Q&A with John Daugherty, Administrator

12:13 PM 1 Comments A+ a-

In 2016, John joined the Calvary Baptist team to diligently support the staff and operational needs of the church as Administrator. John resides in Fort Worth, TX with his wife, Janice.

John and Janice enjoy walking and spending time outdoors together. They love having family and friends over to eat and hang out. Some the best times are spent doing “whatever” with the grandkids. When John gets a chance to relax it is almost always outdoors; hiking, biking, golfing, or fishing.

What does the Administrator do exactly?

What I try and do as an Administrator is help. My goal is to help eliminate obstacles from Pastor Brian’s path so that he is free to be the most effective minister he can be. I want to provide the resources and encouragement the staff (paid and volunteer) needs to help them be productive and joyous in their respective ministries. Of course finances are a big part of the responsibilities of an Administrator. In that regard I want to assure all financial activities are managed with the utmost care and provide helpful insight for the Pastor and other church leaders as they prayerfully plan for the future of the church. By paying attention to details, removing obstacles, and empowering individuals the hoped for results would be that we as a congregation are better able to help make the Pastor’s vision a reality.

What is the #1 thing you love most about being Administrator?

What is most appealing about this position is the opportunity to help someone be more effective in their ministry and in some small way hopefully that helps spread the gospel of Christ and encourages Christian discipleship basis.

What is the one question you are asked most?

"What does the future look like for CBCGP?"

My answer would be - very promising! It is no accident that God has all of us here at this place at this time. Obviously we have obstacles to overcome: an aging facility, changing neighborhood demographics, ongoing financial constraints, etc. – but we also have a godly Pastor, a dedicated staff, faithful members, and a Great God who can take our heartfelt efforts of service and work miracles.

What encourages you?

I have been blessed with a disposition that is easily encouraged. A beautiful sunrise, a song on the radio, a child laughing, an ice cream cone; any number of the hundreds of blessings I enjoy each day. I believe the foundation for that disposition is waking up each day realizing that God loves me, He accepts me, He has a plan for me, and that He is in control of everything.

What is one thing you wish you could help people understand?

God is sovereign. Nothing in your life or mine, or the life of this local church, is out of control. My hope for all of us is that we stride boldly forward each day… doing what we know to do, doing it to the best of our abilities, and resting joyfully in our God’s loving and all powerful hands.

Review of “Rhythms of Grace” by Mike Cosper

11:27 AM 0 Comments A+ a-

Cosper, Mike. Rhythms of Grace: How the Church’s Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2013. $15.99

Has the church forgotten the story of the gospel? While there may be a small aspect in most churches that explain the gospel, most have made it merely a secondary issue. Mike Cosper has noticed this trend and seeks to show that worship in the church should regularly tell the gospel story. Being the worship pastor of Sojourn Community Church, Cosper is well known for his contribution to the discussion of worship and music philosophy and practice. He contributes to the discussion of music through his unique way of telling the gospel story from creation to the ministry of Jesus and revealing the big picture of what corporate worship services should emulate. The gospel story is saturated with grace, thus worship in the church should represent this grace. Cosper concludes that there should be a connection between the gospel and worship in which the worship practices should regularly reflect the beautiful story of the redeeming work of Christ and His abundant grace.

Cosper does a beautiful job of clearly presenting the story of the gospel beginning with creation. The first four chapters are dedicated to show how worship changed from Eden, to the wilderness, to Israel, and to Jesus. After describing this story, there is an explanation of where the church is now concerning music and the ultimate goal of the gathering of believers. The following chapter then discusses the history of church music practices and how gospel shaped liturgy has been transformed through time. The remaining chapters deal with the specifics of music used in the church by addressing issues such as singing, musical styles, contextualization, the role of the pastoral worship leader. Altogether, the major premise of the book urges the reader to look beyond the details that so often cloud judgment and look at the story of the gospel and grace that affects every area of life, including worship.

In order to develop his argument for gospel shaped worship services, it is important the Cosper begins with the story of the gospel. He shares the story of the gospel in the style of a creative narrative while also interweaving philosophical comments concerning music practices. The very nature in which he tells the gospel story makes it compelling to the reader. In telling the gospel story, references to music practices or explained in a concise way especially when he explained the song of Israel. “begins with the starlit hope of the patriarchs as they sing bleary-eyed songs of their promised future…becomes a slave song…evolves into the road song of a tribe in the desert” (59).

The major focus of the book was to highlight the gospel story and show how the church has reflected this story in its history. With both of these historical ideas, Cosper gives a thorough yet concise overview. His transition from the gospel and the history of the church to practical issues is effective when he explains what gospel shaped liturgy looks like. He clears up terms associated with liturgy and gives solid examples of gospel shaped liturgies used today. The debatable aspect to the book comes when he concludes the support for his argument for gospel shaped liturgy with his own music philosophy. He addresses issues in the last few chapters that could have taken an entirely new book to fully explain. His remaining chapters could have been spent on issues more associated with the liturgy telling the story of the gospel.

In critiquing the way in which he handles the music debate, it seems that he did not address key issues that needed to be addressed in order to make certain conclusions. For example, he makes the conclusion, “when worship gets married to a particular style of music, the consequences are huge” (180). With statements such as the aforementioned, there would need to be more of an emphasis on his view of culture and the morality of music neither of which were expressed in depth. Also, some would argue that the revivalist characteristics of a service that he described are “compelled by a desire to stir emotions through other means” (115) is the type of service that he does not warn against later on in his book.

It was not Cosper’s intention to write this book from a completely neutral viewpoint. His philosophy of music was prevalent even though this book was not written for that purpose. In his declarative statements he oftentimes quotes Best which shows to the type of music philosophy he leans towards. In light of the current trends of church music, this is a great book to encourage the church to realize that rehearsing the gospel story is not solely a practice of antiquity but should be practiced on a daily basis in the local congregation.

Run Pt. 5 | Jonah: The Astonishing True Story

11:16 AM 0 Comments A+ a-

Pt. 5 The Cure for Running
Jonah 1:15-17 “So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.
17And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”

So what does God do when someone runs?

At first, if you’re like me, your thought is of the terrible consequences. “God punishes those who run from Him!” After all, He created a storm and a giant, awful fish to eat Jonah. But here is the amazing truth, and you have to get this.

The storm wasn’t just Jonah’s punishment, it was really Jonah’s salvation. Hear me out. The storm was raging and Jonah accepted the fact that this was God’s wrath being sent to him. So he decided that there was no more running. He stopped running, he turned and faced God and the storm, and he dove into the waves of his consequences. But just below the storm (the wrath of God) lay a fish prepared by God (salvation). It was when Jonah had no other choice that he plunged himself, by faith, into the wrath of God fully expecting death, that he actually experienced the Lord’s salvation.

Now here’s the deal, God hasn’t really changed. The way He dealt with Jonah is how He is still dealing with us. I mean not with a big fish, of course, but the same principles. We run from God, and His wrath is sent towards us. But instead of us receiving the wrath when we stop running, we receive grace and forgiveness. Isn’t that the story of the cross? God’s wrath is poured out on the world. But Jesus steps in and takes the wrath upon Himself, so all that’s left for us is salvation. In the end, what we believe to be an ocean of God’s wrath turns out to be an ocean of forgiveness and acceptance.

Jesus taking God’s wrath was the most extreme act of love the world has ever seen. It has provided us an escape. But the escape is only through Jesus; by putting our trust in Him and what He did for us. We dive into Jesus, who took the wrath of God, and we receive salvation. And not just salvation from God’s wrath, but salvation from our own rebellion as well. The cure for your running always has been and always will be Jesus’ love. So stop running. When you turn and face the consequences of your sin, you will escape the punishment. You will embrace His love and you will live.

About two years ago I went to the funeral of a man I don’t know. The grandpa of two sisters in our student ministry was honored and remembered at this funeral. As I sat in the service, they had several family members and friends stand up to talk about Robert. It was made apparent from the very beginning that Robert was a good man. He loved God, he loved his family, and he loved his friends. As I looked around the auditorium I was impressed to see how many people came to remember Robert. He had lived a life that was impactful. He served in the church, he served in the city, he served in his family, and his life influenced many people, and they had all come to the funeral to honor his memory.

But as the service went on, the Pastor said something that struck me. He said, “We’re not here to make Robert out to look like he was perfect, because he had his flaws.” These girls’ Papaw had times in his own life when he ran from God. But here’s the thing that made him such a good man. In those times that he ran from God, it wasn’t long before he would stop, turn to face Jesus, and make the courageous decision to dive into the ocean of God’s wrath only to find it to be an ocean of His love.

I know you’re not perfect. But Jesus’s grace says you don’t need to be. His grace simply says, “Stop running. I lived perfectly FOR you. I took the wrath FOR you.” So let me ask you a question; When your time has come, and the funeral is yours, will people remember you as a good man or woman who loved God and loved people? I know you’ve already sinned, you’ve already messed up, and maybe your reputation right now is pretty lousy. But listen; that can change. You can be remembered as a man or woman who glorified Jesus if you stop running from God, face the consequences, and live in grace. If you want that, your only hope is in Jesus Christ.

The God You Can Trust

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Our family, like yours, is getting all geared up for thanksgiving; looking forward to some good food and all those traditions.  Our kids are ecstatic to be out of school and have this time as a family.  Last week we had Vance’s Kindergarten program at Daulton Elementary.  The kindergarteners were on stage dressed up like Indians, Pilgrims, and Christian Ministers and there was a little speech they’d give.  Whenever it came to the Pilgrim men, the little boys would say “Land Ho”; when they got to the Pilgrim Women the little girls would say “Mercy Me”; and when they came to the Pilgrim Ministers those kids would say “Praise the Lord!”  Vance was a Pilgrim Minister and it gave me a tremendous amount of delight to see my boy up there in a public school shouting “Praise The Lord!”  I told him, “Vance, you know you’re like Daddy; you’re a preacher.”  Vance says, “Dad, I’m not a preacher I’m a PILGRIM MINISTER.”

That little program had me thinking back to the origins of this holiday we call Thanksgiving.  I could give you a deep, verbose thing but I want to read you a short section from a Christian history book that encapsulates what went on:

“...On December 22, 1620, the Pilgrims finally stepped ashore in a place they named Plymouth after Plymouth, England from which they had sailed.  The boulder, which tradition says they used as a stepping stone has become known as Plymouth Rock.  The Pilgrims first winter in the cold North American wilderness was difficult.  Food and shelter were inadequate and the settlers were plagued by illness.  At one point, only seven of them were strong enough to care for the sick and bury the dead.  By Spring, half of the settlers who had come over had died.  Yet in April 1621, when the crew of the Mayflower set sail for England, none of the stout-hearted survivors were on board for they had determined with God’s help to make a home in America.  With the coming of spring, the Pilgrim situation began to improve.  In late March, an Indian came to their village repeating, “much welcome Englishman”.  Samoset had learned to speak a little English from fishermen on the coast of Maine.  A few weeks later, Samoset brought Squanto, who had visited England and learned to speak English there.  Squanto remained in Plymouth acting as a guide and interpreter in teaching the Pilgrims how to hunt, fish, and plant crops. 

The First Thanksgiving
With the Indian’s help, the Pilgrims caught much fish and game, and had a good harvest of crops.  In the fall of 1621, less than a year after their arrival, Governor William Bradford, Plymouth’s second governor, called for a three-day feast which we remember as the First Thanksgiving.  Indians joined the Pilgrims as they celebrated, feasted, heard the Bible read publicly, and gave thanks to God for His many blessings.  Years later in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln helped establish Thanksgiving as a regular national holiday by proclaiming the last Thursday in November as “a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father”...

It is quite a thing, these folks come over originally or religious freedom.  Desiring to be able to read, study, and preach the Word of God and raise our kids in freedom with the Word of God, had come over to America for that very purpose after a horrendous time of suffering (with only half of them surviving) they stuck around and now there they were raising up this bounty to God and thanking Him for all that He had done. In early New England, it was the custom at Thanksgiving “time to place 5 grains of corn at every plate as a reminder of the days during the first winter when the food of the Pilgrims was so depleted that only 5 grains of corn were rationed to each individual at a time.” From “America: Land I Love” pp. 30-31

I bet if you could go back to those days and interview those folks who stuck around when the going got tough, and were seated there at that first Thanksgiving table, if you would have asked them, you left your home and came to this country believing that you could trust God.  After what you’ve been through, can you trust Him?”  I believe they would have said to a person, “Yes, you can trust this God.  He’s been so very good to us.”

In our text we are about to read, James wrote to a group of individuals who lived a thousand years before Plymouth Rock but they too were a group of people who were suffering.   You get the picture in Acts, we believe James is one of the earliest New Testament books written, that these individuals had come from all around; sixteen different areas and dialects.  These Jews would come for the feast of Pentecostalism.  On that day Peter preached, three thousand of them got saved and Christianity began to burn and spread like wildfire in these folks who had been Jews.  That was their upbringing, home, all they had known and they came to Jesus Christ and took their new faith back home.  When they took it back home, what it garnered them largely was persecution.  They were shunned by their Jewish neighbors and family.  They were persecuted eventually by the Gentiles and Romans.  When James, the half-brother of Jesus, sat down to write a letter to these individuals, he was writing to people who were suffering intensely.  Many of them through profound poverty and pain!

You know, I went back to James Ch. 1.  By the way, this book has meant so much to my life as a Christian; so much to me spiritually.  I went back and tried to read that first chapter with fresh eyes and I got feeling like I’ve never have before when I read James; a real sense that for these individual to whom James is writing, life hadn’t gone like they expected it to go.  Kind of how they thought this new knowledge of God was going to work itself out.  The plan they thought God had for their good and their prosperity. The dreams they have in life and sort of how it was going to go hadn’t panned out. 

I get the strong impression when I read James Ch. 1 (and the rest of that book) these individual were struggling with some serious “maybes”.  Maybe God isn’t who I thought He was.  Maybe I misunderstood His intention for my life.  Maybe He doesn’t have good things planned for me.  Maybe He is holding out on me.  Maybe I should go back to my old life.  Maybe it’s not worth it.  Maybe I can’t trust Him.

Friend, listen, I think if we’re honest, the longer you live you’ll be in some places in your life filled with so much pain, suffering, and unexplainable circumstances; there are times when we think did I get this thing right?  Can I trust the Lord going forward? 

I think these were individuals who, at that time, were having a hard time with Thanksgiving.  It’s to them that James writes; he gives one of the most beautiful, gorgeous, three-verse expositions on the character of God found in the entire New Testament. 

James 1:16-18   Do not err, my beloved brethren. [Don’t be mistaken or misled brothers/sisters in Christ] 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 18Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

We’re going to spend a little time unpacking that this morning, God willing.  James knows these folks are struggling, who knowns they’re thinking “did I get this all wrong, could this really be my life, does God really mean good for me?” and he gives them a loud caution not be be duped into believing that the world gives…and Heaven takes away.  He said, “don’t be misled, don’t misunderstand God” and proceeds to speak of God’s character in some of the most beautiful ways in Scripture! 

“The God You Can Trust”

I don’t know where you’re at this morning.  Some of you may be walking in these doors and you’re just so filled up this morning with profound gratitude toward God. You’re in one of those seasons where you’re feeling the blessings and you’re looking on your kids, grandkids in your home and the meal this week and things are good.  You’re in that season where you can see the forest for the trees and you say “Oh God, thank you!”  What a beautiful thing if that’s where you are. 

Some of you, that’ not where you’re at this morning.  The truth is you are suffering intently.  You know you ought to be thankful, and you are thankful for the things he’s given you; you know things could be worse.  The truth is you may be in that season where you’re thinking, “Lord, is this all there is?  Is this going to be my life from here on out?  Did I misunderstand you?  Did I get this wrong Lord?   Do you intend for me good?”  In the back of your heart, though you might never say in polite circles in church, you’re saying “God can I trust you?  God, can I hang in there with you” when things are really hard. 

Let’s talk this morning about the God you can trust.

James 1:17A   17Every good gift (ACT OF GIVING) and every perfect gift (BLESSING) is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights…
We are prone to think of God as the author of miraculous blessing of life.  God gives the spectacular answer to prayer.  God is the one who gives healing when our relative is sick and we pray then they suddenly get well.  God is the one who comes through when we don’t have any financial way to pay a bill or make it through.  We say our prayers and our friends pray for us and suddenly that check shows up in the mail.  I think we’re very prone to ascribe the spiritual things of life to God while practically believing the average parts of our life are the product of random events, abilities, and coincidences.  Friend, this verse begins to make something extraordinarily plain.  Every good gift, every perfect give is from above and commeth down from the father of lights.  Here’s what this means:  EVERY thing you’ve got that’s good came from God.  The breath in your lungs came from God. The beating of your heart came from God. The family that you love and embrace, God gave that to you.  The job you go to and work to pay those bills that gives you food, God gave that to you.  The working mind you have, the working body you have, whatever status it in, God gave that to you.  The friends, family, church, the bible, country, and blessings... almighty God gave that to you. 

I heard what’s supposed to have been a true story about Muhammad Ali. And one day Ali was flying across the country and he was seated there in first class. The stewardess came to him, of course excited to make his acquaintance, and she said to all the passengers “You need to buckle your seatbelts.”  She came by; making her rounds, and saw that Ali has not buckled his bet.  She said “Mr. Ali, you’ll have to buckle your seat belt” then she walked on.  She came back by and his seat belt still wasn’t buckled.  She said “Mr. Ali, we can’t take off until you’ve buckled your seatbelt.”  Someone seated there reported that he said “I don’t need to buckle my seatbelt.  Superman don’t need no seatbelt.”  And the stewardess, a little bit angry now said “Superman don’t need no airplane, either!”

I think there are times in our life we’re prone to think “wait, no, no, no.  I have what I have because I work for it.  I have what I have because I put out the energy and effort.  I had the ability and strained.  I grabbed my bootstraps and pulled myself up by them.”   Whatever you did, God gave you the ability to do it.  Whatever has happened, whatever good thing or person has entered your life, whatever blessing has come your way – behind it, above it, through it, under it was Almighty God who the Bible says sends His rain on the just and the unjust.

He sends good things to people who curse His name. He sends blessings to people who hate Him with all of their heart.  How much more [will He give then] to his own beloved children.  I want you to think this morning on the daily blessing we enjoy.  I know we live in a time where we are prone to murmur, to look around and say “well the economy is bad, finances are bad, this is bad, and that’s bad...”

James S. Stewart said, and I’ve quoted it probably a dozen times since I’ve been at Calvary, but it means so much to me.  He said...
“Have I deserved my health, when the hospitals of the world are full of sufferers?  Have I deserved the human love and affection which have cheered me on my way?  Have I deserved to be born into a Christian land of freedom?  Have I deserved the miracle of divine forgiveness which has been my salvation?  If I know anything at all, it is this, that not one of these gifts have I deserved; they are all the unmerited grace of heaven.  In fact, that is what the word grace means:  something completely and forever undeserved.  It is a humbling thought indeed.”    -James S. Stewart

Psa 68:19   Blessed be the Lord, who DAILY loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.

The daily things that God gives; have you ever thought to just thank him for the special people that fill your life?  All the people along the way, who encouraged, loved and embraced you.  All the teachers, preachers, mentors, put on your path, the family and friends.  Listen, every single one of them, sovereignly placed in your life by the creator.

You say, “well preacher, I sure have known a lot of pain.  I wouldn’t discount the fact that God gave me blessings, but here’s also been an awful lot of pain” You know I found it fascinating when the verse says “every good gift”, there are two different Greek words used for gift.  The first word means “every good act of giving” and then “every perfect gift” in other words “every perfect blessing” is from above.  That word “perfect” can basically be translated “perfected”. 

Listen, some of the blessings God sends you don’t look like blessings.  Some of the things God sends you, things that will turn out to be blessings, are wrapped in a package of pain.  They are sent my friend, not to destroy, undo you, not to show that God doesn’t love you, but they’re sent to perfect. 

Jenny was going through a study with some ladies in this book of James from Beth Moore and I was looking through her little notebook; in there was a quote from that study I thought was so profound.  Beth Moore wrote this: 

Parts of our lives were more nightmarish than good.  When then?  She said, I can look at my life in retrospect and see how several of those very things were nightmares morphed into gifts.  I’m convinced that desperation became a gift to me because it saved me from a life of mediocrity.   Gray wasn’t an option for someone as self destructive as I was.  Looming disappointment and some key people in my life also turned into a gift.  I couldn’t get anybody to mend or tend to my tattered soul the way I crave.  A lifetime of love snuggling up to folks with Scissorhands scars you, but those scars become a road map that leads you straight to Jesus.  There he becomes the uncontested love of your life and unexpected fountainhead of cleaner affection for others.  Every gap in your life, she writes, makes room for the lover of your soul.  God uses time to unwrap presents that appear as curses.

Friends listen, sometimes you can look back then come and testify today, “Preacher, there was a time in my life where I thought that thing God allowed into my life was sent to destroy me.  I thought it was the worst thing that could possibly happen.  I couldn’t see any rhyme or reason for it.  All these years later, looking back, I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t had that pain.  I wouldn’t need him like I do if I hadn’t had that desperation.  I wouldn’t love him like I love him if he’d given me everything I asked for. “ 

I’m only 37 years old but I already thank God for some unanswered prayers. Can I get an amen?  I already thank God that He has given me some things I didn’t want but I desperately needed.  Every good gift, every perfect gift, everything you’ve got that is good, right, and pure in your life didn’t come by chance.  It didn’t come by accident.  The sovereign God laid it at your feet.  That’s the kind of God we serve, that’s God’s character.

James 1:17   Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

I probably heard that scripture throughout my life at various sermons and different times.  I’ve seen it posted on wall plaques and all sorts of things in people’s homes.  I never took the time to pause and ask myself why God is referred to here as the Father of lights; what exactly that’s making reference to?  Friend, if you look in your Old Testament, you find that it is very much Genesis language. In fact, Psalms says it like this:

Psalm 136:7-9   To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever:
8     The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:
The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.

When the Bible refers to God as the Father of Lights, it’s referring to the One who hung the Sun there.  Who hung the moon in its place?  Who put the stars where they stand?  If we think of anything as being consistent or constant, if there’s anything in our world or our universe that you can absolutely rely upon it is that every morning the sun will rise, every evening the sun will set.  You will see the moon and stars and so it has been throughout human history.  You can always depend on that.  You know what?  A time is coming, in fact the Bible tells us:

Psalm 107:25-27   Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.  They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:  But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.

In other words, even the sun will burn out.  Even the moon will no longer be as we know it.  The stars will change before it’s all said and done, but Almighty God will always be the same.  Forever and ever and ever.

Malachai 3:6   For I am the LORD, I change not…

That’s why the text says every good perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights, form the one who hung the sun and the moon and the stars where they hang.  But with Him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning – GOD NEVER CHANGES.  Human beings change.  So many people have known someone’s affection one day and their wrath the next.  So many marriages have known deep, abiding love one season and complete neglect and abandonment the next season.  Our God, who set His heart on us, who says “I love you with an everlasting love; I gave my Son for you.  I will never leave or forsake you.  You are my child and I am your father.”  That God never changes.  He says, “I will be like this forever. I will never love you less.  I will never abandon you.  I will never change.  I am God.”  That is consistency. 

When I’m writing a sermon, I always try to dig, dig, dig, dig and get as much as I possibly can out of it for application.  And there a point at which I thought “Lord, there’s not a whole lot I can say.” In some parts it’s so simple but it profoundly affects our hearts if we embrace it.  So there’s probably a lot more to this verse, but I want to share with you the thing that’s just touched me like crazy.  We’ve seen God’s care; every good and perfect gift comes from Him.  God’s consistency in that He never changes.  Then we see God’s commitment:

James 1:18   Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth [of his own will, He brought you back to life with the Gospel], that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

In other words, God never intended that this whole sin cursed version of His creation be the final version.  God has had it in His heart from the very beginning, from before the moment of the fall, that there is going to be a perfect heaven and a perfect earth.  A perfect humanity with perfect bodies, minds, and souls.  A perfect created order; and the Bible calls us the first fruits.  That we’re like the first signs of what God has in mind.  Friend, all that is beautiful and gorgeous, but the thing that melted me down this week “Of his own will” He brought you and I to life with the gospel.  Why did God send his perfect son down to the planet?  Why would He put him on a tree?  Nails to his hands and feet?  Spit running down his beard?  Broken, bruised, and bloodies by His Own creation?  Why would God the Father let his own son take my punishment?  See there was some wrath stored up for Brian Loveless. I rebelled against God, didn’t pursue God, didn’t want God, and as truly as there was wrath stored up for Lucifer and the demons who rebelled against God; there was righteous indignation from this God toward me.  I deserved this punishment, but He didn’t punish me.  He did punish Jesus in my place.  Why would God choose to put his goodness on my account to give me not my record of disobedience, but Jesus’ record of perfect obedience?  Why would He bring me and you back into His family?  Why would He choose to say, “you know what, I’m going to bring them back to life.  I’m going to save their soul.  I’m going to bring them to be with me for all eternity.”

Friend, He didn’t do it because you deserved it.  He didn’t do it because I can earn it.  He didn’t do it because you’re in any way better than the people around you.  He chose to do it of His own will. He chose to love you.  He chose to save you.  He chose to bring you back from the edge.  He chose to give you a brand new life in Him.  I want you to know something; someone is going to be set free here in a little bit this morning.  Listen to this...

God knew exactly what He was getting.  He knew all about your problems.  He knew all about you flaking out on him.  He knew all about your many, many, falls. He knew all about your unfaithfulness.  He knew that you’d go up, down, back and forth.  He knew you’d venture into sin.  He knew that you would do all sorts of things against His name and against His Plan.  God, who knew exactly what He was getting, chose you.  He chose you because He wanted you. Let me tell you something, we can rest in the fact that this God is good.  That everything He wants is because it doesn’t depend on your performance.  It depends on His faithfulness.

I don’t have any poems or stories, no song lyrics this morning.  There’s nothing wrong with those things at all, but the only think I could get from this message today is this.  This week, when a lot of us are going to pause, and some you’re so very weary.  You’re going to have a chance to rest a little bit.  You are going to have a chance to sit down with your wife, kids, grandbabies for a little bit and just exhale.  Some of you right now are in some hardships in life.  Some of you have some very difficult things going on.  Friend, I want to tell you by the authority of this book and the experiences of millions who have followed the Savior, He loves you and you can trust him.  What he’s got for you is not bad.  It is good.  Things that look like curses, that wrapping paper one day will reveal a blessing.  This God who promised you that all things were working together for your good, never changes.  He can’t lie. You can’t mess it up.  He didn’t choose you because of your performance.  He chose you because of His own character and love.  Nothing can undo what the Great God has done.  What a reason this week to say “thank you”.  What a reason this week to say, “God I’m undeserving, but you gave me my mate.  God I’m undeserving but you gave me my children.  God I’m undeserving but you gave me this country and my freedoms; and the love of my life. God how many things you give!”  This Thanksgiving is Thursday but let’s make Thanksgiving today.  All over this place, if you want to walk down to an altar, I think that would be a fantastic thing to do on this Pre-Thanksgiving Sunday.  Just take a little bit to thank him.  All over the place, you don’t have to walk down to an altar to say thanks to God.  He’s everywhere, closer than the air we breathe.  There’s something powerful sometimes about just stepping out to talk to him.  We’re going to take this time tonight and do this as a church body, but this morning I want to start it off right.  I want us to just come, if you can’t come just stay there in your seat, but take some time to say thank you for who He is and what he’s done.  Friend, you’re wondering, “can I trust you lord?  Trust you Lord when things look so bad?  When things look so terrible?  When I would have never chosen this for my life?”  Get honest with him.  Christians are coming right now, you can come right after we pray; whatever you need to do. 

Lord, we thank you for who you are.  Lord, receive this time as we come, kneel, and pray.  God there are broken hearts in this place.  Some of those broken hearts are the ones most close to you.  Some of those tear stained faces are also faces that show your glory.  God sometimes the easy road, the chosen road leaves us without you.  God we want you.  We need you.  Thank you for who you are and what you do.  Bless this time as we seek your face.  Bless this time as we thank you.  We give His holy time to you.  It’s in Christ’s name we pray.  Amen


"The God You Can Trust" Pastor Brian Loveless Sermon on November 18, 2012 at Calvary Baptist Church Grand Prairie, Texas.