Hurricane Readiness 2020

Update August 21, 2020
 
This weekend we are watching the weather patterns as two separate tropical depressions form in the Gulf and preparing for the possibility that one or both could seriously impact the greater Houston area. As we monitor these storms, the Gulf Coast Synod Disaster Response team reminds us that we want to be sure that we are prepared so that when a storm hits we are able to care for our family which will allow us to care for our community. This need is heightened given the continuing effects of COVID-19 on our community. As we brace for a potential storm what would become crowded spaces under normal conditions will still be places where we should be practicing social distancing and trying to minimize our exposure.
 
Take some time to review the 72 Hour Lutheran Disaster Preparedness checklist that is put out by our Synod Disaster Response team. Water, non-perishables, batteries, and more will all be important to have on hand. The team also recommends that you make sure we, Lord of Life, have updated contact information for your household. This is a great opportunity to log into Realm and manage your contact information directly. You can update addresses, phone numbers, e-mails to make sure that we can get a hold of you in the wake of an event either to ensure your safety or to update you on relief efforts we are undertaking. If you are having trouble logging in please call the church office (281-367-7016) between 8:30 and 4:30 M-F or e-mail me at pastordavid@lordoflifeonline.org and we will work to get you connected.
 
As the storms progress, watch your e-mail, Facebook, and Realm for updates from Lord of Life.
 

Finally, I offer this reminder: How we act, especially in times of crisis, is seen by others as a reflection of our faith. The grace of God is abundant and can forgive all things. But how we treat the person taking our parking spot, or the grocery clerk restocking shelves, or the fellow shopper who reaches for the last case of water at the same time we do are all seen by those around us as an indication of how followers of Jesus truly act. May God grant you the peace of mind, the assurance of God’s abundance, and the courage of the saints before us so that in all things we can be a light shining with the love of God “that all have life through the love of Christ.”

 

God loves each of you and I do too,

Pastor David



Pastor’s Message 08/19/20

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

When I accepted your call to be your Senior Pastor in 2010, I committed to being with you for 10 years. Those 10 years have gone by quickly! We have had some exciting, highly productive, challenging times. I hope you have grown as much as Emily and I have by our time together!
 
And now it’s time for me to retire. My last Sunday with you will be November 8, 2020. That gives us nearly three months to have the conversations we need to have with each other, and to make sure ministries are well transitioned for the interim, in-between time you will be entering as a congregation.
 
This interim time is an important time, not to be rushed. Rest assured that there is a good road map for interim times, provided by our Gulf Coast Synod. Your leadership is already studying the process and is reading a book called “A Change of Pastors” to help them prepare for this interim time of guiding you, along with a well-trained Interim Senior Pastor, in assessing where Lord of Life has been over the past 10 years, what God is calling of you as you face the future, and what pastoral leadership you need to move into that future. I encourage you to make good use of this time.
 
Normally it takes a time of dust settling before the Interim Senior Pastor arrives – probably at the beginning of January. In the meantime, Pastor David, Rev. Tammy Fincher, and other staff will be leading you in an interesting and creative “COVID” Advent and Christmas Season.
 
We are hosting three Congregational Informational Zoom Meetings in which you will hear about the interim process, our plans for reopening the building, and our financial condition at this point in the year.

Installation of Pastor Gary Heath at Lord of Life, The Woodlands. 2010

The dates for these meetings:
Sunday, August 23, 5 PM
Tuesday, August 25, 5 PM
Tuesday, August 25, 7 PM
Look for an email invitation in The Happenings on Thursday, and please pick one of these times to join in the conversation with council president Chuck Hoffheiser, finance manager Brian Dawson, and me. You will be able to ask any questions about these three subjects.
 
Emily and I feel so blessed by our time with you precious, creative, passionate, committed and fun-loving people. We will miss you and the incredible life and ministry of Lord of Life. But we leave knowing you are in good hands – the hands of our Lord and the hands of some excellent congregational leaders and staff. And while pastors are a part of the leadership team, it’s still your mission and vision, fueled by the Holy Spirit, that drive this place.
We will have more time to share what has taken place in these 10 years, and the meaning of this time we have been privileged to share, as you begin thinking about what’s next.
 
Grace and Peace,
And much love and affection for you all,
Pastor Gary


Pastor message 07-02-20

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

We are so grateful to hear from you how much you appreciate the way ministries have continued at Lord of Life in face of this pandemic. Thank you for your support and encouragement!

And thank you for your financial support – we could not continue without your commitment to the ministries we share. We have experienced a bit of a lag in giving – if you can cover for some of your fellow members who have lost jobs and therefore are not able to give as much, we would appreciate your contributions to our regular budget.

Reopening Plans:

As previously mentioned, your leadership is following the CDC guidelines, and unfortunately Covid cases have risen dramatically in Montgomery County. Tentatively, based on the numbers, we hope to open the building for in-person worship on August 2, with one service at 8:20am, with our 25% maximum attendance of 94. Please check out our policy for re-opening on our website.

Technology Updates:

Good news! We are making the building safer by adding ultraviolet light technology to all 11 of our HVAC units here at church. Ultraviolet light kills many types of airborne viruses and will make us safer, even after the pandemic is over.

Worship Updates:

Watch this weekend for an experiment in family worship called “Engage: House Church”. It is an interactive experience that includes all elements of worship:

  1. Gathering
  2. Word
  3. Meal
  4. Sending

We hope you’ll check out this new expression of worship. You can still join us on our website or Facebook on Sundays for our regular worship broadcast. Updated audio/visual equipment is being installed in the sanctuary and will be in use by July 19. Watch and let us know what you think of our new technology.

As always, look for Bible studies/discussions, devotionals, and Bible story readings for the kids each night led by various church families. We are all blessed when members share their gifts and talents.

Until we can see each other again, a great e-hug to all of you!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Gary
281-367-7016


Two Kingdoms

Dear Friends,

Following Bishop Eaton’ s sermon last Sunday, there is much debate these days about the extent to which our Christian faith leads us into involvement in governmental matters. Martin Luther articulated in the 16th century a theology on this subject called his “Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms”– the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Kingdom of this World, both of which he stoutly maintained were under the sovereignty of God. For your discussion with family and friends, see below course materials on this subject, with references to his writings and to the Bible. All those interested in a ZOOM discussion of this material, email me at Pastorgary@lordoflifeonline.org.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Gary
 

Religion and Politics Do Mix!

Luther’ Theology of the Two Kingdoms

Our current situation: Divisiveness, avoidance of political conversation

What’s difference between talking about Christian values and talking politics?

Need to have a way to talk without the emotion re: Christian role in world

Lutheran notion: Ongoing revelation of God’s truth – new for each circumstance

So, we keep asking What does this mean? Here, in this context?

Some presuppositions:

All of life is created and ordered by God, therefore good

God creates order in creation, overcomes chaos with structure

All of life is to be lived in the context of God’s sovereignty

All Christians live their lives primarily out of justification by grace through faith

We are all sinner – saints at the same time completely imperfect and completely loved

Challenge of sorting out what God’s will is in certain situations – often ambiguous

People of faith are called to live “in but not of this world”

 

Which leads to this tenet of Luther’s theology: The Kingdoms of the World, The Kingdom of Heaven (both ordered and ruled by God)

Kingdoms of this world – Governing structures of society

Luther: All created by God – Includes all “government”, governing authorities, secular authorities – family, service organizations, Boy and Girl Scouts, corporations, civil government, and yes, the organized church, all gifts of God

Scriptural references: Romans 13:1-10, I Peter 2:13-14

Kingdoms, governments of this world, are all temporal, fitting the times and the needs

 

What do you see as the roles, purposes of the governments of this world?

Family?

PTO?

Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts?

Rotary, Lions Service League,

Township?

County Government?

Federal Government?

Organized Church – Lord of Life, for instance?

Ultimately, in Luther’s view, these organizations: Keep order in society, protect human rights, assure justice is done, see to the needs of all.

 

Kingdom of Heaven is eternal, spiritual, invisible, unchanging, perfectly present in this world and the next, unbounded by time or context.

Scripture:

Psalm 145:9-14

Matthew 5:3

John 18:33-38

Luke 17:20-21

Matthew 13: Kingdom of the heavens parables

Romans 14:7

Colossians 1:13

 

What are the principles, values, of the Kingdom of heaven?

All Christians live out of justification by grace through faith, and in obedience to the God of the Scriptures. When the governments of this world are at odds with Kingdom of Heaven values, the Christian is called to obey Kingdom of Heaven values, not governments.

 

Reflection: “For Everyone Born” – Kingdom of this world or Kingdom of heaven?

 

Tension in the “in but not of this world” life of the Christian:

Luther: the enthusiasts on the right: Ignore the world, avoid it, stay pure

Enthusiast on the left: Create a Christian nation that completely adheres to Christian values

Confusion for Christians. Is there such a thing as a Christian Nation? (Calvin’s experiment in Geneva, Switzerland, NAZI Germany, Kingdom of God in America)

The governments of this world are imperfect, yet God has created them, and we are called to be “in but not of the world”

Evil can infiltrate.

So – next week – What is the role of the Christian in the governments of this world?”

And the week after: “What is the role of the Church in the governments of this world? “

 


Pandemic Times

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I hope you are all faring well in this Pandemic time. We will soon have information regarding reopening our church building. Our basic criteria for “when” follows the CDC recommendation of 14 days of declining Covid-19 cases in our area. There has been a slight increase in cases in Montgomery County, so bear with us. As of today, it looks like we can re-open in July. We will keep you posted in our weekly email, “Happenings”.

While we deal with the re-opening, ministry continues. Over $35,000 has been given to our Pastor’s Discretionary Fund to help people in need. Bless you!  Financially, we are doing pretty well. There was a dip in giving in May – if you can, please continue to generously support our on-going work in our community. If you can do a little extra, that would help immensely. 

Worship life is alive and well – thanks to our staff and volunteers who are doing so much to keep us centered. We are learning much that will help us move into the future – for instance, we will be offering our second live-streamed Memorial service today for Don Gilland. Please remember his wife Judy and the family in your prayers. These services are helping us practice when we return to in-person worship, because we will continue to live-stream our services beyond this pandemic time as a ministry to the community.  

Spiritual Life in general – we are grateful that daily devotions continue with “Coffee Conversation with the Heaths”.  Pastor David and Patrick Nazaroff continue their “Beyond Sunday” podcast. Bible studies are flourishing. We are doing more of them than ever before. Contact the church office if you need help getting into one at 281-367-7016. 

People have been serving in person. Over 40 members, including our youth, have helped repair and reset a member’s house for her return from hospital and rehab. Copperwood Senior Living Facility continues to be served by our congregation in this time. Thanks to all of you! If you need help getting you and your family safely connected to serving, please contact Jenny McKenna through the church office or email jMcKenna@LordofLifeOnline.org.

And our fellowship and celebrating continue – with the help of LOL member Brian Stockham and his food truck, the Mother’s Day Brunch fundraiser brought in over 80+ orders, totally $1300 for our Copperwood ministry.

Regarding George Floyd’s death

As you have been watching in the news, we are dealing with a new awareness of how far we have to go with race relations in this country at the death of Houstonian George Floyd. Protests around the country are an appropriate exercise of our 1st Amendment rights. It is our constitutional right as citizens of this country when a message needs to be sent to the powers that be that something needs to change.

That being said, we can be grateful for the positive role model displayed in Houston 2 days ago, when citizens, governmental authorities, and even police were seen to get on their knees for a moment of silence to remember George Floyd. This is the way we begin to change the culture and achieve true peace with justice. It starts when citizens and authorities recognize the need for humble, cooperative ways to deal with this problem, recognizing we are all complicit in this matter.

Martin Luther himself made it clear that when authorities abuse their power, they need to be held accountable by the people. He said in his treatise – “Secular Authority: To What Extent it Should Be Obeyed”:

“In instituting government, God has given it a specific task. It is to protect people committed to its care against exploitation by brutal selfishness and violence of their fellow men…. It is the function and honor of worldly government to make men out of wild beasts and to prevent men from becoming wild beasts.”

So even governmental authority must submit to the authority of God. This is particularly true wherever oppression and injustice rear their ugly heads. I believe this is a time of correction in our society, and another moment at which we look at a recurring issue among us, and take another step in our societal healing.

Peaceful people make for peace. That is our calling as Christians. To look at differences among us and start by seeing the love of God for every person, and our common humanity and need for basic dignity, safety and liberty.  But it has to start with us. As the song says,

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

Hoping to see you all soon, my dear Brothers and Sisters,

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Gary
 


Practice Stopping!

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy

“Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work…  For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it. ”  Exodus 20:8-11

What does this mean?

“We are to fear and love God so that we do not neglect his Word and the preaching of it, but regard it as holy and gladly hear and learn it.”

— Martin Luther’s Small Catechism

 Anyone who has seen “Fiddler on the Roof” knows that our Jewish sisters and brothers celebrate the Sabbath from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, stopping work for a full day to acknowledge God, the creator of all, who rested on the seventh day, and to celebrate the God who set them free from constantly having to labor as  slaves in Egypt.

And if God needed a day of rest on a regular basis, humans certainly did as well!   Instead of observing weekly Sabbath on Saturdays to rest and hear God’s Word,  however, most of the  Christian Church began gathering on Sunday, the 8th day, the day of the “New Creation ” begun by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So, how is it going with you in giving yourself a Sabbath day of rest? Our culture is such a high performance culture that unfortunately most of us, myself included,  keep busy even when we are off work, racing around getting chores done or keeping our kids busy with sports, music, and other things we deem necessary to their success. Some questions to ponder:

If God stopped for a day of rest, what makes us think we don’t need one?

What might be keeping us from taking a break from our labors?

What might be different if we truly gave ourselves a day of rest?

How might worshipping God help us stop and rest?

  What might we be afraid of if we practiced “stopping”?

 

Shabbat shalom! Sabbath Peace to you!

Pastor Gary



Pastor John’s Blog

hirling johnThere are many things to celebrate here at Lord of Life.  High on my list are your missions and outreach.  Someone once said all churches decide, consciously or unconsciously, to be clubhouses or lighthouses.  I’m pleased that Lord of Life is more lighthouse than clubhouse.   Apparently, you agree.  Of the top thirteen responses to the question, “If Lord of Life disappeared tomorrow, what would the community miss?”  ten were missions or outreach.  Second only to Kids of the Kingdom, was Hands of Faith.
 
Many of you are aware how big a fan I am of Hands of Faith because of its commitment to fair trade.  My first stoles coming out of seminary were gifts purchased through fair trade.  The fair trade stoles I now wear come from Guatemala.  To me, it’s all about our call to social justice and stewardship.  Those who participate in fair trade, “promote safe, healthy working conditions, protect the environment, enable transparency, and empower communities to build strong, thriving businesses” ( http://fairtradeusa.org/what-is-fair-trade).  Additionally, fair trade is a partial answer to poverty, insures there was no child labor or forced labor in the production of products, and is committed to non-discrimination (See:  http://wfto.com/fair-trade/10-principles-fair-trade).
 

george eason council nominee 2015

There are dedicated followers of Jesus, committed to social justice and stewardship, whose understanding of scripture (especially Jesus scourging of the temple) raises questions whether a church building is an appropriate setting for a fair trade outlet.  Here is the experience of one such member in his own words.
 

“I have been a member of Lord of Life for many years but I was not raised in a church family and have been favored gracefully in finding and understanding my faith.  I read the Bible to broaden and enrich my faith and the stories captivated me.  The brazen, rebellious and daring story of Jesus in the Temple overturning the tables and driving out the cattle was significant to me.  I only wished to be so bold in faith as to affront hypocrisy and challenge the establishment with such abandonment.  This story taught me that right is right and the integrity and solemnity of our worship should be upheld vigorously out of love and respect for the Father.  This story in particular tempered my feelings.

peru 2014 eason belinda 3I was ok with buying a few bags of Fair Trade coffee now and then when it was offered on a table outside the fellowship hall.  I’m sure I bought a few chocolate bars for the girls as well. I mentally categorized this as an act of charity.  I never consciously rationalized it at the time, but it was a way to indulge myself in “Exotic” goods from a foreign land, to taste, smell and experience things from another culture that I had never been exposed to and likely never would experience otherwise. A novelty for me and my family and the belief that this would somehow benefit someone less fortunate in a distant land, well that’s a “Fair Trade”, right?  Then, when the Fair Trade Store was first suggested at LOL I remember thinking they are taking this notion way too far.  The commandeering of a teaching room and the establishment of a retail market in the Church was not the direction I thought we should be taking.  A dedicated market place for these items exceeded my definition of charity.  I   remembered the story of Jesus in the Temple and could not reconcile this action by my Church with my understanding of what Jesus did in the Temple courts.

As often happens though, my understanding was challenged with a “Mission” trip to Peru. peru 2014 eason george1 My family and I were blessed with the opportunity to visit our Brothers and Sisters in Filadelphia Church on the outskirts of Lima Peru.  Our mission was to meet, establish relationships with and serve the people there.  We were to check on the progress of their new library, evaluate the Sombrando preschool program and to explore other opportunities to support the ministry of Christ in that area.  Beth Miller was a member of our party and part of her calling on this trip was to
look for Fair Trade opportunities.  I watched as Beth meet with the women of Filadelphia and the artisan members of that congregation to discuss Fair Trade.  I saw the faces of those” less fortunate people” of my earlier belief.  I witnessed the emotions, the excitement of these people who could not believe that their efforts, their skill and their artistry could be a means of supplementing their existence.  I participated in the negotiations with a young man who asked so little of his handiwork that the cost of materials was marginally covered by the price; it was what he was used to in selling his wares.  I saw Beth and others evaluating products and commenting to the people on quality control and the return value of well made goods.  We made a return trip to Peru later that year to follow-up on our previous efforts.  I saw the development of and collaboration between the members of Filadelphia and their Fair Trade contributions. They were proud of their efforts; they had diligently worked to improve the quality of their wares and had encouraged peru 2014 eason hannahothers in their community to participate.  I saw the difference in the faces of the people.  I saw the emergence of hope where before there was only faith.  For me our “Mission” to Peru resulted in the congregation of Filadelphia serving me and my family more deeply and genuinely than any experience I could have imagined. In my mind now, we went there for their “Mission” to us.  Not least was their service to my understanding of the Fair Trade ministry.  My perceptions of the actions of Jesus in the Temple have evolved.  His action was, as always, an act 
for  humanity and fairness rather than an angered assault against profiteering and hypocrisy.
 

I wished then to be so bold in faith as to affront hypocrisy and challenge the establishment with abandonment.  I think that the lessons about righteousness, integrity and the solemnity of worship are still valid. A vigorous love and respect for the Father are certainly commendable. But my narrow perspective then prevented me from seeing Jesus’ motivation as I do now; the love of humanity was the motive for His actions.

I wish now to overcome my limited perceptions, to be bold in faith, to seek fairness and to act for  humanity. Fair Trade markets are a step in that direction. “  (George Eason, Lord of Life member since 1999, used with permission)

 

That is said so much better than I ever could. 

 

Two things were necessary for worshipers in the temple at Passover: an appropriate animal sacrifice and Temple coins which local merchants would accept.  Many travelled long distances to Jerusalem and were unable to bring their sacrifice or obtain appropriate currency elsewhere.  Thus, the exchange of coins for animals or foreign currency for Temple coins was wholly compatible with the worship of God’s people.  But the particular money changers Jesus encountered were, in his words, a “den of robbers” charging exorbitant rates, and taking advantage of those who options were limited if they had any at all. Moreover, they interfered rather than facilitated the worship of God.  Lutheran pastor, Edward F. Marquart, writes:
 “We can easily visualize the money chargers, the oxen, sheep, pigeons and the general chaos in the Temple area, especially in the Court of the Gentiles. The historian Josephus informs us about the “bazaars of Annas.”  . . .  This family made big money off the temple business. It was the biggest racket in town. People would bring their Roman and Greek coins with images of the emperor on those coins . . .  In equivalent dollars of today, Annas had an annual $170 million dollar business going.  Yes, Annas and his high priestly family, had the best and biggest business in the country, and it was concentrated in the temple. Josephus was right: the temple area had become a bazaar.” (http://www.sermonsfromseattle.com/series_b_the_cleansing_of_the_temple.htm)
 

Hands of Faith seeks no profits.  Nor does it interfere with worship.  Instead, it helps fulfill God’s desires:  that we “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.”  

Grace & peace,

Pastor John



Marriage Application

Download the free app!

 



Prayer Request Form

<iframe src=”https://docs.google.com/forms/d/10G7c-URfGpeZixSmZv-1b1VULHho0591ud5RkBqpt9g/viewform?embedded=true” width=”760″ height=”500″ frameborder=”0″ marginheight=”0″ marginwidth=”0″>Loading…</iframe>



Baptism Application



^