Monday, July 30, 2007

The World is coming here!

As I was looking around in our services yesterday, I saw people from the following countries: Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Guatemala, Korea, Mexico, the Philippines, Taiwan and, of course, the United States. (I may have missed some) Wow... I guess the world has come here!

Our Mission is the World!

This week we have a team of people going to Greensburg Kansas to help in the rebuilding of the town that was hit by a tornado earlier this year (that's our fifth mission trip in the last 13 months if you are counting). Besides those folks, right this very minute on mission trips are Centralites in Africa, The Ukraine, and China. We have had people this summer in Argentina, New Orleans, the Middle East and Central America. I am so glad that we are a mission minded church! Keep up the good work Centralites... find ways to follow Jesus and "Go into all the world and make disciples."

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Our Olathe Taco Odyssey

The boys and I went on a "Olathe Taco Odyssey" yesterday. For lunch we ate one taco at the following Olathe fast food taco places: Taco Via, Taco Bell, Taco Bueno and Taco John. Each one of us liked a different taco joint... maybe I'll write more later, now I have to find a bottle of Tums.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, You're only a day away!

I can't wait for tomorrow. Sunday's @ Central are great! The AM Sermons are on God's Top Ten: "No Stealing." (As I write this I hear David Cantwell practicing with the Praise Team. I've missed his trumpet as he's been vacationing. But tomorrow, he'll be back too! Yipee!)Sunday @ Six has Pastor Kevin preaching.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What do you know?

This week I read a very strange story on (Which means it must be true, right? They report. We decide.) Anyway, reported that a forty-four year old civil servant in France has lived a relatively normal life with almost no brain. (Sounds like material for the super market tabloids, doesn’t it?) It seems this French guy has a rare condition known as Dandy Walker complex, which doctors believe was the result of a surgical procedure that he underwent as an infant, and has since lived a normal life with mostly no grey matter in his head. What a weird story.

Of course, the temptation is to say that I have met several people with Dandy Walker complex but they have yet to be officially diagnosed with the condition. You know the ones, people who when all alone burst forth into a Scarecrow-like song: “If I only had a brain.” There have been times when I’ve wondered if certain politicians in Washington, Buckeye fans, and watchers of Jerry Springer Show have suffered from this condition.

I am sure that there are some (in Ohio and all points beyond) who have wondered if I should be tested for Dandy Walker. Obviously, I do not want to make light of a serious medical condition like Dandy Walker. Most of us have been given ample grey matter by the Good Lord and most of us use it on a somewhat regular basis. Still there are moments if I were perfectly honest, when I’ve questioned the volume of grey matter in my melon. For instance, this spring I purchased a new lawn mower. Lawn mowers need sharp blades, gas, and oil to mow lawns properly, as anyone with even half a brain knows. Unfortunately, I must have agreed with the great theologian, Meatloaf, who sang that “two out of three ain’t bad,” because I promptly ran my brand new Toro out of oil. UGH! Running out of gas is not so bad. Running out of oil is really bad. Where was my grey matter when it mattered? Thanks to Bud Boyer (the champion mower mechanic) and Alex and Ben (owners and operators of the Alex & Ben’s Lawn Mowing Company) my mower will soon be mulching half the lawns on Village Drive again. Bud also promised to give me a lesson in the fine art of lawn mower oil replacement.

Sadly, I admit that was not the only occurrence of my grey matter leaving me when it matters. I have a long list of “brain freeze” moments in my life when I’ve lost things, forgotten things or said completely stupid things. The problem with being a preacher is that when I say something stupid from the pulpit hundreds of people instantly know of my stupidity. I actually said in a sermon once that someone was “smart, really smart. They were smart with a capital ‘M.’” A capital “M”?!? In spite of the fact that I was never a competitor in the Scripts-Howard Spelling Bee, you’d think that the word “Smart” should be in my spelling repertoire. Where was my grey matter when it mattered?

Why the confession to my lack of grey matter moments? There are plenty of things of which I know nothing. There are still other things that at one time I may have known, but I have long since forgotten. And then there are a scant few things that I know that I know. Here’s one such thing: I want to know God more and more. Like Paul I want to pray: “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead” (Philippians 3:10); and like Hosea my prayer for Central is this: “Oh that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of the rains in early spring” (Hosea 6:3). I might not know much about lawnmowers, but I want to know Christ more and more. I might not remember where I put my keys, but I want to know and experience the mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead! I might not know how to always say the right things in the right manner, but I want to press on to know him. I want my life consumed with knowing God more and more. How about you?

We have so many exciting things at Central just around the corner—but more than anything, I pray that as a church, as a people—we determine to know Christ more and more. The Lord has given all of us brains; let’s use them to know Him more!

Two Prayer Opportunities are Coming!

1) On August 12th in the Sunday @Six Service, we will have our first “Wild Goose Chase” Night. It will be a time when we as a congregation make an all out effort and pursuit of the Holy Spirit. The Wild Goose Chase Night (for lack of a better term) will be a prayer service. But we won’t simply be praying for “Aunt Bertha’s gout,” we will be seeking the Lord in all things. There will not be an agenda other than prayer. We’ll sing some of our prayers, read Scripture and, of course, pray. It will be a service like maybe you have never attended. I hope that you and your prayer team will be a part of this gathering.

2) On August 19th (the very next Sunday) we will have a Pastor’s Prayer Team Luncheon following the 11 AM Service. Again I hope that you will be able to attend (You will need to let the church office know of your attendance, so that enough food can be purchased). I will share with the Prayer teams during this time some new ideas and plans for the Prayer teams and we will use this time to re-organize and re-set the teams for the days and months ahead. IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN A PART OF A TEAM, THAT'S OK. COME AND JOIN US. If what you hear doesn't sound like your "cup of tea" that's OK. Come and hear about the Prayer Teams and see if this is an area of ministry in which you could serve.

We have a lot of exciting things coming just down the road for our church. This fall we have scheduled many outreach events intended to make more and better disciples of people that we haven’t even met yet. But for these events to succeed and flourish we desperately need the Holy Spirit to intervene. If we are going to be the church God calls us to be, we NEED TO BE A PRAYING CHURCH. These two events (and more on the way) will help in that regard. So please, plan on attending both the Wild Goose Chase Night and the Pastor’s Prayer Team Luncheon.

Monday, July 23, 2007


10. God was worried that Adam would get lost in the garden and wouldn’t ask for directions
9. God knew that one day Adam would need someone to help him find the remote
8. God knew that Adam would never make a doctor’s appointment on his own
7. God knew that Adam would never remember which night to put out the trash
6. God knew that Adam would never be able to handle childbirth
5. God knew that Adam would never go out by himself and buy a new fig leaf
4. God knew Adam would need help in finding his tools, golf clubs, glasses, keys and anything else that he ever touched
3. God knew that Adam would need someone to do everything in his life for him except for barbequing the burgers.
2. God knew that Adam would need someone else to blame
1. God finished making Adam and scratched his head and “I can do better.”

NYC Recap

I loved hearing the comments from our NYC Teens last night. Many told of God's working in their lives and of being changed as a result of their time at the Nazarene Youth Gathering in St. Louis. That's exactly what we prayed for, what we hoped, for and what God delivered!

Friday, July 20, 2007

It's Friday, but Sunday's a comin'

With our students back from NYC (You'll hear all about their wonderful experience Sunday Night), a couple of baby dedications (one in each service), another TOP TEN list (Ten reasons why God created Eve), and our focus on another of God's TOP TEN-- all will make for a Super Sunday at Central!

I can wait! See you here!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Some Cool Things (besides Ben in the snow)

It’s been a hot week, but here are some cool things that have been going on:

I have just returned from a regional Prayer Summit held on the campus of MNU (Actually it was held in the brand spanking new Cultural Events Center. Wow… that’s a nice building. MNU can be proud!). Someone is asking: “What’s a prayer summit?” It was a gathering of pastors with the purpose of meeting with the Lord. There was no speaker. No notebooks. No real agenda other than meeting with Jesus. Overall, that’s a pretty good idea, don’t you think?

It was a wonderful 48 hours (I am sure that you will hear more about in the future). I left with this verse: “But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things that you do!” Psalm 73:28

That’s how I view my calling and my life. As for me-- I want to be near God. I want Him to be my shelter. He is so good!!! Moreover, I want to share this wonderful news. I want to tell everyone the wonderful things that the Lord has done. I want everyone to experience the love and joy and blessings of being near to God. I want everything that I do and the focus of my life to be leading people to the discovery that the Lord is good. Isn’t that what “making more and better disciples” is all about?!

I am the widow who found her coin.
I am the shepherd who found his sheep.
I am the father whose boy returned home.
I am the traveler whose lost suitcase is finally home! Hooray!!!

On Monday I received a call from a nice man at British Airways who said my suitcase had been found and that I should be receiving it in a day or two. He believed that it spend most of the last 23 days sitting in the lost luggage department in Tel Aviv. In any event, yesterday while I was participating in the prayer summit (yes, I did pray that my bag would be found), a Fed Ex delivery man brought my Samsonite home. In so doing, he ended the 23 day odyssey for my little suitcase. Everything I put in the bag was still there. A little messed up, but there. The translation equipment, Q-Tips, other packages for the missionaries and my clothes were all there. My soap bottle opened so I had a nice “Old Spice” scent to the bag, but other than that nothing was too worse for the wear. So like the shepherd, widow and father in Luke 15, I say: “Rejoice with me, that which was lost is now found!”

Cool Thing #3
Our new church board cook-out was last night at the “Prince palace.” We ate chicken and brats and had a good time of fellowship. We have a great group of leaders. They are ready to help us move forward in the days ahead. They love God and Central! That’s a great combo!!!

Cool Thing #4
We have so many exciting things just on the horizon at Central. Here’s a glimpse of what you will be hearing about in the days ahead:
• District Homecoming Communion Service (at college church) on August 5th at 6PM
• A Wild Goose Chase Night on August 12th at 6 PM (This will be a prayer service like you’ve never been in before).
• Pastor’s Prayer Team Luncheon on August 19th following the 11 AM Service. (The prayer teams are going to be Re-Newed, Re-Organized, Re-vitalized, and Re-Set! I’m excited about this prayer Re-focusing. If you are curious about the prayer teams, interested in the prayer teams, been a part of a prayer team in the past or if you are thinking about being a part of a prayer team in the future… consider yourself invited!!!).
• Youth Burger Bash on August 22nd. YUM!
• Dinner Theatre on August 23-25th Double YUM!
• VISION 2017 Sermon Series begins in the AM Services on August 26 (For three Sundays we are going to be looking at future: God’s plans, dreams and expectations of his people as we “make more and better disciples” in the days and years ahead.)
• All Church Labor Day Sunday Picnic on September 2nd following one combined 10 o’clock service we will eat, fellowship, and we might even talk the “washer tournament guys” to bring their wares so we can toss a few washers.
• Super Friends and the NEW Fall Line-up of Wednesday Night Classes begin on Wednesday, September 5th. Stay tuned for the exciting offerings this fall!
• Ladies Retreat on September 7-8. I’m told the ladies have a GRRRREAT Time, but sorry: No boys allowed!
• Ministry Fair on September 9. This is the day to learn more about the ministries of Central and get involved!
• GOT Missions Weekend (formerly known as Faith Promise) on September 15-16. This is the day to see how you can be involved in Missions! Being involved in missions is not an option Jesus calls us to it… and at Central we want to provide you with plenty of opportunities to fulfill Jesus’ call!
• Biker Sunday September 23. Mission comes home!! Reaching Bikers for Jesus is always cool! On September 23rd I will also begin a new Fall Sermon Series: “SAY WHAT? Seven things I wish Jesus had never said.”
• The Annual Central Christmas Craft Show on October. More people come through our doors during these three days than any other time in the year. Do you think God can use this time for His Glory? I think so too!!!

There’s still more things to get excited about… This fall we’ll be launching a brand new, Hispanic Worship Service (I am so excited about this I can begin to tell you!); on Reformation Sunday in October we are going to have an AWESOME Sunday Morning Service celebrating the transforming work of God including baptisms in both morning services; we have scheduled a new kind of multi-generational, “revival-retreat-new-thing-that-we’ve-never-tried-before-event” called COLLIDE for late fall; and then of course there will be at all the wonderful Christmas Events for which Central is famous.

WOW! Let me catch my breath! See what I mean—it is going to be the most awesome fall! I can’t wait!!!! This is a great time to be a part of Central Nazarene! God is doing a great thing in this place!

Monday, July 16, 2007

God's Kingdom is bigger....

Of course, we always love visitors at Central. I met some new folks yesterday. One family I met was a mom and dad and their college student son. The son is getting ready to attend Med School in the fall and the parents were here to get him settled. Actually the mom is going to stay in Kansas City, and the dad is heading back home at the end of summer. Home for this family is Cairo, Egypt. The dad is a member of the Egyptian Supreme Court and is a Believer! How cool is that!!

I am glad that we have a church that no matter where in the world you are from you are welcome! On any given Sunday, we have people in church from all over the world, and it reminds me again and again that God's kingdom is bigger than national borders. God's kingdom is bigger than culture or language. The old, old Bill Gaither song is right: I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God.

This Sunday if you see Peter and his family (or anyone else you don't recognise) make sure you make them feel welcome at Central!!

The Weekend Recap

The AM Services were very good as we looked at Commandment #6: No Killing. The one commandment that probably all of us are confident that we can keep-- and Jesus turned the tables on it (See Matthew 5:21-22) and said not only "no killing" but no harboring anger in our hearts. Oops... that kind of ups the ante on the whole concept. Anyway, it was a good morning.

In the Sunday @ Six service, our Alaskan Mission Team gave us a report on their work. It was terrific-- they got a lot accomplished! And following the service, the Big Bus was in the parking lot with all of our returning from NYC students. By all the reports, it was a very good week for them.

Today, our Pre-teens leave for Summer camp. Keep them all in your prayers. Our own Pastor Jeremy is the camp speaker. And today I head to MNU for the regional Prayer Summit. It lasts until Wednesday (I'll be skipping out for our new board cook-out tomorrow night). Keep me and the other pastors gathered in your prayers!

Recapping: A good weekend, and a good week ahead!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Top Ten Signs its a Really Hot Day in Kansas City

10. The line at Sheridan’s Ice Cream in Olathe goes from Mur-len to the Liberty Memorial
9. Zarda’s have been barbequing meat all day, and haven’t had to turn on their grills.
8. The Royals are selling seats in the Fountains at Kaufmann Stadium as “Premium Steam Room Seating”
7. Even the Winston Churchill statue on the Plaza is drinking a Slurpee
6. There are more people in the wave pool at Oceans of Fun than fish in the ocean
5. Patrons are drinking Jose Pepper’s Hot sauce to cool down.
4. Even the ugly girls in town are “Hot”
3. The T-Bones are sizzling even when they aren’t play base ball.
2. Gary Lezak does his weather report in a Speedo
1. No one has complained that the sanctuary is too cold

Thursday, July 12, 2007

My Big Cell Phone in the Middle East

On my recent trip to the Middle East, when crossing into Jordan at the Israeli border, we had to go through passport control and have our things searched for contraband. I’m not exactly sure what the boarder guard with the very big guns (when I write “very big guns” this is not an euphemism for big arm muscles, but an actual machine gun that the officer was carrying,) anyway, I’m not sure what the machine gun wielding men were looking for—but like at an airport security check point, we sent our things through an x-ray machine. The men with big guns also asked if we had any cell phones. Never wanting to upset someone with a machine gun, I quickly handed over my LG Sprint phone.

There are a few things you need to know about my cell phone. I got this phone shortly after arriving in the Sunflower State. I must admit that my phone is the free phone I received when I signed up with Sprint. By today’s standards, it is a bit bulky. Moreover, in the last two plus years, I have dropped it approximately 4,327 times. So it’s also a bit beat up. The black paint on the face of the phone is beginning to come off. So much so, that the “S” and “P” of “Sprint” are no longer visible. One could easily assume from reading the front of my phone that my cell phone provider is “rint” instead of “Sprint.” Get the picture? It’s not a pretty phone, but the man with the big gun wanted to see it.

Why did he want to see it? I don’t know. But I do know this, when a man with a big gun and a frown on his face says, “Cell phone!” in broken English your best response is to quickly hand over your “rint” cell phone, which is exactly what I did.

The look that the man with the big gun gave me when he took my phone was one of disturbance and disgust. Maybe he thought that an American traveling into Jordan should have a nicer, slimmer, more up-to-date phone. Maybe he was in a foul mood and didn’t like my even fouler (is “fouler” a word?), smelly green shirt that I had been wearing for the last three days since my luggage was in Zaire or someplace. Maybe “rint” in Arabic means “may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits.” In any event, he was not happy. Not happy with my phone. Not happy with me.

He looked it all over. He opened the back of my phone to see what kind of battery and SIM card was in there. Whatever they found or didn’t find must have been acceptable because, eventually, the men with the big guns decided that we were not spies, terrorists or Amway salesmen and let us enter their country even though I was carrying my big, bulky, beat up cell phone.

But it got me thinking. Our boarder guard was not happy over a small thing—(well, as stated my cell phone is a big thing in comparison to other cell phones, but you know what I mean). But what if he was concerned about something much more important-- like my faith not my phone?
What would you do if you lived in a culture where 95% of the population thought that your belief system was flat wrong? What would you do if 95% of the population believed that you were a heretic and could be driven to violence to keep you from practicing your faith? What would you do if handing out a free Bible would land you in an interrogation room in the office of the secret police? What would you do if the brother of one of the world’s most notorious terrorists lived a stone’s throw from your church?

You see I met folks in those very situations. And if that were us… would we still sing and praise the Lord? Would we still believe? Would we risk relationships and wealth and health to follow Jesus?

This past Sunday night, I concluded the Sunday night series of messages from the Seven Churches of Revelation by looking at the last church, the church at Laodicea. You will recall that Jesus has some pretty harsh words for the Laodicean church. He says that they sicken him. They made him want to puke! Jesus never says to the Pharisees that their actions make him want to barf or to the people that beat him and crucified him. So why such harsh words for these church folks? They were lukewarm. They were rich and satisfied and fat and happy and doing absolutely nothing for him. The really sad thing is that they thought they had it all together when in fact, Jesus says to them: You say, 'I am rich. I have everything I want. I don't need a thing!' And you don't realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. (Revelation 3:17-18)

How I pray that Jesus would not say these words to us. The truth of the matter is that compared to many places in our world, we have it so very easy. I am sure that most of the people whom I met in the Middle East (people who earn around $300 a month, by the way) would say that we are rich. We aren’t threatened when we admit to being Christians. We have a roof over our heads and food on our tables. Unlike many of the believers in the Middle East where following Christ is a decision to be a target for mistrust and harsh treatment—we never deal with such things. And I suppose we could easily say what Jesus said the Laodiceans were saying, “I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing.” But with such ease comes a tendency to fall into a spiritual lull and lukewarm ness. We need to fight against such attitudes and behaviors. We need to determine to live for God; to be the people he calls us to be; to never waver in our love; to never meander into mediocrity; and, to always desire His best for our lives.

In fact, I pray that when the “boarder crossing guard of Heaven” (Is there such a person? Probably not.) examines our lives, he or she will see people who constantly and consistently lived for God. We can be thankful we don’t face the pressures of living for Jesus in a hostile place, but in our relative ease of Johnson County let us never settle into a lukewarm, meaningless religion.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Are we Lukewarm?

Sunday night I concluded the sermon series from the Seven Churches in the Book of Revelation. The final church is the Church at Laodicea, the lukewarm church. In the sermon, I asked: Is this us? Are we Lukewarm?

Yesterday, I received this e-mail from a wonderful Centralite, I thought I would share some insights and excerpts from it...

Dear Pastor,

I don’t want to be a lukewarm Christian. I do not want the Creator of the Universe, my Lord and Savior, to look at me and want to throw up. I say He is first in my life and I love him and want to serve Him. But I am always consumed with myself and my family. I live a good "Christian" life. I don’t smoke, drink, cuss, cheat; steal or lie and I go to church several times weekly and hang out with other Christians. However, I do not think that is really what God intended for us to view as Christian.

I think God wants us to know our neighbors, to pray for them…to know them well enough to pray for them. I think He wants us to talk with our co-workers about the hurt and pain in their lives and point them to our precious Lord. I think He wants us to serve the poor and needy to humble ourselves and become like a servant and to really see and know all of His children. I think He wants us to take care of His earth that He gave us, to recycle and pick up trash and stop polluting and not waste as much. I think He wants us to talk to Him and most importantly to LISTEN to Him. I think He wants us to know His word so well that we can easily share our faith with others and be able to answer questions. I am so sick of the excuses I tell myself to justify not doing what I have listed above....

I am concerned about our church. As I was thinking about all of this last night after the service I wondered how many of us are lukewarm.... Pastor, how many sermons do we have to hear to get it? ...Most of us don’t really understand that God intended more for us than a nice sermon each week and no other thought of Him or his people in between times.

Thank you for bringing the word, I needed to hear it and I need to change.

To that I say: Amen!

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Weekend Report

My first weekend back from the Middle East was a good one. On Saturday evening, Linda Alexander's Sunday School Class was at our house. This class is filled with some of the best senior citizen's around. We had a great time (although none of the class took a dip in the pool).

Sunday Morning bright and early we said good bye to Alex and all of the NYCers. We are continuing to pray that they have an awesome week.

Sunday Morning Services were terrific. In both services the altars were lined with people praying for their families.

We then had several families over following the 11 AM service for sandwiches and swimming. Lots of little girls squealing and enjoying the day. We also invited a couple that has only been in KC for five days and they came to Central in the morning. It's great meeting new friends.

And finally the Sunday @ Six service was just a good time. We capped it all with a Planet Sub with some fellow Centralites.

Yup, it was a good weekend home.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Weekend Ahead

I am so eager to see all of y'all this week, following my stay in the Middle East. Here's a picture of Centralite Larry Bollinger and me at the Sea of Galilee. You'll notice I'm wearing my very fashionable green shirt that I wore 6 times in 9 days.

Our students are heading off to NYC in St. Louis early in the morning, and I'll be preaching in both morning services and in the Sunday @ Six service too.

In the AM, we will get back to our TOP TEN. This week looking at Commandment #5: Honor your Father and Mother. In the PM, we will wrap up our Sunday Night Study from the 7 Churches in the Book of Revelation: The Church at Laodicea.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Ah home again, home again jiggity, jig!

Following a week of no luggage (thank you British Airways) and a bomb scare in London that caused me to spend an extra night in the United Kingdom when my flight and over 100 others were cancelled (thank you stupid person that jumped through security), I finally made it home last evening.

I have many stories that I will share I am sure, but allow me this little observation following all our 4th of July celebrations yesterday. I was reminded over and over again how blessed we are in America. We have it so good in America, and yet too often we complain.

For instance:
• I was with a group of pastors who are routinely called in by the secret police and questioned about their activities. Never once have the governmental authorities called me in to question my pastoral activities.
• Phones are tapped. Their lives are being watched. That has never happened to me.
• I met with an Iraqi pastor who one month ago was informed by the city officials that if he did not move from the area in one week he would be killed. He and his family immediately left the town and now have no idea what to do or where to go. I have never been threatened because of my faith in Christ.
• I met with an Iraqi family living as refugees in Jordan. They left Iraq following the father being kidnapped and the family having to pay a ransom for his release. Our city is safe. We don’t fear thugs harming our lives.
• Another Iraqi told me how his parents have disowned him because of his faith in Christ. I have never had to choose between Jesus and family.
• There is a Christian businessman in Jordan who when the towns people discovered that he is a Christian, stopped doing business with him and now no one shops in his store. I haven’t had to decide if food on the table was less important that Christ in my heart.

Story after story, where being a Christian is not easy. It has affected every relationship and every aspect of life and yet they still choose Christ. Would we?

My prayer is that we will be as faithful. That we will be thankful for the freedoms that we take for granted. I pray that we will be diligent to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ that do not have the ease that we have. And in all things we will focus on Christ and sacrificially following Him.

It was a great trip. Stay tuned as I share more stories.