Friday, August 31, 2007

A fun day

Yesterday was a fun day. Following some final sermon work in the AM, Pastor Kevin and I headed to the "K" to watch the Tigers defeat the Royals (Yea!). We then went to MNU to hand out Central Finger Blasters to the students-- well, "hand out" is probably not the right term, we blasted them out. Finger blasters were flying everywhere. We all had fun. And then, Pastor Kevin and I headed to the church for the Central Fantasy Football draft. Two years ago I was in the "Toilet Bowl" as one of the worst teams, last year I was in the Super Bowl as one of the best teams... this year we'll see.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Last Night @ the Fifth Element Gathering

Just got off the phone with Pastor Cory. He told me that last night a brand new, never been to Central before student, just "happened to be driving by," came to our youth service, and following the meeting accepted Christ into his heart! AWESOME! It's all about "making more and better disciples."

Labor Day Sunday @ Central

On Sunday we will have only ONE service-- at 10 AM. I will continue the Difference Maker Sermon series; we will celebrate communion together; and, following the service we are having "dinner on the grounds." I hope everyone will stay for the dinner!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Who have you invited lately?

Most people come to church because a friend invites them. We had a lady at Central recently who hadn't been in church in several years. She was questioning God's existence, but a faithful Centralite loved,was kind and invited her friend. She came.

The lady discovered that Central was friendly. The people were kind. Some of her preconceived notions of Christians were misplaced, and God has been speaking to her. She hasn't fully accepted Christ yet... but she promised to return!

God is working!!!!

Are you ready for some football?

Thursday is the Central Fantasy Football Draft and Saturday the college football season kicks off. Next week it’ll be the NFL’s turn to start. From now until our Super Bowl Parties on February 3, 2008 there will be plenty of talk in the Central offices of Chiefs, Wolverines, Steelers and Sooners. To quote, Hank Williams Jr., “Are you ready for some football?”

Over the course of the next several months, football jargon will enter into many of our conversations. What you may not know is that there are some commonalities between football terms and church life at Central Nazarene. It’s strange but true. The football meanings you may know, so allow me to offer their Central counterparts.

Coin Toss: The action of the church miser as the offering plate passes.

Illegal use of hands: The mistaken use of clapping when no one else feels the special song was “clap-worthy.”

Pass interference: Interrupting the conversation of a teenage boy as he is welcoming a new, cute teenage girl to Central.

Hash marks: Stains on the fellowship hall carpet following a men’s prayer breakfast.

First down: If we were a little more charismatic church, this would refer to the initial person “slain in the spirit.”

Two Minute Warning: What Pastor Kevin gives to all those who must give an announcement during a worship service.

Priest Holmes: Roman Catholic friar’s parsonages. (I know this doesn’t really apply to Central Nazarene as we are a Protestant congregation, but I couldn’t resist mentioning this for our Chief's fans.)

Half Time: If the long winded preacher would not repeat himself, the sermon would be completed in this measured period.

End Zone: The anatomy region most irritated following a long, drawn out sermon.

Offensive Line: 1) The pre-teen boys’ smells and sounds following a week at summer camp. 2) A bad joke about how even your crippled grandma would be a better choice for starting quarterback for the Chiefs.

Tight end: (Old school definition): The church miser’s demise.
(Hip Hop definition): A very fine benediction.

Running back: The action taken by our disappointed and hungry children upon the discovery of more leftover donuts in the adult fellowship area following Sunday School.

Linebacker: The guy who returns for seconds at the all-church, pot luck.

Quarterback: The church miser’s change of heart after the offering plate passes. As in, he wants his “quarterback.”

These definitions probably won’t help much in learning more about Central. That’s why the Ministry Fair (that will take place next week, September 9th) is so important. You will be able to learn about the ministries offered at Central and how you can be involved. My hope is that all who attend Central will be involved in some ministry. Serving God was never meant to be a spectator sport, so “get in the game” and make a difference!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A good day at Central

I liked church today. The AM Services were very good. The Discover Central class was great with lots of new folks present. And this evening's celebration of the Volker's ministry at Central was very nice indeed.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I can't wait for Sunday!!

I can't wait for Sunday! The New Sermon Series begins this week: The Difference Maker! I believe it can be life changing-- I really do. God has big plans for us!

I've heard good reports on our Dinner Theatre-- I'll be there tonight!

See you soon!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Prayer works

We would all agree with the two word statement: Prayer works. No arguments, right? You believe in it. You know it. You more than likely practice it at least occasionally. So why don’t folks pray more?

I know a lot of us will pray before we eat our double cheese burger, super-sized fries and large Coke. In that case, instead of the usual “grace” and blessing, we should probably be praying that God will somehow transform our “heart attack on a tray” into carrot sticks and celery. Still, technically, “saying grace” even over a bag “o” cholesterol is a prayer.

While many have graduated from a “Now I lay me down to sleep” type of bed time prayer, we still spend the majority of our prayer time simply going through a check list of items that God needs to fix. “Bless mommy and daddy and Aunt Suzie’s sore toe and my dog Gizmo and his never ending battle with halitosis. Amen.” Again, while the whole encounter takes less than ten seconds out of each day’s allotted 86,400 seconds, it’s still a prayer. Praying some is better than praying none.

And who hasn’t uttered a prayer when the flashing lights of a police car have come behind us on the freeway: “Lord, let him nab the guy in the Chevy along side of me.” Or when the teacher announces a pop quiz: “Lord, let me remember that stuff that I never studied; the lecture I slept through and any other stupid information for which without divine intervention I am doomed to get an “F.” Who says the Supreme Court has taken prayer out of schools? As long as there are pop quizzes there will be prayer in schools!

I just think we could do better in our prayer life.

Do you remember James’ words?

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

James would concur: Prayer works.

So pray. Don’t think you are an expert pray-er? That’s OK. Pray until you know how to pray. Don’t know what to pray for? That’s OK. Pray until God changes the situation or God changes you. Don’t know when you’ve prayed enough? That’s OK. Pray and keep praying and when you are all done… pray some more. Maybe that’s what Paul meant in the other (the first being “Jesus wept, of course) two word Bible verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray continually.”

Speaking of prayer… our Sunday evening Prayer Gatherings… The Wild Goose Chase Nights have been going great. And our Pastor’s Prayer Team revamping has also gone great (although there is still room for you if you would like to participate in this vital ministry of the church). Our church is praying more, which is terrific. Because this is what I know: Prayer Works!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pastors Prayer Teams

The Prayer team Luncheon went great (THANKS ELAINE and all your helpers!!!). We have 8 teams. The teams pray during the AM worship service that group members normally do not attend. If you were not able to attend-- and would like to be on a prayer team, you can still join! Email me or the church office!

We are Heating Up

A few weeks ago-- on this blog, in conversations and even from the pulpit-- I asked, "if we were luke warm?" The question was were we in danger of being like the church at Laodicea... having everything we need, but not really in tune with the Holy Spirit.

Well, it sure seems like we are "Heating up!" Another great Sunday at Central. The morning services were terrific. Over 150 people were at the prayer team luncheon (Praise the Lord!!!). And last night's, Wild Goose Chase, prayer service was awesome! Yes, God is alive and well and at work at Central!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Central's Sunday Schedule

8:30 and 11 am Worship will focus on our final top ten list and item. Commandment #10-- what I am calling "No Johnson County-itis."

There's Sunday school in between at 10 AM. (Tonight one of our Young Married Classes is coming to our house for a cookout. This is the last class scheduled to be at our place. Over the course of the summer we have had twelve class parties and over 400 people! Karla and I have really enjoyed each group that has gathered!)

Following the 11 AM service, there will be a luncheon for the Pastor's Prayer Team. Over 110 people have signed up... and there is still room for you! Join us as we revamp the prayer teams-- and get them praying for a great fall.

The Sunday @ Six service will once again be in the fellowship hall for another WILD GOOSE CHASE NIGHT! Last week's service was one of the best services, since I've been at Central. So we are doing it again! Plan on joining us!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Chiefs and Me

Tonight I had my first taste of the Kansas City Chiefs. We had pretty good seats (section 118, row 37), endured a few sprinkles, ate some nachos, and cheered our Chiefs in their action packed 11-10 loss to the Mighty Dolphins.

I hate to write this Chief fans, but take it from a guy who has grown up watching the Detroit Lions (in other words I've seen a lot of bad football)... this could be a looooong season.

The Unabomber and Me

Does the name Ted Kaczynski ring a bell? How about this: “The Unabomber”? That was ol’ Ted. He was the mathematical genius (Harvard grad and, sadly, University of Michigan Ph.D.) who lived in a shack in Montana, wrote an anti-technology treatise and over a 20 year period sent 16 home-made bombs to those he thought were contributing to the evil, technological age in which we live. Ted was the subject of the most expensive manhunt in FBI history, and the feds eventually got their man. Ted will spend the rest of his days in a federal maximum security prison in Colorado.

I certainly do not advocate his violence. And I probably would have a hard time reading my way through his anti-techno tome, The Unabomber Manifesto, but after this week I might be a little closer to Ted than I want to be. I’ve been having my troubles with technology too.

My home internet works with the frequency of an intermittent windshield wiper. Sometimes it’s on, sometimes its not. Sometimes it’s on, sometimes not. (At this exact moment: Not. Ugh!). My electricity has also been off TWICE this week. Plus, much to my dismay, the Power and Light Company put a massively huge, not-so Jolly Green Giant of a transformer in my back yard (OK it might not be “Giant” big, but it’s big enough). And the icing on the cake, crème de le crème, is that my cable TV has been off for nearly a week. (Good thing that this wasn’t the week the Tigers win the World Series or the week the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes silly, because I can not say with complete certainty that I wouldn’t have gone “Teddy K” on somebody.)

Now, before you ask: Yes, we’ve paid all our bills in full. No stoppage of service notice has been received. Our payments are current, albeit without the “currents” coming through the power lines. When my cable TV went out last Thursday, a fine cable employee came by the house and informed Cherub #1 that he would have it “up and running” in no time. Famous last words. When it was still not “up and running,” seven hours later and after 45 minutes waiting on hold, “Betty” from the cable company assured me that a fine cable employee would be at my house on Monday between 3 and 5 pm. (Apparently, the cable company’s idea of “up and running in no time” and my understanding of that phrase is entirely different). In any event, when those four days of “no time” finally passed, you guessed it: Monday arrived, but the cable employee didn’t. When I called the cable company again, and waited on hold for the obligatory 45 minutes, “Ardeen” informed me that a fine cable employee would be at my house on Wednesday between 3 and 5 pm. “No time” was expanded for another 48 hours. In the mean time, I had no ESPN, no Home and Garden, and no CNN.

Well, the cable guy arrived and my ESPN is working. The Cable guy might need to watch a little more of the Home and Garden Network, because his “fix” was to run a cable the length of our yard, nearly entering the pool, on top of the grass to the place where the cable enters our house. While I must admit the orange colored cable contrasts nicely with the green hues of the grass and the blue tone of the pool it might not be the most eye-pleasing fixture in our back yard. Ugh. Ugh. And double ugh!

Since I was not sitting around watching Dr. Phil and had no need to search for the remote controller, I had plenty of time to remind you that this Sunday we are looking at the very last commandment. It’s the one about coveting your neighbor’s ox and donkey and wife and maid servant. I’ll be honest, I haven’t coveted my neighbor’s ox or maid servant at all this week (my hand is squarely patting my own back right now), but I have been tempted to covet his internet access and electricity. (Oops!) It’s amazing how much we miss that stuff, when we don’t have it. And it’s amazing how much we think we need that stuff to live our lives. We had electricity growing up, but we managed to live pretty decent lives without the internet, cable TV, air conditioning and plenty of other things that seem to be mandatory these days.

Truth be told, we didn’t miss the TV too much, and the crazy, on again, off again internet is manageable. I would never advocate heading to Montana for a little bomb building and manifesto writing retreat, I think we all could probably manage just fine with out some of the things that we think we need. In fact, the old song “Keep the World but give me Jesus” still holds true. We could probably all benefit from less stuff and more Jesus.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A good kind of tired

It's been a busy weekend.... and I'm tired. But its a "good" tired. My Saturday and Sunday were two pool parties, three services, an El Salvador meeting, Executive Committee meeting, hospital visit, SAMs Club, dollar store, and a little sleep. But... God was here-- and that makes it all worth it.

Our AM Services were terrific. The "Wild Goose Chase"went so well, we are going to do it again this Sunday Night. Yup, it was a good weekend.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Busy Day at the Prince House

After the Executive Committee meeting this morning, I will rush home to help put the finishing touches on our house. We host two parties today. The Jr. Quizzers will be at our place for a pool party this afternoon, and then tonight Kent Kirby's Sunday School Class will be with us. We have hosted several gatherings this summer. Somewhere over 400 people have been at our place. And we have enjoyed every party! We have a great church with great people!

Hey...tomorrow is Sunday. I missed preaching last week (I was at my niece's wedding), so I am ready to go this week! Have a great Saturday and see you tomorrow!

Friday, August 10, 2007

I Need more Pray-ers

I NEED MORE PRAY-ERS! Next Sunday (August 19th following the 11 AM Service) there will be a luncheon for the Pastor’s Prayer team. We will be revamping, renewing, reworking our Prayer teams, and I NEED YOU!!! The prayer teams will meet on a regular basis (once a month) (during the morning service that you do not attend) with the purpose of praying for the congregation, the pastors, and the needs of the church. You do not need to be an expert pray-er (what’s that?), you just have to be willing to pray. If you are uncomfortable praying in front of others, that’s OK. You won’t be asked to pray out loud if you don’t want to… we just need willing, faithful, pray-ers. Let the church office know (or e-mail me) if you are willing to come to the luncheon and learn more about the prayer teams. We need to get an accurate count of who’s coming to lunch.

This Sunday @ Central

We will get back on track this week—looking at God’s Top Ten in both AM Services. Just two more commandments to go: this week’s is “No Fibbin”.

And our Sunday @ Six Service will be in the fellowship hall. It’s another “Wild Goose Chase” Night. What’s a Wild Goose Chase Night? It will be a prayer service. But this isn’t your grandma’s prayer meeting. We aren’t simply going to focus on Aunt Bertha’s gout, but rather we are going to “chase the wild goose” (The ancient Celtic’s term for the Holy Spirit). In song and Scripture and testimony and prayer we will seek God’s blessings and power. This will be a Sunday night service you will not want to miss. (Oh yea, as a part of the evening, on Sunday Morning we will have cards for everyone to fill out a Prayer Request which will then be prayed over during our “Wild Goose Chase.” So even if you can’t be in the Sunday @ Six Service, make sure that you fill out a prayer request card on Sunday Morning.)

God intended it all for good

I’m an optimist. When the heat and humidity index is rising I still say: “No Sweat!” (Thanks to AC). When Karla informs us that dinner is a little over done, I thank the Lord for “the burnt sacrifice” and enjoy (Just like mama used to make… yum!). When life hands me lemons, I make a tasty little Lemon Supreme Pie (OK I don’t know how to make a lemon supreme pie, but if I did, that’s what I would make with lemons. I am not much of a lemonade guy.) This time of the year, I always think this will be the year my woeful Lions will turn it around and be in the Super Bowl, my Tigers will start winning again, and my Wolverines will beat the hated Buckeyes. School hasn’t started, so there have been no bad progress reports. The complainers of the church must be on vacation (oh wait a minute; we don’t have complainers at Central… only those that make heart felt suggestions). In any event, my home and church on the range has seldom heard a discouraging word. “Yes, indeed, the grass is greener on this side of the fence,” I say as I sip my half-full cup of coffee while wistfully gazing at the silver lined clouds.

OK, all this optimism is making me feel woozy.

I know the skies aren’t always blue. And sometimes some very bad things happen to some very good people. In fact, I know really good people who have had really rotten things happen. Still, I love Paul’s encouraging words to the group of believers living in Rome when he said: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” and “In all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:31b and 37). I think that firm conviction and Christ-like optimism is why Paul could sing while chained to a wall in the slammer at midnight after having taken a beat-down from some of the Rome’s finest centurions. And why, when talking about shipwrecks and prisons stays and floggings Paul could write that he was “pressing on.” Life wasn’t always easy—but he was focused on Jesus.

You see, I have this core conviction: Followers of Christ should be the most optimistic people on the planet. That doesn’t mean that we don’t see the negative, it just means that in the midst of the negative we see Christ. If we really believe Paul’s words that God is in control, and He is working things out for His glory, then shouldn’t we be excited and expecting great things?

I think Joseph had this figured out. You remember his story… Lil’ Joey was daddy’s favorite dreamer boy. Which as you might imagine didn’t win him any popularity contests with his big brothers. Joey flaunted his fancy, Donny Osmond-like, Technicolor threads. He was spoiled and not afraid to tell his brothers of his brown-nosing ways. So his bothers tossed him in a pit, sold him in to slavery and really didn’t care if he lived or died. But to make a long story short, old Joe got out of the pit, was faithful in the midst of trying times and God honored and blessed him. When he finally saw those brothers again, far from bitter Joseph offers this great testimony: You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. (Gen 50:20a) What a great life verse! There’s a guy that determined that he was going to make the most out of his circumstances. Far from focusing on the deep, dark hole from whence he came or writing a scathing tell-all book on his hateful siblings or the horrors of his life as a slave—he chose to not wallow in the negative but rather to look at the half-full cup. “God intended it all for good.”

I want to look at my life circumstances—even when my life is in the pits-- and still conclude: God intended it all for good. Even when I don’t know the outcome, even when it’s hard to see that dark cloud’s silver lining or the light at the end of the tunnel, I want to be the type of person that will say loud and clear: God intended it all for good.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Back from Springfield

We are home from a quick trip to Springfield, Illinois where my niece Ashley got married. All went well. She married Stan and nothing was worthy of a Funniest Home Video episode.

I heard that Central had a couple of GREAT morning services. I missed being with you. I was with the Prince Posse at my brother's church. He preached a very good sermon!

And now this week is District Assembly at College Church. No Wednesday services here, remember.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Sunday @ Central

As it is the first Sunday of the month, our children (grades 1-6) will be in both services and Communion will be celebrated. Pastor Kevin tells me that the music this Sunday will be TERRRIFIC! You won't want to miss it!

There will not be a Sunday @ Six Service at Central, so that we can participate with the District Homecoming at College Church in Olathe.

The Launch of the Seventh Grade World Tour

Just said "Good Bye" to Ben as he and the 19 other soon to be 7th Graders left on their "World Tour." They will be visiting my Alma Mater (Olivet Nazarene) on their way to Chicago. When they return they will be officially part of the Fifth Element (Central's Youth Ministry). This trip really helps in transitioning our students from our children's ministry to youth group. We are blessed to have such a great children's pastor (Jeremy Bond) and great youth pastor (Cory Stipp).

Olathe Taco Odyssey (The long version)

Here's the whole story of our “Olathe Taco Odyssey.” Beginning at 12:30 p.m. last Friday, Alex, Ben and myself went to these fine Olathe fast food taco establishments: Taco Via, Taco Bell, Taco Bueno and Taco Johns. At each place, we dined in (no drive thrus for us), ordered one tasty taco each (Ben and I ordered hard shells, Alex is a soft shell taco guy), and ate. We were back home an hour after we began having consumed four tacos, a large soda and spent a grand total of $16.89. Here are a few things that we learned:
· Taco Via has the most expensive tacos and Taco Bell has the least expensive. ($1.15 vs. $0.79)
· Taco Via played praise and worship music and had the Ten Commandments displayed on their wall. (Maybe it’s worth the extra $0.36 to have praise and worship piped over the intercom and to have the “Top Ten” posted. That was an unexpected surprise. I was taken aback to see an eleventh commandment: “Thou shall not be a glutton.” Just kidding it wasn’t there, but maybe it should have been).
· We decided to pray before each “meal” in each restaurant. I don’t know that tacos need more prayer than other foods, but I think if you are eating at four different fast food joints in less than an hour then you probably need four times the prayer (and four times the Rolaids).
· Taco Via’s tacos were the messiest (but they also had napkins at the table, so clean-up didn’t mean an additional trip to the “napkin center”); Taco Bell’s were the wettest (read: Greasiest); Taco Bueno’s were the longest; and, Taco Johns had more lettuce than meat on their tacos.
· Taco Bell provided peppermint candy for one’s after dining pleasure. (Always a plus when eating extra greasy tacos with extra hot sauce).
· Taco Bueno and Taco Johns each have a salsa bar to compliment their $0.99 tacos.
· On Taco Johns’ salsa bar they have a green, eye-watering, hotter-than-hot taco sauce.
· Taco Via cleans up your mess (there were no noticeable trash cans), but Taco Johns delivers your tacos to your table (I believe the extra hot green sauce and the “delivered-to-your-table” tacos are related items. It is my assertion that the fine Taco Johns employees deliver your tacos because once you’ve tasted that eye-watering, green salsa you might be a little woozy. Or maybe I was just woozy because at that point I had already eaten tacos from Taco Via, Bell and Bueno. Burp.).
· We each liked a different place. Ben liked Taco Via, Alex liked Taco Bell, and I preferred Taco Bueno. (I liked Taco Bueno in spite of the knowledge that another Centralite had a very bad experience at a Taco Bueno. It seems that this man discovered something really, really yucky in his taco. Not deterred, because of that knowledge-- I went, ate, and enjoyed. And I didn’t find anything that resembled “really, really yucky” in my taco! But I must confess I did inspect my taco with the same gusto as a drug sniffing dog at the airport before partaking.).

All in all it was a fun lunch. We laughed, ate, and had a great debate on which taco joint was the best. I’m not sure if our “Olathe Taco Odyssey” was what old Solomon had in mind when he wrote: “Point your kids in the right direction and when they are old they won’t be lost” (Proverbs 22:6. The Message), but I think it helped. Remember, in raising our kids the goal is to build positive memories, to be a positive influence, and to have meaningful conversations. I think all of those things happened last Friday. Maybe an “Olathe Taco Odyssey” isn’t for everyone, but all of us can get creative in finding ways to make good, positive, and even holy moments with our children. In my book, the afternoon was well worth the $16.89 and the bottle of Tums that I later consumed. In fact, it went so well we are contemplating an “Olathe Burger Odyssey” next. We can’t eat a burger at each place (without breaking our soon to be included Commandment #11 on gluttony); still, if we could divide each burger into thirds, then eating at the Olathe fast food burger joints might be doable. So Wendy’s, A&W, Backyard Burger, Burger King, McDonalds, Dairy Queen, Sonic, and Culvers here we come. Burp.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

She came for groceries , but got much, much more!

Every Wednesday, we distribute food through our Lord's Food Pantry. Needy folks from Johnson County can come once a month and receive a supply of groceries. Today, a lady got more than that.

When Carol came to the church she was in obvious distress. Our ladies serving in in the food pantry noticed, spoke to her, and to make a long story short... by the end of her time here had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. She came for groceries, and got Jesus too! (that's a better deal than double coupons at Price Chopper I can assure you of that!!)

That's why we do what we do... it's about making more and better disciples! It's happening all around us! Praise the Lord. Will you pray that Carol will now grow in the Lord and continue to become the person He created her to be!