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Pastor's Paragraph-Minister of Youth

This Sunday is Youth Sunday.  A special worship service, led by our youth, will take place at 11:00 am in the Sanctuary. Just about everything in this service, from prayers and special music to leading congregation hymns and preaching, will be led by youth of our congregation. I am confident that this will be a wonderful and meaningful time of worship, just as it has been in years past.

But I've been asked on more than one occasion, "But Jason, why don't you preach on Youth Sunday?" Though I have been known to preach before, I prefer to give time and space for our own youth, children who have been nourished in the faith of our congregation, to respond to God's leading in their hearts to preach, pray, or perform a sacred piece of music. At Calvary, we worship a God who calls out men and women to serve, minister, and preach in a wide variety of situations and places. And this same God, who called Deborah as a judge over the ancient Israelites, also called the prophet Samuel as a young boy. This same God, who gave the Holy Spirit to Peter at Pentecost, called out Mary, a young woman, to birth our Savior Jesus. God uses men and women, boys and girls, the young and the old in God's own purposes. And how can we allow our youth to boldly respond to God's calling unto them without giving them the opportunity to respond? 

Youth-led worship services also provide the opportunity for our youth to stretch themselves, to do something outside of their comfort zone, and to equip them to participate in a life of faith throughout their lives. Whether leading a call to worship, playing the trumpet, or collecting the offering, every youth has the opportunity to serve and lead in this service. It is important to me that Calvary be a church where youth are stretched and asked to do this. Services where youth prepare and lead worship provide a context and foundation for our youth, who will grow into adults, to participate and contribute in a significant way in the worship of God as adults. Hopefully, when our youth are grown and in churches with their own families, they will remember their experiences of leading worship and answer "Yes" when they are asked to pray, serve, or lead future worship services.

So come this Sunday. Let us be together as a church family. Be led by our youth, who will be our future church leaders, deacons, and maybe even a preacher or two, and let us worship the God who calls every child to repentance and faith. 

Jason Matlack, Minister to Youth

 

 

Pastor's Paragraph Jan. 9

Several people have asked me for a copy of the "Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year" that I quoted in last Sunday's sermon. These questions, which appeared in a recent article by author and professor Don Whitney, are as follows:

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year? 
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it? 
5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?

In addition to these ten questions, Don Whitney encourages us to ask some additional "evaluation" questions including:

-What's the most important decision you need to make this year?
-Who is the person you most want to encourage this year?
-What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?
-If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it? 

I hope that you will join me in taking some time to evaluate your life, especially as you reflect on the past year of 2013. With God's guidance and direction, may we be resolved to live more fully and faithfully in the time that God gives us in 2014. I look forward to seeing you Sunday when we will focus on the metaphor, "You are the light of the world," (Matthew 5:14-16). 

Pastor's Paragraph Dec. 5th

As I write this week's column, I have just read the daily devotional and prayer guide for December 3. This devotional and prayer guide is a project and ministry of our Calvary Prayer Team. Each day during the month of December, a different member of our Calvary Church family has written a devotional thought and prayer for that particular day. Today the devotional thought was written by Mark Dill, one of our youth who is a senior at Henry Clay High School. Mark's thoughtful devotional recounts how he learned the important lesson of sharing as a result of an Advent calendar that he and his sister Meredith have enjoyed during each Christmas season. Yesterday, I was inspired by Francis Marcum's story of a loving act which she and her family received during the Christmas of 1965. 

I look forward to reading these devotionals each day. Not only do they enable me to learn something new about members of my wonderful Calvary church family; these devotionals are also reminding me--during this busy, often hectic Christmas season--to keep my focus on God's gift of His Son Jesus Christ. 

Let me encourage  you to join many other people in our church family who are reading these meaningful devotionals and prayers each day of this Advent Season. These devotionals are being e-mailed to our church members each day. They can also be downloaded by going to the home page of our church web site www.calvarybaptistchurch.com. There are also some "hard copies" available in the church office, Welcome Desks, Sanctuary, and in the Senior Adult area in EB2, third floor. 

Take note of the various worship services and church activities that are scheduled throughout the month of December. Invite a friend and/or family member to come to one or more of these worship services and/or activities with you. Researchers tell us that many of the unchurched people in our country would come to a church service or activity during the Christmas season if  a friend or family member would just ask them. Who is a person that God might be directing you to invite to church this Advent season? 

Blessings, 

Bob

Pastor's Paragraph Nov. 21st

"Who's #1?" This was the title of last Sunday's sermon. It was not a sports question. (Incidentally, the UK Wildcats are #4 in this week's polls.) For our purposes last Sunday, "Who's #1?" was a personal question: "Who's #1--who has first place, top priority--in your life?" Affirming the biblical mandate that God is to have top priority--to have #1 ranking--in our lives, we examined a three-fold formula designed to help us demonstrate that God really is our Lord, that we really do regard our Lord Jesus Christ as #1. Here is the formula: 1) First Day; 2) First Fruits; and 3) First Thoughts.

1) First Day--Worship the Lord at church on the first day (Sunday) each week. Setting aside one special day to worship God is a visible demonstration and testimony of our belief that all of our days belong to God. 

2) First Fruits--God's people of Old Testament days gave the first portion of their harvest (the crops, their "income") as an offering to God. This reminded them that God was the Source of all of their blessings--that the Lord was the Ultimate Owner of all possessions and "income" with which they had been entrusted and given. Following this pattern, we give God the first portion of the income we receive--the "first fruits" of our income. This is an ongoing reminder that all of our income and possessions really belong to God. Giving a "first fruits" offering (which for me and many Christians is the first 10%, a tithe, of our income) enables us to honor God with the "first" portion of our income, rather than giving God the "leftovers." 

3) First Thoughts--Developing the discipline of thinking of God (and of thanking God) first thing in the morning is an excellent way of dedicating your entire day to the Lord, of striving to be a good representative of God's love in all of your thoughts and actions. Many people find it helpful to think of a scripture verse as the day begins. Psalm 118:24 is one such "first thoughts" verse. "This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it." 

The Thanksgiving Season is a most appropriate time to evaluate our commitment to making God #1 in our lives. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday for Sunday School, morning worship, and our Family Thanksgiving Feast. This Sunday (Commitment Sunday) will provide all of us an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that God is #1 as we practice the disciplines of First Day, First Fruits, and First Thoughts. 

In Christ, 

Bob

Pastor's Paragraph October 24, 2013

As I reflect back on what was an incredibly active week in the life of our church family, I want to express thanks to you--my Calvary Church family--for your participation in the work of our congregation. Specifically, I want to express my appreciation to:

1. Rev. Carrie Beth Tonks for her leadership leading up to and during Children's Sabbath. Thanks to all of the children, all of the children's choir workers and leaders, and all of the parents who helped to make the Children's Sabbath worship experience so meaningful for our entire congregation. Carrie Beth, your sermon was thoughtfully prepared and inspirationally delivered. Preach on!  

2. Everyone in the CBC family who came and worked on one or more of several mission projects on Mission Blitz Day. Special thanks to Rev. Brian Varble for his leadership in this very worthwhile endeavor.  

3. The many Calvary members who went to First Baptist Bracktown as we helped our sister congregation celebrate her 133rd anniversary as a church. Many thanks to my friend Rev. C.B. Akins, and to the entire FBC Bracktown congregation for providing such wonderful Christian fellowship and hospitality. Thanks to our choir for leading out combined congregations in the worship of God through inspirational music. Thanks to Rev. Seth Hix, Dr. Kevin Raybuck, and Dr. Rebecca Miller for your musical leadership. And thank you, CBC family, for your presence and participation. 

In the spirit of Philippians 1:3-5, thank you, my Calvary family, for being the church! 

A grateful pastor,  

Bob

Pastor's Paragraph September 12, 2013

What a celebration we had in the Fellowship Hall this past Sunday evening as we recognized our Minister of Childhood Education, Rev. Carrie Beth Tonks, and our Associate Pastor, Rev. Hank Ellington, for 20 years of faithful and exceptional service to our church! Although both of these honored "guests" became a bit "warm" at times (after all, the program included a "roast"), the spirit of joy and laughter and heartfelt appreciation that permeated the Fellowship Hall conveyed how grateful our CBC family is for these two talented and dedicated ministers. 

All kidding and "roasting" aside, THANK YOU Carrie Beth and Hank: 
-Thank you both for 20 years of faithful service to Calvary Church.
-Thank you for viewing your respective ministry positions as a calling and not just as a job.
-Thank you for your work ethic and for your commitment to excellence.
-Thank you for teaching us--not only through Children's sermons and pulpit preaching and Bible studies, things you have spoken and said; But also thank you for teaching us through your lifestyles and actions, things you have modeled and lived out.
-Thank you for challenging us to give God our very best through the sharing of our time, talents, and resources.
-And thank you for blessing us through the sharing of your own resources, talents, and time.
-Thank you for "being there" for us when we have needed a counselor, a prayer, an empathetic ear, a minister, a friend.
-Thank you for the many times that you have laughed with us, worked with us, fellowshipped with us, and even on occasion, cried with us.
-Thank you for being our ministers.
-Thank you for being--in the best "Philippians 1:5" sense of the word--"our partners in the gospel."
-Thank you for being our sister and brother in Christ.
-From the depths of our congregational (and my pastoral) heart--THANKS!

Your grateful pastor, 

Bob

P.S.S. (Pastor's Postscript): Remember that this coming Sunday (September 15th) is National Back to Church Sunday. Plan to be present and invite a friend (or friends) to come with you. See you Sunday! 

Pastor's Paragraph August 15th, 2013

The start of a new school year underscores the reality of change: new teachers, new classes, new (in some cases) schools, new activities, new schedules (for students and families), etc. There are a myriad of changes in our lives as a new school year gets underway. 

We have recently just started a new sermon series entitled "The Essential Qualities of Personal Change." Already we have talked about two of these essential qualities: 1) HONESTY and 2) WILLINGNESS. In order to make the types of changes that God often calls us to make in our lives, we need 1) to be honest with ourselves in admitting the particular change and changes that we need to make; and 2) to be willing to take some action steps that will get the change process underway. 

I have given everyone (myself included) a "homework" assignment as we journey through this sermon series. Here is your assignment: WHAT IS ONE MAJOR CHANGE THAT YOU NEED TO MAKE IN YOUR LIFE NOW? If you are like me, there are probably several changes that you need to make in order to be the person that God wants you to be. But the assignment calls for us to focus on just ONE. So be honest with yourself and identify a specific change that God desires for you to make. And then be willing to start taking the necessary action that needs to occur if such a change is to become a reality. 

The "change" quality that will be the focus of this Sunday's sermon is IMAGINATION. Imagination (dreaming or goal-setting) entails keeping before you a clear mental image of the difference that actualizing a particular change can make in your life. Such imagination/dreaming/goal-can be a key component in the change process. Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says: "Where there is no dream (no imagination, no goal setting), the people perish." Or to paraphrase this verse in a positive way: But where there is a dream (replete with imagination and goal setting), the people flourish!" 

So do your homework. Be sure to ask God for His help. And come to Bible study and worship this Sunday as we continue our focus on personal change.  

Blessings, 

Bob

 

Pastor's Paragraph July 11, 2013

Each week I receive an email update from the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship under the heading “Three Things To Know From KBF.”

Then, as you might expect, there is a concise summary of three events or happenings which have had or shortly will have an impact upon the work of the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship. This format provides a succinct way for KBF members and KBF church to stay informed about important news items and mission opportunities.

So it is with apologies to KBF that I borrow the organization’s weekly format to share with you “Three Things To Know From Calvary Baptist Church.”

 1.“Four Sundays of Prayerful Giving” was generously strong! During these four Sundays (May 19 & 26, and June 2 & 9), the total undesignated offering given toward the budget was $219,792.  The budget goal for these four Sundays was $172,256. This means that on these four “prayerful giving” Sundays, our congregation’s undesignated tithes and offerings exceeded our budget goal by more than $47,000. Thank you CBC family for prayerfully considering and giving what you felt the Lord was leading you to give. This generous response to this “prayerful giving” emphasis provides the financial resources which are needed for CBC to continue to be the church that God calls us to be during the summer of 2013.

 2. On Sunday afternoon, June 23, our church gathered in our chapel to ordain Catherine “Cat” Hall to the gospel ministry. Cat, a graduate of the University of Kentucky and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is in the process of being endorsed by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) in preparation to fulfill her calling to serve as a chaplain in the United States Navy. Cat, the daughter of Ernie and Ruth Ann Hall of Versailles, is also the granddaughter of the late Rev. Donald White who pastored the Hillcrest Baptist Church in Lexington for many years and of (the very much still alive) Anna White who is well-known throughout the Elkhorn Baptist Association (and beyond) for her commitment to and passion for missions. The ordination service was deeply moving and inspirational – not only for Cat and her family but for the members of our CBC congregation as well. How proud I am to be the pastor of a Baptist church that believes that women as well as men are called by God into ministry and that recognizes God’s call on servant leaders like Cat Hall through the process of ordination. Thank you CBC for recognizing that God calls both females and males to be ordained for ministry!

 3.This coming Sunday (July 14), our church will celebrate the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper at both the 8:30 am and the 11:00 am worship services. Plan to be present as our church family gathers around the communion table for a meaningful service of worship and remembrance.

Well, there you have it: “Three Things to Know from CBC.” May the Lord bless us as we strive to be an informed and faithful  mission-oriented congregation.

Looking forward to seeing you Sunday!

Bob

Pastor's Paragrah May 9, 2013

In just a few weeks, school will be out! But church will still be in session. Before you know it, summer vacation will be here! But the work of the church will continue.

As you immerse yourself in hurried and hectic end-of-the-school-year activities and as you schedule family vacations and various summer camps, let me encourage you to be intentional and faithful in including God and His church in your summer plans. There are several ways that you can support God's work through our church as summer approaches and arrives:

1) Whenever you are not travelling, be present for Sunday School and Sunday Worship

2) Volunteer for one (or several) of the numerous mission and ministry projects that Calvary will offer and sponsor throughout the summer (such as Vacation Bible School, Grilling for the Homeless, participating in the weekend mission trip to Liberty, Ohio, working in God's Pantry, or volunteering at the ROC).

3) Give a generous offering to support the church budget so that the day-to-day ministry services of Calvary can continued unhindered during June, July, and August. Before we head into the summer months, our church needs to improve our financial position so that all of the work that God has called us to do can continue. We need the support of EVERY CALVARY MEMBER DOING HIS OR HER PART in supporting the Lord's work through our church financially. To that end we have designated May 19, May 26, June 2 and June 9 as Four Sundays of Prayerful Giving.

Deborah and I invite you to join us in giving prayerfully and generously during this four week emphasis. Join us in giving a tithe (10%) of your income. Or, "catch up" your financial giving if you are "behind." Or, give a generous "extra" offering to support the Lord's work through Calvary. Or, use this time to start giving something (if you have gotten out of the giving habit or if you need to get started doing your part)!

I hope that you have an enjoyable summer. Enjoy some vacation time and fun time with family and friends. And remain faithful in your commitment to Jesus Christ and His church. School will soon be over, but church will remain in session. May Calvary be a faithful church in Summer 2013!

Blessings,

Bob