Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I’m Thankful to God!

With my upcoming retirement at the end of the month and this being the last of the over 3000 daily emails/P.K.’s blogs that I have written since 2004, I want to share you with briefly what I am thankful to God for.
I’m Thankful to God… For the Grace He’s Shown Me.
Everything God does in me and through me and for me and to me is by His grace. I didn’t earn it, I didn’t work for it and I certainly don’t deserve it.
I’m so glad that God doesn’t give me what I deserve, instead God gives me what I need. His grace is amazing and it is a free gift of which I am thankful.
I’m Thankful to God… For the Plan He Has For Me.
Over our time together at C3 I have talked a lot about this.
You and I were made for a reason, for God’s purpose. God has a perfect plan for your life and mine. His plan for me was to be the Founding and Senior Pastor of Celebration Community Church for the last 21 years and I am so glad I got with the plan. We may not always know what the future holds but what I have always tried to do was to not to worry, fear or fret about it but rather to trust in the One who holds my future. As Debbie and I move forward in faith on a new adventure in life we have put our faith and trust in this promise from God:
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. Jeremiah 29:11
I’m Thankful to God…For the People He Has Put Around Me
There are far too many people to mention so I hope you know that if you are reading this, that I am so blessed to have had you in my life and that I echo the Apostle Paul’s words that he wrote as a thank you note to a congregation he founded and was so close to his heart:
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:3-6
He is talking about his love and affection for a church. I have always said that church is not a building, church is not something you go to, church is not an event you attend. Church is a family that God meant for you and me to be a part of, connected to, committed to. God in His manifold wisdom created us to be in a relationship with Him and with each other; fellowship in the family of God, the body of Christ.
I have been blessed all these years to be a part of this amazing church family and I have the confidence that what He has begun in us, He will carry on to completion until He comes again.
So as I close this chapter of my life I give thanks to God and give thanks to you for allowing me to be…
Your pastor and partner in ministry,
If you can, please stop by the gym at C3 this Saturday from 1-4pm to wish Debbie and I farewell. I will also be taking communion with you during all of our services this weekend.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Looking Back on 21 years

As I sit down to write this I am realizing that this will be my next to last of some 3,000 plus emails or blogs that I have written since 2004. As I think back upon the 20+ years that I have pastored C3, I thought it would be good to look at our history.
After pastoring in Southern California for nearly ten years I moved to Hays in 1993. Without a church to serve here, I took on a job as the general manager of a local radio station and even though I was successful in that endeavor, I missed the purposeful calling as pastor. While speaking to a group of leadership students on the subject, “Living Your Life On Purpose” I heard God speak directly to me saying, “Why are you not doing what I have purposed you to do?” In that instant, Celebration Community Church was born. The vision God gave me was to reach out to people interested in spiritual issues but who didn't think church was relevant to their daily lives.
Through what was at the time an innovative approach to doing church involving contemporary music, drama, multi-media, and practical biblical messages, a remarkable thing began to occur. People throughout the Ellis County area discovered a church that met them where they were in their spiritual lives.
Starting in a storefront with 14 people on a Thursday night in August of 1996 Celebration Community Church has grown to over 1000 adults and children attending weekly in two campuses. On December 8,1996, the first Sunday services were started at Hays High School with 93 in attendance. After 2 ½ years at Hays High School we moved to The Ellis County Fairgrounds Schenk Building setting up and taking down 250 chairs each Sunday morning for the next 2 years.
In 2001 the church bought and refurbished a 13,000 sq. ft dilapidated truck repair garage. That year a full-time church secretary Ericka Pfeifer and youth minister and Brant Rice were added to the staff. Celebration’s full and part time staff has since grown to 17 committed servants.
I proposed to my wife Debbie on New Year’s eve 2001 at the Sonic Drive In and she said yes. (We still go there every New Year’s Eve and I re-propose and by the grace of God she still says yes)
In 2004 the Celebration applied to the FCC for a low power radio station license and in 2006 began broadcasting 98.5 FM “The Truth”
In 2004 Celebration Community Church was also chosen to receive the Church Health Award by Purpose Driven Ministries. My wife Debbie and I accepted that honor in Southern California from Saddleback Church’s Rick Warren.
In 2006, needing more classroom and office space we embarked on our second capital campaign and raised over a million dollars to add an additional 15,000 square feet of multipurpose ministry area.
We have just completed a renovation of that 28,000 sq. feet of space to accommodate VCA (Victory Christian Academy) while building another 16,000 sq. ft. state of the art, 550 seat worship center, gathering space and coffee bar. Over 1200 adults and children worshiped in our new facilities’ Grand Opening on the weekend of September 7-8th.
In the time I served C3 we initiated an Annual Mission Auction that raises thousands of dollars each year to give away to missions and we have sent out hundreds of short term missionaries as well as over a dozen full time ministers and missionaries. Our Celebration Community Church Leadership Academy (C3LA) helps adult students discover their place in the body of Christ.
In my time here in Hays I have also had the opportunity to teach in the Leadership Studies Department at FHSU and write a weekly article on Leadership for 3 years for the Hays Daily News. For 19 years I served as the chaplain for the Tigers Men’s football and Basketball teams. It has also been my pleasure and privilege to have been the President of the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance where each year C3 collects groceries and feeds over 700 people each year at a Thanksgiving Day Feast. In my time as ECMA’s President we also began a joint venture with The Hays Daily News called ONE magazine which continues to this day.
After 21 years of attempting to follow the call God put on my heart to do what He has purposed me to do, I will be retiring from C3 at the end of October 2017 and moving to Ellijay Georgia, where Debbie and I can be closer to our four grandchildren.
Teaching Pastor Brant Rice will become the new Senior Pastor aided by Systems Pastor Derek Mayfield and a tremendous group of committed staff and volunteers of whom all but one of them started as a first-time guest at C3.
I am so proud to the accomplishments we as a church have made in our time together as partners in the ministry and mission of Jesus Christ.
As I have written in each one those previous 3,000 plus emails / blogs,
I sign off the way I always have….
Your pastor and partner in ministry,
Next week in my last blog I will share what I believe God is leading Debbie and I to do as well as giving a challenge to C3 for its future. PK

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

PK’s Top Ten

As the weather outside turns chilly and I wind down my time at C3, I got to thinking about the top ten of my favorite things about my favorite season of the year - Fall.
1. Walking through piles of crunchy, colorful leaves.
2. Harvest moons and Indian summer sunsets.
3. Chicago Cubs playoff games in the afternoon, Chicago Bears game on Monday Night Football.
4. Wearing sweater vests under sport coats.
5. My son Taylor’s birthday on Oct 27th. (mine is on the 25th)
6. Debbie and my first date “kissing anniversary”.
7. Remembering all the years hosting Rick Bauer’s Memorial Golf Outing. (I miss those and him)
8. Collecting bags of groceries & serving Thanksgiving dinner at the Rose Garden Banquet Hall. (We’ll miss this)
9. C3 kids coming over in costumes for handfuls of candy on Halloween. (for one last time)
10. Raising thousands of $ to give away at C3’s Annual Mission Auction. (We will miss this too)
I hope you are looking forward to enjoying each day of the next season of life God gives you. Remember that each day He gives us is a precious gift.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Remembering Rick Bauer

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20
Today as I write this (Monday Oct 2nd) I am remembering our friend Rick Bauer, on this the 14th anniversary of his passing on to heaven. Rick was among the finest men I have ever known. Rick was a loving husband, devoted father, loyal family member, compassionate physician, gifted athlete, talented drummer, encouraging friend, a faithful follower of Christ and he and his wife Cindy along with daughters Tara and Tessa, were the first of the 14 people to step through the storefront doors of Celebration Community Church as we gathered for the first time on a Thursday night in late August of 1996. Rick is so well remembered and is still so greatly missed.
I read that C. S. Lewis, the popular author of the Chronicles of Narnia series said, “that while on this earth we are on the wrong side of the door." But he added, "All the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor it will not always be so."
Jesus doesn't leave us "on the wrong side of the door." It is because of Him that we anticipate what’s on the other side; heaven. The hope He gives us is not due to our good character, selfless service, generous giving nor because we have earned the right to enter heaven by any of our own efforts. No, we will see our Savior only because of our faith in His supreme sacrifice on the cross for our sins.
When we reach heaven, we'll understand the far-reaching implications of the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 2:9, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
Rick Bauer lived each day preaching, not with words but rather by modeling his life after the One who gave him life and life eternal and who now stands at the door of our lives and knocks. I encourage you to invite him in daily.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Take the trip, eat the cake, buy the shoes

Last week my wife Debbie and I had the honor of distributing my brother Eddie’s ashes at significant locations throughout Chicagoland. It was just a few short months ago that he and his wife Nancy were enjoying a European vacation. It served as a reminder that our time on earth is short. This is a message we can all hear and respond to. Time is short. We never know when we or the ones we love will take their last breath so what we do with the precious little time we have is important.
While at Wrigley Field we ran into former C3 attenders Kerry & Anna (Herl) Shannon. On her Facebook page regarding the encounter she posted this very good advice:
*Life is way too short! Take the trip, eat the cake, buy the shoes*
The Bible also give us great advice regarding prioritizing and managing our time.
Jesus says to us all:
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
So what does this mean? To "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness" means to turn to God first for help, to fill your thoughts with his desires, to take his character for your pattern, and to serve and obey him in everything. As we offer up our lives to Him He expands our capacity to do more than we can even imagine.
What is important to you? People, objects, goals, and other desires all compete for priority. Any of these can quickly bump God out of first place if you don't actively choose to give him first place in every area of your life.
In His word God has made His purpose for your life very clear. We are to love Him with all we have and with all we are and to honor Him in all we do (Worship).
We are to grow in our relationship with Him so we may gain spiritual maturity and become more like Him (Discipleship).
We are to connect with His body, the church so we can encourage one another along in this journey (Fellowship).
We are to serve Him by serving others with the gifts and abilities He has given us (Ministry).
We are to share with others Jesus, the reason for the hope we have within us. (Mission)
If we live each day seeking Him first and His purposes for our lives, God will provide for us the things of life like trips and cake and shoes. He will also provide ample time to do all these things and more and to do them well.
Make the most of your time because our time is short. Be sure to worship with your church family this weekend as we continue in the series, “HIS Church”.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Does God Answer Prayers?

Does God answer prayers? –Sometimes God says “Yes Sometimes God says  “No.” Sometimes God says “Not now.”

God has promised that, when we ask for things that are in accordance with His will for our lives, He will give us what we ask for
“ This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.1 John 5:14–15. However, there is one thing` to add to this: we may not always like the answer.

We pray for a lot of things—some good, some bad, some really pointless. But God listens to all our prayers, regardless of what we ask.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” Matthew 7:7. When we talk to Him, He has promised to listen and respond.
Keep in mind that prayer is not our way of getting God to do what we want. Our prayers should be focused on things that honor and glorify God and reflect what the Bible clearly reveals God’s will to be. If we pray for something that dishonors God or is not His will for us, He is unlikely to give what we ask for. God’s wisdom far exceeds our own, and we must trust that His answers to our prayers are the best possible solutions.

In John 11, Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to heal their dying brother, yet Jesus allowed Lazarus to die. Why did He say “no” to these grieving women who loved Him so much? Because He had greater things planned for Lazarus, things that no one could possibly have imagined.

“No” is one of the hardest answers we can receive. But, once again, it is important to remember that God is all-knowing and is aware of the entire timeline of history. He knows every possible outcome of every possible choice in every possible situation; we do not. He sees the “big picture”; we see a partial brushstroke. Proverbs 3:5 says to “trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” When we get a “no” answer, we must trust that whatever we asked for was not God’s will.
Sometimes hearing “wait” is even harder than hearing “no” because it means we have to be patient.” But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently”. Romans 8:25. While waiting is difficult, we can be thankful God is in control and trust that His timing will be perfect “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”. Romans 12:12

God wants the best for your life. He does not want you to suffer needlessly. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Be patient and know that He is your loving Father (Psalm 46:10).

While waiting for God trust in Philippians 4:6 as you make your requests to God: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Then, when God responds, be prepared to accept His wisdom—whether or not you agree with His answer.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

It Is Finished

It Is Finished!
This last weekend was one of the most memorable ones in Celebration Community Church’s 21year history. After 2 years of assessment, design, fundraising, renovation and construction, we completed our building project by opening our new 16,000 square foot 550 seat Worship Center. Our design/ build partners in this project Brown Church Development from Kearney Nebraska came down to help us celebrate our Grand Opening and they were greatly impressed. We experienced our largest attendance ever,  (outside of an Easter Sunday) with over 1200 adults and children worshipping in our 4 services. We also dedicated 5 infants and baptized 21 believers.      
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the subcontractors and volunteers who worked on the building project. I especially want to thank all of you who have made pledges to the Forward Faith Capital Campaign. I appreciate your support and generous contributions. If you have not yet made a commitment to the campaign I want to encourage you to jump on board and help us finance our state of the art, Worship Center and Celebration Coffee Bar which are designed to be a tool to attract and connect the thousands of unchurched people within a short drive of our location. The proceeds above expenses from sales at the Coffee Bar will go toward Missions.    
What an exciting time it is to be a part of the Celebration and we hope that you share in that excitement. It’s going to take all of us giving sacrificially above our weekly tithes to fulfill the vision God has given us to create a space that would honor Him and accommodate all of the people we can reach for Him in the years to come. 
On behalf of the Staff and Directors of C3, we give thanks and praise to God as we continue to move Forward in Faith together. 

Your pastor and partner in ministry,