Love Each Other

By: Pastor Vern Kratz

Today’s reading comes from John 15:1-17.

As I read the passage I am reminded about a lot of things. The first thing I am hit with is a reminder that sometimes I need to take a step back and take a good look at myself and make sure I am doing the things I am supposed to be doing – the things that are important to God.

Jesus uses the illustration of a gardener that needs to prune his plants so that they can be more fruitful. Sometimes we need to change or quit something so we can be better at something else. For example, if I quit complaining about situations, then the by-product of that would be a healthier attitude towards life – that’s a good thing. What do you need to cut off or change from the pattern you are presently following with your life, so that you can experience a more fruitful, abundant, and blessed life?

Continuing with the gardening illustration, another thing that I am reminded about is that I need to stay connected – both to God and to other people that will have a good influence on me or who I can be a good influence on. Jesus said, “No branch can bear fruit by itself” and then he said “apart from me you can do nothing.”

God is our source of everything! And if we try and live a life disconnected from him then we are no longer attached to the One who is to be our source. When that happens just like a branch that is cut off from the vine withers, so we will wither and our spiritual vitality will become shallow or non-existent. To experience God’s blessing we need to be in regular communication with him. We need to be connected to him. We also need each other and we need to love each other.

Which brings me to my last reminder for today: the fruit that a plant produces is the proof of whether the plant is healthy or not. The same way our lives need to bear fruit that proves whether we are spiritually healthy or not. And one of the fruit or evidences of our lives should be the love and concern we have for other people. Today’s passage concludes with a simple command from Jesus: Love each other.

It’s February and this month contains: Valentine’s Day, Marriage Week, and Random Acts of Kindness Week. February is a good month for us to make sure we loving and caring for each other. I want to take stock of what fruit my life is producing. The fruit in my life is seen through my love and concern for others.

Our love for one another is important to God. Happy belated Valentine’s Day!

The Scriptures say

By Pastor Ruth Denboer

The Scriptures say” … This is the response we read from Jesus when He was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. There are a few things that hit me from this story.

1. It all happened in the wilderness. There are definitely times in our lives when we feel like we are living in the wilderness. Life just seems barren, maybe we feel very alone, and maybe we feel things are quite parched. Satan loves to tempt us when we are alone, when we are vulnerable. But we must not forget the truth. We are never alone.

Deuteronomy 31: 6 So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

2. Satan still comes with the same temptations. He still tries to convince us that we should try this, or try that, to help satisfy our needs. He’s still at work trying to convince us to distrust God’s provisions for our lives. He loves to make us shift our confidence from God as our provider, to somehow believe that we must be our own provider.

We are constantly being tempted to believe the proclamation of fears all around us telling us that we will not have enough. Scriptures say that God will supply all of our needs!

Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

3. All Jesus had to use against Satan to quiet Him was Scripture!
Jesus simply replied with, “It is written”, or as in the NLT translation I was reading, “the Scriptures say”. This was enough to silence the lies and tempting mockery of the enemy.

4. We don’t have to prove anything to Satan. Jesus didn’t waste a miracle in the presence of Satan, but used miracles as a witness to His disciples and those who He came to save. Miracles are signs to the unbelieving hearts, proving the existence of a God who loves us and cares for us.

Jesus could have done all the things Satan was tempting Him with in the wilderness that day, but instead, this becomes such a fantastic example for you and me. From this encounter we can see the power of standing by the truth, and not wavering. We are able to resist Satan with Scripture, and have the same result as Jesus had that day. Satan left him alone.

Take up your cross, and follow me

Take up your cross, and follow me
Mark 8:34-35
34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.
Throughout my four years at Bible school we studied the Bible very intensely, reading through all different sections of the Bible and having them come alive. However, this section may have been one that has stuck with me most and continues to challenge me almost daily. Possibly you know it better from Matthew 16:24,25 or Luke 9:23,24. Whenever I see in the Gospels that multiple writers have found it important to include something, my brain clicks in and I desire to see why.
Why does this particular verse hit me so hard? Because Jesus isn’t vague, His message isn’t easy, and he’s only giving two choices. Jesus either allows people to continue in their selfish ways, hanging on to their lives and eventually losing them. Or, following Christ, taking up our cross, letting go of control of our lives, and having our lives be saved. So we can choose, try to have control even though it will never work, or just let God take control now. It’s truly a simple decision, however living it out and continuing to make that decision each day may not be so simple.
When we think about the cross we may only think of a necklace people wear around their necks now, or a symbol someone has in their house, but the cross had a much different meaning when Jesus spoke of it. This verse says we each have our crosses, and Jesus’ was death. Jesus literally had to carry the cross that he’d die on, he’d have to watch friends abandon Him, be humiliated, and ultimately die for nothing he’d done wrong but to save those who had done nothing to deserve it. Giving our lives likely will not mean death, but it could mean giving future plans, possessions, and even dreams to God.
We either choose to hold tightly onto our lives eventually having control slip away, or we give control to God right now and allowing Him to lead us on our next journey.


Pastor Nikki Ragush

Good News!

By Pastor Heidi Kratz

When is the last time you heard some good news? Good news can change your whole day or even your whole outlook on life.

Every morning before heading out for the day, I check the weather report and the latest news. The weather channel can sometimes bring some good news when you can see a forecast for warmer weather especially during this time of year. Catching up with the news on the other hand is not always the most encouraging way to start your day. There is a common thread through most news stories…hurting people. There are concerns about the economy, fear of terrorism, unrest and war in different parts of the world. Where is the good news?

Luke 8:1 reads “After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.”

In Kids’ Church we have been studying the video series “What’s in the Bible” with Buck Denver. We have learned that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the first four books in the New Testament. These four books are called the Gospels. The word “Gospel” means good news. The Gospels tell the story of Jesus. Jesus is the good news. He is the one who can bring hope to the lives that are lost and hurting.

In Jesus’ day there were no news channels to check up on the events of the day, but people had similar experiences. People were hurting. They had different fears and were confused about the problems they were experiencing. Jesus went from “one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news”. Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind and calmed the storms. He brought good news where ever he went.

In Luke 8:39 the man who was healed went away and told everyone in his town how much Jesus had done for him. In a world that doesn’t always hear good news, we need to share it with others. The hurting world needs to hear that the good news of Jesus can bring peace and hope to our lives.


By Pastor Ruth Denboer

Titus 3: Do What Is Good

1Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. 2They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.

3Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. 4But—

When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

8This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.

9Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time. 10If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. 11For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them.

I love that this section of Titus is called “Do What Is Good”. As mentioned in our Vitality 2016 meetings, vitality requires us to focus on what God is calling us to do and what He has asked us to refrain from doing.

We should always be ready to do what is good, to be gentle and humble. We should know the truth as mentioned in verses 4-7 because these teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.

However, we are also instructed to refrain from certain things as well. We are not to slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. We are to avoid foolish discussions so that divisions do not happen between the believers.

If we are determined to live this way, we will live with vitality in our personal lives, which will bring vitality to the church body, and through the church body, we will bring vitality to the world.

Beware of that weapon of destruction … the wedge of discord.

Let’s choose a life of vitality!


I Do Not Change

By Pastor Vern Kratz

In this fast-paced ever-changing world there are very few things that stay the same.

As you drive to the edge of town you can hear the “old-timer” reminisce as he looks over a newly developed residential neighbourhood, “I can remember when this was all farmers’ fields.”

I remember when gasoline was 35 cents a gallon and we measured the temperature in Fahrenheit. I remember wondering what a computer was and if there was any value to having one in the house.

I remember waiting for months (sometimes years) for a movie to finally show up on TV because there were no VCRs, DVD players, or Blue-ray players. Some will even remember a time before televisions.

Rules change, leaders change, places change, friends change… time moves on and everything changes in one way or another.

Even for those who like change, the constant change can become draining and even scary at times.

My reading over the weekend took me to the Malachi. It’s the last book of the Old Testament in the Bible. It’s also the last book of the Bible written before Jesus Christ came on the scene (approximately 400 years before Jesus). So it’s fitting to read this book during the few days leading up to Christmas where we celebrate the coming of our Lord to the earth as a baby.

Several phrases from Malachi jumped out at me, but one in particular caught my attention. Malachi 3:6 says: “I the Lord do not change.”

And somehow in those words I find great comfort. As I look back over the year that was 2015 I have seen many things change, some for the better, some not so much. Both in my life personally and then also on the world stage – many things have changed, and not always for the better.

I don’t want to be all doom and gloom here, so I want to encourage us with the reminder that our God does not change – ever. He is the same as he has always been. He keeps every promise. His commands to us have never deviated. His truth has never changed.

As we look to the New Year and all its possibilities it is a great time to make some changes in our lives. Change can be good! We need to put good disciplines in our lives that maybe weren’t there before. Maybe its time to finally give up that bad habit that isn’t good for us – that would be a good change.

Whatever changes we choose to make, I pray that they are changes that will make you more like Christ, and the God who does not change!

Blessings on you this Christmas! And I pray that we make good changes in 2016!

God loves you very much – that is also something that will never change!

I have Chosen

by Pastor Gary Jennings

RAP – It’s simple to do. Read a passage; Apply the passage, and Pray the passage. Everyone can rap.

At the time of my blogging, it is Wednesday, December 9. Our church family Bible reading guide on this day took us to Isaiah 44:1-28. This is a very busy week in the life of our church. We begin our Singing Christmas Tree (SCT) presentations tomorrow. Much of what I am doing in the present I am seeing through the portals of our SCT. As I read Wednesday’s scripture passage, the words I have chosen in verse one immediately leaped out at me. Over the next four days, and six SCT presentations, I will be giving myself, and spending myself in ministry. I actually live for these moments when God can use me in our SCT. It’s the highlight of my year. Much has already been done, but there remains so much more to do. Now we will do what all the work, effort, memorization and practices were really for. It’s about the great news of the message of Jesus at Christmas time. We are praying that Jesus will transform lives.

Now back to the words, I have chosen. I am one of many who are in the Singing Christmas Tree. I am one of about 230 people who are involved in the entire SCT production, one of 58 adults in the choir, one of 9 men who are singing the base part, and even though I am the only one closing each presentation and giving a salvation invitation, I am far from standing alone. My SCT team is with me in prayer and support. I know they are standing with me, and I know I need the team.

And, as great as team support is, I have God’s word to stand upon and to be encouraged by. In Isaiah 44:1, just as God said, listen, to Jacob, He is saying listen to me. I noted what comes next for me to take personally from verses one and two. As I do my part in our SCT, God says that I am His servant. He says that He has chosen me. He says that He made me and formed me and that He will help me. Then he says I do not have to be afraid. Wow! I’ll take it; wouldn’t you? Awe, but you can.

Onward to an incredible weekend of ministry,

Pastor Gary Jennings

The Singing Christmas Tree

by Pastor Ruth Denboer

Here we are, busy preparing for our annual Singing Christmas Tree. The SCT has been a Calvary Temple Christmas blessing to our community since the early 70’s. Many times people will recognize the name of our church by making the connection to the SCT. As many of you know, the choir starts practicing way back in early September, and the songs are carefully chosen for each Christmas tree back in early summer. There are many, many hours of labor from many, many angles that allow the tree to happen each year.

So why? Why do we put in all the time and effort? Some may even argue it’s not a good use of time.

However, when I read through the scripture passages for this week … my heart couldn’t help but rejoice! We are so privileged to be a part of something so God honoring in our community. As I read the Psalms I realize we are indeed fulfilling the commands of scripture.

Psalm 96:1 Sing a new song to the lord! Let the whole earth sing to the lord!

2 Sing to the lord; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.

3 Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.

4 Great is the lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods.

Psalm 98:1 Sing a new song to the lord, for he has done wonderful deeds.

4 Shout to the lord, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy!

Psalm 100:1 Shout with joy to the lord, all the earth!

2 Worship the lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.

I also felt the combination of the passages that were chosen for this week’s readings had significant meaning. The story in Luke reminds me that it’s not what we do that matters … it’s the heart we do it with. The woman is commended for giving her all. Although it was condemned by some as very little … she gave all she had, with a grateful heart. Jesus was blessed by her gift of love.

That is my prayer for this year’s Singing Christmas Tree. May we all give our best out of a heart of love. That’s all that is needed. God will do the rest! Each year people find Jesus through the Singing Christmas Tree. How thankful we should be that we are given this amazing opportunity to make Jesus known in our community!Singing Christmas Tree

The Fear of Missing Out

by Pastor Nikki Ragush

Today, more than ever in our culture we can see all the fun things that others are doing and many times focus on the boring things we must do. Recently in our young adults study we were talking about this idea called the “Fear Of Missing Out”. Maybe you’ve run into the situation where you ask them their plans for the weekend, and as they begin to tell you all the exciting plans they have you begin to turn a bit green, and wished you’d never asked them in the first place. Many people today are on social media at an increasing rate and as we look at social media more we get a pulse on the happenings of people’s lives. But, most people don’t post pictures of the monotonous things they do, instead they post pictures of their exciting adventures so all we see of their lives is fun and excitement. There is no issue with fun and excitement but the question is how much time do we spend thinking about other people’s lives and forgetting about our own.

Psalms 73:1-3

1God is indeed good to Israel,
to those who have pure hearts.
But I had nearly lost confidence;
my faith was almost gone
because I was jealous of the proud
when I saw that things go well for the wicked.

This verse is specifically talking about the troubles that many people have when they see others profit in life but find struggle within their own lives. The question though is not who deserves what in life, our good deeds and lifestyle should not be for the sake of receiving great reward. The question instead is what can we be thankful for in our lives? In Scripture it makes it clear that we are all sinner so truly none of us deserve to be forgiven but we all have the opportunity. As we spend more time being thankful for what we do have, our desire for what other have will diminish. There is a one song that reminds me that even the breath in our lungs is something that we can be thankful for. There are times I struggle with desiring the opportunities others have, but we have been made specifically the way we are for reasons that God understands. I hope today you can enjoy this song, and find thankfulness in the good things that God is doing in your life, as I challenge myself to do also.


Pastor Nikki

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

by Pastor Heidi Kratz

Psalm 8

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

This Psalm is only 9 verses long, but it begins and ends with this declaration of the majestic name of the Lord.

Your name is important. Before our children were born we spent many months thinking about their names. We had a list of boy’s names and girl’s names that we were considering until we decided on the one name that they would be called for the rest of their life.

When you hear name spoken in a crowded room, you stop to see who is trying to get your attention. When you get mail, you are looking for your name to see what you have received that day.

Even though our name is important to us, it does not compare to the “majestic” name of Jesus.

His name is glorious, excellent and great!

That one name of Jesus is everything that we need.

O Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”