Thursday, January 19, 2012

And we're off...

Christmas decorations put away, all the college football bowl games are over and the NFL playoffs are in full swing (Go Ravens!), annual “State of the Church” message has been preached, discipleship classes have started, it’s cold, it must be January. We’re off to a great start at Calvary after a nice Christmas and New Year break from our regular schedule of events. Our Wednesday evening schedule has resumed with our AWANA ministry to disciple children and is cranked up and running again for the Spring semester. These children are hiding God’s Word in their hearts, they are studying to be Approved Workman who Are Not Ashamed (AWANA). We have some dedicated leaders who work with nearly 100 children weekly making disciples of grade school aged children. This is an enormous opportunity and responsibility God has given us to plant the Gospel, a love for Jesus and His Word deep into the hearts of these children. We have a number of children whose parents do not regularly attend Calvary but over the years we’ve seen several families come to Calvary because of our AWANA ministry.

Right now they are gearing up for the AWANA Olympics where our team will travel to another church in Maryland to compete in the games they play. If you’ve ever wondered about the red, blue, green and yellow stripes on the fellowship hall floor, that’s for AWANA games. Their game time is a lot of fun as I’ve been down there during our second hour helping out. I need to make an appeal for help in this critical ministry especially during the 2nd hour from 7:15-8:15, especially for our men to step up and help. Our AWANA commander (who happens to be this pastor’s wife) has her hands full during that period because this is when our Sparks group of Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd grades are doing their game time. There are over 40 children in the Sparks group and without enough supervision and adults providing instruction for the games… let’s just say I think it would be easier to herd cats from Maryland out to the West Texas prairie. I know that may not be the best way to recruit but it’s the current reality because we don’t have nearly enough adults in 2nd hour. Many of our volunteers work with the Sparks 1st hour but then head out to choir practice 2nd hour so there is a void during the game time. I know it may be hard for many of you to arrive by our early 6:15 start time but making it to church by 7:15 would be no problem for you. The games are simple and the kids are obedient and listen because they want to play the games. Because of their ages and attention span, we need a 1 adult to 2 children ratio for it run smoothly. What we have currently is about a 1 adult to 8-10 children ratio and we need to change that! It really helps if we have a number of men involved because you just have a way of being “large and in charge”. There is a game leader who gives clear instructions, your job should you choose to accept it, is to take those instructions and help line the kids up, get them ready for the game and cheer them on. (This tape will not self destruct in 5 seconds…I’ll keep repeating it till we get helpJ!)  The children have a ball blowing off energy after studying God’s Word and memorizing Scripture; a well run game time sends them and our leaders home happy and encouraged about their night at AWANA. I can tell you I participated in AWANA when I was in grade school and most of the verses I have committed to memory I learned in the AWANA club. If you want to help, you need to call Cheryl Green to see how you can get involved.

January also means for myself, Michele Emerson, Patty Wackford, and Matt Cruikshank, we’re less than a month away from our trip back to the region of West Africa I went last year to explore mission partnership opportunities. Because of security concerns for our IMB personnel, I’ll not share more about where we’re going specifically in this context. There is a bulletin board from our Mission’s Committee by the Greeters Desk that explains this. We’ll be working with Hausa and Fulani people groups telling Bible stories in their language with audio recordings and picture books, helping build relationships so the Gospel can take root in a Muslim culture. We’re also taking equipment to help the missionary show the Jesus film for the first time in the villages he’s been working in which will be a huge opportunity to see many people turn to Christ. I’ve heard of many accounts where the Lord used this video in other contexts to reach entire villages with the Gospel and the response was tremendous. The need is great, the people are friendly and receptive to this good news and it speaks volumes to them that we Americans would travel all the way around the world to share this important news they have not heard before. We also desire greatly to be a big encouragement to our missionary personnel faithfully serving there.

The logistics of this trip are very hard. Getting there literally is the most difficult and expensive part flying commercial air as far as we can to the capital city and then taking a small missionary aviation plane out into the bush where we’ll be working. 4 days of the 12 day trip are consumed with travel. Our team has been training on what to expect, the culture of the people, learning some basic greetings, getting all the paperwork, shots and gear ready. What we need is your prayers because Satan certainly doesn’t want us to go. Pray for the logistics of travel, for our luggage to arrive in full and especially for our equipment as we have to leave our large luggage at a bus station overnight to be shipped out to the missionary house since the small plane cannot take it. Pray for health, strength and a flexible attitude for all of our team members so the work of sharing Jesus would not be hindered. It would be easier to stay home quite honestly, but when I think it would have been easier for Jesus to stay home in Heaven than to come to earth in order to reach this hard-headed sinner, I’m grateful Jesus came so I could be forgiven. I can’t wait to share that with these special peoples. Our church is fully committed to mission endeavors as we develop an Acts 1:8 strategy, in this case to the uttermost parts of the earth, to expand God’s kingdom. Thank you in advance for praying for this trip and for our team.

God has great plans for us at Calvary in 2012 and we’re off to a great start. Let’s be obedient, let’s be faithful, and let’s celebrate Jesus as we encounter God and experience life change each week. Let’s ask God to help us introduce others to Him and to make us sensitive to the people around us and especially the children God has brought to us. Looking forward to a great year of serving the Lord together, from my little corner of the world to yours…

  Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church  

Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Back to Reality...

I’m kind of in shock. I find myself here at the beginning of 2012 wondering what in the world happened and where in the world did 2011 go? Thanksgiving through Christmas and New Year have come and gone with what seems like the speed of light but I kind of feel that way about the whole of 2011 also. Time off from the regular schedule and routine has been a nice break. Having the kids out of school and a chance to sleep in and catch up on some much needed rest has been great. Going to parties or special events has been nice but the regular schedule and routine are slamming us all back to reality. The alarm clock for the high school kids sounds much too early and the pace of life is at freeway speed once again. So much of I wanted to accomplish in 2011 did not happen but that’s okay because I always have more work to do than I’ll ever get to in my lifetime (or at least what I think needs to happen).

By the time you get this article, I will have shared what I call “The State of the Church” message. It is an opportunity to reflect on the past year and the work the Lord has done through us. It’s been a good year for Calvary over all and we celebrate what God has done. As a leader however, I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s encouragement to the Philippian Church as the Holy Spirit inspired him to write: “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil.3:13-14).” How many New Year messages have come from that text down through the ages?

Paul was a goal setting visionary leader who did not want to dwell in the proverbial “good ole days.” Paul was looking forward to the new adventure that awaited him in his walk with Christ. That’s the way we Christians are called to live; with eyes for the future and what the Lord would have us to do. I encourage you to set some goals for this New Year, prayerfully asking the Lord to help you with this in all areas of life. Ask the Lord to help you choose your priorities carefully and in a way that would be pleasing to Him realizing your life is not your own but it belongs to God. What I love about Paul’s writing here in Philippians is the encouragement that even if you blow it, you can put it behind you and press on.

An amazing Biblical principle and truth is that by God’s grace, we can always start fresh with God, not just at the start of a New Year, but literally at the end of every day and if we’re willing to, we can start fresh with God the second we blow it and the Holy Spirit convicts of us sin if we’ll repent immediately and ask for forgiveness. I think one critical mark of a Spirit filled Christian is one who takes responsibility for and repents immediately of sin in their life upon conviction. They don’t gloss over it, attempt to rationalize or justify it, they don’t blame-shift, and their response is like David’s when convicted of sin. “I have sinned against the Lord…(2nd Sam.12:13)”.

I think one worthwhile goal every Christian ought to set is to resolve to repent the moment the Holy Spirit knocks on your hearts door and says “Hey pal, you blew it there.” The response should be: “You’re right Lord. I’m so sorry for that sin, would you please forgive me?” By doing so your relationship with Christ can be restored instantly and the repentant believer can have fellowship with Christ restored.

As we begin 2012 together as a church family, I believe the Lord has great plans for us this year. I believe we can make a huge difference for God’s kingdom if we resolve to put the Lord first in everything. Your Ministerial Staff will be making some plans and developing some strategies for this year at the end of January for two days of prayer and dreaming with God about what He wants us to do. We’ll be challenging our church leaders to examine their purpose for existence as a ministry and how that purpose fits into the overall vision and mission of our church. Where change is needed, we need to be flexible and willing to change. In areas and with processes that work well, we need to continue to be faithful but we need to be able to learn how to apply principles from that successful ministry into other areas. I’m excited to have an almost complete compliment of ministerial staff and office staff. But we cannot do what God is asking of us as a church without the dedicated service and ministries of our members. Will it be hard at times? It will be excruciatingly hard at times when personal life and church life vie for the precious commodity of time. I love the attitude of one of our men as I had lunch with him the other day. The gist of what he said was “I have resolved that whenever God asks me to do something, I’m going to say yes no matter how much I already have on my plate.” I was so encouraged by his tremendous attitude that his life belongs to the Lord and whatever God wants is what he plans to do with his time, effort, energy and resources. That attitude first is a God honoring attitude but it is contagious and exciting and I want our church family to approach 2012 with that same attitude because eternity is at stake for millions of people around this world.

Let’s press on together, for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let’s let that be our reality here at Calvary. Looking forward to 2012, from my little corner of the world to yours…

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church 

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Posted via email from Pastor Ralph