Pastor’s Blog

 
 

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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How Pleasant To Be In Unity

When I first came to Huntington, I had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of the Encounter 2010 meetings which were held at Kriegbaum Field. Approximately 15 to 20 Churches gathered together as they took their first step in developing a stronger bond between members of the Church community in Huntington County. It was exhilarating to see brothers and sisters from different denominations holding hands around the football field as we worshipped our Lord together without pretense or one group’s agenda getting in the way. The excitement was overwhelming as we prayed for each other and for God’s work to be done in this city/county; starting with us.

The Lord is pleased when we come together as one whether His Spirit is unifying believers in Huntington County or simply those at any individual Church. Pastor’s long to see their Church unified just as Christ longs to see the same in His body. In 1 Corinthians, the 12th chapter, the Apostle Paul lays out the case for unity among Christians much like a lawyer might do before a judge and jury. Paul speaks about the special gifts and administrations given to different members, the need for unity of each member for the edifying of the Church and that there is only one source whereby these gifts and administrations are supplied (the Holy Spirit). He then lays out in detail the fact that each member is gifted from God for His use, that every gift is just as important as another and that every gift is necessary for the operation of the Body. The Lord has apportioned to each member as He will for the edifying of the body of Christ; yes, that includes you and me!

Now, of course, we must never compromise the foundations of our faith to reach some pseudo-unification that is void of any Spiritual depth. There are certainly standards of the Gospel that are not negotiable. However, far too often we allow personal preferences to disrupt the mission that Christ has set before his people. We might be more productive as Christ’s body if we adopted a famous slogan which states, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” Psalm 133:1 says that it is absolutely wonderful when brethren dwell together in unity. To the Lord, it is like precious ointment that dowsed Aaron from head to toe (a good thing, not like spilling oil on your new shoes). The third verse of that chapter informs us that when we have such unity, that it is here that God commands His blessing upon us, even life for evermore. Here are two questions we should ask ourselves: What can we do to share your gifts with the body of Christ and in what ways can we join with others in Christian unity within our own congregation as well as the Church universal? As we continue to allow God to bring His people together as one, we will see our own individual ministries grow in spiritual vibrancy. Oh, how wonderful it is when we dwell together united as one!

Be blessed

Pastor Chris


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All Things Are Possible

Last summer, a wonderful message adorned the Central Christian Church sign. It was taken from the scripture passage Mark 10:27 KJV, “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” This message conveyed to all of us that even when things seem impossible, God can always turn things around making things work in accordance with His will. When we are ready to give up in a situation because things seem too bleak, God is not even phased.

Throughout our time in this life we come across situations that serve to try our faith. Days when we experience suffering and loss, face persecution and hardship, battle circumstances that go beyond our ability to conquer or even control. Over the past year, most of you have become aware of the battle my son had been fighting that stumped doctors and eluded the intellect of the experts. In the past year, we have made several trips to Riley’s Hospital in Indianapolis trying to pin down what has been ailing my son. Out of all the difficulties my wife and I have experienced while in Huntington, none have even come close to rising to importance in comparison to this one. Several things have been beyond our control, but nothing like this. The thing is, I know that many of you have also experienced situations that have stymied you as much as this one did us.

Even though the previous paragraph is true, it is also true that God loves us very much. And while we face these difficulties, God is with us, He knows are hardship, and tells us we can trust Him. The theme of last summer’s Vacation Bible School was “We Can Trust God.” We can trust God know matter who we are. We can trust God no matter how we feel. We can trust God no matter what others may do to us. We can trust God no matter the circumstance. Why trust Him? We can trust Him because He loves us very much and because with God, all things are possible. No matter how difficult things become or what others may say or do, trust the Lord, because with Him, all things are possible.

Be blessed even more!

Pastor Hayden

 


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