Christian Life

Better Together

Better Together - Calvary BurlingtonHave you ever done something you felt very uncomfortable doing?

We, as a staff, spent last week at the Exponential conference in Orlando, Florida. The theme for the week was The Great Collaboration. And the whole conference centred around this idea that we are better together.

Well, during one of our evenings we decided to do the most American thing possible, so we went to the local shooting range. We picked out a handgun, got instructions, and I mean like a crazy crash course on weapon safety instructions, and then were given a box with our handgun, ammunition, safety goggles, and headphones. When we got to the range I was shocked to find that there was NOBODY supervising the range in person. There were cameras everywhere, but all the employees were up at the front. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I guess I thought there’d be someone hanging around, like a lifeguard at the pool. We had been given 30-45 seconds of gun safety instruction, then given a gun with live ammo and sent on our way. I felt really uncomfortable.

Thankfully we were travelling with someone who knew something about guns, and safety. Because after hearing, and honestly, feeling, the first round being fired. I was ready to turn around and leave. It’s not something I was prepared for. The fact that you feel the gun being fired, even when you’re not the one holding it, just didn’t feel right. But, the longer we were there the more I adjusted, and then it was my turn to take a shot. I think the only reason I was able to do this activity is because I was there with someone who knew what they were doing. They coached me through all the steps of loading the magazine, keeping my finger off the trigger until I was ready to fire, and all the ins and outs of what we were doing. Without them, I’d have been scared off.

Why am I talking about this?

Well, there’s a ministry principle that I took from this experience that I want to encourage you with.

Just because you’re uncomfortable, doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

I think we say this to ourselves too often. I know I do. “Oh, I don’t know how to do that, so I won’t”, or “Oh, I don’t feel comfortable with that, I’ll leave it to someone else”.

How comfortable do you think Peter felt when he stepped off the boat to walk out onto the water? He’d never done that before, he’d never seen anyone do it before Jesus, yet he takes a literal step in faith and asks Jesus to call him out onto the water. Peter’s not dumb, we know the disciples had a fearful respect of the seas. But he looks to someone else doing it, and he says “guide me, and I’ll do it too”.

I’m willing to bet there’s something you’re not doing because you’re uncomfortable with it. What is it? Who could you get to come along side you and show you how it’s done so it’s not so scary, not so frightening, not so uncomfortable? What step in faith could you take to serve in a way that seemed too big to handle before?

I want to live a little more like Peter. Sure, Peter had Jesus as his guide. But, we’re also not trying to walk on water. We’re talking about serving in Children’s Ministry, Facilities, Calvary Connects, Seniors Lunch, Ushers, Student Ministries. Who can we ask to teach us about these ministries so we can have a healthy understanding that we CAN do it?

When we work together with other people we will do things we otherwise thought we couldn’t. Because it’s true, we are better together.

Mike Sanders, Director of Youth Ministries

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What If We Stop Doing Evangelism?

 

 

What If We Stop Doing Evangelism?

 

 

The question is a sobering one to think about. Often when we hear the word “evangelism”, fear takes over and we get nervous that someone might ask us to do something that we feel we can’t.

Church, your faces tell the story on Sunday morning when we talk about sharing the Gospel with our friends and family! There is a visible reaction when I mention the words “evangelism” and “sharing the gospel”. The reaction is a mixture of fear and disconnect. It may not be intentional but it happens. Fear and discomfort set in and we don’t know what to do about it.

We recently read an article at our staff meeting that posed the question, “What will happen if the church continues to ignore evangelism?” Using the warning given to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2, the author warned that if the church does not repent for its lack of evangelism and return to the things that the church should do, then we were in danger of losing our effectiveness and possibly even our existence as a church.

As I read the article, things got quiet in the room. All eyes were hanging pretty low because I know that they felt, as I do, that evangelism is tough and at times it’s not the priority it should be. As I continued to read, Jesus’s words from Matthew 5:13-15 were explained. Listen to these words from Scripture:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?
It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp
and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house."

Even if our evangelistic pulse is faint, God’s Word is clear about our response - We are called to be salt. We are called to be light. And if we don’t, then God’s Word says that we will be ineffective and “no longer good for anything but to be thrown under people’s feet”

Pretty powerful words, right?

God does not want us to be ineffective – that is not what He wants for you and I. Rather, He wants us to repent (if we have reason to repent) and make sharing the Gospel with our friends, co-workers, and family a priority.

As I finished reading the article, I immediately went into a chapter in “How to Grow” where author Darryl Dash gives an introductory understanding of what the Gospel is. As the words leapt off the page, Darryl pointed us to God’s holiness, God’s love, God’s grace, God’s mercy, and God’s mission. It was refreshing because it reminded us together of just how good that Good News is. We ended with a time of reflective prayer, thanking God for the Gospel and the privilege we have of sharing it.

Don’t worry Church, I’m still working this out in my own life but my desire is to grow in missional effectiveness while God gives me time. Who’s with me, by God’s grace?

You are dearly loved,

Pastor Aaron

Note: Evangelism is a muscle and every muscle needs exercise. Join us for March’s EQUIP as we dive into evangelism and get some tools to help us share this amazing news we have been given. EQUIP is on Monday March 9th.

 

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Captivated or Caught Up?

 

 

When I first became a believer I was fascinated by God and His Word. The Bible was alive and working in me as I learned how to follow God in thought and deed. I was captivated by God. 

 

 

The beauty of the gospel. The power of the Saviour. The care of the father. It was amazing how God worked in my life and drew me into daily of worship of Him.

As time passes, one of the dangers of following after God is that we can lose our awe and wonder for who God is, and fall victim to being caught up in church instead of being captivated by Christ. Here are some of the ways that it manifests itself:

Caught up in rhythm

One danger is to become caught up in the rhythms of God rather than captivated by the glory of God. You have to admit that there is a certain rhythm to church life. Sunday service is 10:00 am. Lifegroups are 6:30 pm. We have a Monday Morning Minute on Facebook, a weekly email blast, a monthly bulletin and Equip sessions, yearly summer camp… you get it. Even our spiritual life can get into a rhythm. Morning devotional with a little journalling, recite a little grace before each meal, say a few evening prayers before we turn in for the night. Before we know it these rhythms have rocked us to sleep like a spiritual lullaby. 

When we turn to God's Word, we read about the church of Sardis in Revelation 3 whose works show that they are alive, but God tells them they are dead. He urges them to awaken, regain their strength, and continue with the work of the Lord. They need to reengage their minds and to put into practice what they have heard and received. 

Caught up in belonging

Belonging is important, but some of us fall into the trap of being caught up in belonging to church instead of being captivated by Christ. 

Remember the theme song of the 80s show Cheers? “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name and they're always glad you came!” Like Norm of old, we come to church thirsty for a place to call home, and to find friendships with other believers, but in the process we lose sight of what belonging really means. 

Check out Ephesians 2:13: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” What this means is that we belong because we have been brought in. The blood of Christ has made us acceptable in the sight of God, and through His sacrifice we become daughters and sons of the Most High God.

At Calvary we love the fact that we make connections with great people through our worship services and events, but our primary goal of belonging should be to foster relationships where we are helping those around us take a step to the right, or where we are being transformed by someone helping us take a step to the right. These spiritual friendships will keep us captivated by Christ by reminding us about being connected to the family of God.

Caught up in serving

Okay, confession time. I have always loved serving in the church. I love feeling useful, helpful, and being with others who are like-minded. Working together on a team to accomplish a goal is a lot of fun, and I really like learning new things. But there was a time when serving became more significant than my walk with Christ. When I served, i went to church. And when I had a “sit and soak Sunday” (aka, no serving!), I stayed home. After all, what was the point of going to church if I didn’t have to? Call it self-care, call it taking a Sabbath rest, or call it what it was… kinda dumb. As if God was only important if I was working in the nursery that day. 

John 3:30-31 says, “He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all.” Here, John is actually talking about himself — he was writing about how his purpose was to point others to the glory of God, and not to take any of God’s glory for himself. He is simply a signpost to the goodness of God. These verses remind me that serving God is not a substitute for worshipping God, and to not be so caught up in serving God that I forget to be captivated by the person and presence of God. 

Allow the Word of God to transform you as you study it, so that you can, as they say, "Keep the main thing the thing." Be in the presence of the Lord and revel in the beauty of the gospel message. Allow yourself, with fresh eyes, to be captivated by Christ and worship Him today. 

Candi Thorpe

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