Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Family of God...

“I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God,

I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood.

Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,

For I’m part of the family, the family of God.”

We sing that little chorus many times as part of our welcome and greeting time in worship. It is not just a catchy little chorus designed to give us the warm fuzzies like a child’s teddy bear or a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter night. There is profound theological truth in that simple chorus. Because we’ve been washed in the blood of Jesus and cleansed from sin by faith in Christ, we’ve been adopted into God’s family and we are in fact joint heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ! If that doesn’t make you glad to be part of the family of God; I’m not sure anything else could. Being chosen to be part of a family through adoption is so special and I’m so proud of families who’ve done just that. I know of many people who have adopted children and brought them into their families, giving unconditional love as they have their biological children.  That’s what the Lord has done for us and it makes me so glad to be part of a local church family of God. I honestly have a hard time understanding why people would not want to be part of a church family like Calvary, commit their lives to membership and serving the Lord but I suppose that is a discussion for another day.

I am proud of our Calvary family in how you have been responding to the recent crisis we’ve had thrust upon us. So many of you have affirmed to Pastor Mike, Pastor Ken and myself your love, support, encouragement and you’ve told us clearly you are praying for us! You all have no idea how much that means to all of us and I know you’ve been reaching out to people directly affected by these recent events with cards and other expressions of love. I can assure you your prayers are being heard by our Heavenly Father and they are needed so much! Last Friday night I was so pleased to have a number of parents and others who have a genuine interest in our youth ministry come enjoy pizza and to hang out with our teens for a little bit; then spend an hour in prayer for our youth while they were having youth night. Seeing faithful leaders step up and take leadership roles and other volunteers offering to help in any capacity needed has absolutely been wonderful. I am so glad I’m a part of the family of God! I do not deserve the blessing of being called the senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church. While no church is ever perfect and we certainly have much to do and work on for the glory of and expansion of the Kingdom of God; Calvary is a unique and special church family and it is my joy to lead you as one of God’s under-shepherds here. Thank you for seeing this whole thing through spiritual eyes and responding through the lens of Scripture in how we are to deal with crisis in the body. I must urge you to continue to pray for everyone affected by this awful tragedy and the lives that Satan has tried to destroy.

I want to reiterate to you my door is always open for you if you want to talk to me or there is something I can do to minister to you. Obviously I need to continue to pray and study God’s Word in order to feed you the meat of Scripture; generally I devote my mornings to study and am trying to be disciplined to that regimen simply because I have nothing to say but God certainly does and we desperately need to hear from Him! Having 5 kids however; I’m well groomed to be able to stop briefly to visit with one of my sheep in order to pray with you and then get back into mining for gold in God’s Word. If you need longer time; it’s best to call for an appointment generally in the afternoons before the office closes at 4:30.

The new school year is off and running and suddenly we all find ourselves instantly over scheduled and scrambling with the “shock and awe” that goes with the start of school. Putting sports games on the calendar, concerts our kids and grandkids will be involved in and the pressing requests to be part of the PTA, boosters, serve in the concession stand etc. It beats anything I’ve ever seen! We need to pray for our students, teachers and school staff but specifically those who are part of our church family as they go to school daily; that they would represent Jesus well. I would also caution all of us to remember that God wants us to minister and serve the body of Christ. We still have a number of needs for volunteers in ministry. I promise you God has ways of multiplying time back to you as you prioritize to put Him first in service. While volunteering in school activities is important and gives us opportunities to connect with a lost world; we need to be careful at how we do that. I personally will pick school volunteer opportunities like working a concession stand for a varsity football game because I know it won’t interfere with my church responsibilities. I also know there are things I just have to say no to which is hard having 2 sons in high school.

Wednesday September 12th, our new Wednesday schedule and time frame begins from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. After much experimenting with two full hours from 6:15-8:15 p.m.; we believe an hour and half will allow us to balance our efforts to make disciples and help families get home on a school night at reasonable hour. We’re offering a number of discipleship classes that we believe will be of great help to you to grow spiritually. We also want to encourage you to help even if for a brief period of time to listen to kids say verses in AWANA before you head off to choir or your class. The first 30 minutes or so will be time for prayer before the study or rehearsal begins and we are hoping to balance all the needs for everyone. I ask that you’ll be patient as we work through these initial weeks of change on Wednesday nights. I want to encourage us all to remember to be flexible. In this issue of “The Way” you should see a list of class offerings and we need you to RSVP the office so we can order your study guide. If you’re able to help at all with AWANA, we need you to go to the homepage of our church website and fill out the form for SMART and a background check before you can work with our children. If you did this for VBS, or have completed this recently, you don’t need to do it again. Even if you’ve been SMART approved previously (before VBS 2012), we now require all children and youth volunteers to complete the online SMART application, which includes consent to criminal background check and identity verification.   It only takes a few minutes and if you have any questions or difficulty with it, please call the office.

Let’s keep praying for our church family and lets all work together for the glory of God. We refuse to give Satan the victory and we’re going to see God do incredible things here at Calvary. Our best days are ahead of us and God is going to make His name great in spite of Satan’s opposition. To God be the glory! I love you and thank God for you. I am so glad to be part of the family of God, from my little corner of the world to yours…


Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church       

Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The family God gave me...

This past weekend I had an opportunity to that rolls around once every three years. It was a family reunion on my mom’s side of the family. Mom is one of 13 children, born into the home of William and Anna Wegner who lived way back in what they call “a holler” in Pikeville Kentucky. Mom’s parents were humble home missionaries in eastern Kentucky and my grandpa invested his life laboring in small churches teaching Sunday School, preaching, doing children’s ministry or whatever was needed to get the gospel to the people in that region. We have pictures of my grandpa and grandma with all 13 children and in grandpa’s handwriting across the bottom of the picture is part of the verse from Joshua 24:15 “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” They were dirt poor in the days of the depression and experienced much hardship. Twice the family home burned down, and I believe the 2nd time was the day one of my uncles was born. I remember my mom describing seeing my grandpa sitting on a tree stump with his head in his hands as the remains of their burned home smoldered in the background. My grandpa died in his early 50’s leaving my grandma to raise and provide for those children on her own. While they were poor and supplies were scarce, my aunts and uncles affirmed that grandpa and grandma always made sure they had plenty to eat as they provided their food with what they could grow in the family garden. 9 of those children as adults became pastors, pastor’s wives or missionaries. The other 4 almost without exception were involved in their local churches as faithful members who serve their church family. Many of the grandkids, your pastor included, are involved in full time ministry and a number of great grandchildren are preparing for ministry. What an amazing heritage I have by the grace of God to be born into the Wegner family.

I tell you the story about my family because once again at this family reunion, I was in awe of the blessing of being a part of a family that loves, cares for and serves one another in the joy of the Lord. I watched one of my sweet aunts keep the coffee pot full for the host of family present. I saw them sharing their food provisions, my uncles cooking on the grill to feed all of us, emptying the mountain of trash that seemed materialize from drinks cups and plates about every 15 minutes. We enjoyed talking together, playing games, watching the Olympics and cheering for team USA. We reflected on the passing of my Uncle Harold last year, the first of 13 to step into Heaven. We learned how a misunderstood boy with what we’d call autism today carved out a life for himself and when he passed at age 78, he left his beloved church family a sizeable nest egg to further the kingdom of God after he paid for his own arrangements. We enjoyed family worship on Sunday morning with one of my cousins leading us in worship “a cappella style” and one of my uncles brought a great challenge from the Word of God.

As I reflected on my amazing family, the family God gave me; I was reminded the Lord has given me an amazing church family called Calvary Baptist Church. We’re a fairly large family like the Wegner clan has grown to become and it creates lots of work. A large family means that people need to serve when they are together and when they are not. They need to provide for one another’s needs and esteem others more highly than themselves. They follow up with one another and check on each other to see how they are doing in general and when in distress they care for each other. At the reunion, I overheard people asking about family situations they had been faithfully praying about in intercessory prayer.  A large family cares for the children of the family like my aunts and uncles were doing for some of my younger cousins – their great nieces and nephews and great grandkids of my grandparents. I saw beaming smiles on the faces of my own sons as they joked around with my ever fun-loving and mischievous uncles. All of these things mirror life in a church family; the family God gave me and you; the family known as Calvary Baptist Church.

The reality is we all as members of this church family have a great responsibility to each other. We must feed one another spiritual food; we must challenge one another, edify, exhort and encourage one another. I love what Paul says to his church family known as the Colossian church: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16). It was precious to hear the Wegner family singing in worship “I’m in right, out right, up right, down right happy all the time since Jesus Christ came in and cleansed my heart from sin; I’m in right out right up right down right happy all the time!” People in their 70’s and 80’s down to kids in preschool singing that silly little song and having a ball doing it with the hand motions too! There was no thought “that’s just for kids and not for me.” Hearing testimonies of the Lord’s faithfulness in overcoming cancer and hearing preschoolers share how much they love Jesus was so awesome.

All of this points to the fact that God has given each of us our Calvary church family and we each have a responsibility and a place to serve the Lord here. I want to encourage you if you’re simply on the fringe, an attender who’s not plugged in; get plugged in by joining this church family and begin serving. If you’re a long time member; stay plugged in and keep serving. This fall in particular we have many needs for serving and caring for the needs of our young families. We need people who’ll serve in our AWANA ministry each Wednesday; even if you can only commit to a 30 minute time slot to listen to verses or help children memorize God’s word and hide it away in their hearts, we need you. We need to mingle across generational lines and worship services because we’re family; even if the music “may not be your cup of tea” in that particular service. Faithful servants from years gone by need to groom, mentor and train others to carry the baton of Christian service so their labors will continue to expand God’s kingdom through the next generation. They need to invest in their spiritual nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great grand children for the glory of God and the expansion of His kingdom.

We know statistically many kids who grew up in church leave church as adults. I’m determined that will not happen here at Calvary. How did the godly heritage of service get passed down from grandma and grandpa Wegner to their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren? Each generation took responsibility to pass the baton to the next generation. Did they do it perfectly? Of course the answer is no. But they did do it faithfully the best way they knew how and God is blessing because of it. He will bless Calvary’s effort as we determine corporately as a church family: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We’re all busy; we’re all worried if we have enough time in our crowded schedules. Serving the Lord may mean we have to prioritize and reprioritize what’s most important. Where are you serving this fall? Will you jump in the game and serve your church family? Will you view your relationship with your church family as a great privilege but a great responsibility as well? Seeing those serving hearts at our family reunion; made my desire to serve the Lord with joy that much stronger; it made me thankful for the family God gave me…a church family God has given me to serve; 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