4 Priorities For A Fresh Start

Posted by Perry

This is not New Year “resolutions”
1. Forget Your Failures
Phil 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself ye to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, 14 I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
2. Give Up Your Grudges
Col. 3:13 forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye:
a. unforgiving spirit…
b. unforgiving attitude…
c. unforgiving actions!
NT parable man 4given by king
Didn’t forgive man owing $20
Ended up in prison…
Unforgiving people go to prison…
Bondage of the offense
3. Restore Your Relationships
Ro 12:18 If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.
Personal Restitution…
I’m sorry
I was wrong, forgive me
4. Turn Your Back On Your Transgressions
Ro 6:2 God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?
Besetting Sins: “recurring”
Have U learned to live w/ them?
We’ve been set free in Christ.
Let’s learn to live “W/out” them!

Marriage: Built to Last

Posted by Stephen

Check out the trailer for our newest adult study beginning in early 2010!

Central's Christmas Music

Posted by Chuck

Every year I say the same thing, "this Christmas music is the best I have ever heard." Of course I mean that every single year. It's true that song writers and musicians are constantly putting together new arrangements and writing new lyrics that seem to get better every year. This year for Christmas was no exception. The music that our Choirs presented was just incredible. Our Kid's Choir presentation of "The Best Christmas Present Ever" started things off just right. With a crowd that filled the Stokes Center to capacity, our kids put it on the top shelf with an outstanding performance. I am so proud of their hard work and their excitement about our Kid's Choir Ministry.

Our Celebration Choir followed the next week with the presentation of "The Wonder of Christmas". After the performance all I could say was, "Wow, thank you God!". With some of the most beautiful arrangements and orchestrations I have ever heard this collection of music was beloved by the choir and congregation. The Celebration Choir presented the cantata in two performances on a Saturday evening and for the Sunday Morning Worship. God blessed in every moment of both presentations and the choir really did an outstanding job. I am full of gratitude to the choir for all their hard work and commitment to our Lord. I will remember this Christmas Season for a long time to come. It was just that special.


Posted by Perry

2 SAMUEL 7:1-17
CBC 12/20/09 SM
House by itself is not a home
What does it take to make a home?
People?...just people?
Stiff, uncaring, non-communicating, busy, professional people? NO!
How do porcupines hug each other?
VERY CAREFULLY…those people? NO
James Whitcomb Riley – “It takes a heap o’ livin’ to make a house a home”
Home is:
Where stress is brought & dealt w/
Not museum-like perfection
Issues of life are “fought” out
Where somebody loves you
Where they put up with you
Robert Frost said of home, “is where, when you go there, they have to take you in.”
God wants to give us a home
God wants to give us what we need to make a house a home.
That’s what God did when He sent Jesus in human form to make his home among us.
(what people say we are)
careful about our “image”
want people to think well of us
esteemed in the community
respected by the family
regarded by our neighbors
if not careful…nice place to visit, but nobody can live there.
Real life full of stresses & contradictions…(inconsistencies)
David decided to build his reputation..
2Sa 7:1 King David moved into his new palace, and the LORD let his kingdom be at peace.
2Sa 7:2 Then one day, as David was talking with Nathan the prophet, David said, "Look around! I live in a palace made of cedar, but the sacred chest has to stay in a tent."
2Sa 7:3 Nathan replied, "The LORD is with you, so do what you want!"
2Sa 7:4 That night, the LORD told Nathan
2Sa 7:5 to go to David and give him this message: David, you are my servant, so listen to what I say. Why should you build a temple for me?
2Sa 7:6 I didn't live in a temple when I brought my people out of Egypt, and I don't live in one now. A tent has always been my home wherever I have gone with them.
2Sa 7:7 I chose leaders and told them to be like shepherds for my people Israel. But did I ever say anything to even one of them about building a cedar temple for me?
2Sa 7:8 David, this is what I, the LORD All-Powerful, say to you. I brought you in from the fields where you took care of sheep, and I made you the leader of my people.
2Sa 7:9 Wherever you went, I helped you and destroyed your enemies right in front of your eyes. I have made you one of the most famous people in the world.
2Sa 7:10 I have given my people Israel a land of their own where they can live in peace, and they won't have to tremble with fear any more. Evil nations won't bother them, as they did
2Sa 7:11 when I let judges rule my people. And I have kept your enemies from attacking you. Now I promise that you and your descendants will be kings.
2Sa 7:12 I'll choose one of your sons to be king when you reach the end of your life and are buried in the tomb of your ancestors. I'll make him a strong ruler,
2Sa 7:13 and no one will be able to take his kingdom away from him. He will be the one to build a temple for me.
2Sa 7:14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I'll see that he is corrected, just as children are corrected by their parents.
2Sa 7:15 But I will never put an end to my agreement with him, as I put an end to my agreement with Saul, who was king before you.
2Sa 7:16 I will make sure that one of your descendants will always be king.
2Sa 7:17 Nathan told David exactly what he had heard in the vision.
Create a monument whereby others would recognize him…
A temple to the living God.
Even got an ok from the preacher
(proving ordained don’t get everything right!)
God overruled b/c He knew what was really going on.
God said He didn’t want a “HOUSE”
He’s more interested in “HOMES”
God saw David was after a monument to David…for kings' “reputation”
· monument not a home
· not a place where u can live
· it’s not the real you
· designed to impress & nothing more
we decide to do something dramatic and spectacular…
convince ourselves it is for God
· extra generous at Christmas
· really nice gifts
· give to missions
· serve a meal at a shelter
· sing for the homebound
· who is it really for?
· The recipients?
· Or ourselves?
· Is it out of a heart of compassion?
God says,
I don’t want show.
I don’t want empty nothings
I don’t want show houses
Want to live w/ & in you
Monuments to you I don’t need
Don’t want a house…want a home!
Not part of God’s agenda
God’s agenda is building homes
God doesn’t build buildings…He builds people
God doesn’t fill institutions…He fill people w/ His Spirit!
We invest in dreams, plans & noble works of our imagination.
He invests in lives, hearts & souls.
God made that clear to David.
God didn’t want a cedar house…
Wanted to build David a family
Make something special from sinful human beings…
Forget the cedar buildings…let’s build something worthwhile
God’s giving Himself to the building of a home with “flesh & blood” not wood
God’s not looking for an “exquisite” Christmas…
* He’s looking for messy, rough around the edges, imperfect, humble people to love & love Him back
God’s agenda is lifting up the fallen
Binding the broken hearted
Healing the wounded
Forgiving the flawed
God doesn’t bless us b/c we have decorated a tree & a house
He blesses us when:
· we see someone’s need and meet it
· we find an itch and scratch it
· we encounter a weary heart and comfort it
· we fill a hopeless mind with imagination
· we find a lonely life and fill it with love
· we come across a wandering soul and bring it home.

God is always about building lives and making homes…not just building houses…making people…not monuments.
God want to be among those who are not perfect…those with sagging spirits; with grimy windows.
Jesus came to where He was supposed to be
Those to whom He came turned Him away
They were too perfect
Too Architectural Digest
They didn’t need a Savior or any help
But to those who knew their house could use a “make-over” received Him
To them He gave the power to become His own.
When Jesus became flesh He didn’t do it in an HGTV sort of way
· born in a stable
· laid in a manger
· not a decorator showroom
He chose to make His home among our imperfection
Has your heart prepared Him room?
· your life doesn’t have to be perfect
· it’s a “lived-in” life
· you can’t fix it
· you can’t clean it
· you can’t make it good enough for Him
He’s the kind of Savior that wants to live in the middle of that and make it His home
Jesus didn’t grow up in a palace…
He was the step-son of a carpenter
He grew up an obscure child
In an ordinary village
In a 3rd rate province
In a dusty corner of the Empire
Kind'a like your street or mine
*where stresses are bought and dealt with
* where the issues of life get fought out
* where somebody loves you
* where somebody puts up with you
* where Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, has come to dwell, for me, for you.

Thanksgiving Community Service: Every Man

Posted by Stephen

We Are Here To Serve

Posted by Stephen

After working up my nerve to ride my bike in the frigid weather (well, as frigid as Arkansas weather can get before Thanksgiving), I donned my new winter cycling gloves, turned on Runkeeper on my iPhone, and set off for my 12 mile bike ride.

As I had barely gone a mile, I came upon an old, beat-up truck that was stalled in the middle of the road by Prescott High School. Politely, I went around the truck as it struggled to start. Just as I passed it, God reminded me that I am here to serve just as He came to serve.

"But God, I'll have to stop my workout! And I can't operate my iPhone with the gloves on. I'll have to take them off, too! I mean, I don't have any expertise in making stalled vehicles work anyway!"

It was then that I realized my selfishness. So I stopped, rode back, took off my gloves, paused my workout, and offered to help.

I asked the man if I could help in any way. Nodding, he got out of the truck and uttered some unintelligible words that I understood to mean "push the truck to the side of the road." So we did. He thanked me for my help, assured me that the truck would start in a few minutes and that he was close enough to the place he was going to walk, then he got a tool from his truck and went to work at a house nearby.

As I started my iPhone workout app again and felt the warmth of my gloves on my cold fingers, I began to realize that I am here to serve. I am here to be the hands and feet of Jesus. The hands and feet of the Good News. There is nothing more important than serving, especially those who are less fortunate.

God, thank you for beginning my servolution. Let me be always open and willing to serve "the least of these" in Your Name. Let Your servolution spread from your heart to my life to the community I live in. Amen.

(Post from Stephen's Live. Move. Exist. Blog.)


Posted by Perry


CBC 11/15/09 SM
Hos 7:8 Ephraim, he mixeth himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake not turned.
Ephraim – son of Joseph (Israel); tribe descended from Joseph of the Nation of Israel
he mixeth himself among the peoples
i. e., with the pagan; he “mixed” or “mingled” himself among or with them, so as to corrupt himself, learned their works”.
Psa 106:35 but they mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did.
God had forbidden all intermarriage with the pagan, Exo 34:12 Don't make treaties with any of those people. If you do, it will be like falling into a trap. Exo 34:16 Your men will even marry their women and be influenced to worship their gods.
2Co 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
Such are the ways of those who put themselves amid occasions of sin.

Ephraim is - (literally, “is become”) a cake (literally, “on the coals”) not turned [HALF BAKED]
“Ephraim” had been “mingled,” kneaded up into one, as it were, “with the pagan,” their ways, their idolatries, their vices.
God would correct them, and they, withholding themselves from His discipline, and not yielding themselves wholly to it, were but spoiled.
The sort of cake, to which Ephraim is here likened, literally, “circular,” was a thin pancake, to which a scorching heat was applied on one side;
If it remained long “unturned,” it was burned on the one side; while it continued unbaked, doughy, recking, on the other;
the fire spoiling, not penetrating it through. Such were the people;
such are too many so-called Christians;
they united in themselves hypocrisy and ungodliness, outward performance and inward lukewarmness;
the one overdone, but without any wholesome effect on the other.
The one was scorched and black; the other, steamed, damp, and lukewarm;
the whole worthless, spoiled irremediably, fit only to be cast away.
The fire of God’s judgment, with which the people should have been corrected,
made but an outward impression upon them, and reached not within,
nor to any thorough change, so that they were the more hopelessly spoiled through the means which God used for their correction.
A/ found out Sin is a Lie - In the Garden Satan said "Hath God Said?" We like (Gomer/Ephriam) deceived into thinking that her lovers (sin) would do for her. But it was a lie, all they did was take from her, then cast her aside.

B/ found out Sin is a Delusion - Sin is naturally treacherous. Sin offers much pleasure, but in the end man is cruelly betrayed. Sin offers itself as a friend, then becomes a fiend. Gomer sought pleasure and someone to build her ego, but ended being used and cast away.

C/ found out Sin is Separation - Sin separates man from God and man from man. The sinner is not only separated from God here and now, but dying in sin, is eternally separated from God. Gomer was separated from all those who truly loved her by her sin.

D/ found out Sin is Perversion - Sin is crooked, a perverse , distorted thing, distorts man’s thoughts of God distorts His will for our lives.
only think of ourselves, not of God or others.

E/ found out Sin is Servitude – sin brings servitude. Gomer, Samson, and the whole nation of Israel paid the price of servitude for their sins.

F/ found out Sin is Emptiness - A Man or a Woman who serves sin gets nothing for it. Failure, defeat, disgust and disappointment are written over the life of a sinner. The rewards of sin are confusion and dissatisfaction.

G/ found out Sin is a Mistake - All who sin discover, sooner or later, that they have made a mistake. I wonder how many times PEOPLE wished THEY could go back and undue THEIR sins.

H/ found out Sin Ruins Life and Hope - As we view Gomer on the Auction Block, we see a life in ruin, a woman without hope.


A/ GO YET LOVE - Hosea 3:1Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.
God was loving them [us] and looking upon them [us]; and they [we], all the while, were looking to other gods.Rom 5:8 But God has made clear his love to us, in that, when we were still sinners, Christ gave his life for us.

B/ THE COST OF LOVE - Hosea 3:2So I bought her to me for fifteen of silver, and an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley: [JOHN 3:16]

So then His Goodness overflows into beneficence, and condescension, and graciousness and mercy and forgiving love, and joy in imparting Himself, and complacence in the creatures which he has formed, and re-formed, redeemed and sanctified for His glory.
Well may His creatures “tremble toward” it, with admiring wonder that all this can be made their’s!


Posted by Perry

LUKE 17:11-19
CBC 11/8/09 SM
R we thankful in every situation?
ILL: 2 men walking thru field/spotted enraged bull/ran for nearest fence/apparent they weren’t going 2 make it/1 shouted to other, “pray”/I don’t pray in public other shouted/U must companion shouted/all right, I’ll say the only prayer I know…”O Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful.”
Christians shouldn’t confine “thanksgiving” to just November.
Our lesson in thanksgiving is found in Luke 17:11-19
· In An Awful Position
o Walking dead
o Evicted from their home
o Forced into leper colony
o Couldn’t work or worship @ the temple
o Hadn’t felt touch of wife…
o Couldn’t kiss their children
o No vacation with friends
o Couldn’t go to church
o Couldn’t go near Jesus
§ b/c of the “law”
(sinners like that – afar off from Jesus & Heaven b/c of the “law”)…
· could have said,
o “we’re not so bad
o we’re all in same condition
o my leprosy not as bad as his, so I’m doing ok
· 2 many today living in “denial”
o won’t admit their need…
o find someone worse than them
o we live in “spiritual” leper colony in America
o I’m not so bad, I haven’t…
o I’m better than the hypocrites at CBC…
(sin puts us in an Awful Position)
· In An Approachable Position
o Thankful Jesus goes where the law can’t tread!!!
o Jesus came to “rescue” sinners
o Jesus can reach us in our awful position
§ Family can’t
§ Friends can’t
§ Church can’t
§ Jesus can not only reach us, but save us
§ He doesn’t stand afar off, ashamed of us
· Their Observation
o The saw & sensed their need
§ B4 Jesus can help U must admit ur need
§ Step 1 of 12 admit your problem…
· Alcoholic
· Sex aholic
· Drug addict
· Rotten sinner
*they cried out for mercy
* Their Obedience
* prayer w/out obedience is useless
* Jesus said go to priest
* priest no power 2 heal
* weren’t healed immediately
* as they obeyed they were healed
* Faith doesn’t need any evidence, it simply obeys
QUOTE: “Faith is coming to the edge of all you can see and feel and taking one more step into the darkness – trusting that God will either catch you or teach you how to fly!”
· The Opportunity of Praise
o Wasn’t content 2 to 2 church & C the priest
o Ran back 2 Jesus 2 give Him thanks
o He wanted a relationship, not a religion
o Do we see a “need” 2 praise
§ How do U praise?
o ten men exposed to power of God, only 1 sought personal relationship w/ Him
o God’s blessing poured out on everybody, not just his children
Mat 5:45 …He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong.
o do U only use God like 911, when you’re N trouble?
o He wants relationship w/ us all the time
· The Object of Praise
o Where are the other 9?
§ Kissing their wife
§ Hugging the kids
§ Down at deer camp
§ Applying 4 a job
o but one had diff. priorities
§ he wanted to do all that too
§ but He put Jesus 1st
§ w/ loud voice he glorified God
§ we same intensity he cried for mercy, he glorified God!
· man threw himself @ Jesus’ feet and thanked Him
o God saddened by #’s that R 2 busy to stop & give Him thanks
o Or convinced themselves they’ve “earned” it themselves
1Th 5:18 Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.
· diff. between “feeling” gratitude & “expressing” gratitude
Heb 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
· fruit of lips, not a “warm fuzzy” feeling in your heart
o don’t just feel it,
INV: 90% settled 4 less/1 got eternal salvation

Desperate Households

Posted by Perry


(sermon notes for Sunday Morning 11/1/09)

Can U say spouse is Best Friend?
God joins 2 into 1flesh…

· more than lovers
· joining hearts
· joining dreams
· joining thoughts
· best friends
Son 5:16 His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.
Ladies – no relationship should come close to that U have w/ Husband
· children
· girlfriends
· another man
Men – no relationship should come close to that U have w/ Wife
· buddy
· coworker
· hunting partner
· memb. Tree house fort
· secret club
It’s not “automatic” b/c you…
· exchange vows
· trade rings
· swap spit
Major cause of lack of friendship in marriage is premarital sex in dating!
· physical takes priority over
o romantic
o dating relationship
o friendship stops growing
COMPANIONSHIP [my loved one, my friend]
Ill: Guy likes golf/Girl likes 2 workout
Like each other so try others interest
Get married/take other for granted
Companionship not that important
He plays golf & she works out
Don’t really like each other’s interest
Guy meet girl on golf course…
Girl meets guy at the gym…
Divorce next step…found someone to be married to and be their friend!
· How do U spend ur leisure time?
o Going different directions?
o Recipe for disaster
#1 Unhealthy for married person to spend the most enjoyable moments of their life in the company of someone else.
· why get married if…
o just want to hang out w/ the guys all the time
o gals want to talk on phone to gal friends and shop till they drop all the time
o if all u need in spare time is tv anyway why the spouse?
· ask God to give you common interests
#2 Because pursuing your own interests without your spouse demonstrates selfishness
#3 Because this will lead to a fulfilling marriage.
· happier as a give not a taker
· must have fun together to associate happiness together
#4 Because shared experiences lead to shared feelings
· if God made 2 into 1 makes sense those 2 will do things together often!
CONVERSATION [mouth is most sweet]
Not bubblegum flavored lip gloss…
Sweet in what comes out of their mouth…WORDS!
#1 What do close friends do?
· share themselves w/ each other
· confide in each other
· learn more about each other
· discuss their innermost thoughts, ideas, and goals w/ each other
Typically, women have greater need for conversation than men do.
Helps her feel united & bonded…also loved and cared for.
#2 Goal of courtship is 2 fold:
· get to know each other better
· convey how much we love each other
#3 Why do couples stop talking?
· too busy with work
· different interests
· selfishness
· fighting
#4 Enemies of good conversation
· Using words as punishment
· Using words to force agreement
· Dwelling on mistakes, past or present
#5 Friends of good conversation
· Undivided attention
· Giving a response
· Respecting their opinion
· Speaking in love w/ kindness
· Talking just to talk
· Positive praising
#6 Benefits of conversing:
· clearer understanding of each other
· learn how to meet each other’s needs
· become best friends
COMMITMENT [altogether desirable]
#1 Commitment to Sacrifice
· lay down life for our friends
#2 Commitment to Closeness
· doesn’t happen by accident…only on purpose
· rate closeness to your spouse on scale of 1 to 10 (write on bulletin, don’t let other see it…show it)
o national average – guys write 8, gals write 2
o marriages don’t “fall” apart, they “drift” apart
#3 Commitment to honesty
· 3 types of liars

o born liar
o band-aid liar
o protector liar
#4 Commitment to Prayer
1Pe 3:7 In a similar way, you husbands must live with your wives in an understanding manner, as with a most delicate vessel. Honor them as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing may interfere [exscind – cut out] with your prayers.
#5 Commitment to a Good Spirit
· Women need attention
o Men need admiration
· Women need love
o Men need respect
· Women want leadership
o Men want a following

Pro 2:16 To take you out of the power of the strange woman, who says smooth words with her tongue;
· 3 ways to never change your husband:
o nagging
o criticizing
o physical punishment (i.e. w/holding sex)
· How husbands can respond…
o Clam up
o Blow up
o Give up 60% of marriages today prove this
#6 Commitment to Unconditional Love
“It’s not love that sustains your commitment…it’s commitment that sustains your love.”

Because Brenda Asked

Posted by Perry

The following is the outline for the previous Sunday's sermon...

JOSHUA 5:13-6:21

CBC 10/25/09 SM
Joshua facing battle of Jericho…
Survey situation before the battle…
Have a heart check-up before battle…
overcome challenge of past failures
failure 40 yrs ago disobedient nation…
Phil 3: (Paul says…)
V12 no one escapes failure of some kind
V13 leave the past where it is…in the past
V13 focus on those things you can do something about
friend or foe… “NEITHER”…?
God doesn’t take sides
God takes over!
Don’t ask if God is on our side…
Ask if we are on God’s side!
Physically, emotionally & spiritually
Israel had tried to take the land on their own previously…
w/out God they failed miserably
Must encounter Jesus Christ
fell on face & worshipped Him
angels don’t allow that
what are my instructions?
Take off shoes, holy grd
V2 battle won, past tense (B4 it ever started…)
strange instructions for battle
march around city for 6 days
ark of covenant (presence of Lord) out front of procession
people shouted & walls fell??
God sometimes puts our contributions on sideline so people can see GOD!
2Co 4:7 We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us.
don’t shout, yell, talk or respond to those on the wall…
by 6th day everybody was on the wall watching, heckling, spitting…
control our tongue & let God do the speaking
Exo 14:14 The Lord will make war for you, you have only to keep quiet.
Psa 46:10 Our God says, "Calm down, and learn that I am God! All nations on earth will honor me."
Psa 46:11 The LORD All-Powerful is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress.
picture this…2 million people marching 7 times around a walled city…the lines began to overlap until the city was surrounded on all sides by multiple lines hundreds deep…
SHOUT! And the people shouted
Wall fell flat (w/ crowd on top)
God honors “obedience”
Not our strength, intelligence, good looks…
Victory doesn’t usually come in the first round…
everyone in city killed, young & old
Jericho had 40 yrs to repent
While Israel wandered in wilderness
2Pe 3:3 But first you must realize that in the last days some people won't think about anything except their own selfish desires. They will make fun of you
2Pe 3:9 The Lord isn't slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.
2Pe 3:10 The day of the Lord's return will surprise us like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a loud noise, and the heat will melt the whole universe. Then the earth and everything on it will be seen for what they are.
2Pe 3:11 Everything will be destroyed. So you should serve and honor God by the way you live.

How To Be A Good Father

Posted by Perry

1.- LOVE YOUR WIFE – Ephesians 5:28 – “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.”- You are creating a pattern and model for how your children will live their lives as parents and mates.

2.- DON’T EXPECT PERFECT CHILDREN – Colossians 3:21 – “Fathers, don’t make your children resentful, or they will become discouraged.”- Don’t expect your children to fulfill your unfulfilled goals.- Accept your children … acknowledge their imperfections … and love them in spite of their imperfections.

3.- ENJOY YOUR CHILDREN – Psalm 127:3 – “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is your reward.”- Have fun with your children.- The QUANTITY of time you spend with them indicates how important they are to you … don’t give them your leftovers.

4.- LISTEN TO YOUR CHILDREN – Proverbs 1:5 – “A wise man will hear and increase in learning.”- They need your undivided attention … be available.

5.- PROVIDE FOR YOUR CHILDREN – 1 Timothy 5:8 – “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.”- Don’t rob your children of the blessing of WANTING, WORKING and WAITING for material things.- Providing TOO MUCH is as bad as providing TOO LITTLE.

6.- TRAIN YOUR CHILDREN – Ephesians 6:4 – “And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”- Teach your children BOUNDARIES … to respect authority.- If you don’t, THEY will become the authority in the home.

7.- PRAY FOR YOURSELF – 1 Chronicles 16:11 – “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually.”- You need help … you can’t do it alone.

8.- PRAY FOR YOUR CHILDREN – Psalm 55:17 – “Evening and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud; and He shall hear my voice.”- Let God do for them what you can’t … He loves them too!

9.- BE A POSITIVE ROLE MODEL – Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”- You ARE a role model … like it or not!

10.- PREPARE YOUR CHILDREN – Proverbs 23:24 – “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise son will be glad in him.”- Prepare them for eternity … have a Godly influence on the path they take for eternity.

Parenting The Early Years

Posted by Perry

Sunday Mornings @ 10am in room S-103 we are going through a study that is designed for parents with small children. It is video based with a take home workbook. The video segments feature Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott. Let me give you a taste of what the class is about.
"Dad," my first grader asked me a couple months ago, "what are you going to do when you come to my class for Parent's Day?" He was standing on the opposite side of my desk in my home study.
"What have the other parents done?" I asked, looking up from my computer screen where I was replying to email.
"Anthony's dad let each of us try on his fireman's helment and heavy jacket," he said excitedly. "It is so heavy and it smelled like smoke! Anthony's dad rescues people from burning buildings with a big ax! Have you ever done that, Dad?"
"Well, no. I haven't done that," I said clearing my throat. "What have other parents done when they come to your class?"
"Nick's mom is a doctor," John continued, "and she put a cast on Nick's arm right there in the class and then she cut off the cast and passed it around the room so we could touch it...but Taden didn't want to because he said it was gross."
"Wow!" I said, trying to join in on his excitement."
"So what are you going to do dad?" John asked earnestly.
"Well, son, let's see. Umm, what do you think I should do?"
"Mommy says you work at your computer and talk on the phone a lot."
"I guess she's right about that - but I don't think I want to do that for your class."
"Nooo!" John giggled.
"Let me talk to your mom about Parent's Day."
With that, John scampered out to the back yard as I tracked down Leslie in the kitchen. "What am I supposed to do in John's class for Parent's Day? John's going to think I'm the most boring dad in the world and he'll remember this forever," I said frantically.
Leslie started laughing.
"I'm serious."
"I know. I just got a mental image of you showing the class how you talk on your cell phone and write at your computer."
"Very funny!" I snapped. "John and I have already made that joke - and I didn't laugh then either."
Just then, John came in from the backyard and said, "Hey dad, why don't you bring your brain to class."
He wasn't joking. John had once sat in on one of my lectures at the university where I talked about the human brain. I'd used an actual human brain from a formaldehyde container I borrowed from the biology department. Needless to say, he was facinated - as were my college students.
And that's exactly what I did for Parent's Day. I explained to his first grade class that I was a "doctor" who works on feelings and that feelings begin in the brain. I showed them a colorful wooden model of the brain and then asked if they'd like to see an actual brain that I had in a cardboard box.
"Yes - show us the brain!" some students shouted.
They were now literally sitting on the edge of their seats and John was grinning ear to ear. The anticipation in that first grade classroom was palpable. I put on my protective goggles and latex gloves before reaching into the box. The children were wide-eyed - except for Taden. He was peeking through his fingers.
I spent the next few minutes answering one question after the other. And the questions ranged from the practical ("What are all those lines on it?") to the curious ("Whose brain is it?") to the theological ("Doesn't he need his brain in Heaven?").
Needless to say, I was a hit. The kids still talk about it when they see me picking up John after school. And so does John. "Remember when you brought the brain to my school, dad?" he'll say. "That was awesome!"
Whew! I did it. I made my son proud. And isn't that what every parent wants? Don't you want your child's perception of you to be as positive as possible?
That afternoon after buckling John into his car seat and traveling back home from school, Leslie and I were talking about what we might do for dinner. Then, during the brief lull, John said something that would melt every parent's heart: "Dad, I want to be like you."
Truth is, whether a child says it or not, they feel it. Children aspire to become what their parents are. And that's precisely why it's critical to be the kind of parent you want to be.
John's comment got me to thinking. If he wants to be like me, how does he perceive me? What qualities does he see in me that he wants to emulate? Suddenly I was more self-conscious than I'd been in years. Metaphorically, I began to "check myself out." Was I a patient man, I wondered. Would my son look at me and say "I want to be patient like dad is"? Was I an optimistic person? I sure wanted my son to be. Was I forgiving, empathic, comforting, kind?
Have you ever thought about that? What traits does your child see in you? Perhaps more importantly, what traits doesn't you child see in you that you wish he or she did?
From the day John was born I was so focused on what I would do as a parent - reading all kinds of books on techneques and strategies - that I hadn't given much thought at all to the kind of parent I wanted to be.
Leslie felt the same way. And the more we talked about it, the more serious we became about what we've come to call "intentional traits." We each made a list of the top five traits we wanted to be sure our children saw in us. And our lists were very different. What is more, some of the traits came naturally and easily to one or the other of us, while other traits would require more work.
Now, don't misunderstand, we are all for using good parenting techniques for disciplining and motivating; but your child's character hinges on the traits you exhibit as a parent. And who you are as a parent is not left to fate, luck, or chance. While there are plenty of things about your child's life that are unpredictable and beyond you control, you can choose to be the kind of parent you want to be.
Being a parent - not just doing parental things - is the most important calling you will ever have. But it's also the most rewardeing enterprise of your life - especially when you are the parent you want to be.
Excerpt from "The Parent You Want to Be" Copyright 2007 by Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott. Zondervan Publishing House.

Proverbs: Wisdom Versus Folly (An Introduction)

Posted by Stephen

This is a video explaining the lesson I taught yesterday in the high school small group in case you missed it, or if you just want to see what we were doing yesterday!

Time Goes By Fast - Make It Count

Posted by Perry

In the book of James it says,
Jas 4:14 What do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears.

The psalmist said that life is like grass. It rises in the morning, grows tall in the afternoon, only to be cut down in the evening. Job said that life is brief, like the swift flight of an eagle, swooping down after its prey. They were all right, weren't they? Life is definitely short.

How long has it been since you sat down with your Bible and read about the life of Jesus from His birth in Bethlehem to His death, burial, resurrection and ascension? It doesn't take that long to read about it, it was only 33 years. Yet look what he did in that short time span. He moved from obscurity to world renown. He touched lives in various ways. He changed the world without the use of books, magazines, radio, television or the internet. The life that was formed in a carpenter's shop ended abruptly on a cross, yet Jesus made every day count.

You want every day to count too, don't you? You want your days with your spouse or your kids and grandkids to count. You want those days to mean something. We want to know that we've left our mark. In every human being there is a need that's been hard-wired into us that drives us to desire significance and value.

Think back over the last week. Were there conversations you wish you'd have had? Relationships you wish you had nurtured? Prayers you wish you had prayed? Was there something of significance you wish you had done? Or done differently? Think back over the past month, or even better, to the first of this year.

Has your marriage grown the way you secretly hoped it would? Are you still in that relationship you thought would end? Did you save the money you wanted to save? Did you take the trip you'd been dreaming of taking? Did you form that friendship you thought you'd form? Did you keep the commitments you made to God? Was there a giant in your life you planned to slay? You were going to give up smoking, but you didn't. You were going to stop watching so much TV, but you haven't. You were going to start spending more time with your family, but it didn't happen. And we won't even mention those few pounds you've been meaning to get rid of.

We've got to make every day count! Let me remind you of something from God's Word that I think will help. In the book of Numbers 14 God tells the people that are 20 years old and older that they are going to die in the wilderness. They would wander around for 40 years, a year for every day they spied out the land and witnessed its bounty. And for 40 years they would live with the knowledge that their carcasses would fall there, never really knowing the great blessings of God. The people's disobedience was so offensive to God that verse 36 tells us the 10 men who gave the evil report were struck dead instantly.

Do you know what important lesson those men and their families learned that day? It was the same lesson God is trying to teach us today: life is short. Make every day count.

Num 14:39 The people of Israel were very sad after Moses gave them the LORD's message.
Num 14:40 So they got up early the next morning and got ready to head toward the hill country of Canaan. They said, "We were wrong to complain about the LORD. Let's go into the land that he promised us."
Num 14:41 But Moses replied, "You're disobeying the LORD! Your plan won't work,
Num 14:42 so don't even try it. The LORD refuses to help you, because you turned your backs on him. The Amalekites and the Canaanites are your enemies, and they will attack and defeat you."
Num 14:43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you will be put to death by their swords: because you have gone back from the way of the Lord, the Lord will not be with you. Num 14:44 But the Israelites ignored Moses and marched toward the hill country, even though the sacred chest and Moses did not go with them.
Num 14:45 The Amalekites and the Canaanites came down from the hill country, defeated the Israelites, and chased them as far as the town of Hormah.

What did they do? How did they respond? As soon as Moses told them what they had done and what God was going to do about it, they were gripped with REGRET! They knew they had missed out on abundant life. They knew they were passing up the Promised Land. They knew they had offended God. They knew they were condemned to life in the wilderness, and they knew they were condemned to die in the wilderness. And they regretted giving in to their fear.

So what's the answer? If life really is short and we really do want every day to count...if we're going to get to the end of our lives and have no regrets, then how are we to spend our days? Jesus told us. We've got to give ownership of them to Him. We've got to lose our lives for His sake. We've got to be so absolutely given over to Him that when he says to do a thing or to go some place or to say some thing, then that's exactly what we're going to do, when He says do it. It really boils down to living each day of our lives with a kingdom focus.

That's easier said than done, but it can be done. Is your life absolutely given over to Jesus Christ? Is He really the Lord of your life? Is He the One calling the shots? Will you be able to stand before Him unashamed with what you've offered to Him with your life?

Maybe you still don't see how that helps, or how that does anything to alleviate or eliminate any of our regrets. But it does. Because you see, there are so many unimportant things in our lives that Jesus speaks perspective into. So you regret that you didn't buy that hot rod or you regret that you didn't finish some project. A kingdom focused life may demonstrate that in the grand scheme of things those particular things didn't really matter. Lot's wife regretted having to give up those sorts of things, and when she looked back to see them, she was turned into a pillar of salt. (another sermon...)

Following Jesus puts life into perspective. Life is short. And I don't know about you, but I want every day that I live to count. I want to know that when I get to the end of my life, whether that be this year or in 40 years when I'm 90, that it has been spent on something significant: that I have made my mark. That's a God-given desire, a desire that can only be satisfied by Christ. If that's what we want, then we'd better make sure we're spending each day in the center of His will, doing what He says, living lives of humble obedience one day at a time: offering to God a life committed to His kingdom values and goals.

* Jesus Christ is calling you to follow Him closer than you have been. What blessings will you pass up if you keep your distance?

* What lives will go unchanged because we're too busy to pray for them?

* What riches will go unnoticed because we don't like to read God's Word?

* How would your family dynamic change if you were completely honest and obedient with your parents/spouse/boss/friends?

* What would you attempt for God if you could trust Him in that decision you have to make? If you weren't stalling out of fear?

There are so many questions. What's going on in your life may be completely different than what's going on in my life. For me, I finally decided to quit leading out of fear of failure of what others might think. I decided to let go of those fears because without realizing it I was trying to save my life, when in reality I was losing my life. If decided to follow Christ. I had put my hand to the plow years ago. It was time to quit looking around and looking back and get my heart and head fully engaged in where God was trying to take me. Life is short. I want to make every day count for Christ. He'll take care of whether my life has significance. He'll do the same in your life too if you'll let Him.


Posted by Perry

What do you fear? It's really amazing how many people are afraid of so many things. Common fears are: deep water, needles, growing old in this body, losing my mind, monsters, the dark, flying, falling, failure, criticism, rejection, death, retirement, the unknown...and the list goes on and on.

Do you get the picture? People around us live in fear. Maybe you share in some of those fears. Our fears cause us to make specific choices, all of which are not good for healthy living and our relationships. For instance, if you're afraid of confrontation you may put up with a bad job situation when you don't have to. Or maybe you're afraid of growing old alone, so you make choices to be with people who aren't good for you.

Churches can be gripped with fear. They fail to practice discipline because they're afraid someone might leave. Afraid to try something because we've not done it like that before. Afraid to let something go because they've grown comfortable with it, or because it feels too much like they're losing their heritage. Churches can be afraid to follow God for fear of the unknown, what it might cost, or what it might require. You may have passed up a ministry opportunity because you're afraid. Afraid the kids won't respond to you. You may be afraid of speaking in public. Afraid you don't have anything worth saying. Afraid you don't have what it takes to do the job. Afraid of falling and losing face.

Our culture thrives on the thrill, anxiety, heart-stopping action, living on the edge. It profits from our fears while we all too often live enslaved to them: at work, at home, in our private life. We're consumed with safety. Have you noticed it? Some of it is good. We buckle up behind our airbags and safety cages. We put our baby bed rails closer together. Some high school tracks are rubber now instead of rock. We're insured to the hilt, we've got answers ready and waiting in case the preacher asks us to volunteer for a ministry, and we fight tooth and nail against what is slightly unfamiliar or uncomfortable.

I want you to know that you're not alone. Whether we'd admit it or not, everyone reading this blog is effected by our silent, private fears, whatever they may be. From the very beginning fear has dominated people's lives, to their own detriment, but I also want you to know that God never intended for us to live that way.

Do you remember the story in the Bible about God trying to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land? The book of Exodus tells us the story of God's delivering Israel from Egypt and their journey to Canaan. He told them over and over He was going to give them that land: a land flowing with milk and honey. It's a beautiful piece of real estate that has been reserved just for you. I'm going to kill your enemies, drive out all the land squatters, bless you in every way, and all you have to do is move in and take the land.

Numbers 13 tells us how God instructed Moses to send 12 spies into the land to search it out, explore it, see if it wasn't all He had promised. And He repeated the promise. I'm giving you the land, the key word being GIVING. So they did. Those twelve representatives went, and they explored.

READ NUMB3RS 13:25-14:10a

Notice 11 observations about fear from what you just read:

1. Fear always has a "but"; 2. Fear looks for the obstacles; 3. Fear focuses on the difficulties; 4. Fear spreads like wildfire; 5. Fear doesn't listen to reason; 6. Fear demoralizes and immobilizes us; 7. Fear says "if only"; 8. Fear says "we can't"; 9. Fear longs for the comfort of yesterday; 10. Fear will cause us to act foolishly; 11. Fear of this sort is offensive to God.

Compare this to John 10:10 where Jesus says that He came to give us abundant life. Just like God marvelously delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage, Jesus has delivered us from our slavery to sin. He gave us life, but He wants us to have abundant life. I want you to notice that the abundant life Jesus is speaking of here is found in the context of a personal trust relationship with God: the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep. When the sheep know the shepherd, they trust him, and when they trust him they are absolutely at ease to follow him. You'll never see a shepherd lead his flock out to pasture and hear the sheep say, "Woa! We can't go to that pasture! The hill is too steep. The grass is slippery. There might be wolves over there. We can't possibly eat all that grass. Let's stone this stupid shepherd and get a new one!" No - sheep simply trust and follow.

Here's what you need to hear today, whether you're a 10 year-old kid facing 5th grade peer-pressure, a high school teen so afraid of rejection that you're doing what God doesn't want you doing, an over-controlling parent afraid of failure, a church member who's favorite words are "but, if only, and we can't", or the spouse of someone who's job requires them to be away from home and in harms way every single day." Here's what I want you to hear today: God never intended for us to operate, live, work and relate in fear mode.

There's an abundant life out there that is ours for the taking. Spy it out. Explore what God is trying to give you. But as you listen to the naysayers and the people with the biggest "if only's", remember that God never intended for us to operate, live, work and relate out of fear. Your marriage will never last if you're always worried about infidelity. You'll never enjoy peace if you fear him or her leaving you. God never intended marriages to work that way. School is a tough place to live out your faith. You may be afraid the kids won't like you, afraid they'll make fun of you, afraid you don't really fit in. What are your fears causing you to give up and give in to? What are you fears costing you? God never intended His people to live in fear like that.

Some of you know God would have you share your life with someone. Will your fears of getting hurt or used stop you? You know God wants you to relax and rest. Will you allow your fears of criticism keep you running? Ask yourself this question: what is one thing in my life that fear is keeping me from enjoying the abundance of life God promised me? Just one thing? What is one relationship that fear is destroying? Fear of losing; fear of messing up; fear of not being loved; fear of not being accepted?

Does your fear always have a "but"? You'd be at ease, "but"...You'd be successful, "but"...

Have you been looking at the obstacles in your way?

Focusing on the difficulties?

What relationships at home, work or church are being caught up in the wildfire?

Is your fear preventing you from listening to reason?

Do you feel demoralized and immobilized?

Have you been saying: "if only"

Are your unintentional favorite words, "I can't"?

Are you longing for the comfort of yesterday?

Are you making decisions impulsively or even foolishly?

Are you aware that your fears may be offensive to God?

God never intended for you to live and operate out of fear. That's why Jesus could say His sheep hear His voice and follow Him. Israel didn't know that voice. God spoke to them words of victory and promised them a land of abundance, but they didn't follow. They cratered to their fears...and they died!

How might our futures be different if FEAR WASN'T A FACTOR?

Crazy Hair Night at AWANA

Posted by Sherry

Times are a-Changin'

Posted by Stephen

Busy Time for Children and Youth

Posted by Stephen

Whew! Times are busy, yet very exciting around Central's Children and Youth Department!

Just this week we are paining the upstairs Children's Education Wing as part of our Noah's Ark Renovation! When this is complete, children at Central will step onboard Noah's Ark every time that they come to church! This project will also fit our Children's Education Wing to be better fitted to the teaching method known as "Center-Based Learning." This style will augment our Children's Education Process because they are visually stimulated by the vivid colors and creative paintings, they move from one room to another for different lessons, and they get hands-on instruction in life lessons.

See You At The Pole is also this week! The youth will meet tonight in the youth room to plan and pray for this exciting event! SYATP will begin at 7a at MMS and PHS flagpoles! SYATP is an international event that envelops students across the globe and encourages them to pray for their school, their nation, and their world!

Also this Wednesday is our fourth Awana of the year! We are continuing to grow, so consider helping us in Awana!

To cap off the week, this season's first 5th Quarter is this Friday here at our church! Students will have the opportunity to come after the game and have a great time in a safe environment. More importantly, this will be a unique time when lost and seeking students will be right here in our church. What an opportunity for the Great Commission! We will have video games, basketball, tons of food and desserts, and plenty of space to hang out!

Whew! Please continue to pray for us as we strive to serve the Lord though this busy week of activities!


Posted by Perry

Joh 16:20 Truly I say to you, You will be weeping and sorrowing, but the world will be glad: you will be sad, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.
Joh 16:21 When a woman is about to give birth she has sorrow, because her hour is come; but when she has given birth to the child, the pain is put out of her mind by the joy that a man has come into the world.
Joh 16:22 So you have sorrow now: but I will see you again, and your hearts will be glad, and no one will take away your joy.
Joh 16:23 And on that day you will put no questions to me. Truly I say to you, Whatever request you make to the Father, he will give it to you in my name.
Joh 16:24 Up to now you have made no request in my name: do so, and it will be answered, so that your hearts may be full of joy.

We tend to equate "happiness" with joy but they are two totally different ideas because they each spring from a different source. One comes from the world around me. The other originates directly from the Spirit of the Living God. Happiness is conditioned by and often dependent upon what is "happening" to me. If people treat me good, if things are going well in my life, then I'm happy. If my circumstances aren't favorable, then I'm unhappy.

Joy on the other hand, throbs throughout scripture as a profound, compelling quality of life that trancends the events and disasters which may overtake God's people. Joy is a divine dimension of living that is not shackled by circumstances. The word in the original language means, "to leap or spin around with pleasure."

To have the fruit of joy ripen in our lives is to recognize the journey involved in getting there. It takes time, diligence, patience, and hard work to make a grapevine produce grapes. Fruit is not instantaneous because it has to overcome weather, bugs, weeds, poor soil and neglect. Likewise, in our journey to joy we're faced with the waves of apathy, the currents of pessimism, the deluge of doubt and the waterfalls of despair. There is no way we can manufacture this fruit on our own.

If we want to see this fruit ripen in our lives, we desperately need the Holy Spirit to prune away whatever it is that hinders our joy and then empower us to make some choices that move us closer to a lifestyle of rejoicing. We need to guard against three common Joy Busters and we need to cultivate some Joy Builders into our lives.

JOY BUSTER #1: Unsatisfied Expectations - Do you ever feel like you're just going through some joyless routines in life? Do you have unsatisfied expectations concerning your marriage, kids, career or some other area of life? Discontentment can rob us of our joy. Paul said in Philippians 4:12 It is the same to me if I am looked down on or honoured; everywhere and in all things I have the secret of how to be full and how to go without food; how to have wealth and how to be in need. There's a mystery about it. He had to "learn" how to live with unsatisfied expectations. Contentment doesn't come when we have everything we want but when we want everything we have.

JOY BUSTER #2: Unresolved Conflicts - Our joy evaporates when we allow conflict between ourselves and another person to go on. Anger clouds the eyes of our heart and obscures our view of God, draining away our joy. The writer of Hebrews says, "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."

JOY BUSTER #3: Unconfessed Sin - Guilt can gut your joy faster than anything I know. Sin has the ability to send joy far away. King David writes in the Psalm about this very subject, "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long...Then I acknowledged my sin to you...and you forgave the guilt of my sin."

We need to cultivate the following Joy Builders in our lives.

JOY BUILDER #1: Recognize God as Joyful - Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God wins victory after victory and is always with you. He celebrates and sings because of you, and he will refresh your life with his love."

JOY BUILDER #2: Rehearse God's Attributes in Worship - Psalm 66:1-4 Tell everyone on this earth to shout praises to God! Sing about his glorious name. Honor him with praises. Say to God, "Everything you do is fearsome, and your mighty power makes your enemies come crawling. You are worshiped by everyone! We all sing praises to you."

JOY BUILDER #3: Reaffirm Your Commitment to Others - Rom 12:15 When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad. If you're not in fellowship with believers, your joy will leak out.

JOY BUILDER #4: Reignite Your Passion for Evangelism - Luke 15 records how much rejoicing takes place when the lost are found. [lost sheep, lost coin & lost son]

JOY BUILDER #5: Release You Problems to the Lord - Acts 16 gives the account of Paul and Silas being severely flogged and thrown into prison. In verse 25 they were "praying and singing hymns to God..." They turned a tough situation into an opportunity for rejoicing.

JOY BUILDER #6: Remain Close to Jesus - John 15:10,11 If you obey me, I will keep loving you, just as my Father keeps loving me, because I have obeyed him. I have told you this to make you as completely happy as I am.

Here's three steps to help you apply this lesson to your life:

1. Guard yourself against those joy busters that crash into your life like a tidal wave.

2. Identify one joy builder that you need to work on. Pick one that you are weak in.

3. Read through the short book of Philippians for a week. The word "joy" or "rejoice" is used 19 different times. As you read it, ask God to ripen the fruit of joy in your life.

A Lesson from Karate Kid

Posted by Stephen

Watch this clip from the classic movie, Karate Kid:

The whole time that Daniel was doing (what he thought was only) mundane chores for Mr. Mayagi was actually training him in karate by getting his muscles to learn basic defensive moves. Daniel thought he was being duped by the karate master into doing work around the house for free, but he was being systematically prepared for the challenge to come, even while he didn't know what was going on.

This is how God often works in our lives. We get frustrated because of our situation or position in life, but God is silently training us for the challenges that lie ahead. Looking back at my life, I can see the times that I was being trained by God for something he wanted me to do later in life. I didn't appreciate the training, or even know it was happening, but in hindsight, it has proved invaluable to me.

If you are old enough, you can look back at our life and see the times God was preparing you under the radar for such a challenge. If you can't think of any times like that, God is probably preparing you right this moment for a challenge ahead.

Hearing the Good News

Posted by Stephen

At the beginning of this Awana year, I showed a brief video called "The Value of the Gospel." This video was a great way to remind everyone that the Good News is the central idea of Awana.

Last night as I was walking around as Commander, I stopped by Truth & Training's "Counsel Time." They were commending each other on wild hair (because it was "Crazy Hair Night"), and then one of our Truth & Training workers, dressed like a boxer, stood up, and had an "interview" with the Director. The skit was unscripted and very funny: the kids laughed, the leaders laughed, I even laughed!

"I workout 16 hours a day to stay in shape," Boxer Baby Boy Blue said. "Work hard to win, work hard to get to heaven," he continued. The the Director said, "But we can't work our way to heaven! Can we?" (motioning to the children for backup)

The children were hearing the Good News and learning to share it at the same time. They were having a blast and growing deep in faith at the same time.

Later that night I overheard one leader sharing the Good News personally to one of the clubbers, and when I can by that leader again, they were sharing with another clubber.

You see, the Good News is the focus, the vision, and the goal of Awana. Awana is a program that attracts kids and powerfully and personally exposes them to Christ. Awana is all about the Gospel.

Awana Begins!

Posted by Stephen

We are now on our third week of Awana, and God is certainly blessing us! We started our Awana club in the triple-digits and saw good growth on the second week as well!

Three reasons Awana is doing well at Central: 1) people are praying, 2) volunteers are working very hard, and 3) God is gracious!

Please continue to pray for our Awana ministry this school year! There will be many posts on Awana, so stay tuned!

Breaking Out of Debtor's Prison

Posted by Perry

In the American religion of materialism, there are two words more sacred than any other: "Charge It!" Consider this scenario before you do.

1. 30 year old lady has a $3,500 balance on her credit card at 18% interest. She makes the minimum payment each month. How old will she be when she has her credit card paid off? [70 years old]

2Ki 4:1 Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves."
2Ki 4:2 And Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?" And she said, "Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil."
2Ki 4:3 Then he said, "Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few.
2Ki 4:4 Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside."
2Ki 4:5 So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her.
2Ki 4:6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel." And he said to her, "There is not another." Then the oil stopped flowing.
2Ki 4:7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest."

This lady has a serious debt crisis. Let's learn from her situation and see what God's answer to her need was. That will provide us with the "principles" which will help us break out of the financial prison you may find yourself in.


* What is your situation? Debt gets worse and worse. Just when you think you can catch your breath another bill or "emergency" will come and knock the air right out of you.

Sit down and total up your monthly expenses [list them]. Then total up your monthly income, or get a good estimate. Compare the two with one another. If your expenses are higher than your income you are in the process of going into debt. Either increase the income or decrease the expense. Everyone in the family needs to be in on this process so as not to undermine each other.

* What brought you to the situation you are in? We're not told in our scripture reading how the lady got into such a desperate situation, but there was a valid reason. What's yours? If you don't discover the answer to this question you'll simply be treating a symptom and not the underlying cause. Sometimes it's a failure to recognize the difference between "needs" and "wants" or mayby a failure to put aside some money in the good times to be prepared for the unforseen bad times that are ahead.

*What will you lose if your debt situation doesn't change? The lady of our text was going to lose her children. There are a lot of things you can lose: peace of mind, marriage, and the list goes on. We have a spiritual debt you know. We are spiritual debtors to the almighty God. If we don't deal with our spiritual debt by initiating a relationship with Jesus Christ and allow Him to pay our spiritual debt, we will lose our eternal soul.

*What is your attitude toward the situation you are in? The mother knowing she was going to lose her boys was desperate for a solution. She could have been angry or unconcerned. She could have blamed someone else for the problem. She could have become paralyzed with fear and retreated into her shell. The proper reaction is what our Mom did, she sought wisdom from someone else.


The woman went to the right source of wisdom for her particular problem. She didn't go to the creditor and beg for mercy, she went to God's spokesman, Elisha. She gave him all the information he needed to accurately understand the situation. She didn't let her pride stand in the way and withold valuable information that could sink the entire process. Some wisdom you may receive may sound a little like this: don't live above your means/ take your lunch instead of eating out/ you get out of debt a little at the time/ don't borrow more to pay existing debt/ be obedient to wise counsel/ don't wait too late before seeking help/ it's a sign of strength to seek wisdom, not weakness/


The issue is not how small the jug of oil is or how beneath you the job is or how insignificant your skill is, use it. Turn it over to God and then watch Him work. Examine your resources, talent and skills. Can you work on cars, tutor, sew, do crafts, bake cookies? Take advantage of the time that you have to contribute to the indebtedness. It's easy to concentrate on the negative or always be wishing for what someone else has. Find what's positive in your finances or your relationships and build on that. The woman said, "All I've got is just this oil." However small, anything turned over to God, becomes extraordinary. God asked Moses, "What do you have in your hand?" Moses answered, "just a stick". You know how that turned out...


I don't know what this mother was expecting when she came to Elisha, but what she got was a difficult job. She had to go to all her friends and neighbors collecting empty jars and fill them with oil. She gathered and filled and gathered and filled until there was no more energy or room in the house. Now what? On top of all my debt, I'm worn out! She found Elisha and said, "Now what?" You know what he said? More work..."sell the oil." Have you ever tried to sell stuff? You can pay $200 for a new suit, but when you sell it in a garage sale you can hardly get $5 for it. Selling is tough! Some people are looking for an easy way out of debt, publishers clearing house, gambling, bankruptcy, etc.. 2Thes. 3:10 says, If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. Psalm 37:21 says, The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives; If you get into debt because of poor decisions, mismanagement of God's resources or selfish desires, don't expect God to drop money from the sky so you can pay off your debt and never learn your lesson. God could have provided for the Mom in our story with a miracle, but she and the boys needed to learn how to make it in a tough world without Dad around. Paying off debts, whether financial or spiritual takes work.

In a spiritual sense, we are all debtors. We are all sinners. Some try to pay off their debt through working hard. But his is one debt that we could never pay off on our own. We keep sinning faster than we can work to take care of it. Our only hope is to allow Jesus to pay our sin debt with His completed work on the cross. He will if you will ask Him. Then let the overflow of the oil of God's joy flood you with life in all its fulness.


Posted by Perry

I recently asked my wife, during an afternoon ride in the car, "what is the most important piece of equipment in the house?" After some deep meditation she replied, "the refrigerator, because without it we might starve." Then I asked her what would be next on the list of most important equipment in the house. She said, as if it were a toss up between her previous answer and this one, "the bed where we rest, because without it we wouldn't have the energy to do our work." When I asked her what would be number three I got that look of, "how long is this list?" I assured her it was the last one before I made my point. She thought for quiet awhile because this was the last slot to fill in the survey. She finally said, "washing machine, we need clean clothes."

If you and I had filled in those three blanks we might have given different answers. Every one has a different perspective on life. I rephrased the question and asked it again. "If a pan of grease on the stove top was on fire, and the house was in danger of burning to the ground, you're telling me the most important piece of equipment in our house is the refrigerator, followed by the bed and washing machine. "NO!" she said, it would be the fire extinguisher."

My next question was this, "how far down on the list would the fire extinguisher have been under the washing machine?" She simply replied, "a long way down, if I had even thought of it at all."

We further discussed the reasons and decided the following:

* we don't expect to use the extinguisher every day

* while we see it numerouse times a day sitting on the kitchen cabinet, we don't pay it any attention.

* it just doesn't seem useful in the routine of our everyday life.

Then I made my point. How many other things, or people are just like that fire extinguisher? Given the right situation they are invaluable, but as a general rule they're pretty much overlooked. Can you think of any examples? (spare tire, fever thermometer, poison control phone #, pastor/chaplain, God...and the list goes on).

Let's discuss that last entry, "God". Does He really fall into the same category as a fire extinguisher or further down the list? If He does, we've as much as said we don't plan on needing His help every day. Do you understand God's Holy Spirit came to this earth to indwell (live inside), Christian believers to give daily comfort and guidance.

While we may accept the fact that God dwells with man, is our attitude one that knows He's there, but we just don't pay Him any attention? The reason God created man in His own image was so voluntary fellowship could be exchanged in the relationship. Any time we ignore the other party in any relationship problems are on the near horizon. A vibrant relationship is one in which both parties are serious about the interaction, and not just in a selfish sort of way.

Then there's that third reason. Maybe we just don't see God's usefulness in our daily routine. Oh sure, He's very important when there's a tragedy or crisis. It's just hard to imagine a God in heaven that's interested in the basic structure of our life. Does He really care where we buy our groceries? Should it concern Him whether we saved $ 123 on our car insurance? Would He want to know what our plans for the weekend are? The answer to all the above and any more you want to add is a resounding YES! Jesus has a desire to be our "personal" savior. That in itself says that He wants to "save" us. Not only from separation from our creator for all eternity, but on a smaller and everyday scale, He wants to save us from unnecessary problems in life.

Here's what He said Himself,
John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Sounds to me like Jesus wants to be on the list above the fire extinguisher. He can really add a supernatural dimension to our life if we will let Him have the number one spot on our list.

So here's a question for you. What's the most important relationship we could ever have as we live here on this earth??? Does your actual life reflect your Sunday School answer?

iWant 2 Believe N Something Bigger Than Me

Posted by Perry

Have you ever been to a small town? The way you know is this...
* The city limits signs are both on the same post!
* You call a wrong number and they supply you with the correct one.
* You don't use turn signals because everyone knows where you're going anyway.
* The one-block-long Main Street dead ends in both direction.
* A "Night on the Town" takes exactly 11 minutes.
* The "New Year's baby" was born in October
* You have to name six surrounding towns to explain where you're from.
If you live there, have you ever wondered what it would be like to live some place bigger?
Have you accumulated all of the latest information tools from Apple? (iTunes, iPhone, iPod, etc.) The popularity of these personal devices in some ways reflects the increasingly self-focused society our world has become. However, in spite of the fact that we have become so inwardly focused, it is apparent that humanity has a great desire to believe in something bigger than itself.
Why do we want to believe in something bigger than us? That question was asked of a variety of people and here's a sampling of what they said:
1. We are all hard-wired to believe in God. God puts the need or desire there, so we feel that something bigger than us is out there.
2. We feel so small, or inadequate, or weak. We don't understand life, or why things happen in life, so we search beyond ourselves for answers. If there is something bigger out there then we can also find hope in believing that there really is sense to be made of it all.
3. We need someone to blame things on. If there's something or someone bigger than us out there then we have someone to blame for our mess ups and for all the bad stuff that happens in the world.
4. People want to find meaning in life and intuitively know it is beyond them.
Does any of this resonate with you? Life can be very confusing sometime. Just when you think you're settling in to a job, a marriage, to being comfortable in your own skin, life throws a curve and you don't know how to make sense of it. We watch some of the horror stories on the news and naturally look for answers beyond ourselves.
Every culture that's ever existed has had its gods. The Egyptians believed in something bigger, something beyond themselves. The Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, Greeks and Romans all believed. The Hindus have Shiva, the Muslims have Allah, the Chinese have Buddah, the Japanese have spirits, and we could go on and on. The Mayans and Aztecs and Cherokee and Choctaw all believed in something bigger.
Truth is there is something...someone bigger than us out there.

Isa 45:5 I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God but me: I will make you ready for war, though you had no knowledge of me:
Isa 45:6 So that they may see from the east and from the west that there is no God but me: I am the Lord, and there is no other.
But He's not just the God out there who has left us alone in this world to sort everything out. He's the God who has repeatedly and lovingly intervened in human history to make Himself known to us. God revealed Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ - who says, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me." What's important is how you and I recognize Jesus.
God has hard-wired us to believe in something bigger than us. (Eccl. 3:11...set eternity in their heart...). The psalmist said that like a deer craves water his soul longed for God. There's an innate desire placed deep in your heart that cries out for a relationship with God. But how are you responding to it? Do you crave God? Do you hunger and thirst for Him? It's not about knowing more stuff about Him, but really knowing Him, walking, talking, following and giving your life to Him.
We typically say things like, "I need to read my Bible more," or "I need to pray more," and even, "I know I need to be in church more." Those things are true, but beyond all that what your heart is really crying out for is, to know God.
Like so many people, we feel small and inadequate and weak at times in our lives. There are things beyond our control and events beyond our ability to understand. Knowing God doesn't give us all the answers, but it does give us hope and assurance that none of it happens just to be happening. There's a plan behind it all, and though that plan seems awfully cruel sometimes it only seems that way because we are so small and have limited vision.
There's meaning to be found in life, but it's ultimately found in Jesus Christ. The Bible says we are his workmanship, created in Him to do good works. But the verses preceeding that say, we must know Him through a saving relationship. In other words everyone of us is born into this world in a fallen and sinful condition. We are hell bound and without hope. But God sent Christ to that manger long ago, born of a virgin, who would live a sinless life, who would die a cruel death on Calvary's cross and make atonement for our sins. If you would but recognize and admit to God in prayer that you know you're a sinner and you know your sins caused the death of God's only begotten Son and repent of your sin and give your life to Jesus Christ you can be saved, not by your good works, but by the grace of God so that you can do good works. It's why you were created! Our hearts long to fulfill that inner desire, a desire placed there by God Himself, a desire that can only be awakened by God Himself!
The question is how you are going to respond to all of that. Do you feel threatened by the presence of a real King? We like sitting on our throne calling the shots and being the king in our own palace. Maybe you'll respond with indifference because you're satisfied with things the way they are. Your indifference will cause you to miss what God really has for you.
Can you imagine how God might transform us if we really began seeking and searching for Christ? If we quit taking everybody's word for what He is like and sought Him for ourselves? If we grew discontent with knowing about Him and had a deep longing instead to know Him? If we quit talking about needing to read and pray and actually began doing it with a view toward making Him Lord and King? There's no telling how God might move and bless. There's no telling how the Holy Spirit might begin to move among us and transform us and empower us! But I'd love to find out. Would you?