Saturday, September 24, 2011

Faith and Obedience

"The apostles said to the Lord, 'Show us how to increase our faith.' " Luke 17:5

You may be getting discouraged because you know you're doing what the Lord has told you to do, but you don't see any results. You've been faithful, but you're getting weary. Let me share a story that will encourage you:

A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Savior appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. The man did, day after day. For many years he worked all day, with all his strength, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been a huge waste.

Since the man was showing sign of discouragement, Satan took advantage of his weakness and put thoughts into the man's mind: "You've been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn't budged. Why kill yourself over this? You're never going to move it." He only reinforced the man's impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. He began to despair and thought, "Why kill myself over this? I'll just put in my time with minimal effort, and that'll be good enough."

That was his plan until he thought that he'd pray about it one more time. He stood and pleaded, "Lord," he said, "I've worked long and hard serving you, putting all my strength into doing what you asked me to do, yet after all this time, I've not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What's wrong? Why am I failing? What am I doing wrong?"

The Lord asked him to sit down and rest, and in a voice filled with compassion said, "Son, when I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me, exhausted and worn out, thinking that you've failed. But this isn't so. Look at yourself. You're arms are strong, and your muscles have grown solid and defined. Your legs are powerful, your back is sinewy, and your hands are callused from constant pressure. You've become powerfully built.

"Through resistance you've grown so much, and your abilities now surpass what you could ever do before. Yet you haven't moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. This you have done. Son, I will move the rock."

At times when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect and end up misunderstanding why the Lord wants us to do what He's called us to do. Many times what He wants is simple obedience, faith and trust in Him.

So, your faith may move mountains, but it's still God who moves the mountain. If the mountain doesn't move, faithfully serve Him until He tells you to move on.

"When you obey me you should say, 'We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.' " Luke 17:10

Monday, September 19, 2011


"Is Christ. . . . divided into parts?" 1 Corinthians 1:13, AMP

Sadly, disagreements and divisions have characterized the church from the start. Some of the divisions were justifiable in that they occurred because believers were separating from false teachers, but most of the time the divisions were a result of pride or personal preferences.

The unity of the church is Jesus' plan as well as His pleasure. He takes joy in a church united; it is the answer to His prayer that we may be perfected in unity (John 17:23).

We don't make unity; that is a result of our common salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit baptizing us into the universal Church, but we are commanded to preserve the unity that the Spirit has wrought. "I. . . . urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:1-4, ESV

When I see what some believers are bickering over and I see a lost world on its way to hell, my heart sinks. In many cases it would be like firefighters answering a five-alarm fire at an apartment building fire and not moving forward to rescue people because they're arguing over whose uniform is the most authentic, which hose is the most efficient or where the water came from.

As important as a five-alarm fire is, the church has a call that is far more challenging. We've been called to bring the message of life to those who are going to die and go into eternity unprepared to meet God. Eternal souls are at stake.

In view of this, is your cause worth the fight? Is it worth taking time and energy and resources from the kingdom rescue work? Is it a matter of personal pride? Is it a matter of your preference?

Jesus is not divided; neither should be His followers.

I urge you to do what you can do—what you should do, to maintain the unity of Christ's church with the special wisdom that God will give you through His Holy Spirit.

Jesus says: "God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God." Matthew 5:9

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rob Bell: A Brother to Embrace, or a Wolf to Avoid?

John MacArthur says it like it is, he recently wrote this article addressing the controversy over Rob Bell. Check it out.

Rob Bell: A Brother to Embrace, or a Wolf to Avoid?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Baptism Story

Last Wednesday evening we had an impromptu baptism service after the teaching. I wanted to share with you this email that came in afterward:

For two years God has been encouraging me to be baptized. I would always say next time there is a night for baptism, I’m going to do it. Then the night would come and go and I’d make another excuse.

Last night Pastor Mark spoke on Luke 3, about John the Baptist and explained baptism in a new way which really convicted me. He explained baptism is a covenant between me and Christ to recognize what He did for me. It is like wearing a wedding ring after become married to someone. It shows a commitment.

I was one of the 25 people who was baptized last (Wednesday) night and thank God He is so faithful and loving and patient with me. I want to be obedient to everything He has for my life.

–from Susan B.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Wonderful Testimony

I wanted to share with you a great letter that came in to the testimony of God's grace:

November 10, 2010

Dear Pastor Mark,

Hello, my name is Ann Marie and I’ve been attending Calvary for a little less than a year. I love it! I truly enjoy listening to you and the other pastors teach. You all have a wonderful way of helping me personally understand the Bible and get to know as well as stay in touch with Jesus Christ, our Lord! Amen! ☺ Thank you.

My reason for this letter is just to share a wonderful short story with you involving the amazing staff at Calvary.

On November 8, Monday, I rode my daughter’s bike from my home to the church to volunteer for the clean team. I (naively thinking) put the bike unlocked behind a pillar in front of the atrium on the west side. It was early; I figured it would be fine. When I finished cleaning, I found the bike had been stolen and a few people heard of the news. I then walked home with a heavy heart not knowing how I’d break it to my 11-year old little girl.

I decided not to tell her right away (thankfully because) the next day, Tuesday, November 9, was the potluck for the last day of the study of Ruth. As I stood in line talking with a friend, one of the staff (Lynn) came and said, “We found your bike!” She grabbed me by the hand and escorted me to the kitchen where to my great surprise was a BRAND NEW beautiful girl’s bike…with a lock. I said, “On, no, Lynn, that’s not mine, mine was old.”

She says to me, “No, honey. That’s your bike.”

When I realized what was happening, I began to cry. Happy tears, of course, and hugged and thanked everyone around.

Now that’s a pretty sweet story, right? Well, I’m not done! ☺ It gets better.

So I leave the bike and make plans to retrieve it the following morning when I come in. So, Wednesday (today), November 10, I go to the church and clean and when I’m done I find Lynn so I can get the bike. She takes me to the garage and there’s not just the one girl’s bike but TWO bikes. An adult one and a children’s bike. Whoever it was passed the message that they were both for me so I didn’t have to ride my daughter’s anymore. I was shocked to say the least and ever so thankful!

I guess I just wanted to share with you because you’re always reminding us that God works through others and I got to see that right there at church. Furthermore, its an opportunity from God for me to show my young daughter how He surrounds us and will provide. Things are hard right now and this couldn’t have come at a better time.

I wanted to share with you because I know you’re super busy and don’t always get to hear all the wonderful things the staff truly does. They’re all so wonderful.

Thank you, Pastor Mark, for all you are and all you do. You’re a true inspiration and all who attend Calvary are blessed to have you as their pastor. Please tell Leslie hello. I just love her!

God bless you and your family!

Ann Marie and Haley Rose