Love Serving

Whenever you are able, do good to people who need help. (Proverbs 3:27)

I’ve found that it is a lot easier to do good to people when I love them. And the more I love them, the more I enjoy helping them. It’s not an imposition or a task. It’s a joy to serve.

Around Calvary Assembly of God, we have a simple statement: We Cedar Springs!

Because we love our city, we are happy to do good whenever and however we can.

Yesterday we pulled on our waders, took a generous supply of trash bags, and even secured a couple of trash grabbers so we could participate in the Cedar Creek Cleanup. We sloshed through the creek, and up and down the banks on each side, and found all sorts of interesting things. When we were done, we were wet and muddy (and probably didn’t smell too great, since creek water is not usually a favorite cologne/perfume scent!), but we were also happy. No one was complaining, because we were excited to serve.

Not only do we Cedar Springs, but—as I may have mentioned a few times before—I My Church! And I that they  to serve our community. We are always on the look out for more opportunities to show the love of Jesus as we do good to others.

If you’d like to see some more pictures from our fun day of service, click here to go to Flickr.

Integrity At Home

I read this verse the other day in my devotions, and it’s really been doing a number on my heart.

…I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. (Psalm 101:2, NLT)

I would hate it if I was considered a hero at work, but considered a zero in my own home.

Here’s what I’m processing:

  • Do I earn the same level of respect at home as I do at the office?
  • Do I put in the same diligence into growing my home life as I do growing my career?
  • Am I as forgiving with my family as with friends and coworkers?
  • Do I have the same level of preparation at home as I do at work?
  • Am I learning the craft of being a husband and father like I’m learning the craft of being a pastor?
  • Do I honor my commitments at home like I do with others?

I don’t want to live as John Bunyan described Talkative in Pilgrim’s Progress: “He was a saint abroad and a devil at home.”

Instead one of my life verses is this: I have no greater joy than knowing my children all walk in the truth (3 John 4).

The only way this will be possible is if I led a life of integrity in my own home.

United Redux

What a fantastic day we had yesterday! All of the churches in Cedar Springs joined together in a united worship service—which was very appropriately named UNITED.

In the book of Acts there is a great word that characterizes the first Church: together.

They all joined together constantly in prayer (1:14)

They were all together in one place (2:1)

All the believers were together and had everything in common (2:44)

Every day they continued to meet together (2:46)

They raised their voices together in prayer to God (4:24)

They gathered the church together and reported all that God had done (14:27)

We came together to break bread (20:7)

I love the fact that the other pastors in the Cedar Springs Ministerial Association want to work together. We realize that it will take our combined efforts to make a significant impact in our community for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Our annual UNITED service is a visible reminder of what’s going on year-round in Cedar Springs. We are together to bring glory to Christ.

Thunder Dog (book review)

I love the fact that my children enjoy reading almost as much as me! Here is a review from our resident pet lover.

[Guest book review by Samantha Owens]

Thunder Dog is the courageous story of Michael Hingson and his guide dog Roselle during their escape from the twin towers on 9/11. This book written by Michael offers his unique perspective of the events of that frightful day. He also explores the challenges and triumphs of growing up blind.

Nonfiction is usually not my first choice when picking a book. But I would recommend this book to anyone! I always felt a part of the story while I read, and often lost track of time. I also enjoyed learning more about the things that blind people learn to do, and the technology that helps them. I loved the fact that Michael’s parents never treated him like he was blind; he was encouraged to try new things and to learn and grow like any other kid.

I also liked how Michael’s love for God and his faith in Him had a major part in this book. Throughout, he prays to God and trusts Him to lead them in the correct path. Michael has such an assurance in God, and I think that made the story so much more powerful.

I would recommend this book to anyone, but not for younger children, due to its challenging words and graphic topic. I think that Michael does a good job not making this book graphic, but you are still very aware of what’s going on. There is no inappropriate content. The only foul language is a comment of “it’s a living hell.” In all, I would read this book again and again, and I hope that you all read it as well.

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

Thursdays With Oswald—The Test

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

The Test

     The test of Christianity is that a man lives better than he preaches. …Christianity does not consist in telling the truth, or walking in a conscientious way, or adhering to principles; Christianity is something other than all that, it is adhering in absolute surrender to a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ.

From Baffled To Fight Better

I say, “I want my walk to match my talk.”

Jesus says, “I want your walk to exceed your talk.”

I say, “I’m not perfect, but I hope I’m good enough.”

Jesus says, “Be perfect, just as My Father in Heaven is perfect.”

I cannot do any of these things on my own. I can only do them by surrendering to my Lord.

Leadership Prayers (book review)

There are few things that will lead someone to prayer more than being placed in a leadership position! To help leaders pray, Richard Kriegbaum offers some powerful prayers in his book (appropriately titled) Leadership Prayers.

One of the best ways to learn how to pray is to stop talking about prayer and simply start praying. This is one of the things I appreciated about this book. You won’t find sections on why leaders should pray, or even how they should prayer. You will simply find prayers.

Each chapter in Leadership Prayers is devoted to a particular leadership challenge. From leading change in the organization, to dealing with a board of directors, to casting vision, to handling disappointment. Each chapter presents a short verse of Scripture, and then dives right into a prayer. Finally, each chapter is concluded with Mr. Kriegbaum’s reflection on how he learned to pray that particular prayer.

Short. Sweet. Practical. Helpful.

I liked this book a lot!

Cedar Creek Cleanup

God told Adam and Eve that they needed to take care of the environment in which He placed them. And that directive is still in place for us today: We are to be caretakers of this amazing planet.

And as Christians, we should be excellent caretakers.

The City of Cedar Springs recently received a grant to help with some waterway cleanup. So I am very excited that a group from Calvary Assembly of God is going to be involved in the Cedar Creek Cleanup project on August 30.

This is another way for us to show our love for our community, and to live out our biblical values. I’m always so appreciative of the way this group wants to jump into any of these community projects. If I haven’t said it lately, let me repeat it loud and clear—

I My Church!

No Toleration

We need to elevate our vocabulary when it comes to God and the things about His nature and His Kingdom.

I was convicted of this a few years ago. I came home from church and was watching an NFL game on a Sunday afternoon, when a receiver made an amazingly acrobatic catch for a touchdown. I jumped off the couch and shouted, “That. Was. Awesome!!

Immediately the Holy Spirit brought something to my mind. “When you were worshiping at church this morning,” He gently reminded me, “didn’t you say how awesome God was? Is He as awesome as that catch?”

Right then and there I decided that I needed to be more careful of my vocabulary. I want to reserve words for God that I used nowhere else. Theologians do it all the time: creating new words to try to capture the majesty, omnipotence, and mind-blowing-vocabulary-defying greatness of Almighty God.

I’m certainly not perfect at this, but I’m working on it.

I was reminded of this again when I read these words from Charles Spurgeon:

“My Master has riches

beyond the count of arithmetic,

the measurement of reason,

the dream of imagination,

or the eloquence of words.

They are unsearchable!

You may look,

and study,

and weigh,

but Jesus is a greater Savior

than you think Him to be

when your thoughts are at the greatest.

My Lord is more ready to pardon

than you to sin,

more able to forgive

than you to transgress.

My Master is more willing to supply your wants

than you are to confess them.

Never tolerate low thoughts of my Lord Jesus.”

Say It With Love (book review)

There is a verse in the Bible that tells us to speak the truth in love. And that’s exactly what Howard Hendricks lives by in Say It With Love: The art and joy of telling the Good News.

For Professor Hendricks, the good news about Jesus Christ is not something that is just shared by a pastor on Sundays, but it’s something all Christians should be sharing all the time. And not just with words either, but with our very lives.

Dr. Hendricks challenges us to know why we are sharing the message of God’s love; to put ourselves in a position to share that message effectively; and then to live that message out in all of the roles of our life. This third section was the most impactful for me. Dr. Hendricks talks persuasively about living the message…

  • …with God
  • …with your mate
  • …with your children
  • …in your church
  • …in your neighborhood
  • …in your daily contacts

This is both a hopeful book and a convicting book. It’s an easy read with lots of Dr. Hendricks’ personal stories sprinkled in as examples. If you want to do a better job communicating the message of the gospel, you should check out this book.

Plant The God Seed

Have you ever been disappointed because you had a dream that died? How do we justify this with the biblical definition of faith which says, “faith is being sure of what we hope for”?

It’s just this:

  • If God takes away a dream, it’s because the dream was too small.
  • God wants us to be more focused on the Dream Giver than we are on the dream.

So sometimes God asks us to let a dream die.

Think of a watermelon seed. It’s not very big, sort of dull in color, and it’s only a single seed. To plant the seed, means you have to take your hands off it: the seed is now out of your sight and out of your control. But it is there—dead in the ground—that a miracle happens!

A single watermelon seed grows 200,000 times its own weight! A colorless seed produces the vibrant greens and pinks of a mature watermelon. And that single seed produces 100+ seeds.

Has God given you a dream? Has He asked you to give up that dream? Then plant that seed! When you do, the results will be more than you can imagine.

“Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of faith is to see what we believe.” —Augustine

These are some of my notes from part 3 of my See The Invisible series at Calvary Assembly of God. I would love to have you join me when we continue this series on September 4.

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