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Houston, along with its connected neighborhoods, communities, and suburbs, is being pummeled by historic rain and unprecedented flooding. It’s a disaster here.

My neighbors—all 6.5 million—are feeling the effects of Hurricane Harvey’s 500-year flooding event.

So far 370 billion gallons of rain have hit our greater Houston area—and it has just started. The pictures are nothing short of stunning. Nearly every bayou and creek in the Bayou City has gone over its banks. Meteorologists expect the storm to linger, dragging its rain across our city throughout the coming week. First-responders are working nonstop, risking their lives to rescue others. More than 2,000 rescues have been performed, and with days of rain to come, countless more are in store.

While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) anticipates years of relief work, the church of the risen Lord Jesus is ready for her work, too.

Christlike in Crisis

As Hurricane Harvey continues to dump rain in the billions of gallons, I see Christlike instincts cresting and rising in our city.

Civilians are assembling their kayaks and big ol’ Texas-style trucks to save their neighbors. Sacrifice in a time of severe weather.

Church buildings—like that of Houston Northwest Church led by my friend, pastor Steve Bezner—are becoming staging-areas for relief. The body of Christ is opening her arms to help her neighbors.

Southern Baptists are uniting together, along with other organizations, to wash the feet of those hit by Harvey:

SBTC Disaster Relief has joined Texas emergency response teams including the Texas Baptist Men, the North American Mission Board (NAMB)’s Disaster Relief teams, the American Red Cross, state police and fire departments, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) teams and more. Southern Baptists in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Mississippi are readying volunteers and equipment as well.

We’ve assembled a Redeemer Church response team, brothers and sisters eager to help. They have their boats, trucks, chainsaws, trailers, cookies, muscles, time, and prayers ready for those hit hard by Harvey.

Like many churches across the city, our members are checking in with each other, opening their homes, offering to help however they can. They are serving each other, sacrificing for each other; they are ready to love their neighbors. These are the kinds of instincts you hope to see. Apathy and disinterest are demonic in a time of disaster.

My friends and family—my Aunt Pilar and Uncle Jeff in West Houston—have water sliding up their driveways, heading toward their doors. I’m constantly—and nervously—texting church members for updates. Many are trapped in their neighborhoods and won’t be able to leave for days. One family at our church had to evacuate early because the wife may go into labor any minute.

Christians, we should be at our best when affliction does its worst.

Disaster has the potential to knit our hearts together in love. When the apostle Paul tells us to weep with those weeping, and to rejoice with those rejoicing, he doesn’t mean these are the only two emotions we should share. We should grieve with the grieving, and ache with the affected.

When I hear more rain on my back patio, my heart aches. Our city is sinking. I shake my head in disbelief as rain and sirens blare around us. As I tell my kids to wear their helmets during a tornado warning, I must look to heaven, past Harvey, for help.

Join the Relief

So what can you do? God has a ministry for you: “He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Cor. 1:4).

How can you comfort those in this affliction? Here are three ways.

1. Pray

I can’t tell you how many tweets and texts I’ve received from brothers and sisters around the world today. Missionaries from Thailand told us they are praying for our church and our city.

In times like this, “I’m praying!” can feel like a Christianized “I’m thinking of you.” But the best way to avoid that hypocrisy is to actually pray. Take a few moments and specifically pray for our area, espeically any people or churches you know here.

Let the pictures you see online serve as kindling for your prayers. The Father is listening. The Son is mediating. The Spirit is helping. When you see a picture, stop and cry out to heaven. Father, help them. You said faith can move mountains, so, Father, move this storm.

Pray for the mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner. Pray for the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott. Pray for first-responders and all involved in rescue efforts. Pray for the afflicted. Pray for the churches and our efforts to be Good Samaritans and good witnesses.

We desperately need the prayers of the saints (2 Cor. 1:11).

2. Give

A few churches in the area have set up flood relief funds. I trust these churches to do what’s right and godly with the funds.

You can also give to the North American Mission Board’s relief fund here.

Finally, Apple and the Red Cross have made it possible for you to give to a relief fund through iTunes.

3. Serve

As I said earlier, FEMA anticipates years of relief work.

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Holocaust Museum Houston to offer special tours focused on life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Holocaust Museum Houston has additional special guided tours of its permanent exhibition with an emphasis on the life and work of German Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer this winter due to popular demand.

Four tours were scheduled in October, but quickly sold out. New tours have been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 at the Museum’s Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St., in Houston’s Museum District.

Admission is free for HMH members and students, $12 for nonmember adults, $8 for seniors and members of the active-duty military.

Tour sizes are limited, and advance reservation is requested. To register for any tour, email tours@hmh.org or call 713-527-1602. To schedule a separate private group tour for 10 or more in advance, visit the Museum’s Web site at www.hmh.org and check the Plan Your Visit tab.

Bonhoeffer was a brave exception to the silent bystanders who watched during World War II as their neighbors and friends were taken to the concentration camps. He spoke out from the pulpit and called for the church to take a stand against the Nazis. He was a part of the Abwehr resistance circle which helped Jews escape to Switzerland. In 1939, Bonhoeffer left Germany for a teaching position in New York, but he returned after one month, despite knowing that his life would be in danger. On April 9, 1945, Bonhoeffer was hung at Flossenburg on the direct orders of Adolf Hitler.

Bonhoeffer’s actions against the Nazi Party and his message to the church in the context of the events of the Holocaust will be the focus of tours of the Museum’s permanent exhibit, German railcar and Danish fishing boat. Tours include a look at the early influences on Bonhoeffer before the Holocaust, his organization of the Confessing Church to stand with the Jews in reaction to the Aryan clause, his involvement in assassination attempts on Adolf Hitler and his imprisonment and execution at the Flossenburg concentration camp by direct order from Hitler. The tours include the stories of the bishop of Munster and Pastor Trocme, church leaders who strived to protect victims from Nazi tyranny.

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‘Bonhoeffer’ Author Fired Up Over Sermon Subpoena Controversy: ‘Everyone in America Should Be Freaking Out’

When Eric Metaxas, author of “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy,” first read about the Houston city government subpoenaing the sermons of five church pastors, he said he couldn’t believe it.

Eric Metaxas (Image source: Fox News)

“This has to be a joke,” he told Fox News on Sunday about his initial reaction. “This cannot be happening in America.”

But once Metaxas got deeper into the subject, he said he knew “a bold red line” had been crossed. “If there was ever a time to throw the tea into the harbor, this is it,” Metaxas told Fox News.

The subpoenas involve sermons that may focus on homosexuality or Houston’s contentious equal rights ordinance supported by Mayor Annise Parker, the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city. While Parker had seemed to back down from the wording in the subpoenas, calling the language overly broad, the controversy appears far from over.

And beyond the widespread outrage over what seems like a strike against religious freedom in America, Metaxas sees “chilling” parallels with the social and political climate of 1930s Germany. That time and place is the backdrop to his best-selling book about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Christian leader who was jailed and later executed for plotting to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

“It’s a shocking thing,” he said of the similarities to what’s happening in Houston, adding that “everyone in America should be freaking out.”

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