Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Easter Bunny & Easter Eggs

Initially, this quote shocked and disturbed me, however after more thought on the topic, why would I have expected anything more?

David Kinnaman, President of the Barna Research Group, stated that based on recent research, "most Americans continue to view the Easter holiday as a religious celebration, but many of them are not clear as to the underlying reason for the occasion. Perhaps most concerning, from the standpoint of church leaders, is that those who celebrate Easter because of the resurrection of Christ are not particularly likely to invite non-churched friends to worship, suggesting that their personal beliefs about Jesus have not yet translated into a sense of urgency for having spiritual conversations with their acquaintances."

Easter is not about a bunny or eggs. Don’t misunderstand my sentiments, I’m not trying to squash the childhood feelings and celebrations of many. My family and I have participated over the years with eggs and bunnies and we had an enjoyable and fun time doing so. Yet, Easter is WAY more!

The Easter season is HUGE!!! The trajectory of our entire existence, both now and forevermore, can be and is altered because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. As a result of what we celebrate on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I have a sense of urgency for people in my relational world, therefore I’m asking you to do what I am doing...this weekend and next weekend, invite someone to join you in attending The Crossing. These next TWO weekends will be informative and instructional, uplifting and celebratory. DO NOT MISS them! Someone you bring might not ever be the same again!

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you this weekend,

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing


Our Easter service times are:
Saturday, April 3rd at 5 & 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 4th at 8:30, 9, 10, 10:30, 11:30 a.m. & 12 p.m.

Click here to use our online Evite to invite your family and friends to one of our Easter services.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Is this the END of the world?

There’s a very real fascination with the future. The best selling “Left Behind” book series captivated believer and non-believer alike with the very real possibility that SUDDENLY planes would lose pilots, cars their drivers and parents would be snatched up right before the stunned eyes of teenage children. Yet these were only well written novels...stories...fables. It couldn’t really happen, could it?

In the past weeks, the earth’s rumblings have seemed to garner more than a passing bit of attention. There was the Haitian earthquake, the earthquake in Chile, another in Turkey. This past week we even experienced a 4.4 trembler here in Southern California. Is all this rattling and rolling, death and destruction trying to tell us something?

Did you see the movie, “2012”? I didn’t...frankly I wasn’t sure it was going to be all that good. However the written teaser caught my attention, “Never before has a date in history been so significant to so many cultures, so many religions, scientists and governments. '2012' is an epic adventure about a global cataclysm that brings an end to the world...”

Is everything going to end in 2012? Well, I got to thinking about Jesus’ words, “Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming.” (Matthew 24:7-8) Quite possibly, this is it! Shoot, there’s more fighting, more famines, more freaky happenings than EVER before!

Join me this weekend at The Crossing where we will discuss the question, “Is this the END of the world?” I would very definitely encourage you to bring someone with you.

Do not miss this weekend!

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What an amazing six weeks it has been at The Crossing as we have considered how HOPE Lives through us, the church. As a church body we were able to ensure that 840 children can eat this next year, and another 70 children were sponsored, bringing our overall total to over 600, changing their lives and their families lives forever. We were able to identify to some degree with the challenges a majority of the world live with when it comes to food and living conditions as we engaged in the 5 Day Challenge and went through the experiences in the plaza.

God was stirring, The Spirit was convicting and people were responding and reacting as we looked at how Jesus came “to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Thanks for how so many of you engaged in this series, we still have a long way to go as a church but it is an honor and privilege for us to be part of what God is doing in our community and world. My hope and prayer is that hope will indeed continue to live through us each and every day as we process the opportunities God places before us.

Speaking of opportunities to let Hope Live, just around the corner is EASTER, the weekend that represents the hope we have in Jesus. Jesus paid for our sins, conquered the grave and gives us the hope of eternal life! Let’s be a part of letting hope live through us this season by not only attending one of the Easter services but participating in bringing that message of hope to others by:

#1 – Inviting some friends, family, neighbors or work associates. For a virtual invite to send a friend, click here.
#2 - Serving at one of the Easter services so all our guests are well taken care of as they come. For more information on serving at Easter, click here.

There are so many people in our area in need of hope. Let’s reach for them serve them and allow God’s message of love and hope to flow!!!

In His Strength,
Ian Stevenson
Pastor of GO
The Crossing

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sometimes things don't make sense

Just chilling in Newark airport. Got here at 4 a.m., I think that's like 2:30 in the afternoon on Wednesday my body time. What's really goofy to process is...I got up at 2 a.m. on Wednesday here in New Jersey, which is like 11 p.m. on Tuesday in So. Cal. Are you confused? I am :-)

Sometimes things just don't make a lot of sense. For example, I just left the "poorest" country in the world and now I'm in what maybe the "richest" country in the world, the United States of America. It was just ONE week ago where I saw some of the worst kinds of poverty one can experience as I walked trhough one of the largest slums in India.

I'm typing this next to an active coffee bar, restaurant in the terminal. The aromas are overwhelming, freshly baked goods and the incredible smell of brewed coffee are such a positive assault on the senses. And to think a week ago, I had such a strong urge to VOMIT because of the stench of raw sewage and fecal matter running through the narrow streets of the slum. A smell that men and women, boys and girls, breathe in EVERY single day. Sometimes things just don't make sense!

I met the strongest, brightest, enthusiastic young leaders that India has to offer, no not in some technology company, but in a Compassion International Child Development Center. Leaders who grew up in the slum and instead of running as far as humanly possible from what seemed to me as misery and hopelessness, they've stayed! They work! They minister with such exuberance and joy!

It sure must make my occasional sniveling and whining over my job difficulties or life's curve balls look painfully pitiful to my God. Sometimes things just don't make sense!

I'm still processing all that I encountere. I'll do my best to unpack some of it in the days ahead. Please check back. Thanks for praying for Ian and me, it means a ton! This trip will make me a better pastor, a better leader and better person.

DO NOT miss this weekend, I REALLY look forward to closing out the series, Hope Lives,

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

P.S. Don't forget about the Time Change this coming weekend, the clocks get set forward (Spring Forward).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Blind Date...experience

I've been married for 30 amazing years, but then again, I'm an AMAZING guy (more like Sue is near sainthood). So I've been off the dating circuit for quite some time. However, as a pastor I have heard stories through the years of numerous folks as they've express their blind date experiences, some good and some horrible.

Just the words, "blind date", conjures up all kinds of emotions, apprehensions and "what ifs". What if they don't like me? What if I don't like them? What if I say the wrong thing? What if we disagree on some key life issues? What if my vision for living is different from theirs? What if they don't call again for another date?

You can easily sabotage any semblance of a potential relationship just by fretting, stewing and spewing, about the what ifs of this hopeful relationship.

As I flew to India roughly 10 days ago, many "what ifs" raced through my mind. You see, we were coming here to meet our prearranged Indian church "partner". This "marriage" was arranged through Compassion International as the result of a pilot program that The Crossing has been selected to be a participant.

After a 2 hour flight to Bagdogra Airport (smack between Nepal and Bangladesh), then driving 4 hours south to Katihar, we met and then spent time with our church partner on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. What a FANTASTIC time we had!

The Senior Pastor has been at this church for over 40 years. He's led a substantive and extensive ministry in the Katihar region of the state of Bihar, India. He's a humble man of prayer with a huge heart for his community. They partner significantly with Compassion International in leading a Child Development Center by the name of Bethel Church Association Child Development Center (In fact, you can sponsor children this weekend from this partnership).

This Child Development Center has led to increased respect and impact with the people in the various tribal villages of this particular slice of the State of Bihar.

I AM STOKED as to what God has in store for this new developing relationship. Together our church, The Crossing, and Pastor Samuel and the Bethel Church Association have the opportunity to see increased impact in the lives of families and children.

I, for one, look forward to the days ahead where many from our church will go to India and meet our friends there. Your life will be changed just as mine has!

Thanks for praying, thanks for reading,

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

P.S. By the time, you read this I might have actually begun the flight across the Atlantic Ocean to the good ole, US of A. Make sure you're at The Crossing this weekend, I'll be sharing more about this trip. Don't forget, if you're coming on Sunday, this is TIME CHANGE weekend (Spring Forward).

Monday, March 8, 2010

Heading Home

As you read this...Ian Stevenson and I will be packing our bags preparing to hop on a plane (1 of 4) Tuesday morning. We're heading home.

Just the concept, "heading home," is a great thought...can't wait to see my hot (it's okay for me to say, of course she's blushing right about now) babe of a wife in Sue! Yessssss!

And then to get caught up with my young adult kids' happenings over the past 12 days is going to be awesome. I can't wait to reconnect with the greatest staff and church in the world. For so many different reasons, it will be better than nice to be home.

Home to me is a good thing, but I can't help but think about the many men, women and children, who have allowed me the extreme privilege to be a part of their world over these past few days.

What do they think of when they think of home?

What does the double orphan, a child whose lost both mom and dad, what is home to them? What about the day laborer who seeks and searches again for another 40 cents to $1 a day employment, only to be turned away yet again, what do they say to their family when they return home at the end of a day?

What about the mom who has no training on caring for infant and no food in her home to nourish her child? What about young girls 12, 13, 14 and up, sold out of their home into an ever expanding sex trade market? What about a preschooler or elementary child who steps out their home into raw sewage? What I think I stop right there...

I know God's Word says for those in relationship with Him, this is NOT our home, but can those in the above paragraph really drink that in and hear such amazing news as this. And why would they want to, when "home" isn't anywhere they'd want to be.

Yet as seemingly dire and difficult life can be for many I encountered, I saw first hand PHENOMENAL people, men, women, children, pastors and parishioners, project managers, partnership facilitators and community intervention specialists who ARE rebuilding "homes" for people. No, not necessary in the physical sense of four walls and door, but these folks are rebuilding (The family in the photo is just one example among many I met) lives .

They ARE doing amazing work, but they don't even see it as work (Unfortunately, I might). They're providing a new and a very real concept of home. Sure the need is overwhelming, but these Godly, faith-filled, compassionate people are seeing it happen one life at a time.

Thanks for praying, thanks for reading,

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

P.S. Make sure you make plans to be at The Crossing this weekend, I will be sharing thoughts and insights about my trip to India and more (Remember this coming weekend, clocks get changed, SPRING FORWARD)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

How people drive in Katihar, India, VERY interesting!

Driving is an art form in cities in India; A LOT of HONKING and near misses, definite adrenaline rush!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

One of My Top Twenty Best Days

Well, I had one of my top twenty best days today and it started with a Compassion International Child Development Center welcoming us with a group of 256 kids , complete with our names on a sign that said welcome in English! Next there were home visits in communities that have never seen a white person...where you could definitely picture Jesus walking into the scene of tribal peoples.

It was surreal at times what I got to experience this Saturday, the 6th of March in Katihar, India. From a morning driving getting on a scooter that belonged to a totally secular young boy, to having THE most delightful and meaningful time in the home of Pastor Samuel.

I wish you could have seen the eyes I looked into, prayed for the people I prayed for and listened and watched children present with HUGE HEARTS open to me, a total stranger.

The people I was surrounded by today, by our standards are poor in things, but RICH in made me ponder...we in the OC, who most often are rich in things, but poor in Spirit.

I decided today, it's way better to be rich in Spirit!

Thanks for praying,

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Day I'll NEVER Forget, A Day of Extremes

Speechless, stunned, shocked, horrified, difficult, overwhelmed, repulsive, emotional...all descriptor words of what I witnessed, touched, smelled, and heard, this day, in one of the largest slums of India.

Yet, today was also a day of dancing, welcoming, smiling, playing, eating, giving, laughing, enjoying, transforming...all in one of the largest slums of India. (Make sure you read to the end)

It was a day, I'll never forget! It was a day of God given extremes. I saw poverty, but I also witness God instilled potential. This day was more than mere compassionate tourism, it was observing magnificent life giving transformation...transformation of marriages, transformation of families, transformation of a children and transformation of communities.

There are 30 people here from the US. While not being the novice traveler of the group, I can't call myself seasoned. There are some here who have been to 13, 14, or 15 countries. On site at these various locations, they've witnessed unspeakable personal and communal difficulties as the result of poverty. Yet, to a person this day, even those most experienced, found themselves repeating over and over again the words found in the first paragraph. They even went so far as to say, "I've NEVER seen anything quite like it."

While I hope to post this case photos don't tell the real story. It's like seeing in 2D, when reality is 3D.

Having said all this, you MUST know, I saw a church in this slum that IS making a holistic difference. I saw sponsored children and their moms, children and moms from this very bleak Indian slum...the children attend a Compassion International development project held on the campus of this church, these kids embody the words in the second paragraph of this blog.

Some one once asked, "How do you change a community?" Another person responded back with, "You do it...ONE LIFE at a time!" Well, today, I saw firsthand 299 lives. Kids whose circumstances might be dire by anyone's standards, but their eyes, their faces, their bodies said, "Through the power of Jesus Christ, my world's changed and I will change my world..."

Was it hard to see what I saw? I'd be lying if I said, no. But instead of seeing what is, I'm joining with these kids, their teachers and their leaders, I'm going to look at what CAN BE!

Thanks for reading...thanks for following this trip...most of all thanks for praying,

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tim interviews the East India director for Compassion International

In this interview he shares his heart for the important of partnership with the church in East India and he invites you to come to India one day.

Ian and Tim laying out the schedule for their time in India

Going to the set of Slumdog Millionaire

As I float 37,000 ft above the earth some where over Turkey, my mind races wondering what does God have in store for me in India. These are the longest flights I’ve ever been on...21 hours of plane time, 5 hours of layover time...literally going halfway around the world. Before I left, everyone said, “It’s not that bad, they have those seat-back movie on demand deals, you can watch movie after movie after movie. The time will fly (no pun intended), right?”

Well, they don’t have the seat-back deals, just two old school 747s, where you have a stuck in ceiling, smallish screen monitor apparatus. So I haven’t been watching any movies. Tried to listen to a book on my iPod, did okay for a while, until unknowingly I fell asleep. Now I don’t know how many chapters of exciting content I missed or where I left off. I guess “audio” books are best left for long car rides, not marathon plane trips.

Oddly though, given the constraints, I’m enjoying the journey. I like to travel, whether by sailboat, Harley, or a jumbo jet. Yet my emotions seem in suspended animation. I’m going to a country that everyone says is “the poorest country in the world". So what will I see? What will I hear? What will I smell? What will I be afraid to touch? I’d be less than honest if I didn’t tell you I have a bit of apprehension for what might be on the other side of each of those questions.

I’m thinking I may not like what I see and may want to look away. Or maybe the aromas will be abhorrent in the slums we visit. As the plane moves, I’ve been thinking, I’m going to land of Mother Theresa, but I’m no Mother Theresa. And even though Slumdog Millionaire was an excellent movie...this ain’t no movie set, this is going to be the REAL DEAL.

So as my mind races and whirls, I know in the anal-retentive controlling universe I live, I can’t control any of what’s in store, but I don’t have to! God’s in control of the next 8 days. Like the old song, “He’s got the whole world in His hands...” and that includes me.

Please check back often...each day I’ll do my best to post content, either pictures or videos allowing you to experience India with me and Ian as we travel. Finally, please pray for us, Ian Stevenson and me, we count on your prayers.

Enthusiastically anxious,

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Check out Tim and Ian's welcome video from Dehli

Why go to India?

View the latest video from Tim and Ian:

Well, as you read this...Lord willing, Ian and I will be on our flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Delhi, India. Why are we even on this trip?

Well, this summer Compassion International (you can find more about them here)announced that they were launching a pilot Church 2 Church (C2C) partnership program, their first ever. So they asked churches who would be interested to sign up. Over a 1,000 churches indicated interest and they selected 37 churches. The Crossing was one of those selected.

We were assigned the region of India, not knowing who our church partner would be. We learned of our C2C partner church in January of this year. Their name is Bethel Church Association. They are located in Katihar, India in the state of Bihar. Remember, India is the poorest country of the world. This church, though in India, is quite similar to our church. They have a BIG heart for those who are outside the walls of the church and those who are the “least” and the “last.” I am excited to meet their Senior Pastor. I am very intrigued to hear from them how they do what it is they do in a society that is quite different from ours. Often times, in their world, people are often HIGHLY militant toward Christians. Remember, Hindu and Muslim are the predominant religions in this region.

I ask you pray for us, not only while we’re in Delhi (from Wednesday – Friday morning,) also pray as we travel to Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri, India which is in North Bengal. You can find it on a map, it’s right between Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. This region is quite antagonistic toward followers of Jesus.

All in all, God has a plan for Ian and myself, but He has a bigger plan for those of us at The Crossing as we seek to learn from our brothers and sisters in India.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Journey of Hope

Watch a video from Tim as he begins his trip to India.