Pastor's Paragraph Dec. 5th

As I write this week's column, I have just read the daily devotional and prayer guide for December 3. This devotional and prayer guide is a project and ministry of our Calvary Prayer Team. Each day during the month of December, a different member of our Calvary Church family has written a devotional thought and prayer for that particular day. Today the devotional thought was written by Mark Dill, one of our youth who is a senior at Henry Clay High School. Mark's thoughtful devotional recounts how he learned the important lesson of sharing as a result of an Advent calendar that he and his sister Meredith have enjoyed during each Christmas season. Yesterday, I was inspired by Francis Marcum's story of a loving act which she and her family received during the Christmas of 1965. 

I look forward to reading these devotionals each day. Not only do they enable me to learn something new about members of my wonderful Calvary church family; these devotionals are also reminding me--during this busy, often hectic Christmas season--to keep my focus on God's gift of His Son Jesus Christ. 

Let me encourage  you to join many other people in our church family who are reading these meaningful devotionals and prayers each day of this Advent Season. These devotionals are being e-mailed to our church members each day. They can also be downloaded by going to the home page of our church web site There are also some "hard copies" available in the church office, Welcome Desks, Sanctuary, and in the Senior Adult area in EB2, third floor. 

Take note of the various worship services and church activities that are scheduled throughout the month of December. Invite a friend and/or family member to come to one or more of these worship services and/or activities with you. Researchers tell us that many of the unchurched people in our country would come to a church service or activity during the Christmas season if  a friend or family member would just ask them. Who is a person that God might be directing you to invite to church this Advent season? 



Pastor's Paragraph Nov. 21st

"Who's #1?" This was the title of last Sunday's sermon. It was not a sports question. (Incidentally, the UK Wildcats are #4 in this week's polls.) For our purposes last Sunday, "Who's #1?" was a personal question: "Who's #1--who has first place, top priority--in your life?" Affirming the biblical mandate that God is to have top priority--to have #1 ranking--in our lives, we examined a three-fold formula designed to help us demonstrate that God really is our Lord, that we really do regard our Lord Jesus Christ as #1. Here is the formula: 1) First Day; 2) First Fruits; and 3) First Thoughts.

1) First Day--Worship the Lord at church on the first day (Sunday) each week. Setting aside one special day to worship God is a visible demonstration and testimony of our belief that all of our days belong to God. 

2) First Fruits--God's people of Old Testament days gave the first portion of their harvest (the crops, their "income") as an offering to God. This reminded them that God was the Source of all of their blessings--that the Lord was the Ultimate Owner of all possessions and "income" with which they had been entrusted and given. Following this pattern, we give God the first portion of the income we receive--the "first fruits" of our income. This is an ongoing reminder that all of our income and possessions really belong to God. Giving a "first fruits" offering (which for me and many Christians is the first 10%, a tithe, of our income) enables us to honor God with the "first" portion of our income, rather than giving God the "leftovers." 

3) First Thoughts--Developing the discipline of thinking of God (and of thanking God) first thing in the morning is an excellent way of dedicating your entire day to the Lord, of striving to be a good representative of God's love in all of your thoughts and actions. Many people find it helpful to think of a scripture verse as the day begins. Psalm 118:24 is one such "first thoughts" verse. "This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it." 

The Thanksgiving Season is a most appropriate time to evaluate our commitment to making God #1 in our lives. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday for Sunday School, morning worship, and our Family Thanksgiving Feast. This Sunday (Commitment Sunday) will provide all of us an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that God is #1 as we practice the disciplines of First Day, First Fruits, and First Thoughts. 

In Christ, 


Pastor's Paragraph October 24, 2013

As I reflect back on what was an incredibly active week in the life of our church family, I want to express thanks to you--my Calvary Church family--for your participation in the work of our congregation. Specifically, I want to express my appreciation to:

1. Rev. Carrie Beth Tonks for her leadership leading up to and during Children's Sabbath. Thanks to all of the children, all of the children's choir workers and leaders, and all of the parents who helped to make the Children's Sabbath worship experience so meaningful for our entire congregation. Carrie Beth, your sermon was thoughtfully prepared and inspirationally delivered. Preach on!  

2. Everyone in the CBC family who came and worked on one or more of several mission projects on Mission Blitz Day. Special thanks to Rev. Brian Varble for his leadership in this very worthwhile endeavor.  

3. The many Calvary members who went to First Baptist Bracktown as we helped our sister congregation celebrate her 133rd anniversary as a church. Many thanks to my friend Rev. C.B. Akins, and to the entire FBC Bracktown congregation for providing such wonderful Christian fellowship and hospitality. Thanks to our choir for leading out combined congregations in the worship of God through inspirational music. Thanks to Rev. Seth Hix, Dr. Kevin Raybuck, and Dr. Rebecca Miller for your musical leadership. And thank you, CBC family, for your presence and participation. 

In the spirit of Philippians 1:3-5, thank you, my Calvary family, for being the church! 

A grateful pastor,  


Pastor's Paragraph September 12, 2013

What a celebration we had in the Fellowship Hall this past Sunday evening as we recognized our Minister of Childhood Education, Rev. Carrie Beth Tonks, and our Associate Pastor, Rev. Hank Ellington, for 20 years of faithful and exceptional service to our church! Although both of these honored "guests" became a bit "warm" at times (after all, the program included a "roast"), the spirit of joy and laughter and heartfelt appreciation that permeated the Fellowship Hall conveyed how grateful our CBC family is for these two talented and dedicated ministers. 

All kidding and "roasting" aside, THANK YOU Carrie Beth and Hank: 
-Thank you both for 20 years of faithful service to Calvary Church.
-Thank you for viewing your respective ministry positions as a calling and not just as a job.
-Thank you for your work ethic and for your commitment to excellence.
-Thank you for teaching us--not only through Children's sermons and pulpit preaching and Bible studies, things you have spoken and said; But also thank you for teaching us through your lifestyles and actions, things you have modeled and lived out.
-Thank you for challenging us to give God our very best through the sharing of our time, talents, and resources.
-And thank you for blessing us through the sharing of your own resources, talents, and time.
-Thank you for "being there" for us when we have needed a counselor, a prayer, an empathetic ear, a minister, a friend.
-Thank you for the many times that you have laughed with us, worked with us, fellowshipped with us, and even on occasion, cried with us.
-Thank you for being our ministers.
-Thank you for being--in the best "Philippians 1:5" sense of the word--"our partners in the gospel."
-Thank you for being our sister and brother in Christ.
-From the depths of our congregational (and my pastoral) heart--THANKS!

Your grateful pastor, 


P.S.S. (Pastor's Postscript): Remember that this coming Sunday (September 15th) is National Back to Church Sunday. Plan to be present and invite a friend (or friends) to come with you. See you Sunday! 

Pastor's Paragraph August 15th, 2013

The start of a new school year underscores the reality of change: new teachers, new classes, new (in some cases) schools, new activities, new schedules (for students and families), etc. There are a myriad of changes in our lives as a new school year gets underway. 

We have recently just started a new sermon series entitled "The Essential Qualities of Personal Change." Already we have talked about two of these essential qualities: 1) HONESTY and 2) WILLINGNESS. In order to make the types of changes that God often calls us to make in our lives, we need 1) to be honest with ourselves in admitting the particular change and changes that we need to make; and 2) to be willing to take some action steps that will get the change process underway. 

I have given everyone (myself included) a "homework" assignment as we journey through this sermon series. Here is your assignment: WHAT IS ONE MAJOR CHANGE THAT YOU NEED TO MAKE IN YOUR LIFE NOW? If you are like me, there are probably several changes that you need to make in order to be the person that God wants you to be. But the assignment calls for us to focus on just ONE. So be honest with yourself and identify a specific change that God desires for you to make. And then be willing to start taking the necessary action that needs to occur if such a change is to become a reality. 

The "change" quality that will be the focus of this Sunday's sermon is IMAGINATION. Imagination (dreaming or goal-setting) entails keeping before you a clear mental image of the difference that actualizing a particular change can make in your life. Such imagination/dreaming/goal-can be a key component in the change process. Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says: "Where there is no dream (no imagination, no goal setting), the people perish." Or to paraphrase this verse in a positive way: But where there is a dream (replete with imagination and goal setting), the people flourish!" 

So do your homework. Be sure to ask God for His help. And come to Bible study and worship this Sunday as we continue our focus on personal change.  




Pastor's Paragraph July 11, 2013

Each week I receive an email update from the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship under the heading “Three Things To Know From KBF.”

Then, as you might expect, there is a concise summary of three events or happenings which have had or shortly will have an impact upon the work of the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship. This format provides a succinct way for KBF members and KBF church to stay informed about important news items and mission opportunities.

So it is with apologies to KBF that I borrow the organization’s weekly format to share with you “Three Things To Know From Calvary Baptist Church.”

 1.“Four Sundays of Prayerful Giving” was generously strong! During these four Sundays (May 19 & 26, and June 2 & 9), the total undesignated offering given toward the budget was $219,792.  The budget goal for these four Sundays was $172,256. This means that on these four “prayerful giving” Sundays, our congregation’s undesignated tithes and offerings exceeded our budget goal by more than $47,000. Thank you CBC family for prayerfully considering and giving what you felt the Lord was leading you to give. This generous response to this “prayerful giving” emphasis provides the financial resources which are needed for CBC to continue to be the church that God calls us to be during the summer of 2013.

 2. On Sunday afternoon, June 23, our church gathered in our chapel to ordain Catherine “Cat” Hall to the gospel ministry. Cat, a graduate of the University of Kentucky and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is in the process of being endorsed by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) in preparation to fulfill her calling to serve as a chaplain in the United States Navy. Cat, the daughter of Ernie and Ruth Ann Hall of Versailles, is also the granddaughter of the late Rev. Donald White who pastored the Hillcrest Baptist Church in Lexington for many years and of (the very much still alive) Anna White who is well-known throughout the Elkhorn Baptist Association (and beyond) for her commitment to and passion for missions. The ordination service was deeply moving and inspirational – not only for Cat and her family but for the members of our CBC congregation as well. How proud I am to be the pastor of a Baptist church that believes that women as well as men are called by God into ministry and that recognizes God’s call on servant leaders like Cat Hall through the process of ordination. Thank you CBC for recognizing that God calls both females and males to be ordained for ministry!

 3.This coming Sunday (July 14), our church will celebrate the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper at both the 8:30 am and the 11:00 am worship services. Plan to be present as our church family gathers around the communion table for a meaningful service of worship and remembrance.

Well, there you have it: “Three Things to Know from CBC.” May the Lord bless us as we strive to be an informed and faithful  mission-oriented congregation.

Looking forward to seeing you Sunday!


Pastor's Paragrah May 9, 2013

In just a few weeks, school will be out! But church will still be in session. Before you know it, summer vacation will be here! But the work of the church will continue.

As you immerse yourself in hurried and hectic end-of-the-school-year activities and as you schedule family vacations and various summer camps, let me encourage you to be intentional and faithful in including God and His church in your summer plans. There are several ways that you can support God's work through our church as summer approaches and arrives:

1) Whenever you are not travelling, be present for Sunday School and Sunday Worship

2) Volunteer for one (or several) of the numerous mission and ministry projects that Calvary will offer and sponsor throughout the summer (such as Vacation Bible School, Grilling for the Homeless, participating in the weekend mission trip to Liberty, Ohio, working in God's Pantry, or volunteering at the ROC).

3) Give a generous offering to support the church budget so that the day-to-day ministry services of Calvary can continued unhindered during June, July, and August. Before we head into the summer months, our church needs to improve our financial position so that all of the work that God has called us to do can continue. We need the support of EVERY CALVARY MEMBER DOING HIS OR HER PART in supporting the Lord's work through our church financially. To that end we have designated May 19, May 26, June 2 and June 9 as Four Sundays of Prayerful Giving.

Deborah and I invite you to join us in giving prayerfully and generously during this four week emphasis. Join us in giving a tithe (10%) of your income. Or, "catch up" your financial giving if you are "behind." Or, give a generous "extra" offering to support the Lord's work through Calvary. Or, use this time to start giving something (if you have gotten out of the giving habit or if you need to get started doing your part)!

I hope that you have an enjoyable summer. Enjoy some vacation time and fun time with family and friends. And remain faithful in your commitment to Jesus Christ and His church. School will soon be over, but church will remain in session. May Calvary be a faithful church in Summer 2013!



Pastor's Paragraph, May 1, 2013

 In his book Working the Angles, Eugene Peterson identifies 3 basics of pastoral ministry which, in reality are 3 basics of any Christian’s ministry: 1) Prayer; 2) Reading Scripture; and 3) Living unhurried before another person.

For the past month, our church has been focusing on prayer. Our Faith Forward Prayer Team (headed by Sherry Johnson and Susan Scott) has just completed leading a Wednesday night study based on Bill Hybel’s book Too Busy Not to Pray. The sermons on Sunday mornings have focused on prayer, and we have challenged each other to learn the Lord’s Prayer – not only learning it “by heart” but also taking it to heart.  Our prayer emphasis officially concluded Thursday, May 2  when – as part of the National Day of Prayer – our church hosted a “prayer” luncheon with Mr. Paul Prather as speaker. Although our “official” prayer focus has concluded, I trust that you will continue working on the “basic” of prayer.
The “basic” of “reading” Scripture (not just learning its message with our minds, but living out its meaning in our lives) will be emphasized during our Wednesday night Bible studies beginning May 8 (and continuing May 15, 22, and 29). Dr. Dalen Jackson, Academic Dean and Professor of Biblical Studies at the Baptist Seminary of  Kentucky, will lead this study entitled: “The Bible in the Life of the Church: Interpretation and Formation.” Dalen is a gifted teacher whose Bible studies and presentations at Calvary are always well-received. Come and be part of this exciting study which will emphasize the importance of interpreting Holy Scripture.
In regard to the third “basic” (living unhurriedly before another person), let me encourage you during this busy “end of the school year” season to take and make time for what is rally important in life: God, family, friends, and helping other people. Someone once declared: “Our caring decreases as our hurry increases!” May we be God’s people who care for others! May we slow down enough to be caring and unhurried!
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday.


Pastor's Paragraph April 17, 2013

It was good to be back at Calvary last Sunday (with a new left hip!) I am so grateful for the many prayers, cards, and other expressions of kindness that I received following my recent hip replacement surgery. Special thanks to Hank Ellington and to all of our ministerial staff for their excellent leadership and service during my absence. 

I am especially blessed as the pastor of Calvary to have the opportunity to work and serve with a talented and committed ministerial team. How delighted I was this past Sunday to have been present when our church family recognized Robin Prichard on her tenth anniversary as our Minister of College Students! Under Robin’s leadership, Calvary has offered a dynamic and growing ministry to college students at U.K., Georgetown, Transylvania, Eastern, and on various community college campuses. Providing college students with a “church home away from” – a church home that offers opportunities for worship, service, Bible study, and fellowship – is a ministry to which Calvary feels especially called. So thanks Robin and thanks Calvary family for your commitment to our college ministry. 

This Sunday  - as our congregation continues a month long emphasis on prayer  -  I will be preaching a message which focuses on three simple and essential prayers: “Help. Thanks. Wow.”  The title of this sermon is drawn from a recent book on prayer by Anne Lamott. Come and join us for worship as we explore together some of the many aspects of communicating with God through prayer. 

Speaking of prayer, please remember in your own prayers all of the people whose lives have been impacted by the horrific bombs which exploded this week at the Boston Marathon. Remember those who lost loved ones, those who were injured and hospitalized, those first responders and others who  offered aid to the injured, and those governmental and agency leaders who will lead the investigation of this terrible tragedy. 

I’ll see you Sunday!

Robert Baker