Tuesday, August 15, 2017

There Is Only One Race—The Human Race

Every Monday morning at our C3 Staff meetings I introduce a question that will promote discussion among our team sharing insights into how we view life and hopefully drawing us closer together. Considering the violence that took place in Charlottesville Virginia last weekend I felt compelled to address the issue and to inquire within our team what our church’s response should be.
Our staff debated the removal of statues of Southerners and the effect that may have in altering history. We discussed confederate flags and other symbols from a time gone by that now represents bigotry and hate. One thing that we all agreed on was that racism is still alive in America. Racism, has been a pox on our country for hundreds of years and continues today even in Hays Kansas. Hearing our new black youth pastor tell about when he was a student at Fort Hays State University being assaulted with the “N” word hate speech spewing out the mouths of angry bigots saddened us all.
The first thing to understand as we discuss racism is the foundational premise that there is only one race—the human race. Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Indians, Arabs and Jews are not different races, rather they are different ethnicities of the same human race. Apart from just a few minor differences, human beings all have the same physical characteristics.
More importantly, as the Bible teaches us, all human beings are created equal in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). God SO loved the world that He sent His son Jesus to lay down His life for us (John 3:16). The “world” obviously includes all ethnic groups. The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 3:28 that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Racism is a sin and according to Got Questions.org which offers advice and direction about spiritual issues says that, “Racism is a sin that divides us as the human family. It violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father. Racism is the sin that says some human beings are inherently superior and others essentially inferior because of races. It is the sin that makes racial characteristics the determining factor for the exercise of human rights. It mocks the words of Jesus: ‘Treat others the way you would have them treat you.’ Indeed, racism is more than a disregard for the words of Jesus; it is a denial of the truth of the dignity of each human being revealed by the mystery of the Incarnation.”
In the New Testament Jesus commands us to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34) The Apostle Peter who Jesus built his church upon says, ”Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.” 1 Peter 3:9
The church, the body of Christ is called to be the voice of compassion not hated. We are not born knowing how to hate. Hatred is learned.
The church, the body of Christ is called to be the voice of forgiveness not retaliation. Forgiveness is an essential part of the life of believers. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32
The church, the body of Christ is called to be the voice of good not evil. "Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good." Romans 12:21
The church, the body of Christ is called to be the voice of love and the voice of love is louder than hate.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,
This weekend the Pastors of C3 will be continuing our series on the Beatitudes, from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This week’s message is very timely, “Blessed are the Peacemakers for they will be called the children of God." Matthew 5:9

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What is the Difference Between Mercy and Grace?

“You have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8
Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me. Psalm 40:11
What is grace? Well it is certainly not just a prayer spoken at meals. Grace is God’s unmerited favor, it is everything God does for you, even though you don’t deserve it. The Bible says that everything you have comes by grace. Everything God does in you and through you and for you and to you and by you is by grace. You don’t earn it, you don’t deserve it, you don’t work for it. Grace is a free gift.
The Psalmist expresses his thanks to God for grace by saying,
“I will… not forget the glorious things God does for me. He forgives all my sins. He heals me. He ransoms me from hell. He surrounds me with love … He fills my life with good things … He is merciful and tender toward those who don’t deserve it; He is slow to get angry … He doesn’t remain angry … He has not punished us as we deserve for our sins.” Psalm 103:2-11
Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t give you what you deserve? That’s because God is merciful.
When we deserve punishment, He doesn’t punish us, and in fact blesses us instead. Mercy is the withholding of a condemnation we deserve.
God is merciful.
However, we must remember that God is also holy, righteous, and just.
That means that God does not casually overlook our sin. But It DOES mean that God in his love and mercy comes to us and offers us a way out of our misery caused by our sin. God in His grace is merciful.
Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.
Mercy is not getting what you do deserve.
Instead God gives you what you need. If your heart doesn’t explode with gratitude when you understand the grace and the mercy of God, then you have no idea of what bad shape you were in before you met Christ. Let me summarize it; before Christ there was nothing you could do to get rid of the guilt, fear, bitterness, worry, and regret. You had no real hope for the future. You were headed for an eternity in hell not heaven and there was nothing you could do about it. You would never be good enough to earn your salvation. But God came along and in His wonderful love said, I am going to be merciful, I am going to show you grace.”
So today and everyday be sure to give thanks to God for the amazing grace and the tender mercy He has shown you. And in turn be grace-filled and merciful to others.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Are You Developing Your Spiritual Muscles?

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
For years I had always thought of myself as a former athlete, I did not realize how “former” I really was until one day while doing simple chores in my back yard I experienced being short of breath. I was overweight and out of shape. Amber Cunningham of Inspire had offered to train me as a thank you for allowing her fitness business to operate in the gym of Celebration Community Church. In January of 2015 I took her up on her offer. For 45 minutes, twice a week, Amber would direct me in exercises designed to increase my strength, stamina and flexibility. I remember the first time I tried to stand on the “BOSU”, within seconds I would fall off the apparatus like a deck chair off the Titanic.
Week after week I grew a little bit stronger, better balanced, and inspired to eat better as well. (I have not had a donut in over two years and that’s saying a lot coming from someone who works at a church where donuts are served more than communion.) I have lost 15 pounds in the last two years.
Amber’s workouts have stretched my muscles, enhanced my endurance and strengthened my core, adding length to my golf game and keeping me on the field as the “senior” member of C3’s softball teams of which her son and husband are players.
I have so appreciated Amber’s focus on body, mind and Spirit and have enjoyed her daily devotions and prayers for me, my family and our church. (At times, this pastor has needed and valued Amber’s advice and support.) C3 is blessed to have Inspire be a part of our ministry family. I am blessed to have Amber as my friend and workout partner.
Physical training and dietary discipline are important but if you really want to change for the better than I suggest you train in godliness. The Apostle Paul tells his protégé Timothy that training in godliness is beneficial for both this life and eternal life.
Godliness is taking on the very attributes of God which includes unconditional love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and selflessness. These are the attributes we are currently studying at C3 from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount called the Beatitudes. These ways to seek God’s blessing are in stark contrast to what the world promotes. In our society, much emphasis is placed on physical fitness, but spiritual health is even more important. Our physical health is susceptible to disease and injury, but faith can sustain us through any tragedy. To train ourselves to be godly, we must develop our faith by spending time in prayer and the reading of God’s word, the Bible as well as using our God-given abilities in the service of the church.
Are you developing your spiritual muscles?
Your pastor and workout partner in ministry,

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"We Are One in the Spirit, We Are One in the Lord"

What a weekend we had in Hays celebrating the cities 150th anniversary. After a street dance, car show and sidewalk sale on the bricks downtown, the churches of Ellis county along with the Downtown Hays Development Corporation put on a combined worship service at Municipal Park called “Praise in the Park". After the service and some greetings and salutations from elected officials, there was a picnic lunch with BBQ and birthday cake, free admission to the Hays Aquatic Park, and bounce houses for the kids. C3’s own Sara Bloom was the organizer of the event.
Thirteen churches were represented as we heard about the early history of Hays churches. It was then a joy to combined our voices in songs of praise before we prayed for our families, our churches, our community, our nation and for those who have not yet come into a faith filled relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.
Ever since I became a believer over 30 years ago, I have been saddened by the division that denominational differences have caused within the body of Christ. I have long felt in my heart of hearts that God’s heart breaks when one church will not fellowship with another because of divergent understandings of scriptures or varied practices in worship style and content. I have always firmly held the belief that no one really should ever claim that they are a Methodist, or a Presbyterian, or a Baptist or even a Catholic shocking as that may seem. I believe that if we profess that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior then we are “Christians” who worship at a particular church of our choosing.
Jesus says in the Gospel of John, “that our Christlike love for each other will show the world that we are his disciples”. But when people outside of the church see jealousy and division between churches, it does not attract them, instead the reverse occurs.
I was the President of the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance when we began the joint venture with The Hays Daily News called ONE magazine. The monthly insert is intended to focus on our unity while accepting our diversity as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Here is what I wrote as the Welcome in the inaugural issue of ONE in December of 2007.
“As President of ECMA this year it is my desire to encourage the churches of Ellis County to take seriously Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane when he said, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:20-21.”
The Ellis County Ministerial Alliance’s participation in “Praise in the Park” is another example of letting the community of Hays know, like the camp song many of us used to sing, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes they know we are Christians by our love”.
We are better together,
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Just one week ago I presided at my brother Eddie’s funeral service. He lived life to the fullest for what the Book of Proverbs say, ”three score and ten and then another ten years”. He was a born the eldest of four sons of an Armenian Father and an Irish/German mother both fun loving and sociable people. He grew up in Chicago loving his family, the Cubs, the Bears and the hot dog vendors who sold their wears out of baby buggy carts around Wrigley Field. In a Boulder Camera newspaper article about him in 1999 he said "I grew up a mile from Cub's Park. "Some kids want to be policemen. Some kids want to be firemen. I always wanted to have my own hot dog stand."
Eddie worked as a sales and marketing manager for Anheuser Busch for 40 years in Chicago, Minneapolis, Tulsa, Lafayette La, Kansas City and then Santa Cruz California. Whenever I asked him where his favorite place to reside was, he would always say, “wherever he was”. That was the kind of positive attitude that personified Eddie.
His wife Nancy made his lifelong wish come true by buying Eddie his first hot dog cart when he was 50 and in 1994 they moved to Boulder where “Fast Eddies World Famous Hot Dogs’ became an iconic fixture on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. When they retired to Arizona five years ago Eddie blessed me with that original hotdog cart.
Eddie will be remembered as a man with a gregarious personality, a generous spirit, and a zest for life and good friends to share it with. He blessed people beyond measure without ever expecting reciprocity. From giving away hot dogs to all of those who could not afford one, to blessing those around him with ball game tickets, t-shirts, hats, travel bags and fanny packs, whatever he had available. He always Made whomever he was with feel special. He was always the biggest man in the room, a big personality, a big voice, and an even bigger heart.
At his memorial service, I read letters from folks whose lives were forever elevated because of Eddie. Nancy, his wife of 40 years also received letters of condolences from his favorite sports teams, the Bears and the Cubs. He even had the great honor bestowed upon him by being inducted into the Vienna Beef Company Hot Dog Hall of Fame. Ever since I was a kid I have said, “when I grow up I want to be like my BIG brother Eddie”… at age 65 I still say that.
Eddie Ermoian lived three score and ten and for good measure he lived another ten. And he lived them all with passion and with purpose and as all of us mortal men, he didn’t live them perfectly. But Eddie lived and he loved and he laughed out loud. There were many times I remember Eddie sitting back after a good meal with a Budweiser in one hand and a good cigar in the other and say the words… “It just doesn’t get any better than this”.
But I’m here to share with you the good news that right now Eddie is experiencing a place that is infinitely better than anything he experienced on earth.
I have every confidence that my brother is now residing in God’s perfect heaven…not because he was a loving husband, not because he was a devoted father, not because he was a hard worker, an affable fellow, or because he was a generous giver. Eddie is in heaven today for one reason only: He accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He made that choice and I hope you have too.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

4th Of July

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…" Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776
Today, the 4th of July. For me it is a day to rest and intentionally remember and honor our nation’s beginnings. Every year on this day I seek to renew my faith in what I believe to be America’s Godly heritage. I usually watch the movie musical “1776”. Sometimes I view a David Barton documentary from www.Wallbuilders.com.
This year I also plan on watching the first couple of installments of the HBO Miniseries “John Adams”.
Thinking about the person of John Adams I find it amazing that on the very day the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, Adams was already foreseeing that their actions would be celebrated by future generations. Adams contemplated whether it would be proper to hold such celebrations, but then concluded that the day should be commemorated – but in a particular manner and with a specific spirit. As he wrote to his wife Abigail:
“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”

John Adams believed that the 4th of July should become a religious holiday – a day when we remembered God's hand in deliverance and a day of religious activities when we committed ourselves to Him.
America truly has a Godly heritage and though we can see a disconnecting from the God who has so richly blessed America, I proudly affirm Lee Greenwood sings, “I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God Bless the U.S.A.”
Proud to be an American and your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Prime The Pump

Last Sunday I shared a story about a man who was lost in the desert and near death from thirst. He wandered aimlessly throughout the burning sand for many days, growing weaker by the moment. At long last, he saw in the distance palm trees indicating there was an oasis where there would be would be water. He stumbled forward feverishly, fell beneath the shade of the trees. Finally, he might quench his thirst. But he noticed something strange about this oasis. Instead of a pool of water there was a pump and next to the pump, was a jar of water, and next to the jar of water was a small parchment with a handwritten note. The note explained that the leather gasket within the pump must be saturated with water for the pump to work. Within the jar was just enough water for this purpose.
The note also warned the reader, “Do not drink from the jar. Every drop must be poured down into the pump in the opening so the base of the pump can become soaked, the hard leather softened and, as the leather is softened and expanded, an unlimited supply of water would be available”.
The man faced a dilemma. He was dying of thirst and there was not much water, probably not enough water to save his life, but it seemed foolish to take the little bit of water that he had and pour it down the base of a pump. On the one hand, if the note is true, and he pours it down, he has all the water that he needs. On the other, if he drinks what he has, he might temporarily quench his thirst, but find himself in an oasis and die.
As I thought about this story and the dilemma the man had I realized that you and I are a lot like the thirsty man in the desert. Imagine this, the contents of our lives are what is contained in the jar.
Inside your jar is your time, your passion, your talent, your money, your possessions...it’s all that you are and all that you have.
Now imagine God writes a note to you saying, “Give it to me. Pour it out. Trust Me. Don’t be afraid. Trust me with your time. Trust me with your talents. Trust me with your money. Trust me with your life, your whole life and I will bless you abundantly.”
God HAS written you that note, His word, the Bible. Look at these promises we read from God’s word: 
“Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine”. Proverbs 3:9-10.
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Malachi 3:10
I suggest that all of us prime the pump of God’s spiritual blessings by tithing (giving a mere 10%) of our time, talent and treasure to God. Like the man facing the dilemma in the desert we need to have faith that the ONE who wrote the note will follow through with what he says He will do.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,