Fifth Ward Church of Christ Resource Center

The FWCOC Resource Center is a way for members to use their gifts and talents to serve God and mankind. All resources and activities listed on the site are provided FREE of charge to residents of the greater Houston area. If you are wondering how we can offer these services free, the answer lies at the heart of what we understand as God’s directive for our lives. "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Peter 4:10).  The FWCOC Ministry In-Brief is our way of providing a profile of Ministries at Work.

The FWCOC Ministry In-Brief - Men’s Ministry: Recover—What, How, and When, Part III

Have you ever been told that you were overly confident by someone without the experience to understand your background? If you stop to think about it, how can someone even be overly confident? It is wise to consider the source when someone admits that they don’t understand how you do what you do, while “birds” continue to fly in your head  and you move with passion, vision and purpose and they cannot keep up.  They often don’t understand the background, real-world challenges, and educational experiences that have shaped your values and mindset. They surely don’t understand your walk with God.

Christians use “spiritual toolkits” as a way to remain confident and, through prayer, have faith that things will move forward regardless of circumstances.  Even when you don’t completely understand something, you can rely on God to help see you through. God helps you use your gifts and talents to move across unknown territory. Instead of allowing your confidence to be misunderstood, overridden or overruled, always strive to do what is under your control, to maintain a sound mind, and to be logical, rational, faithful, prayerful, and steadfast in your endeavors. 

Staying aligned with God gives us the power to: navigate through life, recover from varying experiences, and get back up again. These were just a few points discussed with like-minded Christian men during the Men’s Retreat-Conference-Summit (Men’s Event.)

In Part III of the Men’s Ministry series, we review the notable achievements one can make when one maintains a sound mind.

A Sound Mind in Modern Society
Can people be considered a "random mix" of characteristics? Or do most people share a common psychological make-up of capabilities and circumstances? While many people do share similar backgrounds, such as where they grew up and how they were educated, varying experiences shape their views on life. This leads to different viewpoints on key tasks and ideas and often results in people approaching problems with an attitude of “that’s easy” or “that’s nothing special; I can do it myself.”

Some researchers posit that this way of thinking is caused by a lack of critical thinking skills and the inability to understand how to solve problems, answer difficult questions, and be rational when communicating with others. Others believe that everyone thinks that they can effectively solve problems or answer questions. Regardless, it is clear that while both education and experience play a key role in today’s society, the most effective thinking is led by having a sound mind that is grounded physically, mentally, and spiritually.

What does it mean to have a sound mind? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, being “of sound mind” is defined as being “sane or rational.” Furthermore, “rational” is defined as “having reason or understanding” or “relating to, based on, or agreeable to reason.” The Bible references the outcome of having a sound mind in multiple ways, but a practical, applied example was noted during an interview that was an outgrowth of the Men’s Event. The interviewer asked subject-specific questions to Brother DeMarkus Hodge, an intellectually sound and enthusiastic individual who set aside time to experience the Men's Event  and contribute to the follow-up discussions.

Sound Mind Brother DeMarkus Hodge

Give me four words (or phrases) that describe you:
Faith in God (Christian belief in God): Have faith in God and believe in yourself, because you know what it means.
Athleticism: Keep the body fit and know its importance for overall health and wellness.
Intellect: Understand, think critically, be rational, and apply concepts across disciplines.
Compassion: Be friendly to people, giving them the same respect that I want to receive, and make people feel comfortable around one another.

Give me the history of your educational background by “walking backward,” so we can understand how you matriculated  across the years.  I am currently (12/2022) pursuing a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of North Dakota with a focus on computational fluid dynamics with linkages to programming and simulations. One reason I decided to pursue this area is because I found that computational analysis was a weak area in my studies, and I therefore wanted to fill the gaps.
Prior to starting my Ph.D., I obtained a master’s degree in nuclear engineering, with a focus on experimental design projects in the laboratory, from Texas A&M University.
Before that, I obtained a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, with a minor in mathematics and nuclear engineering, from Texas A&M University, Kingsville. I became interested in pursuing nuclear engineering at this time.
I grew up in a military family and spent my freshman and sophomore years of high school in California. However, I spent my junior and senior years in Portugal, where I had the opportunity to travel to several nearby countries, including France, Italy, Germany, and England.
What got you interested in science, and have you always been interested in science? Yes, I have always been interested in science. In Portugal, my high school was small and provided opportunities for various teacher–student projects because the teachers taught multiple subjects. One teacher did an experiment on super saturation using sugar and water. Sugar is dissolved into water until no more can be dissolved, then you heat it up so you can dissolve more. When a super saturated solution gets disturbed, it crystalizes, which piqued my interest in chemistry. I didn’t want to be a math teacher or a chemistry teacher but instead combined the two into chemical engineering.

What is your greatest strength? Communication, especially when working in teams. Teamwork allows you to tackle more challenging projects than working alone does. You get to exchange ideas and new information, talk, listen, and debate to achieve a common goal.
What is your greatest weakness? Pride. Allowing yourself to learn lessons and permitting others to witness you being humble can get you further than you can get on your own.
What motivates you? My family. My mom is working on her Ph.D. in nursing, and my dad has a Ph.D. in microbiology. My sister is attending law school. Several people have helped me understand what it will take to reach my goals and why a certain level of education is important. I measure success by the number of people who love me rather than by the amount of money I have.

What would you tell students in secondary education who are not certain about their career options? First, envision what kind of life you want to live. Think 10–20 years ahead. Then, understand what career fields may be the most beneficial for you to go into. Understand what you’re passionate about or what you don’t mind doing and which suits your future lifestyle, then stay consistent. I got to where I am through the church and through consistency—not only in education, but in my spiritual life as well.

How important  do you think the fellowship component of being a Christian is for your overall success? I think fellowship with Christians is extremely important, and I will double down on that. Initially, I wanted to do everything on my own, but I soon learned that it is much harder to do things alone than together, from keeping your faith strong to working on projects to dealing with family matters. Most problems can be easily solved if you work as a team. Fellowship is important in my life because I lost a parent while I was in college. Fellowship keeps me accountable. It ensures that my faith is strong and allows me to help other people.

Do you have any questions for the interviewer? Yes; I am struggling with where I fit into the FWCOC in terms of gifts and talents and how they can be used. How did you become the FWCOC “journalist”?

Answer: Well, journalist is an interesting term. I would say that I am the In-Brief administrator and facilitator, seeking to highlight the various ministries and to encourage all to get involved. First, you have to listen to what people are asking for, but it has to be something you really like to do. It’s not about doing something just to be doing something. 

Here’s an example that will help you and others on how the In-Brief was started to show how to apply your gifts and talents to work for God, when nothing else matters.

The In-Brief started from an idea that was presented to church leaders and Brother Gary Smith by Brother Karl Spencer. The idea came to Karl after a sermon presented by Gary as he was working on his master’s degree and which mentioned his project—a resource center. Gary said, “there has to be someone in here that has some insight that could use your talents to get involved, especially with information technology.” This phrase stuck with Karl and sparked ideas at the intersection of his aptitude and talents that could be used to design a way to enhance resource center efforts.
The In-Brief idea was pondered over a few weeks, and, on September 17, 2013, email correspondence was sent to church leaders as a way to follow-up with Gary. Gary liked the idea and Karl scheduled a meeting to review options in October 2013 to prepare, plan, and discuss with church leaders and set a deadline for the first release: March 31, 2014. The initial launch included a resource center website that allowed ministry posts and email campaigns as reminders to all FWCOC members.

One way to look at this is to understand the key “take home” message: you get an idea that you think would help; you allow yourself to be used; and you stand prepared to be organized, professional, and cordial, to strive for excellence, to stay on top of it, and to allow God to work!  So this is how anyone can move, shape and form something from their inherent gifts and talents to bring glory to God. 

Today, the In-Brief includes email communication to all subscribed FWCOC members. As new content is released, the previous In-Brief content is archived on the FWCOC website in the resource center section. This archive is available for anyone to read whenever they would like.

Ultimately, striving  to do your part to maintain a sound mind can be very rewarding if you truly stay aligned with God. Kudos to all the men who experienced the Men's Event, including the follow-up assignments, tasks, and discussions. Part III concludes our Men's Ministry series.

Starting in 2023, the In-Brief will be expanded and sent out as a unique set or series each quarter. You should, therefore, expect more exciting insights across ministry efforts.

Thanks to all members, guests, and friends of members who take the time to experience the FWCOC In-Brief.

The In-Brief Ministry

Corinthians 5:12-13: "12We are not commending ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we have lost our minds, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.”(Source: Bible – New American Standard (NASB))

Ministry: Men’s Ministry.
Coordinator(s) and/or Volunteer(s): William Hamilton.
Ministry In-Brief Administrator and Volunteer(s): Karl Spencer.
Location: Fifth Ward Church of Christ Resource Center (including Trip to Dallas).

Archived Articles: In-Brief Archive (PDF Format)