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, August 9th, we will be holding 2, one-hour services at 9:00 AM and 10:30 AM.

We are asking everyone to wear face masks and auditorium seating will continue
to allow for the recommended physical distancing.

Beginning September 13th, we will be slowly re-opening CHILDREN'S MINISTRY.
There will be 1 class available during each service for grades Kindergarten - 5th grade.

We are working on a plan to open the younger children's ministry classes in the coming weeks.
Children of all ages are also welcome to attend the entire service with their parents.
We are always happy to have children at church in any capacity!

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

Fall Flourish Event: Studies in Biblical Womanhood
Every other Monday, from 10/05/2020 to 11/16/2020, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Our culture is speaking loudly (to put it mildly!) on matters of gender. We want to pursue Jesus together and know from scripture how we are supposed to think about...

Young Adults Small Group
Second Tuesday, Fourth Tuesday of the month, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Discussion and fellowship at the Richardson Home for Young Adults (single and married)!

Center Church Blog

Two Things I Say
Sep 18, 2020

Last time I wrote about two places I go: the Cross and the Throne of Grace. This time I want to write about two simple things I say. I say them to the Lord as I make my way through each day. These are thoughts I put together as I was preparing to share with the small group I lead, how I experience my relationship with Christ in daily living.  

I think you would agree that as believers in Jesus we want to do more than claim we have a relationship with Christ. We want to experience it. We want to be aware of his presence. You might also agree that however we go about this, we need to keep it simple. Life is already difficult and Christ didn't come into the world to make it more so. In fact, he's on record as having said,"My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:30)  It's in that spirit that I share with you two simple things I say to the Lord that help me stay connected with him. The first is, "I trust you." The second is, "I thank you."   

With respect to the first, I trust his help. His help can take many forms: he leads, he supplies, he strengthens. These and others fall under the heading of help. And I need his help. Some are cynically of the opinion that Christians use Christ as a crutch. My response: they don't know the half of it. My need for help sometimes goes beyond a crutch to something more like a stretcher. I trust Christ for the help I need, and so the first of the two simple things I say to him as I proceed through my day is, "I trust you." 

The second thing I say to him is, "I thank you." Good relationships are reciprocal. Both parties give. This holds true in my relationship with Christ. He gives me help each day, I give him thanks. Frankly, gratitude is at the heart of my relationship with Christ. He is my Dearest Friend, my God and my Savior, my Shepherd and my Helper, and I thank him. 

Well, there you have it, two simple things I say to the Lord as I walk with him along the way. "I trust you, I thank you." Come to think of it, these are prayers in that prayer is simply talking to God. And now there is another that comes to mind. I say it to him often in addition to the two things I have been writing about. You'll find it in Psalm 18,verse 1, the first three words.  

 

 

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.

 

(Picture by

Center Church Blog

Trusting in the Promises of God
Sep 10, 2020

Living through the events of 2020, we all have what feels like impossible situations to deal with in our everyday lives. We are living in a time that is full of trials, challenges, and overall change. And this change seems to be coming in an unprecedented way, at an unprecedented pace. How do we trust God with everything? How do we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus in the midst of these storms? I believe a good place to start is by looking to scripture and seeing how Abraham trusted God and the promises he received from God.

In Romans chapter 4, we read that God’s promise to Abraham was - "I will make you the father of many nations." (verse 17). God was promising Abraham that he would have a biological son and Abraham will become "the father of many nations". He was 75 years old when he received this promise from God and the fulfillment of the promise would not come until almost 25 years later when Abraham was 100 years old and his wife Sarah was 90.  At these ages, having a child was a true physical impossibility. However, we see in verse 18 that Abraham trusted God in spite of what he saw.  "In hope he believed against hope…” He placed his hope in the words that God told him… "that he would become the Father of many nations," rather than hope in what he knew to be true about his and Sarah’s physical inability to have children.

Abraham’s response in 4:18-21 shows his great trust in God. He trusted God to do the impossible. Seeing Abraham’s response can cause us to ask ourselves: how do we respond to our challenges?  Abraham knew God and trusted God to do the impossible. When you think about it, we have so many more reasons to trust God than Abraham did. We can read in the Bible so many more acts of God than Abraham even knew about! That should give us many more reasons to trust God. For example: the faithfulness of God to his promise to deliver Israel from bondage to Egypt - seen in the Exodus and culminating in the parting of the Red Sea. God being faithful to protect Daniel and the Lion’s Den, to protect Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego in the fiery furnace, God giving David success fighting Goliath, God saving a prophet named Jonah with a big fish, etc.

But the greatest demonstration of God being faithful to his promises was seen in the incarnation of Jesus - the fulfillment of the coming of the promised messiah through the miracle of the virgin birth. Through Jesus, the future offspring of Abraham, each and every believer has access to the many promises of God. We can look to the "precious and very great promises" (2Peter 1:3) that God has given to us because we are in Christ. Through knowing and believing the promises of God, we look to Him and trust him rather than being overwhelmed by our circumstances.

Here are [just a few!] examples of the promises that ALL Christians have in Christ:

  • Wearied by all that is being asked of you?  Look to the promise of power in Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
  • Feeling alone? Look to the promise of his active presence with you from Matthew 28:20b - "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
  • Fearful because you don’t see enough change happening? Look to the promise of His power at work found in Romans 8:28 - "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
  • Fearful that you see too much change happening? Look to the promise that Jesus is in control of your life from John 16:33 - “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
  • Unsure what to do with your growing fear of the future? Look to the promise of His care in 1 Peter 5:7 - "… casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."
  • Feeling weak and that your trouble is becoming too great for you? Look to the promise of his strength from Psalm 46:1-2 - "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
  • Concerned for the growing worldliness pressing in from the culture? Look to the promise of Christ in you as seen in 1 John 4:4 - "Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
  • Do you feel everyone is against you? Look to the promise of his support in Romans 8:31-32 - If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
  • A hard day in front you, and you need help? Look to the promise of his ever-sufficient grace found in 2 Corinthians 12:9 - “…My grace is sufficient for you, and my power is perfected in weakness.

Look to the words of God seen in his promises and let them bring hope into every life situation you encounter. Remember - God is trustworthy. God fulfills his promises! This is a promise for every believer and if you are in Christ, that includes you!

 

 

 

Trey Richardson is one of the Elders here at Center Church. His primary responsibilities include oversight of Small Groups and Counseling. He and his wife Charlotte have been married for 49 years and have 4 adult children and 14 grandchildren.

 

Photo by Cam James on Unsplash

 

 

Center Church Blog

Miscarriage and the Goodness of God Part II
Sep 04, 2020
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(This is a continuation of last week’s post. If you missed it, check out Part 1 HERE)

A few months after our 2nd miscarriage, God granted a 3rd conception. In fact, to our deep delight, God gave us 2 full-term, perfectly healthy children in the 17 months that followed! 

But it was not all smooth sailing after that. A couple years later brought yet a third early loss. And this time, my body didn’t process it very smoothly and I ended up needing surgical assistance to help my body fully recover. Yet again, we were facing an unknown future and a potential adjustment to the hopes and dreams we had for our family size. This time around though, we experienced the fruit of the first round of wrestling. We still grieved, we still prayed, we still cried, we still wondered. And we directed all of this to God, pressed in, and continued to trust. And generously, God chose to give us 2 more children within 19 months.

Despite experiencing a 3rd loss, after our initial conception we never struggled to conceive again. Why did we experience a year of struggling to conceive and 2 losses only to conceive quickly and easily FIVE TIMES after that?? God only knows. He has his reasons and because of the confidence we have in his greatness and power and glory and sovereignty, we are confident that his reasons were many and multifaceted.

John Piper said, "God is always doing 10,000 things in your life and you may be aware of three of them." 

We are confident that ONE of His reasons was to draw us closer to himself and to magnify the glory and praise He would receive in blessing us with children in HIS timing and not ours. God is always at work becoming greater and more glorious in the eyes of His children.

More things I learned as a result of these experiences:

  • More of Jesus is worth every trial. Now, I would never wish our trial on anyone. But would that I could give someone more of Jesus and the depth of grace that I experienced as a result of that particular trial! I met God in a way that changed me forever. 
  • During each of my pregnancies I had a heightened sense of thankfulness and perspective. I would joke, “Never I have I been so happy to feel so awful!” I also held things loosely and never took a single day of pregnancy for granted. Every baby kick, every sleepless night, every unpleasant pregnancy symptom served to remind me of a time when I longed for this and never knew if I would get to experience it. 

“It is worthy to be observed that the joy is all the greater because of the previous sorrow, as calm is all the more delightful in recollection of the preceding tempest. Sorrows remembered sweeten present joy." C.H. Spurgeon

  • You never know what someone is going through. I learned very quickly how painful it can be when someone asks “So when are you two going to start having kids?” or “So when are you going to start working on #2 (or #3, etc)? or “So what are you waiting for??” If I may make a recommendation, I’ve found the question “Do you have a desire for children?” to be a more sensitive and open-ended question to ask a childless couple - and that is assuming one has the appropriate relationship to even inquire at all.
  • Infertility and miscarriage can be very lonely trials. The timing, trying, waiting, testing... month after month... It’s not something most people want to talk about around the water cooler at work or at the park on a playdate or out on a double date. While it’s constantly on your mind and heart, most of the people around you have no idea. But struggling in isolation isn’t good. Inviting the right people into your life and being willing to share your struggle with them can result in encouragement and shared burdens that will raise your spirits, soothe your soul, and help lift your eyes to Jesus when it’s hard to see Him. 
  • I have encountered numerous opportunities in the last 7 years to draw on this experience of sadness, grief, wrestling and clinging to truth when life didn’t make sense, as a means of specifically encouraging others in trials of various kinds.

Friends, your story may not have the same ending as mine. It may not have the same timeline as mine. It may look different than mine on many levels. God may answer your prayers and bless your efforts in a way you hadn’t planned, expected, or even initially wanted. But Christian, no matter what your story is, we serve the same good God! His love for you is the same. His heart for you is the same. And the depth of mercy and grace that is and will be there through every step of every trial you walk through is the same. His glory and purposes and closeness will always be worth it, not only in this life, but also and even more so, in the glorious one to come!

 

 

 

 Andrea Boomsma is a long-time member of Center Church. She is married to Zach and together they have 4 delightful children. She is on staff part time at Center Church and is also part of the Blog Editorial Team.

 

(Image by David Senthavong via Unsplash)

Center Church Blog

Miscarriage and the Goodness of God
Aug 28, 2020
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I have been pregnant 7 times. Yet there was a time in our marriage when my husband and I truly questioned if biological children were even part of God’s plan for our family. Now, if you’re reading those two sentences and adding up the number of people in our family (check the bio at the bottom of the post if you need a clue) and scratching your head, I don’t blame you. Let me tell you a story. 

Once Upon A Time...
...there was a man and woman, newly married, blissfully in love, starting off their life, closing out one career and launching another, moving to a new state together and feeling like the world was their oyster. It seemed like the perfect time to begin a family. To their great joy, they conceived quickly. The day they found out, the wife probably made 12 phone calls and sent twice as many text messages to share the news. They were over the moon. 

A week later she was no longer pregnant. They knew early term loss, especially with a first pregnancy, was fairly common. They were sad but not discouraged.

However, what followed was 12 months of not getting pregnant again. That is, until the 13th month. Another positive pregnancy test! Finally!

A week later she was no longer pregnant. Again. 

As you’ve probably guessed, this is MY story. But it’s also the story of God at work building our family in HIS time and HIS way. And the story wasn’t finished. 

What followed after our second miscarriage were the darkest days of my spiritual life. I wrestled with God in a way I never had before. I wrestled with truths that didn’t make sense in my mind. Truths I saw in scripture yet felt contradictory in my circumstances. I knew God COULD create life in my womb. He HAD! Twice! So why WASN'T He?! It felt cruel and unfair. Irresponsible teenagers were getting pregnant. Couples who were actively preventing were getting pregnant. Couples who were trying were getting pregnant - multiple times over! But a happy, stable, godly Christian couple who deeply desired children...weren't?! I realized that it wasn’t necessarily God’s power that I was wrestling with, but His goodness. I was also being faced with a potential reality for my life (God may not ever have biological children for us) that I didn’t choose and I didn’t want.

During the time that I wrestled, here are some truths that I clung to and repeated to myself often: 

  • God is the author of life. (Gen 2:7, Acts 17:25, John 1:3) He alone opens and closes wombs and he does so for His purposes and glory alone (like we see in the stories of Sarah, Leah and Rachel, and Hannah). His purposes and glory don’t always make sense to us (Isaiah 55:9). But I know He is trustworthy and loving (Psalm 33:4, Isaiah 25:1, Psalm 100:5, Deut 7:9). 
  • Death and loss are a result of the effects of sin in a broken world. We live in a world where things like our bodies don’t always work the way they “should.” Loss and struggle are part of our broken world and not a result of merit. Children are not granted as a reward for good behavior or doing everything “right.” God does not withhold the blessing of children because someone is not good enough or godly enough or because He is displeased with you. (John 9:1-3
  • Wrestling is ok and often good. When done rightly, wrestling can lead us to a place of deeper experience and faith in God. He isn’t intimidated by that and doesn’t hold these elements of our humanity against us. It’s ok to question and wonder and grieve and weep and cry out to God with how you honestly feel. In fact, he has compassion on us when we are hurting (Psalm 56:8, Isaiah 40:11, Psalm 103:13-14) and sympathizes with us (Hebrews 4:15). I consistently turned to the book of Psalms after our second loss. The Psalmist’s realness in expressing his thoughts and feelings to God were my guide. 
  • Keep going back to what you know to be true. When you’re crying out and being honest with God, let scripture keep you anchored. Cling to the truth of God’s word. Study it. Meditate on it. It will keep you grounded, give you hope and peace, and keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.

To be continued...

 

 

Andrea Boomsma is a long-time member of Center Church. She is married to Zach and together they have 4 delightful children. She is on staff part time at Center Church and is also part of the Blog Editorial Team.

(Image by Janko Ferlic via Unsplash)

Center Church Blog

Two Places to Go
Aug 21, 2020
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I would like to tell you about two places I visit regularly even during this time when there are not as many places to go. One of these places is the Cross. To it I go with my sin. The other is the Throne of Grace. To it I go with my burdens. Both are a shelter to me. I feel safe for both are suffused with the love of God.  

Come with me to the Cross. Here my sin was dealt with. It was answered for. It will not be held against me for, alas, it was held against Christ who bore it as he died the death sin requires (Romans 6:23).  Here at the Cross I feel sorrow for my sin, and I feel my need for forgiveness, but I don't feel separation, abandonment, or rejection. It is a place of restoration and spiritual wellness. And as the old hymn says, "I love that old Cross where the Dearest and Best, for a world of lost sinners was slain."

Now, if you have time, will you come with me to the second place? The Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:16). It's God's throne and because it's his he can name it anything he wants. He has chosen to call it grace. I'm invited to come with confidence and kneel before the One who occupies that throne and what do I, willful and  meandering, receive? I receive mercy. What a place! And that's not all, for what do I find? I find "grace to help in time of need." Frankly, I think the context for this throne in Hebrews 4 suggests that I can bring my sin to this place also. But the words, "grace to help in time of need," prompt me to see this as a place to bring my burdens. The Wise Men knelt before the baby in the manger and placed treasures before him. I kneel before Almighty God and place burdens before him. Treasures at the manger were appropriate. Just so are burdens at the Throne. My burdens matter to him and so an exchange takes place. I offer my burdens and he offers his help. And as another old hymn affirms, "He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater." 

Well, thanks for accompanying me on our visit to the Cross and the Throne of Grace. There's always room for us, you know. And I wonder if you can agree that even though all too often we don't do the right things, at least we can be in the right place. Thanks be to 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.

 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

 

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