Our tall white steeple and red doors call out to the community that all are welcome to come and feel the love of Christ and the love of our church family. Our worship services are on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. with adult Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. For our youth, we have #OAKZ. Our mission statements are Extending God’s Call – Empowering God’s People – Easing Human Need. We are located at 1576 Chantilly Lane, and our telephone number is 713-682-2556.
Critters for Christ and BAK PAK Critters Reading Program have been very busy. Our reading teams started back to school on Sept. 22nd, going to 30 campuses to read with at-risk students every week. We also participated in Harvard Elementary Literacy Night on Sept. 25th. Over 200 students and parents listened attentively to an explanation of the program and then watched with pleasure as two of our Critters demonstrated reading with a student volunteer. Our volunteer teams, JoAnn Jones with Chloe and Teresa Huffman with Shelby, did a great job!
On October 4th we had an information booth at Cypress Creek Christian Church Blessing of the Animals. Noelie and Denise assembled doggy treat bags for us to hand out, and #OAKZ folded over 200 brochures for us to hand out as well. Mary had great help from Sherry Dermer and Sam, JoAnn Jones and Chloe, Noelie, and Cynthia Haynie. Cindi went above and beyond by walking around the festival grounds (it was huge) with a BAK PAK backpack and handing out treat bags and brochures. Annie Clark, a former volunteer with Critters for Christ and BAK PAK, invited us to attend this wonderful event. The weather was beautiful, and it was a great way to reach out to new volunteers.
Please continue to pray for these valuable ministries and the volunteer teams that represent Oaks in the community.
On Tuesday, October 28th, at 7 pm Eat, Pray, Read! meets in the kitchen of Payne Hall. We will be discussing the book Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Kathy Durham is our chef, and Karen Hardaway Pettit is providing our dessert. Come and join us!!
On Sunday, November 2nd, OPC is participating in Houston’s annual CROP Walk. We will be leaving the church at 1 pm. Come and join us!! Please see the newsletter article for more details.
On Sunday, November 23rd, following the church service, OPC will have its Thanksgiving bake sale. The money raised from this endeavor will go toward our building fund. Last year many people were able to get delicious treats for the Thanksgiving holidays.
Bell choir practice resumes in November. If you can count to 4, come and ring with us. Bell choir practice is held on Wednesdays from 5:45 – 6:45 pm.
Our adult choir practice also meets on Wednesday from 7 to 8 pm. Come ring and/or sing with us!!!
As I wrote in the January newsletter, Noelie’s Notion for 2014 is focusing on our spiritual health. Each month I will be using one of the questions posed by Donald S. Whitney in his book Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health. Our question for October concerns forgiveness, i.e. “How quickly do you forgive?” One theologian said, “The unforgiving spirit is the number one killer of spiritual life.” Three times in the Gospels Jesus connects our forgiveness of others with God’s forgiveness of us – Mark 11:25, 26; Matthew 6:14, 15; and Luke 6:37, where Jesus says, “Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Ouch!! Now, this does NOT mean that we earn God’s forgiveness for the sins we commit against God by granting forgiveness to others for their sins against us. Rather, a forgiving spirit characterizes those who recognize how much God has forgiven them. A disciple of Christ will be a forgiver. We all are grateful for a God who was willing to take on human form and die an excruciating death so that we are forgiven by God for our sins. So, why, then, is there such a disconnect between our understanding of forgiveness and our willingness to grant it to others? Why do we, who have been forgiven so much, have such difficulty forgiving others? Back in 2012 our Lenten series was on forgiveness, and I would like to bring to your remembrance some of the things that we learned about forgiveness.
It is hard to give something to another person what you have not fully experienced. You cannot give away what you don’t possess. Or put another way, only the forgiven can truly forgive. We learn how to forgive from God the Father. Only after we understand and experience our Father’s grace are we in a position to extend that grace to others. I think in our heads we know that we are forgiven by God, but in our hearts that is a totally different matter. And yet if experiencing God’s grace were the only requirements for forgiving, it stands to reason that the church would be filled with forgiving people. But that is not always the case, is it? Some of the most unforgiving people are those who sit in the church pews. So, why is that? I believe people do not understand what real forgiveness is and what it is not. Let us begin with what forgiveness is not.
Forgiveness is not ignoring or rationalizing. One reason people are hesitant to forgive is that they wrongly equate forgiveness with ignoring or diminishing the seriousness of an offense. How can anyone sweep under the rug sexual abuse or murder? To forgive someone does not require that we engage in some mental fantasy, pretending the offense did not happen. In fact, it is impossible to truly forgive an offense unless we first acknowledge the reality and the seriousness of the wrong committed.
Forgiveness is not forgetting offenses. Asking someone to forget the hurt that he/she has endured is often viewed as tantamount to denying the seriousness of the offense. Telling people they must forget an offense is asking them to do something that is impossible. Forgiving is a spiritual function, but forgetting is a biological function. When God tells us that God remembers our sins no more, God is assuring us that we do not have to worry that at some point in the future God will dredge up some past transgression and say, “I know I told you I’ve forgiven you for this, but on second thought…”
Forgiveness is not reconciling with our offender. One of the greatest misunderstandings about forgiveness is that truly letting go of an offense results in immediate reconciliation with the person who has hurt us. In fact, some people claim that you cannot truly forgive someone unless you are willing to be united with your offender, even at the risk of being wronged again. After all, didn’t Jesus demand that we be willing to forgive others seventy times seven?
Certainly reestablishing a relationship with someone who has wronged us is a desirable goal that should not be diminished in any way. After all, when God forgives us of our sins, God does not say, “Although I have surrendered my right to punish you, I never want to have anything to do with you. You just might sin again. You go your way, and I’ll go mine.” One of God’s motivations for forgiving our sins was that God might enjoy an eternal relationship with us.
In the same way, God desires that we rebuild broken relationships with those who have wronged us. The Bible consistently extols the value of reconciliation with our enemies. Although reconciliation between Christians is a preferred outcome, it is not always possible. The apostle Paul advised the Roman Christians, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people.” We can and must forgive those who wrong us, but that forgiveness does not always result in a restored relationship with our offender.
So, forgiveness is not ignoring or denying or rationalizing; forgiveness is not forgetting offenses; forgiveness is not reconciling with our offender; forgiveness is not approving what has been done to you; forgiveness is not excusing what was done nor justifying what was done; and forgiveness is not a feeling. So, what is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is always a decision. It is an act of the will and the heart. It is giving a person something they have not earned the right to have – pardon. Forgiveness acknowledges that we have been wronged, but it goes beyond that and extends mercy.
Remember the parable about the unmerciful servant? The one who has just been forgiven a debt of $16 billion has the man who owes him $16 arrested and put in jail! When the king hears about this, he is livid, and he has the unmerciful servant cast into prison. This story shows us that God is merciful and quick to forgive, and God wants us to imitate God’s merciful ways. Through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ, we have been forgiven an enormous, astounding debt! How could we not pass this same forgiveness to others? God is merciful to us, and God wants us to be merciful in our dealings with one another.
One does not forgive someone merely for the offender’s sake; we forgive for our sakes so we can be free. Your need to forgive is not an issue between you and the offender; it is between you and God. Forgiveness is costly; we pay the price of the hurt and pain we forgive. Yet you are going to live with those consequences whether you want to or not; your only choice is whether you will do so in the bitterness of unforgiveness or the freedom of forgiveness. Forgiveness deals with your pain not your offender’s behavior.
If we have truly experienced God’s forgiveness, then we will have a readiness to forgive others. Learning to forgive is not something that happens quickly or easily, but it helps to remember that we are being forgiven every day of our lives. Something to think about and pray about.
Something to think about and pray about.
In God’s love and joy,