You belong here...

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You belong here...

Dear HCC Family,

Can you remember a time when you felt like you really belonged to a certain community? A community as in any group, family, school, club, team, tight circle of friends, etc. Belonging is one of the critical psycho-social crises that every human must face according to Psycho-Social Human Development theory. Human health and flourishing are significantly impacted by a strong or weak sense of belonging.

In the 31 years of my ministry career, I’ve realized that each guest who attends church for the first time is looking for this very thing, belonging. Unconsciously they are asking the question, “Is this a place for me,” “Do I belong here,” “Do I fit in.” In response, as a church, we must ask the logical follow-up question, “Do I promote belonging as a conscientious part of the HCC family?”

This Sunday we will start a new series together that addresses this notion of belonging. Every Christian who is in Christ must be in the church. Because the church in the body of Christ the head. We want people to know they belong first in Christ, and secondly in His church. How do we live out this essential component of making the kingdom of God real right here right now? Let’s find out together as we learn about the good and beautiful community called the church.

As we study the scriptures together, it’s wise to invite a guide along. When Ezra and Nehemiah were building the second temple in post-exilic Israel a key feature was exposing them to the word of God in scripture. Not leaving them on their own to figure out what God was saying, the wise leaders of God’s people provided interpreters, coaches, teachers, to help them understand. Check it out in Nehemiah 8:7-8 -- Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the law, while the people remained in their places. So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense so that the people understood the reading.

Taking a cue from that wise stewardship of God’s people I’m encouraging you to pick up this book: The Good And Beautiful Community by Bryan James Smith. Smith does a great job helping God’s people get a sense of what God is saying about the church community. As I preach each Sunday from God’s word about the good and beautiful community called the church, invite Smith to help deepen your understanding. 

One other thing, if you invited someone to our Friends of the Family service last Sunday please tell me the story. It doesn't matter if they attended or not. I invited two people and they didn’t come. It’s the invitation that makes your witness for Jesus a success, not the attending. So, tell me a recent story of invitational evangelism from your life. Reply to this, text me, etc. 

WE>me,

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For such a time as this…

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For such a time as this…

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Dear HCC Family,

As I’ve been talking about for the last couple Sunday’s the HCC family has friends, and this Sunday is our annual Friends of the Family service where we pitch the Gospel in our best most heart-felt way to those who don’t know Jesus. 

You know people in all the life zones I described, namely the family, vocational, geographical, recreational, and marketplace zones. For such a time as this God has connected you to people in all these zones. He wants to meet them. And this Sunday He’s hosting an open house for all the friends of the HCC family. Do it. Don’t hesitate. Just ask an unchurched friend or family member to join you at church this Sunday, 10am. 

I’ll see you and all your friends of the HCC family this Sunday.

I’m praying for you!

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When God says, “This is the only thing that counts,” I listen…

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When God says, “This is the only thing that counts,” I listen…

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Dear HCC Family,
 
In Galatians 6 and 2 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul conveyed God’s sentiment regarding the matter that counts most when it comes to God’s pleasure and judgment. What matter counted so much that it inspired Paul to say that no religious practice or achievement could measure up to it? It was the matter of transformation. Transformation is the “performance measure” that God is expecting to bring Him current pleasure and future satisfaction.
 
The word for “new” in these passages on transformation is not related to being new in time, but in nature or essence, and could be transliterated as a new thing or species altogether. To God, the Christian experience is not about how many times we read the Bible through, or church services we’ve attended, or our charitable contribution report. No, this kind of newness only comes through the soul converting and conditioning of the Holy Spirit, via a deep personal relationship with Jesus. This soul conditioning or exercise plan is made up of the many spiritual disciplines practiced by the Christian over the course of a lifetime lived with God.
 
This is the work of transformation. Do you have a soul workout plan? Let me offer some.
 

 
In the back of each chapter, there are Soul Training exercises that are easy to read and put into practice. These exercises will condition your soul to open itself to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, and over time you will become more and more like Jesus which is exactly the performance measure for God when you stand before Him.
 
In that moment when you stand before His holiness, you will know along with God for certain if you’ve really been transformed into that new creature.
 
Here’s the link to the Soul Health Plan that I’ve created as a resource for Christians who really want to move further along the transformation continuum.
 
Click here to explore the Ladies Ministry and read more about the upcoming Ladies Tea. Be sure to email Joan Bowman to RSVP for this beautiful event.
 
Check out the discipleship opportunities on Monday and Wednesday night. Gotta move beyond Sunday to get our soul beyond where it is now.
 
WE>me,

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The future is here…well, sorta…

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The future is here…well, sorta…

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Dear HCC Family,

Please give the video a shot. We’ve got a new platform, so if it didn’t work before, maybe it will now.

A few bullet points from the video:

  • Don’t leave your soul to chance in 2018. Get, and activate your Soul Health Plan for 2018 right here.
  • 2017 giving is open till January 14th.
  • Covenant Course for this Sunday moved to Wednesday, January 10th at 7pm. I messed up my calendar…sorry. RSVP here.
  • Start thinking about what you will share at our Spike the Ball service January 14th. Each year we give the congregation a chance to preach the goodness of God. So, come up with a brief, to the point, testimony about how the Lord has blessed you in 2017. It might be a miracle, something related to the church, an insight that changed you, etc. 
  • Be prepared for this Sunday by reading Ephesians 4.

A big miss in my video was the announcement about our upcoming Leadership Nav January 18th at 7pm. If you’re involved at all in leading any ministry from the food pantry, to ushering, to men’s or ladies ministry, please be there. I will be going over changes in the youth and music ministry and soliciting your input regarding the state of the church.

Live like it’s 3:30,

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Responding in a 2 Corinthians 9 manner…

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Responding in a 2 Corinthians 9 manner…

Dear HCC Family,
 
In 2nd Corinthians 9, Paul attempts to inspire the Corinthian Christians to a generosity beyond their regular financial faithfulness. The Christians in Jerusalem were hurting and needed money for basic life needs, so Paul asked the church to step up and help. The situation in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean is very similar.
 
So, in this email, you have the opportunity to pray, and perhaps be inspired to donate – but where. I am recommending the Church of God disaster relief program. This fund is managed by our denomination. I know the leaders personally and assure you that what you give will get to those in need. Better yet, it will get to those in need, through local churches attempting to be the social center of God’s kindness. You can donate with confidence through the link below.
 
This Thursday I’m hosting our quarterly leadership navigation. This meeting is for all who serve in an influential capacity at HCC. If you serve as an assistant Sunday School teacher, Usher, Greeter, Food Pantry volunteer, Elder, etc. I consider you an influencer and invite you to the Leadership Navigation.
 
We will do some team building, sharing of important administrative ministry info, and I will cast a vision for this Fall. Thursday 7-8:30pm in the Community Hall at church.
 
Finally, I am so looking forward to meeting your unchurched friends and family this Sunday. Relationships recruit for the Kingdom of God, so please invite someone to National Back to Church Sunday. Each service will be crafted to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God in a simple and straightforward manner.
 
Check out the second of two memory verses for the year:

  • The first was John 3:30 “He must increase, and I must decrease.”
  • The second is Romans 14:17 “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking. The kingdom of God is living a life of goodness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

It's always 3:30,

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Jesus is speaking...

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Jesus is speaking...

Dear HCC Family,
 
Imagine Jesus saying this to you, “I will think of everything, you, just think of loving me.”
 
What would it be like for you to give all the anxious thinking about life over to God? And you, just think about loving Him. Goodness, that sounds great. Impossible, right? That’s pie in the sky religious stuff. Right?
 
I think it is possible, but not if we don’t work diligently to position ourselves to be transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ. The kind of peace that comes from trusting God to think of everything takes a great deal of soul training. The kind of soul training that we’ve been looking at for almost two years now.
 
I hope you’ve been reading The Good and Beautiful Life, and listening to the preaching on Matthew 5 & 6. For this Sunday, please read Luke 4 to be prepared.
 
Our new cookbook has my honey Sriracha grilled chicken wings, and quiche recipes. You can’t get them anywhere else. If you want them, and 598 others, order a cookbook this Sunday and support the Freedom Seed Initiative. Click here to order.
 
As an outgrowth of the cookbook interest, the Ladies Ministries is hosting a cooking class that will teach you how to make a few fabulous meals to feed 4 people...and all for $8. Crazy, I know. We want you to learn how to save $200-$300 in your grocery budget each month. This is freeing. RSVP here.
 
Apologetics course forming! I’ve invited an Apologist who is trained in defending the Christian faith. Learn things like how to respond to atheism, or when people question the Bible’s reliability, or how can God and evil co-exist. Starts September 20, runs for 8 weeks, and cost $50 for the first family member, and then $25 for the second, a maximum of $75 for a family.
 
Show me the money, and your contact info to RSVP for the course.

Let God think of everything, you just think of loving Him,

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A Texas size flood…What’s a church to do…

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A Texas size flood…What’s a church to do…

Dear HCC Family,

Here are a couple things to do this week in response to the Texas flooding:

1.      Pray for the victims

2.      Pray for the area churches to be recognized as the social center of God’s kindness

“Acts of God,” as they’re called by insurance companies, stir up all kinds of big questions and doubts. Texas flooding, cholera outbreaks, auto accidents, genocide, house fires, cancer, etc. are all physical experiences that provoke spiritual questions. As Christians, we need to have some way of responding to questions like, “Well if God is great, then why did He…”, or “If God is good, then why didn’t He…”.

Starting September 20, and running for eight weeks, HCC will offer a course to help you respond to those big life questions. I have invited an actual “Apologist” from outside the church to teach the course. Apologetics is the area of Christian study that addresses these big questions about God, and life from a biblical perspective.

So, if you’re interested in a serious course on Christian apologetics, then put your money, where your mouth is, so to speak. The course will cost each participant $50 bucks. To RSVP get a check to me, or use the church app. If we have 10 or more, the class will be held.

Another thing came to mind this week while praying for Texas, what if HCC was free from debt? What could we have done to help local churches in the Houston area be the social center of God’s kindness?

If we reach our goal this year of $250K, then we will be on our way to freedom from debt, and free to respond generously. Remember, faithful obedience, leads to freedom, and freedom opens us to inspirational generosity. This is how biblical prosperity works.

Please consider joining the “Freedom 500.” That’s 500 people from HCC that will give $15 above their regular giving each week, to the Freedom Seed Initiative. If this happens, and in addition, all those who can give more than $15 do so, we will meet our goal by year’s end.

Read Matthew 6 to be prepared for the Sunday sermon about, 2 treasures, 2 eyes, and 2 masters.

Take a few moments to catch up with Pastor Steve below...

Just imagine…

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Driving while videoed…

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Driving while videoed…

Dear HCC Family,

This year I celebrate three anniversaries associated with HCC, my 30th year as an Ordained Minister, 25 years at HCC, and 10 years as Lead Pastor. These anniversaries really snuck up on me. Wow, how time flies.

I do regret that my time going forward is likely less than the time already gone. But the time gone was time well spent maturing, building eternal relationships, and being transformed. I don’t even recognize the soul of that young minister from 30 years ago…I’ve been so transformed by the Holy Spirit I’m unrecognizable. Looking forward with passion to a future of nurturing a contrast community at HCC, who love God with all their heart, mind, and body, and are dedicated to changing the world for God’s glory.

As for this Sunday, I can’t wait to wrap up the, “How to change the world…” Read Matthew 5: 13-16 to be primed.

Take a few moments to catch up with Pastor Steve...

Is it 3:30 in your life?

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Bummer…I hate when I do that…

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Bummer…I hate when I do that…

Dear HCC Family,
 
I’m often so caught up in the task part of ministry, that I forget about the people part of ministry. I have neglected to express my gratitude to you who serve as HCC volunteers for way too long. Every pastor is only as effective as their volunteers are. So, if HCC scores one for the Lord, so to speak, it’s not a solo effort, it’s a team effort.
 
I realize that every time someone gives me a compliment about HCC, they really give you, the volunteer, the compliment. But you don’t get to hear it, I do. And that's just unfortunate because I get a lot of compliments about you.
 
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for serving the Lord in the HCC ministry. I know you don’t need to hear this from me, the applause from the Lord that you hear is enough for you. You don’t serve to be applauded by me, but I want to applaud you, not because you demand it, but because you deserve my applause. Can you hear that? I’m clapping for you right now.
 
I know that I can’t do what I do unless you do what you do. I’m only effective if you're effective. We’re in this together, and I’m so sorry that I don’t do this more often. Thank you for all you do.
 
Take a few moments to catch up with Pastor Steve...

It's always 3:30,

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How to change the world…

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How to change the world…

Dear HCC Family,

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad, mad, world!

No doubt. So how can it be changed. This Sunday I will start a new series called “How to change the world.” We will take stock of where we are, and look to Jesus for a way toward changing the world.

A real part of changing the world, is change in your world. Have you moved beyond the surface of Sunday spirituality, to deeper spiritual water? So, how does one move beyond Sunday into deeper spiritual water? Get involved in a Life Group Bible study or home group, join a ministry team, and start to do life together. It’s not going to come to you, you’re going to have to go to it.

If you’re interested, just reply to this email or text me at 443-506-9472, and I will help you get beyond Sunday.

Take a fewminutes to catch up with Pastor STeve below...

It’s always 3:30, live like it,

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