Tuesday, January 19, 2010


January 1, 2010 began a new decade of service and ministry. As I had a little time off over the Christmas and New Year Holiday, I began to reflect on the previous year and the whirlwind of activity I had personally in our family with two moves, two weddings and trying to learn a new system of church life and ministry, getting to know a new church family and settling in to the rigors of preaching at least twice a week. I found myself scrambling to get up to speed in so many areas, sometimes it was quite overwhelming quite honestly and I think there were times I felt like I was peddling a big wheel on Interstate 95! But the Lord is so good and He’s brought us through an amazingly wonderful year. As I’ve been reflecting, praying and talking to the Lord, I’ve been reminded of Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” The warning of the sage is God’s people need to seek the prophetic revelation of the Lord – if they do not, there is a tendency to just do anything and everything we want to for our own selfish agenda. He follows this warning with a promise of God’s favor and blessing to those who keep the law of God; which is a constant expectation for God’s people, even while they are waiting for further instructions from God.

The Lord is inviting us to seek His face for the vision of our future, I know very well there is a tremendous need and I have a burden to hear to the Word of the Lord as to the heading and course we are to undertake; what His vision is for what He intends for Calvary to be over the next decade and beyond. On April 26th, 2009, on the occasion of our church’s 60th anniversary, I shared with you a message called “A recipe for our future” from Mark 2:1-17. I shared with you 10 ingredients from that text that need to be present in our church life for a successful future. Recently I pulled up the podcast off the website and listened to that message again, I’ve studied my sermon manuscript and have been refreshed by the Lord for the big picture related to our future. I’ve been burdened with the need to flesh out the vision God has and incorporate ways in my communication with you to “vision cast” what God wants us to be, what God wants us to do in our mission of making disciples. This comes through much prayer both from me and our church family. Our staff has begun to pray and develop some strategic plans related to our future and we’re going to be working on this more throughout the course of this year. We’re going to have to make some hard choices related to some of what we’re currently doing, how we’re doing it, how does it fit into the scope of what the Lord has for us in the future and so on. We’ve got to evaluate what is working well and what is not; we’ve got to revitalize what is not working or drop it all together. I want to help us work smarter, not necessarily harder because I don’t want us to burn out as I know many of you are involved in multiple ministries.

The main thing I need you to be doing right now is to pray. Pray specifically that God would clearly reveal to me and to our ministry team as a whole what His vision is. Pray that God will help me communicate this vision with you and how to strategically implement it and keep us on track. Pray that we’ll not be sidetracked by things that may be good but not necessarily God’s best for Calvary. You’re going to be hearing more about visioning in the future and it’s exciting. It’s exciting to learn where God is at work in our community, in our region our country and our world. There’s a God-sized task out there and He wants us to be a part of it. The urgency of the task really has been made evident with the Haitian earthquake and the thousands of people who stepped into a Christ-less eternity. Part of the vision includes international missions opportunities. I have a date to go on a visioning trip to Moscow in April to work with two Russian churches to explore how we can help them reach their communities. I was on the phone with a missionary in France this morning discussing a project to reach difficult people and the possibility of us taking a group to France later this fall. We’ve begun to help strengthen a local church plant to help them reach Abingdon for Christ;  I’ve committed to develop some exciting material related to church membership here at Calvary and what church membership is all about for a discipleship training class we’ll offer. I don’t know about you, but just dreaming about what God has in store for us charges me up and I can’t wait to experience it with you my beloved Church family. The Lord is authoring the vision and excitement is building, from my little corner of the world to yours…

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church


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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Keeping it real...

I really enjoy football. I like the competition, the strategy, the hard hitting, watching amazing athletes who are ginormous but can move like cats. I have a couple of teams I follow in the NFL and I enjoy watching college kids play if there is a big rivalry.  I tend to be disappointed when I see grown men who make a big play taunting opposing fans, prancing around like children and generally operating with so much arrogant pride that if it were concrete ready to be poured, it would fill the Grand Canyon. The arrogance some of these guys have is sickening and we pay them gazillions of dollars to act that way because they are our idols. One of the most popular shows on TV is starting again tonight with “American Idol”. With the amount of egos filling the air waves of that show, I’m shocked the heads will actually fit on my TV screen.  

What a contrast I see in my morning devos from Luke 7:1-10 with the Roman Commander, a centurion who by title is in charge of 100 elite soldiers of the Roman army, the rulers of the known world. These soldiers enforced the will of Caesar; they were like all the elite branches of our military rolled into one. To be the commander of the best of the best, you had to have your act together. Most of the time, the Jews absolutely hated the Romans because of their oppressive policies and they particularly hated the soldiers who enforced those policies. But in Luke 7, we see a Centurion who was well-liked by the Jews, you could almost say he was their idol. I glean from reading between the lines he had amazing people skills in order to be in his position having to enforce Roman policy on the Jews but yet the Jews thought he was awesome. Luke tells us why in vs. 5 “because he loves our nation and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” If anyone had a cause to be full of pride and arrogant, it was this guy. He was at the top of his game and everyone spoke highly of him.

But he’s not arrogant. The deal is this Roman Centurion had a servant who was highly valued. Maybe the servant was the Centurion’s “right hand man”, the one who does all the behind the scenes work and so forth. Anyway, this servant is very sick and about to die. Word gets out to Jesus about this Centurion and his servant and the Jews want Jesus to heal the servant. In vs. 4, they pleaded with Jesus saying “He is worthy to have you do this for him because…” In other words because of the Centurion’s performance in loving the Jewish nation and building the synagogue  he deserved special treatment from Jesus.  The Jews believed this Centurion; their hero had “earned it.” Jesus starts to head to the Centurion’s home indicating it was indeed an oddity that a man in his position would be so kind to the Jews.  Notice the humility of this powerful man, he doesn’t come to the Lord in person, he sends some friends to Jesus and says, “Lord, I’m not worthy for you to enter under my roof…” Wow! This guy recognizes that as powerful and influential as he was and with as many resources that he had; he was not God because only God could save his servant. The Jews said, “He is worthy…” the Centurion says, “I am not worthy…” He said to Jesus all he had to do was command it, and his servant would be healed. The Centurion’s message to Jesus continued: “I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come’, and he comes…;” What this Centurion said in effect was this: “Lord, you are the ultimate authority, in terms of chain of command, I know the buck stops with you, no one has more power than you. If you issue the order, my servant will be healed because only God can help him.” Jesus was stunned – so much so he told all the Jews following this that he hadn’t seen such amazing faith in all of Israel. Jesus healed the man – and didn’t even issue the command in response to the man’s faith!

I was struck by a couple of principles this morning: 1) Salvation is not for the worthy, but for the unworthy and who have the courage to admit it. 2) Salvation is not based on performance; it is totally a gift of God’s grace. 3) Salvation does not depend on how good other people think you are, but the faith you place in Jesus, the ultimate authority. I could go on and on about this amazing passage but I worry about this: I wonder how many people are members and attenders of churches like Calvary who think they are bound for Heaven because they are worthy? They’ve been declared worthy by others, they’ve performed, they have great people skills, they’re at the top of the game, they give generously to church causes and so forth. But they will go to Hell because they’ve never humbled themselves in front of Jesus, they’ve never said to Jesus, “I’m not worthy…”
My wife observed after a particularly frustrating time in our ministry in New Hampshire one of the best things about Heaven will be that everyone there “will get it.” In other words, they’ll understand who Jesus really is and they’ll be submissive to His authority in their lives because they are not worthy. I’m just keeping it real and giving you something to think about from my little corner of the world to yours…

Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Heartbeat of God...

Tonight, our church family took another major step forward to embrace the heartbeat of God to partner with Him to penetrate the lostness of the world. We hosted an international mission’s banquet to kick off 2010 and we begin implementing the vision of being a church that not only gives sacrificially to missions but that will sacrificially go on mission. We heard from Pastor Nathan Lino of Northeast Houston Baptist Church and an IMB trustee share the vision and heartbeat of God that His churches will be mission sending agencies, full of believers who will embrace God's desire for us to be "bi-vocational" missionaries. Pastor Nathan used Philippians 2:3-11 to demonstrate this heartbeat of God which is illustrated by the greatest missionary martyr in the history of mankind, none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus left His comfort zone of heaven to come to earth to be like us, to eat like us, dress like us, and to share with us how to rescued from the darkness; all because He was burdened for our spiritual well being and to redeem us from lostness. Many of you heard God speak to you this evening in that moment in time and many of you indicated you will go when God calls you to go on short term mission trips.

We are going to pursue the Acts 1:8 mission pattern God has already given us to follow: we're going to penetrate lostness in Bel Air, our Jerusalem, in Harford County our Judea, in the Mid-Atlantic, our Samaria and ultimately to the uttermost part of the earth. Pastor Nathan shared we must be patient as it takes time to implement the vision and see it come to pass, but we will be moving in this direction. I am developing opportunities and researching where the Lord is working, I am praying about strategic partnerships and opportunities we will have this year and in those that follow as to where we’ll go. You’ll begin to hear and see these opportunities God will be giving to us. I am looking forward to leading you in this God sized challenge of penetrating the lostness of the more than 10,000 people groups not engaged with the Gospel. To reiterate the perspective Pastor Nathan shared tonight, our IMB, the largest mission sending agency in the world is engaged with 1,200 people groups with full time missionaries. The vision is that the membership of churches just like ours will engage those unengaged people groups by answering God’s call to be “bi-vocational” missionaries like the Apostle Paul who was a tentmaker. Whatever your vocation, you can use that to support your calling as a bi-vocational missionary, ready to launch where God calls you for a short term trip.

Pastor Nathan shared so many encouraging stories of how the Gospel is penetrating lostness because people just like you and me were willing to go with God to share the love of Jesus Christ in person. It was incredibly encouraging to hear of God’s working in such amazing ways right now in His world. Think of what we’re missing out on while we stay home. But by going, you and I can see God working around the world like in the Book of Acts. An adventure awaits, a God sized work is in progress and God is inviting you to get in on it. A word of warning however is in order as Pastor Nathan so powerfully shared: “Penetrating extreme lostness does not come without extreme sacrifice.” I would add that Satan is not at all pleased with us embracing the heartbeat of God and he and his evil forces would prefer for us to just stay home. He is already working on the “what if” plan to keep you in your comfort zone and unengaged from the mission by getting you to worry about all the “what ifs”.

Some of our early trips will be exploratory and strategy trips to lay the foundation for the future. I’m planning on heading to Moscow this spring and I want to take a few of you with me to explore opportunities with an area coordinator who is a friend of mine. Closer to home, we’ll participate in “Embrace Wilmington” to help start churches with our state convention. I am so proud of you Calvary, for listening to and embracing the heartbeat of God. The vision has been launched, the adventure begins, from my little corner of the world to yours…

Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church


Posted via email from Pastor Ralph