Tuesday, March 02, 2010

What is God shouting?

With the shooting at Discovery Middle School followed by more at UAH, you may be asking:
“Where are you, God, in all this?”

Allen’s lesson on February 21 confirmed your right to ask it. 
  1. Questioning is a form of struggling that helps you grow and mature.
  2. Questioning is one way you work out your faith.
  3. Questioning validates the existence of God. (You’re still asking Him the question, after all).
In the beginning, God created perfection. But man chose death rather than life

The only hope to solving the death problem (pain) was for God to enter our world to fix it. So Jesus did.

So what is God trying to tell you?
And as God’s mouthpieces, what should Christians be saying?
  • God: “I will be with you always.”
    Christian: “I’m here for you.”
  • God: “My grace is sufficient.”
    Christian: “I’m here to help.”
  • God: “Do not fear.”
    Christian: “We’ll get through this together.”
  • God: “Justice will prevail.”
    Christian: “Let me share my faith with you.”
Be watching for God with spiritual eyes.
Be working with God to perform gracious acts.
And be listening for God to hear what He's saying.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

You’ve been set up

God has set us up for success.

Macky shared four ways last Sunday, Sept. 20, that God has set us up to succeed in sharing him with others.

(1) Internally
He puts a “God-shaped hole” in every heart.

God has set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:1), a God-shaped hole. Each person has it. And as believers, we know what fits exactly. The world offers other options: Sports, money, education, shopping, relationships, work, alcohol, thrills, spiritual highs, family, food, drugs…

But they never fill us up. Only the perfect thing designed to fit, Jesus Christ, will satisfy. Share him. He’s who everyone is made for (John 4:13-14).

(2) Externally
He makes his presence obvious.

You can’t miss him. God has plastered himself all through creation (Romans 1:18-20). All we have to do is point to what God has already done. God has set it up for us by making himself plain.

(3) Impeccable Timing
He puts each person in the right place at the right time.

God sets us up with divine appointments, not coincidences. He has us here and now, at this time and place, so we can best find him (Acts 17:26-27). We are where we are because of his infinite wisdom. Use the opportunities that he provides through your times and places to share him with others.

(4) Best Tools
He gives us his Holy Spirit and his Words to carry.

He has equipped us with master tools: 1. His Spirit, and 2. His complete and perfect Word. Share “the rest of the story” with those he places in your life. His Word won’t return empty (Isaiah 55:10-11).

* * *

Challenge for Christians:

  • Don’t be just a bench/pew warmer.
  • Take advantage of God’s setup.
  • See broken cisterns (Jeremiah 2:13) as opportunities.
  • Trust in God’s ability to draw people.
  • Show up to divine appointments.
  • Put God’s tools to use.

Challenge for Those Seeking:
  • Reflect on God’s setup for you.
  • Refuse to fill up on the temporal.
  • Seek Jesus and study his Word.
  • Welcome a “Philip” to help you (Acts 8:26-40).
God has done all the hard work for us. He’s set us up to do the easy stuff. His Spirit is at work. Are we?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Better Together

Central has been chosen to participate as one of the "best practices" churches for "The Better Together Conference on Race" on September 10th and 11th at the Redstone Federal Credit Union Training Center in Huntsville.

The Conference is a community effort to increase awareness of racial disparities and equip Huntsvillians with tools to reduce disparity gaps and promote racial harmony.

Richard Brown and Delois Smith will represent Central on one of the panels Friday morning, September 11th.

They were recently interviewed on WAAY 31 by Stephanie Beecken about the diversity efforts at Central. Read the transcript here:

Watch the video that aired here. Scroll through the "Focus on Faith Videos" for "Focus on Faith: Church Diversity."

For more information about the Conference:

Monday, June 08, 2009

Read the Gospel of John

Allen’s recent sermons have been gearing us up to study the Gospel of John. Make your own preparations by reading through it now!

It’s only 21 chapters. If you read at least a chapter a day, you’ll be finished in 3 weeks.

Even better, grab a friend or family member and read it together. Download and print this bookmark for an easy way to keep track, and to answer a couple of questions per chapter to spark discussion with each other.

I’m reading through it with Jeff at a slower pace. We try to read it at least 4 days a week, often over the phone if we’re in different cities. We answer Question “a” before we read the chapter, and Question “b” afterwards. (Questions are loosely adapted from the Serendipity Bible.) If you’d like to blog with us, please do so here.

The more we look upon Jesus, the more we can be transformed into His likeness. Get a good look at Him now through the Gospel of John!

~ Lisa

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Had she been another mother

Allen also shared this poem by Ruth Bell Graham.

Had she been another mother

Had I been Joseph’s mother
I’d have prayed
protection from his brothers:
“God keep him safe;
he is so young,
so different from
the others.”
Mercifully she never knew
there would be slavery
and prison, too.

Had I been Moses’ mother
I’d have wept
to keep my little son;
praying she might forget
the babe drawn from the water
of the Nile,
had I not kept
him for her
nursing him the while?
Was he not mine
and she
but Pharaoh’s daughter?

Had I been Daniel’s mother
I should have pled
“Give victory!
This Babylonian horde –
godless and cruel –
don’t let them take him captive
– better dead,
Almighty Lord!”

Had I been Mary –
Oh, had I been she,
I would have cried
as never a mother cried,
“…Anything, O God,
anything …
but crucified!”

With such prayers
my finite wisdom
would assail
Infinite Wisdom;
God, how fortunate
Infinite Wisdom
should prevail!

Mothers in the Bible

As we celebrated mothers today, Allen shared this list of "Moms in the Bible." Look them up as you have time.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Poem by Lois Cheney

Allen ended his sermon on Easter Sunday with this poem. Everyone listened intently as he read it aloud. As you view it now, also read it aloud to yourself to absorb its full impact.

Once upon a time there was a God
Who so loved the world
That He gave his son; his only son.
And they took that son
And they hung him a cross
And that son died.

And they buried the son—
Sealed him up tight.
But God said, “Oh no you don’t!”
And he rolled back the rock
And unsealed his son
And his son came out,
Came out walking and breathing
And he was alive.

And he’s alive today
And he walks around
And he stalks around
Breathing life and life.

Every morning just before dawn
For thousands of years
Little grim people—
Preachers and bankers and
Storekeepers and students—
Sneak up to the grave and roll back the stone
To seal it up tight.
And every morning God roars,
“Oh no you don’t!”
And he flings back the stone.

And out walks Jesus all over again;
Out stalks the grinning, striding Jesus.
Tight-lipped little people hover all day
Around the tomb
And cover it with incense
And bow before it
And walk before it
And sigh before it
And pray to it
And sing to it
And weep to it
And lean on it.
And weep to it
And lean on it.
And no one notices
Or at least they pretend not to notice,
The living, breathing, walking, talking Jesus
Out on the edge calling
“Hey! Hey you!”

~ by Lois Cheney

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The God of All Comfort ("Changed into His Image" series)

Allen began a new series this past Sunday—“Changed into His Image”—on the character of God. This Sunday we looked at the “God of all comfort” from 2 Corinthians 1:3-11.

Paul’s Point
God is sovereign. God is King. God is known through Christ. Our true identity is in Him. That’s where we find fulfillment, even in suffering, because He is the God of all comfort.

What is comfort? It is not the absence of pain or problems, but rather the presence of God in the problems. It is the condition of peace in the midst of troubles, being confident of God’s deliverance (Psalm 46).

What are Paul (and we) being comforted from? Every problem—ones that we cause and ones that we don’t cause. God comforted Jesus; God comforted Paul; God comforts us.

Paul’s Position
Paul had been drowning in distress and saw death as the only out—except with God’s help. Because God had helped him in the past, he was confident he would do so in the future. Resulting in? Thanksgiving and praise!

Paul’s Perspectives
...of God: God’s character is comfort. It doesn’t change.

...of Suffering: Lumps it in one pot. The obedient suffer just as the disobedient suffer.

...of Ministry: Paul was an illustration of God’s power because Paul was called to suffering. Be faithful whether you're suffering or not.

Four Life Applications:
1. Live focused on thanksgiving and praise.

2. Live focused on the character of God. Learn who he is.

3. Live focused on God’s sovereignty. Honor his kingship.

4. Live focused on sharing with others the comfort we have received.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

One word to describe my character is...

Allen wrapped up the “Reverse Osmosis” series last Sunday. He posed these three big questions to us. Ask yourself:

1. Where’s my faith?
1 Peter 1:3-12. Who is it that I’m trusting in?

2. How’s my walk?
1 Peter 1:13 – 2:12. Am I walking in self-reliance or Christ-reliance? One way to tell: watch my obedience levels.

3. Am I growing?
1 Peter 2:13 – 3:7. What am I putting off and putting on? Am I submissive? Jesus showed his maturity by submissiveness, a positive sign of growth.

Then Allen challenged us with this exercise.
Take a moment to really consider your answer.

Choose one word that best describes your character.
Which word would you choose?

Harsh or Holy?
Worried or Confident?
Arrogant or Humble?
Pure or Lewd?
Frustrated or Resting?
Greedy or Giving?
Loving or Selfish?
Forgiving or Nursing a Grudge?

Jude 24, 25 was our ending exhortation—a beautiful encouragement to keep our eyes on Jesus to live a life of dependence, a life of repentance, and a life of confession.

Jesus is the Way to live a pure life in our 21st century world.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What Language Do You Speak?

Over 6,700 languages are spoken around the world. But before the end of this century, half of those will be gone. About 200 languages now have fewer than 10 speakers, and another 200 languages have less than 50.

We use language to communicate our thoughts, pass along memories, share information, point to the future. As Jim pointed out today in Part 7 of our Purity and Holiness series, God gave us speech:
  • to praise Him
  • to encourage others
  • to inspire others
  • to do good
  • to be what He created us to be
So how are we doing? Do the words we speak live up to those goals? Are they expressing who we really are...children of God, saved by grace, created to give God glory?

Or would the world be better if some of the languages we speak disappeared? According to UNESCO, a language is considered endangered when its speakers quit using it, when it is used in less and less situations, and when its speakers fail to teach it to the next generation. Should we be doing that with some of our speech?

On the other hand, how do we keep a language from disappearing? The most important things are: “to create favorable conditions for its speakers to speak the language, and to teach it to their children.”

There’s only one native speaker of the language of Livonian left. When he dies, the language will be gone as well. If you were the last native speaker of the language you’re using, would it be a good or bad thing for the language to die with you?

Choose your words wisely.

My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. Psalm 145:21

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:4

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1

Friday, January 16, 2009

Learn to Live a Pure Life

Allen began an excellent new sermon series on “The Call to Purity” last Sunday, and we followed up by discussing it in our Wednesday night classes.

Please join us for the next 7 weeks as we delve deeper into these topics on Sundays, and discuss applications on Wednesdays:
  • Materialism – Jan 18 - 28
  • Sexuality – Feb 1 -11
  • Truthfulness – Feb 15 - 18
  • Conversation – Feb 22 – 25
And then wrap up on March 1. Together, we press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).

Sunday, January 04, 2009

New Year Resolutions for a Transformed Life

Allen started us off easy (and smiling) this morning with some no-fail New Year resolutions.

But those weren't for keeps. He then moved us into the hard stuff. And effective stuff. If you really want to live a transformed life in 2009, try these 7 ways instead:

1. Connect to God through prayer and Bible study that affect both mind and emotions

2. Nurture
spiritual friendships with fellow believers

3. Pursue your faith in
a church family

4. Intentionally find ways to grow spiritually

Serve others

6. Invest
time and money in spiritual pursuits

7. Have
spiritual conversations with outsiders

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Hearing from God—Daily Bible Reading

If you’ve resolved to hear more from God this year (i.e., read your Bible more), have you chosen a plan? Here is a review of several choices. And link here to 10 different plans. Along with sheets you can download and print out, these plans also offer web readings, email reminders, and mobile device readings.

Can it get any more convenient? Let God speak to you more directly this year. All you have to provide is the discipline, and He even promises to help you with that.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Days in Thy Presence

As you press onward to a new year in Christ, be intentional. Seek His will; praise His name; spread His message.

O Lord,

Length of days does not profit me
except the days are passed in Thy presence,
in Thy service, to Thy glory.

Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides,

sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from Thee,

But may rely on Thy Spirit

to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,

And give me a desire

to show forth Thy praise;
testify Thy love,
advance Thy kingdom.
~ from Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Adore Him

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come,
With all creation I sing:

Praise to the King of Kings!

You are my everything,
And I will adore You!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

He IS the Light

If you worshiped with us yesterday, you’ll remember our focus was on the light of God.

Keep the thought burning--meditate on the passages; sing through the songs; continue to praise our Savior for the illumination of His glory, even in what we call our darkest times. As Stuart pointed out from Psalm 139, our ‘darkness’ is only so because we perceive it to be. In God’s presence, all is light!

Friday, December 12, 2008

What I want for Christmas...

A Christmas List

What I want for Christmas...
I’d like a CD, some clothes, a pair of shoes, maybe a book or two, and a few surprises.

More specifically,
CD of Paul and Silas’ Greatest Hits sung from a Philippian prison cell (Acts 16). What were the words? Psalms I have in my own Old Testament, perhaps? What were the tunes? Did any other prisoners know the words and join in?

Clothes: how about a Clorox-white robe washed in red blood? I want to stay clothed in Christ’s righteousness now and always (Revelation 7). There’s no garment more precious.

Shoes: some hiking boots would come in handy as we travel the mountains carrying good news of peace and happiness and salvation, saying “Our God reigns!” (Isaiah 52).

Book: Maybe a prayer book with the words Daniel prayed as he looked out his window every day, wondering if he was being spied on, but kept on praying anyway (Daniel 6)?

Wouldn’t it be nice to receive the PEACE that Mary felt once she committed to following through with God’s will to carry His Son in her womb (Luke 1)?

And the JOY that the shepherds felt when they heard the good news on that angel-lit night (Luke 2)?

And the LOVE that came wrapped up in a sweet baby’s face that God hand-delivers to us (Luke 2)?

That would make a very Merry Christmas indeed!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For the Heart of Central—give thanks

I’m thankful...

...for quiet servants who don’t wait on programs to organize good works, but see a need and meet it.
...for repentant hearts with authentic confessions and for compassionate hearts that actually forgive.
...for young people excited to be with each other every opportunity they can get.
...for quick fingers that type up prayer requests and announcements so the rest of us can remember to pray.
...for wise ones who diligently lead and teach our children and adults, year after year, with no desire for recognition.
...for enthusiastic voices that learn then lift heartfelt, Spirit-led, truth-filled songs of honor to our Father and encouragement to each other.
...for busy hands that cook for and clean up after preschoolers and college students and senior citizens.
...for friendly faces at the front and side doors to welcome in strangers and greet old friends.
...for organized folks who keep an older (but paid for) building clean and functioning.
...for seeking minds on college campuses wanting a fresh wash in clean blood, and for mature Christians showing them the Way.
...for the sharing of babies and caring for new mothers.
...for the muscles of young and old who set up chairs and take them down every weekend.
...for courageous families willing to live anywhere to share Jesus’ love, and for those at home who pray and pay for them to do so.

...for a million other “little” things that go unnoticed by human eyes but never escape divine ones.

Extraordinary people living out of an extraordinary Spirit.

Partners in the gospel; companions in grace; brothers and sisters in Christ.
That’s a lot to be thankful for.

Father, we offer our thanks...for keeping Your heart at the heart of Central.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
~ Philippians 1:3-5

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day 2008

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
~ Romans 12:12

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
~ 2 Chronicles 7:14

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
~ Proverbs 3:5,6