Tuesday, December 8, 2009

From all of us...

Church family,

All of us in the church office wanted to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. I want you to know as your Senior Pastor, God has blessed Calvary with an incredible team of people in our pastoral and office staff who labor intently through the year behind the scenes to do all that must happen for our church to function. We are making a difference in our community for the glory of God and I believe it is in large part because of your dedicated staff. They each love Jesus fervently and that love for Christ is demonstrated in their work ethic and care they show week in and week out. They don’t just give the Lord their leftovers, they each model discipleship by giving the Lord their very best. I am so proud of Bob, Ken, Wally, Jean, Patti and Alicia and I thank the Lord for them. I am thankful also for all of you who volunteer here at Calvary in the myriad of ministries and tasks you perform each week as well. I am proud of you also and your love for our Savior. I pray that 2010 will be one of the greatest years our church has ever had, not for our sakes, but for the sake of the Kingdom. I know that is the desire of our staff, that all of us as a church would rise to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. What if each of us labored for the King of Kings this year as though Jesus were coming back on July 1st or December 31st. What if we knew we only had that period to win as many people to Christ as possible and disciple them? How would you change your priorities? As we celebrate our Savior’s birth and we bring 2009 to a close, ask the Lord what He wants from you in 2010. Will you choose now to obey? Obedience to the Lord’s will and plan for 2010 is the best way to ensure a wonderful new year, it is the best present you can give Jesus on His birthday; it is the perfect gift for the One who truly has everything. 

We plan to kick of 2010 in an incredible fashion with our 1st mission’s banquet. One of my best friends in the world, Nathan Lino, will be our guest speaker on Wednesday Jan.6th. Nathan is the founding pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church, he has a passion for Jesus and for missions that is contagious. He’s serving as a trustee for our IMB and is on some key committees with the IMB including the search committee to fill Dr. Rankin’s shoes who will be retiring. You will not want to miss this incredible opportunity to hear this great man of God. We’ll have a great dinner, our Bible Study classes will be decorating tables with international themes and it will be a great chance for us to learn of the very heartbeat of God. Please make your reservations today and don’t miss this banquet.

I can tell you your staff loves you and we pray God’s favor upon you and your families and we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year!

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church


Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like CHRISTmas

Well the year has literally flown by, we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving which means that Christmas is right around the corner. On Sunday November 29th, we will have celebrated the first Sunday of Advent beginning the anticipation of the celebration of our Savior’s birth. The Prophet Isaiah promised God’s people over 700 years before hand in 7:14 “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God with us”. God becoming man to be with us humans, for the express purpose of redeeming us back and providing a means for us to be in a right relationship with God through faith Jesus Christ. Contrary to our modern way of thinking of a first and last name, Jesus Christ is not the first and last name of our Savior. “Jesus” (Jehovah is Salvation) is the name God the Father named His Son born in the flesh who would be God’s provision for the salvation of mankind. “Christ” is his title from the Old Testament as the promised Messiah who would save His people from their sins. While the marketing agencies on Madison Avenue and retailers jockey for position to capitalize on gift buying dollars during this season of celebration, the politically correct crowd is going to do their best to shove Christ out of Christmas with the mantras of “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays”; for Christians, we know that its “CHRISTmas” and that Jesus really is the reason for the season. Regardless of what pop culture or the politically correct talking heads think, do not be ashamed to respond to people “Merry Christmas” when they tell you “Happy Holidays”. Put a big smile on your face and reply “Merry Christmas to you too.” Christ can only be removed from Christmas if we sit by and say nothing when we have opportunity. Just be sweet, show the love of Jesus and honor the Lord as you go.

This is an exciting time of year as we are preparing for a wonderful celebration of our Savior’s birth. I want to remind you it is one of the two times a year people will respond and come to church if you invite them. Many people want to go to church at Christmas and have no idea where to go, but if you invite them, they’ll come. I need your help doing just that, inviting people. Saturday Dec.5th is our Christmas blitz where we’ll walk through a neighborhood near church and place a bag on door handles with our schedule of events, info on Calvary, a bag of popcorn with an invitation to “pop in and see us” and of course the gospel. We’ll have hundreds of these to pass out and we need people who will walk to distribute these. We’ll feed you lunch but plan now to help us on Saturday, Dec. 5th at 11:00 a.m. If it pours the rain, we’ll aim for Sat.12th. December 13 is our choir musical in both services, Ken and the choir have been working hard and I’ve heard pieces of their music and it is awesome. Invite people to come with you to hear this powerful musical. We’ll have Christmas carols in our worship services all through December and each service will be special.

We are also kicking off our Lottie Moon Christmas offering for international missions. Our church goal is $24,000.00 which is an incredible opportunity for us to invest in God’s kingdom. Our international mission board uses every dime of this money for missionary support on the field  and we have missionaries who cannot go overseas because there is not enough money to support them. I made a determination with my family several years ago that we would not spend more on ourselves at Christmas than we would give to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering as a birthday present to Jesus. What this meant for the Greens is that instead of giving our 5 kids each four presents, we might give them each 2-3 and we took the difference and gave that money to Lottie Moon as a gift to our kids in their names. Even as youngsters, our children got excited they could be part of the Lottie Moon Christmas offering. Let me challenge you to not spend more on yourselves than what you give to Jesus for the Lottie Moon offering. If we all made that commitment, we’ll not only meet our goal, we’ll exceed that goal. Of course I’m not living in a cave and I know it’s tough economically and there’s much uncertainty financially, but I do know that we can never out give God. He gave us the very best He had in the person of Jesus Christ, what a thrill to give so that others may know Him personally.

On a personal note, Cheryl and I pray that this Christmas will be a wonderful Christmas for you and your family. We thank God for you, we love you and we’re excited to see what the Lord will do through each of us this Christmas. From my little corner of the world to yours, it’s beginning to look a lot like CHRISTmas…

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church


Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bearing much fruit...

This past week, I attended the annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Maryland-Delaware. I was so encouraged that our state convention has a vision to plant new churches and strengthen existing churches. I was pleased to see pastors of our local Susquehanna Association in key positions of responsibility and taking on leadership roles in our convention. I was humbled to be asked to serve in leadership so quickly and was amazed to be elected as the President of the Pastor’s Conference for 2011. What this means is that I’ll be involved in planning the Pastor’s meeting on Monday of the convention that year. One of the guest preachers, a fellow named Ron Sylvia from Florida challenged our convention with a question that has bugged me almost non-stop since he asked it. He had someone ask this of him related to his church years ago and it bugged him also. The question is this: “If Calvary Baptist Church ceased to exist tomorrow, would the community (in our case Bel Air and Harford County) notice it was gone?”

Of course we’d all miss it, the other churches around would notice, the association and state convention would notice because of our giving; but what he means is, would the pagan lost people in Harford County notice we were gone? What a challenging question that is! For those of us who want to make a difference for the kingdom of God, I hope it will bug you like it has me. I think at this point in our history, the answer would be yes and no. I think things like our care night food ministry would be something people would take notice of. I think the AARP who uses our facility for tax consultation would miss us. There are probably some other areas people would miss us. The thing that bugs me primarily is most of the “missing” would be due to our facility usage. People shouldn’t miss us because of our buildings, they should miss us because of the people, the people who are so in love with Jesus, they are showing God’s love to a lost and dying world which is consumed with pursuing every form of pleasure and entertainment trying to fill a God sized hole in their lives. They should miss us because we were responsible to introduce them to the Savior. Does this mean we’re failing? I do not believe so. I think we have much on the ball and that we are making a difference, but this question challenges me to what else we can do. I wish I could tell you I have it all figured out. I don’t.

Having had this question rolling around in my head now for a couple of days since I heard it Sunday night, I’ve been talking to the Lord about this. This morning in my quiet time, I was reading in John 15:5 “I am  the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” Jesus goes on to answer the question for us in vs. 7-8 “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples.”

By abiding in Christ and in His Word, Jesus promised when we ask Him to help us become fruit producers, it will happen, it will bring glory to the Father when we bear much fruit. Isn’t that awesome? That God wants us, the people of Calvary to produce much fruit in the form of lives that He wants to change and transform. In this same passage, Jesus talks of pruning dead wood so the tree will begin to produce fruit again. We need to evaluate what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. What’s not producing fruit, we need to prune and even what is, sometimes needs pruning so it will be more effective. I love my mom’s strawberry jelly she’s made for years. I’ve watched dad mow down her strawberry patch, but boy does it produce strawberries next year!

I’ve said and continue to believe that some of the best and most effective ministries Calvary will ever have haven’t even been started yet. But God wants to do something great and mighty in and through you, the people of Calvary. He wants us to bear much fruit – not just so the community would weep if we weren’t here. The point is that we would bear fruit that lasts for eternity to the glory of God. The next question is, “what about me, am I bearing fruit for Jesus?” If not, ask what do I need to prune to begin producing fruit? Ask yourself if you’re abiding in Christ and asking him to make you fruitful. Something to think about from my little corner of the world to yours…

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church


Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Battles, Blessings & Budgets...

Church Family,

It is that time of year heading into November we will meet to adopt a budget for 2010. Your ministerial & support staff, finance committee, and church counsel have a system in place for the stewardship of God’s resources here at Calvary. We have done a thorough job of preparing our budget for 2010. This is a detailed and lengthy process of review and revision that began back in June of 2009 to be ready in time for our November Church in Conference. The product of these hours of labor is included in this edition of “The Way” newsletter. You may be like me and when you see the bottom line, your heart begins to race, palms may begin to sweat, and some panic begins to settle in on your frugal soul. Your first thought after you catch your breath might be something like: “What in the world are they thinking? We’re not meeting our budget now!” If you don’t have that thought, check your pulse or brain to make sure you are still alive, if those check out, then ask the Lord why you are not more concerned about His church. See that’s the thought I had in all honesty and I was involved in the process! Once my heart rate goes back to “normal” (whatever that means) and I got over my little wave of panic that I’m the one who has to stand before the church to ask for approval of this budget, the Lord was quick to remind me of three things…battles, blessings & budgets.

First of all, the Lord wants you and me to remember the battle we’re called to wage each day personally and corporately. It is a cosmic battle against Satan and the forces Hell to win souls and to make disciples of them for the Lord Jesus. That is our mandate, it is our mission and commission directly from the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus gave everything He had to secure the final victory over Satan and his crowd, and we have been given the awesome privilege and responsibility to be about the Master’s business to go and make disciples. When we remember the reason we’re doing what we do, the battle if you will, we have a cause like young shepherd David who went out and slew the giant Goliath. As we think about the stewardship of God’s money in 2010, we must remember the cause, the battle for souls and disciples.

Secondly, we must remember the blessings. You see God’s financial program of the tithe and offering makes no sense whatsoever from a rational point of view. But God has ordained a system that the first 10% of our income, the tithe, is commanded to be brought to God’s storehouse, the church on the Lord’s Day. This tithe (10%) is non-negotiable and was the minimum requirement in the Old Testament. God’s people also regularly gave “offerings” on top of their tithe because of gratitude to God for His blessings. New Testament giving is “grace giving” routinely over and above the tithe out of gratitude for the Savior. What a believer is saying when they give the tithe and the offering is they trust God with their finances and they are dependent upon Him to supply. The good news is God has promised to bless His children when we obey in this spiritual discipline. In Malachi 3:10, God promises “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” I’ve learned in my lifetime, God is faithful to His promises and I cannot out give God. So remember not only the battle, but remember the blessings of God’s promises and provision for His church and your family’s support of God’s work.

Finally, we must remember the reality is that a budget is nothing more than a goal, a target that we’ll aim at in 2010. It in no way means that we’re actually going to spend all of that as we never spend more than we receive and just because we have resources doesn’t mean we spend it. For example, if we plan to have to replace a copy machine that we use to send you this newsletter, but the thing just keeps working,  we don’t spend that money. This is evidence of the next verse in Malachi 3:11 “I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes…” In other words God is saying if we’re obedient with our tithe, He’s promised to stretch our resources further! The other thing to remember about a budget for church is that it is our vision of what we’d like to be able do to further God’s kingdom. If the money is God’s and it is, then what we’re saying with our budget planning is “Lord, this is what we’d like to do for the kingdom this next year, will you provide this for us?” It is a faith budget for sure, but through our many different processes to arrive at this budget, we believe we’re being realistic with it.

I pray these thoughts on battles, blessings and budgets will be helpful, from my little corner of the world to yours…

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church


Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Everybody doing what they can do...

Somewhere along the line, you all may have heard me say “All it takes to grow a great church is everybody doing what they can do.” Am I just making this up? Is there any Biblical evidence for this saying? You bet. You see I’ve been reading through the Scriptures and my goal is to go from Genesis to Revelation in a year. I was reading through Matthew and I see Jesus calling His disciples, four fishermen named Andy, Pete, Jimmy and Johnny; later on, He calls a hated tax collector named Matt, and then Phil, Bart, Tom, Little Jim, Tad, Simon, and a traitor named Judas. They were a hodge-podge group of guys from different backgrounds and life experiences but all called by Jesus to follow Him. Each had different skills and talents, faults and flaws. God has given us the benefit of seeing their lives, warts and all in the New Testament. Pete was always going off half-cocked, his motto: “Ready, fire, aim.” Jimmy and Johnny – Jesus nicknamed them “the sons of thunder” – I take that to mean they were a bit hot-headed and had been their share of fights. Yet Jesus did something amazing in each of their lives and gave them the responsibility of telling the world about Him and what He did for us on that old rugged cross. Here over 2000 years later, we’re still tasked with that same responsibility. Truly the disciples were successful because of the power of God the Holy Spirit that rested upon them – each of them different, each unique, and each “did what they could do” for the kingdom.

When I look at our family here at Calvary, I see a lot people “doing what they can do.” Working in the kitchen, teaching a Bible Study class, playing an instrument or singing, working in preschool, children or youth ministry on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening. I am so proud of you all for allowing the Savior to take you and use you to further His kingdom. Your love for Jesus and service of Him inspires and encourages me.  But I also see a lot of people sitting on the sidelines, not engaged, not committed and certainly not serving in some capacity. Fact is, we need helping reaching this community with the Gospel.

As I write this note, today we buried Laverne Hoffman, one of our long time members who joined Calvary in 1953 with her husband Al. I can tell you as I thought and prayed preparing for her funeral, looking at her membership file and her ministry here, I was broken hearted. I thought “Lord, we’re losing a generation of church members like Laverne. Who’s going to take up her place on the wall? Why don’t people commit to joining Your church now and serve like the Hoffman’s?”  Last year and this year, we’ve buried about 10-12 faithful saints of God who finished their race, key people who were involved and faithful as members of Calvary. Many of these folks are of the “World War II” generation. They knew the meaning of commitment, sacrifice and service. Having a “whatever it takes attitude” to win a war.  I can tell you from my discussions with many of these folks they are burdened for our future as a church. They wonder who will pick up the torch and continue the war for the souls of men, women, boys and girls.

The good news folks is that Jesus, in that same Gospel of Matthew promised us and His disciples in 16:18 “I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” The fact Jesus took those ordinary men to change the world excites me even though one generation is rapidly passing the baton to the next because God is always faithful. To our older folks, let me encourage you not to lose heart, keep running, keep ministering and working, knowing a generation of people are watching you carefully. Find one of those younger men or women to mentor and teach them how to be servants, people who will sacrifice and fight the good fight of faith to win souls. To our younger folks, let me encourage you to learn from those going before you, go up to one of those saints you see ministering in an area that interests you and ask to work with them, glean from the wisdom God’s given them in serving. The disciples learned from Jesus by hanging out with Him. He invested in them and they invested in being teachable, being mentored by the Master. I had a man ask me if I would mentor him the other day. I’m so excited to be able to invest in this man something for the kingdom’s sake. While I can’t mentor everyone, I can work with him for a while and we’ll see where it leads. There is much to learn and work on together as we are in a relay and the baton is being passed forward to the next generation of warriors for the Lord Jesus Christ, our Commander and Chief. “All it takes to grow a great church is everybody doing what they can do.” What are you doing for Jesus? Something to think about, from my little corner to yours….

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church


Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Taking advantage of opportunities...

Calvary Family,

As I write this, my heart is full of gratitude and thanksgiving to the Lord for you as we asked you to help us take advantage of an opportunity for outreach with the Bel Air Festival of the Arts. We as a staff had to make a tough decision as to where we were going to devote our energies by choosing not to do the farm fair and focusing on a major event that would bring nearly 20,000 people into our back yard. By being flexible and working together, opening our parking lot for people going to the festival, we were able to give out about 445 gift bags, each with a flier about Calvary and our ministries, a gift, a gospel tract and a gospel presentation on CD. No matter what responsibility you had that day or leading up to it, you had a major impact on our community and more importantly for the Kingdom of God. I am so proud of you, I nearly have buttons popping of my shirt. We’ve already gotten some great feedback from the community and even some of our neighbors who were impressed we’d open our facility this way. We’ll see how the Lord uses that outreach to draw people to Himself.

We’ve got another opportunity to take advantage of with Dr. Cky Carrigan who will be sharing with us Oct. 10-11. I know I’m asking a lot of you to give up a Saturday morning to come to this conference, but let me share with you why you need to come to this entire event. You see this morning, I was sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for a lab tech to prick me to draw blood for my annual checkup. I struck up a conversation with her about how long she’d been sticking people (26 years). She’s trying to slow down as she put it because life is too short. I shared with her about preaching Mrs. Ruby Rose’s funeral on Tuesday and what a blessing to share Jesus with the people who came. Instantly she responded about what a blessing her faith is, how it sustains her and so forth. She sounded like she believed just like me. I spoke of the Lord Jesus Christ and how my faith in Him is the most important thing for me also. I asked her where she goes to church and she said she’s a Jehovah’s Witness. Instantly, my brain was racing trying to remember my seminary training and trying to recall the deal with the JW’s. Sadly, I was caught off guard and wasn’t ready, didn’t have ammo in my rusty brain to dialogue with her about the reality that the JW’s don’t worship the same Jesus. While she was using the right terms and phrases, what she and I were talking about was not the same. The sobering reality is, unless this woman comes to love the Jesus of the Bible and not some man-made “Jesus”, even though she is sincere, she will go to Hell. I was so sad walking out of that office that I wasn’t prepared to share the genuine Jesus with her. I knew enough from my training to recognize a counterfeit but to listen to this woman, right terminology, sweet lady, Satan whispering in my ear that she’s okay, Holy Spirit convicting me she’s lost; I thought boy I can’t wait for Dr. Carrigan to teach us in October. No doubt you’ve had a similar experience somewhere along the way. See Paul warned the Corinthian Church about counterfeits in 2nd Cor. 11:14-15 “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it so no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works.” My job as your shepherd is to protect you from counterfeits so you are not drawn away in your faith, and to equip you with tools to reach people like this lady. I know if I need this, you do also. My friend Dr. Carrigan is an expert in cults and world religions and he as an amazing ability to help us understand in simple terms how to spot a counterfeit and to equip us to share the Jesus of the Bible. Make your reservations today as this conference is upon us quickly.

On a personal note, when you get this issue of The Way, our family will be moving from our townhouse to a home in Bel Air. We are so excited at the Lord’s provision for this need for our family. Once we get settled, we look forward to hosting an open house for you our church family. We’re thrilled to have permanent housing and sink roots deeper into our field of service. I’d appreciate your continued prayers that we sell our home in Houston as it is still on the market there. I want to take advantage of every opportunity, from my little corner of the world to yours…

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church


Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

They don't make 'em like they used to...

If you’re like me, you appreciate quality workmanship of products that don’t break after only a few uses. I have a “Leatherman” multi-purpose tool strapped to my belt that I use nearly daily for a quick fix of something. I’ve broken the tips off the pliers now twice because I was in jam trying to crank on something I was fixing and the torque was just too much.  Both times I returned it to the company telling them what I was attempting to do with their tool and they sent me a brand new one each time! Many times other tools I use are not as reliable. If I break something I’m using, I’ll mutter “I guess they don’t make em like they used to.”

I’ve noticed that’s not only true with tools, it seems they don’t make people like they used to either. There was a time, not all that long ago,  people were people of character and integrity. They stood for what was right and opposed what was wrong. They were willing to stand for truth, regardless of opposition and whether or not it was popular did not matter. These were people of their word and their commitments were better than any contract you could sign. In my quiet time this morning, I was reading about four men like this. You know them as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. From the minute we’re introduced to these young men in the Scriptures, they stand out because they are willing to go against the grain – not because they were trying to be difficult, but because deep within them was a desire to honor and please the Lord first before they pleased anyone else. We see them honoring the Lord with their diet and the Lord blessed that, we see them honor the Lord in refusing to bow to an idol and it got them thrown into a fiery furnace that God delivered them from – without even the slightest smell of smoke on their persons. What’s amazing about the fiery furnace account is they clearly said God could deliver them, but whether or not He would deliver them did not matter. They were not going to bow down to worship this idol and were willing to stake their lives on it, because it was the right thing to do. Late in his life, Daniel was forced to choose whether to obey a foolish order the king signed, or honor the Lord. He chose to honor the Lord and not bow to the political winds or pressures of his day, even though he knew he’d be tossed into a den of lions. Whether he lived or died was not the issue, Daniel had the courage to do what was right. You know the story there too, God delivered Daniel from the lions’ den. (You can read about all this in Daniel 1-6). What I love about these men is they were just ordinary guys, they were captives in a foreign country who could have just gone with the flow. But they chose to honor the Lord in every decision even though it was going to cost them personally.

What I thought this morning was where are all the Daniel’s, the Shadrach’s, the Meshach’s, and the  Abednego’s in our world today? People of character are rare but they do exist.  I was speaking to a friend of mine last week who had to make a tough choice and honor a commitment he made in business. He had to replace a faulty product and it cost him thousands and thousands of dollars. Now the Lord is honoring that decision because my friend “dared to be a Daniel.” He put the Lord first instead of making his decision on the financial impact. One of my own daughters was in an accident a week ago and the guy who stopped to help her was trying to get her to lie to the officers about what actually happened. Ginny actually told them the truth, admitted her fault and I believe the Lord is honoring her commitment. Old dad is proud of his daughter who did what was right.

These modern day Daniel’s encourage me. Choosing to honor the Lord first, standing for what is right, even if it costs them. Imagine if every Christian made a choice to be like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego every single day, at work, at school, at home, in our personal and social activities? How quickly could we evangelize this world for Jesus if we all had the fortitude of these men to put the Lord first no matter the cost? If we did that, people would be flocking to find out what makes us different. I’m going to choose to be a Daniel today, tomorrow and with God’s help, all of my days. God still makes em like He used to when we choose to put Him first. Something to consider, from my little corner of the world to yours…

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church


Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Long and intense days of work, coming home in a rush to get kids off to practice, butting heads with them on some major issues and poor choices they are making, standing up and being a dad or mom in the face of your kids with what you know is right instead of doing what’s easy; but the temptation to do what’s easy is overwhelming because you are exhausted.  The tense atmosphere at home combined with deadlines and pressure at work can really weigh you down. Getting the kids to finish homework, get their teeth brushed and get them into bed. Trying to catch your checkbook up in the late hours after you get kids in bed, frustration because you transpose some numbers and it takes longer to balance the checkbook than pay your bills. Collapsing into bed around midnight for a fitful night of sleep knowing you’ve got an equally long day beginning no later than 6 a.m. the next day; and the thought: “This is only Monday and I have a full week of this?” Can I get a witness? Can anyone relate to what I’m talking about?

The next morning, I walk outside to get the kids off to school. There is a stiff cool breeze out of the north and you know instantly a cool front pushed through last night as goose bumps appear because your shorts and t-shirt are not much protection from that incredibly wonderful breeze; and you don’t care because it feels so refreshing. Bright sun, clear skies, low humidity and you think: “Wow, what a gorgeous day.”  I get them off to school, rush to  finish getting dressed, out the door, climb on my motorcycle and the breeze gets even cooler as I’m tooling down the road to work with that breeze snaking up my sleeves chilling my torso; again I don’t care because it feels so awesome.

Then your quiet time reading from yesterday comes to mind from Lamentations 3:22-24: “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion’ says my soul, ‘therefore I hope in Him!’” I begin to worship the Lord in my spirit riding that motorcycle and all that pressure and stress from the previous day melts into oblivion as I  repent for trying to “do life” on my own strength and in my own power and remembering my hope is in the Lord. That’s why I’m drawn in the morning to God’s word like a desert wanderer to a refreshing oasis when he’s parched and dying of thirst. The rigors of life and service are intense, there is only one place for me to find strength, encouragement and the desire to serve the Lord again today, in that marvelous oasis of God’s word, communing at the feet of my Savior. Thank you Lord for refreshing me today with that cool breeze. Lord, thank you for giving me strength in the inner man today. Thank you for reminding me that it is by your mercy life doesn’t consume me and melt me into a useless pile of dribble. Thank you for reminding me I have an opportunity today to make a difference in my kids lives, my wife’s life and in someone else’s life today. Thank you for refreshing my little corner of the world.

If you are weary and need some refreshment, maybe it’s because you haven’t been to that oasis of the Word of God, you haven’t come to the Lord Jesus, the living water, you haven’t been allowing Him to splash His faithful mercy all over you. There isn’t anyone or anything who can refresh your soul like Jesus. The world’s “refreshment” is nothing but a mirage, a cruel trick of Satan which leads to deeper discouragement and defeat. The Lord’s oasis is waiting for you; what are you waiting for?  Just a thought, from my little corner of the world to yours…

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church


Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Being moldable....

No. No. No. No. Maybe later. No. Let me pray about it and get back to you (they don’t usually and if so, the answer is mostly no). No. No. No. No. and No. 

I haven’t developed a stuttering problem with my computer keyboard, I’m just listing typical responses this year to our nominating committee who’s been tasked with the responsibility to ask people to serve here at Calvary in various ministry responsibilities. This is an unprecedented response from God’s people in being unwilling to serve in ministry this year. Many have said yes and have taken on more than they are already doing because they don’t want to see ministry hindered, but sadly, the majority are saying no to requests to serve the Lord Jesus at Calvary. In my devotions the other morning, I read God’s instructions to Jeremiah the prophet to go to a potter’s house and observe what happened. God demonstrated to Jeremiah the children of Israel were like clay in the potter’s hand, he molded the clay from a “marred vessel into another vessel as it seemed good to the potter to make” (Jer.18:4). In talking with the Lord about this dire situation of people saying no to requests to serve, I realized the problem is that people are not willing to be molded the way God intends. Later in chapter 19, Jeremiah is told to go purchase a flask from the potter and take it out and break it in the presence of the leaders as a sign that God is going to break the children of Israel for their idolatry and disobedience. In our  case, I believe we’ve made an idol out of convenience. If it is not convenient to serve, we say no. If it requires commitment and faithfulness, we say no. If it will interfere with our leisure, pleasure our hobbies or whatever else we can imagine, we say no.

Now I realize that everyone believes they have a good reason for saying no and maybe that’s true. There is an epidemic of people not being willing to serve and we are facing some serious problems in our various ministries if people don’t say yes to serving. Last year, we had an average of 85 children in our AWANA ministry, but as of today, we still have no AWANA commander and fewer workers. We could be faced with the very real possibility we’d have to say “No” to some kids and limit our ministry to a certain number of children. How do I pick which kids will not be allowed to come? As of this writing, we do not have a chairman for our food services committee, could we be forced to say: “Calvary will no longer provide any food for anyone and the kitchen is now closed for lack of leadership.” We have no preschool director who can organize our preschool and extended care workers. Would we be forced to say “All preschoolers must attend worship with their parents.” What message would this send to young families we’re trying to reach? While it is true, we have some dedicated servants but many of these folks have been doing multiple jobs for so long, they are flat exhausted. I understand that in a real & tangible way from my experiences in church life.

We are living in critical days in our society, culture and church life. I believe the Lord’s return is soon, but He is delaying so everyone has an opportunity to hear the gospel and be discipled.  The Great Commission mandate of making disciples does not afford the luxury of not serving the Lord Jesus, our Commander in Chief. Last year in Harford County, 3012 babies were born and 1727 people died. How will we reach those children if we limit our ministries to young families and do not care for their children? Nearly 5 people step into eternity in our county every day and the reality is, most of those people will be in Hell forever. How can we rest and be at ease when the Potter is trying to mold us into servants and soldiers to reach these people? So are you moldable? If God wants to make you a children’s worker, will you be moldable? If God wants you to be a kitchen servant, to feed someone who comes to Wednesday worship and then gives their life to Christ, is that okay? If you don’t have a place of ministry, when will you say yes? A disciple of Jesus Christ must be a servant, that’s God’s plan, that’s God’s purpose for you. Souls are hanging in the balance while you pray about it. God is molding me and shaping me into being a pastor, something I did not choose on my own. What about you? What has the Potter chosen for you? Praying in my little corner for laborers for the harvest…

Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Thursday, August 6, 2009



We live in a day and age that is saturated with self-interest, self-satisfaction, and just plain selfishness all round. This "what's in it for me" attitude permeates every sector of society. I have a friend who was a police chief tell me once they have such difficulty in finding qualified recruits and when they find them they have to deal with the attitudes of selfishness where they don't want to work graveyard shift because it interferes with their sleep or ability to party and they balk at having Sunday & Monday off. I guess they want to "protect and to serve" if it's convenient. If you manage employees, or own a business; I bet you are saying "Amen" on that.


Sadly, churches have to deal with this kind of societal attitude as well. "Me-church” is what people are looking for because after all, "it's all about me." So people are content to come enjoy the children's programs, the youth events, the fellowship, and the music (if they play what I like). If the preacher makes me feel good, I'll keep coming. Ask the "me-church" crowd to help by getting involved and serve in a ministry - "no way, we're out of here. After all we're not "members" anyway. We'll go down the road to the mega-church where no one knows me." No commitments, no ties, no accountability, nothing to cramp "my style." Some church members in many cases act this way too. When asked to serve, they respond with something like "I'll pray about it" which has become code for "not in this lifetime." I call this phenomenon "buffet Christianity." People pick and choose much like a buffet what they like and leave what they don't, usually the "service" component gets left like beats at a salad bar.


Our culture has replaced Christian commitment involving sacrifice and service, investing in others, carrying the cross of Christ daily as His bond servants with a non-committal, non-denominational, lukewarm, touchy-feely, consumer driven "church" which does little more than entertain, let alone make disciples.


As I was patting myself on the back for my commitment to the God who saved me and basking in the glow of my self-approval, casting stones at all these self-serving people who come to church off and on; I read in my morning Bible study yesterday Is. 20:2 "...'Go and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet'. And he (Isaiah) did so, walking naked and barefoot." Verse 3 continues telling us that God had Isaiah do this for three years as a sign against Egypt!  Almost to add insult to injury, this wasn't even a sign for the people of Israel; it was to send a message to a foreign nation. God had His prophet walk around naked for three years in a humiliating condition for foreigners! Isaiah did this; he was obedient to his God because Isaiah was not pastor of "me-church."


I thought of my own commitment to Jesus and I immediately thanked God for not asking me to do this. They'd throw me in a nut house and I'd lose everything because no one would believe the explanation! I also had to repent as usually happens when I read God's Word. I was forced to examine my own commitment to the Lord. Am I willing to pay any price, do anything my God asks me to do?  Would I be willing to suffer shame, humiliation and embarrassment to reach people who are foreign to me? Old Isaiah did and so did all of God's prophets and His Apostles. They were obedient because they were committed to the God who created them, the God who loved them and redeemed them from their sin. They all understood it is not about "me." It's about God and what He wants to do in order to reconcile people to Himself.


I wonder how many people will go to Hell because some Christian somewhere decided it wasn't convenient for them to witness or to serve in some ministry at church. I wonder how many pastors who were burned out or discouraged might have stayed in the ministry if they'd have had a bit of Isaiah's commitment. I wonder what the fabric of our church would look like and how many people we could reach for Jesus if we found some modern day saints who moved their memberships from "me-church" to "He-church".  So next time I'm given an opportunity to serve, minister, or sacrifice something for Jesus, I think I'll remember old Isaiah, walking around naked for three years...   Hmm, maybe what you and I are being asked to do is not that big a commitment after all? Something to think about, from my little corner to yours...  

 Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My thoughts on the weddings...

I’ve been trying to process all that transpired with the two weddings of our daughters, Rachel and Ginny within two weeks of each other. So many of you have asked about them and have taken an interest in our family in this regard and we are thankful for your thoughts and prayers as we’ve walked through this joyous time of celebration. I suppose since I got to experience two weddings as both the bride’s father and a Pastor officiating these weddings, I have a unique perspective, at least related to these weddings.

First as a father giving his daughter(s) away to the care of another. It is hard to quantify all the emotions you have as you give your daughter away. You are extremely happy for your little girl, you’re in shock that she’s this grown woman decked out in this amazing white dress, you’re having flashbacks to when you held her in your arms for the very first time mere seconds after she was born, fast-forwarding through all your memories of her and there she is standing at the door to the sanctuary with a beautiful smile, gripping your arm, ready to go meet the love of her life and she says “I love you daddy” – how I did not become a total pile of soggy mush is a testimony to the grace of God. For Cheryl and I, it has been an emotional time and now a few weeks afterwards, it has begun to settle in on us that it is always going to be different with our family with the addition of a new son in-law. Now don’t get me wrong, God has blessed us with great son in-laws or more accurately “sons in-love”. These young men love Jesus and it is evident by the fruit in their lives, but it’s kind of strange because we now have his family to consider as we make plans. Welcome to the family Thomas & Stephen; Cheryl and I are blessed to have you and we’re excited for you. We’ve spent a lifetime providing for these young ladies and being their spiritual leaders;  but they are now your responsibility. As you know they are delicate treasures God has entrusted to you so be a good steward of the wife God has blessed you with. The fabric of your lives as God knits you together and as you face the struggles of life will be a beautiful tapestry sewn together by the fiber of God’s love. Your lives will be sweeter because you have each other and as you each grow closer to our Lord Jesus, you’ll grow closer to each other. I’ve told “the kids”, meaning my newly married daughters and my new sons in-law that I’ve never been in this position before so I’ll need their patience as I learn to adjust to this new chapter of life. Knowing what a blessing our marriage has been to Cheryl and I, we are thrilled for you all. As a husband to Cheryl now for 24 years, I can tell you I love her more now than I did on my wedding day because of the “stuff” we’ve been through together. Welcome to the adventure.

Secondly, as the Pastor overseeing these weddings, I thought both of them were marvelous worship services celebrating the God who established and ordained marriage. All of the symbolism, and spiritual impact of these weddings was an incredible thing to witness. To see two couples, both of which had made commitments to sexual purity before their wedding day united in Holy Matrimony was truly special. Both of our daughters had been through “True Love Waits” as teenagers and they kept their vows to purity and I know their husbands had made these commitments also. In the day and age we live in, with sexual promiscuity rampant, temptations galore and the old devil lurking in the shadows to steal their virginity away from them, it was so incredible to know that they had waited. Their weddings were clean and pure, they were Holy which remind me of the Holy God that we love and serve. My how Heaven must have rejoiced on these special days. Thanks kids for being such an incredible example that true love really does wait. Thanks for staying true to your convictions, for enduring ridicule, questions and all the strange looks you got through your teenage years, even from church people who thought what you were doing was weird. It was humbling to me that I got to officiate your special days as a pastor. I’ll never forget them and these weddings will profoundly shape how I help couples plan their weddings in the future. It was unique in Rachel and Thomas’s wedding to work alongside Thomas’s dad who is a pastor also. What a rare privilege to co-officiate a wedding with a wonderful man of God. Thomas had always dreamed of his dad performing his wedding, Rachel had dreamed of her dad performing her wedding, and I know Wayne was as thrilled as I was to perform this ceremony together. It was blessing to work in Ginny’s wedding with my own father, a minister of the gospel, who has taught me more about faithfulness and encouragement than he’ll ever know. It was a blessing to have dad greet us and help me give Ginny to Stephen. Praise be to the Lord who orchestrated our messages and put them together for an amazing message on the sacredness of marriage in each wedding.

Finally, the Gospel message of salvation and redemption was proclaimed to all those present and what was special is that Jesus Christ was glorified and celebrated throughout both of these weddings. Jesus’ atoning death on the cross made it possible to reclaim what was destroyed by the first married couple, Adam & Eve who chose to rebel against God’s will by substituting their own selfish will. For these couples, for me as a Pastor, and I believe for the believers who were present and paying attention, we were all reminded that we’re trophies of God’s grace because the penalty of sin had been paid. To see these young lives united together and begin a new journey with the Lord who bought them back from the scourge of sin just helped me appreciate the grace of God even more. Knowing my personal bent to selfishness, the fact I’m a depraved sinner apart from the grace of God, and to know where I’ve been and to be standing there as a minister of the Gospel, observing God’s plan of redemption played out in a real life practical way; oh how it made me long for the day, the Bride of Christ meets her Savior Jesus Christ face to face. As a great as these weddings were, they are but a frail representation of what Jesus Christ has planned for us who love Him as Savior and Lord. Now that marriage is one you don’t want to miss, Jesus has invited you, the provision has been made, all you must do is accept His proposal to you by faith.

Just a few thoughts from my little corner to yours….

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church



Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Test number 2

If I figure this out, I’ll be a genius…

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church




Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Summer Slump...

I've been in church all my life and I've come to observe what is commonly called the summer time slump. I actually happen to enjoy a bit slower pace in summer most of the time but having two daughters to marry off; this summer has been anything but slow for me. What I've observed is attendance in church is generally lower as people travel with their vacations and opportunities to go away for the weekend. Along with that travel, church offerings decline because people don't plan ahead. These times of refreshment are important and a wonderful blessing and I am thankful for my own vacation and time to rest.

Let me encourage you in a couple of ways on this. 1) When you go, have a great time, rest, renew, refresh, recharge. But if you're in town, be faithful in your attendance to church as you need to continue to feed your spirit the preaching of God's word. 2) If you're out of town, find a good Bible preaching church to attend on the Lord's Day. God wants you to put Him first even when you're on vacation so you need to worship on the Lord's day. When you visit a church, take note of how they function, what's their children's department like? How does their choir or music work? Bring me a bulletin and feedback on your experience as a visitor as we might find some nugget of gold out there to help us be more effective in ministry here at Calvary. Sometimes we've been places where that was not an option, so we had church as a family, we sang, shared testimonies, and someone in the family shared a devotional. You can have church where ever you go as a family if there is not a solid place to attend. 3) Even when you're out of town, make provision to support your home church with your tithes and offerings. We're working at making this easier for you at Calvary by exploring how we can offer you the opportunity to give online. Until then, be intentional with your giving. Before I left town on my recent vacation, I left my family's tithe and offering in the church office to ensure it would be included in the offering the Sunday I would be gone. I don't want my church to struggle financially while I'm playing around and I'm not asking you to do something I don't do myself. God's work continues and our church still depends on the tithes and offerings of God's people, even in summer.

When you are reading this in "The Way" newsletter, we'll be almost exactly half-way through summer. We have a wonderful fall of ministry opportunity on the horizon, our new church schedule of committee meetings will begin in August meeting on Sunday evenings, not weeknights, new Wednesday night meal and worship schedule begins in September, AWANA resumes and much more. Would you begin asking the Lord to impress upon you where you are to serve this fall? We'll need several food preparation teams to rotate through to prepare the Wednesday meal. We continue to have needs in our extended session childcare, there are opportunities every where to serve. I need some spirit filled men to serve on our missions committee and help us lead our church in a global Acts 1:8 missions strategy. I want to train Bible Study teachers and strengthen our great Bible Study ministry. I want to disciple you by helping you learn how to be an effective witness for Jesus. I want to disciple you by helping you learn the blessings of service and ministry. A Christian who is not serving is a stagnate Christian. Don't be a sponge, let God wring you out in service so He can fill you continuously. We'll be participating in a significant way with the Bel Air Festival of the Arts that takes place in the park behind us on September 20th. God is bringing people to our back doorstep and we intend to reach them, but I'll need you to help us.

I love you, I'm proud of you my church family and I can't wait to see what the Lord is going to do with us this summer and this fall. Let's beat the summer slump together in our faithfulness.
From my little corner to yours....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reality... from God's point of view...

So in my "read through the Bible program" I finished Job this week. Reading all the stuff between chapter 2 & 38 reminds me of my college days after working graveyard as a policeman in McAllen Texas. Rolling into criminal justice classes and having to listing to 18 year old kids shift their mouths into gear and talk about the meaning of life and how to do police work without having a clue about reality used to nauseate me. I would sit there and think, "Come deal with some of the characters I had last night and then talk to me about your stupid opinion." Much of what Job's friends had to say and much of what Job himself said were somewhat like this. Beginning in Chapter 38, God speaks to Job out of a whirlwind and for old Job, it was like trying to drink water out of a firehose, all for the purpose of giving Job a dose of reality and helping him see things from God's point of view.

What's interesting to me as I read through this is the arguments God used from the created order of the universe, specifically pointing to the world God made, animals that He made and how they operate to demonstrate to Job God's wisdom for what He does. He blows Job out of the water with an overwhelming dose of reality. He questions Job as to where he was when the foundations of the earth where laid, does Job know the measurements, and how the earth is fastened into position? (38:4-6). He asked Job if he could explain why the ocean is not allowed to overwhelm the seashore (38:8-11). This continues all the way through to 40:2 and Job got in a brief word in 40:3-5 and basically said he could not respond. Job had the sense to realize the Creator was dressing him down and he needed to keep his mouth shut. God continues down to 41:34, referring to some vicious sea creature known as the "Leviathan" that sounds like a fire breathing dragon as God describes it. I love God's comment about this creature in 41:8 "Lay your hand on him, remember the battle, never do it again." Wow - the thought of tangling with that thing is scary enough Job, do want to tangle with the God who made that creature? Uh no.

What was Job's response? The only appropriate response to our Creator God: "I abhor myself and I repent in dust and ashes (42:6)." Job got it right. Then God turned his attention to Job's knuckle-head friends and just told them they better ask Job to pray for them so God wouldn't deal with them according to their stupidity. Then God doubled what He had taken away from Job - but never told Job what we know from Job 1 as to why all this happened.

Two thoughts to apply:
1) Creation and the order of it is a great tool to use when dealing with educated but stupid people who deny the existence of God. Before you throw stones at me, I didn't say it, God did: Ps.14:1 "The fool has said in his heart, there is no God." Ps.19 and Romans 1 make it clear that God has revealed enough of Himself in the created order of the universe to tell us He exists. The watch on my arm is evidence that somewhere, there's a watchmaker, the creation shouts to humans, that there is a Creator. God uses Creation to argue for His existence and you should too. Don't be intimidated by people who cling to evolution - everything they claim is pure folly and full of holes. The world is falling apart around us, evidence of sin's curse, decay and death, not of stuff evolving into more complex and different beings.

2) Why would God "dress down" Job, a righteous man, with that blistering commentary to set him straight, and leave his three stupid and arrogant friends alone? Heb.12:6 provides the answer: "For whom the Lord loves, He corrects and he scourges (whips) every son whom He receives." If God doesn't correct your view of reality, its very likely you do not belong to Him. Hmm. Boy am I thankful God took old Job to the woodshed and I'm thankful He takes me there regularly, I need a dose of reality. Don't you? From my little corner of the world to yours....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

So you had a bad day....

We all have them, days that you wish you could forget, that seem like they never end and came straight out of the pits of Hell, at least to you anyway. You wonder if anyone understands how you feel and if there is anyone you could talk to about it who would see what happened your way. A lot of people handle bad days in different ways, some people explode in anger, some people turn to drugs or alcohol, some to sexual immorality, and some just have a generally sour disposition to where if they are miserable, they are bound and determined everyone else will be also. For all of those bad days in our lives, I don't believe anyone's "ultimate bad day" will compare to that of Job recorded in God's Word. Consider what Job lost in one horrifying afternoon:
  • All 10 of his children - 7 sons & 3 daughters
  • All but a handful of his many servants
  • 7000 sheep
  • 3000 camels
  • 1000 oxen - (500 yoke - a pair)
  • 500 donkeys

Job went from being the richest man in the world of his time to being penniless, he lost his place in the community, his family and he lost his health to where he was covered from head to toe in boils that he scraped with a broken piece of pottery. It was so bad that Job's wife told him to curse God and commit suicide because there was nothing left. His friends came to console him but it wasn't long before they began to accuse him of some horrible crime against God. How did Job respond to this calamity? In what has to be three of the most amazing verses in all the Bible, Job 1:20-22 says: "Then Job arose, tore his robe and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.' In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong."

I am stunned when I read that. Speechless is a good way to describe my feelings every time I read that. A knot tightens in the pit of my stomach when I place myself in Job's shoes (or sandles more likely). I don't have much in the realm of possessions, but I do have "stuff" we've accumulated in 24 years of marriage, I have my health, an incredible wife and 5 kids. I shudder to think how I'd respond if I lost all of my kids and stuff in one afternoon. Then I begin to think about all of my so-called "bad days" where I lost my cool because things didn't go as I planned and again I get sick. All of my bad days stacked up together don't even come close to this day in Job's life. It's all a matter of perspective and when you compare to Job's experience, I bet your bad days wouldn't come close either.

The amazing thing about Job also is that Job doesn't know why all this is happening, but we the readers know "the rest of the story" as old Paul Harvey used to say. See God was proving a point to Satan about the rock-solid faith of Job. God's commentary about Job in 1:8 is pretty amazing also: "Then the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?'" Are you kidding me? This was actually God's idea to hold Job up for Satan to look at and torment? That's right, it was God who instigated this examination of Job's faith in God and He permitted Satan to torment Job but restrained Satan from taking Job's life.

While I can't unpack all the lessons we learn from Job here, we have much to learn about faith from the life of this amazing saint of God. While Job didn't understand the whole picture, he did understand God was testing him and he demonstrates his faith that God was going to use this experience in his life to refine him and to make him more pure like the refining process with gold (see Job 23:10). The next time I have a bad day, I want to remember it pales in comparison to old Job. Maybe God is holding me up to some demonic being and saying "Have you considered my servant Ralph...?" Maybe you can insert your name there.

Contrary to much of the "prosperity gospel" many TV preachers advocate, where they basically claim trusting in Jesus means all your problems go away, Christians need to remember God wants to conform us to the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God has a right to use whatever means needed to refine us and remove the dross and impurities from our lives to draw us closer to Himself. Pray that God will give you the grace of old Job who said in Job 13:15 "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him..." Start filtering your bad days through the pages of Scripture and get a healthy dose of reality about your "bad day" and watch how your attitude changes. Just a thought from my little corner to yours...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saying thanks gets amazing attention...

So I'm having a day off today with friends from out of town and we're hanging out at the inner harbor in Baltimore and exploring. To my great delight, a naval transport carrier was in port for a free tour. There was a crew of sailors there helping average citizens climb on board and scope it out. This boat is manned by a crew of 12 and is specifically designed to get marines and their equipment onto a beach head just like in the movie "Saving Private Ryan" on D-Day. I was thrilled to get to meet some real life heros up close and personal. You see, these men are fresh off a tour in the Persian Gulf. I was impressed with this little snapshot of the U.S. Navy. The sailors were very professional, polite and quick to answer my barage of questions. I personally thanked every sailor I encountered for fighting to keep us safe and free. I told them I appreciated what they do for us and that it means so much to me that they would be there to show what they do each day. Without exception, their posture got more erect, big smiles covered their faces, and they said they were thankful to be told that. One sailor told me he doesn't get that much in Virginia where they are stationed; I guess familiarity does indeed breed contempt. Another sailor told me how much it helps them do what they do when they hear that kind of encouragement and to have that kind of support! Are you kidding? Just because a random citizen said thanks?

Earlier in the week, I got to go to a luncheon at a local military base to honor their servicemen and women of the year. I managed to say thanks to about 3 soldiers and they responded the same way as above. I'm sad to guess this but I would say these folks don't hear "thank you" that much. I make it my practice to thank anyone I meet who is a veteren for their service to our country, again, backs stiffen, posture becomes erect and big smiles usually follow, with a humble word of appreciation in return.

Later on today, I was boarding a floating museum onboard a WWII submarine, the USS Torsk. I told the ticket lady who punched my ticket: "Thanks for working today so we can goof off." Again, she sat upright, smiled a great big smile and said "Oh you're so welcome." It thrilled me to see this young lady's response and I think I actually made her day.

Folks, saying thank you is important and it is something people don't do much of anymore. When you're out in public, just start saying thank you to people and watch what happens. It is especially effective for people who do the most routine things. Say thanks to the person cleaning the restroom when you encounter one sometime, say thanks to the lady at the checkout counter in the store, to your waitress, some street cop standing on duty, a fireman, an EMS person, and especially if you happen to see someone in the military. We owe a great debt of gratitude to our service men and women and first responders.

We as Christians ought to be a thankful people because of Jesus and what He has done for us. Have an "attitude of gratitude" and watch what happens. You'll find it will be a wonderful encouragement to you and the person you thank. I promise you'll be glad you did and this will be habit forming. From my little corner to yours....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Living for the kingdom...

I normally do not particularly like the annual reminder I have of a birthday that occurs every year on May 15th. It's the official reminder that I'm getting older - but that's nothing new since I've been accused of being old for a long time so my birthday generally annoys me - except for the cake and ice cream! When I turned 28, I had a woman guess my age to be 50, got my first "senior discount offer" in a Hardees Restaurant in Wake Forest North Carolina when I was 34. My pastor in Houston had the whole church convinced that I was 64! He called me this year on my birthday to ask how it felt to be 65 - I was on the phone when he called but when I called him back, I told him I missed the call because my hearing aid was not on.

This year it was kind of sobering to realize and actually process the fact that my life is more than half over. If God allows me the same amount of time in the 2nd half as He's given me in the first half, I would be 90. Of course that is a big if and only God knows what my life will look like or how long it will ultimately be. Maybe I'm 2/3 or 3/4 done already. Maybe God will in fact give me another 45 years of service. If that's the case, there are some people I'd like to be like:

My dad, getting his doctorate of ministry at the age of 70! Currently developing a new ministry opportunity to challenge people to repent of their sins and experience forgiveness in Christ.
A man I know in my church named Frank, out visiting people in the nursing home while nursing a couple of cracked ribs himself, faithfully ministering to others at the age of 92, almost 93, faithfully in worship every Sunday.
Or a lady in my church named Ruby, she's 102, a woman who is a faithful prayer warrior who promised this preacher she'd pray for me every night! The look in her sparkling eyes when she said this to me guaranteed she meant it.

You see I want a lifetime of productive and faithful service and ministry for the Lord. I want to live my life in such a way that it makes a difference for the kingdom of God. In what ever time I have left, I want my life to matter, I want to invest in people to help them to be all that God wants them to be, I want to see God do mighty things in my life and through my life. I want to be a faithful husband, father, and minister of the Gospel. I want to live out what the Psalmist said in Ps. 71:17-18 "O God, You have taught me from my youth, and to this day I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come."
Wow! My life is not half over, the best is yet to come! Everything up to this point has been training and preparation for my life to be spent for the kingdom of God. Lord, I'm here, I'm ready and I'm willing - I will be obedient and I will spend and be spent for You and not for me. I will make a difference in this world for Your honor and glory, to the extent that pleases you the most and brings You the most praise. I'm encouraged when I see people like Moses in the Scriptures that God commissioned to lead His people at the age of 80, same thing with his protegee Joshua.

So what about you? I don't know how much time you have left either with your journey, but will you realize that the God of the universe has big plans for you too? Will you write God a blank check and sign your name to it to represent your life and allow God to spend it for you? An adventure beyond your wildest dreams awaits if you have the courage to say yes. It matters not how old you are, we serve the eternal God to whom age is not a hurdle. What He wants to know is if you are available for Him to use and if you will obey Him and do what He says all of your days. Let us invest what we have left in our lives to living for the King of Kings and serving His Kingdom. My dad to this day tells me: "Keep your eyes on the Lord son." A mother in my church tells her children: "Walk with the King and be a blessing." I think I'll use both of those in the 2nd half. From my little corner to yours...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Doing what's right...

In my daily quiet time reading, I've been reading through the books of 1st & 2nd Kings and there are some amazing events that God has recorded for us and I would love to talk about these at some point, but something has caught my attention particularly in 2nd Kings. You see, as the name of the book implies, this is a record of the actions of the kings of Israel (the northern 10 tribes) and Judah (the southern 2 tribes) of the Children of Israel. As the reigns of these kings is recorded, what they did is basically summed up by God in two ways: King so & so did what was right in the sight of the Lord or King so & so did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Then God goes on to describe for us what these men did that was right or what was evil.

As I've thought about this, that's pretty much it for everybody, like most of the kings of Israel and Judah, they did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Few of them actually did what was right in the sight of the Lord. It all boils down to making a choice to do what is right because the default setting for sinful humans is to do what's evil. It is not easy for kings to do what is right, its not easy for priests to do what's right, for pastors to do what's right and it certainly it is not easy for anyone to choose to do what is right. I think this is one of Satan's greatest tricks is that he always presents what appears to be the easy way for us to follow. This is exactly what Jesus said when He said in Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

Boy is that ever true. I had an opportunty this week to teach my sons about doing what's right and a choice to make to do what's right. I went out to eat with my wife and my sons and when I got the bill, it was only like $16.00. Well those two boys sure didn't eat oatmeal and I saw immediately the waitress did not put their meals on the tab. I called her attention to it and instead of $16.00, it was now $30.00. One of my sons wanted to know why I didn't just keep the money, it was free food! I used this as an opportunity to explain why its important to do what's right. I told him this waitress made an honest mistake and at the end of the night when they were balancing the accounts and looking at the money they had and the receipts, they would discover she didn't charge for that food and she'd have to pay for it out of her own pocket. He immediately played the "finders-keepers" card and I said "what if that was you son, would you want to pay if you had made the mistake?" He sheepishly said "no". I said "well she shouldn't either and besides, I'm determined to do what's right and honor the Lord." I hope and pray it made a profound impact on that boy as I said to them, "Always do what's right, even if it costs you, and I can promise you, it will always cost you to do what's right."

I choose today to do what's right in the sight of the Lord regardless of what everyone else is doing. Dr. John R. Rice used to say, "Do right if the stars fall, but do what's right." Will you choose today to do what's right in the sight of the Lord? It will cost you, it will be hard, but the Lord will honor those who make this difficult choice to honor Him. It is worth the cost and you never know who is watching you. Your kids, your grandkids, your spouse, your friends, co-workers and even your enemies; but more importantly, the Lord is watching - the phrase said "they did what was right in the sight of the Lord, or they did what is evil in the sight of the Lord..." Remember, God always sees what you doing and we'll give an account to Him somday.
From my little corner to yours...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Taking responsibility...

Reading my Bible over the last week or two I've been reading about the life of King David. David is one of the most amazing men on the pages of Scripture because his life was a life that experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. He went from being a national hero in his victory over Goliath, being crowned King of Israel and with God's help, expanded Israel's military prowess; to bringing national disgrace upon himself and his country with his sin with Bathsheba. His failed cover up attempt in having her husband killed in the heat of battle; surviving a coup attempt by one of his sons and being forced into exile were awful low points in David's life. The Scriptures display David as a testosterone filled man with all of his faults, flaws and good points on display for us to see.

What I love about David is that his life, in spite of all of David's problems, was a life God used in an amazing way and God's commentary on David's life is summed up in Acts 13:22 "...He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.'" How can a guy who committed adultery and then murder to cover it up be called a man after God's own heart? How can a guy whose family was such a mess be held up as an example to us in the Scriptures and God say of him "he's a man after my own heart."?

The answer lies in this fact: When God confronted David through the prophet Nathan with his sin, David took immediate and full responsibility for his sin, he did not blame-shift to Bathsheba for taking a bath on the roof of her house, he didn't blame his parents for his upbringing, he didn't blame the government, he didn't blame the schools, or even his enemies. David took responsibility for his sin and said: "I have sinned against the Lord" (2nd Samuel 12:13). Short, sweet and right on target with reality - "I am the one who sinned against the Lord."

Later the Bible gives us David's full confession of his sin to the Lord in Ps. 51. When you see David's actions and when he sinned, he took responsibility and owned up to his sin, no excuses, no trying to justify or explain away or "spin" his actions for political gain. God said because of this, David was a man after His own heart - in other words, David and I are on the same page and he demonstrates his love for me because he listens to me when I confront him with who he really is, he's not perfect but he's my child because I gave him a new heart, and he will do all my will.

Wow. David's life is an encouragement to me that warts and all, victories and failures, God can use me in spite of my self; God and make something beautiful of my life for His glory when I take responsibility for my sin. He's an encouragement to me that I can still be a testosterone filled man, I don't have to be some effeminate wimp to love Jesus and follow hard after Him. David is an encouragement also in that no matter how much I mess up and sin against the Lord, the Lord is ever ready and faithful to forgive me and cleanse me, when I take responsibility completely for my sin. I want to be a man after God's own heart, what about you?
From my little corner to yours...

Monday, April 6, 2009


Being pretty new to this "blog thing" where you basically keep a journal online and write your thoughts and feelings is kind of strange to me. I'm used to keeping a journal of various sorts but these are usually my thoughts and stuff the Lord says to me personally. What I'm not used to is putting these thoughts out into cyber space for the world to see. Well I am pretty confident the world is not reading my blog but you know what I mean. I'm amazed at how quickly time passes between my last entry and posting a new one. Seems like yesterday I put one on the internet.

But that's where friends come in since one of my closest friends in the world slams me tonight with a reminder to update my blog. True friends in our lives are those who have the courage to hold us accountable. Most people choose friends selfishly to stroke their egos and tell them what they want to hear. A wise person will choose friends that challenge them, hold them accountable and who have the courage to tell them the truth. I've watched friends come to the aid people who have made bad choices; but their aid is not in an effort to speak truth to them, but in a way that removes and minimizes their poor choices.

I'm constantly amazed at the cultural fad on TV called "American Idol" where these horrible singers are emotional basket cases after being told quite clearly they cannot sing worth a lick. They screech like cats in pain and walk out of the audition room blubbering or cursing saying the judges don't know what they are talking about. I've heard more than one say: "I just don't understand, everyone always tells me I'm a great singer." Their family is usually there hugging on them and affirming their ability to "sing". Well that's a family's job I suppose, but I'm thinking "doesn't anyone love this person enough to tell them the truth?"

Well the Scriptures speak of course to this very issue in
Proverbs 27:6 "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." I am blessed to have several of these friends in my life, friends who love me enough to tell me the truth even when it hurts. I tell them the truth too and our relationship is solid because we don't wear our feelings on our sleeves and take offense when our friend wounds us with the truth or holds us accountable. Ask the Lord to give you friends like that, and ask the Lord to help you be a friend like that. Ask the Lord to help you quit being a "friend" who is not a friend, but an enabler. So thank you my friend, for holding me accountable. I love you.
From my little corner to yours...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Showing up for work...

Okay, so I'm reading through the Bible again this year and I'm currently in Judges. I get to Judges 10 and the Bible makes brief comments about two of Israel's Judges; Tola and Jair. About all we're told of each of them is where they lived and how long they judged Israel: Tola judged Israel 23 years and he died; Jair judged Israel 22 years and he died. We get the added info that Jair had 30 sons who rode 30 donkeys and that they each had a city and that's pretty much it (Judges 10:1-5). Really edifying Quiet Time with this passage! It bugged me all day as I was meditating on these brief verses and I wondered why God didn't give us more information about these two guys. Later we get several chapters on the heroism and tragedy of Samson, but what about these two guys? Didn't they do anything? Well the Lord showed me something because Tola and Jair are more like the norm than Samson.
You see the key to understanding Tola and Jair is what goes on before and after they lived and died. Before these men came on the scene, the nation of Israel was a mess as an evil man named Abimelech seized power by murdering 70 of his brothers and the resulting unrest that followed such evil. After Tola and Jair lived and died, we're told immediately
"the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the Lord and did not serve Him" (Judges 10:6). In other words, this evil idol worship wasn't happening while Tola and Jair showed up for work everyday for a combined total of 55 years! No, they didn't kill 1000 Philistines with the jaw-bone of an ass, but they faithfully showed up for work and did what God called them to do; Tolah for 23 years and Jair for 22 years. God was pleased with their work and saw fit their faithful service to Him would be forever preserved in the pages of Scripture!
This encourages me as I faithfully show up to work to serve the Lord each day. You see greatness in God's eyes does not come so much from the astounding achievements we accomplish; but a lifetime of faithfulness as we do what the Lord wants us to do. I may never pastor a mega church, be the president of the SBC, or lead millions of people to Christ like Billy Graham; but I can show up to work and be faithful and by doing so, I can make a difference like Tola and Jair.
Paul told the Colossian Christians in 3:23-25: "23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality" (NKJV).
What a blessing to know that God rewards faithfulness and that by showing up for work, we can make a difference as we seek to honor the Lord. I'm determined to be faithful, serving the Lord heartily, from my little corner to yours....