Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March Madness

Last weekend was the beginning of the N.C.A.A. Men’s Basketball Tournament which will conclude with the championship game on April 3 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale Arizona. Many Kansas basketball fans were happy that their favorite teams KU, K-State or Wichita State all made it to the “Big Dance”. College basketball aficionados call all of this hoopla, “March Madness”. I think back to my younger days as a teenager, when I really enjoyed playing basketball, not just watching it. I even captained my high school team in Chicago back in the late 1960’s. (And no, we didn’t use a peach basket and a ladder to get the ball out!)
With March Madness in the air I got to thinking about a few things this time of year reveals about us as Christians:
* We are made for something extraordinary
I believe that inside each of us is a desire for something more, a craving to be part of something bigger, something greater, and something significant to strive for. Tourney time gives us a glimpse of young student athletes aspiring, on their sports biggest stage, to live out a part of their God given purpose and to seek a payoff for all of the hard work it took to get to where they are at.
* We love rooting for the underdog
Why do we love the underdog? I think it’s because we see ourselves in the story of these Cinderella teams. We identify with the “Davids” who battle and win over the Goliaths because we believe in our hearts that we are overmatched by the forces against us. But all of us want to cheer for those who overcome the adversities and succeed in living out their dreams.
* We want to be on the winning team
There’s a longing in all of us to come out on top. As ABC’s Wide World of Sports video introduction used to say, they were, ”Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport... the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!”
I want you to know something that is ultimately important: As followers of Jesus we are on THE winning team. Christ secured that victory for us all some 2000 years ago. Though we may experience failures and momentary defeats in our lives, our humble champion has already won. And because of that He reigns eternally and we share in the fruits of that victory!
On April 3rd at the end of the Road to the Final Four as the 2017 National Champions cut down the nets as a show of their victory, CBS will play, as it does every year, the Luther Vandross song “One Shining Moment”.
As Christians, as members of God’s team, we are all awaiting that one shining moment that Christ will return and claim us, His trophy of the final victory that He secured for us all on the cross at Calvary.
Whether you are a college basketball fan or not we all look forward to the madness of March ending and on April 16 embracing the most important event in all of human history; the celebration of Christ’s resurrection at Easter.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Apostle to the Irish

This week those of us who have some Irish in us and many many others who don’t celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. My Irish mother used to say, “ There are two kinds of people in this world those who are Irish…and those who wish they were.”
If you ask people who Saint Patrick was, you're likely to hear that he was an Irishman who chased the snakes out of Ireland.It may surprise you to learn that the real Saint Patrick was not actually Irish—yet his robust faith changed the Emerald Isle forever.
According to Wikipedia, Patrick was born in Roman Britain to a middle-class family in about A.D. 390. When Patrick was a teenager, marauding Irish raiders attacked his home. Patrick was captured, taken to Ireland, and sold to an Irish king, who put him to work as a shepherd.
In his book, How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill describes the life Patrick lived. Cahill writes, "The work of such slave-shepherds was bitterly isolated, months at a time spent alone in the hills."
Patrick had been raised in a Christian home, but he didn't really believe in God. But now—hungry, lonely, frightened, and bitterly cold—Patrick began seeking out a relationship with his heavenly Father. As he wrote in his Confessions, "I would pray constantly during the daylight hours" and "the love of God . . . surrounded me more and more."
Six years after his capture, God spoke to Patrick in a dream, saying, "Your hungers are rewarded. You are going home. Look—your ship is ready."
What a startling command! If he obeyed, Patrick would become a fugitive slave, constantly in danger of capture and punishment. But he did obey—and God protected him. The young slave walked nearly two hundred miles to the Irish coast. There he boarded a waiting ship and traveled back to Britain and his family.
Patrick was a different person now, and eventually, Patrick recognized that God was calling him to enter a monastery. In time, he was ordained as a priest, then as a bishop.
Church history teaches that through Patrick, God converted thousands. As it is with many Christian holidays, Saint Patrick's Day has lost much of its original meaning. Instead of settling for parades, cardboard leprechauns, green beer and being pinched if you are not wearing any green, we ought to recover our Christian heritage and celebrate the great evangelist teaching our kids about this Christian hero.
Saint Patrick didn't chase the snakes out of Ireland as many believe. Instead, the Lord used him to bring into Ireland a true faith in the one true God—and to forever transform the Irish people.
Proud to be part Irish,
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Take Something On

With apologies to you the reader and the original author, Craig Gates whom In my haste I inadvertently did not credit with my recent GIVE UP blog which I originally posted on March 1, 2014.
During this season of Lent people often give something up or take something new on that helps them to draw closer to God as we get closer to Easter. Some folks give up meat on Fridays, or little indulges like chocolate. I have always believed that if you think you should give something up then it should probably be permanent instead of for just 40 days.Two years ago I gave up donuts for Lent and haven’t had one since. That’s very tempting considering we serve donuts at church every week!
Each year at this time in addition to “giving something up I am always more interested in the notion of “taking something on”. Recently I heard about a woman that instead of giving something up decided to do something special during the 40 days leading up to Easter. She decided to write a note to 40 people she knew who had impacted her life. Wow what a great idea! Who are some people who have been big influences in your life? Who has encouraged you, prayed for you, gone above and beyond to help you? I want to encourage you to take time right now to text them ,e-mail them, call them or even jot a note to them by longhand and tell them how thankful you are that they are in your life. And then continue to do that with others who have blessed you until Easter day comes. You, along with all those who you contact WILL BE BIG TIME BLESSED!
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Give Something Up

With apologies to you the reader and the original author, Craig Gates whom In my haste I inadvertently did not credit with my recent GIVE UP blog which I originally posted on March 1, 2014
During the season of Lent (the 40+ days leading up to Easter which begins this Wednesday March 1) people often give something up or take something new on that helps them to draw closer to God. Some give up eating meat, others curtail their devotion to chocolate or alcohol.
I would like to suggest that during these days as we approach Easter we:
GIVE UP grumbling! Instead, "In everything give thanks." Constructive criticism is OK, but "moaning, groaning, and complaining" are not Christian disciplines.
GIVE UP 10 to 15 minutes in bed! Instead, use that time in prayer, Bible study and personal devotion.
GIVE UP looking at other people's worst points. Instead concentrate on their best points. We all have faults. It is a lot easier to have people overlook our shortcomings when we overlook theirs first.
GIVE UP speaking unkindly. Instead, let your speech be generous and understanding. It costs so little to say something kind and uplifting. Why not check that sharp tongue at the door?
GIVE UP your hatred of anyone or anything! Instead, learn the discipline of love. "Love covers a multitude of sins."
GIVE UP your worries and anxieties! Instead, trust God with them. Anxiety is spending emotional energy on something we can do nothing about: like tomorrow! Live today and let God's grace be sufficient.
GIVE UP TV one evening a week! Instead, visit some lonely or sick person. There are those who are isolated by illness or age. Why isolate yourself in front of the "tube?" Give someone a precious gift: your time!
GIVE UP buying anything but essentials for yourself! Instead, give the money to God. The money you would spend on the luxuries could help someone meet basic needs. We are called to be stewards of God's riches, not consumers.
GIVE UP judging by appearances and by the standard of the world! Instead, learn to give up yourself to God. There is only one who has the right to judge, Jesus Christ.
GIVE UP envy, lust, profanity, jealousy, hatred, and dishonesty but there is ONE THING I want to encourage you NOT TO GIVE UP…
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching”. Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Friday, February 17, 2017


There are over seventy six million of us born between 1946 and 1964. We are called Baby Boomers. No group in American history has ever been so studied and analyzed. Leith Anderson writes, “Boomers operate differently and expect to be treated differently. Those of us who are Baby Boomers instinctively understand this. As Boomers we don’t feel like were “getting old”
“Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever”. Deuteronomy 34:7 (NLT)
Wow! Moses sure enjoyed an abundant and vital life in his later years.
As baby boomers we too are focusing on aging with vitality! In our quest for the fountain of youth, we are changing the way we age. We have learned that exercise is the golden egg of aging. It slows down aging by positively affecting our cardiovascular system, our immune system, our musculoskeletal system, and our emotional well-being. Exercise rekindles and re-sparks our fire for living.
But good health isn’t all about the physical. As Amber Cunningham of Inspire, the fitness center we have operating out of the gym at Celebration Community Church says, “We need to nourish and exercise our “bodies, minds and Spirit.”
At C3 we are starting a new ministry focusing on meeting the needs of 50+ active adults. We are calling this ministry BOOM and are kicking things off with a pot luck supper this Sunday February 19th at 5pm. We will hear some of the greatest music ever recorded, play some fun ice breaking games, eat some delicious food and look ahead with clear vision for what God has in store for us in the years we have ahead.
If you know a Boomer (50+) who wants to grow in their faith in God, and fellowship with others, invite them to the inaugural gathering of BOOM this Sunday.
Boomers, as we hit mid-life running with a vengeance, remember, its when we look with “clear eyesight to God and his people that we discover the ultimate quality of abundant life and life everlasting.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,
Come to C3 TONIGHT at 7:05 pm for 98.5 The Truth is showing 'Old Fashioned' for FREE.
Its rated PG 13 and would make a great night.

Friday, February 10, 2017

From Your Valentine

I wonder how many of you know the story behind the origins of Valentine’s Day. It is called Saint Valentine’s Day for a reason.
Approximately 250 years after Jesus was born there was a priest by the name of Valentinus. He lived in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius, who believed that only single men would make good soldiers so he issued a royal edict outlawing weddings in the Roman Empire, earning himself the nick-name Claudius the Cruel.
Valentine secretly continued performing Christian marriage ceremonies and was thrown in jail for performing them. Valentine stayed faithful and cheerful while in prison, communicating with the young couples he had married who came to visit him throwing flowers and notes up to his window to support him.
One day, he received a visit from the blind daughter of one of the prison guards. Her father allowed her to visit him in his cell and they often sat and talked and prayed for hours. Through a miraculous healing from God her sight was restored.
Valentine was sentenced to die undergoing a three part execution involving beating, then stoning, and then decapitation.
On the day Valentine was to die, February 14, 269 A.D he left behind for the prison guard’s daughter a note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. He signed it, “With love from your Valentine.”
That note started the custom of exchanging love notes on what was later to be called Saint Valentine’s Day. Now, every year on that day, people remember Valentinus, but hopefully we will remember the valentine of love that God has sent to us: His Son Jesus.
With love, from your pastor and partner in ministry,
P.S. If you are looking for a really good movie about love come to C3 next Friday February 17th at 7:05 pm for “Old Fashioned”. It’s a love story about two young people who together attempt the improbable; an "old-fashioned" and God-honoring courtship in contemporary America.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Christian Life is like Football

According to Forrest Gump's mama, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”. Lewis Grizzard a Southern humorist said "The game of life is a lot like football. You have to tackle your problems, block your fears, and score your points when you get the opportunity." My favorite analogy between life and football comes from the legendary coach Vince Lombardi whose team won the very first Super Bowl game. He expressed a similar sentiment by saying. "Football is like life, it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication, respect for authority and in order to win the game you have to play as a team.  Doesn’t that sound just like being a church going Christian?
This week I heard New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall, a committed Christian who will be featured on a video we will be showing at our weekend services, talking about what it takes to be a successful receiver in the NFL. He said, “The receiver hears the play in the huddle, runs a pattern with the sole purpose of creating separation so he can receive the football thrown from the quarterback. The receiver has many obstacles as he runs the pattern given to him by the quarterback. There are eleven defensive players that are there to get in his way and distract him from his task. There are specific defenders, defensive backs, whose sole purpose is to not let the receiver catch the ball. My job as a receiver is to successfully complete the play my quarterback calls.”
As I think about this I realize that my walk with God is a lot like a receiver. I get my instructions from God, by reading the Bible, His playbook, then go out into the world and try to follow God’s plan for my life. My challenge is to be aware that I live in a world that tries to block me from doing this. I live in a world that tries to misdirect and distract me.  My job is to create separation from the world, keep my eye on the ball so I can receive and follow His plan for my life.
This Super Bowl Weekend join us in all 4 services at C3 as we highlight testimonials from some NFL greats as well as current players from the Patriots and Falcons.  Wear your favorite team’s colors and be sure to invite a friend to one of these special services Saturday at 5pm Sunday at 8:30, 10, 11:30am.  
Your pastor and partner in ministry,