EnGedi Youth Center

EnGedi Poster 2013I am so privileged to work as the director of the EnGedi Youth Center. EnGedi is a Christ-centered after-school program in the Cedar Springs schools.

Each afternoon we provide the students with a healthy snack, and opportunity to get some tutoring or some homework help, and then lots of classes and sports opportunities. The relationships I’ve made this school year with both the students and their parents have been so rewarding!

EnGedi needs your help.

This is a privately funded 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. So EnGedi is dependent upon the contributions of businesses, churches, and individuals to provide our operating funds. On Friday, May 17, you have a chance to help us reach even more students in Cedar Springs by participating in our fundraising auction.

There will be silent auctions, live auctions with auctioneer Art Smith, desserts, and lots of other fun activities.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Donate items that we can auction off
  • Make a cash donation to EnGedi
  • Attend the auction on May 17 and bid on lots of great items

We have a corporate sponsor who will match each dollar spent at our auction up to $10,000. That means for every $1 you spend, EnGedi gets $2. It’s a WIN all the way around.

If you would like to be involved, or if you have any questions, please click here to email me.

The Cleaning Crew

We had a great time helping spiff up Cedar Springs this weekend. For the third year in a row, I believe the group from Calvary Assembly of God was one of the largest (if not the largest) group which came out for the Earth Day cleanup. So we donned our bright yellow shirts, our trash grabbers, and lots and lots of garbage bags and went to work.

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Huge thanks to Betsy, Harrison, Samantha, Brandon, Stanley, Valerie, Judy, Stephanie, Selena, and Sophie for all your hard work!

Seven Men (book review)

Seven MenWhen I read Bonhoeffer, I knew Eric Metaxas was a special author, bringing such a vibrance and fullness to his subject. So I began Seven Men And The Secret Of Their Greatness with high expectations, and I’m happy to tell you that Eric Metaxas exceeded those expectations!

As the title implies, Seven Men is a collection of seven biographies of key men in history. These aren’t biographies covering the entire lives of these great men, but rather a zoomed-in look at a crucial moment in the lives of these men. Eric gives us just enough of an introduction to their early lives to set the stage, and then concentrates his look at the decisions or stands these men took to achieve the title of “great.”

How does one measure greatness? In the case of these seven men, Eric defines greatness as heroic character put to a test where most are tempted to stop short. These seven men stood firm mainly because of their godly character, and their conviction that a stand in their age would mean others in their own age would be able to stand as well.

Even if you’ve read or heard about George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, or Charles Colson, you owe it to yourself to read Seven Men to see why they are considered “great” men.

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

Run To The Pain

Run to the painWe have become a numbed culture: we try to soften every blow, water down each negative report, ask only surface questions in the hopes that no one will really tell us how much they’re hurting, and then medicate away every symptom. But these symptoms are screaming to be noticed!

Dr. Paul Brand the renown hand surgeon and missionary to leprosy patients in India, wrote:

“Pain contributes daily to a normal person’s quality of life…. Every normal person limps occasionally. Sadly, leprosy patients do not limp. Their injured legs never get the rest needed for healing…. This inability to ‘hear’ pain can cause permanent damage because the body’s careful responses to danger will break down. … A body only possesses unity to the degree that it possess pain…. We must develop a lower threshold of pain by listening, truly listening, to those who suffer. … The body protects poorly what it does not feel.” (emphasis added)

The Gospels often talk of the compassion of Jesus. His compassion led Him to teach the confused, feed the hungry, and heal the sick. The phrase usually used in the KJV is descriptive: Jesus was moved with compassion. In other words His feelings moved Him to action.

The Old English way of describing compassion was to say someone was “moved in his bowels.” This is because the suffering of someone else should be like a kick in my gut too.

Jesus gravitated toward the hurting, but in one story He told, Jesus related something different about His Father’s compassion. It’s the story we now call the story of the prodigal son. In this story Jesus said His Father watched the horizons every day to see if His wayward child would return. When He saw this child coming into view, God saw his slumped shoulders, He could detect his heavy heart and worn-out body. Then Jesus says something amazing, “The Father was moved with compassion and He RAN TO HIS SON!

If our Heavenly Father runs TO another’s pain, what right do we have to ever run AWAY from it? 

If we are to be God-honoring in our interaction with others, we need to (as Dr. Brand says) lower our threshold of pain. We need to feel what others feel, to feel it like a kick in our own gut, and then move toward the pain with help and healing and restoration.

Christians—if we are truly Christ-like—should be known as the most compassionate people of anyone. What are you doing to let this be seen in your life?

Don’t Create Spiritual Parasites

MosquitoPastor, here are two quotes for your consideration…

Theology is the science of Christianity; much that is wrongly called theology is mere psychological guess-work, verifiable only from experience. Christian theology is the ordered exposition of revelation certainties. If our teaching and preaching is not based on a recognition of those things that cannot be experienced it will produce parasites, people who depend on being fed by others. —Oswald Chambers (emphasis added)

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. —Acts 17:11 (emphasis added)

As a pastor our job is not to spoon-feed a watered-down message to everyone. Our job is to challenge our congregations to find God for themselves. We should be creating in them a hunger for God’s Word; we should be encouraging them to study the Bible for themselves; we should be preparing them to feed themselves on the richness of Scripture.

Or, we create needy spiritual parasites. It’s our choice…

Thursdays With Oswald—A Glorious Opportunity

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.

Oswald ChambersA Glorious Opportunity

     If you are a saint, you have a glorious opportunity of following the example of Jesus and being strong enough to decline to exercise your rights.

From Bringing Sons Unto Glory

He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant. (Philippians 2:7)

“Do you think I cannot call on My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:53-54)

Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done. (Luke 22:42)

Saints, you have a glorious opportunity to go and live like Jesus.

Caring For Our City

This week we celebrated Earth Day, where I think Christians should be at the forefront in taking care of God’s creation.

It is a shame that so many evangelical Christians not only have little concern for the environment, but are sometimes known as anti-environmental. How can this be when our Creator God has asked us to care for His creation? Not only is our pollution of the earth totally unacceptable, but this is an issue that our young people care about; and if we don’t connect with them on valid issues such as preservation of the environment, how can we expect them to listen to us at all? —George Verwer (emphasis added)

I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Verwer! So here are some places that Calvary Assembly of God is getting involved, and I encourage you to join us (if you live near Cedar Springs), or do something similar in your own community.

Cedar Creek cleanup 2013Cedar Creek Cleanup—Saturday, April 27, from 10am-noon. We’ll be cleaning up along the banks of the Cedar Creek, and even in the creek itself. We’ll also help clean up trash and debris along the White Pine Trail where it passes through the city and intersects with Cedar Creek. We will have some waders to use, but please make sure you wear clothes that you don’t mind getting wet and dirty.

Community Service Sunday 2013Service Sunday—Sunday, May 5, from 11am-2pm. This is a collaboration with several other churches in Cedar Springs. We’re shortening up our gatherings in our church buildings, so we can head out into the community to put our worship in action. There’s a long list of activities including: providing full-service to motorists at local gas stations, painting and sprucing up Elmwood Cemetery, planting flowers, singing for the residents of Metron Nursing Home, trash pick, window washing for businesses along Main Street, and many, many more. And we’ll wrap up our work time with a potluck lunch in Morley Park.

Community Cleanup Days—Saturday, May 11, from 10am-noon. Similar to the cleanup efforts in Cedar Springs, we’ll be tackling some spring cleaning projects around Solon Township.

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