Friday, December 30, 2016

All Scripture

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
For over 30 years as a pastor, I have been saying that, "The Bible is the best-selling, least-read, book of all time."
George Gallup, a prominent religion pollster in the US, agrees: "We revere the Bible," he says, "but we don't read it." In a recent survey, 64 percent of those questioned said they were too busy to read the Bible. The average household has three Bibles but less than half the people in the US can name the first book in the Old Testament. One survey found that 12 percent of its Christian respondents identified Noah's wife as Joan of Arc!
The solution? Read the Bible! Join me in a commitment to read the Bible every day in 2017. The goal is not information, but transformation. Someone summarized 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • All scripture is inspired (God breathed).
  • All scripture is useful to teach us what is right and wrong.
  • All scripture prepares and equips us to do God’s will.
God wants us to put into practice what we learn. He gives us a message to not just to listen but to obey. The Bible is an intensely practical book. It tells us what to do, and it tells us how to do it. It prepares and equips us.
It contains God's practical plan on how to build a successful life, on how to build a family that God can bless, how to be happy, how to live a life of significance.
All of the messages that Pastor Brant and I are deliver are basically "how to" messages. Why? Because the goal of the Bible isn't to make us more knowledgeable. As 2 Timothy 3:17 says "God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
God's Word is a precious gift. So make a resolution this New Year to read it, study it, mediate on it, memorize parts of it and most importantly apply it every day to living the life calls you to in the next year.
As I do every year I want to encourage everyone to choose your own “Scripture Verse of the Year”. As you choose your Scripture Verse of the Year pick one that will help you align with God’s promise to prepare and equip you for what God wants you to do.
At this weekend’s New Year’s services on Saturday at 5pm and Sunday at 8:30, 10 and 11:30 am I will be revealing my Scripture verse of the year.
I hope you can make it to one of the services.
Happy New Year of our Lord 2017
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Cradle and the Cross

I love receiving Christmas cards. I take the ones we get in the mail and tape them to our door so I can see them all in the kitchen. Over the years I have saved a few of them that I bring back out each December to remind me of what Christmas is all about. Two of my favorite cards are ones that make the connection between the cradle and the cross; between Jesus birth and his death.
Christmas without the cross is irrelevant. If Jesus had just stayed a baby in a manger, you might as well stop reading this right now — life would be pointless. Without the cross, there’s no reason to spend an entire month getting ready for the celebration of his birth. Without the cross there’s no reason to put up Christmas lights, play music, send cards, or buy gifts.
The whole world shuts down one day a year to celebrate a day that split history into A.D. and B.C. God came to Earth and invaded human history. And because he did, the world will never be the same.
But it wouldn’t have mattered a bit without Jesus going to the cross to take yours sins and mine upon him. For God so loved us that He gave us His son... to die on a cross and through His shed blood became the Savior of the world.
This baby who made the angels sing, this baby who made a new star shine in the sky, this baby who came to save the world, grew to be a man who went to the cross for you and me. And that has made all the difference.
Your pastor and partner in minstry,

If you are in Hays on Christmas Eve you are invited to one of our 3 services at 3pm, 4:30pm or 6pm. All are welcome to experience joyful Christmas music, an encouraging time for kids, inspiring videos and a message of hope about Peace on Earth. There will also be a photo shoot set for you to take a family Christmas picture.
Because Christmas Day falls on a Sunday there will be

Friday, December 16, 2016

Change Is Always Challenging

Last summer, knowing that I was approaching my 65th birthday I took a study leave and focused on learning all I could on two specific topics. One was about developing a ministry team to serve the needs of active 55+ adults. The second topic was about how to prepare for a successful succession of leadership when I did decide to eventually retire.
This last Thanksgiving my wife Debbie and I took a trip to Atlanta to visit our daughter Jessica, her husband Matt and our four grandchildren, Asa 10, Carys 8, Shepard 6 and Jasper 4, where we discussed the realities of a move.
Well last weekend with I announced to our congregation that at the end of October 2017, I will be retiring as the Senior Pastor of Celebration Community Church in order that we may move to Georgia to be closer to our grandkids and to pursue what’s next for us in ministry. In anticipation of all that it will take to prepare for such a move, Debbie will be stepping back from Victory Christian Academy as of January 1st 2017.
Over the last 20 years since the inception of our church I have seen the hand of God do amazing things through His Holy Spirit working in us and through us. I am been SO proud and privileged to be your pastor.
I remember when I stood on the platform at Beach Schmidt Performing Arts Center as we were presenting the plans for our Forward Faith Capital Campaign, saying that I believed the best years of C3 lie ahead of us.
I still do.
Our church Board has affirmed that when I do retire, the reins of leadership would then be handed over to Brant Rice as Senior Pastor, aided by our Systems Pastor Derek Mayfield. Both men have been home grown in our congregation and have served side by side with me in ministry proving themselves to be worthy successors.
There’s a lot of work to be done in the next ten months, like putting together a vision team to launch that “Active Adult” ministry after the first of the year. We also need to continue to move forward as a unified body while we complete construction of our new Worship Center and the repurposing of our existing buildings. I encourage you to remain loyal to our entire church staff that needs your prayerful, personal and continued financial support.
Change is always challenging but as we embrace the future together with faith, we can trust that our Awesome God will keep on blessing us Big Time in the days ahead, just as He has over the last 20 years.
Together let’s celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Friday, December 9, 2016

Thanks Be To God

This was the first Thanksgiving in the last fourteen years since Debbie and I have been married that we spent the holiday not helping to host ECMA’s Thanksgiving Day Feast. Instead we went to Atlanta and enjoyed being with our grandkids who we only get to see a couple of times each year. It was a good time for not only enjoying each other’s company but also for having the opportunity to impart and support the Spiritual values being taught to these little ones.
I shared with them the story of the origins of Thanksgiving when persecuted Christians left their homelands and became refugees in a foreign land. I shared how William Bradford, the governor of their new community of Plymouth proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving in spite of having lost one half of their brothers and sisters the year before to the harsh New England winter. These Pilgrims celebrated and gave thanks to God an abundant harvest that they had reaped with the aid of the Native people who welcomed them and taught them to plant and hunt the local game.
As we move into the Christmas season I hope you never forget Thanksgiving’s beginnings. I also hope you never forget how blessed we are and how grateful to God we should be. It is good and fitting that as Christians to remember that the holiday is not Thanks-getting, Its Thanks-giving. And so we should be generous in sharing what God has given us.
As we went around the Thanksgiving dinner table and shared what we were thankful for, I said to my family that we should also remember to WHOM we are to give thanks. When we take for granted what God has done for us, we can become calloused, filled with pride and therefore outside of the will of God. Remember these words from the Apostle Paul. “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 1 Thess. 5:1
At this time I also want to take a moment to tell you how thankful I am to you. I am always humbled at the notion that you would take the time to read these weekly devotionals.
I encourage you to attend one of our four services this weekend at C3 where I will be speaking on who are Mighty God is and sharing some important news about my family’s future.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Friday, December 2, 2016

What’s In A Name?

One of the most exciting times in any couple's life is when they find out that they are going to have a baby. There are many things that must be done to prepare for the birth of a new baby, but none is more important than choosing a name for the new arrival. A baby's name should be chosen very carefully because the baby will live with that name for the rest of his or her life.
As we approach the Christmas season I am excited about a new series we are starting this weekend. We are calling it, “He Will Be Called” based upon the names of Jesus prophesied by the prophet Isaiah some 700 years before his birth.
There are many names for Jesus, but what do they really mean? I hope you will join us each week as we discover why He is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. You'll gain a new and relevant perspective on the Savior who was born in a manger over two thousand years ago and who grew to be our Lord and Savior.
This Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday so we, instead of having services on Christmas Sunday morning, will be hosting 3 Christmas Eve Services at 3pm, 4:30pm and 6pm. I hope you are looking forward to being a part of C3 this Christmas season.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,