Honored to Serve Him–with Them!

September 29, 2009

Today, a Bible Fellowship Class is serving breakfast to the Calvary pastors…getting a head start on the upcoming Pastor’s Appreciation Day.  This class has done this for years and I appreciate the way they pour out their love on our staff!

God has placed me on a large staff with many pastors serving together.  Some may look at Calvary and think we know nothing about the small church pastor.  However, the first two churches we served were nothing like Calvary.  For three years, while in college,  we served  as Youth Pastor in a small rural church;  after seminary, we served as the first pastor of a mission church in the D.C. area–there were 50 people in worship when our ministry began.

Now, I bring this up for one reason.  We know the various duties of the pastor in a smaller church and the pressure he feels to get it all done.  It seems like every problem lands on his doorstep.  As I remember the pressure of those days, I am moved to thank God for the pastors with whom I am honored to serve. 

In a church like ours, we have multiplied problems and needs.  I once told a group of pastors in Kenya: “When you have people–you have problems.  If you have many  people–you have many problems!”

In the middle of these many problems, we have many pastors.  These men share the load of ministry.  Every day they are involved in the problems and victories, the joys and sorrows that are found in the ministry.  They know what it means to shepherd the flock of God!  (Acts 20:28)  It is only because these men get under the load that I can focus on what God has called me to do.  They give me strength. We do this together. 

When some hear of “Pastor Appreciation Day” they may think of me.  However, from the depths of my heart, I am thanking God and declaring to anyone who will listen:

“It is my great honor to serve Him…with them!”

Listening– an act of love?

September 24, 2009

Many of you know our daughter is working in Beirut with her non-profit,  “Stories of our City”  (Middle East Project).  Here’s an interesting note from her:

“I was waiting for the bus the other day because I was meeting a friend at the mall. I asked someone which bus to take and a man started telling me everything about how to use the bus (he assumed I was just visiting).  We continued to talk about the beautiful husky puppy he had in his arms. After about a minute, when the bus came, I told him “thanks” but then he got on the bus with me….with his dog!

We continued to talk and I told him about my job here in Beirut. From the first he was thrilled and said: “You mean you are here just to help people understand me? That is awesome! I want to tell my story!”

I gave him my card and we talked more about the need for the people of Middle East to have their own voice. He was going to the same mall so we both got off the bus at the same time. He gave me his number so I could call him for an interview. After a few texts and phone calls, we set up the meeting for the interview this week.

This is just a glimpse at how a casual meeting turns into an interview – and the feelings the people here have towards the project. They are thrilled you are listening to them; you are hearing them tell about themselves.

It is my wish you could see the hope you are bringing to this place just by listening! One of my favorite podcasts says ‘listening is an act of love” and you are loving these people by listening to their story!

They know it – they can tell this is a project of love- and I couldn’t do it without you!   Click here to listen to this week’s story- http://bit.ly/sayfstory


What will they say about 2010-2020?

September 19, 2009

September 19, 1919 was the date. A small group of believers had a vision to start a new church in Winston-Salem and they called themselves the “West 8th Street Baptist Church.”

You may not recognize the name because in 1923 it became “Calvary Baptist Church.” They continued to worship downtown at 8th & Buxton until 1965. That’s when the new pastor, C. Mark Corts, led them to move to the property they had purchased.

History: half of the 90 years downtown; the other half on our Central Campus at the corner of Peacehaven and Country Club; and now Calvary West in Davie County…where will God lead next? 

Ninety years is a big deal. However, just saying “90” makes me hear the clock ticking…on its way to 100! As we celebrate 90 years of ministry we must accept the challenge to finish this next decade with even greater intensity and sacrifice.

When people ask me, “what’s different about Calvary? How did it get to be such a big church? I usually respond by saying:

“God has blessed Calvary because of a clear commitment to God’s Word and a passion to give it away!”

We have a great history. Our church family has been committed to treasuring God’s Word. And, our commitment to give it away is clearly seen in our mission involvement and efforts to serve, equip and encourage other churches.

Looking back, the people of Calvary sacrificed and served their generation while preparing for the generations to follow.  We must do the same: 

“As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.” (Heb 13.7b)

This weekend as we celebrate this anniversary together, we are thanking God for how He has worked and asking God to stretch us.  It won’t be long before we will celebrate the 100th Anniversary. 

What will they say about the years between 2010 and 2020?

Church Planting…A Big Deal!

September 12, 2009

Our partners in Baltimore launch the new church plant TODAY, Sunday September 13th.   This is a BIG DEAL!

It has been our joy to walk with Aaron and Malita Pankey during this journey of preparing to launch “Infinity Church Baltimore.” A few years ago, God used the Pankeys to plant a church in the Baltimore suburbs called Infinity Church, Laurel.  With a passion to get the Gospel to people who need Christ, the Pankeys and Infinity Church started praying about starting another church in the Baltimore area. God turned their hearts to consider a new work in a neighborhood near Morgan State University. 

This is where Calvary entered the picture. We were praying about partnering with a new church plant. We began talking with some friends in Baltimore and learned that the SBC had started a church planting emphasis there called “Embrace Baltimore”.  We soon discovered that a friend of Calvary, Dr. Troy Bush, (GIC ‘08) was involved in the leadership of Embrace Baltimore. He told us that another friend of mine, Dr. Robert Anderson, and the people of Colonial Church in the greater Baltimore area were also considering supporting a new work.  I first met Dr. Anderson and  the people of Colonial  years ago when I preached a mission conference in their church.  We talked with Troy and Robert and it was easy to see that God was answering our prayers and giving us direction about being involved in this church plant. 

Officially, we are being coached by “Embrace Baltimore”.  The partnership is between 3 churches:  Infinity Church Laurel, Colonial and Calvary.  This partnership is focused on starting the new church–Infinity Church Baltimore.

Aaron and Malita and their beautiful children attended our Global Impact Conference a few months ago.  Many of our people heard their hearts and began praying for this new work.

In June, our student choir “Vertical Generation” (VG) took their summer mission trip to Baltimore to help lay the groundwork for this new church plant.  Pastor Aaron told us that VG did more work in one week than his church could have done in a year. At the end of the VG mission week, people in the apartment complex where they ministered came to Pastor Aaron and asked him to start a Bible study there. He said, “Yes!”  This Bible study has provided the base for the new church that will be launched tomorrow!

So, TODAY, Sunday, September 13th is Kick-Off Day!  As this new work begins, the Calvary Family needs to do two things:  intercede…and rejoice!  This is why we exist!  God has called us to be His Missional People.  He has given us the “Word of Reconciliation” and the “Ministry of Reconciliation.”  He uses us to cry out to the world, “Be reconciled to God!”   Together with Infinity we are crying out to Baltimore, “Be reconciled to God!”

Aaron and Malita are our partners and this is “our” church plant.  We have given money to support this church plant. We have sent our teens there to minister. Today we have sent our Assoc. Pastor for Missions, Steve Hardy, to encourage them, give them another check, and represent all of us as this new work officially begins. 

Church planting is a big deal!  It’s God’s heart. Calvary’s involvement is a big deal!  That’s my heart.  And, I am so grateful that the people of Calvary “get it!”

Remembering 9/11

September 11, 2009

The increased communication of our generation allowed the events of 09-11-01 to be broadcast capturing  the attention of most of the world. Perhaps every generation has a special day that is stamped on their minds with a sense of infamy…but this one seems to be more far-reaching than most. 

I remember being in the Richmond offices of the IMB and joining the staff in the lobby as we gathered around the TV.  It didn’t take long for me to barge into a meeting led by the president, Jerry Rankin.  The group turned and looked at my rude behavior with bewilderment as I walked across the room and turned on the TV announcing, “I’m sorry to interrupt but I think this will have great impact on world evangelization!”

Most of us remember the questions we were asking as we watched the next scenes unfold: “what will happen next? Where will this all lead?”

Before that day, many sleepy Christians were unaware of world religions; most had little understanding of what others believe, where they live and how many people are “out there” who don’t see life through the same lens as us.  Before that day, few conversations mentioned the teachings of Islam and it certainly did not surface in the evening news.  Now, most every day we hear unfamiliar names on the news and people from every angle discuss the need for understanding as they search for what could bring the possibility of peaceful co-existence in a troubled world. 

Followers of Christ should lead the way.  We should lead the way in explaining differences between peoples and religions…and we should lead the way in treating people with dignity.  The Gospel demands it!

Followers of Christ should be the first to talk about what divides people by explaining People Groups and tribal perspectives giving context to the clashes that erupt from ethnic division.  The Gospel addresses it!

Followers of Christ should live with the blessed hope that He is gathering worshipers from every tribe and nation and language and people…and walk everyday with the joy of knowing that Jesus deserves to be worshiped by all the Peoples of the world. The Gospel expects it!

9/11 was a day when hate and division ripped the hearts of many who watched the images on TV and suddenly fear began to rule.  However, as the people ran from the burning buildings, brave firemen and rescue workers ran in.  They understood their commission and knew it was not optional.  Their assignment was to save lives. 

9/11 was a day when the curtain was pulled back on the complexity and division on our world.  Some are still filled with fear; some run from the real issues.  Yet, those of us who have been given the message of reconciliation must understand our commission.  It is not optional.  We must run into the places where others are running out.  Our assignment is clear…we have the answer!  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

All Praise Rising

September 10, 2009

To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (I Tim 1:17)

King Jesus is the King of the ages.  He deserves my allegiance and my affection;   He deserves my dedication and devotion; He deserves my best energies and greatest delight.  He is the rightful Ruler of the universe and the rightful Ruler of my ransomed heart.

Old Testament songs proclaimed the worthiness of God:

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name;  Bring an offering and come before Him!  Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;  (1 Chr 16.29)

Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name;  (see Ps. 29)

New Testament songs and prayers did the same:

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  (Eph. 3:20-21)

“He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords…To Him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” (I Tim 6:15-16)

Let it rise today from the depths of our hearts.  He has put a new song in our hearts.  Let the praise He deserves rise from our hearts back to Him…

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen. (Rom  11:36)

The USA Today ?

September 8, 2009

The news media is filled with talk about the President’s speech to our children today.

What do you think about when you hear/read the news?  Do you ever feel the tension between your earthly citizenship and your heavenly citizenship?

  • “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Phil. 3:20)
  • “We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord…we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:6-8)
  • “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles… Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable…” (1 Peter 2:11-12a)

We all know that we are living in a divided country, right?  We know the only real answer is a move of God that would bring about spiritual awakening, right?

Al Mohler posted a major article, “The Obama School Speech Controversy — What to Think?”  Read it and pray for your fellow-believers. 

We don’t need to respond to this issue with an argumentative spirit.  We need to respond with insight and grace.  You can read Dr. Mohler’s article here:  http://bit.ly/8olLw