Poetry Saturday—Easter

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

Break the box and shed the nard;

Stop not now to count the cost;
Hither bring pearl, opal, sard;
Reck not what the poor have lost;
Upon Christ throw all away:
Know ye, this is Easter Day.

Build His church and deck His shrine,
Empty though it be on earth;
Ye have kept your choicest wine—
Let it flow for heavenly mirth;
Pluck the harp and breathe the horn:
Know ye not ‘tis Easter morn?

Gather gladness from the skies;
Take a lesson from the ground;
Flowers do ope their heavenward eyes
And a Spring-time joy have found;
Earth throws Winter’s robes away,
Decks herself for Easter Day.

Beauty now for ashes wear,
Perfumes for the garb of woe,
Chaplets for dishevelled hair,
Dances for sad footsteps slow;
Open wide your hearts that they
Let in joy this Easter Day.

Seek God’s house in happy throng;
Crowded let His table be;
Mingle praises, prayer, and song,
Singing to the Trinity.
Henceforth let your souls alway
Make each morn an Easter Day. —Gerard Manley Hopkins

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The Life-Changing Power Of A Father

Fathers DayThe Bible uses the phrase “a father” quite often, but it doesn’t always refer to a biological father. Whether it’s an emotional father, a spiritual father, or a biological father, the message in the Scripture is quite clear…

Fathers have the God-given power to change a life forever!

This Sunday we are going to be celebrating Dads. If you are in the Cedar Springs area, I encourage you to come join us and learn more about what God is saying to our Dads today about their power to change a life, a generation, a nation forever!

Hope to see you at 10:30am this Sunday. Click here to get directions to Calvary Assembly of God.

Make A Holy Rest

Sabbath = do somethingWe are an on-the-go-all-the-time society. It seems to be a status symbol to be always “on.” If not a status symbol, maybe there’s a fear of what we might miss, “If I don’t keep up on the latest TV shows [sports team, books, music, Dancing With The Stars], I’ll feel out of place when my friends are talking about it.”

Even when we do slow down, often what we call a “rest” really isn’t. (Have you ever needed a vacation to recover from your vacation?)

This all-go, never-stop lifestyle is not only unsustainable and unhealthy, it’s also displeasing to God. In His love for us, God says we need to take a Sabbath rest (see Exodus 20:8 and Deuteronomy 5:12). The problem is: we think “Sabbath” means doing nothing, and we feel guilty for doing nothing when there is still so much to do.

Here’s the good news: Sabbath ≠ doing nothing.

Take a look at the origin of the Sabbath—And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. (Genesis 2:2 KJV)

That’s an unusual phrase—His work which He had made—which is repeated twice, so let’s dig into two specific words: work and made.

The verb tense for work is imperfect, which means God still had work to do. But the verb tense for made is perfect. So instead of trying to find more time in His week, God made His “To Do” list fit the timeframe. Then far from doing nothing on the Sabbath day, God reviewed His work, appreciated the beauty of Creation, and celebrated all that had been made.

This is what He calls us to do as well. Genesis 2:3, Exodus 20:8 and Deuteronomy 5:12 all tell us the Sabbath is to be holy = special, withdrawn from the usual … unique. God doesn’t want us to do nothing on the Sabbath, but to do what we don’t normally have the time to do the rest of the week.

Our modern cliché says, “You never appreciate what you have until it’s gone.” But the Sabbath says, “Stop, appreciate God’s blessings, and celebrate them while you can still enjoy them.”

God doesn’t ask you to take a rest. Instead He asks you to make your “To Do” list fit into six days, so that there can be a unique day of appreciation and celebration.

So … how are you doing on making a Sabbath?

Join me next Sunday as we continue our look at the Ten Commandments in our series The Love In The Law.

The Star Of CHRISTmas

The Star Of Christmas [web]I’m really enjoying preparing for our 3-week Christmas series called The Star Of CHRISTmas. If it’s not obvious to you by the way I wrote that title, I believe the star of Christmas is Christ!

We will be learning how Jesus Christ’s birth in Bethelehem was the…

  • SUPERNOVA which brings light into the Old Testament’s darkness, and allows other stars (that’s us!) to be born.
  • MORNING STAR which shines brightest just before the dawn and replaces a feeling of fear with the confidence of favor.
  • NORTH STAR which helps us keep going in the right direction despite the circumstances around us.

If you are able to join us over the next couple of Sundays at 10:30am, we would love to celebrate The Star of CHRISTmas with you!

The Purpose Of Christmas (book review)

The Purpose Of ChristmasAre retailers and Christians the only ones who think Christmas is a big deal? Why is it so important? Just in time for this year’s Advent celebration, Rick Warren reminds us of The Purpose Of Christmas.

In his typical style of helping folks clearly understand the meaning of things that sometimes we overlook or take for granted, Pastor Rick shows us that Christmas is a time for celebration, a time for salvation, and a time for reconciliation.

Blending together passages of Scripture throughout all of the Bible—not just the passages we usually associate with the birth of Christ—Pastor Rick powerfully illustrates why we needed God to send His One and Only Son to earth to rescue us. And also why we need to celebrate His birth correctly at this time each year.

This book is an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand recalibration of the meaning of Christmas. For anyone who has ever felt that the retailers are dominating the Christmas season, this is a welcome book to help you return to the foundational truths. It might be a good book for you to pull out each Christmas and read aloud with your family.

Annual Souper Bowl Celebration

Souper Bowl CelebrationI love to eat good food, and I love to hear good stories about God’s blessing. On February 3 I get to do both!

It’s our annual Souper Bowl Celebration. After our regular morning worship service we all sample the delicious homemade soup and chili recipes from the amazing cooks in our church. It’s a little friendly competition, where everyone who eats gets to vote. My son Harrison is the reigning champ two years in a row, so I’ve heard a lot of cooks are gunning to unseat him. The competition should be delicious!

I don’t like meetings, so in place of Calvary Assembly of God having an annual business meeting, we have our annual celebration. It’s a great time recalling what God did for us in 2012, and then looking ahead to 2013. I always get so pumped up for this day!

If you’re around Cedar Springs on February 3, join us for some great food, some friendly competition, and some even better stories of God’s great blessings!

Forever Better

Twenty-five years ago today, December 2, 1984:

  • Ghost Busters was the top-grossing movie
  • The A-Team was NBC’s top-rated TV series
  • Hall & Oates had the number one Billboard single Out Of Touch
  • Ronald Regan was the US President

None of these facts changed my life. But something else that took place on that day did. On December 2, 1984, I went on my first official date with Betsy Coffield. My first girlfriend—my only girlfriend—and still my best friend.

Neither movies, TV, music, nor politicians have changed my life, but I’m forever a better man because Betsy said, “Yes.” I love you, babe. Here’s to the next 25 years, which will be even better!

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