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Easter Outreach...Kid Style!

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We often hear stories of generosity and compassion around Christmas. Wonderful, encouraging tales of people reaching out and loving others through generous deeds and gifts. Though they surely happen, similar stories at Easter seem far less frequent. The focus of these holidays should certainly not be on the gifts that may be associated with them, but especially for a child, it can be hard to think about tearing into gift wrap at Christmas, or enjoying some chocolate or jelly beans at Easter.

Inspired by his concern to help others, James Karslake, a 10 year-old member of our Central church family, wanted to share the love of Jesus this Easter season. He came up with the idea that a great way to do this would be to make sure kids living in difficult circumstances would receive an Easter basket this year, just like he knew he would. James even had a very specific idea of what needed to be in these Easter baskets...some goodies, a chocolate bunny and a toy, plus some Good News, a Bible verse.

James' enthusiasm was catching, and soon our church body was mobilized! God was so evident in the way our church family came together. Central's missions committee contributed some financial resources, and additional funds were collected from the adult Sunday school communities, Wednesday night classes, some of our small groups, and many others. In only three weeks enough money was raised to purchase supplies...a lot of supplies!

KidCentral was on-board in a big way too. During EquipCentral on April 5, our elementary kids assembled 290 Easter baskets! The Fellowship Hall was turned into a production studio, with baskets, artificial grass, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and of course not a few chocolate bunnies. The final piece added to each basket was a printout of John 3:16: "God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son. God gave His Son so that whoever believed in Him may not be lost but will have eternal life."

These baskets were delivered to Sunshine Ministries later that week and distributed to the children and families for Easter. Thank you, James, for your love for others and this wonderful idea.

KidCentral hard at work!

KidCentral hard at work! 

James delivering the baskets to Sunshine Missions

 James delivering the baskets to Sunshine Mission!

 

Bob's Blog: Sermon on Homosexuality

This coming Sunday, August 30th, I have the privilege of preaching on Acts 15 – and the subject of homosexuality and the church. I especially want parents of young children to know that this will be addressed, along with circumcision. This will be a “PG” (parental guidance) message but undoubtedly your young children will ask, “What is homosexuality and circumcision?” Therefore, each parents(s) needs to prayerfully discern if this sermon is appropriate for their child(ren). How on earth (not to mention the pulpit) you may say, do you see homosexuality spoken of in Acts 15? Great question, thanks for asking.

Acts 15 addresses a volatile controversy that could have easily split the early church. Certain Jewish believers wanted to impose the requirement of circumcision upon Gentile believers. After much deliberation and debate, the so-called “Jerusalem Council” of church leaders resolved the issue and sent a letter to the Gentile believers regarding their decision.

Acts 15 continues to be a powerfully relevant account for the 21st century church for at least three reasons. First, it is a stunning refutation of legalism and a thunderous affirmation of salvation by grace alone, in Christ alone, through faith alone. Second, it speaks volumes about the connectional nature of the church and supports presbyterianism as the biblical form of church government. Third, it presents a Solomonically-wise model for how churches (and denominations) should address controversial issues that threaten its peace, purity, and unity.

What contemporary issue has already been divisive among evangelical Christians and will continue to threaten the peace, purity, and unity of today’s church? Long before the recent SCOTUS decision, Christians have debated this volatile topic among themselves. Is homosexuality a sin that disqualifies someone as a Christian? Should the church welcome or ban homosexuals from its worship, fellowship, membership, ministry, etc.?

Of course like any other pastor, I have both my personal opinions and theological convictions on this matter. Earlier this month, at our session “study meeting” (we conduct no business or pass no motions at these meetings, but explore one topic we believe relevant to the health and future of Central), we had a healthy discussion on this matter and will continue to seek the mind of Christ on it.

What can you do? Thanks for asking! I can think of at least three obvious things.

First, pray for the elders (session) of Central that we would seek the mind of Christ in this matter. We desire to be rooted in the Scripture and led by the Spirit in all things.

Second, pray that the Lord would speak to your own heart and mind and at the same time remove from all of us any prejudicial, circumstantial, emotional, or cultural filters that distort our ability and willingness to see and do the Lord’s will in this matter.

Third, pray that the Lord would advance in us and through us our church vision and mission to know, be known, and make known the gospel of Jesus as we seek to be His transformed people who passionately love His truth (know), transparently pursue the fellowship of His people (be known), and lovingly communicate the grace of His gospel (make known) – all for His glory and the building of His kingdom. May it be so.

Blessings to you all,

Bob

Posted by Bob Hopper

Ministering at Potosi Correctional Center

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On Saturday, June 6, a team of 17 men & women, consisting of 14 Central members and three guests, provided a concert and shared the Word at the Potosi Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, MO.  Potosi is a maximum security prison that houses the "death row" inmates and most of those men who are serving life sentences.
 
About 140 men came out to hear Randy Mayfield and the "All-Star Band" give an almost two hour concert that featured the music of Johnny Cash as well as some worship and praise music.  Central member Ted Winters also shared a strong word of faith with the guys and presented a clear Gospel message.  
 
It was a hot day but after a lot of prayers, God held back the rain that had been predicted earlier in the week and the concert went on and was well received by the inmates and the prison guards who were also present.  A special thanks to Central's missionary, Randy Gruber, who set up the concert and who oversees the Set Free and Emmaus ministries at Potosi and in other area prisons throughout Missouri.  
 
Randy and other Central members have been to Potosi over the years to minister and share in worship, but this was the largest event and the first outdoor concert.  We hope to do it again in the future.  Thanks to all of you who prayed for the day and continue to pray for the message and music to bear fruit in the lives of the guys living at Potosi Correctional Center.

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