Calvary Assembly of God

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Jun-27-16

12 Blessings While Going Through A Valley

posted by Craig T. Owens

Continuing our look at the Psalms Of Ascent, Pastor Craig encouraged those walking through a valley time in their life. Here is a recap from his blog

Watch overValley times come to all people. Even Christians.

The Songs Of Ascent in the Psalms imply this, since the pilgrims are ascending from a valley to the place of worship in Jerusalem. But this idea of going through a valley is especially seen in Psalm 121.

The song starts by saying I lift my eyes up to the hills. He then sings that he found his help in God. This idea of help is not what we think of in today’s world. It’s not like dialing 9-1-1, reporting our need, and waiting for help to arrive. It’s not even like driving to a hospital, checking into the emergency room, and waiting for a doctor to see us.

The idea of help in the Bible is a picture of surrounding. It’s not something we have to wait to arrive, but something—or should I say Someone—Who is already right there!

In verses 4-8 the phrase watch over is used five times. This too gives us the idea of the closeness of our help. The Hebrew word translated watch over has four powerful word pictures:

  1. Gardener carefully watching over his precious garden.
  2. Soldier dutifully guarding a valuable treasure.
  3. Watchman diligently scanning the horizon for any approaching enemies.
  4. Shepherd lovingly attending to his flock.

I especially like the picture of shepherd, because of another valley reference. The opening words to Psalm 23 are, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Then we read what the Good Shepherd does for His sheep when they are in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Our Shepherd…

  1. Gives us His confidence so they we will fear no evil
  2. Reveals His close, intimate presence
  3. Protects us with His rod
  4. Guides us with His staff
  5. Brings comfort to our hurts
  6. Provides us with food
  7. Anoints us with His blessings
  8. Pours out His overflowing blessings
  9. Allows His goodness and love to always follow us
  10. Gives us the assurance of eternal life

Then adding a couple of more blessings from Psalm 121, we see He…

11.  Never lets our foot slip (121:3)

12. Never sleeps or slumbers, so that we can rest securely (121:3-4)

Remember these songs of ascent are sung by those coming out of the valley. They are sung to remind us of God’s deliverance, they are also sung as encouragement to those still in the Valley.

Keep singingJesus went through the darkest Valley anyone has ever gone through. It wasn’t just the valley of the shadow of death, He went through death, hell and the grave. He overcame for you and me! He now walks with us in our valleys. He says to us, “I’ve been there, done that, and have the scars to prove it. I will never leave you or forsake you. I know this valley. I know how to get you out of this valley. Trust Me!”

We, too, who have been through the valleys and are now singing the song of ascent, need to sing loudly for those who are still in the valleys. We need to sing songs of assurance to them: “I have been in that same valley. I know how dark it is. But I know God watched over me and brought me safely through. Now I have a much better vantage point. And I say to you, trust Him! He is watching over you too. He will not let your foot slip. He will not sleep or slumber. He will protect you, and anoint you, and feed you, and give you His own dear presence. Don’t stop walking!”

We’ll be continuing our look at the Psalms Of Ascent in two weeks. But first, join us this Sunday, July 3, for our church picnic!

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Jun-23-16

Sunday Picnic

posted by Craig T. Owens

Church picnicWe are looking forward to celebrating the July 4th weekend with our church family!

Instead of having our July 3 Sunday morning service at our usual location, we will be heading to Lincoln Lake for some music, food, games, and water baptism. You can meet in the Red Hawk parking lot at 10:30am to carpool with others, or just meet us at the park at 11:00am.

The church will be providing the hotdogs (along with all the fixin’s) and some drinks. We’re asking everyone to bring a dish to pass, and your own plates and silverware. Some suggestions of what to bring:

  • Salad
  • Corn on the cob
  • Beans
  • Desserts
  • Iced tea
  • Lemonade
  • Bottled water
  • Pop
  • Chips

We will have access to the lake for both swimming and games, as well as water baptism for anyone desiring to do so. It’s going to be a great day on Sunday, July 3, with friends and family!

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Jun-20-16

The Key Decision For Influential Men

posted by Craig T. Owens

Yesterday Pastor Craig encouraged all the men with a powerful example from the Bible. Here is the recap he posted on his blog.

Influence like JesusNo matter how you look at it, being a Dad is hard work! Men have this constant balancing act between being tough and being tender. Guys have to have their game face on at work, and their family face on at home. They’ve got to work hard knocking down work competitors, and then work just as hard building up their family members.

But there is one key decision that will determine how successful a man will be at work, at home, in his social circles, and even in his relationship with God. 

In Acts 10 we meet a centurion named Cornelius. Centurions were professional military officers in charge of a centuria (usually 100 soldiers). Centurions were always “on the clock,” never letting down their guard nor their professionalism.

All of the centurions mentioned in the New Testament have noble characteristics associated with them. Whereas someone might be uncertain how a typical Roman soldier would behave, people felt more assured when the centurion was on the scene. Even Roman governors like Pilate, and Jewish kings like Herod, all seemed to fully trust the judgement, honesty, and resourcefulness of centurions.

Centurions worked hard to get where they were, and had some well-earned perks:

  • Good pay (one built a temple, Luke 7:1-5).
  • “Men of authority” with soldiers and servants reporting to them (Matthew 8:8-9).
  • Opportunity for advancement (Rome was the dominate world force).
  • A certain degree of autonomy (they had their own residences (Matthew 8; Acts 10).

In order to keep this position, they would have to buy into kurios Caesar (Caesar is lord). To do otherwise was to put their position and future advancement at risk.

Yet Cornelius was different. 

He was a trusted centurion, but something unusual stood out about his life. Luke the historian describes him as devout and God-fearing, mentioning his pious activities of prayer and giving to the poor. Cornelius’ own soldiers referred to him as righteous and respected by notable people in the community.

But probably most telling of all: God noticed how committed Cornelius was (see Acts 10:3-4)!

Cornelius had a lot to lose by rejecting kurios Caesar for, as the Christians said, kurios Iesous (Jesus is Lord). Yet after carefully weighing his options, he saw that trusting God was the best thing he could do for his family. His view of the eternal outweighed anything that he could gain in the temporal.

This one decision changed everything! 

Because Cornelius trusted God, look at the expansiveness of his influence, not only at home, but at work, and among his friends and extended family, and throughout his community:

  • His family—ALL his family were devout and God-fearing (v. 2)
  • His employees—a devout soldier (v. 7)
  • His community—respected by ALL the Jewish people (v. 22)
  • His relatives and friends—his relatives and close friends (v. 24)
  • In fact everyone around him—we are ALL here in the presence of God (v. 33)
  • And most importantly, with God—your prayers and gifts have come up as a memorial offering before God (v. 4)

Fellas, you can have this same level of influence if you, too, will decide to live karios Iesous: Jesus is Lord. If you will do that, you can have said about your life what was said about Cornelius and Jesus: “God anointed ___________ with the Holy Spirit and power, and he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him!” (see Acts 10:38).

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Jun-16-16

Dads: Godly Influencers

posted by Craig T. Owens

Godly Influencer - fathers dayIt’s hard working being a Dad!

  • We have to be tough enough to kill spiders, yet tender enough to attend a princess tea party.
  • We have to bring home the bacon, yet not eat too much bacon so our cholesterol doesn’t get out of control.
  • We have to know the strategy of football, and the scoring for competitive cheerleading.
  • We have to be strong and gentle, smart and compassionate.
  • We have to climb the ladder at work, and build a solid foundation at home.
  • We have to knock down our competitors, and build up our children.

The Bible has a lot to say to encourage Dads to do all of these things, and to become the godly influencer God wants us to be in all aspect of our lives.

Please join us this Sunday as we learn from a man in the Bible who had everything to lose at work by doing things God’s way. Yet he chose God’s way and reaped some amazing results. Hope to see all the Dads this Sunday at 10:30am.

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Jun-6-16

Overcoming Anxiety

posted by Craig T. Owens

As we began our new series Sunday, we began a journey higher into God. Here’s the recap Pastor Craig posted on his blog

God's answersI remember visiting Denver, Colorado. The scenery was so breathtaking, so I decided to go for an early morning hike. Quickly I discovered that my hike became breathtaking in more than one way! Even though I was in good shape, I had a hard time getting my breath because of the mile-high atmosphere.

I learned later that this is why many top athletes train in high elevation: it increases their lung capacity and endurance so that they now have an advantage when they compete against others.

God trains us on His mountains, but He made us to live and minister in the valleys. Our ascent into God’s mountaintop presence is so important for godly maturity!

In the first song of ascent, I noticed something unusual in the very first verse. Some Bibles translate the verbs in the present tense (call on the Lord and He answers me), but some translations use the past tense (called on the Lord and He answered me). Which is correct? Actually both of them are correct!

The verbs are written in the perfect tense—something done at a specific point in the past, but still relevant and powerful in the present. In other words, we can say it like this, “I called on the Lord in the past and He most definitely answered me. That gives me confidence to call on the Lord today, knowing that He will answer me again.”

Past answers lead to present power and future hope.

But—oh wow!!—check out how God answers us! The word literally means that God answers us in song. God so loves it when you trust Him enough to bring all your cares to Him, that He sings His answer to you. For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs (Zephaniah 3:17).

If we don’t continue to recall how God has answered us in the past, we’re missing out on the blessing of hearing Him sing His answers over us again today. As a result, we begin to live in the world’s valley-level turmoil and anxiety.

Peace is longed for in verses 6 and 7. The Christian wants to live in peace, but the world loves turmoil. Want proof? Just look at what makes the headlines today! The solution is to keep going back to God again and again and again—

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Check out the full message to find the peace you are longing for!

If you don’t have a home church, please join us this Sunday as we continue our look at the songs of ascent, or you can tune in to our live Periscope broadcast from wherever you are.

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Jun-2-16

Psalms Of Ascent

posted by Craig T. Owens

The Psalms Of AscentEvery year, Jews from around the world made four pilgrimages to Jerusalem for various feasts and sacrifices. These journeys reminded them of God’s goodness as they went to the Temple to worship, and they helped refocus on God’s ways as they returned to their regular routines.

Jerusalem is over 2500 feet above sea level, so the pilgrimage there was a physical workout as well as a spiritual workout. So these times climbing up into God’s presence were beneficial for God’s people, preparing them to minister in their cities in the following months.

The Book of Psalms contains 15 songs that these pilgrims would sing to and with each other as they traveled up to Jerusalem. These Psalms of Ascent are still instructive for Christians today.

Please join us this Sunday as we begin a look at the life-changing truths these pilgrimage songs can still teach today to all of God’s people.

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May-26-16

What If?

posted by Craig T. Owens

What IfPastor Josh Schram has a challenging an exciting word to share with us this Sunday morning.

Be sure to invite your friends and family to join us this Sunday at 10:30am!

Our Impact Youth Group has been growing strong disciples of Jesus Christ under Pastor Josh’s ministry, and we are looking forward to his message for us this Sunday morning as well!

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Apr-28-16

Blessing Others

posted by Craig T. Owens

Pastor Craig wrote:

“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.

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Apr-21-16

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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Feb-18-16

I Wish My Pastor Knew…

posted by Craig T. Owens

Pastor Craig shared on his blog some information Pastor Josh learned from the students in the Impact Youth Group. This emphasizes the reason why we need to support this ministry in every way possible!

I wish my pastor knewOur youth pastor passed out cards to the youth group, and told them they could anonymously finish this sentence: “I wish my pastor knew…

  • … that I regret a lot of my past
  • … I don’t know if I believe in my religion fully
  • … I need to talk to God more
  • … I am nervous about school
  • … even though I act happy I’m the total opposite
  • … I’m really scared to go back to school. I’m scared that I’m going to get really depressed again. I am already struggling with self-harm and being so emotionally tired. I’m scared it’s going to get worse. I just want to be okay. I want to be better.
  • … I have a hard time trying not to hate myself
  • … sometimes I’m very selfish and not Christ-like … a lot of the time actually
  • … that I’m troubled with life
  • … I was losing my mind, feel like I’m not where I need to be, I don’t know where I belong
  • … that I have very little faith, and I am trying to get closer to God. And that I live a sin
  • … about the situation with my brother and how we haven’t spoken in six years

Wow!

Here’s what I learned—

  1. I need to pray more for our youth pastors a lot more than I have been!
  2. Lots of people are hurting. Not just youth, but adults too.
  3. Jesus loves hurting people.
  4. What a privilege—and responsibility—I have as a pastor to show the love of Jesus!
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