Overcoming Strongholds

Before the hurricane hit, I felt led to begin an online training course with Set Apart Ministries. It has been a wonderful and sometimes painful look at my current spiritual state as the Holy Spirit led me through the discovery of a hidden stronghold in my life. Years ago I struggled with crippling anxiety, but had worked through it with the help of mentors at my church in Kingwood, and the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. As we often do, I assumed that meant I was done with my worry and anxiety for good.  August’s course (which I just finished yesterday) was on Fearless Living – How to develop a Biblical battle plan for fear and anxiety. It opened my eyes to all the ways I have allowed worry, fear, and anxiety to creep back in. God’s timing is so perfect. As I have made time for the weekly courses, each was the exact lesson right when I needed it. The four lessons that I have studied though are:

1) Embracing God’s Protection – The Power of Trusting in a Faithful Father

2) Becoming Fortified – Standing Strong Against the Enemy

3) Taking Every Thought Captive – Gaining Victory Over the ‘What Ifs’

4) Courageous Womanhood – Stepping into the Fearless Life You Are Called To.

Though it was August’s course, it has turned into a fall course for me. It has greatly encouraged and equipped me to battle worry and anxiety again. A song that has become a comfort and a reassurance during this season is Lauren Daigle’s ‘O Lord’. The chorus is below.

Oh, Lord Oh Lord I know You hear my cry; Your love is lifting me above all the lies.
No matter what I face, this I know in time: You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right.”

What a beautiful reminder that 1) He hears us each and every time we call out to Him. 2) His word is a sword of truth that can cut through the lies of the enemy, if we are willing to yield it. 3) God is doing a good work in each of us, and He will complete it in His timing. He is in control, no matter what our emotions, fears, or worries try to tell us; God’s Word speaks truth. If we will test what we feel by holding it to the promises of scripture, we will be able to see His truth and ignore the lies of the enemy. I challenge each of you to hold everything up to Scripture, with prayer, and leave your worry in the hands of a great, great Father.

 

Many Blessings,

Pastor Sarah



Who Is The Church of God?

Dear Church,
When you tell people that you are a part of the Houston First Church of God, what does that mean to you?  What are you communicating when you mention the Church of God?  Do you know what makes the Church of God distinct from other faith groups or even how we might be similar to others?
 
This past Sunday we began a series on the Church of God by discussing how it began as a means of pointing the church back to God through Christ and his Holy Spirit.  However, I’m so excited that we will get to hear from others as well.  This coming week Elder Boyce Erwin will preach on the ordinances that are celebrated in the Church of God.  Then on Sunday, November 19
th
 Dr. Ronald Duncan, former General Director of Church of God Ministries, will preach on the development of the Church of God over the years.
 
Learn Groups will also be focusing on what we believe in the Church of God.  This is a great space for you to ask questions and discover for yourself the biblical foundations for why we do what we do.  If you would like to join a Learn Group, simply reply to this email and we will get you connected this Sunday!
 
What we believe is vitally important.  If you have any questions about what the Church of God believes or even about what you believe feel free to contact me by email (pastortim@hfcog.org) or phone (713.460.0104).  
                
In Him,
Pastor Tim
 
 
Special thanks to all those who volunteered to help with the Texas General Assembly of the Church of God!
They include Pastor Sarah Mathewes, Sherry Pausky, Boyce Erwin, Lana Arthur, Richard Martin, Ben Arthur, Rebecca Cox, Brian Cudnik, Ann Nicholson, Melodie Erwin, Jill Penn, Cindy Moore, Jackie Melgares, Israel Reyes, Jose Pareja, David Gonzalez, Ken Todd, and Barbara Ramirez.  Thank you all for going above and beyond to serve the church so well!
 


Let Us Worship Him

“A certain immortal woman from that city heard HE was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind HIM at HIS feet weeping. Her tears fell on HIS feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing HIS feet and putting perfume on them.” (Luke 7:37-38).

This woman could have been anywhere else but she heard Jesus was in town. The perfume was probably the most expensive thing she owned and she used it to anoint Jesus. There was something being born inside of her. She had found a love that rescues, a love that heals, a love that gave eternal life. So she couldn’t stop giving thanks with each kiss and filling the room with the fragrance of her new love. We should be doing the same as this woman; pouring out worship as a beautiful fragrance because He deserves it. At His feet is where we should be, giving thanks for rescuing us, for liberating us, and for forgiving us. Jesus said in verse 47 “I tell you, her sins and they are many have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” He paid our debt just like hers. Jesus forgave them all so we should love much not little. Don’t get tired of giving thanks. Don’t ever stop praising Him. But desire to know Him more, be intimate with Him, to be holy like He is holy.
 
Blessings,
Jacki


What to do with October 31st

What do you do with a day that has such a mixed understanding of history?  The Christian church appears to have started it as a memorial day of sorts yet others say there was a polytheistic Celtic influence as well.  And how did it go from either of those possibilities to kids dressing up like superheroes going around asking for candy?  The even bigger question is, “What do we do now?”

 

  1. You could choose not to partake in any activities connected to Halloween because of spiritual conviction. I want to make clear that I fully support you in doing that.  However you feel the Lord is prompting you I want to encourage you to submit to that leading.
  2. You could come out for Trunk-or-Treat that we are hosting in the church parking lot on Wednesday, November 1st at 7:00 p.m. We will play large group games, worship together, present the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone there, and give away some candy.  You can bring kids and grandkids, nieces and nephews to this Halloween-alternative that will be safe and fun for the entire family.  You can also decorate your trunk and help sugar up the kids before we send them home.
  3. You can Treat-the-Treaters. Many people open their homes to give candy to kids but we are encouraging you to make small gift bags for those handing out the candy.  On Sunday, October 29th we will have tracts, devotionals, and other small gifts as well as invite cards for the church.  You can put this together with a piece of candy and share the gospel with those in your community.  (If you give out candy you could put little gift bags together for parents too.)

 

Whatever you choose, let’s figure out how we can be light in the darkness.  We may do that in different ways but we can all still influence the world with the kingdom of God.  And when you do, please share your story with others including myself.  Let’s give God glory for the work of his Holy Spirit in and through our lives!

 

In Him,

Pastor Tim



Different

Dear Church,
I don’t want to hear anymore
Teach me to listen
I don’t want to see anymore
Give me a vision
That You could move this heart to be set apart
I don’t need to recognize the man in the mirror
I don’t want trade Your plan for something familiar
I can’t waste a day
I can’t stay the same
 
I want to be different
I want to be changed
Until all of me is gone
And all that remains
Is a fire so bright
The whole world can see
That there’s something different
So come and be different
In me
 
I don’t want to spend my life stuck in a pattern
I don’t want to gain this world but lose what matters
 
I know that I am far from perfect
But through You, the cross still says I’m worth it
So take this beating in my heart
Come and finish what You started
When they see me, let them see You
Because I just want to be different
 
Romans 12:2-Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.
 
If you listen to Christian radio, you’ve probably heard this song by Micah Tyler. When I first heard it , I thought to myself…”WOW!” This song spoke deep into my spirit….it was exactly what I needed to hear. In the midst of all that is going on in this world, how many times have Christians prayed for things around them to change? Seldom do we pray for US to be changed in the middle of the circumstances we find ourselves in. But isn’t that what God’s plan is sometimes? Doesn’t He use the storms we sometimes find ourselves in to change US?? I know I need to be more sensitive to those times and really tune in to what God is trying to teach and show me….what about YOU?
Let’s really make this OUR prayer…to be “Different”
 
Blessings,
Sherry


Here We Serve Again

I love to serve with you!  The amount of love that you share with others each week and in special opportunities that present themselves inspires me to love more deeply.  You have shown this over and over again with Hurricane Harvey relief and I see it every time we walk into the building.
On top of it all, I know you have busy lives that pull you in a number of directions.  Yet you still make it a priority to love God by loving others and meeting needs.  I even get people from time to time asking me, “How can I help?”  Here are a few opportunities you have to serve over the next month or so.
  • Kid Ministry Check In. This helps parents know that their children are safe.  The check in process is very simple and will provide a great welcome to children and families.
  • Community Prayer Walk. This Saturday, October 14th we will meet at the church building at 10 a.m. and pray for the communities around us.
  • Texas General Assembly of the Church of God. November 3-4th pastors from across the state will be meeting here.  We need volunteers to greet for one hour Friday and/or Saturday morning, to help serve lunch and/or dinner on Friday, to set up tables and chairs on Thursday, and to tear down tables and reset the sanctuary on Friday night. 
  • Operation Christmas Child and Angel Tree. These wonderful Christmas traditions are just around the corner as well. 
No matter you giftedness, skill level or even spiritual development you can serve.  You can make a difference.  You can influence the world with the kingdom of God.  I can’t do it without you but together we will do great things!
 
In Him, 
Pastor Tim


International Feast

What an amazing time of worship at the International Feast!  We are so blessed to be joined in Christian partnership with the Arabic Christian Church and Iglesia.  Seeing faces from every congregation in one place together was wonderful and the food made it all that much better.

I want to give a huge shout of thanks to so many people who put forth an extra effort to make this service happen like it did.  Things were different for our worship team, our Children’s Ministry, for all those that helped provide and coordinate the food, and even with the offering.  To all those who served this past Sunday please know that I appreciate you so much. 

It is times like this that I am so humbled to be your pastor.  Many times I am considered to be the face of this congregation, but I know that you are the heart.  I love you all and I love serving with you.  I love seeing how God is doing amazing things in your life and I just love being with you through everything life brings.  The International Feast was just one more example of how great it is to belong to the family of God.
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim
 


One Last Thing…

Hey Church!
 
What an awesome pleasure it’s been to have been your worship leader these past 2 years! I’ve literally grown up in this church for the last 24 years. In those years I have dedicated my life to Christ, been baptized, got married and had a son. None of those things would have been possible if it weren’t for the members in the church who helped my parents raise me. You guys have been such an influence in my life and I’m proud to call this place my home Church.
 
It’s been a wild month; from having my first child, to going through historical flooding. But the Lord has been so good through it all. I’ve been offered a job opportunity with a company I use to work for, National Oilwell Varco. It will move my family and I to College Station, Texas. The Lord has something big planned; He’s made this decision very clear and easy for us. He’s providing everything that we’ve needed to make this move and showing off while doing it!
 
I know the Lord has big things planned for this congregation, and I can’t wait to see what he is going to do. My family and I want to thank you for everything that you’ve done for us, and we definitely look forward to visiting you!
We love y’all!
 
Rico Facundo


Filled with The Spirit

Hello Church!
EPHESIANS 5:18 says “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life.  Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit” (NLT)
Ephesians 5:18 summarizes God’s will for every believer in Christ, and that is to be filled with the Spirit.
What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? Why does Paul contrast the filling of the Spirit to be being drunk with wine?
Alcohol is classified as a depressant, when you drink a lot (and become drunk) it actually slows down the central nervous system, which causes slower reaction time, you start to relax, and experience the depressant effects. However, when you drink alcohol in small doses (meaning you get a little buzz) often a person becomes talkative, has feelings of energy, and a desire for action.  So in small doses alcohol acts like a stimulant. 
With all of that being said, Paul in Ephesians says do not be drunk (meaning controlled by this depressant which can act like a stimulant) called wine, because it will ruin your life.  Why? Because when you are controlled by alcohol you act in ways, or do things you normally wouldn’t do, you can also become addicted to it; where you depend on it, eventually becoming an alcoholic.  However, when you are controlled by God (by obeying his Holy Spirit which lives in you) you do things that you normally wouldn’t do; you have the boldness to speak the truth in love, to talk to people you normally wouldn’t talk to, and to spread the love of Christ in places you normally wouldn’t go.
Obeying the Lord is never easy, but when we do this in every area of our lives we experience the fullness of joy, peace, and love through being filled with his presence.  And this is much better than any hangover! 
 
Pastor Marcus  
 
HELP MOVE SUPPLIES!
The need for supplies around our area is decreasing but there are other areas that still need them. if you would be willing to help transport supplies from our facility to another please contact Pastor Sarah at 
. Thank you again for giving and serving and loving in the name of Jesus!


Back to Church

Dear Church,
A family of nine; three generations; from 80 years old to eight months old, all under one roof. It wasn’t easy but it was doable. Money was tight but they found a way. 
 
Then Harvey hit. They have 2 feet of water in their home. Where will all nine people now live? What will happen to the house? Who will help? Where will they find the food that they need? How will their kids get what they need for school? When will the parents get back to work? How will  they make sense out of this chaos? 
 
Praise God that the church stepped in and helped bring order out of chaos.
Praise God that the church stepped in to help with their house and to reestablish normal.
But many questions still remain and we as the church still have a responsibility to help them answer those questions. We know the answer. His name is Jesus. 
 
This coming Sunday is back to church Sunday. And when you invite people back to church, you invite them into order out of chaos. Even if your friends and neighbors haven’t dealt with the devastation of Harvey they still need the answer. And His name is Jesus.  Who will you invite  this week? 
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim