Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I've got the post VBS something...

I’ve heard people talk about getting the “post-__________ blues”. It may be the blues that settle in after we marry off our last child and we’re empty nesters. It could be the blues that settle in after our vacation is over and we’re swallowed by the reality of work and “normal” life (if there is such a thing).  Well I’ve got the “post VBS something.” It’s not really the blues per say because while I love VBS and the ministry that is accomplished that week, it is just a grueling schedule for the week that VBS is going on. It is flat exhausting to be quite honest because for the typical volunteer, you work all day, rush home to change clothes, rush down to church, inhale the supper provided, dash off to your area of responsibility before the kids begin to arrive and you don’t exhale till you collapse in bed late into the night. Your mind is swirling with all of what you experienced that night with plans of what to do the next night to make it better and while your body is screaming at you to get horizontal, your mind is too keyed up to let you go to sleep. In my case, usually passing out around midnight and getting up to carry on the next day. Monday through Friday, 5 days of blurring excitement and activity, songs ringing in your head and just like that, it is over. It was a long week on one hand but on the other, you blinked and it was finished. Except after Friday night’s activities, we have to tear down all the decorations and get the church cleaned for events scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. From the toll it takes on the volunteers physically, I’m not sure it would be accurate to say I have the post-VBS blues; but I do have the “Post-VBS something.”

I marvel at the numbers and variety of volunteers from teens to senior adults, faithfully working alongside each other ministering to children in the myriad VBS responsibilities. I won’t list all the positions of responsibility because I’d be sure to miss someone. It was gratifying as a pastor to see the saints of God doing the work of the ministry which is what Ephesians 4:12 says is the job of the pastors to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.”  I marvel at the generosity of volunteers with their time to help us win at least 7 children to Jesus for the very first time! I marvel at the generosity of children and parents who emptied their piggy banks giving cash and baby items of over $1000.00 to support the work of our local crisis pregnancy center “Alpha’s Glory”. This ministry helps very young parents who need to choose life when they find out there are people who love their unborn child. I marvel at the great attitudes of volunteers which is contagious to the children participating so there is an electric atmosphere of excitement and joy throughout our building the entire week. I marvel watching VBS much like I do when I see a huge Air Force transport plane driving by Dover AFB. Seeing the size of it, I think there is no way that thing gets off the ground and flies – but it does! I marvel at the speed which decorations come down, hay and stray get vacuumed up and the church is cleaned and ready for other uses.  I guess you could say I’ve got “Post-VBS Thanksgiving.” I’m grateful to God for events like Vacation Bible School which draws the church together, where it matters not if you attend the 8:30 or 11:00 o’clock service, the saints of God work together to impact the lives of children and parents for the Kingdom. For all of you who helped us in VBS in any fashion, I want to say thank you for serving the Lord to make this event a wonderful success, not just for Calvary, but for the lives that will be in Heaven someday because of your faithfulness.

I also wanted to pause and say thanks to all of you who ministered on two opposite ends of the spectrum on Saturday. Some of you labored to celebrate the life of a new baby coming to a family and encourage a young couple by giving them a great baby shower. Some of you ministered to a grieving family and a host of law enforcement officers in a myriad of ways and in doing so, you reinforced the Gospel message they heard at the funeral through practical acts of love and service.  Then many of you also came to worship on Sunday and labored and served all over again after 7 straight days of ministry! I’m so proud of all of you servants of the Most High God. I believe the Lord is pleased and proud of you also and only eternity will tell of the fruit of much if not most of your labors. “All it takes to grow a great church is everybody doing what they can do.”  To God be the Glory, great things He has done through you saints this week. I love this “Post-VBS something” feeling I have, from my little corner of the world to yours….
Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church
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Thursday, July 8, 2010

A willingness to serve...

I had the wonderful benefit of being raised in a family that loves Jesus. I met Jesus at the age of 5 and He has been my Savior ever since. Oh there were times I would have nearly given anything not to be a “preacher’s kid”, there were times I thought my home address was whatever church we were members of, and quite frankly times I didn’t want to have anything to do with church, I just wanted to be “normal” like everyone else. Well I’ve learned some things now that I have more gray hair than brown. I’ve learned to appreciate my parents and all the values they instilled in me and their consistent example of serving the Lord Jesus with everything they had. I learned to serve the Savior primarily watching my parents each involved in ministry in our local church.  I saw firsthand their love and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ because they lived out in front of me that love in how they served the Lord in a  variety of ministries – even though they became “full time missionaries” when I was about 12 years of age. Even though their jobs were working for the Lord, I’ve watched them volunteer and serve God in their local church, something they continue even now in their 70’s.

I’ve also learned that the only way I can have peace, contentment and joy is by consistently giving my life away in service to Jesus. I’ve learned that when I begin to pursue my own agenda and not the Lord’s, when I begin to focus all my efforts on my own entertainment, leisure, finances, family or anything else, something begins to happen in me and my family;  the contentment, joy and peace disappears and the wheels begin to come off. I reprioritize and get back to serving the Lord with all my heart and the contentment, joy and peace returns to me and my family. Honestly, it is just weird. It’s almost like God takes His hands off me and says, “Go ahead, do it your way and tell me how that plan is working for you.”


This brings me to my point, as I see a church full of very harried, busy, stressed out and over committed people pursuing everything under the sun and it appears there isn’t much joy, contentment or peace in their lives. Let me give you a little secret from Jesus in Luke 9:23-25 “Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? In other words, Jesus is saying the secret to “having a life” is losing your life, your agenda, your plans, picking up your cross – the service God has for you to do for His kingdom each day.  In all our efforts to entertain ourselves and “get a life”, we’re just more stressed out, tired and dissatisfied with the life we are living. In another passage, Jesus tells us to store treasure in heaven because it lasts forever.


On the other hand, the church as a whole and Calvary in particular struggles to place people in ministry positions because everyone is already “too busy.”  Leadership positions like AWANA commander and leaders, Missions committee members, trustees, children’s teachers, deacon positions will go unfilled as we begin our church year (just to name a few). We have a dire need to multiply our youth ministry to High School and Middle School departments, yet we’re not able to do so because we don’t have enough workers. As a result, we’re forced to keep 6th graders with grade school children when in their schools, they are in middle school.  We are facing some major difficulties with some key ministries here at Calvary for lack of leadership and volunteers. Your staff and nominating committee continue searching for people to serve only to be told no because people are too busy.


I don’t have it all figured out, but I know Jesus is capable of multiplying our meager loaves and fishes we’ll bring to Him by faith. I know Jesus promised to give you “life and that you’d have it more abundantly” when “you take up your cross and follow…”. Your church has need of you to serve and you have need for your church, because it is the God-ordained place for you to find the joy, contentment and peace you’re breaking your neck to find with worldly pursuits. God established the church for you to use your gifts, talents and abilities and especially your weaknesses to magnify His glory and expand His kingdom, the place for you to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Churches and families working together produce disciples.  I’m grateful to God for having learned this lesson of serving God from my dad and mom who still faithfully serve Jesus, who still help me grow as a disciple. They are so full of joy and life it is amazing. They’ve found a great life; I’ve found a great life serving the Lord. I have joy, contentment and peace that is astounding. It starts with a willingness to serve; from my little corner of the world to yours…

  Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

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