Celebrating EASTER: The Essence of our Faith

March 21, 2012

Our God is Alive and So Are We!

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” – 1 Cor. 15:17

Christianity – the faith that we believe – is built upon the belief that Jesus Christ died on the cross – was buried – and then three days later He rose from the dead. He was victorious over sin and death therefore all of us who believe are also victorious over sin and death. The power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power that is operative in our own lives. That is the message of Christianity and that is the message of Easter.

The resurrection power and promise of Jesus provides for each of us hope in the midst of trials, confidence in the face of challenges, and encouragement in the middle of our fight with sin. As the above verse mentions, without Easter and the resurrection of Jesus, we have no victory over our sin and no future hope.

We get excited about Easter at Central and are prayerfully expecting God to do an amazing work in people’s lives during this amazing season. I specifically ask two things of you as we prepare for Easter:

#1 – PRAY for spiritual transformation and change – We want to see people give their lives to Christ and to experience the resurrection power of Jesus.

#2 – INVITE friends to an Easter service at Central – There is nothing like encountering Jesus with other people. We will have five services at Central beginning with a Good Friday Service on Friday night and continuing with our services on Sunday morning.

Here is a list of Central’s Easter Services:

• Good Friday Service – Friday @ 7 p.m. – We will be joined once again this year with Tabernacle of Praise and their pastor and choir. It will be an awesome night as we reflect on the agony of the crucifixion through music with both choirs and a message from Pastor Nate and Pastor Ernie.

• Saturday Contemporary Service @ 5 p.m. – To make room in our sanctuary on Easter morning for friends and guests that need seats, we invite our regular attenders to come to this service. Make plans now to be a part of this service.

• Sunday Blended Services @ 8 a.m. and 9:25 a.m. – I would encourage our regular attenders in the 9:25 service to come to the early service at 8 a.m. to free up seats for the 9:25 service.

• Sunday Contemporary Service @ 11 a.m.

I am not asking you to pray and invite for Easter weekend lightly. We want to see God move in a major way. Please join me in spiritually preparing for one of the most awesome weekend services of the year.

Pastor Ernie

Women’s Events at Central Church

March 2, 2012

Women’s Ministries is committed to God’s Word, prayer, and putting feet to our faith.

We invite you to Girls Night Out’s Loving Out Loud Outside the Walls Monday night the 5th of March! Come hear about ways to show Christ’s love outside the walls of the church. Hear from ordinary women, just like you and me, who have gotten involved in ministries and developed incredible relationships with real people in the community and the City of Memphis. It will be a great evening of sharing a meal, sharing stories, and sharing
practical ways you can help. Our pastor has encouraged us to serve Christ Monday through Friday outside the walls – maybe you’ve always wanted to get involved, but did not know how. Come hear how – meet new friends, encourage those who are serving Christ and learn how YOU can, too! Get your $5 ticket today at the Women’s table. The dinner is the 5th at 6:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall.

Another exciting and HUGE event, A Weekend with Priscilla Shirer, is coming to Central Church in April! We have the honor and privilege of hosting Priscilla Shirer for a two-day conference on Friday night, April 13, and Saturday morning, April 14. Priscilla is an author, national and international speaker, Bible teacher, wife, mother of three, and the daughter of Dr. Tony Evans, nationally known preacher and evangelist. Priscilla was featured along with Beth Moore and Kay Arthur at the Deeper Still Conference in Nashville that many Central women attended. You may also remember Priscilla from Redemption 2009, a multi-cultural revival that brought nearly 10,000 women together in downtown Memphis.

This event is too good to miss! Priscilla will bring one message Friday night and two messages on Saturday morning. Invite a girlfriend, neighbor, sister, mother, co-worker or someone you meet during your daily routine to this POWERFUL two-day event! Tickets are $10 per day or $15 for both days and available at the Women’s table or
online at http://www.centralchurch.com/women.

Taking Control of Your TIME

February 27, 2012

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:15-16

How many times have you heard yourself say, “I would really like to but I am just too busy”? Think of all the responses that fit into this category:  I would really like to read the Bible; I would really like to get more involved in church; I would really like to join a Bible Study; I would really like to serve in the City – BUT I’M JUST TOO BUSY.
 
One of the most precious resources we have is our time. Like our finances, it is also one of our most endangered resources as well. I have heard that BUSY can be explained as Buried Under Satan’s Yoke. How true that is in my own life. I am literally exhausted from the routine of living life and ministry that I wonder how effective we all are for the Lord. We have a real enemy who is thoroughly acquainted with all our ways and knows that if we can stay on the 24/7 accelerated pace of life we will miss out on doing what is important in life.
 
We all face the time pressure and the incredible shrinking clock. I want to encourage us all that we can learn to take control of our time and redeem it for the things that really matter.  Here is my contribution for the Top Ten Ways to Take Control of Your Time:

#1 – Make time choices just like you would financial choices.

#2 – Take control of your calendar – and put the most important things on there first.

#3 – Make a list of how you are spending your time.

#4 – Discuss your time as a family or couple.

#5 – Watch less TV and devote less time to the diversion of technological activities.

#6 – Maximize the ordinary details of life like dinner times and going to bed.

#7 – Limit the number of activities your entire family is involved in.

#8 – Schedule and tithe some of your family time for serving others.

#9 – Learn to say “no” to activities.

#10 – Pray about your use of time.

I said no last week to attending a very beneficial conference in Nashville. It would have involved six hours of driving to attend and, coupled with the five hours of the actual conference, would have resulted in an eleven-hour day. As much as I would have liked to have attended, I said no. What a relief! I was able to do some other things that I really needed to do.  May each of us learn to take control of our time rather than having our time control us!

Pastor Ernie

Increasing and Improving Your Spiritual Nutrition

February 15, 2012

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15

 

We have to eat in order to live! No one would debate the fact that each of us needs food to live on! Whether you get by on just one meal a day or eat up to three meals a day or more, you cannot deny the reality that each of us requires food to survive. This same nutritional principle applies to our spiritual lives as well. As spiritual creatures who are called to love God and love others supremely, we must take-in and digest spiritual truth and wisdom on a daily basis in order to thrive spiritually. I am excited that our entire church is reading through the Bible together this year. I believe that God has much in store for us as a church as we read, study, and apply God’s Word this year.

The Bible will change our lives if we can get it into our system. Though we all can read Scripture, not everyone reads, absorbs, and digests on the same level. I want to offer ten suggestions to help you get more out of your Bible reading on a daily basis.

Top Ten Ways to Get More from Your Daily Bible Reading

1.       Slow down your reading – don’t just read for information, read for transformation.

2.       Understand the context of each book. Ask yourselves the questions – Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? – of the Scripture that you are reading.

3.       Have a pen and notebook with you while you read. Record lessons that God is teaching and mark in your Bible significant words, verses, and truths.

4.       Take the words of Scripture seriously – ask yourselves why God used this word – have a dictionary available to look up words that you do not understand.

5.       Look for the repetition of words, ideas, or themes. What God repeats in Scripture are the things that God considers important.

6.       Look for the order of ideas and concepts in Scripture; order is important because the ideas are presented in a sequential fashion.

7.       Look at the verbs in the verses. The verbs carry the action of the verse and the force of application in our own lives.

8.       Look for God’s promises in each of the verses you read.

9.       Constantly ask yourselves two questions:  What did the Scripture mean for the original audience and what does it mean for my life?

10.   At the end of reading, take time to meditate on what you have read. Ask God to impress these truths upon your heart.

Be encouraged to know that reading Scripture is a life-long skill that improves with practice. Don’t get discouraged; let your daily faithfulness improve your spiritual in-take.

Spiritual redwoods don’t grow overnight but mature and develop each and every day.

Go for it this year!

Pastor Ernie

This Week’s Spiritual Reading Guide

Sunday, February 19 –Leviticus  19-21

Monday, February 20 – Leviticus 22-23

Tuesday, February 21 – Leviticus 24-25

Central Church Family Meeting

February 8, 2012

Sunday, Feb 12 at 5:00 p.m. in the Worship Center
Unity – Vision – Communication – Shared Passion and Purpose
Prayer – Spiritual Expectation – Joy!

All of us would agree that these are great ideals and are characteristics of growing and healthy churches. One thing I have learned over my years of ministry is that making forward progress as a church does not just happen. Forward momentum in a church takes effort – repeated effort – a lot of communication – and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Sunday night we are gathering Central Church together to hear from the Lord and from one another. The agenda for the meeting Sunday night is three-fold:

#1 – Share ministry highlights and updates – God is on the move in our church
and we want to be informed of what He is doing.

#2 – Share financial situation – Life-changing ministry requires money and we
want to share where we stand financially after the first quarter of the year.

#3 – Share vision update and congregational survey – Our heart is for each one of us to have a part to play in where we are heading as a church. We will discuss the results from our recent survey and what that means for us as a church.

It is very important that you make plans to be a part of the Family Meeting Sunday night.  We will begin promptly at 5:00 p.m. in the worship center.

Looking forward to sharing and being with you Sunday night.

For His Glory,

Pastor Ernie

Living the Victorious Christian Life – Again, Again, and Again

February 1, 2012

“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” – Romans 13:14

The great news of Christianity is that our sin can be defeated! I don’t know about you but to me that is good news. Sin is one of the great enemies of every Christian. On day one of our existence, we were born with it in us. Sin is everything that goes against God and we all have to deal with it. I hate sin (sometimes) – I hate what it does to me – I hate what it does to those around me – I hate that I have to fight it – I cannot wait for heaven when sin will finally be destroyed and I don’t have to deal with it on a daily basis. Greater the defeat of sin in our lives, the greater our lives will be.

On this Communion Sunday, I want to offer us all hope that sin has been and can be defeated.  I want to offer my suggestions for the . . .

Top Ten Ways to Defeat the Beast of Sin in Your Life

  1. Realize you have a sinful nature that is fully alive and active.
  2. Realize your sin patterns – each of us has one.
  3. Realize that sin can be defeated.
  4. Realize that fighting sin is an on-going battle – it is not one and done.
  5. Be brutally honest concerning your sin struggles.
  6. Enlist others in your battle plan.
  7. Relentlessly desire to kill sin at every point where it pops up its ugly head.
  8. Realize the consequences that come from not dealing with sin.
  9. Realize the partnership you have in Christ in defeating sin.
  10. Realize that you cannot defeat sin apart from Christ.

Part of living an EPIC year will be some hard fought victories in battling sin. Paul, one of the greatest leaders of the Christian faith, was a veteran of hand-to-hand combat in dealing with sin. His great principle in the verse above suggests that focusing completely on Jesus will not leave us time to focus on sin.

Get a win this week – and another win – and another win. Before you know it – you will have a string of victories!

Pastor Ernie

How to Grow your Spiritual Life?

January 25, 2012

“Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both this life and the life to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:7b-8

Have you ever noticed that the things that matter most in life and benefit us the most don’t just happen – they cost us something! Think about it – losing weight, getting in shape, managing your debt and finances, growing in intimacy with your spouse, obtaining a college or post-college degree – require an investment of our time and energy. It must be a priority for true change to occur. We have to put some of our own skin in the game to get a return. The same is especially true in our spiritual walk with Christ. If we are going to grow spiritually this year, it is going to happen as we make room in our lives for our relationship with Christ.

This year we are looking at living an EPIC year. EPIC is defined as that which is not normal or ordinary. I want to encourage you in having an EPIC spiritual year with the following list of ways to improve your walk with Christ.

Top Ten Ways to have an EPIC Walk with God:

  1. Read your Bible on a daily basis.
  2. Start journaling what God is teaching you.
  3. Enlist a friend that will walk the journey with you.
  4. Share with others the stuff that God is teaching you.
  5. Take your sin seriously – you don’t have to keep being defeated by the same stuff.
  6. Schedule your time with God just like you would a workout, a business appointment, or a social event.
  7. Develop a prayer life.
  8. Take time to meditate and process your life.
  9. Start spiritual conversations with those around you.
  10. Get involved serving other people.

I am convinced that if we make the investment in our spiritual lives, this time next year will be noticeably different.  There is power in starting something – join me in igniting your walk with Christ!

Pastor Ernie

Why Join Central? The Benefits of Church Membership

January 18, 2012

“And let us consider how we may stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25

It is very important for each of us to join a church. We live in a culture that minimalizes the value of commitment and joining something and prefers to shop around and keep one’s options open. There are some advantages to that philosophy of church in that you get a chance to enjoy the programs and benefits of a multitude of churches without boxing yourself in to one specific church. The downside of that approach is that you never truly own a church and a people as being your own. We are all in need of God’s grace – broken people who are trying to make life work – and we need one another. In times of both celebration and calamity, a church provides you with the spiritual and relational support of people who are truly there for you.

Let me give you four core benefits for joining Central Church:

• A Place to Grow in Your Relationship with Christ – We primarily grow in our relationship with God in three ways: through the Word of God, through our circumstances, and through interactions with one another. Central Church is committed to preaching the Word of God on Sundays and provides numerous Bible Studies and Small Groups to develop your intimacy with Christ.

• A Place to Connect with Others Who are on the Journey – In our technologically and privatized culture, we are all relationally starved. Central provides the caring relationships that come with being joined with others who are on the same journey.

• A Place to Influence the World Around Us – Christians have a mandate to engage the world for Christ. That can be a very daunting and fearful proposition. The Church provides the context for us to partner with others who are committed to reaching people for Christ.

• A Cause Bigger than Yourself – The Church is the hope of the world and it is much bigger than yourself. Christianity is truly a team sport and we need one another working together to accomplish all that God has for us.

If you are not a member of Central Church, I would encourage you to join Central today and come be a part of what God is doing in our midst.

Pastor Ernie

The Life of Abraham New Series: The Amazing Race of Faith

January 13, 2012

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for.” – Hebrews 11:1

Have you ever wanted to do something for God – felt Him nudging you to step out and take a risk – you know that you need to – but you don’t do anything because you are afraid?  Have you ever needed to make a change in life – you are at the crossroads and you cannot keep doing what you have been doing – the way is clear but you hesitate and do nothing because you lack the faith to obey what you know is right?  Have you ever failed at something and because you have been knocked down, seriously doubt your ability to ever get back up on your feet again?

These are real life scenarios that each of us face every day. What we all need is more faith in God – the unwavering and absolute assurance that if we obey God He will be faithful. It is encouraging to know that every person God has ever used greatly has had to cross the bridge of faith – exactly what the verse in Hebrews outlines above – “this is what the ancients were commended for.” It was true of Noah, Abraham, Daniel, Joseph, and Paul and it is also true of
you and me.

Beginning next Sunday, January 22, and continuing for ten weeks, I am starting a new series on the life of Abraham called The Amazing Race of Faith. Each week we are going to immerse ourselves in the life of Abraham and see his journey as he wrestled with faith and fear and the resulting triumph that God brought about in his life.

This series is for every person who has ever wanted to attempt great things for God and needed the divine assurance that He will see us through to the other side!  You can begin the race by following the life of Abraham in the chronological Bible readings in Genesis.

In pursuit of an EPIC life,

Pastor Ernie

2012 Church-Wide Bible Reading Plan: “Reading God’s Word for All it’s Worth!”

January 11, 2012

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule’. . .God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over . . .” – Genesis 1:26, 28

We are one week into our church-wide chronological Bible reading plan. I am so excited to be a part of our entire congregation plowing through God’s Word together and having Him corporately shape our lives.  This week we have been in Genesis and we are encountering the majesty of a God who spoke the entire world into existence and who crafted man – his EPIC masterpiece – to co-rule the world with Him. That is too much for me to comprehend.

What we think about God is the most important thing about us! You can determine the outcome and the way of life of a person by what they think about God. Simply put: If God is big in a person’s life, then every aspect of their life will be shaped by this big God. If God is small, then people don’t make room in their lives for something so insignificant.

In reading chapters 1-2 of Genesis this week, I was struck again by the God that we have. Here are five things that I learned this week, again, about God.

Our God is. . .
• Creator and Creative – God took the initiative to create the world as He saw fit and according to His plan.

• Relational and Loves His Creation – Our relational God created us in His image, gave us the responsibility to rule with Him, personally placed us in the garden to work it, brings a spouse into our life for our own good, pursues us after we have sinned and done wrong, and extends grace to us. Wow!

• Moral – God made us with moral boundaries. He made us to freely choose within the guidelines that He has established and these guidelines are for our own good.

• Just – We are accountable to God and when we break His commands there are consequences to our actions.

• Redemptive and Gracious – One of the most amazing things about God is that He pursues us in the midst of our wrong choices. In the same way that He pursued Adam and Eve and clothed them, God pursues us and clothes us in the righteousness of Christ.

These truths about God are HUGE – they are game-changers for the way we understand God and our relationship with Him.

I want to encourage you this week to dig deep into the Word of God and mine the eternal and practical treasures that God has for you in your EPIC pursuit.

Pastor Ernie


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