Monthly Archives: July 2013

Five things I hope the people of Central Church know about the Pastoral Staff

1.) The Pastoral Staff are real pastors. Last week, our executive pastor preached a great sermon (really great) and a parishioner came to me afterward and basically said, “Oh I was hoping my real pastor would have preached today.” I reminded this member that a real pastor did preach– and preached a great sermon. At Central Church, we have 11 pastors on staff. 10 have a master’s degrees and after this year all but two will be ordained. They are trained, experienced and able to lead.

2. ) Summers are crazy (especially) if you are involved in student ministries. Camps + Mission Trips + 6th and 7th Grade Escapes + Vacation Bible School + District Assemblies + General Assembly = very little time for one’s family. One pastor came home from camp and had her hair covered in mayonnaise for an hour because of a lice outbreak at camp. (That’s going above and beyond the call of duty!) Remember to pray for our pastoral staff’s families.

3.) Volunteer Pastors are my heroes. We have three pastors who receive no salary from Central church– and yet they serve with distinction. Working a full time job outside of the church, these heroes of mine give their spare time to the service of the Lord (FYI our volunteer pastors all have a Masters of Divinity from Nazarene Theological Seminary. All will be ordained after this year. Two are elders and one is a deacon).

4.) Our Pastors are called by God, serve him well and are very talented. This summer our Senior High Pastor spoke at a camp in Maryland; the Cross cultural pastor spoke at a camp in Mexico; the Middle School pastor directed the district Teen Camp and our Executive Pastor’s wife directed 3rd and 4th grade camp. Earlier this year our Children’s pastor spoke at a Children’s pastor’s leadership training and spoke at a workshop at General Assembly. Our Executive Pastor is the brains behind the EPIC curriculum at NPH. We have a sought after and talented bunch.

5.) The pastoral staff regularly prays for you. Every Tuesday morning some of the pastors and usually a board member gather at the altar at 7 AM to pray for the needs of Central and for you. They pray on Sunday mornings and during staff meetings too. They pray at different times for you. The staff understands our first order is to be people of prayer.

All this to say, we are blessed by the pastoral staff at Central and I am blessed to work with them.

My Skydiving Wife (take two)

012My dear sweet bride was supposed to jump out of an airplane on her Big Birthday in June, but because of an afternoon typhoon she was unable to skydive that day. Most sane people would take that as a sign that maybe stepping out of an airplane door when it is 14,500 feet above planet earth (That’s nearly 3 miles up in the sky, by the way) is not a good idea. OK most sane people would not even contemplate canon-balling out of a Cessna in the first place even if it was a Big Birthday.

I am not inferring anything about the sanity (or lack thereof) of my wife, I will simply write that the rain did not deter her from marking off the lone item on her bucket list.

This past Saturday she jumped.

It was a tandem jump– which meant that Karla was closer to her male instructor than she has ever been with any man except for yours truly. It was little weird and kinda awkward for her to be literally attached to another man at the hips and shoulders. By the way, her instructor’s name was “Hack.” Would you really want to put your life in the hands of a man named “Hack”? Isn’t that like letting a surgeon named “Dr. Oops” operate on you? No thank you.

In spite of that, the plane took off with several people on board including Laurie Deuschle (another Central skydiving dare devil), Karla and Hack. Hack was actually quite skilled, having made over 1800 successful jumps (It goes without saying that his jumps were “successful,” I am sure he would no longer be an instructor if he had made even one “unsuccessful” jump). At any rate, they all went up into the wild blue yonder and even though the airplane was experiencing absolutely no malfunctions– they jumped out. Karla and Hack were in a free fall for 53 seconds (or the exact amount of time for me to lift up about a million prayers) as they hurled toward the earth reaching a top speed of 136 miles an hour(or the exact speed my heart was racing). Then finally oh so finally Hack pulled the cord. Thankfully, the parachute opened, they gently floated down to earth and all was well.

Here’s what I find remarkable about the whole event:
At no point during the jump was Karla nervous.
She had zero nervousness.
Not before the jump while getting the parachute strapped on, not flying in the plane and not taking her one giant leap for preacher’s wives everywhere. She wasn’t nervous.

I would have been. Let’s just say I would have been so nervous I would have needed to bring a change of clothes with me. Just watching her jump (while I was safely stuck on the ground) I was nervous. I was nervous watching her go into the plane. I was nervous thinking about her jumping. I was nervous as I saw her plummeting from the sky. I was nervous. But not her.

I asked her, “How can you jump out of a airplane three miles high with Hack on your back and not be nervous?”

She said, “I don’t know, I guess because I prayed.”

Listen, I could have just come from a 24 hour prayer service led by Billy Graham himself, and I still would have been a nervous wreck if I was jumping out of a airplane. (Maybe that says more about my prayer life than my nervous Nellie ways). But Karla was convinced prayer made the difference .

She is in good company. The Apostle Paul thought that prayer made all the difference when it comes to nervousness and anxiety too. He wrote: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

Are you nervous? Is something weighing on your heart? Paul said “in every situation” we can pray. “Every situation” means whether you are 14,500 feet in the sky or firmly planted on terra cotta prayer makes a difference. If life is burdening you down then hollering out “Geronimo” probably won’t help. But calling out to God definitely will!

The Preacher’s One Job

Last week in this space I wrote about the “Seven Expectation of a Church Board Member.” So this week, I give you “The Preacher’s One Job” (Before you say, “Hey wait a minute, a church board member has SEVEN expectations and the preacher only has ONE job?” Please remember, preaching is only one aspect of my job. There are many other hats I must wear and many other expectations that I have as a pastor.).

As a preacher my ONE job is to:

Deliver Jesus.

Not deliver a sermon.
Not deliver a finely crafted manuscript.
Not deliver a memorable homily.
Not deliver a historic oration.
Not deliver a well reasoned lecture.
Not deliver a funny story, three points and a tear jerker conclusion.
Not deliver a social commentary.
Not deliver a well developed speech.
Not deliver a 30 minute book report on the Bible.
Not deliver a few moral platitudes that make everyone feel a little better about themselves.

Deliver Jesus.


People need to see Jesus in our preaching. If they don’t receive Jesus then we are simply jabbering meaningless words, cheering on a pep rally, or gathering with friends.

My prayer is that every time I step up to preach the listeners will encounter Jesus as the answer to their life’s deepest needs. I want them to experience Jesus as their hope and help. I want them to know Jesus as their only way to salvation.

It’s about Jesus and nothing more than Jesus.

I want to deliver Jesus.

Sanctification = God has all of me

Sanctify is our current sermon series at Central. As you might hazard a guess with such a title, the series is devoted to proclaiming that God was actually serious when He said (over and over in the Bible), “Be holy as I am holy.” We’ve been camping out in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 and basically (ALERT: sharing a preacher’s secret) the messages have been the same each week, just repackaged in a different way. Over and over I’ve been telling people a very simple formula. When one invites Jesus into his or her heart— Jesus comes in. No jumping through hoops required. It’s quite simple. Ask and you shall receive. Simple. Through God’s grace we get all of Jesus at that point. It’s not a partial amount; we don’t get half Jesus now and some more of Jesus later. We get all of God— from top to bottom when we are saved. So the formula looks like this:

Salvation = Getting all of God.

The sanctification formula, on the other hand, looks like this:

Sanctification = God getting all of us.

Like at the point of salvation, one isn’t sanctified holy because they are doing more or working harder or have learned the secret handshake (What secret handshake? I must have missed the secret handshake day in my doctrine of holiness class with Dr. Kenneth Grider). Salvation and sanctification are both free gifts from God. To be sanctified through and through, God does a deep heart cleansing work in us. It’s God’s action, God’s power and God’s might at work in a person. I can’t make myself holy. I can’t will it, earn it, or script it. If I am going to be holy— it is only as God Himself makes me holy in every nook and cranny of my life.

So that’s what I’ve been preaching— over and over the past few weeks. Salvation is getting all of God; sanctification is God getting all of us.

Well, this past Sunday night following the second sermon in the Sanctify series, one of our young teens was getting ready to volunteer at a Christian camp. As part of the application process to serve at the camp, she had to write down her faith journey.

She wrote that she became a Christian at age 3. She was baptized at age 8. And then she wrote, “and today God got all of me!” She explained to her mom that during the response time in the morning service she had slipped out of her pew, went to the altar and “God got all of her.” Her parents hadn’t noticed that she even when down to the altar (taller students were blocking their view). She was convinced that God had done something deep within her that morning! What a great moment!

In 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, Paul declares that God’s desire is for us to be sanctified through and through, but he also affirms that God is faithful and He will do it. One of our teenagers discovered that good news for herself on Sunday morning! She not only has all of God, but now God has all of her! Holy living is possible in the 21st century— and you don’t have to have white hair to live it.

Seven Expectations of a Church Board Member

1. I expect church board members to be growing spiritually. This is my primary concern for you. We need your business sense and your ministry experience, but more than anything we need leaders who are making a concerted effort to be more like Jesus every day.

2. I expect you to participate in discussions. Board meetings are not meant to be a rubber stamp of the pastor’s ideas— good board meetings are characterized by Jesus’ approach to life. John 1:14 says Jesus was full of grace and full of truth. Truth means we must be honest no matter what. Grace means we must love each other no matter what. Let all of our discussions be colored by truth and grace.

3. I expect you to push the pastors and yourself to greater things. Help us to dream bigger dreams and expect a more powerful working of the Holy Spirit. Let’s never be satisfied with the status quo.

4 I expect church board members to be a cheerleader(minus the short skirts and back flips) for the church and the pastoral staff. No church is perfect; no pastor is always right– but we must be a positive supporter of the church before our congregation and in the community. Negativity sucks. It sucks all the joy, expectations and the energy from any organization. Be positive.

5. I expect you to pray. Pray for the church, the office staff, facilities crew, Sunday School teachers, choir and band members, nursery workers, pastors and everybody else serving the Lord at Central. Pray also for the needs of our community and our world. Be a person of prayer.

6. I expect faithful giving. Leaders that don’t tithe– should not be making financial decisions for those that do. Good leaders are models of generosity.

7. I expect board members to enjoy the opportunity to serve in this role. Not every board meeting is a campmeeting service or a “thrill-a-minute” joy ride– but every board meeting should reflect a deep satisfaction that the Lord’s work is being accomplished and we are blessed to be a part of what God is doing.

Twinkies are good. Jesus is better.

It happens in four days. 

Just four days.

The hardship and dismay you’ve endured since last November is about to be over.  Your long nightmare will soon come to an end. There are just four days left before this year’s version of Christmas morning, the greatest birthday celebration, and the Superbowl are all rolled into one day.

 “What world shaking event happens in four days?” you dare to ask.

Have you been living under a rock? 

Did the warden not give you TV privileges? 

Did you take a few too many ambien, Mr. Van Winkle?

 On July 15, 2013 (I can’t believe I actually have to explain this historic moment. In a sheer coincidence, that day also happens to be the birthday of a former Detroit Lion and one of the greatest American actors of the 1970s, Alex Karras.) after bankruptcy, factories shut down, labor disputes and other assorted troubles— the delicious American icon, Twinkies, will be back in the stores!

 That’s right— the yummy Hostess snack cakes that have been giving sugar highs to children for over 80 years are coming back! And some people wonder if God still answers prayer— he answered mine, my friend. He answered mine!

 Not only will the treat that has delighted the masses return on Monday in its full 37 ingredient glory, (That’s right it takes 37 different ingredients to produce the sugary goodness of the Twinkie. FYI— I think there were less components in the first nuclear bomb, but of course the nuclear bomb wasn’t nearly as destructive as the cream-filled, sugar-laced, spongy morsels of junk food.) Hostess brand says that on Monday, 50 million Twinkies will be available. That should be plenty for me— but I’m not sure what the rest of America will do.

 Not only will Twinkies be back— they will be better than ever. The new Twinkies will have an extended shelf life. The old Twinkies could sit on your shelf collecting dust for 26 days. The new Twinkies will last 45 days! They are a food preservative work of art. I am not sure which of the 37 ingredients was added to extend the life of the Hostess brand’s specialty, but I think the mad scientist who came up with the secret ingredient should win a Nobel Prize. In fact, for a moment, I thought I wouldn’t mind if “Dr. Strangelove of the Snack Cake World” would inject me with that same ingredient— double my shelf life, please.

 But then I realized that no injections are necessary— not when you believe in Jesus.

What does Jesus have to do with Twinkies (besides any Biblical references to gluttony of course)? Just hold on— I can relate just about everything to Jesus if you give me enough time (they teach you that stuff in seminary).  

 Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” And in nearly every funeral for a Christian, I quote Jesus’ words in John 11: “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” In other words, belief in Jesus gives a person an even longer shelf life than the new and improved Twinkie— and He does it gluten free and with less calories!!   

 Lesson learned: Twinkies are good. Jesus is better. 

The Most Patriotic Activity on the 4th of July

What is the most patriotic thing you could possibly do on July 4th?


Attend a parade?

Watch a fireworks display?

Set off a few firecrackers and smoke bombs in your backyard (not in Lenexa—it’s a firecracker free zone)?

Enjoy a picnic with friends?

Dress in red, white and blue attire?

Sing The Star Spangled Banner (Not like Lady Gaga or Marvin Gaye—just sing it loud and long)?

Attend a ballgame?

Quote the Gettysburg Address?

Dress up like Uncle Sam and run a 5K race? (Not naming names, but I know a certain Sr. High youth pastor who wanted to do that and have his wife dress up like the Statue of Liberty. She said, “No!” I guess she’s not very patriotic.)   

Eat some apple pie?

Write a soldier a letter?

Visit a war memorial?

Listen to a John Phillips Sousa song?

Wave a flag?

How about this: Humble oneself, pray, and turn from all wicked ways. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

While all of the above items are good in their own right (except for blowing up things in your backyard according to the Lenexa police and my friend “Lefty”), the most patriotic thing any of us can do is earnestly seek God and pray for His forgiveness and healing in our land.    

I long for God to do something in America that is real and deep and pure. I pray for the day when God’s desires will be accomplished in the United States “as it is in heaven.”

This Independence Day, take some time out of your barbeque eating, fireworks watching, Sousa listening and pray for God to work in America in a new and fresh way. 

Praying for the United States of America is the most patriotic thing you could do!