For Parents

childs hands

This Winter we have two great opportunities for every parent at Calvary.  First, Pastor Clark and I will be teaching a two week class addressing issues surrounding parents and their kids use of technology.  We find stats such as the average child is first exposed to pornography on the internet at the age of 12 staggering, and we want to do something about them.  So, we are going to teach this class for parents addressing issues such as how to filter content on the internet, monitor their kids on Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, the whole gamut. We’ll also be sure to leave some time at the end of each class for parents to ask any questions they like on the topic.  The class is scheduled for January 23rd and 30th at 10:15. Location TBA.

Then on February 5th Calvary is hosting a Home Improvement Ministries conference entitled “Sacred Parenting in a Not So Sacred World.” Gary Thomas is the guest speaker so it guaranteed to be a worthwhile day.  Here is a brief write-up on the conference…

In a world that is less than “sacred,” we as parents are often at a loss on how to raise kids who honor God, their parents and others.  We’re looking for easy steps to “new kids” when we may do better to look first at our own lives.  Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage and Sacred Parenting, helps us understand “How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls.”  In addition to Gary Thomas’ three plenary sessions, practical workshops will round out this incredibly important day.

You can find out more about the conference by checking out this site.

If you’re a parent be sure not to miss out on these two great opportunities.

Welcome Home

snow

Somehow we made it, and we actually made it early.  Becky, Jack and I spent this past week in Missouri visiting family.   When we heard there was a major snowstorm heading towards the northeast on Sunday & Monday we were a little nervous as our flights home were scheduled for Monday night.  Then we started hearing of 1,000’s of cancelled flights, and travelers stranded until Thursday.  So when it came time to leave for the airport we were a little concerned about getting stuck in Chicago where our layover was.  But, they still hadn’t cancelled our flight, so we jumped in the car and headed for Lambert Airport.  By the time we made it on the plane to Boston they had one runway open at Logan, and we were actually able to land 9 minutes early.

Ironically, the last time we were back to Missouri it was the summer and we were concerned we were not going to make it back then as well as a hurricane was heading up the east coast.  We made it back to Mass then too, that time right on schedule and a little before the storm arrived.

We didn’t make it back before the storm this time though, so I still have about 2 feet of snow to clear off my drive way!  Welcome home.

Blessed

blessed

Yesterday I stumbled across The Global Rich List.    I took the time to enter my annual income, and when I saw the results I was thinking, “Wow, I am pretty well off compared to a lot of people.”  Then I realized that I had inadvertently left a zero off of the end of my income.  When I put the right amount in I realized that compared to a vast majority of the world my family is extremely extremely blessed.

Most of us don’t realize how blessed we truly are.  We compare ourselves to billionaires like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Saudi Princes.  Often we dream about what we do if we had their kind of money.  The irony is that much of the world dreams about having as much money as  you and I do.  They dream of being able to put food on the table, or drink clean water or go to school.  Forget dreaming of a house with plenty of rooms and a built in pool, many people around the world just dream of having a roof, of any kind, over their head.

If you haven’t done it already visit the The Global Rich List.  See how much you have compared to most of the world.  Then, take the time to be thankful for all you have this holiday season.  Take the time to teach your children how blessed they are.

A Lesson From the Ballet

Last night my wife and I went to see the Nutcracker in Boston with some friends.  I got into the set design and theatrics a little more than the ballet, but one thing in particular intreged me about the performance…there were no words.  No lines for the actors to recite, no songs that were sung.  The only way the story was communicated was non-verbally.  I knew this would be the case, but it amazed how they were able to clearly communicate a whole story without saying a single word.  The old study that says most communication is non-verbal didn’t apply to The Nutcracker, as 100% of the story was communicated without words.

Nutcracker

As I sat there watching the performance a quote attributed to Francis of Assisi came to mind, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary use words.”

Quite often, we tell the story of how Christ has changed our lives by the way we live out our lives.  When we won’t cut corners at work that tells part of the story to our co-workers.  When we are the same person at church and at home that tells the story to our family.  When we are kind and cheerful that tells the story to our neighbors.  How we live our lives often tells more about how Christ has changed us than with what we say with our mouths.

Don’t get me wrong using our words to tell people about Christ is still terribly important.  Christ told his disciples to go into all the world and preach.  Following that command you see the disciples using their words quite often.  Don’t believe me, just read the Book of Acts.  The truth is that command wasn’t just for the disciples, it is for us too.

But the disciples didn’t win people over with just their speech.  Acts 4:13 states, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”  It wasn’t what they said, it was how they said it.  They lived their lives with courage and people could tell that they had been with Christ.  The disciples talked about Christ a lot, but their speech and their actions matched up.  Their actions amplified their speech.  Often you don’t see that with Christians.  Some will  say one thing in church on Sunday morning, but the way the live their lives Monday to Saturday doesn’t back up their words.

Can people tell you follow Christ by the way you live your life?  Do you actions match your words, or do your actions give some non-verbal clues that you may not believe the words that are coming our of your own mouth?  What story do your actions tell?

Christmas Eve

This past weekend we had 2,218 people come out to see The Gospel According to Scrooge at Calvary.  That shatters last years attendance high of 1,514.  We actually had so many people attend on Saturday and Sunday nights that we had to turn people away, as we simply didn’t have enough seats.   Top top it all off we had 25 people accept Christ as this year’s performances.  And the holiday season is just warming up.

christmas time

This Sunday you do not want to miss church.  We have a special Christmas performance by our worship team and a few others.  Then on December 24th we will be having our candlelight communion service at 6:00.  This Christmas Eve service is one of the highlights on our church calendar every year.  The service starts at 6:00 PM, but I would recommend arriving early to get a good seat.

To check out everything that is going on around the church checkout the website at www.lynnfield-ccc.org.

Out Live Your Life [Book Review]

Does Jesus still do it?  Doe he still use ordinary people, like us, to change the world?  The answer to that question, is found in Max Lucado’s Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference, and the answer is yes.  Working through the book of Acts, Max lays out how God uses regular everyday people to make a big difference in our world.

And our world needs someone to make a big difference.  Max writes,

These are devastating times: 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, 1 billion are hungry, millions are trafficked in slavery, and pandemic diseases are gouging entire nations.  Each year nearly 2 million children are exploited in the global sex trade.  And in the five minutes it took you to read these pages, almost ninety children died of preventable diseases.  More than half of all Africans do not have access to modern health facilities.  As a result, 10 million of them die each year from diarrhea, acute respiratory illness, malaria, and measles.  Many of those deaths could be prevented by one shot.

Sobering.  Our world is in great need.  Again, our world needs someone to make a big difference.  The lesson learned from Outlive Your Life is that God wants to use average people, like you and me, to make a dent in these problems.  The question is, will we let him use us?

If your looking for a great read that will challenge you to do more with your life, I would recommend this book.  If you’re interested in picking up a copy you can buy it here from Christian Book Distributors, or here from Amazon.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Breakthrough [Great Quotes]

“If…your soul cries out to God, for the living God, and your dry and empty heart despairs of living a normal Christian life…then I ask you: Is your desire all absorbing?  Is it the biggest thing in your life?…If your heart cries “Yes” to the questions you may be on your way to spiritual breakthrough that will transform your whole life.”

– A.W. Tozer, in Keys to the Deeper Life

Photo courtesy of © flickr.com/photos/79102167@N00/12687461/

On the contrary, if your desire is half-hearted.  If you want God on your terms and on your schedule.  If He is only a small part of your life, then be prepared to live continue living a dry and and empty life.

Christmas Season at Calvary

This past weekend we kicked off the Christmas season here at Calvary with A Night in Bethlehem.  If you missed last Sunday night you missed an incredible time.  We had several hundred people touring ancient Bethlehem, which was constructed in our church basement.  They saw all sorts of shops with cool crafts and games, 70+ sheep, manger scene, and so much more.  Definitely some major improvements this year.  A special thanks to everyone who helped out, and to all those who participated.

As great as last weekend was it was only the beginning of what we have planned for this Christmas season at Calvary.  Tomorrow begins our performances of The Gospel According to Scrooge.  We have four performances this year Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at 6:30, and a matinee peformance at 2:00 PM on Saturday.

We also have a Christmas Eve Service at 6:00 pm on the 24th, and even some special Christmas festivities for some of our services leading up to Christmas.  For a full listing of events that are going on around the church check out our website at www.lynnfield-ccc.org.

The Wrong Goal

“He [Christ] is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.  To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”  – Paul in Colossians 1:28-29.

Photo courtesy of © flickr.com/photos/bpc009/3286015968/

Many churches are short-sighted.  Many focus entirely on the number of people they can get out to church, and not on the spiritual growth of the people sitting in the pews.  Don’t get me wrong, it is important to count how many people are coming out to church.  As the old axiom goes, you should “Count people, because people count.”  Every person is an eternal soul, and if the number of people coming out the church is not growing, or worse is getting smaller, then there is a problem.  A large Sunday morning attendance though, is only a small part of the picture.

I don’t think Christ had a large group of uncommitted undiscipled believers in mind when he pictured His church.  In fact, Christ always seemed to be running the uncommitted crowd away.  Yet, many churches seem content with filled pews.  They seem to think God is happy with a full church, yet Paul in Colossians 1 says that ultimately that is not what we are working towards.

“So that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.”  That is the ultimate goal.   Mature believers, that is what churches should be counting in addition to Sunday attendance.  Not just how many people fill a pew, but also how many people are involved in ministry, how many people attend a small group, how many people are involved in personal evangelism, how many people are parenting their kids in a godly way, how many people are applying Biblical ethics in their marriage and their work, how many mature believers there are as a result of the church’s ministry.

It was to this end that Paul strenuously contended, and it should be the end that we work towards as well.