Pastor Willy's Blog
Sunday, I announced that a precious friend and valued member of our pastoral team, Victor Boll, will be leaving Calvary to pursue the next chapter in his life and ministry.
Several of you have been asking about “The Shack”, the current movie based upon the bestselling book of the same name. Here are some thoughts.
Happy New Year! I pray you’ve had a blessed holiday season and are as ready as I am to tackle a New Year with all the challenges and opportunities it brings.
Merry Christmas! The holidays are here and at Calvary that means some wonderful opportunities to celebrate.
Bradley Noblitt has resigned to accept a worship pastor position at Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas.
Calvary is pleased to announce that Dr. Jeremy Westbrook the Pastor of Living Hope Church in Marysville, Ohio will be joining our pastoral team in an executive leadership role as Executive Pastor of Missions/Multiplication.
In just a few days, November 13th-15th Calvary will host the Florida Baptist Convention for the first time. In this 150th year of Calvary’s ministry it is a great privilege to welcome our Florida Baptist family to Clearwater and to Calvary.
Welcome to November. This is a significant and busy month at Calvary and there are some great opportunities for you to connect and grow in faith.
First things…October is here! For the last several months I’ve tried to write our church family on the first of each month just to touch base and let you know what is happening.
My sister’s birthday was this week. So is mine. She is 55, born 2 years and 3 days before me. I’m rarely with her on her birthday. As providence would have it, I found myself finishing a conference the day before her birthday just a few miles down the road from where she lives.So before heading back to Clearwater I made the short drive over for a visit over lunch.
Cheryl and I returned yesterday from a brief overnight visit to Houston to visit with our friends Dan and Hazel Hall. As many of you know Dan suffered an embolism three weeks ago (8-16) and has been hospitalized every since.
Great things are happening at Calvary in September. As the summer ends and the fall season begins I hope you take advantage of some great opportunities to connect and grow at Calvary.
First things…Happy August 1st! August marks the beginning of a new season of ministry at Calvary and with it I hope to engage a new habit that may prove to be a blessing to you. On the 1st of each month I want to send out a brief note to let you know what is happening around Calvary and hopefully provide a few helpful tools for your spiritual journey as well.
Dear Son, So you are ready to take a bride. In a few days you will be married.
June is the month for weddings so the next two weekends at Calvary we’re talking marriage. Whether you are married or single, I think you’ll be blessed as we talk about the importance of having and maintaining healthy relationships built on biblical principles.
Often I am asked to address our graduating class at Calvary Christian High School. Last Friday, May 24th I addressed more than 90 graduates and hundreds of family members and friends who had gathered for the glad occasion of their graduation. Some have asked for the remarks to be shared so here they are.
The numbers are now in from our X150 commitment in March and it is an amazing report to share.
How can I say “thank you”? Maybe if I say it 150 times? My heart is so full and my spirit has been so encouraged by the many stories of sacrifice, faith and generosity. I am humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude and thanksgiving.
You only turn 150 once, or so I’ve been told. Next month Calvary will celebrate 150 years of ministry. Next month, March 2016, we will celebrate this once in a lifetime moment. The weekend of March 5-6 is not to be missed. Please help me by calling the entire Calvary family home for a grand celebration.
Time.com has labeled him “the reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S.” and this coming weekend Calvary has the privilege of welcoming Dr. Al Mohler as our guest speaker.
This is a historic year at Calvary. 2016 marks the 150th anniversary of Calvary’s founding. Calvary was planted as the Midway Baptist Church in the Clear Water harbor settlement in 1866, one year after the Civil War ended.
Today marks 10 years to the day that Calvary held the first worship service at the new campus. On December 18, 2005, one week before Christmas, we launched a new era of ministry at Calvary.
It is a great joy to welcome Dr. Gordon Fort to Calvary this weekend. Dr. Fort is a Vice-President at the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention.
This coming weekend will be a big one at Calvary as we kick off our month long emphasis on missions. We also have the joy of welcoming back Pastor Bill and Addie Anderson and members of their family as they celebrate his 80th birthday.
I am calling the church to pray over the next 150 days for Calvary’s influence in our community and throughout the world.
The Pope made big news this week, not just with his upcoming trip to America, but the announcement that he was authorizing all priests to grant absolution to women who had abortions. This announcement underscores the deep and profound difference between Roman Catholic theology and sound biblical doctrine.
I am happy to announce that as we approach our conference, June 14-15 in Columbus, Ohio that we believe the full cost of our conference has already been covered before we take one offering.
For the sake of unity we have reached a mutual decision with Dr. Carson’s team to forgo his appearance at our Pastors' Conference.
She came as a whirlwind of curls and chaos. We named her Anna. Tomorrow I will give her away in marriage.
Calvary is pleased to welcome Pastor James MacDonald this weekend, February 22. Dr. MacDonald is the founding pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel (HarvestBibleChapel.org), which launched in 1988.
Tom Price is returning to our staff leadership team as Executive Pastor of Ministries. As Pastor Aaron Walp transitions to his role as church planter/pastor in Pittsburgh, we searched and prayed for the right leader to fill this void in our ministry and provide the crucial leadership needed for our Ministries Division. It became clear to me that Tom Price was the ideal person and this was the ideal time for him to return home to Calvary.
This coming weekend, January 23-25 Calvary is pleased to host Dr. Sean McDowell. Sean will be speaking numerous times to our students on Friday and Saturday and then he will be preaching at both services Sunday, 9:15 and 11:00.
Surrendering to God means surrendering to His work in you, through you and around you. Last weekend and over the last few months we’ve begun to share some things that we believe are on the horizon at Calvary.
The Glory of Christmas is Jesus. The book Hebrews states that Jesus “sustains everything by the mighty power of His command.” He holds everything together. Everything. The whole universe.
This last weekend I was able to share the exciting news about Calvary next ministry expansion. As part of our NAMB Send North America initiative Calvary will be launching a new church in the city of Pittsburgh in 2015.
For the last several years we have partnered with “Going the Distance Ministries” (GTD) to provide a great adventure trip to the Grand Canyon while teaching the biblical doctrine of creation. The Grand Canyon is a perfect laboratory for examining scientific and geological evidence that reaffirms biblical truth. I would love for you to accompany Dr. Aaron Walp and myself on an exciting trip to the Grand Canyon this fall.
Like many Southern Baptists, my first response when hearing about our 2015 convention destination was an incredulous, “Columbus, Ohio?” Why Columbus? Now I know.
This weekend we will begin something at Calvary that we haven’t done in 10 years. Over the last decade the only way people could formally commit to membership at Calvary was to attend our membership class...
Parents who allow their children to opt out of church attendance and involvement have abdicated their role of leadership and set their children up to abandon the faith altogether. The Church is the “Body of Christ”. The American fad to separate Christ, a personal relationship with Him, from The Church, a corporate commitment to Christ through His body, is unbiblical, toxic, and hurtling a generation toward apostasy and eternal destruction.
It’s been a few days since I have updated this blog with news of Dave’s condition. I’ve tried to update Facebook, especially by sharing the regular Facebook updates from KC.
It has been three weeks since I first hurried to my brother’s bedside in the hospital ICU. As usual I was in a hurry. I left a packed week at Calvary but my greater concern for Dave pulled me away. My hopes were for a quick recovery. Let’s figure this out, get him some medicine and be on our way. I wanted to snap my fingers at a few doctors and say, “Let’s get with this OK?” My prayers to God were, “Heal him, now.”
I’m not a stranger to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) found in major hospitals. I’ve been visiting them for 30 years. Almost 3 weeks ago my brother David fell ill and has been in critical condition since then. I’ve spent hours sitting in the waiting room and by his bedside and it occurred to me that you learn some powerful life lessons in the ICU.
My brother David Rice fell seriously ill in June. So many have been praying and inquiring. Here are the latest updates on his journey:
Great things are happening in Pittsburgh! God is clearly working at Calvary and leading us to focus on church planting in the near future. As part of our strategic partnerships with Southern Baptist churches across the United States, Calvary has accepted the responsibility to be a lead partner to plant churches in Pittsburgh as part of our Send North America strategy. As we’ve been praying and studying about opportunities to plant churches in Pittsburgh, God has been moving by opening doors and directing hearts.
Recently, some SBC leaders and friends approached me and asked me to consider allowing my name to be nominated for President of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastor’s Conference. Given my great regard for these leaders, my sense of deep obligation to Southern Baptists, and a sense of peace, I have agreed to allow the nomination.
Our new message series “The Blessing” begins this weekend. I’m very excited about this series and hope you’ll join us this weekend for this teaching that focuses on how to pass on God’s favor to the next generation.
Easter weekend is always special and this year was one of the most memorable.
You can help us this upcoming Easter weekend, to welcome new people and create the best environment for guests to hear the gospel message. This weekend will be the largest crowds of the entire year and you can help us create the right environment. It is so crucial. Here are some things you can do to help.
This will be a time when our focus is on the Kingdom of God, and praying for God to move with fresh power in our lives, our families, our church and our nation.
It’s been one year since our launch date last Easter and what an amazing year it has been. We have averaged over 500 people attending each weekend and yesterday over 700 people were on campus to celebrate our one year anniversary.
My new book, “Before You Go: What Every Parent Needs to Say, and Every Kid Needs to Hear” has just been released through Outcome Publishing. We will have copies available at Calvary at a special discounted rate but if you want an advance copy or an electronic copy, here is how to get it today.
Video update about Calvary's future and the Vision For Life campaign.
Recently we took time at Calvary to consider the question of Calvinism in three special forums. Here are some brief thoughts on that undertaking and links and resources you can access.
You want to grow you have to connect. You will not grow to the next level in your spiritual life until you connect with others. This weekend’s Group Connect event is the best way to get connected and find your place in one of our Community Groups at Calvary.
Last week we dedicated our new Student Ministry Center. What a joy to see huge crowds gathering after our services to tour the SMC and pray for God’s blessing. Our student ministry began using the new center and for the first time in several years our student ministry has a real home base for their work.
avid Jolly is one of several candidates vying for the now open congressional seat in our country. Several newspaper articles have mentioned that Jolly’s father is a former pastor of Calvary. Some have wondered if that is true. It is.
Around the world Christians are being persecuted for what they believe. The largest group of persecutors by far today are Islamic extremists who hate the truth about God and oppose those who profess allegiance to Jesus alone.
Cheryl and I are in Boston this week with church leaders from across Southern Baptist life learning more about our North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) “Send North America” initiative. Quite frankly this is the most exciting initiative in SBC life during my 30-year ministry.
Some changes are coming to the weekend worship schedule at Calvary starting in October.
This weekend we continue the series “Messed Up: How to Survive Religion & Still Find God” and we will gather Sunday afternoon at Sand Key Park for beach baptism. Join me in praying for a great spiritual harvest this weekend.
I am happy to announce the hiring of Victor Boll who will be joining Calvary’s pastoral team as the Associate to the Senior Pastor. Victor comes to us from the Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley, South Carolina where he has served since 2009 as the Pastor of Missions & Evangelism.
By now most have heard about the dance of Miley Cyrus at the Video Music Awards sponsored by MTV. In case you missed it, Miley, now 20, and the artist formerly known as Hannah Montana, performed a provocative sexualized dance before a live and televised audience that probably could have had her arrested in most states not long ago.
People are getting connected at Calvary! Thanks to everyone who helped make our Group Connect event a huge success. We had over 700 people attend and over 30 new Community Groups are launching in the next 10 days.
In the first two parts of this blog I have discussed the changes coming to GroupLife at Calvary and the launching of a new kind of group that we are calling Community Groups. We hope Community Groups will form the backbone of GroupLife at Calvary. However, we also believe there is a need for another kind of group in GroupLife, and we have labeled these groups Life Classes.
Over the next two weeks we hope to launch more than 30 new Community Groups. So what is a community group? How does it differ from what we have called a Life Group? How can you participate and why should you?
This is a big week at Calvary as we open a new chapter called Grouplife. Small groups have a long and important history at Calvary, from the historic emphasis on Sunday School to the transition to Life Groups over the last decade. Now it is time to open the next chapter. It’s called Grouplife.
In John 15:12 we saw the key principle that without “them” there is no “Him.” Put another way, intimacy with Jesus results in community with believers. While God exists eternal and immortal, not dependent on anything or anyone, the clear teaching of Jesus demonstrates that if we are rightly related to “Him” (Jesus) then we will also be connected to “them” (church).
This weekend our focus is John 15:8-13 and the key verse is 15:12. We will talk about one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of what it truly means to remain, or abide, in Christ. In fact, without this step, you aren’t really abiding in Christ at all and may never have!
In week 2 of the series “Connect” we saw that the key to real fulfillment and significance in life is remaining in Jesus. Jesus taught that if we remained in Him and His words remain in us, we will bear much fruit and see the greatest desires of our hearts fulfilled.
This weekend’s message is “Whatever You Wish.” What if I told you that Jesus has given you a sure fire way to have your heart’s desires? Hard to believe? Well it’s a promise and as strange as it may sound I’ll show you how to have the desires of your heart.
It was another great weekend at Calvary on both of our campuses. It felt good to be back and to begin our new teaching series from John 15, “Connect.”
It’s great to be home and I can’t wait to be back with my church family this weekend at Calvary.
During the last weeks of July, Cheryl and I are stepping away for a few days and heading up to the mountains. It is a time we take each year in relative isolation to focus on the teaching and leadership demands of next year.
Here are just a few of the resources we recommend to help you win the battle for purity in your heart and home.
It was over 30 years ago that Jay Strack first came to Calvary. I was a teenager and Jay was a rising young preacher. I remember his larger than life personality and how he filled up a room with his passion and charisma.
As my friend Coach Thiel would say, “I think God is just showing off now.” We are basking in the glow of an extraordinary Easter weekend.
She is stepping aside to slow down and bit and have more time with her family. I’m glad she can do that, but everyone who works at Calvary will miss her here, none more than me. Thanks Janis for all you’ve done!
Few movements, though, have garnered as much notoriety and curiosity in recent years as the cult that is the Church of Scientology. Anyone who thinks this is an innocent or harmless philosophy must read Lawrence Wright’s new book, Going Clear.
I am so grateful for everyone who participated in our Vision for Life: Open Doors campaign. Here are the “final” numbers after we counted the commitments.
Would you invest in these guys? The question is asked in a caption under the photo from 1978. The photo looks like some cross between a bad drug party and the Charles Manson gang. Would you have invested in this new company? Would you have given these “kids” your money? Well if you had you would have been very smart and very rich.
Yesterday was a bittersweet moment for our High School students and families, and indeed our entire church, when our Executive Pastor of Christian Education, David Kilgore, publicly shared the news that our CCHS Athletic Director Greg Thiel had tenured his resignation. For me it is far more bitter than sweet.
We have celebrated the coming of the Lord. We have marveled again at the glory that is the gospel. We have witnessed God work in mighty ways in 2012. But what’s next? With God there is always a next step, the next act.
The best habit you can start for your spiritual health is to read & study the Bible on a consistent basis in the coming year. There are many helps you can use.
A great crowd gathered last night (December 16th) for our Church Conference and several significant motions were passed. Once again Calvary has demonstrated a willingness to step through an open door to believe God for “greater things.” Here is a brief recap of some of the significant steps.
There are two primary streams where Calvary’s resources flow out of Calvary into mission enterprises around the world. Of course in one sense every penny, every dime given at Calvary is missions giving. Everything given goes to support and further the work of the kingdom. But we have two primary ways of investing our resources in global missions.
Opportunity knocks. Due to some extraordinary circumstances our Chairman of Deacons and I have jointly decided to delay our annual church conference by two weeks. Our annual church conference originally scheduled for Sunday night, December 2nd is being postponed two weeks to Sunday night December 16th. Let me tell you why.
Pastor Wallace DeCosta is returning to Calvary to join our pastoral team as our Pastor of International Missions. He and his wife Sylvia, along with their son will be arriving shortly after the first of the year.
I love missions week at Calvary. Our Global Impact Celebration is a reminder to be thankful for all that is happening in and through our faith community but it is also a challenge to get involved and do more. On so many fronts Calvary is making a global impact.
The election is Tuesday and soon it will be behind us. I’m glad for several reasons.
What’s an evangelical Christian to do? Perhaps the most common question I’ve received during this political season had to do with the quandary many evangelicals feel in deciding whether to support a Mormon for President.
There are drop-ins, absorbers and contributors, which one are you? In his book Weird, Craig Groeschel describes three kinds of people that every church has.
Last Friday night Calvary broke ground a new addition to our sports facilities, a new baseball field. The baseball field will expand on the current sports complex that serves as a home for our High School sports at Calvary, and is also used by other ministries in our church to impact families and our community.
This Wednesday is a day for fasting and prayer at Calvary. We are 40 days away from one of the most important national elections of our lifetime with implications that are staggering for religious liberty and economic stability, our community remains the home to one of the world’s most insidious, deceptive and dangerous cults, and we desperately need a move of God. We are setting this day aside and calling our church to a solemn assembly of prayer.
This summer I read the book “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson. I’ve asked all of our staff and deacons to read it as well. It inspired me to believe God for greater things and of course to pray. Pray boldly, specifically, frequently. As I read the book over my study break two images from the recent past came to mind.
At our August Leader’s Rally I was thrilled to share the good news about our plans to launch Calvary’s second campus in East Lake. This new step has set on course a reorganization of some of our pastoral staff and it has been so incredible to watch how God has been leading and working in each of these men’s lives to prepare them for the next step in their journey of ministry.
At our August Leader’s Rally we announced publicly for the first time our plans to launch a second Calvary campus. Our new north campus will be located in the East Lake area about 12 miles due north from our current campus.
Maybe you’ve noticed the construction going on in two of our parking areas south of the main building. Some of you have been asking, “What is going on?” We’re working on two areas that will soon be ready for additional parking.
By now nearly everyone has heard of the awful scandals that have rocked Penn State University. There are many, many lessons but one of the most important is being frequently missed.
Dear Son, And so the day has arrived. By any measurement your graduation from High School is a momentous occasion. There will be other milestones and other days may eventually hold more significance, but this is a big one. As much as any single event it marks, in our culture, the end of childhood. And so now what is the end of the matter? What is left to say?
Dear Son, God has something for you to do. From the very beginning, when God made the first man, He designed him to do things. Adam was to work with God to manage the rest of God’s creation. You were made to work. Work is a wonderful thing. It brings fulfillment, meaning, and the joy of accomplishment. It’s what men do. So, let’s get to it.
As you begin your journey into manhood there is one decision you will make that will determine more than all the others. With the single exception of your commitment to Christ, this decision more than any will affect your future happiness. I speak of whom and how you will love.
Watch out for crowds. It isn’t so much that I don’t like big events. I do. I love people. Crowds can be fun. Crowds can be enthusiastic. Crowds can have a contagious influence, which is why you need to watch out for crowds. Because when it comes to determining the direction of your life, following the crowd is about the worst thing you can do.
Dear Son, Money matters. You’ve already noticed it matters to people. People are judged by how much they own, how much they make, and what they spend. No doubt you’ve already noticed that some people handle money and for some people their money handles them. Money matters a lot to people, but you also need to know it matters to God.
Dear Son, Sometimes the line between success or failure, blessing or cursing, even life or death, can be very thin. And in life it is often the words we say that make the difference. There is that much power in your tongue. The Bible says the tongue holds the power of life or death. It really does.
Dear Son, We approach the end and a new beginning all at the same time. These are significant days. In just a few weeks you will walk across this very platform in a ceremony that marks a reality. You are graduating. You will take the next step. You will move on. To paraphrase Churchill, it is not the end, nor even the beginning of the end, but it is surely the end of the beginning for you. Practice is over. Game on.
Dear Son, Before you go I need to remind you that the inside matters most. We live in a world of misplaced priorities. We value the “outside” stuff. We’re obsessed with what we can see, measure, wear, touch, and compare. We’re infatuated with beauty, intoxicated with money, and motivated by envy. Your success in life, real success, will come largely with making sure you value the things that really matter most. And the things that really matter most can’t be held, or measured with a number, and they are often unseen. It’s the stuff inside that matters most; your character, your integrity.
The hand of God is on our ministry, Calvary Christian High School (CCHS). I hardly know where to begin...
Our staff meetings won’t be the same. Neither will our lives. We will miss Jim Lancaster. After 76 years of life and over 50 years of gospel ministry, he has gone home. The race is finished. The journey is complete. And by those who knew and loved him best, he has been found faithful.
Calvary is sad to announce that Pastor Jim Lancaster our Senior Adult Pastor for over a decade and faithful minister of the gospel for more than 50 years passed away Saturday morning March 31.
Well this week ends our spiritual growth campaign, but it doesn’t end your lifelong journey of discovering dynamic life. We’ve learned about the 7 disciplines of dynamic life, but these aren’t lessons you just check off and then move on to something else. These are lifelong habits that we continue to help you grow into spiritual maturity
This one-year Bible reading plan is a great guide to get started or continue your habit of reading and studying the Bible.
This is the final week of our Discover Dynamic Life campaign. We’ve learned the 7 disciplines for spiritual growth. I hope it has been a rewarding and helpful journey for you. This weekend we covered the final discipline and it is the key to keeping it all going. It is the discipline of contagiously influencing others.
You are never more like God than when you give. God is the greatest giver of all and everything God made is designed to give, including you! I’ve never met someone who was a generous giver who wasn’t happy, and I’ve never met a stingy, greedy person that really was happy. Generous giving and generous living is a key to dynamic life. That’s why the 6th discipline of dynamic life is to invest in God’s kingdom.
You were made to worship! This past weekend we talked abut worship. You will worship something, but dynamic life comes when you worship God. That’s why the 5th discipline of dynamic life is to magnify God with passion.
It's so good to hear reports about how God is working in people's lives through our Discover Dynamic Life series. Here are some exciting testimonies from one group.
This weekend we talked about how Jesus calls us to a different approach to life. Instead of our natural selfish preoccupation Jesus challenges us to find greatness in serving others. This is the 4th discipline necessary for growing in dynamic life. You must actively serve others.
This weekend we looked at the 3rd discipline necessary for growing in dynamic life. You must nurture authentic community. An indispensable part of our spiritual journey is to connect with others.
Last night the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) received a motion from a special blue ribbon task force appointed by the SBC President, Bryant Wright, to change the operating name of the SBC to Great Commission Baptists. Here is my first take.
This weekend we talked about the 2nd key discipline in a growing spiritual life, dynamic life: Yield Some Time to God. We learned that God really does desire a close intimate relationship with us and we learned how to cultivate that relationship.
A few resources will really help you if you want to become a lifelong student of the world's greatest book: The Bible. Here is a more extensive list of Bible study tools that can really be helpful.
In the first week we learned that it takes discipline and work to grow spiritually. In fact there are 7 disciplines that produce spiritual growth in our life. They come right out of the Bible in Acts 2. This week we are focusing on the 1st discipline, the letter “D” in our D-Y-N-A-M-I-C acrostic: Delight in God’s Truth.
Jesus came to give us life in all its fullness--dynamic life. This week we began our Discovering Dynamic Life campaign and learned some basic truths about spiritual growth. Here are some thoughts about the weekend and a devotional guide for the week ahead.
It was 10 years ago this weekend that Pastor Anderson stepped away from Calvary’s pulpit. After 27 years of ministry he had announced some months before that it was time.
As this year draws to a close I am finishing reading through the Bible again. For over 12 years now I have read through the Bible each year and so now again I am finishing the last chapters of Revelation and I’m already looking forward to beginning again in Genesis 1 after the New Year.Here is how I do it.
The wise men of Matthew 2 serve as a guide to spiritual seekers. They journeyed from a far place, examining the evidence until they found the Christ and worshipped Him. I’m often asked for resources to recommend to spiritual seekers, those who are honestly seeking spiritual answers to sincere questions of faith. There is no exhaustive list but here are a few resources to start your search or recommend to a friend who is searching.
I'm preaching my annual Come Before Winter message. I've been doing it every year as Calvary's pastor and for quite a few years before that. In December of 2009 I posted this blog explaining where the idea came from and why I do it.
This week our Global Impact celebration is highlighting the exploding missions movement at Calvary. More and more of our people are taking seriously Christ’s command to take the gospel outside the walls of our church, locally, cross-culturally, nationally and internationally. Next year Calvary will be sending out more teams than ever on 5 different continents in numerous projects where our people will be serving and sharing. When it comes to missions the call must be to do something.
His first word was ball. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe it was just in him. Either way it was fine with me. He could throw and catch before he could walk. He was born on an autumn weekend 18 years ago and this week is his last game.
Last weekend we began our latest series of teaching at Calvary. We’re looking at Matthew 24-25 and calling it The End: What Jesus had to say About the End of the World. Some might ask, “Why this topic?” What practical relevance does a topic like the end of the world really have? Isn’t it just a discussion for fringe preachers and assorted kooks? Why talk about the end of the world? Two reasons.
Weekends like our Crossover weekend are so important. It’s a time where we take a collective pause and ask the big question, “Where are you at with your relationship with God?”
It’s the hot question. Is Mormonism a cult? The catalyst for this discussion is the campaign of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon. Governor Romney’s candidacy has put a lot of evangelicals in an awkward position. If he becomes the nominee, or if they would otherwise support him as a candidate, can they still support him if they think he is a member of a cult?
Two autumn’s ago we spoke of a facility like this one that would be an important step forward in the development of our school and that would become in so many ways a center of community life for our church and school. It doesn’t seem that long ago, but so very much has happened. Thanks to their vision and generosity tonight we gather in this sports complex, one of the finest of its kind in all of Florida to dedicate this facility to the glory of God.
This is Homecoming Week at Calvary Christian High School (CCHS). CCHS started in the fall of 2000 and in our 12 years we have seen more than 400 students graduate. What an impact! This Friday will be special as we welcome home numerous alumni and officially dedicate our new Sports Ministry Complex, “The Rock.”
This weekend we’re teaching part 3 of the series Full House at Calvary. We’ll be talking about the power of God’s truth in our family relationships. We need eternal guidelines, absolute truth, to fill our homes with faith, hope and love. God said His commands were to be on our heart. We’ll talk about what that means.
Saturday was another great day at Calvary Cares. Our Director of Missions Pat Marder gave me an excellent report today about last Saturday’s impact. I wanted to pass the good word along to you. Here are some of the highlights:
It's time for another Calvary Cares day. Calvary Cares has become part of the culture of ministry and service at Calvary. Twice a year our Life Groups and volunteers gather for a Saturday morning of service outside our church walls. We take the church out into the community.
I’ve just returned after 3 days and nights away with our pastoral staff. We slipped over the big bridge to the south and circled the troops for a few days in Sarasota.
It was a great evening at The Rock last night. Our guys got their first victory of the year and the first ever at our new stadium. The stands were full, the weather was fine, and it was good to get the victory.
It's a Full House at Calvary this weekend. I'm looking forward to beginning our next series this weekend. We're calling it Full House: How to Fill Your Home with Faith, Hope & Love.
Hopefully you’ve heard by now that as part of our September 11th service we are planning to receive an offering and give it away as a love offering to our community and our national heroes. We looked for a way to honor our national heroes and remember the spirit of sacrifice and service exhibited on that September 11th a decade ago.
On Friday, a group of 30 left for Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Their destination? The garbage dumps, where hundreds of families, and thousands of children actually live. They are the poorest of the poor.
One thing. There is an incredible power in focus. It’s the difference between a flashlight and a laser. The key to discovering dynamic life lies in one thing, or more specifically one person, God. When you find Him and discover His purpose for life then you really live.
This is the time. In the next few weeks we will open two new facilities, both of which represent Calvary's commitment to carry the gospel to the next generation.
I am so grateful for the gift of time this summer. I cannot express how thankful I am for leaders who have encouraged me to step away for a few days this summer and for an incredible staff that steps up and meets every demand. I am so blessed.
For several years I heard spiritual leaders and mentors I respected talk about taking a study break, or study retreat periodically. They advised that time was needed to pull away from the weekly demands of teaching just for a short while, to focus on the bigger picture and just hear from God. About 4 years ago I finally started this habit and quickly realized how important it was. So each summer now I pull away for a short time to do nothing but read, pray, write, and plan the teaching for coming year.
Jesus cares for the whole world. Great churches have a global vision and at Calvary you can see our global vision in action all summer long.
Over the last year we’ve been wrestling with what the future of Judgment House looks like at Calvary. Several significant developments signaled that it was time for a transition and that this was the right time. It also became clear that God had created a path for Judgment House to continue in our area and even expand in the future.
Financial Verses Quiz In the “Dig Deeper” section of our worship guide I included some verses to match with one of the basic principles of financial health. Here are my answers, see if they matched yours.
Sunday, after the services at Calvary, Cheryl and I are flying to Phoenix to attend this year’s Southern Baptist Convention. It's been 25 years since I attended my very first SBC in Atlanta, Georgia and by a strange turn of providence it has been 25 years since I preached my first sermon at Calvary.
It’s more than sad when false teachers twist the Bible and try to make it say what it doesn’t say. Such is the case with Harold Camping’s prediction that the rapture will come this Saturday, May 21, 2011. This isn’t the first go around for Mr. Camping, who has been discredited and disavowed by every credible Bible teacher, and biblically based ministry.
We're excited to announce two transitions on Calvary's staff. Donna Foster will be transitioning to CCHS to become a member of the faculty and Dean Rucker will be joining our pastoral staff to assist me in pastoral ministries.
My friend Walt died last week. He was 51. They had his funeral at Hillcrest in Pensacola Saturday. Most of you didn’t know Walt, but you will one day. He’s in heaven. I’m grateful for that and it’s that part of the story that I’m thinking about the week after Easter.
I’m grateful to all out volunteers and staff. You went above and beyond last week to execute one of the biggest weekends of the year. I’m also grateful for every person in the Calvary family who not only came but invited someone to attend. Because of you we had an all-time record attendance. Here are the final numbers:
We are ready for an awesome weekend! Hopefully by now you know about the 4 weekend services, Saturday at 6:30, and Sunday at 8:00, 9:30 & 11:00. I also hope you’ve invited someone to come along. We’re ready for a historic crowd. Here are a couple of things you need to know.
When I first began preaching Pastor Anderson gave me this advice, "just brag on Jesus." It's hard to go wrong when we glory in His greatness. Some of you asked for the quote I used to conclude last Sunday's message, The One and Only. It comes from a commentary written by John MacArthur. In his commentary on Hebrews 1:2-3, he wrote this beautiful bit of prose which I've always loved. Enjoy,
Last Saturday’s launch exceeded all our expectations. Over 820 literally packed the Anderson Center and the surrounding area. There was incredible excitement and most importantly many new people came to Calvary for the first time. In the 3 weekend services over 3700 people were on campus. Beyond just the crowd there really was sense of God’s blessing and presence on all our worship services, Saturday night as well as Sunday.
Our next message series is called “Awesome: God as He Is. Your Life as it Could Be.” The new series begins the weekend of March 19-20. That is the weekend we also launch our 3rd service on Saturday nights at 6:30. The “Awesome” series will take us right up to Easter weekend when we celebrate the one and only Awesome God.
Sunday was the final day of our It Happened to Me series. We watched 57 people take the “all in” step and confess their faith in Jesus by being baptized. Maybe you were one of them. I hope the series has been a blessing to you. I hope your own faith has been nurtured and encouraged. I hope you’re more motivated than ever to tell your own “It Happened to Me” story.
This Sunday is a Sunday where we draw a line in the sand and ask, “What about you?” Do you believe? Have you confessed Jesus as Lord? Sunday will be a day to invite many to step forward and confess their faith in Jesus by being baptized. Would you pray with me over the next few days that we see a great harvest of people who trust Christ and step out to confess Him as their Lord?
Faith endures. It’s what faith does--it keeps believing. Even when we don’t understand or see God at work faith is what continues to trust in God no matter what. Faith knows that God has a plan that no one can thwart. Faith knows that God has wisdom that is beyond my comprehension. Faith knows that God has a future prepared for me that no one can take away. Faith knows that knowing God, intimacy with God, trumps understanding God. I can trust even when I don’t understand, and then somehow I can see Him more clearly than ever.
It takes an unselfish church to be a growing church. Last weekend we had over 400 more people in attendance than the same weekend one year ago. Yet, at the same time we are in the midst of two construction projects both of which are impacting our parking. The good news is we have spaces. The need is that some of the most convenient spaces are going to be displaced temporarily and that our normal traffic flow on Sunday morning is going to be temporarily disrupted.
This Sunday, Lorraine Yaslowitz will share her testimony as part of our “It Happened to Me” series. Afterwards, I’ll be teaching from the book of Job about how faith in God helps us endure through life’s most difficult trials. There are so many people who need to hear this message and need to be encouraged by Lorraine’s faith and strength. Don’t miss this opportunity to invite someone who needs this message.
Isn’t faith the absence of doubt? This week we learned the answer to that is “No!” The opposite of faith isn’t doubt, it is pride. We can believe even when we still have questions. We can make commitments even when all the facts aren’t all in. You can make a 100% commitment without being 100% sure. It happens all the time. Why do we focus on our doubts instead of our convictions? We doubt our beliefs and believe our doubts.
This morning we are grieving afresh. Another St. Petersburg police officer has fallen, slain last night. It is the 3rd in the less than a month after 30 years without a fatality on that force in the line of duty. The wounds are still fresh from a few weeks ago when two officers, one a Calvary member, were shot and killed. The families of Thomas Baitinger and Jeffrey Yaslowitz are still dealing with their grief and now the family of another, Officer David Crawford, is added to that list.
Faith hopes. This week we discussed the power of hope. The hope we speak of is not a wish for the future, but the certainty that God holds the future and that God holds MY future. Remember that the heroes of faith described in Hebrews 11 acted with obedience and courage not because they realized all of God’s promises, but precisely the opposite, they saw God’s promises from afar even went they weren’t realized. My hope is based upon my certainties, not upon life’s uncertainties (of which there are many).
This week we learned that faith works. It isn’t faith + works that saves us, but it is a faith that works. Real faith always produces a real chance, real spiritual fruit in our lives. Counterfeit faith may say the right things, but it doesn’t do the right things. Dead faith may believe on an intellectual level, but it doesn’t produce worship and love for God. I am praying that your faith is real, and as such that it is growing in fruitfulness.
Calvary is excited to announce that in March we will begin a 3rd weekend service that will be held on Saturday nights at 6:30. We’re excited about this expansion of our ministries that we pray will be an opportunity to get the good news to many more people in our city.
It was another great weekend at Calvary. You have done a great job inviting people and the last two Sundays we’ve had incredible crowds and scores of first time guests! Sunday I taught from Hebrews 11 and this week in our Life Groups we’re talking about how faith involves taking a risk.
We gather today in the dark hour of our grief. Two good men are down. Two good men are gone. Our community is forever scarred and for two families here today, the world is forever changed by what happened on a Monday morning in St. Petersburg.
Calvary mourns the loss of St. Petersburg police officer and church member Jeffrey Yaslowitz who along with another colleague was slain in the line of duty this morning. We are praying for his wife and 3 young children.
We’re off and running in our It Happened to Me campaign at Calvary. Sunday was a great day and what a powerful testimony from Coach Greg Thiel. If you haven’t seen it or want to see it again be sure to friend the Calvary Facebook page and follow the directions for It Happened to Me. Every week we will post a new video for your encouragement and for you to share with other people who may need to hear these powerful faith stories. Pass them around!
Our new series "It Happened to Me" launches in just a few days. I believe God is going to use this series in a powerful way. You're going to be blessed this Sunday. Don't miss it and don't miss the opportunity to bring someone new along!
Christmas Eve is always a great time at Calvary. This year we have 2 services 4:30 & 6:00 p.m. It is a beautiful service with Christmas music, a brief biblical Christmas message explaining the meaning of Christmas, and as always a candle lighting ceremony that tops off the evening. It is a great time to focus on Jesus and a great way to frame your Christmas celebration with the real meaning of Christmas.
Sunday is the second groundbreaking ceremony of the week! Either God is blessing or we are flat crazy! Probably both. But we’re fired up about this next step into our future. After the 2nd service we will have a brief ceremony at 12:30 on the site of where construction will soon begin for our new preschool building. The new building will double our existing preschool space and finally give us a preschool size that adequately matches our worship center space. It is an investment in the next generation, an investment in lives, and an investment in the kingdom. It will be a great day.
Today we broke ground for our new Sports Ministry Complex at Calvary. This facility, the result of a single generous gift, will become the home to Calvary Christian High School athletics, and will be a ministry tool for our church in reaching children and families. For those of you who weren’t able to attend the event today I’ve included my remarks given earlier this afternoon.
On Sunday mornings in November and December I'll be teaching from the book of Philippians a series we're calling "Finding Joy: No Matter What." We'll learn that our joy is not dependent on our circumstances but on our choices. In particular our choices about God.
It’s been over 3 weeks since a chapel service at our school set in motion a string of events that continues to unfold. It’s been an amazing and beautiful thing to watch. To date over 65 students have prayed and surrendered to Christ either for the very first time, or as a new powerful moment of surrender. Frankly, it’s hard to explain. I’m not sure what you call it. I’ve just been calling “the movement.”
As God continues to move in our student body at Calvary in an unprecedented way, we've scheduled a special chapel service for this Thursday at 10:40 am. We've seen 18 students pray to receive Christ since last Thursday. Some of them will be sharing Thursday morning.
You may have noticed a new worship guide format at Calvary. We’ve reformatted some things to highlight the message each Sunday and expand ways that we can communicate about God’s word together. It includes a new section called “Dig Deeper”.
History class kept getting interrupted last week at Calvary Christian High School. Why? It isn’t because the kids were out of control or the teachers were unconcerned. In fact it was something quite different.
The Gainesville pastor who plans to burn copies of the Koran Saturday has it all wrong. His strategy is mired in anger and hatred and is desgined to be deliberately provocative. I once met a pastor in Indoensia who had a much better approach.
September 4th marks the 50th anniversary of marriage for my Mom and Dad, Erinie and Judy Rice. Our family gathered last weekend to celebrate the milestone. I am so very grateful for their legacy of love and faithfulness.
About 5 years ago, when our current campus was being constructed, I wandered down the road a few blocks and found Bayview Baptist Church. I knew very little about the church except that it was a Southern Baptist Church and that it was predominantly African-American. I called the pastor Walter Campbell. We met, went to lunch and a genuine friendship and partnership in ministry began.
The new school year for CCHS begin this week. Our enrollment is surging and the spiritual environment around our school is exciting. Some very good things are happening and I've never been more excited about this ministry and its potential to impact lives in a great way.
Four years ago she graduated High School. Two weeks ago she graduated college. In between she made life long friends, so very many memories, and prepared for her future. She also met a man and now in three days I am supposed to give her away—that’s what they call it isn’t it? Give her away. How precisely am I supposed to give her away?
The Calvary Christian High School (CCHS) graduation for the class of 2010 was held Friday night. It was a night of great encouragement. As we celebrated the graduating class of CCHS, you couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride and gratitude.
Our oldest daughter, Amanda Leigh is getting married on Saturday, June 5 at Calvary. We're happy to invite the entire church family to come and join with us in this blessed occasion. Please consider this your personal invitation to come and join us.
Skip Dvornik will step aside as Calvary’s Executive Pastor this Sunday (May 30). He will be missed. His story is intertwined with the redemptive history of this church. Long before he served as a pastor Skip loved this church and God used this church to impact his life. It was just over 13 years ago as a successful young lawyer that he heard God’s call to ministry, sold his law practice, and joined the staff at Calvary as the Associate Pastor to then Pastor Bill Anderson.
It sits on a hillside in Alabama. 29 years ago I left Calvary as a High School graduate and followed the Spirit’s call to that hillside and for four years attended college at Samford University. And so now 25 years later I found myself returned to that hillside and I watched my first born walk across the stage and graduate as well.
In studying the biblical concept of resurrection the question of cremation often surfaces. If God is literally going to raise our earthly bodies and transform them into eternal bodies is it wrong to destroy the earthly body through cremation?
Last week our football coach at Calvary, Chris Rivera, resigned after 4 seasons. He is moivng on the other ministry opportuntities but he will be missed at Calvary. He made a big difference in the lives of our students and laid a great foundation for the future.
Now we have a practical simple way you can make a difference for a Haitian family. Through Buckets of Hope you can fill a 5 gallon bucket with enough food to feed a Haitian family for a week. Learn how you can make a difference!
As we watch the terrible news unfolding in Haiti the first question most of us are asking is, "How can we help?" Fortunately we already have a partnership in Haiti that will provide an effective way to get resources to those who need them most.
On Sunday, December 20 we announced and celebrated the results of our Vision for Life campaign. I am thrilled to share with you the totals of our three year commitments and the first fruits offering.
Every year I preach the message "Come Before Winter" from II Timothy 4:9,21. This Sunday, December 13 is the day. I first heard a "Come Before Winter" message while I was in college and it has stuck with me every since. Sometimes people want to know where the idea first came from and here is that story.
There is still time to participate in Calvary's Vision for Life campaign. Celebration Sunday is December 20 and there are still a few more days to get your commitment or first fruits offering in. It will be a historic announcement and I hope you will be part of this great offering.
Our Vision for Life campaign climaxed Sunday with our Commitment Sunday. Months of preparation paid off as hundreds of people made sacrificial commitments towards a great vision. Soon we'll know the results.
Calvary's Vision for Life continues through November. On November 8 we are announcing a new partnership with the Florida Baptist Childrens Home. This new partnership will lauunch a groundbreaking ministry in the Tampa Bay are to care for children who need a home.
Calvary's Vision for Life campaign laucnhed Sunday with great excitement. The Calvary family is leanring about the next step in our journey together and people are already praying about their commitment to turn our vision into a victory. These are exciting times at Calvary.
Our annual Judgment House presentation is this weekend at Calvary. Every year this massive effort catalyzes our people in an effort that presents the gospel to several thousands. I know this year will be no different and that once again lives will be changed.
Oh my! I just have to write about what a great day yesterday was with Travis Cottrell leading in worship. It was just fabulous. I am so grateful for our church where there is such freedom and joy. Travis is just a wonderful worship leader and to see our folks worshipping with such exuberance and expression was something that made me very grateful.
I am looking forward to our Calvary Cares Day this Saturday. These semi-annual days have become favorites of mine as hundreds of Calvary members fan out across the county to serve our community in practical ways. We’ve been able to bless thousands of people as we live out the truth of Matthew 5:16. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Sunday was a wonderful day for Cheryl and me and our family. Thanks for marking our 5th anniversary at Calvary with such a kind and thoughtful remembrance...
It was 5 years ago this month that our ministry began at Calvary. So very much has happened . God has been faithful to His promise to retore His people to health. Today we celebrate a healthy church with a virbant future. We should not forget all that God has done or fail to br thankful that He has led us all the way...
Mary Wallace was a fixture at Calvary for many years. Today I attended her memorial service and thought about all the times I was encouraged by her kindness. She will be missed...
The Intelligent Design movement argues that the best scientific data available disproves Darwinism and suggests that life was intelligently designed. We're blessed to have one of Calvary's own who is also a great author and speaker in the ID movement. He will teach at Calvary this Sunday...
Calvary Christian Hgh School begins classes on Wednesday, August 19th. This is the 10th year of ministry at CCHS. There is only one reason for a church to have a school and that is to fulfill its purpose and mission. That focus has been reemphasized as this new year begins...
A few days ago while hiking through the Smoky Mountains a young man asked me a momentous question. I knew it was coming but it still made me swallow hard...
We spent some time last week in the North Carolina mountains as part of a study break. I was reminded on the need to simply be still in God's presence. Some things can only be heard, seen, discerned when all the surrounding noise and clutter is gone...
I heard someone say, "if you don't come away, one day you'll come apart." So I'm stepping away for a few days to pray about the next year and seek God's direction. Along the way Cheryl and I will take some time in the mountains to hike which we really enjoy. See you soon...
There were two funerals today, Joe Collins and Michael Jackson. Many of you don't know Joe, and everyone has heard of Michael. It reminds me of two roads, one popular and well trodden and the other steep and narrow. It's a difference worth noting...
Thanks for checking out the new blog. This is a great way to communicate and keep you updated about things happening at Calvary and in the world around us...