Discipleship Training

Now more than ever we are learning that lasting discipleship doesn’t happen in a large group setting.  Rather, it happens when disciples of Jesus are intentional about building relationships with people and helping them to be disciples of Jesus.  It is going to be awhile before “normal” happens on a Sunday morning but you can make an eternal difference for the kingdom right where you are with the people that are already around you.

Starting June 7th I will be leading another Equip Discipleship Training.  This group will meet on Zoom every Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m.  As we go through the book, “Real Life Discipleship Training Manual,” we will learn how to lead a person into a relationship with Jesus all the way to being a disciple maker themselves.  Each week will consist of 5 days of personal study (about 15 minutes each day) and then a Zoom call where we all discuss how to apply the content into our lives.

The cost for the training is $20 and is open to anyone who has a relationship with Jesus no matter how far along you might happen to be.  This will not only empower you to lead others closer to Jesus but it will help you grow as well.  Those who have already gone through discipleship training are encouraged to join again.  Disciples are learners so we all have to keep learning.

Sign up today!  Take the next step toward being a disciple maker.  God is able.
 
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim


Reflections of Mother’s Day

Each summer when I would go back to school teachers would always make us write a small essay about what we did during the summer. I never went anywhere so I had to lie about how I enjoyed my trip to the space center or the beach or how hot the walk at the zoo was or how long the drive to San Antonio felt and how we had to make frequent stops because I got car sick. I never did go to the space center. Actually nothing I ever wrote was ever true. I have five siblings and my mom was a single mother.  There was no way she could afford to take her six children on a day trip but a little girl could dream.

I never appreciated my mom’s hard work. I never thanked her.  Instead I insisted on things she couldn’t afford I would cry when I didn’t get it. It wasn’t a lack of love on her part but a lack of money. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t respect my mom and when I got older I treated her so badly.  Still though, the love of a mother kept going.

I remember one day she got home from work with muddy clothes she said she had slipped on some mud waiting for the Metro.  Just recently she told me that the reason she got home like that was because she had seen a hundred dollar bill in a ditch next to the Metro stop or so she thought.  She needed to feed us and didn’t have money to get groceries so her mind made her see what she wanted to see. Now I hear of everything she did for me and my siblings and I can’t believe I have such and incredible woman in my life.

Thank you for being so strong and loyal to your children even when it gets hard.  Thank you for showing your love even when your kids don’t appreciate it.  Believe me one day they will see your hard work and embrace you. I hope you had an amazing Mother’s Day.
 
-Jackie


Reopening Texas

Reopening Texas

Nehemiah was a follower of God that lived in Babylon after Israel and Judah were taken captive.  He and several others were granted the right to go back to Jerusalem in order to rebuild what was left behind.  When he arrived he surveyed the area because there was a great amount of work to do.

Church, I know many of you are longing to be back together as I am too.  This past week we have heard from different governing officials and steps are being taken to reopen Texas, but where does that leave the church?  As I have looked over some things this week I have surveyed that there is a great amount of work ahead of us but together we accomplish the work.

We will need people to help with:

  • Disinfecting the building before, during, and after services.
  • Social distancing advocate—reminding people at the building to maintain safety guidelines
  • Media team—camera operator, video editing, set up and tear down
  • Social media team—produce graphics and videos, and maintain online relationship with those not able to attend at the building

Church, we need you to help make this transition work.  Email info@hfcog.org to let us know which of the roles above where you can serve.  Also, be praying for Pastor David, Pastor Sarah and I as we navigate how to minister to everyone effectively both online and (eventually) in the building.  God is able.  Let’s go make disciples together.

In Him,
Pastor Tim


Still The Same Mission

Dear Church,

This weekend we talked about the importance of not settling for “religion” anymore. Rather, as
Jesus-followers we have go where he tells us to go, do what he tells us to do, and say what he
tells us to say. Jesus says, make disciples.

Let me give you a few ways that you can make disciples and learn how to make disciples no
matter where you are in your walk with Jesus.
 
1. Pray on your own. There are all kinds of people around you that need God to move in their
lives. Jesus made a habit of healing people through the faith of their friends and family. He
will respond to your faith too.
 
2. Invite others. You know people that no one else with HFC knows. You can invite them to
worship services, Bible studies, kid’s groups, youth meetings and so much more.
Especially if you are new to HFC, you are so important to spreading the word!
 
3. Make phone calls. Be intentional about having conversations with people. Text messages
are a good start and emails convey good information, but conversations really help people
connect. The entire conversation doesn’t have to be about Jesus but make sure to talk
about what God is doing in your lives as well.
 
4. Join a Learn Group. One of the best ways to learn how to be a disciple is to hang out with
other people with the same goal. If you would like to join a Learn Group email
PastorSarah@hfcog.org and she will get you connected this week.
 
5. Register for the Online National Disciple Making Forum at discipleship.org. This is a
training event in which you will learn practical tools from amazing leaders that will help you
today! Then at the end of each day those from HFC are going to join together to process
through the information we learned just like Jesus would do with his disciples. Email
PastorTim@hfcog.org to let me know you are planning to attend as well.

We can do this. God is able. This time away does not have to be time away from the mission
Jesus gave the church. Let’s all join the mission and help others grow closer to Jesus.
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim.


Jesus is alive and always active

Have you ever asked yourself: what is Jesus doing now that he is in heaven??

Some might think that he is just hanging out in heaven enjoying himself watching us from above with a cup of coffee sitting in his throne. In Hebrews 10:10-14 we read that after offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins, Christ is in fact sitting at the right hand of God. This can lead us to believe that he is just simply waiting for the moment when he comes rule and reign on earth. But what is we read different passages in the bible; we will soon discover that Jesus is not just sitting at the right hand of God in Heaven, but that he is very active in our favor right now.

Even though Christ is with the Father in heaven, Jesus also lives in the heart of every believer and is at all times interceding for those who believe in Him bringing our prayers before the father. Isn’t that amazing to know that we can always count with Jesus to help us get thought anything? We may not have the strength to do it on our own but if we accept his help, we can be victorious in him.

In 1 John 2: 1 says: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” Jesus is our lawyer when we sin, he is the mediator between God and us. Christ declares that we have been justified by his sacrifice and our faith in him. I know sometimes we want to do things on our own, but just like people need lawyers for a legal matter in court we need JESUS to intercede in our behave.

Jesus is occupied in Heaven doing the will of the Father and we should do the same as his followers. He saved us in order for us to be a reflection of his life in our work, attitudes, words and behavior. If He loved us, we should be sharing his love with everyone special during these difficult times that we are in right now. Calling people, praying for them and leading them to Jesus is one of the greatest acts of love.

Let’s stay active by getting involve in Learn Groups, youth/kid ministries, outreach team, prayer team and so much more at Houston First. Let us help you be active for Jesus by going to our website https://www.hfcog.org/church-online/ ,we would be happy to connect with you and help you be active for the kingdom of God.

Pastor David.



The Helpers

I just loved Mister Rogers; first as a kid, then as a preschool teacher. I still do. He had such a calm quiet voice. He was gentle and kind. He spoke with such care and concern for the characters on his show. We know through interviews with press and his family and friends that this was how just Fred did things; it was who he was all the time. There is a wonderful quote from him, which you have probably seen or heard over the last few weeks:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ”

Fred was a helper. He advocated for educational opportunities for all children. He was inclusive of children and adults of different abilities. He fought for public broadcast to continue when funding was threatened. He called for social action and took a stand against racial inequality. He brought awareness of mental illness and the importance of teaching children how to deal with big emotions. He was a helper. And I get the feeling he learned by watching his parents and grandparents.

Church, can I ask you a question? Are you being ‘the helpers’? If your neighbors were interviewed on the news tonight, what would they say about you? Would they say, “Oh my neighbor _______ is a huge help to my family. They checked on us and made sure we had what we needed. I am so glad for their help! I knew I could count on them. It’s just who they are!” Or would those around you describe you differently? Would they say, “Oh my neighbor _______ is probably sick with that virus! They came home a few weeks ago and locked themselves in their house. I haven’t seen or heard from them. I know not to go there and ask for help.”

Church, listen. We have a unique opportunity to reach the world around us, even if it’s ‘just’ our block. I understand that in this current reality of social distancing, we are limited in what we can do. We are not going to invite others into our homes, or go looking to shake hands with the whole block. But we can leave an encouraging note card in the mailbox with scripture. We can invite them to attend online services and learn groups. We can let them know that the kids and youth ministries have resources for parents who need creative ideas to keep the kids busy. We can lean over the fence when we hear the mower and ask ‘How can I pray for you neighbor? Or ‘You need anything?’ We can invite them to a driveway picnic lunch (you stay on your driveway, and they stay on theirs, and you chat over the grass in-between). I could keep going on with ideas, but I think you get the picture.

Just as Fred learned from his family how to be a helper, our children and grandchildren are watching us now. This time in their lives will have a profound impact of them forever. What will they see? Will they see panic, anxiety, and isolation? Or will they see peace from the Lord, calm intentionality, and community care? We have an opportunity to touch hearts for the Kingdom, both within our families and our communities, even if we can’t touch hands. Church, let’s go be ‘the helpers’.
 
Pastor Sarah


Response to COVID-19

Martin Luther’s pastoral advice during the Black Plague (1527 AD):

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

—Martin Luther, Works v. 43, p. 132. Letter “Whether one may flee from a Deadly Plague” written to Rev. Dr. John Hess.

We all have different ways of responding to the COVID 19 scare.  Some blame others because they are perpetuating, fear, hysteria and “fake news.”  Others are then blamed for being reckless and foolish by not taking the pandemic seriously enough.  What if, instead of reacting to the circumstances around us, we reacted to God’s word?  What if, instead of letting our personal desires (flesh) take over, we submitted ourselves to God’s Holy Spirit once again in order that we might see his good fruit produced in each of us?

Let this be a time when, even as we are ordered to keep distance physically, we might not let the enemy put distance between us spiritually.  Let this be a time of love—not just for love’s sake, but because of the love that God shown us through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.  Let this be a time when we join together in praying for one another, checking in on one another, provide help for those who are experiencing financial distress, and taking in God’s word about how Jesus loved.  Let this be our finest hour.

In Him,

Pastor Tim.



Depression and Jesus

Whew! Sunday was hard for me… the day, March 8th (would have been my daughters 25th birthday), my learn group class was emotional, worship song lyrics we overwhelming me and the sermon was spot on for stirring me up! After church it did not get any easier – it was a long day, that carried over into my Monday when I could not find a set of keys (stress!). So all of this had me in a “funk”, not gonna lie. I’ve been running behind all week, and I just can’t seem to catch up!

 

The old Naomi would be home in bed, or starring at a wall letting depression win, but the new in Christ Naomi is up and moving forward. It is not always easy, but I make this choice because I am a child of God and know that he has me and I trust him!

 

It’s been 15 years now that I have been battling depression. I’ve had moments just like Pastor Tim described on Sunday (not wanting to be around people, or staying in bed) and others that I will keep to myself… but I can tell you from my experience that my faith has definitely impacted my thinking and has me responding to depression, anxiety and stress in a different and healthy way.

 

I took prescription medication for depression, bipolar, anxiety, mood, focus, etc. for years and they served a purpose during a time period, but there came a time when I realized that I was not “feeling” anything. I was on auto pilot. If I thought I was good and could skip – everyone knew. I would hear things like – “oh, we must not have taken our meds today” or “maybe we need to get your meds tweaked” in a joking manner. I would laugh as if it did not bother me, but it hurt.

 

Then in June of 2017, Adrianna my daughter passed away unexpectedly, at 22. I was heart broken. But, it was in that horrible loss that God showed up bigger and more present than ever before to me! Lives were changed and my relationship with God became more real than ever. It was then that my thinking was impacted by my faith and I became dependent on him and less on medication and things around me. It has taken 3 years to get to where I am, but I have learned different things that work for me… like taking long deep breaths, talking to those close to me, singing, praying and at night praying myself to sleep.

 

I tell you all of this because as the Bible says in Matthew Chapter 11: 28-30 His yoke is easy and my burden is light. Stop trying to do it all yourself. I don’t have it all together – I’m a hot mess at times – but Jesus did not die on the cross for me to do this all alone. He did not die for you to do this all alone. We are redeemed by his blood!

 

Maybe, this coming Sunday, I’ll have my emotions a little more under control, but if not, well that’s ok too. I’m going to own it.

 

Your sister in Christ,

Naomi



I’m fine

I am like a broken disc.  Ever since I can remember I’ve always masked my pain and hate. I started to feel unloved and rejected at a very young age.  My father left and never turned back, but I’m fine

A stranger moved in and he liked to come into my room while I slept, but I’m fine

I felt disgusting and hated myself but I’m fine

At the age of 11 I started to abuse alcohol.  I craved numbness, but I’m fine

At 15 I had an eating disorder thinking, “Now I will be loved,” but I’m fine

At 16 I had uncontrollable anger and got kicked out of my house, but I’m fine.

I haven’t slept in months even if I try, but I’m fine.

I’m spiraling out of control and I can’t seem to love me.  I’m wearing a mask of laughter, however, I’m fine.

 

At 18 Christ was introduced to me and I fell for him and I’m truly fine

But I thought everything that haunted me was still a part of me.  “I can’t love myself.  Everyone is better off without me, even God,” I said to myself.  “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  I’m a fraud.  I don’t love anyone.  My thoughts are taking control but I’m still fine.

In my 20s I fell in love with a guy but it didn’t go well.  The self-hate had not gone away.  I loved him but how could he ever love me.  “He will leave me just like everyone leaves—just like my father left,” but I’m fine.

 

At 27 I shouted, “I need help!” and they listened.  I started talking and what I found was PTSD and chronic depression.  The anger, insomnia, eating disorder, the self-hate, the lies that clouded my mind are now making sense.  I am not damaged goods or broken, and I am especially not a victim. God made no mistake in saving me.  He placed the right people to get me the help I needed.  Now I’m moving forward and when I say I’m fine I mean it.

 

If you’re fine, but not really, please do two things.  One, talk to someone about it—a friend, a parent, a teacher, a pastor, a coworker—someone.  Two, connect with Houston First Church of God in March as they talk about stress, depression, anxiety, and what the Bible says about it.  Find more information at www.hfcog.org/easy or email Pastor Tim at pastortim@hfcog.org.  You are not alone and God is able!

 

With love,

Jackie



Jesus and Stress

Sunday we began a new sermon series called, Thinking Faith, in which we will look at how our faith ought to impact how we think about different things. This first week we looked at stress in our lives and how we should respond to it based on Scripture.
 
You ever buy anything that required assembly? Do you still remember the directions? I doubt it. I recognize that Sunday I gave you several directions but I also doubt you remember them all. So let me list them for you here.
  • Keep a right perspective on Jesus—not everything is worth stressing about.
  • Create margin in life—set aside and protect time to worship, pray, and study God’s word.
  • See opportunities, not challenges—every stressor is an opportunity for God to provide.
  • Resubmit to God’s Spirit—the responses of our flesh will never lead to fruit.
  • Process in community—disciplining relationships will help us hear God’s voice of truth.
So where is some assembly required in your life regarding stress? Maybe you are doing some of these things already but if you aren’t you should pick one and focus on that this week. No matter what you do PRAY! Dealing with stress is a spiritual encounter. Ask God to lead you in the step you are taking. He is faithful to answer our prayers!
 
Last two things… First, have someone else pray with you about the step you are taking. Agreement in prayer is powerful—which leads to the second thing. This week is Fast and Pray Wednesday. I want to invite you to fast and pray about what is stressing you, and then come join others at 7:00 p.m. in the sanctuary as we all pray together in the name of Jesus. God is able!
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim.


^