Pastor’s Blog

 
 

The Gift of Expectancy

As we enter the advent season, we can anticipate a new round of seasonal wonder and holiday expectancy. I still have an overwhelming wonder about how the holidays are going to work out with all the duties needing completed and I fully expect the intense stress and anxiety of buying gifts and food needed for a successful time with the family. Sometimes we can lose the real meaning and purpose of our Holy Days and cynicism can take away from the true magic of the season. But it does not have to be that way.

We can and should have an expectancy of experiencing Christ in a new and fresh way this Advent season. The word “advent” means arrival. When we celebrate Advent, we need to be aware of three aspects of His “arrival.” The first is the arrival of the Babe in a manger some 2000 plus years ago. This is the arrival of our Lord and Savior who became the gift of salvation to all who will believe. Luke 2:10 -11 confirms this, “10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
But this arrival is not just something that happened in the past, it is also a promise for the future. The second aspect of His arrival leads us to Advent birthing in us the anticipation of His return after the last trumpet. Jesus reminded His disciples before the crucifixion that He was going away, but would come back again to receive them to Himself (John 14:3,28).
Finally, the Advent season needs to bring us to remembrance of Jesus’ arrival and presence now. We need to have a holy expectancy of His arrival as we look to Him for guidance and as the God we worship, waiting in wonder as to how Jesus will reveal Himself to us today. If we made Christ our Lord, we can expect and anticipate Him moving in our everyday lives. The great hymn “In The Garden” states, “…And He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own…” Take time to walk with and talk with the Lord each day, expecting Him to manifest His wonders to you…today!

Be grateful and be blessed even more.

Pastor Chris Hayden
Central Christian Church


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The Gift of Gratefulness

Have you ever been in a place where you had an extended time of feeling sorry for yourself? I know I have. Sometimes we may feel we have every good reason for being unhappy and there are other times we look back and wonder what it was we were thinking and why did we allow such a circumstance to bother us so. There are times in our lives when many of us have a tendency to make lists of how bad we got it and use said lists to accuse God of not caring. Again, been there, done that! However, our happiness is not necessarily determined by what is happening to us at the time as much as it depends on what we have determined to focus on regardless of what is happening.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. The Word does not tell us that we will not have struggles, but does let us know that first and foremost, do not to be anxious about anything. Don’t focus on what is wrong, but in each situation, pray and be thankful. Verse 7 lets us know that it is the gift of a grateful heart that will have the very peace of God on guard protecting us from spiraling into depression and self-pity.
Verse 8 then tells us what we need to focus our attention on. 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 (Phil 4:8). What good things have happened and are happening? What has God truly blessed you with? Start with being grateful for the blessing of eternal life in heaven and having the grand purpose now of being God’s instrument of giving His life to others.
Remember Psalm 100:4-5, “4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” As we expand from this foundation, I am sure we will find a plethora of things to be grateful for. The rest, give to God in prayer.

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


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Face of Faith, Part 2 Active Faith

On the sign out in front of the Church, we read the message that “faith goes where the eyes cannot see;” an excellent posting for our community and a needed message for God’s people. If we believe what God has told us in the Bible, we will do what it says. Our actions will be shaped by His Word and not by what we perceive by our five physical senses.
In the book of James 2:14, 17-18 tells us, “ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?…Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yes, a man may say, ‘You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’”
Putting feet to what we believe is the active part of faith. If we believe that prayer works (as the Bible tells us), we will take time to prayer. If we believe that worshipping and fellowshipping together as one Body of Christ is important (as the Bible tells us), we will come together at Church regularly. If we believe that faith does come by hearing God’s Word and faith is absolutely vital to us (as the Bible tells us), we will make it a priority to read and study the Word each day.
To be effective, faith must be active. It is not enough just to say you believe something. The devil himself believes in Jesus and knows that He is the Christ, yet Satan will never submit to Him. If we say we believe Jesus is Lord of all, faith compels us to follow Him and to put into action His Word in our life. Our active faith is a testimony to the world that we truly believe in Jesus as our Lord as well as Savior.

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris Hayden
Central Christian Church


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Face of Faith, Part 1

Trust does not always come easily. It often takes a period of time to develop the type of relationship that promotes and allows trust to flourish. But it is that very relationship that God invites us into. Jesus calls us to follow Him, to know Him, to love Him, and to trust Him, to trust Him even when the situation warrants skepticism and doubt. In Proverbs 3:5-6 we read, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

When the fortress city of Jericho kept the Israelites from taking the land that God had promised them, Joshua became one of the many faces of faith. God instructed Joshua and the Israelites to do something that was absolutely crazy. They were told to march around the city quietly seven days in a row and to shout with all their strength on that last day. If they trusted God and were obedient to His Word, they would see victory. If not, they would never be able to breach the city’s walls. Joshua trusted the Lord’s instructions, not leaning on his own understanding and did the crazy thing, believing God over the wisdom of men. As a result, the city was delivered into the hands of the Hebrews and the first victory in the Promised Land was assured.

God’s Word does not always make sense. God tells us that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). We cannot always judge situations by what we see or reason as to the problem or the corresponding solution according to how we feel about it. Jesus simply tells us to have faith in God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:5-6).

Be blessed even more,

Pastor Chris Hayden
Central Christian Church


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They’re Coming!

It is no secret that I am a fan of 1950’s science fiction movies. I know, I know, they can be the corniest things to watch with their low budget effects and cheesy dialogue. However, these movies bring back a feeling of nostalgia for me and because they are usually pretty low budget, you get the opportunity to use your imagination a bit more than you do with today’s films.

One such favorite is called “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” A riveting title and compelling story, if you’re an avid sci-fi fan. In this story, seeds rain on the earth, become pods and begin taking over the planet. This is an unbelievable story except for those who have actually witnessed these aliens for themselves. The hero of the story, pictured here, witnesses the invaders and begins a journey to tell everyone what he knows, but no one believes him. No matter how hard he tries or the effort with which he tells the message, they just think he is out of his mind. That does not deter him; the hero tells the story regardless of who will or will not listen. Why? You might ask, because he knows the truth. When you know the truth, it does not matter what others think, you will be committed to the message because you know you are right and to not share the truth will be disaster for those who will not heed the warning.

In 2 Timothy 1:6-8, Paul tells Timothy to stir up what God has placed inside him for God has given us power, love and a disciplined mind; we need not be afraid. He continues by telling Timothy not to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord nor of his mentor, but to join with him in the afflictions that come from spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. How could he be so bold regarding his faith?! Paul knew the truth and knew that separation from God awaited those who failed to accept salvation through God’s Son.

We have a message to give the world. Now that we are closing in on the Christmas season, this is a perfect time to start committing to this message and sharing it with others. The message, “For God so loved the world that He gave His Son, that whosoever will believe will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:1). In the same way that Invasion of the Body Snatchers is for sci-fi buffs, the message of God’s love is a “classic!”

Be blessed,

Pastor Chris


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The Church Awakening

On Wednesday evening, Dave Schroeder led a Bible study group in reviewing the book, “The Church Awakening” by noted Pastor and author Chuck Swindoll.  I was able to “Skype” in one week to catch the conversation, and to say the least, it was very informative and enlightening.  The central message of Pastor Swindoll’s offering is an urgent call for the renewal of the Christian Church.  According to Swindoll, the Church has seen and experienced a continually increasing slide of erosion in Biblical standards and faithful passion for a vibrant relationship with the one and only living Savior, Jesus Christ.

Both disciples, Peter and Paul gave stark warnings of the devil’s desire to destroy the Church.  In 1st Peter 5, the Apostle tells us to be sober and be vigilant because the devil goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.  In Acts 20:28-29, Paul writes before his final departure, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the Church of God, which He bought with His own blood.  I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.”  Pastor Swindoll outlines very real dangers, in which the devil (with the help of savage “wolves”) has been doing just that.  It is amazing how relevant the author’s insights are and how they match up with the struggles Central Christian and the Church universal have been experiencing today.

We are continuing our study on this most important topic as we go page by page, gleaning vital information that can lead one in the path of Spiritual renewal.  We meet every Wednesday evening at 6:30 pm in the Topnotcher’s room here at Central Christian Church.  All are invited, so come and be blessed in fellowship and the Word, and discover what we, as a Christian body, need to be prepared for in a society that continues to stray from the moral and Spiritual moorings found in God’s Word.

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris Hayden


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Tear Down This Wall

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan made one of the more notable challenges in this nations history. As the President stood in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, these historic words rose in view of the world, “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” I still get goose bumps when I see this freedom charged discourse. I get the same feeling when I watch President Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” address. We are a nation that values freedom.

Our Lord values freedom. Jesus conveys what real freedom is in John 8:31-36, 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”33 They answered him,  “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slaveto sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Jesus tells us that freedom is not necessarily being able to do whatever we want, when we want it. If we use our freedom to remain in sin and selfish living, we are actually slaves to our own carnal behavior. But if we continue in God’s Word and put into practice His Word, we are made free by the truth found in Christ. The wall of sin and deceit is knocked down and we are free to follow Jesus, free to love God with all our hearts, love others as ourselves, and free to be a true Disciple of Christ.

This year, as we commemorate the freedom purchased for this nation throughout our history, let us also remember the freedom from sin and freedom to follow Christ that was purchased for us at the cross. The events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence, through the struggle for state and civil rights, and our desire to see other nations experience freedom, are all examples of why July 4th is so special to Americans as well as so many others around the globe who value freedom. I believe this value comes from God Almighty whose Son Jesus died and rose again to make all who dare to believe free! Not using our liberty as an occasion to indulge in sin, but an opportunity to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

Be Blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris Hayden


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The Kingdom Is Within & Among You

As Jesus and his disciples made their way into Jerusalem to take part in the Passover celebration before the Lord’s crucifixion, the twelve were overwhelmed by the Jewish temple, the beautiful buildings and structures which adorned the streets of the Great City. When pointing this out to the Lord, He was not very impressed. His reply, “…not one stone will be found on top of another.” He did not put much emphasis on building structures, outward adornments or lavish relics when referring to maintenance of a relationship with God.

In the book of Luke, 17th chapter, the Pharisees came to Jesus to ask Him when the Kingdom of God will arrive. His response was that the Kingdom of God does not come with any outward observation, but that, “the Kingdom of God is within you.” Now there is some debate as to whether Jesus was saying that the Kingdom is “within us” as individuals or “among us” as a group. To me, both are correct; the Kingdom of God is within us and among us. Christ is in our heart and we are able to converse with Him now; we have a comforter, the Spirit of truth with us always (John 14:16-17).

He is also among us as we gather together as believers. Matthew 18:20 tells us that where two or more are gathered in the Lord’s Name, He is there in our very midst. Last Thursday evening as we gathered together for the hoedown, the Lord was there. The Kingdom of God is not in a building, a piece of furniture, a stone relic or a golden altar. As much as I love our chapel, its conduciveness for prayer and its functionality for worship, God does not reside within its walls unless we are there. He entered the room at the arrival of each and every Christian believer gathering in His name. He resides within the heart of each Christian and in the midst of every gathering of His people. The Kingdom of God is within you and among you; aren’t you glad?

Be blessed,

Pastor Chris


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What Would You Have Me Do?

In the book of Matthew, the 20th chapter, an account of two blind men sitting by the wayside unfolds. Jesus is just leaving Jericho as he passes by these two souls. He has no plans to stop, He is not heading for them to give aide; Jesus is just passing by. In fact, due to being followed by a multitude of others, unless these two were to call out His name, the impression given to the reader is that the Lord may not have even known they were there. But not only did they call out for the Lord, they kept calling even though chided by the mob to be still. Even then, Jesus does not just go to them to heal them, rather He asks a question. Matthew 20:32 – “…What would you have me do for you?”

Now what kind of question is that? It is obvious that these two are blind and in need of healing. The crowd knows it. Jesus knows this as well. Yet He still asks the question, “What would you have me do for you?” Why ask if the Lord already knew what they needed? It seems that in most cases, with a few exceptions, Jesus did a miracle for a person only after two things took place. In Matthew 7:7-11 says, 7Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?10Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? The first is the person in need had the faith to come to the Lord for help. We see this in case after case as people approached Him. The second thing would in veritably happen. Jesus would ask, what we might interpret in present day vernacular, “What’s the problem?”

If you have a need, first come to the Lord. Second, let Him know what you need and ask Him to provide it. Often, we just sit around worrying about a problem just waiting for God to do something and complaining when He doesn’t. Have you gone to the Lord in prayer and asked Him to provide for your need? One last thing, if the answer is yes to the last question, remember the final part. You can find the final key to receive from the Lord by looking up and reading Mark 11:24 and Proverbs 3:5.

Be blessed,

Pastor Chris


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Truly Blessed

Have you ever had moments when you sat around staring at personal problems or viewing the things you don’t have and found yourself in a state of depression? Sometimes our inner emotional gyroscope can be knocked off kilter and we begin to feel sorry for ourselves, wanting to throw up our hands and just give up. All we can see are the negative circumstances that we find ourselves in and everything else is just a blur. This is one effect that has become known as “tunnel vision” in psychology circles.

Tunnel vision keeps us looking at one singular aspect in our view and it can distort reality to the point that we refuse to see anything else. If the object of our tunnel vision’s focus is negative, we put ourselves at risk of becoming generally angry, bitter and just downright defeated people. It can destroy our witness for Christ and hinder what God desires to do in us and through us. We can become trapped in this tunnel, struggling to see all of the wonderful blessings that we have been given. Two things will be helpful.

First, get with God through prayer and the Word. Review all the wonderful promises that God has made to us. The promise of His blessings now and those we can depend on for our future. The Bible tells us that all of God’s promises are yes and amen in Him (2 Corinthians 1:20). What He said He will do, He will do! You may be in a place where it seems like things are really bad, and maybe things are bad. But don’t forget, problems are only temporary. The scripture, 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Second thing, look at the blessings that God has already given. When I feel pressed and depressed, all I need do is look at pictures of my children or now, my new grandson pictured above. I am reminded of how blessed I truly am. Often, depression comes when we find ourselves in a tunnel, seeing only one negative molehill that we have made into a mountain blocking our view of every blessing God has bestowed upon us. It is difficult for me to be a complainer when I see blessings in my life like the one pictured above. What are the blessings God has given to you? “Think on these things…” (Philippians 4:8).

Be blessed even more,

Pastor Chris


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