Calvary Assembly of God

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Sep-18-14

See You At The Pole

posted by Craig T. Owens

SYATPOn the fourth Wednesday of each September, students around the country are encouraged to gather at their school’s flagpole before school starts for a time of prayer.

This year’s See You At The Pole is September 24.

We are happy once again to help facilitate this student-led prayer time. Pastor Josh will be at the middle school prayer time, Pastor Craig will be at Red Hawk Elementary, and Pastor Tom Holloway from Solon Center Wesleyan Church will be at the high school.

You can assist too by helping your student get to school a bit earlier for this prayer time, and by praying along with us from your home, office, or during your morning commute.

Thanks for praying for our students!

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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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Sep-8-14

Mobile, Messy & Meaningful

posted by Craig T. Owens

If you missed Pastor Craig’s message yesterday about the role of the church, please read this synopsis he published on his blog

21st-century Americans in Christ's timeI think we have made the Church and Christianity something different than what the New Testament shows us. We’ve created far too many “things” which simply aren’t in the Bible. That’s not to say these thingst are wrong, but they may become stumbling blocks to us if we make secondary things the primary thing.

So what is the primary thing about church?

It might surprise you to know that the word church is only used twice by Jesus (Matthew 16:18, 18:17). He used a Greek word ekklesia, which meant a gathering of people called out from their homes into some public place. This word originally had more of a “town hall” meaning to it, but Jesus used this as a starting point to show us true church.

In Christ’s time the church for Him was…

Mobile—wherever He was, church was. Look at the extensive traveling He did. He held as many “church services” in people’s dining rooms as He did in the synagogues.

Messy—often as Jesus was speaking…

  • People constantly coming and going
  • Pharisees yapping and interrupting
  • Kids playing
  • Women sitting at His feet, anointing Him, crying over Him
  • Food and drink were usually involved
  • Foot washing was taking place
  • When He was outdoors: wind, waves, farmers, passers-by…
  • When He was indoors: food being served and eaten, roofs being ripped off…
  • People constantly interrupted His sermons: “Blessed is Your mother…”; “Tell my brother to give me my inheritance…”; “My daughter is dying!…”

Meaningful

  • “I must go through Samaria.”
  • “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
  • “Zaccheus, today I’m eating dinner at your house.”
  • “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me to preach good news to the poor, freedom to the captive, sight to the blind, favor to the oppressed.”

Jesus asked His disciples Who they thought He was (see Matthew 16:13-18). The correct answer was Peter’s declaration, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” Jesus said, “You’re right, and on that declaration I will build My church.”

Our job is to make Jesus known as the Christ, the Son of the living God (v. 16).

Christ’s job is to build His Church (v. 18).

He didn’t tell us to build a building and invite people to come on Sundays.

He didn’t tell us to start a Sunday School or a feeding program or a youth group.

There’s nothing wrong with these things, but they are not the main thing. 

The main thing is Jesus being seen as the Son of the living God. Where we are gathered together in that confession and purpose—even just two or three of us—that’s where His church is (see Matthew 18:20).

We must be mobile, taking a meaningful message into people’s messy lives. That is true church.

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Sep-1-14

Spirit-led

posted by Craig T. Owens

We had an amazing service yesterday! Check out how Pastor Craig described it on his blog

John GunnI love when this happens.

I love when the Holy Spirit takes over, our throws our agenda out the window.

I love when we let the Holy Spirit have His way.

Our special guest, John Gunn, came to Calvary A/G today with a word to share with us. But as the service progressed, and as our missionary guest shared some words she felt were specific to us, Pastor Gunn yielded to the Spirit’s prompting.

I love when a man of God says, “I had a message prepared for today, but I’m not going to share it. God has given me something else to share.”

It was a timely, anointed, powerful word. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

Thank you, John, for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

Thank You, Holy Spirit, for speaking to us through Your servants.

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Aug-25-14

The Strength & The Story In Unity

posted by Craig T. Owens

If you missed our combined UNITED service yesterday, here is a recap from Pastor Craig’s blog.

© Lori Oxford Photography

© Lori Oxford Photography

Yesterday I had the honor of speaking at our annual United service in Cedar Springs. I shared something I noticed about the New Testament church: These Christians spent a lot of time together, and that togetherness became a source of strength and told a story to the those watching the Christians.

In passages like Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-35, we see Christians not only worshiping together, but actively involved in living out their faith. Luke, the writer of the Book of Acts, captures something that Eugene Peterson would summarize this way—

“Christians are a community of people who are visible together at worship but who remain in relationship through the week in witness and service.” 

This was not just Christians helping Christians, but Christians helping all the people in their communities. It was Christians who formed the first:

  • Blind asylums
  • Medical dispensaries
  • Hospitals
  • Orphanages
  • Elderly care home
  • Feeding programs for the poor

And this caught the notice of everyone. Aristides wrote to Emperor Hadrian about the Christians—

“They help those who offend them, making friends of them; do good to their enemies. They don’t adore idols; they are kind, good, modest, sincere, they love one another; don’t despise widows; protect the orphans; those who have much give without grumbling to those in need. When they meet strangers, they invite them to their homes with joy, for they recognize them as true brothers…. When a poor man dies, if they become aware, they contribute according to their means for his funeral; if they come to know that some people are persecuted or sent to prison or condemned for the sake of Christ’s name, they put their alms together and send them to those in need. If they can do it, they try to obtain their release. When a slave or a beggar is in need of help, they fast two or three days, and give him the food they had prepared for themselves, because they think that he too should be joyful….”

The Apostle Paul challenges followers of Jesus to constantly be growing in the outward demonstrations of our faith: to live our lives worthy of God’s calling, to get along with others, and to be making every effort to keep the bond on unity (see Ephesians 4:1-3).

With this in mind I have to ask myself: Am I doing this in my home town? Is there a strength and a story of Christ’s love that is told in my unity with other Christians? Am I helping to address the needs in Cedar Springs? What are people saying about Jesus because of my unity and service with other Christians?

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Aug-18-14

When The Game Stands Tall (movie review)

posted by Craig T. Owens

Pastor Craig is encouraging everyone to go see When The Game Stands Tall this weekend. Check out this post from his blog.

When The Game Stands TallI had the privilege of seeing an advanced showing of When The Game Stands Tall which opens in theaters this weekend (August 22). When this movie was over, I was the one standing tall because it is such an inspirational story.

The movie opens as the De La Salle High School football team is in the midst of a 151 game winning streak. Think about that: in 12 years this high school football team hadn’t lost! How did they do it? Through the careful coaching of Bob Ladouceur and Terry Eidson, and through the dedication of players that bought into their principles.

But the team lost track of who they were and how they had achieved such success. The unthinkable happens: De La Salle loses a game!

How the coaches and players respond to this loss is the real heart of the story, and I’m so glad that it’s being told on the big screen. This movie is completely family-friendly, with no questionable content at all.

Here’s the deal: If you want Hollywood to keep making movies like this, you MUST make plans to see it on opening weekend (August 22-24). The movie executives base their decisions on box office sales that first weekend, so it will largely determine whether they will make more pro-family movies like this one.

Here is a behind the scenes look at the making of When The Game Stands Tall that I think captures the essence of the heart of this story → click here to go to YouTube.

Please go see this movie THIS weekend!

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Jun-19-14

An Easy Way To Help Families In Cedar Springs

posted by Craig T. Owens

Alpha bottlesWe were happy to be a part of Alpha Family Center’s Lifewalk and Liferun again this year. If you didn’t hear the good news, nearly 200 people participated in these two events to raise over $11,000 to help Alpha continue to minister to young families in Cedar Springs!

That’s great, but our support for Alpha shouldn’t be limited to just one day each year.

Here’s a real easy way to help. Pick up a baby bottle from the lobby this week, and begin to put your loose change into the bottle. When the bottle is full, bring it back to Calvary and we’ll deliver it to Alpha. Those funds will go towards diapers, baby formula, and other items to help the families that depend on Alpha.

C’mon, you know that loose change is just weighing you down anyhow, so let’s put it to a great use!

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May-13-14

Baby Dedication

posted by Craig T. Owens

How wonderful to be able to dedication Oliver Jude Tolar and his family to God!

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Apr-27-14

Earth Day 2014

posted by Craig T. Owens

We came, we saw, we cleaned!

photo 1 photo 2

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