Let Me be Frank… (worship)

1Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.
Psalm 29:1-2

Order is important.  I was reminded of that as I was getting dinner ready.  I was running late (it happens way more than you think) and had finally finished peeling all the potatoes.  I had just enough time to pop them in the oven, but I forgot one crucial detail.  I didn’t preheat said oven.  I missed what should have happened first…
Has that ever happened to you?  Have you missed what should have happened first?  I found myself overwhelmed last week.  Life happens that way…  And I couldn’t understand how to fix the situation.  So instead of worrying I decided to worship.
This sermon series has been eye-opening.  Throughout the series I keep hearing in my head, “You have to build the altar before you build the temple.”  If we miss the order, we focus on what God can do for us, not on who He is.  God gives good gifts, but if that’s all we’re after we’re not surrendering our hearts to Him.
I wrote “Magnify” this last week, but the words had already been penned.  King David wrote them when He reflected on the glory of God in Psalm 29.  “Ascribe to the Lord…”  But what exactly does that mean?
The short answer?  We tell the world how strong God is.  And when we worship, we bow down before the Lord.  We come before Him in humility, acknowledging that apart from Him we can do nothing.
“Magnify” isn’t about asking the Lord for anything.  It’s about giving Him the glory due His Name.  When we praise Him for who He is FIRST we give Him honor.  I don’t want to build a temple and realize it’s not what God wanted.
When I build the altar first, I know what God is after every single time.  He wants my heart.  He wants to change me from the inside.  Have you mixed up the order?  There’s still time to come back. 
“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His Name!”  Can’t wait to worship with you this weekend!
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 

Something Don’d on Me! (important)

“They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you.
 I, the Lord, have spoken!” -Jeremiah 1:19

It’s amazing to me how many times a simple child’s book or Disney movie says something small…but so profound. Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh are walking along, under branches lit up by the moon. And he casually says to Pooh, “Even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.”
If memory serves, Jesus said almost the same thing, but did it a couple thousand years before A.A. Milne. He told His friends that He was going to prepare a place for them. He said He was always with them. And He says it to you and I even today!
To the one that is worried about their kids and school…He is with you. To the one staring at divorce papers…He is with you. To the teacher that is overwhelmed and stressed and trying to figure it out…He is with you. To the Mom who thinks she’s not enough…He is with you. To the Man who is worried about his job…He is with you. To the couple preparing for marriage…to the senior that is not getting to play sports…to the one that is just fed up with all this madness and wants things “back to normal”…
He is with you.
THAT. IS. IMPORTANT! It is important to REMEMBER that! He IS with you! He will NEVER leave you! He will NEVER abandon you! “If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together… I am with you!”
Yes, things are crazy right now…and it feels like no one is DOING anything! You want to do something?? Do THAT! Do exactly what Christopher Robin said… “REMEMBER I AM WITH YOU!” Because it’s what Jesus is saying to you right now!
May HIS Peace Be Upon You…and May You Know HIS PRESENCE is with you!
Shalom, Don

Let Me Be Frank… (thoughts)

Let Me Be Frank –
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
                    Phillipians 4:8

Do you have a strategy for parking when you go to the store?  You’d be surprised how many people do.  Some people park as far away as possible to get their exercise in.  Some people park close to nice vehicles.  The reasoning there is “nice vehicles cost a lot of money” and you don’t have to worry about someone opening the door and dinging your car.  Then there are those who hunt for parking.  They meander slowly through each lane looking for brake lights.  Brake lights mean someone is getting ready to leave.
Regardless of what strategy you use, you probably have said these words, “I’m just looking for a better place to park.”  But finding the perfect place for our car isn’t as important as where we park our thoughts.
We have been inundated with information.  Everyone has an opinion and most people want us to know what that is.  I’m not suggesting that we just accept everything that happens in our lives, I’m just asking if we need a better place to park our thoughts.
Maybe we should avoid anger and bitterness when we look for that perfect place.  Maybe we should drive right past pride and frustration.  In all reality, those spots may already be taken, but they shouldn’t be taken by us.
Paul wasn’t sure if his execution was coming or not when he wrote this letter.  Can you imagine the anxiety level as he woke every morning?  But instead of dwelling on his current situation he chose to park somewhere else. 
Can I encourage you to think about the things of God this week?  What is pure in your heart?  What is lovely?  How can you be a blessing to someone else today?  Lean into God’s truth today when you feel like parking somewhere you shouldn’t.  A good parking place makes all the difference in the world!
And when you find yourself overwhelmed, bitter, angry, prideful, fearful, or fed up with it all maybe you just need to find a better place to park.
Can’t wait to worship with you this weekend!
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 

Something Don’d on Me! (pray)

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

It was just 6 simple words…but those words absolutely changed my day.
It’s been challenging lately with the shutdown and not able to do/go where I want. And now that kids have started school, I’ve been working from home some to help with that. A particular day last week seemed to be overwhelming me-I was stressed and behind and was really feeling overwhelmed. And then my phone dinged. It was a message from a friend of mine-asking how my Dad was doing after a recent fall. We chatted for a minute, and then he said these words: “How can I pray for you?”
A simple question.
But with a life-altering application.
The privilege of praying FOR our friends and neighbors is one, I feel many Christ-followers have missed! It’s not a drudgery or a “job”…it’s a JOY! But the simple act of ASKING that question, did so much to lift my Spirits! Is there someone around YOU for which you could pray? Is there someone around YOU that needs to hear this question?
Ask this question! Ask it a lot! And then ask it some more! When you DO, it alters how YOU approach your life! And it benefits the recipient! It’s a true WIN-WIN situation! When they give you things to pray for…DO IT! Don’t just “Say” you’ll pray for them…really, actually, honestly…PRAY FOR THEM!

Then, when someone asks it of you…ANSWER THEM! Be specific! Be transparent! Share what struggles are stressing you the most right now! Be honest about anxiety or fear or frustrations that have you rattled. The freedom of releasing a burden to the avenue of prayer is truly sweet!
So here’s your challenge: Ask that question of five people this week! Then actually pray for those five people! You’ll be glad you did!
Shalom-May His Peace Be Upon Your Home and Family!  

Let Me Be Frank… (blessings)

“The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26

Have you ever received an unexpected blessing?  As you read this, you may be thinking of an envelope with a check inside, someone ahead of you in the drive thru buying your lunch, or maybe a gift at your front door.  I’ve received all of these blessings in my life at one time or another and they have absolutely floored me.  Ordinary people being used by an extraordinary God. 
A friend had recommended a new album for me to check out.  I love great music, but for whatever reason I hadn’t taken the time to listen.  So, this morning, as my “get up and go” got up and left, I tried to get motivated.  And as the first song started to play, I found myself more than a little overcome with emotion.
“Thank You, Lord.”  No, really, the first song was called “Thank You, Lord.”  And again, I am reminded of a Heavenly Father who continues to encourage and equip.  One that holds us up when we are weary, holds us tight when we are overwhelmed, and holds us together when we are broken.
‘May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you; may He be gracious to you, show you His favor, and give you His peace.’
Numbers 6:24-26

Moses may have shared the prayer with Aaron and his sons vocally, but it was given to him by the Lord.  Did you catch that?  This priestly blessing originates with our Lord. 
The warmth of sunlight on your face.  The sound of rain on a tin roof.  Family and friends surrounded to comfort.  Moments captured in your mind because your phone is on the table.  Unexpected blessings.
May the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you.  May you be reminded of his peace and protection.  And when your “get up and go” gets up and leaves may you find strength in Him.
Almost forgot…  I was listening to the new Chris Tomlin album this morning.  And I’m getting ready to shoot a text of gratitude to my buddy for the recommendation.  It was a much needed and powerful reminder.
Blessings on you wherever you are.  Prayers for you as you go about your day.  “May the Lord bless and keep you” today and every day to come.
Can’t wait to worship with you this weekend!
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 


Something Don’d On Me! (rejoice)

“In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” Luke 15:7 (NLT)

Way back…a long time ago…before COVID…I went to concerts! I LOVE live music! I’ve gone to a lot of Rock, Country, Jazz and Christian Concerts over the years. Whether it was at a classic theater, a giant sports arena, an outdoor amphitheater, or a county fair, the concert atmosphere is usually the same. It’s exciting! People have often driven for miles! Fans often buy T-shirts and “represent”! The excitement continues to build until the lights go out and that first drum beat pounds through your chest! The curtain drops and the crowd erupts – cheering, jumping, clapping, screaming…I love that moment!
Now…imagine a scene that is similar, but instead of an amphitheater & a band, it’s the “Streets of Gold” and a huge crowd of ANGELS! They are cheering and screaming-loud whistles and “woo hoots” fill the air! But instead of chanting for the Band or singing the lyrics of the opening song…they are cheering, screams from full lungs and clapping…for you!
That’s what Scripture says happens when ONE SINNER changes their ways! One sinner repenting creates more racket than ALL the Classic Rock bands on tour every summer!!
Luke 15 opens with some of the Parables of Jesus. He starts a story of a man that has 100 sheep, loses 1, and He leaves the 99 to go after the ONE. That one sheep was so precious to Him, that He REFUSES to leave him behind! Instead of accepting that loss and abandoning that sheep to the elements, the Shepherd goes after him! And when He finds that sheep, He invites His friends and neighbors to party, to celebrate and to CHEER with Him!
Friends…YOU are that one! You are the one He is looking for! Leaving 99 to find one doesn’t make ANY sense…until that one is YOU! YOU are so valuable to our Father, that He will NOT abandon you! Someone needs to hear that today! You may FEEL like you are lost and no one sees your struggle. Your Heavenly Father is searching for you! And He will not leave you to be eaten by the world! You ARE cherished by Him. He will NOT leave you in your sinfulness and your brokenness.
And when you SEE Him…that cheering is what is happening in heaven…FOR YOU!When you surrender those fears, burdens, and shame, all the throng of Heaven is celebrating! They are wearing YOUR T-shirt! They are singing songs…ABOUT YOU! And the noise…wow, I can only imagine that!
Today…take a breath…and picture that scene! Think about the cheering of angels and the roar of THAT crowd! Ponder the celebration we will have! And let the GRACE OF GOD wash over you! He forgives! He searches for you! And YOU ARE PRECIOUS to Him! Now THAT…is a concert I can’t WAIT to see!
Almighty God…thank You for Your Mercy! May we be reminded today of how You search for us! Help me show your forgiveness to others today! And may truly SEE You and SHOW You this week! In Jesus Name, Amen
May Peace and Celebration Be YOUR Concert Today!

Let Me Be Frank…(no fear)

But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
Isaiah 43:1-2

There is a war inside of me.  It’s the war of not good enough vs. better than yesterday.  And unfortunately, the battle can begin at a moment’s notice.  Maybe an example is in order. 
I was sitting in the McDonald’s drive thru when I realized that the truck a couple of vehicles ahead of me wasn’t moving.  Complete stand still.  It’s a big truck and there was no going around this thing.  And you could feel the death stares and sense the frustration of EVERYONE behind this guy.  When was he going to move?!?
I got out of my car (in the middle of the drive thru) and helped the guy push his vehicle to an empty parking space.  He thanked me and I left feeling pretty good about myself.  Then I remembered the shake I was going to get.  I headed inside to place my order (this was BC – Before COVID) and then promptly proceeded to spill the vanilla shake all over the counter.  Any good I felt vanished in an instant.
The war may rage, but the victory has already been won.  Isaiah 43:2 gives us the promise of God but who is it for?  “He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel.”  In Genesis 32 we read that God gives Jacob a new name.  His new name? Israel.
The Lord created you.  He put talents and gifts in you.  He put hopes and dreams deep down inside of you.  And if you’re anything like me, you’ve got some stuff to sort through as you reach for those hopes and dreams.  But God loves you and He wants the absolute best for you!
The next part is what blows my mind…  He formed me.  Forming is a process.  It takes time.  It takes patience.  It takes surrender.  And God is molding and making me in His image, who He created me to be.  There may be a battle inside me, but I know who ultimately wins my heart.
“The rivers will not overwhelm you.  The flames will not consume you.  Fear not, for I have redeemed you and called you by name.”

And the God who calls us will equip us.  And the God who equips us will walk with us.  And the God who walks with us will continue doing that good work in our hearts while the battle rages.  Fear not, dear heart.  The victory has already been won.
Can’t wait to worship with you this weekend!
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 

Something Don’d on Me! (name)

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By anyother name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare

What REALLY is important about a name? It’s how we find things these days via Siri or Google Maps. But some of the names you’ll find on a map are very interesting! Did you know that there is a place called Mexico, Indiana? Yes…that’s the name of the town! Did you know you can go to Jupiter? Yep, it’s a town in Florida! And you can visit Paris…in Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Maine, and Kentucky!! In our own Land of Enchantment, you can visit Candy Kitchen, NM…and 85 miles later, you can stop in at Pie Town, NM.
There are some other peculiar names of town/city/provinces in our Great America! One day, I hope to visit Bugtussle, Kentucky and Gas, Kansas! Minnesota boasts a town called Nimrod, and Oregon has a community near Mount Hood called ZigZag. (In its defense, the river is named that…so the town just adopted the name…but it’s still funny!) As you travel through the U.S., you might find yourself in Difficult, Tennessee or Satan’s Kingdom, Vermont or even Hell, Michigan! There’s even a town in Louisiana called Uneedus…with a sister community nearby called Weneedu!
I’m always fascinated at HOW some of these places get their names! Here in NM, you may know of Truth or Consequences-and that it officially changed its name from “Hot Springs” in 1950 after a challenge from the Radio show of the same name.  The challenge was that the Radio Show would host the show from any place that would change their name to that of the show. The town agreed…and now we have T or C, NM! In our neighbor state of Texas, you KNOW how they named some of their towns! They just named what they saw! Just over the border we have Brownfield, Littlefield, Levelland…and EARTH! (I believe our own Glenn Johnson hails from near there!)
Moses has an encounter with God and he is trying to find a way out of what God has asked him to do. He is a bit overwhelmed at the idea of going before Pharoah, so he asks God, “Whom shall I say is sending me?” God’s response is simple…and yet very complex: “Tell them ‘I AM’ sends you.” I’ve always been fascinated by this answer: I AM. God doesn’t say “I was the God of your ancestors”, even though He actually is! He doesn’t say “I am the God of the future”, even though Yahweh clearly IS that. He speaks in the PRESENT tense! He is the GOD of your life RIGHT NOW!
“I know I’m not…but I know I AM.” That’s a line from a song you’re going to start hearing this week. It will be the theme song for our next series called BRICK BY BRICK: Rebuilding The Ruins of Life. We will be examining the life of Ezra and how the Temple was rebuilt after the Exile. The song – “Brick By Brick” – has that line in it. “I know I’m not…”-every day, I realize I AM NOT. I am not enough. I am not perfect. I am not in control. I am not the answer. But “I KNOW I AM.” I know the One that IS enough! I know the One that IS perfect… and He IS perfecting ME! I know the One that IS in control! I know the One that IS the answer and KNOWS the answer for what I am facing! KNOWING “I AM” IS KNOWING WHAT MATTERS!
I pray that you will JOIN us this weekend and for the next six weeks as we delve into a very LITTLE used book, but one of GREAT power! The story of Ezra is exciting, intriguing…and VERY applicable to us today! We have Saturday service at 6:30 and Sunday morning at 10:30…and we hope to have even more very soon! We have SPACE for you! We WANT you there! If you can’t make it…please join us online! Let’s see how they rebuilt the temple, how we can rebuild our world…and let’s see that HIS NAME is the Name above all names! May we ALL sing, “I know I’m not…but I know I AM!”
SHALOM-Peace Unto Your Household!

Let Me Be Frank… (confident)

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”    Deut 31:6
“Do not fear.”
I like running out in the country.  It’s nice to get some fresh air and a good (albeit slow) run generally clears my head.  I live on the outskirts of town, but it still takes half a mile or so to hit the countryside.  My plan was to run to the water treatment plant and back that day.  There’s a huge dip in the road there and it’s blocked out for traffic now, but it opens up to some nice views.  And I was looking forward to those views as I came up out of the dip in the road and saw two stray dogs that were seated at the house. 
I wasn’t sure if they saw me so I started to run like a ninja.  I’m not sure what that looks like, exactly, but it didn’t matter.  The chase was on and they were barking pretty loud.  These were not the furry friends I was looking for. 
I outran them and looked back to see them slow down.  I was proud of myself as I continued my run.  But then I realized that I had to go back that way too.

“Courage lies just on the other side of confidence.”

Now I wasn’t confident that I could outrun those dogs again.  In fact, I was pretty winded from the first sprint.  So, I was relieved when I started down the dip in the road with no strays in sight.
And then, like a scene from Lion KingÔ, the stray dogs came into view at the bottom of the dip.  I was going to have to run through them in order to get home.
When someone says, “do not fear” we immediately think of life-threatening scenarios or deep-seated phobias (insert clown reference here).  But the fears we face are most often the voices in our heads…  “Am I good enough?  How do we navigate this?  What if they don’t hear me?”
But I love what Levi the Poet says, “Don’t forget that there are voices on the outside of your head, too, and they sound like futures and hopes and dreams and music and love.” 
It’s okay to be shaken.  It’s ok to be overwhelmed.  It’s even ok to be afraid.  But please remember that you don’t have to do this on your own.  There are so many people cheering you on.  And the God of Moses and Joshua is your God too.  And HE will not leave you nor forsake you. 
“Do not fear.”
Can’t wait to worship with you this weekend!
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 

Something Don’d on Me! (trust)

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” Isaiah 55:8

The great Mark Twain once said, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” Isn’t it funny how that proves to be true time and time again?

When we are younger, and Dad says, “This is the way you do that,” we usually say “SURE!” But then as we get older, it’s easy to say “O what does he know? I can find a better way!” But then when we get MUCH older…we often figure out that he was pretty smart to begin with!
I wonder why we do that with God? When we are younger, “Jesus Loves me, this I know-for the Bible tells me so.” We trust that WHAT He says is true…and WHY He says it, is for my good! But as we grow older and listen to our culture, it’s easy to drift off and say, “Oh that Bible is outdated! Those concepts have changed over time! We know better!” But sadly…some NEVER return to understanding how Good God really is, and how MUCH TRUTH is really in His Word!
I was really overwhelmed with that this last weekend when we were singing, “Greater Things” with the Praise Team! Listen to some of these lyrics:

“You never fail…You never will…I’ll trust Your Name, for Greater Things.
You will come through…You always do…I’ll trust Your Name for Greater Things!”

Do we? Do we REALLY TRUST that He will come through? I’m afraid, too often, like we do with “Dad”…we think we have a better “IDEA” of how things should work!
Our enemy comes in and whispers, “You know better what you need!” “God’s not working on your time-you should do something about it!” “Those Bible rules don’t apply anymore! We’ve outgrown that!” That’s what he told Eve in the Garden…and he keeps doing it even today! Don’t listen to him…and don’t listen to your SELF…listen to the God whose ways are “far beyond anything we could imagine!” (Isaiah 55:8)
The next verse in Isaiah (after the one at the top) says, “My ways are higher than your ways. My thoughts are higher than your thoughts!” That’s GOD talking there…and He’s TELLING us, “Look…I really DO know better! Listen to me!” Mark Twain finally figured out that his dad was smarter all along. Maybe it’s time we learned that about OUR Heavenly Dad?

He WILL come through…because He KNOWS more than we do! He HAS been there…and He KNOWS how things work out! He has seen our fight…FROM THE VICTORY! Trust His Words…and His Ways!
Shalom Alachiem- Peace be to you all!