Calvary Assembly of God

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Oct-30-14

Please Vote

posted by Craig T. Owens

VoteDear Church,

I always get distressed when I hear of the lower voter turnout among people who call themselves Christians. I think Christians should be among the most informed citizens, because we understand more fully the authority God gives to our governing officials (Romans 13:1-7).

So please be an informed voter! There are several resources you can consult to compare the various candidates and learn about the ballot proposals that affect our local communities and the State of Michigan.

Don’t stay home on Election Day. Do your research, pray for wisdom, and then go to the ballot box on Tuesday, November 4. And regardless of which candidate prevails at the polls, it remains our responsibility to prayerfully support them (1 Timothy 2:1-3).

I love you,

Pastor Craig

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Oct-27-14

A Murderer’s Checklist

posted by Craig T. Owens

As we continue through our Love In The Law series, Pastor Craig discussed murder yesterday. Check out this recap of his message from his blog

Murderer's checklistYou shall not murder (Exodus 20:13) sounds pretty straightforward. This verse is actually just one word in the Hebrew language: ratsach. The idea is a human killing another human in an animalistic way.

Think of a predatory animal like a lion. The lion attacks as an angry response when it is provoked. There is no thought about consequences or possible alternatives, but it simply lashes out in anger. A lion will also lie in wait to ambush its prey. Humans who kill in this animalistic way are regarded in the Bible as murderers (see Exodus 21:14; Numbers 35:20-21, and Deuteronomy 19:11, 13).

The legal definition of homicide today says it is “the killing of a human being by a sane person, with intent, malice aforethought (prior intention to kill the particular victim or anyone who gets in the way) and with no legal excuse or authority.”

God determines our day of conception (Psalm 139:16), the value and purpose of our life  while we are alive (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.

Some things are obviously homicide: Abortion is murder, suicide is murder, euthanasia is murder. Because these things put man in the place of God, they are unlawful.

But think of this: Slander is also murder. According to rabbinical scholars, publicly humiliating someone is murder, because it is character assassination. Jewish law also forbids the sharing of true but harmful information about someone else. Both of these things devalue a human being’s God-given value and purpose. Jesus echoed these teachings in Matthew 5:21-22 and Matthew 15:19.

J.I. Packer wrote, “We all have in us capacities for fury, fear, envy, greed, conceit, callousness, and hate that, given the right provocation, could make killers out of us all. … When the fathomless wells of rage and hatred in the normal human heart are tapped, the results are fearful.”

Here’s a quick checklist to make sure we aren’t getting close to becoming murderers:

  • Do I get too angry too quickly, and stay angry too long?
  • Do I harbor unforgiveness against anyone?
  • Have assassinated someone’s character?
  • Am I “lying in wait” for anyone to catch them doing wrong?

To stay clear of these murderous ways:

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Oct-23-14

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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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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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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