Let Me Be Frank… (facts)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.  His praise endures forever!
Psalm 111:10

“Facts over fear.”  It’s a tagline that a news anchor uses nowadays when referring to a segment on COVID-19.  The idea is that the more facts you gather, the more informed you are.  And the more informed you are, the more your fear subsides.  When Marea and I heard his tagline for the first time, it caught us off guard.  It’s obviously a play on words because many of us having been using the quote, “Faith over fear” for years.  So how do we abide in the “fear of the Lord” when everyone tells us not to “live in fear.”
The psalmist tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Psalm 111 tells of God’s greatness and His good works and culminates with a “wisdom saying” that outlines the proper human response to the Lord’s greatness.
Basically, we praise the Lord for who He is and what He has done.  And when we start there, knowing that God is for us and not against us, we do not fear what comes next.  But there is another definition for “fear” that we must understand.
The fear of the Lord is about reverence and humility.  We bow in the presence of a King.  When our hearts are rooted in this reverence and humility we approach our lives in a way that honors Christ.  This is the beginning of wisdom.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

I’ve held this verse close to my heart for several years.  It’s helped me process feelings and situations when I am overwhelmed and I don’t know what to do next.  And, in this current landscape, with all the what-if’s and what-next’s, it’s easy to wonder if God is even listening anymore.
But Proverbs 3:5 isn’t a prescription for blind faith.  It’s not an excuse to disregard science or facts.  It’s simply placing our focus where it should have been all along…  When we fear the Lord we’ll begin to abide in the knowledge and wisdom of His Kingdom.  We won’t look for someone to explain our current situation, because we already have a King who is mighty to save. 
Are you approaching life in a way that honors Christ?  Do you fear the Lord and come before Him in reverence and humility?  Information is helpful, but wisdom changes the game.  And true wisdom comes from God.
Can’t wait to worship with you this weekend!
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 

Something Don’d on Me! (clarity)

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5: 14-16

When your eyeball is too long, relative to the focusing power of the cornea and lens of the eye, you have a condition called MYOPIA . This causes light rays to focus at a point in front of the retina, rather than directly on its surface. Most people call it “NEARSIGHTED”. And it’s a condition that affects roughly 25% of the world’s population. I have had this condition since early childhood.
I got my first pair of glasses in 2nd Grade at Brown Elementary School. Calling them glasses is kind. They were really “Coke Bottles” in a frame. And of course, they were the Buddy Holly’s…and I broke them constantly…so there was always some form of tape on them, to keep them on my face! But I’m very thankful I had them, because without them, I couldn’t see the chalkboard. (Actually, without them…I really couldn’t even see the school building!)
Glasses through the years have been through MANY changes! In Jane Austen England, men would use a “Longnette”- which were glasses on a stick. If you grew up watching “Hogan’s Heroes”, you’d know that Colonel Klink wore a monacle. And later, so did Mr. Peanut! Many graduate on to contacts or even Lasik or Cataract surgery to help their vision. The point of all of these is this: optical devices make things CLEARER.
After reading that familiar passage at the top of this article from “The Sermon on the Mount”, I was struck with this thought: What if YOU are the glasses for someone else?Go re-read vs. 16-“that they may SEE YOUR GOOD DEEDS, and glorify your Father in Heaven.” What if someone uses YOU to see HIM?
Last week, we discussed having a “Godly View of Pain” in our sermon series, “Renovation of the Heart.” We will conclude the series THIS weekend by discussing a “Godly View of Waiting”. But in this study, I’m really challenged that maybe what we are going through is not really even for US! Perhaps, it’s to point someone ELSE towards Him? Maybe your endurance through hard times…maybe you just being at church and singing when everything hurts, helps someone else to see how serious a Faith Walk really is?
I want to encourage you if you are suffering right now that God is FOR YOU! He SEES you!! But I also believe that OTHER people see you…and that’s a GOOD thing! Don’t give up! Don’t take your eyes of off our Savior…because OTHERS will see that in you! And perhaps it will make them want THAT!

“SHINE HIS LIGHT” to our world…shine HIS hope and HIS goodness! Let people see THAT more than our rants on Facebook or complaints about the heat or the shutdown! Don’t let “NEARSIGHTEDNESS” affect your walk with Christ-don’t see only what’s in FRONT of you! See HIM working IN YOU…and then He will work THROUGH you!
May His Peace…and His Clarity shine through you today!


Let Me Be Frank… (future)

It was her family’s church, but she had no idea what to expect. They had started attending after she had left home. But now she was back – a single mother with a baby on the way. Word had got around that she was no longer married. The marriage was something she had wanted to salvage, but he was fine with moving on. So, there she was, a woman with a past waiting for the gossip and the whispers that were surely on their way. It must have been hard to walk through those doors…

What do people expect when they walk through the doors at Central?  What do they expect to see when they hop on our social media pages?  Love, mercy, grace, and purpose all come to mind and I would be willing to bet that there are many in our congregation ready and willing to offer a hand, a bit of encouragement and a social distance hug.

We have an awesome opportunity in this current landscape to find new and innovative ways to reach our Central fam!  Bible studies will be starting soon, we have the huge “We Love Portales” event at Rotary Park tomorrow and we have four baskets set out on our stage for four awesome moms.

Baby showers are awesome and fun (especially when there’s cake), but how in the world do you pull that off in the middle of all this?  Virtually, of course!  The plan is to have a few hosts for the event, ask our congregation to bring stuff to fill the baskets and then tune in via Zoom to congratulate the mommas and welcome the babies (two have already arrived) into this world.  If you’d like to contribute to the baskets you have one more week left before we give them away. 

Why do we do stuff like this?  Isn’t it difficult to plan and undertake events when it can’t be business as usual.  The answer is “yes” but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.  As we look at encounters with Jesus in our current sermon series I am amazed at the way Jesus works IN us so He can work THROUGH us!  And He wants to CONTINUE to work through us no matter the circumstances.  Because we never really know how much of an impact we are going to make.  I’d like for you to know the rest of the story…

Instead of gossip, the single mother found hope. A group of ladies at the church threw a baby shower for her. They may not have known much about this woman at all, but that didn’t matter. What she needed was love and grace. And they gave her that and then some. I don’t think she can remember a single gift from that day, but she still recalls that experience as a pivotal part of her life even though it happened twenty-four years ago. You know the woman. She’s my wife. And you know the church too. It’s Central Christian.

We are Central… and we’re in this together!


Something Don’d on Me! (church leadership)

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12 ESV

 Often people will ask, “How does Central Christian WORK? Is there a head office somewhere? Who makes the decisions about how to handle the money, and who we support and when we should fully open again?” I just wanted to share a little info and ask you to pray for our Pastoral Board!
Central Christian Church is COMPLETELY AUTONOMOUS-there is no head office anywhere! We make all the decisions about dollars and programs RIGHT HERE within our church walls. We are led by a group of Godly men called Elders and Deacons. They make up our Pastoral Board. According to Titus & I Timothy, Elders have a Biblical responsibility to TEACH-Job #1 is to teach and pray over our people. Deacons have a Biblical mandate to be in roles of service to our people and our community. Most of these roles overlap and they do BOTH jobs. But the purpose of our Leadership Team is to make a difference in the Spiritual lives of our church family and impact the Physical lives of our people!
Currently, we have 4 Elders and 9 Deacons…here they are:
ELDERS: Jerry Partin (Chairman), Glenn Johnson, Franklin Smith, & Don Thomas
DEACONS: Justin Davis, Travis Hardin, Kevin Lackey, Wes Weems, Tom Banks, David Wagner, Ronny Miller, Brian Cox, & Gowan Hays
These men are CONSTANTLY serving, praying and looking for the “next steps” for our Church Family. I am asking you to do all in your power to lift these families up in prayer! This COVID shutdown has affected MANY of the ministry plans for our Church…and every time we seem like we have a handle on what is coming next, another wave hits us! Please know that it is OUR DESIRE to be back together as a family…COMPLETELY and as soon as we can! But in that, we have to look at the safety of our people and what we can do to keep the place sanitized. We are constantly monitoring the State Health Orders and asking God to lead each step we make. For right now, we hope to keep open at 25% (until we are told otherwise) and we are asking you to REGISTER each week for your seat. We hope to open classes, 1st Service,  and KidZone soon…but we really do not have a specific date yet.
Our Elders and Deacons stand ready to help you, to pray for you, to serve and lift up our Church Family. Would YOU lift up this Board this week?? Would you pray for their families and their jobs? Let’s be serious about our tag line:

We ARE Central…and we’re IN THIS TOGETHER!

Let Me Be Frank… (prepared)

So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Matthew 24:44

“Are you ready to go?” my immediate answer is, “Yes!” as I put on my shoes, gather my keys, look for my wallet, and then run back in the house to grab something I forgot. Maybe I don’t quite understand the definition of ready… In my mind, ready means “are you mentally prepared to leave?” I am mentally prepared, but I didn’t think through everything that would need to be accomplished in order to get out the door. The struggle is real. At least for me.

In order to be ready, we must be prepared. This current season is proof that things can change in an instant and most of us were not prepared for what came next. Zoom, however, was ready. I’m not sure if it was sheer luck or a good business model but Zoom found a way to wade through the pandemic. They didn’t just find a way to wade through the pandemic, they found a way to thrive during it. I don’t think I know of five people who were acquainted with this video conferencing software before social distancing was a thing, but now I’m pretty sure it would be difficult to find five people who hadn’t heard of it. Zoom was ready.

I don’t know if we will ever be fully prepared for what comes next, but in Christ we must be ready at all times. Ready to share the gospel, ready to share our faith through action, ready to help those in need… but ready is more than just being willing. We must be prepared.

So what does preparation look like? Preparation is more about being intentional and less about making lists. Preparation is knowing what you need to have before you go. The foolish maidens did not have everything they needed and they missed the feast! But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ll talk about spiritual readiness, preparation, and inaugurated eschatology this weekend and I can’t wait to share with you!

Make sure you reserve your seat and invite a friend. Things may look different right now, but Jesus is still on the throne. Don’t mess with uncertainty today, rest in Him because He never changes!

Can’t wait to worship with you this weekend!

We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER!



Something Don’d on Me! (champion)

“From eternity to eternity, I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.” Isaiah 43:13

I read a story this week about Archimedes, the great Greek Mathematician and Inventor. He was demonstrating his new invention called the “lever”. Someone asked how much one could potentially move with such a contraption. He answered, “Give me a place to stand…and I will move the world.”
Where do you STAND? On what, do you place your HOPE? Some place their TRUST in their political party. Sadly, people let you down. Some place their eggs in the “BUSINESS” basket. Yet even now, we are seeing businesses close and be hampered by this pandemic…and it hasn’t held up! Some even hold on to RELATIONSHIP…and still, they are holding divorce papers.
When things go crazy, and you’re not sure WHERE to stand…it can rattle your confidence. I know it has mine. And it doesn’t take long for that to shake how you and I STAND in this fallen world! If you are in that place right now…TAKE HEART! You are not alone!
Our enemy works HARD to demoralize and depress us! And he’s pretty good at it! He keeps firing at us and wearing us down…until we don’t feel like we are worth anything! Make no mistake-I do NOT want him to get glory…but he should at least get our RESPECT. We should realize that our enemy is a strong adversary.
BUT MORE THAN THAT…OUR SAVIOR IS CHAMPION! He is bigger than depression or addiction! He is stronger than a Virus or an Election! He has not been surprised by this pandemic! He was not shocked at the riots or the division or the shutdown…or the anxiety that is facing all of us! That verse above from Isaiah says it: “From eternity to eternity…I AM GOD.” The bold and italics I added…but I have a hunch, God said that BOLDLY! He WANTED us to know that and be ASSURED of it! And we should stand on THAT! We should let THAT be what defines us!
My dear friends…if you are hurting right now…KNOW THIS:
He is GOD! He is not weak. He has NOT abandoned you or us! He IS working! No one can undo what He has done… nor what He WILL do!
If you will stand on that…then we all CAN move the world! Truly…our world needs that more than anything right now. Stand for HIM! Stand ON HIM! He is GOD!

Shalom Alachiem – Peace Be Unto You All!

Let Me Be Frank… (promises)

“For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Marea and I love hiking.  It’s great exercise and beautiful pictures.  I’m not quite sure how many panorama pics my iPhone can hold, but I aim to find out.  Hiking gives you time to think (amidst the huffing and puffing) so I found myself settling on the promises of God. 

Random side note – (because this is how my brain works) – Ever wonder why we say, “in Jesus’ name we pray?”  Most likely it is this verse found in 2 Corinthians and written by Paul.  “That is why it is through Him (Jesus) that we utter our amen to God.”

All the promises of God find their “yes” in Jesus Christ.  There are many throughout the Bible, but I would be willing to bet there is one or two that you keep coming back to daily.  Mine is “He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deut 31:6 ESV).

There are two types of hikes a person can take.  One is the “maverick…” you hike through the wilderness without a path to tell you where to go.  You better have an app for that (we use AllTrails) and a bit of cell service.  But as we blazed a trail we checked our app.  It didn’t matter how far we went, the app always showed us the way home.

The second type (my typical) is the “stay on the path and don’t deviate from it” hike.  The name pretty much says it all.  You stay on the path, knowing there is a destination on the other side.  But don’t worry if you lose your way, because He will never leave you.

It’s easy in the here and now to forget the already and not yet of Jesus Christ.  We get so absorbed in the “hike of life” that we forget to rely on Him for direction.  WWJD is as relevant today as it was when it first arrived on the scene (quote arrived in 1886, we started wearing the bracelets in the 1990’s). 

What would Jesus do?  How do we know?  If He says He’ll never leave us, then He’s always close by.  May we be led by Him in thought and deed.  May our direction be determined by our Savior.  And may our “hike of life” be a beautiful journey of kindness, love, grace, and purpose.

I can’t wait to share with you this weekend!

Soli Deo Gloria

Something Don’d on Me! (kids)

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

A First Grade teacher had an idea for her kids. She gathered up a bunch of old, well-known proverbs, and she gave them to her students. But she only gave the first PART of the proverb…she had the students come up with the rest. Here are some of the hilarious responses!

  • Better to be safe than…punch a 5th grader!
  • It’s always darkest before…Daylight Savings Time!
  • Don’t bite the hand that…looks dirty!
  • You can’t teach an old dog new… math!
  • If you lie down with dogs, you’ll…stink in the morning!
  • Where there is smoke, there’s… pollution!
  • A penny saved is… not much!
  • Two’s company, three’s…The Musketeers!
  • If at first you don’t succeed… get new batteries!

Maybe another old saying is right…Kids do say the darnedest things!
Jesus encountered lots of children throughout his ministry. He understood their needs, fears, and pains, and he delighted in their simple faith. He took children in his arms and prayed for them. He used the gift of a child’s bread and fish to feed more than 5,000 people. He said everyone must have trusting, childlike faith to enter the kingdom of heaven.

I’ve been thinking a LOT about those of you that are caring for and raising little ones right now. In this pandemic and in the division we see, I’m sure that you have seen them say and act in ways you just hurt over. Caring for children is not easy, and it often goes unappreciated. DON’T GIVE UP!! But to everyone who lovingly cares for children and leads them to Jesus, His words remain precious and true: “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me” (Mark 9:37).
In 1860 Anna Warner and her sister Susan co-authored a novel named Say and Seal, in which a dying child is comforted with the words of a poem about Jesus. The poem later became a famous hymn sung in more than 100 languages:

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong; they are weak, but he is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.

To all of you parents…WE LOVE YOU! We stand with you! I am praying for you Moms that are overwhelmed! I am lifting up you Dads that are worried you’re not doing enough! May you see that JESUS loves YOU, even more than you love your little ones!
Shalom Alachiem…May HIS Peace be upon your HOME and your LIVES!

Let Me Be Frank… 7-8-20

Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
                      John 15:4(ESV)

This powerful word, abide, was brought back to my mind this week.  It’s not a word we use often in our everyday conversations, but it is a powerful word that will challenge us to stay connected.  But here’s the pressing question, “What are we connected to?”
A few years ago Marea and I were finishing a renovation of a kitchen.  We had taken out the oven and we had decided to replace it with a nice coffee nook.  We needed an outlet there in order to plug in our grinder and our electric water kettle, but then we would be set!
The electrician got our outlet in and we plugged in our grinder.  It whirred faster and faster and then everything just stopped.  He hadn’t changed the plug from 220 to 110.  The grinder couldn’t take it and shut down.
The figurative language of John paints a vivid picture of what it looks like to abide.  Abide means to stay, to remain.  Abide means I’m not going anywhere and I will remain connected to You.  Jesus says, “I am the Vine and you can’t bear fruit unless you are connected to Me.”  But, here’s the thing I keep thinking about.  If we are connected to a vine, any vine, we may produce fruit… but is it the type of fruit we should be producing?
Back to our story.  The outlet was connected to something but it was too much for our little coffee nook to handle.  In the end, the grinder met it’s untimely demise all because it wasn’t connected to the correct power.
What power are you connected to right now?  Does social media get you amped up until you can’t see straight?  Me too.  Sometimes I have to step back, go for a run, and listen to some Jesus music to stay attached to the Vine.  Do you watch the news until you are so worried about what the future will look like?  And, in worrying about the future, you stop looking for ways to connect in the here and now?  That’s me as well… it’s easy for me to be worried about what others might think and to yearn for yesterday (that’s alliteration, folks), but if I stay too much in the future or the past I forget to be present in the present.  I have to make time for God in order to stay connected to the Vine.
No one has this all figured out here on earth.  If they say they do they are fooling themselves.  Ask yourself these honest questions and then make changes in order to be (and stay) connected to Jesus Christ…
What am I connected to?
What fruit am I producing?
Can’t wait to worship with you this weekend!
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 

Something Don’d on Me! 7-8-20

Philippians 4:8- “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

A group of pioneers on the Oregon Trail suffered for weeks from lack of water & grass for their animals. Most of their wagons were broken down, causing delays in the heat. Spirits were low and morale was in the pits.
            One night, the leaders called a meeting to air complaints. When they gathered around the campfire, one man stood up and said, “Before we commence our gripe session, don’t you think we should thank God that He has brought us this far-with no loss of life, no trouble with the Indians, and enough strength left to finish the journey?”
            The settlers agreed and after a brief prayer, they started their meeting. And all that was heard was the sound of the crackling fire and the howling of the wolves in the distance. Apparently, after the time of prayer, no one felt they had grievances that were important enough to voice.
I doubt anyone has noticed…but there’s a ton of NEGATIVE stuff out there right now! (Yes, Sheldon…that was sarcasm!) Every time you turn on news, TV, social media or check the weather report…it just sounds bad. And that has a tendency to weigh on our attitudes and our general mood!
But I started naming some GOOD NEWS that I had heard or seen this week:

  • NUMEROUS Wedding anniversaries! Some only a few years, some 50+!
  • Friends that purchased a home…and that process working out for them!
  • Dear friends had a baby (Congrats Tori & Kevin!) and others have them on the way! (Exciting news for the Vaughn family, the Faver family, and Gavin & Bree Bonestroo!)
  • We got RAIN!! Of course we can use more, but a decent amount this weekend!
  • Tom Banks is getting stronger every day, and John Bridges may be home for good this week!
  • Exciting weddings happening in the next few days: Emily Roberts & Jonathan Langdon this week, former members Margie & Russ Michaud this weekend, and Veronica Vigil and Andrew Roybal in a couple of weeks!
  • The sunsets in the summer! Amazing skies…then breathtaking stars after that! Wow!

Trust me friends…my attitude gets a little pouty lately. And it’s very easy to be discouraged at what we see in the news, in the weather, in the sports, and in the world! But Paul challenged us: don’t fill your mind thinking about THOSE things…THINK about the things of GOOD! Concentrate on the things that are lovely! SEARCH for the things that are ADMIRABLE! And don’t let the pain of the week take away the joy of the day!
Almighty Father, forgive me when I concentrate on the broken, and forget all the things that You make beautiful! May I CONCENTRATE on the good things You have given me…and may I bring hope to those around me!
In the name of my brother, Jesus, I praise You, Amen
Shalom Alachiem-May His Peace be upon you all!