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A Bother…and a Joy – A Good Heart, But…

Church People Helping PeopleWho Said It…Max Lucado

Max’s beer-drinking, girl-chasing lifestyle was as barren as the West Texas land he grew up in.

Then he encountered Jesus through a required Bible course at Abilene Christian University. He abruptly shifted from law studies to missions preparation.

After five years in Brazil with his wife, Denalyn, he returned to pastor in the U.S. A collection of storytelling columns written for a church newsletter formed his first book in a long string of best-sellers.

Max is pulpit minister of the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio.

What He Said…A Good Heart, But …

(Scene—Sunday a.m. assembly; silent prayer)

Max: God, I want to do great things.

God: You do?

Max: You bet! I want to teach millions! I want to fill the Rose Bowl! I want all the world to know Your saving power! I dream of the day …

God: That’s great, Max. In fact, I can use you today after church.

Max: Super! How about some radio and television work or—or—or an engagement to speak to Congress?

God: Well, that’s not exactly what I had in mind. See that fellow sitting next to you?

Max: Yes.

God: He needs a ride home.

Max (quietly): What?

God: He needs a ride home. And while you’re at it, one of the older ladies sitting near you is worried about getting a refrigerator moved. Why not drop by this afternoon and …

Max (pleading): But, God, what about the world?

God (smiling): Think about it.

Adapted from Shaped by God (Tyndale, 1985)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, help me break loose from my usual schedule enough to savor serving someone else.


Beyond “What’s in It for Me?” – Belonging to a Church

Church Membership 4How does God make believers grow up into Christ?

The answer, Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians, is that He forms us into a body—a group of individuals united in their purpose and love for each other and for the Lord.

If one person stumbles, the rest of the group is there to pick him up and help him walk with God again. The group witnesses to God’s truth as each member carries out his special role.

Interact with God’s Word

Ephesians 4:4-6, 11-16

  1. What is the body of Christ that all believers belong to (v. 12)?
  2. What two family characteristics that we share does Paul mention in verse 4?
  3. What is the special assignment of those in leadership roles (v. 12)?
  4. What is the assignment of all members of this body (vv. 13, 15)?
  5. What are the marks (v. 6) of a healthy church?
  6. What is required of the members to achieve this ideal?
  7. Do you have a sense for what role you are being fitted to fill?

Spend Time in Prayer

Ask God to reveal to you what your “own special work” in the church should be, and enable you to perform it in a way that will contribute to your local congregation “measuring up.”

Ephesians 4:4-6, 11-16

4 We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future. 5 There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6and there is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all.

11 He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, 13 until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Prayer for the Week:  As Your disciple, Lord, I recognize I can’t remain detached from Your church. Help me to truly connect.

Beyond “What’s in It for Me?” – Why Not to Leave a Church

Church MembershipKey Bible Verse: And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do.  – Hebrews 10:25

Bonus Reading:  2 Corinthians 2:5-11

  • You’re feeling convicted of the truth. The pastor preaches about generosity in giving, and you’re battling selfishness. A small group studies moral purity, and you’re crossing biblical boundaries. A Sunday school leader teaches on integrity in the workplace, and you’re taking shortcuts.  Your discomfort is no reason to leave; it’s a good reason to stay!Don’t go looking for a church that lowers biblical standards just to make people feel comfortable.


  • You’ve been caught in a sin. You’ll be tempted to run away and start fresh in a church where no one knows about it. Yet God often wants a person in this situation to stay right where he is and let his church family love him and help him through this difficult time.The community of faith can keep you accountable, ask tough questions, and pray for you.


  • You’ve had a conflict with someone. When tensions have flared, hard words exchanged, and feelings hurt, you might think about leaving to avoid the difficult process of reconciliation. Usually the wisest choice is to stay and work through a process of relational healing. Otherwise you might find you have to leave a whole series of churches!

—Kevin & Sherry Harney in Finding a Church You Can Love

My Response: Am I committed, when I’ve sinned, to coming clean and trusting the body of Christ to restore me?

Thought to Apply: The house of God is not a safe place. It is where we are challenged to live more vulnerably, more interdependently.—Madeline L’Engle (writer)

Adapted from Finding a Church You Can Love (Zondervan, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: As Your disciple, Lord, I recognize I can’t remain detached from Your church. Help me to truly connect.

Beyond “What’s in It for Me?” – It’s Not an Elective

Church Membership 3Key Bible Verse: Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.  – John 13:35

Bonus Reading:  John 17:20-24

An unsettling revelation to most Christ followers, in light of our fierce individualism, is how many marks of a Christian involve other people.

So much of what is involved in truly following Christ is tied to the “one anothers” of Scripture. Originally sent as apostolic admonishments to Christians gathered in local churches, they include such directives as:

These are clear in their command, decisive in spiritual formation, and impossible to fulfill apart from a local community of faith.

Jesus maintained in John 13:35 that the practice of such community life in and through the church, would offer the ultimate witness to the world about His own life and ministry. He was convinced that the church, functioning as a community of love and witness, would arrest the attention of the world and give ultimate affirmation to His message of salvation. If we fail to participate in this community, we undermine how Christ envisioned His message being affirmed in the eyes of the world.

—James Emery White in Serious Times

My Response: How well am I connecting with my local fellow believers?

Thought to Apply: We hear about those who like Christ but do not like the church. How can we like the Head, but not the Body, the Groom, but not the Bride?—Vance Havner

Adapted from Serious Times (InterVarsity, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: As Your disciple, Lord, I recognize I can’t remain detached from Your church. Help me to truly connect.

Beyond “What’s in It for Me?” – Membership Benefits

Church Membership 2Key Bible Verse: As each part does its own special work … the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.  – Ephesians 4:16

Bonus Reading:  Ephesians 4:4-6, 11-16

Three denominational leaders visited our congregation. “What are the benefits of membership at Mosaic?” they asked.

Their question surprised me. I suddenly felt like we were American Express.

So I asked our pastoral team what exactly were the benefits of being a member. One responded, “Members are entrusted with responsibility.” We started laughing at the irony of realizing that membership was the entryway to public service. The only benefit was the privilege to serve!

Today we clearly express that becoming a member of Mosaic is a declaration that you’re moving from being a consumer to being an investor; that you’re joining not simply the community of Christ, but the cause of Christ.

On a deeper level, it is an invitation to genuine intimacy. People who become members say they’re submitting their lives to the spiritual authority of this community and welcoming genuine accountability in their spiritual journeys.

So up front, we ask for this sincere, God-motivated commitment: to allow God to work in and through them as they invest their passions, their service, their resources, and their relationships for the sake of the Kingdom.

—Erwin McManus in An Unstoppable Force

My Response: How is my church benefiting from my witness, serving, and giving?

Thought to Apply: The church isn’t a dormitory for sleepers, it’s an institution for workers; it’s not a rest camp, it’s a front-line trench.—Billy Sunday (baseball player, evangelist)

Adapted from An Unstoppable Force (Group, 2001)

Prayer for the Week: As Your disciple, Lord, I recognize I can’t remain detached from Your church. Help me to truly connect.

Beyond “What’s in It for Me?” – Order of Service

Hospital HallwayKey Bible Verse: And now God is building you, as living stones, into His spiritual temple. 1 Peter 2:5

 Bonus Reading: 1 Peter 2:4-6

A soldier was wounded in a battle and ordered to the nearest military hospital. Arriving at the entrance, he saw two doors, one marked “For Minor Wounds,” the other “For Serious Wounds.”

He entered the first door and walked down a long hallway. At the end of the hall, he saw two more doors. The first said “For Officers,” the other “For Enlisted Men.” The soldier went through the second door.

Again, he found himself walking down a long hallway with two doors at the end. One said “For Party Members,” the other “For Non-Party Members.” The wounded soldier took the second door and found himself back out on the street.

When he got back to his unit, his buddies asked, “How’d your trip to the hospital go?”

“The people really didn’t help me much,” he said, “but, man, are they organized!”

Sound like a church you’ve known? We can be loaded to the gills with organization but not a lot of help to the walking wounded. The church has the greatest message ever told, the life-changing reality of what it is to know God! Yet people aren’t getting the message. Maybe the church in America is serving up too many bland dishes.

—Andy Cook in The Search for God’s Own Heart

My Response: Could a visitor to my church feel like the wounded soldier? Why or why not?

Thought to Apply: The church is not a museum for finished products. It’s a hospital for the sick.—Bruce Larson

Adapted from The Search for God’s Own Heart (Kregel, 2001)

Prayer for the Week: As Your disciple, Lord, I recognize I can’t remain detached from Your church. Help me to truly connect.

Beyond “What’s in It for Me?” – Am I Being Fed?

Find a ChurchKey Bible Verse: You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others.   – Hebrews 5:12

Bonus Reading:  Hebrews 5:11-6:3

He walked confidently up to me one Sunday morning, introduced himself, and said he’d been attending for over a month. The teaching met his standards, he told me; the music was acceptable, and he was pleased with the children’s and youth ministries. He was married, he said, and had several children.

When I asked him where they were, he explained that they weren’t yet allowed to attend; he wanted to first check us out to make sure the products and services were in line with what he felt his family needed. This wasn’t about theology; this was all about customer service.

Since we’ve been taught that we’re the center of the universe, we evaluate everything on its ability to meet our needs. Some of the best communicators of the Scriptures I know have had people leave their churches because they’re not “being fed.”

I know that we’re all the sheep of God, and sheep require a shepherd to feed them. But there must come a time when we become shepherds who feed others. Over 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Is this also true in the arena of personal spirituality? Are we too much about us getting fed and too little about exercising our faith?

—Erwin McManus in An Unstoppable Force

My Response: What about my church involvement makes me more than a consumer?

Adapted from An Unstoppable Force (Group, 2001)

Prayer for the Week:  As Your disciple, Lord, I recognize I can’t remain detached from Your church. Help me to truly connect.

Beyond “What’s in It for Me?” – My Church History

Looking for a ChurchWho Said It…Craig Dunham

Craig majored in geography at the University of Missouri. But after graduation he and Doug Serven, also from Mizzou, both began serving with The Navigators, a ministry to young adults. Together, they lead TwentySomeone conferences, seminars, and events.

Craig is also the director of programs and marketing for the Navs’ camping/conference ministry. A musician and songwriter, Craig has recorded five original albums.

What He Said…My Church History

In my twenties, I knew there was no such thing as the perfect church. I evaluated churches and their pastors unfairly. There were, I judged, the megachurch wannabes, the small corner churches, the legalistic churches, and the anything-goes churches.

But my preferences left me in the dark as to exactly what I was looking for. So churches and pastors passed like street signs in the headlights—most of them were hard to read; none led to where I thought I wanted to go.

I was relentless in my reasoning about why I didn’t really need church, falling into the trap of asking, “What’s in it for me?” instead of, “What’s in it for God?”

As a result, I missed out on some great opportunities to meet new people and grow together with them. The only answer this experience provided to “Who am I?” was that I was a judgmental church consumer preoccupied with his own inclinations and opinions. That answer couldn’t help me much in my twenties … or in life.

Adapted from TwentySomeone (WaterBrook, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: As Your disciple, Lord, I recognize I can’t remain detached from Your church. Help me to truly connect.

Resurrection Reverberations – Set Free

Colossians 3-4Every believer knows that Jesus’ death on the cross canceled out the penalty for our sin, freeing us from divine condemnation. But what is the effect of Jesus’ resurrection on our lives?

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul shows how we, too, are “set free from the evil powers of this world” (2:20). In the section we’ll look at today, he lays out the mindset that Christ’s resurrection should produce in us.

Interact with God’s Word

Colossians 2:12 Colossians 3:1-4

  1. What sinful desires that used to get the upper hand should you consciously consider “buried”?
  2. What does your new life with Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, free you to enjoy?
  3. How can you “set your sights on the realities of heaven” in daily practice?
  4. To “let heaven fill your thoughts,” which values do you need to concentrate on? … to marginalize?
  5. How should knowing that your life is “hidden” with Christ—concealed and safe—give you hope for the future and confidence now?

Spend Time in Prayer

Ask God to give you an eternal perspective, eager anticipation of the joys of heaven, and until then, a resolve to live in His resurrection power.

Colossians 2:12

12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to a new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

Colossians 3:1-4

1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power. 2 Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth.

3 For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

Prayer for the Week:  Please show me, Lord, how the reality of Easter should impact my day-to-day life.

Resurrection Reverberations – Courage Corps

MissionaryKey Bible Verse:  While we live, we live to please the Lord. And when we die we go to be with the Lord.  – Romans 14:8

Bonus Reading:  Colossians 3:1-4

Tom Yoder was frustrated. For six months as a Peace Corps volunteer he’d worked diligently to earn the trust of an African tribe. He was eager to share with them plans for irrigation ditches, lessons about crop rotation, and new ways to market their surplus fruits and vegetables. But he remained a distrusted outsider.

One day a young boy came to Tom’s hut. He pointed to the far end of the village and said, “The family that lives in that hut has fallen ill. They’ve been abandoned to die. But the children are my friends. Can you help?”

Tom rushed to the forbidden hut, entered, and immediately realized that the family had contracted yellow fever. For the next six days, Yoder bathed, fed, and nursed the family until each was strong enough to be transported 90 miles to a hospital. Each family member returned later, completely healed.

The villagers then called Yoder the “great fearless one.” From then on they listened to him, accepting all his farming ideas.

Tom wrote about this amazing turn in his journal: “It’s easy to be fearless when you’ve been vaccinated against a disease.” Followers of Christ have substituted all fear of death with God’s promise of everlasting security.

—Dennis Hensley in More than Meets the Eye

My Response: Do others sense my “wonderful expectation” of my own resurrection?

Thought to Apply: It is the Devil’s business to keep Christians mourning beside the cross instead of demonstrating that Jesus Christ is risen indeed.—Ray Stedman

Adapted from More than Meets the Eye (Kregel, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Please show me, Lord, how the reality of Easter should impact my day-to-day life.

Resurrection Reverberations – Daring Death Defyers

ResurrectionKey Bible Verse: Christ died and rose again for this very purpose, so that he might be Lord of those who are alive and of those who have died. Romans 14:9

Bonus Reading:  1 Corinthians 15:20-23

The thought of death has always intimidated. Today most people buy life insurance and try not to think about it. Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch says secularists live on a “borrowed credit card,” glossing over the problem of death with “wishful dreams” based on inherited Christian views. But what ultimate meaning is there to an existence that after eight or nine decades passes into sheer nothingness?

Christians believe that death isn’t a passage into nothingness but a transition into a glorious eternity.

Why? Because one person, Jesus of Nazareth, has already returned from the dead. For Christians, death doesn’t terrify because the tomb was empty, because the One with whom the disciples had lived appeared to them and assured them that He is alive forevermore. So we declare with Paul, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

That’s why the Christian can act courageously. Our motto isn’t life at any cost; death for the King’s cause is no disaster. Since we await the risen Lord, we dare to face down racists, go as missionaries to danger spots, leave secure homes to join the poor in oppressive situations, and apply His call to peace and justice in our governments.

—Ronald Sider in The Gospel with Extra Salt

My Response: Am I refusing to face ultimate life-and-death issues?

Thought to Apply: The Resurrection is not only the Good News, it is the best news imaginable.—Ray Stedman

Adapted from The Gospel with Extra Salt (Judson, 2000)

Prayer for the Week: Please show me, Lord, how the reality of Easter should impact my day-to-day life.

Seek and Ye Shall Find: Be Careful What You’re Looking For

Negativity 1There’s a wonderful article in a recent issue of Ministry Matters by Joseph Yoo discussing a midrash about two Israelite men, Reuven and Shimon who were present when God, through Moses, parted the Red Sea.

As the Israelites were walking across the Red Sea, Reuven and Shimon noticed that, though it was now safe to walk on the bottom of the sea, it was not completely dry and very muddy. Mud was getting stuck between the sandals and toes of Reuven and he couldn’t handle it.

“Ugh,” he muttered. “What in the world is this muck?”
Shimon agreed. “There’s mud everywhere!”
“Ugh. This is just like the slime pits of Egypt!”
“What’s the difference? Mud here. Mud in Egypt. It’s all the same, no?”

Negativity 2The two grumbled and mumbled all the way across. And because they never once took the chance to look up, they never understood why on the distant shore everyone was singing songs of praise.

For Reuven and Shimon, the parting of the Red Sea never happened. They were far more concerned with complaining.

And the truth is, we will find what we are looking for.

Negativity 3I’m always taken aback by my propensity to be negative. I’m quicker to point out what was wrong with a church or their worship service; quicker to criticize what the pastor said or didn’t say; eager to share what I didn’t like.

And I always find what I’m looking for. I’m ashamed to admit how much I relate to Reuven and Shimon and wonder how many miracles I’ve missed out on because I chose to look for things I wanted to complain about.

There’s a false notion that assumes that those who can find problems are geniuses. The truth is, it doesn’t take much intelligence to point out problems. Anyone can tell you what’s not working. The true genius comes in finding solutions for the problems pointed out. But folks like me find it easier to sit back and be armchair quarterbacks pointing out all the things that displease us and hoping that someone else will address those areas.

I recently came across Paul’s words to the Philippians, which resonated louder than before. “From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)

You will find what you are looking for.

If you seek to find negativity, you will surely find it.
If you seek to find mistakes, you will definitely find them.
If you focus on blemishes, you’ll only find blemishes.

Negativity 4But what if we took Paul’s words to heart and focused our “thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise”?

What would we see?
What would we find?
How different would we see and perceive the world?
How many more miracles would we be witnesses to?
We’d be more aware of the beauty than the brokenness in this world and in people.

Let’s avoid living our lives like Reuven and Shimon, unaware of the miracles because we choose to focus on negativity, complaints, and shortcomings. Instead, let us choose to put into practice the words of Paul.

Resurrection Reverberations – Last Rites First

CannibalsKey Bible Verse: I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  – Galatians 2:20

Bonus Reading:  Colossians 2:6-12

In 1837 three young Methodist ministers—James Calvert, John Hunt, and Thomas Jagar—and their wives set out from England for the Fiji Islands. Theirs was a difficult assignment. The venture was only three years old, and the people were still cannibals. They saw hardly any fruit during their first few years of service.

Then in 1845 revival swept through the islands. Chief Thadkombau, who’d been the main opponent of Christianity, was converted. Within a few years the islands were completely transformed as the gospel took hold of the people there.

Earlier, the captain of the ship that transported the three couples from England tried to dissuade them from going to the islands. He told James Calvert, “You’ll lose your lives and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.”

Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.”

In the previous century, the founder of their movement, John Wesley, said, “Give me a hundred men who love God with all their hearts and fear nothing but sin, and I will move the world.”  Those three young missionaries were part of God’s answer to Wesley’s prayer—and a demonstration of living in resurrection power.

—Leighton Ford in Good News Is for Sharing

My Response: What have I died to for Christ? How have I drawn on resurrection power?

Thought to Apply: I became my own only when I gave myself to Another.—C. S. LEWIS (British scholar, writer)

Adapted from Good News Is for Sharing (Cook, 1977)

Prayer for the Week: Please show me, Lord, how the reality of Easter should impact my day-to-day life.

Please Pray for God’s Protection for Christians in Iraq

Pray for Christians in Iraq

Resurrection Reverberations – Energy Emission

Romans 6-4 (3)Key Bible Verse:  Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.  – Romans 6:4

Bonus Reading:  Romans 6:1-11

The New Testament says that when people believe in Jesus Christ, then the same divine power that raised Jesus from the dead now works in believers to empower them to live the way Jesus did.

Just as Christ died and was raised, so by faith we can die to the old life of selfishness and rise to a new life in Christ. “For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism” (Romans 6:4).

Now that the risen Lord lives in those who believe in Him, they will for His sake live for others.  This may mean rejecting or abandoning an attractive position in Toronto or Vancouver to work with the poor in the Third World.  It may mean deciding to live in the scarred inner city rather than in the pleasant suburbs.  It will certainly mean risking the disapproval of friends, colleagues, and parishioners by clearly and persistently announcing the biblical word that God is on the side of the poor and calls us to be peacemakers.

Because Christ lives in us, we have the spiritual energy to choose the difficult. We’ll be able to exhibit the same kind of love Christ revealed in dying for us precisely because the God who raised our Lord Jesus now raises us to a new life for others.

—Ronald Sider in The Gospel with Extra Salt

My Response: How is my resurrection life flowing out to others?

Thought to Apply: Perhaps the transformation of the disciples of Jesus is the greatest evidence of all for the Resurrection.—John Stott (British pastor)

Adapted from The Gospel with Extra Salt (Judson, 2000)

Prayer for the Week:  Please show me, Lord, how the reality of Easter should impact my day-to-day life.

Hunger in America: 1 in 7 Rely on Food Banks


Our Church ladies serving a free, hot lunch to the community on "Soup Tuesdays"

Our Church ladies serving a free, hot lunch to the community on “Soup Tuesdays”

USA Today had an interesting and disturbing article yesterday entitled, “Hunger in America: 1 in 7 Rely on Food Banks.”   You can find the complete article at: Hunger in America

Here are several observations made in the article:

  • Nationwide, 25% of military families – 620,000 households – need help putting food on the table, according to a study by Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks.
  • One in seven Americans – 46 million people – rely on food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families.
  • “Children are going to school, not looking forward to learning but looking forward to eating”
  • “Many of our families, if they don’t come, will have to choose between paying rent or their kids eating that night”
  • “The people who come to us for help are coming more regularly.  We aren’t a one-time emergency stop anymore. We are a staple for them…”


SoupAmerica is a wonderfully blessed country.  We have enough food and opportunity to go around.  But some miss out and go hungry.  20% of children in Pennsylvania do not know where their next meal will come from.  Food security is a problem for many in our community.

For many years, Central Church has provided a food ministry outreach to our local community.  Despite the small size of our congregation, we provided over 10,000 free meals to our community in 2013.

People come to Central Church who haven’t eaten for days.  Some have been out of work for years and don’t expect to find work anytime soon.  They have no money.  They’ve run out of benefits.  They feel that life will only get worse.

They are hungry and need someone to care, and the numbers of the hungry coming to us continue to increase as we move through 2014.

Every meal that we serve is hot, nutritious, and wholesome.  A warm welcome and a promise from God go a long way to life a heavy heart.  When someone knows how much God cares, they don’t feel lonely and powerless anymore.

Please join us to care for those in hard times.  If you can volunteer, or if you can help provide supplies for meals, please contact us.  If you would like to contribute financially, please click on the above “Give” tab.

Your gifts meet desperate needs for food, and you pave the way for hurting people to be blessed.

UMCOR - Give Liberally


Resurrection Reverberations – The Great Omission

John 14-6Key Bible Verse:  I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.   John 14:6

Bonus Reading:   Colossians 1:15-22

I was thrilled that our President called the nation to prayer on the Friday after the terrorist attack. The previously cynical press embraced the event like eager altar boys. Dignitaries and beltway politicians lined the front rows like approving deacons and elders.

“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” was sung with power. President Bush delivered a reverent yet moving message peppered with biblical references. Billy Graham spoke of his faith in Jesus and pointed to the cross on the wall.

But afterward, as I basked in the glow of the momentous cathedral service, a friend said to me, “Did you notice that when ‘A Mighty Fortress’ was sung they omitted the second stanza?” I hadn’t, and quickly recalled the words:

“Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing. Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God’s own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus it is He; Lord Sabaoth, His name, From age to age the same, and He must win the battle.

In post-9/11 America, God was back but Jesus was not. The thought of Jesus as the supreme and exclusive victor over evil, was too disruptive. Too divisive.

—Joseph Stowell in The Trouble with Jesus

My Response:  How prepared am I to stick up for Jesus as the world’s “only way” Savior?

Adapted from The Trouble with Jesus (Moody, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: Please show me, Lord, how the reality of Easter should impact my day-to-day life.

Resurrection Reverberations – Radical Redefinition

Every Knee Shall BowWho Said It…Ronald Sider

Ron shook North American Christians in 1977 with his book, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger.  Since then he’s continued to live in inner-city Philadelphia, promoting community development, writing provocative books, and publishing Prism magazine.

Sider, raised in Canada, is the professor of theology and culture at Eastern Seminary, and the founder and president of Evangelicals for Social Action.

What He Said…Radical Redefinition

Before the Resurrection, Jesus’ followers called him “Master,” “Rabbi,” “Teacher.” Afterward they called him “Messiah,” “Son of God,” “Lord.”

This word lord (Greek kurios) was used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament to translate the word Yahweh—the name for the one God at the center of Jewish monotheism. It became a frequently used title for Jesus.

Paul applied to Jesus the words from Isaiah 45:23, which the monotheistic prophet had used for Yahweh.  After mocking the idols, Yahweh insisted that He alone was God: “Every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to my name.”

The rabbinically trained Paul—an uncompromising monotheist in his day—took those words from the mouth of Yahweh and applied them to Jesus, declaring that “at the name of Jesus every knew will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). The carpenter is kurios—God!

Adapted from The Gospel with Extra Salt (Judson, 2000)

Prayer for the Week: Please show me, Lord, how the reality of Easter should impact my day-to-day life.

Central Church Receives Its First Check from UMC Market!

UMC MarketThis morning’s offering will include a check from UMC Market for $103! 

This check is the first payment received from UMC Market for the purchases made by our members and friends who identify Central Church as the recipient.

Many thanks to everyone who has been using UMC Market to generate free cash for Central Church.  Keep Shopping!

It’s Back to School Time!

 UMC Market 3Shop Online? Make a difference when you do!

There is no better way to take care of that long Back to School shopping list than to use UMCmarket and have your favorite stores give a percentage to your church.

With the upcoming Back To School shopping season, the average family will likely spend $672. For participants in UMCmarket, your favorite stores could easily expect to give 2-5% in donations back to your church. Why not take advantage of this giving opportunity? Nearly 4,000 United Methodist churches are ALREADY receiving donations from UMCmarket today.

The Details!

UMCmarket is presented by the General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church. It takes just a couple of minutes to sign up. With our amazing Easy Give Button, you don’t even have to remember to use UMCmarket when you do your shopping. The Easy Give Button will make sure that every donation is collected automatically. Once your ministry’s donations reach $100, a check will be mailed out. You Shop. We Give! 

Share UMCmarket with your friends!

UMC Market has just mailed Central Church our first check for $103 under this program, and we look forward to receiving many more!  We hope you will sign up, try us out, and share with all of your friends.  It’s easy and free, so why not rally your friends to do the same and see how fast your donations will make a difference?


Spiritual Resources

Spiritual Resources

Check out our new Spiritual Resources page for links to more than a dozen sources of information and encouragement.

Click on the Resources tab on our home Welcome page to begin your journey of discovery.

The Russians are Coming! St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble at Central Church on October 22

St Petersburg Mens Ensemble 2Central Church will host a special concert of the St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble on Wednesday, October 22 at 7:00 p.m.

The concert is free and open to the public—please help us get the word out. 

The St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble, which includes the talents of Kirill Sokolov, Sergey Shapinsky, Vadim Smanster, and Andrei Volikov, has been performing in churches and concert halls throughout the United States since 2002.  Their concerts reflect their culture and heritage, with a balance of sacred songs by Russian composers and Russian folk songs.

St Petersburg Mens EnsembleThe members of the St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble bring extensive training and experience to the presentation of their concert selections.  They have sung with many choirs including the State Academic Capella and the Choir of Smolny Cathedral.

This year’s concert selection will feature choral works by Berezovsky, Hassler, Lotti, Mozart and Rachmaninoff amongst others. CDs and Russian gifts will be available for sale.   A free-will offering will be received to support their U.S. Tour.