Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I’m Thankful to God!

With my upcoming retirement at the end of the month and this being the last of the over 3000 daily emails/P.K.’s blogs that I have written since 2004, I want to share you with briefly what I am thankful to God for.
I’m Thankful to God… For the Grace He’s Shown Me.
Everything God does in me and through me and for me and to me is by His grace. I didn’t earn it, I didn’t work for it and I certainly don’t deserve it.
I’m so glad that God doesn’t give me what I deserve, instead God gives me what I need. His grace is amazing and it is a free gift of which I am thankful.
I’m Thankful to God… For the Plan He Has For Me.
Over our time together at C3 I have talked a lot about this.
You and I were made for a reason, for God’s purpose. God has a perfect plan for your life and mine. His plan for me was to be the Founding and Senior Pastor of Celebration Community Church for the last 21 years and I am so glad I got with the plan. We may not always know what the future holds but what I have always tried to do was to not to worry, fear or fret about it but rather to trust in the One who holds my future. As Debbie and I move forward in faith on a new adventure in life we have put our faith and trust in this promise from God:
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. Jeremiah 29:11
I’m Thankful to God…For the People He Has Put Around Me
There are far too many people to mention so I hope you know that if you are reading this, that I am so blessed to have had you in my life and that I echo the Apostle Paul’s words that he wrote as a thank you note to a congregation he founded and was so close to his heart:
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:3-6
He is talking about his love and affection for a church. I have always said that church is not a building, church is not something you go to, church is not an event you attend. Church is a family that God meant for you and me to be a part of, connected to, committed to. God in His manifold wisdom created us to be in a relationship with Him and with each other; fellowship in the family of God, the body of Christ.
I have been blessed all these years to be a part of this amazing church family and I have the confidence that what He has begun in us, He will carry on to completion until He comes again.
So as I close this chapter of my life I give thanks to God and give thanks to you for allowing me to be…
Your pastor and partner in ministry,
If you can, please stop by the gym at C3 this Saturday from 1-4pm to wish Debbie and I farewell. I will also be taking communion with you during all of our services this weekend.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Looking Back on 21 years

As I sit down to write this I am realizing that this will be my next to last of some 3,000 plus emails or blogs that I have written since 2004. As I think back upon the 20+ years that I have pastored C3, I thought it would be good to look at our history.
After pastoring in Southern California for nearly ten years I moved to Hays in 1993. Without a church to serve here, I took on a job as the general manager of a local radio station and even though I was successful in that endeavor, I missed the purposeful calling as pastor. While speaking to a group of leadership students on the subject, “Living Your Life On Purpose” I heard God speak directly to me saying, “Why are you not doing what I have purposed you to do?” In that instant, Celebration Community Church was born. The vision God gave me was to reach out to people interested in spiritual issues but who didn't think church was relevant to their daily lives.
Through what was at the time an innovative approach to doing church involving contemporary music, drama, multi-media, and practical biblical messages, a remarkable thing began to occur. People throughout the Ellis County area discovered a church that met them where they were in their spiritual lives.
Starting in a storefront with 14 people on a Thursday night in August of 1996 Celebration Community Church has grown to over 1000 adults and children attending weekly in two campuses. On December 8,1996, the first Sunday services were started at Hays High School with 93 in attendance. After 2 ½ years at Hays High School we moved to The Ellis County Fairgrounds Schenk Building setting up and taking down 250 chairs each Sunday morning for the next 2 years.
In 2001 the church bought and refurbished a 13,000 sq. ft dilapidated truck repair garage. That year a full-time church secretary Ericka Pfeifer and youth minister and Brant Rice were added to the staff. Celebration’s full and part time staff has since grown to 17 committed servants.
I proposed to my wife Debbie on New Year’s eve 2001 at the Sonic Drive In and she said yes. (We still go there every New Year’s Eve and I re-propose and by the grace of God she still says yes)
In 2004 the Celebration applied to the FCC for a low power radio station license and in 2006 began broadcasting 98.5 FM “The Truth”
In 2004 Celebration Community Church was also chosen to receive the Church Health Award by Purpose Driven Ministries. My wife Debbie and I accepted that honor in Southern California from Saddleback Church’s Rick Warren.
In 2006, needing more classroom and office space we embarked on our second capital campaign and raised over a million dollars to add an additional 15,000 square feet of multipurpose ministry area.
We have just completed a renovation of that 28,000 sq. feet of space to accommodate VCA (Victory Christian Academy) while building another 16,000 sq. ft. state of the art, 550 seat worship center, gathering space and coffee bar. Over 1200 adults and children worshiped in our new facilities’ Grand Opening on the weekend of September 7-8th.
In the time I served C3 we initiated an Annual Mission Auction that raises thousands of dollars each year to give away to missions and we have sent out hundreds of short term missionaries as well as over a dozen full time ministers and missionaries. Our Celebration Community Church Leadership Academy (C3LA) helps adult students discover their place in the body of Christ.
In my time here in Hays I have also had the opportunity to teach in the Leadership Studies Department at FHSU and write a weekly article on Leadership for 3 years for the Hays Daily News. For 19 years I served as the chaplain for the Tigers Men’s football and Basketball teams. It has also been my pleasure and privilege to have been the President of the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance where each year C3 collects groceries and feeds over 700 people each year at a Thanksgiving Day Feast. In my time as ECMA’s President we also began a joint venture with The Hays Daily News called ONE magazine which continues to this day.
After 21 years of attempting to follow the call God put on my heart to do what He has purposed me to do, I will be retiring from C3 at the end of October 2017 and moving to Ellijay Georgia, where Debbie and I can be closer to our four grandchildren.
Teaching Pastor Brant Rice will become the new Senior Pastor aided by Systems Pastor Derek Mayfield and a tremendous group of committed staff and volunteers of whom all but one of them started as a first-time guest at C3.
I am so proud to the accomplishments we as a church have made in our time together as partners in the ministry and mission of Jesus Christ.
As I have written in each one those previous 3,000 plus emails / blogs,
I sign off the way I always have….
Your pastor and partner in ministry,
Next week in my last blog I will share what I believe God is leading Debbie and I to do as well as giving a challenge to C3 for its future. PK

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

PK’s Top Ten

As the weather outside turns chilly and I wind down my time at C3, I got to thinking about the top ten of my favorite things about my favorite season of the year - Fall.
1. Walking through piles of crunchy, colorful leaves.
2. Harvest moons and Indian summer sunsets.
3. Chicago Cubs playoff games in the afternoon, Chicago Bears game on Monday Night Football.
4. Wearing sweater vests under sport coats.
5. My son Taylor’s birthday on Oct 27th. (mine is on the 25th)
6. Debbie and my first date “kissing anniversary”.
7. Remembering all the years hosting Rick Bauer’s Memorial Golf Outing. (I miss those and him)
8. Collecting bags of groceries & serving Thanksgiving dinner at the Rose Garden Banquet Hall. (We’ll miss this)
9. C3 kids coming over in costumes for handfuls of candy on Halloween. (for one last time)
10. Raising thousands of $ to give away at C3’s Annual Mission Auction. (We will miss this too)
I hope you are looking forward to enjoying each day of the next season of life God gives you. Remember that each day He gives us is a precious gift.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Remembering Rick Bauer

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20
Today as I write this (Monday Oct 2nd) I am remembering our friend Rick Bauer, on this the 14th anniversary of his passing on to heaven. Rick was among the finest men I have ever known. Rick was a loving husband, devoted father, loyal family member, compassionate physician, gifted athlete, talented drummer, encouraging friend, a faithful follower of Christ and he and his wife Cindy along with daughters Tara and Tessa, were the first of the 14 people to step through the storefront doors of Celebration Community Church as we gathered for the first time on a Thursday night in late August of 1996. Rick is so well remembered and is still so greatly missed.
I read that C. S. Lewis, the popular author of the Chronicles of Narnia series said, “that while on this earth we are on the wrong side of the door." But he added, "All the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor it will not always be so."
Jesus doesn't leave us "on the wrong side of the door." It is because of Him that we anticipate what’s on the other side; heaven. The hope He gives us is not due to our good character, selfless service, generous giving nor because we have earned the right to enter heaven by any of our own efforts. No, we will see our Savior only because of our faith in His supreme sacrifice on the cross for our sins.
When we reach heaven, we'll understand the far-reaching implications of the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 2:9, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
Rick Bauer lived each day preaching, not with words but rather by modeling his life after the One who gave him life and life eternal and who now stands at the door of our lives and knocks. I encourage you to invite him in daily.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Take the trip, eat the cake, buy the shoes

Last week my wife Debbie and I had the honor of distributing my brother Eddie’s ashes at significant locations throughout Chicagoland. It was just a few short months ago that he and his wife Nancy were enjoying a European vacation. It served as a reminder that our time on earth is short. This is a message we can all hear and respond to. Time is short. We never know when we or the ones we love will take their last breath so what we do with the precious little time we have is important.
While at Wrigley Field we ran into former C3 attenders Kerry & Anna (Herl) Shannon. On her Facebook page regarding the encounter she posted this very good advice:
*Life is way too short! Take the trip, eat the cake, buy the shoes*
The Bible also give us great advice regarding prioritizing and managing our time.
Jesus says to us all:
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
So what does this mean? To "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness" means to turn to God first for help, to fill your thoughts with his desires, to take his character for your pattern, and to serve and obey him in everything. As we offer up our lives to Him He expands our capacity to do more than we can even imagine.
What is important to you? People, objects, goals, and other desires all compete for priority. Any of these can quickly bump God out of first place if you don't actively choose to give him first place in every area of your life.
In His word God has made His purpose for your life very clear. We are to love Him with all we have and with all we are and to honor Him in all we do (Worship).
We are to grow in our relationship with Him so we may gain spiritual maturity and become more like Him (Discipleship).
We are to connect with His body, the church so we can encourage one another along in this journey (Fellowship).
We are to serve Him by serving others with the gifts and abilities He has given us (Ministry).
We are to share with others Jesus, the reason for the hope we have within us. (Mission)
If we live each day seeking Him first and His purposes for our lives, God will provide for us the things of life like trips and cake and shoes. He will also provide ample time to do all these things and more and to do them well.
Make the most of your time because our time is short. Be sure to worship with your church family this weekend as we continue in the series, “HIS Church”.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Does God Answer Prayers?

Does God answer prayers? –Sometimes God says “Yes Sometimes God says  “No.” Sometimes God says “Not now.”

God has promised that, when we ask for things that are in accordance with His will for our lives, He will give us what we ask for
“ This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.1 John 5:14–15. However, there is one thing` to add to this: we may not always like the answer.

We pray for a lot of things—some good, some bad, some really pointless. But God listens to all our prayers, regardless of what we ask.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” Matthew 7:7. When we talk to Him, He has promised to listen and respond.
Keep in mind that prayer is not our way of getting God to do what we want. Our prayers should be focused on things that honor and glorify God and reflect what the Bible clearly reveals God’s will to be. If we pray for something that dishonors God or is not His will for us, He is unlikely to give what we ask for. God’s wisdom far exceeds our own, and we must trust that His answers to our prayers are the best possible solutions.

In John 11, Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to heal their dying brother, yet Jesus allowed Lazarus to die. Why did He say “no” to these grieving women who loved Him so much? Because He had greater things planned for Lazarus, things that no one could possibly have imagined.

“No” is one of the hardest answers we can receive. But, once again, it is important to remember that God is all-knowing and is aware of the entire timeline of history. He knows every possible outcome of every possible choice in every possible situation; we do not. He sees the “big picture”; we see a partial brushstroke. Proverbs 3:5 says to “trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” When we get a “no” answer, we must trust that whatever we asked for was not God’s will.
Sometimes hearing “wait” is even harder than hearing “no” because it means we have to be patient.” But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently”. Romans 8:25. While waiting is difficult, we can be thankful God is in control and trust that His timing will be perfect “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”. Romans 12:12

God wants the best for your life. He does not want you to suffer needlessly. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Be patient and know that He is your loving Father (Psalm 46:10).

While waiting for God trust in Philippians 4:6 as you make your requests to God: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Then, when God responds, be prepared to accept His wisdom—whether or not you agree with His answer.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

It Is Finished

It Is Finished!
This last weekend was one of the most memorable ones in Celebration Community Church’s 21year history. After 2 years of assessment, design, fundraising, renovation and construction, we completed our building project by opening our new 16,000 square foot 550 seat Worship Center. Our design/ build partners in this project Brown Church Development from Kearney Nebraska came down to help us celebrate our Grand Opening and they were greatly impressed. We experienced our largest attendance ever,  (outside of an Easter Sunday) with over 1200 adults and children worshipping in our 4 services. We also dedicated 5 infants and baptized 21 believers.      
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the subcontractors and volunteers who worked on the building project. I especially want to thank all of you who have made pledges to the Forward Faith Capital Campaign. I appreciate your support and generous contributions. If you have not yet made a commitment to the campaign I want to encourage you to jump on board and help us finance our state of the art, Worship Center and Celebration Coffee Bar which are designed to be a tool to attract and connect the thousands of unchurched people within a short drive of our location. The proceeds above expenses from sales at the Coffee Bar will go toward Missions.    
What an exciting time it is to be a part of the Celebration and we hope that you share in that excitement. It’s going to take all of us giving sacrificially above our weekly tithes to fulfill the vision God has given us to create a space that would honor Him and accommodate all of the people we can reach for Him in the years to come. 
On behalf of the Staff and Directors of C3, we give thanks and praise to God as we continue to move Forward in Faith together. 

Your pastor and partner in ministry, 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Your Labor Matters to God

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

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Your Work Matters To God

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Back To School

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

There Is Only One Race—The Human Race

Every Monday morning at our C3 Staff meetings I introduce a question that will promote discussion among our team sharing insights into how we view life and hopefully drawing us closer together. Considering the violence that took place in Charlottesville Virginia last weekend I felt compelled to address the issue and to inquire within our team what our church’s response should be.
Our staff debated the removal of statues of Southerners and the effect that may have in altering history. We discussed confederate flags and other symbols from a time gone by that now represents bigotry and hate. One thing that we all agreed on was that racism is still alive in America. Racism, has been a pox on our country for hundreds of years and continues today even in Hays Kansas. Hearing our new black youth pastor tell about when he was a student at Fort Hays State University being assaulted with the “N” word hate speech spewing out the mouths of angry bigots saddened us all.
The first thing to understand as we discuss racism is the foundational premise that there is only one race—the human race. Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Indians, Arabs and Jews are not different races, rather they are different ethnicities of the same human race. Apart from just a few minor differences, human beings all have the same physical characteristics.
More importantly, as the Bible teaches us, all human beings are created equal in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). God SO loved the world that He sent His son Jesus to lay down His life for us (John 3:16). The “world” obviously includes all ethnic groups. The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 3:28 that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Racism is a sin and according to Got Questions.org which offers advice and direction about spiritual issues says that, “Racism is a sin that divides us as the human family. It violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father. Racism is the sin that says some human beings are inherently superior and others essentially inferior because of races. It is the sin that makes racial characteristics the determining factor for the exercise of human rights. It mocks the words of Jesus: ‘Treat others the way you would have them treat you.’ Indeed, racism is more than a disregard for the words of Jesus; it is a denial of the truth of the dignity of each human being revealed by the mystery of the Incarnation.”
In the New Testament Jesus commands us to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34) The Apostle Peter who Jesus built his church upon says, ”Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.” 1 Peter 3:9
The church, the body of Christ is called to be the voice of compassion not hated. We are not born knowing how to hate. Hatred is learned.
The church, the body of Christ is called to be the voice of forgiveness not retaliation. Forgiveness is an essential part of the life of believers. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32
The church, the body of Christ is called to be the voice of good not evil. "Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good." Romans 12:21
The church, the body of Christ is called to be the voice of love and the voice of love is louder than hate.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,
This weekend the Pastors of C3 will be continuing our series on the Beatitudes, from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This week’s message is very timely, “Blessed are the Peacemakers for they will be called the children of God." Matthew 5:9

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What is the Difference Between Mercy and Grace?

“You have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8
Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me. Psalm 40:11
What is grace? Well it is certainly not just a prayer spoken at meals. Grace is God’s unmerited favor, it is everything God does for you, even though you don’t deserve it. The Bible says that everything you have comes by grace. Everything God does in you and through you and for you and to you and by you is by grace. You don’t earn it, you don’t deserve it, you don’t work for it. Grace is a free gift.
The Psalmist expresses his thanks to God for grace by saying,
“I will… not forget the glorious things God does for me. He forgives all my sins. He heals me. He ransoms me from hell. He surrounds me with love … He fills my life with good things … He is merciful and tender toward those who don’t deserve it; He is slow to get angry … He doesn’t remain angry … He has not punished us as we deserve for our sins.” Psalm 103:2-11
Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t give you what you deserve? That’s because God is merciful.
When we deserve punishment, He doesn’t punish us, and in fact blesses us instead. Mercy is the withholding of a condemnation we deserve.
God is merciful.
However, we must remember that God is also holy, righteous, and just.
That means that God does not casually overlook our sin. But It DOES mean that God in his love and mercy comes to us and offers us a way out of our misery caused by our sin. God in His grace is merciful.
Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.
Mercy is not getting what you do deserve.
Instead God gives you what you need. If your heart doesn’t explode with gratitude when you understand the grace and the mercy of God, then you have no idea of what bad shape you were in before you met Christ. Let me summarize it; before Christ there was nothing you could do to get rid of the guilt, fear, bitterness, worry, and regret. You had no real hope for the future. You were headed for an eternity in hell not heaven and there was nothing you could do about it. You would never be good enough to earn your salvation. But God came along and in His wonderful love said, I am going to be merciful, I am going to show you grace.”
So today and everyday be sure to give thanks to God for the amazing grace and the tender mercy He has shown you. And in turn be grace-filled and merciful to others.
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Are You Developing Your Spiritual Muscles?

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
For years I had always thought of myself as a former athlete, I did not realize how “former” I really was until one day while doing simple chores in my back yard I experienced being short of breath. I was overweight and out of shape. Amber Cunningham of Inspire had offered to train me as a thank you for allowing her fitness business to operate in the gym of Celebration Community Church. In January of 2015 I took her up on her offer. For 45 minutes, twice a week, Amber would direct me in exercises designed to increase my strength, stamina and flexibility. I remember the first time I tried to stand on the “BOSU”, within seconds I would fall off the apparatus like a deck chair off the Titanic.
Week after week I grew a little bit stronger, better balanced, and inspired to eat better as well. (I have not had a donut in over two years and that’s saying a lot coming from someone who works at a church where donuts are served more than communion.) I have lost 15 pounds in the last two years.
Amber’s workouts have stretched my muscles, enhanced my endurance and strengthened my core, adding length to my golf game and keeping me on the field as the “senior” member of C3’s softball teams of which her son and husband are players.
I have so appreciated Amber’s focus on body, mind and Spirit and have enjoyed her daily devotions and prayers for me, my family and our church. (At times, this pastor has needed and valued Amber’s advice and support.) C3 is blessed to have Inspire be a part of our ministry family. I am blessed to have Amber as my friend and workout partner.
Physical training and dietary discipline are important but if you really want to change for the better than I suggest you train in godliness. The Apostle Paul tells his protégé Timothy that training in godliness is beneficial for both this life and eternal life.
Godliness is taking on the very attributes of God which includes unconditional love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and selflessness. These are the attributes we are currently studying at C3 from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount called the Beatitudes. These ways to seek God’s blessing are in stark contrast to what the world promotes. In our society, much emphasis is placed on physical fitness, but spiritual health is even more important. Our physical health is susceptible to disease and injury, but faith can sustain us through any tragedy. To train ourselves to be godly, we must develop our faith by spending time in prayer and the reading of God’s word, the Bible as well as using our God-given abilities in the service of the church.
Are you developing your spiritual muscles?
Your pastor and workout partner in ministry,

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"We Are One in the Spirit, We Are One in the Lord"

What a weekend we had in Hays celebrating the cities 150th anniversary. After a street dance, car show and sidewalk sale on the bricks downtown, the churches of Ellis county along with the Downtown Hays Development Corporation put on a combined worship service at Municipal Park called “Praise in the Park". After the service and some greetings and salutations from elected officials, there was a picnic lunch with BBQ and birthday cake, free admission to the Hays Aquatic Park, and bounce houses for the kids. C3’s own Sara Bloom was the organizer of the event.
Thirteen churches were represented as we heard about the early history of Hays churches. It was then a joy to combined our voices in songs of praise before we prayed for our families, our churches, our community, our nation and for those who have not yet come into a faith filled relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.
Ever since I became a believer over 30 years ago, I have been saddened by the division that denominational differences have caused within the body of Christ. I have long felt in my heart of hearts that God’s heart breaks when one church will not fellowship with another because of divergent understandings of scriptures or varied practices in worship style and content. I have always firmly held the belief that no one really should ever claim that they are a Methodist, or a Presbyterian, or a Baptist or even a Catholic shocking as that may seem. I believe that if we profess that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior then we are “Christians” who worship at a particular church of our choosing.
Jesus says in the Gospel of John, “that our Christlike love for each other will show the world that we are his disciples”. But when people outside of the church see jealousy and division between churches, it does not attract them, instead the reverse occurs.
I was the President of the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance when we began the joint venture with The Hays Daily News called ONE magazine. The monthly insert is intended to focus on our unity while accepting our diversity as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Here is what I wrote as the Welcome in the inaugural issue of ONE in December of 2007.
“As President of ECMA this year it is my desire to encourage the churches of Ellis County to take seriously Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane when he said, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:20-21.”
The Ellis County Ministerial Alliance’s participation in “Praise in the Park” is another example of letting the community of Hays know, like the camp song many of us used to sing, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes they know we are Christians by our love”.
We are better together,
Your pastor and partner in ministry,

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,