Blog

Town Center Church publishes a bi-weekly newsletter that provides important information and updates to the congregation. Beyond those informational updates are thoughts and testimonials from our Town Center Church Childcare Director, Ivanna Stuart, and our brother in Christ, Kerry Lighty. We hope you will take some time to check back here regularly and read their thoughts and insights into some of our teachings here at Town Center Church. 

Barabbas - The Great Escape? 

Musings from the Pew by Kerry Lighty | Apr. 5, 2024

In our day when someone passes, it is almost customary for some to assume the person is going to heaven. People will make comments of how they are “in a better place.” On their birthday they may wish them a “happy heavenly birthday” and so forth. Yet, the deceased may have never professed a relationship with Jesus or demonstrated any Christ-like qualities.


Have you ever wondered why people tend to believe and say such things? I think it is because people tend to genuinely believe in Heaven. They also seem to think most folks are basically good and will be allowed to get in. Only those who are really, truly evil will be excluded.


You will no doubt recall the story of Barabbas. He stood before a human judge, one who had the power to give him life or death. Being a criminal, Barabbas was set to die for his deeds. However, Pilate, his judge, was persuaded by the pleas of the people to release him. Barabbas was pardoned and “set free” by the court of public opinion. Barabbas must have thought he escaped death that day by his own good merits.


Barabbas likely went on his merry way thinking nothing more of his great escape or the man who took his place on the cross that day. Yet, it was the man who switched with him that could have truly set him free. It is not known if Barabbas ever changed his ways. If he didn’t and when death finally did catch up with him, there certainly was no court of public opinion or human judge to help him escape his eternal punishment.


The Bible is clear there is only one way to heaven and that is through Jesus. Further, it states the road is narrow and few find it. Hoping and wishing that being good enough, quite frankly, is not going to be good enough. There will be no great escape when death comes calling.


Perhaps up to this day, you have never had a relationship with Jesus. Understand this: Jesus went to the cross for Barabbas. That was His plan all along. Jesus loved Barabbas and wanted him to be truly set free. He also went to the cross for you and me. Make no mistake, we are Barabbas in the story.


Today could be the day that changes the course of your life. He loves you too and wants you to be free, to live with Him forever, both here on earth and in heaven. Jesus has been calling your name from the cross to come to Him. If you want to start a relationship with Jesus, please say this prayer now:


“Jesus, I want to begin a new life with You. I’m sorry for the things I have done in my life. Please forgive me. I ask that You come into my heart and begin to transform me into the person you want me to be. In Your Name, Amen.”


“But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”

Mt 7:14 (NLT)

Love One Another...Like Ice Cream? 

Musings from the Pew by Kerry Lighty | Mar. 8, 2024

Everybody loves ice cream, right? Chances are, if you have a pulse, you like ice cream. You may not agree that black cherry vanilla is the best, but then you would just be straight-up wrong like Pastor Doug wearing Crocs on Sunday while preaching wrong. 

 

The Bible commands us to love one another. Is that similar to loving ice cream? Eh, probably not. Ice cream is something that gives you enjoyment. The love for others the Bible speaks of generally refers to serving others. And there is a wide array of ways to serve people.

 

Yet, there is a less obvious way to love others and one that makes people feel special. That is by honoring them. This may not be something that we think about very often.

 

So, what does it mean to honor each other? Should we hold appreciation dinners and bestow fancy awards on the honoree? Perhaps we should hold them in high esteem like black cherry vanilla ice cream? Well, sometimes these actions are appropriate, but there can be other simpler ways to honor people, especially those who don’t prefer the limelight. Below are a few suggestions.  You may think of more as you reflect on the list.

 

  • Write a note of encouragement and thank you.
  • Give someone a voice and hear their thoughts.
  • Allow the car in the next lane space to pull in front of you.
  • Hold the door for a stranger.
  • Call or text a friend to ask how they are doing.
  • Show up and support community projects.
  • Pray for a neighbor or co-worker who is going through a rough patch.
  • Tip your waiters and servers generously.
  • Smile at passersby.

Honoring others is about giving them value and respect. It is saying and acting out, “I see you and you have worth.” It is not about whether they “deserve” it or not. We were all once in a place, and even still have those moments, where we aren’t very deserving of being honored. Yet, God still loved us and continues to love us.

 

As you go about your day, consider how you can honor those who come across your path and those who come into your thoughts. And then do so with gladness.


“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:10 (NLT)

Unity

Musings from the Pew by Kerry Lighty | Feb. 9, 2024

In the picture to the left, you can see four turtles sunbathing. If you look a little closer, you will notice five baby alligators located over their heads and a sixth one in the upper right of the photo. We snapped this picture at the Florida Botanical Gardens on our recent snowbird trip. 

 

What is interesting about this image is that turtles and alligators are considered prey and predator. They are not friendly to each other. Alligators will eat turtles and turtles can be violent towards alligators. This photo tends to suggest that they can get along just fine.

 

While turtles and alligators are both reptiles, they are obviously not the same.  Living in harmony doesn’t mean you need to conform with the way others look or act. In fact, uniformity doesn’t guarantee unity.

 

The key to unlock unity is purpose. People are often united and motivated by single-mindedness. For Jesus followers, that ultimate purpose is to love God and to love others with the knowledge that loving God means to obey His commands.

 

When the people of God are unified in purpose, they can live in peace with each other. Harmony will abound. And it’s a beautiful thing.

 

So, consider the turtle and alligator. They are part of a larger animal family and can be natural enemies. Yet, some of these reptiles choose to be at peace with one another. While being different in appearance and manner, their desire to live in harmony with each other can overcome their natural tendencies.

 

Today, pause and pray for unity. Pray that we may be united in our purpose to love God and to love others more and better. Then thank God for the peace and harmony He has given us as a body of believers.

 

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.  For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.  And always be thankful.”

 

Col 3:15 (NLT)

An Invitation

Musings from the Pew by Kerry Lighty | Jan. 12, 2024

I’m sure you have seen or heard someone ask for prayers for a certain situation. The person requesting may not be particularly spiritual. They may use language like “please send good thoughts” or “good vibes”. I’ll admit that I struggle with this.


When I hear a request like this, I have several thoughts scrambling around my brain, many not good. First, like what is a “good vibe”? How about a smack upside the head? Don’t you realize you need God?


Next, you want prayer? I mean, how can someone who is profaning the name of God in one breath have the audacity to seek His hand in the next? That is just not right…


My basic hangup centers on wanting the goodness of God to be exclusive to His children. Not sure where idea came from, but pretty sure it wasn’t from Jesus. Jesus welcomed such requests. He saw them as opportunities to show His love, power, mercy, and goodness.


All throughout the New Testament are stories of Jesus encountering those in need. Many sought Him out asking for help. I don’t recall one instance where anyone was denied by Jesus. The phrase “He healed them all” is prevalent. It doesn’t say some or many, but all. “All” is inclusive. There were no pre-qualifications. You just had to show up and ask.


Now we don’t know if these folks developed a deeper relationship with Jesus or not. We do know that Jesus cared about them and their situation. And He offered them a glimpse of who He was and who they could become. Jesus understood such encounters could be the beginning of a special bond. The same is true today.


With this mind, the first thing I’m going to do is seek forgiveness for being a modern-day Pharisee. My attitude and thoughts are flat-out wrong. Then, the next time I hear a request for prayer no matter how it is stated, I’m going to view it as an invitation for Jesus to show His love, power, mercy, and goodness to a world that desperately needs Him. Next, I will follow up with a prayer for that person and their concern. Perhaps you will join me. I hope you will. Let’s pray for more.


“When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”


Mk 2:17 (NLT

Just a Shepherd

Musings from the Pew by Kerry Lighty | Dec. 1, 2023

Of all the characters in the story of the birth of Jesus, it is the shepherds who are probably most often overlooked.  They were busy doing their thing- watching the sheep at night when an angel came among them.  The Bible says they were “terrified”.  I don’t know about you, but I have never seen an angel and I’m pretty sure scared out of my mind would be descriptive.  

 

Then the radiance of the Lord’s glory shown around them.  I imagine this meant it was no longer “night” or dark out in the pasture.  Have you thought about that before?  Again, this was certainly something the shepherds had never witnessed before.  Even with the angel reassuring them not to be afraid, I can imagine they were still quite unsure of what was going on or if they could believe their eyes.

 

The angel goes on to tell them of the birth of Jesus and that they can find Him in Bethlehem.  This is proclamation of the Good News and it was for all people.  The shepherds were the first to hear about this wonderful report.

 

But their night of firsts wasn’t over.  The angel was joined by a vast host of other angels.  Called the armies of heaven, these angels were praising God.  After the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds went to Bethlehem…with haste...and no sheep.

 

The shepherds left everything to go see Jesus.  They came to Jesus with nothing to offer.  They sought Him because He was the Savior, the Messiah that the angels had spoken of.  After meeting Jesus, they told everyone they met about the One and the Good News.

 

Why the shepherds?  They had no special talents, skills, or religious training.  They were not rich, famous nor had any social or political sway.  Many considered them as outcasts, and they were looked down on.  But this much is true; God chose them to be part of His Divine plan.

 

Some 2000 years later, the Good News of Jesus has continued to be told by faithful “shepherds”.  Take time today to thank God for His Divine Plan and for the shepherds who are sharing their story of how they encountered Jesus.

 

“After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.” Luke 2:17 (NLT)

Faithful Everyday People

Musings from the Pew by Kerry Lighty | Nov. 3, 2023

The photo to the left is the farmhouse and wellhouse of my paternal grandparents. It was built around 1923 in southwest Kansas not too far from the Cimarron Route of the Sante Fe Trail. The picture is somewhat deceiving in that the tree is the only one present on the entire quarter section of land. The ground is otherwise lacking green vegetation. Nevertheless, my grandparents raised eight children in that house.


That modest structure surely saw the extremes of weather- hot, cold, wind, rain, dust, hail, and drought and yet, it still stands. As seen from the patina of the wood, it withstood the assault and dutifully provided safety and comfort over the years. The home might not look like much, but it was enough. It stands as testament to faithfulness.


I’m certain we all know people who have been faithful in serving the church and others. As the precious faces come to mind, they are likely gray-headed, humble souls. Folks who have been tested by all kinds of trials throughout their lives but have remained faithful to their God. They are walking testimonies, examples of perseverance. They may not look like much, but they are children of the Most High God.


I know I am thankful for the weathered saints. They don’t wear capes or masks, but they are real heroes just the same. Life can be hard, difficult, and downright messy. Choosing to be a Christ follower is challenging and life-giving. Seeing others who have persevered inspires me to do the same.


So today, take time to honor the faithful ones that cross your path. They have been a blessing to many and now they are looking forward to their final reward.



“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”


Jas 1:12 (NIV)