Overcoming Ghosts

I am one of six siblings. I’m not the youngest, but for six years I was the baby. I was also the
one who got picked on the most. I can remember when my sisters got this clever idea to
drape Kleenex’s over oranges and tie them with long strings. Then they would hang them over
the door to their room. Whenever I  walked by their room, they pulled the strings so they
looked like floating ghosts. To finish it off they said, “BOOOoooOOO” in a creepy voice.
As a four-year-old, it terrified me! I needed my mom every time I would go upstairs.
 
Of course, now I’m older and the ghosts are scarier because they aren’t made of
oranges anymore. No. Now they are made of past pain, fears, and lies—fear of love,
fear of disappointment and fear of not being enough. I’ve met people that have made
past pain as well as present pain with just one word. All the lies start to become what I believe in and the ghosts are all I see.
 
As the disciples were fighting strong winds and huge waves, Peter, in his fear, sees a
ghost in the water, but it wasn’t a ghost. It was Jesus. Jesus is the one who gives a
clear view that makes the ghosts disappear. He says “Don’t be afraid,” and “take
courage. I am here.” He surrounds us with his warmth. As we trust him as he gives us
victory over our enemies, our issues, and our ghosts.
 
In Him,
Jackie.


Opportunities to Give

First of all, on behalf of the entire staff, thank you all so much for every way that you poured out your love to us over this last month. The cards, letters, prayers and reception were so amazing, and we are so blessed to be able to serve together with you. Thank you for allowing your generosity to spill into our laps.
 
I also wanted to let you know about several other opportunities to give and bless others with your generosity once again. It all starts this Sunday when Pastor Joe will be with us all the way from Kenya. It was such a blessing to preach to his church and now he will have the opportunity to preach to ours. When we were in Kenya he mentioned that the students in the school he oversees do not have tables at which to eat their meals. Many have asked how they might be able to help meet this need. Each table costs $250 US dollars which for 50 tables would be a total of $12,500. You will have an opportunity help meet this need this Sunday with a special offering.
 
Pastor Joe’s visit will be followed by the missionary we support in Turkey on November 10 th . Also, if you would like to join her for a meal on Saturday, November 9 th please contact Cindy Moore who is coordinating dinner plans with her. We will also receive a special offering for her and her ministry.
 
Then on December 1 st Pastor Efrain Cirilo, his wife Megan and others from their launch team will be here to talk about Merge Church, the Church of God church plant in Conroe, TX. In that time together we will talk about vital ways that we can give to support Merge, not just financially, but even with our attendance, service and prayer.
 
Finally then, on December 8 th Larry and Lee Ann Sellers will be back with us. We will get to hear their heart for the Ivory Coast and how God is working through them in Africa and in the US. Again we will have a chance to bless them with a love offering too.
 
Thank you for every way that you give and your amazing hearts of generosity. You are having a
powerful influence on this world through the kingdom of God.
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim.
 


A Gift of Prayer for Pastor Sarah

Dear Church,
 
   As I celebrate my birthday today, I am counting all ways that God is good to me – and He has been good! Skip to the end of the article if you want a few items off my God-is-SO-good list!
 
    I have had many health issues the last 10 years that are not typical for a person my age including extreme muscle weakness. My medical team began asking questions and running tests to determine what could be causing this weakness. I was diagnosed with Lupus and Fibromyalgia in March of this year, both auto-immune diseases. Once on medication, many of my symptoms improved but a few lingering issues continued. In August, after more testing, I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, also an auto-immune disease, which causes extreme muscle weakness, and affects the heart and lungs. They determined the cause of the Myasthenia Gravis was an active Thymus gland, a gland that after infancy doesn’t really do anything, unless it reactivates and sends the body into confusion; the immune system doesn’t know which cells to fight, so it resorts to fighting everything, including healthy cells.
 
   After much prayer God has provided answers and a path to recovery! My medical team has decided that the best choice is to do surgery and remove the thymus gland, in anticipation that it will quickly remove the symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis and over time will remove the Lupus and Fibro, as well as some of my food allergies. They say that I am the perfect candidate for this to work: the right age, early in my diagnosis, and female. They cannot promise anything, but are positive! At this point, we are still waiting for the team to select a date, but the surgery will be before the end of the year. We are not sure what pre-op and post-op look like at this point, but they have warned me that I will have to be to be isolated from the public and from children at some point before my surgery and for a few weeks following the surgery as they will be shutting down my immune system so that it doesn’t attack the surgery site. Safe to say we’ll be doing things “a little different” in the HFC Kids hallway. I’m grateful for technology that will allow me to be with the kiddos, even if it isn’t in person.
 
   I am planning to work from home after the first 10 days of initial recovery. We will be relying on volunteers to fill the roles I usually handle on a Sunday/Wednesday during that time. If you are able to help out, please email me at pastorsarah@hfcog.org. Dates are soon to come!
 
   While this entire process has been overwhelming, the whole time I have known, beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is good. He has shown up time and time again! He has provided financially for all the specialist appointments, testing, and scans. God is so good. He has provided doctors on my team who are believers; He has provided doctors who told us outright they weren’t a good fit and referred us to the best! God is so good! God has walked with me on this medical journey, which not only spans the whole of this year, but even goes back ten years! God is so good. Even though there are still so many unanswered questions, I know the ultimate answer is in Him, and He is good!
 
   I know that you love me and that you may have many questions, but for right now please just pray for me. Together we will all just trust God with the details that have not yet been revealed to us.Thank you so much for your faithful prayers; they have been, and continue to be a great source of comfort and encouragement to me.
 
-Pastor Sarah


Equip Digital Retreat

For the last two years we have been talking about disciples making disciples, multiplication, and being equipped for the works of service of the church.  Over the last two years I invited people to come with me to the Exponential conference in League City to hear about, learn about and process through what these ideas might look like at HFC.  Unfortunately, only a hand full of people could go because of the distance and cost.  But not any more!
 
This year we are bringing the same content Exponential content to our building.  We have digital videos that we will watch together and then process through how we can live this out.  Here’s the best part.  It is totally free!!!
 
Whether you have been trained as a disciple maker or are brand new to the idea you can learn valuable insights on how to help others grow closer to Jesus.  Join me on Friday, October 25 and Saturday, October 26 from 6-9 p.m. each evening in the Hospitality room.  You will leave seeing the world differently. 
 
Sign up for it today by simply emailing me at pastortim@hfcog.org or you can fill out a YES card this Sunday.  I can’t wait to see you there!

In Him,
Pastor Tim


God Delights in Us!

If God is ever guided by his emotions, it is when he thinks of you. You give great pleasure to God, he loves the fact that you can be yourself. Of course, you can let others point out why God would be disappointed in you. But they would be measuring you against perfection, and you don’t have to be perfect. Only God is perfect.
 
Focus on how much unlimited his love and mercy are just for you. You are His supreme achievement of your creation, and that give you the greatest pleasure. God is totally committed to His love for you and will never be unfaithful in that relationship.
 
In fact, God’s delight in you outshines all of the things that can make you feel unworthy. Satan wants you to feel unworthy and wants to keep you wrapped up in all of those lies. But God wants you to know that you are perfect in His eyes. Don’t let anyone take that from you.
 
Consider this:
How do you feel knowing that God delights in you even though He knows everything-everything -about you?
What do you find your greatest pleasure in? God is always looking forward to spending time with you.
 
-Pastor David Rivera


Tips to Disciple Your Kids

Tips to Help You Disciple Your Kids
 
Do feel lost in your own home as a disciple-maker? You’re not alone! Many parents feel lost when it comes to discipling their kids, mainly because they feel they were never discipled themselves. They know that they should, and they want to, but when it comes to actually doing it, they feel lost. ‘Where to begin? What to say? Do I really know enough myself?’ And so, because of the overwhelming feelings or fear of lack of knowledge, many parents tell their kids,‘Listen to your Sunday school teachers’. This is understandable, but it doesn’t have to be this way. It can’t be this way. Discipling your children is far too important to hand off to others—as godly and loving as those teachers and leaders are. Okay, so we know we need to disciple our kids (Deut 6), and we really want to do it, but how do we actually do it? Here are the first three of eight ways disciple your kids (to read the full article visit: The Gospel Project
 
1. Set realistic expectations.
One of the main hang-ups parents have is that they expect way too much of themselves when it comes to discipling their kids, and when they can’t live up to them, they feel like failures and often quit. Parents need to be realistic of what their family discipleship will look like. Perhaps that means talking about a Bible story for 15 minutes one night a week at dinner and trying to find one or two times each week to move conversations toward the gospel. Wherever you are, start there and develop rhythms and habits that work for your family and then build on them.
 
2. See family discipleship as a way of life.
There is nothing at all wrong with having a more organized time of family worship—it is actually a great idea to do that! But parents can’t think of family discipleship as a program to be completed; they have to see it as an ongoing way of life (see Deut. 6). Parents, talk with your
kids about Christ naturally as much as possible. Look for themes in shows, movies, and music and talk about how they relate to the gospel. Talk about the character of God, especially as you experience it in your own life. We have natural opportunities to talk about the gospel every
day—we just have to look for them.
 
3. Focus on Jesus.
The goal for parents should be to always point their kids to Jesus. It is easy to fall into the trap of moralism—focusing on behavior and wanting them to ‘act right’. But that is not God’s heart for them! God is less concerned with their behavior and more concerned with their hearts. And
the way kids will develop hearts that love Him and want to obey Him is through the gospel transforming them. This is why parents need to point their kids to the gospel and allow that to inform how they live. Their behavior matters—but why they behave the way they do matters
far more. Focus on heart change through Christ.
 
Again, these are just the first three of eight ways to help parents disciple their children. To read the full article with great, easy, practical tips, visit Gospel Project or pick up a copy on the HFC Kids Check-In Kiosk next time you’re at HFC.
 
Making Young Disciples,
Pastor Sarah


Back to Church Sunday

This Sunday there will be people worshiping with us that never have before. They are going to be nervous and have a lot of questions about who we are. You are going to welcome them like you always do and make them feel right at home. They are going to hear a gospel centered message and inspiring worship. They might even surrender their lives to Jesus!
 
However, none of that can happen unless we invite those people to worship with us. If you haven’t done so yet, make a plan to invite someone to worship this Sunday. It might just change their lives forever. 
 
At the very least they will get a free meal out of it through our Church Picnic too. We will have meat and drinks here for everyone. Just bring a side dish to share (remember, no peanuts or shrimp). Can’t wait to see all that God does this Sunday. 
 
-In Him,
Pastor Tim


An Evening at the Park

Saturday evening I took my son to the park. I was so tired. I didn’t want to go. I had just taken him the night before, but we went anyway. He was in a great mood because I let him drive for a bit. His very first time! I wasn’t nervous at all. He was like a pro!
 
We get to the park so he can play basketball and there was a father there with his son. They weren’t just there. The father was teaching his boy of about 4 years old how to play basketball. I sat on the swings observing them as well as my son. Little did I know my son was watching them out the corner of his eye. 
 
I saw my son shoot to make a basket, miss and just walk off towards the park and just sit there. He was now intently watching them and then suddenly put his head down. 
 
I let him be and motioned for him to come over after a bit. It took all of me to hold my emotions in. All of me! I was like, “God, what do I tell him? I am not a father!” This is why I dislike being a single mom! This is also why I would like to have a husband. Mixed emotions.  
 
Overall, I felt the Holy Spirit saying, let this be your moment with him and explain the riches our Father has for those without–the bond he has with us. These last two sermons about sex and relationships have taught me a lot. One, I don’t want to put anyone before me or my kids. Secondly, being single is less trouble because it gives me more of an open relationship with my children and with God. Every relationship we have–everything–is temporary because in the end, we belong to God. The things of this world such as pain and suffering will pass away (1 Corinthians 7:29-31).
 
I praise God for all He has given me as well as helping me endure such situations. He reassures me our relationship with Him will last forever. In turn, I show my children the same thing.
 
-Jessica Lopez


Sex in the Bible

Sunday we started a brand new sermon series called, “Sex in the Bible.” This first week we focused on the freedom that marriage provides. In marriage we get to submit to the sexual desire that we have for our spouse which simultaneously reinforces the long-term commitment we have with each other. However, we all know that issues in our marriages are not solved in the bedroom.
 
So how can our marriages flourish spiritually, sexually, emotionally and otherwise?
 
FLOURISH Marriage Summit is coming Friday, October 4 th and Saturday, October 5 th at the HFC building. This gathering is for those who are married or considering marriage. It will help you evaluate where your marriage is now, give practical ideas for how to grow in marriage through a biblical perspective, and provide time for you to strategize your next steps as a couple.
 
You will also get a free copy of the book, Flourish-Growing a Level 5 Marriage, by Larry and Deb Walkemeyer. This book along with video teachings from Larry and Deb will provide the framework for the Summit.
 
As an added bonus, Pastor Sarah has planned the October Kid’s Night Out for that Friday, October 4th and she will extend that to Saturday morning as well.
 
Look for more information this Sunday in the bulletin and mark your calendars now so that you can attend the FLOURISH Marriage Summit. God has great things in store for your marriage. Get ready to flourish!
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim.


God Has No Problem Spending Time With Us

In fact, He is excited to be with us!
 
Of all, in all of creation, God chose you to have a relationship with him. Every day when you wake up, God has already proclaimed: “I choose you!” He intends to be present with you. Participating in life with you. Being there for you as any friend would ever be — and even more.
 
God is more than accessible. He longs to have a relationship with you — a personal, refreshing relationship. He wants to be with you in both the good and bad times. Another thing is God’s desire to spend time with you is so strong that there is nothing you can do to keep him from wanting it. When he chose you today, he chose everything about you — your behavior, your thoughts, your speech, the way you treat others. He loves you for who you are.
 
He wants us to be with him more than you think. Imagine the possibilities of having a relationship with God.
 
Consider this:
If all good things come from God, what would it be like to be with God all the time?
 
-Pastor David Rivera


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