Thursday, November 16, 2006


It is my theory that in 1981 most of the world’s events flowed through Lenexa, Kansas, in some way or another. Here’s what I mean:

In 1981, while living in beautiful Garden City, Michigan, I had never heard of Lenexa, Kansas. But believe it or not in 1981 I frequently wore a Kansas City Royals hat over top of my great big afro. You thought I only wore Tiger and Michigan apparel, but that is not true. (Although this week I have been wearing a lot of Maize and Blue because of a little football game that will be played in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday. Just in case you are wondering… I have it on very good authority that the score will be Michigan 28 OSU 24. Sorry, about that little tangent, but I thought you should know.). For a while back in 1981 I was wearing a Royals hat. Truth be told, I had no affinity to George Brett, Freddy Patek and the boys in Royal blue, instead I liked a girl whose initials were K.C. I thought that Kim Cundiff was cute, so I wore a hat with her initials “KC” on it. It was a blue Kansas City Royals hat. I suppose if I thought a girl named Nancy Yak-face was cute, I would have worn a New York Yankee’s hat. But since I liked Kim Cundiff, I thought wearing a hat with the letters KC on it showed her that I really liked her. Kind of like guys who tattoo their girlfriend’s initials or name on their arm nowadays (Back in 1981, tattoos were only on sailors and biker dudes. Skinny guys with big afros didn’t get tattoos. We wore hats. It’s a fact for which now I am quite thankful. You see I lost that hat years ago and I lost interest in Kim Cundiff even before that. Had I tattooed “KC” on my arm, I would have either had to change the “C” to a “P” or cut off my arm. I’m glad I just lost the hat.). In 1981, I never thought I would live in Kansas. I had never heard of Lenexa, but I was wearing a hat worn by most people living in Lenexa… strange, very strange.

There were other notable events in 1981 that had a Lenexa, Kansas, connection. Such as:

In 1981, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States, was shot by John Hinckley. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt was also shot that year, and Pope John Paul II was shot too. I guess 1981 wasn’t a good year to be a pope or a president. Of course, those three people are no longer with us, so we don’t know if they had ever heard of Lenexa, Kansas. I don’t think any of them were goofy enough to wear a Royals baseball cap in hopes to impress a girl. But we do know is this: It would have done them well to have lived in Lenexa, because no one was shot in Lenexa in 1981. Hmmm…..

In 1981, MTV made its debut on cable networks. A little known fact is that had the good people of Lenexa refused to tune into MTV, it is possible that the media outlet and cultural icon would have gone the way of the 8-track. An opportunity lost in Lenexa you might say.

In 1981, Harrison Ford was looking for the Ark of the Covenant in the box office smash hit Raiders of the Lost Ark which contrary to rumors was never hidden in Lenexa.

In 1981, Christopher Cross was singing his #1 hit “Sailing” all the way to a Grammy Award. While not known for exotic beaches or miles of surf, still people were singing “Sailing” in Lenexa. Eerie!

In 1981, the dreaded Oakland Raiders won the Super Bowl and the L.A. Dodgers were on top of the baseball world. Unbelievably, not a single player from either team would claim to be from Lenexa. How odd!

OK, I’m just being silly—most news did not flow through Lenexa, Kansas, back in 1981. Most folks were focused on some other corner of the world. But I’m glad for a small band of believers that were focused on Lenexa.

I am very glad that in 1981 a committed group of followers of Jesus Christ dedicated Central Church of the Nazarene to the glory of the Lord in Lenexa Kansas. It was a huge deal. The building of a church on the corner of Rosehill and 87th Street didn’t get the headlines of say the release of the 52 American hostages in January of 1981, and it wasn’t even close to the biggest story out of Kansas City that year— the skywalk tragedy at the Hyatt would get that distinction. Still Central’s move from Kansas City, Kansas, to Lenexa was a really big deal. The 200 or so people that made up the congregation had borrowed $1.4 million dollars to make the move happen (that’s equivalent to over $3 million dollars today). They gave and sacrificed. Some double and triple tithed to make it happen. And on December 6, 1981 they dedicated this corner and this building to the Lord.

I don’t know how many people have found the Lord watching MTV or Raiders of the Lost Ark or wearing a Royals hat or any of those other things that happened in 1981, but I know this: a lot of people have found the Lord on this corner since 1981. A lot of families have been restored. A lot of great things have happened that will forever impact eternity. So, in terms of the Kingdom maybe Central’s move to Lenexa should have made headlines.

No, all the news didn’t flow through Lenexa in 1981, but some really Good News has been coming from this corner ever since! The Good News that Jesus Christ brings hope and help and salvation and freedom! The Good News that Holy Living can be a reality even in 2006. It is our desire to see that Message continue to be proclaimed for many more years on this corner.

This Sunday, we are going to celebrate our 25 Years in Lenexa. We are going to celebrate the sacrifice and the dedication of those believers. And we are going to call on the church today to “Now Finish the Work.” Just as those folks that called Central home 25 years ago had vision to see the amazing and the miraculous in what God could do, today we have the opportunity to participate in a mighty movement of God.

God’s call for us is to make more and better disciples. With our building complete, we are in the best possible place to see more and better disciples made on a regular basis. So let us “Now Finish the Work!” Let’s build upon the dedication of those believers 25 years ago, and more recently let’s build upon the success of the Seize the Moment efforts and let us “Now Finish the Work.”

We’ve been praying all week in our Prayer is Central effort. We’ve been seeking the Lord’s direction as to how we can participate in making more and better disciples and how we can participate in the Now Finish the Work campaign. This Sunday will be the first Sunday to put your faith into action as we begin to collect the Now Finish the Work Commitment Cards (We will be collecting the Commitment Cards until December 3, 2006). Again, my prayer is that we will simply do as the Lord directs. If He directs a $50,000 pledge-- Be obedient. If He directs a $500 pledge—be obedient. If we are all obedient, like the folks 25 years ago, then great days will follow!

Sunday is going to be a terrific day! There will be lots of good music, stirring testimonies, and an inspiring time in both morning services and the PM gathering. I hope you will plan on being at both a morning service and the all-church reception at 6 PM. Let’s celebrate what God has done and look forward to what God is going to do!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Elections in Kansas

On Tuesday I voted. This was my first election as a citizen of the great State of Kansas. So here are my impressions:

I like the electronic touch screen voting machines. They are pretty cool. I don’t know if I voted correctly, but I think I won two games of solitaire. In using those machines there is no possibility for the dreaded “hanging chad” which is just fine with me. I have never liked that phrase anyway—especially since I know some really nice people named Chad and I’d never want to see them hung. (Wouldn’t you agree Brothers Armstrong, Carmichael, Doane, and Holland? If you couldn’t guess those fine men are some of our Central “Chads.”)

I don’t know if I simply picked the right time to vote, or if not many people were voting in my precinct or what, but I walked right in and voted. No lines. No hassles. Just nice election people, who seemed happy that I was there. I liked that too!

I had to show a picture ID when I voted. The man informed me that next time I vote that I will not have to show my ID. I guess he’ll remember me. He was a nice man with a really good memory since he won’t see me again for two years. (Now I could understand him remembering me if this were Chicago where voters were encouraged to “Vote early and vote often.” Maybe he thought he was in Chicago and not Olathe and that he would see me again later in the day trying to vote for Mayor Daly one more time.)

With the 2006 election over, I wonder if Laura Bush and Senator John McCain (not to mention the governor, senator and a couple of dog catcher candidates) will stop calling my house. The conversations were usually one-sided (as it was simply a tape recording of the candidate or celebrity) but it was nice of them to call. Maybe I could return the pleasantries— I could have an automated tape of me call their house during supper time. Like when they called me, I am sure that they would appreciate listening to me go on and on about immigration or some such thing while their pork chops were getting colder than an ice cube in Antarctica.

Could we have a ballot proposal that all candidates in the future need to be nice to each other? No mud slinging, no grainy black and white photos, no innuendoes of improper things. Don’t tell me how awful your opponent is—tell me how great you will be if I vote for you. Vote “No” on Mud!

I know there’s that little thing in the constitution about free speech, but while we are voting away mud, could we also vote away all the political yard signs. Think of all the trees we could save. Would the anti-yard sign people have yard signs telling people to vote “No” on yard signs? Just wondering.

I like elections. I like the fact that we can vote. I like the fact that even if I do not know every single judge running for every single office, it’s still my right to vote. Maybe your candidates got elected, maybe they didn’t but isn’t it great to live in a country where the people decide?

In a way, you’ll be voting in the next couple of weeks at Central. There will be no election boxes or political signs and hopefully no mudslinging—but you will be voting with your pledge cards and your hearts. What direction do you want Central to go in the next several years? The “Now Finish the Work” campaign is crucial for the future ministries of Central. It will greatly determine our ability to make more and better disciples.

Just to refresh your memory: Our “Now Finish the Work” campaign is an effort to raise $1,080,500 in the next 24 months (Which apparently is a bargain compared to soccer fields in Johnson county). If we raise the million dollars it will save us one million dollars in interest and knock four years off our payments. It will also open up $288,000 in monies for ministries today. That money is crucial because our payments have increased over $9,000 a month in the last two years due to rising interest rates. In other words, the success of the “Now Finish the Work” campaign is vital to the current and future ministries of Central.

Next week is our “Prayer is Central” week. As you are praying for the ministries and pastors and future of Central—pray for your involvement in the mission of making “more and better disciples” and how you can be involved in the “Now Finish the Work” campaign. If you haven’t signed up yet—you can do so on Sunday Morning or by e-mailing me or by calling the church office. PLEASE SIGN UP TO PRAY! WE NEED ALL OF CENTRAL PRAYING!!!

And remember to be at Central on November 19th. We will be celebrating 25 years in Lenexa in the morning worship services, and the PM Gathering will be an all-church reception in the fellowship hall with good music, better testimonies and great hors d’voeuvres. That’s the day we will be begin to receive the pledge cards for the “Now Finish the Work” campaign.

So like the elections we just came through-- the best scenario for America would have been if every single voter was informed and participated. The best scenario of Central through our “Now Finish the Work” campaign will be as all of us are informed and participate. So please, pray about how you might be involved in these crucial days at Central.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What We Could Do with a Million Dollars

What could you do with a million dollars? With a million dollars you could:

Walk into a candy shop and buy 500,000 pieces of two cent candy. (This means if you ate one piece of candy every single hour of every single day for the next 50 years, you would still have candy left over. You wouldn’t have any teeth… but you would have left over candy).

Drive up to the window at McDonald’s and buy 334,448 Happy Meals. That means 334,448 little worthless prizes and 334,448 clogged arteries.

Sashay into a Starbucks (Is it true that people who get their coffee fix at Starbucks sashay more than the average person?) and order 240,964 half caf, quad, venti, sugar free vanilla, with double whip, extra hot, no foam lattes. Of course, then the question is would Starbucks have enough cup holders for 240,964 half caf, quad, venti, sugar free vanilla, with double whip, extra hot, no foam lattes?

Or… if you were a church you could write a big fat check to a bank every single month until the year 2020 and say “Jeepers, Mr. Bank, I sure like giving you so much money in interest payments every single month.” Quite frankly, you’d have more to show for your money if you went through the drive-through at McDonalds.

But that’s what we’ve been doing at Central. (We’ve been paying a lot in interest, not ordering a lot of Happy Meals at McDonalds).

Many of you have received or you will be receiving in your mail today or tomorrow, a letter from me. The letter tells you about an opportunity at Central to further our desire to make more and better disciples. It boils down to this: if in the next 24 months we could raise just a hair over a million dollars, we would cut off four years of payments and save… (This is awesome!)… over one million dollars in interest payments. One million dollars! I don’t know what our bank plans to do with the million dollars in interest that we will be paying them, maybe buy a lot of toaster ovens and blenders to give out as people sign up for checking accounts. But I know this, with an extra million dollars we could sure make a difference for the Kingdom. With a million dollars we could reach more people with the Good News of Jesus Christ. With a million dollars we could see more lives changed and more families restored.

You see, we have a choice at Central to either continue paying what we’ve been paying while our bank gladly takes the millions of dollars in interest from us or we could accelerate our payments and thereby free up a million dollars for real ministry (No toaster ovens here, pal!). It seems like a simple choice. It’s kind of like a two for one sale at Wal-Mart. When we give a buck, that buck will be paid onto our principle and (here’s the cool part) it will also free up a dollar that we won’t be paying in interest. That’s why we are calling for our church to “Now Finish the Work.” The building is complete, but the work is yet to be done. It’s time to “Now Finish the Work.” But that’s not all…

Here’s another cool part of this deal. It frees up money today for ministry! Because of rising interest rates, our payments have gone from around $29,000 a month to $38,000 a month. For you non-math whizzes that’s $9,000 in additional interest payments each and every month! Imagine what would happen to your family’s budget if your home mortgage went through the roof like that in 24 months. Around the church it has taken a huge bite out of our ministry options, and, quite frankly, has put a financial burden on us. Through this program, the $12,000 a month principle payments that we are currently making will be covered, so that $12,000 dollars can then be used to make more and better disciples right now!

Here’s what I am asking each one of us to do: PRAY. Not give? Nope that comes later… first we need to pray. Pray for our church, the ministries and pastors of Central, and pray for our future. This Sunday, there will be several people (Jim and Kathy Gorman, Dan and JoAnne Rexroth, and others) who will be asking you to sign up for a 30 minute block of time during the week of November 12th through the 19th to pray for our church and the days ahead. I think everyone who calls Central home will want to pray sometime during that week. (Won’t it be awesome for one solid week, someone at Central will be praying for the ministries, pastors, and future for Central.) And while you are praying for the church, ask the Lord in what ways He would have you come along side our mission of making more and better disciples. And finally, ask the Lord to give you and your family direction as to how you can help us “Now Finish the Work.”

In the next couple of weeks you will get a lot of information, every detail of the “Now Finish the Work” campaign. I hope to answer any question you might have. On November 19th we will have a TREMENDOUS Celebration Day! In the morning we will be celebrating the 25 years that we’ve been in Lenexa and in the evening we will be celebrating what God is just about to do! It will be an all-day party that I hope you will mark on your calendars now!

Great days are ahead for Central as we “Now Finish the Work” for which God has called us— Making more and better disciples!

Thank you for praying and investing in the Kingdom!