3:21 Week of Prayer and Fasting

Week of Prayer Fasting November
3:21 WEEK OF PRAYER AND FASTING – November 12-18

 The elders of Calvary PCA have called for a week of prayer and fasting November 12-18, leading into commitment Sunday, November 19, as we pledge our gifts to the 3:21 initiative.  We have asked members of Calvary to set aside one day this week, dedicated to prayer and fasting that we might seek His will and not our own.  Click here to confidentially register for a day of prayer and fasting.

We are asking that the Lord would enable us to operate out of a position of our freedom in Christ, rather than out of a position of compulsion, duty, or fear.  As you pray and as you seek God’s wisdom for how He would have you contribute time, talent and treasure to the 3:21 initiative, remember that in Christ you are those who are:

  • Free From Bondage to live as those who are truly free (Gal. 5:1)
  • Free From Condemnation to live as those who are accepted by God (Romans 8:1-2)
  • Free From Fear to live as those who are the sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:15)
  • Free From Results to live as open-handed servants of God (1Peter 2:16)
  • Free From Selfish Desires to live out the great commandments of love for God and love for neighbor (Gal.5:13)

May God give us grace to pray, live, and give as those who are set free in Christ!

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Learning to Pray from a Daughter and a Dot

Learning to Pray
Learning to Pray from a Daughter and a Dot*

“Go brush your teeth, and I’ll come help you get ready for school.”  With these familiar words, I attempted to send my 5-year-old daughter, Elise, from the kitchen with marching orders to get the day started and give me an opportunity to do an all-important check of my Facebook feed.  Monday morning priorities, you know.

As Elise hopped down from the table with her usual exuberance, she moved, not toward the hallway, as instructed, but instead she skipped the opposite direction toward me.  “Elise,” I said in full daddy-tone. “What did I tell you to do?”  Without missing a beat, she gave me a giant hug and snuck a peak at the phone in my hand.

“Prayer dot!” she exclaimed.  Her eyes locked on my face, looking to see how I would respond to her spotting the green dot affixed to the upper right hand corner of my iPhone screen.  “Elise, I said…”  Ugh!  I can’t encourage the members of Calvary Presbyterian Church to pray for the ministry of our congregation every time they see that dot throughout their day and suddenly ignore it when my own daughter eagerly wants to stop and come before her Heavenly Father.

“I guess we should pray,” I said.  With that, Elise and I both lifted up Calvary and our ministries before our great God, and then, she bounded down the hallway with joy on her face, prepared to get ready for her morning at school.

As she turned the corner, I sat at the table thinking, “my daughter just used a dot to teach me to pray.”  While I seek to teach our congregation to pray for our 3:21 initiative and therefore, to entrust all we are and have to our Lord, He is using simple prayer dots as my daughter’s teaching-aid to instruct me in the way of faith.

As you go before the throne of God’s grace in the coming weeks to lift up the ministry of Calvary in prayer, may you have the gift of going before him with the faith of a child, “for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 19:14).  May we have open hearts to be taught to pray, even by the smallest in our midst!

*Learn more about Calvary’s 3:21 Initiative here.  Prayer dot cards are available at Calvary each week.  We encourage each of our members and attenders to take one and use it to help guide your prayers during our 3:21 Initiative.

3:21 Initiative – God’s Glory in All Generations

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3:21 Initiative – God’s Glory in All Generations

We live in an amazing area of the country with tremendous resources and opportunities.  Each year, Raleigh is rated as the #1 or #2 place to raise a family by a variety of publications.  According to the Wake County website, Wake county is growing by an average of 62 people per day – that’s 22,630 people per year – good for the second fastest growth rate of any county with >1 million residents in the nation.  If that number stays flat, that’s 226,300 people in 10 years.  Since Calvary was planted in the mid 1970s, the population of Wake County has quadrupled from approximately 250,000 people to around 1 million people in 2014.  Estimates are that in just under 40 years (2054), Wake County will hit the 2 million mark.

This is great news for us, because the church is called by Jesus Christ to the great commission.  As you go, make disciples in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth (Mt. 28:18-20, Acts 1:8).  The beauty is if we desire to reach the nations, all we need to do is walk out our front door.  Of the 62 new people per day in Wake County, 9 of those (15%) are international residents.  We are called to make disciples where we are and where we are sent.  And God has graciously planted us in the middle of one of the most vibrant, growing and changing areas of the country.  But what does that mean for who we are and what God would have us to be?

Paul has a vision in Ephesians 3.  In the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul lays out first what God is building – A church made up of diverse people to be the house of the Holy Spirit (2:19-22).  In other words, the church is the place where God would live.  Second, He tells us how God is building this Church – By saving people by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (2:8-10), so that all the ways in which we would divide would be broken down by our union with Christ.  Third, He tells us the why or purpose of the Church (Ephesians 3:10) – that the manifold wisdom of God might be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

In other Words: The church is a diverse community of people saved by grace through faith in Christ to display the wisdom of God to the world.

On the ground, what’s clear is only God can do this!  Before laying out this vision, Paul acknowledges this saying in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…”

Then he continues with His vision for the church, “To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.”

All we do should be about bringing glory to his name in all generations where we have been planted.  This is why we say that Calvary PCA exists to bring glory to God in this generation and the next by making disciples where we are and where we are sent.

Over the next five weeks, we will be engaging in what we are calling the 3:21 Initiative, in which we desire to cast this vision that the church would Bring Glory to God in this Generation and the next.  On a practical level, this means that we are taking the next steps toward the renovation and expansion of our facility at 6520 Ray Road in order to meet the needs of an ever-changing, ever-growing community.  This will include a commitment of time, talent and treasure on the part of God’s church.

In order to prepare our hearts to prayerfully commit this vision to “the one who is able to do far more than we ask or imagine,” we will be preaching through several pieces of the 3:21 Initiative over the next 5 Sundays:

3:21 Sermons

 

October 15 – VISION

Ephesians 3:21

Glory to God…

  • In Christ
  • In His Church
  • Throughout all Generations

 

October 22 – TRUST

2 Peter 1:16, Hebrews 11:1

Faith Must…

  • Be Anchored in the Truth
  • Believe in the Truth
  • Grow in the Truth
October 29 – GENEROSITY

Romans 11:36

All Things are…

  • From Him
  • Through Him
  • For Him
Nov 5 – SACRIFICE

Romans 12:1-2

Living to Die & Dying to Live…

  • Motivated by Mercy
  • Marked by Worship
  • Moved by Transformation
November 12 – COMMITMENT

Romans 12:3-16

All In…

  • Belonging in Christ
  • Gifted by Christ
  • Loving for Christ
 

Other Key Dates

  •  10/29@ 5:30pm – 3:21 Property Update
  • 11/12-19 – Week of Prayer and Fasting
  • 11/15 – Church-wide Prayer
  • 11/19 – Commitment Sunday
  • 12/03 – Celebration Sunday

 

As we enter this season together, there are two things, I pray we will keep in mind:

#1 – God is building His church to be the place of His Dwelling.  Brick and Mortar are a means to the end of making disciples where we are and where we have been sent.

#2 – Our goal here is to see this vision made a reality – that the glory of God would be made known in and through this church from generation to generation – now and in the future.

Join us in prayer over these next several weeks that God would be please to bring glory to His name, unity in Christ’s Church, growth in faith and love, and a culture in which we would faithfully make disciples where we are and where we are sent.

Fall Again: Good News for the Seasons of Life

Fall Again
Fall Again: Good News for the Seasons of Life

As I sat in my window seat, sipping a complimentary beverage at a local coffee shop this week, I peered up from behind my computer screen to catch a glimpse of a sign I somehow missed as I entered the door just minutes before.  There it was in bold letters with illustrations of autumn leaves around the headline – “Fall Again.”  In spite of the high 80s temperatures outside, the sign reminded me of what I had conveniently forgotten: Fall is here; another season in a busy year.

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Good News for A Lonely World: The Message of Exodus 21-40

Good News for a Lonely World
Good News for a Lonely World: The Message of Exodus 21-40

A recent headline from an article by Dr. Keith Ablow declared, “Loneliness is Now More Deadly than Obesity.  And We Don’t Have a Plan to Reduce it.”[1]  He cites findings presented at the recent American Psychological Association conference asserting that, “social isolation, loneliness or living alone was each a significant factor contributing to premature death.”

We live in a paradoxical time in which we are surrounded by others and inundated nearly every moment with so-called “social” media, yet recent studies show that people feel more isolated and lonely than ever before, and it’s killing us.  One only needs to observe a sea of people checking their smartphones in a crowded restaurant to know that we bring many of our feelings of loneliness upon ourselves, but the reality is that the solution may be deeper than simply downgrading to an old-school flip phone.  This is but a symptom to a deeper problem.

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Life in Transition: Looking Back and Looking Forward on Ministry Together

Wilks Family
Life in Transition: Looking Back and Looking Forward on Ministry Together at Calvary

Last night our family attended a “meet the teacher” event at my son, Hayden’s, new school.  Tomorrow, my wife will drop off our oldest child, Kayleigh, at the building where she will begin her middle school experience, so she can meet her teachers and other incoming 6th graders.  Simultaneously, I will accompany my youngest child, Elise, to meet her teacher, as she begins the final year of preschool for any Wilks child.  Very few people love change, most abhor it, but the reality is that life is often a series of transitions interspersed with short spurts of stability.

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A Call To Repentance in the Wake of Charlottesville

A Call to Repentance in the Wake of Charlottesville.

If you’re like me you have been horrified, deeply disturbed, and even self-reflective at the events of violence and hatred on display at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA this weekend.

In light of these events, we led the congregation of Calvary Presbyterian Church in a season of repentance, lament, and longing during our Sunday worship gathering.  Below is a transcript of what I said in leading the members of Calvary into this season:

Reflections on the Events of Charlottesville this weekend and a call to repent, lament and long for Jesus.

* Let me be abundantly clear.  There is no room in the Christian Life and Christian Church for racism or white supremacy or any supremacy that supplants Christ’s Supremacy.  None!

* Revelation 7:9 describes a day when Christ sits upon his throne and at his feet is the multitude too large to count from every tongue, tribe, and people and language standing before the throne, washed white by the blood of Jesus Christ, crying out with ONE voice (not disparate voices), ONE voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

* In Ephesians 2:14-16, the Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus has broken down in his body the middle wall of separation between God and Man and Humanity with One another.  Here is what he says:

 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,  and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

* In John 17 – Jesus prays fervently for this church of every tongue tribe and nation and every generation to exhibit the Unity that exists between the Father and the Son – a unity that has existed from before the beginning of time.

* Here’s the reality, it is easy to look at the images of men in their nice polo shirts holding torches and people wearing their white hoods and carrying their flags and think – “Look at them over there.  Look how the seeds of hate run deep in them.  I’m glad I’m not like that.”

* But when I think about the reality of what Christ has secured and what Christ prayed for and what Christ is doing in the world today, I cannot help but see myself in those images.

* I cannot help but think about the vestiges of racism that remain in my own heart;  The silence that too often characterizes my lips;  The inaction that fails to get out of my apartment or my office or the coffee shop and pursue real racial reconciliation in my own heart and life and lead the church to do the same.

* I can’t help but remember the words of Dr. King that remain as true today as they did when first stated that 11am on Sunday is the most segregated time in America.

* I cannot help but feel the hypocrisy of my own heart and life, knowing that every Sunday morning, Bethany and I leave our apartment complex where we are the overwhelming minority and come to this church that Jesus loves, where we are part of the overwhelming majority.

* I don’t stand before you as a man who has it all together or even knows what to do.  But I stand before you as a fellow struggler knowing that we are in desperate need of the reconciling power of Jesus Christ, so that we the church might be the true reflection of Christ’s unifying Lordship over all things through His work at Calvary.

* What I know is we are a people in deep need of repentance, faith and Christ’s reconciling work.

This morning we lament, not only the horrifying events and evil in Charlottesville, but the vestiges of division that remain in us.  May Jesus have mercy on us.

 

 

 

Ordinary to Extraordinary

Photo Credit: Ryan Hatton

Photo Credit: Ryan Hatton

Ordinary to Extraordinary: Giving thanks for the Fruit of Ordinary Life and Ministry

We live in an Instagram society.  Snap a photo, post it, and display what appears to be an extraordinary moment in the midst of ordinary life.  This often makes us assume that life should be full of the incredible, the fanciful, the extraordinary.

In reality, life and ministry is a series of normal, mundane, ordinary and repetitive moments that sometimes bear fruit in extraordinary ways.  Day-to-day life for most of us is full of the repetitive cadence of waking up, eating meals, washing dishes, cleaning a home, driving to and from work, grocery shopping, taking care of family obligations, paying bills, checking e-mail and social media, watching television, going to bed, getting up the next morning, and repeat.  Yet once-in-a-while the faithful living-out of the ordinary moments of life gives way to something extraordinary: new relationships blossom, new opportunities fall in our laps, we graduate from school, awards come our way, a pay raise relieves financial pressure, a vacation breathes new life into our lungs, retirement gives a new perspective on life, our children embrace Jesus, we have a moment of clarity years-in-the-making.

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From Danger to Praise

From Danger to Praise
From Danger to Praise!

“Warning!  Serious Injuries and deaths have occurred beyond this point.”  These are the “welcome” signs that awaited Bethany and me this week, as we hiked at Hanging Rock State Park together in celebration of 14 years of marriage.  I both chuckled and cringed at these signs of warning, knowing they portend real potential danger, illustrated in the stories of real lives lost and real lives changed by a false step, or simply an unforeseen disaster.

Yet, we forged ahead, along with countless other men, women and children, because at the peak of hanging rock is a glorious view that with sure footing leads to praise!  “You’re almost there,” people would say to us on their way down.  “It’s beautiful and amazing and so worth it!”  They were right.  As we stood at the peak of Hanging Rock, I thought, “I can’t imagine what would have been lost if I’d turned back at those signs.”

Many of us, including myself, often view the journey of the Christian life as a hike to the top of Hanging Rock, particularly when it comes to the call in the life of every believer to evangelism, or sharing one’s faith.  The journey is one full of signs that scream, “Warning!  Serious injury and deaths have occurred beyond this point.”  Sharing our faith can be quite an adventure, but we are often afraid of the dangers, the consequences of saying the wrong thing or of being rejected by our families, our neighbors, our friends, and that can feel like death.

However, when we have seen a greater glory, we cannot help but respond in a praise that extends beyond ourselves and to those around us who are hiking the truly dangerous journey of life – one without God.  In Psalm 40:2-3, the Psalmist testifies to what God has done for him, saying, “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure” (vs. 2).  When Jesus saves, he does so out of our real danger and sets our feet upon the One who is our solid rock, enabling us to behold a greater glory.  The response?  Praise that extends to a world in danger.  He continues, “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord” (vs. 3).

Has the Lord Jesus taken you out of the pit of destruction, the miry bog and set your feet upon the rock?  Has he put a new song of praise in your mouth?  If so, may He enable your praise to extend beyond yourself to your family, your neighbors, your friends and co-workers, who are in need of the same.

This Sunday at Calvary, is Neighbor Sunday, and we will be sharing the Good News of how Jesus has come to seek and save the lost, those who are truly in danger, that they might see a greater glory.  Use this opportunity to invite your friends to join us, that they, too, might “put their trust in the Lord.”

Do Your Want Your Usual?

Do You Want Your Usual
Do You Want Your Usual?

“Good morning.  Do you want your usual?”  These were the words I recently heard spoken by a local barista to two coffee-shop patrons.  Consistent.  Thoughtful.  Familiar.  Welcoming.  Comforting.  That’s what these words represent.  How long does one have to regularly patronize an establishment before they are known by employees to have a “usual?”  A month of weekly visits?  Weeks of daily visits?  Does it depend on consistency of order?  Does it depend on consistency of the employee?

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