We end every service at Calvary with the words "May the Lord bless you and keep you." I love this old tradition; it goes back for thousands of years. God told his ministers to dismiss his people with these words and then said, "And I will bless them" (Numbers 6:22-27). What a promise! This is my desire my family, my friends, and YOU!
In the ancient church, there always seemed to be a festival, a feast, or a time of contemplation coming up. The church calendar was bursting with ways to remember and honor God for what was happening in the life of the people—planting and harvest, celebration of a past victory, etc. Don’t picture somber carry-in meals with Styrofoam cups of red fruit punch; picture the best wedding dinner you’ve ever been to!
Generosity is contagious! Don't you love being around generous people? There is just something about it that is compelling. By now you should have received your giving reports along with our 2017 ministry report in the mail. If for some reasons you did not, or if your reports are not perfect, please contact our office and we will help you right away.
It might sound obvious but a characteristic of all living things is growth. In the same way, an unmistakable characteristic of Christ-followers is their personal growth. Whether we call it “changing lives forever” or “helping people follow Jesus,” the truth is when the gospel of Christ settles deeply in our hearts, it’s going to come out of us in a kind of life that resembles Jesus’ life more and more. The pastoral staff at Calvary is committed to creating an environment where, in the words of C. S. Lewis, people grow into “little Christs.”
We worship a generous God! Right now our dedicated staff is preparing giving statements to go into the mail ahead of the January 31 federal deadline. That probably sounds boring, but we are excited to hear that our church’s generosity increased 7.7% in 2017! Yes, we’re thrilled that we can keep doing all the outreach and ministry we committed to do, but even more than that, we celebrate that number because of what it represents about all of you. The increase in generosity tells us that you realize God has blessed you and you are responding in generous worship. I love that!
Please join me in welcoming Pastor Steve Buchelt to our team at Calvary. The staff is enjoying getting to know him better and dreaming about how we can partner together for the gospel. Pastor Steve comes to us with 35+ years of pastoral and ministry experience, most recently as a chaplain with Unity Hospice. I met Steve and his wife Diane a few years ago and was immediately impressed with their warmth and genuine love for people.
We finished the year strong together! Thank you for your faithful and generous giving all year. Because of you, our church rescues orphans; cares for families and individuals; supports church plants; provides hope and healing for hurting people; shares the gospel in our community; fights for joy and “does life” together in Life Groups; hosts Bible studies, worship gatherings, and conferences; and makes room for more people to join us in worshipping our good God. In short, we have seen lives change forever because of Jesus. What a legacy for 2017!
There are only 4 days left in 2017! God has done some amazing things in our church this year. I love being part of a church where people commit their time, talents, and resources to changing lives forever. Our staff has been swapping stories lately; stories you have shared with us about the year. You have encouraged one another; blessed people in our community; mentored kids; showed love to homeless men, women in crisis, and families in need; rescued orphans, helped plant churches, and the list could go on. This is what Bill Hybels meant when he said, “The local church is the hope of the world. There’s nothing like the local church when it’s working right.” Thank you!
Don’t you love finding the perfect gift for someone? You’re so excited that you can hardly wait for them to open it! I imagine this is how God feels about the gospel. He’s got the perfect gift for the people he created and loves—a Savior to take their sins away and give them new life. It’s such a big deal that the moment Jesus was “unwrapped” in Bethlehem all those years ago, a chorus of angels announced it!
Advent (Latin, "coming") is a time when we celebrate the coming of Christ 2,000 years ago while looking forward to his coming again just as a child looks forward to Christmas day. And if we really knew how amazing the world (and our lives) will be upon the return of the King, we would be filled with joy looking forward to our true home.
This Sunday begins the season of Advent, a special time in the church calendar. Advent means “to come to” in Latin, and it’s an apt name for the season that both celebrates every good thing Jesus has already done and anticipates the good things yet to come. It’s sometimes described as a season of waiting, waiting for Jesus to show up, to make himself known in our lives; but I think Advent is better described as a season of “looking for.” We’re looking for Jesus to bring us what we long for because we know he’s going to. He always does. That’s why we celebrate.