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, 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Your Labor Matters to God

After an extremely busy week and even busier weekend I have looked forward to a day off on Labor Day. Don’t get me wrong I love my job, and all that is involved with it. I love teaching, preaching, counseling, presiding at weddings and funerals (Charter member Brian Atwell’s memorial service is Wednesday at 11am). I enjoy staff meetings, baptizing & dedicating babies (we have baptisms and baby dedications coming up this weekend).
I love working side by side with others on service projects, promoting events like our new building Grand Opening this weekend and writing these weekly devotionals for you. I would not trade what I do or where I do it for anything in the world. As I get closer to the day of my retirement from C3 at the end of October, I realize how blessed I’ve been.
How do you feel about your job? Are you pleased with what you are doing? Do you feel like you are fulfilling your purpose through your work? I remember reading, Your Work Matters to God by Doug Sherman which demonstrates Biblically just how important our work is to God.
Labor Day seems like a good time to pause, give thanks to God for the abilities He has given us and take a closer look at what it takes to make our work life more meaningful.
Here are a few thoughts with the guidance of God’s word:
• Work allows us to provide for those who depend on us.
“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”. (1 Timothy 5:8)
• No matter what our task, it's our duty to work for God's glory.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men”. (Colossians 3:23)
• The way we work can earn the respect of those who do not follow Christ.
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody”. (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).
Since the creation of humanity, God has given us work to do. If we could regard our work as an act of worship and service to God, such an attitude would help us understand that God wants to use us just where we are to accomplish His purpose. As a matter fact, as Christians we all need to see our current jobs as God's place for us to minister to others.
So when we return back to work, remember God has placed you where you are to grow you in character and live out your purpose for His glory!
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Your Work Matters To God

Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your work to the Lord and then it will succeed.”
In your lifetime you’re going to spend about 150,000 hours at work. That’s forty percent of your life. The odds are you’re not going to enjoy it. A recent survey across America discovered that as many as two thirds of American workers said, “I really don’t like my job.” In fact a lot of people flat out say, “I hate my job!”
There was a #1 country music hit in 1978 titled “Take This Job and Shove It”. It pleaded the point of a bitter man who worked long and hard with no apparent reward. I once read that Monday morning between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. is the number one time people commit suicide. Why? Because they can’t face another week at work.
Well today is Tuesday and if you are reading this devotional I would like to suggest that you take a new look at the way you relate to your work. To borrow a recruitment slogan from the U.S Navy, our work should be, not just a job, but an adventure.
God has given us our jobs not as a curse but as a blessing. So as you go about your business today look for ways you can be a blessing to others.
This weekend I will be speaking to all C3 services about How our work matters to God.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Back To School

What is your favorite time of year? I’m not necessarily talking about climate like Spring or Summer but rather activities that are going on. As a pastor, certainly Christmas and Easter are at the top of my list because of their significance as the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. But my next favorite season of the year is the one we are in right now: Back To School. It is during this time that lots of activity happen in and around our church.
Just this week, Encounter our College and Career Ministry put on their annual “Back To School Barbeque” where the Encounter Leadership Team served hamburgers and hot dogs to more than 580 FHSU students. Celebration Kids our church’s childrens ministry just put on C3’s 16th annual KIDFEST. We have hosted this event in parks, at center court of the Mall and in our own building. For the last 7 years the folks at Hays Academy of Hair Design has partnered with us to put on the event in their parking lot while donating Free Haircuts for Kids, which for years we did in the lobby of our church building.
Last Saturday at KIDFEST families enjoyed free pop, popcorn, cotton candy, games, face painting, balloon animals and inflatables while 104 kids got a free haircut. I served Chicago Kyle’s World Famous Chicago Style Hot Dogs to the haircutters and all of the C3 Volunteers who worked the event. Everyone enjoyed this annual outreach to let the community of Hays know about our dynamic children’s ministry.
This week CrossCurrent, C3’s Middle School and High School Ministry kicks off under new leadership and were getting ready to begin serving GameDay breakfasts to Hays High Football Team. (Check out the table in C3’s lobby)
What a wonderful time of year in the life of our church and for reaching the next generation for Jesus. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to the C3 Staff and ALL who worked SO hard to make these events go so well.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,
C3 isn’t just about young people. BOOM, C3’s Ministry to active older adults 50+ is hosting its end of Summer Celebration Pot Luck and Dance featuring the Buckner Creek Band THIS SATURDAY August 27th at Rock Haven Spa at 7pm.

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,