Calvary Chapel Ooltewah
July 28, 2013
I have always enjoyed Calvary Chapels. No matter which location I have visited, they have remained consistent in worship, teaching and outreach. They actually just teach the Bible – starting with a book and teaching through the entirety of it before moving on to the next. While they use other relevant sources such as media and historical literature to better explain the original Biblical languages of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic as well as the cultures in which the Bible was written, you will seldom find a Calvary Chapel pastor who deviates from just preaching the Word straight from the Word, otherwise known as expository teaching.
To understand this better, let’s consider the three main styles of preaching – topical, textual, and expository. Topical preaching is from the Biblical text, but uses the nature of the topic to develop the sermon. Textual preaching gets its main points from the Biblical text, but develops the actual sermon outside of the text. And finally, expository preaching gets everything from the Biblical text – in other words scripture interprets scripture – the main idea, main points, sub points and developmental components. “The preacher becomes a bond servant of the text, working according to the thought of the original author” (Duduit).
On this particular morning in July, I decided to visit the Ooltewah location of Calvary Chapel. My husband wasn’t feeling good that morning as he was suffering from back pain (he’s a floor installer – it’s common), so I was on my own. As I entered the building, I was greeted by the pastor, Alan Joiner who was very friendly and made sure I knew where the restrooms and coffee were. As I took a seat next to a friend of mine and her husband, I was greeted by the worship leader, Scott Logan and his wife Shanon. I had previously met Scott during his touring days with my brother Philip (who is also a worship leader for another Calvary Chapel in town), so he was definitely excited that I had decided to visit the new church plant.
Lively worship started the morning and it was such that it certainly honored the Lord Most High. As most of you know I don’t base worship on “holy ghost bumps,” but I know He was definitely there as He washed over me and delighted in my praise.
After several songs, Pastor Alan made some announcements, one of which was an update on what their church refers to as a “conspiracy of kindness.” He went on to explain that it’s better to introduce people TO Jesus rather than talk ABOUT Jesus. Meeting practical needs in the community is how to be the hands and feet of Christ. He also mentioned the Agape Box at the back of the room. They don’t pass an offering plate. Instead, each one is encouraged to give according to what the Spirit leads. After a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing, we entered into the fellowship time.
And as most of you already know, “fellowship time” is my least favorite thing to do in churches. But I must admit, this was different. It was actually like a 5-7 minute break to put your offering in the box, grab some coffee, talk to a few people, use the restroom, or catch a smoke outside (there is a smoking receptacle for those who haven’t kicked that habit yet – and I’m all for that by the way – meet people where they are in life – I can tell you right now, my husband would have joined one of the gentlemen out there). It wasn’t the stand, shake your hand, “how are you” fluff. Very refreshing.
Then we all settled in for the message (see below) which was Hebrews chapter 13 and its themes of The Supremacy of Christ – Live grace tied closely to Jesus – Reject legalism and the law – Live in light of eternity.
Calvary Chapel Ooltewah seems to be a church that desires more than anything to stay true to the Word, be generous and kind to those who are hurting, and to meet practical needs within the community. They are located at 7610 Lee Hwy Chattanooga, TN 37421. Their phone number is 423-321-2864, and their website is www.calvarychapelooltewah.com.
They are digitally relevant as well. If you’re not able to be there in person one Sunday, you can catch their podcast on iTunes or subscribe to their Sermon RSS feed at http://www.calvarychapelooltewah.com/feed/podcast.
Please note – the rest of this entry is quite long. While the sermon itself only lasted maybe 30 minutes, it was PACKED with some great insights from God’s Word. I encourage you to keep reading as it provides some practical steps to take in our Christian Walk.
Hebrews 13 – The Supremacy of Christ
Our lives should reflect grace and this chapter basically shows us how to do that.
Verse 1 – Let brotherly love continue.
This is the primary command and is the definition of the Christian walk. See John 13:34-35, I Peter 1:22; 4:8, I Cor 13:13, Gal 5:6, I Thess 1:3, and Rom 12:10. I Corinthians 13 is THE Christian ethic by which we all should live.
Verses 2-6 – Practical ways to live out the ultimate command of loving others.
Verse 2- Hospitality. Culturally there were no inns. These places would have been known as a saloon type atmosphere or some places would just be an encampment with a spring of water nearby. People from this day tried to be hospitable to travelers. The goal was to maintain tables for strangers and widows. And if they needed alms, they would be required to eat first and then their need would also be met. The verse carries it one step further – guard how you live your life as if everyone you come in contact with could be an angel. See Matthew 25 concerning Jesus’ story of the sheep and goats.
Verse 3 – Prisoners. We are to sacrificially live out a person’s hardships. Have you ever considered what the Roman prison system was like? Prisoners were kept just long enough for the punishment of lashes or death. House arrest was popular as well. The prisons were known as places of neglect, darkness, & stench. Not much food was provided and there was no running water or toilet facilities. The entrance to the prison was even repulsive. Prisoners relied on friends and family members to come by and bring food and help remove the group refuse. The point? We should reach out to even the most vile of people to show love.
In our modern culture, often what happens is when ministry gets messy, we back off. We talk a good game but our service is weak. The pastor posed a question for thought….what would our world look like if we all acted the way the church is supposed to act? He suggested perhaps our country wouldn’t need the government to handle social issues if the church would just be the church (imagine that – and I heartily agree).
Verse 4-Marital faithfulness. Biblical teaching of marriage were being attacked from all sides during that time (sound familiar?) Multiple partners were being taught as a male physiological need. The extreme opposite view was that a person should deny anything that was good in order to mortify the body. But the writer of Hebrews said we must follow the written Word of God, not what the culture is teaching.
The verse uses the term “immoral people.” The original Greek word for immoral is the same word we use today for pornography. This is one of the fastest sweeping forest fires in our culture today. In fact, it’s an epidemic. The pastor strongly urged us to guard ourselves. He said, “It’s damaging to your marriage, and it breaks the spiritual connection between a man and a woman.” The pastor challenged the men to guard their hearts as if they were guarding their families, and he challenged women to get out of the romance novels.
On a side note, what happens is you set yourself up to expect an experience and/or an encounter that is not a normal way of life and certainly not what God intended. You start comparing your spouse to what you see on the screen or visualize within the text. When your spouse doesn’t meet that expectation or fantasy, you begin to doubt their validity as your partner and eventually you will start seeing and treating them as subhuman. It’s not new – it started in the Garden of Eden when the serpent asked Eve a question which caused her to doubt the goodness of her Creator. The same thing happens with porn – questions are formed in your mind which cause you to start doubting yourself and those around you and eventually it leads to insidious addiction. If you find yourself lost in a porn addiction, there is help available. First, stop being silent – step up, tell the truth, and seek godly counseling. Second, place software on your computers, your tablets, and your smart phones which will alert a trust accountability partner about your online activities (online help is available at sources such as www.xxxchurch.com, www.x3watch.com, and www.covenanteyes.com). Third, get yourself in a Bible believing/preaching church and surround yourself with godly men and women who will walk through life with you.
Moving on…Verse 5 – 6 – Free from love of money & God never leaves us. Materialism is another strong vice in our culture. It is the cause of many sins and the symptom of a much greater spiritual issue (see Col 3:5 and Mt 6:24). There is no middle ground. You’re either worshipping stuff or worshipping God. How you manage your finances shows your spiritual faithfulness (Luke 16:10-12). We are to endure and persevere this life with the eternal city in mind. The Pastor used a clip from the Falling Skies TV series to show us a conversation about faith and loss of faith. One girl says she prays. The second girl who has clearly suffered a crisis in her faith asks her if she prays for a weapon to help keep them alive, to which the first girl replies in a graceful manner, “I don’t ask God for things, I ask what I can do for Him.” Clearly in verse 5, Jesus promises He will never leave us or forsake us. Christ is the only thing in all of reality that will never change, so that we can say in verse 6, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” The point: free yourself from the love of money and be content with what you have. Quit asking God for so much stuff and focus on what you can do for Him because He’s not going anywhere and He already knows what your needs are.
Verses 7-10 – Leadership and doctrine are closely tied.
The term for leaders is seldom used in the New Testament. It refers to any leader from a religious, military, or political perspective with Jesus Christ being the chief. The pastor again strongly exhorted us to test the teachings of any leader or any church you go to. If they teach proper doctrine and their lives line up, follow them. If not, leave. Have nothing to do with heretical teaching.
These verses are also a call to discipleship. The Bible will not change. Do not be discipled by someone who doesn’t properly teach the word. Confront them in love. If you find a good leader, allow them to speak into your life. The pastor said he believed in raising up godly leaders in the church. And oh are they needed!
Verse 9 – Strange, various teachings. There should be no distinction in our faith between doctrine and action. Step back unless you are sitting under sound, orthodox teaching. Go. Run, if it is not. Study your Bible. Know what the word of God says. Be a Berean (Acts 17:11). This pastor welcomes people to challenge his theology. I find that refreshing IF he will be open to correction if it is valid. Unfortunately I have confronted several spiritual leaders in the past whose theology or actions did not line up with the Word in its proper context, and instead of receiving it with grace and humility, I was met with disdain and arrogance and an argumentative spirit (in all cases). In fact, some even went so far as to continue to preach in error and make examples of certain things from the pulpit that should never have entered a sermon. Needless to say, as I visit from church to church, when the day comes for my husband and I to “park” for awhile, I will need to know the pastor is humble and strives to teach the Word as it is laid out in the text. Granted, we all make interpretative and lifestyle mistakes from time to time, but it should not be a habitual pattern.
Verses 11-14 – Leave the legalism of the temple and join Jesus outside the city.
Trade in the comfort of Jerusalem for the eternal city. Invest in the life to come.
Verse 15-16 – Two avenues of praise and sacrifice.
Verbal praise can often be easy. But is sacrifice so easy? What are we doing to give sacrificially?
Verse 17 – Leadership is for the benefit of the church.
The pastor said that he follows verses 13-17 in his own life. He has to give account for how he leads the church and the sheep. He takes this mandate seriously. He thanked his church for being a people who make it a joy for him to be their leader.
The morning ended with a prayer from Hebrews 13: 20-25, asking God to firmly establish us in His everlasting covenant and one of my favorite worship hymns, “Lead Me to the Cross.”
Duduit, Michael. What is expository preaching? An interview with Bryan Chapell. n.d. 1 August 2013. <http://www.preaching.com/sermons/11565737/>.