Dear Calvary Church Family,

Sermon on the Mount

As we’ve said, the Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ kingdom manifesto. It is a prime example of Jesus’ “preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23). As news spread of His ministry, great multitudes from many parts of the land of Israel converged in Galilee. Like Moses before him, Jesus ascended a mountain (Exodus 24:12-18). He then sat down and began to teach.

This scene would have been familiar to people living in Jesus’ day. Frustration with Roman occupation, the advance of pagan culture, and oppressive living conditions had fueled the fires of messianic longing and expectation. To the average and early observer, Jesus was just another in a long string of messianic contenders in a politically turbulent time when anti-Roman violence was deemed acceptable, necessary, and even righteous. It would be relatively easy to say that not much has changed in 2,000+ years.

However, Jesus’ audience was about to have every expectation challenged. Their ideas concerning ethics, power, kingdom, and glory were about to be turned upside-down (right-side-up?). With His disciples in the foreground and the gathered seeker crowd filling in (like what Sunday mornings are to be like) Jesus began His kingdom manifesto with a surprising series of blessings, commonly called “the beatitudes.”

Here’s an overview of where we’ve been…

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit… To enter into God’s kingdom, we are invited to admit that we have come to the end of ourselves and are in need of God’s help and care.
  • Blessed are those who mourn… As we are honest about our own sinful tendencies there will be a transforming grief, or repentance, that surfaces – not only for our own lives, but also for the injustice, greed, and suffering that grips our world.
  • Blessed are the meek…Grieving over sin and suffering places us in a humble learning posture (disciple means learner).
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…Spiritual hunger and thirst is the desire to be empty of those things that don’t reflect God, and initiates a deep longing for wholeness in our lives.
  • Blessed are the merciful…As we receive God’s mercy we begin to give mercy – to ourselves and to others.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart… Mercy cleanses our heart and restores purity to our lives.

For the next two Sundays we will zero in on what it means to be a peacemaker. This Sunday will consider the 7th Beatitude and the following Sunday we’ll consider some basic biblical conflict resolution skills. The recent diagnostic report indicated that only 27% of the survey respondents think our church and leaders are good at resolving conflict. From my perspective, 98% of Christian churches need a refresher course in biblical conflict resolution.

Fasting and Praying

This past week our staff decided that we want to fast and pray for Dave and the Ludwig family on Wednesdays—and we are inviting you to join us. Feel free to fast whatever and however you feel led and dedicate that time to prayer. And if you sense that God is giving you a word, Scripture, or picture, please contact Zack, Jordan, or me.

Also, Jordan is hosting prayer in our Prayer Room (second floor of the Sanctuary building on the Palisades Dr. side) from 8-9am and 3-4pm on Wednesdays. And all are invited to our prayer gathering on Sunday mornings from 9-9:30am to pray for our church and the service.

Summit 1

Three all-church Summits have been scheduled. This is in response to Recommendation #3 in the recent diagnostic report, which said, “Discover what God wants for [Calvary] through the Focusing the Church Process. Focusing the Church is a series of (all-church) summits or gatherings that aim to answer three questions: (1) Where have we been? (2) Where are we going? (3) How are we going to get there? If you want to have input into the future of Calvary Church, come to the Summits! They will be more like workshops with plenty of interaction and focused (ultimately) on what God desires for the next season of the life and ministry of Calvary Church. We’ll laugh, we’ll share, we might cry a bit, and we will focus on the future.

The Summits will also serve to re/affirm our values, mission, and vision, which will provide us with specific input on the gift-mix, experience, skill sets of who we should be looking for in a permanent Lead Pastor.

Here is our schedule; please save the dates:

Summit 1: Sunday afternoon March 10 from 3-6pm in the Fireside Room

Summit 2: Sunday afternoon April 21 from 3-6 in the Fireside Room

Summit 3: Sunday afternoon May 19 from 3-6 in the Fireside Room

See you on Sunday!

Pastor Gregg