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Why I Love Christmas

I am on a Mission

Inspiration from the Heart, You Know the Place A First Church of God Publication | Fall - 2016

? 4 Leadership Skills I Learned in the


Making Ready a People Prepared to Meet the Lord.



The Blessing of Being a Disciple of Serving a Great Pastor Jesus

The Seductive Nature of Spiritual Warefare

A First Church of God Publication | Winter - 2016

The Power of Prayer from a

Righteous Believer Spring Forward! An Open Letter

Inspiration from the Heart: Fully Persuaded

What My Mother Means to Me!

A First Church of God Publication | Spring - 2016

Making Ready a People Prepared to Meet the Lord.

Saving Our SONS

Making Ready a People Prepared to Meet the Lord.


Can you believe this is the 4th issues!? Neither can we! Did you miss the previous three? No worries...just click on one of the covers above to catch up...and BE EMPOWERED!

The Bishop Speaks

- Bishop Timothy J. Clarke

Beloved, Greeting

What a joy to EMPOWERME

In just a few d Saturday after shopping is in

For many the Christians as b marketing but world and bec During this mo busyness of th save us and to

Know that I pr you share His

May the wond



Spring 2016

, gs,

share with you in this Holiday edition of our e-magazine, ENT.

days Christmas will be here, in fact as I write this article, it is the r Thanksgiving and of course Black Friday has come and gone, and full swing.

official Christmas season has begun but for you and I who are believers our view of Christmas is informed not by the media and t by a babe born in a manger whose life changed the course of the cause of it nothing, including our lives has ever been the same. ost Holy of seasons let me encourage you to often take time amid the he days and the hectic pace of life to reflect upon HIM who came to o show and give us eternal life.

ray that you enjoy a Christ filled and Christ aware Christmas and that love and light with all you come in contact with.

der of this Season fill and flood your lives and hearts!


4 15 19






Fall 2016

Featured Articles

Leadership Skills I Learned in the


9 by Sister Lori Calliman I am on a Mission by Reverend Carmella Jones

Inspiration from the Heart You Know the Place by Sister Alethea Gaddis

Why I Love Christmas By Sister Sarah Yarborough

In This Issue



Meet Sister Constance Gamble and Brother Mike Armstrong!





Why I Serve Read why members of FCOG serve the Lord and their fellow church members.

Seasonal Updates

It’s the most wonderful time of the year... well, not for everyone.




From the Kitchen

Don't know what to make for a Christmas treat? Take a look at these two simple recipes!!


Empowerment Article and Interview Contributors

Fall 2016

Empowerment Staff Bishop Timothy J. Clarke Executive Publisher & Chief Executive Officer


Sister Lori Caliman

Sister Alethea Gaddis

Reverend Carmella Jones

Brother Edmund Davidson


Sister Deborah Thompson


Sister Tanya Word


Sister Lisa Jones Brother Lauri Gill

Sister Robyn Thornton

Sister Constance Gamble

Senior Advisor

Sister Villia Davidson

Liaison Manager Sister Pamela Clarke

Attention Sister Sarah Yarborough


Fall 2016

Brother Mike Armstrong

Want to EMPOWER others? We are looking for writers, reporters, editors, and graphic artists to spread the Word! Please contact brother Edmund Davidson at for more information.

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Introduce your friends and loved ones to Empowerment, an online publication from First Church of God. Published quarterly, Empowerment delivers words of wisdom, inspirational stories, and advice from members of First Church of God in one life-changing and easy to read publication. Just share the link

...and let other be


Empowering a people ready to meet the LORD!



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We value your feedback and encourage you to share your thoughts about the publication. Please email us at and let us know!




Fall 2016


Leadership Skills I Learned in the


by Lori Caliman

My first experience as a leader occurred in fourth grade, at Bad Kreuznach Elementary School in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. I was chosen by Mrs. Barnes to be her classroom leader. The week long term was the most coveted of all roles in our class. “The Chosen�, lived the life of royalty during their one week tenure. The role of the classroom leader was to lead the class in saying the Pledge of Allegiance, serve as the MC for show and tell, pass out snacks at snack time, be the grand marshal in the lunch line and have the first right of refusal on the uneven bars during lunch recess.


The process by which Mrs. Barnes chose the classroom leader was elaborate and fun. Every Friday, towards the end of the day, Mrs. Barnes would appear from her office in the back of the room donning an oversized black top hat. She would tip toe to the front of the classroom towards the record player whispering, “I wonder who it will be? I wonder who it will be?” All discussions, chatter and laughter would halt immediately. Every eye in the room was fixed on Mrs. Barnes and her amazing hat! She always played a lively song on the record player while she went through the dramatic display of taking off the hat. Her gestures were over exaggerat-

ed as she retrieved a small paper bag from her desk and dumped its contents into the hat. The entire class always gasped in delight. “Those are the names that are left!” Someone would inevitably yell out, informing the rest of us of the obvious.

while I was moving in slow motion. Alan Jackson immediately gawked at me with a look of derision, placing his hands over his eyes. As for me, I was still moving in slow motion and scared to death! The whole classroom leader role was a bit much for me. Each and every responsibility of the leader was an activity that always drew attention and comments from my peers, subsequently causing me anxiety. I was the tallest in my class, so every time I stood up for any reason, resulted in my blocking someone’s view or hindering progress in some way. I was literally taller than the uneven bars, so the thought of showing my skills and performing the ultimate Penny Drop, like my predecessor Allison, was out of the question. By the way, Allison got a standing ovation and the seventh graders talked to her after her Penny Drop, it was the stuff dreams are made of!

I heard my name in slow motion that day . . . LOOORRRRRRRIIIIII HUUUUUUUUUUNT. My best friend April squealed and stood to her feet

That evening at home, in tears, I admitted to my father that I did not want to be the brunt of any jokes. He asked me to describe the situations


Fall 2016

and the reactions of those around me. I realized that in every situation, those who made comments would play off my emotions. I would give them my power. As leader, the first thing I learned was to understand and manage my emotions. Being “SELF AWARE” would allow me to control my actions and positively impact outcomes, or in this case the negative comments from my peers. The following week I found myself employing techniques that I still use today. I followed Mrs. Barnes instructions and handed out one snack per student. If there were any left over, she would hand those out to the class. In the weeks before my leadership, the snacks would often come up short . . . but not on my watch. “INTEGRITY” is adhering to the rules and strong moral principles. The former classroom leaders, who were in charge when snacks came up short, lost the trust of their peers and that trust was difficult to get back. On my first day, I asked Mrs. Barnes if I could select another student each day to serve as the lunch line leader. The request was unprecedented and drew attention from some of the other teachers in the building. Each day I asked a different classmate to be the lunch line leader. It just so happens that on my first day I asked a classmate who had been ridiculed for his short stature, his response was amazing; he almost leaped into my arms. He led from the front and I watched everyone from the back. I found that by “HELPING OTHERS” succeed, the entire class was impacted. I continued the practice of incorporating my peers. Bobby Johnson, who spoke no more than three words a day, served as the show and tell MC, and sang for the class. He was asked to sing on the playground during lunch recess that week and became an instant


celebrity. Bobby may still be a celebrity somewhere! Elizabeth, our ESL student, said the Pledge of Allegiance in English and German; we clapped for her. That week, something very interesting occurred in Mrs. Barnes fourth grade class; we all came together, the energy in the room changed, and we connected. As I sat down with Mrs. Barnes to discuss how my week went, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride. She mentioned that she noticed a change in how the students were treating each other and she attributed that to the classroom leader. I realized that by modeling the behaviors I expected, staying “COMMITTED” to my vision of what makes a great classroom, others followed me. Everything I ever needed to know about leadership, I learned that week.


I am on a

MISSION . .Answering the call


Fall 2016

Missions are an important part of the identity and ministry of a church. As a child, I learned about missionaries, serving around the world in various countries, as they would give presentations when they visited our congregation, shared their stories, and displayed cultural and ethnic items from their country of service. Though I was fascinated, it was not on my radar to become a missionary. God, needless to say, has His own way of doing things and today, I am a missionary preparing to serve in Budapest, Hungary as a full-time school chaplain.

By Reverend Carmella Jones


People often question why anyone consider full-time missionary service. The answer is simple, responding in obedience to God’s call. Being a missionary is an amazing way to serve the Lord. Though it is amazing, being a missionary requires a commitment to serve along with a strong ability to work independently and achieve spiritual goals. Preparation begins with good counsel, prayer and discernment with your pastor, local church community, and your family. After the call to missionary service is accepted, the prospective missionary must have realistic expectations of the job of the missionary. There will also be special requirements for the various mission fields, mission agencies, and mission assignments. There will be many questions, concerns, and decisions that must be addressed prior to actually becoming a missionary including where will I serve, what is the nature of the ministry, what agency will be responsible for the assignment, and is there any special training required. These types of questions must be addressed and helps to give a foundation for the mission service. Preparation for service can be both tedious and rewarding. A foundational building block for missionary service is building a network of both financial and spiritual support. Typically, the mission agency requires the missionary to independently garner spiritual and financial support. This requires engaging churches, pastors, friends, and family to share in their desire, mission, and vision for missionary work. The missionary’s time is no longer their own. It is a full-time job harvesting supporting partners to join in their vision. Missionaries will attest to the joys of tangibly seeing God work and while providing in ways that were never imagined. As exciting as the journey can be, it can also be frustrating. The time required for preparation and fundraising can take more than nine


Fall 2016

months. During this time, the missionary cannot lose focus and must remain committed to the journey. It is during the preparation that many missionaries find themselves revisiting their expectations and goals. The time spent raising support also provides an opportunity to educate others on the important role of missions in God’s magnificent plan. As missionaries must also engage in cross-cultural living, they must master the skill of perseverance and flexibility. Being a missionary will bring with it its own challenges including learning a new language and cultural norms, learning to de-escalate of stress in a new environment, utilizing conflict resolution, addressing grief and loss, and saying goodbyes to family and friends. Missionaries have to understand that preparation is the time to strengthened your faith and increase your ability to rely depend on God for the ordering of our steps. Preparing to become a Christian missionary does not happen overnight. Rarely, does accepting the call and being assigned happen in under six months. Preparation is for the long-term. Inadequate preparation will adversely affect long-term service. I am so humbled and honored to share with you the incredible, compelling story of what is occurring, spiritually, today in the country of Hungary. I am also so very excited to share with you my joy in being chosen to provide missionary service to the growing number of citizens in Hungary who are beginning their inaugural journey with God. Hungary is a culturally diverse and artistically vibrant nation, but it is equally disengaged and limited in knowledge about the love and nature of God and His church. The Hungarian people have suffered more than three decades of oppressive, communist rule before the disintegration of the Eastern bloc. The nation is still experiencing the effects spiritually. Of its

more than 10 million residents, only 37 percent identify as Catholic and less than 15 percent identify as affiliated with a Protestant tradition. More than 47 percent do not identify with any religious tradition. God is moving powerfully in Hungary. There is a great need to educate and minister to those seeking not only a relationship with God and a safe place to worship. I feel deeply God's call to be one of the people to serve. In this regard, I am privileged to have entered a partnership with International Ministries and Hungarian Baptist Aid for a long-term commitment, serving as a longterm international missionary. My ministry will be focused in the capital city of Budapest and will be two-fold. First, as a chaplain in the school system. My goal is to build relationships with students through co-teaching English in the classroom. Second, I will be working with the after-school discipleship program sharing the Gospel of Christ and offering essential spiritual support to new believers. Over the next five years, our team is expected to serve more than 17,000 students. Our hope is that we can play a pivotal role with providing service to non-believers in their journey to become believers. We also hope to facilitate the seeding of new Baptist churches. I know our goals

may seem larger than life but as the lyricist provided, “what a mighty God we serve.” I am looking for others, such as yourself, to labor with me, to stay connected with the journey, and to partner in sincere prayer for the Hungarian people. I am also seeking out individuals and churches who are willing to give regularly to financially support this important and deserving ministry.

For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”

ACTS 13:47

To learn more about me and follow my journey, please take a moment to visit my missionary profile page at choose people, then Carmella Jones. Sign up for my journals by clicking “Join the network” on my profile page, or email me directly at



E H A R T,


T HE P L A CE “For the word o f the LORD is ri ght and tr ue; he is faith ful in all he doe s.” Psalm 33:4 by Alethea Eunice Gaddis


Fall 2016

I’ve heard it said that we are either in a storm, coming out of a storm or on our way into a storm. This sequential pattern alone guarantees that storms will indeed come yet also ensure that we are never in a storm to stay. Our time in that place of the storm, is metered by the Hand of Almighty God. Yet our survival and how we fare during the storms is determined by us. Like a door hinge determines how the door swings, our safe passage during the storms of life hinge on our conscious decision to trust God’s promise, provision and presence.

The songbird offers us another lesson. During a storm, most songbirds wait out the rain motionless in the leaves much like they do at night. It is said that they remain in energyconservation mode, retaining their body heat until the rain stops. If the rain doesn’t stop they will eat in order to maintain. A simple observation from these two scenarios tell us that we have journeyed to a rainy or stormy place, we must make the decision to resist restlessness and frantic behavior to conserve our mental, physical and emotional energy. We must decide to rest and anchor our trust in God who knows our location at all times. We muster the courage to engage in constructive behavior to sustain us until the clouds clear, Our mortal minds lack the capacity to fully realize the full significance of our access to Him. Life’s journey may feel like our vessel is being rocked violently back and forth by the wind and waves of pain and disappointment in people and situations. Remember though, that God may not grant us an easy journey but He promised and will grant us safe passage through, to sunny days. His interest in you is personal. He reaches into every situation of your life and his finger is on the pulse of every beat of your heart. So after the storm, beloved, I promise your journey will serve as a record of your experience; a reminder that you can trust Him when you visit that stormy place, again!

If attentive, we can glean valuable lessons from Mother Nature as it relates to stormy and inclement weather we encounter. For example: farmers claim their animals can forecast the weather. According to legend, when cows sense bad weather, you'll find them restless, antsy and swatting flies with their tails, or lying down in the pasture to save a dry spot.

Remember though, that God may not grant us an easy journey but He promised and will grant us safe passage.

You know that place; you have traveled there before and you will return there again. Our life experiences cause us to journey in and out of life seasons, consisting of summer, winter, spring and fall. During each season the weather forecast varies and stormy weather is a “place” we certainly dread.


Christmas is my favorite holiday. It has been as far back as I can remember, even on that fateful night whe area beneath the stairs. That cubby area was very dark and we were always afraid to go back there becau worth the risk to learn the truth. We wanted to finally put to rest the rumor that there really wasn't a San imagination. But a weird thing happened. I went to bed that night and I still couldn't fall asleep! Because, something under that tree. We were brave enough to search for the gifts, but we weren't bold enough to

Just like that night almost forty years ago, every year I wait in anticipation for gifts at Christmas. But, with store. Don't get me wrong, God has blessed me and it is a pleasure to give to my loved ones every year. I another physical gift, I would still celebrate Christmas with the same level of fervor and enthusiasm beca Christmas so much is that I get joy from what I call, The Three Gifts of Christmas. And yes, my summary w

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of Merry Ch than any ot We are mo and elderly seems to b around.

Why I Love Christm

by Sara


Fall 2016

en I was eight years old and we found all of our Christmas toys hidden behind the sofa in the storage use we thought there were monsters and ghosts hiding there. But on that night, we decided it was nta Claus. We found those gifts and I felt deflated. Santa Claus was a fake... a fraud... a figment of my , even though I knew Santa Claus wasn't "real", I still knew that the next morning, there would be o open them, and I couldn't wait to see what was in the one with my name on it.

h age and maturity has come the realization that the best gifts are not the ones you can buy in a am also so very grateful to be on the receiving end as well. However, even if I never gave or received ause of the gifts it brings that you can't purchase with a credit card or cash. And so, the reason I still love was inspired by my Bishop. :-)

ople... It's not important to me that some folk say Happy Holidays instead

hristmas. What matters to me is that most people are more kind at Christmas ther time of the year. We are more friendly to our neighbors and coworkers. ore charitable to the poor and homeless. We are more thoughtful of the sick y. We spend more time with our family and friends. This time of the year be when we are the people of LOVE that God intended for us to be all year

The Preparation... It's not important to me that a coffee company

chooses to use a plain red cup. What matters to me is that putting up decorations, making tons of food and listening to music are all about honoring the birth of Jesus. We hoist up a tree and don it with bows, ornaments and the perfect topper, bows and ribbon. We bake cookies and pack them up to exchange or share with others. We dance and sing along merrily to the familiar choruses of our favorite carols. This time of the year creates an atmosphere of celebration for the One who represents the HOPE that our world needs.


ah Yarborough

The Promise... It's not important to me that St Nick isn't who

I thought he was as a child... What matters to me is that even though there is no Santa Claus, there is a Savior clause. Luke 2:11 (NIV) says: "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." Jesus had be born just like He had to die, and I am as thankful for his birth in the manger as I am for his resurrection in the tomb. This time of the year is a reminder that PEACE is promised to those on whom His favor rests and everlasting life is promised to those who believe in Him. Christmas means a lot of things to a lot of people but these are the things that warm my soul and make my heart smile. He is the reason for the season and I pray that He shows you favor at Christmas and always.




What is your favorite color? My favorite color is red but I also love the color orange, they are both such bold colors to me. In your spare time what do you do for fun? That really depends on the day; some days I want to read, some days I can sit and sew all day (attempt at sewing.. lol) and other days I can go different places just people watching,and some days I can sit and do nothing at all being alone with my own thoughts. ‌and for that matter what things do you not like to do? I don't like doing anything in the cold winter weather I don't like the snow and ice. I'm not a big sports fan either. What is your hobby? I have always enjoyed reading , but now that I have retired, I would like to take some photography, crafting and


Fall 2016

sewing classes. What is your favorite food? My favorite food...hmmm. I love to eat and I like trying new flavors, textures, infusion of foods and spices so I can't really say that I have a favorite food, but I love anything spicy and I love to experiment when I cook. You are a member of our excellent usher board, and may we add a key contributor! Why is that? When I joined First Church, I knew that I wanted to be more active in church so I asked God to lead me to a ministry, I was led to the usher and hospitality

ministry and both of these ministries helped me to meet other people. Being the usher president was never on my agenda when I joined the ministry but it has helped me to get out of my own comfort zone. And, having other great leaders working with and supporting you along with committed ushers always serving, makes it easier. The key for all of us to remember is that when we serve, we are serving God, and we need to serve Him with excellence. As a highly respected sister at First Church, if there was any advice you would give to a young woman trying to make it in this world, what would it be? You know hind sight is always 20/20 and depending on their age there would be several things I would tell a young woman about making it in this world. But the most important thing I could tell them is to keep GOD first in your life . Young women need to learn

their own value as a person and how to be comfortable alone. Life in general is difficult enough so don't bring unnecessary drama and stress into your life. If you have goals set for yourself and are heading towards those goal, if a situation or person comes into your life and is not pushing you forward, then it is holding you back, so drop it like its hot. What is your favorite scripture? Just reading that question out loud, I busted out laughing thinking of Donald Trump's response but unlike Donald, I must ask, how can you have a favorite scripture? Everytime a certain scripture applies to a situation in my life, that is my favorite, However, Psalm 139:23-24 is always a prayer for me "Search me, O God and know my heart", try me and know my anxieties, and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting and James 3:11, Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter water from the same opening? Both of these scriptures force me to ask myself, 1- am I doing something for the right reason or being selfish and 2 am I building up or tearing down when I speak about others.

When growing up, who was the one person you looked up to as a role model, and why? I was young when my mother died so my role model has always been my Aunt Audrey, who is only a few years older than I am, who sometimes acted like my

If you have goals set for yourself and are heading towards those goal, if a situation or person comes into your life and is not pushing you forward, then it is holding you back, so drop it like its hot.

What career did you dream of having as a teen? I was all over the place as a teen. First it was a doctor, then it was a model/designer, then a pilot, just scattered thoughts. My first job at Grant Hospital let me know that the medical field was not for me. Once I started working in an office I realized I enjoyed the new technology which led to me enjoying working with computers and different software. If there was one thing you would like to change about the world, what would it be? Hatred. It seems that in each generation we become less and less concern about others. Tell us something about yourself that you want the world to know. That I was saved by Grace through Faith in Christ Jesus. That's the most important thing I would want the world to know about me.

mother, but I have always admired her. She always kept me focused, and taught me a lot about life and growing up; and she always had my best interest at heart. I thank God for her and that she kept me lifted up in prayer for years.



There is nothing you can't do unless you tell yourself you can't. 23

Fall 2016

When is your birthday? 08/04/54. What is your favorite color? Green. In your spare time what do you do for fun? Golf. ‌and for that matter what things do you not like to do? Clean my house. What is your hobby? I like to write songs. What is your favorite food? Steak, Ribs, and eggs! You are a member of the men's choir, and may we add a key contributor! Why is that? Because I can sing the girl parts. I also bring comedy relief. As a highly respected brother at First Church, if there was any advice you would give to a young man trying to make it in this world, what would it be? There is nothing you can't do unless you tell yourself you cant'. In other words, your only limit is you! The ultimate prize is God in your life first, because through him, all things are possible. What is your favor scripture? Luke 12:25 "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life". What career did you dream of having as a teen? An actor and entertainer. If there was one thing you would like to change about the world, what would it be? I would make the world one, big, gigantic, family that would accept the one true God as our father, and live in joy, love, and faith, as one! We are all children of Abraham, the world just hasn't accepted this family reality. Tell us something about yourself that you want the world to know. That no matter who you are, what your denomination or background is, whatever your beliefs or disbelief's are, it is not my place to judge you. I love you. Even if you screw it up. Because the only thing you can screw up, is my relationship with you. I will still love you and pray for you, despite you! God has given me such joy, and I appreciate it so much, I refuse to let anything or anyone to steal it from me! You can make me sad for you but, I will forever remain happy in the Lord!!! That's my attitude and that's what my smile represents, the God of joy! Selah.


Why I Serve

Lauri Gill

I believe it is my duty to serve in the kingdom of God. I find it a pleasure to do so in the ministries I presently serve (MMV (Mighty Men of Valor), Men’s Choir, and the Food Pantry. I serve in memory of the men and women who have stood before me showing me the meaning of what service is really all about; some of them are the late Rev. Lionel Yearwood, the late Rev.Alfred Sealy, the late Rev. Ruby McConnel.

• Mighty Men of Valor • Men's Choir

I am grateful for my present pastors Rev. Clifton McDowell, Sr. of ENY COG in Brooklyn, NY, and Bishop Timothy Clarke and Pastor Joshua Kelly who teach me about Servanthood. Service is more than sitting in the pews listening to the preacher. Get up and do something. Somebody helped you, now you help someone else.

Robyn Thornton

• Flood Zone Children’s Ministry

Let me preface this article by saying I didn’t grow up in church and did not get saved until I was 37 years old. First Church of God is the first and only church that I have been a member of my Christian life.

I started serving as a Greeter because I am a people person and enjoy welcoming people as they enter the doors of the church with a friendly hello and a smile. Soon after I started having children and needed to use the children’s ministry, it dawned on me that I should help with the ministry since I was using the services. I serve in our Children’s ministry to help children get to know the Lord through His Word and a relationship with Him. Over the 14 years that I have been saved I now can say I serve not to just be a help in the natural, but serve to be a help in the spiritual. I want children to grow up differently than I did. I want them to learn about Jesus and be saved at a young age; and to have a personal relationship with the Lord early in life. This will help both the children themselves and the church as a whole.


It is a true blessing to serve children. Serving children helps God to use me double because I get to serve both children and their parents. Fall 2016

Sisters City in the

Read something POSITIVE and UPLIFTING for a change. Sister in the City is a monthly newsletter that contains inspirational articles, life impacting interviews, and information that every Woman of God needs! Sign up today! Contact Sister Chrissy Davidson at

Seasonal Updates



It’s the most wonderful time of the year... well, not for everyone. Heck, just thinking about the next couple of months coming up for the new year can bring some people down.

While images of love and joy fill storefronts, TV screens and magazine pages, for many people, the reality of the holidays isn’t so cheerful. Between stressful end-of-year deadlines, family dysfunction and loss, poor eating and drinking habits, and increasingly cold and dark winter days, it’s easy for the holiday season to feel not-so-merry and bright. Constant reminders of others’ happy seasons can additionally serve as a painful reminder of the happiness and love that’s lacking in our own lives. For this reason, the month of December can be a particularly difficult time of year for those dealing with family conflict, loss, break-ups, divorce, loneliness and mental health issues. Feelings of depression and negative mood affect many people at the holidays, and not just those who have been diagnosed with clinical depression. While there hasn’t been data to suggest an actual rise in depression rates and suicides in December — research has found that depression and suicide actually peak in the Spring — some experts say that the holiday blues are a very real phenomenon. And of course, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that this is the case. Here are some of the risk factors of holiday depression, and how you can avoid them. Setting up unrealistic expectations. Hoping for a picture-perfect White Christmas holiday is setting yourself up for not only disappointment, but potentially depression. “People have this anticipation or fantasy of the holiday that you would see on TV,” psychiatrist Dr. Mark Sichel, author of Healing From Family Rifts, tells The Huffington Post, adding that his practice gets much busier after the holidays. “Actually, it’s never exactly as people anticipate and it’s often disappointing. There’s often strife within families that comes out at holiday times.” Especially when it comes to family especially, it’s important to manage expectations during the holidays and not hope for things to be perfect. If holidays tend to be a time of conflict in your family, or you’ve recently experienced the loss of a loved one, putting pressure on your family to all get along or to be cheerful could lead to disappointment and additional anxiety. Being mindful of what you do have to be thankful for — your sister who always makes family gatherings bearable, getting a week off of work, or just the promise of a fresh start with the beginning of the new year — can help combat feelings of deficiency and lack.


Fall 2016

“Realize that the holidays do end — and take stock of what you can be grateful for,” says Sichel. “Having gratitude is probably the best antidote against depression.” Trying to do too much. At the holidays, the pressure of trying to do everything — plan the perfect holiday, make it home to see your family, say yes to every event, meet those year-end deadlines — can be enough to send anyone into a tail spin. And if you’re prone to anxiety and depression, stress (and a lack of sleep) can take a significant toll on your mood. A heightened pressure and fear of not getting everything done are some of the most common triggers for the holiday blues, according to Sichel. “Being bogged down by perfectionism” can contribute to feeling down, says Sichel. “Many people feel they just can’t do the right thing, that family members are always disappointed in them.” Comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides. Both in real life and on social media, it can be difficult to avoid comparing yourself with others around Christmastime. If you have a less-than-perfect family, a past trauma from this time of year, or just a less-than-full holiday dance card, comparing your holiday experience with other peoples’ is a recipe for increased sadness and isolation. And as Sichel points out, these comparisons tend to be skewed — and they tend to make us feel bad about ourselves. “People’s basis for comparison is not based in reality, because most families have issues and most people do not have the perfect Christmas that they would like to have or that they’d remember from their childhood,” says Sichel. Slacking on self-care. For many people, December is the busiest time of the year. When work pressures pile up and the calendar gets full with social obligations, the routines that normally keep us healthy and happy — yoga class, morning runs, healthy home-cooked meals, a meditation practice — are usually the first thing to fall by the wayside. In addition to increased stress, eating poorly and drinking excessively can also exacerbate issues like stress, anxiety and depression.


From the Kitchen Here are 2 quick Christmas recipes, just in tie for the holidays!

Gingerbread Men Ingredients • 1 (3.5 ounce) package cook • 1 egg • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and serve butterscotch • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda pudding mix • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground • 1/2 cup butter ginger • 1/2 cup packed brown • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon sugar • In a medium bowl, cream together the dry butterscotch pudding mix, butter, and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg. Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon; stir into the pudding mixture. Cover, and chill dough until firm, about 1 hour. • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease baking sheets. On a floured board, roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness, and cut into man shapes using a cookie cutter. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies are golden at the edges. Cool on wire racks.


Cinnamon Candy Cane Cookies Ingredients


• • • • •

1 cup butter, softened 1 cup confectioners' sugar 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

• 3/4 teaspoon salt • 1/2 cup Red Hots, crushed • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon • Red food coloring, optional • 2 tablespoons coarse sugar

• Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture. • Divide dough in half. Mix Red Hots and cinnamon into one half; tint with food coloring if desired. Shape 1-1/2 teaspoons plain dough into a 4-1/2-in. rope. Shape 1-1/2 teaspoons red dough into a 4-1/2-in. rope. • On an ungreased baking sheet, place ropes side by side; press together lightly and twist. Curve top of each cookie down to form handle of cane. Repeat with remaining plain and red dough, placing 2 in. apart on baking sheets. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. • Bake 7-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on pans 1 minute. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 4 dozen.


Fall 2016

are you ready for the

goodlife YOUTH

Sundays at 11:00 AM

First Church of God

A CITY OF REFUGE Cities of refuge in the Bible were designated places where someone who had accidentally done wrong could go to escape and could safely wait until trial. The church serves the same purpose, it is a refuge for you and I, sinners, to go to and be protected from the avenger of blood, to avoid making the payment of sin ourselves and take on God as our Lord and Savior and offer up his payment to the cost of sin being death, all the while waiting for Judgment Day. “Making Ready a People, Prepared for the Lord” Is one taken directly from scripture Luke 1:17 and refers to the ministry of John the Baptist, who was the forerunner of Jesus. His mission was to go before the Messiah and prepare the people for His coming. We believe that we as a church are sent and commissioned to prepare people not only for the coming of the King, but also to live full, meaningful and purpose filled lives here on earth as well.

Our Purpose

By now, you have probably either seen or heard the phrase, “Making Ready A People Prepared For The Lord.” This statement comes from Luke 1:17, a passage that deals with the mission of John the Baptist in preparing the way for the ministry of Jesus. “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17 emphasis added) At First Church we have adopted this as our mission statement. The Bible teaches us that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27) and that “every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10). It is the mission of First Church of God to prepare persons for their ultimate and great appointment, namely standing before the Lord. Everything we do then is done through the lens of this mission statement.

Our Mission

The purpose of the First Church of God is three-fold. To EXHALT Christ - We are called to raise or to lift up the name of Jesus as the way to salvation, the Son of God and the Savior of the world. {John 3:14-18; John 12:32; 1 Corinthians 1:23-24} To EVANGELIZE The Lost - We are called to spread the Gospel message to all of the world and make disciples of those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. {Matthew 28:18-20} To EDIFY The Body - We are called to “build up” the Body of Christ through the discovery and exercising of the spiritual gifts placed in us by the Holy Spirit of God. {Ephesians 4:7-16} At First Church, we do this in a number of ways. We do this through our worship and praise, preaching and teaching, through Christian Education and fellowship with one another and other assemblies of faith.


Fall 2016

Come and Worship with Us!

I invite you to visit us for one of our church services when you are in the Columbus area. You will feel right at home!

Affirmation We are building a City of Refuge Making ready a people prepared to meet the Lord. We do this through our witness, through our worship, and though our wok. The end result will be that we shall stand before His throne, fully matured, in Jesus Christ. We know this will be because we have been faithful, we have been fruitful, and we have been focused. To this end, we commit ourselves, we commit our lives, and we commit our resources. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Service Times Sunday

7:00 AM 9:00 AM 11:00 AM

Streaming Portal

Radio/internet portal


Tuesday 6:30am - Men’s Fellowship


12:00pm - Noon Day Bible Study 7:00pm - Evening Bible Study First Church of God 3480 Refugee Road Columbus, OH 43232 Phone: (614) 338-8338 Fax: (614) 338-8008

DVD/CD order form


First Church of God 3480 Refugee Road Columbus, OH 43232 Phone: (614) 338-8338 Fax: (614) 338-8008

Empowerment Fall 2016  

Empowerment, Fall 2016 is now out. Read First Church of God's online publication that is sure to make a postitive impact in your life. BE EM...

Empowerment Fall 2016  

Empowerment, Fall 2016 is now out. Read First Church of God's online publication that is sure to make a postitive impact in your life. BE EM...