Of peace on earth, goodwill to men. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
How many “old familiar carols” have you heard Christmas after Christmas, until the words have almost lost their meaning? If we’re not careful, any song repeated too often can lose the richness of its original intent.
There are some amazing messages in many of our old familiar Christmas carols, because many of those messages are saturated with the old familiar story of Redemption that the Bible tells over and over again.
Please join us this Sunday as we take a new look at the old familiar messages in our Christmas carols. These messages will bring a new appreciation of God’s love that was sung at Christ’s Advent, and reawaken the sweetness of meaning for this Christmas Day.
Is “puppy love” real love? Is love even supposed to have a feeling? If there are no feelings associated with love, how can you know that you are indeed loving? Scott shares his personal journey on what he’s come to appreciate about love, and I sincerely hope you will watch this video of his message…
Pastor Craig shared his thoughts on Pastor Josh’s message.
Pastor Josh Schram shared with us the lessons he’s appreciated about receiving wise counsel from those around him. One of Josh’s opening remarks really hit home with me, because it’s something I still struggle with at times: I have to get beyond thinking that those who are trying to speak into my life are somehow trying to meddle in my life!
A couple of other thoughts that really made me pause and reflect were—
“Ignorance may be bliss, but it won’t last.” How true! I may cover my eyes and ears to the truth, but my ignorance will ultimately lead to my downfall.
“People who will speak truth into my life care more about me than about my feelings.” As Proverbs says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (27:6).
Josh closed with these challenging questions:
Am I open to correction from wise counsel?
When I am corrected, do I feel like I must defend myself?
Prayer is the vital empowering source for the church. Unless we pray, we are operating only under our own power, and that can become very tiring. But when we wait on God, He empowers us with His strength!
We invite you to join us for prayer the first Sunday of each month at 5pm. Our next prayer time is Sunday, December 4, at 5pm. We will be meeting at Pastor Craig’s office to pray.
As we continued in our series on Appreciation, Pastor Craig shared something he has come to appreciate over this past year.
King David of Israel was a stud! Outstanding song writer, professional shepherd, bear killer, lion killer, giant killer, decorated army general, and ultimately king of Israel.
Near the end of his life we read an extensive list of Mighty Men that supported David. Some of these guys were also giant killers. One guy singlehandedly defeated 300 enemies, another guy defeated 800 bad guys, one guy killed a lion, and on and on the list goes.
I believe it is clear that David wouldn’t have become king without the support of his Mighty Men, and these guys probably wouldn’t have been recognized as “Mighty Men” without David’s support.
This is a classic definition of synergy. Synergy is when the outcome is so much greater than just the addition of the parts. Sort of like 1 + 1 = 5.
All of us can be a part of synergistic relationships, if we will include these five key parts.
Without humility, you will never let anyone else into your life, and it’s doubtful they will let you in. Humility says, “I don’t have all the answers. I need some help in fulfilling my God-given dream. I have some areas of weakness where you are strong.”
Just like humility, without confidence it’s doubtful others would allow you access to their lives. Confidence says, “I have some something I am willing to offer you. I have a God-given strength in an area where you may be struggling.” The Apostle Paul said, all of us have strengths that God has given us that are to be used to help others (1 Corinthians 12:7; Ephesians 4:7).
Quite simply, in order for synergy to work, the people in the relationship have to be willing to labor together. Paul used the example of one person planting the seed and another person watering the seed. Both laborers are necessary if there is going to be a harvest.
The journey with others may be slower and messier than traveling solo, but it’s so much more rewarding (see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
Synergy is really about there being a return on investment. But if you’re not willing to invest your time, your learning, your love, can you really expect there to be a synergistic return?
I just wrapped up a year-long investment with a group of guys from my church. What an amazing time! I am definitely better for having been involved with this synergy group, and I believe all of the other guys would tell you the same thing. You, too, can experience this same joy by investing in a synergy group of your own!
If we are truly grace-full people, then we should be thank-full people as well. As we approach Thanksgiving Day, people are naturally thinking about things for which they can give thanks during this past year. But Christians should be the most full-of-thanks people on the planet, because we have been showered with so much grace!
I’d like us to think about a word that I believe will increase our level of thankfulness: Appreciation. Appreciation goes beyond merely being thankful for blessings, as it sees the high value in those blessings, and then continually looks for ways to express even more gratitude for them. In other words, appreciation can begin a cycle of gratitude that grows and grows and GROWS!
Check out three parts to the definition of appreciation—
 Gratitude; thankful recognition. Did you know that being grateful is actually good for you? Research has shown that increasing your gratitude levels increases your:
Physical health. “A state of gratitude, according to research by the Institute of HeartMath, also improves the heart’s rhythmic functioning, which helps us to reduce stress, think more clearly under pressure and heal physically. It’s actually physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time” —Jon Gordon
Emotional health. Dr. Robert Emmons says gratitude decreases envy, resentment, and feelings of retaliation; and increases empathy, emotional resilience, and self-esteem.
Spiritual health. Notice how ingratitude is included in the list of a whole lot of ugliness (2 Timothy 3:1-4), but spiritual health is restored simply by being thankful (Ephesians 5:3-4).
 Estimating qualities and giving them their proper value. In order to determine value, we must have a standard of comparison. What’s your standard? Is it what your neighbor has? Is it what you don’t have? Or is it thankfulness for what God has given you?
Max Lucado said, “To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse His accomplishments is to discover His heart. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread.”
 Assessing the true worth of our blessings. Assessing leads to appreciation, and appreciation begins to give us a return on investment. I like how Jeff Anderson says it: “If you want to grow your faith, grow your gratitude. To grow your gratitude, take time to count your blessings.”
Remember: gratitude isn’t gratitude if it isn’t expressed. David made his gratitude known, and other afflicted people around him began to join with him in thanking God for His blessings (see Psalm 34:1-3). In other words, David’s thanksgiving went viral!
Here’s how we can make our gratitude go viral: #MOWT. Let’s count our blessings every day, and let’s appreciate what God has done for us. Then let’s share our gratitude not only with God, but with others as well. Post it on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram with #MOWT: my one word thanks. Maybe include a photo and “family” #MOWT, or “protection” #MOWT, or even “paycheck” #MOWT.
Let’s give God so much glory for His grace gifts, that we tell the world about our appreciation!
Pastor Craig wrote the following about our new series which starts this Sunday…
I love the dictionary definition of the word appreciation—
gratitude; thankful recognition
the act of estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value
assessment of the truth worth
How often do you take time to truly appreciate the blessings in your life? Appreciation goes beyond merely being thankful for blessings, as it sees the high value in those blessings, and then continually looks for ways to express even more gratitude for them.
In other words, appreciation can begin a cycle of gratitude that grows and grows and GROWS!
As we approach Thanksgiving Day, it’s a good time for us to remember that giving thanks shouldn’t be limited to just one day each November. Instead, we should learn to continuously appreciate the blessings around us.
Join us this Sunday as we begin a 4-part series considering the value of appreciation. I will be joined by some of my friends as we share what we’ve come to appreciation this past year. I hope to see you this Sunday at 10:30am.
“I am so proud of my Calvary Assembly of God family! Everyone pitched in to donate supplies, pack everything up, and then take these vital supplies to the needy in the inner city of Grand Rapids. One of the best compliments I heard was from a gentleman who stopped by for some items, when he said, ‘Thank you for treating us like human beings!’”
Our team was there to show the love of Jesus in the most tangible way they could.