Bright Lights

One of the things Jesus said about Christians was that we are to be the light of the world. That means we need to be involved in our communities, visible to our neighbors, so the light of Jesus can shine out from us.

That’s just what we did last night for our third annual Light The Night event.

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I am so grateful to all of the folks at Calvary who donated candy and prizes, and those who filled hundreds of bags with all that candy, and those who came out to greet our neighbors and run the games. Because of the rainy weather, we moved our event indoors, and so I am extremely thankful to Pastor Mary Ivanov who opened the United Methodist Church’s gym for us to use!

Whether it’s a public event like this or not, I pray you will always let your light shine for Jesus!

(Thank you Delbridge Langdon Jr. for supplying some of our pictures from last night.)

Light The Night

There are so many encouragements that Scripture gives us to make a difference in our world:

  • Jesus tells us to be salt that seasons and light that brightens (Matthew 5:13-14).
  • Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).
  • Shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life (Philippians 2:15-16).
  • So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

We should look for opportunities to do shine every day. But sometimes there are even more appropriate times to do so. One such time is Halloween … Hallow’s Eve … Reformation Day. October 31 used to be a day that glorified God. Now, sadly, it has become a day to glorify anything but God.

So Calvary Assembly of God will be lighting the night again this Halloween. We will put on the best, brightest, friendliest carnival of the evening right on Main Street in Cedar Springs! We have a prayer team going out 24-hours before this event to pray for protection and favor, and to pray for open doors through which the light of Jesus will shine on October 31.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Pray. Start now and pray through October 31.
  • Bring some candy to the church through October 28.
  • Come pray with us at 5pm on October 30.
  • Signup as a volunteer to shine with us from 4-8pm on October 31.

We’re believing the light of Jesus will be seen as we Light The Night!

Smile Power

I noticed something last night at our Light The Night event: lots of people were smiling, and laughing, and enjoying themselves.

And I thought to myself, “Why don’t we do this more often?”

To think that just a blow-up inflatable, some fun carnival games, and candy could make people light up. Well, it was more than that. It was our amazing Calvary Assembly of God folks. They were the ones smiling first, and that brought out the smiles in everyone who came by.

This is why I say it all the time: I My Church!

Thanks Lindsay, Scott, Harrison, and Jeff for keeping everyone safe on the slide. And for your kind words and smiles that made everyone feel so welcome.

Thanks Jeff, Damian, Brandon, Sarah, and Crystal for making such simple carnival games so much fun. And thanks for your words of encouragement and smiles to everyone who came by to play.

Thanks Mindi, Kayla, and Betsy for passing out the candy, answering questions, and smiling at all our guests. You made them feel so welcomed.

Do you want to influence people? Here’s a simple suggestion: Smile more often!

And I have to pass along some other thanks as well:

  • Del — you take amazing pictures!
  • Inflatable Frenzy — you are so easy to work with.
  • Esigns.com — you made us look good for a great price.

(I highly endorse these businesses. They are people of integrity and are very flexible and reasonably priced.)

Light The Night

Today is Halloween, and Calvary Assembly of God is going to be fully engaged with our city.

In Cedar Springs, the downtown businesses encourage families to come walk up and down Main Street, collect candy, and have fun. I know there are some who think Christians should have nothing to do with Halloween, or they come up with alternative activities for that evening.

I want us to be salt and light in our community. And we cannot do that from a distance.

So we’ll be right in the middle of it lighting the night with the love of Jesus for our neighbors. For the second year, we will have a huge inflatable slide, some carnival games, and lots and lots of candy. We want Cedar Springs to know that we love them.

I read an interesting article “What Christians Should Know About Halloween” (you can read the article by clicking here). I love the closing paragraph:

“For those who are still bothered by Halloween’s historical association with evil spirits, Martin Luther has some advice on how to respond to the devil: “The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him for he cannot bear scorn.” Perhaps instead of fleeing the darkness in fear, we should view Halloween as an opportunity to mock the enemy whose power over us has been broken.”

The light of Jesus within us is so much greater than the darkness the devil may try to produce around us. Please pray for us as we let that light shine tonight.

Community Involvement

Have I mentioned lately that I Cedar Springs? I do love my city! So I’m thrilled whenever I can be involved in things happening around our town. I hope you can join me in some of these great events.

Night Of Worship / CD Release Party—I’m so happy to introduce Dilip to our community! This anointed musician is truly gifted. We get to share his amazing music with our community on Friday, October 28, in a FREE concert at Calvary Assembly of God.

Light The Night / Spooktacular—This is the fifth year that the businesses on Main Street have provided a great night for families on Halloween. This will be the second year that Calvary has joined in to help light the night. If you would like to help us be salt and light on October 31, we are still in need of smiling volunteers in our carnival, those who will cover us in prayer, and those who can donate some candy for us to pass out to the kids.

Courageous—I am so thankful to Dan at the Kent Theatre who is going to hold Courageous over for an extra day! On Monday, November 7, there will be a special showing of the amazing movie Courageous for our area churches. And tickets are only $3 each!

Veteran’s Day Ceremony—Thanks to the tireless efforts of my neighbor Jack Price, we have a huge twin-rotor Chinook helicopter flying into town at 11am on November 11. Then we will have a Veteran’s Day memorial in our memorial park at 1pm. I am honored to have been asked to close this ceremony in prayer.

Still Glowing

I’m so proud of our team from Calvary Assembly of God who helped Light The Night last night in downtown Cedar Springs. In fact, they lit it up so bright, I’m still glowing!

Here are just a couple of pictures to give you a little feel for the festivities (more pictures are on Flickr here). We had a huge inflatable slide, some great games with prizes, and lots and lots of yummy treats—candy, fresh-made popcorn, cotton candy, donut holes, apple cider, and more candy!

God gave us such favor with our location on Main Street right across the street from City Hall, and He gave us great weather too. Prayerfully a whole bunch of people in Cedar Springs saw that we know how to have a good time.

We were the light of Jesus in our community last night. May we continue to shine just as brightly for the next 365 nights, as we’ve already been invited to be back next Halloween. Yea, God!

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No Bad Candy

Tomorrow night we will be shining the light of Jesus as we Light The Night in downtown Cedar Springs. If you’re available to help, c’mon down and join us.

The city of Cedar Springs has an annual Spooktacular event. We want to be a part of our community, but we also want to focus on the brighter side of things (I blogged about this earlier here).

So we have taken on the expense to bring in a HUGE inflatable slide … we’ve designed and built some fun carnival games … we’ll be giving away prizes at those games … we will have cider and donuts for the parents … fresh popcorn for everyone … and a big bag of candy for every kid … did I mention it’s a BIG bad of candy!

And it’s good candy too! Not any of that “bad candy” that Tim Hawkins rails on…

Engaging Culture

I read something very interesting: Next to Christmas, more money is spent on Halloween than on any other holiday event. Halloween?!? Wow! We’re in the midst of planning our church’s role on Halloween night, so I’ve been thinking quite a bit about engaging our culture.

It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

So here’s how I think followers of Jesus Christ should light a candle to engage culture:

(1) Have the right motivation. In Jesus’ inaugural sermon, He said He was coming to preach the Good News about God’s love. He purposely left out the part of Isaiah’s prophesy that talked about God’s coming judgment. There will be a time for that, but for now, our motivation should be to make known the favor of the Lord.

(2) Get out of your box. If you only hang around with Christians, your ability to effectively engage culture will be diminished. If you never get around others, it’s sort of like salt that sits in the saltshaker too long. Paul told the Athenians that he had been walking around their city looking at their culture.

(3) Listen. As Paul talked to the Athenians, he quoted their poets to them. He knew what they were listening to because he was listening too. What are people watching on TV? What movies are they talking about? What music are they listening to? You can find the key to their heart by knowing something about what interests them.

(4) Collaborate. There are lots of other faith-based organizations, non-government organizations, and churches that are already active in your community. Join forces with them.

(5) Just be there. Go to local restaurants, cheer on the local sports teams, join a rec league team, attend the city council meetings, volunteer at a shelter or food pantry. Just be there! After a while, people will begin to ask you why you are so involved, and you’ll have a great platform to speak to them.

It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.

Are you engaging your culture? It’s time to go shine!

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