Links & Quotes

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“Is it not said in Scripture, ‘If any man sin, we have an Advocate’? Why is Christ an advocate today? Only because we want an advocate every day. Does He not constantly intercede yonder before the eternal throne? Why does He do that? Because we want daily intercession. And it is because we are constantly sinning that He is constantly an advocate, constantly an intercessor.” —Charles Spurgeon

“The only right a Christian has is the right to give up his rights.” —Oswald Chambers

“Unbelief hinders Christ from working those works which show the glory. It seems a strange saying, and one which we could not have ventured to utter had it not been written down for us by inspired men. That a child’s hand held up against the sun should hinder it from shining; that a weathered leaf thrown into a stream should stay its flowing or dry up its source; that the breath of man, breathed up against the sky, should quench the light of its myriad stars—these things would not really be so marvelous as that man’s unbelief should prevent God’s power from being sent forth, and the Son of God from doing those things which would reveal the glory of the Father. Yet we find the strange truth thus recorded. The evangelist Matthew thus writes, ‘He did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief’ (13:58); and Mark uses still stronger language, ‘He could there do no mighty work, saving that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk and heal them; and He marveled because of their unbelief ‘(6:5, 6).” —Horatius Bonar

A really nice story about our church’s move.

Despite what some people want to teach, here are 24 reasons to believe Hell is a reality.

George Muller was a faith giant. But check out what John Piper writes about him: Muller did not have the gift of faith.

Jon Bloom writes, “If we want to really know what’s going on in the world, we cannot depend on CNN or FoxNews. We will keep our eyes on the global church. She is at the center of history,” in his post entitled America’s one enduring legacy in history.

[VIDEO] Does free speech offend you?

Making Hearts Burn

Living WordThere is an interesting line the angels speak to the ladies who came to anoint Christ’s dead body in the tomb: “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5).

That phrase sums up much of our culture. People are looking for life, but they are looking for it among dead things. Wise King Solomon wrote that God has placed a God-shaped void in the heart of every human being (Ecclesiastes 3:11). But Solomon went on to say that anything “under the sun” that we try to use to fill that God-void will be utterly meaningless.

Peter wrote to aliens and strangers about living such good lives that will point people to God. This means Christians need to help people who are looking for the living among the dead see that real life is in Christ. To do this, we need to be immersed in the Living Word of God.

In the conversations after Christ’s resurrection, look at the references to God’s Living Word:

  • Remember how He told you … Then they remembered His words (Luke 24:6-8)
  • what was said in all the Scripture concerning Himself… (Luke 24:27)
  • …written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms … so they could understand the Scriptures ( Luke 24:44-45)

There is life in God’s Word! When the two disciples of Jesus remembered His Living Word, they said their hearts burned inside them (Luke 24:32).

If you want to help those searching for life to find it, let them hear God’s Living Word coming from your lips. This will make their hearts burn, and lead them to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

We will be continuing our series on Aliens And Strangers this Sunday, and I’d love to have you join me either in-person or on Periscope (search for @craigtowens).

Aliens and Strangers

Aliens and StrangersChristians are not citizens of Planet Earth. Our citizenship is in a place called Heaven, and yet we are traveling on Earth during our present lifetime. So the question is: How is a citizen of Heaven supposed to act while visiting Earth?

The Apostle Peter was one of the most active disciples of Jesus. During Christ’s first visit to Earth, Peter is recorded as speaking more than all of the other disciples combined. And not surprisingly, Jesus speaks more words directly to Peter than He does to all of the other 11 disciples combined. Peter got a lot of training!

With that background, Peter gives us invaluable instructions in his first letter to the church. He calls Christians things like: strangers in the world, chosen people, peculiar people, and aliens and strangers in the world. He tells us travelers not only how to behave while traveling on Earth, but why we should travel in a God-honoring way.

We will be working our way through these fascinating themes of Peter’s instructions for aliens and strangers beginning this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, I would love to have you join us in our new location. If you cannot join us in person, we will be broadcasting each message live on Periscope at 10:30am Sunday (search for @craigtowens), and then we will make the video available later in the week.

I am excited to take this journey of discovery with you!

Links & Quotes

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“The real trouble is that ‘kindness’ is a quality fatally easy to attribute to ourselves on quite inadequate grounds. Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment. Thus a man easily comes to console himself for all his other vices by a conviction that ‘his heart’s in the right place’ and ‘he wouldn’t hurt a fly’, though in fact he has never made the slightest sacrifice for a fellow creature.” —C.S. Lewis

“It is better to have men reproach you for holy living than have God damn us for sinful living.” —Thomas Watson

“Sooner or later, the ones who told you that this isn’t the way it’s done, the ones who found time to sneer, they will find someone else to hassle. Sooner or later, they stop pointing out how much hubris you’ve got, how you’re not entitled to make a new thing, how you will certainly come to regret your choices. Sooner or later, your work speaks for itself. Outlasting the critics feels like it will take a very long time, but you’re more patient than they are.” —Seth Godin

“Over all Scripture the quickening, life-giving fragrance of His name is defused. Christ and life; life in Christ; Christ our life—these form the very essence, the sum and burden, of the Scriptures. ‘These are they that testify of Me.’” —Horatius Bonar

The Cedar Springs Post has a nice article about our church’s exciting move.

Max Lucado writes, “Something tells me that in the whole scheme of things the tender moments with a child are infinitely more valuable than anything I do in front of a computer or a congregation.” Check out his post Tender Moments.

4 reasons why same-sex “marriage” will never measure up to the real thing.

On The Move!

I heart my churchJust about a year ago, I shared a message at Calvary Assembly of God called “The Church On The Move” (you can read a recap of that message here).

In this message I challenged our church that we needed to resemble the ministry of Jesus. Christ’s ministry was (1) mobile, (2) messy, and (3) meaningful. I said that in order for us to fulfill this, we couldn’t be tied to one piece of property that was six miles outside of town.

As the church prayed and sought God’s direction for this, He brought along a perfect buyer for our property on 17 Mile Road—2nd Chance School. It was a true win-win for both us and the school, and we praise God for bringing this all together!

Sunday, August 30, is our first week of being mobile. We will be meeting in Red Hawk Elementary school (you can access a map here) for our Sunday morning service.

This change of venue will allow us to be more accessible for ministry throughout the week, it will put us closer to the city we love, and it will free up finances to be able to go toward front-line ministries.

Please join us on August 30 at 10:30am as we move into our new meeting place. We are excited about the new ministry opportunities that God is going to bring our way!

If you would like to read more, please check out the Calvary Assembly of God press release we sent to the local newspapers.

Are You Irritated? Good!

Pearl oysterPastor Tom Kaastra shared a whole new way of looking at the irritations we sometimes have, by pointing us to an example in nature. God reveals Himself to us in the Bible and through nature. That’s why Francis DeSales said, “God has signed all created things. We can trace His footsteps through the natural world.”

So take a look at the oyster. God designed it with a heart, a mouth, a digestive system, a reproductive system, a nervous system, and all other things that allow it to survive. But He also gave it a way to thrive.

The oyster can be irritated by a foreign invasion. But… God has put within the oyster the power to turn an irritation into a valuable pearl!

It is the same for Christians. The same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us (see Romans 8:11). That power allows us to see that all things are working together for the good of those who love God (see Romans 8:28-29). As Pastor Tom said it, “God wants to Jesus-size us.”

Carl Jung said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” So God designs irritations on purpose to develop a valuable pearl in our lives that will bring Him glory.

Look at Joseph. His brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt (which ranks in my book as a major irritation!). But look how Joseph saw the pearl God developed—

And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not to be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. (Genesis 45:4-8, emphasis added)

So the next time you’re irritated, remind yourself, “Great! God is making a valuable pearl in my life!”

You can watch the video of Pastor Tom’s message below, and be sure to check out his website for other valuable lessons like this one.

What Does God Think About You?

Pastor Josh SchramJosh Schram, our youth pastor, brought an amazing message to us Sunday morning. I have included the link to his full message below, but here are a few of my take-aways from his message.

Often we think about God’s thoughts of us the way we think about ourselves. That means sometimes I think He really loves me, and sometimes I think His love for me has cooled off a bit.

TRUTH: God’s love for me is not conditional on my circumstances or on my status. His love is unconditionalHe couldn’t love me anymore than He already does!

In Luke 15, we see that the religious leaders didn’t like Jesus hanging around “sinners.” Why? Because those “sinners” should be getting the punishment they deserved, not getting Christ’s undivided attention (vv. 1-2).

When Jesus told His first two parables, it seems as if the Pharisees were more concerned about a lost coin or a lost sheep than they were about a lost person (vv. 3-10)! Do I feel that God is more concerned about a lost “thing” than He is about me?

To make the point perfectly clear, Jesus told the story of the lost son (vv. 11-32). The son deserved punishment. He came home covered in pig poop. But the son was STILL the father’s son and he loved his son no less than the day he left home!

The wrong way of thinking—God loves me less because I mess up.

The right way of thinking—God loves me unconditionally just as I am.

Check out this amazing message…


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