Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Just one week ago I presided at my brother Eddie’s funeral service. He lived life to the fullest for what the Book of Proverbs say, ”three score and ten and then another ten years”. He was a born the eldest of four sons of an Armenian Father and an Irish/German mother both fun loving and sociable people. He grew up in Chicago loving his family, the Cubs, the Bears and the hot dog vendors who sold their wears out of baby buggy carts around Wrigley Field. In a Boulder Camera newspaper article about him in 1999 he said "I grew up a mile from Cub's Park. "Some kids want to be policemen. Some kids want to be firemen. I always wanted to have my own hot dog stand."
Eddie worked as a sales and marketing manager for Anheuser Busch for 40 years in Chicago, Minneapolis, Tulsa, Lafayette La, Kansas City and then Santa Cruz California. Whenever I asked him where his favorite place to reside was, he would always say, “wherever he was”. That was the kind of positive attitude that personified Eddie.
His wife Nancy made his lifelong wish come true by buying Eddie his first hot dog cart when he was 50 and in 1994 they moved to Boulder where “Fast Eddies World Famous Hot Dogs’ became an iconic fixture on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. When they retired to Arizona five years ago Eddie blessed me with that original hotdog cart.
Eddie will be remembered as a man with a gregarious personality, a generous spirit, and a zest for life and good friends to share it with. He blessed people beyond measure without ever expecting reciprocity. From giving away hot dogs to all of those who could not afford one, to blessing those around him with ball game tickets, t-shirts, hats, travel bags and fanny packs, whatever he had available. He always Made whomever he was with feel special. He was always the biggest man in the room, a big personality, a big voice, and an even bigger heart.
At his memorial service, I read letters from folks whose lives were forever elevated because of Eddie. Nancy, his wife of 40 years also received letters of condolences from his favorite sports teams, the Bears and the Cubs. He even had the great honor bestowed upon him by being inducted into the Vienna Beef Company Hot Dog Hall of Fame. Ever since I was a kid I have said, “when I grow up I want to be like my BIG brother Eddie”… at age 65 I still say that.
Eddie Ermoian lived three score and ten and for good measure he lived another ten. And he lived them all with passion and with purpose and as all of us mortal men, he didn’t live them perfectly. But Eddie lived and he loved and he laughed out loud. There were many times I remember Eddie sitting back after a good meal with a Budweiser in one hand and a good cigar in the other and say the words… “It just doesn’t get any better than this”.
But I’m here to share with you the good news that right now Eddie is experiencing a place that is infinitely better than anything he experienced on earth.
I have every confidence that my brother is now residing in God’s perfect heaven…not because he was a loving husband, not because he was a devoted father, not because he was a hard worker, an affable fellow, or because he was a generous giver. Eddie is in heaven today for one reason only: He accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He made that choice and I hope you have too.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

4th Of July

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…" Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776
Today, the 4th of July. For me it is a day to rest and intentionally remember and honor our nation’s beginnings. Every year on this day I seek to renew my faith in what I believe to be America’s Godly heritage. I usually watch the movie musical “1776”. Sometimes I view a David Barton documentary from www.Wallbuilders.com.
This year I also plan on watching the first couple of installments of the HBO Miniseries “John Adams”.
Thinking about the person of John Adams I find it amazing that on the very day the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, Adams was already foreseeing that their actions would be celebrated by future generations. Adams contemplated whether it would be proper to hold such celebrations, but then concluded that the day should be commemorated – but in a particular manner and with a specific spirit. As he wrote to his wife Abigail:
“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”

John Adams believed that the 4th of July should become a religious holiday – a day when we remembered God's hand in deliverance and a day of religious activities when we committed ourselves to Him.
America truly has a Godly heritage and though we can see a disconnecting from the God who has so richly blessed America, I proudly affirm Lee Greenwood sings, “I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God Bless the U.S.A.”
Proud to be an American and your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Prime The Pump

Last Sunday I shared a story about a man who was lost in the desert and near death from thirst. He wandered aimlessly throughout the burning sand for many days, growing weaker by the moment. At long last, he saw in the distance palm trees indicating there was an oasis where there would be would be water. He stumbled forward feverishly, fell beneath the shade of the trees. Finally, he might quench his thirst. But he noticed something strange about this oasis. Instead of a pool of water there was a pump and next to the pump, was a jar of water, and next to the jar of water was a small parchment with a handwritten note. The note explained that the leather gasket within the pump must be saturated with water for the pump to work. Within the jar was just enough water for this purpose.
The note also warned the reader, “Do not drink from the jar. Every drop must be poured down into the pump in the opening so the base of the pump can become soaked, the hard leather softened and, as the leather is softened and expanded, an unlimited supply of water would be available”.
The man faced a dilemma. He was dying of thirst and there was not much water, probably not enough water to save his life, but it seemed foolish to take the little bit of water that he had and pour it down the base of a pump. On the one hand, if the note is true, and he pours it down, he has all the water that he needs. On the other, if he drinks what he has, he might temporarily quench his thirst, but find himself in an oasis and die.
As I thought about this story and the dilemma the man had I realized that you and I are a lot like the thirsty man in the desert. Imagine this, the contents of our lives are what is contained in the jar.
Inside your jar is your time, your passion, your talent, your money, your possessions...it’s all that you are and all that you have.
Now imagine God writes a note to you saying, “Give it to me. Pour it out. Trust Me. Don’t be afraid. Trust me with your time. Trust me with your talents. Trust me with your money. Trust me with your life, your whole life and I will bless you abundantly.”
God HAS written you that note, His word, the Bible. Look at these promises we read from God’s word: 
“Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine”. Proverbs 3:9-10.
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Malachi 3:10
I suggest that all of us prime the pump of God’s spiritual blessings by tithing (giving a mere 10%) of our time, talent and treasure to God. Like the man facing the dilemma in the desert we need to have faith that the ONE who wrote the note will follow through with what he says He will do.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Honor Your Father And Your Mother

"Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you." Deuteronomy 5:16
"Honor your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise-- Ephesians 6:2
Last weekend as we celebrated Father’s Day, I got to thinking as a father and grandfather myself, about the lasting imprint left on me by my father and grandfathers. As I look back I can appreciate the mark they made on who I am today.
The apostle Paul reminds us that the fifth commandment, "Honor your father and your mother…”, is the first commandment with a promise: "so that all may go well with you, and you may live a long time in the land".
A long time ago when as a kid a Sunday School teacher asked me what that verse meant, I can faintly remember saying something like, "I better do what my parents say or they'll kill me." Though there may be some parents who would not dispute that understanding, I don't think that's what Moses in Deuteronomy or Paul writing to the church at Ephesus had in mind. "That… you may live a long time in the land" is not a guarantee of extra years of life to individuals who honor their parents. It is a promise to preserve the social order that respects preceding generations.
These commandments were given by God after Israel exodused Egypt and before they entered and occupied the Promised Land. These people were a brand-new nation so God gave them laws and a covenant to show them how to live well together. History has proven to us that good individuals may die young, but cultures in which people honor the aged, endure with stability. It is disheartening to see that the older I get, the less respect I see being given to parents and grandparents.
I believe one of the of the reasons that the Chinese culture has survived thousands of years through many political and social revolutions is that through it all, they continued to value the honoring of parents and grandparents. They didn’t do it because it was spoken by God through Moses, but simply because it was wise. The notion of "that you may live a long time in the land" is not a tempting bribe to good conduct, but a statement of fact about nations and for that matter, families in which honor is found.
Remember, the Bible doesn't say who is to honor you, but whom you are to honor.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in 7 years." I have heard that quote attributed to yesteryear’s humorist Mark Twain. It was and is a truly wise observation.
It's disheartening to see young people show little respect for their fathers and mothers. But as they mature, as I did, hopefully we begin to recognize that Mom and Dad knew a lot more than we gave them credit for.
On the other hand, some young people come to realize regrettably that if they had only followed the counsel of their parents they could have avoided much heartache both for themselves and their family. The Bible says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother,' which is the first commandment with promise: 'that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth'" Ephesians 6:1-3.
The book of Proverbs counsels, "Listen to your father who begot you . . . . The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will delight in him" 23:22,24.
This Sunday is Father’s Day. I encourage you to take some time to think about your father fondly and if he is still with us, call him, take him to lunch if you can, and thank him for giving you the gift of life.
He wasn’t perfect, he messed up but we are commanded to “instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you" Ephesians 4:32. That would be the wise thing to do.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Home Cookin’

My wife Debbie and I are at home enjoying the company of our four grandkids from Atlanta Georgia. We are playing with them, reading to them, singing along with them, and hopefully feeding these gifts from God physically, emotionally and Spiritually. God has entrusted us all with children and grandchildren for the purpose of growing them up in the knowledge and love of His Son Jesus Christ.
Debbie has been busy planning lots of activities at “Camp Grammie” as well as fixing healthy and nourishing meals. I got to thinking that the same thing holds true for all of us as Christians. If we are well nourished we will be healthy and we will yearn to grow even more. When our kids are babies their need for milk is a natural instinct. For a baby, it signals the desire for nourishment that will lead to growth. Once we see our need for God's Word and begin to find nourishment in Christ, our spiritual appetite will increase, and we will start to mature.
1 Peter 2:2 says, “Like newborn babies crave spiritual milk so by it you may grow up in your salvation.”
At Celebration Community Church, we strive to nourish all children and adults with healthy Biblical, Spiritual food. This is the motivation behind our C3 Kids Camp June 8-10. Each year DeLynn Rice and her Children’s Ministry volunteers feed a few dozen kids the spiritual milk that is vital to their growth.
Please pray that over the next couple of days that DeLynn and her crew will impart to the kids who come to camp daily servings of worship, praise, learning God’s word while being seasoned with loving and fun will help grow these kids in body mind and spirit.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Greatest Returns

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me…for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14
The Barna Research Group have consistently shown that the majority of people give their lives to Christ before the age of 18, but this recent study is the first that has shown the probabilities at various ages. It also has shown that the evangelistic impact is getting younger.
The study points out that children and adolescents are most impacted evangelistically by family members, peers and their churches activities like Sunday school, Kids Church, Vacation Bible School, etc. In fact, the years prior to age 12 are when a majority of children make their decision as to whether or not they will follow Christ. This is one of the reasons Debbie and I want to invest the next years of our lives and love into our four grandchildren, all of whom are 10 and under.
At Celebration Community Church we concentrate a lot of our time and resources on Children, Youth and College ministries. We invest in programs like our school, Victory Christian Academy, our C3 Kids children’s ministry which just finished Vacation Bible School and puts on a summer camp June 8th -June 10th and KIDFEST on August 19th. SO many kids get connected and grow in their faith through events like these.
Even though the Barna study says that only 4% of teens have a likelihood of trusting in Christ we at C3 believe it is a good investment to pour a tremendous amount of time and money into relevant youth and college ministries. Our CrossCurrent student ministries goes on yearly mission trips, puts on summer camps for Middle School and an upcoming High School camp, June 2nd -7th. CrossCurrent is also sponsoring a Youth Conference called “The Event” this August 4-5th.
Our Encounter College Ministry has in the last year been reaching around 400 FHSU students every week and continues to meet throughout the summer since returning 40 students from a Haiti mission trip.
There is no summer slowdown when it comes to doing whatever we can to reach young people for the Lord at C3. Thank you to all of you who support these ministries through your ongoing tithes and offerings.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Memorial Day

This weekend as we celebrate Memorial Day, I ask you, “What does Memorial Day mean to you?” - the beginning of summer vacation, bar-b-ques in the back yard, family get-togethers, the running of the Indianapolis 500? All kinds of things happen on this holiday. It is good for us to pause & think about what Memorial Day really means, for its very name, "Memorial Day", calls us to remember the ultimate, sacrifice our armed forces have made to protect our nation’s freedom.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. Understanding that Memorial Day is a uniquely American holiday, I like to think of this holiday originating in the city of Jerusalem.
"on the night Jesus was betrayed, he took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
This Memorial weekend we certainly want to remember the brave service people who died to insure the freedom our country offers. Every weekend we seek to never forget the ONE who died on a cross to set us free indeed.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Stay Positive

This weekend at Celebration Community Church we are beginning a brand-new message series called “Stay Positive”. I'm so excited about this message series because we live in a society seemingly obsessed with negativity. All news channels are packed with stories about violence, deaths, or the latest celebrity scandal that portrays only the worst aspects of humankind. Commentators on both sides of the political spectrum berate and belittle each other. Our national media outlets focus so heavily on the negative that it rubs off on us the viewers. When all we hear on the news is about Syrian gas attacks, North Korean nuclear tests, suicide bombers in major European cities and climate change melting the ice caps in Antarctica, we begin to feel hopeless and positive change in anything appears to be a daunting and insurmountable task.
Well I’ve got good news for you. For the next few weeks, we're going to talk about some very important, positive biblical qualities like gratitude, encouragement, generosity, enthusiasm and confidence in our identity as children of God. This weekend we will be kicking off the series talk about optimism and I am so looking forward to you coming to one of our four weekend services. Saturday at 5 or Sunday at 8:30, 10, and 11:30.
In writing to his brothers and sisters in the city of Philippi, the Apostle Paul encourages us as well with these words, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8
Be sure to be a part of this positive and uplifting series at C3.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Choose Wisely

Do you remember the Milton Bradley game from the 1960’s “LIFE”? At the games start it gave you a choice to either go directly into business or go to college. For some reason as a kid I always chose the college path. And interestingly when I later played the Game of Life with my kids…I would always encourage them to take the college route. Not that there is anything wrong with skipping college if you are not well suited for it. As graduation for both Hays High School and Fort Hays State University takes place this week, I got to thinking about my own kids graduations.
Graduation was a time filled with mixed feelings -- fulfillment and sadness, anxiety and eagerness. Saying goodbye to the comfortable and secure life within the confines they were accustomed to in order to embrace a new environment. The uncertainty of the future looms large over new graduates as they spread their wings. Armed with diplomas and idealistic dreams, they will charge ahead hopefully with enthusiasm. Graduate need lots of advice, inspiration and especially wisdom.
The Bible’s King Solomon is often called the wisest man who ever lived. When he was young he was told by God that he could have any one thing. What do you think Solomon asked for? Money? Power? Position? Popularity? These might be things that any one of us would choose if given the same offer Solomon had. Instead Solomon chose wisdom. And in doing so, through obtaining wisdom, he became the richest, most powerful, and popular person on earth. What a wise guy!
As graduation approaches we affirm that knowledge is good, but there is a vast difference between "knowledge" (having the facts) and "wisdom" (applying those facts to life). We may amass knowledge, but without wisdom, our knowledge is useless. We must learn how to live out what we know.
A Baccalaureate Worship service for the Hays High School graduating class and their families will take place at the 12th Street Auditorium this Wednesday May 10th at 7pm. Celebration’s Youth ministry will be well represented and the message will be delivered by CrossCurrent’s leader Nick Eiden. All are welcome to attend.
Regretfully Debbie and I will not be able to attend the service or the upcoming HHS & FHSU graduations as we will be traveling to Tucson Arizona to visit my brother Eddie who is still in critical condition in ICU there.
Thank you for your continued prayers.
And to all the Celebration graduates from Encounter and CrossCurrent ministries…
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

“I Believe, Help My Unbelief”

In our current series, A Case For Christ” we follow Lee Strobel’s journey from atheism toward faith. For some, the beauty, order, and wonder of nature serve as the strongest evidence of God’s truth. For others, the testimonies of changed lives are the strongest proof. Some people need more tangible evidence. Remember Jesus’ disciple Thomas? He was one of the Twelve. He had been close to Jesus and had been taught truth straight from the source himself. Yet, Thomas still struggled with doubt. After the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples, but Thomas wasn’t there. So he didn’t believe it. Thomas needed to see the risen Lord with his own eyes. And guess what? Jesus gave him what he needed— Jesus appeared to Thomas and told him to touch the scars on his hands and his side, to stop doubting, and to believe John 20:27.
Do you ever feel like Thomas—the testimony of others is great, but you need to see the truth for yourself?
Every weekend at C3 we are looking at the challenging questions of the historic life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and then every Monday night in a small group discussion format we are responding to questions of faith and doubt. In this series, we seek to pursue all the avenues we can to discover spiritual truth. As we ask hard questions there may be times when the answers aren’t obvious, when the truth may be hard to discern, when your unanswered questions could cause pain and doubt. But you can trust that God is there in the midst of your search.
If and when you struggle with matters like this, you can pray a prayer like the father who took his son to Jesus to be healed in Mark 9:14–27. You can honestly say to God, as he did, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief”
Join us this weekend at one of our 4 services on Saturday at 5 pm or Sunday at 8:30, 10 or 11:30am. If you want to dig deeper come to C3 this Monday at 6:30pm.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Monday, April 24, 2017

Who Remembers the Armenians?

In the years during and immediately after the First World War, over one and a half million Armenians were displaced, deported, tortured and killed at the hands of the “Young Turks” of the Muslim Ottoman Empire. Families, primarily Christian who had inhabited this sacred land since the time of Christ were nearly all wiped from the face of the earth. Their homes destroyed, businesses burned, a generation of Armenians watched their men tortured, their women raped, their children crucified and the rest of their relatives taken away from their villages, to be slaughtered in the wilderness.
When Adolf Hitler prepared to embark upon a horrible Holocaust against the Jews, he scoffed at the notion that the world would rebel in revulsion. His response which is etched on a glass wall at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. simply says, "Who remembers the Armenians?"
This weekend Debbie and I watch the movie, “The Promise” which depicts the atrocities of 1915. On April 24th each year Armenians around the world remember the first recorded genocide in modern history. Humanity seemingly has not learned from history as is demonstrated by the continued demonic extermination of peoples in the killing fields of Cambodia, the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, the tribal ravaging in Rwanda, the slavery and slaughter in the Sudan and most recently, ISIS’s aim to destroy all infidels to the Islamic faith.
So today I ask, who remembers the Armenians and all the other martyrs whether Christian or otherwise?
Well today we do.
Your Armenian pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What A Wonderful Week

What an amazing weekend we had at Celebration Community Church. In all my years at C3 we have never had a Good Friday service. We may have shown a movie in the past like “The Passion of the Christ” but never a service dedicated to Jesus’s sacrifice upon the cross. With this service replacing our normal Saturday evening service, most of our staff thought we might draw about 100-150 people. Much to our surprise over 300 people packed our worship space and overflow rooms. Soul stirring music, a retelling of the last days of Jesus’ life, the sharing of communion and an invitation to nail our sins upon a cross, made for what many people said was “the best service they ever attended”.
Then on Resurrection Sunday morning with Pastor Brant leading the service, almost 400 people packed our Colby campus which was celebrating their 5th anniversary. In Hays between our 9am & 11am services over 1400 people filed into FHSU’s Beach-Schmidt Performing Arts Center to celebrate Easter. During the service, we previewed our next series which begins this weekend called “A Case For Christ”. The series aligns with the book and new release movie about Chicago Tribune investigative journalist Lee Strobel’s journey from being an atheist to a believer. Using Scriptures and video clips from the movie, the series will explore some of the issues people have believing in the Christian faith.
When I heard that the movie was coming out, I called the local theatre to see if they were planning to release the movie here in Hays and I was met with the response that “they would not”. I then contacted the company who is releasing the film and asked them to try and persuade AMC Theatres to book the movie.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn this last Saturday that “A Case for Christ’ was now being shown, freeing me to invite all of the folks I would be talking with on Easter Sunday to check out the movie. Debbie and I and our son Jacob attended the 4:45pm screening on Sunday afternoon and we had trouble finding three seats together. What a joy it was seeing a room full of familiar C3 faces and to make matters even better; the movie was fantastic. I highly recommend you see it while it is still here in Hays and be sure to attend services this weekend as we begin the new series.
On a more somber note, throughout the weekend Debbie and I have been communicating with my sister in law Nancy concerning my oldest brother Eddie who was hospitalized in Tucson with a raging infection which started in his knee and has run rampant throughout his body. As of this writing, Eddie has successfully survived surgery on his knee and strong antibiotics are dealing with the infection. Thank you for your continued prayers and for the healing we expect because of the power of what we celebrated this weekend; the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

From “Hosanna” to “Crucify Him”

Palm Sunday should have been the happiest single day in Jesus' life. The crowds had surrounded him with praise and accolades. In John 12:19 the Pharisees murmur: "Look! The whole world has gone after him!" It seemed that way when Palm Sunday began. It looked as though His preaching/healing ministry was to be crowned with success.
But Jesus knew better. He knew how fickle the crowds were; He knew that, when push came to shove, “all would forsake Him and flee,”(Mark 14:50)
The same people who on Palm Sunday had laid their cloaks on the ground before him. The same people who waved Jesus in, on Good Friday waved Jesus out again. The one who rode into town in triumph on Monday, was carried out of town on a cross on Friday.
How quick were the crowds to shout "Hosanna!" on Palm Sunday--but also how quick they were to shout, "Crucify Him!" on Good Friday, when He didn't fit into their notions of what the Messiah should look and act like. Before the week was out, Jesus had been betrayed, arrested, tried, whipped, humiliated, spat upon, cursed at, plotted against, crucified, dead, and buried.
As we begin this week I want to encourage you to welcome the Messiah into your life and may his praise of “Hosanna” blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Mark 11:9) be in your heart and on your lips.
And then I would like to invite you to join us at C3 this Friday at 6:30 pm for a very special Good Friday service. We'll worship together, take communion and respond to Christ's sacrifice for us as we prepare and anticipate celebrating Easter!
Because of our Good Friday service, we will NOT be hosting our regular Saturday evening service.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

“It’s A Whole New Ball Game”

Sunday night was the opening game of the 2017 season for my favorite team, the WORLD CHAMPION Chicago Cubs. Of all sports, baseball is my favorite and according to Wikipedia it also provides the most athletic metaphors in the English language. Whether you are a fan or not, we ALL speak “baseballese” just about every day, and all year round.
Here are some examples I have used:
* We're not making a bit of progress with this project. We can't even get to first base.
* Your theology is off the wall. You're way out there in left field.
* Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, while others seemingly have two strikes against them.
* Everybody's so enthusiastic about your proposal. You hit it out of the park.
* I did not expect that reaction. She threw me a real curveball.
* Those inappropriate comments of yours were way off base.
* I know you can't give me an exact price, but can you give me a ballpark figure?
* Chris Matthews of MSNBC is so headstrong; the name of his show is Hardball.
* On Broadway, the musical "Hamilton” is a smash hit.
* I promise I'll consult you before I make any decisions. I'll be sure to touch base with you.
* I can't meet you today, but can I take a rain check?
* We need to get started on the project. Let's do it right off the bat in the morning.
* Melissa McCarthy is such a wild and wacky woman – she’s a real screwball.
* He’s just not owning up to his mistake. I wish he would step up to the plate and take responsibility.
* That woman is influential in her industry. she’s a real heavy hitter.
* When I can’t preach I might ask Pastor Derek to pinch hit for me.
I know what you are thinking, I use baseball metaphors a lot. Do you?
In contrast, baseball has adopted expressions that come from the Christian vocabulary as well. As followers of Christ we talk about “sacrifice”, relief pitchers getting credit for a “save”, “thou shalt not steal”, (as in second base) and the object of every batter and believer is to reach our heavenly “home”.
God loves you, sent his Son Jesus to die for you and has been thinking of you since the start of creation. As I have been saying for years, God is a baseball fan. The biblical proof was that,
In the BIG INNING God created the heaven and the earth” Genesis 1:1 :-)
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March (and April) Madness Part 2

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
Many of us have been enjoying watching March Madness, (which interestingly will still be going on into April). This annual NCAA basketball tournament started with 68 teams, and the Final Four were decided last weekend. KU, the last Kansas team in the running did not play well enough against Oregon to get out of the Elite Eight. Next weekend Oregon, North Carolina, Gonzaga and South Carolina will play to see who gets to compete next Monday night for the National Championship.
In the NCAA Tournament it's "do or die" for every team. Win and move on — lose one and be done. The season is at stake with no second chances. This inescapable fact weighs heavy in every game. Everyone gives it all they've got, because it might be their last game of the season. There are no second chances on the road to the Final Four.
Thankfully our God is a God of second chances. Because God loves us so much, He gave us a second chance (and a third, fourth, fifth…) by sending His own Son Jesus Christ. Most Christians I know are obviously thankful for this basic truth. But today I challenge you to live life like you are in tournament mode.
Don’t ever take for granted God's grace and mercy. Have you ever faced a temptation and fallen into sin partly because, in your mind, you were thinking something like, "Oh, if I mess up just this once God will forgive me … after all, He loves me unconditionally doesn’t He"? Do you ever take second chances for granted?
Don't let God's unconditional love be a mental and moral excuse to give less than your best effort. Know this; our salvation is not dependent upon how good we act (THANK GOD) but rather by what Christ has done for us on the cross at Calvary. But in response to that indescribable gift of God’s grace we strive to, as the old hymn suggests, “Give of our best to the Master”.
I encourage you to live life more like you are competing in March Madness. After all, if we really understand what the cross meant in terms of love, forgiveness, grace and second chances, we'd do nothing less than give our very best, playing with a passion and resilience that will not give up or give in.
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 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,


Friday, January 27, 2017

We're Better Together

This week I watched the Martin Scorsese movie “Silence” about two 17th-century Jesuit priests who travel from Portugal to Japan to locate their missing mentor who was suspected of abandoning his faith. It was difficult to watch the persecution and torture that these fictional Christians endured. They represented the millions of real life martyrs who stood for Christ throughout the ages.  Their courage and steadfastness in the face of horrific circumstances is a lesson for us all.

I remember reading about studies that were conducted among former American prisoners of war to determine what methods used by the enemy were most effective in breaking their spirit. The findings revealed that these men did not break down from physical deprivation and torture as quickly as they did from solitary confinement or from disrupted friendships. Attempts to get them divided in their attitudes toward one another proved to be the most successful method of discouraging them. It was further learned that these P.O.W.’s were not sustained primarily by faith in their country or by the rightness of the cause for which they fought. They drew their greatest strength from the close attachments they had formed with their fellow prisoners. I got to thinking the same thing can be said is for church. You and I were made to live and grow in our faith as a part of a community of faith. God created us to live our lives not only connected to Him but also connected to each other.  

I have been saying for years, as Christians, we’re better together!

This weekend at the Celebration we will be continuing on in our series called GROW and I will be focusing on how the earliest church grew in faith and love with God and with each other even in and especially during difficult times.

I hope you will take full advantage of the liberty we have in this country to make a point of freely worshipping with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
We ARE better together,

Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Baby dedications at all services this weekend. Please RSVP on C3Hays app. Want to be baptized? RSVP to kyle@celebratejesus.org

C3’s Congregational Meeting and my (brief) State of the Church Address will take place at 12:30pm on Sunday.

Friday, January 20, 2017

We're Better Together

Have you ever seen the movie “Witness“? In it, an Amish community build a barn in one day as the whole community turns out together to accomplish a unified goal.  That is exactly what being a part of a church family is all about. 

The Bible says that God put you on earth to accomplish five purposes. We are purposed to love him, grow in our relationship with him, serve him, share him and honor him with our lives. God wired all of us in such a way that we can only fulfill his purposes in the context of a community. 

As a Christian you cannot fulfill any of those purposes on your own, we need other people to help us accomplish those things. The Bible often calls your spiritual life, “your walk”, but one of the important things to know is that God never intended for you to walk through life alone. We need others to walk with us to help us grow spiritually. This is why I like to say “We’re better together.”

Romans 12:5 says,“ Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other and each of us needs all the others.”  We as Christians do need each other and that’s why I am inviting you to connect with C3.   
This weekend following each service, I will be hosting our NEXT STEPS class. In this class you will discover what it means to be a part of a church family and specifically you’ll learn the mutual expectations between you and your church. 

If you have not yet taken what we have previously called Class 101 or Connections Class, I invite you to take the NEXT STEP this weekend after services.  

We’re better together, 

Your pastor and partner in ministry,


Be sure to choose your scripture verse of the year and begin to mediate on it, memorize it and mark it on the wall at C3.

Friday, January 13, 2017

What Is Your Next Step?

In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life, life to the fullest.” He didn’t say he came to bring us an institution, an organization or a social club. Christ’s church is not a building even though God has given us a blueprint similar to a building of what the church should be.
“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known…according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." Ephesians 3:10-11
The Christian life is not just about believing, it’s about belonging, belonging to a family, belonging to Christ’s church.
I encourage and challenge EVERYONE who calls Celebration Community Church your church home to take the NEXT STEP, whatever that may be in your commitment to Christ and His church.
If you have not yet made the commitment to be a member of C3, I invite you to come to our “NEXT STEPS” class after each service next weekend January 21 & 22. During this 1 hour long class you will learn who C3 is, what we believe and more importantly, how you can find your place and purpose in it.
If you have not been baptized as an adult believer, or have not dedicated your infant to the Lord, I want to encourage you to take the next step and RSVP on our C3 app. to do that on the weekend of January 28 & 29.
If you are already a baptized member of C3, what is your next step in growing in your relationship with the Lord?
Is it having a Daily Quiet Time with God? Then take that next step by clicking on ‘Resource’ tile of the C3 app and start a You Version Reading Plan.
Is your next step connecting with a small group or serving in a ministry? Then take that next step by clicking on the ‘Ministries’ tile of the C3 app and finding a group that is right for you.
Is your next step making a greater commitment to Christ through tithing? Then step out in faith and give the first 10% of your income to your church by setting up an ongoing gift on the C3 app tile “Give”.
As we begin this New Year ask God what is the next step He wants you to take to grow closer to Him and to His church. Then DO IT!
Your pastor and partner in ministry,
Before the end of this month be sure to choose your scripture verse of the year and begin to mediate on it, memorize it and mark it on the wall at C3 as a reminder of Christ’s mighty promise to “bring you life to the fullest” in this year of our Lord 2017.
Watch your e-mail tomorrow (Saturday) for icy condition weather updates and/or cancellations of services at C3 on Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Spiritual H.A.B.I.T.S.

I did an Amazon.com book search and found close to 15,000 titles about the word habits. We are all as they say, creatures of habit, who do most things habitually. Think about it…
When preparing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich which goes on the top layer, peanut butter or jelly?
When you store your socks in a drawer do you roll them up or fold them flat?
When you replace the toilet paper (you guessed it) does the paper roll over or under the spool?
All of these things you do, you do habitually. Our habits shape our lives. Think about this…
Why is it that some people are more effective than others? Why is it that some people accomplish more? Reach their goals? Soar to greater heights? Get more out of life than other people? The answer is, effective people are committed to habits that ineffective people are unwilling to commit to.
Why is it that some Christians are more dynamic than other Christians? Why is it that some Christians seem to grow more, they seem to have more answered prayers, more of God's blessing on their life. Same answer. Effective Christians commit themselves to things that ineffective Christians are unwilling to commit themselves to.
It has been said that you will become what you are committed to. You become the end result of the habits you do each and every day.
What Spiritual H.A.B.I.T.S. do you need to establish this year?
H. Have a Daily Quiet Time with God
A. Accountability with another believer
B. Bible Memory (Start with your Scripture Verse of the Year)
I. Involve yourself on a ministry team
T. Tithing (giving 10% of your income)
S. Study the Bible in a Small Group
Developing these Spiritual HABITS will help you to have a more purposeful and productive 2017.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,