Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Racism In The Church is a Flagrant Foul

All over the news yesterday was the story of how the National Basketball Association slapped Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling with a lifetime ban plus levied a $2.5 million fine for racist comments he made.

I am not trying to let this well known slum lord and bigot off the hook but have you ever made a racist comment and judged another based upon their ethnicity? A Washington Post article reported that recent studies into the nature of prejudice found that almost everyone harbors some cultural biases, and these attitudes affect even those who actively resist them. 

 A University of Kentucky psychologist says that much of our self-esteem comes from feeling better about ourselves than about others because of the group we belong to. Prejudice is not easy to overcome, even within the family of God. For years the church hour was shamefully known as the most segregated hour of the week.

The Apostle Paul’s words to the believers at Colossae instruct us today, saying that our speech and behavior toward others should reflect our oneness in Christ.
In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” Colossians 3:10
Paul also wrote to the Galatian church saying, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 (NLT)
 In the church, the body of Christ, no race, nationality, or class is better than another. Through the cross, Christ has made us one, and we are to treat each other with honesty, dignity, and love.

 Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tornado Relief

I am sure you have heard the news that a deadly tornado has taken the lives of 16 people in Mayflower/Vilonia Arkansas while thirty-four people were injured and about 100 homes and businesses were destroyed in the southeastern Kansas town of Baxter Springs. Vilonia is the home town of one of our Encounter leaders Kerry Shannon whose family survived but lost their home and Baxter Springs is where our CrossCurrent youth ministry serves Pastor Steve Fellers and “Word in Action” Ministries each year on mission trips. 

If you are interested in making a donation to aid in the relief effort please send your check made out to C3 (memo) “tornado relief”. We will make sure your contributions go directly to meet those local needs. You may also contribute via your Celebration Community Church App by using the “Giving” button and selecting “tornado relief.”
Have you ever asked yourself ‘why does God allow earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, cyclones, mudslides, wildfires, and other natural disasters?  According to, “Tragedies like these cause many people to question God’s goodness. It is distressing that natural disasters are often termed “acts of God” while no “credit” is ever given to God for years, decades, or even centuries of peaceful weather. 

In much the same way that God allows evil people to commit evil acts, God allows the earth to reflect the consequences sin has had on creation.  What we do know is this: God is good and good can come out of these bad situations.  

Natural disasters cause people to reevaluate their priorities in life. Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid is sent to help the people who are suffering. Christian ministries have the opportunity to help, minister, counsel, pray, and lead people to saving faith in Christ!” God can, and does, bring great good out of terrible tragedies.

Please pray with me for the families who have lost so much and pray also that they look to the Lord for their strength and comfort instead of doubting God's goodness their response would be to trust in Him. ”Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:5-6

Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Monday, April 28, 2014

Heaven Is For Real

Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear. Told by the father, Todd Burpo, but often in the boy's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves His children and has prepared a place for all who believe in heaven. 
Yesterday at Celebration Community Church we passed out a few hundred of these little pamphlets with excerpts from this little boys astounding story of his trip to heaven and back as well as scripture verses highlighting a Christians home in heaven. If you received one of them pass it along to someone who needs to hear part two of our message series next Sunday at C3. If you have not yet seen the movie I urge you to do so while it is still in release. Think about inviting an unchurched friend to go with you and then invite them to come to church with you this Sunday.  

 Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Friday, April 25, 2014

I Can Only Imagine... And It Gives Me Goosebumps

As I have been preparing for our new message series , “Heaven is for Real” I came across a quote from science fiction writer Isaac Asimov:
“I don’t believe in the afterlife, so I don’t have to spend my whole life fearing hell or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.”
Sadly, this view is common even among Christians. Our vision of heaven is often limited to an extended, boring, uninspiring church service. Somehow heaven has not captured our imaginations and transformed our lives. How did this happen? Where did we get such a depressing view of heaven?
Heaven is not merely a fanciful idea created to give people comfort in the midstthe pain of life. Rather, heaven is a real place awaiting Jesus' believers after their deaths. As Jesus demonstrated in his resurrection, death is not the end but merely a portal into eternal life. Shortly before his death, Jesus put it this way:
In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you John 14:2
Have you taken the time to really reflect on the reality of heaven? When we die we will eternally be with our Creator! I can only imagine what that will be like and I get goose-bumps just thinking about it. I hope you do too.  Without sounding morbid, let me ask you this question; “Are you eagerly anticipating the day when this life ends and you enter into God’s presence forever? If not you have truly embraced the Biblical teaching and the cravings of our soul, that earth is not where your citizenship is; heaven is your home. It's time you recaptured a vision for the majesty, beauty and power of heaven.
This is what Pastor Brant and I are going to explore beginning this Sunday April 27th at out 8:30. 10, 11:30am & 6pm services. Make it a point to be at C3 if you can. If you cannot attend be sure to watch on it on our website (media) or download the Celebration Community Church app for your phone or tablet. (messages).
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tonight: Drive in movie info

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Two Thumbs Up!

I love movies. I have been a movie buff since I was a kid and I have passed that passion along in my family. My son Devin and I at last count have watched together 71 of the American Film Institute’s Top 100 films.

Most recently I have delighted in watching a couple of movies that have come to our theatre in Hays- God’s Not Dead and Heaven is for Real. 

Heaven is for Real, is based on the book by Todd Burpo. Todd is Pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Imperial, Nebraska. He is the father of Colton Burpo, who during an emergency appendectomy and miraculous recovery, recalls in detail his trip to heaven and back. Colton, not yet four years old, told his parents he left his body during the surgery and authenticated that claim by describing exactly what his parents were doing in another part of the hospital during his operation.

Colton talked of visiting heaven and relayed stories told him by people he met there—people whom he had never met in his life—sharing events that happened even before he was born and giving astonishing descriptions and obscure details about heaven that match the Bible exactly. 

When young Colton Burpo was asked by the book editor, “What do you want people to know from your story?” Colton, without hesitation replied, “I want them to know that heaven is for real.”

That is our desire also here at Celebration Community Church as we launch a new message series this Sunday about the reality of heaven. 

Make it a point to be at one of our five Sunday services.  Our Celebration services at 8:30am, or 10am or one of our EDGE services at 10am, 11:30am or 6pm.
Our radio station 98.5 THE TRUTH will be giving away a pair of tickets at each service this Sunday.

Come experience from God’s word that heaven is for real this Sunday at C3. If you miss a message you can watch it at our website  by clicking on the “media” button and then  click on the “watch us on vimeo” screen.

Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Prayer request:
For Steve and Kerri Sunley and family at the loss of Steve’s mom Elaine.
Praise Report:
C3’s Encounter Director Dr Jeff Burnett was promoted to full professor status at FHSU

Drive in Movie :
Frozen 8pm Friday in the C3 Parking Lot.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Heaven Is...

A recent Harris Poll found that 82 percent of Americans believe in heaven and 63 percent said they expected to go there when they die. In spite of all that interest in heaven, there is little talk about heaven in church.

Heaven is a consistent theme in the Bible, mentioned over 500 times in Scripture. It is discussed in our culture, but the average Christian knows little about it. Recently released books like Proof of Heaven and book turned movie “Heaven is for Real” have piqued the interest of people regarding the afterlife. My wife Debbie and I saw it last Week and we HIGHLY recommend it.

Beginning this Sunday April 27th  Pastor Brant Rice and myself will be teaching what the Bible has to say about the reality of heaven.  
In this series we will look at what the Bible has to say about the important questions we have about life after this life. 

Questions like:                 
Will we know our loved ones in heaven?
            What age will we be in heaven?  
            Will our pets be with us?
What practical things can we do to live each day with a heavenly perspective ?

In this series we will close the gap between what the Bible says about heaven and what the average persons thinks they know.(floating on clouds and playing harps)

With scriptures spanning from Genesis to Revelation on a variety of heavenly topics, you will learn about what God ‘s plan is for you —forever!
C3 will again meet up on the hill above I-70 at exit 157 this Sunday at 8:30am, 10am, 11:30am and 6pm.

Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Real Deal

On Good Friday night my wife Debbie and I went to see the movie “Heaven Is For Real”. 
Based on the true story of a 4-year-old Nebraska boy who after major surgery tells his father — a local minister — that he’s been to heaven. Having read and enjoyed the book when it came out some years ago, we were eager to see how Hollywood depicted this story of faith. It is the real deal. Director Randall Wallace shows — as he did on “Secretariat” and “We Were Soldiers” — that the strength of a movie comes from a focus on family. 
“Heaven is for Real” remains faithful to the real life struggles this family of faith endures.   Too often in movies, ministers are either portrayed as being sanctimonious, all-knowing, sticks in the mud, weak kneed woosys without a backbone or con artists with a weakness for  wine and women.   
 Greg Kinnear’s portrayal of Pastor Todd Burpo — the father of the young boy and the leader of the local church — is so human.   He  is a man of character who spends as much time worrying about the mortgage as he does preaching the Gospel. Kelly Reilly also gives a strong performance as Sonja, the families wife and mother who is seeking to understand this supernatural occurrence .   
We get a peek into a family that loves God and loves each other, and aren’t afraid to express that love for each other as well as their deep spiritual beliefs. Their financial struggles are very reflective of what’s going on across the country today and that makes the movie accessible even to those who don’t care as much about the spiritual aspects. You will just  fall in love with six -year-old Connor Corum who plays Colton Burpo, the kid who gets a glimpse of heaven.  
Go see “Heaven Is Real, you will be inspired and hopeful for heaven.  If you live around Hays be sure to come to services this Sunday as we launch a new message series on the reality of heaven.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Monday, April 21, 2014

What's Next

We had an incredible Easter experience yesterday at Celebration Community Church. Between our Hays and Colby locations we shared the Good News with over 1600 people gathered to worship God in Spirit and in Truth. 

Those who call C3 home worked so hard to pray, invite, rehearse, greet, serve, and give, so that once again, we could see the progressive fulfillment of our 2020 Vision:  To reach Hays Kansas and beyond with the life changing message of Jesus Christ”.
 But when you put so much time and effort into something, and then it’s over, it can leave you asking the question, “What’s next?” 

This is something I’ve been thinking about as I go over in my mind the dozens of hands that were raised when I invited people to make a decision to turn their lives over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Here’s the conclusion I’ve arrived at–we will keep doing what we’ve been doing, being obedient and faithful to God.  It’s that simple.  We’ll just keep taking steps of faith, pray for and believe God for greater things yet to come. 

We will keep on trying to give honor to God by being committed to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

God rewards faithfulness, so we will continue to be obedient to his leading and faithful to his calling.  We will always ask God through his Holy Spirit to empower us and to use us to impact our families, our workplaces, our schools, our community and beyond for his glory as we help people fulfill God’s purpose for their lives.  

That’s what was, what is and what’s next for Celebration Community Church.

Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Friday, April 18, 2014

What's So Good About Good Friday?

“What’s so good about Good Friday?” After just presiding at two funerals over the last week I doubt the families would call the day they bury their loved ones ‘good.’ So why is the church’s biggest funeral of the year — for Jesus — called good?” Some people think ‘Good Friday’ evolved from ‘God’s Friday,’ just like ‘goodbye’ evolved from ‘God be with you.’ 
According to Rev. Ross Lockhart of the West Vancouver United Church, The ‘goodness’ of Jesus’ grappling with sin and death on the cross is vitally important because without His ultimate sacrifice, there would be no salvation for us. As I've heard before, "He paid a debt He did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay." Hebrews 9:22 declares, "...and without shedding of blood is no remission." The power of shed blood is a truth also understood by our Jewish friends who are celebrating Passover and the spreading of blood on the doorposts so the angel of death would pass over the first born of Israel.  As a Christian, I praise Jesus for the blood that He shed for our sins. 
The good in Good Friday lies in what God has done for us. But that’s only half of it. Jesus said to Nicodemus, ‘You have to be born again; you have to be born of the water and the Spirit.’ The goodness of Good Friday is only complete when we experience not just what God has done for us, but what God has done in us through the new birth of the Holy Spirit.

This day is good, too, because, though it is linked to death, it is also linked to life--resurrection life. The celebration of Easter is right around the corner! See, death was not the end; it was actually the beginning. Jesus embraced death to defeat death. He sacrificed life to offer life.
But He is not to be alone in this. When we give our lives over to Christ, which we call dying to self, then we begin to truly live. Galatians 2:20 puts it like this: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." That is indeed good news!

Have a Good Friday as we look forward to a Great Easter!
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Our Family

Now you are no longer strangers to God and foreigners to heaven, but you are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian. Ephesians 2:19 (TLB)

The Bible says that when you become a believer in Christ, you become a member of God’s family.  The moment you were born into this world physically, you became a part of the human race and a part of a family. I became an Ermoian when I was born. When you were reborn spiritually, born again, you were born into God’s family.  You became a part of His family.   

The Bible says that the family is called the church.  It’s interesting to me and I hope to you that the church is not an institution.  The church is not a business.  The church is not an organization, or a social club.  The church, the Bible says, is a family.  We at Celebration Community Church are a family. The Christian life is not just about believing, it’s about belonging, belonging to a family. 

There is no greater evidence of this than what I saw this week at the memorial services for Dianna Folland and Cliff Edwards. Both of these longtime members of C3 had a great outpouring of church members bringing food, sending flowers and their small groups being present in force to celebrate their lives and support their families. 

At Celebration Community Church we invite you to become part of our family through our Connections Class. During this 1 & 1/2 hour class you will learn what C3 is all about and most importantly, how you can find your place and purpose in it. 

Connections meets in the Pond (Children’s Church Area) THIS SATURDAY at 10am. RSVP TODAY to
Child care is provided upon request.

Your pastor and partner in ministry,