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,