Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nominating Leaders

Last night, we had a nominating committee meeting. Church elections are on June 24th and we have four board members and the Sunday School Superintendent position will be up for election.

Honestly, church elections are some of my least favorite things about churches... but in spite of that, the one thing I was reminded of last night is that our church has lots (and I mean lots!!!) of qualified people who could serve on the Church Board. What a privilege to serve in a church with so many gifted, qualified, leaders.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

TOP TEN is coming!

This is turning to be a short week for me. Following yesterday's "chillin' and grillin'" day, I have today and tomorrow to get both Sunday's sermons ready. I will be off to Nashville for a denominational meeting until Saturday, and get home just in time for a house and pool full of mid highers.

Still, I'm looking forward to the new Sermon series that begins this Sunday. We are calling it TOP TEN. Can you guess what the summer focus will be? Yup.. the Ten commandments. Most folks "say" they know them, but a majority of Americans can't name four out of ten. I think you will see how relevant and important the Ten Commandments can be.

Also each week we'll be doing a Central TOP TEN list. This week's TOP TEN will be the The TOP TEN Announcements that you WON'T Hear at Central. I think it's going to be a great Summer Series!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Happy Pentecost

I believe that today was my favorite Pentecost Sunday of all time. The sanctuary in Red. Candles burning. Great music. But my favorite was the scripture being read in seven languages. So cool. I love worshipping at Central on mornings like this! What a great time! and after both services, I had several people offer me a "Happy Pentecost, Pastor!" It was a happy Pentecost.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

North to Alaska Mission Trip Needs You

Our next mission trip is heading to the great white north of Alaska in about a month from now. They will be among other things renovating a former strip club into a church (how cool is that!), working on a camp ground and helping with an outreach event at the Meadows Lake Church of the Nazarene.

How can you help?

Glad you asked!

1) Pray. Pray for our team. Pray for those that will encounter the gospel through them. Pray that they will achieve great things as they attempt to make more and better disciples in Alaska.

2) Give. We need $5,000 for the building materials. In the next two weeks, could you give extra for the project.

3) Supply. We will also need around 150 gift bags containing crayons, erasers, notepads, beanie babies and a "salvation bracelet".

It's going to be a great trip! Thanks for your making it possible!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cherish the Moments

I don't usually miss our Wednesday Night activities, but I wasn't around Central tonight. I had a good excuse. It was Ben's sixth grade graduation. Wow... it seems like yesterday we were sending him off the the Weston School in Flint, Michigan for kindergarten, and now he'll be in Junior High.

The speaker said how before we know it these students will be graduating high school. I am sure that is true... just another reminder: Enjoy every day. Enjoy each season and each stage of your child's life. Life is short. Remember the old commercial... (I can't remember the product) but the jingle on the commercial was "Cherish the Moments...." I don't know if it sold any widgets, but its a good lesson.

The Perfect Gift

Karla’s birthday is a little less than a month away, so I’ve already begun to think about what her gift should be. I need to plan now, since I am a notoriously poor gift giver. Remember, I’m the guy that gave her dead tulips on Valentine’s Day a year ago. Besides discovering that dead flowers are probably not a good gift idea, I have learned a few things down through the years about gifts for Karla.

I’ve learned that I can’t buy her jewelry. I can’t afford what she wants, and what I can afford, she doesn’t want. Jewelry is out.

I’m a little color blind, (or is it colored blind?). My eye doctor tells me that some of the colors I see are not the colors most people see, so I’ve learned not to buy anything that has a color choice. That means no clothes, lipstick varieties, and no decorations for the house.

I’ve learned that anything from Victoria’s Secret is not a good choice. After nearly 20 years of marriage and two kids, my idea and Karla’s idea of perfect sleepwear are not even in the same galaxy.

I’ve learned to avoid all things useful. Once I purchased my sweetie cookware for her birthday. Big mistake! A word of warning: Tossed pots hurt! (OK, now the truth: I did purchase Karla a pan for her birthday once, but she did not turn it into a weapon. Karla is too sweet to pound me with a pot! She may have been tempted a time or two, but she has never thrown a pan in anger.)

I’ve learned not to purchase anything that would remotely hint that weight-loss is needed. “Oh so you think I’m fat” is the swift response after opening such a gift. No dieting books. No exercise equipment. No memberships to Weight Watchers.

I’ve learned to not divulge the price of what I do purchase. I am sure to get one of two responses:
“Rob, you know we can’t afford that! What were you thinking?” or
“Rob, is that all I’m worth? What were you thinking?”

Do you see my dilemma? What should I get her? I’m leaning towards purchasing a Chia Pet. I hear they make the “perfect gift.”

Obviously, a good gift giver I am not.

God, on the other hand, is a great gift giver. And this Sunday we will be celebrating His glorious gift to us—the promised Holy Spirit. Remember Jesus told the disciples: "Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:4-5 Italics mine). After ten days of praying, God did not disappoint. He sent his glorious Gift. The Holy Spirit came in a wonderful and powerful way, gave birth to the church, and introduced to world to a dynamic new day!

There are three great holidays for the Christian. That is, we have three days to celebrate a wonderful gift from the Father. On Christmas we celebrate the gift of the Son. On Easter, we celebrate the gift of life eternal. And on Pentecost we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. This Sunday is a Party Day! Like the old song proclaims:
O spread the tidings round, wherever man is found,
Where ever human hearts and human woes abound.
Let every Christian tongue proclaim the joyful sound:
The Comforter has come!

Be prepared for a great celebration. When you enter the sanctuary you will recognize the colors have changed from White to Red. Red symbolized the fire and power of the Holy Spirit. You will also notice candles burning. Again they symbolize the power, might, and consuming fire of the Holy Spirit. Other wonderful things are in store, it will be a celebration you will not want to miss.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Thank You Sunday School Teachers

Just got back from an Adult Sunday School Teachers Appreciation Dinner. It was held at the Three Sister's Inn in Baldwin City. This is the Bed and Breakfast owned by Central's own Kevin and Shawna Garber. We had a lovely meal in their equally lovely home. I sure hope our teachers know how much we really appreciate all that they do. We have some of the best teachers anywhere!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Praying with the Volkers

Yesterday, in the morning services I read the letter that Pastor Volker submitted to myself and the Church Board on Tuesday indicating that he was seeking a new direction in ministry and that by the end of summer his intention is to no longer be on staff at the Central Church.

Pastor Volker has been a part of Central for nearly eleven years. He has served the church and God well. Please join in praying with the Volkers as they seek the Lord’s guidance and ministry pursuits in the days ahead.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The End of a Busy Lord's Day

What a good, exhausting day at Central. After three times preaching, two meetings, a goodbye dinner, and graduation open house-- I am finally at home. I left the house a little after 6AM and arrived back on Village Drive around before 8:30 PM.

But it was all good. Church in the AM was excellent as we wrapped up our Fully Alive Series. PM Church was equally good. Parties and meetings filled in the rest of the day. I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my life. God is so good!

Friday, May 18, 2007

A good and busy weekend

It will be a busy Saturday and Sunday. Work day, graduation parties, sermons to preach, going away parties, meetings, lots and lots going on this weekend.

I'll be wrapping up the Fully Alive sermon Series this Sunday Morning and will continue to look at the Seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 in the Sunday @ Six gathering.

Longing for home

The other day I said something that I shouldn’t have said. Now before you start thinking that I was cursing like a sailor or lying like a rug, let me assure you that what I said was not malicious or sinful. Categorize it more in the “open mouth; insert penny loafer” type of talk. Chalk it up to lips moving before brain was fully engaged.

Here’s what happened: A friend of mine was having a bad day. I knew that this friend was having a bad day, and I should have been more sympathetic or more tenderhearted. But I wasn’t. In fact, with all the tack of a china shop visiting bull, I proceeded to joke about my friend’s bad day. That was a dumb thing to do.

Of course, when it occurred to me that my feeble attempts at humor were not being received with the jocularity of my intent, I quickly apologized, and my friend quickly forgave. But all that got me longing for another day and another place.

I long for the place that the Bible describes. A place where there will be no more remorse, no more sin, and no disappointments. It’s a place that will have no misspoken words, no feet in mouth, and no need for apologies. I’m no heaven expert. I can’t describe the Pearly Gates and I don’t know the depth of the Crystal Sea. Still, I long for that place. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Eye has not seen, ears have not heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”(1 Corinthians 2:9) Wow, that sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

It sounds a whole lot better now than when I was in the fifth or sixth grade. Back when I was a pre-teen, we were working on a Christmas Program at church. I was a member of the angelic choir. (Who in their right mind would think that pre-teen boys should be in the angelic choir? I do not know, but that’s where we were.) And during the dress rehearsal the choir director was pulling her hair out— because we back row cherubs were bopping each other on the head, making bodily noises that no angel ever made and acting quite un-seraph-like. She shouted for us to stop our less than holy antics by stating, “You boys had better start behaving, because if you don’t like being in the choir now, you’ll be in big trouble in heaven because singing in the choir is what you’ll be doing all day long.”

Now to a group of fifth and sixth grade boys that made heaven sound as appealing as spending the afternoon in a beauty salon while all the old women are getting their blue hair permanents. In other words, it sounded pretty stinky to me. In fact, I could think of nothing worse than spending the next ten billion years of my life wearing a dopey choir robe made out of bed sheet and a fake halo drooping over my head.

Too often we read the Scriptures on heaven and we miss the point entirely of what it will be like. You see, the writers of the Bible had a pretty big order to fill. They were called to describe with words that which no words can describe. Remember Paul’s words… “No mind has conceived what God has prepared.” How do you write what heaven is like when no mind can conceive what heaven will be like? Do you see the dilemma?

So the Bible writers used figurative language and symbols. They talk about heaven as being “the city of God.” But don’t think of it in terms of a city with sidewalks, fire departments, elections in November, and trash pick up on Tuesdays. It simply means there will be community. Community like you’ve never before experienced.

And the Bible writers talk about heaven as a mansion with many rooms. Again, don’t worry about the color your room will be painted, the posters that will be on the walls, and if it’ll have a walk-in closet. The Bible simply means that we will be home. Finally home.

There’s talk that in heaven there will be white robes, and maybe you’ve thought “Oh no… white just isn’t my color, it really makes my face look flush.” Or, “Oh my goodness, robes? Robes do nothing for my figure. They add ten pounds to my hips.” Again, the message of white robes is symbolic. The Bible is teaching us that we will experience the joy of purity— no sin, no mistakes, no errors, a perfectly clear conscious.

And that’s what got me excited about my little humor mishap the other day. I get so tired of saying the wrong things and doing the wrong things. I get so tired of tasting my sneakers because I’ve put my foot in my mouth again or over reacting toward someone I care for and then knowing I need to apologize. I get tired of seeing news reports of war and sickness and trouble and abuse and heartache. Sometimes I just get tired of our sinful world. I think I know what Paul was meaning when he wrote in another letter to the Corinthians: “meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling…” (2 Corinthians 5:3).

That’s when I like to read in the Bible that there is coming a day when we followers of Jesus will be in heaven and the worries and cares and trouble of this old world will be no more. That sounds good to me! It motivates me to tell everybody of this wonderful place that God is preparing for his own. It encourages me to keep my eye on the prize and to keep pressing on. Oh I can’t wait! It’s no wonder we used to sing, “When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!”

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Great Mother's Day Weekend

Sunday was a great day for everyone except for Detroit sports fans. All my favorite teams (Tigers, Pistons and Red Wings) lost. Still it was a great, great day around Central.

Mother’s Day celebration was terrific with two wonderful services in the AM. Our moms seemed to like the chocolate that they received. I haven't received a count of the monies raised for the Tornado (not hurricane) victims, but thanks to all who particiapted in helping our fellow Kansans.

Our Senior Graduation Service was really fantastic in the PM. During that service, 12 of our 13 graduates were with us and a parent shared on their life and accomplishments. Of the graduates honored last night, four will be going to Mid-America Nazarene University; two will go to Southern Nazarene University; two are heading to Kansas University; and, one student each will be going to Northwest Nazarene University, Iowa University, Kansas State University and Longview Community College. What fantastic students and families we have at Central.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother's Day Central Nazerene

It's been a few years since my mom and dad looked like this. This picture was taken about 50 years ago... my sister Pam was born but that's all. So it was before three other kids, three dogs, a few turtles, a two hamsters, one salamander, a couple of surgeries, four college bills, eight grand kids... you know the stuff of life.

Mom's hair is a little whiter these days, she probably couldn't fit into the same skirt. Still, I'm very thankful for my parents. Thankful that they became Christians. Thankful for the life they modelled before my siblings and me.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day and we will want to honor all our moms at Central. My mom and dad are in Houston (with my sister), since my mom won't be around I'll have to be glad to say "Happy Mother's Day to all our moms." It is going to be a great day! I hope all our moms and their children and grandchildren will be able to be with us!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

God's Grace is All I Need

Of all the Christians who have ever lived in the last 2,000 years, if I were to rank them in some sort of “who’s who” order, I would probably put the Apostle Paul toward the top of the list. I mean the guy wrote thirteen of the books in that Bible that I read every day. By all accounts, that is an impressive stat. So, if Paul is at the top of the “Super Christian “ list, you would think that if anybody ever had a problem, prayed and could expect an immediate remedy for said problem it would be the Apostle Paul right?

Not so fast.

In 2 Corinthians Paul says this: Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:8-9) Sometimes, God doesn’t take away the ailment, the problem, the “thorn in our flesh.” Sometimes he says: “My grace is all you need.”

I’m so glad His grace is all I need. Maybe you are like me today—I need a good dose of God’s grace. And this I know: it will be all I need.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Hurricanes in Kansas

I took a lot of grief for something I prayed for on Sunday. TOOK GRIEF FOR SOMETHING IN MY PRAYER! I think somewhere it says that it is wrong to make fun of a guy’s prayer. And if there isn’t a book that says that it’s wrong to make fun of a guy’s prayer—then maybe I should write that book. For I know first hand how making fun of a prayer can hurt (sniff. sniff.)! In our church (a usually friendly and hardly ever a mean place), we have a few cold, non-spiritual, “tease a guy for his prayer” type of people—a group that includes all of the pastoral staff, my son and half of the early service crowd (the other half thought about making fun, but were sensitive and kind and refrained from using less than encouraging comments).

Here’s what happened: In the 8:30 service on Sunday morning, I was praying to the Lord (not to the “prayer teasers,” mind you), and requesting God’s help in the very serious and tragic situation in Greensburg Kansas, when I prayed these words: “Lord, help those folks who were hit by the hurricane in western Kansas.” That’s right, I prayed for the “Kansas hurricane victims.”

I am not a meteorologist, nor the son of a meteorologist, but even I know that hurricanes come to Kansas with a slightly less frequency than World Series Championships. Still the comments ensued:

“Maybe you had hurricanes in Michigan, but in Kansas we have tornadoes.” (For the record: We did not have hurricanes in Michigan either.)

“Hey, Al Gore must be right. This global warming thing is a huge problem since we are having hurricanes in Kansas!!!”

“I was watching the Wizard of Oz and when that Hurricane came and swept Dorothy away. It scared the bejeebers outta me.”

Ha. Ha. Ha. Everybody thinks they are the next Jay Leno! But picking on a guy’s prayer? Surely there is something unholy about that!

All kidding aside, I’m glad that the Lord knows our prayers even when we don’t pray them very well, or don’t know what words to use. I’m glad that while you and I may have communication problems, God always knows what we mean and what we pray. Listen, when it comes to prayer-- it’s not the words that are important, it’s what’s in your heart. When you pray, worry less about having correct grammar and more about having a correct attitude.

You see when you pray, you are talking to the Lord. Not to your kids, not to your parents, not to your spouse, but to the Lord! And it’s been my experience, that God not only understands our prayers but is genuinely glad when we recognize our need to spend time with Him. So much so, that He is not concerned at all that we weren’t English majors or Phi Beta Kappa’s in college.

Bottom line: Just pray! Even if you say the wrong words, still pray. Even if you end up praying for the hurricane victims in Kansas, keep on praying. God will know what you mean. But take it from me; should you pray for hurricane victims in Kansas, all other hearers of that prayer besides the Lord may feel compelled to tease you mercilessly.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Weekend recap

In spite of the heavy rain on Sunday morning, we had two great services. I am getting many positive comments from our Fully Alive Sermon series. So many people find themselves in Peter's sandals, having done wrong and wondering "what now?" I am so glad that we serve a God of second chances, a God who says, "Let's move forward!" Amazing grace!

Last Night our kids were great (I might be a little biased since it was Ben's final children's musical), still I thought all the kids were terrific! Thanks to all the adults who made the program happen. I loved that some of the kids were actually working as real camera people for the program. Very cool!

Will it ever stop raining? On my way to the church, I could have sworn I saw animals walking two by two. Weird!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Heading to the K

Tiger shirt? Check.
Tiger hat? Check.
Karla's Tiger shirt? Check.

We are ready. Heading out to the ball park. Sorry Royals fans-- this time I gotta "root, root, root for the visiting team, if they don't win its a shame!" Go Tigers!!!

My Families Last Children's Musical (Boo Hoo!)

I’m a little sad that this Sunday evening will be the last “children’s musical” in which a child of mine will perform. Sunday Night our children will be performing the musical “American Ideal” and my cherub, Ben who is in the 6th grade, will be in his final children’s musical.

I remember his first, when as a cow in the Christmas Nativity he got into a pushing and head butting contest with another cow, and turned the nativity scene into a barnyard brawl. That’s a performance that I will never forget. I hope that this week’s performance will go a little more according to the plan.

I hope you can join us this weekend… Sunday morning will be great! We are talking about being Fully Alive, even when we have experienced a painful or guilt-filled past. And then of course, Sunday Night will be “the big show.”
It’s also MNU’s graduation in the afternoon. It goes without saying, that’s a huge day for some of our students. And to top it off, the Detroit Tigers are in town. (I plan to head out to the old ball park tonight!).

Hope to see you at Central this weekend!!!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Two years and counting

This week I passed a small milestone (which by all accounts is far better than passing a small kidney stone, but I digress….). My milestone is that I have been the pastor of the Central Church for two years. Wow! Does it seem like two years? It was two years ago on Tuesday (May 1st) that I preached my first sermon. Trey Brooks (a.k.a. “Intern Trey” and soon to be “Children’s Pastor Trey” at Grace Point Church of the Nazarene in Fort Wayne Indiana) asked, “Why would you preach a sermon on a Tuesday? Wasn’t the sanctuary empty?” But two years ago, May 1st was a Sunday and I stood behind the big fiberglass pulpit for the first time. (I now preach behind a smaller fiberglass pulpit. Pastor Busic and Dr. Robinson, both taller than me, could easily use the taller, bigger pulpit. I felt a little like the wee little man Zacchaeus behind that big ol’ glass pulpit. Hence the smaller one is more to my liking.) Anyway, I’ve been called “Pastor Rob” at Central church for two years.

Because of this little milestone, I have been thinking about the last two years and reflecting on what has and hasn’t occurred.

Since arriving in Kansas City, I have eaten more than my share of Mexican food. Here’s the Mexican Restaurants that I have entered in the last two years: Taco Bell, Taco Via, Taco Bueno, Chipotle, a couple of different Jose Peppers, Don Chilitos, On the Border, Chapala’s, JalapeƱos, Panzon’s, Baja 600, Mi Ranchito, La Mesa (in Olathe and Louisburg), and the Mexican restaurant on the corner of 79th and Quivira whose name I have forgotten. I know that Kansas City is known for its barbeque—but that’s a lot of tacos, burritos and salsa. You would think that I would be more fluent in Spanish having spent so much time in such eateries. But alas, I’m still the guy who asked a child on our El Salvador mission trip, “What is your name-o?” Ugh! I think I should have enrolled in our Wednesday Night Spanish class with Spanish teacher extraordinaire, Karen Tritt.

Since pulling my Chevy onto these grounds, I have become aware of several other Kansas City facts besides the good Mexican and barbeque joints: Summer is hot. Winter can be icy. Houses are painted beige. Gas and car insurance are cheaper in Kansas, but health costs and groceries are more expensive. People drive slower on the highways, and there seems to be more friendly officers on highway patrol (Hmm… maybe those two things are related). Motorcyclists don’t need a helmet; fourteen years olds can drive; and there are a lot more “foreign cars” on the roads here than in my hometown. There are fewer pot holes in the roads here, but there are also fewer lakes. We grocery shop at HyVee here, VG’s there. There’s no Tim Horton’s, Meijer, Halo Burgers or White Castle here, but Michigan didn’t have BBQ or Black Dog Coffee or the Plaza. When I looked out my window there, I saw horses. When I look out my office window here, I see houses.

When Ben and I were at the Royals Game on Monday (By the way, we were cheering for the Royals, — the boys in Blue were playing the LA Angels—admittedly, later this week when the Royals play the Tigers, I might not be able to cheer for Buddy Bell’s players), I asked Ben if he wanted to move back to Michigan. With little thought he said, “No I don’t think so, I like Kansas.”

I like it too!

You have made us feel welcome, cared for and loved in these last two years. So thanks Central Nazarene!

I’ve learned some things about Central too. We are a church filled with great followers of Jesus Christ. We are a mission minded church, that’s becoming even more mission minded. We are a church that is frequently called “friendly.” We have many talented singers and musicians. We have some of the best small group leaders and Sunday School teachers anywhere. We have a dedicated support and pastoral staff. But we also have more work to do.

Our call is to make more and better disciples. And we could do better on both fronts. I know this, I have friends and neighbors and loved ones that have yet to experience the deep, wonderful, abiding peace of Christ…and I bet you do too. I know of a lot of hurting and troubled people that are all around us. I know that there are still lots of opportunities to make “more and better disciples.” We can do a better job of leading people to Christ, connecting people to Christ and each other, and sharing and caring for the needs around us.

We’ve had a good two years, but far better days are ahead as we look to Christ.

National Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer. I hope you find some place to pray. The church is open, you could come here. In some communities there are prayer meetings scheduled at city halls and court houses. There is a gathering from noon until 1 PM at the Johnson County Courthouse. But the bottom line is PRAY! For our country, for our world, for your neighborhood, your family and your church… please PRAY!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Central is making a difference!

I just got back from lunch with one of Central’s fine young couples. We talked about what God is doing in their lives and the potential for what God is going to do through the ministries of Central. It really got me excited!

I talked to someone else about their Sunday School class. It’s a great group of Centralites that has been reaching out to new folks, taking them in, loving and caring for them! Yippee!

Good Reports of Central making a difference! I love it!

More Disciples. Better Disciples.

I forgot to mention this last week. Our retreat speaker, as I mentioned, was Bud Reedy. Bud is the pastor of the Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene in York, Pennsylvania. It's a growing, dynamic church. Anyway, as he was speaking one day he mentioned the Statement of Mission from his church (Guess what? It sounds eerily similar to another church I know). Here it is: "More Disciples. Better Disciples." Hey! That's one less word that ours: "Making More and Better disciples."

It's good to know that we are on track with other growing and dynamic churches in understanding what we are called to do! Now we just need to do it! I knew I liked the thinking of Bud.