Calvary Assembly of God

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Oct-20-14

10 Ways Children Can Honor Their Parents

posted by Craig T. Owens

Here is a recap from Pastor Craig’s blog of his message about children honoring their parents. 

Honor your parentsThe Bible is fairly clear on a child’s relationship with his or her parents:

The Bible also gives some directives for parents:

So children are to honor their parents, and their parents are to behave honorably. This can be a virtuous cycle, if both parent and child are doing this correctly. But what if a parent is not behaving honorably? Does the child still have to honor that parent?

In a word: Yes. The Bible doesn’t give children an option on this command. Nowhere do we read, “Only obey your Christian parents,” or “Honor your father only if he’s godly,” or “Respect your mother only if she is virtuous.” Children are simply called upon to honor and obey.

I like what Dr. Laura Schlessinger wrote—

“Honor does not mean unquestioned obedience, we truly honor our parents when we hold them accountable to God’s law. If my parents abandon me, I will honor them by seeking, though not forcing, reconciliation. If my parents abuse me, I will honor them by praying for them, so that they might see their error – and by escaping, if possible, so that they cannot continue to sin upon me. If my parents are unfaithful, I will honor them by calling for righteousness and by being willing to forgive them when they repent. If they are breaking the law, I will honor them by calling the police. Making them accountable to the highest moral order is honoring them in that I esteem them capable of responsible action.

So here are 10 biblical ways children can honor their parents—

  1. Guard your thoughts about them.
  2. Obey their lawful commands.
  3. Submit to their correction.
  4. Hold them accountable to the moral law.
  5. Show appreciation for what they have given you.
  6. Keep them connected to the family (socially, emotionally, financially, physically).
  7. Don’t expect too much of them.
  8. Don’t resent them for what they aren’t, or for what they didn’t do.
  9. Forgive them and seek reconciliation.
  10. Emulate their virtues and reverse their shortcomings.

Not only does this please God, but it opens us up to the blessing He wants to give to children who honor their parents (Deuteronomy 5:16 and Ephesians 6:2-3).

If you are in the Cedar Springs area, we’d love to have you join us next Sunday as we continue our look at The Love In The Law.

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Oct-16-14

Putting Your Money Where Your Hair Is

posted by Craig T. Owens

SavannahEveryone is probably familiar with the phrase, “Putting your money where your mouth is.” Quite simply we mean, “I believe what I’m saying strongly enough that I would back it up with my money.”

Savannah Tolar is taking this one step further. She’s not only putting her money on the line to back up what she says, but she’s putting her hair on the line too!

Savannah, like many people, has been impacted by cancer in her immediate family. As a mother of a beautiful baby boy, she has also been troubled by the lack of funding for childhood cancer research. Savannah wants this lack of funding changed so that a cure for this dreaded disease can be found as soon as possible.

In fact, she believes this so strongly that she is willing to put her beautiful hair on the line. As you probably know, many children undergoing intensive cancer treatments end up losing their hair as a side effect of their chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Savannah is standing in solidarity with those brave kids by allowing her head to be shaved.

Although Savannah has set a goal to raise $3000 for childhood cancer research, we all believe we can help her go way beyond this. Please click here to go to Savannah’s page, read her story, and then make a generous donation. On November 26, Savannah will be shaving her head as she stands with those kids who are fighting back against cancer.

Let’s all get behind this!

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Oct-13-14

Make A Holy Rest

posted by Craig T. Owens

Here is a recap of our Love In The Law series from Pastor Craig’s blog. Check this out… 

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

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Oct-9-14

1:one:(12)

posted by Craig T. Owens

Hey, Calvary Assembly of God, how did you do on your 1:one:(12) challenge for September? Hopefully you got your 1 in (or even more)! Whether you did nor not, October is here, so get started on your 1 for this month. There are always lots of great things happening every month—like our current series The Love In The Law—so go get your 1!

For our guests that may not know what 1:one:(12) is all about… just ask us!

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Oct-6-14

Don’t Misuse God’s Name

posted by Craig T. Owens

Here is a recap of Pastor Craig’s message on the Third Commandment, which he posted on his blog

Representing God's nameYou’ve heard the old nursery rhyme: Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. We all know this isn’t true: words do hurt, and names that people call us may leave lasting wounds.

Words and names are important to God. God used His word to create the universe (God said, “Let there by light”); Jesus was called The Word (see John 1:1); God has named people and even renamed them to reflect their character or destiny.

The most important name of all is God’s own name, so the Third Commandment says, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God…” (Exodus 20:7). How can we misuse God’s name? There are five ways—

(1) As emptiness or nothingness

  • Are our words empty? Do we use filler phrases like “Oh my God!” that neither talk to Jehovah or about Jehovah? We shouldn’t use God’s name unless we’re talking to Him or about Him in a respectful way.

(2) In vanity

  • In reality this means calling ourselves a Christian, but speaking in an un-Christlike way.
  • “Giving God a ‘bad name’ might diminish or demolish people’s belief, respect, and awe for God, a tragedy for a world that needs holiness. … It is a major responsibility to represent God; one which should not be taken lightly.” —Dr. Laura Schlessinger

(3) Being insincere

  • Are our promises empty, or is our word our bond? If we have to use phrases like “I swear to God that I will…” then that means we cannot be trusted on our own merits. When we claim to be Christians but cannot be trusted, we undermine the trustworthiness of God in the minds of other people.
  • “The godly man, therefore, will make promises cautiously but keep them conscientiously once they are made, knowing that irresponsibility and unreliability here are great and grievous sins.” —J.I. Packer

(4) Having an unholy vocabulary

  • Holy means something set apart for a special use. Perhaps there are words we use to describe God that we are also using for lesser things. It might be good to listen to how the Holy Spirit would challenge us to have a unique vocabulary to talk to or about our unique God.

(5) Worthlessness of conduct

  • As the cliche goes, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you are saying.” So we need to make sure that we both talk like Jesus talked and live like Jesus lived.

Anything less than these standards just may be misusing God’s holy name and character by misrepresenting Him or giving Him a “bad name.” What do you think?

We are continuing our look at the Ten Commandments in our series The Love In The Law next Sunday. We would love to have you join us!

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Oct-2-14

Light The Night

posted by Craig T. Owens

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 out to light the night again this Halloween. We will put on the best, brightest, friendliest carnival of the evening on Main Street in Cedar Springs!

Here’s how you can help:

  • Pray. Start now and pray through October 31.
  • Bring some candy to the church through Sunday, October 26.
  • Give financially to help cover the costs of this event.
  • Come pray with us at 5pm on October 30.
  • Signup as a volunteer to shine with us from 5-7pm on October 31.

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

 

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Sep-29-14

Smashing Idols

posted by Craig T. Owens

If you missed part 3 of our series The Love In The Law, here is a recap from Pastor Craig’s blog

Puny idolsWhen looking at God’s commandments, we must look at them through a lens of love. If God—the Lawgiver—is love, then all of His laws must be saturated in His love.

So what happens when we look at the Second Commandment through this lens? The wording is simple: “You shall not make for yourself an idol…” (Exodus 20:4-6). If the First Commandment says, “I love you so much that I want to be the One and Only God you have a relationship with” then the Second Commandment says, “Because of this loving relationship, don’t try to make Me smaller to fit your worldview, but let Me by fully Me!

This idolatry starts in our minds, long before we ever create anything with our hands. Idolatry is a mental state that says, “I can define the Creator. I can figure out all of His dimensions. I can predict what He’s going to do. God operates just as I expect Him to.”

But God says, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts. And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine” (Isaiah 55:8).

The Apostle Paul warned us of exchanging God’s uncontainable glory and majesty for something that we can neatly contain in our box: …they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images … they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator… (Romans 1:21-25).

William Barclay offers this commentary about the flimsiness of idols: “In Greek the word idol has in it the sense of unreality. Plato used it for the illusions of this world as opposed to the unchangeable realities of eternity.” Our puny thoughts about God can create the idols that keep us from the reality of God. 

So how do we avoid this idolatry? Quite simply: we smash every mental idol!

…We refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the true knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ… (2 Corinthians 10:5).

So… what idols do you need to smash?

Join us next Sunday as we continue our series The Love In The Law.

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Sep-22-14

Loving Obedience

posted by Craig T. Owens

Pastor Craig shared with us about the First Commandment in our series The Love In The Law. Here’s the recap he posted on his blog

Love and obeySuppose you had to do a secret project on a remote island. In fact, the island is so remote that it doesn’t even have a name or show up on a map. I am your only point of contact, and the only one with the latitude and longitude coordinates to come get you. You have a satellite phone to use. If I truly cared about you, I would give you the precise sequence of digits to reach me. If I didn’t care about you, I’d let you call any number you wanted to call: perhaps you would eventually reach someone who could help you.

The most loving thing I could do for you is to make sure you knew the one number to call in order to get the help you needed. 

This is exactly how God starts the Ten CommandmentsAnd God spoke all these words: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.”

How confusing and utterly unloving it would be if God said, “Call any number you want to see if you can find the help you need.” Instead, in His great love for us God says, “I am the only One you will ever need!”

Notice the wording here: “…I am the LORD your God…”

  • I AM—all that you need.
  • the—not one among many, but the One and Only.
  • LORD—God’s covenant name: Jehovah, His name of personal relationship.
  • your—this is a you-me relationship, not a you-it relationship.
  • God—the All-Powerful, All-Loving One.

This First Commandment is the orientating commandment. When we see all of God’s commandments are rooted in His love (by the way, God uses the phrase the LORD your God five times in the Ten Commandments), everything else in our lives and attitudes is properly aligned.

Jesus demonstrated this for us. He said He loved His Father and therefore obeyed all of His commands (John 14:31). Christ’s obedience was motivated and aligned by love. The Apostle John said this loving obedience is to be the distinguishing characteristic for us too:

This is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3)

We honor God and obey the First Commandment best when we know He is the One Who loves us enough to say, “I am the only One you need. Don’t look to anyone or anything else, but just come to Me!”

We are continuing our series The Love In The Law next Sunday. Please join us!

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Sep-15-14

Guardrails

posted by Craig T. Owens

Pastor Craig kicked off our series The Love In The Law with an interesting way of thinking about God’s laws. Check out the sermon recap he posted on his blog.

GuardrailWe need a different way of thinking about God’s laws. We can’t think of them as a bunch of Thou-shalt-nots, because—as I blogged last week—that would mean we would have to look at The Lawgiver in an unbiblical way.

So let’s try this…

Suppose you are out for a drive on a crisp fall afternoon in a brand new sports car. You are really excited to see what this car can do! I’ll bet as you drive along the straight stretches of road, you will see very few guardrails along the sides. The guardrails you do see on the straight stretches usually protect us from things like rivers, roads passing underneath us, or perhaps a steep drop-off.

When you come into a tight turn, in addition to seeing a curved-arrow sign and perhaps a sign cautioning you to reduce speed, you are very likely to see guardrails along the turns.

Do those guardrails make you feel ripped off? Do they rob you of driving enjoyment? Have you ever felt like, “I really wish those guardrails were gone, because I’d love to get a couple of my tires off the side of the road”? Of course not!

We all know that those guardrails are there to protect us. In fact, the guardrails actually increase our driving enjoyment, because the dangerous places have been identified, and the metal guardrails will keep us from going somewhere that could be fatal.

This is a good way to think of God’s laws.

Abundant lifeJesus told us that He had come not to remove the guardrails, but to fulfill them through His life, death and resurrection (see Matthew 5:17-20 and Luke 22:20). Jesus didn’t come to rob us of life!

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10).

Far from ripping us off and saying “No!” to us, Jesus came to show us that God’s laws were rooted in God’s love. He came for us to see that God’s laws are His guardrails to keep us away from the places that are dangerous, and perhaps even fatal.

If God didn’t love us, He would let us do whatever we wanted to do. But He does love us, and so He gives us His guardrails to keep us safe. Instead of looking at His laws as something which is robbing you of life, see them as protections that are giving you more abundant life!

We are continuing our series called The Love In The Law next Sunday, and we’d love to have you join us!

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Sep-11-14

The Love In The Law

posted by Craig T. Owens

Love In The LawWhen someone says “Law” what sort of words come to your mind. Do you think of words like: restrictive? killjoy? barriers? hindrances? no fun?

If you’re a Christian, perhaps the same descriptive words come to mind when you think of biblical commandments. Maybe you think, “Don’t do that” (or for those of you who think in King James English: Thou shalt not).

But if we think of the law/commandments that way, that also means we have to think of the Lawgiver that way. In other words, God becomes a Policeman. He is closely watching to see who will break His laws so that He can dispense the appropriate punishment. After all, if the laws are a bunch of no-nos, then Someone has to be watching for law-breakers and handing out the penalties.

If that’s the case, what do we do with the Bible’s description of God that says “God is love”? If the Lawgiver is Love, how does that change our view of the laws themselves?

It must mean that God’s laws are an expression of His love. It must mean that His love is in the laws He has given us.

It must means that God’s laws are NOT no-nos, BUT yes-yeses. 

Join us this Sunday at Calvary Assembly of God as Pastor Craig talks about The Love In The Law. We’ll be working our way through the Ten Commandments, especially looking at God’s love that make each commandment a giant YES for our lives. Prayerfully, this series will completely change how we view God’s laws and commands.

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