Manifesting Love

If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? Psalm 11:3.
For more than two decades at Calvary we have taught that the needs of our cities create opportunities for the church. When peace and security go up in flames, there is a precious prospect for the church to uniquely demonstrate the goodness and kindness of God to a world that needs Him. This is our time. Our community needs our help; even more, God’s help.

We have had our share of disasters over the years. (2010 – Four Mile Canyon Fire. 2013 – Boulder Flood. 2020 – Calwood Fire. 2021 – King Soopers Shooting. 2021 – Marshall Fire). When catastrophe occurs, we move toward it. We are doing that as an organization. But each of us, individually, represent nearly 2,000 manifestations of the love and generosity of God. An engaged church can change the world! What practically can we do?
Pray. We can pray for all the material needs for thousands of people who have lost so much. Pray for relationships that will be stressed because of these losses. Pray for those delivering aid. Pray for housing provisions. Pray for spiritual awakening to happen in our cities. What if a revival broke out in 2022?
Be present with people. Those who suffer losses need safe places to lament and grieve. Be there, not to give advice, but a listening ear and empathic heart. You might say, “Tell me about your experience with the fire.” Or ask, “How has the fire impacted you?” Then listen well. Weep with those who weep. Presence is a gift.
Give. We have opened Calvary’s Benevolence Fund on our website and will distribute these resources as generously as we can. But look for ways you can contribute to the needs of others struggling with the loss of everything. Clothes, water, tools, computers. Other great organizations are also serving the needs of our community and are worthy of your help.
Serve. Bring a meal. Help provide childcare so parents can fill out huge amounts of paperwork. Support the debris removal process. Volunteer with one of the relief organizations recently mobilized to serve our community. The list is endless, and the journey will be long. But we were saved to serve. This is a call to action.
Over the last week we have heard from Calvary families who have lost everything in the Marshall fire. Here are some of their comments:
“We lost everything; but we are safe. It’s just stuff; it can all be replaced. God is good and He has been holding us fast in His unwavering arms. His promises are true, and we are clinging tightly to them. We are blessed beyond measure!”
“As we opened the car door to leave our home, sparks were flying into the car! God was so good to us to protect us; we got out just in time. He’s so good!”
“I have a new life verse, and I can say with Paul, (Philippians 3:8): I have suffered the loss of all things! But God is so faithful!
Who speaks this way after losing every human possession? People who know God and are surrounded by His grace in their time of need. God ministers to the hearts of suffering people whose eyes are toward Him. He gives spiritual comfort and assurances to those who trust Him. 
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7.
Their faith builds our faith. Yet, many people in our community don’t possess these assurances; they are searching for God’s peace. As we serve our cities, may the God who loves them make Himself known through the kindness of His church. And may thousands of our neighbors come to treasure Jesus Christ as their greatest possession.
Praying with you,

Tom Shirk
Senior Pastor

A Christ-Centered Advent

Soon after Thanksgiving I make an annual pilgrimage to the crawl space in my basement to extract priceless containers of accumulated ornaments and strings of lights. The weather gave me no excuse to postpone the inevitable, so before I even had a turkey sandwich, I was decking the halls, and roof lines, in preparation for another festive Christmas. With one exception, Lucy prefers I not climb a ladder. The deed is done; it looks just fine. The house is ready for Christmas. Now all we need is snow.

Decorating the outside is one thing; preparing our hearts for Christmas is another. Crowded calendars; heavy hearts; financial pressures all threaten the divine invitation to “Worship Christ the newborn King”. While the carols beckon us to “come and adore Him”, our souls may be too weighed down to see Him. Or worse, the traditions and trappings of a culturally conditioned Christmas might obscure the eternal realities of the incarnation of Christ. What must we remember to celebrate a Christ-centered Advent this year?     

Let’s recall Jesus came to experience life as we know it. From our study in Hebrews, we learn that “since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things… he had to be made like his brothers in every respect.” He knows what it is to be human as we are. He knows the trials of life. He lived in this broken world. Oh, how far He descended to experience life on the earth He Himself created. “Thou didst leave Thy Throne and Thy kingly crown when Thou came to earth for me.” Worship Him!

Further, His coming to earth had a supreme purpose: to make a full and final atonement for our sins, and to deliver us from the power of sin and death. Miracle of all miracles He took our place and bore God’s wrath so we might be forgiven. “Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” Adore Him!

Finally, let us remember that He is the same Immanuel, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is God with us. Sympathetically so, as our great high priest, faithful and merciful. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15, 16.)  Glory to God in the highest!

Early Church Father, Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389 AD), preached these fitting words on December 25, 380 AD, in the Church of the Resurrection in Constantinople:

“What He was, He laid aside; what He was not, He assumed. He takes upon Himself the poverty of my flesh so that I may receive the riches of His divinity. Therefore, let us keep the feast, not after the manner of a heathen festival, but after a godly sort; not after the way of the world, but in a fashion above the world; not as our own, but as belonging to Him who is ours; not as of creation, but of re-creation.”

Let’s get ready for Advent on the inside. May the Joy of Christ be yours in fullest measure. Merry Christmas.

Approaching Thanksgiving

Two divorces. One untimely death. One kidney-cancer diagnosis. All in two weeks; all within my immediate circle of long-time friends. Beyond my own narrow experience, the world around us grapples with disease, division, distrust, disorientation, and outrage. It demands a serious conviction of the will to obey the Bible’s call to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.) Nonetheless, this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us.

Can we be thankful when our sadness quotient is high? We can. Does it make a difference to practice gratitude when the foundations around us are crumbling? It does.

Gratitude, the resolute will to give thanks to God, is a major contributing factor to our spiritual strength and our mental health. While God is obviously honored whenever we give Him thanks, there are internal benefits to ourselves when we cultivate and freely express a grateful heart. Thanksgiving strengthens our spiritual life in several ways.

First, it acknowledges that God is in control of a world that may seem out of control. Nothing is unknown to Him; nothing surprises Him. Recognizing His sovereignty in loss and even chaos reboots our operating system with assurances of first importance: He reigns. He knows. He hears. He is even in control of the ones who are in control around us. Gratitude, when well-practiced, is a discipline that reshapes our hearts and minds to see God’s sovereignty in all things.

Gratitude is also a powerful force to thwart the impulses of our pre-Christ self. Against the power of covetousness, it produces contentment. Against the forces of pride, it acknowledges God as the source of all good things. What do we have that we did not receive? Against bitterness, it leads us to rest in His promise to make all things right. Against lust, it teaches us to rejoice in the wife (husband) of our youth. Being thankful is a force against evil and so it turns out to be good for us while at the same time honoring God.

What makes Jesus loving people remarkable in a world hurdling along toward chaos and meaningless? A thankful life stands in striking relief to the sadness, hopelessness, and outrage around us. As we approach Thanksgiving may we experience the blessings of gratitude.

Is He worthy of thanks? He is.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.” Hebrews 12:28.



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