George Edward Samra

George Edward Samra, age 84, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Tuesday, Sept. 25 after a lengthy battle with dementia.

We rejoice that he is with the Lord, but we will miss him terribly.

We want to thank everyone for their love, encouragement, prayers, and generous acts of kindness to our family over the past several months.

Visitation will be Thursday, Sept. 27, from 2-4pm and 6-8pm at Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Home on Cascade & Kenmoor in Grand Rapids.  A memorial service will be held at 11am on Friday, Sept. 28, at Calvary Church.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Calvary Church to support the Prayer Garden.

Even now all is well,




Saturday (Sept. 22) marks the first day of autumn (Autumnal Equinox).  The weather is cooler and the leaves are starting to turn signaling that fall is here.  Soon they will reveal brillant colors that herald the coming of winter, and another change.

In this beautiful song by Crista Wells, “Everything Moves But You,” she reminds me that:

All the things I pursue

Well, they stay for a season,

Then everything moves,

Everything moves, oh, My towers fall,

But you aren’t leaving me

‘Cause everything moves but You


All is well,


Family Camp Meeting

As I mentioned in a previous post (August 18), if you are interested in attending family camp next summer with other Calvary families, we would love to have you join us the week of August 10-16, 2013 at Gull Lake Family Camp.  If you would like more information, we are hosting a meeting this Sunday night (Sept. 23) at 5pm in Fellowship Hall.

Family Camp is a wonderful opportunity specifically designed for families of school-age children.  Because we go to Gull Lake Ministries outside of Kalamazoo, the camp staff takes care of all the food, activities, special events and child care, which gives families the chance to actually spend time with each other.

However, because the camp provides all those resources there is a significant cost associated with attending camp.  It is definitely a good value for the money, but we regret that the cost does prohibit some families from attending.  A rough estimate for a family of four is $1,800 for the week.  More information and details can be found at

If you feel the Lord leading you to consider camp, join us this Sunday night, Sept. 23, at 5pm in Fellowship Hall.

Psalm 84:7-9

If you are working on memorizing Psalm 84, we move on to the next three verses this week in order to make our goal of memorizing a whole Psalm in one month.

In the NIV, the verses read:

They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.

Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty;

Listen to me, O God of Jacob.

Look upon our shield, O God;

look with favor on your anointed one.

Last week’s verses were a little tough for me but we’ll keep going while still reviewing the first six verses.

You can do it!

All is well,


Free Book Today!

We have often remarked to each other that if we could afford to do it, we would simply give away Jim’s new book, God Told Me, for free.  The theme of the book — that Jesus is our good shepherd who loves us and wants to help us with the decisions of life — has been that powerful in our lives.

Good news — today we can get it to you for free!  On both and, you can get a free copy of Gold Told Me for your Nook or Kindle.  It is also available for free from the iBooks store if you have an iPad.

No password or coupon codes needed, so download a free copy for your e-reader, or pass along the link if there is a friend that you think would benefit from Jim’s book.

In addition, there is scripture, more stories from history, as well as testimonies from lives today on the book’s blog,  If you have not done so already, check it out!

All is Well,


Prayer Suggestions

Sunday was an important reminder about the power of prayer from the life of Hannah in 1 Samuel.

Some people have asked me how they could get started on improving their prayer life. Here are some steps that I would recommend:

1.  Ask God to teach you to pray!  This may seem strange, but the one thing the disciples asked Jesus to teach them was how to pray.  And Jesus took it upon himself to answer that prayer and to teach them.  We are able to do the same thing today. If you ask God to teach you to pray, he will.

2. Type out your prayers.  This may not work for everyone, but I have found that writing out my prayers takes too long, but simply trying to think my prayers goes too fast (and my brain is all over the place).  Typing out my prayers is a happy medium.  It slows my brain down and allows me to engage more fully in prayer.

3.  Pray in paragraphs.  One of the most influential things on prayer I read was a sermon by Charles Spurgeon called “Order and Argument in Prayer.”  In his sermon, Spurgeon made the point that if you are going into the throne room to ask God for something – come prepared.  Lay out a good argument and present it in an orderly manner, just like you would if you were asking your boss for raise.  This has helped bring structure to my prayer life.  When it is time to pray for my children, I think through what I want to ask God for each child as well as why I am asking for that request.  After all, Hannah has thought long and hard about the vow she made to God – give me a son and I will give him back to you. She is giving God her best argument as to why God should answer her prayer.

4.  Pray a psalm.  Open your Bible to the Psalms and start reading until you find one that seems to be addressed to you and your situation. Or, pray through one each day.  Type the lines from the psalm as headers in your prayers and then react to each line.  Tell the Lord how you feel.  Ask him questions about things you don’t understand.  Thank him for the things in the psalm that reveal something to you about God and his grace to us.

There are other things that I could suggest, but these seem like a good first few steps to getting started. What questions might you have about being more serious about prayer that I could answer here?



Psalm 84:4-6

If you are memorzing through Psalm 84 with me this month, our three verses for this week are Psalm 84:4-6:

Blessed are those who dwell in your house;

they are ever praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,

who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

As they pass through the Valley of Baca,

they make it a place of springs;

the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

Most Serious Work

Prayer is not a little habit pinned on us while we were tied to our mother’s apron strings; neither is it a little decent quarter of a minute’s grace said over an hour’s dinner, but it is a most serious work of our most serious years.

–E.M. Bounds, (1835 – 1913), Methodist clergyman and author of nine books on prayer