I Love My Church

Picture1

“I love my church.” It’s been a refrain I’ve oft repeated over the last year and a half to anyone who would listen.  I think sometimes we overuse words like “love”, “blessed”, and others, but for this church, at this time, it’s perfectly applicable.  Through an interesting set of circumstances, my family — husband Matt and 7 year old twins Ryan and Quinn — made our way to WordServe in early 2016.  From the moment we entered the doors, we felt wrapped in the arms of some of the most awesome God-loving people I’ve had the pleasure to meet.  Churches are a funny thing, really.  It’s often an intangible feeling of why you decide to call one your “home”.  But once we attended our first Christmas Eve service, I turned to my husband with tears in my eyes and felt it was just that… home.

A little back story, but way back 10+ years ago, I worked for WordServe’s parent church, Grace Fellowship.  I remember distinctly as the leadership there prayed and mulled over name suggestions for this new birthing in Fulshear.  And now having been a part of these mission partners for 18 months, I can say with 100% certainty that the name was absolutely God-ordained.  This church so perfectly lives out that name — grounded in the Word and committed to service outside ourselves. It is just rare to have so many serve so selflessly, day in, day out, and forever transforming lives in our community.  I feel privileged to witness and participate in these acts of service.  And honestly, as a parent, nothing beats seeing my children grow and blossom into devoted followers of Jesus.  Because of the love and guidance of those who serve so beautifully in WordServe Kids, my children have since both taken the huge step of publicly proclaiming their faith through baptism.  Those are moments that I will never forget and I am forever thankful of the examples set by our mission partners to show them exactly what loving God looks like.

I am so excited to experience what God has planned for WordServe and all of the lives that will continue to be transformed both in and outside these walls.  It is an honor to worship with you all each Sunday and to do life with you regularly outside of that hour.  That is a defining characteristic of a church… living faith out LOUD.  Our tagline “Life is Different” is not just a cutesy phrase.  It’s truth.  Thank you for loving our family well.  We are forever changed.

-Meagan Clanahan

 

Build-A-Bear Compassion

image7

Earlier in February, WordServe had the opportunity to bless Texas Children’s Hospital with custom-created Build-A-Bear gifts. The bears will be given to children who are battling illness and injury and face an extended hospital stay.  As WordServe values elevating others as God’s masterpieces, we hope that the children receiving these bears will find comfort, joy, and encouragement from these tangible displays of compassion. People of all ages and walks of life–young children, moms, dads, youth volunteers–gathered at Guardian Tae-kwon-do and assembled the bears and stuffed animals with clothing, accessories, and love.

image3image6image1

Texas Children’s Hospital was delighted to receive the bears and wrote:

“Because of donors like you and with the support of our community [we are] better able to alleviate stress and anxiety, promote positive coping, and create special moments for our patients and families.”

Thank you to all who participated in this awesome Compassion event!  Stay tuned for more upcoming service opportunities.

Schools Helping Schools through FaithFULL Kids

For many high school students, taking part in community service is a meaningful way to give back to others and gain skills and experiences valuable for future pursuits.  We are blessed to live in a community where high school students are passionate and proactive about serving others.  Seven Lakes High School’s National Honor Society, a chapter with close to 600 members known for its enthusiastic community service efforts, adopted FaithFULL Kids as its Fall 2014 service project.

Christina Zapalac, who serves as SLHS’s NHS sponsor, heard Rachel Dillon speak about the vision and mission behind FaithFULL Kids at during a recent service at WordServe.  Moved by what FaithFULL Kids is accomplishing in the community, Christina quickly mobilized students from SLHS to volunteer for the Sunday afternoon packing parties at Guardian TKD. Students jumped at the chance to earn service hours and help others, and packing parties soon became full.  But NHS didn’t stop there.  Every fall, the organization promotes a school-wide service project to benefit the surrounding area.  The students who had already served with FaithFULL Kids knew of the weekly food needs and could think of no better way of helping out than to conduct a food drive and donate the collections to FaithFULL Kids.  Over the course of several weeks, SLHS NHS collected 50 boxes of non-perishable food to restock the FaithFULL Kid shelves.

NHS FaithFULL Kids

WordServe is so excited to have SLHS NHS join our efforts to ensure that no child from Huggins Elementary goes hungry.  Right now, pray blessings for every child receiving food backpacks from FaithFULL Kids, as well as every student who provided a simple food item for the drive!  Thanks, SLHS NHS!

Habitat for Huggins Update: Moved In!

hfh house

It’s official:  the Habitat for Huggins house can once again be called HOME! After an entire year of prayers, love, and hard work, the house is occupied. Move-in day has been described as “Simply AMAZING. Holy. Truly beyond words.” Thank you to everyone who had a hand in this transformation; you have truly done God’s work.

tillman fam good news bible

If you didn’t get to help out as much as you had planned or hoped, don’t worry. This mission has just begun! WordServe Church is already saving funds for the next family in need.  The entire offering collected at WordServe’s Community Candlelight Christmas Eve service was donated to Habitat for Huggins!

To learn more about Habitat for Huggins visit wordserve.org/habitatforhuggins.

WordServe Kids Focus for January: Rehearsal Room Commitment

jan rehearsal room

Have you never had to endure a child learning to play the clarinet? It’s pretty awful. It sounds more like a person strangling a duck than anything close to actual music. But that goes with any musical instrument, doesn’t it? To become great at playing an instrument, you need to practice … to rehearse. You need to commit to sticking with it even when you don’t feel like it.

Maybe you’re not really a “music person.” Maybe your interest involves the soccer field or basketball court. Or maybe you find yourself at home on the stage acting or dancing. Whatever your “thing,” you know firsthand that in order to get better—to master your sport or hone your craft—you have to put in the work and practice, practice, practice.

The same is also true for faith. It takes practice to grow and mature in your relationship with God. It takes commitment. That’s why we’re spending the whole month of January to discover how commitment can show up in our lives as we practice our faith.

Commitment is making a plan and putting it into practice.

If we want to know God better, we need to practice our faith. But practicing isn’t something that comes naturally to any of us. That’s why we need a plan. And the best place to start is with spiritual disciplines; or what we call in the Orange world, “faith skills.”

This month, we are focusing on four faith skills that we think kids need to practice to know God better. We’re taking this month of commitment to dig deeper into these faith skills to help kids get a handle on what it means to practice their faith. We use four simple words to help us remember these skills:

HEAR. PRAY. TALK. LIVE.

Each week this month, we’ll focus on one of the faith skills as we talk about making a plan and putting it into practice.

In Week One, we’ll look at the word Hear. We want kids to learn how to hear from God as they listen to what Jesus said, listen to God’s Word, and His Holy Spirit. For the first week of commitment, kids will focus on navigating and personalizing Scripture as they look at the familiar parable of the wise and foolish builders found in Matthew 7:24-27.

Our Bottom Line is: Practice hearing what God says. We can’t do what God says until we know what God says, and that begins with listening to God.

For Week Two, we’ll discover more about what it means to Pray. We want kids to understand that praying is an important part of growing in their faith. They can pray knowing that God knows them and wants to hear from them. They can pray with gratitude and honesty; pray for their needs and for forgiveness. They can pray anytime, anywhere because God is always listening. That’s why we’ll look more closely at Luke 11:1-4 and the way Jesus taught His followers how to pray in the Lord’s Prayer.

Our Bottom Line is: Practice praying to God. We hope kids will come to believe that they can share anything with God. There’s nothing too big or too small for Him to handle.

Our faith skill for Week Three is Talk. We can actually get to know God better by talking about Him with others. But this isn’t just about talking about Jesus with people who don’t know Him yet. There’s also another important aspect of talking about God. As kids process their growing faith, they will have questions and doubts. We want kids to know that they can talk about God and work through their questions with others who also believe in Jesus. We’ll spend time in Matthew 16:13-20 and look at the moment when Peter declared what he believed about Jesus in front of all the disciples.

Our Bottom Line is: Practice talking about God. We can all share our story of faith with confidence knowing that Jesus is who He said He is.

We’ll wrap up the month with the faith skill Live. We know that most kids love to sing and worship God. But worship isn’t just something we do when we sing at church; worship is really how we honor God with our whole lives—through how we love others and serve them, and how we obey and praise God, or how we make time to rest. “Live”is also about giving of our time, money, and talents.

That’s why we’re looking at the story of the widow’s offering in Mark 12:41-44. There were people giving lots of money, but Jesus knew that the two coins the widow gave meant more because they were everything she had.

Our Bottom Line is: Practice living for God. We hope kids realize they can worship God every day with whatever they’re doing, no matter what they have.

During the month, we’ll memorize a great verse that reminds us about the importance of making a commitment to practice our faith. 1 Timothy 4:8a says: “Training the body has some value. But being godly has value in every way.” When we commit to practicing our faith and follow through on our plan, we’ll grow in such a way that will impact our entire lives.

Remember, as we unpack these four faith skills, not only this month but every week in Small Group and at home, we’re giving kids an opportunity to develop these skills over time so when they grow older, they will understand what it means to be the church, and understand how to work, live, and move in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

We can’t wait to see what God will do in the lives of kids and families this month as we commit to practice our faith and grow in our relationship with God.

For the January Elementary Student Parent Cue, click here!

By Dan Scott ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.

WordServe Kids Focus for December: Wrapped Up Generosity

14Dec_standard_Generosity

“It’s official—the holidays are around the corner. How do I know? Relatives are asking for Christmas lists so they can get their shopping done. The commercials on TV are rolling out their latest toy temptations to get children drooling. Even the shopping malls and discount stores are busy stocking Christmas decorations just in case you feel like getting a jump-start on your seasonal lawn ornaments and light displays.

With all this Christmas hoopla, it’s easier than ever to lose focus on why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. That’s why we want to spend this month talking about Generosity: making someone’s day by giving something away.

We hope kids get wrapped up in others as they show them how much God has been so generous toward us. There’s a danger in getting so wrapped up in ourselves or so wrapped up in our things that we miss the essence of this season. There’s just something about giving that reflects the character of God to those around us. Every good thing we have is a gift from Him. But we also know that God’s generosity has a purpose. God gives to us and expects us to do the same for others in return.

Generosity changes us when we learn how to give the way God gives. This month, we’ll look at four great stories from the New Testament that help us understand God’s plan for generosity in our lives.

In Week 1, we start our month on generosity in Luke 12:13-21 with a parable Jesus told about a rich man who was wrapped up in the wrong thing. He worried more about storing up more stuff and ended up losing everything that really mattered. Our Bottom Line is: Don’t get wrapped up in your stuff.

In Week 2, we get to eavesdrop on a conversation that Jesus had with a rich ruler that Luke recorded in Luke 18:18-25. This man was so wrapped up in his stuff that he couldn’t let go of what didn’t really matter in favor of what mattered most, a relationship with Jesus. Our Bottom Line is: Get wrapped up in what matters most.

In Week 3, we celebrate that God sent us the greatest gift when He sent us Jesus. Through John 3:16-17 and Luke 2:1-18, we will focus on Jesus’ birth as we pause and remember that God gave us His only Son, so we could have a personal relationship with Him. Our Bottom Line is: Get wrapped up in Christmas.

In Week 4, we’ll see that the wise men knew how to be generous. In Matthew 2:1-12, we read about the men who came to visit Jesus. They went above and beyond to see Him and show generosity. Our Bottom Line is: Get wrapped up in giving.

Our memory verse is a great reminder for us. “Be rich in good deeds … be generous and willing to share,” 1 Timothy 6:18. Many times, we think that our ability to be generous is connected to our stuff. However, being rich really isn’t defined by how much we have or collect, or how many presents we get. We’re not generous because we are rich; rather, we are rich because we are generous. This month, we hope that kids will discover what it really means to be rich—to let God’s generosity show up in their lives and help them get wrapped up in others.”

Click HERE for the December Baby and Toddler Parent Cue.

Click HERE for the December Preschool Parent Cue.

By Dan Scott ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. http://www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.

WordServe Kids Focus for November: Time Out! Gratitude

14Nov_standard_Gratitude

“Have you ever been watching a sporting event where one of the teams played like they were falling apart at the seams?

The pitcher giving up run after run.

The defensive line that just can’t stop anyone.

The full-court press that simply can’t get the ball back.

It’s a mess. Finally the coach calls it: “Time out!”

He brings the team in, takes a moment to regroup. He adjusts and recalibrates to get his team ready to get back on the field and face their opponent.

The same goes for life.

Everything can be going well. You’re happy at work. The kids are excelling at school, and they are even getting along with each other at home. Life seems pretty perfect.

Then overtime something happens. Not overnight and maybe even so gradually that you don’t notice it. But one day you wake up and it seems like nothing’s going right and everyone is grumpy.

Something is off.

Something is broken.

And everyone needs a time out.

There are just some things that need an adjustment.

God wants to work in your life and the lives of your kids to tweak some things in your character. In a lot of ways, He’s taking a time out and making adjustments to conform you to the image of His Son. In those times, it’s like God is pulling us over to the side and reminding us when we need to recalibrate a few things.

And it makes sense, really. If God made us, He knows what we need to give attention to. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to His instruction manual and what He has to say about certain attitudes. Take the idea of GRATITUDE, for example. If we never take the time to acknowledge what God has done in our lives or how others have helped us, we may develop an unhealthy ego or a growing frustration at the people around us. We might become bitter and complain about every little thing.

That’s why GRATITUDE is a really big idea that God talks about so much. It affects more of your life than you probably have ever imagined. That’s why we’re taking this month to talk about what it means to show GRATITUDE: letting others know how they’ve helped you.

For week one, we kick off the month by taking a closer look at our memory verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:18. It says, “Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus.” (NIrV)

We want to help kids understand why God wants us to give thanks in all circumstances. We believe something will happen in the heart of any child when they learn to take a TIME OUT, think about this verse, and remember the Bottom Line: You always have something to be grateful for.

In week two, we will take a look at a powerful story in Luke 17:11-19 about 10 lepers who asked Jesus to be healed. But when their skin condition went away, they became so ecstatic about the miracle that they ran off and forgot to say “thank You.” All except for one, who came back. It’s great to influence children in such a way that they become the kind of people who put our Bottom Line into action: Take time to say “thank you.”

For week three, we’ll dig into a parable Jesus told one day about some vineyard workers. In Matthew 20:1-15, we read that a few of the workers started making comparisons to what others were getting paid and became ungrateful and started complaining. Then at the end of the day, they had a bad attitude because they thought, that’s not fair. Have you heard that around your house lately? Well, then, maybe it’s time for this week’s Bottom Line: Take time to adjust your attitude.

In week four, we’ll explore Exodus 23:14-19 and discover how some of the rules God gave His people included some major celebrating with entire DAYS and sometimes WEEKS set aside to give His people an opportunity to take time to celebrate. That’s what we want our kids to do too: Take time to celebrate what God has done.

Finally, we’ll look at how the Apostle Paul closed out his letter to the Roman followers of Jesus. He thanked people—a LOT of people—for helping him on his journeys. We hope kids come away with this Bottom Line: Take time to remember how others have helped you.

Sometimes gratitude takes a little bit of intentionality. Sometimes, you have to literally take a time out and remember what you have to be grateful for. A great way to do that is through giving.”

This fall, we’re excited to partner with Operation Christmas Child (OCC). Each year, they facilitate the packing and delivery of millions of shoebox gifts to children in crisis areas and third-world countries around the globe. Most of these kids have never before received a Christmas present. Check out http://www.wordserve.org for more information about OPP during the month of November!

Click HERE for the November Parent Cue.

Click HERE for the November Parent Time.

Click HERE for the November Parent Cue for Babies and Toddlers.

By Dan Scott ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. http://www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.

Get Your Bearings: Risk-taking as Sacrificial Worship–Pat’s Story

get-your-bearings-header

Since October 19, Nolan and Bill have been preaching through a new sermon series titled “Get Your Bearings”, which focus on five core values that can calibrate your relationship with God to one that is vibrant, fruitful, and life-giving.  During yesterday’s service, Pat Penner, Executive Director of Sealy Pregnancy Crisis Center, shared a personal testimony of how God is using the value of risk-taking as sacrificial worship to strengthen and stretch her relationship with Him:

“Dave and I married in April of this year. The day I returned to work from our honeymoon I was told that I was part of the group of lay-offs, and would be on the payroll for 60 days starting the following month and could not accept a job during that time or I would forfeit my severance. I had worked for BP for almost 35 years and really hadn’t pictured myself as leaving in this manner. I was saddened, but I accepted it as a new chapter in my life about to begin.

My immediate thought was, to update my Linkedin profile and get my resume together as I had a list of 30+ recruiters in a spreadsheet in preparation for such a day as this. However, my wonderful husband suggested I take these next 60 days and listen to what God had to say, as maybe He had other plans.

I took that time and reflected, on my life, where I was and how far I had come. In looking back, I had seen Gods hands all along the way leading me. Each time it was for a specific purpose, as I was going through these trials, I would get angry or frustrated because I didn’t understand. But when it was all over, I’d reflect back and could clearly see that His purpose was obvious. For now I know and have confidence that my Father either removes me from the storm or will hold my hand and be with me through it. Either way, He has never abandoned me.

So I knew that I had to step out in faith by trusting that this was a new stage in my life and He had a plan for me. At the time, I didn’t know what that plan was, but I needed to be still and listen. That meant I had to trust God and walk that tight rope knowing that he had that protective hand just below me, in case I fell. And if I fell, it was because there was something for me to learn. That’s because I have total trust in God and know that He has my best interest at heart.

During that down time, I asked myself, what I found most fulfilling. Volunteering at the Pregnancy Help Center came to mind immediately. I thought well there are no jobs available there, the pay is too low and 52 miles was way too far to commute on a daily basis. So that thought was a big “No Way!” Within a day or two, I received a call from the center director Sylvia Johnson asking me if I would be willing to help out periodically during the week while I was off as they were in need of help. I gladly agreed to volunteer on Mondays and Saturdays. The commute on the weekdays was horrible. Eventually, I thought, I can’t keep this up; gas is expensive, wears on my car and it’s not bringing in any income. But supportive Dave encouraged me to continue.

A couple of weeks later I was in the grocery store in Sealy and was reflecting on some of the young ladies I had counseled that day and the issues she was facing. I felt God tell me “Look around. See, there are young ladies here in need. Where can they go for help? There is a need for a pregnancy center here. That’s what I want you to do.” Sadly, I said “Is this in my head or is that You speaking, God? Because if it is, I need you to prove to me that it’s really You.” Then I said, “Number one, starting a business is a lot of work. Number two, I can’t do this by myself, so if this is what You really want, I need Your help and your guidance.” I then thought, “I just got married, my salary would go to literally nothing, I can’t do that to Dave and I couldn’t dare tell him that I was going to start a pregnancy center knowing that starting a business requires a lot of time, money and no salary. Not only that, I’m a control freak: I had a job, owned my own home, and paid my own bills. That would mean in a few short months I’d go from total control to no control.” My entire life was being transformed before my eyes.

One evening, as we sat down to eat dinner, I had this nagging push to tell Dave and I kept pushing it back down thinking “He’s going to think I’m nuts.” Finally, I told him and his response was positive, supportive and he said ‘Who am I to stand in the way if God is calling you to do this. You have the time. See where God takes you with this.” I called Sylvia and told her the idea and that I was just thinking about it and immediately her response was excitement and she said that she was willing to help and work with me to get it off the ground and she was telling me all that I needed to do to get setup. My immediate thought was fear and “what if this isn’t Gods calling and it’s just in my head? I don’t want people getting too excited about this just yet. Let’s just keep it low and under the radar. I’m just thinking about it, not sure I’m going to do it.” The fear in me began rise higher and higher.

So what did I do? I prayed. “God, if this is what you want me to do, make it clear and obvious. I’m listening. I don’t know where to start and, I don’t want it to be a burden on my husband. Please help.” He has done just that.

With every step taken, I have clearly seen Gods hands. When I need help in any specific areas, He has brought the right person across my path at the right time and reason to answer any questions, give me guidance and offer assistance when needed, such as Cheryl, Marcus, Cathy, and others. I thank Cheryl for her help, as she has been giving me any spare time she has to pull data, look up information, you name it. She has become a wonderful friend. You see I have learned that we need others as we walk our walk.

I felt God tell me, “All that I have brought you through has been to prepare you for just this. All that you have learned up to this point prepares you for what I have in store for you, at this stage in your life.” You see over the years, I have worked in accounting, administrative services, HR, as an engineer, commercial analyst, project manager, etc. Many times I’ve looked back and thought, if only I had made better decisions I would have been so much further in my life and career. But God has taken these experiences and given me an opportunity to share them with others, offering encouragement not to give up and that it’s never too late and never beyond hope for them and their child. As I have progressed through this, I have met others that have this same passion and encouraging stories to share and they too are a part of this plan. So, I have learned through this process to be open so that others have room for their spiritual growth through this process as well.

He has been and continues preparing us for the betterment of His Kingdom. He wants someone to be there for the young ladies who are losing hope and don’t have anywhere else to turn, and I am so honored that He has chosen me as His vessel to do His work. You see what I haven’t mentioned is that I, too, was one of them. I had my son at age 16. He is now 37 and is an amazing intelligent young man of whom I am very proud. I can’t imagine him not being here or where we would be without the love and support I too received at that time. Through all of these experiences, my relationship with my Father continues to grow stronger and stronger.

I remind myself often that this isn’t about me; it’s about God and His work. I am just the tool He uses. And if I hadn’t said yes, He would have chosen someone else, as His work will be done, with or without me. I’m glad I said yes.”

Teachable Moments from Habitat for Huggins

As of you may know, WordServe has been involved in an on-going construction project called Habitat for Huggins which is aimed at helping a local family whose home was in need of much repair and re-building.  A couple of weeks ago, WordServe had a service day to put in insulation at the house, and then later that weekend, WordServe Youth built a playhouse for the family’s children.  This weekend project was a perfect picture of the body of Christ coming together, with its many unique and special parts, to work together in unity for a common purpose.  One of our WordServe servants, Pam Gdanski, shared a powerful testimony about her experience helping the Youth build the playhouse.

“One thing that stood out more than anything was Rick Gdanski working with one of the family’s younger sons.  Before Rick ever did started working this project, he first showed the boy what he was doing, walked him through how to do the job, then had him complete the task himself, with Rick guiding him the whole time.  The boy was right there with him soaking in everything Rick was telling him.  Rick was so patient with him too, and involved him in the conversation and the decisions that were made about the playhouse we were building.  I noticed how respectful the boy was with Rick and how much he watched his every move.  I loved seeing Rick model this behavior for the young boy and teach him valuable life lessons!
 
Another obvious heart-warming moment was watching our youth play with the family’s kids and the other neighborhood children.  There were no barriers because of who they were, or the house they lived in.  The youth were giving piggy back rides, letting the young girls braid their hair, and playing “rock” ball.  The youth loved on these kids this afternoon and included them in all the games.  We also got to go into the house and look around.  One of the daughters pulled me by her hand and showed me every inch of the house.  The smiles on their faces were priceless; there was so much joy and excitement.  Just spending the afternoon with them was a blessing in itself.”
I’m sure the young boy will forever remember the patient, loving instruction given by Rick.  Even though the task might have been completed faster on his own, Rick saw the value in providing a teachable moment for the young boy, giving him ownership and pride in the project.  Not only did the children end up with an awesome new playhouse, but they were able to experience the joy spread by the servants there, and vice versa!
WordServe’s next Habitat for Huggins workday is on October 25.  You can sign up to serve by clicking here.  We hope to see you there!  You won’t regret being involved in such an incredible demonstration of Christ’s love!

WordServe Kids Preschool Focus for September: God’s God It!

How often do we throw out the words, “I’ve got it”? More often than we’ve actually got it, I would think. You know who’s actually “got it”? God. God’s got it. He is everywhere and has power over everything. That’s what we want our preschoolers to learn this month. No matter what’s going on, God’s got it.

They’ll learn God has the power to answer prayer through the story of Elijah and the fire. They’ll hear the story of Moses and the burning bush and learn that God has the power to speak to them. We’ll continue with Moses and tell the story of the pillars of clouds and fire to show our preschoolers that God has the power to show us the right way to go. And finally, we’ll close the month with the super amazing story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego where preschoolers will learn that God is so powerful that He can always be with them. Always. And, because He’s always there, He’s always got it!

Click here for the September Preschool Parent Cue!

by Kathy Hill, Editor in Chief, FirstLook