Archive for the ‘Calvary Baptist Church’ Category

Articles

More about Perspectives

In Calvary Baptist Church on July 7, 2015 by The Spillover

Articles

Learn more about Perspectives

In Calvary Baptist Church on June 22, 2015 by The Spillover

Articles

7 Things Your Church Needs From You

In Calvary Baptist Church on October 14, 2014 by The Spillover

Tim Challies:

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to speak to a gathering of young adults from several churches across our city. I chose to speak about how any Christian (not only young adults) can make a church better and stronger. Here are some of the things I came up with: 7 things your church needs from you.

Your church needs you to…

…BE HUMBLE

There is no character quality more important than humility. While humility does not come naturally to any of us, it can be learned, because here’s the thing: Humility isn’t a feeling or an attitude—it’s action. If you want to learn humility, you need to act humble. Here are 3 quick tips on becoming humble:

  • Find mature Christians who exemplify humility and spend time around them. Learn from them and learn to be like them.
  • Volunteer for the lowliest of tasks. Don’t ask to be in the public eye when you serve, but be content to stay in the back. Find joy in doing the lowliest jobs and do them when and where only Jesus will see.
  • Get to know Jesus. It was Jesus who said, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12). And it was Jesus who humbled himself the deepest and was exalted the highest.

…PRIORITIZE CHURCH

Every church has people who make the public gatherings of the church a low priority. These are the people who only come to church when it is convenient and who use any excuse to miss a day or miss a service. Every church desperately needs people who will make the public gatherings a top priority. Today is the day to begin elevating the importance of church in your life.

Let me give you two reasons:

  • First, you need your church. God made you part of your church for your good. You cannot do life on your own. You aren’t strong enough, you aren’t wise enough, you aren’t mature enough, you aren’t godly enough. Without the beautifully ordinary means of grace you encounter in the church, you won’t make it. Without the support of your brothers and sisters, you won’t make it.
  • Second, your church needs you. God made you part of your church for the good of others. 1 Peter 4 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” God has gifted you to be part of your church, and those gifts are to be used for the good of other people. So prioritize church as an expression of generosity toward others.

…CONSIDER GIVING GOD A DAY

Why don’t you considering setting aside an entire day of the week and dedicating it to the Lord in a special way? We believe that the Old Testament law has been fulfilled in Christ, though there is some disagreement among Christians about the implications. But even if you believe that the Sabbath command is no longer binding on us, there is still value in learning from it.

It completely changes Sunday when you give the entire day to the Lord and his people. Now you’re not having to decide whether to take that class or join that club that meets Sunday afternoon. You’re not skipping church during exam time because you’ve got studying to do. You’re not leaving early to get home before the football game starts. Instead, you’re leaving behind all the cares of life, and even many of the joys of life, and dedicating an entire day to worship, to fellowship, and to serving others.

…LIVE LIKE A CHRISTIAN ALL WEEK LONG

It is easy enough to be a Christian at church, but then you get home. But then you go to work. But then you go to school. And then you’re surrounded by people acting ungodly, and even worse, you’re left along with your own thoughts and your own desires. Yet your church needs you to live like a Christian all week long.

Each of us faces different challenges and different temptations. But one key to living like a Christian all week long is spending time in Word and prayer every day. Make this a priority no matter how busy you are and no matter how crazy life seems. Make this something you do no matter how badly you’ve sinned and how little you feel like doing it. Pray day-by-day not only for yourself, but for your church. Take that membership directly and pray through it from A to Z, and then start over.Make your devotional life something you do not just for the good of yourself, but for the good of others.

…GET TO KNOW PEOPLE NOT LIKE YOU

Churches are involuntary communities—we don’t get to pick who comes to them, God does. So what we have to do is learn to live with these people and learn to love these people, even when they are very different from us. “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” If your church is divided so that all the young adults hang out together and all the older folk hang out together, or if all the people with accents hang out together and all the people without accents hang out together, that makes a statement about the gospel—that the gospel is not big enough and powerful enough to really make people love one another even though they are different.

So commit to get to know people not like you. There is no reason you shouldn’t be able to say that some of your best and closest relationships are with people who are very different from you.

…LEARN GENEROSITY

Few things reveal the heart better than money. Money has an amazing way of displaying what you really believe and what you really value. No matter who and what stage of life you are at, there is no better time than now to learn to be generous with your money. Here’s what the Bible says: “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” You must give, and you must learn to do it cheerfully.

Here are just 2 quick tips:

  • Remember that it’s not your money. The money belongs to God—he just gives it to you to manage it. And he means for you to manage it well and to his glory.
  • Give to the Lord first. I know people who say they can’t give to the church, and yet they’ve got a new cell phone and are carrying a cup of Starbucks into church every week. That doesn’t compute. Learn to give the first and best of your money to the Lord. The harder that seems, the more you need to do it.

…BE A GREAT CHURCH MEMBER

Make yourself invaluable to your church, and do this by serving other people. I love reading about Dorcas, the woman Peter raised from the dead who was described as being “full of good works and acts of charity” (see Acts 9). “When Peter arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them.” Dorcas was a great church member. She loved people so much, and did so much good to them, that the whole community mourned when she died.

Articles

The Beauty and War of True Fellowship

In Calvary Baptist Church,Perspective on March 12, 2014 by The Spillover

David Mathis:

It’s a shame the word “fellowship” has fallen on hard times in some circles, and is dying the death of domestication and triviality. It is an electric reality in the New Testament, an indispensable ingredient in the Christian faith, and one of God’s chief means of grace in our lives.

The koinonia — the commonality, partnership, fellowship — which the first Christians shared wasn’t a common love for pizza, pop, and a nice clean evening of fun among the fellow churchified. It was their common Christ, and their common life-or-death mission together in his summons to take the faith worldwide in the face of impending persecution.

Rightly did Tolkien call his nine a “Fellowship of the Ring.” This is no chummy hobnob with apps and drinks and a game on the tube. It is an all-in, life-or-death collective venture in the face of great evil and overwhelming opposition. True fellowship is less like friends gathered to watch the Super Bowl, and more like players on the field in blood, sweat, and tears, huddled in the backfield only in preparation for the next down. True fellowship is more the invading troops side by side on the beach at Normandy, than it is the gleeful revelers in the street on V.E. Day.

Partnership for the Gospel

Not only did the first Christians devote themselves to the word (the apostles’ teaching, Acts 2:42), and to prayer (Acts 1:14; Acts 2:42), but also to “fellowship” (Acts 2:42). First, their fellowship was in Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:9), and in his Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14). They had become fellow heirs (Romans 8:17; Ephesians 3:6), Jew and Gentile now were fellow citizens (Ephesians 2:19), and soon they shared “all things in common” (Acts 2:44; 4:32). From top to bottom, the gospel creates community like no other.

But this fellowship is no isolated commune or static, mutual-admiration society. It is a “partnership for the gospel” (Philippians 1:5), among those giving their everything to “advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12), knit together for “progress and joy in the faith” (Philippians 1:25). It is the fellowship in which, as Paul says to the Philippians, “you are all partakers with me of grace . . . in the defense and confirmation of the gospel” (1:7).

In such a partnership as this, we need not worry too much that we will forget the lost and sequester the gospel. Real fellowship will do precisely the opposite. The same Jesus who joins us commissions us. The medium of our relationship is the message of salvation. When the fellowship is true, the depth of love for each other is not a symptom of in-growth, but the final apologetic: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

The Twin Texts of Fellowship

But true fellowship not only labors to win the lost, but serves to keep the saints saved. The relational iceberg, lying just beneath the surface of the Scriptures, is especially close to sea level in Hebrews. Here rise the twin texts of Christian fellowship, stationed as guardians of the heart of the epistle, lest we try to access grace as isolated individuals. First, the better known is Hebrews 10:24–25:

Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

The remarkable thing is not the summons to keep meeting together, but the instruction that when you do, look past your own nose to the needs of others. There’s no “how” in the original language. A literal translation is, “Consider each other for love and good deeds.” Know each other. Get close. Stay close. Go deep. Andconsider particular persons, and interact with them, such that you exhort and inspire them to love and good deeds specifically fitting to their mix.

Here we taste how potent, and personal, is fellowship as a means of grace. As partners under God’s word, and in prayer, a brother who knows me as me, and not generic humanity, speaks the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) into my life, and gives me a word “such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

Be the Means for Your Brother

The twin, then, is Hebrews 3:12–13:

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day . . . that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Here the charge lands not on the drifting saint to get himself back on the path, but on the others in the community — to have enough proximity to him, awareness of him, and regularity with him to spot the drift and war for him against the sin. This means of grace, then, in such a circumstance, has a unique function in the Christian life. It is not laid on the spiritually weak to muster their will and do the discipline, but for the body to take up discipline on behalf of the wanderer, to mediate grace to the struggler, to preempt apostasy by putting words into his open ear hole and praying for the Spirit to make them live.

The Glorious Backstop of Grace

Fellowship may be the often forgotten middle child of the spiritual disciplines, but she may save your life in the dark night of your soul. As you pass through the valley of the shadow of death, and the Shepherd comforts you with his staff, you will discover that he has fashioned his people to act as his rod of rescue. When the desire has dried up to avail yourself of hearing his voice (the word), and when your spiritual energy is gone to speak into his ear (prayer), he sends his body to bring you back. It’s typically not the wanderer’s own efforts that prompt his return to the fold, but his brothers’ (James 5:19–20), being to him a priceless means of God’s grace — the invaluable backstop.

It is not only God’s word and prayer that are the means of his ongoing grace, but true fellowship among those who have in common the one who is Grace incarnate (Titus 2:11). The grace of God cannot be quarantined to individuals. The healthy Christian, introverted or not, of whatever temperament, in whatever season, seeks not to minimize relationships with his fellows in Christ, but maximize them.

God has given us each other in the church, not just for company and co-belligerency, not just to chase away loneliness and lethargy, but to be to each other an indispensable means of his divine favor. We are for each other an essential element of the good work God has begun in us and promises to bring to completion (Philippians 1:6).

Such is the true fellowship.

Articles

Where Preferences Go to Die

In Calvary Baptist Church,Perspective on March 4, 2014 by The Spillover

Trillia Newbell:

I love my church. Without question it’s a community unified in worshiping the Father, ministering to our surrounding environment, and encouraging one another to deepen our faith. In some ways, though, I’m nothing like this body of believers. I look different. I have a different cultural background. There certainly are churches I could run to where everyone looks like me. That might be easier. Or I could find a church that sings and worships the way I prefer to—or one with a preacher who addresses his congregation in my favorite style.

But ultimately, I know all those preferential things are just that: preferences. If a church doesn’t teach sound doctrine, after all, none of those preferences matters, since my soul could be at risk. I want to be in a place where I know I’ll be fed the solid Word of God. This promise keeps me returning each Sunday morning; I need to be reminded that my greatest need is the good news, and that Jesus’ redeeming love and resurrection is for today—for me today.

Of course, I might be able to find a local church where everyone looks like me, where each aspect of the worship service is exactly how I’d desire, and where sound teaching is proclaimed. But is that really what I need most? How can we fulfill the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations if we all only seek churches that make us feel completely comfortable? Does God call us to have every felt need fulfilled?

Jesus sacrificed comfort for us. The God-man lowered himself into the womb of a virgin. The ruler of heaven and earth could have easily put an end to his sufferings, just as he put an end to the sufferings of those around him, but he didn’t. To the point of death, he didn’t. He sacrificed all comfort on our behalf.

To be clear, I’m not comparing my minor inconveniences to the deep sorrows Jesus experienced. But I do long to emulate his loyalty to and fellowship with his Father. He was devoted to his call because, ultimately, he was devoted to his Father. He set his eyes on Calvary for the church.

Though I’m not perfectly comfortable at all times, my soul is fed and my life is enriched through my predominantly white church. Jesus’ example is compelling because it helps me remember my calling—to love my neighbor as myself and to love my God with all my heart. I’m not meant to do this alone or to retreat into a comfortable place. God wants me to be with his body.

The churches I’ve attended haven’t been perfect. We’ve had our fair share of problems. Yet when I experienced the tragedy and pain of miscarriages, church members were there encouraging my faith. When my first baby was born, they were there with food and sweet advice. When I started writing more frequently, they were there with Starbucks gift cards. They have loved and served me well. I’d like to think I’ve done the same for them. The love of Christ compels me. The love of Christ compels them.

Members of a church community aren’t always going to get along. It’s probably safe to assume you’ve experienced this disagreement in some form. As we live real life together, conflict is inevitable. I’ve experienced this difficulty in past churches. But though we didn’t always agree, the gospel always prevailed. I share this example only to stress that while God has used the church to mold and grow me, it hasn’t always been easy. I don’t want to give the impression that because I’ve had great friendships and solid teaching, I’ve always been content. I haven’t always rejoiced in God’s goodness in and over the differences. As a matter of fact, such differences have periodically challenged me to evaluate my priorities. And staying has been worth it every time.

I’m convinced many of our problems with the church result from running away from difficult or uncomfortable situations rather than persevering through them. Since we don’t enjoy facing our fears or finding ourselves in challenging circumstances, the thought of escape brings great comfort.

Why attend a church that doesn’t meet all of your felt needs? Because “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). I go to church because God loves the church, and I want to love what God loves. God loves the church universal, and he loves the church local. He loves the megachurch, and he loves the little church that meets in a school. And he loves the church because it’s composed of people—his people. On the cross, the Lord Jesus bore wrath of his Father to establish his blood-bought church (Matt. 16:18). And you and I get to be a part.

Articles

Hard Words, Good Words

In Being Real,Calvary Baptist Church on September 12, 2013 by The Spillover

Perhaps there are lessons for CBC in this story from Joe Thorn of his church’s assessment:

5 years ago I was assessed by a group of pastors for the Acts 29 Network. We had just launched Redeemer Fellowship and wanted to partner with like-minded brothers and churches who share our core theological convictions and approach to ministry. When I received the completed assessment a week later, welcoming us into the network, the brothers were careful to include thoughts on my strengths and weaknesses.

Hearing where you are weak is hard, but necessary. Hard, but good–if you have ears to hear it. One of the things they called me out on was how deficient I was in connecting with those outside of the church. Here is some of what they said to me.

Though you can articulate a missional-church philosophy, you are not effectively leading your church into mission. You can speak of activities and initiatives you want the church to pursue, but you do not talk joyfully and passionately about unbelievers you are engaging with the gospel. If you do not immediately begin developing your elders in the practice of personal evangelism and mission, you risk having a church that preaches the gospel but does not live it. We recommend taking your elder team through Jack Miller’s book “Outgrowing the Ingrown Church” and applying Miller’s grid of a pastor/elder as a “gospel pacesetter” in the local body.

It is easier to articulate a good ecclesiology than to act on it. Anyone can parrot the truth, but practicing the truth is less frequently attempted. I know this from my own heart and life, and by the grace of God I have been learning to not be satisfied with sound doctrine that is not also experienced. Pastors, we should frequently ask ourselves if we doing the work of an evangelist. Are we known among unbelievers in our cities? Are we taking every opportunity (and creating opportunities) to share the message of the cross with outsiders? Tomorrow I’ll talk about the changes I made (repentance) in my life to move from theoretician to practitioner (hearer of the word vs doer of the word).

I am so thankful for these brothers who said this, and even harder words to me though the assessment, for it helped to set me on a better path. The Lord gave me wisdom through these men, and I am better for it. Our church is better for it.

Articles

12 Ways To Preserve Christian Unity

In Calvary Baptist Church,Perspective on July 11, 2013 by The Spillover

Tim Challies:

Satan hates God and therefore he hates God’s people, the church. His great plan for the church is to cause Christians—true believers who ought to be together in the gospel—to find ways of disagreeing among themselves, to divide, to be bitter and jealous, and ultimately to “bite and devour one another” (Gal. 5:15). Here are twelve ways that you can repulse Satan’s attacks.

#1. Spend more time considering evidences of grace in other Christians than you do pondering their sins and weaknesses. You, as a Christian, probably have a much greater ability to see weakness in other believers than to see strength. It is as if you use a magnifying glass when looking for weakness and a telescope when looking for grace. Brooks warns, “Sin is darkness, grace is light; sin is hell, grace is heaven; and what madness is it to look more at darkness than at light, more at hell than at heaven.” Indeed.

#2. Consider that spiritual safety comes through spiritual unity. Christians united together are difficult to separate, difficult to break, difficult to pick off and destroy. It is when you isolate yourself by disrupting or denying unity that you are most at risk.

#3. Meditate on God’s many commands demanding that we love one another. When you feel your heart begin to turn against another Christian, this is the time to turn to the many commands to love one another—commands found in places such as John 15:12, Romans 13:8, Hebrews 13:1, 1 John 4:7, 1 Peter 1:22, and so on. Allow God’s Word to convict you of love’s necessity.

#4. Spend more time considering areas of agreement than disagreement. The doctrines you share with other true believers are the foundational doctrines; the ones you do not share are necessarily less central to the faith. Acknowledging that you and those with whom you disagree will spend eternity together should encourage you to not allow peripheral doctrines to separate you here on earth.

#5. Consider your peaceful God. God is the God of peace, Christ is Prince of peace and the Spirit is the Spirit of peace. Having made peace with God, having bowed before Christ, having been indwelled by the Spirit whose fruit is love, joy, peace…, you now have the ability, and ought to have the desire, to be at true, deep and lasting peace with other Christians.

#6. Renew in your mind and heart what it means to be at peace with God. Preach the gospel to yourself, because as you consider who you are in light of God’s perfect goodness, holiness and peace, you must soften toward others.

#7. Meditate on the unique relationship between Christians. Psalm 133:1 proclaims the goodness and pleasantness of dwelling together in unity; there are some things in the world that are good but not pleasant and others that are pleasant but not good. But to live in peace is both pleasant and good. Consider what it means to be bound together in God’s family with fellow travellers who are on that same pilgrimage to that very same destination.

#8. Count the cost of disunity. When relationships break down, disagreement inevitably follows, and every disagreement between Christians is a triumph of Satan. If you descend into disunity, you hand Satan a victory. Maintain peace and deny him the triumph!

#9. Be the first to seek peace and reconciliation. You are a Christian today only because God was the first to seek peace with you. You are now called and equipped to be the first to seek after peace and to attempt to pursue and maintain unity. As you do this you have the high honor of acting as an imitator of God.

#10. Walk and work together with other Christians as far as possible, making the Word the only judge of your actions. It is God’s loss and your loss, and it is Satan’s gain, when you will not walk in love with other Christians, when you will not work arm-in-arm together, with those with whom you have so much in common. There is so much more of the Lord’s work we accomplish together than apart.

#11. Judge yourself more than you judge others. If you were to spend more time considering your own sin, and less time considering the sins of others, you would never be so quick to judge and to separate yourself from other true believers. Brooks says, “There are no souls in the world that are so fearful to judge others as those that do most judge themselves, nor so careful to make a righteous judgment of men or things as those that are most careful to judge themselves.”

#12. Pursue humility. Humility necessarily generates peace among Christians. Humility will prepare you to serve instead of be served, to overlook an offense, to pursue every kind of unity, to see others succeed where you fail, and to respond with joy and grace to every other possible source of disunity.