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Tony Clark Teaches at CCA Hawaii Conference

Story by Jim Culhane
Photos by Tom Price

Follow Calvary Chapel Magazine as we publish summaries of pastors’ teachings at the CCA Pastors, Leaders, & Church Workers Conference held in August 2021 at Calvary Chapel Honolulu, HI. Click here to learn more about the conference.

In this installment, Tony Clark, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Newport News, VA, teaches on “A Rest for the Weary,” based on Mark 6:30-33. Often, he said, “God does His greatest work in His servants in deserted places.”

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Two men reunite at the CCA Pastors, Leaders, & Church Workers Conference in August 2021 at Calvary Chapel Honolulu, HI.

Having been a U.S. Marine, Pastor Tony used to follow the proverb, “No rest for the weary.” It meant to keep working no matter how tired you get. He personally had difficulties during the COVID-19 lockdowns and learned some lessons he decided to share during this teaching, “A Rest for the Weary,” based on Mark 6:30-33.

“God’s servants get tired in the work, but not of the work,” admitted Pastor Tony. “However, we’re seeing pastors getting tired of the work of ministry. Pastors are leaving the ministry at an alarming rate—1,700 per month, according to the Barna Group. Would you say they were never called? All 1,700 of them? Or did many of them keep trying to go [on] when they were running on empty spiritually? Pastor Wayne Cordeiro wrote an incredible book called Leading on Empty, where he describes this very thing.”

And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. … Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. Mark 6:7, 30

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Tony Clark, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Newport News, VA, teaches at the conference. His topic, “A Rest for the Weary,” was based on Mark 6:30-33. Often, he said, “God does His greatest work in His servants in deserted places.”

“Now, by way of background, Jesus sent out the 12 apostles, two by two, and gave them power,” began Tony. “Jesus gave them instructions on what they were to do and what they would encounter in verses 8-13. The 12 probably all came back at a prearranged time given to them by Jesus. They were excited, giving Jesus a report of all the miraculous things they had done and what they had taught through the power of the Holy Spirit. I was thinking about this. This is a good practice for us to follow in our lives … to tell Jesus in prayer … getting wisdom and further instructions for next time.”

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. Mark 6:31-32

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Reuben Burke (right) leads the CC Honolulu team during the hulu worship session.

Jesus is sensing something from either the disciples’ stories or what they brought back, that he said to come aside to a “deserted place” to rest awhile. Pastor Tony declared that “God does His greatest work in His servants in such places. Before God sends a person, He prepares a person and so often, it’s in a deserted place.” Moses spent 40 years in the desert, John the Baptist was there, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, and Paul spent three years there. John the disciple was on the island of Patmos when God gave him the Book of Revelation.

“So often, God would take us to the desert when He sees us being lifted up in a little pride, that we’re starting to believe the social-media hype about ourselves. God will take us to the desert, humble us, to bring us down and feed us 'humble pie'. God will send us to the desert to equip us for the temptations that we are about to face as He brings us to another level of ministry. God will allow us to feel forsaken where we can cling to Him and not to another person. Or because there’s something more intimate that He’s trying to reveal to us, and that’s the only place he can really get our attention.

                  

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“So He can teach us to walk by faith and not by sight—those times where we wonder, Does anybody care? or God, do You even care? God takes all of His servants there. And so often, God will call us back to those places. Why? To renew our calling. To remind us of our first love, which is Him.

“God calls us to rest to cease from labor at times. Ministry can be so busy. Sometimes I say, ‘OK, do I have to prepare another sermon and another sermon? Sundays and Wednesdays roll around with amazing regularity.”

At the time of the COVID-19 lockdowns, Tony was already burnt out, he admitted. He had been preaching four sermons each Sunday morning for years until a few months before, when his church’s new sanctuary had been dedicated, and he had spoken at various Calvary Chapel affiliates. He shared that when the lockdowns hit, he sort of went into isolation, which led to depression.

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. Proverbs 18:1

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Women energetically worship at the Hawaii conference.

“There is a difference between isolation and seclusion,” stated Tony. “I blamed God for allowing the pandemic, was depressed for months.” Although he still went through much of his normal work, he was very angry and upset. “In March, COVID shut down everything. In depression, suddenly here I am, in a [brand new] sanctuary for 1,200, talking to a camera. No way. I’m looking around at those empty seats. No more four sermons on Sunday, and then everything shut down. I thought it was Christmas.”

As pastor of a multicultural church, Tony explained that the black community looks at COVID totally differently than do others. They were out the doors of the churches when they heard the warnings. Tony said, “It’s a difference in culture. I feel what Pastor Bud [Stonebraker] is feeling [about keeping the church open], but if I took that back to the community that I’m in, I’d be back speaking to an empty sanctuary and a camera. It’s different. Calvary Chapels should be different for each environment. You’ve got to know the environment God called you to.” Only one-third of Tony’s congregation has returned, yet he sees those missing at Walmart and other stores. Tony also noted all the “strange” COVID regulations. He gave a comic rendition of how smart and odd the virus must be, saying, “This is madness! What are we doing?” Many black churches around the country were going to be shut down until September 2021.

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Tony Clark humorously illustrates a point by ducking under the pulpit during his teaching.

“It’s devasted the black community spiritually,” emphasized Tony. “When the churches open, will the people flood back in? No, it’s not going to happen. Pray that you can have a heart when you see them. Don’t call them Marxists, Leftists, or Liberals.” Tony stated that the black community is lost and that the Hebrew Israelites and Black Muslims are reeling them in. He said, “Do we love the lost, or do we only love those who look like us?”

Jesus calls us to times of seclusion for a period of rest and recovery and to be refreshed in His presence. Tony said that there are three ways for pastors to get away. First, for just themselves with God. Secondly, time alone with their wives, to talk with and about each other, not about the kids. And thirdly, to get away with the family. If the children are not given priority time, they will grow to despise the pastor, despise the church, and despise ministry. Ministry never ends. People come and go. Get away. We need to come aside and rest awhile.

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Worship was vibrant for many at the conference, including two women in traditional Hawaiian dress.

                  

Visit the website of Pastor Tony Clark's church at Calvary Chapel Newport News

Watch Tony Clark's teaching in its entirety at: Tony Clark / CCA Hawaii Conference
                  

Follow summaries of pastors' teachings at CCA Hawaii Conference:
Ron Hindt, senior pastor of Calvary Houston, TX
Bud Stonebraker, senior pastor of South Shore Christian Fellowship, Waimanalo, HI
Jeff Johnson, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Downey, CA
Jack Abeelen, senior pastor of Morningstar Christian Chapel in Whittier, CA

Stay tuned for more teaching summaries in upcoming days.
                  

Mark your calendar for the 2022 CCA Hawaii Conference: August 19-21 at Calvary Chapel Honolulu

                  

(To learn more about Calvary Chapel University, visit their website or read our past coverage on the school)

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All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2022 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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