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,