Rock Solid: 5 Lessons from the life of Simon Peter

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He was just a fisherman, an average guy with a sketchy past and a stale future,  but then he met Jesus Christ and everything changed.  Simon. Became. Peter.

"And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, 
and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."  Matthew 16:18

What will you become?

"Jesus Can Change Your Name ---Let Him" Brian Loveless Sermon on July 8, 2018

"Jesus Will Call You Up" Brian Loveless Sermon on July 15, 2018

"Jesus Will Call You Out" Brian Loveless Sermon on July 22, 2018

"Jesus Will Take You Low" Brian Loveless Sermon on July 29, 2018

"Jesus Will Lift You Up" Brian Loveless Sermon on August 5, 2018

"You Fall The Way You Lean" Brian Loveless Semon

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"You Fall The Way You Lean" 

Brian Loveless' Sermon from June 24, 2018 at 
Calvary Baptist Church, Grand Prairie, Texas.

Worship Album Highlight: Prayers of the Saints (Live)

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Worship Album Highlight: Prayers of the Saints (Live)

Every so often, I like to introduce music to you that I think will be encouraging and helpful. The album I want to highlight today is an album by Sovereign Grace Music called, “Prayers of the Saints (Live)”. I realize that not everyone listens to “worship music” all the time. Personally, I listen to a lot of music for the church while I’m at work, so I like to add some variety to my listening. With that said, I have found myself increasingly turning to certain worship songs during critical moments of my life. When I spend time in the Word, a common response is to engage with a song that speaks to the truth I am reading about. There are also times of difficulty where a song can prove to be encouraging and helpful.

I believe “Prayers of the Saints (Live)” stands out among other worship albums. With so many worship albums being produced today, it is difficult to know which ones are worth spending your time on. Here are a couple reasons why I think you should check out “Prayers of the Saints (Live)”

1.    The theme of the album

The album title “Prayers of the Saints” comes from a phrase John uses in Revelation 5:8 and 8:4 to describe the prayer of God’s people for the punishment of the wicked, the deliverance of his people, and the vindication of God’s name. These may seem like some heavy topics, which they are, but they help speak to a theme that is often absent in a lot of worship music today: “the already and not yet”. What I mean by that is the tension that we feel that Satan is defeated and our sins are paid for, yet we are still waiting for the final return of Jesus where all things will be made new and death will finally be destroyed. Sin is still prevalent today and it seems like things are only getting worse. The waiting period we find ourself in is filled with emotions of celebration, joy, and victory, but also, lament, longing, grief, and anticipation. This album helps speak to all of this through songs such as “We Look to You” which says:

Deliver us from evil, Lord; the devil’s seeking to devour
With trembling heart we hear his roar, but Your strong arm will crush his pow’r

And the song. “When We See Your Face”

As day unfolds, I seek Your will in all of life’s demands
And though the tempter tries me still, I cling to Your commands
Let every effort of my life display the matchless worth of Christ
Make me a living sacrifice; be glorified today

I’m thankful that this album gives us words and expressions to help us on our journey as pilgrims longing for a greater home.

2.    It is saturated with Scripture

Another reason this album stands out is its emphasis on being filled with Scripture. Each song has been written with truths of Scripture as its foundation. And the songs don’t just have one verse to support it, they are saturated with Scripture. One great example of this is the song “All Praise To Him” which is filled with Scripture from the Creation account in Genesis, to the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 98:7-9, and Psalm 11:4-9, to verses on redemption and grace found in Romans 5:4-35 and Ephesians 1:13-14. On the Sovereign Grace website, there is a helpful resource that allows you to see all the Scripture used in each song.

3.    Quality of the music

When great truth is combined with great music, it creates something moving and powerful. Not only is this album filled with Scriptural truths, it is combined with quality music that serves the lyrics. The music gives right expression to the theme of each song. There are songs of celebration and adoration such as “He is Our God”, “All Creatures of Our God and King”, “All Praise to Him”, and then songs that rightly express lament and confession through moving melodic passages and chords progression such as “Forgiven”, and “Lord Have Mercy”. It’s also worthy to note that the production of the album is done with extreme excellence and makes it a joy to listen to.

4.    It’s Singable

I think the best and most distinguished feature of this album is that it is singable. The biggest issue with a lot of worship music out today is that while many songs may be powerful and moving, they aren’t always the best songs for the context of corporate worship, or even just signing in general. Every song in this album is very singable and is good for any congregation to easily pick up. I know this to be the case both in my own church context as well as in my family. My two year old knows every word to “O Lord, My Rock and My Redeemer” because it is singable and easy to memorize. My wife, who is not a musician, also easily sings to all of the songs. It is a great album because it is powerful and singable!

I hope this encourages you to check out this album. It has been an incredible blessing to my family, my church, and myself over the past couple of months, and I pray it will be an encouragement to you as well.

Warrior. Poet. King. Pt. 4 David and Mephibosheth

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Warrior. Poet. King
Pt. 4 David and Mephibosheth
1 Samuel 9

David, in the Bible, was a man’s man. He was the kind of guy that all the little Jewish boys pretended to be. He was a poetic, noble warrior. He was strong, yet gentle. Stern, yet gracious.

So far we’ve looked at the stories of how David interacted with Goliath, Saul, and Jonathan. We’re kind of following a timeline here. And now we come to an absolutely beautiful story of David that is sadly not taught a lot. I believe it’s a very clear image of the Gospel, and so we’re going to study this story in light of the Gospel. Allow me to set up the scene for you.

Saul and Jonathan have died in battle. The Israelites were retreating and the Philistines pursued them. Jonathan was caught and killed. Saul continued running, but soon realized he also was going to die. And so, rather than let the Philistines have the honor of killing the Israelite King, he committed suicide. So the story of Saul and Jonathan ended there on a bloody battlefield, but their legacy continued on.

Word came back to the palace in the middle of the night that Saul and Jonathan were dead. As the servants were awakened there was sorrow and dread. In those days, if a ruler was defeated, it was customary to kill off his entire family so there would be no heirs. Saul and Jonathan died, which meant Jonathan’s brothers, Ish-bosheth would become king. Ish-bosheth was a cruel man who would certainly kill off Jonathan’s family.

Soldiers were already starting to get anxious. And not before long, they heard Ish-bosheth coming with his soldiers to take over. That’s when the servants and family fled into the night. One servant, scooped up Jonathan’s five year old son, Mephibosheth, and without any time to gather belongings or clothes she fled the dark palace. She could sense she was being pursued and so she ran all the faster. She was just making it into the all clear when she tripped on a root. She and Mephibosheth tumbled to the ground and the boy fell at an odd angle, breaking his back and paralyzing him. The servant scooped him up and continued running for their lives.

II Samuel 4:4 Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled, and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.

So now there is chaos in the royal palace. A growing number of people are following David and are demanding his rightful place to the throne, while Ishbosheth, who has crowned himself the king according to the customs, won’t give it up. Years pass, chapter 4 ends, and we’re kind of left wondering, “Why was Mephibosheth’s story even in there?”

And then the plot thickens… Ish-bosheth is killed by an insider. The assassin brings word back to David, thinking he did a wonderful thing, but David is grieved to have a family member of his best friend killed in his name. So he has the assassin killed, but he is none-the-less, crowned as the new King of Israel. However, years pass on again. David gets lost in his duties as king. Until…

II Samuel 9:1-5 And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” 3And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” 4The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” 5Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.

David summons Mephibosheth and the servant from the Land of Lo-Debar. Interestingly, the name Lo-Debar is interpreted as, “Land of nothing.”

I Samuel 9:6-8 And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” 7And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” 8And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”

He had lost his ability to walk, his inheritance, and his family. He was a broken man living in the land of nothing. We can safely say, Mephibosheth is in a dark and desperate place.

I Samuel 9:9-13 Then the king called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. 10And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall always eat at my table.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. 11Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons. 12And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s servants. 13So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.

In a beautiful climax of the story, David vows to take care of Mephibosheth and treat him well. You might have already put the pieces together, but let me lay out the Gospel for you according to this story.

We’ve all been broken by our own fall. We’ve been paralyzed and are incapable of taking care of ourselves. Our fall was sin. And that sin left us broken and alone with nothing to our name but emptiness.

God summoned us just like David summoned Mephibosheth. And when we answer that call He brings us to his table.

This table is a position of royalty. In the palace it was well-known that only the king’s family and guests were to sit at this table. David made it very clear, Mephibosheth was to be considered family. So God takes us from a position of brokenness, forsakenness, and helplessness and sits us, as his children, at a table of grace.

What a beautiful picture of God’s redeeming grace! It doesn’t matter who your family is. It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from. It doesn’t matter how deep your brokenness goes. It doesn’t matter that you come from a land of nothing. God has called us to join Him at His table. And what’s absolutely gorgeous in this picture is that, so long as Mephibosheth sat at the table, he could not see his broken legs. But you know what he did see? The spread in front of him. A feast of grace. And this is the truth for you.

If you’ve put your trust in Jesus Christ, remember this, you were called out of nothing. You were helpless. And God set you at his table. You need to remember this, to humble yourself. Perhaps you are fixated on your sin, and you’ve convinced yourself that your brokenness has disqualified you. Simply scoot back up to the table. Let God’s grace cover your sin.

If you’ve not whole-heartedly trusted in Jesus to forgive you of your sins, would you answer His call? He’s calling you out of your sin, and to His table. He is offering forgiveness and salvation in exchange for your sin and emptiness. He wants you to become His child and sit with Him at His table.

Brian Loveless Series: Water in the House of the Lord

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The full collection of sermons from the 2018 series "Water In The House Of The Lord" by Brian Loveless.

Part 1: "A Change Your Life Church" a Brian Loveless Sermon from February 18, 2018.

Part 2: "Being Filled With The Spirit" a Brian Loveless Sermon from February 25, 2018.

Part 3: "What's Keeping You?" a Brian Loveless Sermon from March 4, 2018 .

Part 4: "How Can I Forgive?" a Brian Loveless Sermon from March 11, 2018.

Promises by Sherry Cash

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Sherry Cash has been attending Calvary Baptist Church for 60, almost 70, years and resides in Grand Prairie, TX with her husband Woody. Woody is Assistant to the President at Arlington Baptist University and is on campus nearly every morning.  Sherry attends chapel with him regularly.  Sherry also helps Woody teach the Encouragers Sunday School class, sings in the church choir, and hosts a prayer meeting Wednesday evenings at 6 pm.  In her spare time, Sherry enjoys reading and spending time with her family.  


In my bible seminary days, I began collecting God’s promises from the Bible.  In fact, I have scraps of paper all over the place with His promises written down.  One day years ago, I ran across a worn out, little brown book from the 1600’s by Samuel Clarke called Precious Bible Promises.  It was so uplifting and I began scribbling down promises from that book as well.  Eventually, my well-loved book fell apart (until years later I was able to find a copy of it in the Internet).  When I did, I came to learn that a promise from God means more to me if I find it in God’s word. In my daily devotions, if there is a promise there, it will always mean more to me than getting one out of that little brown book ever did. 

When I retired from being Girls' Dorm Parent at Arlington Baptist University after 18 years Woody and I kept busy with our Sunday School Class.  Especially after I had my heart attack I needed something to do while I’m here at home, so I asked the Lord specifically to give me another ministry.  About five years ago, the Lord said why don’t you share My promises you have been collecting.  He impressed on me to send out promises via texting.  I had never really sent or received texts, but I began small; sending promises out to my children and grandchildren.  Eventually, other people would tell me they wanted to receive the texts as well so my little list started to grow.  I now send out about 40 promise texts very day.

If you would like me to put you on my promise list, please contact me or send your information to Calvary Baptist Church via the contact form and tell them you would like to be added to Sherry’s Promises Texts.

Warrior. Poet. King, Pt. 3 David and Jonathan

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Warrior. Poet. King.
Pt. 3 David and Jonathan
John 13:34

I hope I’m not the only one when I say this, but when I was in high school I allowed myself to be talked into some dumb things. Through those years there were some bones broken, some visits by police officers, typical drama, and a whole lot of stupidity. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun times while I was in high school. But I’ve learned something since then. I’ve learned what friendship is really about.

During that time, my standard for friendship was pretty low. I’m not saying my friends were bad people, but I didn’t have any idea what made a good friend. I tried finding friends who were in my grade. But that wasn’t deep enough. I tried finding friends who had the same interests. But that wasn’t deep enough. I tried finding friends who had similar hobbies. But that wasn’t deep enough. In college I even tried finding friends who were studying ministry like I was. But even that wasn’t deep enough.

True friendship is deeper than fun times, hobbies, and interests. True friendship is a deep, soul connection.

Check out how two friends in the Bible cared deeply for the soul of the other.

I Samuel 18:1-4 “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.”

What’s happening here is Jonathan is taking off everything that marked him as royalty. He wore a robe, belt, and sword that were probably custom made just for him. They were probably the best of the entire kingdom. And then he gives these things to David as a symbol of his recognition that David is the anointed one of God. He acknowledged that David would inherit the kingdom. NOT HIM. This is probably the greatest sacrifice Jonathan could have made for another human being, short of giving his life.

I love the language in these verses; Jonathan’s soul was knit to David’s. Meaning this was a friendship that was deeper than sharing similar hobbies, classes, or interests. This was a friendship based on deep, soulful connection. True friendship sacrificially cares for the other person.

So here are some questions I encourage my students to ask themselves and answer honestly: Do I normally get in trouble with my friends? Do my friends know/care that I go to church? Would I introduce them to my grandparents? If I share personal things with them, do they change the subject? Ask these questions about yourself as well. Are you being a friend that cares for them?

Remember in the last section of this series how Saul was crazed to kill David? During that whole escapade, Saul tried to convince Jonathan to kill David as well. Check it out:

I Samuel 19:1-3 “And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul's son, delighted much in David. 2 And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself. 3 And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you. And if I learn anything I will tell you.”

About two years ago, at teen camp, we had a vivid glimpse at what this looks like. Our speaker told the story of Jonathan and his armor bearer. How they stood back to back, fighting against an enemy that outnumbered them. How they fought for each other. It so moved our teens that they started a deal in our student ministry of defending one another by shouting, “Armor bearer” and sweeping in (playfully) to fight for their friend. Jonathan was an expert at defending his friends. And in this particular story, Jonathan chose to defend David, even from his own father because he truly cared for him.

What does this mean for you? You can start with defending against rumors, against bullying, against temptation, against sin, etc. Just think: what if you had someone willing to fight for your purity and sanctification? What if YOU were willing to fight for THEIR purity? That would be quite a strong relationship I should think.

I Samuel 20 talks about the strength of Jonathan and David’s relationship. It was a relationship that some people have even speculated might have been homosexual because of their closeness. Obviously I don’t think it was of that nature, I just think that a deep emotional connection between two people, especially two men, is rare and uncomfortable.

Emotional connection is something I never really understood until I came to TX. I have a lot of difficulty connecting on that soul level like David and Jonathan. So here’s what I try to do: I make a phone call at least 3 times a week. I really try to make it every day, but I’m no good at it. And in that conversation, I do what I call a “check-in”. I talk about anything significant that happened that day, I literally say, “That made me feel…” And I also confess any sins that I am aware of. The other person doesn’t try to fix me, judge me, or gossip about me. These are people I trust and usually they simply speak truth and encourage me.

For instance, I called my friend Joey the other week, and said, “Man, I feel like I’m just not going anywhere. I feel like nothing is really working.” And he said, “Do you think you’ve just gotten complacent?” And he nailed it. Do you know why? Because he then told me he was feeling the same exact thing. This is how I try to connect emotionally with my friends. And when I make conscious efforts to do that, I find that I am much more ready to connect on a more natural level.

Do you open up about your feelings? Do you confess sins? Or do you care more about having fun than the actual health of the other person?

Now before we end, I have to say, this blog isn’t really a lesson on “How to be like Jonathan and David”. This is a lesson on “How to be like Christ”. He does all of this the best. Jesus cares for us. Defends us. And wants to connect with us. Look at this:

John 13:34 “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.”

When we do these things for others we are reflecting the Gospel like David and Jonathan and we are loving like Christ. Jesus made a covenant with us when He died. He said that there would be no condemnation for those who are in Christ. And Jesus is a man of His word. He will forever be faithful because He made a covenant with us.

When Jonathan gave David his robe, belt, and sword, that was actually a covenant action. He was, in that moment, swearing to David that he would forever care for him, defend him, and connect with him. The best way for your friendship to connect on a deep, soulful level is to make that covenant with a friend. To promise to each other these things. And to stick to your word through the thick and thin.

In conclusion: there is one of three places you might find yourself in: 1. You need new friends. 2. You need to go deeper. 3. You need to experience this friendship with Jesus. Where are you? John 15:15 says Jesus is our friend. He wants to connect with you emotionally. You know what you need to know. You have what it takes. Now is the time for action. Go quickly and do what needs done.

A Place to Start for Spiritually Stuck People by Paul Maxwell

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I wanted to share with you good article I came across recently.

In Christ,
Brandon H.

A Place to Start for Spiritually Stuck People

Article by Paul Maxwell

I’m spiritually stuck. We are stuck people. We get distracted, pulled down, undone. God feels distant and irrelevant. Dane Ortlund says, “You are not abnormal. So, relax. We all go through this from time to time.”

Seasons of spiritual darkness are common — even when many pretend they’re an anomaly. Even when indifference pirates our most pious intentions, and we surrender ourselves to isolation in our lack of holy zeal, don’t be deceived: gloom in the Christian’s heart is common.

It does often look and feel different for different people:

  • Your daily fear of future tragedy erodes your affection for God.
  • Your experience in corporate worship is empty and distracted.
  • You feel unimpressed, aloof to the things of God.
  • Patterns of repentance crumble and fade.
  • The preached word seems boring.
  • Hymns prompt only an irregular cadence of exhausted sighs.
  • Spiritual advice trips over its own triteness on its way to cynical ears.
  • Christian articles online induce more guilt than help.

Day after day, sermon after sermon, small group after small group, we’re discouraged and frightened by a widening gap between the desired self and the real self. We feel the torque pulling between our desired relationship with God — the desired emotions, the desired disciplines, the desired relationships — and the real.

It feels like the solution should be simple — another round of repentance, a worship song, a Paul Tripp devotion. Something. Anything. But those things either don’t feel effective or mysteriously elude us. Here are six places to start — intentions to experiment with — when you feel spiritually stuck and alone. “Intentions” are things that we easily lose. They are good, but they can be slippery. Find yourself in one, or a few, of these intentions. They’re not all right for you. But discover which one might be most relevant to you now. Read through them, and search for words for your heart. Read them in sequence, and look for the helpful nutrients you need.

1. Be honest about your heart.

We read, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog” (Psalm 40:1–2). Well, then. What a wonderful experience for David. #Blessed. But not all of us have yet been pulled from the bog.

Let’s be honest about what we feel toward God — our tangled thoughts, our slogging feet, our raw experiences, our dulling passions, our disappointed expectations. Anyone who gives you a single answer for all of humanity — to fix every single sorrow — is a fool. That’s what makes us wanderers. You can’t podcast away sin’s tedious yoke. What, then, does it look like for us to encounter Christ when we cannot yet praise God for pulling us out of our emotional marshland? It begins with honesty.

Ask yourself, “If I had absolutely nothing to lose, what would I say to God?” Or even further, “If I had total domain over my personal spiritual life, what would I want it to look like?” More than that, “How do I feel about how that compares to my real spiritual walk?” Keep digging. Honesty is difficult, because sometimes it’s buried beneath our own spiritual pretensions. Find the honesty in you — sift through your own heart like you’re sifting for gold.

2. Complain out loud to God.

Now, speak your honesty. We need the blessing of God’s fatherly ear toward us, inviting us to speak what we might not say out loud in church:

I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. (Psalm 6:6)
I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. (Psalm 69:3)
I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out. (Proverbs 30:1)

Maybe perseverance in praying out loud — or starting to pray embarrassing feelings out loud to learn that God has no pretense — will be your means of blessing and freedom.

If you’re angry at God, say it with David. It doesn’t help to add hypocrisy to unfounded anger. “Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.” David has replaced his meal-time prayers with complaining to God, and he doesn’t apologize for it. He says, “I’m talking to you three times a day, and I know you can hear me.”

3. Complain out loud to others.

If you want to double down with a high-risk spiritual investment portfolio, say these honest things out loud with other people. “Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high” (Psalm 7:7). Revival may be found in community. This isn’t meant to justify whining. Don’t whine. Complain until you expect, again. Complain until you find yourself bringing your spiritual dryness to God: “Over it return on high.” “Return.”

Complain to others, “Is my complaint against man? Why should I not be impatient? Look at me and be appalled, and lay your hand over your mouth” (Job 21:4–5). Job is saying, “I don’t care if this scandalizes your pristine, glass-encased view of prayer. He can’t use traffic as an excuse for his absence — he is all places at all times with all knowledge and all power — so I’m asking him to show up right now and get me out of this rut.” He just might.

4. Get out of your own head.

More knowledge may not be the solution to your problem. In an age of career-design, lifestyle-engineering, and life-hacking, that may seem ridiculous to you. But if you’ve tried everything, consider this thought: It’s possible you may not even need to repent of anything in order to “fix” your feelings. You might just need to get out of your head.

To a certain extent, your current spiritual emotions may be the circumstances that you’ve been given — the cards you’ve been dealt — and faithfulness does not look like scrubbing your soul of any indicators of unrest or grief, but of letting those indicators help to lead you into being more comfortable in your own skin, and as an extension, a deeper, more real relationship with the God who made you and gave you this story.

The uncontrollable spinning of thinking about God and the Bible can distance you from yourself, from people, and from God (attention: seminary students). If you don’t know that you can think too much about theology, you’ll just feel guilty for not being able to think your way out of a problem that is caused by overthinking to begin with.

Turn off your phone, go to the nearest open field, kick off your shoes, and lay in the grass. Do it right now. “Your righteousness is like the mountains” (Psalm 36:6). I have an inkling that this prayer has roots in a completely non-intellectual, nature-enjoying, social-media-absent experience in David’s life — looking at mountains, perhaps. Lay back in the grass and, gazing at the sky, allow your mind to wander there. “Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down” (Psalm 144:5). And maybe you will find enough rest in that moment to sink down a few verses: “Stretch out your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me from the many waters” (Psalm 144:7). And maybe he will.

Let the entire industry of trivializing Jesus Christ through list-formulations dissolve out of your mind. Let the expectations of virtual communities be silenced. The distant vision of an infinite, glorious, compassionate, and satisfying God — increasingly a pipedream — it is real, and it is available to you today.

5. Get back in your head.

God also heals us through remembering. The entire book of Deuteronomy is about how Israel needs to remember God if they are going to find satisfaction for their souls and be fruitful with what God has given them. Remind yourself that nothing you’re experiencing is surprising or disappointing to God. The best, most faithful, happiest Christians in the universe have experienced spiritual darkness, and it doesn’t necessarily say anything about you.

God intimately cares about and knows

  • your every deliberate sin (Psalm 32:5)
  • your every stubborn turning away (Psalm 139:2–4)
  • your every desperate moment (1 Samuel 2:8)
  • your every unmet hope (Proverbs 13:12; Psalm 34:18)
  • your every cynical thought toward him (Genesis 6:5)
  • your every crippling fear (Psalm 56:3; Psalm 77:16)
  • your every lonely moment (Psalm 25:16; Psalm 102:7)
  • your every overwhelming crisis (Isaiah 43:2)
  • your every despair (Psalm 69:14–15)
  • your every feeling of rejection (Psalm 147:3).

He knows everything about us. And he still sustained us today. He still gave us breath. He still woke us up. He still gave us what we need to live a full, 24-hour day.

For some purpose, in his knowledge that is greater than ours, and in his care and provision and compassion that are more imaginative and sufficient than we can conceive, he has not allowed the atoms that hold us together to dissolve. That would be terrifying, knowing we live our lives teetering on the cliff of non-existence at the whim of a more powerful, all-righteous being, except that he tells us why he gives us another day, another breath, another reason for hope: he loves us.

6. Practice receiving the love of God.

This may be the most important thing you can do. Without this, all the other spiritual exercises you could possibly integrate into your personal life will quickly disintegrate. So, let’s have at it.

God loves you so much. He loves you. He loves you. He is with you in the dim and the dark. He sings songs of joy about you.

“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.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

It’s so easy to trust our reflex — that God is big, and therefore removed, distant, and has better things to do than care about our daily anxieties. Sure, he “cares” about us. But he cares about everyone. So, his generic providence can feel like a cheap consolation prize to forgetful people — a happy-meal toy that punishes us when we do bad and pats us on the head when we do right.

The beauty of God’s love is that it survives spiritual dry times. Don’t let the lie sink into your mind that spiritual dryness indicates that God has gotten over you, or that he’s tired of working with you. Far from it.

Think of a moment in your life when you were brought to tears — when you were overwhelmed by your body’s desire to cry, because you felt so deeply. God feels that about you. The Bible tells us that “in the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence” (Hebrews 5:7). Jesus, who is God’s perfect expression of his attitude toward you, cries over you. He doesn’t just love in action. He loves in emotion. God is upset by you — in a good way. It can’t be overstated: He loves you.

We live in a frightening world. Life threatens us with loss, with decay, with slow suffering, with aging, with slipping into a place we don’t want to be. God is beyond and above romantic love; he doesn’t have it — romantic love merely depicts the commitment and intensity of God’s love. “God is in love with you” isn’t saying too much, but not enough — God is in love with you. God is utterly devoted to you in Jesus. He’s fascinated with you like a father with his daughter. He’s brought to tears by his love for you. If something tangles you up and distracts you from that, cut it loose.

Start there, end there. You don’t need more good news than this, whether it’s the first day you belong to Christ or the fiftieth year you walk with him: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Paul Maxwell is a Ph.D. student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and philosophy professor at Moody Bible Institute.

Repreinted from © Desiring God Foundation. Source:  All Rights Reserved.

"The Burden of Gethsemane" Sermon by Brian Loveless

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During Passion Week 2013, Pastor Brian Loveless talked about an event, as Brian says, that is incredibly significant and meaningful beyond description - the night before Christ's crucifixion.  Take a look back at "The Burden of Gethsemane" a sermon from Pastor Brian Loveless from March 24, 2013 at Calvary Baptist Church Grand Prairie, Texas.

Warrior. Poet. King. Pt. 2 David and Saul

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Warrior. Poet. King
Pt. 2 David and Saul
1        Samuel 24:1-22

We’ve started going through the story of David. We’re giving his story a few articles, because there is so much for us gain from it. We’re specifically reading through the stories of his relationships. Last week was the story of David and Goliath. As you read, be sure to remember who is who. David represents God, Goliath represents the overwhelming sin in our lives, and the scared, helpless soldiers represent us.

Do you remember how David’s story begins with him being anointed as the new king-to-be? Keep this in mind as we go through the timeline of what happened next. David had killed Goliath. So Saul brings David to live in his palace. He loves David, and accepts him as part of his family and gives him responsibilities in the military. But something starts happening. David is extremely successful and Saul promotes him to the status of general; both a social and political status of honor. And he starts winning the hearts of the Israelites. The people start cheering for David and Saul notices those cheers are getting louder than his cheers. (I Samuel 18:6-9)

On top of this growing jealousy, Saul had this nagging memory about how David was prophesied and anointed to be the next king, and this started driving him crazy. It escalated to the point where Saul became unwilling to let the throne be passed on to David. He was denying David his rightful place on the throne! And this was the beginning of a dramatic saga of betrayal, assassinations, and corruption. Saul’s jealousy, anger, and self-righteousness flared up so violently that in the very next verses he attempted to kill David. (I Samuel 18:10-11)

This actually happened twice! And David eventually took a hint and went on the run.

There were soldiers in David’s authority that were still loyal to him. So several hundred soldiers flee out of the country with David also. And Saul pursued them! At this point, Saul is on a rampage. He’s killing everyone who stands in his way; entire cities including, priests, women, and children! The dude is nuts!

Eventually, David and his men find themselves living in caves. When Saul heard about it he started scouring the hillsides looking in all of the caves. At one point, nature calls and Saul has to use the restroom. And so, while on a break from hunting for David, he goes into a cave to relieve himself. Lo and behold, it was the very cave that David and his men were hiding in! (Talk about embarrassing.) Saul does his business, completely unaware that dozens of men were hiding behind him. (1 Samuel 24:1-4)

During this awkward moment, a few of David’s soldiers get the idea, “Let’s take this guy out! We’ll never get a chance like this again!” But David says no, and actually chooses to spare Saul’s life. Instead, he gives him grace and mercy. (1 Samuel 24:5-7) Let me give a quick definition of these two words.“Mercy= not getting what you deserve” “Grace= getting what you didn’t deserve”.

Here’s the point: I am Saul. I am self-righteous, arrogant, angry, and insecure. In my self-righteousness, I have attempted to deny Jesus His rightful place on the throne. And if you were to be honest, I think you would say the same thing. But Jesus, our David, spared our lives and has returned grace to our violence.

In the movie Hacksaw Ridge, Desmond Doss is a conscientious objector, meaning he was against the war. Nevertheless, he feels compelled to join the army as a medic. His reason as he said was, “With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don't seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little bit of it back together.” He joined with the promise that he wouldn’t have to touch a gun or be combat trained. The problem was, his commanding officers and fellow soldiers didn’t like that. If he wouldn’t fight there, then he wouldn’t fight on the battle field, and wouldn’t be able to save them. So they took every opportunity to force him to fight. At one point they even jumped him while he was asleep and beat him. Still, he continued his training in every other area. The entire climax of the movie tells the story of how Desmond went to battle with his battalion, and acted heroically in spite of being called Doss the Coward. By the end of the night, he had saved 75 wounded soldiers, without firing a single shot.

Desmond Doss illustrates Jesus giving grace to those who have been unkind, cruel, and even violent to Him. And it’s the same thing we are commanded to do in Matthew 5:43-44

What are we to do then? Because of the Gospel of God’s grace on us, who have been cruel and unkind to God, we are to extend that grace to others. Not so we can be like David, but so we can be like Christ. Did you know the Bible says in Romans 2:4 that it is God’s goodness that leads to repentance? It’s not God’s wrath that causes people to turn to Him. It’s not His justice, wisdom, or sovereignty. It’s His goodness.

That’s what happened with David and Saul. After Saul left the cave, David followed him out and said, “Saul, look here. I had your life in my hands. I could have killed you, but I spared you. Just to prove it, here is a piece of your robe that I cut off. I will not kill you.”

And here is Saul’s response to David’s grace. I Samuel 24:16-22 As soon as David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 17 He said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. 18 And you have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lord put me into your hands. 19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. 20 And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. 21 Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father's house.” 22 And David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

David’s goodness brought Saul to repentance. When we’ve been treated with evil, we are to return grace, because we are like Saul, and God has given us grace. And just as God’s goodness has shown us His beauty, mercy, and grace, we too can share that with those who’ve hurt betrayed us. Who knows, it just might bring about their repentance as it brought about yours.

Ladies Ministry Banquet & FAQ's

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The Ladies Ministry of Calvary Baptist Church is proud to present, "Stronger for It", a banquet filled with stories of God's faithfulness and goodness.  Come be encouraged and empowered by our speakers, Debbie Stone and her daughters Stephanie Grounds, Jessica Baker, and Christa Isham, as they share stories of their trials and God's triumphs. 

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Tickets are required and admission covers the cost of lunch catered by Olive Garden. Call Dwana McGowen at the church office (972-262-5656) TODAY to get your tickets! 

"Please join my three daughters and I to see what God has been up to since we spoke nearly five years ago!! Time flies. Stories change. We would LOVE to see you there! Come join us as we PRAISE THE LORD for all He has done!" - Debbie Stone
"Come join my sweet Momma, sisters, and I as we tell the rest of our stories.  Praising the Lord for all He has done!" - Stephanie Stone Grounds
"This is going to be such an amazing afternoon! Ladies getting together talking about GRACE & GOODNESS. Tickets are on sale now! Hope to see you there!" - Christa Isham
"Don't miss out on the immense blessing!  Come be touched by the faith and stories of real people who have had real struggles and the Lord blessed them." - Karen Snead


How much is the event?  
Tickets are $15 and cover the cost of a catered lunch from Olive Garden.  Tickets are only available through April 22, 2018 and can be purchased Sunday morning in the Welcome Center or over the phone by calling Dwana McGowen in the church office at 972-262-5656. 

Please note: Tickets cannot be purchased through the church website for this event.

What are the event details?  
The Stronger For It - Ladies Banquet 2018 is being hosted by Calvary Baptist Church on Saturday, May 5 at 12:30 PM to approximately 3:30 PM at Calvary Baptist Church, 401 W. Church St., Grand Prairie, Texas 75050.  Click here to see our Facebook event online for our most recent updates!

Who are the speakers?
Debbie Stone and her three daughters, Stephanie Grounds, Jessica Baker, and Christa Isham, have spoken at several special events around Texas about all the things God has done and is doing in their lives. 

If you would like to see the ladies testimonies from five years ago, click here to watch the 2013 Mother's Day Service at Calvary Baptist Church.

Why "Stronger For It"? 
The theme is inspired by a song called “Stronger for It” and parallels Calvary's theme for 2018 – More Jesus, More Faith. 

What is the Ladies Ministry?
The ladies ministry of Calvary Baptist Church encourages women of all ages to love the Lord through biblical truths and teaching as well as loving each other by getting involved and fellow-shipping together.

Recommended Resource: Seasons

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I love to recommend great sources for our church family to use.  In a world where we can literally research anything in seconds, knowing how to decipher between good and harmful sources is important. That’s why I like to point you towards books, articles, music, and other resources that I find valuable and centered on truth.

Today, I want to share a resource from the Village Church called Seasons. It is a document that explains the Church Calendar. We are most familiar with two seasons of the Church Calendar, Christmas and Easter, but it is much more than that.  The Village describes the church calendar in way that it “seeks to redeem our time and space through the seasons of Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost. Through readings, prayers, songs, fasts and other practices, these seasons reorient our hearts and minds toward the Christian story.” This resource thoughtfully explains each of these seasons and includes excellent devotional content such as Scripture readings and songs that you can engage with personally and with your family.

My hope is that while we may be new to the idea of the church calendar, it can be a way in which we remember and are pointed to the one true story of the Bible.

You can access the Seasons booklet here:

© 2017 The Village Church All rights reserved.

Evidence Is Available

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Easter Sunday Brian talked about how evidence is available for all those who seek after Christ. He used the story of Thomas who questioned the news of Jesus being alive after His crucifixion. Take a look back at "Evidence Is Available", Brian Loveless' sermon on April 1, 2018 at Calvary Baptist Church, Grand Prairie, Texas.

Calvary Quilters Ministry

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Founded in 2000 by Cynthia Richardson and Dorothy Spivey, this group of ladies work tirelessly creating quilted masterpieces including blankets, matching quilt bags, placemats, table runners, and even goody bags for all of our visiting missionaries.  Jeanene Mathews grew up on the mission field as her parents served in Costa Rica and Guatemala. She explained that missionaries leave a lot behind; everything they know, their families, and most of their possessions.  They have to give up a lot so creating these quilted gifts is a way to remind each missionary that someone is thinking of them and praying for them regularly. 
Jeanene Mathews presents a quilt to Kyron and Antonia Horton - Missionaries to Brazil

Recommended Resource: The Imperfect Disciple by Jared Wilson

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Recommended Resource: The Imperfect Disciple by Jared Wilson

Image Copyright © 2018 The Gospel Coalition, INC. All Rights Reserved
Every once in a while I will come across a book that I just can’t put down; Jared Wilson’s new book “Imperfect Disciple” was one of those.  It is common today for discipleship to be viewed as simply to-do lists or following self-help principles in order to earn God’s approval or grow in the Lord. While we are to obey commands in Scripture and pursue spiritual disciplines, those are not meant to be in end to itself, and, if we are honest, will always find ourselves failing according to those standards. Wilson takes a different approach to discipleship by stressing our inability to keep the to-do lists and focusing on the completed work of Christ. He explains this in a powerful way by saying “The essential message of Christianity isn’t “do”, but “done”.” (Pg. 67) It is from this foundational perspective that he then focuses on spiritual disciplines such as Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship. His explanation of Bible study was extremely helpful in that the primary reason to read the Bible is “not to learn stuff but to be stuff” (pg. 87) focusing on the transformative aspect of studying to encounter the glory of Jesus.

From beginning to end, Wilson stresses, “the power of our obedience and the source of our holiness is not in our efforts but the finished work of Jesus Christ.” (151). He does this from a very honest, real, and personal perspective that makes the book a refreshing joy to read. This will be a book I continually go back to and recommend others to read and work through together. For imperfect, messed up people like me, I know this book will bring hope and encouragement because it points to the only one who can provide it, God Himself!

You can find this book on Amazon, and most other national book sellers as well as going to Jared’s website at

Warrior. Poet. King. Pt. 1 David and Goliath

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Warrior. Poet. King

Pt. 1 David and Goliath
David is possibly one of the best shadows of Christ we have in the Old Testament. Throughout his story you will notice that this was a well-rounded man. He was a strong, valiant, warrior. He was a gentle, graceful poet. And he was a noble, just king. He is the kind of person that we would all want to be like. In fact, to this day, Jews will still use him as a reference point when they talk about their kings and presidents to this day. They’d say, “King Jehoshaphat is great, but he was no David.”

His entire life is so spectacular that we’re going to spend a few articles on it. It’s a story of conspiracy, war, adultery, bravery, beauty, and nobility. Those characteristics are often best seen in his relationships with other individuals like Saul, Jonathan, Bathsheba, and his Mighty Men. So we’re going to do a study on the different relationships David had, and how they reflect the Gospel to us.

His story begins with an unexpected visit from a prophet. Samuel shows up at David’s house and tells the family that David is destined to be a king! This is the making of a great fantasy novel, right? Then the prophet leaves the family for all of them to just dwell on what he announced. It was very long after this that David started getting some notoriety. Perhaps the one event that launched David into the spot light of the kingdom is the most famous part of David’s life; when he fought Goliath. So let’s talk about that historical moment with a new lens.

The Setting

There’s a stand-off between two armies. The Philistines are on one side of the valley. Israelites on the other side. I want you to place yourself in the shoes of the soldiers. Sleeping every night thinking you could go to battle the next morning. Cooking every meal as if it was your last. Constantly listening for the sound of the enemy. And then David shows up to see this strange moment. He was bringing food to his soldier brothers. But he got curious. Why was nobody fighting? Why was everybody just camped out? So, he starts asking around.

It turns out there’s this Philistine giant who’s laid out a challenge. If anyone beats him then they win the whole battle! Pretty simple, right? This was actually a typical Philistine tactic. It allowed the Philistines to decrease the loss of their own soldiers, while also laying claim on more of the enemy’s soldiers. It was a win-win for them. Especially because of who their champion was.

It’s hard for us to imagine what Goliath looked like, even with a description in the Bible, because we’ve never seen anybody quite like him! The tallest man on record is Robert Wadlow who lived in the early 1900’s. He stood at 8’11”. That’s crazy tall! But even when you look at his picture, you wouldn’t think of him as a soldier. Goliath was 9’9”! In addition to his height, he was strong. His spear is described to be like a beam. He had one man designated to carry his shield. This dude was bred for war!

Now contrast this giant killing machine with teenaged, shepherd boy David, who was probably about 5’7”( that’s the average height for a 15 year old.) It’s no contest! My money is on the giant spear!

So David hears and sees all of this. And in his typical teenage boy wisdom asks, “Why isn’t anyone taking this guy on?” So he then offers to combat the giant soldier. Can you imagine? Some farm boy, basically estranged from his family and all of society, shows up with cheese and bread, and says, “Hey, I’ll fight that giant!”

Of course, anybody would be skeptical. But everybody is also desperate, including the king. He’s unexpected and unlikely. They don’t think he can pull this off. So David explains just who he is. “Listen, I’ve fought off a bear and a lion with my bear hands. I’ve been fighting for sheep. I stand for those who can’t stand for themselves. I’m a protector, a fighter, a warrior.” And the King, at the shock of every around, agrees to let David fight for them.

David, an unlikely shepherd, who seemed unqualified to fight this giant, stands in the place of every soldier.

The Climax

As King Saul and the whole army waits in anticipation, David goes out to a stream and finds five smooth stones. And you have to wonder, is David regretting this whole thing? Does he have any doubt about God actually getting him through this? If David fails, the Philistines will take over Israel! And David will go down in history as the failure who plunged Israel back into slavery.

Nonetheless, he confronts the giant and delivers an awesome monologue. You have to read this. I Samuel 17:41-47 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

And then he does exactly what he said he would do. He kills the giant with a supernaturally accurate stone, and beheads him with his own sword. That might be the most boss thing you read in the Old Testament!

So David, the unlikely hero, slays the undefeatable giant! And all of the Israelites enjoyed the victory

The Point

Remember, David is a shadow of Christ. The unlikely hero who stood in the place of all of mankind to defeat an enemy that seemed impossible to defeat. Who are we in this story? The soldiers shaking in our armor. The cowardly King Saul. The skeptical older brothers. We are unable, and maybe unwilling, to face our own giants. We avoid the confrontation.

Goliath then represents an enemy that we can’t defeat: sin. We are soldiers literally living in fear of our enemy. We desperately need a savior. We need our own David to step up.

David goes out, and crushes the enemies head. This is not fulfilling any prophecy, but it is actually reaffirming a prophecy made about Jesus. Remember, in the story about Adam and Eve God tells Eve that her offspring would crush the head of the serpent? David doesn’t fulfill it, but reaffirms it. He is a picture of what Jesus Christ would later do. David stood alone in the place of all of his people. Just as Jesus stood alone in the place of all of mankind.

So what is your Goliath? Is it an addiction? Do you have a stronghold in your life? Is your Goliath a giant of fear? A giant of jealousy? Anger? Lonliness? The lesson for you is this: you can’t defeat your giant on your own. You’re not David. You need a hero. And your hero has already come! He crushed the enemies head!

At this point, your giant is already defeated! You don’t have to fight FOR your victory. You can now fight FROM your victory. Remember, the Israelite army jumped to their feet and chased the Philistines out of their country! So rise up, soldier! Give chase to your defeated enemy. Your giant is a beheaded corpse. You are not a slave to your sin. You are not a victim of Satan’s temptations. You are on the winning side. Enjoy the victory that has been won for you!