Making room: serve

There is no excitement quite like the news that a baby is on the way. One of the first things to be planned is making more room for that new life that will be joining the family. Sometimes it means redecorating, sometimes adding a new room, and sometimes even having to move to a bigger house, but whatever has to be done, making room for more family is totally worth it! 


The Calvary Church Family is growing, and expecting to grow much more in days to come because God is all about spiritual birth into the life of His Son Jesus. This means making more room for these new-born sons and daughters of God who will be joining us - boys and girls, youth, young adults and older - an intergeneration family. 


I am excited to announce that Calvary Church will making more room by going to two services in September - just 11 weeks from the time I am writing this blog. I have to tell you as your pastor, I am very excited about this. There is no greater joy in the world than seeing children, youth, young adults, and adult of all ages coming to know Jesus. 


I am grateful for a great pastoral team, each one of whom is so fully dedicated to seeing people come to Jesus and who work hard preparing a church environment that receives them with love and with the opportunities to grow in their faith. And, I am grateful to be leading a church family that values people so genuinely, and is not content to be a closed church family, but are true followers of Jesus who take joy in every new person who becomes part of the family. 


Making more room by adding a new service means that many new and fulfilling serving opportunities will be opening up - opportunities to work with the new children who will be coming to learn about Jesus and be loved by caring leaders, and people to serve as greeters, ushers, prayer response leaders, and hospitality team members, and more.  


During July our Series will be: “Make Room by Serving”. I will be sharing about the joy of discovering and using your spiritual gifts in serving. We are blessed with so many who are serving already. Perhaps you have not yet found your place. This will be an opportunity for you to grow by serving - the most effective way to grow in your faith! 


So, Calvary Family, spread the word, begin inviting family and friends, and get ready to make room. And, If you are reading this blog as you are checking out Calvary Church, we would love to meet you when you visit. 


-Pastor Jim

IMPACT

There are 40 million Christians in USA today. Most of them are not about to give up their faith in Christ. But, already a good many of the 40 million have given up their passion for Christ. The greatest need for the church in US is to regain passion for Christ and for the mission He has given us. The future of our communities, nation and the world depends upon a passionate church on mission for Jesus.  


Even the first circle of Jesus’ followers, the Apostles, lost their passion for Jesus. This is hard to imagine especially after they had been witness to the amazing things He did for 3 years. And, even though the night before Jesus’ death Peter said, “I am ready to die with you”, his passion failed. The passion of all the disciples failed as they scattered and ran into hiding for fear of being identified with Jesus. And these were the leaders who were supposed to take the message of Jesus to the world?


Then Jesus rose from the dead, and He spent over 40 days appearing to the disciples convincing them that He was alive, and had conquered sin and death. But, great as their passion was after seeing and spending 40 days with Risen Jesus, it was still not enough. This was an external experience of Jesus. Something had to happen inside them… and Jesus pointed them to the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit who would baptize them with His very own passion for Jesus. This alone would be the sufficient passion to create an unstoppable church that would bring the impact of the kingdom of God into a broken world.


This promise of the Holy Spirit is for us too. You are invited to join us during the month of May for a series entitled IMPACT in which we as a community of Christ-followers seek to be filled with that very same passion of the Holy Spirit so that we can effectively make a difference in our very broken and hurting world. 


MISSION

At Calvary Church we want to do three things and do them well.


Know God, Love each other, and Serve the World


Yearly, we set two weeks aside to celebrate and remind ourselves of how the important work that people, just like you and I, are doing to serve the world. The story of Jesus demands that we have compassion for all people. Compassion is useless if we don't follow it with action.


One of the ways Calvary Church serves the world is through our generous financial support to 34 global partners. Our partners offer shelter and rehabilitation to our neighbors in Lemont, Joliet, and Chicago. Our partners teach refugees and the impoverished tangible skills to transform their communities. Our partners care for the spiritual, educational, and physical needs of children in the South Pacific, Latin America, and Africa. Our partners show compassion to people in places many of us will never see like the Sahara and the Himalayas.


This year we are celebrating the fantastic work of two of our partners who demonstrate what service to the world looks like in our own backyard.



Chuck and Wilma Lormis: This couple advocates for those working to share the compassion of Jesus with those who don’t know it exists. They make diligent strides to encourage local churches to make bold commitments to generosity for missionaries around the world.



Chicago Teen Challenge: This organization provides youth, adults and families with an effective faith-based solution to life-controlling problems in order to become productive members of society. They use biblical principles to help people become mentally-sound, emotionally-balanced, socially-adjusted, physically-well, and spiritually-alive.


Join us for these next two weeks as we challenge ourselves to live generously in financial support of our Global Partners.


- Pastor Chris Huettl

The Art Of Being Human

We are human. What does that mean? 


Our humanity began in a beautiful Garden called Eden where God gave us the mission to go out into our world with our diverse gifts and abilities to spread the goodness and beauty of Eden, to explore and discover, invent and innovate, create culture, form communities, have families, care for the planet, to love, to learn, to grow, to use our talents, to pursue our unique careers and callings - to flourish in the art of being human! 


The great mission failed. Humanity fell into darkness. Evil and suffering spread into the world instead of goodness and beauty. The Art of Being Human appeared lost for good. But, God’s value for humans didn’t diminish. 


He came in the humanity of Jesus Christ. Jesus showed us what the Art of Being Human looks like. Then by sacrificing Himself for us, Jesus opened the way for all of us to recover the lost art of our humanity so that every one can flourish as God always intended, and get back to the mission of spreading the goodness and beauty of Eden to the whole earth. 


We explore this in a new series called The Art of Being Human that begins January 22 and continues through March. Come and join us. Bring friends with you. 

Advent Conspiracy 2016

As a church family we are part of a conspiracy against the excessive commercialization of Christmas. In the midst of all the celebration and the joy of gift-giving at Christmas, we want to stay focused on the meaning that is centered in Jesus Christ who came into our world to give. The conspiracy is formed around four important values - to enter the Christmas season honoring Jesus by: 

  1. Worshiping Fully
  2. Spending Less
  3. Giving More
  4. Loving All

Beginning Sunday, November 27 through Sunday, December 25 we will focus on each of these values to make a difference. 


There are three ways we are seeking to make a difference in serving others during this Advent Conspiracy. First, we will be seeking to raise $12,000 for a ministry called Royal Family Kids to start three new summer camps that reach out to foster kids both locally and nationally. These camps have been instrumental in reclaiming and redeeming the lives of thousands of foster kids by introducing them to caring leaders, to positive life experiences and to the hope found in Jesus. Second, we will team up with Hope & Friendship Ministries to give care packages to several families in the community. And third, we will be giving to some individuals and families within our church family who are facing deep financial needs. 


Together we can do much to share Jesus Christ as the One who has come to meet the spiritual needs of salvation for our community and world, and to demonstrate His love by serving the many pressing physical needs people are facing. You are invited to join us in this Advent Conspiracy 2016. 

People Matter

Jesus said "not one sparrow will fall to the ground without your Father (God the Father) knowing it... so don't be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows" (Matthew 10:29-31). Jesus was not diminishing the value of sparrows to God their maker. He was contrasting the much higher value God places on every human being. It is astounding, and hard for us to conceive, how God could simultaneously value each and every person without partiality or favoritism. It is also hard to understand that God is 100% attentive to each of the 7 billion persons in the world as though each one was the only one. There is no obscure or forgotten person in God's eyes. 


Jesus came to show us this very thing. Again and again, He had time for everyone who came to Him. He even had time for the most overlooked of all - children. He didn't believe that "children should be seen but not heard." When parents brought their kids to Him the disciples tried to chase them away so as not to disturb Jesus. It was one of just a few times when Jesus got really upset with his disciples. He invited the kids to come. More than that, He took them up in His arms. He held them. He then spoke a blessing over each one of them (Mark 10:13-16). He also had time for the lepers, for the outcasts, for the sick. And, He has time for you and me. Psalm 139 states it beautifully: "How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them they would outnumber the grains of sand..." (Psalm 139: 17-18).


During November our focus is "People Matter." We will be considering the value of all ethnic groups, people of all nations, as well as the people on our own street, of people who are like us and different from us. We will come to a deeper understanding of the love and grace of God that reaches out to everyone without exception, of the love and grace that welcomes all into the family of Jesus, of the love and grace that forgives, heals and restores. Please come join us and bring your friends. 

Extremely Emojinal

Emoji. 


Have you learned this new universal language? Emoji is Japanese from two words: "e" for picture and "moji" for character. The first emoji was created in 1998/1999 in Japan by Shigetaka Kurt. Even the Word of God is being translated into Emoji: 4 😇 so ❤️ the 🌎. John 3:16.


Emoji is best known for expressing our emotions. It even rhymes with our English word emotion (only a coincidence). The beauty of emoji is that it has humanized texting by adding emotional depth to otherwise boring texting of just words. Each of our lives is also the writing of a text with more being added every day as we communicate and live in relationship with others. Depth is added to that story when we are in touch with our emotions. Emotionless lives and emotionless relationships are shallow. God created us in His own image with the ability to "feel" relationships and the world "deeply."


Emotions are great, but there are also times when our emotions can take us to unhealthy places, can damage our relationships, can hurt the people we love most, and can rob us of our lives. We invite you to join us for a new Sunday teaching series called EXTREMELY EMOJINAL to explore four of life's biggest emotions...


😟 Anxiety


😡 Anger


😔 Shame


😭 Sadness


Come and bring friends.

The Invisible War

Most people would agree that Jesus was in His right mind, rationally stable. In fact, if there was ever any person fully in touch with reality, it was Jesus. 


Yet, Jesus is the one who taught about Satan, and that he is such a factor in the evil reality of our world that He called him the "Prince of this World." In today's terms, Jesus taught that Satan is the invisible, spiritual terrorist who is behind, and incites, the evil and destruction in our world. Jesus taught that Satan passionately pursues the destruction of every human being, including you! 


I fear that sometimes we dismiss Satan as a myth of the superstitious past which provides him great cover in our rational, enlightened world. But we "laugh Satan off" at our own peril. The Apostle Paul warned us to not be "outwitted" by being "unaware of his schemes" (2 Corinthians 2:11). 


Satan has targeted our loved ones. He has targeted our youth, and our children. He hold people captive be spiritual blindness. Jesus said that His mission (and ours, too!) was "to proclaim freedom to the prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free" (Luke 4:16). 


Beginning Sunday, August 14 through Sunday, September 25 our teaching series is titled "The Invisible War." Our world is overlooking this spiritual dimension of evil. More than ever we need to be informed by Jesus if we are to bring hope and salvation to our loved ones, and to our world. Join us for this important series. 

Dying To Live

Our hearts are like a suitcase full of desires. Imagine each of those desires as a different article of clothing packed into your inward suitcase. We live out of the suitcase of our inward desires. We also go into our suitcase of desires to find our identity, that one deep desire-orientation, that best fits us. Then we appear before the world dressed in that desire and say, "This is me!"


But, this is a huge problem, a major wardrobe malfunction, because Jesus said that the desires and orientations we find in our hearts are like clothes that have become stained and dirty. Jesus said it this way, "It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these things come from within; they are what defile you." (Mark 7:20-23)


Jesus came into the world with a new suitcase of desires for us to draw from. It is only in this suitcase that a person can find their core identity, their true self. The contents of the suitcase He offers you is like no other because it contains His own wardrobe. The desires that Jesus draws from out of His own infinite and pure heart as God, He will share with you. The Apostle Paul said it like this, "...throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God - truly righteous and holy." (Ephesians 4:22-24)


Our teaching focus during June and July is living out of the new suitcase of desires that Jesus offers us, and in the suitcase discovering the one core identity fit that you were created to wear now and for all eternity. 

Intersection with Relationship:

Why do people like jesus, but hate the church?

Here is an intriguing, and very important, question: "Why do people like Jesus, but often don't like the church?" This question will be the teaching focus during May. Jesus has high popular acclaim in our society, but at the same time the church that is called to represent Him is quickly losing favor. 


A recent survey found that the church has moved from simply being considered "irrelevant" to being viewed as "negative and extremist" by a large number of Americans. Someone has said that the American population can be divided into three groups: the presently churched, the un-churched (called the "Nones"), and the formerly churched (called the "Dones"), church drop-outs who say they are "done" with the church! More and more people say they can love and live for Jesus without the church - that the church has either hurt them, bored them, or just has nothing to offer for their faith.


At the same time, the controversies surrounding the issues of gay rights, same-sex marriage, and transgender rights, as well as the deep division of political views during this presidential race, have sometimes cast Christians and the church in a very unfavorable light. Christians have gained the perception in our culture as intolerant, judgmental, angry right-wing extremists. 


But, as followers of Jesus, we know that there should be no gap between our culture's perception of Jesus and His Church. We know that the church is called to reflect Jesus to the world. So, what can be said and what can be done about the church's identity crisis in our culture? You are invited to come (be sure to invite friends to come along with you!) and be part of this important discussion during May. 

Intersection

Our Calvary Church family is located geographically at the intersection of State Street and Archer Avenue, but there is also a "spiritual intersection" where God is calling our church family to be located. It is an intersection of three roads. 


The first road is called Truth, which leads to knowing Jesus. 


The second road is called Relationships, which leads to loving each other. 


And the third road is called Mission, which leads to serving our world. 


It is when the church dwells at this intersection that the kingdom of God is demonstrated on the earth. 


The Holy Spirit has been sent to meet the church at this intersection. He is calling us to follow Him there. Because it is only at this intersection that He empowers the church family with the life and love of Jesus, so that the spiritual map of our area can be rewritten with Jesus at the center. 


It is at this intersection that Calvary Church will be a place where people experience God, and find salvation, hope, and healing for their lives. 


Our challenge as a church family in 2016 is to renew our commitment to locate our hearts at the spiritual intersection of...


Truth, by knowing Jesus,


Relationships, by loving each other,


and Mission, by serving the world. 

The Gift of Redemption

ADVENT CONSPIRACY!


AS a church family we are part of a conspiracy against the excessive commercialization of Christmas. In the midst of all the celebration and the joy of gift-giving at Christmas, we want to stay focused on the meaning that is centered in Jesus Christ who came into our world to give. The conspiracy is formed around four important values - to enter into the Christmas season honoring Jesus by: 

  1. worshiping fully
  2. spending less
  3. giving more
  4. loving all

Beginning Sunday, November 29 through Sunday, December 27 we will focus on each of these values as our intentional plan to make a difference. 


There are three ways that we are seeking to make a difference in service others during this Advent Conspiracy. First, we will be assisting Teen Challenge in building/furnishing a new Women's Center which will bring healing to women who have been entrapped in sex trafficking, substance abuse, emotional brokenness, and addictions of any kind. 


Second, we will team up with Hope & Friendship Ministries to give care packages to several families in the community. 


And third, we will give to some individuals and families within our church family who are facing deep financial needs. 


We believe that Jesus came into the world to meet human needs at all levels, spiritual and physical. What a privilege we have to share Jesus Christ as the One who has come to meet the spiritual needs of salvation for our community and world, and to demonstrate his love by serving the many pressing physical needs people are facing. 


You are invited to join us in this Advent Conspiracy!

Conversation about Creativity

Many times when we think of "creative" people we limit that word to a very small percentage considered to be the "creative" ones among us, while the rest of us are just "ordinary." The reality is that every human being has been made in the image of God, who above all is a "Creator." He made us to be creative. 


Author Erwin McManus goes so far as to say God created us all with the soul of an artist. As proof of this, he tells us to look at children. The mark of childhood is creative imagination. Watch kids as they play, how they create, how they dream. Their minds aren't trapped inside the limits of routine and ordinary. Their imaginations soar. But, so many of us leave our creative soul behind when we move into adulthood. Adulthood is to practical, with no time for imagination. And as a result, a part of our soul dies (The Artisan Soul by Erwin McManus).


The message of Christ is that He wants to restore to us the "abundant life" that we were created to live (John 10:10). The Apostle Paul says that "we have different gifts according to the grace given to us" (Romans 12:6). These "gifts" are from Jesus, which means they are filled with His own imagination and creativity. The Apostle Paul also makes the astounding statement that the very "mind of Christ" has been shared with us who know him (1 Corinthians 2:16).


The Lord wants to awaken and unleash the creative imagination of the gifts he has placed in you so they will flow out of you as a part of who you are at home, at work, at church, everywhere! The awakening of your creativity will bring joy and fulfillment to you, and it will bring incredible good to others by spreading Christ's kingdom. 


Beginning October 18 through November 15, our Sunday morning series will be a "Conversation about Creativity." This will be a five week opportunity to explore and expand your creative gifts, to identify and overcome barriers to expressing your creativity, and to learn how to flourish and thrive with the gifts you have been given. Don't miss this exciting opportunity to discover the "inner artist" God has placed in you. Come, and bring friends. 

Conversation about Relationships

Have you ever noticed that almost everything in life comes back to relationships? From your very first friend in school, to dating, to marriage and family, to the deep friendships you have if you are single, to colleagues at work, to neighbors, to our movies and songs, to the places we go and hang out like restaurants or coffee shops, to twitter, facebook, and snapchat. When it comes down to it, our happiest times and out saddest times all have to do with the ups and downs of our relationships. 


So, what is the most important investment we can make in life? Relationships! And where is the best place to work on relationships? The answer might surprise you. Church! If a church is what it is supposed to be, it's a FAMILY; an exciting, thriving, intergenerational family that brings people together in relationships to keep their relationships growing, to work on the bumps, or to find healing from injured or broken relationships. And at the center of it all is working together on our relationship with God. 


On Sundays in September our focus is "A Conversation about Relationships." This is for people used to going to church, but also for people who would like to discover or rediscover church as a place to find friendships, to belong, and to grow. 


If you haven't been to church in a while, I know it can be scary walking into a church. We are doing everything we can here at Calvary to take the scary out of church, to make it totally comfortable and welcome. We would love to have you join us on Sundays at 10am. Single or married, younger or older, you are welcome. For parents there is a caring, safe place for kids of all ages to make friends and grow, too. I look forward to seeing you. 

Conversation

How many words do you use each day? A study done at the University of Arizona in 2007 found that a person speaks an average of 16,000 words per day. The women studied spoke an average of 16,215 words in 17 waking hours, slightly higher than the 15,669 spoken by the men. So, it is safe to say that most days you will speak around 16,000 words. Carried out, that amounts to 112,000 words in a week, 5,824,000 in a year, and in a life time of 80 years is 465,920,000. These averages only count the words “spoken”. These numbers go much higher when we calculate that we also “think” with words, many of which never get spoken (if you read comic books you know that cloud-like symbol representing thoughts).


We put words together in “conversations”. Here is a great question: How healthy are your conversations? Here is another question: Suppose there was a tool for measuring, at the end of each day, how healthy your conversations were; what would that reveal about you? According to Jesus, it would reveal the deepest thing about you. He said that our words, conversations, flow out of our heart.


“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” 

Luke 6:45


The Sunday Morning teaching through all of 2015 will be built around one very important word: "Conversation". Human beings are “four-directional” in conversation; our conversation with God, our conversation with ourself, our conversation with one another (family, friends, church), and our conversation with the world (at work, at school, in the culture). It is impossible to separate the health of our conversations from the health of our relationships in all four directions. Wholeness as a person is found in having a healthy conversation in all four directions. You are invited to come and explore with us how to make your 16,000 daily words become a life-time of healing, restoring, affirming, and encouraging conversations with God, yourself, your loved ones, and the world.