COVID-19 UPDATE FOR CENTER CHURCH

Center Church will be cautiously re-opening our Sunday services on a limited basis and is following government-recommended protocols.
Beginning Sunday, October 11th, we will be holding 2 services with differing mask policies:
The 9:00am service will be *MASKS REQUIRED*.
The 10:30am service will be *MASKS OPTIONAL*.
We ask that everyone wear a mask while in the lobby and while coming/going between the services.

Auditorium seating has been restructured to allow for the recommended physical distancing.

We will be broadcasting both services on Facebook Livestream every Sunday.
(A Facebook account is not needed to view the Livestream - just click the button below to watch in your browser)
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SERVICE TIMES
We would love for you to join us! We are currently holding limited in person services on Sundays at 9:00am & 10:30am

 

PLEASE SEE THE ABOVE SECTION WITH COVID-19 UPDATES REGARDING CURRENT SUNDAY SERVICE PRECAUTIONS AGAINST THE SPREAD OF ILLNESS.

 

 

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Watch our Sunday Services online via the LIVESTREAM on our Facebook Page!

Upcoming Events

Men's Weekly Prayer Meeting
Every Thursday, 6:00 AM - 7:00 AM

Charles Spurgeon said, "Prayer girds human weakness with divine strength, turns human folly into heavenly wisdom, and gives to troubled mortals the peace of God. We know...

Hope for Addiction
Every Thursday, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Hope for Addiction exists to walk alongside, equip and care for those who struggle with addiction. There is hope - and lasting change is possible. People are lost in the...

Membership Class
Saturday, January 30, 2021, 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Visit the Membership Info page for more on why we believe church membership is important and then come find out if this church is the right fit for you! Please join us...

Center Church Blog

Welcomed Lament
Jan 22, 2021

Welcomed Lament

Today I stitched a smile on a teddy bear. He came without one, but it seemed like he would look friendlier if I added some upturned thread. And with six simple stitches...voilà one happy bear. If only our feelings were that manageable. One of the things I am most drawn to about God is that He welcomes our tears. And just in case we don’t have the words (or perhaps the courage) to say what we are feeling, He embedded lament into scripture itself. David’s words in Psalm 6:6-7 have particularly resonated with me over the years.

I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes. (ESV)

These words are comforting to me because they are so real. David wrote this, but this has also been my exact experience at times. These verses give me the assurance that God understands my
pain, He has seen me, and He has heard my anguish. And with this understanding, I am then able to also pray the words of Psalm 43:5:

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God. (ESV)

If I didn’t have the context of knowing God cares about my tears and allows me to cry out to Him, Psalm 43:5 would seem like a reprimand to me and would not be comforting. But when I put it alongside the knowledge that God keeps track of every tear that falls from my eyes (Psalm 56:8), I have in some of my darkest moments been given the courage to pray, “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him my salvation and my God.”

It wouldn’t have looked courage filled if you had seen it. You simply would have seen me weeping in despair and mumbling the phrase over and over. You might even have seen me moving ten little pebbles from one pile to another. This was an activity I did to distract my mind by counting my repeated prayer. It would have looked messy. But, these most chaotic scenes, I believe, have been my moments of greatest faith. These are the times that God has given me the strength to believe Him even when I could not see Him working. He gave me this strength through the gift of welcoming my lament.

 

 

 

 

 Adela Naomi Stanton is a member here at Center Church. She has 3 adult children and lives and teaches in Mesa.

Center Church Blog

Having an Eye to God for Comfort
Jan 08, 2021

[Click HERE to read Deborah's post from a couple months back on her family's experience with serious mental illness.]

For over a decade our third son of four has battled against a serious mental illness. When my husband and I held him for the very first time and saw his gorgeous brown eyes with lashes that would make any girl envious, we could never have imagined the trials that were prepared by God ahead of us. We could never have imagined that our son would struggle with a debilitating brain disorder one day that causes him to fight for every thought in every moment of the day. Or an illness that is so perplexing and misunderstood, so difficult to treat and manage. We could never have imagined the nightmare of learning how to navigate the sparse and chaotic resources within our behavioral health system or meeting so many others in worse situations than we were experiencing. To say that I hate mental illness is an understatement. I loathe that my son must suffer so greatly. I despise the injustice we have and continue to witness within our nation’s treatment and housing systems. But it is out of these trials and the mercy we have received, that God birthed a desire in my husband and I to look for ways to ease the sufferings of so many, especially our own son.

One of our goals is to open a home for men who struggle with significant mental health challenges. We started a nonprofit organization in 2015 with this in view. There is no doubt that this is a lofty dream and the process to achieve it has been slower than I would have liked. I find myself wrestling with anxious thoughts, frustrated that so much suffering and injustice continues. I am tempted by doubts daily and yet so grateful for a husband who is patient with me and always points me to God. It was in one of these moments recently, after just one more encouragement from my husband, that I realized I might be forgetting something of vital importance through this delayed process. I wondered if in my zeal to ease the suffering of my son and others, I was becoming blind to the work that God was already doing amid our current trials.

This brought to mind the life of David Brainerd. He was a missionary to Native Americans and lived a short life from 1718 to 1747. He suffered greatly with tuberculosis and “melancholy.” Some have speculated that he struggled with what we now call Bipolar Disorder. Jonathan Edwards was a dear friend and often cared for him. Brainerd left us with a wonderful diary and I recalled this treasure that he wrote regarding his suffering --

“Such fatigues and hardships as these serve to wean me more from the earth; and, I trust, will make heaven the sweeter. Formerly, when I was thus exposed to cold, rain, etc., I was ready to please myself with the thoughts of enjoying a comfortable house, a warm fire, and other outward comforts; but now these have less place in my heart (through the grace of God) and my eye is more to God for comfort. In this world I expect tribulation; and it does not now, as formerly, appear strange to me; I don’t in such seasons of difficulty flatter myself that it will be better hereafter; but rather think how much worse it might be; how much greater trials others of God’s children have endured; and how much greater are yet perhaps reserved for me. Blessed be God that makes (is) the comfort for me, under my sharpest trials; and scarce ever lets these thoughts be attended with terror or melancholy, but they are attended frequently with great joy.” – David Brainerd

John Piper writes of Brainerd in his book The Hidden Smile of God, “So in spite of the terrible external hardships that Brainerd knew, he pressed on and even flourished under these tribulations that lead to the weight of glory in the kingdom of God.” In many ways I see glimpses of this flourishing in my own son because of Christ’s work in him. I am grateful for the example of people like David Brainerd, my son and others who are walking through significant difficulties with God honoring faith. May these precious teachers in my life exhort me to always have an eye to God for comfort, despite the slow progress of any efforts on mine or my husband’s part to open a home. May I have an eye to God for comfort first in the face of ongoing injustice and discrimination against people who cannot speak for themselves. We will continue to pursue Jesus in how to serve individuals and families with serious mental illness as best as we can. But I pray that we never lose sight of the many ways He is working even now in these deep trials. I pray that I will grow in thankfulness for how God is weaning me from the comforts of this world, only to give me something so much better and that is, Himself.

 

 

 

Deborah Geesling is a longtime member here at Center Church. She and her husband Matthew have 4 sons, 1 daughter-in-law, and 3 grandsons.  Matthew & Deborah have created a nonprofit organization called P82 Project Restoration with a focus on aiding the Seriously Mentally Ill. They also lead a support group for caregivers of those with serious mental illness.

 

Photo via Unsplash

Center Church Blog

Why Advent?
Dec 11, 2020

We're in the season of Advent. Advent means arrival. Jesus Christ arrived. He will arrive again. But why?

In my morning quiet time recently, I was working through I John. I've done so many times across the years but this time I noticed a series of five statements in chapters 3 and 4 that answer the question: Why Advent? Let me list them for you. (By the way, I'm using the English Standard Version.) They are as follows:

  • 3:5 "You know that he appeared to take away sins."
  • 3:8 " The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil."
  • 4:9 " In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him."
  • 4:10 " In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
  • 4:14 " And we have seen and testified that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviorof the world."


Why Advent? Why did Christ arrive?

He came to be our Savior, to destroy the worksof the devil, to take away sin, to be the propitiation for our sins and he came so we might live through Him. The devil's work is to promote sin and oppose the work of God in the world. Jesus Christ destroys the devil's work by bearing sin on the cross and dying for it, thereby taking it away. In doing so, the wrath of God, which is the response of his holiness to sin, is resolved. And so Christ is our Savior and through him we live now and forever. That is why Advent.

And one thing more. While Advent is about Christ and why he arrived, it is for us. As the prophet Isaiah says in chapter 9, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given ." You and I are included in that "us." Merry Christmas!

 

 

 Godfrey Ebright is an active member of and Small Group leader here at Center Church. He brings over 35 years of experience as a former pastor to his leadership and writing. Godfrey and his wife Lorraine live in Gilbert.

Center Church Blog

When We Approach the Communion Table
Dec 04, 2020

I was somewhere around eleven years old when I first participated in communion. I’ll never forget the little cups and the perfect little holders in the pews where they went when emptied. The little cracker reminded me of the oyster crackers that diners would give out with clam chowder. What I remember most, though, is the pit in my stomach that seemed to linger up to the moment we took the elements. I was torn up by the thought of how much I needed Jesus. I would sit in the pew with the rest of my family and as I stared into the back of the pew in front of me, I would consider my need. Although I was not alone, I felt like I was the only person in the room. For years and years, communion was a reminder of my need. No matter how full the auditorium was, in my mind, I was the only one there - just God and I - sorting things out. Over time, this changed for me. Eventually, I realized how much it had nothing to do with me - that is, just me. 

At some point, I realized while I was desperately praying for forgiveness, doing what I could to repent in my chair, I looked up and noticed all the other people in the room. They were all doing the same thing as me; sitting in their chairs, praying, repenting. The room was full of other believers who wanted to remember they were right with the Lord and that it was only by Jesus’ work that it was possible. What was happening in that place was more than my secluded event. It was a community crying out in unison. 

I think it is easy to treat the frequently used “communion passage” (1 Cor 11.17-34) as Paul’s how-to guide for us rather than the correction of his audience. The Corinthian Church had some serious issues. One of these was related to communion. When we follow this passage in its context, I think we see that Paul is addressing what I learned when I noticed everyone around me. In Corinth, everyone was always thinking about themselves. This resulted in the meal not being shared, and some were overlooked and unconsidered. The Corinthians were laser-focused on themselves and failed to consider the entire body. Like me, they had missed something. The meal is not just for individuals, it’s for the body, the Church. The meal is not meant to be taken at a little table in the corner by ourselves. It is to be shared in a banquet hall full of people eating together.

The significance of a shared meal is that it supposes a community. It supposes union–togetherness. The Lord’s meal does this too. In one sense, we are proclaiming our personal union to Christ (1 Cor 11.26). In another, we are demonstrating our union as his body–the church. We see this in our proclamation of the death of Christ together. When we miss this, we fail to see the miraculous work of Christ in his purchase of a community (1 Cor 11.24,26–remember, the “you” is plural). When we limit the meal to “me, myself, and I”, it limits the significance of his work to ourselves. Instead, we need to remember that the table reminds us of our common ground. It forces us to admit our own needs, but also our brother’s‌ and sister's. We cannot be proud of ourselves or consider ourselves more or less worthy than those who are at the table with us. We cannot reject a brother or sister because of our prejudice, pride, or expectations. We cannot overlook their needs for our own. No, at the table we receive the same bread, the same cup, and we proclaim the same Lord. When we hear Jesus in the passage say, “This is my body which is for you.” Do you think he is talking to you? He is, but remember that he is talking to the rest of the church as well. When we share the meal, let us reflect on how we truly share it. We are all different, kind of weird, and some of us are even hard to love. Yet we are loved. All of us. Together. By Him.

 

 

Jeff Palen is on staff at Center Church part time doing an internship with the Junior High Ministry. He is married to Barb and together they have 4 wonderful children and live in Queen Creek.

 

Picture via Unsplash.

Center Church Blog

Advent Recommendations
Nov 30, 2020

If you're like many of us, Christmas as an adult isn't quite the "magical" time it was for you as a child. But as an adult, you desire to dig deeper into the TRUE meaning of Christmas, behold the wonder of the Incarnation, and encounter God in a new and richer way during the holiday season.

Advent devotionals can help! Here are a few we recommend:

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus edited by Nancy Guthrie

From the back cover: "This special volume draws from the works and sermons of classic theologians such as Whitefield, Luther, Spurgeon, and Augustine, and from leading contemporary communicators such as John Piper, J. Ligon Duncan, Randy Alcorn, John MacArthur, Francis Schaeffer, R.C. Sproul, Tim Keller, Skip Ryan, and Joni Eareckson Tada to beckon you and your family into the wonder of Jesus' incarnation and birth."

Available from Amazon.com for about $12

 

Good News of Great Joy by John Piper

From the back cover: "Advent is for adoring Jesus. It is a season of preparation for that special day when we mark Immanuel’s arrival — the coming of our eternal God in frail, human flesh. This is the greatest wonder of history’s many wonders, something too stupendous to celebrate just on one day. Advent is a way of lengthening the joy of Christmas. These 25 brief devotional readings from John Piper begin on December 1 and carry us to Christmas Day. Our prayer is that God would use these readings to deepen and sweeten your adoration of Jesus this December and keep him as the center and greatest treasure of your Christmas season. The candles and candies have their place, but we want to make sure that in all the Christmas rush and hubbub, we adore Jesus above all."

Available as a FREE PDF download HERE, or you can purchase the physical book from Amazon for about $9 HERE.

 

O Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul David Tripp

From the Introduction: "Often when we are familiar with things, we tend to quit examining them. When we are familiar with things, we quit noticing them... Familiarity tends to rob us of wonder... So I wrote this devotional with the prayer that God would use it to recapture your attention... I hope that as you read, your heart will be surprised by the things in this story you've never seen before or maybe haven't seen in a very long time."

Available from Amazon for about $7.50

 

Love Came Down at Christmas by Sinclair Ferguson

From Amazon's description: "Everyone seems to say that Christmas is about love. It’s in the songs we hear as we shop for presents and in the adverts we see on TV. It’s in the cards we send and on the gift tags we write. And Christians can agree. Christmas really is about love, because love came down at Christmas in the person of Jesus Christ. This Advent devotional contains 24 daily readings from 1 Corinthians 13. Sinclair B Ferguson brings the rich theology of the incarnation to life with his trademark warmth and clarity. We’ll see what 'love' looked like in the life of Christ and be challenged to love like him. Each day’s reading finishes with a question for reflection and a prayer. However you’re feeling, your heart will be refreshed as you wonder again at the truth that love came down at Christmas."

Available from Amazon for about $13.50

 

Bonus: For KIDS!

Jesus Storybook Bible - Advent Edition
OR

The Jesus Storybook Bible is a beautifully-written children's Bible and now there is an advent version! You can buy the full kit from Amazon for $22.50 HERE and includes:

  • A picture book for children ages 4 to 8
  • Features 16 buttons that activate 20 seconds of classic Christmas music or narration by award-winning British actor David Suchet
  • Includes four beloved Christmas hymns: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel; God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; We Three Kings; and Joy to the World
  • Four pages of Advent activities and a “map” tracing Jesus’s story through the Old Testament, with suggested Bible readings for each day of Advent
  • Activity and a devotional thought referencing the Epiphany (or Three Kings’ Day) for an extended celebration of Jesus’s arrival
  • Includes a heartfelt letter and reflection from New York Times bestselling author Sally Lloyd-Jones

This picture book not only highlights the significance of the Nativity and reaffirms the spiritual meaning of God’s most precious gift, it does what few other Christmas or Advent books do. It shows that even the Old Testament stories pointed to a Rescuer, and it is a complete celebration of the holiday season, which doesn’t end on Christmas morning with Jesus’s birth.

OR you can do a simpler, FREE PDF printable that includes daily readings from The Jesus Storybook Bible and paper ornaments that your children can color each day.

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