Proverbs 27:1
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

Most of us are dreamers or planners. Always looking to the next big thing on our calendar, the next gathering for our family or an impending obligation in our work. Opportunities in the future keep us hopeful and provide motivation to persevere through present challenges. There is both pleasure and wisdom in dreaming about a preferred future. And there is a danger.

Preoccupation with the future (or the past) can lead us to completely miss the TODAY we’re in. While it is admirable to prepare for the future, living to the fullest while it still today is one of the secrets of a life of faith. Israel was trained by God to depend on the daily provision of manna that was sufficient only for that day. Twenty-four hours later they would trust God for tomorrow’s today. There are many other biblical encouragements to spur us on to live fully in the present:

  • This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24.
  • Give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6:11.
  • Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34.
  • Today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts. Hebrews 3:7, 15; 4:7.

Professional athletes who get on a hot streak in their sport talk about being “in the zone” and wanting to “stay in the moment”. They are keenly aware that today they are performing with an unusual excellence, even by their own professional standards. Swimmers focus on this lap; runners on this mile; baseball players concentrate on this at-bat; golfers on this shot.

Christians “in the zone” listen to Jesus’ voice. Today. Hearing it, we focus on obedience. Today. We don’t fall for the lie that sometime in the future will be a better season to give our attention to His word. We have no certainty to boast in tomorrow. Today is our day to listen to, walk with, and live for Jesus. Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.

Jessie Richart, a member at Calvary, is a wife, mom, teacher, and artist. From her own study in the book of Hebrews she recently wrote a song called “Today”. It is a beautiful invitation to live surrendered today. God help us that we will be.

Tom Shirk
Senior Pastor


I walked in the wilderness by choice
Hardened my heart when I heard Your voice
Promised that tomorrow I would change
But tomorrow’s always one more day away

I don’t want to live with shame and with regret
To make a promise I will soon forget
A promise that tomorrow I will change
When tomorrow’s always one more day away

So God, I surrender, today

Here I am, all of me
Great I AM, You see me
Your word is truth and light
It pierces to my heart
Sever from my life anything that’s of the dark
To You the Only Way, I surrender, today

Before you formed the world you foreknew
The waywardness my willful heart would choose
Before I even had a breath to breathe
You knew you would breathe your last for me

I won’t put another nail into the cross
Because once for all You have conquered death
Forever I’m made perfect by your grace
Yet sanctified a little more each day

My God, I surrender, Today

Here I am, all of me
Great I AM, You see me
Your Word is truth and light
It pierces to my heart
Sever from my life anything that’s of the dark
To You the Only Way, I surrender, today

Jessie Richart

Loving God and Loving Others

Sociological tensions about politics, world events, and the appropriate response to a pandemic have tested the patience of all mankind. Never perhaps more than right now. What a time to be the church! Cultural pressures give rise to the opportunity for the church to live out what it means to belong to a transforming Savior who is meek and humble. Can the church be distinct from a world wracked by fear, anger, and judgment?

Christians have always been tested by the cultural pressures of their day. In the Roman Empire, for example, Christians were intensely persecuted; but also reminded (in Romans 12) to repay no one evil for evil, to leave room for God to make things right, and to overcome evil with good. Such a radical code of ethics is the way the Church demonstrates its otherness to the world around us. Loving God and Loving Neighbor is the simplest distillation of this code.

To the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:9, 10.) How radical are these words in a time when we might not see eye-to-eye on a thing or two? Radical love in times of turmoil is so like Jesus, and so unlike the flow of our culture. This kind of love draws the unloved in; it heals the hurting. It shows the reality of our faith.

Embedded in this call to love is a guiding parameter. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Love doesn’t approve what God disapproves. Love doesn’t simply wink at what is evil. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is courageously stand against what is evil. It is possible to love, even sacrificially, while not being like-minded. Love and agreement are not the same thing. Jesus did not endorse everything about us when He went to the cross on our behalf.

Too often we run people through a filter: Do you agree with me about politics? Masks and vaccinations? Immigration? And whatever else! Then we choose to live (and love) according to that filter. But the love of God beating in the heart of the church is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Let’s outdo each other in loving this way! If we do, the world will know that we are followers of the One who taught us to love, and who gave His life to bring us (and them) to glory. I love you!

Tom Shirk
Senior Pastor

Goodness of God

Lucy and I sat together in church last Sunday. That is not necessarily an anomaly, but often when I’m preaching, I’m down in front, close to the stage. (Lucy prefers 10 rows back, where she alleges, she can see me better.) As we sang the words to “Goodness of God”, we both glanced around the room, each of us noting people we knew were suffering, or who had experienced severe loss. Cancer there. The death of a child over there. Divorce. Widows and widowers. Parents praying for prodigals to come home. On the screen the words rolled by:

I love Your voice, You have led me through the fire
In the darkest night You are close like no other
I’ve known You as a Father, I’ve known You as a Friend
And I have lived in the goodness of God

I was proud of the faith in the hearts of the worshippers I watched. It takes faith to worship through pain, believing that God is in fact good when life is hard. Job 5:7 says, “man is born to trouble – as the sparks fly upward.”  Jesus promised,“in this world you will have tribulation.”  But we affirm by faith that God is good. His mercy endures forever. His lovingkindness is everlasting.

God has purposes in pain, the highest of which is always His own glory. He is magnified when suffering saints cling to Him as their world gives way in the fires of trial. Faith is refined like precious gold so that its genuineness results in praise and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:7). Life’s losses forge faith that holds onto the singular prize worth treasuring.   

Suffering also produces in us endurance, character, and hope (Romans 5:3-5). God grows us deeper and more hopeful as He carries us through the sorrows of this broken world. To be sure these are rarely traits we perceive or appreciate in the moment, but over time God’s love for us is poured out by the work of His Holy Spirit whom He has given to us. He does not waste hardship.

Pain also enables us to experience a communal life of fellowship as we weep with those who weep and comfort those who sorrow with the comfort we ourselves have experienced from God (2 Corinthians 1:3,4). We all drink bitter water at some time in our lives, but we are refreshed by those who have gone before us in their own suffering and found God to be truly good. And then together we sing and command our hearts to believe:

All my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

Tom Shirk
Senior Pastor

See also Lamentations 3:22-23 & Hebrews 4:15-16

God is Love

Each Monday, the preaching team meets to reflect on Calvary’s weekend services across three campuses. We review the messages given and frequently talk about what was left unsaid. Portions of planned sermons often end up on the cutting room floor. There is never enough time to share all the treasures of study.    

Reflecting on the completion of 1 Thessalonians there was a good deal of content we did not have time to dive into. The Word of God is like that: an unlimited reservoir of faith building truth. Each Sunday there are nuggets we wished we could have spent more time exploring.

One gem stood out this week: “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.” (1 Thessalonians 4:9). Paul explains that God Himself teaches His family about love and how to practice it. God is the teacher; we are the students. He is the model; we are the disciples. This makes perfect sense since God is love, so everyone who has been born of God learns how to love directly from the Source (1 John 4:7).   

Think of this. One of the ministries of God in our lives is to guide us to be more and more loving. He delights that His love would be broadly known in the world, and we are the ones He entrusts to demonstrate it. We love because He first loved us. We learn to love by believing His great love for us.  

The last year has groomed the whole world in new habits of isolation, self-protection, and a reluctance to engage with others. Fear has become a dominating reality. The fear of missing out (FOMO) has been replaced with a fear of entering in. God has given us this unique time in history to be His loving church, engaging with those around us who are lonely or afraid. What the world needs now is love, God’s love.

Let’s reimagine church as the community center for the display of His love. The hub out of which God’s love flows through us to a world lost without Him. It’s time to enter in again and find your groove in the labor of love! There is a role perfectly suited for you somewhere in the regathering plan to “rebuild church”. Is it with kids? Students? Making coffee? Music? Greeting? Giving? Mentoring? We invite you to jump in – and bring someone with you! May God Himself teach us to love like Jesus in our day. 

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”  
John 13:35

Tom Shirk
Senior Pastor


Winter left reluctantly this year. Late snows seemed an appropriate illustration of the stubborn year it has been. But finally longer and warmer days are producing buds on the trees and blooms in the garden. A welcome change and a reminder of God’s providential faithfulness to His creation generally and to us particularly.

Last week we remembered His kindness to Calvary at our annual membership meeting in which we celebrated the multiple blessings of God in a difficult year. He provided all that we needed financially, He gave us grace to adapt to changing times with new strategies for ministry, and He kept us together in a loving unity during a time of disagreement, particularly on how to respond to the pandemic. Seasons change but God’s faithfulness does not.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22, 23.)

It has been encouraging to see increasing numbers of people in our services each week. We were created to worship Him and to enjoy the fellowship of our shared life in Jesus. Being in the room together reminds us we are not alone in the travails of life and that we are a community of people on a mission to love God and love others. Our regathering this spring brought to mind what it must have been like when the Israelites returned to the land after 70 years of captivity! (Sort of). In 537 B.C. the first exiles returned to reestablish a worshipping community. The temple was in disrepair, the walls of the city were broken down. There was work to do but they rejoiced to be back in the land. God had been faithful to His people again.

We sense we are in a rebuilding phase at Calvary, reestablishing the patterns of life together as worshippers on mission. It is a hopeful season that we pray will produce new fruit that glorifies our faithful God. As you are able, we encourage you take your next step toward community life and service in the mission He has for us in here and around the world. Faithful is He who calls you!

Tom Shirk
Senior Pastor

Love One Another

But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5).

Strong biblical teaching will produce a church that knows how to love. The better your understanding of the character of God the richer your love for Him will be. The deeper your appreciation for the sacrificial work of Christ the more passionate your love for Him and for others will be. Anyone and everyone who is genuinely saved by the grace of Jesus will become more and more like the Master.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another (John 13:34).

The aim of all our learning at Calvary is not merely to increase knowledge but to mature into a congregation centered on Christ and overflowing with His love. Only a church that knows the Scriptures and is grounded in sound theology can become a people who love God and love others in a way that makes the world say, “Wow!”

What the world needs now is God’s love on display. The Bible promises that in the last days terrible times will come. We are at least closer to the last days than the Apostles were 2000 years ago! Only the church that is rooted and grounded in His love and truth will be witness to His transforming love in our day. This is our call and mission at Calvary.

We face a couple obstacles. COVID has forced many of us into a retreat toward self-protection. While a degree of this caution was wise at a certain level, I fear there is an unhealthy trend toward not engaging with other people. This inhibits the free expression of loving others in a sacrificial way.

Additionally, a friend recently shared an article about the widespread problem of lassitude, a cultural consequence of forced isolation. I had to look it up – but lassitude is the state of physical or mental weariness; a lack of energy; sluggishness and exhaustion. Then I had to ask God for forgiveness. Something about the last year has recalibrated our levels of energy and passion. It’s been hard; and we’re tired.

Jesus understands and can help us. In Revelation 2:1-7, He told the Church at Ephesus that He knew of their toil and patient endurance; but warned them that they had abandoned their first love. He encouraged them to repent and do the works they first did when they came to know Him. It is a helpful reminder that in our weariness Jesus calls us back to Him to do the first things.

One of those first things is a rigorous study of His living Word. People who know their Bible and understand good theology emerge into a loving community. So, we’re returning to a mark-it-up series in 1 Thessalonians beginning this Sunday. Our aim: to be a learning community and a loving community. And as we do this, may it be said of us as it was of the Thessalonians, “your faith in God has gone out everywhere.” That is God’s plan for His church in a world that needs Him so deeply.

Tom Shirk
Senior Pastor