Eternal

Sometimes, maybe all the time, we need to focus on what’s good in our lives.  Psalm 136 helps us do that.  So, here’s the ancient song, personalized for my life.  Maybe you’ll find connections to your journey.  Maybe you’ll be inspired to write your own Psalm 136.

He makes the sun shine after the rain.
His love is IMG_3138eternal.

He forgives me when I cannot forgive myself.
His love is eternal.

He provides new opportunities when all the doors close.
His love is eternal.

He gives me a new song when the old one drones on and on and on and on…
His love is eternal.

He placed me in a family to belong all the days of my life.
His love is eternal.

He presses the restart button 70X7 and then 70X7 again.
His love is eternal.

He orders the seasons and brings life with each one.
His love is eternal.

He gives us children to makes us laugh, provide deep down joy, and to make sure we stay dependent on Him.
His love is eternal.

He unites us with perfectly matched life partners, to challenge us, support us, drive us a little nuts, and bring us warmth through the cold Winter’s night.
His love is eternal.

He makes us breathe, soar, and live.
His love is eternal.

Now you try:

He_______________
His love is eternal.

***Inspired from She Reads Truth: Psalms of Gratitude

Tomorrow

     Tomorrow, two of my favorite churches celebrate significant milestones. My friends in both places anticipate a day of reunion and hugs and kisses and laughter and tears of great joy. We go to bed tonight excited about the old friends we will see and the memories we will retell.  I can hardly wait to hear former teenagers reminisce like old grandmas on the front porch, “Remember when we blew up the toilet at camp with our firecrackers?  How many times did you actually back into something in the church van, Beverly?  Remember that time we drove all they way to Angel Fire and remember us showing you where  one of us almost fell off the mountain and remember that time we got kicked out of Six Flags and then there was the time….”IMG_1882

But I’m also looking forward to this invitation,
“Bev, come meet my children.”  

My heart is so excited to meet the FUTURE.

     Tomorrow, at Houston First Church and San Diego Mission Church, we will lift our hands in praise to God for His faithfulness to us in the past.  We will bow our heads in humble thanksgiving for His constant provisions in seasons of difficulty and strife.  But above all, we will kneel at the cross, stand shoulder to shoulder, lift our voices in adoration and expectation about what God will continue to do through His Church.

 Congratulations, HFC!  Well done, Mission Church.
Your best days are in front of you.

MISSION NEW YORK: Hamilton Heights House Church Goals and Financial Target

IMG_1697The easiest part of sharing this dream is over.  Casting a vision and making plans come naturally to us.  We could talk a long time about we hope to accomplish, but it’s time to talk about the more uncomfortable part of making our dream into reality:  finances.

Below, you’ll find a three-tiered budget plan and a link to FAQs.  We’re on unchartered territory for us and we want make sure we are completely transparent about how and where we will spend your donations.  Remember three covenants as you consider giving:

  1. We will never know how much you give.  We know who gives so we can write you thank you notes.
  2. We will give away anything above our most basic needs and ministry investment, estimated at $50,000, to organizations fighting against human trafficking
  3. If and when Beverly finds full-time employment, we will need much less for ministry expenses only. (At the time of writing, she’s been called back for two more interviews, one at Macy’s Flagship store, (SO FUN!), and one at a Christian college in Manhattan.)

HAMILTON HEIGHT HOUSE CHURCH GOALS and FINANCIAL TARGET
LAUNCH DATE: March 27, 2016

EASTER SUNDAY ATTENDANCE GOAL: 25 (not including our family)

FINANCIAL GOAL: We estimate we can do the bare minimum of this missional work for $2500/month. $3000/month ensures Beverly is able to give 100% of her time to relational, church planting and missional efforts. $4000/mo would be even better.

  1. 17% — Relational Activities (meals, events)
  2. 7% — marketing
  3. 76% — personnel (housing)

In the interest of accountability, HHHC will provide:
Monthly E-Newsletter to Include relational activities and financial statement

HHHC operates as a ministry of Mission New York, a 501C3 non-profit established as a ministry of the Metro New York District Church of the Nazarene. Mission NY and HHHC rely solely donations to fund ministry in Manhattan. All funds are contributed through this account. It is managed by a treasurer.

  • READY TO JOIN US?  GREAT!  Donate on-line here: HHHC DONATION
  • GOT A FEW MORE QUESTIONS?  So did we: FAQs

I cannot promise this is the last post about Mission NY and the Hamilton Heights House Church.  I can promise to keep you updated as we progress.  If you know me well, you know I live transparently and I don’t compartmentalize my life.  I don’t have a “work life” and a “family life” and a “spiritual life”  Life is just life and so my cell phone falling into the subway…..

FAQs — Hamilton Heights House Church

Need to know more?  We’ve compiled a list of questions we’ve asked ourselves.  If you still have questions or need to talk this through, please email beverlyrcook@gmail.com or FB messenger us.  We promise to answer quickly and set up a time to talk by phone if you’d like.

WHY DO YOU NEED FINANCIAL SUPPORT? Excellent question. We need financial support because this is a missional effort and missionaries often raise their own funds. The HHHC is much like an assignment for InterVarsity or YWAM or WYCLIFFE. Those missionaries raise their funds and so are we.

COULDN’T YOU BE BI-VOCATIONAL? – YES! And, we are! David is teaching at a public school in The Bronx and Beverly is actively looking for employment. However, every interview ends with, “Clearly you are a gifted minister and I know God is going to open doors for you.”

WILL YOU NEED SUPPORT IF BEVERLY GETS A JOB? Yes, but not nearly as much. We promise to keep you posted and Beverly will keep looking for employment that allows enough flexibility to build relationships and care for our family.

WHAT WILL YOU USE THE FUNDS FOR? Everything! If this church plant was sponsored by another church, we would have a full salary to support us. Since it is not, we must raise those funds. See PART 3 for more information on our financial target.

SHOULD YOU HAVE WAITED FOR A FINANCIALLY SPONSORING CHURCH? No. God sent us here. It’s time to get started. We are hopeful that 4-5 churches will join our efforts and pledge a large portion of monthly support. The Lamb’s Manhattan Church of the Nazarene is the only Nazarene church in Manhattan with a building.  It’s a FANTASTIC church, but there is room for more and a need for more.  That’s why Bruce and Amy Barnard moved to NYC over two years to begin this house church movement.  Building the Kingdom in New York City will take partnering churches and people from all over the country, maybe from all over the world.

WHAT IS THE HOUSE CHURCH MOVEMENT AGAIN?  It’s a vision of Bruce and Amy’s to plant a house church in every neighborhood in Manhattan.  (NYC consists of five boroughs.  Manhattan in one of those.)  See this post for more information on our calling to Hamilton Heights.  (Manhattan has 39 distinct neighborhoods – follow #imagine39 on FB and twitter to see the vision going forward.)

WILL YOU KNOW WHO GIVES MONEY? – We will know who gives, but not how much. We receive monthly reports from Mission New York and they are required to file quarterly reports to the Metro NY District. As such, we get a listing of who gives so we can thank you, and you will receive an end of year donation report. Mission New York is incorporated under the State of New York, and is an Integrated Auxiliary of the Metro NY District; as such, your donations to this 501c3 are tax deductible.

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? In this first year of operation, we will give away all funds beyond our most basic needs and ministry investment, which we estimate to be $50,000. We will donate additional funds to organizations fighting against human trafficking. We also pledge to tithe on what’s given just like we would any other salary. And as an “Organic New Start Church” in the Church of the Nazarene, we intend to fully support our obligations to the district, educational college, pensions & benefits, and World Missions for the International Church.

WHO ARE YOU ACCOUNTABLE TO? God, each other, Mission NY, The Metro NY District Church of the Nazarene, The International Church of the Nazarene, and our supporters both financially and spiritually.

MISSION NEW YORK, PART TWO: INTO ACTION WE GO

If you’re going to join a mission, you want to know where the mission is headed.

Always point up
Always point up

 Here’s the PLAN OF ACTION from now until the official launch date of our house church.

HAMILTON HEIGHT HOUSE CHURCH
PLAN OF ACTION LEADING TO LAUNCH DATE — EASTER 2016

FALL 2015
HOST:
5th Floor Fall Party in our Apartment
Coordinate dinner with family across the hall
College Game Day Party
Pasta Party for Kori’s Soccer Team
Invite 2-3 Families from Matthew’s School over for dinner

CONNECT:
Walk with ladies in our building
Coffee/Tea with moms from Matthew’s School
PLNU & SNU Alumni in New York
Kori’s Soccer team
Matthew Soccer team

PRAY:
For receptivity in friendship
Open doors of conversations that become about God and faith in Christ

CHRISTMAS 2015
HOST:
Holiday Christmas Party for New Friends
Tree Decorating Party for the Building

CONNECT:
Make & Deliver Christmas Cookies to entire Building

PRAY:
Become the Team Mom for Kori’s Soccer team?
For receptivity in friendship
Open doors of conversations that become about God and faith in Christ

JANUARY –MARCH 2016
HOST:
Weekly Soup Nights – begin asking for prayer needs, writing follow-up notes for prayer

CONNECT
Continued coffee/tea with moms from Elementary School

PRAY:
Constant Prayer for EASTER 2016
LAUNCH DATE: Sunday, 3/27 – EASTER BRUNCH OR POTLUCK?
Celebrity Chef to come cook for us?

BEYOND EASTER 2016
Beyond Easter, we plan to become a weekly church gathering.  We will need to evaluate our efforts constantly.
We will tweak and plan, and look for more avenues of connection points, perhaps college ministries at Columbia, CityCollege, and NYU.
We will constantly hope to continue serving as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

UPDATE:  In less than 7 hours from the original post, a graphic designer, a technical expert, and several prayer partners joined the team.  Please email beverlyrcook@gmail.com or message me through FB to join the prayer partners or to commit to one of the many volunteer teams we need.  And, don’t forget, you can support this mission financially, too.  More about that in Part Three.

Mission New York — WANT TO JOIN US?!

We cannot deny it any longer.  We must embrace the call of God on our lives to New York City.  Ready?  WE’RE PLANTING A HOUSE CHURCH!!!

The story is this:  Real estate in Manhattan makes it almost impossible to start a traditional church, so we’re joining the vision of Bruce & Amy Barnard who came to New York two years ago with the vision of planting a house church in every neighborhood in Manhattan.  There are 39 neighborhoods.  Currently, Bruce and Amy host a house church on the Upper West Side.  On Easter 2016, we hope to launch the second Nazarene house church in the neighborhood of Hamilton Heights.  And we are very excited, and nervous, and scared to death, and CALLED.

It's Time
It’s Time

We can no longer deny that God brought our family here to be ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We believe this pre-war apartment building, at 75 Saint Nicholas Place, is the perfect place to do that.  We meet new people daily, new to the building, new to the neighborhood, and of course, new to us.  But not new to God.  We’re on a divine intersection and while we don’t have all the details worked out, we are moving forward.

The truth is that we should probably wait until we have this professionally designed website with coordinating logos and a mission statement perfectly crafted with catchy words and phrases.  But we don’t.  That will come as God provides.  In the meantime, we sure could use your help.

This is a little awkward, but here goes:

We need prayer support, graphic designers, and a celebrity chef.

We need pounds of pasta, a Christmas tree, and financial backers.

We need $2000/month to get things going OR  we need $2500/month so Beverly can give 100% of her efforts to relationship building.  IDEALLY, we’ll receive $3000/month so there are no worries at all and ministry can flow.

So, if you’d like to participate in any way for this new mission at 75 Saint Nicholas Place, Apt 5D, please email me.  God’s going to take care of this.  And it’s going to be so very exciting to watch His work.  Amen and Amen!

Here’s a quick guide on HOW YOU CAN HELP:

  • To contribute financially towards our $3000/mo goal go to:  Mission New York
  • To join our weekly prayer partners email me at beverlyrcook@gmail.com
  • To help with graphic design, web layout, social media, etc., email me at beverlyrcook@gmail.com

Finally, this begins a three-part series on the facts and funding of Hamilton Height House Church.  Up next:  Plan of Action: The launch countdown begins.  I’m so excited to share….!

The GOD of the Promise or the SIGN of the Promise? Choose Whom You will Serve

Well, if you read that last blog, black clouds of depression and worry might have taken over your soul.  Forgive me! I confess that I woke up more raw than when I went to bed.  I receive encouragement from your kinds words and prayers.

IMG_0987What I really need to do is count my blessings and trust in the GOD of the promise rather bend to the lack of SIGNS of the promise.  (This is a truth rooted deeply in the story of Abraham.  If you’d like to hear more, call me or message me. Let’s preach it together!)  In short, Abraham spent years trusting that God would indeed make him a father.  I’m not sure Abraham cared about becoming a father of many nations.  Even a man with an ego the size of Texas would be thrilled with just one descendant.  I am certain his wife didn’t need a shoe full of children.  She just needed one to nurse, to shelter, to love as her very own.  But TRUST they did AND they continued to live life.  They didn’t get stuck in the lack of the SIGN, but lived life with the call of God rooted deeply in their daily lives.

But TRUST they did AND they continued to live life.  They didn’t get stuck in the lack of the SIGN, but lived life with the call of God rooted deeply in their daily lives.

So here’s what I know today:  God called us here to be ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In the difficulty of the circumstances we face, we must not lose heart or forget our purpose.  Here’ s how we do that:

  • We will befriend folks as God leads. Yesterday, on the subway, David helped a college student with his Calculus homework while I chatted with his girlfriend.  We gave him David’s number and hope he calls again. (Darling young adults, Candace and Dijon.)
  • Our home will be a place teenagers are welcome.  Last night, Kori invited a friend to sleep over. (Note, my social child has been in school for THREE days!)
  • We’ll join fellowship with other believers. Today we’re joining a house church for dinner in our neighborhood.
  • Soon, we’ll host a pasta party for her school’s soccer team, invite our Super over for dinner, and work up the courage to invite the families of Matthew’s new friends over for dinner.

My Friends, do not get stuck in the LACK of the SIGN of the Promise.  Trust in the GOD of the Promise.  Your promise is different than mine, but our God is the same.

Though your destination is not yet clear…You can trust in the promise of this opening…Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning…that is at one with your life’s desire (John O’Donahue)

The Seas are Angry These Days

I’d like to dispel the myth that when one steps out of the boat to follow the call of God, the rocking ocean becomes a glassy sea, that birds sing beautiful melodies in angelic voice, and that your home is filled with constant laughter and cooperation and high-fives of congratulations and success.

What really happens is that the through the glassy sea, you can sea the sharks waiting to devour your failing flesh. Fear grips you in the middle of the night as the picture perfect glass rapidly thins.  The melodic song of the birds becomes a constant pestering of gnawing worries chirping  “what if” and “what-do-we-do-now?”   And while laughter still comes, it is followed quickly with a big gulp to choke back the tears piling up behind the concerns and frustrations and exhaustion of moving your car twice a week for street cleaning. (I promise.  This is no easy feat.)

In the last week:

  • The kids started school and they LOVE it.  They are still laughing.IMG_0950
  • David started school.  The Bronx is not Scripps Ranch.
  • I did not get a job I really wanted…and I need a job.
  • Our car got towed.  $200 and a day of traveling from one end of Manhattan to the other, brought our family van home.  (NOTE:  In some New York sense of wisdom, you pay to get your car on the extreme far south end of the island.  My car was parked on the extreme NORTH end of the island.  WHAT?)
  • It may be February before the Department of Education decides to pay David at the correct
    pay scale.  Currently, he’s considered a first year teacher.  He will bring home less than $3000/month.  (Did I mention I need a job?)
  • Led by the Lord, I invited someone to pray with me.  Through her tears and worries, she DECLINED!  (Are you sure you called us here?)
  • A day after we got our car back, some misguided youth tried to break in, a feat rendering our lock and window controls useless.  They took NOTHING…there was nothing to take!

I tell you, Dear Friends, about these potholes because I’m guessing someone needs to know that even when walking in complete obedience and dependence on God, life can be really hard.  I’m writing in the midst of the trial BEFORE our circumstances change, hoping you can relate to the desperation taking over our daily lives.  We are trying to keep our eyes focused on the GOD of the promise rather than on the complete lack of SIGNS of the promise.  But that doesn’t mean we are filled with joy and peace.  We trust, but we’re worried.  The seas are angry these days.

In the midst of the angry seas, we’re trying desperately to remember the mission to which we were called to New York —  to be ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I’ll write more about that later.  For now, I take my greatest consolation in that life could be worse.  We could be trying to potty train a two-year on the subways of New York.