Aren’t Sundays Good?

Aren’t Sundays good?

I like thinking of our missionaries as staff members who happen to be located elsewhere. Rob and Penny Whitty serve in Ghana (West Africa). We also have staff in Africa, but on the opposite side of the continent (Prince and Heidi Sabena in Uganda). Rob and Penny were with us Sunday and it was good to see and hear what God is doing in Ghana and with them in Ghana, but the best part was hearing what God is doing every day and everywhere, including right here.

What is God doing every day, everywhere, including right here? The answer is Isaiah 30:18. And so it serves as our fighter verse for this week.

Three things as we look ahead:

First, this Sunday we will be back in Luke 18. So, read through Luke 18:15-17.

Second, we will gather at the Lord’s table together for communion on Sunday, October 11.

And last, we are planning for a baptism sometime in October. What is baptism? Well, it is something believers do. At the end of the Gospel of Matthew is what is called the Great Commission – to make disciples and baptize them, teaching them to obey or observe all that Jesus has commanded. One pastor put it this way, “baptism is a way to mark disciples,” that is, it is a public display that this is a disciple of Jesus Christ. When a believer is baptized they simply share that their life has been changed, the greatest miracle has happened! They have been saved, by grace, through faith “And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). As a Christian, if you have not been baptized, I strongly encourage you to do so. It is an act of obedience and a moment of great celebration. The gospel (the good news of great joy) is proclaimed.

Community groups are off to a great start! And it is never too late to join a community group. Keep in mind that community groups serve one purpose: each one of you watch out for each one of you. And although there is one purpose, the function of each group varies. Some it is to share life together, others it is simply to connect or get to know each other better; to pray together; to study God’s Word together; or to think thru the Christian life together. Some groups meet Sunday afternoons. There is a group Tuesday morning. Another group meets Tuesday evening. And another group meets Wednesday morning. Two groups have met on Thursdays! This is a lot of community happening!!! And each group is different in function, but the same in purpose. We want these groups to grow, too, but very specifically. We want these groups to grow with “grace and peace multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,” and with unchurched people – those who have no church home or are not saved. So, think of these groups as great for fellowship, but also so good for outreach.

And we have air purifiers arriving any day now. As we are now in the Fall season, keeping the windows open on Sundays will no longer be an option to help with air flow. And these air purifiers are better and more efficient than having the windows open. These are fitted with medical grade air filtration.

I pray for you continually and so look forward to gathering with you often.

-James

September 27, 2020 Worship Service

Live Stream the Service at Our YouTube Channel

This is our Worship Order for Sunday, September 20, 2020, at Calvary Community Church:

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP

Psalm 29:1-2
Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

QUIET PREPARATION

Psalm 25:4-5
Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

HEARING FROM GOD’S WORD

Missionary Report –  (Rob & Penny Whitty are our guests this Sunday)

Holy, Holy, Holy

Be Unto Your Name

Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me

Encouragement for Thursday

I have attached a couple of pictures to this week’s message. This past Saturday I visited a park in Akron called the Seiberling Nature Realm. It is a place where you can get out and enjoy nature, and get some exercise while keeping socially distant. I normally always have a camera with me when I go to this type of place. These days it seems that so many of the worries that I, and most others have seem pretty big. We worry about us and our families remaining healthy. When will they find a cure or vaccine for the virus? Are our businesses and jobs secure? How are our extended families and friends doing? When we will we be able to go on with normal activities in public again? Will we ever be able to interact normally with people again? I think I appreciate my visits to parks because it helps me focus on small things.

As I walk through paths in the woods or around ponds or rivers, I let myself get distracted by what is around me. For a while, the big things disappear. As I was walking along one path I noticed a short flash of white near my right ankle. I stopped and turned back a step. I noticed that the flash was caused by a small white down feather not much more than an inch long gently blowing in the light breeze, lit by a small ray of sunlight. The breeze was slight, but enough to keep the feather in motion because it was so small and light. It had been caught on the serrated edge of a leaf on a small tree. I took several pictures trying to capture the beauty of it. I think the one I have attached is probably one of my favorite pictures I have taken this year.

In another area I stopped to watch different types of bees and bugs working among the flowers as they fed. A big benefit of their activity is the gathering and spreading of pollen to keep the plants propagating. It is amazing in a way, but not surprising how God provided for the sustenance of different species (both plant and animal) through the daily interaction in their lives. The blue flower is one of many that I stopped to examine. Unless you stop and look closely it is easy to overlook the beauty and workmanship in the inner details of the flower. You can even see pollen ready for a helpful insect to pick up and spread.

We tend to think of God being in control of big things like creation, or having His plan for salvation brought to us through the sacrifice of His Son. God is also the God of small things. The design of a feather for its purpose, or a flower for its own sustenance and reproduction are both small details. It is easy to miss them if you don’t look. In the overall scheme of things each of us is small in the context of human history and God’s view of history. Yet to each of us our own problems seem monumental and beyond our control. Remember the words of Jesus in Luke 12:4-7:

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

If we place our trust in God rather than ourselves or others He will take care of us. Even something as small as the cheap sparrows that were sold as food in Jesus’ day were known to God. He knows us to the degree of knowing the number of hairs on our head. He knows us and values us greatly. It might seem that we are forgotten and alone at times, but God remembers us and watches over us.

Another reminder of His care for us comes to us from Paul in Philippians 4. Paul thanks the Philippian Christians for providing for him and his care through their generosity in giving. He acknowledges that their gifts to him was a sacrifice pleasing to God (v.18). He reminds them of God’s care for them in verse 19– “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Was their need going to be supplied simply because they gave to Paul? No. Their giving to him demonstrated that they were God’s people, doing God’s will. God cares for and provides for His people, to the point of eternal glory because of Christ.

How did God provide for birds like the sparrows? One way is that in their design they have down feathers like the one pictured. Down feathers provide insulation and warmth against the cold and winds. They are a very small detail with a very big purpose. They are also an inspiration for me to keep looking for the small things. In our world of uncertainty and seemingly insurmountable problems it might be easy to be blinded to God’s presence. Looking for and thinking about the small things reminds me that He cares for me.

Take heart and be encouraged!

Yesterday and Today and Forever

You bring joy.

In the current climate of our culture, the tensions are high. The divisions are wide. And patience is thin. But you keep bringing joy. And part of that joy is watching you faithfully enduring it all. So, keep bringing joy. The joy I am referring to is the joy you cause in others because you faithfully endure it all.

I have been thinking much about Hebrews 13:8 since early Sunday morning. It is to be our fighter verse this week. And my prayer is that thinking through it together will be a help to your faithful endurance.

This Sunday morning Rob and Penny Whitty will be with us. Rob and Penny are part of our missionary staff to Ghana. May this Sunday morning expand and further our vision of reaching the unchurched!

A few community groups have started up this week. Remember the purpose of every community group: each one of you watch out for each one of you. Working out that purpose, however, can be different for each group whether it is simply meeting to connect with each other; share life with one another; praying together; thinking thru the Christian life together; or thinking thru the Bible together. Regardless, the purpose remains the same: each one of you watch out for each one of you. There was a group that met Tuesday morning. There is a group meeting Tuesday evening. There is another group meeting Wednesday morning. And there are more groups starting very shortly. We have 8 community groups gathering together! It is very exciting.

Keep looking forward!

-James

September 20, 2020 Worship Service

Live Stream the Service at Our YouTube Channel

This is our Worship Order for Sunday, September 20, 2020, at Calvary Community Church:

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP

Psalm 22:27-28
All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.

QUIET PREPARATION

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

HEARING FROM GOD’S WORD

“Is Peace Possible Amongst the Races?” -Genesis 1:26-31 (Michael Williams is our guest speaker this Sunday)

Revelation Song

Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor

My Soul Finds Rest

Encouragement For Thursday

For a number of years now it seems that the vast majority of popular movies that have been released are superhero movies. Remakes of superhero movies. Sequels of sequels of sequels of superhero movies. Occasionally even possibly a new one (Antman, anyone?). I have to admit I have seen a number of them, but don’t feel any particular drive to see every, or the latest Avengers movie, for example. I don’t feel bound to see every rewriting of the Spiderman story. In fact, my favorite superhero movie of all time is probably one that most of you haven’t seen, or perhaps even heard of.

In 1999 a different sort of superhero movie called Mystery Men was released. It was taken from a comic book/graphic novel series like most of them. Unlike most of them, there wasn’t a singular superhero with spectacular abilities of some sort, or a group of heroes with spectacular abilities like the Avengers, X-Men or Fantastic Four. Mystery Men was a group of common men and women who lived normal everyday lives, but used the skills they had to fight crime in their spare time.

The leader, more or less, was a man named Eddie (played in the movie by William Macy), who took the alter ego of The Shoveler. He swung his shovel as a weapon against evildoers they encountered. There was The Bowler (Janeane Garofalo), who used her bowling ball as weapon. The Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) threw forks with great accuracy. Mr. Amazing (Ben Stiller) went into a rage to scare people. The Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell) claimed to become invisible as the need arose. The Sphinx (Wes Studi) came up with inspirational thoughts and guidance to help the team focus. The Spleen (Paul Reubens) had a special ability I won’t mention here.

As the plot of the movie develops, there is a famous superhero in their city named Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear). He is more or less a T.V. kind of superhero, and doesn’t really have any special abilities. But he is good looking and popular, and the public thinks he is super. When a supervillain, Casanova Frankenstein (played with glee by Geoffrey Rush) threatens the city, the citizenry calls on Captain Amazing to go to take care of him. To make a long story short, Captain Amazing isn’t very amazing. He has no abilities and can’t fight. He goes in trying to negotiate with the villain. As we know, this never turns out well and he is taken captive. The Mystery Men find out and attempt to rescue him. Things don’t turn out well for Captain Amazing. But, the Mystery Men end up battling Frankenstein and a host of other villains he has recruited for his evil plot. In the end the Mystery Men are victorious and evil is vanquished, for the time being at least. The movie ends with The Shoveler being interviewed by a reporter, and explaining that the true heroes are the people who go out and do their jobs well everyday. They don’t seek glory or fame, but they make the city and the world work. Everyone has a valuable contribution to make.

By now you’re probably thinking, “Wow, you’ve gone off the deep end this week Joel. What brought on these thoughts?” Pastor James’ sermon last Sunday. I think the mention of Batman and Robin, and the discussion of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday keyed them. Especially with Wyatt and Doc, we were reminded about two very different people who fit together in a synergistic sort of way. They were able to play off of each other’s strengths, and through commitment they made a stronger whole. The Mystery Men are much the same. Individually they wouldn’t have much impact. But as a cooperative group they are able to combine their abilities to be successful.

The clincher for me is a single verse of scripture that was in Sunday’s text– Luke 18:14:

“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Mystery Men, while not being outwardly Christian, were humble. Each recognized that he or she was not great on their own. They needed each other. They saw their place and didn’t believe that they were indispensable or better than the others. Their humility ended up saving them from the immediate destruction that would have come from their enemy.

Our enemy would bring us eternal destruction rather than just physical destruction. Satan would love it if people relied on their own ability to save themselves, rather than recognizing their sinful state and accepting Christ to have it changed. Conquering sin requires honest self analysis and humility before God. Thankfully we don’t have to be superheroes with a superhuman ability to be saved. We are saved by recognizing our need, being humble, and relying on Christ. The Bible does not leave it as a mystery.

Take heart and be encouraged!

Why Would Anyone Visit Our Church?

Our fighter verse this week helps answer the question, why would anyone visit our church?

This Sunday, September 20, we will be in Genesis 1:26-31. “Is Peace Possible Amongst the Races?” Continue to look forward and be praying for our gathering together this Sunday!

I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another (Romans 15:14).

September 13, Worship Service

Live Stream the Service at Our YouTube Channel

This is our Worship Order for Sunday, September 13, 2020, at Calvary Community Church:

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP

Psalm 103:1-5
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

QUIET PREPARATION

Ephesians 4:1-3
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

HEARING FROM GOD’S WORD

“And Jesus Told This Parable to Some of Them” – Luke 18:9-14

Praise to the Lord the Almighty

10,000 Reasons

Not In Me

The Tensions Are High

It’s never been easier to get hurt and offended as it is today, it seems. Tensions are high. Divisions are wide. Patience is thin.

I read that statement earlier this morning and thought how applicable it is to communion. This Sunday we will be coming together to gather at the Lord’s Table. In the New Testament letters, there is only one chapter giving us instruction on how to come to the Lord’s Table together. And the first local church to read these instructions was experiencing tensions. The tensions were high! This local church was experiencing divisions. The divisions were wide! And this local church was experiencing thin patience with one another. Patience was thin! This is the reason for the instructions about communion given in 1 Corinthians 11.

Keeping this coming Sunday in view, I am asking that today we read Ephesians 4:1-7. And today re-read Ephesians 4:1-7. Keep doing this each day leading to Sunday morning at 10:10. It is to help prepare us in coming together to the Lord’s table. And it is also our fighter verse for the week.

This Sunday morning we will spend time in Luke 18:9-14.

And as we prepare for the start of community groups, sign up here: https://forms.gle/r4AXcQ6jovtmGUWr9

– James

Worship Service: September 6, 2020

Live Stream Service at Our YouTube Channel

This is our order of worship for Sunday, September 6, 2020, at Calvary Community Church:

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP

Isaiah 57:15
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.

QUIET PREPARATION

Romans 5:1-2
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

HEARING FROM GOD’S WORD

“What Do We Do When There Is No Justice?” – Luke 18:1-8

Only A Holy God

We Will Feast