Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Calvary’

Respond to Your Call to Influence.


group of women

The church has not always recognized the spiritual gifts of women. But God has fashioned them to be key players in His kingdom.

Let’s imagine for a moment what the world would be like without women. All the wonderful traits women are capable of providing with exuberance—gentleness, nurture, care, refined beauty—would be missing.

Men possess these same qualities but in smaller supply; women, on the other hand, overflow with them. Without women the world would look like an army base where everything’s painted white or gray and designed for efficiency at the expense of beauty. An awful sense of incompleteness would permeate the planet.

Women have many qualities unique to their gender, one of the grandest being the ability to host life. This privilege to shelter another life at such an intimate level has been granted exclusively to Eve and her daughters.

Women can nurture their newborns through the most intimate interaction between a female adult and a child: breastfeeding. The image of a baby being nursed by a loving mother is a picture of total dependency, perfect care and the most sublime transfer of nurture from one being to another.

Women are also the ones who predominantly shape the character of their children during their crucial early years. They plant tender gestures in the inner layer of a child’s malleable soul and watch as, like the seeds in a flowerbed, the spiritual seeds sprout, spreading beauty over the adult landscape in the form of noble deeds.

When were the seeds planted? During the nurturing years when a child spends most of his time with a woman: his mother!

Jesus’ First Teacher
It was a woman, young Mary, who first heard beating within her the heart of God Incarnate when she was pregnant with Jesus. It was her hands that first touched Jesus’ body and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes.

Think for a moment what this reflects: God Almighty, Creator and Preserver of the universe, took the form of a baby and became dependent on the care of one of His creatures. When God experienced human flesh, with all its limitations, who was there to meet His needs? A woman.

Jesus’ mother, Mary, was His first teacher and also later His first disciple. No other human knew Jesus as intimately as Mary did.

Ponder for a moment the scene at Calvary. While most of Jesus’ frightened disciples hid at a distance, Mary and a group of faithful women gathered at the foot of the cross. Despite the pain and suffering Jesus endured, His last earthly concern was for a woman—His mother.

He could not forget that she had taken care of Him when His earthly life began. And now, as His life was about to end, Jesus lovingly turned her over to the care of His beloved disciple (see John 19:26-27).

Women’s Hall of Fame
Throughout the Bible are inspiring testimonies of other brave and brilliant women who were not mere privates in God’s army but key players who were given pivotal assignments at strategic points and in crucial times.

Moses’ mother challenged the pharaoh’s genocidal decree when she preserved the life of the one who would eventually lead millions of Hebrews to freedom (see Ex. 2).

Rahab held the keys to the taking of Jericho. By turning them in the right direction she assured the fall of the fortress city (see Josh. 2).

Hannah cried out to God for Samuel to be born, and he went on to become the greatest prophet and judge Israel ever knew (see 1 Sam. 1).

Deborah was an illustrious judge and a proven prophetess who delivered Israel from the mighty chariots of Jabin, the oppressing king of Canaan. Another woman, Jael, helped to bring total destruction to Jabin and his leading general, Sisera (see Judges 4-5).

Esther courageously risked her life to save her nation, God’s people, when they were in danger of being exterminated.

Sarah was called “mother of nations” by God Himself (see Gen. 17:16) and is listed among the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11.

Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, instructed and guided Apollos, who had been preaching less-than-perfect theology (see Acts 18: 24-26). The fact that in most tranlations, Priscilla is listed first in this passage signifies the prominence of her role.

On the shoulders of these women—and countless more down through the ages—rested the fate of cities, tribes and nations.

Pillars of the Early Church
One of the main reasons Christianity spread so rapidly in the early years is because its message restored honor and self-worth to half the world’s population: women. Romans had such a low view of women that some men engaged in sex with other men. Jewish rabbis completely silenced women inside the synagogue, and pagans used them as temple prostitutes.

However, early church leaders dignified women by teaching that in Christ “there is neither male nor female” and we “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28, NKJV). Women were also given positions of honor and leadership.

Priscilla, for instance, was part of the team that founded the church in Ephesus—site of the greatest power encounter recorded in the book of Acts. She was there, inside the crux of God’s power, when God dethroned Artemis and brought down the demonic socioeconomic structure that had controlled Ephesus.

Throughout the epistles women are unapologetically exalted as pillars of the faith. Paul identified two women as the headwaters of Timothy’s faith: his mother and his grandmother (see 2 Tim. 1:5). In Romans, a letter intended for wide circulation and public reading, Paul praised several women as people of faith and proven ministry (see Rom. 16:1-15).

The first European convert was a woman, Lydia, and hers was the first household to be baptized (see Acts 16:14-15). She was very assertive in her interaction with the apostles: “She begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us” (v. 15).

Three centuries later, the driving force behind Constantine’s conversion and the subsequent Christianization of the Roman Empire was another woman, Helena, the emperor’s mother.

Extraordinary Sensitivity
Women have an extraordinary sensitivity to spiritual things. I am not saying that they are more godly than men, but I believe they are definitely more spiritual. This is why Jesus was able to reveal two of the most powerful truths in the gospels to women.

He told Martha that He is the resurrection and the life (see John 11:25-27). To the Samaritan woman Jesus explained that He is the living water (see John 4:7-15). These women were in a state of confusion when Jesus found them, but both were able to hear, understand and believe these profound truths.

Which Side are You On?.

James Merritt
Luke 23:33,39-43


1. The universal symbol of the Christian faith is the cross, the old rugged cross. The empty tomb may be the foundation of Christianity, but the cross is the focus of Christianity. When we think of the place called Calvary; when we think of that “hill far away” in our mind’s eye we can picture the cross upon which Jesus died.

2. But too often we forget there was not just one cross that day. There were three. “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, AND THE CRIMINALS, one on the right hand and the other on the left.” (v.33) There was more than one cross, and there was more than one crucifixion. There was a cross of redemption, but there was also a cross of reception and a cross of rejection.

3. Someone has observed that Jesus did not die in a cathedral between two candles. He died on a cross between two criminals. Three men died that day on a cross. One was a benefactor, one was a blasphemer, one was a believer. One was a Savior, one was a sinner, and one was a saint. One man died for sin. Another man died in sin. The third man died to sin.

4. Now the fact that a Holy Savior died between hopeless sinners was not just an accident. It was an appointment. This was a fulfillment of prophecy for Isaiah had said 750 years before about the Messiah “And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12b)

5. Before this world was even created, God had made an appointment in his calendar for the Savior to meet these sinners and for these sinners to meet the Savior. Two men died that day. One man died on the wrong side of Jesus. One man died on the right side of Jesus. Friend, when the day comes that you die, the only question that will really matter is: which side are you on?

6. Now both men were on the wrong side of Jesus, but one man got on the right side of Jesus. The way he got right is the way we must get right. So I want us to look at Calvary through the eyes of a sinner who became a saint.

I. The Revelation Of His Sin

1. This thief saw something in the last minutes of his life, that had he not seen it, would have doomed his soul forever. That is, he saw his sinfulness.

2. He realized that it was his sin that had nailed him to the cross. But more than that, he realized it was his sin that had nailed Jesus to the cross. The reason why this thief was saved is because he finally realized he was lost.

3. He realized because he was a lost sinner he needed to fear a holy God. It was his fear of God that led to his faith in God. It is important to understand not only why one thief was saved, but also to understand why the other thief was lost.

A. No Fear Of The Person Of God

1. One thief wanted to save his soul. The other thief wanted to save his skin. “Then …

The Gospel of Martyrdom vs. the Gospel of Success.

Michael Brown
Michael Brown

Stephen stood before the Sanhedrin. The appointed Jewish leadership confronted this anointed Jewish believer. They glared; he glowed. They were enraged; he was enraptured. Their faces were contorted with anger; his was like the countenance of an angel. “Men and brothers,” he said, “listen to me.”

He rehearsed the history of Israel, from Abraham to Moses to David, the faithfulness of God in spite of the unfaithfulness of the people. But Stephen was not there that day merely to recite the lessons of history. He was there to be a witness, and as a faithful witness he spoke. His words turned to piercing rebuke:

You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered Him — you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it (7:51-53).

Soon his body lay battered and bloody, a mangled, motionless mass. He had not backed down. He had not compromised. He had not omitted a word. He was a witness and a prophetic voice. And that day he became the Church’s first martyr — the first, but not the last. Hundreds of thousands have followed in his path. Being a witness for Jesus could cost you your life.

In the early Church, witnessing and martyrdom quickly became associated: The Greek word for “witness” is martyros. Witnesses testify with their lives and often seal their words with their own blood. Have you done any “witnessing” lately?

It’s one thing to read the Word and be stirred by the examples of men like Stephen. But this was real life! He was probably a young man with a wife and children. His whole future lay before him. His family was dependent on him. There may have been a toddler waiting to greet him that day when he came home. But he never came home!

And then there was his ministry. He was a powerful preacher, anointed to heal the sick and perform miracles. Think of all the lives he could touch! Think of all the good he could do for the kingdom of God.

Why didn’t Stephen simply deny the false charges? “Men and brothers, the accusations are not true.” Why didn’t he politely dismiss their questions and calm their anger? Why did he continue to stand up and speak out? The answer challenges us all: He was not seeking to save his life; he was seeking to be a witness.

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it (Matt. 16:25).

This is the story of the true Church in every nation and in every age:

You did not renounce your faith in Me, even in the days of Antipas, My faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives (Rev 2:13b).

This is the gospel of martyrdom, the gospel of Jesus. It is the gospel that Paul preached and lived:

I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:24).

That is why he could say:

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil 1:20-21).

As Leonard Ravenhill observed in Why Revival Tarries, Paul didn’t mind if the cost of his obedience was prison, for it were better that he should be “the prisoner of the Lord for a few years than that his fellow men should be the devil’s prisoners in hell forever.

How different this is from the philosophy that rules in today’s luxury-soaked America. How different this is from the modern gospel of success! Jesus cut to the very core of the issue. When Peter told the Lord in no uncertain terms that He was not to go the way of suffering, rejection, and death (“Never, Lord!” he said.” This shall never happen to you!”), Jesus identified Peter’s words as satanic.

Get behind Me, Satan! [Jesus said to Peter.] You are a stumbling block to Me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men. (Matt. 16:23)

What was at the root of this satanically inspired theology? What fueled Peter’s opposition to the cross? It was a different set of values, a different perspective, a different viewpoint, a different understanding: “you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Now we’re getting down to the basics!

One “gospel” is interested in the things of this world, the things of men. The other gospel is interested in eternal things, the things of God. One message cultivates preservation of self; the other cultivates denial of self. One says, “Add to your life!” The other says, “Lose your life!” One message encourages self-satisfaction, the other encourages self-denial. One message tells carnally minded people “what their itching ears want to ear” (2 Tim 4:3); the other message tells the truth.

Whether or not we have much in this world is not the central issue. (Most of us in America have an incredible abundance, dozens of times what we actually need to live.) What matters is our attitude towards our what we have. And we who have an abundance must guard our hearts. Riches are deceitful!

Jesus rebuked the church of Laodicea: You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful poor, blind and naked (Rev 3:17).

But Jesus commended the church of Smyrna:

I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich. . . . Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you into prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution ten days. Be faithful to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life (Rev 2:9-10).

We must see how tragically earthly the gospel of success really is. It still stands in the way of the cross. It still rebukes Jesus for promising suffering and death. In fact, it actually calls the path to Calvary “religious”—meaning traditional, unanointed, and fruitless.

It is no overstatement to say that there is no cross in the gospel of success. In its most extreme modern forms, it originates from the pit. (Remember, it was Satanwhom Jesus rebuked for trying to keep Him from going to the cross.) The gospel of success criticizes the message of the cross because it leads to “death.” But the true gospel must lead to death—death to the flesh, death to the will of man, death to this world’s priorities. Only through death can there be resurrection. Only through the cross can there be abundant life. In fact, if you want what some teachers call “the God kind of life” you’re going to have to experience “the Jesus kind of death.” Which path will you take?

The last generation taught what is often called “pie in the sky” theology—and this theology certainly had its problems! There were plenty of negative distortions in the message. But we have substituted something worse. We now have the theology of “have your cake and eat it too.” The first message starved its hearers, depriving them of the blessings of life in the Spirit in this world. The second message engorges them, robbing them of the light of eternity.

People of God, we are not to center our lives around eating and drinking, gaining and possessing, having more and being merry, because tomorrow we do not die. No. We live forever! How foolish that we conduct ourselves as if this world were our lasting home. We’re just passing through!

When Jacob was a frail old man he said to Pharaoh:

The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of pilgrimage of my fathers (Gen 47:9).

King David, in spite of the equivalent of billions of dollars of riches, could say at the end of his life:

We are aliens and strangers in Your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope (1 Chr 29:15).

Hebrews 11 commends Abraham—certainly a prosperous and influential man—because,

By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. . . . [All of them] admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own … a heavenly one (11:9-10, 13-14, 16).

How much more does the New Testament call us to live in the light of eternity!

Jesus told His disciples to rejoice when they were persecuted and rejected, “because great is your reward in heaven …” (Matt 5:12). He told them—and us!—to store up treasures in heaven (Matt 6:19-21), and Peter reminds us that we have a heavenly inheritance “that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Pet 1:4). That’s why we who suffer for Jesus now will be “overjoyed” when His glory will be revealed at His return (1 Pet 4:13). There is great joy now because there will be endless joy then!

You sympathized with those in prison [for the faith] and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions (Heb 10:34).

Consider the example of C. T. Studd. Raised in a wealthy, aristocratic home in England last century, he became a national celebrity as a sensational cricket player at Cambridge. (He could have become the “Michael Jordan” of his generation.) But through the preaching of D. L. Moody, he experienced a deep transformation and left everything to go to the mission field.

Was he wrong for abandoning a phenomenal sports career in England in order to preach the Word in China and Africa? Was he “religious” because he chose to forsake fame, fortune, and comfort to live sacrificially among the heathen? The decisions he made and the path he chose make one thing perfectly clear: He was not seeking to get ahead in this world. He was seeking to please the Lord. There is a difference!

On judgment day, and throughout eternity, men and women like C. T. Studd will be accounted wise. They will have our admiration and God’s commendation. Does anything stop us from following their lead? It will mean going against the grain!

Our country is saturated with a “save your life, improve your life” mentality—from health clubs to exercise videos, from savings plans to retirement funds, from insurance policies to computer programs guaranteed to put you “in control of your life.” Be successful! Live in greater security and ease! Enjoy the American dream! Jesus says, “Follow Me — even to the point of death.”

After His resurrection, He told Peter the kind of death by which he would glorify God (John 21:19). What a concept! Think of a discussion among the first eleven disciples: “Matthew, Bartholomew, Thomas, by what kind of death are you going to glorify Him?” For these men, this would not have been idle talk: According to tradition, all the first apostles, with the exception of John, died a martyr’s death. (John was reportedly boiled in oil twice — and survived.) For them, the issue was not, “Will we be called to die for the glory of God?” But rather, “By what kind of death will we glorify Him?”

What about us? Is the call any different today? By what kind of death are we called to glorify God? Death to our reputation? Death to human opinion? Death to our careers? Death to our plans and goals? Or maybe the literal death of a martyr? Savonarola, the prophetic priest in the fifteenth century Catholic Church understood the cost of fidelity to the Lord. When offered the red hat of a cardinal, he replied: “No hat will I have but that of a martyr, reddened with my own blood.”

The fatal flaw of the modern, carnal prosperity message is that it encourages us to set our eyes on the things of this world. It makes it harder for us to leave all, lose self, and follow Jesus. It eliminates the call to take up our cross. (Remember, Jesus was not the only One called to carry the cross. Read Luke 9:23 several times out loud, and digest each word slowly: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”)

The gospel of success says, “Jesus died for you so you could prosper and succeed in this world.” (Of course, there is some truth to the prosperity message, but its emphasis is way off.) The biblical message says, “Live so as to lose your life for the Lord”—meaning go anywhere, do anything, make any sacrifice—as long as souls are saved, lives are changed, the kingdom is extended, and Jesus is exalted. As children of God, we now make our decisions based on entirely different priorities. We are already subjects of the heavenly kingdom. We have already died to this world!

Of course, there are things in this present age that are important. Justice in our society is important. Compassionate action on behalf of the poor and hurting is important. Righteousness and integrity are important. Morality and family values are important. But only those whose lives are given over to a higher—and eternal—purpose can radically change things here. As C. S. Lewis said:

It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one.

Can we be honest with ourselves? A major reason why we don’t take a stand against godless laws is because we don’t want to risk our lives. We’re not willing to suffer the consequences. A key reason why we don’t share our faith more clearly and — in love — more aggressively is because we don’t want to experience rejection. We don’t want to lose our friends, or our jobs, or our ease. One major factor that keeps many of us from the mission field is that we’re too comfortable here and now. (Let’s face it: Here and now is where it’s at for most of us. There’s only one way you can prove me wrong: Live differently!)

It’s time for the old spirit of martyrdom to enter the church of America. (Much of the Church worldwide has no choice in the matter. Christianity for them is synonymous with suffering. Just ask the families of the Christian men in Sudan or Ethiopia who were crucified for their faith — in the last few months.) It’s time that we do God’s will, and God’s will alone.

I once heard Richard Wurmbrand ask why, when the Supreme Court passed the law removing public prayer from our schools, American Christians chose to comply. What would have happened if we simply refused to obey? The whole thing probably would have been turned around overnight. And if it wasn’t turned around? Then at least the church, through her biblical obedience, would have been turned around!

If only we would value obedience to the Lord more highly than we value self-preservation! If only the favor of God were more meaningful to us than the opinions of people! If only we would count suffering for Jesus to be a privilege! What could stop us then? This country boasts of 50-70 million born-again Christians. (Of course, that figure is preposterous.) But what if just million true believers here (just twenty thousand from each state!) decided to obey God and stand up for what is right, regardless of the cost? Our nation would be absolutely shaken. Now is the time to awake!

In 1984, after hearing K. P. Yohannan of Gospel for Asia preach a challenging message, a Christian man named Samuel gave up his good job in South India and moved with his family to the region of Karnataka. There he began preaching to unreached Hindus, known for their hostility to the gospel. The Lord blessed the work, and even a Hindu priest was born again.

This was more than the extremists could take. They burst into a meeting one Sunday and severely beat Samuel with iron rods, breaking his hand, arm, leg, and collar bone. When his seven year old son ran up and cried out, “Please don’t kill our daddy!” they struck the boy on the spine, breaking his back. Then they left, warning Samuel that if he ever preached there again, they would kill him. The beating was so severe that Samuel and his son were hospitalized for several months.

After his release, Samuel attended a workers’ meeting with K. P. Yohannan. The first night, during a time of prayer, his arm was supernaturally healed of paralysis he was suffering as a result of his beating. The next night he testified of the things he had recently experienced for the Lord.

K. P. asked Samuel, “What are you going to do now?” With a peaceful determination, the young man replied: “I am going back. Even if I am killed, my blood will be the foundation for many more churches.” He returned and has continued to preach. His son is back in school and is also doing well. And Samuel has baptized many more converts—and has been beaten again.

Would we have gone back and preached? K. P. was honest enough to admit that his own reaction might have been different. First he would have come up with lots of good scriptures to justify not going back. And then he would have used his best argument:

I’m only 40-some years old! God wants me to use my brain for His kingdom. With all the investment He has made in my life since I was sixteen, would it be right for me to be killed by some fanatics next week? Don’t be stupid! I am going to leave this place so I will have another forty years of my life to invest in and build God’s kingdom (Living in the Light of Eternity, 159-60).

Samuel thought differently. He was not out to save his life, he was out to save sinners. With such resolve how could he be defeated? His life is not his own! In past centuries, missionaries endued with the same spirit sailed off to far away lands with their belongings packed in caskets. They were making a one way trip!

A few years ago, a young evangelist moved into an area in Asia famous for its violent resistance to Jesus. The radical religious opposition immediately came to his apartment, making their intentions clear: “We’ll kill you if you stay here and preach!” The evangelist only smiled. “I came to die,” he replied. Today his church has 200 members. That is the power of the gospel of martyrdom. That is true success.



Michael Brown is author of The Real Kosher Jesus and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or at@drmichaellbrown on Twitter.

Despite Rumors, Calvary Assembly Megachurch Is Not for Sale.

Calvary Assembly in Winter Park, Fla.
Calvary Assembly in Winter Park, Fla. (Charisma file photo)

Back in the 1970s, Calvary Assembly was one of the first charismatic “megachurches” in America. It spun off many ministries, including Charisma magazine. In the late 1980s, it built a 5,500-seat auditorium, but today the congregation has dwindled to 650 members.

When rumors began reaching us last week that Calvary had sold its impressive campus to a large hospital nearby, I contacted the church to see if the rumors were true. The answer is Calvary Assembly has not been sold, but also that it is not for sale! In fact, interim pastor Dr. Bob Rhoden told me he believes Calvary “will be an impact church in the future.”

In a short phone interview, he also said, “The future won’t look like the past, but it will build on the past, on its great history.”

Sometimes when there is a rumor and it’s not true, journalists just leave it alone—there is no story. But this rumor is so strong, it seemed that a story was necessary to report that the rumors are not true. Because of my long history with the church, we decided my weekly e-newsletter was the place to report this. It was also my chance to give an update on what’s happening with Calvary Assembly.

The rumors may have come from the fact that Florida Hospital often rents the huge facility, as explained in Calvary’s statement below, and rents the parking lot during the week to shuttle students and some staff to the hospital a short five minutes away.

My wife and I started attending Calvary 40 years ago when I had just finished college. At the time, Calvary had a membership of 600—about what it is today. A few years later, after my wife and I served in the children’s ministry and youth ministry and sang in the choir, I made a proposal, and the church allowed me to start a little magazine called Charisma.

There’s been a misconception over the years that Charisma started as a church newsletter. It was never a newsletter. As amateurish as those early issues were, it was always an 8 1/2 x 11-inch magazine as it is today. The first issue sported only 32 pages and cost 50 cents, and we gave away most of the 10,000 copies we printed. But it was a magazine that slowly evolved into a national publication and later gave birth to what we now call Charisma Media.

Charisma spun off from Calvary in 1981 as a separate organization, shortly before the late Roy Harthern, then the pastor, stepped down due to moral indiscretions. The history below recounts some of the ups and downs. The church experienced a sort of renaissance under the ministry of both Dr. Mark Rutland and Clark Whitten. But over the years many people left—including me and my wife—and Calvary has struggled to stop that trend.

I didn’t know Dr. Rhoden until he came to Calvary as interim pastor.  At an age when most men retire, his task is to bridge the gap between past and future leadership. He has a great reputation as a district superintendent and executive presbyter in the Assemblies of God. His book Four Faces of a Leader: What It Takes to Move Your Church Forward reflects his ample experience teaching leadership.

In addition to a monthly Saturday evening prayer meeting, Dr. Bob told me he is building hope by quoting Acts 13:44 to the congregation:  “On the next sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.”

That’s an amazing Scripture, considering a church that has only 650 or so in an auditorium that seats nearly 10 times as many. But as Dr. Rhoden told me, “The time for God to do a miracle is when you need a miracle.”

That miracle must come in the form of a visionary leader. Calvary Assembly isn’t the first church or ministry to see things turn around. And many businesses and even governments have seen remarkable turnarounds with the right leadership. Orlando, Fla., needs Calvary Assembly to be a great church again. Let’s pray the right leader is found.

Below is the statement and the history Calvary administrator Debbie Carey provided me. It provides more detail and perspective in her own words.

Florida Hospital
Calvary Assembly has enjoyed an amicable and mutually beneficial relationship with Florida Hospital for many years. The hospital’s main Orlando campus is a mere five-minute drive from the church.

For more than a decade, the Worship Center has been the location of the hospital’s annual Thanksgiving concert and, more recently, the biannual graduation and annual convocation ceremonies of the Adventist University of Health Sciences.

For a number of years, the hospital has leased one of the church’s north parking lots for the university’s students, who are transported to the school via shuttle. Periodically, a portion of the south parking lot has been rented for contractor parking and, most recently, for employee parking. The hospital’s parking facilities have not kept pace with its rapid expansion.

Calvary History
Spring 1953—Pastor: John Hall, founding pastor. Small church building constructed on two residential lots; originally named Orlando Gospel Tabernacle; 35 people in attendance at the first service

1954—Became part of the growing fellowship of the Assemblies of God.

1961—Pastor: Dr. Dale Zink. The church was renamed Calvary Assembly of God. Additional land purchased and construction began in 1964 on a 500-seat sanctuary.

1966—Pastor: Eddie Barg.

1970—Pastor: Roy Harthern; a congregation of just under 300 people.

1975—1,200 seat auditorium dedicated.

The church experienced phenomenal growth throughout the 1970s and into the early 1980s, reaching a pinnacle of more than 5,000 in attendance at multiple services.

Ministries birthed at Calvary Assembly in the 1970s and 1980s:

  • Rock House
  • Charisma magazine
  • Jesus Festivals  (1976-1980)
  • Crown Ministries
  • Iglesia El Calvario
  • WTGL TV Channel 45

Fall 1981—Pastor: Alex Clattenburg.

November 1984—Broke ground for the existing 5,000 seat sanctuary; dedicated in Spring 1987.

May 1990—Pastor: Dr. Mark Rutland; attendance of 1,300-1,400 and a mortgage of $15-plus million. Retired close to $4 million during his tenure, and the congregation grew to approximately 3,400 by 1995.

April 1995—Pastor: Clark Whitten; debt of $11.5 million; burned the mortgage in September 2000.

January 2006—Pastor: Dr. George Cope.

May 2013—Interim pastor: Dr. Bob Rhoden.

Current average Sunday morning attendance: 650

Even in the days when the church had overwhelming debt and now in its current challenging season, Calvary’s commitment to the cause of missions has never wavered. Eleven percent of the total tithes and offerings are being used to support 120 missionaries and ministries each month.


Praying For Grace To Share In The Harvests Of Souls Before Your Return.

Great Revealer, I join my brothers and sisters in one accord, You have  revealed to us that when You look at us, we make You glad and we long to see Your wonderful smile of approval,  to hear You rejoicing over us and  we must confess that it fills our hearts with love for You and overwhelms our souls, this is our kind prayer this day, as we pray in Jesus Name. Amen, Amen and Amen.

Our Source Of Deliverance, Lord Jesus, we proclaim that You are Our Source of deliverance, healing and restoration, we desire to stay close to You for the rest of our days, to hear Your voice at everyturn and through every situation as long as we have blood running in our veins, we ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen, Amen and Amen.

Rivers Of Everflowing Anointing, O Lord, we pray Thee to open the taps of Your empowering anointing from the throne of Heaven upon us, we pray that it will come full of power, full of energy to root up, to pull down and to destroy every yokes of bondage the devil tries to put on us and Great Toucher, we call upon You to touch us through the laying on of hands through the prayers of those around us and anoint us to do Your ministry, we pray in Jesus Name. Amen, Amen and Amen.

God of All, we long for an extra ordinary grace, anointing and divine direction to reach out with Your love to others, we desire to step out in boldness fully of Your grace to tell all, of  the miracle of salvation through Your sacrifice on calvary and Great Maker, we look up to You to make us soulwinners to Your glory, Lord and let us share in the harvest of souls before Your return, we pray in Jesus Name. Amen, Amen and Amen.

{ Day 221 }.

If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. —Isaiah 58:10-11

The prophet Isaiah said that if we extend our souls for others, then our hearts would be like a well-watered garden. Some of God‘s people carefully guard their lives from all inconvenience and only contribute as long as their comfort zone isn’t disturbed. But we must give ourselves away to God’s people as servants of God’s purpose. Jesus said the greatest among us would be the servant of all. We can’t gaze into the heart of God and retain a “me first” attitude.


Others, Lord, others. Let me reach out with Your love to others. Let me tell them of the miracle of salvation through Your sacrifice on Calvary. Make me a soulwinner, Lord. Let me share in the harvest of souls before You return.

We become devoted to the things and people
He is devoted to.


Michelle’s Recovery Story.

Christian Testimony About Freedom from Meth Addiction.

Jesus set me free from meth. He is alive and will never turn his back on his sheep, even when we have gone astray and are lost. This is my recovery story.

Strange Behavior

I had been addicted to meth for 20 years, lost custody of three of my children, and tried quitting on my own way too many times. Two years ago, I noticed I was beginning to behave strangely. I started to think of God when I was high. It became my obsession. I would stay up for nights just reading the Holy Bible for hours at a time and doing online research to learn everything I could about Jesus and recovery.

I would experience an overbearing desire to attend church while I was using. I upset my boyfriend when doing this, as he felt I was dishonoring God or being a hypocrite. It wasn’t that I purposely wanted to do these things; there was something moving me to do this.

Soon after I found a church, started healing, growing, and understanding more clearly. I began moving slowly away from the drug. One day I received the Holy Ghost and was speaking in tongues.

Never Give Up

For the next two years God was moving in my life and working in me like never before. I noticed the blessings and healing in my life. When I prayed, he would answer. I was still backsliding and occasionally using, but I never gave up on God.

I would pray for recovery constantly. I would break down in tears right after I would take that first hit, telling God out loud how sorry I was and how helpless I felt over this drug. I would beg him to please free me from this hell I was living and break the bondage Satan had over me.

Final Blow

One night after hooking up and being up for several days, I was tired, sick, and in despair. I sat outside in the dark of night with a pipe in one hand and a bag of dope in the other. I looked up into the black sky, thinking how this lifestyle was slowly destroying my soul. I had no doubt in my mind that I was about to experience a final blow that might very well be my death if I didn’t stop using.

I remember saying to God, “What’s wrong with me? Am I just too good at being bad that I can’t be saved? Why am I still using? Why haven’t you helped me? I know you hear my cries and see my tears. God, I can’t do this. I give up. Lord, you need to come get me now from thispit of hell because I can’t find a way out. Please save me. You said you would never forsake me. You said ‘If I abide in you, and your words abide in me, ask whatever I wish, and it will be done for me.’ I believe in your promise.”

Set Free

After this spiritual experience I lost all cravings for meth. God broke the chains and I stopped using for two months before I became baptized.

For the next six months it was like I never knew anything about meth, and had never used it. No cravings. Not even a memory of the drug. It was a miracle from God. I experienced his joy and peace for the first time in my 36 years. It felt amazing. It was his blood on Calvary that set me free!

I realized this battle of addiction wasn’t really mine. It was God’s and he already won the victory for me when he died on the cross for my disgusting sins. His power and deliverance were always there for me, I just need to accept him and he would do the rest for me. God is so good. His grace and mercy are gifts to his children.


After eight months of sobriety, I backslid and used. It wasn’t because I was overcome bytemptation or cravings, it was my own rebellious spirit that led me to dishonor God. It was because I wanted to, period. But I was fearful and anticipated punishment for disobeying his word.

Oddly enough, it never happened. Instead, God continued to bless me. It was his grace that brought me to repent and love him more. It drew me closer to him. God used my sin to enlighten me. He taught me about self-righteousness. I had been acting in a self-righteous manner for a few months and never realized it.

I figured since I had no craving for the drug, I stopped asking God to give me his strength every day. I then relied on my good works, instead of God’s power. I assumed God was keeping me clean, but how could he have when I stopped asking him for his will to be done. Eventually, my power ceased and I fell back into living in my flesh.

My Recovery Story

Now I am three months clean. I am starting over and giving thanks to God for taking my sin and making something good from it. I feel the Holy Spirit guiding me every day. He has changed me, but he’s not finished with me yet. He will continue to reveal everything I need to know to live a godly life.

It’s not by chance you are reading this; it is the work of God, and he is calling you right now. He has a divine purpose for your life. If you have not accepted Jesus into your life, accept him in your heart and ask him to forgive you for all your sins.


Tag Cloud