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Do Not Lose Heart – November 28, 2021

 
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
 
We all have moments in our lives that stand out. These moments are seared in our memories. Some of these moments are positive and bring joy every time we think about them.  The first time we saw our spouse, the birth of our children, reaching a goal, gaining an achievement. Moments like these are great to think about and well up positive emotions inside of us. But what about the other moments? The moments that aren’t so good. Being completely overwhelmed by circumstances in life, that embarrassing thing you did that you can’t get over, the time you unintentionally hurt someone you love, maybe the moment is a loss, a sin, a feeling of emptiness. These moments are just as real and let’s be honest, the emotions that they bring up are not positive. Many times these moments leave us with feelings of regret, despair, shame, or hopelessness.
 

Each and every one of us have moments like both of these, but which ones do you tend to dwell on? If you are like me the positive moments jump in our mind and then seem to fade away pretty quickly, but the negative moments seem to stick around. They linger in our minds and rear their ugly heads at the worst possible times. I hate to break the bad news to you but there are going to be more negative moments in your future. It’s a fact of life. We live in a sinful world and these negative moments will continue to show up throughout our lifetime.

So what do we do when we find ourselves in these moments, overwhelmed and not knowing what to do? The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Paul reminds us of three important things to help us in these moments. First, don’t lose heart! These moments will pass. Paul calls then momentary for a reason, and no matter how big they seem in that moment they really are not that big in the grand scheme of eternity. Second, God uses moments like these to renew us. Day by day we are renewed by the hope we have in Jesus and these light and momentary troubles help us to rely on Jesus. Some of the greatest moments of my faith being strengthened is when I have allowed Jesus to be my guide through times of trouble. Finally, we fix our eyes on what is not seen. The victory that Jesus has won over sin and death is the greatest miracle ever known, and this miracle is freely shared with all who believe in Him as their Savior. Jesus is the sure and certain hope for eternity where there will be no more sin, pain, heartache, or troubles. Only Glory! So we look to what is to come. When we fix our eyes on Jesus the things of this world grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

So when you face trouble of any kind don’t lose heart, know that God is growing you through these troubles and fix your eyes on your eternal Savior where the outlook is much more glorious!

What makes it so hard to take your focus off of these momentary troubles?

How has God grown your faith through the struggles you have already faced in this life?

What attitude, mindset, or idea do you need to surrender so you can truly fix your eyes on Jesus?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Living a life of Thanksgiving – November 21, 2021

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:4-7

During the season of Thanksgiving, we often find ourselves with an “Attitude of Gratitude.”  We purposefully think of things we are thankful for.  We make lists and social media posts that share with others what we are thankful for.  We think of the blessings God has given us in the last year: our family, friends, health, etc.  But what happens when the “thanksgiving” season fades?  Do we remember to give thanks in every situation?  Do we keep ourselves focused on God, thanking Him for who He is daily? What He has done in our lives? We often gloss over things we should be grateful for- we credit luck or circumstance.  

Psalm 44:8 says, “In God we have boasted all day long, and we will give thanks to Your name forever.”  This verse reminds us that we are to give thanks every day for the Lord our God, who is so very Faithful and Good.

We are called to live a life of thanksgiving, with Kingdom lenses, focused on the bigger picture that God has in mind for our lives and the lives of those around us.  It allows us to be in step with God, to seek Him more, and be examples of who He is to those who don’t know Him.

Prayer:  Father, thank You for sending Your Son so that I can know You. Please forgive me for taking so many blessings for granted. Many times, instead of saying “Thank You,” I have complained about what You’ve given or simply asked You for more. Please develop within me a heart of gratitude. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  1. What are you thankful for?
  2. How do you change your view from a season of thanksgiving to a life of thanksgiving?

 

 
 

Transition – November 14, 2021

The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:8

Each of us faces transition points in life. We graduate from high school or college. We begin married life. We give birth to the first child. We change jobs, move to a new community, form new friendships. Transitions often bring much pain, create anxiety, and disrupt our lives. They also present new challenges and opportunities for growth. How can we face transitions with confidence?

In Deuteronomy 31, Moses comes to the end of his life. Israel gathers at the Jordan River ready to enter the Promised Land. God taps Joshua as Moses’ successor. Truly a time of transition. Joshua may have felt overwhelmed by the new responsibilities. But Moses gives these reassuring words: “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God comes to each of us in our transitions. His Son moved from heaven to earth as a human being, began His ministry with His baptism in the Jordan, set His face toward Jerusalem, and went willingly from Gethsemane to Calvary. He faced each transition with confidence and made the transition from death to life to demonstrate his victory over sin. That saving and helping God now says to us, in the midst of our transition anxiety: “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

PRAYER: Thank You, O Lord, for being with me during all my transitions in life. Amen.

 

 

Devotion taken from My Daily Devotion by Dr. Stephen J. Carter © 1988 Concordia Publishing House.  Used with permission. cph.org

 

Different – November 7, 2021

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him.” Jeremiah 17:7

 

The last 18 months of my life have been full of transition.  I have lost loved ones, became an empty nester, sold a house, bought a house, and I’m about to see a change in my job, all while going through a pandemic. 

Change can be difficult, and exciting – becoming the empty nester, my kids off on their own and missing them was difficult.  Then selling the house the kids had grown up in was bittersweet, but the excitement of purchasing a new home was exhilarating.   And now, the transition to a not so suburban lifestyle (we moved north into Montgomery county) is sometimes frustrating because we do not have a Walmart or HEB anywhere near us. 

But through all the transition I am trying to embrace the different.

There are many seasons of different in life: marriage, a new baby, changing schools, starting a job, changing jobs, moving, and more.  Maybe your changes are learning something new, starting a new hobby, beginning a healthier lifestyle.  We each have our own differents in our life.  Maybe your different is not something new, but something that is over: loss of a loved one, retirement, divorce, or the end of a friendship. 

Transitions in life can sometimes be exciting. And sometimes they’re just plain hard. At times, they can even be an odd mixture of both. That’s where I am as I look at the transition that is staring us all in the face – there will soon be a new Sr. Pastor at St. Timothy.  I am excited for the future of St. Timothy, but it is hard to see Pastor Steve retiring. 

Yet during times of transition, we have the opportunity to look at where our confidence lies. Jeremiah 17:7 reminds us “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him”

When our confidence comes from the Lord, and from trusting in Him, our purpose, and our next steps in life will be blessed. It doesn’t say we will have it easy, but we can be blessed with peace and the knowledge that no matter what changes, the Lord never will.  God, our Cornerstone, Provider, Savior, and Rock has led St. Timothy to be the family that it is, and through this transition, GOD will continue to lead us together.

I continue to pray for the process, for the candidates, and for the family of St. Timothy.  Today we will hear who the Call Committee is recommending to be the next Sr. Pastor.  I have put my confidence in Christ Jesus, for He is the Lord of our church, and I look forward to the next different that God gives us here at St. Timothy.

 

 

God’s Creation – October 31, 2021 Pastor Steve

Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies display the work of His hands.”

Psalm 90: 2 “Before the mountains were born, or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

I have watched the sun rise and set these past few days over the mountains that surround Sedona, AZ. The mountains here are some of the most magnificent of all God’s creation. They are known for their distinctive red rocks that are made of layers of red and orange sandstone. Above these layers of red and orange sandstone are layers that are made from limestone. When the sun rises and sets, the formations glow in brilliant red and orange, and light beige from the limestone rock above. Everywhere I look, I see God’s handiwork in His creation! These majestic mountains are framed by magnificent skies above that truly take your breath away.

I have also hiked every day through these mountains. The paths are rugged and rocky, with lots of turns and ups and downs. Yet they all are filled with flora, trees, bushes, and so many varieties of cacti that keep your attention lest you accidentally run into one with the many sharp needles that quickly remind you not to touch! Surrounded by God’s magnificent creation, it is easy to wake up and be aware of God’s divine presence!

God’s creation preaches a visual sermon about our Creator. The whole world is invited to hear and enjoy this proclamation of His glory and majesty! There is something about the beauty of little mountain flowers growing in the rocks, or the flowing river that reminds us that we are not accidents, and that our God is an awesome God! The Psalmist reminds us of this very same reality in Psalm 19 that says, “the heavens declare the glory of God, the skies display the work of His hands.” Being amid this beauty slows me down and allows me to stand in awe of God and His power.

Today I took a four-mile hike between majestic mountains on each side. With every step I praise God for His majesty displayed in all that He has made! It just takes a moment to slow down and focus on God’s creative activity; the trees bending in the wind, the flowers that are in your yard, the glow of the sky as the sun rises and sets. It is all a reminder that the everlasting God who created this world also created us in His image.

Creation isn’t the only thing God uses to show us His power. We cannot fully know God by simply admiring His creation. Only through Jesus Christ and His Word can we learn about our Lord’s deep love and grace revealed through His Holy Spirit. God is gracious to give us both creation and His Word as different lenses to see the same truths about His love, goodness, and His power.

Being out in His creation is move obvious, but God and His love are just as present in the big city when we are fighting traffic, or facing challenges at work, raising our children, or facing issues with aging and the loss of loved ones. Whatever you face today, please know that the “everlasting God” who designed and created this marvelous world is still at work in your life. Take time to look around and give thanks to God for all He has done! Look at your spouse, your children, your friends, your church, and even look in the mirror and see the person Jesus loves and gave His life to save!

Each day this week, write down at least three things about God’s handiwork. Take time to tell God “thank you” for all of His blessings. Share them with your spouse, children, or a friend.

 

Read these Bible passages and meditate on the truths that are revealed.

Psalm 19: 1-14; Psalm 104: 24-28. You don’t have to be surrounded by magnificent mountains to praise and thank our gracious God. Start it right where you are today.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

October 24, 2021 – Made Alive!

Romans 5:6-8  ~ You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I have seen me at my absolute worst. It’s not pretty. In those moments I cringe at what I see and I think how could anyone love me?  I see myself as worthless and unlovable.  It’s not a good feeling or a good place to be.  But that is what sin does.  Sin puts me at my absolute worst, sin always accuses, always condemns, and it always hurts.  Sin not only accuses and condemns but it must be paid for in full.  Romans 6:23 says that “The wages of sin is death.”  That means that the payment received for sin is death.  That’s not a payment anyone wants to receive but it is a payment earned.  It is a situation that seems hopeless.

But God!  Two of the most important words in Scripture.  Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  When we were at our worst, when we were most unlovable, when we felt most worthless, God demonstrated His love for us.  How?  By sending His Son Jesus to die in our place.  To pay the price for our sin.  To take the wages we earned and declare that our debt is paid in full.  This is an eternal, life-changing transaction.

Christians know about this transaction but too often we expect that the results of it will change the here and now and we miss out on the eternal aspect of the transaction.  We expect our faith in Jesus will fix the difficult situations in our lives and turn the bad into good.  We often think the goal of Christianity is to turn bad people into good people.  Jesus didn’t die and rise again to turn bad people into good people, He died and rose again so that dead people could be made alive.

Once we understand that we have been made alive through Jesus we can change our entire perspective.  We can see the difference between what we were and what we are made in Christ.  We can also begin to see a world that needs to know Jesus came to make them alive also. The divine transaction made by Jesus on our behalf not only gives us life but life with a purpose.  Let’s live it to the fullest for His glory!

  1. How does it make you feel to know that God loved you before you loved Him and even when you were at your worst?
  2. One definition of mercy is not receiving the punishment that you deserve. What is your response to the mercy that God has shown you in Jesus Christ?
  3. Knowing that you have been made alive for a purpose, what are some ways you can carry out that purpose each day?

*Who is someone in your life that needs to know Jesus? How can you share your faith with them?

*Is there an organization that you can work with to share the love of Jesus with your community?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

How is God Using You? – October 17, 2021

Philippians 1: 3-6 – I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.

This Sunday, many of our staff members will celebrate milestone anniversaries.  It is my 40th Anniversary in pastoral ministry. Laura Shivok is celebrating her 20th Anniversary here at St. Timothy, Pastor Rodrigo and Dayana celebrate their 15th Anniversary serving Manantiales de Vida, Pat Blake and Dan Parker both celebrate their 15th Anniversary, and Ian Bracewell, our lead guitarist, is celebrating his 20th Anniversary playing in our praise band!

As I think about the years of service, I share the same humble joy as St. Paul when he said “I thank my God every time I remember you….why?….because of their partnership in the Gospel. When I think back to the highlights in my years as a pastor, they always include partnership with people in ministry. My greatest partner is my wife Rosalyn, who has walked and worked by my side each day of our 44 years of marriage. She helped support me through 4 years of seminary as she taught 8 grades in a two-room country school, and then through 40 years of serving as a pastor.

Laura is a devoted and tireless worker that loves serving this church. Pastor Rodrigo and Dayana are a passionate team working together to reach the Latino community. Pat is creative, joyful, and willing to do whatever it takes to make worship better. Dan loves to help shape young men and woman on their faith walk. Ian is one of the most gifted guitarists you will ever meet, but his primary strength is the joy he has serving and making music to the Lord and His glory!

God always uses people to make a difference. I remember wonderful leaders in every congregation who were filled with faith, courage, generosity, and willing service to Jesus Christ and His church. It was always in those “partnerships” that we saw the Holy Spirit do His best work! In my 23 years at St. Timothy, I have worked with some of the most gifted and dedicated servants of Christ who all consider it a high privilege to partner with each of you in service to Christ’s Kingdom. They do it willingly without fanfare or great recognition, all because of their joy to serve Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.

I am confident in the same promise that God gave to St. Paul. “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” When we serve, we actually partner with Jesus Himself in His Kingdom work. We get to reach people with the Gospel, encourage one another, to love and serve this community as the hands and feet of Jesus.

What Jesus needs, however, is our willing response to His call to serve. Jesus asks for laborers to work for His Kingdom, and not just “advisors.”  We need willing workers who will partner with us. Please pray about the area you feel moved to serve, and please make a move forward. You can contact me, or a staff member, or a lay leader. As pastors and staff, we look to partner with you in many ways. God will be faithful to help us to complete His work!

Where do you have a desire to serve Jesus? It may be in the church, it may be on a mission trip, it may be helping people in your neighborhood, a food shelter, or pregnancy center. It may be pouring into a young child in Sunday School, or working with Jr and Sr High students. There are so many opportunities for us to serve together. YOU can make a Kingdom difference!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” – October 10, 2021

Matthew 28: 19 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations….”
 
How seriously do you take this commission given to the disciples and to us in Matthew 28? 
 

In today’s “politically correct” world, we are challenged to live out this commission in the face of great diversity.  For many this means to conform, adapt and adjust to the popular “You believe what you want to believe, and I’ll believe what I want to believe.”  I often see the Coexist bumper sticker and think, how unBiblical it is.  In John 14:6 Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father, but by me.”  Acts 4:12 says “for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” and Romans 6:23 tells us “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”   All these verses clearly state that Jesus is the ONLY way to eternal salvation. 

We cannot just coexist because it would be negligent of us.  Coexisting would be like driving along and suddenly finding a bridge out over a cliff.  You are able to stop in time before plunging to death.  Then you turn around and just smile and wave to all the drivers headed towards the impending danger and eminent death because you want to be polite and don’t want to bother anyone. You do this knowing they are going to die without your warning.  

Can’t you see that you are not being nice to these people at all?  In fact, you are being unloving by withholding the truth from them.  Instead of worrying about not bothering others, we should frantically wave our arms and shout “Stop!  There’s danger ahead.  You are going to die if you continue down this road.”  God has commanded us to share our faith with others.  Don’t smile and wave feeling good about how tolerant you are while people are heading to hell. 

This is not the first time in history that Christians have had to witness in societies with diversity.  In previous times like this it was discovered that arguments and theological debates did little to spread God’s kingdom.  What really made a difference was lives lived that share God’s love and grace with others.  As the song goes, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”

So how do you find the balance?  Each situation is different, sometimes you have to just show love until they ask “why?”  Other times you may have to have serious conversations and discuss the validity of other faiths, learning from each other but holding on to the teachings of Jesus.    Others, you may have to go out and scream “the bridge is out!” before they understand they are in danger.  Tell them they can’t cross the chasm by themselves.  They need a bridge and that bridge, the only bridge between us and God is Jesus Christ our Lord. 

So go out and tell everyone that “the bridge is out,” have faith in your ability to speak to being a Christian and what that means, and live your life in a manner that shares God’s love with others. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Home is Serving – October 3,2021 

1 Peter 4:10-11
 
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
 
Spiritual Gifts are something God specifically chose for each of us with a specific purpose and plan in mind. These gifts allow us, as believers, to help serve God and His people. We are all called to do different things. Some of us might have the gift of service while others have the gift of teaching. Learning what your gift is and then putting the use of that gift into action is what brings God glory and honor. It allows for the worker to feel like they are fulfilling a purpose and allows the person. As members of the body we need each other to work together to fulfill the mission and the vision of the church.
 
 So there are three quick things you can do to use your spiritual gifts to serve others.

  1. Identify your Gift- there are many surveys online as well as explanations of what each gift might mean,
  2. Identify where can you use your ministry to serve God and His people in the church?
  3.  Jump in! Join a ministry area or start one.

 
As the body of Christ we need each other. We need to work together to build the kingdom.
 
Are you using your spiritual gifts? Do you know what they are? Are you plugged in in and outside of your congregation as a means to help build the kingdom?

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Home is Caring – September 26, 2021

1 John 3: 11-18
 

In this series titled “Welcome Home,” we heard last week that Jesus is the foundation upon which our spiritual home is being built. St. Paul reminds us that in His spiritual home, we are  “living stones” built on the Cornerstone, which is Jesus Christ. The “living” part is all the Holy Spirit’s work to form and shape our faith, our hearts, and our character. The “stone” part is the challenge.  We can be pretty “hard headed” when it come to our attitudes and opinions. Sometimes our hearts can get “hard as a rock” when we are facing struggles with others in our family.  Sometimes we “living stones” can rub each other the wrong way! Even though we are all part of Christ’s family, it can be a struggle to live together with people who can be so different than we are. There is an old saying, “to dwell above with the saints above, ah that would be glory! But to dwell below with the saints we know, now that’s a different story!”

Jesus knows this, so He reveals His heart, and teaches us how to live together. 1 John 3: 11 says, “For this is the message you heard from the beginning; We should love one another.” Then John mentions Cain who was envious of his brother Abel, and in his jealousy murdered him. Bitterness or jealousy against someone is a cancer within you that will eventually destroy you from the inside out. Ask Jesus to help you forgive the one who wronged you, and ask Him to heal and soften your hard heart. Then put the love of Jesus into action.
 
Verse 16 says, “this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.”
 

Real love is an action, not just a feeling. The greatest act of love is giving oneself for others. How can we lay down our lives? By serving others with no thought of receiving anything in return. Sometimes it is easier to say we will die for a person, rather than truly live for them. Author John Maxwell once said, “people don’t care what you know, until they know that you care!” Jesus modeled this for us and He will give us what we need to love and serve others in His name. Give it a try. Ask God to show you the opportunities to show love, and then follow where Jesus calls you to go. You will give Him glory and honor and watch Jesus make a difference in that person AND in you!

What hardness in your heart do you need Jesus to soften? Who needs to receive the gift of forgiveness?

It takes effort to put His love into action. Who needs to see that you care?  Is it your family member, or neighbor, or co-worker? Watch Him make a difference!

 

Welcome Home – September 19, 2021

1 Peter 2:4-5  As you come to Him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him—  you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

 

When you build a house, it starts with a solid foundation. If the foundation is weak whatever is built will inevitably be weak also. But if the foundation is solid, then whatever is placed on top of it is strengthened because of the solid foundation.

This is how it is with the church. Christ, the resurrected living stone, is the perfect foundation of the church. Upon Him, the church is built up one stone, or one believer at a time. One stone placed on a foundation does not make a house, but as the Holy Spirit calls people to faith, stones are added to the foundation and the church is built up.

As the church takes its form on the foundation of Jesus Christ, the stones built on Him are united together to work as one. This means that in the church it is not about being an individual but rather being a community of believers, united together by our Savior, and working together to do the work, or spiritual sacrifices that God has called us to do. While each person has an individual faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, that faith unites us together as the church at large and as the local church with a common purpose.

1 Peter 2:9-10 says,  “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”  As part of His house, we have unlimited access to God, we are declared part of His family, and we get to live our lives to His glory and to be a part of carrying out His kingdom plan.

The greatest part about being a part of the house built upon Jesus is that this home that He is building lasts forever. It is eternal and through faith in Jesus Christ we are made part of it. What a wonderful feeling it is to be part of a home built on the eternal foundation of Jesus. Welcome Home!

Questions:

What is the most comforting thing about being a part of the home that God is building on Jesus?

What are some ways that you can help unite the community of your local church?

Jesus invites us to participate with Him in building His home. Who is someone in your life that you need to tell about Jesus? What is hindering you from sharing your faith?

 

9-11 Anniversary – September 12, 2021

On this 20th Anniversary, it is important to remember. It was an attack on our nation that brought the greatest single loss of life in our history, even greater than the loss we experienced on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  Since 9/11, there have been many changes in our world. But amid all these changes is God’s promise.

Malachi 3:6 I the LORD do not change.
Hebrews 13: 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
  We know from His Word that His purpose is fixed and unchangeable, His will is stable, He is a rock, The Rock upon which we build our lives and hopes. The permanence of God’s character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises. We call this attribute of God His immutability.

Isaiah 54:10 (NIV)  Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.  His unchanging love and compassion is comforting. Whatever changes happen in our world – from world-shaking events like 9/11, a struggling economy, to life-shaking events like the loss of a job, or the death of a loved one, His faithfulness is constant.

Of course, there’s another side to His immutability. His promises include promises of justice for evil and evildoers. God will not deny Himself to gratify their lusts. God is holy, unchangingly so, therefore God hates sin, eternally hates it. We need not hate our enemies but love them instead. Why? Because God says that vengeance belongs to Him alone.

Whatever may happen in this world, Christ remains forever changeless. We can trust Him, because we stand on the firmest foundation in the universe—Jesus Christ. A famous hymn captures this truth: “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” I remember singing that song when our church gathered to pray, and I remember clinging to that truth when the world seemed so uncertain in those days immediately following September 11, 2001.  Those words remain true today, whatever we face we can rely on, we can trust in, and we can stand firmly on God’s gracious promises. We also seek to demonstrate the heart and compassion of Jesus no matter the situation.

A documentary from 2006, Heroes Among Us, Miracles Around Us, recounts many stories from September 11, 2001, including the story of Captain Jay Jonas of the New York Fire Department. Jonas was with fellow firefighters in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. They were running down the stairs to get out of the building knowing that it was about to collapse, but then they discovered Ms. Josephine Harris lying in the stairwell unable to walk.  They refused to leave her there and delayed their escape, slowly helping her down 16 flights of stairs, knowing the delay could cost them their lives.

They were still on the fourth floor in the stairwell when the tower collapsed on them — and miraculously, they survived. They later learned that had it not been for their delay to help Ms. Harris, they would have been in a different position when the building collapsed and would have all been killed.  As tragic as it was to lose almost 3,000 souls that day from 90 different countries, thousands more were saved by selfless acts of love and courage.

Do you live with complete gratitude for the selfless act of love Jesus did for you? 
In what ways do you show it? 

 

Labor Day – September 5, 2021

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17 NIV

Tomorrow in the United States we celebrate Labor Day. For some, it is a day to spend with family and friends as another summer and all that goes with it comes to a close. (Although here in Houston we could have many more weeks of sunny summer weather). It’s the beginning of stores being filled with Halloween costumes, and college football returning to our TV’s. Some spend the day making BBQ or cooking out with family and friends.

Labor day became a federal holiday in 1894. It was a way to pay tribute to the worker for their accomplishments and achievements. We often see work as a burden we must endure to care for ourselves and our families, but work is actually a gift of God given to Adam and Eve before the fall into sin. Genesis 2: 15 says, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Adam worked in Eden with total joy and satisfaction. It is only after the fall into sin that work became a toil and burden. In Genesis 3:17 God says, “cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.”

Yes, work can be a burden, but it is also God’s gift for us to create and produce the things we need and enjoy. We eat meals every day as a result of the work of farmers who plant and grow crops. We use smart phones and computers that were developed by the creative work of those who invented them. We work to raise our children with the faith and values we have received from Christ Jesus Himself. Raising children can be hard work, but it is love that moves us to do our best. Jesus has even redeemed work to bless and help us serve Him and His Kingdom.

St. Paul said, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” The key words are at the beginning of the verse, “and whatever you do….” As Christ followers, we are called to work for the Lord in whatever we do. I read a story of a woman who cleaned the same office building for many years. When asked how she endured the drudgery of doing the same chores day in and day out, she replied, “It’s not drudgery. I’m working for the King and He’s pleased, (along with others) when I do my best.”

Do we work like we are working for the Lord? Do we give our best when no one is watching over us? Are we a bright light for those around us? Work with joy in whatever you do, and He will bless your work in wonderful ways!

 

 

Abide in Me – August 29, 2021

John 15:1-11 – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

A number of years ago a former boss challenged me to pick a “Word of the Year”. I decided that I was going to tie it to a Bible verse and make my word something I was going to truly strive for in my walk with the Lord. I chose the word Abide. The word abide means “to stay in a given place.” Reading that definition, one could say that Abide sounds more like the word Stagnant. But the word Abide is anything but stagnant!

Abiding with the Lord means lying down in green pastures, running and never growing weary, it means drinking from a well that will never go dry. Abiding with Jesus is full of new adventures and stretching of my human worldview to that of God’s.

I picked the word Abide because I was tired of just going through the motions- of being stagnant in my relationship with God. Read my Bible, check, pray, check, go to church, check. God was willing to give me so much more than a check-list-relationship! I wasn’t taking time to allow that to happen – I needed to abide with Him.

As Christians we are called to remain steadfast in our relationship with Christ. Although that sounds easy enough, we often get caught up in the motions. We are called to walk in step with God; to truly seek Him and His will for our lives and when we do our joy will be complete.

Some other verses about abiding in Christ:

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” Psalm 91:1

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. Colossians 2:6

 

Abide in Jesus. Walk with Him. Seek His will for your life and for the lives of those around you.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Rooted – August 22, 2021

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19

 

Are you rooted?

Roots are the most important thing that is attributed to the health and growth of a tree. The purpose of the root is to help the tree absorb and transport water and minerals from the soil to the rest of the tree; they facilitate the tree’s growth. Roots also anchor the portion of the tree above ground that prevents it from falling despite external forces. Without the roots, the tree will not survive.

Paul calls Christians to be rooted in Christ. Although those roots don’t look like that of a tree they do function in a similar way. Our “roots” in Jesus allow us to weather the storms that come our way. They allow us to show who God is to those around us. To shine His light and to bring Him glory. Our roots look like a deep understanding of who we are in Christ. Having a prayer life that causes us to run to the Father when life is hard. Being rooted in Christ looks like walking in an intimate relationship with God by serving God and His people. Being in His Word, not just by reading, but by studying and meditating over it.

Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus that they not only be rooted but that they move beyond that to know how much God fully loves them, and for them to know God so much that they are filled beyond measure with who God is. That their identity is then found in Him.

 

Google images of Root Systems and reflect on how this imagery is the reality of our relationship we have with Jesus.

I pray that we seek ways to make our roots deeper and reflect His love this week.

 

 

Back to School – August 15, 2021

As children are going back to school this week, we encourage you to be in pray for them and for the teachers and administrators. Our own Bright Beginners Preschool begins their new school year tomorrow, we want to especially lift them up in prayer. We will be commissioning Kim Jurischk, the director of the preschool, along with her teachers today and we are excited for them to be in worship with us!

But what does the Bible say about education?

It’s valuable. Proverbs 16:16 says “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!” Our material possessions can easily be taken away from us, in fact there are very few things in life than can never be taken away, but your education is with you always. Even as an adult, you should continue to learn something new each day. What better way to continue gain wisdom and insight than to study God’s Word?

Study hard and prove yourself. 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us that we should study and show God that we understand truth. This verse refers to knowing God’s Word and being able to point out false teachings, but it applies to education as well. As a student, you should prepare for your classes and be the best you can be. Then you can look back knowing that you gave it your all. Life is full of times that require us to discern between right and wrong. Having knowledge of God’s Word will assist you when these times come.

Always put God first. Matthew 6:33 says that above all things in our lives, we should seek God, and everything else will be provided for us. As important as education is, it should never come before God. When we put Him in front of all our concerns and at the center of everything we do, we can trust that He’ll look out for the other things. School can sometimes be overwhelming for kids and parents, but always take time to talk to God. Encourage yourself with prayer and reading the Bible. Life is full of times that challenge us and demand us to be at our best. Never forget that God is near, He’s willing to listen, and He’s able to help.

Think it over:
 
How can you pray for Bright Beginners, children, teachers, and administrators as a new school year begins?
How are you “continuing your education” daily?

Do you always put God front and center?

 

 
 
 

Worry! – August 8, 2021

Matthew 6:27 – “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Worrying has become a trademark of our society. We worry about real problems, we worry about social issues, we worry about things in our control and out of our control. We even worry about perceived issues and circumstances that haven’t materialized yet. Worrying can easily take control of and cause serious issues in our lives.

When we don’t control our worrying it can damage our health, cause the object of our worry to consume our thoughts, disrupt our productivity, negatively affect the way we treat others, and even reduce our ability to trust God. Our great God is sovereign and has all things in His hands. That includes the things we worry about. They are not unknown to Him, and they are not out of His sight.

One of our biggest issues with worrying is that our worries often cause us to freeze. We find ourselves over-focusing on our worries. We begin to think that they are too big for us to handle and even too big for God. When we reach this point, we often shut down. Our worries actually immobilize us. In Matthew 6:25-26 Jesus reminds us, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Many of our worries are bigger than what we will eat, or what we will wear. But Jesus wants us to know that our Father in Heaven knows our worries and always provides. He might not provide in the way that we want Him to provide but He always provides. We can take comfort in knowing that God is not absent from our worries.

This doesn’t mean that we sit back and wait, thinking that God will miraculously fix all the problems in our life. He can, but God wants us to grow in our spiritual lives through the challenges that we face. In our lives there is a huge difference between worrying and being concerned. While worrying immobilizes us, concern moves us to action. Concern for the things that are important to God always drives us to make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others. So, when we have a concern the first thing, we should do is take it to God and seek His will and wisdom on the matter. Matthew 6:33 says, “but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” The more we seek after God’s kingdom and His will the more our perspective on the things of this world change and the more our worries melt away. Why? Because He already has it under control.

 

Think it over.

What ill effects of worrying are you experiencing?

How do you feel knowing that God knows all of your concerns and is in control of them?

Is there a concern that you haven’t taken to God yet?

How can you allow God to change your worry to concern so that you can be moved to action?

 
 
 
 
 

Precious Pearl of Patience – August 1, 2021

James 5:7-11: “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

A pearl is created when an irritant is lodged inside of an oyster, or, as Pastor Brian Loftis says, “A pearl is the fruit of a frustrated oyster.” Pearls don’t form quickly and they don’t come without irritation and time. Many of us can relate to irritation! For example, the other day when ordering something the shipping time displayed 10-12 days. 10 to 12 days? Who has time for that? We live in an “Amazon” world where we expect it to ship in 2 days or less, and for free! The Insta-Pot was created to cook food faster so we wouldn’t have to wait. We can watch the latest and greatest movies from the comfort of our home, usually with a couple clicks. We are not a waiting type of people. Waiting is irritating.

God, however, calls us to wait, “to be patient.” Having or displaying patience is written in over 30 verses in the New Testament; it is a fruit of the Spirit. In the above passage, James calls us to “stand firm because the Lord’s coming is near. Do not grumble.” That sounds difficult. When waiting, grumbling is typically our first response.

Unfortunately, we don’t learn patience when life is easy or instant. We are called to do hard things, including removing the grumbling from our lips to allow the Holy Spirit to grow fruit inside of us. In the hard things we grow closer to the Lord as He promises to never leave us. We can show others the victory as the Holy Spirit develops that pearl of patience as we walk with the Lord.

What irritant are you dealing with today? How can the Holy Spirit help you develop patience as you deal with it?

 

Coffee Devotional – Vacation Bible School Week – July 25, 2021

Vacation Bible School has been teaching children about Jesus for many decades now, and it is our privilege at St. Timothy to host it again this year. The theme this year was titled, “Treasured – Discovering You are Priceless to God.” It is important for children to know how much God loves them, but it doesn’t just stop when we are children.

Psalm 139 is a beautiful psalm about God’s love and presence with us at every age and stage of life. “O Lord, you know searched me and You know me.” You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely O Lord.” You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
  1. 1-5 King David is known for “being a man after God’s own heart.” It does not mean that he didn’t struggle, because his life is an account of great victories and also great failures. What David kept throughout his life, was his deep love for God and an authentic desire to follow where He would lead him. In this psalm, David expresses great joy in the assurance that God knows him completely, his strengths, his weaknesses, his joys, and his sorrows, and still loves him fully! Do you think this knowledge makes him feel restricted or protected? Do you think he feels free or oppressed? How about you?
  2. 6 – gives you the answer. David says it is too wonderful even to imagine! How does it feel to know that God nows you, loves you, and God’s loving presence surrounds you?
  3. 7-10 – Read each verse. Look at the promises of God’s presence. No matter how high or low you feel; no matter the situation; God is present, and His right hand is holding you firmly.
  4. 11-12 – What do these verses tell you about God’s ability to transform even the most difficult or hopeless situation? Even when it feels dark around you, trust that God will light the way for you and lead you. You simply need to ask and follow His Word, and trust in His divine presence. Is there are dark situation that you are facing? How can it be brought into God’s light?
  5. 13-14 – These verses are God’s reminder that you and your body are fearfully and wonderfully made! You are not an accident of fate, or random processes. You were lovingly designed and created in God’s own image! Your body, mind, and spirit all bear God’s divine imprint and seal of excellence! You can trust in this reality when you are young and challenging yourself to grow and develop. You can trust it when you are married and raising children. You can trust it when your facing illness, or a difficult challenge, in your older years.
 

 

Thriving Mode > Surviving Mode – July 18, 2021

8But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs,10and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.”11Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,12“Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink.13Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.”14So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days.15At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. Daniel 1:8-15

Daniel had just had his life destroyed; a young man taken captive and hauled off to a foreign land where Jewish laws were not obeyed and respect for God was irrelevant. However, Daniel chose to stay faithful to God and His commandments even though, through human perspective, God had not taken care of him. Daniel thrived in the godless culture of Babylon because he had, as Larry Osborne says, “Hope, Humility and Wisdom.” Daniel had hope because he knew God is in control of who is in control.” God watched over Daniel even as he served a godless king. He saw how Daniel endured the humiliations and hardships and earned the right to be heard by the king. Daniel continued to follow God’s wisdom and promises, in spite of the demands of the culture in which he was forced to live. God was working in Daniel’s life – not the way Daniel had imagined, or even wanted, but so that God’s will might be accomplished. The Magi who would later come to visit the Christ child were directed by the Old Testament prophecies that were introduced the “wise men” through Daniel and his faithfulness to serve God only.

Although we do not truly live in Babylon, so many times we are pressured to go against what God has asked us to do. Our culture acts like a modern Babylon that demands we follow its way rather than the Word and truth of God and His Word. It is tempting for us as Christians to remain silent and give in to our culture, but our calling as Christians is to honor Jesus’ words to “love God with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves.” And, if we might be so bold, to emulate Daniel and courageously display hope, humility, and Godly Wisdom in a society that is crumbling and decaying morally and spiritually. In doing so, we can be examples of confident hope in Christ, display genuine humility in our relationship, and boldly teach the great wisdom from God’s holy Word.

 

Helpless without Jesus – July 11, 2021

14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. 17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” 19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” 23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” Mark 9:14-29

 

How often have you or I been like the father in this situation? “I believe, please help me in my unbelief.”

Every time I read this story it rocks me to my core. As a parent wanting healing for your children – whatever they are struggling with – is usually what we seek most. We know in our heart to believe the truth of God’s Word, but how often does our brain cause us to have doubt? It is a simple, yet powerful illustration of how desperately we all need our Savior. We all have mountain top moments where we are very quick to praise God for all that He has done. However, how often do we seek God when life is hard, or when we are in the valley and feeling hopeless. We are called to submit to God’s will (Romans 12:2) and trust in God’s ability (Ephesians 1:19-21) but all too often we try to be a savior ourselves. Jesus asks us to trust, obey, and seek His will. His sovereign grace allows us to live on this side of the cross. It is a place where we can be in communion with the Father and spend time in prayer seeking God’s will for our life and the lives of those we love, and then listen. The disciples ask Jesus why He doesn’t drive out the demons, and Jesus shows them how powerful prayer can be in any situation. Through prayer we can see the power of God’s healing hand, which in turn allows our faith to grow and our witness to become stronger. The closer our connection to God, the more we see Him working. As we become more aware of our need for Him and how He provides, our faith will strengthen, too.
 
Do you seek God when you are in the valley? Spend some time in His Word this week and listen to His voice.
 
 
 
 
 

True Freedom – July 4, 2021

“To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can You say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son
belongs to it forever.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”” (John 8:31-36)

Happy July 4th! It’s Independence Day – the day we celebrate our freedom in the United States, but you can live in the U.S. and still not be free.

At least that’s what Jesus says. The Jews of His day were proud of their freedom, just as you and I are. They said they had “never been slaves of anyone.” Listen to Jesus’ response: “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” Those Jews were wrong about freedom. The real master in our world isn’t a foreign country, it’s sin. “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” Would you agree? When greed grabs your heart and controls your life, you’re not free. When bitterness fills your mind and guides your tongue, you’re not free. When alcohol or lust control your body, you’re not free. “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” Can we argue with that?

Do you want to be really free? Listen to Jesus: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Getting my way isn’t freedom, not in Jesus’ eyes. Freedom doesn’t come from a country or a political party. It comes from the truth. “The truth will set you free.” The devil’s lie is that freedom is doing what you want. The truth is that real freedom is trusting in what Jesus did for you. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Jesus has already freed you! “The blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). You don’t have to carry guilt around. Jesus died for you. That truth will set you free! The apostle Paul wrote: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). He wrote that as he sat in prison. He was free, even in prison. The truth will set you free!

Now think again of our country. What do we need? Not more anger and division. Not a certain political party. Not a change in the laws. What do we need? We need the Truth that Jesus gives by grace through faith. We need more of Jesus and His Word. That’s what changes hearts and minds. When you feel weighed down by sin, God’s truth will set you free. When you feel trapped by worry for our country, God’s truth will set you free. When you feel surrounded by sadness, God’s truth will set you free!! “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!”

What freedoms do you celebrate today? Write a list of blessings and give thanks to God. Pray about ways to use your freedom to serve Jesus Christ.

 

 
 
 
 

Two Are Better Than One – June 27, 2021

“Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless, a miserable business! Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:7-12

This is a very popular verse often used in weddings. Ironically, this verse is about friendships and not just
marriage. It’s a beautiful picture of depending on and working with others.

Have you ever found yourself saying you are “fine” when someone asks you how life is treating you? Imagine the word “fine” as an acronym for FEELINGS INSIDE NOT EXPRESSED. Many of us have grown up conditioned to say we are “fine.” That we do not need others to help us; that we can do things alone. However, this is the opposite of what we are called to do. Solomon gives encouraging wisdom in the verses above concerning our need for good friendships. We need friends to pick us up when life is hard; we need friends to defend us when we can’t defend ourselves, and we need good friends to call out our missteps and point us to Jesus.

Developing a good friendship with another person is important but when Jesus is at the core of your relationships, your bond is that much stronger. It takes work, but friendships centered around Christ are ones that will strengthen your character and help you grow the most.

Is your life interwoven with good Christian friends? Is Jesus intertwined in your relationships? Who catches you when you fall? Who do you talk to when you mess up?

 

 

 
 

god is calling you – june 20, 2021

BIBLE READING
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

 

The order had been given. The Jews in Persia were to be killed. Even though she was Persia’s queen, Esther did not know if her leadership could make a difference. But she was reminded that even though she had many doubts and there was no way that she was prepared for such a momentous task, she was reminded, “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

After a time of fasting and prayer, Esther approached the King and her actions saved her people.

Often, our human nature causes us to feel inadequate, unequipped, and unworthy of being able to rise and make a difference. We live in pits of self-doubt that often cause us to question what we are doing and for what purpose.

God has a purpose and calling for each of our lives. When we understand who He is, we understand who we are in Him. He has divinely designed and redeemed us to be an integral part in His Kingdom work. You are not here because of mere circumstances; you are here to make a difference. He has called each one of us “for such a time as this”-

Do not let doubt or fear keep you from striving for a life of service. Trust God and focus on His call for your life. You have been called in this time, in this place and for a unique purpose to serve Jesus and His Kingdom. The enemy is not going to back down and will continue to whisper doubts. However, we can do BIG things with God and for God with teachable humility and confidence and, like Esther, with obedience to His call.

THINGS TO THINK ON
Where has God asked you to lead? Where has He called you to serve?

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

SURVIVAL SKILLS – June 13, 2021

BIBLE READING

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

 

We are not made to be superheroes – we are made in God’s image but are far from being gods
ourselves. We cannot “do it all” though we surely try to! We exhaust ourselves trying to do all and be all. Instead, we are called to bring what we can and cannot accomplish to God. If we allow the Holy Spirit (to do what only He can do) He will bring peace to our minds and to our situations. Pastor Ben Stuart says “We are called to live our lives in the Father’s pattern but with the Son’s pace. With the Son’s pace but the Spirit’s power.” In order to do this we must fix our eyes on Jesus. We keep in step with Him and He will supply all we need. As our life naturally becomes chaos we have to make a concerted effort to change the way we are doing things. There’s an old adage – you can’t drink from an empty cup. We need to fill our hearts and minds with things from God. Figure out our “have to’s”, add in some “want to’s”, then lean into God- have Him take away our anxiety and help us survive.

 

THINGS TO THINK ON…

Are you taking time to Be Still and lean into God? How do you follow the Father’s pattern but with the Son’s pace? Do you take time to enjoy what the Lord has done?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

WITH-NESS – June 6, 2021

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

St. Paul is writing about a life changing gift we receive through faith in Jesus Christ. We have been reconciled to God and made new! He says, “the old is gone, and the new has come! God declares us to be righteous in His sight because He sees us now through Jesus. What does it look like to walk in this new life? We walk by faith and dependence upon Christ. One author describes this relationship as the gift of WITH-NESS. The picture of WITH-NESS in Christ is beautiful in my mind. When I am seeking WITH-NESS, I am seeking opportunities to walk step-in- step in God’s desire for my life. Nothing speaks to this idea of WITH-NESS as beautifully as our church’s mission to Follow Jesus and make a difference. To follow and to seek Christlikeness is a lot easier said than done. Often, we spend time trying to do things FOR Jesus instead of doing it WITH Jesus. Paul is explaining this in the passage above; The motivation for ministry is love of Christ for us and our love for Him. Spending time WITH those we love is a joy that fills and strengthens us. Walking step in step in our relationship WITH Christ fills and strengthens our love for Him, our empathy and compassion for others; it moves us to want to make a difference and impact the world around us. We are ambassadors for the Gospel. Our relationship WITH God should be what defines us. Jesus should always be the answer. So I encourage you today to let your WITH-NESS with Christ be your Witness.

THINGS TO THINK ON… Quick survey: Are you really good at doing things FOR Jesus? How about doing things WITH Jesus? How can you spend more time WITH Jesus? What change could you make today that could impact this idea of WITHNESS?

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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pno

 
Registration is now closed.  We look forward to seeing your kids at Parent’s Night Out!

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Summer Family Fun Nights

 
We are so excited to have some fellowship and fun this summer.  Each month is a different theme.  For August we will have pizza in the Life Center and then water fun and games outside afterwards..  
 
In order to be sure to have enough food, please let us know by 11 am August 4 if you plan to attend by filling out the simple form below.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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2021 holy week


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newpastor

 
The Call Committee recommended Pastor Brad Jurischk as the candidate for the next Sr. Pastor at St. Timothy. A Special Called Voters’ Assembly has been called by the Board of Directors for Sunday, November 21 at 12 noon to vote on the recommendation.
 
The Call Committee will be releasing a statement with additional information to support their recommendation.  A mass email will go out with that information this week and this page will be updated with the information as well.
 
 
To view Pastor Brad’s Congregational Q&A 

To view Pastor Lonnie’s Congregational Q&A

Candidate Bio: Pastor Brad Jurischk

 

Pastor Brad Jurischk was born in Houston on December 29, 1978. He was raised in Spring, Texas where he and his family attended Trinity Lutheran Church in Klein, Texas.  After high school Brad attended Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska where he received his degree in Theology.  Pastor Jurischk became a Director of Christian Education (DCE) with a focus in youth ministry. Upon graduating from college in 2002, Brad served at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Raymore, Missouri as their DCE.  His primary focus was in youth and children’s ministry but he also worked with adult education, senior ministry, and with special needs ministry.

In 2007, Brad took a call to serve as Director of Student Ministry at St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas.  Brad served in that position until 2012 when he began attending Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri as part of the SMP (Specific Ministry Pastor) program.  While attending Concordia Seminary, Brad served as Vicar of Youth and Family Ministry at St. Timothy until 2014 when he was ordained as a pastor and began serving as Pastor of Youth and Family Ministry.  After completing the SMP program in 2016, Brad continued his education through Concordia Seminary in St. Louis to complete the GPC (General Pastor) program.  Brad finished in 2020 and continues to serve as the Pastor of Youth and Family Ministry at St. Timothy today.

Brad married his wife Kim in 2003.  Kim has served as the director of Bright Beginners Preschool and Infant Care since 2008. They have three children, Noah (15), Leah (14), and Levi (11).

 

candidate Bio: Pastor Lonnie Gonzales

 

Pastor Lonnie Gonzales is a native Houstonian.  He grew up in the 1st Ward with his father, the Reverend Jesus Gonzales and mother, Becky Gonzales.  Their sacrifices afforded Lonnie the opportunity to graduate from Trinity-Messiah Lutheran School in 1987 and Lutheran High North in 1991.  During these formative years he enjoyed the benefits of a Lutheran Education and developed a deep love of learning.

Pastor Gonzales graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mexican-American Studies from Concordia University – Texas, Austin, Texas, in 1995. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 2000.

Pastor Gonzales was ordained at Fishers of Men Lutheran Church, Sugar Land, TX, as Associate Pastor for Family Ministry.   He served there four and a half years.  He then served at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, a 3000+ member congregation for thirteen years as the Associate Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries.  During his tenure, he directed two additional departments Small Group & Care Ministries and Discipleship & New Member Assimilation. Also, he assisted in two Senior Pastor transition processes. Currently, he serves as the Houston City Director for LINC Ministries of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) for the past 4 years. He loves insuring “No Leader Walks Alone” among underestimated and overlooked immigrant communities. During his time at LINC, he has provided supervision of over 15 ministries locally and internationally as an advisor, coach, and discipler. Pastor Gonzales brings more than 20 years of experience in pastoral ministry, organizational leadership, and program direction.

In addition, Pastor Gonzales recently retired from the United States Army Reserves after serving 8 years as a Military Chaplain. His brief military career took him to Kuwait, Qatar, and Iraq in support of the combat operation “Enduring Freedom.” He deployed in 2015-16 as the Deputy Chaplain of the 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).  His Command was responsible for providing logistical support for the all of the Central Command region from Egypt to Afghanistan serving over 5000 Soldiers. Bringing Soldiers to God and God to Soldiers gave him great joy.

Pastor Gonzales is passionate about preaching, developing leaders, disciple making, and starting new ministries.  His current favorite quote is from LT. General Luckey of the Army Reserves, “We are fortunate to be a people who have a Mission and a Team.”  His favorite Bible verse is Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  His personal hobbies are walking with Joy, his wife of 28 years, taking Joy on dates, cooking, playing golf, and fishing.

Pastor Gonzales and Joy reside in Houston and have three adult children: Luke (26) of Los Angeles, California, a Song Writer and Musical Artist; Isaiah (24), a full-time foreign missionary based in New Zealand; and Sophie (19), a full-time student at Sam Houston University majoring in Health Sciences, Pre-Nursing studies.
 
Pastor Gonzales has guest preached at St. Timothy, but if you would like to see sermons or Bible class by him, you can check out these links:
 
 
 

https://youtu.be/QNMNHLyKbiQ

 

https://youtu.be/FSugNosWEU4

 

 
 

Call Committee Update – September 27, 2021

  • The Call Committee has narrowed the field of candidates and has scheduled in person interviews and meetings with Board and congregation.  
  • Pastor Lonnie Gonzales and Pastor Brad Jurischk are scheduled for interviews after church as shown above.

 

Call Committee Update – August 20, 2021

  • The Call Committee has reviewed all material sent from the District on candidates for Sr. Pastor and narrowed the field to six
  • After contacting the six candidates, one removed their name from consideration leaving five that were interviewed either in person or via zoom
  • The committee is now taking time to prayerfully consider the next step in narrowing the candidates down to 2 -3 for in person interviews, congregational Q&A and meetings with the Board of Elders and Board of Directors.
  • Once dates are set, the congregation will be informed 

 

Call Committee Update – July 30, 2021

  • The Call Committee Packet was sent into the LCMS TX District Office that included a variety of congregational materials, surveys, demographics, and Nominations from our membership.
  • Though the TX District’s response had been delayed because of the Annual Convention, they have now reviewed our nominations for interest in call, length of service in
    current call, proximity to St. Timothy, etc.  The District President has also recommended
    several more candidates for our consideration. 
  • A few days ago, the District Office sent their complete packet of Pastor’s Information Forms and Self Evaluation Tools to the Call Committee.  (In answer to recent questions by a few of our members, please know that Pastor Brad’s materials are included in this list.  He will be fully considered as a serious candidate, along with the others nominated that have gone through this vetting process.) 
  • The Call Committee has prayerfully reviewed these packets and has set up Zoom or
    in-person interviews with several of the candidates.  After the field of candidates is
    narrowed, additional meetings/interviews will be set up that will also involve staff, lay
    leaders, and members of the congregation.

Please pray with us as the Lord leads us throughout this important and exciting process.

 

 

Senior Pastor Call Committee Update – July 15, 2021

  • Call Committee Packet was sent into the LCMS TX District Office that included a variety of congregational materials, surveys, demographics, and eleven nominations from our membership.
  • The District Office is reviewing our nominations for interest in call, length of service, previous experience, etc., and will add a few more recommendations for our consideration. TX District’s response is delayed because of Annual District Convention, vacations, and federal holiday. They will send their complete packet of Pastor
    Nomination Forms and Self Evaluations, probably by the end of July or early August.
  • The Pastor Call Committee will prayerfully begin reviewing these packets for personal interviews by mid to late August. In-person interviews will follow and will include the committee, staff, lay leaders, and the congregation in the fall.
  • Please pray with us as the Lord leads us throughout this important and exciting process.

 

 

Sr. Pastor Nominations – now closed

A list of 13 nominations was sent to the district after receiving names from our congregation.  This list will be vetted and added to by the district.  The process takes 4-6 weeks.  Once we have an update, we will keep you informed. 
 
 
 

Pastoral Profile Survey

Thank you to everyone who completed the Pastoral Profile Survey.  The Texas District receives the surveys and will put together a report for the Call Committee that will be presented to Call Committee at the end of April.  This was an important first step and we are grateful for your participation.

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 
Yes, it’s true!  Pastor Steve has announced his plans to retire next year after 40+ years in ministry, 22 of which faithfully leading the body of Christ at St. Timothy.
 
Following Pastor Steve’s December announcement, the Board of Directors prayerfully appointed a Pastor Call Committee to begin the recommended study and planning process, with support from the LCMS District Office.  This diverse, representative group of active members invites our entire church body to participate in this important process by:
  • Praying and Fasting:  Let us humbly open our hearts and minds with prayer and fasting, asking the LORD to give us all a spirit of hopeful anticipation and discernment.  Prayerfully consider the direction of our church’s mission and ministry, and the potential characteristics of a new pastor who will help shepherd the flock into a new season of ministry.
  • Providing Input:
Complete our Survey:  In mid-March a survey will go out to all St. Timothy members.  Your personal feedback on characteristics, goals, objectives, etc. is important to us so we hope to hear from each of you.
Give Nominations:  During the call process, you will have the opportunity to provide pastoral nominations.  WE invite you to begin considering and praying over potential nominations now!
 
  • Staying Informed:  This is a time of change you may have questions.  Ask!  You have found our page devoted to the Call Process and our effort to keep everyone informed.  Please be sure to check out the Sunday bulletin and emails for further information as it is available.  Or CLICK HERE to submit a question that you may still have after looking through this website.  
 
We want you to know, too, that Pastor Steve is assisting  the Committee with his wisdom and guidance.  He has offered to stay on at St. Timothy for a period of time, to help orient, connect, and advise the new pastor, as they mutually agree it would be beneficial. Our prayers are with Pastor Steve and Rosalyn as well, for their preparation and transition into a new phase of their life together, when that time comes.
 
Prayerfully and Respectfully,
Bob Hartman, Co-Chair Board of Elders and Jeff Sjurseth, Chairman Board of Directors
 
The Call Committee members are:  Bob Hartman – Chair, Kevin Arnold, Calli Dretke, Heather Lehrmann, Kathy Kolkhorst, Ravi Manuel, Sarah Baden Spurgeon, Jane Ullrich, Glyn Willborg, Student Representative: Eden Rohan, Pastor Jeff Doria – Associate Pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church and Circuit Adviser, and Pastor Jon Braunersreuther –  LCMS District Advisor.
 
 
 
 

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