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Humbled

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As I continue to integrate into Central, one of the things I have had to prepare is my business card. It's a simple tool, but on I will utilize in connecting with the community. At Central, the design on the front of the card is the same for all staff, but on the back we are given the chance for our personalities to come out and shine. Seeing what some others have written (Kate Spielman – “Kate is Grateful for God’s Abundant Mercy and Grace” and Randy Mayfield – “Randy is passionate about bringing the Gospel to the Nations”) helped me see how everyone has really tied in who they are and what they are doing into their statement. 

This began a journey of praying, reflecting, writing, erasing, and editing what I believe God has done in helping me know who I am.  Ben Tzeng, Pastor of Evangelism and Community: “Ben is HUMBLED by God, PROUD of the way He has made me”. 

Through the journey that God has brought me through, he has completely humbled me in knowing that I am His child and belong to him. As a child of Taiwanese immigrants, who came here for a “better life for their family," I am a second generation Asian American who was struggling with my identity and being proud of who I was.  Growing up, I was the chubby Asian kid that was longing to belong.  Someone once asked me as an icebreaker question, “what animal would you best describe yourself growing up?”  My answer was a chameleon; I would change who I was to fit in and try to belong.  However, as much as I wanted to be a chameleon, I was unable to change my shape and unable to change my skin, which led to very low self-esteem and a low view of myself. It was in that period of time in my life that God met me. 

Someone shared with me the love of God, his mercy and grace through Jesus Christ. God began a journey with me; a journey of finding my identity in God rather than trying to belong to the world. I found my true belonging as a child of God who loved me so much to send his only Son to lay his life down for me.  Through this relationship with him, I am humbled that a holy, loving, infinite Father would pursue me and give the power of Christ’s victory over sin and death to give me life and use me as his servant. 

It is in this I can be proud of who God has made me. No longer ashamed of my background and looking different than others around me, but seeing that God has fearfully and wonderfully made me, and he created me for a purpose! He created me to love and minister to others especially in the many different contexts that He places me. I know I can do this because I have found my belonging in God and His family. Of course there are difficult times when people are insensitive, unloving, or ignorant. But what I have found over and over again is that my security and contentment is in how God has made me and that I can utilize those times as teaching moments where we can all learn with humility and open hearts. I don’t have to be an angry Asian but a humble child of God who shows me how to boast in the LORD.

So when I say proud, I do need to constantly remember and be aware, reminding myself and others that this sense of pride comes after we are humbled by God. Some nations boast of their chariots and horse, but we boast in the name of the LORD our God (Psalm 20:7). If our pride isn’t humbled by God or if we don't use it for his purposes, this leads to arrogance, self-reliance, and narcissism creating distance with others. Pride comes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18) but we are able and must boast in what God does in our lives (1 Corinthians 1:31). Let’s strive together to help people BELONG to God’s family and be proud of the ways God has made them.

Posted by Ben Tzeng

Belonging & Believing

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I hope to document my journey of integrating at Central Presbyterian Church as a way to see how God is helping me as the Pastor of Evangelism and Community. It will be a way that I can listen and experience more of what God wants in leading the church to be one that continues to encourage people to come BELONG to his family and church. The church tag line is Know, Be Known and Make Known.  I am called to this church to make sure that we strive for people to come and be known. You have an important part to play in God’s family and church here at Central. The way God has made you and shaped you brings so much to his Kingdom and church. I hope you will be encouraged by my story, and join me in celebrating how God weaves together all of our stories into the deep history of Central. With a strong sense of togetherness and calling from God, I believe God will lead us to go and make known who he is to the community around us.  It will be a challenge to share the good news of Christ to those that we come in contact with, whether in or outside of the church.  I will strive to help us learn what it looks like to trust God in helping people go on that journey to BELIEF.

First Entry – 2/12/18

From 3 to 35 | My First Staff Meeting at Central 

At my last two churches, all-staff meetings were typically 3 or 4 people gathering together. On my first day at Central, this was clearly not the case. No longer a small meeting of a few, but a really big meeting of 30-plus. Was this something completely new and different? Yes. Was it strange to be in a room of people that I just met and learned their names? Definitely. Did I feel uncomfortable in this brand new environment? No, absolutely not!

Personally, I have always wanted staff meetings to be a time for the staff to share and be open with what is going on in our lives and ministries. It is a time to share, pray, and talk. Although the organizational parts of staff meetings will always be important, I have always felt that the most important thing is connecting with each other and knowing each other as we do ministry together.

Entering into my first all-staff meeting with the rest of the Central staff, I felt extremely comfortable where God has placed me. We enjoyed worship and praise together, and Pastor Clay led devotional that was clearly encouraging transparency and openness of what we each were dealing with in ministry. This led to staff members sharing what was sincerely on their hearts, both the positives and challenges in their ministries. This environment is what I was truly hoping for to be able to build relationships with ministry partners, working together as one, to impact the Kingdom.

I’ve been impacted deeply by God’s calling to be here at Central. It isn’t something that was quick, painless, or easy. In fact, it was quite the opposite, seeming more like a long journey that at times was excruciatingly painful (hard saying goodbye to close friends, church members, a context that we were so familiar with). But one thing was for sure, we knew God had called, so we had to trust God by faith and obey and “go," leaving behind our comfort zones. But how reassuring that God has given us a place where we find comfort with Him and God’s people to do His work going forward.

Posted by Ben Tzeng

Understanding Anxiety

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I’ll never forget the day I thought our 3 year-old was missing. 

We searched, called her name, and even drove around the block.  “What if someone took her? What if she’s hurt?… “ Those thoughts closed my throat and chilled my veins. After what seemed an eternity, I finally found her crouched down in the back of her closet. When I asked why she didn’t come when I called, she said, “I was playing hide-and-seek.” Our weak laughter was all nerves and we’ve never hugged her  - or each other – so tightly.

I’m sure most parents have a story like this one; an incident we can point to and remember the pounding heart, heightened focus, and muscle tension that we all feel in moments of crisis – even if many years have past. This short-lived, acute anxiety is normal, and even good for us.  When we might need to fight, escape, or yell for someone’s life, the physiological symptoms are actually helpful, necessary, and by design. 

However, we weren’t meant to live like that. Our body and mind suffer when we live in a heightened state and anxiety becomes chronic. Chronic anxiety is difficult to diagnose. Often, there isn’t one thing we can point to as the source of our stress, or one thing that’s clearly wrong.  It’s a quiet disease that sneaks into our system, takes many forms, and causes a slow-drain of our energy, confidence, and joy. 

Sound familiar? Chances are, this describes you or someone in your family. Chronic anxiety is an epidemic. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 25% of all kids between 13 and 18 are affected by anxiety disorders. This alarming trend reveals our growing need to recognize and respond to the chronic anxiety that’s taking a toll on our families.

We’ve invited Margaret Kileen to help us do just that. Margaret is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works with teens and adults to deal with anxiety issues and depression. In her experience, Margaret believes chronic anxiety breeds avoidance and it takes faith and courage to enter into what is difficult and fight it head on. We are so grateful for Margaret’s expertise and for her willingness to guide us during a three-part seminar on Jan 11, Feb 8, and March 8 from 6:30 – 8pm in the Student Center. There is no cost, but your donations are appreciated. Parent and grandparents will have the opportunity to hear from Margaret and pose specific questions.  We’ll learn calming strategies for ourselves and our children, and how to know when to seek professional help.

Mark your calendars today and invite a friend. And please register HERE so we know how many to expect (this eases our anxiety, you know… ).

Let’s take this step together toward a healthier, more-joyful New Year.

Posted by Karen Brown

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