Taking Jesus to School

On Wednesday Beth and I will be walking our kids into the first day of school. We will be there to help them find their classrooms, to carry all the extra stuff they need on the first day, and then we will give them words of encouragement before we leave. We don’t have to do all this. We think that in some small way it will help alleviate some of the stress that comes with the first day of school.
 
On Monday August 27, Bane Elementary School will have its first day of classes. Unfortunately though, because of work and transportation issues, many parents will not be able to be there with their children on the first day. Over 90% of these children live below the poverty line and for almost 30% of them this will be their first first day at Bane Elementary. That is a lot of stress to have to deal with but you can help.
 
Pastor Sarah and I are looking for as many volunteers as possible to be at Bane Elementary with us for the first day of school. Starting at 8 am we will help welcome children with high-fives, smiles and encouraging words. There we will get to help kids find their classrooms and carry the extra first day stuff. There we will be able to love the least of these.
 
Then they also need Bus Buddies to help make sure that kids get home safely and at the correct stop. As  Bus Buddies you will serve from 2:45-4:45 p.m. Monday, August 27 and Tuesday, August 28. The bus driver will know where everyone is supposed to get off but Bus Buddies help make sure that no one sleeps through their stop or tries to get off too early.
 
These kids have a lot to deal with in the normal course of life, but you can show them God’s love in the midst of it all. We have experienced God as our refuge and now, as ambassadors of Jesus Christ, we can be a refuge for the students of Bane Elementary as well. I genuinely hope to see you there.
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim


Disciples Making Disciples

Over the Spring/Summer season of Children’s ministry, I found myself in one of the classrooms every week and what a rich season it was! I love spending time with our students; seeing the progress they are making in their understanding of Scripture and in their personal relationship with Christ is truly a blessing!
On Sunday mornings in Sunday School, we have been studying individual discipleship, beginning in the Old Testament. We have been discovering who God is and what that means for us. For example: God is creative, therefore we are creative; God gives, therefore we give; God is loyal, therefore we are loyal. On Wednesday evenings at Bible Kids Club we have been learning about peer discipleship, digging into 1 Thessalonians 5 learning that we are church (‘church’ is a people, not a place), and that Christian fellowship is key to accountability and discipleship. During worship hour on Sundays, we have been adventuring through the New Testament letters and the life of Paul, learning about as-we-go discipleship. The idea that discipleship can happen on a boat, in prison, in a house, on the road, in the middle of a raging storm or a shipwreck, etc. has opened the eyes of the students to the fact that discipleship opportunities are all around us!
One of the students regularly connects whatever topic we are discussing to the phrase ‘Disciples Making Disciples’, pointing out his discovery to his classmates. Making good choices the first time? That’s obedience, and an example to friends of how we should obey authority, which is ‘Disciples Making Disciples’ because it’s an opportunity to discuss how God has changed his heart! Serving in the local body? That’s ‘Disciples Making Disciples’ because working hard in all we do is part of being the church and when others ask us ‘why?’ we have an opportunity for discipleship! Discerning the voice of the Lord and the prompting of the Holy Spirit? That’s part of your relationship with God and growing deeper, and ties into ‘Disciples Making Disciples’ because you can tell your friend why you are doing something the Holy Spirit told you to! This kid is seven. SEVEN!
‘Disciples Making Disciples’ is a phrase this student has heard Pastor Tim say, as well as his teachers; however, this principle has solidified in this mind and heart because of the day to day example that his parents give. His parents are intentionally pouring the truth they are learning in worship and/or learn group into their young son. This is family discipleship. Supporting and resourcing parents who seek to intentionally disciple their children to become disciples who make disciples is my newfound passion. I cannot wait until every student (and parenting unit) in our program has the excitement and hunger that this seven year old has!
This process primarily begins at home; the church secondarily supports, encourages, and trains as a supplement to what is being done daily at home. As students see their parents daily digging into God’s Word and living it out, as they hear their parents regularly speaking of what God is doing in their lives, as they see their parents consistently serving the local body and community, they will begin to develop deep roots in individual, peer, as-we-go, and family discipleship. And the HFC Kids teaching team will be here to cheer the family on and help support them every step of the way.
I am beyond excited to see what God does in this next season, both in the children’s ministry and the church body. As we begin our Fall Semester, I cannot wait to partner with our families as they train up their children to be ‘Disciples Making Disciples’!
 
Many Blessings,
Pastor Sarah


So Much to Celebrate!

Who would have thought that God would move like He did in a service where the preacher started talking about giving? What an amazing day though! I want to give a special word of thanks to DJ Jones and Melissa Garza for sharing their testimonies through baptism. They are wonderful examples of what it looks like to re prioritize your life and place great value on Jesus and the church.
 
Maybe the Lord is showing you how to re prioritize your life around Jesus too. Maybe you have decided to follow Jesus and you want to get baptized as well. However the Lord is working on you, please let me know about it so that I can celebrate with you. You can do that by replying to this email, calling me at the office (713.460.0104), or by filling out a YES! card the next time you are at the building. And if you know someone who has responded to God’s word by going to the altar or otherwise make sure you ask them about it so you can celebrate with them too.
 
Believe it or not, all this has to do with giving. The faith that it takes to trust Jesus to forgive you of your sins is the same faith it takes to give to God’s church. Trusting Jesus to heal your past wounds is very similar to trusting Jesus with your money. I am so excited to continue talking about the spiritual nature of how we spend and how we give. I believe God has more celebrating for us to do.
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim


Our Hero is Jesus

Once a month my dog Biggie gets a BarkBox, and in that box of goodies she always gets the most unusual toys. This month the theme of the box was villains. One of the toys was a skunk wearing a gas mask. Biggie has been sprayed by a skunk in the past. She was in the backyard one night and when she came back inside she brought with her the stink of a skunk. The odor had filled the house within seconds. Biggie’s villain was the skunk that night, and it smelled like a defeat; however, I became her hero that night and got rid of that horrible odor. She was left smelling like perfume. A beautiful fragrance makes the heart glad. Are we bringing a beautiful fragrance to the Lord? Or have we been defeated? We still have a Hero; one who doesn’t rest, one who won’t give up, one who can’t be defeated. Our Hero is Jesus! The one who paid our debt on the cross. The only one who can wash away everything in us that stinks. Trust in your Hero.

 
Jacki


Stillness Before God

Since we started this journey of disciples making disciples, I have been challenged over and over in my Spirit to be sure to slow down and be “quiet”; to be Still. I am sure many of you can relate to that prompting. As the Holy Spirit would have it, one of my morning devotionals spoke this loud and clear! The author of this devotional talked about how one of the most important things we can learn is how to be still.
One of the most significant reasons so many of us are burned out and stressed out is that we don’t know how to be still. We learn to hear His still, small voice by spending time getting to know Him. That is the only way we can get the clear direction that He has laid out for each of us.
We need to learn to be quiet on the inside and stay in that peaceful state so that we are always ready to hear the Lord’s voice. If we will just slow down and quiet our minds enough to hear His promptings, we can live in a place of peace, ready to respond obediently.
Won’t you join me in being more intentional in practicing to be still in your heart?
Blessings,
Sherry


Continue Straight for Four Miles

Dear Church,

Pretty much every time I drive anywhere I use an App called Waze to give me directions. Just this morning as I was going from my house to the office I used it even though I have been that way numerous times. The main reason I do this is that I’m never sure where there might be an accident, traffic, construction or who knows what else. Things change so much on the roads that it is nice to have some insight on where to go.
 
You might be feeling this same way about the church staff right now. One week it was announced that Pastor Marcus was stepping away from the Youth Pastor position and then the next week it was announced that Sister Anita was stepping away from the Worship Leader role. It sure would be nice to have some insight on what is coming next, wouldn’t it?
 
The Elders and I have already had discussions about possible replacements both short term and long term. Sherry Pausky and David Rivera (Iglesia) have both said they would help however they can in leading worship. These are two that are very familiar to our congregation as they have led worship for us many times before. Also, Pastor Marcus has committed himself to staying with the students until a new Youth Pastor is hired. He also has a great team of student and adult leaders that will help provide stability in this time of change. While it is always difficult to estimate how long it might take to hire new staff, conversations have already begun for both positions.
 
Once I got on 290 this morning the Waze App said, “Continue straight for four miles.” Church, we may have to make a couple of unexpected turns but our destination is still the same. I hear Him telling us, “Continue straight until I give you the next direction.” So as we continue straight let’s all devote ourselves to prayer for Pastor Marcus and Sister Anita, for the hiring process, for the vision to multiply, for ourselves to be disciples who make disciples, and for God to be glorified through it all.

In Him,
Pastor Tim


Reconcile

Have you ever had a friend that stopped talking to you? Have you ever had a friend who no longer wanted to associate with you?  Did you ever make up with that person?

If you did make up with that person, this means you “reconciled” with them. The word “reconcile” means to restore friendly relations between.  After Adam sinned we became spiritually separated from God; but God sent his Son Jesus Christ to reconcile or restore our relationship with Him.  Through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, atonement (forgiveness of sin) was made.

So, what does this all mean? God chose to make up with mankind! We (believers in Christ) love God because he first loved us.  In 1 John 4:9&10, it says that God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.  This is real love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Since we have been reconciled to God, we now have been given the ministry of reconciliation; meaning it’s our job to help reconcile others. That is what making disciples is all about, simply carrying out the ministry of reconciliation.

 

Pastor Marcus



Sermon Series: Colossians

Dear Church,
 
This Sunday we are going to start a four-week series in the letter that Paul wrote to the Colossian church. First, I want to ask you to be praying because there will be a very clear presentation of the gospel and my desire is that one, some, or many will receive Jesus as their Savior.
That being said, I met someone new in Colossians 1. His name is Epaphras. We aren’t really going to talk about him Sunday but he was one of the early church’s first multipliers. Paul writes that the Colossian church learned of God’s grace through Epaphras. Wait a minute! I thought Paul did that. Nope.
We might think of Paul as the guy who did it all but he didn’t. There were so many others that he trained to share the gospel, teach others, and to be disciples who would make disciples. Paul didn’t lead the Colossian church. Epaphras did.
The Vision to Multiply is a vision for a congregation full of Epaphras. I want to raise up people who would use their gifts to help others grow closer to Jesus. Yes, I’m the pastor, but people don’t need to come to me or even a worship service. They need to learn of God’s grace through you-the person who already has a relationship with them.
Paul writes in Colossians 1:6, “In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world-just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.” Let’s pray that God will show us how to be part of this world-touching, fruit-bearing, gospel-proclaiming movement that will grow the kingdom for the glory of God.

In Him,
Pastor Tim



We Are Together

Dear Church,
 

As a pastor I often feel like there really isn’t anyone else like me in the church. Not that I am closer to God necessarily but just because of the position I am in and what is expected of me because of that. I wonder sometimes if people really see me or do they see the person I am expected to be.

Maybe you feel like this too. Sure it might be different in some ways, but maybe you feel like there is no one like you in the church either. Maybe you think that no one can relate with you because of the position that you are in or the situations that you have come out of. Maybe you wonder if people really see you instead of the person you are expected to be.

We are not alone. God has established the church so that we could walk this journey with Jesus together. We get to help each other course-correct as we love each other, encourage each other, and build one another up. So many of you wrote in goals that you have to grow spiritually when you filled out the discipleship surveys on Sunday. Thank you for being brave enough to share that with me. Know that you are not striving for those goals alone. I am here with you. We are all in this together because that is who the church is.

In Him,
Pastor Tim

If you haven’t filled out a Discipleship Survey yet you can do that at www.hfcog.org or pick one up the next time you are at the building.



His Love Never Fails

Dear Church,
 
Tag was one of my favorite games as a little girl. I have this memory of my sisters and I playing tag in the rain but we didn’t care; we were having so much fun. As we were running around, the storm seemed to get stronger. It wasn’t just rain, but now we hear thunder and see the lightning in the sky. We couldn’t see the sun it was so dark. For a second I was getting kind of scared and wanted to go home; but when I realized now some friends came to play with us- oh I didn’t want to go home it was just getting good, so we just played. Are we walking in a storm right now? Or can we see the skies getting dark? How will we receive this rain? As a blessing or a curse? No matter how much pressure you are feeling, God is in control. He is the one who will calm the storm; just learn to be content and wait for Him. We need water to grow, so in this season we will grow stronger; we will see the blessing, just have faith. We will see mended hearts, we will see families building their homes on solid rock. God promised to be our rock, our strength, and our shelter. Have faith because His love for us never fails.
 
Jacki