Pastor’s Blog

Thou Art With Me

Within the 23rd Psalm in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit through the pen of King David created one of the most well known passages in the Bible. A beautiful presentation of God’s peace, provision and protection are outlined for those who have truly chosen the Lord as their Shepherd. This passage carries such life within its lines that there is no wonder that this Psalm is quoted at funerals more than any other in our Lord’s text; a time when families are searching for life and meaning.

One portion of this chapter stands out for me this month and is found in the 4th verse. It reads …”I will fear no evil; for You are with me…” NKJV. YOU ARE WITH ME. This premise is encapsulated in one of the names given to God Himself; that being “Jehovah Shammah.” Jehovah being the name of God for the people of Israel; Shammah meaning “is there.” He is the God who is always there. This might at times be a little disconcerting when we are screaming at someone who just cut us off on the highway or when taking a shower in the morning! However, for me I receive great comfort knowing that he is with me when I am hurting. He is with me when I have a bad day and things just are not going my way. He is here with me when I am in Huntington and my family is in Indianapolis and I feel very alone. My God is Jehovah Shammah, He is always here with me and will always be there with you, too. Just call on Him, He is there.

Be blessed,

Pastor Chris


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Have You Tebowed?

For those of us who are fans of professional football, this season has brought about a new phenomenon that many in the news media have picked up on. It is called Tebowing! Tebowing is the act of getting on one knee, placing one fist on the forehead in “The Thinker” pose and praying to God to give Him glory for the moment. Tim Tebow, quarterback for the Denver Broncos, invented the practice by praying after each game thereby bringing on a variety of responses. Those responses ranged from avid appreciation from other believers to outright anger on the part of those who think that prayer does not belong on the football field. The crazy thing, football players have been praying on the field since the games inception, so why all the hoopla?

With the recent success of the Broncos getting into the playoffs and beyond, Tim’s prayers and thanksgiving to God before the media have been in the face of fans, players and coaches all around the league. Anytime the Good News of Christ becomes unavoidable by the public, people get offended. Jesus said it would happen. In John 15, Jesus told us that the world would hate those belonging to Him. Verse 18–19 in the Message Bible says this, “If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you.”

Tim Tebow has made the commitment to live on God’s terms and not the worlds. Because he refuses to hide his faith, displaying his love for Christ through the avenues available to him, those offended by God are not pleased. Tim has the courage to display his faith in a world that has walked away from God. God calls all his children to have that same level of courage. Paul says in Romans 1:16 – “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ…“ (KJV). The Message Bible says it like this, “It’s news I’m most proud, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else.” So next time you have a chance to give glory to God, do the Tebow!

Be blessed.

Pastor Chris Hayden


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Please God or Please Man

Have you ever felt like people would be unhappy with you no matter what you tried to do? If you turned left, this person or group would be angry with you, yet if you turned right, this other person or group would be angry with you?   And no matter what your decision is, someone or some group will not like it? In those situations, sometimes doing what should be done is not always easy. And even among Spirit-filled believers, compromise can be rejected. Peter experienced this. He was torn between either siding with the Jewish Church in Jerusalem or to stand with his friend the Apostle Paul. The Christian Jews at Jerusalem believed that the gentiles needed to adhere to Jewish law to join the Church while Paul claimed that these believers were free in Christ and were not bound by the tradition of the Jews. What to do, O’ what to do?

At first, Peter sided with both, yet abandoned eating with Gentiles when Jewish believers were around. Paul confronted him with his double mindedness in Galatians the 2nd chapter. In the end, however, Acts 15 tells us that Peter does the right thing as he stands with Paul and Barnabas as they address the Church at Jerusalem on the right of the Gentiles to join the faith without adhering to Jewish tradition. Peter decided that it is best to please God rather than to please man.

Paul says this in Galatians 1:9-10 – “As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Paul’s advice, be a pleaser of God, not of men. Sometimes doing what God wants brings vitriol from those resisting Him. The question we need to ask ourselves is this, “What would please God?” Then do what pleases God, not man.

Be blessed.

Pastor Chris Hayden


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Got Vision?

Got Vision?

I remember a quote that has meant so much to me. It says, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” This past Sunday I reminded the congregation that God has a vision for your life.  Not just some lives, but all.  No one is here by accident and therefore each of us has a role to fulfill in God’s grand story.  How are you doing with yours?  I need to ask that because it is far too easy for us to get caught up in mindless work, texting, email, web searches and hide from the vision God has for us. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 29:18 that, “where there is no vision, the people perish.” What is God’s vision for your life?

The constant barrage of information and inputs deliver a perfect distraction from living according to the vision that God has for us.  By asking yourself if you’re living God’s true vision, it brings you face to face with the truth. Only when we allow ourselves to turn off the noise can we hear the voice of God so that we can discover His vision.  If all we have time for is the world and what it has to offer, an hour after you have kept up with the gossip of the day, you may not have much to show for it.  Sure, you know that some movie star is splitting with their spouse, who will be coaching Michigan next year or who the next Batman villain is going to be, but what have you done to grow your relationship with the Almighty Lord of your life? The Apostle Paul implores the believers in Rome (Romans 12:2) not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds…” We do this through prayer and Word study or simply put, spending time with God.

There are millions and millions of us busy searching the internet, connecting, responding, and wasting a lot of time.  Here’s an experiment:  turn off the noise for a while, spend some time in prayer and the Word and see what happens to your spiritual productivity.  Do you find yourself getting more done?  Doing work that really matters?  Living more of your divine destiny?

Be blessed,

Pastor Chris


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Time For Encouragement

Everyone needs encouragement from time to time and most need it more often than not.  I’m so glad for the encouragement that I receive from the members of this congregation and from what I find in God’s Word.  In service Sunday, we discussed the concept that, while our life may be brief, God wants us to weave our short story with His wonderful everlasting story. If we will make God the point of our life, He will use us to make an impact that goes beyond our limitations of time and shortcomings regarding our personal abilities and resources.

In the same way, when we experience difficulties in life or see things that would tend to be disheartening, we don’t need to allow discouragement to get the better of us, but rather be encouraged because we know Who is about to return.  Instead of asking, “what is this world coming to?” we are able to help others know “who is coming to this world?” During my study time, I was reminded of how awesome the God we serve really is through the story of Hezekiah in the Old Testament.  In 2 Chronicles 32, the prophet encouraged the people with these words, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him.  With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”

The Bible says that the people gained confidence from Hezekiah’s words in spite of the odds. I don’t know what you may be facing or what challenges are before you, but I do know that ”there is a greater power with us” that is able to deliver.  Get a hold of the powerful promises of God’s Word and refuse to give into self-pity, depression, thoughts of defeat and fear.  Instead, gather your thoughts upon the Word of God and hope, strength and courage can fill your heart regardless of what the circumstance may look like.

Be blessed,

Pastor Chris


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Who Will Carry My Baggage?

As a person goes through life, we often experience hardships and heartaches that leave marks upon us. At some point, maybe you felt rejected by others or were treated unkindly in some manner by fellow employees or schoolmates. Maybe you were lied to or betrayed by someone close to you. Maybe you were never appreciated by certain family members and no matter how hard you try, could not win the appreciation of those close to you. It is this kind of interpersonal hurt that leaves blotches on the soul of an individual that often affects the manner in which we treat others and the decisions we make later in life. This is called carrying baggage.

King David experienced these types of interpersonal problems. In fact, his life was a mess! David himself declares in Psalm 109:22, “For I am poor and needy and my heart is wounded within me.” He had some serious baggage!! It is no wonder that he feels this way. In the 2nd and 3rd verse of this same chapter he says this regarding his enemies, “For the mouth of the wicked and deceitful are open against me: They have spoken against me with a lying tongue. They surrounded me with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause.”

Have you ever felt this way? I have felt this way at times but am comforted knowing that King David did as well. His former boss, King Saul, tried to kill him, his wife Michal constantly mocked him and his son Absalom wanted him dead so that he could take control of the family business (David’s throne). But rather than seek revenge, David refused to act against them himself; he sought the Lord for restoration and justice. Psalm 70:5 says this, “But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: You are my help and deliverer.” David said it again! He is poor and needy! Actually, David says this about himself four times in the book of Psalms. Yet each time he takes his baggage to God and lets the Lord do the restoring.

Rather than continue to carry the baggage that weighs you down, leave your luggage with Jesus. The Lord brings justice and restoration as we fellowship with Him in prayer and through His Word.

Be blessed.

Pastor Chris Hayden

Central Christian Church

 


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God’s Great Investment

Just recently, Tina, our wonderful Church secretary received a fundraiser coupon book in the mail. You know the type. Church youth groups and school clubs purchase discount books that carry coupons for free stuff from businesses in their local community, then sell them for a bit more in order to raise the needed funds for their organization. Parents, other family and friends purchase these discount books and spend the next few months trying to figure out how they are going to utilize said coupons in order to get their monies worth out of them. A great American activity!

Most of these coupons say something like this: “Receive a free (whatever) with the purchase of one (whatever) of equal or greater value.” A good deal to be sure if you dare to use it. Buy one, get one free. It is good to get something free.   God’s Word describes a similar deal, only His discount goes so much further. In the book of Romans 8:29, we read, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (NAS). In other words, God purchased salvation by giving His one and only son, but got so much more than just one other person was saved in return. The blood of Christ was shed that there would be a mammoth return of men and women into the kingdom of God.

The wonderful thing about this deal is that Jesus paid the original price so that salvation would be a gift of God’s grace. We need not pay a thing, only take advantage of what God has already done; as the scripture states in 1 Corinthians 15:21, “For since death came through a man (Adam), the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man (Jesus).” The act of the Savior of the world dying on the cross became the ultimate purchase that makes salvation a free gift for the rest of us; a very good deal if we would but utilize the coupon provided.

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris


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Spiritual Discernment

Spiritual-Discernment

In the scriptures, 1 John 4:1, John the apostle tells us, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is discernment.  One definition given for spiritual discernment is the ability to see things as God sees them.  In a world that continues to be at odds with the Word of and will of God, along with ever increasingly loud voices drawing people away, seeing things as God sees them becomes more and more tenuous.

In 2 Timothy we read, “But KNOW this, that in the last days perilous times will come . . .Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse,deceiving (lying) and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:1, 13).  We live in a world that is deceiving and being deceived and we, as the Body of Christ, need to always be on guard discerning God’s will as we reach out to reconcile people back to the Savior, knowing that His arms are open to all who turn to him and away from embracing sin.  When we embrace sin as a church, it only emboldens the world, that hates the Word of God, to approve of more unrighteousness.

James, the Lord’s half brother, declared this, “…don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” What James is saying is that we need to discern what is of the world and what is of God, then by doing so, we always choose God.  This is not an easy message to give.  The Pharisees and ungodly rejected Jesus for giving this very message.  The 8th chapter of John illustrates Jesus’ condemnation of those who rejected him when He discerned where the non-believing religious were coming from.  How can we learn to discern the truth?  Jesus said these words, “He that is of God, hears God’s words…” (John 8:47a).

Be blessed,

Pastor Chris


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Not Just Auditing the Class

In Matthew, the seventh chapter, we see the words of Jesus expose individuals who claim the title of being a believer, but fail to follow Biblical instruction.  In this passage, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'”

Claiming to be a Christian does not always translate to truly being one of His disciples.  The difference is that a disciple of Christ will not only seek to know what God’s will is according to the Word, being a mere hearer only, but they work to do the will of the Father as well.

In James 1:21-22, we find this scripture…”Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” The word “hearers” comes from a Greek word that gives us the picture of a student who takes a class at college but never completes any of the lessons given to them.  It is like a person who audits a class, they hear the lectures, but they never complete any of the assignments therefore never receive any credit at the end of the semester.

Verse 23 continues by informing us that those who hear the Word but do not do it, are only “deluding themselves,” Those who listen to the Word but never order their life accordingly are satisfied with religious activity but rejects a true relationship with Christ.  They become satisfied with providing God tiny sacrifices in order to appease God, which never works, rejecting the grace of God freely given to those who humble themselves by receiving the gift of a true relationship with Christ.

Be blessed

Pastor Chris

P.S.  I would love to hear from you.  If you would like to comment or share opinions regarding this offering, feel free to email me at chrishayden60@sbcglobal.net


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Evangelize, Proselytize or Both

This past month, I spent some time reviewing the constitution of Central Christian Church. Within the pages of this document you will find details of how the Church is to operate regarding leadership and committees and the like. What caught my attention, however, could be found on the very first page under Article II regarding our “Purpose.” The first paragraph in this section begins with this statement, “The purpose of this church shall be as revealed in the New Testament: to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and win people to faith in Him…” The ideas put forth hear is not only completely scriptural, but an accurate description of what we should be about busily doing.

In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul tells his young protégé to preach the Word of God whether it is convenient or not to do so. We need to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ in times when it is convenient (on Sunday mornings), and in times when it is not (every other day of the week). This preaching the Gospel has come to be known by many as “evangelism.” We evangelize individuals by telling them about Christ and the way to Him. The Apostle later tells Timothy to do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5).

In 1 Corinthians 9:22, the writer declares, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. While this scripture is also describing evangelism, we could also call this proselytizing since Paul is trying to win people to his way of thinking. The word “proselytizing” carries a negative connotation in our culture today which is largely unfair. The word is only negative when you do not approve of the group that people are being drawn to join or the reason for their enlistment.

The word proselytizing simply means to recruit someone to join a group. Everyone does this. Colleges proselytize new students, sports teams proselytize athletes, political pundits continue recruiting others to their side and individuals proselytize others to agree with their interpretation of an issue against someone else in conflict. Proselytizing is not always bad, what can make it bad is the way it is done and the reason for it. Christians should be about evangelizing and proselytizing for the right reasons and in a manner that shows Christ’s love. It is not only God’s will, but should be our desire to see others receive eternal life along with receiving the infinite benefit of being a member of His family.

Be blessed,

Pastor Chris


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