Calvary Assembly of God

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Jan-26-15

Fill-In-The-Blank Differently

posted by Craig T. Owens

Pastor Craig continued our series on prayer with an amazing story from the life of Elisha. Here’s the recap he posted on his blog.

God gives backHow would you fill in this blank: “The Lord gives, and the Lord ________  _________.”

I had some misconceptions about God when I was a kid. I didn’t want to pray, “God, You can use me however You see best” because I just knew He would send me to do something gross. Or we would sing a song like I Have Decided To Follow Jesus and one of the verses said, “Though none go with me still I will follow.” I didn’t really like that because I liked my friends and family; I liked my life just as it was.

Job was a righteous man, and some really bad things happened to him. He’s the one who said things like, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21), and, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10).

But there was still another 40 chapters to go! In the very last chapter of his story we read this―

After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before(Job 42:10)

In hindsight, I think Job might have said something different: “The Lord gives, and the Lord gives back!” But this insight would have come only after “Job had prayed.” Getting into God’s presence helps us capture the heart of God.

  • A grieving mother learned this when God gave her a son and gave back her resurrected son to her (2 Kings 4:8-37).
  • And then again when God gave her their family land and gave back the lost income (2 Kings 8:1-6).
  • The apostles learned this when Jesus gave them His presence and gave back a position of authority (Matthew 19:27-28).
  • We can also know that Jesus will give us a hundred times what we’ve given up for Him, and give us eternal life too (Matthew 19:29).

God never takes anything from us unless He intends to give back something even greater, something eternal, something unbreakable, something un-losable!

You will only begin to see this better when you get in His presence. “The object of secret prayer is to unite us to God that we may know His abiding presence with us” (Andrew Murray). It’s time to fill-in-the-blank differently! 

We’ll be continuing our series on The Prayers Of Elisha this coming Sunday, and we would love to have you join us!

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Jan-19-15

Your Greatest Stress Reliever

posted by Craig T. Owens

As we continue our series on prayer, here is what Pastor Craig posted on his blog as a recap of yesterday’s message. 

Stress relieverSadly our country is anxious and worried. Based on the number of anti-depressants that are prescribed each year, we are a people dealing with a lot of issues!

When worry or fear begin to interfere with normal thinking and functioning, doctors call it anxiety disorder―that is, disorder in our lives creates the anxiety, and more anxiety creates even more disorder.

What causes anxiety in the first place? One of the main culprits is chronic stress. Things like marital problems, financial pressures, relationship breakdowns, emotional traumas trigger the fight-or-flight responses in our bodies. This leads to increased blood pressure and heart rate, interrupted sleep patterns, digestion issues … and all of this leads to the chronic stress, which leads to anxiety, which leads to even more disorder!

But here’s the great news―Getting into God’s presence could be your greatest stress reliever!

There’s a story in 2 Kings of a woman who is clearly stressed out. Her husband has died, she’s exhausted all her resources trying to settle up with creditors, she has sold nearly everything in her home, and one creditor is ready to carry her sons off into slavery. Talk about anxiety!

Elisha asks this widow two questions:

  • How can I help you? Jesus said that our Heavenly Father knows our needs before we even ask Him, but in the very next verse Jesus says, “This then is how you should pray…” (Matthew 6:8-9).
  • What do you have? God will use even what we think is insignificant to show His superabundance in our lives!

God did meet this woman’s needs. He gave her enough to pay off her creditor. But that wasn’t all―God also gave this family enough to keep on living stress-free!

God Who, by the action of His power that is at work within us, is able to carry out His purpose and do superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think―infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams. (Ephesians 3:20, AMP)

Don’t try to carry all your stress yourself, cast ALL your anxiety on Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

I’ll say it again―Getting into God’s presence could be your greatest stress reliever!

We are continuing our series on prayer next Sunday, and we hope you can join us!

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Jan-15-15

Shop To Support Calvary

posted by Craig T. Owens

Amazonsmile

Do you shop on Amazon.com? Here’s a great way to shop and support the ministries of Calvary Assembly of God at the same time: Shop with a “smile.”

Amazon.com has launched a program that gives 0.5% of your purchase to the charity you choose to support. Simply go to smile.amazon.com, add your purchases to your chart, and check-out. That’s it! Then Amazon will send a donation to the church each quarter.

Thanks for helping support the ministries of our church!

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Jan-12-15

Pray & Dig

posted by Craig T. Owens

As we continued our series on prayer, here is how Pastor Craig recapped his message from yesterday. 

Pray & DigThe fact is far too many of us get ourselves into hot water all on our own, and then we want to call on God like an insurance policy to bail us out. We usually have some reasonable-sounding excuses:

  • “It seemed like a good idea at the time”
  • “It was so practical and common sense I didn’t think I needed to pray about it”
  • “I’ve done this dozens of times before and never had any trouble.”

There’s a story in 2 Kings where three kings got together for a battle. To them it seemed like a pretty good idea―there were three of them going to war against just one king, they knew the terrain, so it would be an easy victory.

Except it wasn’t.

The Bible says that after a 7-day roundabout march, the three armies were out of food, out of water, stranded in the desert, and about to be defeated without the enemy ever firing an arrow or swinging a sword.

One king wanted to blame God. The king of Israel said, “Bad news! God has gotten us three kings out here to dump us into the hand of Moab.” (2 Kings 3:10, MSG). But fortunately the king of Judah thought to ask, “Isn’t there a prophet of God around that can call on God for us?” (v. 11).

Here’s one of the most amazing things: Elisha―the representative of God’s presence―was right there with them! Think about that … these kings hadn’t asked God for help, and hadn’t invited Elisha along, but there was the prophet right in their midst!

It’s a good reminder for us: God is ALWAYS with us. But it’s up to us to recognize Him and go to Him in prayer.

When these kings finally asked God for help with their water problem, Elisha said, “It’s an easy thing for God to provide water for you. You’ve prayed, now it’s time to prepare for His supply.” The armies were called on to dig lots and lots of ditches. God would send a supply of water without rain to take care of the troops. And if that wasn’t enough, God also said He would give them victory over their enemy. As Matthew Henry wrote, “God’s grants out-do our requests and expectations.”

Pray first. Pray continually. Pray always. And then when God tells you to dig ditches, get ready for His abundant blessings. But get the order right: Don’t dig and then pray; pray first, then dig!

Please join us next Sunday as we continue our series The Prayers Of Elisha.

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Jan-8-15

Sanctity Of Human Life Month

posted by Craig T. Owens

SOHLS PPT2January is the month of new beginnings, so it’s an appropriate month for us to focus on the sanctity of human life. Life is precious. All life is precious.

God determines our day of conception (Psalm 139:16), the value of our life (Ephesians 2:10), and the day of our death (Job 14:5). Taking any of these things out of God’s hand, and putting them into our own hands, not only constitutes murder but dishonors God.

We celebrate life and honor our Creator by promoting life.

One way we can do this is support organizations that support life. In Cedar Springs we support Alpha Family Center. If you would like to help us, please consider making a donation to Alpha, or donate some needed supplies like diapers, pull-ups or formula.

And especially we need to pray.

  • Pray for those who are pregnant to choose life.
  • Pray for the counselors at pro-life organizations to have wisdom.
  • Pray that pro-life legislators will have influence among their peers.
  • Pray that life will be promoted. All life.
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Jan-5-15

Pray Like Jesus

posted by Craig T. Owens

Pastor Craig opened our new series on prayer on Sunday. Here’s a recap he posted on his blog

Private prayerThere’s a really interesting story recorded in the gospels of MatthewMark and Luke. It’s the one where a father brings his demon-possessed boy to nine of Jesus’ disciples to ask for their help. But the father sadly reports back to Jesus, “But they could not help.”

Jesus calls His disciples out. He says that their faith is lacking. Even the boy’s father is short on faith. He says to Jesus, “If you can do anything, please help us.” To which Jesus says, “‘If you can’? Anything is possible if you believe.” Jesus rebukes the demon, which immediately comes out of the boy.

Now here’s the interesting part: His disciples asked Him, “Why couldn’t we do that?” Jesus says, “This kind comes out only by prayer.” Let’s review all the words Jesus said to the father and his boy:

  • “How long has he been like this?”
  • “‘If you can’? Anything is possible if you believe.”
  • “Demon, come out of him and never enter again.”

So here’s my question―Jesus said the demon was cast out by prayer. So when did Jesus pray? Look at those words He said again … which of those was His prayer?

Actually, if you look through all four gospels you won’t find Jesus laying His hands on people and saying, “Heavenly Father, will You please heal this leprosy?” Or, “Please bring life back into this little girl.” Instead He says, “Be clean” or “Little girl, get up.

So I ask again: When did Jesus pray? The answer is―He prayed all the time.

  • Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. (Mark 1:35)
  • After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone. (Matthew 14:23)
  • But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16)

Do you want to pray like Jesus? He prayed all the time. He had times of prayer with His Heavenly Father, but He was in unbroken communication with Him.

Private prayer leads to public power! 

That’s how we can pray like Jesus!

We will be learning more about prayer in our series The Prayers Of Elisha next Sunday. Please join us!

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Jan-1-15

The Prayers Of Elisha

posted by Craig T. Owens

The Prayers Of ElishaElisha was a prophet whose name means “God is salvation.” And God did show His saving, healing, sustaining power through Elisha in 28 separate miracles.

But here’s the cool thing: Elisha is a regular guy. He comes from an average family, from one of the lesser known tribes of Israel. Elisha was a farmer, and had a few guys working for him. Other than that, we don’t know much about his background. Elisha truly was an Average Joe.

Elisha is a perfect guy for us Average Joes to learn more about the power of prayer. What God did through Elisha, He wants to do through all of us too. Please join us this Sunday as we kick-off a new series called The Prayers Of Elisha, and get ready to see your prayer life grow.

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Dec-1-14

Setting The Example For Us

posted by Craig T. Owens

FundraiserThis is from our Pastor’s blog

When Paul was writing to his young protege Timothy he said, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). I was so proud of a couple of young people who did this for us at Calvary Assembly of God yesterday!

Savannah has been raising money for childhood cancer research. She shared with us how this is the least-funded form of cancer research, and that every three minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer. “That is unacceptable,” Savannah said. So in an amazing example-setting move for all of us, Savannah and two of her coworkers worked to bring in over $3000 in donations for childhood cancer research, and they shaved their heads as a sign of solidarity with the children undergoing cancer treatments. By the way, you can still donate to this noble cause by clicking here.

Then Josh brought us a challenging message entitled Are You Growing? Taking his text from 1 Corinthians 3:6, Josh reminded us that God makes things grow, but we can put ourselves in a place for Him to do that. Just as with a plant, our spiritual growth requires:

  • Sunshine—basking in God’s presence.
  • Water—soaking up God’s Word.
  • Nutrients—surrounding ourselves with the people and things that encourage growth.
  • Time—the dedication and investment in God’s process.

I am so proud of Josh and Savannah for setting an example for us to follow!

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Nov-20-14

We ♥ Babies!

posted by Craig T. Owens

What a blessing to dedicate Lucas & Faith Santos to God, along with their parents Alex & Angie!

FullSizeRender FullSizeRender-1 FullSizeRender-2

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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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