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,
Kyle
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,
Kyle

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,
Kyle