When Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on our Texas coast, firefighters like me got a front-row seat to the damage and destruction 27 trillion gallons and 50 inches of rain can cause. We regularly have to deal with destruction. As Chaplain of the Houston Fire Department, I see the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual toll this work can cause. I cannot do this alone and neither can our firefighters. So, I am seeking local churches to work alongside me. Would you help?
I was recently archiving some files and came across some info from 2005. That year, Hurricane Rita followed Hurricane Katrina by just a month to the day and devastated New Orleans. Many of our UBA churches—large and small—were heavily involved in helping those who had fled New Orleans. We’re deeply thankful for the action of churches when disaster strikes and proud of a legacy of innovative collaboration in our association. Join us as we reminisce and celebrate some ways we've been better together.
This year, I begin my twenty-fourth year as founding and current pastor of The Brook Church in northwest Houston. Statistics reveal that lasting this long in one church is rare. However, there is a strong correlation between the length of time a pastor stays in a church and the church’s degree of health. So, allow me to share with you some things that I have personally learned or had to learn that have enabled me to make it 20 years. I hope these are encouraging to you no matter where you are in your journey.
‘Tis the season that no one wants to talk about: hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—pronounced “Noah,” ironically enough—issued its 2019 major storm forecast, calling for an average year. That means 2-4 major hurricanes. Of course, we’re praying that none of those of major storms make landfall in our beloved Houston area, but if they do, we want to capitalize on some of the lessons we learned from Harvey. And we're asking all our churches to join us.
In case you haven't heard, we love churches. We love those who have been partnering with us for many years as well as those who have just joined. To help you better know some of these churches and their leaders, we want to feature them here. Today, we meet L.T. Chuong, pastor of A Seat at the Table Church (ASATT), to hear about his conversion, bi-vocational ministry, and ASATT's vision to be a growing multiethnic and multigenerational church that can reach the unreached of the greater Houston area and beyond.
In an age where we're easily divided into camps, churches must fight to remember our common purpose. We must make an effort to be counter-cultural, not only in what we believe but also in the way we live it out. At UBA, we're proud to have several examples of churches doing innovative collaboration, pooling resources, and working together to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here are just a few of those stories:
De todas las historias de la bíblica, una de mis favoritas es la visión de los huesos secos en el capítulo 37 del libro de Ezequiel. Dios lleva al profeta a un valle que según los primeros versos estaba “lleno de huesos” y “secos en gran manera.” Entonces Dios le hace una pregunta muy extraña al profeta: “vivirán esos huesos?” A lo que el profeta contestó, “solo tú, Señor lo sabes.” Dios quiere y puede darle vida a su iglesia. Nosotros deseamos ayudarle.
Of all the stories in the Bible, one of my favorites is the vision of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. God takes the prophet to a valley that was "full of bones" and "dried up in a great way" according to the first verses. Then, God asks a very strange question to the prophet: "Will those bones live?" To which the prophet replied, "Sovereign Lord, you alone know." God is willing and able to give new life to your church, and we want to help you, as well.
The church is getting some tragically and disturbingly well-deserved bad press these days. I do not excuse the bad actions of any who are a part of the church. We are all responsible for being light and salt in our world, and the church must take care to provide a safe and secure environment.
However, when my adult daughter and I have conversations about the state of the church, I remind her of her grandma, a powerful example of a loving life. Even in the midst of bad publicity we've brought upon ourselves, the church is still filled with good people quietly doing good things. That's worth taking a moment to remember.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:1-3 that in order to walk worthy of our calling in Christ Jesus, members of the church body must work diligently to keep the spirit of peace which holds us together. But why? Why is the unity of the church such a major doctrinal concern? If it is “work,"—and especially if it is a work in need of “diligence,”—then there must be something larger at stake when unity in the church is failing. Why is unity important in the church body? Allow me to offer three biblical reasons from Ephesians 4.