Any architect will tell you: You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation.
This is just as true in the spiritual realm, which is why John Calvin warned, “Those who are strong only in fervor and sharpness, but are not fortified with solid doctrine, weary themselves in their vigorous efforts, make a great noise…[and] make no headway because they build without foundation.”
We have had on the Calvary website since Day 1 a link to “What we believe,” but more than just having them listed there, it is important to discuss them.
So the first Sunday of each month through the rest of 2021, we will be exploring our strong doctrinal foundation. I promise you that this won’t be “dry” theology or doctrine, but it will be an exciting journey of discovery at the foundation upon which we stand.
Please join us on August 1 as we look at our next Foundation Stones about the church and its mission.
Pastor Craig shared an encouraging look at the 77th Psalm in our Selah series. Be sure to check out the video below of the full message.
One of the things I enjoy about my Apple Watch is the connection I have with others who also use an Apple Watch. For instance, I get notified when my wife has finished a workout, and one of the pre-set replies I could choose is, “I’ve got questions!” That’s a funny way of me saying, “How did you complete that workout?!”
In Psalm 75 and Psalm 76, Asaph tells us how God will deal with the wicked. But then Psalm 77 begins with Asaph using words like, “My soul refused to be comforted, my spirit is overwhelmed,” and then he launches into the tough questions like: “How long is this going to last? Has God forgotten me? Have I fallen out of favor with God? Has His mercy dried up? Can God keep what He has promised? Is God angry with me?” When I read all this, I feel like saying, “Asaph, I’ve got questions!”
Yet, these complaints of Asaph ring true to real life. Like when a friend called me last week and started our conversation by asking, “Why can’t things just go easy for me?”
Here’s the simple answer: The Story isn’t over yet. We are in a battle, and the enemy of our soul is still trying to take us out, or at least shut us up.
In Psalm 77, Asaph tells his story to Jeduthun (a Levite worship leader whose name means praising) in four chapters, with a Selah for each of the breaks between the chapters.
Chapter 1—Distress (vv. 1-3)
The word distress means confronted by an adversary. Ever been there? Every follower of God has been, so Asaph invites us to Selah: pause to contemplate things like (a) Is this distress causing me to reevaluate the foundation on which I stand? (b) What is it God is shaking in my life? When God shakes things up, it is to cause us to remember and muse about the ONLY sure foundation that can withstand any storm (see Matthew 7:24-27).
Chapter 2—Questioning (vv. 4-9)
Notice the words Asaph uses: thought, remembered, mused, inquired. He is asking those tough questions, but he is asking them in a way that he can carefully consider the answers. That means he is really taking a Selah pause with each question. I think he has come to this conclusion: “Aren’t all these really just rhetorical questions? And isn’t the answer to all of them a resounding ‘NO!’?” If you aren’t sure the answer to all of these questions is no, please read Romans 8:31-39.
Chapter 3—Recalling (vv. 10-15)
Notice the continuation of the words: thought, remember, meditate, consider. He also asks another question in v. 13 which he then answers in the next two verses. His call to Selah here is another pause to reflect: “Has God lost His power? Has He changed His mind?” And once again the answer is a loud and clear, “NO!” (see Isaiah 59:1; Hebrews 13:8)
One of the important takeaways from this stanza of Psalm 77 is this: Looking back in gratitude at what God has done allows me to look forward in hope to what He is still going to do. My remembering what God has done in the past leads to:
Release from the darkness
Chapter 4—Hope (vv. 16-20)
Asaph says, “Look what God did! And since He is the same today as He was yesterday, guess what He’s still able to do!” We know this because the Bible says, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through Him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Remember I said earlier that God isn’t done telling His story yet? God isn’t done yet, He knows His Story, and His Story is still being told. But He’s also already told us how His story will end (see Revelation 21:4-6). And the end of His story is really just the beginning of the Real Story!
C.S. Lewis said it this way in the closing words of The Last Battle:
“And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page; now at last they were beginning Chapter 1 of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
When you find yourself saying, “I’ve got questions: How long is this going to last,” Selah to remember that the Story isn’t over yet. The Storyteller knows how it ends, and He promises us: But what of that? For I consider that the sufferings of this present time—this present life—are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us! (Romans 8:18 AMP)
Pastor Craig led us through Psalm 76 in our series looking at the Sleahs in the Psalms. Be sure to watch the full video below.
I had just finished playing three games of full-court basketball and it was time to leave for work. A young kid challenged me to stay for another game by making some comment about my old(er) age, which give me a fresh motivation to play another game. I told him I would play one more game on one condition: he had to guard me. I scored all 15 of our team’s points. One of my teammates said to that kid after the game, “You shouldn’t have made Craig angry.”
I know the Israelites had strayed from God, but the Assyrians made no pretense whatsoever to honor Yahweh, so why was God allowing them to get away with this? Doesn’t it seem sometimes like God is waiting too long to deal with these wicked insulters?
Many scholars feel that Psalm 76 was written after Sennacherib’s defeat. And make no mistake about this: it was a decisive defeat—God struck down 185,000 Assyrian soldiers while they slept! Asaph’s song of victory contains two Selah pauses, both of them intended for us to consider the greatness of Yahweh:
one Selah is after verse 3—pause and remember that God is Sovereign and Resplendent in glorious victory
the second Selah is after verse 9—pause and reflect that God’s wrath defeats His enemies and brings forth praise from His people
Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. (Luke 16:13-14)
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up His clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at Him. They said, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” (Luke 23:34-35)
These are the only two times in the New Testament that this Greek word for “sneer” is used. It means to deride, scoff, or mock. But in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) the same word that Luke used for sneer is used when God Himself says to Sennacherib, “The Virgin Daughter Zion despises you and mocks you” (see 2 Kings 19:20-28).
Sennacherib thought he was insulting God’s people, but God said, “You are really insulting Me!” Yikes—you shouldn’t make God angry!
Psalm 76 gives us the same reminder that we read in Revelation 12:10-11—“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
We defeat the enemy of our soul not by facing him but by facing our King!
When we are confronted by the ungodly insults from snarling, scoffing, wicked people, we must Selah to remind ourselves that Yahweh is—Alpha … Known and Renown … Invincible … Majestic … Awesome … Holy … The Final Judge … Irrefutable … Glorious … Omniscient … Omnipotent … Unrivaled … Undefeated … King of kings … Lord of lords … Sovereign Ruler … Omega … THE Decisive Word
Let me say it again: We defeat the enemy of our soul not by facing him but by facing THIS King of kings!
Pastor Craig continued our series looking at the Selahs in the Psalms with a study of an unusual phrase in the Hebrew Old Testament. Be sure to check out the video of the full message.
During my freshman year of college, I was once the butt of a good-natured joke. I didn’t mind it so much except for the fact that there were several people in the room that didn’t know me, so they would have walked away thinking I was a jerk. As I vented to my roommate about this, his counsel was simply, “Just forgive ‘em, man!”
Yeah, right … easier said than done! I didn’t want forgiveness—I wanted payback! Ever been there?
The Hebrew word Selah is a call for us to pause and calmly think about what’s going on in our heart and mind. For instance, in those moments where we may want someone to get justice for the way they hurt us.
In Psalm 75, God is literally the One who speaks the Selah. In fact, God speaks twice in this short psalm: once in verses 2-5 and again in verse 10 to close this psalm. Putting together His two speeches, God says, “I choose the right time, I judge perfectly, I hold everything firm. Selah. I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”
What is meant by “the horn of the wicked” or “the horn of the righteous”? Literally, it means a show of strength, but it can be used in both a negative or a positive sense.
In the negative sense it means:
boasting of your own power
standing in defiant opposition to all other powers
proudly trumpeting your own strength
the English words “arrogant” and “boast” in verse 5 are both the same word Hebrew word halal. This means to shine a light on yourself, literally to say “Hallelujah!” to or about yourself!
This pride is so dangerous! As C.S. Lewis said, “Pride is ruthless, sleepless, unsmiling concentration on the self.”
In the positive sense, a horn means the righteous person who shines a light on God, who concentrates on Him, who knows that anything good they have comes from Him.
The wicked lift up their own horn (literally lift up themselves), while the righteous bow their horn (literally lift up God). What does God do? God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).
This psalm essentially has God giving two warnings:
To the wicked He says, “Do not lift up your horn against Me.”
To the righteous He says, “Submit to Me and do not try to rush My timing.”
God was patient with us and He is still being patient with the boastful wicked, which is why He warns them—and us—to Selah. We were rescued from judgment and now God calls upon us to tell others about Him, so that they may also be reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ (Proverbs 24:11-12; 2 Peter 3:9).
Here’s the call to Christians: Watch your horn! Don’t shine a light on yourself, but shine a light on Jesus Christ and remain on-mission to rescue those who persist in blowing their own horn.
Pastor Craig continued our look at our foundational beliefs with this study of the ordinances of water baptism and Communion. Be sure to check out the video of the full message below.
Many churches recognize a various numbers of ordinances within their worship services. The dictionary gives two definitions of the word ordinance that are helpful for us: (1) a rule to be followed, and (2) something believed to be ordained (or made holy).
There are two ordinances that we celebrate: baptism in water and holy communion.
This wasn’t a practice invented by Christians, but teachers had been baptizing their students for years as an outward sign of followership. Not only did various members of the Israelite community come to John to be baptized, but even Jesus desired to be water baptized (Matthew 3:5-6, 13-17).
Why would Jesus need to be baptized? Look at how Jesus replied to John, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires” (Matthew 3:15 NLT), or in the NIV: “to fulfill all righteousness.”
Jesus came to be our High Priest. One of the requirements for the priest was “he must bathe himself in water before he puts” on the ceremonial robes that were to be worn in the tabernacle (Leviticus 16:4). Jesus also came to be our perfect sacrifice, so He needed to be like us in every single way. If Jesus wasn’t water baptized, not “all righteousness” would have been fulfilled.
Jesus was also baptized as an example for us. We, too, are priests in God’s Kingdom that need to be washed for our priestly service (1 Peter 2:9; 3:20-21).
Our foundational truth statement on this is: “The ordinance of baptism by immersion is commanded by the Scriptures. All who repent and believe on Christ as Savior and Lord are to be baptized. Thus they declare to the world that they have died with Christ and that they also have been raised with Him to walk in newness of life.”
Jesus gave us this rule to follow for new Christians: “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). This is also what Peter announced to the new believers on the Day of Pentecost: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38).
Sometimes called The Last Supper or The Lord’s Supper, the Israelites had continued to celebrate the Passover (Exodus 12) with unleavened bread and wine—symbolizing the body and the blood of the sacrificial lamb which saved them from death.
Our foundational truth statement on this is: “The Lord’s Supper, consisting of the elements—bread and the fruit of the vine—is the symbol expressing our sharing the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ, a memorial of his suffering and death, and a prophecy of His second coming, and is enjoined on all believers ‘till He come!’”
We rejoined our summer series looking at the Selahs in the Psalms. Here is the recap Pastor Craig posted on his look at Psalm 68.
A few years ago Mark Schultz wrote a song about someone living a go-go-go, overly-busy life and he entitled the song “Running just to catch myself.” Ever been there?
There’s a Hebrew word that shows up 70 times in the Bible (mostly in the Psalms) that, sadly, many English translations of the Bible have relegated to a footnote. That’s too bad because Selah is such a powerful word. Unless we want to live our lives “running just to catch myself,” we all need a take time to Selah. Look how some have translated this word:
“Stop there and consider a little” (Matthew Henry)
“the sacred pause” (Charles Spurgeon)
“pause and calmly think of that” (AMP)
Whether it’s a planned exercise time or just something that frightens or excites us, our heart rate is designed by God to increase—this is how we prepare for fight-or-flight. Doctors say that one of the most vital statistics they now look at to gauge overall cardio health is heart rate recovery (HRR). Doctors want to see a significant increase in HRR after exercise, fright, or excitement.
A few of the factors that boost HRR:
Regular, planned exercise
Getting the proper amount of quality sleep
Respond-and-recover is part of a health-building cycle. But if we’re “running just to catch myself” all the time, this time of recovery isn’t happening. Not only are we not recovering well, but we are not properly prepared for the next time our heart needs to start beating faster.
This HRR is just as vital for us emotionally and spiritually as it is physically: We cannot always be stressed or always be “on.” We need a Selah—a time to stop and consider, a time to take a sacred pause to calmly think.
This is what David teaches us in Psalm 68. Check out the “bookend verses” where he reminds us that when God arises His enemies are scattered, and that God is awesome and He gives power and strength to His people (vv. 1, 35). And look a the middle verse where David says that when God ascends in victory He gives gifts (v. 18).
This tells me two things: (1) God is sovereignly in charge (not me or anyone else), and (2) In His love, God delights to use His sovereign power to bless His children.
The question is not IF I’m going to be confronted by difficult things or difficult people, but HOW will I recover from these confrontations?
May I suggest a 3-step process to increase your spiritual HRR?
Acknowledge your situation—don’t try to cover it up or justify it
God uses His strength to care for His people (vv. 28-31)
Sing praises and Selah (vv. 32-35)
As you breathe deeply in this worship of recovery, think on this: “Your sigh can move the heart of Jehovah; your whisper can incline His ear to you; your prayer can stay His hand; your faith can move His arm.” —Charles Spurgeon
Our Selah pause leads to proper perspective, which allows us to recover more quickly. That, in turn, helps us to be better prepared for the next time we’re confronted by difficulties.
The word Selah appears nearly 70 times in the Bible, almost exclusively in the Psalms. Although it is primarily a musical term, it applies beautifully to our summer series.
Selah can mean…
a pause from the noise to reflect;
a preparation for an exciting accent; or
a reflective time of consideration
Throughout the Psalms, Selah appears at the end of a verse, at the end of the psalm, or sometimes even mid-sentence. But each one of them is perfectly placed by the Spirit-inspired authors to get us to take a breath and deeply contemplate what we just read or sang.
Summertime is typically a time for us to pause from our regular routine. Perhaps it’s a vacation, time with friends and family, driving around with the windows down and the music blasting, or just a quiet walk through woods or along a beach. In any case, whether we realize it or not, we’re actually doing Selah in these break-from-the-routine activities.
Join us this Sunday as we continue our summertime look at each of the Psalms that ask us to Selah. We think you will find that this Sunday summertime pause will be both refreshing and encouraging. You can join us either in person or on Facebook Live.
Since this is a continuation of our summer series, you can check out the Selahs we discussed by clicking here for the 2018 messages, here for the 2019 messages, and here for the 2020 messages.
“Jesus is risen indeed!” This is the glorious good news that Christians around the world celebrate.
But good news is really only good news when you fully realize how bad the bad news was. Like when the doctor comes in to tell you, “You’re going to be fine,” and you breathe a sigh of relief. And then the doctor goes on to explain what your condition was and all of the heroic efforts that were undertaken on your behalf, and you realize how close to death you actually were that your sigh of relief turns into a shout of joy!
Our fourth foundational belief says: “Man was created good and upright…. However, man by voluntary transgression fell and thereby incurred not only physical death but also spiritual death, which is separation from God.”
They sinned. “And sure enough, they then had knowledge of good and evil, but it was from the standpoint of becomingevil and remembering how good they once were,” said Nancy Guthrie. Because they sinned, now all of us are unable not to sin. Why? Because no one has been able to demonstrate to us how to be able not to sin.
Their sin had consequences for them that have extended to us:
they felt shame at their vulnerability before God
they were fearful to be in God’s presence
they were separated from God
and they doomed all of us to live an utterly meaningless existence forever!
But Adam and Eve’s sin didn’t send God scrambling for a remedy. Our fifth foundational truth says: “Man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God.”
Jesus turned the absolutely worst news into the most eternally, overwhelmingly good news ever!
Jesus was made the cure for sin from before the foundation of the world. God made Jesus to be our sin (not just to carry our sins). In order for this to happen, Jesus had to become human like us. That means that Jesus, like Adam and Eve, had the same choice to sin or to not sin but He did not sin. This allowed Him to be our perfect sacrifice on the Cross.
When He died on the Cross, Jesus removed the uncrossable abyss between us and God. Jesus made it possible once again for us to be able not to sin. Not only that, but Jesus covers the shame that would linger even after our sin is forgiven by clothing us in His own righteousness!
Sin had us doomed to not only a meaningless existence on earth, but also to an utterly meaningless existence for the eternity following death. Jesus became our sin to allow us to be reunited with God and reclothed in Christ’s righteousness. This is not just good news, it’s eternally, overwhelmingly good news!
Pastor Craig led us through our third foundational truth statement. Be sure to check out the video of his full message below.
Some really silly guys did a series of videos called “Neature Walk” because they wanted to share how neat is nature! In episode one Vic sees a tree that he really likes and says, “Score! This is an aspen tree. You can that it’s an aspen tree because of the way it is.” This is either circular reasoning or an obvious statement. “Just look at this thing. You can tell it’s this thing because it looks and acts like this thing.”
I feel a lot like this when I look at the first part of our third foundational truth statement: “We believe in the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (As a side note, I covered the second part of this statement—“As God’s Son, Jesus was both human and divine”—in another post, which you may find here.)
Check this out: the definition for Deity is the divine character of God, and the definition for divine means things relating to the Deity. In saying we believe Jesus is God we are really saying, “You can tell that Jesus is God because of the way He is.”
In order to make this definition work, we need evidence for both the divinity and the deity of Jesus. That being said, let me remind you of J. Warner Wallace’s instruction on faith. There is:
Blind faith—believing in something without evidence
Unreasonable faith—believing in something in spite of the evidence
Reasonable faith—believing in something because of the evidence
Here is some evidence that I think makes it reasonable to believe that Jesus is divine:
Virgin birth—Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:34-35; Matthew 1:22-23
Sinless life—Isaiah 53:4-6, 9; Hebrews 7:26-27; 1 Peter 2:22
We cannot claim that Jesus was born of a virgin, or lived a sinless life, or did miracles, or died and rose again and then not believe He is God. We cannot pick and choose the parts of Jesus we want.
The apostle Paul reminded us that someday “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11-12).
Every knee will bow to Him one day: Either in worship of Jesus their Savior, or in abject terror of Jesus their Judge.
I pray that you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior today… don’t wait another moment!
Pastor Craig continued our series looking at our foundational beliefs. Be sure to check out the video below where he goes into much more detail on this foundational truth.
There is a common characteristic among every human civilization: they all have had a pantheon of gods. It seems that no one god could capture all of the attributes each civilization thought were important, so they created multiple gods to help fill in the gaps.
Onto the world scene comes the account recorded for us in the Bible of a God who creates the universe. The Hebrew word for this God is elohiym which means “a divine one.” This name is used throughout the Creation story in Genesis 1.
Then in Genesis 2:4, a new name appears, one that is used over 6500 times in the Bible. It is the unpronounceable name YHWH: often pronounced Yahweh or substituted with the word Jehovah. In most Bible translations this name is designated by all capital letters: LORD. Yahweh or Jehovah means “the existing One.”
The first part of our second foundational truth [Foundation Stones] states, “The one true God has revealed Himself as the eternally self-existent ‘I AM,’ the Creator of heaven and earth and the Redeemer of mankind.” This Creator is uncreated: He sustains the universe without needing to be replenished Himself. He is utterly complete in Himself; hence, His name means I AM (see Exodus 3:13-15).
The second part of this foundational truth statement says, “He has further revealed Himself as embodying the principles of relationship and association as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
The I AM is One (see Deuteronomy 6:4), but He reveals Himself in three Persons—Father, Son, Spirit—that we call the Trinity (although this is not a word found in the Bible).
Sometimes Christians have done a disservice to the I AM by making it appear He is divided. For instance, we might say, “The Father is the Creator, the Son is the Redeemer, and the Spirit is the Regenerator.” But remember that our One God is not a pantheon of gods; He is One. We see the fullness of the Trinity operating in every area. Here’s just a short sampling:
The creation of the universe—Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:15-16; Psalm 104:30
The creation of man—Genesis 1:26-27
A prophecy about Jesus’ advent—Isaiah 9:6
The incarnation of Jesus—Luke 1:35
The baptism of Jesus—Matthew 3:16-17
The resurrection of Jesus—Acts 2:32; John 10:18; Romans 1:4
Our atonement—Hebrews 9:14
A Christian’s baptism in the Holy Spirit—John 14:16
A good question for us to ponder is: Why would this I AM God create humans? If He needs nothing to complete Himself or sustain Himself, why make us?
The apostle John captures the essence of the Trinity in three words: God is love.
God created us out of an overflow of His love so that we too could enjoy the intimate, eternal pleasure of being at-onement with Him forever. God then wants our love to overflow to everyone around us, so that they will also be drawn into this at-oneness with the I AM.
When Jesus was asked to state the greatest commandment, He first quoted from Deuteronomy 6: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD [Yahweh] our God, the LORD [Yahweh] is one.” Christ’s conclusion was for us to love this All-Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And then Jesus added an obvious overflow of that love: “And love your neighbor as yourself” (see Mark 12:29-31).
Love to God and from God should overflow from us to others to bring them into the One God who is love itself.
The more we understand this love that the I AM has for us: (1) the better able we will be to love and worship Him, (2) the more we will love others out of this overflow of love, and (3) the more glory our awesome GOD will receive. Which is exactly what the apostle Paul prayed for us in Ephesians 3:14-19.
This idea of an I AM God who reveals Himself as Father, Son, and Spirit has been described by the Latin phrase mysterium tremendum. It is indeed a mystery: not one that frightens and confuses, but one that energizes and enlivens. Pray Paul’s prayer for yourself, so that you can see more dimensions of this awesome love that God has for you!