Calvary Assembly of God

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Jul-24-14

We ♥ United

posted by Craig T. Owens

For the past four summers we have done something very special on the fourth Sunday of August, and we’ll be doing that again this year: Attending the UNITED service in Morley Park.

UNITED is a time when we put aside any denominational labels, and come together as brothers and sister who are all a part of the same family of God. It’s an amazing time worshipping with 500+ other Christians in Cedar Springs!

We will not have our regular Sunday morning service on August 24, but we will gather at Morely Park for the 11am service. Please bring some lawn chairs to sit on, and also plan to stick around after the service for the free lunch which will be provided. And as an added bonus, Pastor Craig will be sharing the message this year!

You can get more details about UNITED by clicking here to go to their website.

 

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Jul-21-14

The Love & Hate Of God

posted by Craig T. Owens

If you missed the workout plan in Pastor Craig’s P119 Spiritual Workout message yesterday, here is a recap from his blog

SamekhI don’t think there’s anyone reading this that hasn’t—at one time or another, or perhaps even right now—struggled with feeling distant from God’s love. Maybe you felt like you blew it, or gave in to temptation, or things aren’t going as you had hoped, and you thought, “Where are You, God? Do You still care about me?” This message is for you!

“God is closer to us than we are to ourselves and that is why we do not notice Him.” —Thomas Merton

The section of the 119th Psalm called samekh (see verses 113-120) is a helpful passage for reminding ourselves just how near God is to us. Some people get nervous thinking about God being close to them, to the point where they want to run away. But you must have this clear in your mind—

God is near me to help and support me, not to harass and condemn me! 

Samekh means...Samekh is the only Hebrew letter which is completely enclosed. And when you look at it, samekh looks like a shield. Indeed the word means more than God’s omnipresence. Samekh means…

  • God’s never-ending support
  • God’s never-failing love
  • God’s never-stale mercies
  • God’s undiminished faithfulness
  • God’s unfathomable grace
  • God’s unquenchable hate

Wait a minute! God’s unquenchable hate?!? Yes! God loves you so much, that He hates anything that would draw you away from Him. So this section of Psalm 119 is filled with words like lovehoperefugeuphold, and sustain. But it also has words like hateaway from mereject, and discard.

God wants you to know how close He is to you. God is FOR you and He is AGAINST anything that would pull you away. Read the words in Psalm 91 and see how God protects you and then attacks the enemies of your soul. In the NewTestament, feel God’s closeness as we are told that…

Oh, how God love you! He wants you to feel His closeness, so He loves you and He hates the enemies of your soul! Bask in that today.

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Jul-14-14

Rewards For Faithfulness

posted by Craig T. Owens

As we re-started our P119 Spiritual Workout series, Pastor Craig showed us the rewards that come from faithfully following God’s Word. Check out this recap from his blog.

NunI unabashedly tell anyone who asks me what my favorite book is … It’s the Bible. I have yet to find such a collection of writings that work every single time they’re applied.

Two summers ago we began a series of messages on the 119th Psalm. It appears that the psalmist shares my passion for God’s Word, as he writes time and time again the difference Scripture makes in his life.

The other thing that makes this psalm so cool to me is the organization of the 176 verses into twenty-two 8-verse segments, with each verse in a segment beginning with the the same Hebrew letter as its title. In the Hebrew language, the letters in the alphabet had their own meaning. In English an “n” is simply spelled “n.” It has no other definition or meaning. But in Hebrew the letter nun has both a spelling and a meaning. Nun is spelled nun-vav-nun (final), and it means both faithfulness and the reward for faithfulness.

Look at the three Hebrew characters that spell nun. Reading right to left it tells a story and gives the meaning of the letter/word—the one who is humbled in faithfulness will be the one who stands in righteousness. The perfect example of this is Jesus, Who humbled Himself when He came to earth and to the Cross, and then was exalted by the Heavenly Father to wear the crown of righteousness (see Philippians 2:5-11 and Revelation 14:14). Paul starts this passage by calling on us to “have the same attitude as that of Jesus” (v. 5), and concludes with the call to stick with it all the way to the end (see vv. 12-13).

RewardsThe psalmist calls us to this same thing in nun (Psalm 119:105-112). The “bookend” verses say, “Your Word is a lamp for me… so my heart is set on keeping Your Word” (vv. 105 and 112). In between the psalmist commits himself to a life of humbly persevering to God’s ways, and reaps the rewards of a changed heart, the joy of the Lord, and a heritage to pass on to others.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day—and not only to me, but also TO ALL who have longed for His appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up (James 4:10).

My heart is set on keeping Your decrees to the very end (Psalm 119:112).

Rewards here (new heart, joy, heritage) AND rewards in Heaven (a crown of righteousness). How awesome is that!!

If you are in the Cedar Springs area, I will be continuing our series through Psalm 119 next Sunday, and I would love to have you join us.

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Jul-10-14

A Healthy P119 Workout

posted by Craig T. Owens

Here is how Pastor Craig describes our ongoing summer series…

P119Two summers ago I began a series of messages on Psalm 119. Since this psalm provides a pretty strenuous spiritual workout, I entitled the series The P119 Workout. I have had so many positive comments on this series, that we are continuing our workout again this summer.

The 119th Psalm is unique is several ways: it is the longest chapter in the Bible (176 verses) divided into 22 eight-verse segments. Each one of these segments starts with the same Hebrew letter of that section. And this chapter is totally devoted to the life-changing power of God’s Word.

Each week we’ll look at a new 8-verse segments to learn how to apply the principles to our daily lives. I will also share some on-your-own spiritual stretches you can do following each lesson.

I am really excited to continue this series! Please join me this coming Sunday and throughout the rest of the summer at 10:30am to get spiritually fit. (And if you want to get a little head start for this week, read Psalm 119:105-112.)

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Jul-7-14

Be A Witness

posted by Craig T. Owens

If you missed the final message in our Pentecostal Power series, here is a recap from Pastor Craig’s blog

Good newsJesus said we have some really, really, REALLY good news to share! It’s news about how much God loves us and wants us to know Him personally.

Jesus wanted us to spread the word far and wide about this really, really, REALLY good news, but He didn’t want us to try to do it in our own power. In fact, the last words He spoke to His disciples before ascending into Heaven were—

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Did you catch those words: power TO BE witnesses. The Holy Spirit provides us with the resident, miracle-working, moral, influential, and enabling power not to do witnessing, but to be witnesses.

“The Pentecostal believer is to be something, not just experience something. He or she must become a living witness of Christ on earth.” —Charles Crabtree

There are really two ways that we are witnesses for Him. Our witness is:

(1) Strategic

  • The New Testament believers strategically met house-to-house and in the Temple (Acts 2:46).
  • The church strategically picked leaders to help them be effective in their witness (Acts 6:2-3).
  • The Holy Spirit strategically picked missionaries to be witnesses in far-off lands (Acts 13:2-3).
  • Those missionaries were strategic in following up on their witnessing work (Acts 15:36).

(2) Spontaneous

  • The newly Spirit-baptized believers were able to spontaneously worship God (Acts 2:4) and testify of His power to others (Acts 2:14).
  • Peter could spontaneously respond to the crowd’s question after Peter had finished his sermon (Acts 2:37-39).
  • Peter and John had a spontaneous reply when the Sanhedrin called them in to testify (Acts 4:8).
  • This spontaneous witnessing power was available to them through the Holy Spirit just as Jesus had promised (Matthew 10:17-20).

If we try to just do witnessing, our strategy will be lacking and we’ll quite possibly be caught off-guard in a spontaneous setting. But when we allow the Holy Spirit’s power to transform us TO BE witnesses, our strategies are more effective and our spontaneous moments are too! The Holy Spirit helps us share the really, really, REALLY good news!

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Jul-3-14

1:one:(12)

posted by Craig T. Owens

Hey, Calvary Assembly of God, how did you do on your 1:one:(12) challenge for June? Hopefully you got your 1 in (or even more)! Whether you did nor not, July 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 Pentecost Power—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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Jun-30-14

Altar To Alter

posted by Craig T. Owens

In part 3 of our Pentecost Power series, Pastor Craig shared another role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Here is a recap of his message directly from his blog.

Altar to alterThe process of sanctification—or as I like remember the word: saint-ification—is the process whereby the Holy Spirit develops Christlike character in us. His process is immediate, personalized and ongoing. In other words, the Spirit is intimately and immediately involved in every aspect of our lives.

Christlikeness in us is described in the Bible with phrases like…

  • Being made new in the attitude of your minds; and putting on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:23-24).
  • Conformed to the likeness of God’s Son (Romans 8:29).

The Holy Spirit is often portrayed as fire. In fact, the Bible says that Jesus will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3:11). This is because in order for Christlike character to be formed in us, that character will have to be forged in us. Forged in the Spirit’s fire.

Look at two examples:

  • Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character (Psalm 105:19).
  • Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:8).

Here’s what I’ve learned—

We must altar our lives so that the Holy Spirit can alter our lives.

Unless we yield to what the Holy Spirit wants to do with us, He cannot and will not bring about the changes that will lead to more Christlikeness being revealed in us.

It may be painful to altar our lives, but the Apostle Paul says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

You altar, and then watch the Holy Spirit alter your life in a way that reveals God’s glory!

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Jun-26-14

Defeating satan

posted by Craig T. Owens

Another post from Pastor Craig’s blog. Join us this Sunday as we continue our series on Pentecost Power. 

Spiritual warfare.1The Bible tells us that satan is a formidable foe. He steals, he kills, he destroys. When he speaks, lies are all that come out of his mouth. He slanders, he deceives, he coaxes, he bullies; he does whatever he can to trip up as many people as he can.

Remember this: “The prince of this world now stands condemned” (John 16:11). He wants to take as many victims down with him as he can! Look what the Bible says about his powers—

  • He is more crafty (Genesis 3:1). This means he is extremely subtle. He seldom throws a huge blatant sin right in your face, but he whispers subtle suggestions.
  • He operates with mighty powers (Ephesians 6:12). He knows how to match strength for strength.
  • He knows the Bible (Luke 4:9-11). The difference is he only knows the words, but the scriptural text is not illuminated by the Holy Spirit to him.
  • He waits for the most opportune time (Luke 4:13) to pounce.

But “…that satan might outwit us… we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). What are his schemes?

  • Pride—“You can do it yourself.” This was his original downfall, and now he will use it on you.
  • Second-guessing—“Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1). He will try to make you think that God’s Word is out-of-date or irrelevant to you.
  • Condemning. Notice that satan wasn’t around when God showed up in the Garden of Eden. Instead he leaves you feeling like you’re unacceptable to God and that you need to hide from Him.

The way we overcome satan is the same way Jesus did it: Jesus quoted Scripture to refute each of satan’s temptations (see Luke 4:1-13). We are victorious in the exact same manner!

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… (Revelation 12:10-11).

Don’t try to go toe-to-toe with the devil because he is too strong for you to handle on your own! But with God’s Word as your weapon and the Holy Spirit as your Counselor, you can hurl him down every time!

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Jun-23-14

3 Steps To Better Bible Studies

posted by Craig T. Owens

If you missed part 2 in our series on Pentecost Power, Pastor Craig shared how the Holy Spirit wants to help us in our Bible reading and studying. Here’s a recap from his blog

Inspired WordThe Bible is God’s inspired Word—literally, that means it is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If the Holy Spirit inspired the Word to the biblical writers, He can best illuminate the same Word to you as you read and study it.

This is how Jesus said the Holy Spirit would help us handle God’s Word:

Teach (John 14:26a). This word means to teach by holding a discourse with someone (or in this case, with Someone). Reading the Bible is meant to be a dialogue, not a monologue.

Remind (John 14:26b). The Holy Spirit is actively involved in us recalling and applying the Word to the situations in which we find ourselves. The Bible tells us to study to be prepared (1 Peter 3:15) and to handle God’s Word like a good worker (2 Timothy 2:15). We are also told not to pre-plan what to say if we are put on the spot, but that words would be given us (Matthew 10:19) as the Holy Spirit recalls to our memory which we have studied.

Convict (John 16:8). This word means both to refute and to confute. Confute simply means proving something is wrong. Refute means to show us we’ve reached a false or illogical conclusion, perhaps a conclusion we reached without giving it very much thought.

Guide (John 16:13). We get a good idea of the meaning of this word from the negative use of the same word—Can a blind man lead [the same word for “guide” in John 16:13] a blind man? Will they not both fall in a pit? (Luke 6:39). We can trust the Holy Spirit to lead us to the truth in the Scriptures that we can apply to our lives.

Quite simply better Bible studies come from:

  1. Praying for the Holy Spirit to illuminate Scripture to you as your read it.
  2. Reading the Bible.
  3. Obeying what the Holy Spirit illuminates to your heart and mind.

Try it and see what happens. I think you’ll like the results!

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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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