ARCHIVES DECEMBER 2017

 


Blog # 39 .  December 29, 2017

 

 

EIGHTH  IN THE CONTINUING SERIES ON GREAT LAYMEN AND CHURCHES I HAVE HAD IN MY PASTORAL JOURNEY THROUGH THE YEARS.

 

Part one about Winter Haven, FL

 

August 15, 1980, began 10 of the most incredible years in Bess's and my pastoral journey. These years were characterized with amazing miracles over and over again. After pastoring some large and fast growing churches, many of my friends were shocked when I accepted the call of the First Nazarene Church in Winter Haven, Florida, with an average attendance of less than 100 and a huge cut in salary. The only way to explain it is the fact that God gave to me one of the strongest mandates He has ever given to me to accept the call of the church.

 

When I had met with the church board in June of 1980 I did everything I could to test their faith. I told them what I would do if I came as their pastor. They were excited, and accepted all I had outlined to them. And then the last big thing I told them I would want to do was to have a “Get Acquainted Extravaganza” soon after my arrival under a tent on the vacant lot the church owned. I told them I would preach and have the Speer Family as singers, and the cost would be at least $5,000 {that was 37 years ago}. It really blew me away when they said in one unified, excited voice, “We will do it!”

 

Prior to our move to Winter Haven, the church had a pre-service prayer meeting every Sunday evening. It was led by a very dedicated layman, Claude Ray, who had a tremendous burden for the church. The main focus of this prayer meeting was for God to send the right pastor to the church. After my interview and meeting with the church board, this prayer meeting centered on Bess and me. Members of the board and prayer group kept the phone lines hot, urging me to accept the call of the church to be their pastor. That is the only time that has ever happened in my ministry. As a result, the Holy Spirit made it clear to me that Winter Haven was God’s will for Bess and me.

 

After our arrival we did have a 3 night, Monday through Wednesday, “Get Acquainted Extravaganza” with the Speer Family the first of December 1980. It was a major “attention getter” to the community. Many new people were attracted to the church. It was during this time that famous gospel singing song evangelist, Gene Braun, became a part of the music ministry. Wally Varner, outstanding southern gospel pianist, who had played for the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, had retired to his home in Winter Haven and started attending the church. We featured the two of them every Sunday as Mr. Gospel Singer and Mr. Piano. It really became a tremendous outreach to many people, and was the dawning of a brand new day for the church.

 

It wasn’t long until the small sanctuary, that would hold no more than 250, was filled and overflowing with people. It was obvious that God was up to something! People started talking about a new building on the vacant lot next to the church, that the church owned, on the corner of Avenue F Southwest and U.S. Highway 17. However, it was not a good time to build, with interest rates at an all-time high, and inflation rampant.

One of the greatest steps of faith I have witnessed in all of my ministry happened when the congregation voted to build. We sold church bonds with interest rates as high as thirteen and a half percent. Vernon Blackburn, Wally’s dad, was used by God to promote the sale of the bonds. Every week just enough bonds had sold for the church to be able to pay the draw the building contractor had submitted. When the final draw was submitted, all of the bonds had just sold for the church to be able to pay the contractor in full. It was a fact, all the congregation new they had just witnessed another miracle! On September 12, 1982, we moved into a beautiful 800 seat worship center filled with people. We had a 10 week grand opening celebration of the new worship center, featuring some of the biggest names in gospel music, including Norma Zimmer, the Hawaiians, the original Talleys and several more. A growth explosion happened until the 2nd worship center was filled and overflowing into the large glass-walled lobby. Now what will we do? I will continue this amazing miracle journey next week, featuring 3 great laymen.  

 

Have a great 2018. I still believe the best is yet to come!

 

Charles Kirby







Blog # 38   December 22, 2017

SPECIAL NOTE: I am departing from my series on great laymen in the churches I have pastored in honor of Christmas 2017

WHY DO WE CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS?

Christmas is the day when the world looks to the birth of Jesus. We celebrate Christmas by remembering the past of His coming into our world. Here is the big question before us once again: Why did His coming make this Baby different from all the rest? For what kind of people did Christ come? I can give you three answers to that question.

1. Christ Came For The LOWLY PEOPLE. He came for those who may live by this world’s standard...the oppressed, the despised, the rejected. He came to elevate everyone to a higher level of living. He came as a suffering servant for all mankind. He did not identify Himself with the religious or social crowd of His day, but with the common people. To the lowly, Jesus came to be their friend.

2. Christ Came For The LONELY PEOPLE.  Who are the lonely people? The answer is easy. I have witnessed the condition of these people through the years, and have noticed those that refuse to include Christ in their daily affairs are lonely people. Christ came to be “Emmanuel, God With Us” as Matthew 1:23 announces. What an event! God with us in human form to understand the human element in all of us! He is the only one that can fill the void, emptiness, despair and loneliness in all of us.

3. Christ Came For The LOST PEOPLE. He came to give direction and purpose to everyone. When the angel was announcing His birth to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, He said, “He will save His people from their sin.” He will always and forever be the only hope for the spiritually lost! This baby Jesus with His very first breath began His walk to the cross. On His way, He touched the hearts of the lowly, the lonely and the lost. To the lost, Jesus came to be our Savior.

Let the celebration begin...It is Christmas time 2017!

Charles Kirby

COMING NEXT FRIDAY... 10 of the most incredible years in my pastoral journey!


 

Charles Kirby

 





Blog # 37 . December 15, 2017

SEVENTH  IN THE CONTINUING SERIES ON GREAT LAYMEN AND CHURCHES I HAVE HAD IN MY PASTORAL JOURNEY THROUGH THE YEARS.

 

This is part 2 of the Bresee Avenue story

 

My challenge in leaving the wonderful and dynamic Lubbock, Texas First Nazarene was to help resurrect the historic and declining Pasadena, California Bresee Avenue Church. The District Superintendent of the Los Angeles District, Dr. Paul Benefiel, pleaded with me to accept the call to be the pastor. I remember him saying to me several times as I was wrestling with the call, “Charles, your type of preaching and evangelistic outreach is exactly what Bresee Avenue needs.” He became my great supporter, encourager and wonderful friend. I can still see him my first Sunday morning at Bresee, standing at the church altars, flooded with people responding to the invitation, with tears flowing from his eyes, rejoicing over the tremendous sight! As I write these lines, remembering that glorious morning, tears are now flowing from my eyes! By the way, those church altars, years before, had been removed and stored in the church basement. When I asked the church maintenance man to bring them up for my first service and put them back in their place, he was shocked, and asked, “Are you sure?”

 

The great majority of the people had been longing and praying for a mighty visitation of God’s Holy Spirit to move upon the church once again. I will never forget that incredible service, and the beginning of my ministry at Bresee. Without a doubt, it was one of the greatest services in all of my 56 years as a pastor. There were 35 retired pastors, missionaries and college professors as members of the church. All of them, but one, were rejoicing and praising God. They had prayed earnestly for a new day to come to Bresee.

Two associate pastors Bill Abbott, music and worship, and Tony Sorenson, minister of youth, along with their families, had moved with my family from Lubbock. All of us had prayed and believed for a new day to come to Bresee, and we were on our way! I sought the counsel of Dr. Corlett, retired president of Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City. He knew that church very well. He advised me to use the theme, “It Is A New Day At Bresee!” He said, “Make signs, and put them everywhere throughout the building.” We did, and can you believe some did not like it? By now you are beginning to see a battle with Satan was raging, and he never stopped.

 

Two Great laymen, TROY POTTER and RALPH DAVIS, were my strong supporters, encouragers and inspiration.Troy was a great Sunday School superintendent. Ralph was the director of advertising and information. We spent a lot of time together dreaming and planning. Their positive and challenging words of wisdom to me continued to be a tremendous blessing. I remember when the worship attendance leaped to over 800 for the first time in years, and the excitement those two men demonstrated to the congregation. It really was a happy day!

 

When my ministry was coming to an end, Dr. Louise Chapman, retired Nazarene World Missions Director and widow of Nazarene General Superintendent, Dr. J.B. Chapman, was one of my great supporters. She pleaded with me not to leave. I remember her words to this day. “Pastor, your ministry is exactly what Bresee Avenue needs. What is going to happen if you leave?” She was one of the greatest saints I have ever known! I can still see her sitting on the end of the second row to my left rejoicing, worshipping and encouraging me.

 

My mind is racing and rejoicing with precious memories now flooding my soul!

Charles Kirby






 

BLOG #  36: DECEMBER 8, 2017

 

SIXTH IN THE CONTINUING SERIES ON GREAT LAYMEN AND CHURCHES I HAVE HAD IN MY PASTORAL JOURNEY THROUGH THE YEARS.

 

Bresee Avenue Nazarene Church in Pasadena, California, is a  historic Nazarene Church. It was named after the founder of the Church of the Nazarene, Phineas F. Bresee. Several famous Nazarene pastors have filled the prestigious pulpit through the years. During the “glory days” of this church, Dr. D.I. Vanderpool was the pastor. Reading the history of the church, I discovered that the big sanctuary was packed most of the time with people standing listening to the anointed preaching of Dr. Vanderpool. Some people that attended back then told me it was a tremendous thing to attend those services, as God’s glory came upon the great crowds again and again, as people sought God at the long altars. I took great joy and pleasure in hearing about Dr. Vanderpool’s ministry, because he was the General Superintendent that ordained Bess and me in Little Rock First Church in 1963.

For years Bresee Avenue was the college church for Pasadena Nazarene College, located across Washington Blvd. from the church before it was relocated to San Diego and named Point Loma Nazarene University. The imposing church facility sits on the corner of busy Washington Blvd. and Bresee Avenue. The building has a large sanctuary that seats over 1,500, a beautiful chapel that seats over 250, an office complex with a fellowship hall area and two floors of educational space. While I was the senior pastor, 2 million people could be at the church in 20 minutes. This massive harvest field was a tremendous challenge for me, and I continually tried to motivate the people to reach the golden harvest!

The third house behind the church was the former home of Nazarene evangelist Uncle Buddy Robinson, recognized as the most sought after not only by Nazarenes, but by other denominations in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He led thousands to Christ, traveling over 2 million miles preaching the Gospel of his Lord. While I never heard him preach, I have been inspired by his writings and recordings. When my load got almost too heavy to carry, I would walk to Uncle Buddy's house, and standing by myself on the sidewalk in front of his house, I would ask Uncle Buddy’s God to let the spirit of Uncle Buddy, and the Holy Spirit that lived in him, to fall fresh on me. To this day, I cherish those incredible moments! (Click HERE for a biography of Uncle Buddy.)

I will continue this blog next week, telling you about my challenge to leave the great Lubbock, Texas First Nazarene, and 2 outstanding laymen, TROY POTTER and RALPH DAVIS.

It is an inspiring fact as I look back, God has led me all the way!

Be sure to keep Christ in your Christmas!
 

Charles Kirby







BLOG #  35: DECEMBER 1, 2017
 

FIFTH IN THE CONTINUING SERIES ON GREAT LAYMEN I HAVE HAD IN MY PASTORAL JOURNEY THROUGH THE YEARS.

 

In September of 1970 God moved Bess and me to Virginia Beach, Virginia, to become pastor of Tidewater Central Church. I wrote about the ministry here in my first blog in this series of outstanding laymen in the churches we have served. While we were here I was a featured pastor at the 1972 Nazarene General Assembly in Miami Beach and led a packed workshop on outreach ministry. As a result of this denominational-wide exposure, I became a featured speaker in conferences across America and Canada.

In February of 1974 my family, joined by my staff, the Wayne Byrums and Ernie Lewis's, made the long move from Virginia Beach to Lubbock, Texas,  to become the pastor and staff of the historic Lubbock First Nazarene Church. We made the long journey at the height of the gasoline crises, but we made it.

Lubbock First had been the strongest Nazarene church in the state of Texas for years, but had been on the decline. The people were ready for us when we arrived, and let us know how excited they were to have us there. They had bought my staff two brand new homes in a new development, and my family moved into a large beautiful parsonage. We were ready to lead the church to a new day of exciting growth, and it started happening fast!

Some of the strongest and dedicated laymen I have known were members of the church. I am thinking of the Don Paxtons, the Roy Walls, the Wendel Gaileys, the Dean Newsomes, the Vaughn Bates, the John Hawkins and many more. The church soon increased by 100 in average attendance, and then by 200, and then on to 300, breaking all attendance records.

One of my dreams was for a family life center to attract youth and young adults. I challenged VAUGHN BATES to leave a legacy  and to help me make it happen. He responded in ways that amazed me and all the congregation! He became the supervisor of the building construction, and paid for the total cost that left no debt. The building included a full-size gymnasium with dressing rooms, and a large beautiful parlor with a kitchen. It became a great center of activity.

The church had a great location on Avenue Q {U.S. Highway 84}. It had an outstanding name with the city and with Texas Tech University that often used me for various events. Our television ministry of the Hour of Triumph, the telecast of the morning worship, covered the high plains area of the West Texas area and eastern New Mexico. It was a joy and delight to be the pastor of this wonderful church! The congregation loved us and expressed it continually. As a matter of fact, Bess and I had firmly planted our feet with plans for a long-time pastorate, not accepting any calls from other churches, but then we were faced with a most difficult decision concerning a major challenge, unlike all others I had faced. California was calling. What should we do?

It is a fact. God has led us all the way!

Charles Kirby


BLOG 39  for Dec. 29, 2017

    
Out with the old; in with the new!  2018 is upon us.  When it gets here, it will be open 24 hours a day for 365 days.  There’s a lot of opportunity available for us in this open door.  What will you (I) do with your (my) open door?

       Beginning again...starting over...has been a great blessing for me through the years.  I’ve done it numerous times., even when writing my blogs.  It’s interesting to me that God has provided many chances for us to start over.  Take, for instance, day and night.  Night is the death of each day.  And then the morning comes, a brand new day, a chance to start over, to begin again.  There is something so rewarding and redemptive about getting a 2nd chance.

    So here we are on the verge of year 2018.  It will be another 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, or you name it, chance for each of us; our chance to make spiritual, positive, corrective, inspiring, healthful changes.  Wow, what an opportunity awaits each of us!

     May I challenge each of us to walk through God’s open door. Jesus said in John 10:9, “I am the door”.  And, Paul said in 2 Cor. 2:12, “...a door was opened to me by the Lord”.  Here are some suggestions that might jog your memory about a change you need to make and help you take advantage of this present opportunity that presents itself to you.

  1. Quit being negative; be positive.

  2. Quit drinking alcoholic beverages; choose other “good for you” drinks.

  3. Stop smoking; save the money; consider your health.

  4. Lose that extra weight you’ve gained for your health’s sake.

  5. Begin exercising; start walking.

  6. Get a job; quit laying around; be industrious.

  7. Mend that broken relationship.

  8. Get help for your addictions.

  9. Get out of abusive relationships; get counseling if needed.

  10. Choose Christ; call upon Him; repent, believe, receive His salvation.

  11. Pray more; start going to church.

  12. Love your family; pray, provide and play with them.

     You may have been going the wrong way; 2018 is your chance to “Turn around, God is calling.  He’s calling you from a life of wasted years.”  God is providing us with a 2nd chance every new morning.  Make the days count.  Watch out for your Open Door.

    Happy New year to all, as each of us begins again, walking through our open door.   

                        Bess







Blog # 38   December 22, 2017 
 

 

“I wish I had another life to give to this Savior of the world.”

 

The Guardians, an outstanding trio, on their “Lift Him Up” CD, sing a song, written by their lead singer, John Darin Rowsey, I think. The song touches me every time I hear it; and, it moves me heavenward. Here are the lyrics.

 

    (1)“What did I ever do that You would lift my load of care?

    What could I ever say to make You hear my earnest prayer?

    There’s at least a million things I’d say about the way I’ve lived.

    I wish I had another life to give.

    (2)You can brag on nothing good I’ve done,

    When all I did was wrong.

    You picked up broken melodies,

    And turned them into song.

    And tho’ I can’t repay Your Grace

    For all the things You’ve been;

    I wish I had another life to give.

Chorus: If I had another life to give,
a chance to show how much your love has meant;
I’d make Your will my heart’s endeavor,
a work of love that lasts forever
...if I had another life to give.

    (3)So Lord, I give my hope to You, my victories and defeats;

    And every trophy that I’ve won, I’d lay them at Your feet;

    For I could never pay the debt I owe for sin.

    I wish I had another life to give.

Repeat chorus.

    I listen to these lyrics sung; I speak the lyrics; I read the lyrics; I sing  them and I share them today as my testimony of how much I love Jesus, God’s Son, born in Bethlehem, crucified and died at Calvary, buried in a borrowed tomb; and, that same Jesus rose triumphantly on the 3rd day, bringing redemption to a fallen race...that includes me. He is now seated at the Father’s right hand, making intercession for us.  He has made a difference in my life. May I present to you, Jesus, the One and only? Oh come, let us adore Him.    
 

 Bess





Blog # 37   December 15, 2017

DECORATING and CELEBRATING / GETTING READY FOR CHRISTMAS

Is your home beginning to look like something special is about to happen??? I wonder what’s happening in your “barn”?  Is your mantle decorated? Stockings hung?  Table set? What about decorations over your doors; hung in your windows; on top of your china cabinet; Christmas pillows on your sofa; table centerpiece; front door entry; Christmas tree up?

Have you finished addressing and mailing your Christmas cards? Are the gifts all wrapped? Is the baking all done? Are the halls all decked with boughs of holly? Are you ready for the greatest celebration of them all?

The 2nd verse of Andrew Culverwell’s song speaks of celebration.

“Celebrations come because of something good; celebrations we love to recall. Mary had a baby boy in Bethlehem - the greatest celebration of them all.”

Yes, what a blessing to remember and celebrate that “something good”; that “something life-changing”; that moment that Jesus, the Light of the world, was born. Micah 5:2 says,

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

That Baby born in a manger became our redemption.  He had a Divine  purpose.  His birth was the beginning of His earthly purpose, a path to Calvary.  Thank you Jesus.  Gloria and Bill Gaither said it beautifully in one of their many songs; and, I want to quote some of their words as my testimony so the world will know where I stand, what I believe..

“My faith still holds on to the Christ of Calvary... Now years have passed since in my youth, I weathered storms of doubt in search of truth; sweet Jesus calmed the tempest of my soul’s unrest - praise God! The Calvary road has stood the test.  My faith still holds on to the Christ of Calvary. O blessed Rock of Ages cleft for me.  I gladly place my trust in things I cannot see.  My faith still holds on to the Christ of Calvary”.

So, let the celebration begin!  “Come on, deck the halls; ring the bells; set the table; get ready for the celebration of a KING!

                                                                            Bess







BLOG # 36:  DECEMBER 8, 2017

 

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

I don’t know about you, but I love Christmas lights.  I enjoy them on store fronts, in Christmas trees, the candle glow in windows of homes, and God’s lights in the heavens...star light, star bright...shine on harvest moon...the sun will come up in the morning…  Well, what do you know; it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!

God had a lot to say about lights.  Remember Gen. 1:3, “Let there be light” and there was light.  Jesus said in John’s Gospel 8:12, “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me, shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  We are admonished in scripture to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven." (Matt. 5:16), “Walk as children of the Light” (Eph. 5:8), and there are many more.

WOW! What a reason to light the Christmas tree.  WOW! What a reason to celebrate Jesus’ birth.  WOW! What a reason to rejoice and sing.  Philip Bliss wrote the words and music of this familiar song.     “The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin; the Light of the world is Jesus. Like sunshine at noonday His glory shone in, the Light of the world is Jesus. Come to the Light; ‘tis shining for thee. Sweetly the Light has dawned upon me. Once I was blind, but now I can see. The Light of the world is Jesus".

The lights of Christmas wake us up to the realization that the Baby born in Bethlehem of Judea over 2000 years ago at Christmas time is the True Light of the World. So, “come on, ring those bells; light the Christmas tree. Jesus is the King, born for you and me. Come on, ring those bells; everybody say, Jesus, we remember this your birthday.” ( Andrew Culverwell)

          Celebrating His birthday with great joy,

BESS





BLOG #  35:  DECEMBER 1, 2017

Part 2

I remember Charles saying many times in our life journey that when he left the office for the day or landed at the airport after a trip away, when he turned his car toward home, it was a wonderful feeling. His heart was with the family he loved whatever house they lived in and in whatever city. Home is more than a house or a city. It’s a state of mind. 

The season is ripe for remembering this special song, “I’ll be home for Christmas."  Home, that place where our vehicle goes when day is done; when the challenges are passed and the family gathers and their hearts leap for joy!   

I left off last week in Pasadena, California. We went there with so much excitement.  We enjoyed many Dodger games. Had a great church and parsonage; and, met many wonderful people. Among them was one Linda Niblock, who has now moved to Lakeland, FL.  Who would’ve thought it???

Then the journey of our hearts took us to Little Rock again where we founded Little Rock Christian School.  Micki attended there. Charles was Principal and I, Assistant Principal for a time. The Niblock's from Pasadena, moved there for awhile to help in the school and on staff. Chuck finished High School there. The people at the church were just wonderful.  The parsonage was beautiful.
From Little Rock area, our hearts journeyed to Florida...Winter Haven. We moved into the parsonage, enrolled Micki in High School and went off to Trevecca Nazarene University while Chuck enrolled in Bethany Nazarene College. Bought Micki a dog and eventually bought a lovely home with a swimming pool.  Our ministry and time there was wonderful.  The people were great; the church grew; properties bought and buildings erected.  Micki and Bob got married there. I started an Inspiration Shop in an area inside the Church. I taught for a short while at WHHS and Auburndale HS. There’s too much to tell; just know, that our hearts were there.
Indianapolis, IN, called. By this time, Chuck and Micki were both married and not at home.  We moved.  Back then, Pastor Jon helped lots of ministers in their move, and, he helped us.  (It’s a small world after all.)  Our home was two story; in a lovely suburban area of New Palestine.  I sang in the choir, co-taught a Sunday School class and while there, Charles and I, along with a church couple, boarded a train and went to Chicago for a day of sightseeing and shopping and having fun in the Christmas Season.  After we got home, Charles fell and broke his right knee.  And for Christmas, we were meeting our children at Stone Mountain, GA. Yes, we still went.  And we took turns pushing Charles in a wheelchair. Certainly our heart was at home in Indy.
Our hearts took us to Melbourne, FL.  We rented for awhile and even stored some of our furniture in Carol and Dale Wilson’s garage.  Eventually we bought a home in Malabar, which we loved. Bob and Micki moved from the Washington D.C. area to Melbourne. During our pastorate there, Kyle, Cody and Michael were born.  Chase came along soon after we had moved to Lakeland.   We had a great congregation...lots of good people.  Micki and I had the honor and privilege of playing in patriotic piano concerts, along with 6,7,or 8 other pianists.  I bought Charles his first golf course membership while there for Christmas.  Wow, what joy.  Our hearts were at home there.
And our heart journey took us to Lakeland, the final pastorate. We’ve lived in two homes, one on the north side; and, one on the southside. Both have been special. The Parliament Place home was beautiful.  For a period of time there were cows in a pasture behind it; and, we loved going out and seeing the cows.  In fact, I even named them.  The Creekwood condo on the southside has been and still is great. No yard work. Plenty of room. Golf course in the back; on the 18th tee. Canal on the side.  Enjoy the neighbors and the security. It takes 30 minutes to drive to Lake Gibson Church; but, like Charles always said, “The difference is worth any distance.”  Home is more than the dwelling; it is family, love, friends, achievements, revivals, and concerts.  It’s even more.  It’s loving and serving Jesus. We’ve encountered all of these at Lakeland.  At one time, Bob and Micki were on staff with us.  The church was enlarged to accommodate 400 additional people. Saturday Nights and Sunday Nights in Lakeland were established.  Church attendance grew.  What a wonderful church! What a wonderful city! What a wonderful Home!  All climaxing 56 years in pastoral ministry and 57 years of marriage. And in retirement, it continues to be home for 6 months in the winter; while, the Smoky Mountain country community of Cosby, TN, is home for 6 months in Spring, Summer, and Fall.  God has been good.
Our heart has followed us all the 56 years, making us feel at home. “Feeling at home in the presence of Jesus….just feeling at home, feeling at home.”  I leave you now, “thinking ‘bout home.” 

 Bess