.
 
Church, there is no greater time to realize that our mission is not in a building. Our mission is
to go into all the world proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. Our mission is not to retreat
to the sanctuary for our own safety but to reach out to others and provide sanctuary for those
who need it wherever they might happen to be. Our mission is to be disciple makers whose
effectiveness is not based on the place of worship but on the awareness of what God’s Holy
Spirit is doing all around us. Church, let us rise to the occasion, speak with compassion, listen
with humility, and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim.


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