Who we at the First Church of God

We are that country church in the city with old fashion values, hymns, and picnics.

We are a biblically based conservative congregation that worships the Lord in the full power His Spirit.

We are a conservative Bible teaching church upholding conservative family morals and values.

We are that safe haven that brings back the nostalgia of Grandma’s chicken dinner and homemade apple pie on a Sunday afternoon.

We invite you to join our family here at The First Church of God of Westminster, a family of God, striving to be more like Christ Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit


Worship Service 9:00 a.m.
Sunday School 10:30 a.m.

Adult Bible 6:00 p.m.
Prayer Service 7:15 p.m.

Women's Ministry (3rd Saturday) 9:15 a.m.
Men's Breakfast (3rd Saturday) 9:15 a.m.

Getting Connected

Raymond Duvall Jr.

Music Director
Brenda Clarke

Adult Sunday School
Russell Hicks

Women's Group
Tress Duvall

Jr. Church
Dorothy Duvall

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Power of Vision

"But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear." Matthew 13:16

Many people think vision is simply allowing your eyes to focus on what is before you. However, vision for the believer is much greater than this. It is the ability to see beyond the present and into the potential of tomorrow.

I went into a sporting goods store a while back and put on a pair of polarized sun glasses at one of the displays that read, "Try me." Putting on the glasses I looked at the display and was amazed as images that I had not seen just moments before, began to materialize. These simple images were there the whole time, yet without the effects of the lenses I was completely unaware. I continued to lift the glasses up and down on my face. I was amazed at how quickly the pictures would disappear without the power of the polarized vision.

Walking away from the store display, the Holy Spirit began showing me the same comparison between our physical and spiritual vision. He softly reminded me that if we are not careful, we will simply look at life's situations through the eyes of the flesh and miss all that is truly present and at work in the Spirit. Much like responding to the advertisement, God desires that we heed his invitation to "Try me." Only when we spend time in his presence will our eyes begin to focus on those things that only moments before were unseen and overlooked.

Is life wearing you down? Has its trials and troubles stolen your joy and sense of purpose? If so, maybe the greatest need is not an immediate solution to your present situation, but the ability to see beyond it. If standing one minute in front of a store display can improve physical vision, what could a minute standing in God's presence do? Why not spend some time reflecting on who God is and watch how quickly your vision for life comes back.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Church the Un-churched Needs

Missional means adopting the posture of a missionary, learning and adapting to the culture around you while remaining biblically sound. (Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer)
Churches in the American culture have been marginalized and pushed to the edge of our society. Either because of, or due to the fact, that the American church has become inwardly focused, gone into maintenance mode. In order for churches to become healthy and vibrant once again means that they must reverse this trend. They need to intentionally move from maintenance mode to missional mode.
Making this move involves the churches realizing what it means to be missional. We must first start with redefining our understanding of the word missional. For most of us when we hear or read the word missional we automatically think of people leaving their homes and families to go into a foreign land to do ministry. Part of this is true, being missional is ministry, but it has nothing to do with going into a foreign land. Instead it has everything to do with people sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in every part of their daily life. Living out our faith in the subcultures where our lives are spent beyond the church property; neighborhoods, extended family, the workplace, clubs, and other social groupings. Every member becomes a missionary.
Being a missional church means that we no longer see the church service as the primary connecting point with the un-churched. Connecting with the un-churched happens during the week, in our daily lives within the various sub-cultures of our own local community. As we personally and authentically engage Christ, and then listen to, serve, love, and share the gospel with those around us, we act as missionaries to our culture.
Congregations can no longer expect the community to exclusively come to us. The Great Commission (Mat. 28:18-20) calls us to go. There is a difference between a church that goes to the people and a church that waits for people to come. Local missional ministries involves the people of God crossing barriers to serve the un-churched. For congregations to have a mix missional outreach with ministries that leave their buildings as well as workshops and classes that within their buildings.
In measuring its effectiveness, the maintenance congregation asks, “How many visitors have we attracted?” The missional minded congregation asks, “How many members have we sent?”
Unchurched adults interested in finding a congregation aren’t nearly as likely to visit one in person as a churched person who is shopping for a new congregation. This means effective evangelism must begin outside the church building in relationships between Christians and unbelievers, according to research the attractional model of Church (come to us) generally attracts transfer growth, while a missional model of Church (going to them) generally attracts a higher conversion growth percentage. It’s not either-or, but a both-and.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Is Fear To Be A Part Of Our Lives?

The short answer is both yes and no, it all depends on what type of fear you are speaking of. The Bible mentions two specific types of fear. And states that one is to be definitely a part of our life, as where it is just as emphatic that the other is not to be a part of our life. Therefore, to answer our question we will need to have an understanding of both types of fear.
Let’s start with the fear that is to be a part of our life. The first type of fear is the fear of the Lord. This type of fear does not necessarily mean to be afraid of something. Rather, it is a reverent awe of God; a reverence for His power and glory. However, it is also a proper respect for His wrath and anger. In other words, the fear of the Lord is a total acknowledgement of all that God is, which comes through knowing Him and His attributes.
The fear of the Lord brings with it many blessings and benefits. It is the beginning of wisdom and leads to good understanding (Psalm 111:10). Only fools despise wisdom and discipline (Proverbs 1:7). Furthermore, fear of the Lord leads to life, rest, peace, and contentment (Proverbs 19:23). It is the fountain of life (Proverbs 14:27) and provides a security and a place of safety for us (Proverbs 14:26). This type of fear, the fear of the Lord, will lead you to salvation. For this reason I encourage you to embrace and develop a fear of the Lord.
Now, the fear that is not to be a part of our life, the second type of fear mentioned in the Bible is not beneficial at all. This is the “spirit of fear” mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”. A spirit of fearfulness and timidity does not come from God. From the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation God tells us to “Fear Not”.
God says, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10). Often we fear the future and what will become of us. But Jesus reminds us that God cares for the birds of the air, so how much more will He provide for His children? “So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31). Just these few verses cover many different types of fear. God tells us not to be afraid of being alone, of being too weak, of not being heard, and of lacking physical necessities. This cautioning persists throughout the Bible, covering the many different aspects of the “spirit of fear.”
In Psalm 56:11 the psalmist writes, “In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” This is an awesome testimony to the power of trusting in God. Regardless of what happens, the psalmist will trust in God because he knows and understands the power of God. The key to overcoming fear, then, is total and complete trust in God. Trusting God is a refusal to give in to fear. It is a turning to God even in the darkest times and trusting Him to make things right. This trust comes from knowing God and knowing that He is good.
Once we have learned to put our trust in God, we will no longer be afraid of the things that come against us. We will be like the psalmist who said with confidence “…let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you” (Psalm 5:11).

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Christmas Gift

It is December once again and that means it is also Christmas time; time to gather with friends and family, time to decorate, time to buy gifts, time to over eat, time for the office party, time for shopping, time to go on that endless search for the impossible “perfect gift”.

And that I dare say is what Christmas time is all about “receiving the perfect gift”. A gift that you have longed for sense childhood. A gift you have spent sleepless nights thinking of. A gift that you have desired over all others. A gift that will comfort your heart like no other can. A gift that will fill you with the deepest joy and peace you could ever imagine. A gift that will fit you flawlessly. A gift that is priceless that no one else could ever have.

It is a gift that from the most rugged of men to the most delicate of women to the sweetest of children need, wants, and must have. Once you have this gift you will never need or want another. You will seek to give this gift away to everyone you can. But the more of this gift you give the more of the gift you have to give. This gift is truly amazing even though you give it to others they never possess the gift you have. For each of us possess our own personal gift.

You ask, what is this gift and where do I get it? This gift is the Gift of unconditional love from God. And the only place to get it is on your knees before the Cross of Jesus. You see Christmas time is about John 3:16-17;

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Each one of us, on our own, must kneel before God and accept the Perfect Gift that He offers us. I can not possess the love God has for another nor can another possess the love God has for me. God’s unconditional love for us is personal and we can only receive it if we personally accept His Gift for us.

People say it is better to give then to receive, I think they are wrong. Because you can only give the perfect gift once you receive it. And if you never receive Christ Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior you will never be able to give Him to others. While leading others to receive their perfect gift in Christ Jesus will bring you great joy, it will never match or come close to the joy and peace you received when you accepted your perfect gift from God.

Christmas time is about receiving the perfect gift from God our Father. May each of you receive the perfect gift of Christ Jesus this season.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Forgiveness, What Is It and Where Does It Come From

Ask the average person about what forgiveness is and where forgiveness comes from you usually get a response similar to; forgiveness is excusing another’s mistake and it comes from the decision and willingness to do so. The Easton Bible dictionary defines forgiveness as “the act of excusing or pardoning others in spite of their slights, shortcomings, and errors. As a theological term, forgiveness refers to God’s pardon of the sins of human beings.” Merriam-Webster defines forgiveness as a “willingness or able to forgive, allowing room for error or weakness.” Both of these describe the act of forgiveness and does not answer our question, of what is it and where does it come from.
Forgiveness has more to do with who you are then it does with what you do. Forgiveness is not about a decision you made or will make, it is about the condition of your heart. Forgiveness does not come from your intellect it comes from the overflowing abundance of your heart. Forgiveness is not an action it is who you are.
For example look at the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. The prodigal son left his home, telling his father all but that he wish he were dead. After wasting away his whole inheritance and finding himself in a destitute position. He decided to return home and ask to be a servant in his father’s home. A key verse of this parable is verse 20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” Why did the father see his son when he was still a great way off, the father was looking for him to return, so that he could forgive him. I say he wanted to forgive him because the verse also says that the father had compassion for him. The Hebrew wording that is translated to compassion means he was filled with an exuberant joy.
The father forgiving the son had nothing to do with who the son was or what the son did or did not do. The father forgave the son because of who the father was. This is true of how and why you and I are forgiven by God. It has nothing to do with who we are or with what we do or don’t do; you cannot earn God’s forgiveness.
Jesus died on the Cross for all of humankind, past, present, and future sin was forgiven that day. Forgiveness comes from God because of who God is, not because we have done anything to earn it. The only thing you need to do, to receive God’s forgiveness, is to duplicate what the prodigal son did, return home to the Father.
Forgiveness is being like God and it comes from a heart that is surrendered to God.
If you would like to know more about receiving God’s forgiveness I have a 3 part sermon series on the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Contact me by email pastor@fcogw.cggc.org or call me 410-848-7131. There is no charge, God’s Word is freely given.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Do You Feel Saved?

Are you saved? How do you know you are saved? "I know I am saved because I feel it in my heart," many often say. But are the feelings of your heart the proper standard to determine your salvation? We do not use this standard in other matters. No one says of his bank statement, "I know it is right because I feel it in my heart," while they ignore to properly add and subtract from their balance. No carpenter says, "I know the board is 10 feet long because I feel it in my heart" -- he checks the board with the proper standard, the measuring tape! But, when it comes to a matter far more important than bank balances and board lengths -- salvation -- many are willing to trust their eternal welfare to their feelings.
Can you trust the feelings of your heart to tell you whether or not you are saved? The Bible says "No!" "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool" (Prov. 28:26), for "the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jer. 10:23). "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Prov. 14:12). Feelings are subjective; they change from person to person and even within the same person. Truth is objective; it remains fixed and does not change, regardless of the person or the year.
The way you feel about salvation does not change God's truth concerning it, just as the way you feel about math, does not change the truth of it. Whether or not you are saved is an objective fact, not subject to the whims of how you feel from moment to moment. So how can they know they are saved? The Scripture says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding" (Prov. 3:5).
You do not have to rely upon your own faulty and deceptive feelings concerning your salvation. The Lord has given "the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation" (2 Tim. 3:15). The knowledge and confidence of salvation can only come from the objective standard of God's Word. God will judge you by His Word, not by how you feel. Jesus proclaimed, "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). What is your salvation based upon? Many people feel in their heart they are saved because they have "simply believed" in Jesus. While salvation certainly requires faith in Jesus, faith alone does not and cannot save according to God's Word. James wrote, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only" (Jas. 2:24). Other people have prayed and "asked Jesus to come into their heart" and now they feel they are saved. But nowhere does the Bible teach one must simply pray to Jesus in order to be saved. God's Word teaches to be saved you must: hear the gospel (Rom. 10:17); believe Jesus is the Son of God (Mk. 16:16); repent of your sins (Acts 2:38); confess Jesus (Rom. 10:9; Acts 8:36-38). Those who obey God's Word do not have to guess whether or not they are saved based upon the feelings of their heart. They know they are saved because their salvation is based on the unchanging Truth of God's Word.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Personal Relationship with God

What is the most important thing to you in your life? Is it you spouse, children, job, friends, home life, social life or is it, as it should be, God?
There are a lot of things that are important in life, and should hold a priority in our lives. But we need to learn how to prioritize all the important things; so that which is the most important is the one thing we make sure is accomplished. For instance, it is important to rest and relax but how much more important is it that we don’t rest and relax when our boss is paying us to work. You would agree that performing you duties on the job hold priority to you resting and relaxing.
Equally, we need to prioritize our relationships in our everyday life, nurturing those that are the most important. We nurture the relationship we have with our significant other. If we have children, we meet their needs as best we can. We also spend time with friends and professional associates cultivating self and personal growth. And then of course, there is the personal relationship that we should have with God.
Many people do not have a relationship with God. And those of us that do, many of us place Him very low in the pecking order, as to what amount of priority He should have in our lives. Some people feel that God placed us here and then left, claiming we are to do the best we can while fending for ourselves.
Another group of people work very hard at trying to live their life for God. They speak about God in almost every sentence. They are involved in lots of activities. They are very busy doing what they believe is God's will. But what about having a personal and close relationship with God? You could have someone do work at your house and never have a relationship with them. The men that replaced the roof on the parsonage, they were here for a few weeks; they worked hard and did a great job. But they never developed a meaningful relationship with me; accept for getting my work done.
The question then is, for those of us who believe that God is present here and now in our daily lives, does God just want us to be busy at accomplishing His work, or, does He want to have a very close and personal relationship with each of us? I personally believe that the latter is true. It has becomes obvious to me that there is nothing in life that could be, or should be, of any greater importance than our personal relationship with God. Why? Simply put, “Because it affects every aspect of our lives.”
So, how does one go about developing and nurturing a relationship with our Heavenly Father? After all, He is the creator of the heavens and the earth, and I am just me. How do I engage in such a relationship? The same way you develop and nurture a relationship with anyone else. You begin by having a conversation. Talk, speak to God. So many people feel God is unapproachable, but He has made a way for us to approach Him. God gave us His Son, Jesus, so we can come into His presence. God made the first move, He said, “Hello here is my Son”. He is now waiting for a response. While many are waiting on God, He in fact is waiting on us. He is waiting for us to believe in what His Son accomplished for us. He is waiting for us to believe that He has made us accepted because we have believed in His Son. He is waiting for us to come to Him and have a close personal relationship with Him.
Open up your whole heart; tell Him all that is on your heart and mind. Thank Him for what He has done for you; ask Him for the things that you need. In short, make time to spend time with your heavenly Father. When two people engage in a relationship, they make time for each other and spend time with each other. But, it doesn't become a big deep relationship overnight. It takes time. But the more time you invest into developing the relationship, the more it will continue to grow. Develop a close personal relationship with God should be the most important thing in our lives.
Your Servant In Christ, Pastor Ray