Pastor’s Blog

 
 

Uh, I Think We Knew This Was Coming

I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to do it, and if you have any doubt at all, I really don’t want to do it. What? I do not want to get into another political or ideological debate. But people, events and other political and ideological parties keep dragging me into it. And as long as this political tennis ball keeps landing on the Church’s “Biblical and moral” side of the court, I am compelled to address it and send it back across the net. It is not my fault! So here goes.
In light of the past Supreme Court rulings, and the pursuing discussions which followed, I think most would agree that we are seeing some significant change in the wind regarding the theological and moral compass surrounding the issues concerning marriage, family, the Bible, the Church and our national identity. The very fabric of our society is undergoing (and has been undergoing) a seismic shift away from what was held to be true for both millennia in the body of Christ, as well as the majority of mankind’s existence. And, although encapsulated in “good intentions,” it is revealing the ever increasing separation of our national and global culture, and Biblical understanding held by most men and women of God throughout world history. Having said all of that, we kind of knew this would happen.
This past month we spoke about what it would be like living in what many believe to be the “End Times.” As we read Biblical texts, we are clothed with the knowledge that “The World’s” understanding of rightness and wrongness would take a significant left turn (or right turn depending on your political station) from God’s Word. In 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes to a young pastor named Timothy and sets out to prepare him, and us, for an upcoming apostasy. He starts out with these words from 2 Timothy 3, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves…” STOP. I don’t want to hear any more!! (Hands on ears).
Following those first few words of Paul comes a laundry list of characteristics describing the condition we find ourselves in today. One thing interesting in verses 7 and 8, we are told that humankind would not only be unable to come to the truth found in God’s Word, but would indeed be resistant to the same (2 Timothy 3:7-8). We are living in a generation where many seek to remove Biblical instruction from all spheres of public life and consistently exalts humankind as their own savior and moral arbiter. Surely, we knew this was coming?! More on this subject in 2 weeks.
Be blessed even more,
Pastor Chris


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Thank You For Giving

I want to take this time to thank everyone who continues to give to the ministries of Central Christian Church. We have such a generous congregation and we all are blessed by the ongoing financial support that has become a hallmark of this wonderful congregation. So many have stepped up to provide for our needs whether through regular weekly giving or for special needs that occasionally arise. Not only have you given to the financial needs of this ministry, but you have shared your time and your talent as well, and all of us have been enriched by it. In Hebrews 6:10 we read, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” He never forgets what we do for Him and His reward is sure. In the book of Luke 6:38, we are encouraged to give to others. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you give, it will be measured to you.” Be assured that you cannot out-give the Lord. He has promised to repay some 30, some 60 and some 100 fold the gifts given in His Name and on His behalf.

However, we know that our congregation does not give expecting a return. You give because of your love for God and love for the ministry of Jesus Christ. We so appreciate your support and believe that God will bless all of those who from a pure heart give to the ministry of Central Christian Church; this congregation continues to evangelize and extend our love to the Huntington County community. In Philippians 4, the apostle responds to the giving of believers who have amply supplied for his ministry and the work God called him to. He describes a group of Christians who gave to his need “time and time again.” In the 19th verse he states this, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” That is my prayer for you and I believe, because of your marvelous generosity, God will supply all of your needs according to His riches as well. As you continue to support God’s ministry through tithes and offerings, shared talents and precious time, know that we remember you often in prayer and so appreciate the sacrifice you make.

We could never thank you enough but we so appreciate your faithfulness and support.

Be Blessed and Be Grateful and THANK YOU,

Pastor Chris


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Turtle Talk

God encounters us in a way we can understand. But we must take the time to listen and make space to listen. I have been told that researchers have conducted studies on the communication and conversation patterns of a breed of river turtles in Brazil’s Amazon territory. This research has yielded recordings of over 250 distinct sounds between a group of hatchling turtles and their mother. They were able to categorize this conversation into 6 different groups corresponding according to the behavior observed as a consequence of the “turtle chatter.” Now the communication elements are not definitive in their meaning, but it has become clear to researchers that information is being exchanged between the mother turtle and her babies. What some scientists have concerned themselves with is the noise pollution created by a growing level of modern civilization and heavy machinery that brings conflicting and distractive sounds to their world.

God speaks to us also. Not always in long soliloquies or eloquent orations, but God often speaks to us in a still small voice that can also be susceptible to distracting voices and sounds. These world manufactured distractions take us away from finding and hearing God’s voice spoken to our spirit. In Psalm 46:10 scripture tells us this, “10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” In this scripture, God lets us know of His awesome power; that he will be exalted among all people and throughout the entire world! Yet the Word of God starts with, “Be still and know…”

It is when we get in a place and a time of quiet peace that we can hear the voice of God speaking to us and telling us things that bring an intimacy to our relationship with God. Just as the baby turtles have to be in a place and time to be able to stop, hear and recognize the voice of Mama Turtle (Away from the noise of the world), we need to do the same with our Father who has opened up His line of communication through His Word and by the medium of the Holy Spirit speaking to our spirit. That is why it is so important to find a place of isolation and spend time with God before we leave our domicile in the morning, entering into the world with distracting activities and voices. Take time each morning and find a place where God’s voice becomes clear and His Words begin to speak to you.

Be blessed and be grateful,
Pastor Chris


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Talking Points

Do you believe in Conspiracies? Society is fascinated with them! Did George Bush order the 911 attacks? Did we really land on the moon? What is in Area 51? Or is it Area 54? Are the Bilderberger’s & Rothschild’s getting ready to take over the world thru the Illuminati? Who is the Anti-Christ, really? And, who drank my Sunkist that was in the fridge?

From Watergate to the IRS scandal and beyond, many people live from one conspiracy to another, latching on to the latest cloak and dagger theory. Some conspiracies have merit and some do not. But because we see silly conspiratorial theories come forth, some have taken the pendulum the other way and think there is no merit to any conspiratorial tales (unless it goes against something they happen to dislike). One thing that we certainly need to be careful of is becoming like “Paranoid Rob Lowe”, thinking that the government is putting microphones in our cheese!

Well then Pastor, do YOU believe there are conspiracies? Absolutely…I know there are dark agents that make up conspiratorial elements in our world. In our political system, the very fact that groups put out TALKING POINTS (whether believed true or not) reveals people who conspire for the determined goal of putting themselves into power! Regardless, the idea that there is a sinister force behind what we see going on in our world today has become a bit of a joke in the minds of some. The Christian Church needs to accept some of the blame for that due to all of the “date setting” regarding the imminent return of Christ. However, that does not mean that we do not face forces behind the scenes conspiring against us. For the Bible is clear that we do.

In Ephesians 6:10-12, we read ”Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c]against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” [CONSPIRACY] The Devil conspires against God and God’s people daily, and Satan has his own “Talking Points” to do so. Later in that chapter, verse 16, we are told to take the shield of faith in order to quench the “fiery darts” [TALKING POINTS] of the enemy. In fact, to be a follower of Christ is to know we have an enemy that conspires against the Cross of Christ and those who believe in it. Be reminded what the Apostles tells us in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” We can fight back… More later.

Be blessed and be grateful,
Pastor Chris


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Anticipate Great Things

One thing you may not know about me is that I am a world news junkie! If you ask my wife, Heidi, she will roll her eyes saying, “Oh really, you think!” I watch and listen to several news outlets to keep up on world events. As I do so, I have to keep reminding myself that God is sovereign in the midst of this mess. It is easy to become pessimistic when it seems like so many things are going wrong and the world continues to seemingly spin out of control. The Apostle Paul is a prime example for us to follow of one person who received bad news and experienced difficult circumstances, yet remained positive that great things would happen regardless. Paul regularly experienced the abuses of an unrighteous, decadent Roman Empire. He saw paganism and idolatry running rampant within the entire known world as well as his own nation of Israel. He endured personal attacks from other “believers”, imprisoned by multiple civic authorities and stoned to the point of death by his own people. What a life!
In the midst of persecution, Paul declares while in chains in Philippians 1:12-14 & 20 NLT, “And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear…For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.” He always saw the great things God was doing and anticipated great things to happen regardless of what the devil brought his way. Whether he lived or died, God will be glorified and great things were on their way.
You may feel that aspects of your life are being riddled with trials and struggles that are bringing you down. News that you receive from some may not be pleasing to your ears. But God is still in control and he will not allow you to go through anything you cannot handle without providing a way of escape (1 Cor 10:13). And always be reminded, as the Apostle indicated, whether we live or die, have great wealth or live in modesty, like what we currently view or are dismayed by the news, God will be glorified in us and great things are on the horizon for those who keep their eyes on Jesus.

Pastor Hayden


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Thrive Where Planted

I heard a phrase from a wise mentor of mine when I was going through a particularly difficult time early on in my ministry. He said to me, “God will use you and bless you no-matter what circumstances surround you. He will bless you where you are, He can’t bless you where you are not.” When I find myself going through a difficult time, the Lord seems to always bring that phrase to my remembrance.

In 2 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul addresses this same concept as he struggles to deal with his own “thorn in the flesh.” We do not know exactly what this thorn in the flesh was that oppressed him whether it was a person, a sickness, a physical challenge or another difficult circumstance in Paul’s life. It really does not matter what it was, what is important is the attitude Paul embraced and the manner in which he dealt with his thorn. What we know is that it was something the Apostle requested of the Lord to be removed yet God refused saying, “My grace is sufficient for you. For my strength is made perfect in weakness.” God lets Paul know that it is this place of weakness that God can display his power in our lives. Isn’t that how God’s power shows up most of the time? When we can’t, He always can? Otherwise, we tend to give credit to the person for accomplishments or to ourselves regarding those things that only God can do.

Because of this revelation, Paul declares that he will emphatically boast about his weakness so as to bring more glory and honor to God. This might translate in how we approach our jobs, school, an illness or accident incurred, a person or persons who rub us the wrong way, or any situation that would taunt and tempt us to give up and quit.

When a believer pushes through an obstacle, crashes through a wall meant to defeat them, and keeps on going, it brings glory and honor to God.

Are you going through a difficult time right now? Have you prayed, yet it appears that God has refused to remove the thorn? In the place you seem planted, trust the Lord. As you do so, His strength will become apparent in your weakness.

Pastor Hayden


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Jerusalem, A Heavy Stone

On March 20, 2015, (just last month), the United Nations, through their Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) made the most outrageous declaration concerning women’s rights violations. They condemned only one nation, and one nation only, for violating women’s rights out of the 193 United Nation member body. Well that nation must have been Iran or Iraq, the Sudan or Saudi Arabia, or possibly Syria. In all of these nations you will find women under oppression to the extreme.

Women are made to wear compulsory clothing, not allowed to drive or travel without permission and excluded from political life in Saudi Arabia. In Iran, women are not allowed to run for the presidency and executed if convicted of adultery or if they kill an attacking rapist. Women are denied any semblance of equal rights in Sudan, being subject to marriage at age 10 and genital mutilation, having no age minimum for consensual sex. In Syria, governmental authorities regularly use rape and torture as a tactic of war against women. But all of these nations received a pass. Time would not allow me to speak to rights violations in China or North Korea who are only beginning to make reforms with many obstacles to equality still in the way. Which nation received condemnation above all of these? If you know your Bible, you probably have already guessed. That’s right! It is little O’ Israel.

Why is this important to us? Because in Luke 12, religious leaders were rebuked for being able to discern when inclement weather was coming, but not knowing the signs showing the first arrival of the Messiah. In Matthew 24, Jesus gives signs before His second coming and in the 42nd thru 44th verses, tells us to keep watch and be ready for His return. Israel becoming the target of the United Nations is one such sign.

In Zechariah 12:2-3 we read, 2 “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. 3 And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.” WOW! Coincidence? Is our nation also joining the chorus against Israel? Interested in hearing more on this? If so, email me at: chrishayden60@sbcglobal.net

Be grateful and be blessed even more.

Pastor Chris Hayden
Central Christian Church


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Peace on earth…?

This past week at the Board of Directors meeting, Bill Bostel brought an insightful devotion that took the listeners through the journey of discovering what is meant in Luke 2 when angels of the Lord visited shepherds and declared to them “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” Yet in another place (Matthew 10:24), Jesus declares, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” So which is it? Did Jesus declare peace as stated in Luke 2 or did He come to bring a sword as read in Matthew 10? Is the Bible contradicting itself? Absolutely not!

When reading the Word of God, understanding comes as we examine the translation, context, purpose and audience of what is said. Jesus certainly came to bring peace to all men, however, not all men are willing to accept the peace wrought in Christ. If we look at the fuller, Amplified translation of Luke 2:14, we get a more exact understanding, “Glory to God in the highest (Heaven), and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased [men of goodwill, of His favor].” Jesus absolutely came to bring peace to those who have recognized the sinful state they have been born in and through humility, accept the sacrifice and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (men of goodwill on whom God’s favor rests).

It is within this context that we are able to understand Matthew 10:34. Those who continue to reject the Lordship of Christ do not enter into God’s rest nor do they receive the peace He gives. People continue to wield a sword intended to fight against God’s truth, God’s people, and therefore God himself. Jesus indeed brought a sword that separates those bearing Spiritual fruit and seeking the Kingdom of God from those who conflict with Christ’s Lordship. In light of this, we are able to understand the events recently where radical Islamic terrorists murdered individuals in Sydney and Paris. People of all beliefs war because they cannot get what they want and never will due to their rejection of God’s will and His Word (James 4:1-3).

Nations war against nations, terrorists attack those of differing beliefs, political parties fight against each other, families, friends and neighbors continually experience unhealthy divisions and even Christians struggle to be loving. There seems to be no end to the hate we see in the news. The world in general has rejected God’s peace and God’s Savior and carries sword in hand. O’ wretched world we live in…who will deliver us from the sword and ongoing unrest our world marinates in? The Apostle enlightens us in Romans 7:24-25, “I thank God—through Jesus Christ…” When we see a world void of peace…we should be compelled even more to bring the message of peace through Christ to those in such desperate need of Him! When people come to Christ to experience peace with God, He takes away the sword wielded due to hate and sin.

Be blessed and be grateful,
Pastor Chris


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Another Gift God Gave

The last two Sunday sermons reminded us of God’s generosity toward His people in the gifts or blessings that have been given to us. We reviewed the gift of grace given to all who choose to receive. Last week we spoke of the gift of reconciliation to those in the world. This week we want to look at a third blessing that we can celebrate at this wonderful Christmas time. That is that God has set us free!
In Galatians 3, the scripture tells us that the whole world is a slave to sin. We are in bondage to sin and every consequence/symptom that results from our separation from God. We are chained to the sin of greed and every symptom of depression and anxiety that comes about from the lust of either having or not having money. We are bound by evil arrogance and pride and the hate that stems from belittling others and the appetite for power. We are bound by wrath and the destroyed relationships and crippled souls this sin leaves in its wake. We are bound by lust, gluttony, sloth, envy and the consequences derived from these as well (Every sin has one or more consequences/symptoms and demons attached).
So where is the joyful Christmas tidings? It is found in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” The Bible tells us that when we give ourselves to sin we become its slave (John 8:34). We are just as much, if not more, slaves needing deliverance as the children of Israel were under Pharaoh in Egypt. But the advent of Jesus our Lord brought about the key that unlocks the prison doors and looses the chains that bind us. Let’s remember John 8:36, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” When we see the Baby Jesus lying in a makeshift manger this year, we are not just seeing one of many Christmas decorations. We are seeing a representation of our very own Deliverer who came to set us free and bless us with the gift of freedom!

Be blessed even more.

Pastor Chris Hayden
Central Christian Church


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12-02-14 The Gift of Grace

Another gift explored this holiday season is the gift of grace. God gave His wonderful gift of grace to us so that whosoever believes would not perish but have everlasting life. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” God looked upon us, saw that there was none righteous, that all were guilty and without hope, but loved and extended to us grace so that we could find our way back to Him. Now that we have received the benefits of God’s grace, we are called to extend that benefit to others.

Thanksgiving evening, during the Black Friday sales and after our Turkey dinner had settled for the night, my wife and I went to Walmart to pick up a couple key presents (mostly for Reid!!!). As you probably would guess, the place was packed and as the specials were declared open for consumption, masses began moving through the narrow halls of the store. As I searched for my wife who had called for me to bring the cart to her, I found myself bumper to bumper, in an oft standing still, line.

I could see very little in front of me due to the humongous box holding the electric car I was buying my grandson (a replacement for the one stolen a month ago). All of a sudden I started being pushed by the cart behind me!! I resisted, not knowing if I was running into the person in front of me, but the rear offender kept pushing! I swung my head around to give my rude fellow shopper the what for only to come face-to-face with a box in a cart bigger than the one in mine (no person there)!! All of us were caught up in a sea of humanity floating in the same river of holiday bargains; no control, hoping I would pass my wife floating in the line coming towards me!! I began to laugh realizing that I was given God’s grace; maybe I should have grace for the others around me caught up in the mass of shop-a-holism of which there was no escape!!

First Corinthians 13:7, tells us about the love we need to have for one another. It reads, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.” That is what grace is. Loving others, even when they don’t deserve it. And we, of all people, should extend God’s grace to others knowing that we are all in the same river of sinful humanity, benefiting from the grace God so generously continues to extend to us.

Be grateful and be blessed even more.
Pastor Chris Hayden
Central Christian Church


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