Happy Birthday, Calvary Chapel Tyler!

Posted: November 30, 2014 in Joshua
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Anniversary/Vision Sunday

Happy birthday Calvary Chapel Tyler!  It’s amazing to think that ten years have passed since that first November Sunday when we gathered in a South Tyler living room.  We began a journey together to love God, love each other, and love the lost – and we’ve been doing it ever since.

Today is a special day, and we’re going to do something that we haven’t really done before on a Sunday morning, as we take a look back to see what God has done – remember who God has called us to be – and look forward to what God is calling us to do. So what does all of this have to do with Joshua?  What we’re doing today has been done before by the people of God, so we’ll take a brief look at what they did & use it as our model for going forward.

Joshua 4:19–5:7
19 Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho.

  • The children of Israel had been brought out of Egyptian slavery by the mighty hand of God, led to the base of Mt. Sinai where they received the revelation of God’s commandments, and brought to the edge of their inheritance promised them by God in fulfillment of the covenant made over 400 years in the past.  In light of all of the grace shown them and the personal presence of God in their midst, the Israelites rebelled, and were thus sentenced by God to a 40-year death march through the wilderness.  In time, the rebellious generation perished, and the Hebrews were led once again to the land of promise, this time by Joshua, the disciple and lieutenant of Moses (who died as a result of his own rebellion).  Joshua was charged by God to be strong and courageous, and told him how the Jordan River would be miraculously cut off in order for the Israelites to cross.  Per the Lord’s instructions, the priests carried the ark to the edge of the river, the waters stopped, and the waters remained stopped while the priests and the ark stayed in the midst of the river bed.  Finally the people of God were being obedient to the command of God, and they were experiencing the blessing and power of God.
    • We often wait for a confirmation from God before we choose to be obedient; we’ve got it backwards.  Trust God first, obey Him in faith, and then you’ll see God work.
  • While the people were crossing, Joshua received another command from the Lord.  This time, one man from each of the 12 tribes were to take a large stone upon his shoulders, and carry back to the shore.  Verses 19-24 pick up the narrative after they had obeyed the Lord, the priests came to the other side of the shore, and the waters of the river began flowing again.

20 And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal. 21 Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’;

  • If the river bed stones sitting on dry land seemed a bit unusual, that was the point.  It was supposed to look unusual – it was supposed to attract attention.  The whole point of the stones was to spark a conversation among those of generations yet to come.  These were days long before YouTube and TV…there were no photographs or paintings of the Jordan River crossing.  If succeeding generations would learn of the work and power of God in the lives of the Hebrews, it would be because they were told of it.  Children were supposed to look at the stones, and ask their parents why the stones were there.
  • What were the parents supposed to tell their children?  They weren’t to speak of human ingenuity (there was none) – they weren’t to tell of a marvelous feat of engineering – they weren’t to even speak in ignorance.  They knew what had happened, and they were to give all of the glory to God.  Vs. 23…

23 for the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, 24 that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

  • God had done an amazing work in their midst – one that they could never dare forget.  To part the Red Sea was amazing enough in itself.  Surely that was beyond their wildest imaginations.  Caught between the Egyptian armies, and death by drowning, the Hebrews had no hope until God made a way where there was no way.  God miraculously intervened, and did away with death for the Hebrews, while bringing it down in full measure upon the Egyptians.  The Hebrews were spared the wrath of God, while the Egyptians took it in full.
  • Yet if that weren’t enough, God did it again at the Jordan River.  This time, the Israelites weren’t caught by a marauding army, but by their own sin.  They had earlier turned away from the provision of God, and should have had no expectations whatsoever of even seeing anything other than death again.  But God did differently in His grace.  He gave them an undeserved 2nd chance, brought them to the waters again, and this time led them through into His promise.  Crossing the Red Sea brought them into life; crossing the Jordan River brought them into full relationship.
  • Again, they had seen the work of God, and they dare not forget it.  Forgetting the work of God in the past caused them to wander 40 years in the wilderness.  Although they had a constant reminder of the presence of God in their midst, they took it for granted, and paid a stiff price.  These stones were meant to prevent a similar thing from happening again.  Upon seeing the stones, they were to remember the work and the power of God, and they were to thus fear and worship God.

5:1 So it was, when all the kings of the Amorites who were on the west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel until we had crossed over, that their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel.

  • You can imagine that the news of the river crossing travelled fast!  First of all, a group the size of the Israelites do not travel without attracting attention, and depending on how one counts them, originally there were somewhere between 2-5 million people (603,000+ men of fighting age +  women, children, elderly, and mixed multitude.).  The group crossing the Jordan River was somewhat smaller (due to 2½ tribes staying behind & sending only a representative army), but still quite massive.  Secondly, a group of this size crossing a miraculously dried up river (a river that other nations would have lived by) would have definitely attracted attention.  CNN was not necessary to spread this kind of news!  The Canaanite nations had long heard of the Hebrews, and known of both their exodus from Egypt and 40-year wilderness wandering.  They knew of the Hebrews’ military successes over the Trans-Jordan kingdoms, and now knew that the Hebrews were on their way into Canaan.  It’s no wonder that “their heart melted!
  • In all the excitement of the news, don’t miss the obvious.  God didn’t dry up the Jordan River just for fun.  He didn’t demonstrate His power just to send everyone back home after they got done rejoicing.  Taking stones from the bottom of the river was to remember God’s past display of power, but that wasn’t the end; it was only the beginning.  The Jordan River (as miraculous as it was) was only the entrance to the Promised Land.  Now they had work to do in taking it for their possession.  Part of the reason for the memorial stones was for the Israelites to remember that God had worked in the past, and God would continue to work with them in the present & future, if they but obeyed their end of the covenant.  They weren’t to celebrate the past and become complacent; they were to be busy about the work in front of them.

2 At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. 4 And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way, after they had come out of Egypt. 5 For all the people who came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness, on the way as they came out of Egypt, had not been circumcised.

  • The Hebrews had two basic signs of their covenant relationship with God.  One was external; the other was internal.  The external sign was the Sabbath.  One day per week was set aside to rest in God, trusting in His provision.  Whereas the Gentile nations would toil 7 days a week to ensure they had bread to eat every day, the Hebrews would work only 6.  God would provide the 7th, and ultimately He would provide rest from all of their spiritual labors as well.  The internal sign was circumcision.  All the nations would observe the Hebrews resting on the 7th day; only the individual Hebrew men would be truly aware of their personal circumcision.  It symbolized the separation of carnal flesh, and a true submission unto God.  Ultimately, it wasn’t a Hebrew’s outward circumcision that meant anything; their hearts were to be circumcised as they worshipped God alone.  But that humility of heart & dependence upon God was symbolized physically with the circumcision of the flesh.

6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD—to whom the LORD swore that He would not show them the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers that He would give us, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” 7 Then Joshua circumcised their sons whom He raised up in their place; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.

  • The problem for the Hebrews of Joshua’s generation is that they hadn’t done it.  While their circumcised fathers died in the wilderness, the children had not followed through the commandment.  Thus they were about to enter into the land of the covenant, not having received the sign of the covenant.  They were about to receive the promise made to Abraham, but they did not show themselves included in the covenant made with Abraham.  They needed to remember who they were, and what God called them to be.
  • The Israelites remembered what God had done.  (Memorial stones)
  • The Israelites renewed their relationship with God.  That was who they were, and who they were supposed to be. (Circumcision)
  • All this was done in preparation for what Israel was about to do. (Continued conquest)

 

Knowing that all of this had very real historical & literal application to the children of Israel, we can nevertheless use it as an outline for us today.  Today is our 10th anniversary as a church body, and it is appropriate for us to remember the things that God has done.  We need to look back on God’s accomplishments through this church, so that we can give Him the praise and glory.  But it’s not just about looking back; it’s also about remembering who we are.  The Israelites had a covenant relationship with God, and they needed to renew that relationship.  We also have a covenant relationship with God, and we need to remember who Jesus has called us to be as a local church family.  What is it that is in our spiritual DNA, and who is it that God has called us to be?  Finally, just like the Hebrews were preparing for what God was about to do through them, we also need to look forward.  10 years is not the end; we’re just getting started.  What does God have for us in the future?  We’ll look at a few of those things as well.

The past: our memorial stones.
As to my family’s involvement, it all began with a phone call.  We lived in Plano at the time, and I was going through the pastoral training/affiliation process at Calvary Chapel Dallas.  We were praying that God would allow us to plant a church, but we didn’t know when or where…we just wanted to be ready when it happened.  There had been a Calvary Chapel in Tyler years before, but it had closed its doors some time back.  There were a few families from that church who had been asking for another pastor to come and plant a new church, and they were waiting on God’s provision.  Originally, there had been another man looking to come as the pastor, but once he determined God had not called him, that’s when I received the phone call asking me to pray about the possibility.  We contacted one of the families in Tyler, and talked with a couple of families in Plano who might be willing to plant with us.  In a couple weeks’ time, we came out for an informal meeting with the interested families, prayed, and determined the Lord wanted us to proceed.  We decided to wait a week or so until after Thanksgiving, and met for our very first worship service on the Sunday following Thanksgiving 2004. 

We began in the book of Acts, and we began to see (just as the early church) the Lord add to our numbers.  Soon we had to move out of the living room on Heritage Drive in South Tyler, and we began meeting at the Tyler YMCA.  Soon we had a children’s ministry, youth group, worship team, women’s Bible study, and more.  For several months, the Prathers and us would drive out every Sunday from Plano, and drive back home in the afternoon.  It was truly amazing to see God do so much within the people.  There was a spirit of love and unity and excitement…and the best part was that it was so obvious it was the Lord!  After all, we were only here one day a week! 

As God brought people, we needed a new place to meet.  We had added Wednesday night services by this point, and it was getting more and more difficult to secure a good room at the YMCA.  We moved a lot – we’ve never been an overly wealthy church, so we’ve always gotten the largest place we could afford, and stayed there until we had to leave.  From the YMCA, we went south of the loop on 155 to a tiny facility – our very first rented building.  We even had a bit of land in the back where we planted a garden, and folks from the church never had a lack of cherry tomatoes or okra!  A few years later, we came back to central Tyler to a 3000 sq ft facility on Palace & Lindsey, and eventually God placed us back here in downtown. 

The locations are fun to remember, but obviously the church is not any particular physical building.  The church is the people of God.  We’ve seen many of our kids grow into incredible young men and women.  We’ve seen some of our loved ones get married, and we’ve seen others go to heaven.  Some have moved to out of town, and other have left for their own reasons.  It’s not always easy, but it never is when its family.  We love each other, which makes for some fireworks from time to time, and that’s OK.

Best of all, we’ve seen God do truly amazing things.  Of course, there has always been the teaching of the word of God, and authentic worship…but that hasn’t just been from the front pulpit.  People have served in all kinds of ways on Sundays and Wednesdays, faithfully giving their time to the Lord as they teach our kids, prepare refreshments, work our audio and media, and watch over all kinds of various needs, ensuring that we’re able to receive the word of God without distraction.  But beyond that there have been Bible studies for men, women, and couples – informal discipleship – home fellowships – nursing home ministry – hospital chaplaincy – and countless hours of prayer, all as men and women are built up in Christ.

Outwardly, we’ve been blessed to participate in all kinds of outreaches.  There has been the large-scale event like Celebrate Freedom at Bergfeld Park where we cooked food, had worship bands, and giveaways, all leading up to the gospel.  There have been the smaller outreaches like setting up a booth at Burger King or Church’s Chicken to give away free meals, and using it as a launching point to have one-on-one gospel presentations.  We’ve had kids’ carnivals for Reformation Day and with ice cream and cupcakes.  Our very first outreach was to purchase two complete theater showings of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” and share the gospel at the end of each showing.  And of course there have been our annual Easter Sunrise services on the Square, and Harvest America broadcasts.

God has opened up other doors for us in the area of radio.  In May 2009, we had an opportunity to get a 30-minute weekend program here in Tyler, and we started broadcasting “Trusting by Grace” every Sunday morning on KTBB.  Eventually that expanded into a Saturday and Sunday airing on KBJS, and more recently we’ve been able to expand to Arizona, Iowa, and now a daily program in Ohio.  Although our primary desire for radio is for God to use it as an evangelistic outreach, we’ve heard from several people how God is using it as a discipleship tool in their own lives.  Just like here, God uses His word to build up His people in other cities and states, and it’s exciting to see Him work.

In addition, God has given us opportunities to participate in all kinds of mission work.  Locally, we’ve been able to work with the homeless & disadvantaged in various ways.  At times, it has been through cooking meals at the local rescue mission (now defunct) – other times, it’s been through working on the physical grounds of a women’s shelter, or packing up boxes of food for the East Texas Food Bank.  Some folks in our church family are very involved with the Jesus Closet ministry, and others have done quite a bit of work with the ADDICT ministry with the half-way house.  At one point, we even had some hands-on work in the area of disaster relief, after a tornado swept through Sand Flats.  When the Prathers were on staff with another disaster relief ministry, we were some of those who helped send Brady to the Gulf Coast and other areas around the United States to help share the love of Christ in practical ways.

That’s all domestic.  What you might not be aware of is our international impact.  Because of the financial gifts of this congregation, we have been able to minister in all kinds of countries around the world – mostly through various mission organizations, but some in personal outreach as well.  Countries such as: Afghanistan/Pakistan, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Egypt, Haiti, India, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, Sudan, and Tanzania…and those are only the ones we remember!  That doesn’t even begin to list the various countries that have hit our website and blog.  IP addresses aren’t always accurate, but if they can be trusted, then just from the past year alone, we can add to the list: Australia, Brazil, Canada, El Salvador, Germany, Panama, Singapore, United Kingdom, Venezuela, and more.  Our blog seems to have a further reach, even receiving hits from closed countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and many more nations in Africa, Asia, and South America.  From right here in Tyler, Texas, this small little church has truly had a global impact.

That’s a lot to remember!  Keep in mind, we don’t do this to brag or to pat ourselves on the back; we do it to remember what God has done.  He’s the One who gave us the opportunities to do the work – He’s the One who gives us the power to do the work – He’s the One that receives all of the glory in the work.  That’s the reason for our “memorial stones.”  It’s not for us to feel good about a job “well done” – it’s so we can be an awe of our marvelous God!

The whole point in God commanding the stones to be brought up from the Jordan River was for future generations to be able to point to those stones and ask their mothers & fathers, “What’s all that about?”  That was the open door for the parents to give God praise and tell of His wonderful work and provision in the lives of His people.  Beloved, we look at the maps & over our history & ask, “What’s all that about?”  It’s all about the glory of God.  God has done marvelous things!  It’s never about raising the flag of Calvary Chapel Tyler; it’s about raising the cross of Jesus Christ so that the world can see Him and be saved.

The present: our covenant and calling.
Once the Hebrews crossed the Jordan, they circumcised all the men who were uncircumcised.  That was their way of reaffirming their covenant commitment to the Lord God.  Obviously we’re not engaging in any Jewish rituals, and our hearts have already been circumcised by the work of the Holy Spirit because of the grace of Jesus.  Our covenant is in the Lord Jesus, and our salvation is found in Him alone – not in any church (not even this one!).

That said, the Israelites had a covenant of circumcision as a way of reminding that they belonged to God, and because they did, God called them to be a certain kind of people.  They were different that the rest of the people around them; they had a different identity and purpose.  Likewise for us.  We need to take the time to remember who WE are as a church body.  What has God called us to do & to be?

Keep in mind that none of this is necessarily unique to Calvary Chapel Tyler.  What God calls this particular church to be ought to be what He calls every church to be.  A church’s identity is found in the Scripture, so it ought to be applicable to every church and all Christians.  This isn’t only for CC Tyler, but it is the way we look at things.  We break it down to three points: love God, love each other, and love the lost.

LOVE GOD – The Great Commandment.
Mark 12:29–30, "(29) Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. (30) And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment."

After Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, He was systematically questioned by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the scribes.  They came to Him with their own theological swords, trying to trap Jesus in His own words.  By the time a scribe asks Jesus about the first (greatest) commandment, Jesus had already fended off two previous attacks, and although this final question was brought forth on behalf of the Pharisees (Mt 22:34-35), this particular scribe seemed to be listening a bit more closely to Jesus, and truly wanted to hear His opinion. (Mk 12:32)  What the scribe (the theological lawyer) asked was a good question: out of the 500+ regulations and commandments given in the Law of Moses, which one was the most important of all?  Which one was it that if they missed this, they would miss everything else.  Jesus’ answer actually summed the entire law up with two commandments, but gave this answer as by far the most important.  Love God.

If we don’t love God, we’ve missed it all. We can have the greatest programs in the world.  We can have the most impressive buildings, the coolest technology, the most expansive mission programs, and more – but without a true sincere love of God, it’s all for nothing.  Christianity is first and foremost about the love of God.

Of course anyone can say they love God.  Most religions claim that they love God, and do their best to worship Him.  Yet obviously not all do, so is there anything more to it than this?  Yes.  Jesus doesn’t leave things nebulous or overgeneralized.  He first defines God, and then also defines what the love of God looks like.

Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.”  This isn’t just a poetic opening to the commandment; it is a definition of the terms.  Like a legal contract often opens up by first identifying the parties involved, so does this commandment to Israel.  God’s people are called out by name, using the very name given them by Almighty God when God confirmed His covenant promises to Jacob (Israel).  Additionally, God Himself is defined.  This isn’t the generalized “god” of the popular culture, whom everyone claims to worship but no one wants to serve.  This isn’t the false god of another religion or culture, such as Allah or Vishnu or Odin.  This is the God of Israel, Whose name is the LORD – “Yahweh.”  He is the Ever-existent I AM, the covenant-keeping God of Israel – the Almighty Creator of the heavens and earth.  We know this God of Israel through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus told the disciples, “He who has seen Me, has seen the Father,” (Jn 14:9).  When we worship Jesus, we are worshipping God.  The one Lord God of Israel becomes OUR God, when we receive Jesus into our lives as Lord. 

You shall love the Lord your God.” Once the parties are identified, the obligations are established.  The command is given to love.  Our minds tend to rebel at that idea – after all, how can “love” be commanded?  Keep in mind that love is not really an emotion or feeling; it’s an action.  No doubt, love involves our feelings, but we can BE loving without FEELING like it.  For instance, we can forgive another person without them deserving our forgiveness.  Forgiveness is an act of love.  We are commanded to love God, and so we can know that is something that we do.  Our feelings aren’t unimportant, but they don’t really have anything to do with whether or not we love God.  We’re to love Him, no matter what we feel at the time.  We love God unconditionally.  We also love God unreservedly.  When Jesus answered the scribe, He basically said to worship the Lord with our entire being.  Mark quotes this as our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  There’s quite a bit of overlap between the categories, but that’s the point.  There’s not a part of our being that is exempt from loving our Lord.  We are to love Him with everything we are, and with everything we have.

What does unconditional, unreserved love of the One True God look like?

  • Authentic worship.  We tend to think of worship purely in terms of music, but that need not be the case.  True worship is devotion.  It’s adoration.  It’s humbly submitting ourselves unto God, giving Him praise and extolling His works and His person.  Sometimes that’s easier to do through music, but music is simply a tool to enable worship; it’s not worship itself.
  • In-depth teaching of the Scripture.  In truth, Biblical teaching isn’t a separate category from worship.  We tend to separate them in our thinking, but we really shouldn’t.  Our entire Sunday morning service is a worship service from beginning to end – from the opening prayer to the music to the word to the call to respond.  Everything about it is supposed to be the people of God turning our hearts and attention TO God as we worship, listen to, and respond to Him and His greatness.  Of course, Biblical teaching plays a big role in this, and it is why we emphasize it to the degree we do.  Lives aren’t changed through any one person’s opinions; they are changed by the supernatural power of God, and God uses His word to work His power within His people.
  • Honest prayer.  The people of God are always to be a people of prayer.  How else is God to be the center of everything we do, if we don’t continually talk with Him, submitting our plans and desires to His will?  If we want God to be glorified through the proclamation of Jesus in the power of the Spirit, then we need to continually give ourselves over to prayer.  There is a reason why God used the early church in the book of Acts the way that He did: they were in one accord seeking Him in prayer, and being filled with the Holy Spirit.  We are to do the same.

LOVE EACH OTHER: the New Commandment.
John 13:34–35, "(34) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (35) By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

In addition to loving God, we are also to love one another.  Jesus actually tied the two concept together when originally answer the question about the first (greatest) commandment, by saying that the first was to love God, and second (which was like it) was to love your neighbor as yourself (Mk 12:31). That’s certainly part of what is included in what Jesus says in John 13, but here, Jesus actually takes it to a new level.  In answering the Pharisees and scribes, Jesus was summing up the law of Moses.  In John 13, Jesus is directly addressing the church.  This is during the evening of the Last Supper.  Jesus has already washed the feet of the disciples, everyone has already eaten, and Judas has left to betray his master.  Once Judas left, that’s when Jesus spoke about His coming glorification, departure, and gave this command to love one another.  The disciples could not follow Jesus where He was going (heaven), so their primary command from Jesus was to love one another as He had loved them.

Question: if the second greatest commandment was to love our neighbor as ourselves, what makes this one a “new” commandment?  The audience, the intent, and the example.  The audience was the church; not Israel.  Jesus was speaking to the disciples; not the Pharisees or people at large.  The intent was to love “one another;” not just their neighbors.  The idea isn’t so much the general person on the street & the love/respect to be shown them in the name of the Lord, but the very specific love that the disciples were to have for one another as fellow disciples.  They were to love everyone, but the text suggests that Jesus commanded them to have a preferential love for one another.  And the example is totally different.  They weren’t to love one another as they loved themselves, as if Peter was to love John as Peter would love himself.  They were to love one another as Jesus loved them.  Jesus loved them enough to wash their feet in humility – Jesus loved them enough to lay down His life for them.  THAT was the example He gave to the church.

That is how we’re supposed to love one another within OUR church.  Yes, we love those outside of Christ (as we’ll see), but we especially love those who are IN the body of Christ.

  • Build them up in the Lord – discipleship.  Obviously this goes hand-in-hand with teaching the Scripture.  Not only do we love the Lord by knowing Him better through His word, but we actively love one another by helping them do the same thing.  That’s one reason why the small groups (women, men, singles, etc.) are so important.  Even beyond the organized groups are the informal relationships, as those who are mature come alongside those who are newer to the faith, and teach them what it means to live as a man or woman of God.
  • Demonstrate the mercy of the Lord – compassion.  We sometimes think of compassion as what we would show to people outside of the church, but it’s also (primarily) something that we should show to those who are in Christ.  Paul wrote to the Galatians that we should do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith (Gal 6:10).  If someone is hurting, we need to minister to them.  Sometimes physically, sometimes financially, sometimes in other ways in which the Lord leads.
  • Live as friends and family members in the Lord – fellowship.
  • Pray for one another and bear one another’s burdens – intercession.
  • Being willing to forgive and seek forgiveness – grace.
  • Empower them to use their gifts to build up others – service.

LOVE THE LOST: the Great Commission.
Matthew 28:19–20, "(19) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen."

If we truly love God and one another within the body of Christ, then we won’t be able to help wanting other people to be a part of the body of Christ.  God loves people and His desire is for every person to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4), and if we love God as we ought to love God, then His desire is our desire.  Jesus’ parting command to His disciple was for them to go make more disciples, going into every nation to do so.  He sent God the Holy Spirit to us specifically to empower us for exactly this task (Acts 1:8), and we’re to go do it. 

Keep in mind that evangelism is itself an act of love.  Think of it: the worst thing that could possibly happen to someone is for them to die in their sins and enter an eternity in hell.  That will happen for untold multitudes of people, but it doesn’t have to.  We have the news that will save them; it is only right that we share this news with them.  So we love them enough to get out of our comfort zone and tell them about Jesus.

  • Personal evangelism
  • Gospel invitations.  Every Sunday and Wednesday you know of at least one place that will present the gospel.  Bring them here!
  • Media: radio, web, social media, blog, video
  • Outreach: words AND action
  • International missions.

The future: our plans and vision.
If our core purposes are to love God, love each other, and love the lost, then it’s only fitting that what we look to do in the future fits solidly within those categories.  If an activity (no matter who innocent it may seem) doesn’t in some way glorify God, build up God’s people, or share the gospel, then it’s not something we will be doing.  That said, there is a LOT that we can and will do!

We want to be known as a place where God is supremely glorified – where the love of God is evident among His people – where the gospel is clearly proclaimed.  We want to be a church known building up disciples and making new ones – where men and women are using the gifts God has given them – where people are always more important than programs.

How are we going to do it?  Through our three core purposes of loving God, loving others, and loving the lost.

Loving God.

  • Continue our emphasis on teaching the Bible. …  Route 66 is part of that.  We’ve typically taught the Bible verse-by-verse, and we will continue to do so, but it’s important that we take time to look at the entire message of the Bible from beginning to end.  Many people here today were not around when we first started teaching the book of Acts or Genesis – we need a broad look at the Bible, in order that we might understand the full counsel of God.
  • A renewed emphasis on worship.  We’ve always done well worshipping the Lord with all our mind, but we don’t want to leave our heart out in the process.  No doubt it can be stressful on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights trying to get to the building, but it can also be a time of excitement.  After all, we GET to be around God’s people and worship!  We GET to come together, lift praises to God, hear from Him, and minister to others.  We come with exuberance & expectation to encounter the Living God among His people.
  • A renewed emphasis on prayer. Prayer can so easily fall to the side, and we’re going to be intentional that it does not.  We’ve had groups come and go in the past, so the look may change from time to time, but our focus will not.  Every revival has always begun with prayer; we’re no exception.
  • A renewed emphasis on service.  It should be obvious, but it’s easy to forget: our service unto God is also an act of worship.  Putting donuts on the counter or greeting someone with a bulletin can be just as much an act of worship as is lifting our voices in song.  We have people serving today in all kinds of ways – but we can easily use twice as many in every single ministry within the church.  Take the initiative and try something out.  If it isn’t a fit, fine – at least you’ve tried something, and you can try something else.

Loving each other.

  • Home fellowship/small groups.
  • Revamped youth ministry
  • Men/Women/Singles/Children
  • Couples
  • Reaching into the Christian community to build up the Church.  Radio – Media – Prophecy conference.

Loving the lost.

  • Continue current missionary support.  Hopefully expand.
  • Renewed evangelistic outreaches.  Tracts.  Joy of Jesus.
  • Local mission involvement through East Texas Food Bank, Jesus Closet, and other organizations.  Let us know which organizations YOU are passionate about…
  • International mission trips.

 

Conclusion:
We’re so grateful for 10 years!  We can remember all the things that God has done, and give Him glory and praise.  That is right to do, as we look at our own memorial stones.  But as we remember God’s work in the past, we’re reminded that we don’t live in the past; we live in the present and look ahead to the future.  God is calling us to continually walk with Him today, and serve Him in the power of the Spirit.  He’s calling us to love: love God, love each other, and love the lost.  That’s what we’ve always been about as a church; that is what we will continue to be.

Notice the “WE.”  The opportunities that God gives to Calvary Chapel Tyler are not to a handful of other people; they are given to all of us.  How will YOU take part in this?  God wants to use you for His glory.  He wants to use you to demonstrate His love to other people in His church, and to share the gospel of Jesus in word and deed.  If you’re not serving, you need to ask yourself why not.  What’s holding you back?  There’s always going to be some excuse why we can’t; let’s ask ourselves what it is we CAN do, and what it is that God WANTS us to do.  God has amazing things in store, so let’s be ready and willing to see what it is.

If you’re already serving, don’t grow weary in doing good – God has used you in amazing ways.  Think about it: God uses people like us to glorify Himself.  If that isn’t grace, I don’t know what is!  So serve God, and serve Him with excitement.

But we cannot close without talking about the one reason why any of us are gathered here today.  There is only one reason why we’re all gathered in one place looking at how God will continue to use us in the future, and that’s because we have been forgiven of our sin, and made the children of God through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Some of you don’t yet know that relationship.  When it comes to church, you’re on the outside looking in.  You’ve never come to any personal faith in Jesus, where you can say that you know beyond doubt that Jesus has forgiven you of your sins, and that He is your personal Lord and King.  Today, you can. 

Jesus is the Living God, the One we are called to worship with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  The problem is that we can’t worship God in our sin – we can’t even approach Him, because we are stained with guilt from our lies, lusting, pride, greed, and more.  That’s why Jesus died on the cross.  Sin brings the punishment of death, and God loves you so much that He sent Jesus to take your punishment for you.  Jesus died in your place, so that you could live eternally with God, and loving relationship with Him.  The good news is that Jesus didn’t remain dead; He rose from the grave proving that He is indeed the Son of God who offers life and forgiveness.  Receive Him & His forgiveness today. 

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Comments
  1. Pastor Tim:

    Blessings upon you and the fellowship! Rejoicing with you for 10 years. Calvary Chapel Lima celebrates 10 years February 2015.

    Keep contending friend.

    Mike

    Dr. Mike Spaulding Calvary Chapel of Lima Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. timburns says:

    Thank you so much! God bless you guys as you continue in ministry!

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