Our Blog

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

Why We Sing

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It doesn’t take anyone very long to figure out that music plays a prominent role in the church.  When believers gather in community for worship, we spend time in prayer, we learn about the transformational truths of the Gospel through preaching, and we sing our faith in songs about the Lord.   There are not a lot of other places in our culture where groups of people sing songs together (aside from sporting events and birthdays), yet church services are filled with song.  Where did we get this idea from, and why do we bother with it anyway?

If we look at the bible, we’ll discover it’s replete with songs.  From Genesis through the Psalms to the canticles in the Gospels to a vision of heavenly worship in Revelation, the bible tells us that the people of God have always been a singing people and have recorded their divine inspiration into scripture.  Singing was key in the early church and was re-prioritized and re-vitalized as a congregational practice in the Reformation.  Martin Luther described the high value he felt belonged to music when he said “The riches of music are so excellent and so precious that words fail me whenever I attempt to discuss and describe them.... In summa, next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.”  Indeed, every major Christian revival has come with a new repertoire of music, from the German Reformation to the Great Awakening to the modern day.  To paraphrase modern hymnodist Keith Getty, Christians sing- it’s just part of what we do.

Just over a month ago, I attended a gathering of 3000 musicians, church worship leaders, pastors, and other people who care about the music of the church just south of Nashville, TN.  This conference was sponsored by Keith and Kristyn Getty, and included speakers Alistar Begg, D. A. Carson, Paul David Tripp, David Platt, Joni Erickson Tada, and many more.  Times of musical worship filled the event as well, led brilliantly by the Gettys and their band, as well as other musicians from the classical and contemporary worship worlds along with a 200-voice conference choir that I was privileged to participate in.  Topics ranged from broad theological concepts about singing and worship to how singing impacts us personally and in our families to the role it plays as a witness to the world.  What was most impressive, however, was not how brilliant the speakers or how great the music was, but how the focus kept being put back on the people of God singing together.   Indeed, the whole conference ended with 3000 people singing ‘Holy, Holy, Holy” together in 4 (or 400) part harmony, without any instruments at all.  Just people singing.  It is a powerful memory that I will have with me for years to come.

Our songs are important- that we sing and what we sing (the gospel) is a higher priority than our favorite songs, preferred style choices, or vocal ability.  Keith Getty himself reminded us that God created us to sing, God commands us to sing in the bible (for our own good), and God compels us to sing in response to his revealing himself to us.  The songs we sing we carry through our lives- from times of greatest joy to times of greatest sorrow, from our childhood to our final days.  I pray that you capture that joy each and every time we sing.

I’m very excited to have Keith and Kristyn Getty in concert with their band here at Central on Sunday November 5th.  They are energetic, brilliant performers who blend their hearts for the Lord with their Irish heritage and love of tuneful melodies.  I’m excited for our church family also because our Chancel Choir and the choir of Central Christian School will have the honor of singing with the band on the concert.  But I’m most excited because of the songs themselves: they are written for you, that they can be an encouragement for your faith, and we can all share in this joy together.

As of October 26, tickets are still available for "Facing A Task Unfinished" with Keith and Kristyn Getty November 5 at Central. Click here to purchase tickets.

Posted by Matt Mazzoni

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