Growing in Christ, Sharing His Love

December 2018 Calvin Caller

From the Pastor's Desk...

One of the most mysterious and powerful aspects of human nature is that God intentionally created us to have a free will.  You and I can choose what we want for ourselves, what we want for others, and what we want of the world.  If you have been a human for any length of time you know that we often use this ability to make all the wrong choices.  Yet, we must not despair because we are being redeemed and renewed by the One who always made the perfect choices, Jesus Christ.  I was reading this month, an article from Rick Warren who gave some insight into how we can make the best decisions when we face them…
Six Steps for Biblical Decision-Making by Rick Warren

“A man is a fool to trust himself!  But those who use God’s wisdom are safe” (Proverbs 28:26 TLB).
     God gave Moses the dream of leading the children of Israel out of 400 years of slavery, but Moses had to make the decision to confront Pharaoh.  God gave Noah the dream of saving the world from the flood, but Noah had to make the decision to build the ark.  God gave Abraham the dream of building a new nation, but Abraham had to make the decision to leave everything he had and go out into the unknown.  Just like these men, you will never realize God’s dream for your life until you come to the stage of decision-making and step out in faith.
     Whether it’s about your career, marriage,finances, health, or children, there is a simple, workable plan for making biblical decisions that will keep you on track toward pursuing God’s dream for your life.
1. Pray for guidance.
Before you do anything else, get God’s perspective on the issue.  “A man is a fool to trust himself!  But those who use God’s wisdom are safe” (Proverbs 28:26 TLB).
2. Get the facts.
There is no contradiction between faith and fact.  Find out everything you can before you make a decision.  Proverbs 13:16a says, “All who are prudent act with knowledge” (NIV).
3. Ask for advice.
Talk to somebody who’s made a similar decision and to friends who know your weaknesses.  “The more good advice you get, the more likely you are to win” (Proverbs 24:6b GNT).
4. Calculate the cost.
Every decision has a price tag; it will cost you time, money, energy, reputation, talents, and resources.  Proverbs 20:25 says, “It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one’s vows” (NIV).  When people pressure you to make a decision,it’s okay to say, “I’ll get back to you.”  It’s more important to make a wise decision than a quick decision.
5. Prepare for problems.
In faith, expect the best.  Expect God to work in your life.  But also prepare for the problems that are part of every decision.  Solomon said in Proverbs 22:3, “A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences” (TLB).
6. Face your fears.
Perfectionism paralyzes potential.  God has always used imperfect people in imperfect situations to get his will done.  Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (TLB).  Trust God and start moving in spite of your problems, fears, and doubts.--  
    ~ Pastor Mark. 

Reflections from the Front Pew

More than ever, our world needs peace.  It seems that every day, in our city, we hear stories of bullying, anger and harsh words toward others, and disregard for those in need.  As we look even further out into our nation and the world, we hear stories of battles and lack of caring for those of other nationalities and religions.  So much sadness; we can’t help but wonder where God is in all of this.
Many years ago, another war was raging – World War I.  Yet just shortly after the beginning of that war, there was a short truce.  There was a short time where men from different nations came together and found a way to get along, for the sake of Christmas.
Here is that story:

The Christmas Truce by David G. Stratman

It was December 25, 1914, only 5 months into World War I.  German, British, and French soldiers, already sick and tired of the senseless killing, disobeyed their superiors and fraternized with "the enemy" along two-thirds of the Western Front (a crime punishable by death in times of war).  German troops held Christmas trees up out of the trenches with signs, "Merry Christmas."  "You no shoot, we no shoot."  Thousands of troops streamed across a no-man's land strewn with rotting corpses.  They sang Christmas carols, exchanged photographs of loved ones back home, shared rations, played football, even roasted some pigs.  Soldiers embraced men they had been trying to kill a few short hours before.  They agreed to warn each other if the top brass forced them to fire their weapons, and to aim high.
    A shudder ran through the high command on either side.  Here was disaster in the making: soldiers declaring their brotherhood with each other and refusing to fight.  Generals on both sides declared this spontaneous peacemaking to be treasonous and subject to court martial.  By March 1915 the fraternization movement had been eradicated and the killing machine put back in full operation.  By the time of the armistice in 1918, fifteen million would be slaughtered.
    Not many people have heard the story of the Christmas Truce.  On Christmas Day, 1988, a story in the Boston Globe mentioned that a local FM radio host played "Christmas in the Trenches," a ballad about the Christmas Truce, several times and was startled by the effect.  The song became the most requested recording during the holidays in Boston on several FM stations. 
    You can probably guess why the callers were in tears.  The Christmas Truce story goes against most of what we have been taught about people.  It gives us a glimpse of the world as we wish it could be and says, "This really happened once."  It reminds us of those thoughts we keep hidden away, out of range of the TV and newspaper stories that tell us how trivial and mean human life is.  It is like hearing that our deepest wishes really are true: the world really could be different.
This Christmas, as you look forward to the celebration of the birth of our Savior,look around you and pray for those who bully and are bullied, for those who are angry and those being treated badly because of that anger, for those who are struggling to keep their life together while being ignored and mistreated.   When all around us there is strife, we need to PRAY FOR PEACE; the peace that the baby Jesus brings.  The peace that brings good will to all men.
The words to “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, taken from a poem written by Henry Longfellow in 1863, lift my heart.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

God is with us.  He will never leave us.  Emmanuel.
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns
     ~ Joni Wagenmaker, Director of Worship & Music 


Children's Ministries News
The Children’s Christmas Program will be part of the worship service on Sunday, December 16th.  If your child is participating, please plan on having them to church by 8:45 a.m. in normal church attire so we can practice one last time.
There will be NO Children in Worship on Sunday, December 23rd or Sunday, December 30th due to the break for Christmas and New Year’s.  We will resume Children in Worship on Sunday, January 6th.
Wednesdays at Calvin Church will meet on December 12th and 19th.  
     ~ Courtney Kingshott, Director of Children's Ministries 


Youth Ministries News
Attention High School Youth Group & Merge:  The Progressive Dinner will be Sunday, December 16th from 6 - 8:30 pm.  Meet at church and we will travel to several locations for lots of great food and fellowship.  Bring a wrapped $2 gift for the gift exchange and wear an UGLY sweater for the Ugliest Christmas Sweater Contest.  See Brian if you have any questions.
High School Youth Group & Merge will not meet on Sunday, December 23rd or Sunday, December 30th. We will resume on Sunday, January 6th.
High School Students:  Mark your calendar!  We will be doing a retreat at the Lodge the weekend of February 22 -24.  Watch for details when the new year rolls around!
     ~ Brian Kingshott, Director of Youth Ministries 


Hearts & Hands
The GEMS girls have made special cards which will be included in our get-well baskets.  They are very creative and beautifully done.  Thank you, girls!
A big thank you also, to Nancy Spoon who has been in charge of our Ministry for Newlyweds for the last ten years.  She purchases and delivers devotionals to each newly married couple.  Thank you, Nancy!
Thanksgiving cards,which included a special note and a gift of a gas card, have been sent out to our college students.  (If there is not an updated address on file for a student in your family, please call the church office with this information as soon as possible so that he or she can be included in our College Student Ministry.)
Income from the Pickleball Program allowed us to provide support for two worthy organizations this month:  Sacred Suds (laundry detergent and personal care products),and the MAP Supper House.
We would like to continue our tradition of remembering our special friends and military personnel with Christmas cards this year.  A collection basket and a list of names and addresses will be placed in the narthex on December 9th,16th, and 23rd. (A list will also be in your mailbox.)  Please place your signed and addressed cards in the basket.  They will be stamped and mailed for you as they come in. Thank you for your help in making this Christmas a little brighter for these special people!
Carolyn has decided that the Memorial Fund for Dick Ahrens will be used to purchase a new lighted artificial Christmas tree for the sanctuary.  Any remaining money will be placed in a fund to purchase new American and POW flags. 
Our next meeting will beheld on December 10, 2018 at 1:00 P.M. in the Fireside Room.  We meet on the second Monday of the month.  Please join us!
     ~ Antje Waldo 


Feeding America Truck
Our 2019 dates are January 5, March 2, April 13,October 5, November 2, and December 7. 
This is one way we can show and share God's love in 2019.  If you would like to volunteer, look for the sign-up sheet that will be available the Sunday prior to each date.  Thank you to everyone that dedicates their time to this very worthwhile service. 
     ~ Kathy Hoogstra & Nancy Mellema 


Prayer Corner
Neglecting to Pray

In studying 1 Samuel, I was struck by a verse in chapter 12, verse 23.  Samuel is disappointed in Israel’s leaders for asking for a king, rather than relying on God as their king.  But he refuses to stop praying for the nation and confesses that if he did he would be sinning against God.
How many times have we looked at a bad situation and just walked away?  Why were we not convicted of our obligation to pray about it and ask God to intervene?
We need the Holy Spirit to move in us and show us our lack of love for others and our need to plead for them before God’s throne.
       ~ MaryAnn Mellema 

Fellowship Team

The Fellowship Team wants to say THANK YOU for your prayers and support for the many activities we have enjoyed throughout this past year. It is a joy to work with our committee and the many helpers.  We look to God for leading and comfort in all that we do.
              God’s Blessing, 
        ~Vern & Joyce Borgman 

 Building & Grounds
We would like to report the hiring of Michael Retzlaff to our staff as custodian for Calvin Church.   He will start December 10th and perform the same tasks as retiring Calvin VandenBosch.  Please welcome Mike when you have the opportunity and assist him as much as possible as we make this transition. 
We would also like to wish Cal congratulations on his retirement and thank him for his service to Calvin Church.
     ~Wayne Bishop, Building & Grounds Chair 

Year End Giving Reminder
Every year at this time we receive many requests for donations from para church and other non-profit organizations.  At the same time our giving to Calvin Church is running below what we have budgeted. Also, be aware our budget is the minimum amount we need to fund our ministry here.
We’ve been extremely blessed at Calvin Church with an alive growing ministry that has a staff second to none.  As you know we have recently added to our staff and we are constantly having to update and repair our technical, video and sound systems.
The Bible says in II Corinthians 9:10-11, “God who supplies seed for the sower and bread to eat, will also supply you with all the seed you will need and make it grow and produce a rich harvest from your generosity.  He will always make you rich enough to be generous at all times”.
This promise is built on your willingness to share what He gives to you. Are you willing to pass on the blessing to others that God blesses you with?
Please be in prayer as you make your Christian stewardship a priority in your year-end giving of God’s blessings to you.
   ~ Stewardship Committee

     Deacon’s Corner
Finishing up the old year and looking forward to a new year is a good time to both reflect and look forward to positive changes.  As a congregation, we can reflect on how God has blessed Calvin Church in 2018.  We have a wonderful staff and a family of believers with a heart to serve.  We have been blessed with many new members and families and we are growing young.
As we reflect on 2018 and look forward to a new year, let us look for a moment on collecting tithes and offerings.  God’sword instructs us to, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house . . .” Malachi 3:10.  To some that might mean dropping eggs, rice or bread into a large basket or tithe house.  To some it may mean putting a check into an envelope and dropping it into a silver plate.  And to some, it may mean tapping a link on their smart phone to transfer money from their account to the church’s account or some other type of electric funds transfer (EFT).  Are any of those methods less meaningful?  And if you think so, do they have to be?
We live in a digital age.  I am in my 60s.  I have a checkbook but I only use it for church and two or three establishments that do not take cards or automatic payments.  My children, in their 30s, haven’t used a checkbook in years.  Ask someone in their 20s and they probably have never had a checkbook (let alone chickens, rice or bread to give).  I believe that it is our responsibility as deacons to use whatever method is available and most helpful to empower God’s people to be faithful, generous and cheerful givers.

The Deacons and Tech Team will be looking into ways to offer electronic giving as an option.  If you are interested in giving electronically, you can use your own bill pay service through your bank for now.  If anyone has any suggestions or comments,please speak to your Deacon or a member of the Tech Team.
Whichever way you decide to give your gifts back to God, please take time to reflect on God’s astounding grace, thank Him for the abundant blessings He has given you and give with a cheerful heart.
. . . “Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”   Malachi 3:10
       ~Nancy Johnson, Deacon  

     Among Ourselves
Birthdays:  The following people are celebrating their birthdays this month…        
   Dec 1 –Jan Sorensen             Dec 18 – Delores Frazier
   Dec 4– Jim  Meyer                 Dec 23 – Joan Bishop                         
   Dec 7– Judy Hepler                Dec 28 – Bill Ypema
   Dec 9– Wayne Bishop            Dec 28 – Harrison Gillette
   Dec 12– Dan Doctor               Dec 29 – Ryan Mellema
  Dec 13 – Kathy Willer              Dec 30 – Cornie Van Tol
   Dec 15– Marc Lakatos           Dec 30 – Amy Kempf     
  Dec 16 – Sara Wilks               Dec30 – Stephanie Riner        
  Dec 17 – Joe Hain                  Dec 31 – Yvonne Wyn
Thanks to the people at Calvin Church for the past three and a half years of employment.  This was a great place to work with many great people.  The vacation and holiday pay is much better than many employers for part time people.  I will miss some things about the job, but not working every Sunday.
                                                                                    ~Calvin Vanden Bosch

      One of the real joys this Christmas Season,
is the opportunity to say thank you. We appreciate all of you! 
Peace and love to you and your family this Christmas and for the new year.
                                        The Calvin Staff,
                            Pastor Mark, Brian, Courtney,
                                        Joni, Vickie, Cal
      Directory Info…          
Make sure you give the Online Church Directory a try.  It’s pretty awesome!  You can call or email members right from the app or site.  Call the office if you’re having difficulties. If you have changes (address, phone, email, etc.) during the year, please let Vickie know and updates will be put in this section of the monthly Calvin Caller (but not included in the Calvin Caller on the website).  The 2019 Church Directory (not pictorial) will be published in February.  Make sure to get those changes/additions in. 

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