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By Pastor Calvary Callender

Today I want to talk about Grace. Grace is a terribly misunderstood word and defining it sufficiently is notoriously difficult. Some of the most detailed theology textbooks do not offer any concise definition of the term. One of the best-known definitions of grace is; only three words: God's unmerited favor.

A. W. Tozer expanded on that idea by saying, "Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines him to bestow benefits on the undeserving." Berkhof is more to the point when he says' grace is, "The unmerited operation of God in the heart of man, effected through the agency of the Holy Spirit."

The key word in what these great minds have said is this, "unmerited" - grace, my friends, is completely undeserved and therefore it leads to the conclusion that grace is a free gift given to us by God through Christ.

John Hicks, an evangelist I heard recently speak about grace said, "It is by grace we have been saved, through faith" (Ephesians 2.8). We can be redeemed and made righteous through faith in Jesus.

In Galatians chapter 3, we come to the heart of the matter that Paul has been referring to up to this point in His letter to the Galatians: The conflict between two alternate roads to righteousness...Trusting and Trying. How does one please God? What makes a person truly a Christian? Trying to act in a way that seems pure and Godly or trusting in a Savior who paid the price for sin? The question is really a trick one. No matter how hard we try, we cannot be good enough. It is only by trusting in Jesus that we find salvation. That is Grace.

Let me encourage you today, if you have been "trying," then stop. Simply let go and trust in him. You will be amazed at what he can do for you. It's not in following the rules that make us right with him, but when we make the decision to trust in him we find that we are happy to do anything he asks.

News Features - Mentor's Corner


By Pastor Calvary Callender

I still remember very clearly that hot summer day that I set up my first (and only) lemonade stand. I got the posters made up, put together some cups and napkins, and made some lemonade in a little pitcher. I took the old card table out to the sidewalk and set up shop. I'm pretty sure that I drank more lemonade than I sold that day.

Whose kid actually ends up going into the lemonade stand business? You've seen them before; maybe you or your child have tried it. But there really are professional lemonade stands out there, so logic would dictate that some kid somewhere ended up going into the lemonade stand business full time. He wanted to try it one hot summer afternoon after seeing some of the other kids in his neighborhood doing it, or maybe he saw one set up at a baseball park and thought, "I could make a little on top of my allowance with this."

So he tries it out. Gets his dad to help him set up a rickety little stand. Hand paints a sign- "Lemonade - Fifty Cents." And after one successful day, he tries it again. And again. And again. Then he gets invited to bring his lemonade stand to a middle school baseball game, he ups his price to two dollars a glass, and pretty soon he's got a lot of invitations to bring his lemonade stand to all kinds of events. He's getting really busy, taking his lemonade stand all over town. Sure, he's making a really nice profit. But now things are a lot busier, a lot more professional. It's taking up more time than he expected. He's got to make special orders on lemons, he's having to keep track of all his expenses on a spreadsheet, and what started as a little hobby has become a time consuming commitment. And in that moment, he had to make a choice. Is this going to become a kind of career? Is he going to hire a few employees to share the load? What will he choose? Some of you out there are thinking, "Maybe I should go into the lemonade stand business." Others are thinking, "I wish that was my kid. My son or daughter doesn't even know what a spreadsheet is."

Whatever you're thinking, you understand that moment. There's a moment when we all have to make a decision. Is this a hobby or is this a career? Is this for fun or for something more? Am I trying this out or am I investing in it?

Luke 9:23 says, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me." How do we feel about being a Christian? Are we trying him out, or is it an investment? Are we a fan or a follower? Most of us would immediately say we are follower's of Jesus, but don't jump to an answer too quickly. A fan is defined as "an enthusiastic admirer." My concern is that many of us feel like we are followers of Jesus, but in reality we are only fans ... enthusiastic admirers.

So today we have a question to ask, If we are a follower, are we all in? Are we really completely committed to Jesus? Being a follower requires an absolute commitment. We need to be careful not to customize our commitment, not to say, "I'm going to follow Jesus, but I'm going to kind of pick and choose the areas in which I will follow him." Followers of Christ understand that a commitment to him is an "all-in" commitment.

So, I would ask all of us to begin to search our hearts and ask, "Are we followers of Jesus, or just fans?"

News Features - Mentor's Corner


By Pastor Calvary Callender

Have you ever had your love rejected? Her name was Lilly. I met Lilly for the first time when I was in 9th grade. I will never forget the first time she walked through the doors and all the guys stopped to stare and the conversation started about who was going to ask her out first. My methods were subtle but were most often effective.

I befriended Lilly and we became great friends. We did a lot of things together, talked on the phone all the time, hung out and ate together. Finally, one day I decided to ask her to be my girlfriend. I took it as a foregone conclusion that she couldn't say anything but yes. I will never forget the way I felt when she laughed and said, "Silly, we are just friends." Oh how my heart broke.

Truth be told, God had bigger and better plans for my life and brought me and my wife Ceresa together. The best way to say it is that I believe I have punted outside my coverage. But, oh, the pain of rejected love! I think this must have been how Jesus felt sometimes. Luke records Jesus as saying, "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" It pains me to think that we have, at times, rejected Jesus' love. Today, Jesus invites you to run under his wings of safety and warmth.

There is a perception in society today that who you've been determines if God loves you or not. This is one of the greatest misconceptions around today. No matter who you are or what you've done, He has never stopped loving you.

News Features - Mentor's Corner


By Pastor Calvary Callender

My little girl, Morgan, turned 7 this December and just finished her fourth season of soccer. I still remember her first year to play soccer. After my wife signed her up that summer she came and told me that it was done and, "Oh by the way, they asked if you would coach and I said you would." What in the world was she thinking? Doesn't she know how busy I am and didn't really have any extra time?

Fast forward to her first game (Morgan was the star of the game, by the way) and there I was, on the field with a bunch of three year old's screaming, "No, take the ball that way...kick it into the goal!" Half way through the game, as I ran around with my little girl and all her friends, I realized how precious Morgan was to me. I will forever be able to claim that not only was I there to watch Morgan's first soccer game, I was also her coach. The memories I am making today will always be with me. The time that I spend with Morgan, her brother and sister, and my wife will forever be engrained in my mind. Children need their families and we need them. Just think, if I had let my busy-ness take over, I might have missed this time with my little girl.

This reminds me of a scripture in I Peter 2 - "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." When we choose God, he chooses us. We can be God's chosen people! isn't that amazing? I wonder if God ever feels about us like I did with Morgan. So excited to see us living life and wanting to spend as much of it with us as he can...but we don't let him. We are careful to protect other areas of our life against the busy-ness, but we don't protect or nurture a relationship with God.

Today I want to remind you that we can be God's chosen people, a royal priesthood...God's special possession. In the hustle and bustle of our lives, let's spend some time with God and allow him to be involved in our lives.

News Features - Mentor's Corner


By Pastor Calvary Callender

Sometimes we feel like we can't make a difference. What can we do? How can we leave a lasting legacy? After all we're not wealthy or powerful? I'm reminded of a story of a businessman visiting a resort community who left his hotel early one morning to take a walk on the beach. Outside he came upon a stunning sight – countless starfish had washed up on the beach during the night in a high tide. They were still moving, still alive, clambering all over each other trying to get back in the ocean. He knew it wouldn't be long until the tropical sun would get hot enough to bake the poor creatures trapped there on the beach. He wished he could do something, but there were thousands of them, as far as his eye could see, and there was no way he could make a dent in saving so many of them. So he went on his way. Walking farther down the beach, he came upon a little boy leaning over, scooping up a starfish, and flinging it like a Frisbee out into the ocean. He repeated the process over and over again, trying to pick up speed, obviously trying to save as many starfish as possible. Once the man realized what this little boy was doing, he felt it was his responsibility to help the boy by informing him of a harsh life lesson. So he went up to the boy and said, "Son, let me tell you. What you're doing here is noble, but you can't save all these starfish. There are thousands of them. The sun's getting really hot. They're all going to die. You might as well just go on your way and play. You really can't make a difference here." The little boy didn't say anything at first; he just stared at the businessman. Then he picked up another starfish, flung it out into the ocean as far as he could, and said, "Well, I just made all the difference for that one."

This boy did not allow the overwhelming magnitude of the situation to keep him from doing what he could do: saving one starfish at a time. Perhaps Helen Keller summed it up best: "I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do."

I wonder if we lived our lives like we only had a short time to live how we might do things differently. If we knew our time on earth was running out, we'd want to do all we could to impact others. We wouldn't want the regret of a life misspent and self-absorbed. We would want to know that we honored the God we love by being the very best stewards of all He has given us. If we truly want to grow in our character and our faith, then we must be willing to change our goal from one of safety to one of sacrifice. If we would live that way if we knew our time on earth was short, shouldn't we live each day that matter how much time we have left?

God has given each of us time, talent, and treasure. I challenge you to use it to leave a lasting legacy.

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