All posts by Calvary Temple

Through It All

By Pastor Ruth Denboer

Generally speaking I am a forward thinker but every once in a while something happens that causes me to go into a reflective mode for a bit. This recently happened with the passing away of one of my childhood mentors. This person I’m sure had no idea that he was one of my mentors, but I, and countless thousands, were blessed by this person’s heart for God that was so beautifully expressed through the worship music he wrote and performed. This person is Andrae Crouch.

My life as a teen was so influenced and challenged by the music and words of this singer/songwriter. His songs were his stories, but somehow resonated with thousands of others. His songs found their way into the choir lofts and then onto the worship lists of many churches in the 70’s and since.

Songs like “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power”, “My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)”, “Soon and Very Soon” and “Through It All”. Just hear the words of his song “Through It All” …

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,

I’ve had questions for tomorrow,

there’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong.

But in every situation,

God gave me blessed consolation,

that my trials come to only make me strong.

Chorus:

Through it all,

through it all,

I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,

I’ve learned to trust in God.

Through it all,

through it all,

I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

I’ve been to lots of places,

I’ve seen a lot of faces,

there’s been times I felt so all alone.

But in my lonely hours,

yes, those precious lonely hours,

Jesus lets me know that I was His own

I thank God for the mountains,

and I thank Him for the valleys,

I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.

For if I’d never had a problem,

I wouldn’t know God could solve them,

I’d never know what faith in God could do.

Wow … just allow me to repeat that last line … “For if I’d never had a problem, I wouldn’t know that God could solve them, I’d never know what faith in God could do.” I am so thankful that I was shaped on lyrics like these.

Today I look back and remember. Today I give thanks for this man’s heart, his songs, and his willingness to share his gift with the world. Thank you God for teaching us through his gift of music to trust You to bring us through the storms of life. Thank you God for helping us to know that … through it all, we can learn to depend upon Your Word.

Now a memory from my teen years. This clip is Andrae Crouch at a Billy Graham crusade in 1975.

The Unlived Life

By Pastor Gary Jennings Jr.

One of my favorite sites is the mockingbird (www.mbird.com). Its a site, according to their about page, that “seeks to connect the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life in fresh and down-to-earth ways”. One of the articles on that site introduced me to Adam Phillips who wrote “Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life”. In the intro, Phillips says,

“There is always what will turn out to be the life we led, and the life that accompanied it, the parallel life (or lives) that never actually happened, that we lived in our minds, the wished-for life (or lives): the risks untaken and the opportunities avoided or unprovided. We refer to them as our unlived lives because somewhere we believe that they were open to us; but for some reason – and we might spend a great deal of our lived lives trying to find and give the reason – they were not possible. And what was not possible all too easily becomes the story of our lives. Indeed, our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless tantrum about, the lives we were unable to live.”

The big question we all ask, maybe even haunts us at times, is “What If?”. I think everyone asks this every once in awhile. “What if I took that other job instead of the one I have?”, “What if I had the courage to ask out that guy/girl in highschool/college?”, “What if I tried harder at academics and made it into the university I always wanted to attend?”. What if I moved to Australia when I was 20?”, “What if I just took more risks in my life?”.

Who knows what our lives would be like if we had chosen something different in those major forks in the road. But what about all the little forks in the road? You might be asking more immediate “What If’s” like, “What if I didn’t get angry all the time?”, “What if I put 110% into my job?”, “What if I was more present with my friends and family instead of being at work in my head all the time?”.

The great thing about the new years, is that these “What If’s” don’t have to be directed at the past in despair, but can be directed to the future with hope that these “What If’s” can still happen.

There are more major forks in the road ahead of you, and of course a bunch of little ones as well. Instead of despairing over an unlived life, focus on the one you have, the day/month/year that is right in front of you, unformed and full of possibility.

The Gift of Time

By Pastor Vern Kratz

Christmas is a busy season. I get it.

But in the midst of the busyness do you ever catch yourself saying, “I don’t have time”?

I know that I have overused that statement. Sometimes I have said it out loud, and many times I have thought it in my heart that “I don’t have time.”

I took a moment to think about that statement and realized that it is really untrue, or at least incomplete. The fact is we all have time. Everyone’s day has the same number of minutes and hours in it. The question is what are we going to do with it? How are we prioritizing our time?

How we spend our time really shows what is important to us and where our heart is at.

What most of us really mean when we say we don’t have time is that we have put more things on our “to do” list or on our agenda than we have moments for.

When we tell someone that we don’t have time what we really mean is that we don’t have time for them, and whatever else we are doing is more important than they are.

If you are like me you still have some people on your list that you need to find Christmas gifts for.

Here are a few gift ideas you may not have thought of:

Attend your grandchild’s Christmas pageant.

Listen to a friend tell you a story.

Go for a walk with your spouse.

Play Monopoly with your children.

Take a co-worker out for coffee.

Ask a senior about their favorite Christmas memory.

Phone your aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Have dinner with your siblings.

Make a greeting card for your parents.

Visit someone in the hospital or care home.

Maybe some of these things aren’t real options for you. I’m sure you can think of other items that can go on this list. Most of these things won’t cost you much money – but you will have to spend some of your time.

Perhaps one of the greatest gifts you can give someone this Christmas is your time.

Merry Christmas!

Only 4% of Your Day

By Pastor Nikki Ragush

Recently, I have been on a working out kick and it began after I signed up for a gym membership. Exercise has always been an important aspect of my life, likely because I struggle to stay still for too long. Like many women I went to Pinterest right away and looked at the ‘Health & Fitness’ section scrolling through cute little pins, and I found this picture that says “a one hour workout is 4% of your day”. Quickly, I felt a little guilty when I skipped a workout because 4% seems like such a small amount. But, that 4% can also be attributed to the time I spend in my spiritual life. There are several parallels that I find when I compare my spiritual training alongside with my physical training.

1. You don’t see results in one day. Whether I want to get six pack abs or live a Godly life I can’t just make it happen in one day it takes time and dedication.  (Philippians 1:6)
2.  You must push yourself if you want results. We are warned against becoming ‘lukewarm’, if we cease to strive toward Jesus then our relationship with Him suffers. (Revelation 3:15-16)
3. The little things matter. In our physical training the form we use, the food/water we ingest, and the routines we do make a difference. Similarly, in our spiritual training the way we connect to God, the Scripture that we read (Matt 4:4), and the routine we create with Christ makes a difference.
4. You can see the results. Our bodies change when we begin to consistently workout. Our spirit also changes when we work on those different disciplines, when we seek God you can see fruit in our lives. (Galatians 5:22-23)

So, now I have this quote in my mind “a one hour workout is 4% of your day”. Whether this is a physical workout, a musical workout, a mental workout, or my spiritual workout, I must train if I desire to grow.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27
24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

What Makes God Smile?

by Pastor Vern Kratz

“…there’s a Pharisee inside all of us, and I suspect we’ll struggle with this as long as we live.” (Lance Witt)

This is a quote from a book that I read earlier this year that keeps coming back to mind and won’t leave me alone. I didn’t want to agree with it, but the more I think about it the more I realize that it is probably true. It’s just that some people deal with it better than others.

Jesus himself described the Pharisees with some very pointed words, “Everything they do is for people to see…” (Matthew 23:5) The Pharisees were known as hypocrites – they did a lot of good things, but with the wrong motives.

The Latin phrase “Esse quam videri” means “to be rather than appear to be.” We may do all the right things when there are others around to see us, and we may receive recognition or a pat on the back. But we need to make sure we have not done these things out of a wrong ambition. If we do anything just to hear the praise of people we will never find ourselves satisfied. It is more important that we be a person of good character rather than appear to be a person of good character.

It’s nice to feel appreciated and even applauded, but the smile that should matter most is the smile of God.

So what makes God smile?

I believe God smiles at us when we worship him. I believe God smiles when we spend time with him and his word. And I also believe God smiles whenever we make a right decision in life, no matter how big or how small. I believe God smiles when we reach out and lend a hand to someone in need. I believe God smiles when we share the truth of his word with someone else. But I also believe God smiles at the artist who spends time painting a beautiful picture. I believe God smiles when we take a moment to enjoy nature and his creation. I believe God smiles at the student who works hard on an assignment to get it in on time. I believe God smiles at the child who hits his first home run. I believe God smiles when we celebrate our birthday. I believe God smiles at us when we enjoy a delicious meal. I believe God smiles at us when we laugh and are relaxed in the company of good friends. I believe God smiles at a lot of the same things that we smile at. I believe God smiles when we just be who he desires us to be.

When we choose to live according God’s word and his purposes for our lives we make God smile.

What things are you going to do today that will make God smile?

That’s all that should really matter.

Staying Above the Water

by Pastor Gary Jennings

Every Wednesday morning beginning at 7am I lead a men’s group. This takes place at our church in the lower auditorium. We begin with shooting the breeze. This is always light and mixed with coffee sips, chuckles and laughter. I enjoy these moments with my friends. Following this we have an interactive Bible study for about one half hour.

We open the floor and give each one an opportunity to share what they are thinking as we unfold our study. Then we pray for the men in our church, and other needs we are aware of, have more coffee and add toast, then we are off to begin our day. Wednesday mornings have become one of the many spiritual wake up calls that I continually need. Since September we have been studying the men of the Bible. We began at the beginning with Adam. Among other things, as we study these men, we are looking at their character, their sorrow and their triumph. In every man I am discovering that just as it was then, it still is today. There is the potential for the good, the bad and the ugly in all of us.

On Wednesday, November 5, we looked at the man Joseph. This man was incredible. He was like a blown up beach ball. Have you ever tried to keep one under the water? It’s impossible. Joseph was like that. His story is recorded beginning in Genesis 37. He always seemed to pop up, surface and rise to the top despite whatever and whoever was trying to sink him. The jealousy of his brothers could not do him in. Slavery could not do him in. False accusations could not do him in. Imprisonment could not do him in. These are the majors and sometimes it’s even the minors that can threaten to bust my beach ball. Ah yes, I can learn a lot from Joseph. The only thing I can find that is close to being negative about Joseph is that when he was young, he went to his father and squealed on his brothers and made them mad, and maybe he should have used more discretion in sharing his dreams with his brothers. That’s it as far as I can tell.

Here’s my take away from Joseph, and my spiritual wake up call for this hour. It’s from a scripture that is found in Romans 8:28. I know that God will work all things out in my life for His glory if I will let Him. Now that I have faith in Christ, nothing will ever work against me. All will work for me. I can float. Christ is the air in my beach ball.

Recently I attended a conference in Gimli Manitoba. On one of the afternoons I was skipping rocks across the Lake Winnipeg water. I hadn’t done that in years. I felt like a little boy again. I can be like those flat stones in Christ. I can skip across the water instead of sinking below it. It is not dependent upon what happens to me, but rather who is working through me and in me.

Well, this is my most recent spiritual wake up call. I am sure, and I hope, that there will be many more. What is your most recent spiritual wake up call? We all need to keep waking up to new truths.

Music is Powerful

By Pastor Gary Jennings Jr

Music is such a wonderful thing. When I get home from work, the first thing I often do is turn on my Apple TV and listen to the Cinemix channel (a channel that plays movie soundtracks). Its gotten to the point where I turn it on just to have it on, not because I want to sit down and pay attention to it, but just to have it on while I do other stuff. There are even times when I have my headphones on listening to something else while Cinemix is playing in the background. That actually sounds pretty weird now that I have written it down, but I think Johann Wolfgang von Goethe has a good explanation as to why I do this. He has this great quote where he says “Music is liquid architecture; Architecture is frozen music”.  . . . Love that quote  . . . I think the reason why I feel the need to have Cinemix on, is because I like the ‘liquid architecture’ of the whole thing. Music has a way of transforming the environment we are in.

In 1 Samuel 16, we read about King Saul being tormented and having episodes of terror. The Spirit of God was once with him, but because of Saul’s selfish choices, Gods Spirit left him, along with Gods protection. Its interesting what Saul decided to do, he decided to turn on some music. Unfortunately Saul didn’t have an Apple TV, so he told his officials to find a musician. They came back with David, he played some music, and Saul felt a lot better. Interesting.

The arts are important. You dont have to look too hard in the Bible to see the importance of music. You don’t have to look to hard to see the importance of architecture and craftsmanship (example: the temple). I don think its too much of a stretch to say that God cares about the arts in general. The arts are a way to express the deep things of the soul that become too flat and thin when articulated in factual and practical language.

I don’t know what Saul heard when he asked David to play, but it had a profound effect on him. Lets take the arts seriously and use them to articulate the deep and important things of our soul, and lets use them to articulate the deepest and most profound message of all, the good news of God’s Kingdom.

In Everything Give Thanks

By Pastor Vern Kratz

Last week I was driving to a meeting very early one morning while it was still dark. I was crossing Victoria Avenue and forgot about the construction that had been going on. There was a very large bump in the road from where they had done some recent paving, but hadn’t finished. I was trying to make the light and never thought to slow down and I hit the bump full speed. The loud bang that ensued gave me quite a shock.

When I arrived to my meeting I was still mumbling and complaining to myself about the construction in the city when I felt God look directly at my heart and check my attitude. At that moment I realized I had an opportunity to complain about the construction, or I could be thankful that the roads were actually being worked on and improvements were being made.

I thought about it some more and came to the conclusion that in every situation we encounter we have an opportunity to complain or to be thankful. Take the hot weather that came at the end of September for example: we could complain about the mosquitos or we could be thankful for the warmer weather. We could complain about the length of time we spend in a waiting room to see a doctor, or we could be thankful that there is a doctor to see. We could complain about what we don’t have or we could be thankful for what we do have.

I think we as Christ followers should be known as people who live with an attitude of thanksgiving. It’s too easy to complain. Let’s go against the trend and choose to be thankful first.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Its About Time

By Pastor Gary Jennings

Wow! I am getting ready to add another year to my life. Any day now I will have to begin to make the mental switch and write down a new number when I am asked for my age on paper. I have to ask myself what I have learned over the years that I have been alive. Surely I must have been schooled in something. Surely there must be a shelf in my life where I have been stacking up all the great truths I have learned.

I find myself on my riding lawnmower about 5 hours a week in the summer time. It’s there that I do a lot of deep thinking. As the grass shoots out the side (and the odd mouse), its right there on my moving chair that I ponder and go deep into my mind. Yes, I have learned a few things over the years. Here’s just one of the things I have learned. It’s the swift moving hands of the clock on the wall or on my wrist. Time waits for no one. Time keeps on slipping into the future. I hear phrases like, I don’t have the time, look at how the time has gone by, it’s time to say goodbye, I must be at an appointment. We adults are always talking about the time. We never seem to have enough of it. It’s like we are always trying to catch it. But it’s like cotton candy. As soon as you taste it, its is gone.

I don’t remember time moving this fast when I was a boy playing in the dirt with my little matchbox cars and trucks. I just wanted to hurry up and grow up; my, how that has changed. I do remember my father making a couple of regular statements about time. He would say, I just got up and out of bed and now it’s time to get down and back into bed. When he was living in his retirement years, he would say, I don’t know where I ever found the time to work.

OK, with learning comes application. At this stage of my life, God is asking me to be a good manager and steward of the time I have been graciously given. My time cannot be saved, but only spent well. Ephesians 5:15, 16 tell me to be careful how I live and to be wise. This is tied in with an encouragement for me to redeem my time. This means to cash the moments in now and make the best of those fleeting seconds.

I want to take more walks with my wife. I want to stop and enjoy a good sunset. I want to make use of every opportunity God gives me to tell others about the marvelous saving grace of Jesus Christ. I want to make a big difference in the lives of the wonderful church people that I pastor. I want to discover ways to do good to others. I want to spend my time well so one day I will hear the words, Well done, and well timed!

How about you? Your moments are moving by just as fast as mine. Think about it!

 

Here I Am, Send Me

By Pastor Nikki Ragush

A couple Sundays ago I was asked by a parent, “Did you know what you wanted to do after high school?”

Immediately, I said “Yes!” But regretted it quickly, because none of us have a simple story of how we got where we are now.  Being the pastor of the youth group here at Calvary Temple, and being a young adult myself I am weekly put into discussions about future plans and what we are called to do. Simply, I could say that in Matthew 9:9 we are given the easy directive, “Follow Me.” Yes, we know we want to follow God but what does that look like for each one of us, on a daily basis we can portray the fruits of the Spirit but what should our career be? Should we move away or stay here? Should we take the job promotion? Should we continue in school not knowing where we are going?

But, when we are going somewhere how do we know we have “arrived”. It’s easy to see our lives as one-dimensional that it’s about moving to an end, but how much do we miss around us in the moment when we are just trying to finish well?

One of my favorite Christian bands has become a group called ‘All Sons and Daughters’, they have a way of making their music simple yet powerful. They have a song called ‘Called Me Higher’, it says “You have called me higher, You have called me deeper, And I’ll go where you will lead me Lord”. What if each of us lived our lives continuing each day as a journey and not seeking to find the finish? What if our lives are about falling deeper into God’s calling, and having that calling change and develop into things we never dreamed?

After I bumbled on for a bit about how I arrived at the decision I did to pursue youth ministry, I then said something that my mother has told me many times “Do we ever really know what we want to do when we grow up?” I pray that if God spoke to me tomorrow and said “Whom will I send? Who will go for us?” I would be ready with Isaiah’s response “Here I am. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgAzLKXqcDk