In Your Dreams!

You ever just dream about what could be?  I tend to process things by talking to others and I noticed that I’m having a lot of “dreaming” conversations.  I’m dreaming about building design and service opportunities and Kids Ministry and Community Groups and the list could go on and on.

I dream about you too… and my dreams are very vivid.  I dream about you growing in your faith.  I dream about you connecting with people that I may never meet.  I dream about you loving the people around you in such a way that they can’t wait to follow Jesus.  I dream about a day when, if you could do anything, you would choose to disciple others.  I smile a lot when I dream.

So how do we make dreams a reality?  We get curious about our dreams.  We talk about our dreams.  We pursue our dreams wholeheartedly.

In January and February I am preaching a sermon series simply called, “Disciples…” that will give all of us some basic instruction on how we can be disciples that make disciples.  What I’m asking of you is that you dream a little.  Dream about what you would look like as a disciple maker.  Dream about people you know who will come to know Jesus.  Dream about groups meeting in your home.  Dream and let the Holy Spirit guide your dreams right into God’s dream for you.

I love you,
Pastor Tim.


My word of the year for 2021 is “Transform”. What’s yours?

Every year I ‘choose’ a word of the year; something I will focus on in prayer, Bible Study, and personal development. I use Dayspring’s quiz (see below) and then build my Bible studies around that word. 2020 was my 5th year of doing this and my word was “Gather”. Gather is defined as: to bring together and take in from scattered places or sources. I was so excited. I had just bought a house and was looking forward to hosting many gatherings of all kinds in my new home! Movie nights with HFC Kids as well as my nieces and nephews, game nights with friends, fellowship events with parents from HFC, hosting family dinners for the holidays. 
 
Then the pandemic hit. And I was alone in my house for 6 straight weeks. 
 
Those six weeks were lonely long weeks. I thought a lot about all I was missing out on: worship and fellowship together with HFC, meeting with my students and their families, seeing my parents, having friends over. All the fun things I had dreamed about and planned and looked forward to in my new home were no longer an option. “Gather” was not an option. How was I supposed to study the word gather, and grow in that experience without being with other people?!? I really threw myself a pretty great pity party, but once I stopped and thought about it, prayed about it, and looked to Scripture for comfort, I became excited again! 2020 definitely scattered us! We were all in different places, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t gather.
 
Matthew 18:20 says, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them.” Whenever we gathered online for kids club, for worship, for staff meeting, etc we were praying together and in the presence of God! We WERE together, even if we weren’t physically in the same room. It seems so simple, a verse many of us might have learned as kids, but it had never meant more to me than in that moment. Gathering didn’t have to be in the same room. When I stopped looking at myself and all I was ‘losing’ due to isolation, I looked around and saw all that I was gaining! I was spending more time with students and their families; instead of one hour, we were sometimes on zoom for 2! We were calling each other more often, texting throughout the week. We were more intentional in our time, more focused, asking more specific questions and really listening to the answers. Did the isolation of 2020 take some things away? Absolutely. But we gained SO much more: deeper relationships with the Lord, and with each other! While I really hope that 2021 offers more relief from current restrictions and we can ‘get back to normal’ whatever that looks like, I hope that we do not lose the tighter community that has been created. I hope that our intentional focus on relationships continues to grow into 2021 and beyond. One way that you can connect, gather together and focus on relationships in 2021 is to join a Community Group. Join a group today at hfcog.org/community-groups. We have both in person and online options. 
 
We are so excited to connect with you and your family in 2021! What’s your word for 2021? Take the quiz at https://www.dayspring.com/yourwordquiz#/home and post your response on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HoustonFirstChurchOfGod
 
Many Blessings,
Pastor Sarah


17 practical and effective ways YOU can reach your neighbors this Christmas and New Year!

17 practical and effective ways YOU can reach your neighbors this Christmas and New Year!

Dandelion Resourcing is an incredible ministry designed to help you live as a disciple maker in your own neighborhood.  They came up with these great ideas to minister to your neighbors during Christmas and New Year’s.  Read the list.  Check out the video.  Look through their website.  You will learn so much.

Watch the video here!

Christmas Ideas

  1. Christmas caroling done in a socially-distanced way
  2. Give a plate of cookies and a hand written card to your neighbors
  3. Hold a 15-20 minute Christmas Eve service on your front lawn
  4. Call your local elementary school to see if there are any disadvantaged families you could bless with gifts
  5. Invite your neighbors to club together financially to support a local ministry that serves the poor
  6. Organize a caravan of cars to view Christmas lights
  7. Hold a White Elephant gift-exchange party a few days after Christmas!
  8. Arrange a Christmas crafting time on your front lawn
  9. Do something practical for a struggling household nearby
  10. Give each household in your home church $25 to spend on something missional

New Year Ideas

  1. Invite neighbors to a New Year’s Eve gathering to release the pain and disappointments of 2020, and to pray for God’s blessing on the New Year 
  2. Gather around a fire pit with neighbors and share what you’re glad to leave behind, and your hopes for 2021
  3. Send neighbors a hand-written card with what you’re praying for them for the New Year
  4. Put up a board for neighbors to write up their hopes for 2021
  5. Host a New Year’s open house on your front lawn
  6. Arrange a virtual New Year’s party with lots of games that work in that medium, and a toast for 2021
  7. Set aside the first days of January to pray and fast for your lost neighbors, and the Kingdom to advance where you live, work, study, and play

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Tim.



My New Family

About four months ago we adopted a dog for the first time; it was a new experience for me because there were requirements that I had to meet before adopting. I couldn’t just walk into the shelter, pick a dog and go home, in other words even if I thought that I was capable of taking care of a dog it didn’t matter if I didn’t meet the shelter’s requirements.

 

When I adopted Lana, she was seven months old and even though she was still a puppy, she had a pass with her previous owner that I knew nothing about like her eating times, anxiety and energy levels and so much more. It was difficult to love her at times simply because she wouldn’t listen to us or especially when she ate Marilyn’s sandals. There were times when we thought what if we just take it back to shelter and problem solve.

 

We have been adopted into the family of Christ, and we want to do our best to have a true and meaningful relationship with Christ and those around us and just like Lana, we also have a pass that nobody knows anything about. The good news is that is it okay if we were broken or if we had done all the wrong things because now we have a family that cares for us, that will always be there for us and let me tell you we have a loving father that is willing to accept us just like we are.

 

You and I are not alone in this world; we have people that want to listen to what we have to say. It feels good to know that we have a loving father that gave everything he had just for you and me. My dog Lana knows that it doesn’t matter what she does, I will still love her when the day is over. How does it make you feel knowing that we have a God and a family that will still love us at the end of the day and the next day and the next, all the way until the end.

 

You are not alone, so you don’t have to do everything alone, we are here for you. We want to walk with you and welcome you to our Houston First Family. I also want to invite you to our Family Christmas service this coming Sunday at 6pm where we will have a good time praising our Lord Jesus, we will also enjoy each other’s company. You don’t have to change to join our family; you can come as you are.

 

With love,

Pastor David



A Little Bit Different

By now you have heard me say a few times something like, “We’re going to do something a little bit different.”  Maybe that could be the new tag line for 2020.  We have been talking for nine months now about how we have to do everything different.  Nothing seems normal.

Sure it has been hard on us but imagine trying to run a hospital in Mwihila in Kenya, or reaching out evangelistically to children in Houston, or planting a church, or having conversations with pregnant women contemplating abortion.  The pandemic has expanded the ministry needed in all of these areas yet has also decreased the accessibility of each ministry to the people who need them the most.

So how can we help?  We can fulfill our Faith Promise commitments to fund the ministries that are happening around our city, state, country and the world.  Right now we are about $3,000 short of the commitments we made to ministries like the Mwihila Mission Hospital, Child Evangelism Fellowship, Merge Church and CareNet Pregnancy Center. 

Most of these ministries have experienced a decline in giving from partnering organizations like HFC, but let’s show them something a little different this year.  Let’s show them that as God has been faithful to us we will be faithful to them.  God is able.

In Him,
Pastor Tim.


“World Changer”

This year has been NUTS. Phrases I’ve heard lately are “crazy” or “stressful”. “Overwhelming” is one I’ve heard from my parent and teacher friends. There are so many ways and so many words that we could use to describe this year. But I think it’s safe to say, 2020 has changed the world. 

Some people are more cautious now, while others are more reckless. Some may have responded in fear and isolation, shutting themselves away from any possible exposure. Others may have become bolder and more willing to tell those they love how they feel. Either way, the world as we know it has changed. 

But do you know what? We aren’t the first people who have lived through a world changing event! Throughout history there have been milestone events that have changed the world; The Spanish flu outbreak of 1918, numerous advancements in science, two World Wars, Google was founded, Y2K and the turn of the century, 9-11, many political ups and downs, we cloned a sheep, and hey – the Cubs finally won the World Series again! Some were really scary, and some were really amazing to witness.

There’s another amazing world changing event, or should I say world changing person: Jesus! Some were very cautious with His message, not trusting He was who He said. Some were so excited they went and told everyone they possibly could. Some were fearful of what this Messiah might do or say next, shutting Him out of their world and hiding away from the truth. Others were encouraged and inspired and entered full time ministry, traveling around to tell others the good news. The world was changed by the ultimate World Changer – Jesus. 

Join us this Sunday as we hear more about the World Changer. Invite others to attend worship with you, or send them the online link so they can watch live. We can’t wait to worship the World Changer with you this Sunday!

~Many Blessings,
Pastor Sarah



The Spiritual Need of Sending and Leaving

By the time you read this I will be back in Ohio to see my family.  These times of returning are wonderful but I am also reminded of the time in which I had to leave them to pursue the ministry to which God was calling me.  Those days, which now seem like a lifetime ago, were both sad and exciting.

I recently read Acts 13:3 in which Luke records, “So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on [Paul and Barnabas] and sent them off.”  The Lord has been showing me the spiritual significance of leaving and being sent—of coming out from under the shadow of the leader.  Imagine if Paul was never sent off to start churches all over Mesopotamia.  Imagine if Jesus never left his disciples to establish the early church as they did.  Imagine if I had decided to just stay with what was familiar to me instead of trusting God’s move to Houston.

As followers of Jesus who are seeking to be disciple makers we must be eager to both leave and to send.  It is in our leaving, even as Abraham left his father’s country, that we put our faith in God like never before.  It is in our sending others that we show that now they too are disciple makers.  Every one of us finds ourselves in a place of preparation for either sending or leaving.  What are you doing to get ready?  How are you listening to the voice of the Lord for his direction?  What will you say when he says, “Go”?

In Him,

Pastor Tim



Say “Yes” Right Back!

This week I got to visit with a good friend and catch up.  We have known each other for many years and she knows me very well…  My intention was to encourage her and she encouraged me, so cool how it all worked!  We were talking about the current situation with COVID and how many are dealing with uncertainty, anxieties, and ultimately in some cases depression.  Counseling can be a very healthy way to deal with these issues and when the tools and resources provided are used it can be very beneficial.  There have been times in my life that counseling helped tremendously and for a time frame medication was needed, but what I have learned that works best for me is Jesus!  And I was reminded of that – my friend, told me that I used the best “tool”, Jesus, and “resource”, scripture, to help me.  Wow!  Needless to say, that just made my day…  and I laughed to myself as I remembered this past weeks sermon – When God Asks you to do something… you say “Yes” right back!

So, when you pray this week to ask God if there are unconventional ways in which he might want to work through you, be ready to say “Yes” right back!

Your sister in Christ,

Naomi    



Practical Thanksgiving

Next week at this time many of you will begin preparations for a big meal and time together with family and friends.  You might even have some snacks ready to go that you can eat during the football games that have become an annual tradition.  Some of you will even work in a shopping trip in order to save money through that amazing deal.  However, will you take the time to actually be thankful.

This year more than any anxieties seem to be high.  Between COVID, elections, financial pressures and schedule changes we have all experienced our share of stress.  Philippians 4:4-9 has long been a favorite of mine and verse 6 states, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Did you see the answer to our anxiety?  It is prayer with THANKSGIVING!

This year let’s get much more practical about the holiday of Thanksgiving.  Let’s actually practice giving thanks.  God showed us that through giving thanks we can actually relieve ourselves of anxiety and fill ourselves with peace (Phil 4:7).  And let’s not just do this in a season, but let’s make this a rhythm in our lives—a common practice that happens year-round.  It will make a difference in you and you will be able to share that difference with others.

Happy (early) Thanksgiving!

Pastor Tim.



Ghost

I loved him.  We met at the grocery store.  My love for avocados sent me to the store closest to my apartment as did my laziness not to drive to the store where they are much cheaper. He was tall, dark hair, and fair skin with a love for avocados just like me. We exchanged numbers and it started slow—a few texts here and there. I mean I still wasn’t sure. Come on, I wasn’t just going to jump right in.

After one week of texting we went on our first date and oh how things got even better.  He wasn’t just good looking but he had a big heart. After this we went on more dates.  We would text all day!  I would get a “Good morning beautiful” text and a, “Good night,” text.  Every single day it was so exciting. This went on for some time. I would look forward to seeing him.

Eventually the texts I loved to receive stop coming—not completely but they were not consistent.  Our dates started to get canceled and I would get new excuses. Something was wrong.  The guy I liked was not the same and I was hurt. “Alive” is how I would describe our relationship but at the end he became a ghost and disappeared.

You’re probably wondering, “Who hurt Jackie?”  What if I told you that I’m the ghost?  What if I told you that this is my relationship with God?  Morning prayers had ceased even though the Bible told me not to do that.  Daily Bible reading had stopped too.  How do you expect to feel alive if everything has stopped?  Making excuses… it’s my new anthem.  A strong relationship takes communication, not silence.

God will never ghost you.  No, you are perfect in his eyes.  You are his treasure.  He didn’t just shed tears.  He also shed his blood for us all because we are worth it.  I ask myself, “How can you still play the ghost when HE LOVES YOU?”  This love story doesn’t have to end like this for me or for you.  We can have that strong relationship with Jesus again, and it all starts with good communication.  Let’s stop being the ghost.

Jackie.



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