Encampment Of Blessings

I am so proud of our Sunday School class! They don’t just talk about being disciples of Jesus Christ, they live it out daily.

33-Scott & HungarianOn New Year’s Day, they braved the frigid temperatures to minister to needy people in the inner city of Grand Rapids. They are going back again on Saturday, April 23.

You can help in several ways:

  1. Go with them on April 23. They will be leaving 1:00pm.
  2. Donate some items that they will be passing out. You can find a complete list here → Encampment of Blessings
  3. Make a financial donation. If you cannot purchase these items, you may make a financial donation via PayPal on the church’s website. Please write “Encampment” on the memo line.
  4. Help with the organization of all the donated items on Sunday, April 17, right after church.
  5. Pray that God will use this outreach to open doors for these folks to hear and see the love of Jesus.

Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me. Then the righteous will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.’” (Matthew 25:35-40)

Inner City Ministry

I am so proud of a group from our Sunday School class who went out into the cold, snowy streets to share the love of Jesus! Not content with merely talking about being disciples of Jesus, this group wanted to be disciples of Christ.

On New Year’s Day, they walked the streets of downtown Grand Rapids to find those who needed to keep warm. They handed out gloves, hats, blankets, candy, Bibles, hugs and prayer to those in need. After they returned home, my favorite comment from the group was this: “When can we do this again?” I love it!

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This group meets for their Sunday School class every Sunday morning at 9:30am. If you’d like to spend some time with a really great bunch of folks, this is the group for you!

Prayer Focus: Outreaches

As this week marks the beginning of a “new year,” (as students are heading back to school and we’re all settling in to our fall routines), we are taking time to focus our prayers.

Today’s pray focus is for our fall outreaches.

“Sometimes I’m asked to list the most important steps in preparing for an evangelistic mission, and my reply is always the same: prayer . . . prayer . . . prayer.” —Billy Graham

How true this is! If we try to take on any kind of project in our own ingenuity or our own strength, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. The greatest example of prayer … prayer … prayer is Jesus. Throughout His public ministry, you will see prayer preceding all of the major ministry activities.

Not only that, but we see Jesus praying for us just prior to His crucifixion (see John 17) that we would spread the news about Him in God’s strength. And then just before His ascension, Jesus told His followers,

Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift My Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. …But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:4, 5, 8)

We have several local ministries in which we are involved throughout the year, and we have some special ministry opportunities we will be undertaking this fall. In addition, there are many, many missionaries which have counting on our prayer support.

Please pray for our involvement with:

Please pray for the missionaries that we know and love so much:

  • Kirk & Jayne Flanagan
  • David & Kristen Speer
  • Craig & Sharon Metzner
  • Ray & Deborah Miller
  • Bob & Rhonda Thomas
  • Dianne Eklund
  • Bob & Bette Sue MacIsaac
  • Joshua & Amber Payne
  • Matt & Carrie Love
  • Scott & Rachel Shank
  • Jon Fredrickson

Basketball Evangelism

Basketball’s creator James Naismith

In preparing for our Salt & Light series which starts this Sunday, I’ve been reviewing the different places in my life where I can season and illuminate my world. It’s pretty simple:

  • In order to season like salt, we have to get out of the saltshaker.
  • In order to shine like light, we have to uncover our brightness.
  • And we have to be around people who need seasoning and illumination.

One of my favorite workout activities is playing basketball, so I absolutely loved reading a story about why James Naismith created this fun sport.

You can read the full article from the Wall Street Journal here, but this passage especially jumped out at me:

Convinced that he could better exemplify the Christian life through sports than in the pulpit, he moved to Springfield, Mass., to serve as a physical-education instructor at the Young Men’s Christian Association’s International Training School for Christian Workers (now Springfield College). Naismith’s vision? “To win men for the Master through the gym.”

To win men for the Master through the gym.

What if we looked at every activity in our lives like that?

  • To win people for the Master through playing on the football team.
  • To win people for the Master through being a valuable employee.
  • To win people for the Master through getting involved with the PTA.
  • To win people for the Master through developing a friendly relationship with my neighbors.
  • To win people for the Master through becoming a model student.

Finish the sentence for your life…

I can win people for the Master through _________________________.

Let us all work on finding innovative ways to win people for the Master!

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…


A friend once told me that the greatest thing a church can do is find a need in the community and then help address it. I agree wholeheartedly.

Our church is helping address two needs in our community. We are hosting a benefit show called Rockin’ For Smiles to raise money for neuroblastoma cancer research. We became involved in this through our participation in PROJECT:Smile! (I wrote about this earlier, and you can read more here and here). I’m so proud of all of the people at Calvary who have rolled up their sleeves to help with this one. And it’s been amazing to see all of these bands that are willing to waive their appearance fee to help us.

We’re also collecting donations of diapers for our Bottom Blessing day on Mother’s Day. Alpha Family Center is a crisis pregnancy resource center. Much of the state aid that single Moms receive doesn’t cover the purchase of diapers, so we want to help Alpha help these young Moms.

Celebrating Stones Of Remembrance


In 1 Samuel 7, there is a story where God defeated Israel’s enemies. After the victory, Samuel erected a stone of remembrance and said, “Thus far has the Lord helped us.” Year after year when Israelite families would journey past this monument, and children asked, “Dad, what does that big stone mean?” They could be reminded of God’s protection and provision and they could celebrate.

We setup our own stone of remembrance at church last night. We took an evening to gather together and celebrate what God did for us in 2008:

  • People became followers of Jesus Christ and began their discipleship journey, others became disciple-makers.
  • We offered our first Vacation Bible School, and made great relationships with the families in our neighborhood.
  • Our Back 2 School party provided bags and bags of school supplies to area students.
  • Light The Night was a great alternative to a dark-and-scary Halloween night.
  • The Gift told the true story about the greatest gift.
  • We were able to show the true meaning of CHRISTmas to some special families.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! What a joy it is to know that “thus far has the Lord helped us.” And what anticipation energizes me as I’m already looking forward to an even bigger stone of remembrance next time!

There are so many people to thank. I won’t start naming them all here (you know who you are!) so that I don’t accidentally leave some people out. But I do want to single out my wife Betsy. She is my constant companion, my best friend, my favorite playmate, my wisest counselor, my daily encouragement, and a great pastor’s wife. I couldn’t celebrate all of these stones of remembrance without you!

We Are The Light

Light The Night 2008

Light The Night 2008

In In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” Not “You are like light” or even “You will shine like a light,” but “You ARE the light.” Last night we had an opportunity to put this into action in a very real way.

Our church hosted our first Light The Night event. We turned the yard next to our church into a carnival. A huge inflatable slide, an inflatable bounce house, a cookie walk, carnival games, coffee and cookies for the parents, and an opportunity for someone to win a family pass to Zehnders Splash Village were just some of the ways we wanted to light up a usually dark Halloween night. These events were great, but they were just events.

We WERE the light last night.

I couldn’t be prouder of the lit-up folks from Bethel who became light last night. From the moment the first guests showed up, our worker’s smiles were already shining. One loaned out his cell phone for a scared teenager who had ‘lost’ her mother to call home, one got two packages of diapers for a family in need, one ran to get a Band-aid for a young girl with a boo-boo, one offered to give a family without a car a ride to church, and one let a little boy dressed in an oversized frog costume play his game again and again and again until he hit the target. We had at least 90 students and their families attend last night. Each visitor was treated like they were the only visitor, and the last guest was treated with as much love and respect as the first guest. Once I stood back on the other side of the driveway and beamed with pride watching these lit-up people truly become light in the Burton community.

Whether one of our Light The Night guests ever attends our church or not was not the point of last night’s fun. The point was to shine… and that they did brilliantly! My prayer is that the glow from last night will continue to shine a way to Jesus for all of our guests.

I am an extremely proud pastor!

You can see more Light The Night pictures on Flickr.

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