CALVARY MEMORIAL CHURCH

CALVARY WHERE LIVES ARE CHANGED

One-Way Love: The Only Antidote for Acedia (May 16th)

by Steve Brown
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
Matthew 10:29

I have a friend named Jeff who is HIV-positive. He struggles with same-sex attraction. He grew up in a condemning home, and although I’ve never met him face-to-face, I dedicated one of my books to him. I dedicated a book to him because I love him a lot. And one day I got an email from him. I had done a teaching series once on the subject of acedia. You may not have the foggiest idea what acedia is, but it’s one of the seven deadly sins, the one sometimes translated as “sloth.” But acedia is more than sloth. It’s that demonic sense of futility and hopelessness when you just don’t want to do this anymore. Well, Jeff heard this teaching series, and this is what he wrote to me:
I’ve been listening to those CDs Key Life sent me over the last few weeks, dealing with acedia. I have to admit, when I first saw what they were about, I was reluctant to listen. Coming from where I do, I assumed you would be discussing how to get the fire back, how to stir up the old passion by reading more of the Bible, going to church every Wednesday and Sunday and praying twice in the morning, once at lunch, and just before bed. I figured you would discuss our laziness, our lack of passion and condemn us for not returning Christ’s gift to us with undying faithfulness. And perhaps all of those things need to be said, and they are, of course, true. But after hearing it so much for so long, I can’t deal with being beat over the head anymore. I do enough of that to myself. I know all too well that I need to get better. Dealing with my issues, acedia is not only impossible to avoid, it surrounds my heart and it’s exceedingly difficult to feel any passion when you don’t feel worthy to be loved or accepted by a holy God. It’s hard to dance before the Lord when you think he only thinks bad thoughts toward you because you still haven’t gotten the victory.
I remember once, my wife, Anna, had had a miserable week. Everything had gone wrong: things had broken in the house, the cat had brought a mouse in, and she wasn’t feeling well. She’d had to see the doctor and was on antibiotics. Now, if you’re a guy, you think your job is to fix things. Well, I wanted to fix my wife, and so I started making suggestions. And she said, “Honey, I don’t want you to fix me; I want you to hug me.” Sometimes I say that to God.

Thought to Remember for Today

Do you know the Lord is not expecting you to “get the victory”? He already got it for you through His Son. He wants you to repent of your sin, yes, but if you trust in Jesus, He’s not disappointed in you. He knows what a mess you are. And He loves you.

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

Of Bald Heads and Dead Birds (May 15th)

by Steve Brown
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
Matthew 10:29–30

Ponder these incredible, provocative words from our Lord:
So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 10:26–33)
Please note the easy way Jesus moves from the macrocosm to the microcosm, from the big deal about eternity and about salvation to “little things” like birds and bald heads. As I read this passage, I think, Man, that is a big jump. And then I remember that if you don’t live in grace in the little things, you won’t live in grace in the big things. Listen, God is involved in bald heads and dead sparrows and the eternal verities of the Christian faith.
Michel Quoist, in his book simply titled Prayers, writes a lot about what we might call “colloquial prayers.” He writes prayers about almost everything he experienced, and that’s the joy of that little book. When he sinned, he said, “I’m ashamed of being seen by my friends, I’m ashamed of being seen by you, Lord. … Lord, don’t look at me like that, for I am naked, I am dirty, I am down.” And God said, “Come, son, look up. … It’s not falling that is the worst, but staying on the ground.”
But one of the more fun prayers is where Quoist is sitting in church behind a bald-headed guy. And he’s thinking about Jesus’ words that even the hairs of your head are numbered. And he’s thinking, God, I praise you for that dome. I praise you that it’s so smooth. And I think of Jesus’ words, “Not a hair falls unless God’s aware of it.” God, you’ve thought about this man a whole lot. That makes me laugh, but it also comforts me.

Thought to Remember for Today

The good news doesn’t just cover us in church; it covers us in every place we go and in everything we do. It plays in the little arenas of falling hairs and dead birds.

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

A Pool Elephants Can Swim In (May 14th)

by Steve Brown
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
Matthew 10:29–30

I lived during the Jesus movement. That was an awakening that was as great as those occurring under the ministries of George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards. And it was a wonderful time. I didn’t know what to do with all those kids who were coming into our church, getting baptized and going out with a joy that was infectious, a freedom that scared the spit out of so many other Christians. Those kinds of things only last a generation or two, and we’re running out of gasoline. I’ve said, “Oh God, it would be really cool if I could hang around and see You do it one more time. Do it again. Do it again.” And He is.
You may be a part of the beginning of something that is going to shake America to its roots. You don’t have a thing to defend; you don’t have anything to fake. You’re announcing to the world that you’re screwed up and Jesus likes you a lot. That dog will hunt, and I’m so glad to be a part of it.
Not too long ago, I was working on this material and it was very early in the morning. And I was thinking about the subject “everyday grace.” What in the world am I going to say about everyday grace? At that moment, my elbow hit a glass of water on my desk and knocked it over. The water fell on writing, on my computer keyboard, and on my pants before the glass fell to the floor. I looked like I needed Depends. So what did I do? I kicked that glass across my office. I picked up the papers and threw them in the air and said words that ought never proceed from the mouth of an ordained individual. And in the middle of my cussing and my spitting and drying myself off, I heard laughter. Nobody gets up as early as I do, so I knew it wasn’t staff. It was angels.
And I found a principle there that I want to teach you: if you don’t live in God’s grace when you spill water, you won’t live in God’s grace when you get cancer. This is not a doctrine so much as it is life.

Thought to Remember for Today

If grace doesn’t work when you go to the bathroom, it won’t work with your sin. If it doesn’t work when you’re making love to your wife or your husband, it won’t work when your life falls apart. Grace is a pool where elephants can swim and children can play. It has to do with reading a good book and going to a movie and falling on your knees in repentance and rejoicing in worship. Grace isn’t just a doctrine; it’s a 24-7 context for living.

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

Resting in God (May 13th)

by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart. … The LORD has taken away the judgments against you.
Zephaniah 3:14–15

The more you trust the gospel, the more rest there will be in your soul. Oh my, we live such frenetic lives, trying and trying and trying to prove things to ourselves (and others): I’m not like my mom; I’m not like my parents; I’m better than you; I’ve got my act together; I’m winning the world for Christ. This whole frenetic, stressed out, grumpy approach to life has got to go. We just need some rest.
I love this passage from Zephaniah 3. “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel!” You know why we don’t shout and sing? We don’t rejoice because we’re usually working so hard and becoming so terribly miserable. But listen to these words:
The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zeph. 3:15–17)
This passage doesn’t say He will mourn over you with disappointment because you’re such losers. Listen, God is not disappointed in you. And I can say that, because disappointment is always a by-product of unmet expectations. God has no unmet expectations when it comes to you. All His expectations for righteousness have been completely fulfilled and all His expectations for your debt—they’ve been fulfilled too. He’s not disappointed. He says, “I will quiet you by My love; I will exult over you with loud singing.”
I’m very sure taking on more guilt about what you’re failing to do won’t result in more obedience. That hasn’t worked very well so far, has it? So have a nice afternoon. Have a nice life. Better yet, have a nice eternity. You can relax now and stop pretending. You can rest because the work of salvation is accomplished by Christ and God delights in you!

Thought to Remember for Today

The Lord has taken away the judgments against you! He is rejoicing over you with gladness. The Lord has promised to bless and keep you. His face is smiling on you now, and He will be gracious to you today and forever! He sees you, He’s watching over you, and He’s rejoicing.

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

Remember Me (May 12th)

by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Remember me.
Luke 23:42

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are really only three kinds of people in the world, and they were all represented there by those miserable creatures hanging on Golgotha’s mount. There they were, hands and feet pinioned to wood, naked, shamed, in excruciating agony, with no hope of anything other than hours that would seem like a millennia, waiting while the life drained out of them. Two of them faced a reality that they had made a mistake from which they would never recover. And one of them hung there dying out of love for hopeless wretches who have about as much ability to changes themselves as those other two men hanging on the cross.
One of them is angry. He says, “If you’re so great, then why don’t you get up off the cross and help me.” (Now, I’m going to be really honest: there are days in my life when I’ve been like that.) And then there is someone else there on a cross who is begging for mercy. He says to the angry man, “Why don’t you just shut up? I’ve been listening to people like you talk about injustice in the world my whole life, and now we’re finally getting justice.” And in his pain and helplessness and hopelessness, the man mutters these words to Jesus: “Remember me” (Luke 23:42). Then, in the most astounding demonstration of one-way love, God washes that poor, wretched soul.
Remember me. That’s all we’ve got.
And then, the last one of the three hanging there on Golgotha had already done His begging. He had already asked that there might be some other way for Him to free us from the condemnation we deserved. And God gave Him grace and strength, not in His deity, but in His humanity, to stand. Think of the love that worked in the heart of that forsaken, doubting, human man, who was at that moment walking by faith and not by sight, who in His humanity said, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” That wasn’t a rhetorical question. It was your Savior suffering in your place so that you would never be deserted, so you would never be exiled, so you would never be isolated.

Thought to Remember for Today

What does the fruit of one-way love look like? It looks like the ability to be transparent and to say, “I have nothing except ‘remember me.’ And the only reason I have that is because You gave it to me.”

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.