Don’t Give Up

Aug 12th 2015

In Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus wrote these words on prayer:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Sometimes God seems so close that all you have to do is ask and you hear his voice. Sometimes he seems distant and you have to seek him before he can be found. But sometimes the distance is more than empty space, sometimes the door is closed, locked and all you can do is knock.

I learned in seminary that the verbs, ask, seek, and knock because of the Greek tense, could likely be translated with the words, “keep on.” Keep on asking. Keep on seeking. Keep on knocking. For everyone who keeps on asking will receive; the one who keeps on seeking will find; and to the one who keeps on knocking, the door will be opened.

So in those times when he is silent, keep asking. In those times when he seems distant, keep seeking. In those times when it feels like you are on the outside of home and the door is locked, keep knocking.

I’m not sure what you are asking for, what you are seeking, or what door you find yourself beating down, but what if, Jesus is really saying, “If you keep asking you will hear my voice. If you keep seeking you will find my presence. If you keep knocking, you will find a home.”

If that’s the case, the point is… don’t give up. Don’t you dare give up. You might be just a moment away from the everything your heart truly desires or  you might be years away. Either way. Don’t give up.

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Tech Shaped Spirituality: Phones

Apr 13th 2015

About 10 days ago, as I was unlocking the door, my LG-G2 slipped out of my hand, falling mercilessly to the concrete. I used to have a cover/drop-protector thing on it, but when I was in Myanmar I left it with a phone I was giving them. So my coverless phone fell mercilessly to the concrete. It completely shattered.

If you have been trying to get ahold of me, I haven’t been ignoring you anymore than I usually do. My phone is at rest. Bit the big one. For 10 days, my left hand has been unusually empty. Bizarro-in-heaven-without-cell-phones

I know some of you are shaking your head in wonder, as  you cradle your phone in your hand. You feel bad for me. You are ready to scrounge in your sock drawer for an unused iphone 3. Please don’t. I’ve decided to go phoneless for the next few months. I am not one of those anti-tech guys. I love almost all (non-apple) tech. My LG-G2 was a sweet ride.

But here’s the thing, once upon a time, long car rides (alone) were some of my best times with God. Singing loud, praying outloud, talking to Jesus like he was sitting next to me, pondering stuff, dreaming Kingdom dreams, listening to sermons or even a digital Bible. But lately I’ve realized my long rides have become a distracted battle with my phone. No I don’t txt and drive, but I have been known to check and drive. And even when I’m not, I’m still distracted waiting for the next time I’ll stop so I can check and respond.

And when I’m not in the car, it’s even worse. I know I’m not the only one because I’ve seen you at the restaurant sitting with you friends, looking at your phone. I’ve walked down the street and noticed that 90% of the people I pass have one attached to their hands. I’ve almost run into you as you were walking and texting.

So here is my question, how is tech shaping our spirituality?

I’m not sure that I can develop a vibrant relationship with God if I am consistently distracted by my phone. In Jesus’ sermon on the mount, (Matthew 5-7) he said that if our hands offend us we should cut them off. So I’m going to amputate my phone…at least for awhile. I need some undistracted time with God. I know. You don’t need to smash your phone to have undistracted time with God. Maybe I’m the only one. Maybe not.


There is One Response to : Tech Shaped Spirituality: Phones

  1. Joe Sullivan Wrote:

    I Appreciate you having this new ‘3rd chapter’ emphasis at Calvary on faith. Here are some thots I have on stirring up faith in your congregation. You mentioned in the blog that Jesus taught, “if your hand offends you, cut it off”. Also He told the rich young ruler to give his money away to be saved. and He said if your eye offends, well, you get it, right?
    Of course we’re not literally supposed to gouge out our eyes and amputate, so why did He say that? Besides the obvious reasons, He kept running into people who thought they were doing pretty well at keeping the law, right? were they really? scripture is clear, humans don’t keep God’s law flawlessly. Ever. And Deut.28 makes it abundantly clear that under that old economy, flawless perfection was required to get blessed, and without it, very bad curses would come your way. Lots of them. Also, some of the people Jesus addressed in His ‘mount’ teachings lacked either the honesty or or the revelation to recognize that in Gods economy, they were bankrupt. That’s where you will accurately see yourself if you want to approach God as a law keeper like the rich guy. (“All these things I’ve done all my life”,) ? really? Jesus put the law on steroids for them to get it. and the ‘it’ they didn’t get was, YOU FAIL! The Bible makes clear that Gods law stirs up rebellion in fallen humans and sin increases under it.(Rom.7:5) And thats no failure of the law, it’s flesh’s failure. So why could Paul say that with his mind he agreed w/ Gods law, but in his body – sin. He claimed he was the worst of the worst and also said, “I no longer live, but Christ in me does”. (Gal 2:20),and, “you were also put to death in relation to the law through the death of Jesus…in order to bear fruit of the Spirit”.
    Here is the meaty stuff. What looks like contradiction to us (with eyes of flesh) is not untrue. As we look to do this life according to outer requirements, (WWJD – law based thinking), we get a FAIL. But as we live by Him in us, we DO impart Life. His Life. Does that mean sinless perfection? No! but the point is to, BY FAITH, see HIM in and through us. That takes spiritual eyes which believe Gods word over my assessment of how I’m doing (fleshly), Fleshly eyes behold failure and sins, or, (in denial or pride) see successes we don’t really have.

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When One Hurts We All Hurt

Apr 10th 2015

As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. I Corinthians 12:20-26

Have you ever had a pain in your body, that was so bad, you couldn’t think about anything else? I had an abscessed tooth once. Before I could get to a dentist to drill a hole to relieve the pressure, that tooth hurt so bad, it was like my whole body was a tooth. All I could think about was that tooth. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers together. I hurt my back last week, just one small little place in my lower back and yet there have been moments this week, where all I could think about was my back. making_pastries_for_Easter

On April 12, Orthodox Christians around the world will be celebrating Easter. Some will gather together to make kelecha, small pastries prepared for Easter. They will knead the pastry into smooth balls, then roll it out, and cut circles with an upside down glass. Add walnuts, sugar, family and friends, for a wonderful Easter tradition. That is what you might be doing if you were an Assyrian Christian. Except there is a good chance this year that you would not be at home. The Assyrian Christian community in Iraq has been heavily impacted by violence against Christians. Rarely since the first century has the church in the East faced persecution on this scale. Christian communities that took 2,000 years to build, and that were started by the apostles themselves, lie in ruins.
When one part of the body suffers, the whole body is in pain.

?????????????And it’s not just Iraq. It’s 147 Christians at a university in Kenya. Nyabwengi, a student at the University heard his best friend beg for his life, pretending to be a Muslim. When the friend was unable to recite a Muslim prayer, he was fatally shot. When the gunmen arrived, their first target was an early morning Christian prayer meeting. Of 29 students there, just seven survived. “We were praying,” said Duncan Obwamu, 25. “We were in a circle in the room holding hands.” First, the barrel of a gun appeared at the door. Then it fired, striking a young woman leading prayers.

When one part of the body suffers, the whole body is in pain.

During the last eight years I have been to Myanmar a half dozen times. Last year they ranked in the top 25 countries where Christians face the most severe persecution. This year we visited with Shu Mong, a former Buddhist priest, now Burmese missionary. Calvary has helped provide funds to build a very small one room church, that about 50 children and adults worship in weekly. He lives in a 20×20 bamboo structure…with 21 other people. Why so many? Because in that community when someone becomes a Christ-follower, shu mongthey lose their family, their home, and their job.

When one part of the body suffers, the whole body is in pain.

Pain actually aids in the health of a body. If we did not feel pain, like a leper, our body would deteriorate. A healthy body not only feels pain, but can distinguish between little aches and life-endangering pain. I realize that so many of this pains are so far away, because the body of Christ is worldwide. But I wonder if we shouldn’t be feeling the pain more than we are feeling the pain.

Perhaps it might begin with prayer.

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Palm Sunday — Passion Week Devotion #1

Mar 29th 2015

When evangelical Christians hear the word devotion, we usually think of “quiet time.” But the word devotion is quite similar to the word passion, so during Passion Week this year, I’m going to share some devotional thoughts, to grab your heart and hopefully draw you in to the amazing story and life of Christ. Here is #1.

Lynn and I have had the opportunity to go to Israel two different times. The first time we were actually in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. My favorite moment of that day was walking down the winding road into the Kidron Valley on the way to Jerusalem. 09-Palm-Sunday-RoadThis was likely near the route that Jesus used to come into the city on Palm Sunday. You can see from the pictures, as you come down the road, all of Jerusalem lies in front of you. (The location of the temple was near the golden dome in the background.)

As I read Luke 19:28-41, I imagine Jesus on this road. It’s Palm Sunday. The crowd is filled with exuberant emotion, but Jesus comes into Jerusalem with tears. He cried for the city because they didn’t recognize their moment. I can’t get that picture out of my heart.

When Jesus comes into the city, he comes with tears.

Leonard Sweet writes, “Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, you would do well to pay the closest attention.  They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not, God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is 428summoning you to where you should go next.

What brings unexpected tears to Jesus’ eyes?
He’s crying for a city that missed it’s moment.

So ask yourself the question, “Who/what gets my tears?”

I think — one reason why we have walls in our relationship with God, with each other, and with the world around us is because we cry too much for things that matter little and we cry too little for things that matter much.

150 years ago, Charles Finney wrote, “Sometimes Christians, talk about unbelievers so coldly, scolding rather than feeling the compassion of the Son of God for them.  But sometimes (brokenness) drives Christians to prayer, breaking them down, making them mourn with tender hearts.  They weep night and day. Instead of scolding and reproaching they pray. Then you can expect revival.”

  • This is what was taking place with Jesus.  When he wept.
  • He wept for every broken person in Jerusalem.
  • He wept for people broken by all sorts of sexual sin.
  • He wept for people sucked up into greed.
  • He wept for people who didn’t love their neighbors.
  • He wept for people with hearts filled with bitterness and anger.
  • He wept for people missing God’s dreams for their lives.

What do we cry about?
Who do we cry for?

I encourage you to join me this week in walking through your neighborhood and perhaps one other, praying for the people who are there. Perhaps one of your prayers might be, “O God give me tears. There is so much pain in the world. Would you tenderly break my heart with the compassion of Christ for my neighbors.” Then see what God does!

I am so looking forward to this week. It’s a week to remember that God has this habit of showing up in the most surprising of places. Thank you for you diving into the gospel!


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Can Money Buy Happiness?

Dec 20th 2014

Can Money Buy Happiness? You would expect me to say no. But lately a great deal of economic and sociological research suggests otherwise. It looks like those who have money tend to be happier. lendBut before you throw up your hands in generosity fatigue, let me point out a few remarkably biblical principles that they are finding as they dig deeper into this relationship between more and happiness. (This points are from this WSJ article .)

1. Those who accumulate experiences are happier than those who just accumulate stuff. In a blog post, Mark Batterson wrote,

I have a core conviction. Actually, it’s more than that. It was a word from the Lord. I’ll never forget the Holy Spirit whispering this to me in a pup tent in Awash National Park (Ethiopia) at the end of an unforgettable day that included a game drive. I heard the Still Small Voice loud and clear: “Don’t accumulate possessions. Accumulate experiences.”   That has become a guiding theme in my life.  So here’s my random thought. And I think this is for someone. Don’t just give possessions that will rust and break and end up in a toy box. Give the gift of experience. Not sure how that translates into your context. But it might be worth investing money in an experience versus another possession.

This is a good Christmas word.  If God has blessed you with the means, don’t waste your means on more stuff.  Invest in an experience, invest in a future memory with your family or a friend.  Make a bucket list. I think this is one of the reasons that I love taking my family on short-term missions trips.  Yes it is about serving.  But if you have ever gone on a mission trip, you have heard multiple times, I received so much more than I gave. Lynn 1I think one of the things we received is an experience the effects of which have the potential to last far longer than the soon to be obsolete Xbox.

Now you don’t have to go on a mission trip for an experience.  Go sledding at Slab Cabin with your son or daughter.  Take a road trip to visit the Holocaust Museum in DC.  Take a train ride to Chicago and back.  Do the local adopt-a-family deal and spend a few hours shopping, wrapping, and praying for a family in our community.  Take some cinnamon rolls to someone in a nursing home.  Ride the gliders at Julian.

2. Those who develop a gratitude attitude are happier than those who develop an entitlement attitude. Well that one is self-explanatory. If you are grateful for what you have, the more you have, the more gratitude you will experience. So take a moment and make a list.

3. Those who impact people through their generosity are happier than those who impact their comfort with their prosperity. From giving hope to a child in Myanmar to giving Christmas to a local family in need; from the launching of a journey to start 300 house churches in Myanmar to a new presence in Tyrone; from providing food to those with too much month at the end of the check to baking cookies with ladies at the county prison; from a week on the island of Hispaniola to sitting beside a friend ready to give up on life; from a college student hearing that God loves her to a recovering addict hearing that God loves him… you impact people through your generosity. It. Is. So. Cool. myanmar-xmas-gathering1

This Christmas the Nolds will be happy in Myanmar. At times tired, perhaps at points broken by a hurting child, or sideswiped by poverty or lostness, but happy. We are going to hit all three of these points; accumulating an experience, impacting others through our and your generosity, and while I’m making my gratitude list, I’ll be thinking of you. myanmar-christmas-sign

If you would like to make an impact on a one of these amazing kids, click the link MYANMAR CHRISTMAS. There’s still time to be happy. :)

There are 2 Responses to : Can Money Buy Happiness?

  1. Wendy Mead Wrote:

    Dan and I will be praying over your time in Myanmar- every time we eat a cinnamon roll:)
    Merry Christmas Nolds!!

  2. Bryan Duncan Wrote:

    Okay so I know the holiday get busy and you went to Myanmar again but come on write something please. !!!!

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Christmas in Myanmar

Dec 05th 2014

Myanmar-ChristmasSix years ago, our family celebrated Christmas in an orphanage in Myanmar. We didn’t do any family gifts (the trip was our gift to each other) which was a bit of a struggle for kids aged 12-17, but in the end it ranked as one of our top Christmas Days ever!  Not only did we give gifts to well over 100 children, but I also had the opportunity to preach a gospel, Christmas message to 1500 villagers. You may not remember this but you (people reading this blog and the Calvary family partnered in our Myanmar Christmas to provide a meal and the rice for two more meals to everyone who attended.  (In fact that was probably the main reason they came, since my preaching is not really a huge draw in Myanmar!)

That year one of the people who heard the gospel was a man named Mynt Shwe, a Buddhist monk whose sons were in training to become monks. That year Mynt Shwe accepted the gospel and now he is a full time missionary to the Buddhist people. This year our family is going back to Myanmar for Christmas and on December 27th we will be sharing the gospel with (and feeding) about 3000 of the villagers whom he has been serving. I love it when God brings things full circle, almost like He had a plan!

The needs in Myanmar are so great. Poverty is off the charts, children are abandoned with regularity, thousands of children as young as 10 have been forced to serve in the military, and very little is invested in the education of the next generation. To add to those realities, in recent years, Myanmar was the number one producer worldwide of meth-amphetamines, and number two in opium production. Making matters even worse is the fact that Myanmar ranks among the lowest countries in receiving international aid.

Then we come to the church, the hope of the world. The church in Myanmar is often marginalized and in some parts of the country persecuted and the Burmese Buddhists rank as one of the largest unreached people groups in the world. Yet in spite of all those obstacles, God is doing amazing stuff in Myanmar! Buddhists priests are leaving their robes behind for the cause of Christ. Children are being taken in, nurtured, educated and given new hope for their future. Christian schools are being built, unreached villages are discovering living proof of a loving God and we have a part in all of that.

Lynn MyanmarThis year 10 of us will be in Myanmar for Christmas. We are raising money to give a Christmas meal and the gospel to over 5000 people and give Christmas presents to about 160 children. If you would like to be part of what God does this Christmas. Just click the link below (or if you are at my blog, the link to the side).


I am praying you have an unrivaled Christmas!

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30 Years

Jun 10th 2014

30 years ago today I was jumping from a railroad bridge into the Delaware river and riding a dirt bike. My friends were in town and we were celebrating. 30 years ago today, I was putting on a brown tuxedo for the very last time, with a cumber-bun! 30 years ago today it was 100+ degrees in eastern PA, I remember this well, because I was standing in an unconditioned church sweating from places that don’t normally sweat. 30 years ago today I said yes to the most beautiful bride. 30 years ago today, I did.

“I did” is the past tense of “I do”, right? I said,”I do.” “Do you Dan take Lynn whom you hold by the hand as your lawfully wedded wife?” “I do” began the ride of a lifetime. Other than the choice to surrender my life to Christ, not a single decision has affected and shaped my life more than the decision to marry Lynn. I can’t say that she’s my better half because I’m not really sure where she begins or when she ends. She is my best friend, my greatest encouragement, my most gracious critic, and my partner in ministry. She has been (and yes always will be, even though the last one just graduated) an amazing mother. She has shaped me more than she knows through her prayers and through her heart.   I have a prayer shield made up of men from Calvary, but Lynn is my intercessor.

We have laughed together, feasted together, vacationed together and argued together. Once in a great while we have even exercised together. Together we have raised my four most favorite sons and daughters in the whole wide world; Yoshi, Snaker, Louby and Bear. This last week all four, plus Josiah who has been grafted into our family, were home for Josh’s graduation. I love the fact that they love each other and like being with each other. Do they fight? They fight well. They are perfecting the skills of teasing and annoying handed down to me from my father. And they still like being with each other.  So much of the health and well-being of our family flows out of Lynn’s heart.

As I look back on 30 years worth of vacations, dinners, arguments, tears, laughter, back-to-school nights, games, dates, holidays, worship, Disney-trips, bills, late nights, broke-down cars, science projects, country projects, kid’s sleep-overs, mission trips, prayers, ministry discussions, sermon evaluations, hospital visits, long drives, practical jokes, lifegroup meetings, and discussions about our future, I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade-in a single year, (maybe a day or two, but probably not even a month). They have all been too good to miss.

Most of you who read this will know that, while I am writing this to celebrate and honor Lynn and our marriage…it’s mostly true with very little hyperbole. I have known her longer than I haven’t and I  love her more than I imagined; more than I imagined I could on that day 30 years ago in an old unconditioned stone church… where I said, “I do.”

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Looking Back in Gratitude and Forward in Faith

May 22nd 2014

May 22, 1994. It doesn’t rank up there with worldwide famous days (though for a certain Balogh it was somewhat important). Elaine Crosby won an LPGA tournament in Oregon and the Toronto Raptors unveiled their new name and logo. But it was a big day for me. 20 years ago on this day, I was preaching my very first sermon as Calvary’s lead pastor.  On May 13th, 1994 Lynn and I rolled into State College with all our stuff in a UHaul. It was a Friday. Yep our first official day in town was Friday the 13th!  We only had three children then and we moved into the Christan Church’s parsonage. I’ll never forget our first night outside….no mosquito’s…thought we were in heaven.

I had that first weekend off, so the following weekend, May 22nd was my first weekend to preach. I preached from the Old Testament book of Jeremiah. Here’s a quote from that very first message,

 Do you know what excites me about being a Christian? God, the almighty King of Kings, the creator of the universe has a dream. He has a vision for each one of us. He has plans for our congregation and the church in State College. I don’t come this morning saying, “I have a plan. I have a dream. Just follow me and everything’s going to be great.” I come saying, “God has a plan. God has a dream. We need to be on the lookout for God-drawn-dreams. God-ideas, not just good ideas.”

20 years later, at the start of a new chapter of Calvary’s story, I still believe those words. With all my heart, I still believe those words.  God has a plan. God has a purpose. God has a dream for each of our lives.

It’s been a good 20 years filled with laughter, tears, good times and difficult days. I shouldn’t even mention names because there is no way that I could include every name that has been part of that journey.  But when I think way back, names like Bill, Steve, Theresa, Cathy, Bob, Pat, Joan, Kay, Dan, Stacy, Wendy, Herb, Christina, Kim, Kendel and many other staff, leaders and friend’s names always come quickly to mind (and some of those names represent more than one person!).  As people who have partnered with us, loved and supported us, you are such an important part of who we are now and where we are headed. In the last few years God has added more names to that list…and I am anticipating that it won’t stop.  That’s one of the amazing themes of the last 20 years, the people that God draws to Calvary. So amazing.

As I look back I remember our first unity service at Eisenhower. 12 congregations packed the place out and it was so good. I remember Bless the Fest, and Lighthouses of Prayer.

I remember people sitting in the aisles at 1250 University Drive and the first Sunday we were at the North High School auditorium. I remember mission trips to the Dominican Republic, Estonia and Myanmar. I remember packing a semi with food for Muslims in Somalia. I remember praying with people to receive Christ and praying with people to receive grace in the midst of hard times. I remember preaching at Stacy Yackeren’s funeral filled with young people from State High. I could go on and on.  I really could.

For me most importantly, I remember the way that my family has grown, my kids have met God, grown and been loved here. Even though Calvary has grown from 300 to 1500+, you have been our family.

The last twenty years have been filled with God-stories of live’s changed, people served, and people coming to know Christ.  Today as I look back I can’t help but wonder what God will do in us and through us in the next 20 years? Whether you were here years before I came, or you came years after I was here… thank you. It’s one thing to go hard after a great cause. It’s one thing to be part of a great community. But there is simply nothing like being part of a great community that goes after a great cause.

Lynn and I can’t imagine being part of a greater community or a greater cause.

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Happy Birthday Lynn!

May 10th 2014

First some random facts:

  • We’ve been together for 34 birthdays…and yes…she was a 5 year old freshman at Bethel when we met!
  • We’ve known each other for 64% of our lives and don’t even try to do the math.
  • We met in a shower and double-dated with each other’s roomates…but switched before the night was over.
  • Her favorite date night was horror movies.
  • When she fell for me, she bled all over the rocks and rolled into the river.
  • She was the world’s most beautiful bride. I know everyone says that, but really she was…
  • She once sang (with a trio) the Star Spangled Banner at a Spikes game.
  • I believe I have only forgotten one of her birthdays in my whole life. But I made up for it by taking her out to the little not-all-that-great-but-if-it’s-your-birthday-you-eat-free steakhouse. Yeah not one of my finer moments.
  • She started her nursing career serving kids who had cystic fibrosis and nobody loved those kids more than her.
  • I think she was probably the first person to teach our oldest daughter to use a four letter word for poop. Well it wasn’t really teaching, more like modeling just before the deacons (first church not Calvary) came over for supper…when she broke something in the kitchen.
  • She’s probably a safer driver than I, but she’s also the only one who has ever caused damage to our cars…multiple times.
  • Her four greatest gifts to me are named Sarah, Katy, Jake and Josh…(and we have since added Josiah to mix as well!)
  • She makes the best cinnamon rolls and chocolate covered rice krispee bars.
  • She spends hours and hours praying for people.
  • She gave a devotional once that was quoted in Brazil and at Bethel’s commencement.
  • She is currently part of the search team choosing the national president of our conference.

She is a prayer warrior for many. She is the mother of our children. She is a leader in our church. She loves to laugh, pull pranks, and worship…and yes all three of those go together well. She is a friend to so many. She is my best friend. Nobody knows me better and nobody loves me more. She is not perfect, but she is the first to admit it and she has a deep desire to grow. She has a heart that spurs me on to love others, even those who hurt me or annoy me. She is the Velcro (strong bond but willing to let go) of our family.

She is a child of God. Maybe I have been most impacted by watching her journey over the years, as a child of God.  That journey has been filled with ups and downs, not a few of them caused by me! But for the last 15 years there has been this steady desire to know God, to listen for his voice, to serve Him. I remember years ago when she would complain about not getting stuff from scripture and now so often what God gives her in his word is an encouragement to me. I’m sure they may be people who pray more or better, (whatever that means) but honestly I don’t know them. And as she has journeyed as a child of God, her heart has grown to love many of God’s kids.  

This month marks 20 years that we have been serving together in State College. It marks the 18th birthday of our youngest son. Next month will mark 30 years that we have been married. A lot of marker-moments. But there are few moments that have shaped my life more for the good than the birth-moment of Lynn.

Happy Birthday Sweets!

There is One Response to : Happy Birthday Lynn!

  1. Ruthann Wessel Wrote:

    This was so beautifully written and so true. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about your amazing wife. I still remember when your journey with Lynn began. It’s such a joy seeing how God is using you both in His Kingdom. Hugs to you all from Long Island.

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1×1 Initiative #3–Yes a Church Without Walls Can Build Buildings!

Apr 28th 2014

In the last 20 years Calvary has quintupled (is that a word?) in size. We had ~1800 in all our gatherings on Easter.  All of that has happened while owning nothing more than a 15,000 square foot facility! We have lived out the vision that a church is more than a building. In fact, I’ve never been crazy about building buildings…more passionate about building people and investing in cities. But I’ll never forget an aha moment I experienced in Texas while listening to a pastor talk about their 100,000 ft addition. Yep they do everything big in Texas! They called this addition the Town Square and it was more for their community than it was for them.  

That’s when it hit me, “A Church without walls builds facilities for the community.” That has been our top driving priority. While our priority hasn’t been and isn’t now to build buildings. Facilities are tools that God can use to transform people and we believe it’s time to invest in a new facility…just like our spiritual pioneers did 50 years ago. When I think of the lives that have been transformed at 1250 University Drive over the decades, I do get a bit excited to think about what God might do in the next 50 years.

One of the questions that came up at our Q&A on Sunday night was, “Why build first at Harvest Fields?” Below is a Top 10 list of sorts…

10. Beautiful Property: If you have been there you know what I mean. We want people to use this property and we believe more will use it if there is a facility.

9. Donor Integrity: At Calvary we have always done our best to honor donor intent. In 2005 $2.7 million was pledged to develop a facility and the property at Harvest Fields. Over the course of the next 4-5 years those dollars were given to Calvary by people to develop the Harvest Fields property. Without going back to those donors to get permission, we feel the need to honor those gifts by continuing in that direction.

8. Sewer: Having gained permission to connect to city sewer, we now have 5 years to build or loose that access. If we don’t build now, we may not get sewer service again.

7. Expanding Our Reach Along the 322 Corridor: We are aiming for three solid sites along the 322 corridor. We don’t currently have a site on the Harvest Fields end.

6. An Opportunity to help the CityChurch: With a solid relationship developing between Calvary and the State Theater, and the development of Harvest Fields, if this initiative goes well 1250 University Drive can be used to solidify 2-3 other smaller citychurch congregations.

5. Few Churches on the Harvest Fields Side of the Region: There are only two churches in Harris Township (last time a church was built in Harris Township was near the time of the Civil War)!  There are few churches stretching around Mt. Nittany to the mall.

4. Good Favor with Township Leaders: We have developed good favor with township leaders and we don’t want to lose that.

3. Harvest Fields History: A great deal of  work has gone into developing this site. Work on this project has been ongoing since 2005, well before we went multi-site. To set this project aside now would be to set aside thousands of hours of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition, Harris Township and other local officials have gone to lengths to support us in the sewer wars, not building would be difficult to explain to them.

2. First Step Not the Last Step: A successful initiative will allow us to move more quickly to other facility needs. As we build facilities, we are building them as a unified movement. The support of the whole movement in this initiative will lead more quickly to the next development opportunity.

1. Trusting and Following God: The leadership team (made up of people from a variety of our gatherings) looked at all that has transpired over the course of the years and felt that God is leading us to develop the property at Harvest Fields.  In addition to the reasons listed above we considered that…

  • For more than a decade, every time we have gathered leaders together to pray and ponder what God is doing with Harvest Fields, we have walked away believing we were to develop the land. This started in 1997 when Steve and Kay Heinz gathered a group of Calvary leaders and shared their vision of God using this property.
  • In 2003 (the Harvest Fields Board) considered selling the property. We put it on the market, but at some point the board spent an evening in prayer and decided that God did not want us to sell the land. We received a multi-million dollar offer the next day and it cost us to say no, but we felt confident in saying no, because of that sense of God’s leading. Without that prayer-time the property would have been sold.
  • In April of 2005 we started a capital campaign for new facilities. While our campaign consultant encouraged us to aim for a goal of 1 million. We believed God for more and pledges to the campaign exceeded all expectations at 2.7 million.
  • On May 15, 2005 a vote was taken to approve Harvest Fields as the site of a new facility passed with 99% of the vote and a year later Calvary purchased the property with a 100% vote to purchase.
  • From 2006 to 2010, as difficulties with access, sewer and the design of the building arose, we called people to pray at many different points. In March, 2009, we gathered leaders to a time of fasting, prayer, and seeking God for future of Harvest Fields. It was a significant time of meeting with God, and again we came away with a renewed commitment to developing “Harvest Fields” for the community.

If you add up all those reasons…it still doesn’t take away our need for faith. But then again that’s what we are seeking… opportunities to grow in faith and generosity.

There is One Response to : 1×1 Initiative #3–Yes a Church Without Walls Can Build Buildings!

  1. Ginny Smith Wrote:

    Yes, Calvary, it’s time!

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