VBS 2020 is Officially Under Construction!

“Hard hats and hammers, levels and ladders, construction has begun! Rivets and ratchets, gauges and gadgets, that’s how we get it done! Concrete and cranes; we’re building our faith on Christ the Cornerstone. The foundations’ laid. The crossbeams are raised. Our strength is God alone! Concrete and cranes!”
 
The theme song music was blasting as we walked into VBS 2020 Preview and Training – “Concrete & Cranes”. You could feel the excitement and anticipation in the air as hundreds of volunteers gathered together for a worship service to kick off and commission the leadership for VBS 2020. These two days of intense training covered this year’s Bible Lessons, music and motions, crafts, DIY décor, small church forums and more. We ended the conference pouring over one another in prayer. I am pumped up!
 
My favorite session of the weekend was titled “THE ABCDs of the Gospel”. You might be familiar with the ABCs that have been used over the years: A is for Admit. B is for Believe. C is for Confess. BUT a huge piece of the puzzle has been missing all these years – D is for Discipleship! Leading children to Christ is only the first step; they must then be discipled. I cannot wait! I learned so much and I cannot wait to get this info into the hands of our VBS 2020 Team.
 
That’s where you come in! We have some exciting changes coming this year and we want you to be a part of it! From prayer partners to craft prep to club leaders, we have a role that you can fill on the 2020 VBS Team! Be on the lookout for more information coming soon on VBS club roles that you might be a perfect fit for. We will have a fun preview and training day for those roles this spring, but the role I need you ALL to commit to TODAY is “Prayer Partner”. At the HFC Kids check-in kiosk, you will find a prayer calendar. Please begin to pour over this year’s VBS in prayer, using this calendar as a daily prompt. God is going to do amazing things through VBS this year! Help us prepare even now in January by praying over the leaders and families who will be participating.
 
Building Young Disciples,
Pastor Sarah


All Things Are Possible

I got baptized in February of 2018. Little did I know how much my life was about to change.
 
At that time I had closing shifts at my job for the most part. I was always tired and had little to no time with my children. I was facing many problems at home as well. I felt my life was a wreck. A mess that had to be cleaned up, but had no way of knowing in which direction to turn. All I knew was I had committed my life to Jesus.
 
Within those two years, I’ve had to face my past and apply what I have learned towards my future. I went to therapy and had to work through all of my emotions. I lost relationships and people that I thought would be there forever. Now I realize that God and Jesus are forever.
 
Changing into this new person with a totally different mentality and applying the Word has brought me here today. So far, my journey has been a fight. I know it isn’t over. Yet, it isn’t bad either. In time my work schedule changed, but not quite where I would still have more time with my children.
 
I am grateful for all those who have come alongside me and have never given up on me and who have encouraged me that things will get better. They most certainly have. I am leaving HEB after seven years and have taken a full time position elsewhere working Monday through Friday with weekends off. I am also leaving the administrative position here at the church building.
 
With that being said, God is good. I have kept my eyes and focus on God more than ever before no matter what has come my way. I hold true to where Jesus looked at his diciples and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) because “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you shall receive, and your joy will be complete.”(John 16:24)
 
Thank you for each and every one of you for being utmost servants of God and for allowing me to serve you here at Houston First Church of God.
 
Jessica Lopez


The Perfect Dessert!

Lilyana loves to decorate cakes. She has gotten good at it too. At first it was a fun thing she was doing but now it is like art. She has this vision in her mind of what it is supposed to look like and she will stress over every detail of fondant, icing, sprinkles, and whatever else she might be putting on there until it is just right. She doesn’t like to deliver it or even go to bed without it being perfect.
 
This Saturday we are having Dessert Fest (and yes, there will be coffee) at 2:00 p.m. at the church building. The whole point of having this time together is for you to have an excuse to invite your neighbors, friends, family members and coworkers to something fun. I know that for some people the invitation can be a bit stressful though. It’s like you have this vision of what the perfect invitation would look like and if it doesn’t look like it’s going to be perfect you don’t do it.
 
You know what I have found though? Even the scraps of cake and leftover icing still taste pretty good.The best dessert isn’t the perfect dessert; it is the dessert that others get to enjoy. In the same way, your best invitation isn’t the perfect invitation; it’s the invitation you actually give. So why not pick up the phone right now and invite someone to enjoy the best desserts we have. Who knows, it might just lead to the only perfect One who will change their lives forever.
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim.


The 90%

This new sermon series is all about giving everything to God and not just a little bit. As we discussed on Sunday, it is all about trusting God, his word and his Spirit more than we trust our own understanding (because we know it lies to us). I mentioned a couple resources to help you do that and here are the links to them.

Financial Peace University: https://www.hfcog.org/fpu/
Here you can get registered for the next set of classes that start on Sunday, February 9th at 5:00 p.m. Even if you are serving with Merge Church you
will still have plenty of time to get back from this life changing money management class.
Here you can find links to the Youth page and the Kid Min page. There you will also find links for practical materials to help you talk to your kids (including grand-kids, nieces, nephews, etc.) about Jesus and growing in their faith.
No one is born knowing how to live like a disciple. These materials are here to help you learn how to grow closer to Jesus and help others do the same.

Facebook and Instagram 
This is a great place to find encouragement, get information, and build community with others that are part of the church.

Maybe you are interested to being discipled by someone that can help you grow closer to the Lord or maybe you just have questions about it. I would love to hear from you! Call the office at 713.460.0104 or email me at pastortim@hfcog.org.

In Him,
Pastor Tim.


You Were Born to Fly

“One day a man walked through the forest and found an eagle chick. When he saw him unprotected, he decided to take him home and put him in a chicken coop. While there, the chick learned to eat the same food as Chickens and to behave like them. One day, a man who was an expert in zoology came by and asked the owner of the chicken coop, why he had an eagle locked in the corral.
 
As I have given him the same food and he has always been among the chickens, he has never learned to fly, the owner replied. He behaves like them, so he is no longer an eagle but a chicken.
 
However, the zoologist insisted, he is an eagle and has an instinct to fly, and he can certainly be taught to do so.
 
The zoologist gently took the eagle in his arms and said: You belong in the heavens, not in the earth, you are not a chicken. Open your wings and fly. The eagle, however, was confused and seeing that the chickens ate, jumped down and met them again.
 
The next day the zoologist took the eagle to the roof of the house and encouraged her, saying again: You are an eagle, open the wings and fly. But the eagle jumped once more in search of chicken food.
 
The zoologist got up early on the third day and took the eagle out of the pen and took it to a mountain. He raised it directly towards the sun. The eagle began to tremble, to slowly open its wings and finally, with a triumphant shriek, flew away in the sky.”
 
“We thank God for the power Christ has given us. He leads us and makes us win in everything. He speaks through us wherever we go. The Good News is like a sweet smell to those who hear it.  2 Corinthians 2:14
 
When we see our past or the past of our parents, we think that our life must be the same way,
submerged in those things that stop us from moving forward, it has possibly been a chain of poverty and pain, believing that we will never succeed in life. We take the same attitudes, the same thought of negativity which makes us fall into the same way of life and blinds us to see beyond what God can give us. That blindness prevents our faith from acting and the power of God from manifesting in our lives.
 
God as a good Father wants us to succeed in every area of ​​our lives. Let nothing stop you so that we can live in the best way every day. Remember; do not live with your eyes down seeing the circumstances around you. Instead, look up with your head up high trusting that our father that is in heaven wants us to fly freely thought the skies.
 
A new year is hours away but you do not have to do start alone; we are here to equip you so you can fly like the eagle in the story. (We love because he first loved us 1 John 4:19).
 
-Pastor David


Christmas Worship

Merry Christmas Eve! Beth and I are already enjoying a wonderful time with the kids and our family in Ohio. I remember Christmas Eve as a kid when my parents would load us in the car at 10:30 at night to go to the church building for a midnight candlelight service. The sound of Silent Night off the wood-plank ceiling. The anxiety of my mother hoping I didn’t light myself on fire. These are good memories.
 
I have also attended communion services on Christmas Eve that really help remind everyone why we celebrate Christmas; after all, Jesus’ birth means nothing if his death doesn’t mean everything. We could have planned to do something even in my absence but I think it would be even better if you planned something. That’s right. What if, instead of me leading you in communion you led your family in communion? Talk about disciples making disciples!
 
We have made it as easy as possible for you to do this yourself at home. Just go to
www.hfcog.org/christmas and there you will find simple and easy resources that will teach about communion, lead you through how to receive it together, and even give some guidance on how to connect traditions with your faith at home. Remember, disciples don’t just receive from spiritual leaders, but disciples are spiritual leaders who give the grace of Jesus that they have received. What better way could we do this than through communion at Christmas?
 
All you need is at www.hfcog.org/christmas. The memories you make aren’t going to sound like 300 people singing Silent Night and they might not look like a room full of candles, but I promise that as you give Jesus away God will provide memories for you of the eternal impact you are making for his kingdom.
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim.


Look Forward!

A year ago my life looked very different. I was looking forward to 2019 and all it might offer. Then on New Year’s Eve I hurt my wrist, the catalyst for a yearlong health journey. After a Lupus and Fibromyalgia diagnosis in the Spring, a hard Summer of adjusting to new meds and new limitations, and then a difficult Fall full of blood work, testing and Lupus flare ups, we still found ourselves with more questions than answers. On Tuesday Dec 3rd , I had a Single-Fiber EMG (painful, but scientifically really cool – go look it up). This test answered two big questions for us: 1) I do NOT have Myasthenia Gravis, and 2) I do NOT need surgery! Praise the Lord!!! What a great way to end this trying year. I am praising Him for allowing my case to be assigned to the specific surgeon it was – God had a plan!
 
Truth be told, I am not shocked by this news, in fact I already knew I would not need this surgery. In my hunt for a new apartment or a home for rent, I met a bi-vocational pastor who told me the moment she met me that the Lord had a word for me – That I would not need the surgery as the doctor had said, that God was already working on my behalf for a stress-free living situation, and that He would line it all up for me! She didn’t know me, and I hadn’t shared anything with her about my health or my noisy apartment! Both of her statements are now true, though she told me this back in October!
 
The last few weeks have been really good. In addition to the wonderful news we received on my testing, we also found the right home for me! This home is perfect; it has all the things I needed – the right size for me, the right location, small yard to maintain, and a garage. But God is SO good, He gave me all my wants as well, down to the specific details that I had looked for in every house we toured: a white fireplace, blue and grey brick/siding, a room that I could use for my office/crafting space, and space to entertain my nieces and nephews, as well as HFC Kids. God is SO SO good. This house is an answer to a prayer we have been praying a long time. And the really good news – some of you have already been in this home! God has lined up every single piece of this process and I am very happy to announce that I am buying Wanda Arthur’s home! It brings me such peace to know who lived in the home before me, to know that God was glorified, that prayers were poured out to Him, and that worship went up from this
place.
 
I am so grateful to all those who have prayed over a safe, quiet place for me to live these last 6 months. I am very excited to spend New Year’s Eve in my new home, welcoming in 2020 with all the blessings God has given me, including my parents who have literally dropped everything to help make this move possible, and supported me along the way. I would encourage anyone who feels like they are struggling, fighting for answers, working so hard and seeing no gain, to keep going. Keep relying on God. Keep reading the Word, keep praying, keep praising. God has a plan, and there is a purpose to your current circumstance. I would not want to relive this past year over again; it was really really hard. But I have grown closer to God and learned a lot that I would have completely missed otherwise. Let’s look forward to what God is doing as we enter 2020!
 
Many Blessings,
Pastor Sarah


From Bad News to Good News!

It does seem sometimes like we are just surrounded by bad news—bad news about what is going on in the world, bad news in our homes, and even bad news in our own minds. However, God sent his son Jesus into the world that we might hear Good News—good news that Jesus came to save the world from their sins, good news that we can make a positive influence in our homes, and good news that God defines who we are (not our past).
In my sermon Sunday I mentioned that someone once said to me, “You will never be a good pastor.” I
know that is a lie and I know the truth about who I am, what I am and how good I am at it. However, I
only know that because I stopped believing the lie. Maybe there are some lies that you need to stop
believing too. Let the grace of Jesus overcome your despair and lead you to hope that can only be found in him.
We need to realize too that so many people around us, especially those not already connected to the
church, need to hear some good news too. They have lies in their minds too. God is sending us to build relationships with them in order that we might tell them that there is good news and his name is Jesus.
A great place to build this relationship with others is at the HFC Christmas Party this Friday from    7-9 p.m. It is going to be a light and fun evening with a hot chocolate bar and a Christmas movie for the kids. It is just a simple gathering but your invitation might be the first step toward your friends, neighbors and coworkers hearing some good news for a change.
In Him,
Pastor Tim.


The Construction of Your Life

In the year 2,150 B.C, the Babylonian Empire, knowing how to build a house was already fundamental. Everything was governed by the code of Hammurabi. The law number 229 declared: If a builder builds a house and does not do it with good resistance and the house collapses killing the occupants, the builder must be executed immediately.
 
This law seemed very drastic and deadly Yet for the rulers, it helped to control accidents and have better construction of quality as well as resistance to be able to any type of climate and natural disasters.
 
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25
 
When Jesus came to earth and lived in the midst of the men of his time, he understood how indispensable it was to have a good house for the protection of your family and he knew that every good construction depended on a good foundation.
 
But he went even further as to using the example of construction to talk about the heart of the human being and life. In doing so he was comparing the house that is built on the rock with one that was built on the sand. The two houses were tested by the same storms, but the results were remarkably different: one resisted and the other fell.
 
Every day we can meet people whose lives are based on vain and transient things, which produces a false peace and tranquility in which vanishes almost immediately. But there are also people who assure their life about the eternal and true, that produces permanent peace and tranquility.
 
What has been the foundation in your life? 
Have you built wisely?
 
If it has been the opposite and your life has fallen because of storms, today you can approach God and secure your life on a sure and eternal foundation. Here are Houston First we want to help you build your foundation with God’s help. 
 
-Pastor David
 


Will You Join the Merge?

“You do realize we are about to make history this Sunday in our movement in Texas. This is the first glimpse of a sending culture in the Church of God in Texas.” I got this text yesterday from Efrain Cirilo who is planting Merge Church in Conroe, TX. Efrain, his wife Megan, their children, and some of their team will be here Sunday to share the vision of Merge Church with HFC, but this is about so much more than just Merge.
 
This is about learning what it looks like to step out on faith to follow the call of God toward those who don’t yet know Jesus. This is about the Church collaborating together—even as we may worship in different places—in order to advance the kingdom of God. This is about breaking down the demonic walls of competition between congregations and choosing to trust others with a variety of resources.
 
This Sunday we will all get a chance to participate in this powerful move of God. After Efrain and Megan speak I’m going to challenge you in four ways.
 
1. Would you commit to pray for Merge Church in your personal prayer time? Pray for Efrain,
Megan and their family. Pray for launch Sunday which is February 9, 2020. Pray for the people
with whom they will be sharing the gospel.
 
2. Would you commit to give financially to Merge Church? In 2019 HFC has given $6,000 to
Merge, but I have also personally committed to give $100 each month for three years. Could
you do the same?
 
3. Would you commit to attending Merge Church on launch Sunday, February 9, 2020? I want to send 25 people from HFC to worship and serve there so that Merge knows they are not alone.
 
4. Would you commit to being a Rocket Booster with Merge Church? This means you would
commit to serve with Merge for six Sundays in order to help them build a volunteer base from
the guests that are coming to worship for the first time.
 
I can’t wait to talk to you more about this on Sunday! Until then, have a blessed Thanksgiving!
In Him,
Pastor Tim.


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