Archive for January, 2013

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Why you should come to the AGM, February 4th @ 7 PM

January 18, 2013

Is this not the best blog title you have ever seen? Gripping, inviting, tantalizing; the envy of marketers everywhere.

How many of you love ‘business meetings’ and budget discussions? How about voting on church by-law revisions? Does it keep you up at night shaking with excitement? Does it stoke the flames of your faith?

Probably not.

But on Monday, February 4th at 7:00 we are having our Annual General Meeting. Not everyone comes to these meetings. Not everyone can. But, more people can and should come to these meeting than have in the past.

Here are some reasons why you should come other than the fact that I took time to write this blog:

It’s all about Jesus

The meeting is less about business and more about Jesus. The AGM is not just about crunching budget numbers it is about celebrating all the good things that Christ has accomplished in our midst over the past year. The AGM is a look backward and a look forward; a time to celebrate God’s faithfulness in the past and to bolster our faith for the future.

We will hear stories about lives that have been changed by the grace of God. We will be stirred in our faith. We will leave this meeting with plenty of reasons to praise God.

Trust me.

The Vision Bucket

Vision is a picture of the future that produces passion, purpose and perseverance in the present. The AGM is a time to refill our vision buckets that constantly leak due to the stresses and complexities of life. The AGM is a time to be reminded of what Calvary is about and why we are so excited to make disciples who love God, love others, and serve the world.

As a community, we will also spend time in prayer and worship celebrating our God.

We Talk About God’s Money That Was Once In Your Pockets

How many of you review your financials monthly? Most of us do. We want to see where the money is going and what it is accomplishing.

The church is often shy about discussing money. We are afraid of the jeer, ‘all you want is my money!’ And that perception probably has damaged the North American church. Jesus, however, was not shy about discussing wealth and he did so often with his followers.

Many of us give financially to the church, and elsewhere, as scripture commands. Many of you are generous. Cash is not your comfort, materialism is not your maker – God is all of the above and your worship is reflected in your wallet. Praise God because giving is a discipleship issue.

It is worthwhile to see first hand where your money is going and what is is accomplishing.

We Are Meant to be a Family

God writes letters to churches in the New Testament through the pens of his apostles. We have recently been studying the letter to the church in Galatia. Have you ever wondered why when God wants to communicate with Christians he writes letters to churches?

I think it is because that is where God assumes Christians will be; in congregations. The church is called the household of God in scripture. The AGM is a family meeting that implicates the direction of the family. Your voice is important. And while only members can vote on the issues, any attendee of Calvary is welcome to be a part of the meeting.

This is a time to come together in love, as brothers and sisters in Christ, and discuss our previous year and look forward in anticipation to the coming year.

We would love you to come for the first time, or the 30th time. If you have small children, but want to come, let us know in advance and we will provide child care. Email us through the website – calvarybaptist.ca.

Love you guys,

Chris

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Time To Pray

January 11, 2013

A Look Back

I am still riding high from December. We had a great month as a church. Those baptisms on the 23rd really moved me. I’ll never forget Patrick Farcas, two months old in the Lord, reading off a list of scriptures with such passion and enthusiasm while standing in the tank. Or how about Pastor Faheem baptizing his oldest daughter? Priceless.

I still get emotional when I think of the generosity of our people, giving over a 11,000 dollars to the India Project. That money goes into a reserved fund that can’t be used for any other purpose than the India Project involving leaders, liquid and literacy. We are now in the process of starting, Lord willing, three literacy projects and the digging of two wells in the next year. More details will be coming.

Let me say it again, I love being apart of this church family.

A New Year

Now we are entering into a new year filled with new challenges; new elders, new budget, ongoing ministries, and new people who need to meet Jesus. So I have a challenge for those who call Calvary home.

We need to pray. The church advances on its knees. At Calvary we need to press into the heart of God and pray earnestly for the power of the Holy Spirit to fill our Sunday meetings and weekday ministries. We can’t do real church without the real presence of God.

If I think I can do a better job than God I will work hard. Too hard. If I think God can do a better job than me I will pray hard. Which of these alternate realities does my prayer life reflect?

A sobering thought. I’ll be honest, I am working harder than I am praying. That needs to change.

I was talking to a church planter friend of mine (Jeff Thompson) recently and he said more than a few things that blew my mind about prayer. One was this, “You wonder why God doesn’t seem moved by your prayers. You are not even moved by them. You bore yourself when you pray”.

Ouch.

Look at this text:

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops” (James 5:16,17).

According to this text, what is the difference between Elijah and us, regarding prayer? He prayed earnestly. Passionately. Pleadingly. With faith. And Trust. And Dependancy. Like God was actually needed to get things accomplish. Hopefully not a novel concept.

Are you hungry for more of God? I am. The Holy Spirit has been stirring my soul the last few days. If you are in a small group can you make prayer a priority in your meetings? How about upping the ante in your own devotional life?

I know it is not easy. Nothing worth doing is. Prayer, however, is crucially important to our life together.

Here are some ‘big picture’ things you can pray for:

Selecting New Elders

New Budget

Future Church Plant & Church Planter

People meeting Jesus

India Project

All other existing Ministries

That should keep us all busy on our knees for awhile.

Love you all,

Chris

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A Year In Review

January 2, 2013

We have arrived at the time of year where staff members and key volunteers at church have to write their annual reports. I thought I would post snippets of my report here in advance (on an unrelated item check out http://www.groundedinthegospel.com for a post on evolution and Christianity entitled From Particles to Pastors: part 1 that I wrote if you want):

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I love being one of the pastors at Calvary Baptist Church. Work, of course, is like life; there are ups and downs, joys and struggles, hardship and happiness. But I always love looking back at God’s goodness to us over the past year and taking a moment to celebrate His loving kindness as a congregation.

I am thankful for the journey we have undertaken through the book of Galatians over the past several months. It is powerful to be reminded weekly that we are saved by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves, but the gift of our glorious God. We are not only saved by grace we are sustained as a church by grace. In what follows I want to outline evidences of God’s grace to us as a church.

Baptism

Baptism is a public declaration that a person is a follower of Christ. Baptism symbolizes dying to an old life of sin and resurrecting to a new way of life lived for Jesus. Each baptism represents a story of God’s grace. This year we have baptized 24 individuals and quite a few of these baptisms involved relatively new believers. We were privileged to hear some very moving testimonies.

Freedom Session

I am privileged to continue co-leading Freedom Session with Michelle Felice. Michelle bears the brunt of the workload and continues to be used mightily of God in the lives of many. This ministry has such a significant impact on the lives of people as they deal with issues of brokenness, hurt, heartache and addiction through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit and the encouragement of authentic community. I am so encouraged by what God is doing through this ministry.

Finances

For the last thirty years our church has been in debt. This, of course, hasn’t thwarted the Lord from working powerfully in our midst. Yet, there was always the dream, ‘what would it be like to be debt free as a church’? ‘How then could our resources be leveraged to make an impact for the kingdom of God’? I have good news Calvary. This December we paid off our debt. There was just over thirty thousand dollars left and we have covered it in its entirety. We are, for the first time in thirty years, free from debt. Praise God! It is a privilege to serve amongst so many generous people.

There is a lot more to celebrate and a lot more to come. God is good!

Chris