Let Me Be Frank… 10-30-19

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 NLT

I’ve lived my entire life in Portales, NM.  Okay, there was a year in there when I moved to Albuquerque but I moved right back.  The world I know is friendly, medium-paced, and small town.  And I love every minute of it.  So, when we decided to travel overseas to visit dear friends I wasn’t sure what to expect.  What I got was beautiful landscapes, precious memories, incredible cuisine and a deeper understanding of “for God so loved the world.”
We walked through the Houhai lake area in Beijing, China.  There were older ladies line dancing, their movements synchronized with each other as they enjoyed the music.  There were couples walking hand in hand.  There were little kids clamoring for the street vendor toys.  And God loved them so much that He sent Jesus to die for them.
We spent the day on the beach in Okinawa, Japan.  There were families in tents enjoying a picnic meal trying to shield themselves from the hot sun.  There were kids trying to catch some waves while navigating around the adults who had decided to take a nap on the beach.  And God loved them so much that He sent Jesus to die for them.
We made it back to the states and headed toward the Olvera Street Market.  There were people enjoying mariachi music and amazing tacos.  Makeshift tents lined the sidewalk, where people had fashioned homes out of fleeting materials.  And God loved them so much that He sent Jesus to die for them.
There are people praying for another chance.  There are people who are struggling to make ends meet.  There are people who want to be better than they are, but they’re not sure how to get there.  There are people who hurt or have been hurt.  There are people that are hard-hearted and callous.  And there are people who believe there is hope.  Hope for the future.  Hope for the lonely.  Hope for the hurting.  Hope for the unloved.  Hope for everyone.
And God loved them so much that He sent Jesus to die for them.
And now there is Hope.
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 

This AMP’ed me UP! 7-24-19

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12 ESV

In John 13, we see the perfect example of servant leadership. As Jesus washes His disciple’s feet, we see the value He places on each of His friends; even those that would deny and betray Him. And He knew they could do little in return for what He was about to do.

We Love Portales was exactly that. An opportunity to serve our amazing city with the intention of getting nothing in return. Simply because we love Portales. 

We could talk about the numbers, but the truth of the matter is, even if it was only one person that we were able to successfully love on, serve, and show/be Jesus to, that would be enough. But God didn’t stop at one. Because of our church, we got to bless more people than we can possibly imagine. 

Love spread like wildfire this past weekend. Thank you to everyone who took part in We Love Portales. This is what the Church is. This is how we are to shine His light. May His name get all the Glory. 

Feel free to contact me by phone (575-693-5452) or email (dennis@centralwired.org) with any questions!

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Heavenly Father, thank You for believing in us. Thank You for allowing us to be a part of your glorious plan. I pray that every person involved in We Love Portales, whether with the church or those who were blessed, would come to know You more each and every day. Bless everyone with Your presence above everything else. Shape our hearts to be more like Yours. Help us to see the need for Your love in our everyday lives. We are in awe of You and honored that You would use us to accomplish Your will. May You get all the glory and honor and praise.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Something Don’d on Me! 7-24-19

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35
I grew up going to a thing they would call a Youth Rally. We’d pack up a bunch of teens in a van and drive them someplace for a Saturday, pack them in pews in some church, march a parade of preachers up on stage, and feed these kids soggy PB&J sandwiches before we sent them back home. They were really fun (other than the soggy sandwiches) and we really grew together a lot.

One of the songs we ALWAYS sang at these things was “We Are One in the Spirit”-it was an official church teen anthem in those days. And most people recognize the chorus of the song: “And they’ll know we are Christians, by our love…by our love…yes, they’ll KNOW we are Christians by our love.” That lyric comes from the verse referenced above: “your love will PROVE you are my disciples!” It’s not measured by WHAT church we go to, or THAT we go to church, or the little fish symbol on our car…it’s proven in HOW we love!
How do you prove your love to someone? Maybe you get your significant other flowers or candy on Valentines Day. Perhaps you pick out something special for their birthday! Or maybe you just spend time with them, doing what they want to do! You PROVE your love for them in your actions! You say the words and perform the deeds that PROVE your love!
I saw LOVE shown in some powerful ways recently! During our “We Love Portales” event, I saw people hauling trash from yards…serving people that don’t even go to church with us!! I saw families giving out donuts and hugging on First Responders! I saw meals purchased and runners encouraged! I saw sweat being poured out in 104 degree heat…and it SHOWED love! I’ve seen it in sponsors at Elementary Camp this week! Even tired, they are loving on kids-giving hugs, encouraging them to worship and pouring into their spirits! I see it every week, when our Praise Team works hard to get us all in a space where the Holy Spirit can move us! I see love shown in the people that make coffee, that serve as greeters, that clean our church building, and that volunteer at AMP or KidZone! Love is TRULY a verb!
And THEY will know…by our love! “THEY” in this song, seems to be the world OUTSIDE of the Church Building! I pray that they KNOW we are different because of Whose we are!And I pray that we CONTINUE to prove it to the world that we really ARE His Disciples!We have MANY MORE opportunities to serve and show love coming up soon…and we WANT YOU to be a part! So that the world may KNOW Him, in whom we have our Trust!

I read this quote one time: “When you love others, it not only changes the world…it changes you!” May we be transformed every day more into the likeness of our Savior! And may Portales KNOW that we love our town! To God be the GLORY!!

Let Me Be Frank… 3-20-19

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

I knew exactly where we were going.  I had just looked at the map and had been there before.  But all it took was one sentence from Marea to change my tune.

“Are you sure it’s that way?”

Yes, I was sure.  Well, mostly sure.  Okay…  pretty sure I knew the way.  Or at least I thought I did.  My 100% sure changed to 90% in a matter of moments and that number was dropping by the second.
Convinced – to move by argument or evidence to belief, agreement, consent, or a course of action

Are you convinced of God’s love for you?  Are you sure that He is for you in every way possible?  Or do you find yourself losing confidence minute by minute as people and circumstances question your resolve?

Life will rarely be easy, but God calls us to live for Him.  He calls us to be confident in His love, to walk in His strength, and to rest in His peace.  His promises are absolute and “yes and amen.”  We must choose, each and every day, to walk in His promises, convinced that He loves us and is for us!

So excited to share with you this weekend as we continue to look at God’s relentless love! 

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

Let Me Be Frank… 2-13-19

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 
1 Peter 4:8

Life is messy.  It’s definitely not always picture perfect, and there are days when it is very difficult, to say the least.  Most of my moves in this life are reactive… meaning my next course of action depends on the current situation.  I could say, “That’s just the way I am,” and leave it at that.  But God continually calls me to more.

Don, DA, and I are in a John Maxwell leadership class right now.  Next week is the final session, but I have to say that I have already learned quite a bit about myself through this process.  One of the biggest ideas I have tried to implement in my life is the “ten on the head” rule.

“Ten on the head” simply means that each person walks in the room with a “10” on their head.  No matter what they’ve done or how they hurt you, they start with a “10.”  And putting that number on their head allows you to treat them differently.  You see, when I have a grudge against _______________ and they walk in the room my demeanor may change.  My body language closes off and I look and act defensively.  How in the world is this relationship going to change if I consistently take thisstance.  It’s time to go back to the Bible and see what “living in love” looks like.

Let’s start at the end of this verse…  “Love covers a multitude of sins” does not mean that we are sweeping things under the rug and pretending problems don’t exist.  It means that we are choosing to love someone for who they are, not what they have done.  We are choosing to ask these questions, “Why is this happening?  Where are they coming from?  What can I do to help the situation?  How can I love them well?”

And what about the beginning?  “Love each other deeply.”  I am reminded of a worship song, “How deep the Father’s love for us.”  What if God is calling us to die to ourselves each day in order to show others Christ’s love.  If that’s the case (and I believe it is) then it’s not all about us and how we feel.  It’s not about whether we are wrong or right.  It’s about how we love.  There is a way to correct… in love.  There is a way to make your point… in love.  There is a way to handle every situation… in love.  There is a way to live your life… in love.

“Ten on the head…”  Try it this week and see what happens.  Life may be messy but it is a beautiful journey when we walk with others.

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

Let Me Be Frank… 11-7-18

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 
1 John 4:7-8

What is love?  *You are welcome for the ear worm.  Some of you stopped to sing the second part of the Haddaway tune just now…*
When I was growing up, love was making a Yankees uni costume for me the week before I gave my presentation on Babe Ruth.  Love was pulling my brother up (we were really little) from the water when he went inbackwards and couldn’t stand.  Love was my dad having the patience to teach me how to drive the old Datsun.  Love was setting me straight when I wanted to be like my big cousin and chew tobacco.  Love was also letting me move out of the house and into the dorm.
Love was my parents attending a rock concert where my band opened.  Love was enduring said concert even though we played Metallica.  Love was telling me, “We love you, now stop doing stupid things!”   Love was praying for me each and every day even though I wouldn’t come home to see them. 
When I was young I saw God as someone who didn’t have time for me.  I mean, why would he?  He is God.  He has better things to do.  My job was to try my best to worship and be good.  That worked well forawhile.
When I was in college I saw God as someone who was uncaring and judgemental.  Who was He (who was anyone, really) to tell me how to live my life?!?  I didn’t hear much from Him and that wasprefectly fine.  We weren’t exactly on speaking terms…  Turns out I was wrong on both counts.
God is Love.  This does not mean simply that God loves (although that is true).  It does not mean that loving is one of His activities, either.  This means that God IS love.  Love is the essence of His being.  All of His activity is loving.  Everything He does is love.  This is what John is saying.
When we read the Bible and see tough passages like Noah and the flood it’s hard to see love.  But He saved a family and restored the Earth.  And when we begin to understand the true character of God (understanding that can only come through the Holy Spirit, God’s Holy Word, and prayer) we begin to reflect that nature.  We become more and more like Him as we love like Him.  This doesn’t mean we’ll always see eye to eye.  This doesn’t make things easy.  This doesn’t mean we don’t continue to challenge and encourage one another as we journey together.  This simply means we love like He loves – all of it – from Genesis to Revelation.
Oh, and we can’t do that on our own.  May God changeours hearts as we take our eyes off our circumstances and focus on Him!
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 

Something Don’d on Me! 11-7-18

“You are the light that gives light to the world. A city that is built on a hill cannot be hidden. And people don’t hide a light under a bowl. They put it on a lampstand so the light shines for all the people in the house. In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Some dear friends (cough cough Kevin Lackey…) have noticed lately that I’m carrying glasses to the pulpit when I get ready to talk. Yes, it has come that point in my life, where the “readers” are right beside me as I go. And many have commented that Franklin has NOT been wearing his glasses-thankfully due to his surgery earlier this year he can lead worship sans spectacles! But many of you use glasses and contacts on a daily basis!
I grew up wearing glasses…and please understand, these were not “Fashionable Accessories to my Educational Attire”-these were Buddy Holly Coke Bottles! Goggles would have been a better description. I was able to get hard contacts in Junior High. (Does anyone remember THOSE torture devices? Basically shards of thick glass that you attached directly to your eyeball! Thankfully we live in an area where sand and dirt hardly EVER blow into your eyes!!) Eventually, I graduated to soft contacts, then eye surgery…and now age is winning the battle, and my arms are not long enough to make those little squiggles visible, hence the wearing of the “readers” in the pulpit!
People have used OPTICAL DEVICES to make things clearer for centuries. Perhaps you’ve seen old movies where they used the “lorgnette”-this is the pair of glasses on a stick, that proper ladies would use while at the opera or the tea room! Maybe you remember Hogan’s Heroes and Colonel Klink wearing a “monocle”. Those had to hurt! You may have even moved up to Bifocals or even Trifocals. Don’t wear them in shame! These devices are making it so you can see…and hopefully see CLEARER!
Here’s an odd thought…WHAT IF YOU ARE THE GLASSES FOR SOMEONE ELSE?What if…because they see you, things become clearer for them? Go back up there and read Matthew 5:16, and take note of the part in bold print. In His great “Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus says that we are a “City on a hill…a light that can’t be hidden.” We recognize that part…but do we really get that next line? “Live so that they will SEE THE GOOD THINGS YOU DO!”

Your actions…your attitude…these things are ways people can SEE THE LOVE OF GOD! When you are kinder to the checkout girl than others…people will notice that! When you send encouraging texts and comment on others photos of their kids…people SEE love shining through you! It doesn’t mean you don’t have struggles, or even disagree with someone. It just means we STILL LOVE, even when we don’t agree! HOW we live…can sure help people SEE CLEARER!
“And they will praise their Father in Heaven.” Wouldn’t that be a great epitaph for your day? That someone saw how you lived and loved…and GOD GOT THE GLORY??
Put on your glasses…see those words on paper clearer…and then go BE GLASSES for someone else! So that they can SEE THE FATHER…through the lens of you!
May your day be blessed…and your glasses be smudge-free!