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SERVICE TIMES
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Upcoming Events

Men's Morning Prayer
Thursday, July 29, 2021, 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...

Recovering Hope
Thursday, July 29, 2021, 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...

Women's Summer Book Study
Saturday, July 31, 2021, 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

With school out and pool time in (or maybe just more time spent indoors in the A/C!) this summer, the Flourish Women's Ministry would like to invite you to participate in...

Center Church Blog

Toxic Comfort
Jun 18, 2021

Sometimes you don’t realize something is toxic at first glance. That was the case with a comforter I bought about 12 years ago. I was thrilled. It was pink and green, which matched perfectly the wall colors I had chosen to go with a cute jungle border when my kids were younger. Since they had grown and we were switching things up with who slept in which room, it was great to find a more mature comforter that still matched the already painted walls.

That is, I was thrilled until I washed it.  The padding inside balled up, and it no longer was a beautiful comforter.  It was a lumpy mess. Drat.  Where else would I find a pink and green comforter?  Having a mother who can sew and repair almost anything happens to be one of the jackpots of life.  Cha-ching.

So I sent the comforter to my mom. Only one problem.  When my mom took it apart, the batting seemed toxic.

It had strange fumes coming from it and was making her sick.  She said, “I can’t work with this. I would rather just make a whole new comforter.” So we ended up shopping for some beautiful fabric for the new project. This time pink and brown.  Hey, why not just redo the whole room while we are at it? 

This was all happening around a time I was dealing with something else. Something also toxic: Bitterness.

For a couple of years, I had cultivated a bitter root every day by rehearsing an infraction against me. 

It had worked, and the root had become strong.  Really strong.  With conviction by the Holy Spirit, I knew I had to do something about it.  I needed to forgive.  I heard radio programs on it, I read books, I talked to friends.  But forgiveness to me was hard to grasp.  I knew I needed to do it, but how?  And this particular infraction was from someone who likely had no idea that they had sinned against me. They felt justified. They had moved on. They were never going to ask for forgiveness. Frankly, they probably didn’t even remember the incident.

One day after wrestling and reading, I realized I could not leave my room until I had forgiven. This just had to stop. Bitterness was killing me.

One of my friends had posed this simple question to me.  Where was Jesus in the room the day that I was sinned against?  So as I wrestled in prayer, I thought about that question, and I realized He was there.

In fact, He was holding me!

Then I realized with embarrassment that I was not resting in His embrace that day but throwing a tantrum.  But, kindly, He still was with me. Still holding me.

I had to forgive. I had to forgive.  I longed for it to be something easily understood, like knocking down a wall or tearing out a bush.  Hard work, but you have an idea of how to go about it.  But this was a heart-level issue.  How would I know I had forgiven?  Just saying the words to God?  What did forgiveness mean in this particular case?  I came to the conclusion that I needed to agree to actively stop thinking about this situation.  No problem, right?  Wrong.

After rehearsing this daily for two years straight, it had become a strange sort of comfort to me.

To agree not to continue thinking about it seemed like too much to ask.

Crazy right?  Yes, I guess sin is that crazy.  

I was kneeling by my bed, agonizing in prayer over being willing to actively not think about this again.

It felt like torture.

And then it happened. God showed me that I was hanging onto a lumpy, ripped, cheaply made, toxic green and pink blanket. I was comforted by it. It was wrapped around me.  But, He was asking me to give it up and He was offering me a beautiful handmade pink and brown blanket in its place.

Far superior, far more comforting.

Lovely. Nontoxic. Comfort from Himself instead of from bitterness. I didn’t want to give up the toxic blanket. How foolish. As I knelt there by the bed, I finally conceded to obey.

To agree to forgive. To fully forgive. 

It took work to keep that promise. Every time the topic cropped up in my brain, I battled it by reminding myself—“That’s forgiven. I will not replay it anymore.” It took work, but eventually, my brain was retrained, and those memories hardly ever crop up now. 

You will never guess the text I got the afternoon after wrestling with God. My mom, not knowing anything about the situation or what God had shown me, texted me out of the blue and said, “Can I throw away the pink and green comforter now?”

I said, “Yes!”    

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV

 

 

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

Center Church Blog

Biblical Manhood Study - Sneak Peek!
Apr 15, 2021

On 4/17/2021, the men of Center Church are cordially invited to participate in a new men’s study titled ‘Called to Biblical Manhood’ which is a series designed to help men think biblically about how they are designed by God to bring glory to God.
This is an excerpt from the study.

Purpose of this Study
The idea of biblical manhood is a concept that has fallen on hard times. Despite many noble efforts by men’s ministries to foster a culture of biblical manhood in churches, the world continues its assault on biblical manhood by attacking what it means to be a Christian man in a hostile and secular age. It is our sincerest desire that the men of Center Church, and perhaps even other churches, would benefit from this men’s study titled Called to Biblical Manhood.

Part I focuses on four “calls” to biblical manhood that every Christian man is called to in their walk with God:

  1. Called to Reflect – Genesis 1-3
  2. Called to Worship – Romans 12:1-2
  3. Called to Relationship – Galatians 2:13-22
  4. Called to Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Kindness – Ephesians 5:22-33

These sessions are designed to walk us through the biblical-theological significance of each call, and how we can live out God’s word together as men who have been bought at a costly price.

In ‘Called to Reflect,’ we will learn how all men are designed to bear the image of God, and how this carries a very weighty responsibility; reflecting God’s image to the world around us. The responsibility to bear God’s image was so weighty, in fact, that the original man – Adam – failed in this duty. But where the first Adam failed, the last Adam (Jesus) succeeded and provides help to all those who believe in him and call on his name.

The next session, ‘Called to Worship,’ will help us understand that everyone worships something. We often think of the term worship as synonymous with music or singing. While corporate worship and the singing of songs on a Sunday is one aspect of
worship, all of life is now worship for the believer. As men, we are called to worship God with our careers, in leading our homes, and when gathered with the family of God on Sundays!

The third session is titled Called to Relationship and we will explore the beauty of our adoption as believers. All believers were at one time rebels, or haters of God. Because God has reconciled us to himself in Christ, there are no grounds for viewing others as inferior. We are all equal under the cross.

The last session is designed for men to consider God’s faithfulness to us as a communicable attribute, or a characteristic of God that he allows us to display toward others. Because God is faithful, we can also be faithful. But not only is God faithful, he
has shown us his kindness in Christ. Kindness is yet another attribute men can display in their dealings with coworkers, friends, and spouses.

Each session contains a summary, big idea, questions on the text, gospel application, takeaways, and a prayer. The summary provides an overview of that session’s topic, while reviewing the previous session. The big idea is a concise statement of what that particular session will address. Then, there are questions for each session on the biblical text. This is to help us understand that the bible informs us how to live out each of these calls. Of utmost importance throughout this study is the
gospel application. The gospel decidedly provides the power and means for the believer to live out each of the calls of this study.

Prior to the start of each session, there will be a short message which will help the men understand the text and its application. After the message, the men will gather with a small group of other men to discuss the text and also the gospel application questions.

The ultimate aim of this study is to develop men who are committed to the cause of Christ, not just on Sunday’s, but every day of the week. We want to build men who will not bow to the Baal’s of our generation – men who are not satisfied with comfortable Christianity – but men who seek to confront sin in their lives – and men who seek to lead their homes. Above all, the goal is to develop a men’s ministry that treasures the gospel and wants to spread the glory of Christ wherever we go!

We also want to build men of action and prayer, and each session will conclude with a takeaway and a prayer. The takeaway is meant to be a bite-sized chunk for the men to consider as the walk away from group discussion. The prayer is meant to ask the Lord for help in remembering the study as the men depart from the session. In fact, it is fitting that we end this introduction with a prayer to ask for the Lord’s help while we seek to glorify him together through this study.

Father, we humbly ask for your help as we embark on this journey to know your call for us as men. You alone are worthy of glory, honor, and fame, and may our hearts desire to bring you glory, honor, and fame throughout this study. May your word cause us to delight in your Son and may your Spirit bring change where it is needed. We ask for these things in the name of your Son who is forever blessed, Amen.

 

If you haven't yet RSVP'd for this event, you can do so RIGHT HERE! See you Saturday at 8am!

 

 

 Frank Lundy is a member of Center Gilbert serving on the leadership team and the Young Adults Ministry. He is married to Jessica and they live in Mesa.

Center Church Blog

He's Alive
Mar 30, 2021

Mother’s Day 1985, I was 11 years old. My family had finished our Sunday lunch and had settled into Sunday afternoon. At that time we were living on a mission complex in the middle of the Navajo nation, a rural area where as kids we had the privilege of roaming free. We rode go carts, climbed on the rocks that were directly behind of our double wide trailer, and rode bikes down the hill.

That afternoon my two older brothers were playing in the field by our home, when suddenly Geoffrey came running and yelled to my parents, “Andy’s fallen down in the field and can’t get up!” They were terrifying words. From our home we could see him lying in the field—unconscious. My parents ran to him, and I ran next door to our friend’s trailer to have them call an  ambulance. Meanwhile our neighbor who was an EMT rushed out to the field as well and was able to radio from there for an emergency vehicle. I remember my mom getting into the ambulance with my brother and driving away. We followed.

The doctors could not figure out what was wrong with him and he would not wake up. As a nurse called medevac to have him flown to a hospital in Albuquerque 160 miles away, my dad heard her tell them to hurry because she did not know how long they could keep him alive. My mom flew with him. The rest of us drove dangerously fast to meet them at St. Joseph’s hospital. The doctors there did various tests, cat scans, 2 x-rays, blood tests, and a spinal tap. But still Andy did not wake up. One of my
parents was always by his side. I visited him while he slept in this coma and watched as my dad talked to him and called him ‘partner,’ something he would have hated had he been awake. He was 15 after all.

My grandparents lived in Los Alamos, a couple of hours away, so they had arrived as well and we all were staying together in a hotel near the hospital. The hotel phone rang. Andy had woken up! After 36 hours lying in a coma he had opened his eyes and talked to my dad. When I heard the news, joy filled my heart. My brother would live! I remember singing as I got ready to be taken to the hospital. I just kept singing—“He woke up, He woke up, He woke up!” I couldn’t stop singing. My grandmother said, “Don’t forget to thank God,” to which I replied, “That is what I have been doing!” My heart was overflowing with thankfulness and joy that spilled out in song.

This must have been a taste of what the disciples felt when they realized that Jesus had risen. A most minuscule taste of what must have been the deepest overwhelming joy. They went from the darkest despair to the greatest elation. The contrast between the two emotions couldn’t have been further apart—I can hardly imagine what that must have felt like. If, as an elementary child, I could not contain the music in my soul because my brother awoke from a coma, how much greater must have been their inability to contain the emotions of intense delight when their friend, their Messiah, their only hope, had risen from the dead!

The song “He’s Alive”, written from Peter’s perspective, plays through my mind as I think about these things.

Suddenly the air was filled with a strange and sweet perfume,
Light that came from everywhere drove shadows from the room,
Jesus stood before me with his arms held open wide,
And I fell down on my knees and clung to him and cried,
He raised me to my feet and as I looked into his eyes,
Love was shining out from him like sunlight from the sky,
Guilt and my confusion disappeared in sweet release,
And every fear I'd ever had just melted into peace.
He's alive, He's alive, He's alive and I'm forgiven,
Heavens gates are open wide.
He's alive, He's alive, He's alive and I'm forgiven,
Heavens gates are open wide.
He's alive, He's alive, He's alive and I'm forgiven,
Heavens gates are open wide.
He's alive! He’s alive! He’s alive!

Written By: Allen Collins, Ronnie Vanzant
Recorded/Performed By: Don Francisco

 

 

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

Center Church Blog

Truth and Inspiration
Feb 26, 2021

When it was my turn most recently to read the Scripture in the Sunday worship services at Center Church, I was given the passage in Revelation 1:4-8. You will notice there are only five verses in this passage. As I prepared for the reading, I saw how much truth and inspiration are packed into just five verses. Let me point out to you what I see in the scripture I read recently.

First, I see three sources of grace and peace:

  1. One source is He who is and who was and who is to come, a reference to the Father (vs4)
  2. Another source is the seven spirits who are before His throne (vs4). This is a reference to the Holy Spirit. Not that He is seven, but that He is one Spirit expressed in a variety of ways. The Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of truth and so on.
  3. And a third source is Jesus Christ the Son of God (vs5)


Next, I see three blessings:

  1. We are loved (vs5)
  2. We have been freed from our sins by his blood (vs5)
  3. and we have been made into a kingdom of priests (vs6)


Last, I see reference to four Christian doctrines:

  1. The Trinity (vs4)
  2. The death of Christ (vs5)
  3. The Second Coming (vs7)
  4. and the doctrine of God (vs8)

I think you can find all of these items in this passage and perhaps more. Why don't you read it and see?

What happy truth and inspiration in the Word of God!

 

 

 

 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

Welcomed Lament
Jan 22, 2021

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.

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