Friday, January 20, 2017

We're Better Together

Have you ever seen the movie “Witness“? In it, an Amish community build a barn in one day as the whole community turns out together to accomplish a unified goal.  That is exactly what being a part of a church family is all about. 

The Bible says that God put you on earth to accomplish five purposes. We are purposed to love him, grow in our relationship with him, serve him, share him and honor him with our lives. God wired all of us in such a way that we can only fulfill his purposes in the context of a community. 

As a Christian you cannot fulfill any of those purposes on your own, we need other people to help us accomplish those things. The Bible often calls your spiritual life, “your walk”, but one of the important things to know is that God never intended for you to walk through life alone. We need others to walk with us to help us grow spiritually. This is why I like to say “We’re better together.”

Romans 12:5 says,“ Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other and each of us needs all the others.”  We as Christians do need each other and that’s why I am inviting you to connect with C3.   
This weekend following each service, I will be hosting our NEXT STEPS class. In this class you will discover what it means to be a part of a church family and specifically you’ll learn the mutual expectations between you and your church. 

If you have not yet taken what we have previously called Class 101 or Connections Class, I invite you to take the NEXT STEP this weekend after services.  

We’re better together, 

Your pastor and partner in ministry,


Be sure to choose your scripture verse of the year and begin to mediate on it, memorize it and mark it on the wall at C3.

Friday, January 13, 2017

What Is Your Next Step?

In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life, life to the fullest.” He didn’t say he came to bring us an institution, an organization or a social club. Christ’s church is not a building even though God has given us a blueprint similar to a building of what the church should be.
“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known…according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." Ephesians 3:10-11
The Christian life is not just about believing, it’s about belonging, belonging to a family, belonging to Christ’s church.
I encourage and challenge EVERYONE who calls Celebration Community Church your church home to take the NEXT STEP, whatever that may be in your commitment to Christ and His church.
If you have not yet made the commitment to be a member of C3, I invite you to come to our “NEXT STEPS” class after each service next weekend January 21 & 22. During this 1 hour long class you will learn who C3 is, what we believe and more importantly, how you can find your place and purpose in it.
If you have not been baptized as an adult believer, or have not dedicated your infant to the Lord, I want to encourage you to take the next step and RSVP on our C3 app. to do that on the weekend of January 28 & 29.
If you are already a baptized member of C3, what is your next step in growing in your relationship with the Lord?
Is it having a Daily Quiet Time with God? Then take that next step by clicking on ‘Resource’ tile of the C3 app and start a You Version Reading Plan.
Is your next step connecting with a small group or serving in a ministry? Then take that next step by clicking on the ‘Ministries’ tile of the C3 app and finding a group that is right for you.
Is your next step making a greater commitment to Christ through tithing? Then step out in faith and give the first 10% of your income to your church by setting up an ongoing gift on the C3 app tile “Give”.
As we begin this New Year ask God what is the next step He wants you to take to grow closer to Him and to His church. Then DO IT!
Your pastor and partner in ministry,
Before the end of this month be sure to choose your scripture verse of the year and begin to mediate on it, memorize it and mark it on the wall at C3 as a reminder of Christ’s mighty promise to “bring you life to the fullest” in this year of our Lord 2017.
Watch your e-mail tomorrow (Saturday) for icy condition weather updates and/or cancellations of services at C3 on Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Spiritual H.A.B.I.T.S.

I did an book search and found close to 15,000 titles about the word habits. We are all as they say, creatures of habit, who do most things habitually. Think about it…
When preparing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich which goes on the top layer, peanut butter or jelly?
When you store your socks in a drawer do you roll them up or fold them flat?
When you replace the toilet paper (you guessed it) does the paper roll over or under the spool?
All of these things you do, you do habitually. Our habits shape our lives. Think about this…
Why is it that some people are more effective than others? Why is it that some people accomplish more? Reach their goals? Soar to greater heights? Get more out of life than other people? The answer is, effective people are committed to habits that ineffective people are unwilling to commit to.
Why is it that some Christians are more dynamic than other Christians? Why is it that some Christians seem to grow more, they seem to have more answered prayers, more of God's blessing on their life. Same answer. Effective Christians commit themselves to things that ineffective Christians are unwilling to commit themselves to.
It has been said that you will become what you are committed to. You become the end result of the habits you do each and every day.
What Spiritual H.A.B.I.T.S. do you need to establish this year?
H. Have a Daily Quiet Time with God
A. Accountability with another believer
B. Bible Memory (Start with your Scripture Verse of the Year)
I. Involve yourself on a ministry team
T. Tithing (giving 10% of your income)
S. Study the Bible in a Small Group
Developing these Spiritual HABITS will help you to have a more purposeful and productive 2017.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Friday, December 30, 2016

All Scripture

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
For over 30 years as a pastor, I have been saying that, "The Bible is the best-selling, least-read, book of all time."
George Gallup, a prominent religion pollster in the US, agrees: "We revere the Bible," he says, "but we don't read it." In a recent survey, 64 percent of those questioned said they were too busy to read the Bible. The average household has three Bibles but less than half the people in the US can name the first book in the Old Testament. One survey found that 12 percent of its Christian respondents identified Noah's wife as Joan of Arc!
The solution? Read the Bible! Join me in a commitment to read the Bible every day in 2017. The goal is not information, but transformation. Someone summarized 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • All scripture is inspired (God breathed).
  • All scripture is useful to teach us what is right and wrong.
  • All scripture prepares and equips us to do God’s will.
God wants us to put into practice what we learn. He gives us a message to not just to listen but to obey. The Bible is an intensely practical book. It tells us what to do, and it tells us how to do it. It prepares and equips us.
It contains God's practical plan on how to build a successful life, on how to build a family that God can bless, how to be happy, how to live a life of significance.
All of the messages that Pastor Brant and I are deliver are basically "how to" messages. Why? Because the goal of the Bible isn't to make us more knowledgeable. As 2 Timothy 3:17 says "God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
God's Word is a precious gift. So make a resolution this New Year to read it, study it, mediate on it, memorize parts of it and most importantly apply it every day to living the life calls you to in the next year.
As I do every year I want to encourage everyone to choose your own “Scripture Verse of the Year”. As you choose your Scripture Verse of the Year pick one that will help you align with God’s promise to prepare and equip you for what God wants you to do.
At this weekend’s New Year’s services on Saturday at 5pm and Sunday at 8:30, 10 and 11:30 am I will be revealing my Scripture verse of the year.
I hope you can make it to one of the services.
Happy New Year of our Lord 2017
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Cradle and the Cross

I love receiving Christmas cards. I take the ones we get in the mail and tape them to our door so I can see them all in the kitchen. Over the years I have saved a few of them that I bring back out each December to remind me of what Christmas is all about. Two of my favorite cards are ones that make the connection between the cradle and the cross; between Jesus birth and his death.
Christmas without the cross is irrelevant. If Jesus had just stayed a baby in a manger, you might as well stop reading this right now — life would be pointless. Without the cross, there’s no reason to spend an entire month getting ready for the celebration of his birth. Without the cross there’s no reason to put up Christmas lights, play music, send cards, or buy gifts.
The whole world shuts down one day a year to celebrate a day that split history into A.D. and B.C. God came to Earth and invaded human history. And because he did, the world will never be the same.
But it wouldn’t have mattered a bit without Jesus going to the cross to take yours sins and mine upon him. For God so loved us that He gave us His son... to die on a cross and through His shed blood became the Savior of the world.
This baby who made the angels sing, this baby who made a new star shine in the sky, this baby who came to save the world, grew to be a man who went to the cross for you and me. And that has made all the difference.
Your pastor and partner in minstry,

If you are in Hays on Christmas Eve you are invited to one of our 3 services at 3pm, 4:30pm or 6pm. All are welcome to experience joyful Christmas music, an encouraging time for kids, inspiring videos and a message of hope about Peace on Earth. There will also be a photo shoot set for you to take a family Christmas picture.
Because Christmas Day falls on a Sunday there will be

Friday, December 16, 2016

Change Is Always Challenging

Last summer, knowing that I was approaching my 65th birthday I took a study leave and focused on learning all I could on two specific topics. One was about developing a ministry team to serve the needs of active 55+ adults. The second topic was about how to prepare for a successful succession of leadership when I did decide to eventually retire.
This last Thanksgiving my wife Debbie and I took a trip to Atlanta to visit our daughter Jessica, her husband Matt and our four grandchildren, Asa 10, Carys 8, Shepard 6 and Jasper 4, where we discussed the realities of a move.
Well last weekend with I announced to our congregation that at the end of October 2017, I will be retiring as the Senior Pastor of Celebration Community Church in order that we may move to Georgia to be closer to our grandkids and to pursue what’s next for us in ministry. In anticipation of all that it will take to prepare for such a move, Debbie will be stepping back from Victory Christian Academy as of January 1st 2017.
Over the last 20 years since the inception of our church I have seen the hand of God do amazing things through His Holy Spirit working in us and through us. I am been SO proud and privileged to be your pastor.
I remember when I stood on the platform at Beach Schmidt Performing Arts Center as we were presenting the plans for our Forward Faith Capital Campaign, saying that I believed the best years of C3 lie ahead of us.
I still do.
Our church Board has affirmed that when I do retire, the reins of leadership would then be handed over to Brant Rice as Senior Pastor, aided by our Systems Pastor Derek Mayfield. Both men have been home grown in our congregation and have served side by side with me in ministry proving themselves to be worthy successors.
There’s a lot of work to be done in the next ten months, like putting together a vision team to launch that “Active Adult” ministry after the first of the year. We also need to continue to move forward as a unified body while we complete construction of our new Worship Center and the repurposing of our existing buildings. I encourage you to remain loyal to our entire church staff that needs your prayerful, personal and continued financial support.
Change is always challenging but as we embrace the future together with faith, we can trust that our Awesome God will keep on blessing us Big Time in the days ahead, just as He has over the last 20 years.
Together let’s celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Friday, December 9, 2016

Thanks Be To God

This was the first Thanksgiving in the last fourteen years since Debbie and I have been married that we spent the holiday not helping to host ECMA’s Thanksgiving Day Feast. Instead we went to Atlanta and enjoyed being with our grandkids who we only get to see a couple of times each year. It was a good time for not only enjoying each other’s company but also for having the opportunity to impart and support the Spiritual values being taught to these little ones.
I shared with them the story of the origins of Thanksgiving when persecuted Christians left their homelands and became refugees in a foreign land. I shared how William Bradford, the governor of their new community of Plymouth proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving in spite of having lost one half of their brothers and sisters the year before to the harsh New England winter. These Pilgrims celebrated and gave thanks to God an abundant harvest that they had reaped with the aid of the Native people who welcomed them and taught them to plant and hunt the local game.
As we move into the Christmas season I hope you never forget Thanksgiving’s beginnings. I also hope you never forget how blessed we are and how grateful to God we should be. It is good and fitting that as Christians to remember that the holiday is not Thanks-getting, Its Thanks-giving. And so we should be generous in sharing what God has given us.
As we went around the Thanksgiving dinner table and shared what we were thankful for, I said to my family that we should also remember to WHOM we are to give thanks. When we take for granted what God has done for us, we can become calloused, filled with pride and therefore outside of the will of God. Remember these words from the Apostle Paul. “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 1 Thess. 5:1
At this time I also want to take a moment to tell you how thankful I am to you. I am always humbled at the notion that you would take the time to read these weekly devotionals.
I encourage you to attend one of our four services this weekend at C3 where I will be speaking on who are Mighty God is and sharing some important news about my family’s future.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,