Deacon's Page 

 

“The Tree of Life: God’s Promise of Salvation” 
Beginning the weekend of September 17 and
18, Calvary will begin The Tree of Life: God’s
Promise of Salvation, a special ten-week
congregational study. The Tree of Life will include
a ten-week sermon series, Sunday School lessons,
adult Bible class lessons, and special books for all
ages to enjoy at home.
The Tree of Life examines God’s plan of
salvation as it unfolds through the Old Testament
and is fulfilled in the life, ministry, death, and
resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Each session
explores Bible accounts that guide us through the
epic story of salvation, from creation in the
beginning of Genesis, to the cross of Christ in the
beginning of the New Testament, and finally to
Jesus’ return on the Last Day in the Book of
Revelation.
The first five weeks will focus on the Old
Testament, while the last five weeks will feature
lessons in the New Testament. We will begin with
creation and the fall into sin, which brought all the
evils we experience into this world. Then we will
look at the unfolding of God’s promise to send His
Son with lessons on Abraham, Moses, King David,
and Daniel.
Then, in the second half of The Tree of Life, we
will focus on Jesus’ coming as our Savior. We will
look at His birth, Baptism, ministry, crucifixion,
resurrection, and His promise to return on the Last
Day to judge the living and the dead.
By the end of these ten weeks, you will be
refreshed with the Bible’s overarching theme
and storyline, equipped with the tools for
unlocking the full riches of each page of Holy
Scripture.
Be sure to join us and invite others to come
and learn how Jesus’ cross became the tree of
life in which God forgives us and gives us
everlasting life. Join the Calvary family as we
explore The Tree of Life: God’s Promise of
Salvation!
Peace,
Deacon Hurst


"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same ay I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:34-35

Jennifer  and  I  just  had  the  amazing opportunity  to  spend  our  honeymoon  in  Jamaica. The  location,  weather,  culture,  and  people  we experienced  were  among  the most  beautiful  I  have ever  encountered.  Jamaica  is  known  for  many things:  Reggae, Rasta, rum as well as the phrases ‘Ya Mon,’ and ‘One Love’    We  had  had  many  conversations  with  locals about surviving COVID in a country where tourism is king, toilet paper shortages in the US, caring for one another, the state of our angry world, war in Ukraine, and  so  much  more.  The  phrase  ‘One Love’ appeared  in  nearly  every  conversation  and  every greeting.  The  simple  concept  that  we  can  and should  simply  love  and  care  for  one  another  in  all situations,  and  that  we  are  all  in  this  together  is nothing new, Jesus gives us His new commandment in  John  13;  but  it  was  certainly  refreshing  to  hear again and again.
How  do  we  love  one  another  better?  I believe  recognizing  who  we are  and  whose we are is a great start. Being a thankful child of God is  essential  to  make  every  day  a  blessing. Showing  that  thankful  heart  to  others  is  an opportunity  to  share  God’s  Love  with  everyone we  encounter.  When  our  daily  habit  includes being a thankful, loving child of God the world is simply  a  brighter  place.  Imagine  an  entire community  of  people  loving  and  caring  for  one another  as  Jesus  commands  us  to  do.  A beautiful picture for sure!    One  morning  I  asked  a  young  worker how he was as he was pushing a cart of towels onto the elevator. He replied, “I’m alive. The sun is shining. God is so good.” Amen and amen!  A thankful  and  loving  heart  created  by  a  loving God.

Peace,
Deacon Hurst

New

The Revelation passage for today contains this wonderful picture of all things new. We are shown a post-judgment scene that demonstrates the happy, triumphant state of the redeemed Church, the communion of saints. The former state of things has changed. There is no more sin, there is no more death. In making all things new, God has restored the new creation in its entirety. ALL things are made new and perfect as they were at creation before the fall into sin. One Bible commentator reminds us that this is the renovation of the universe. Creation will be restored to its original and pristine state. This will happen on a cosmic scale. A new order will replace the sinful, death driven order we brought upon ourselves. God will transform the old to new. This includes the old (sinful) Adam to the new (sinless) Adam that you and I are in Christ. This is what we celebrate when we speak of life in Christ. While the new heaven and new earth may seem an eternity away, we know that the new creation has already begun to appear through the preaching of the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus has entered our defiled creation and he allows us to see brief glimpses of the new creation through Word and Sacrament. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes and souls to the promise of the new creation and grows within us a trusting faith in these promises. It is this faith that will see us through to the completion of the new heaven and new earth on the day of Christ’s return.
 
 
Finally, ‘It is Done.’ God says these words are trustworthy and true, write them down. There is no question that there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Everything in God’s plan of salvation will be complete and He promises to prepare a new place for us, His children. Thanks be to God!!
 
Peace, 
Deacon Hurst

Take the Journey

What do coins, sandals, perfume, vinegar, boulders,
and a TV have in common? Probably nothing obvious; but
each has a role to play in The Journey to the Cross
experience held at Calvary during Holy Week. The Journey is
an experiential activity through the last days of Jesus life on
earth and His promised resurrection. The Journey to the
Cross is appropriate for all ages (young children will need to
be directed by an adult) and takes about 30-45 minutes to
experience completely. Please join us for what has become a
Holy Week tradition for many at Calvary and is now back to
being available as an in-person event. Invite and encourage
your friends, neighbors, and families to join The Journey in
2022.
While it may seem early to be talking about event in
Holy Week, we all know that time flies, so please mark your
calendars now. CYNC, Calvary Youth ‘N Christ would like to
thank the Calvary family for supporting our presentation of
The Journey to the Cross in its various forms in the past.
We hope you grow through The Journey experience and
show that new life in Christ to others daily. 
Peace, 
Deacon Hurst

 

 

Journey to the Cross

 
April 12: Wednesday 7:00 - 9:00 pm
April 14: Maundy Thursday 8:00 pm               (until complete)
April 15: Good Friday 1:00 - 3:00 pm

 

 

THE ‘REST’ OF THE STORY
Many of you know that I am not much of a winter person. I don’t particularly like to be cold and I have no great love for snow. You will not find me skiing, snowboarding, sledding, or even playing in the snow. It really isn’t my thing. Isn’t it funny that God called me back to Cleveland from Fort Lauderdale? I think He has a great sense of humor! The recent pummeling of snow we received reminded me of something I heard on the radio regarding shoveling snow. The DJ suggested that every five minutes of shoveling be followed by five minutes of rest. He also warned listeners that one should not shovel snow while angry. Yeah, good luck with that, because…SNOW and non-working snow blowers and plow trucks and... you know the drill. OK, so now what? If I should not be aggravated by the snow and yet I still have to move it, how should I approach the problem? I think listening to the DJ’s suggestion of doing some work followed by some rest is a good word of advice. This is what the Master has to say. Jesus reminds the weary to come to Him and He will give them rest. I believe we can be less annoyed by the snow and other challenges in life
and instead see how beautiful it really can be if we can step away from the aggravation and the weariness, we can see the beauty God has created for us to enjoy and enjoy the rest He offers. The rest that God provides allows us to view things in new ways and gives us the mental, physical, and spiritual breaks we need. It is truly amazing to have a Heavenly Father who loves us and knows our needs so well. I cannot say that my feelings toward winter and snow will ever be completely changed. I’m still going to grumble about the it and I am certainly not praying for the next blizzard to come quickly. I can say though I am privileged to see the beauty of God in the ‘rest’ of His creation. Please take time each day to rest in Him. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 Peace, 
Deacon Hurst

 

Last weekend I shared a message based on

Ephesians 1:3-14 and referenced The Message

translation as well as the song Glorious Grace by

Michael W. Smith. I cannot emphasize enough the

amazing grace our heavenly Father lavishes on us so

that we can be called His own, His adopted children.

He had us in mind before the beginning and has never

let us go. We are indeed home free—signed, sealed,

and delivered to the praise of His glorious grace! I pray

we all find strength and hope in these most assuring

words in 2022 and the years to come!

Peace,

Deacon Hurst

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had

settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by

his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through

Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us

to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his

beloved Son.

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. 

Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his

eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall

purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this

Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed,

sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This down payment from God

is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get

everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

Ephesians 1:3-14 The Message (selected verses)

ADOPTED THROUGH THE FATHER’S GLORIOUS GRACE

Words & Music: 
Deborah D. Smith and Michael W. Smith
Let us praise the one who chose us
Let us thank the one who knows us
Set apart, blameless in his sight
Through the son, we have faith, we have life
To the praise of his glorious grace
May the God of our lord the almighty father
Give you wisdom and peace, his comforting spirit
That you may know his hope
You may know his riches
And you may know his mighty strength
To the praise of his glorious grace
To the praise of his glorious grace
Grace and peace to you through Jesus
Our deliverer receives us
Our hearts created for his word
Our salvation was spoken and we heard
To the praise of his glorious grace


 

SOME ALONE TIME

SCRIPTURE ALONE

The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New

Testaments were inspired by God and are therefore the sole authority in all matters of faith and practice.

Scripture alone is the measure of all truth. God’s

Word stands alone in its majesty. It demands

reverence and unhesitating faith in its doctrines as

well as unfaltering obedience to its commands.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and

profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction,

and for training in righteousness, that the man of

God may be competent, equipped for every good

work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 

FAITH ALONE

Faith is simply the sinner's personal reliance

on Christ as Savior. Through the saving act of

Christ He has declared sinners to be righteous, as if they had never sinned. When God justifies sinners,

He declares them to be exempt from punishment

and now entitled to eternity with Him based solely

on what Christ’s sacrifice for them.

Yet we know that a person is not justified by

works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. Galatians 2:16

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped

for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

 

 

 

 

GRACE ALONE

Grace is the free gift of God; specifically

salvation or the gift of eternal life which is given to

the believer as a gift through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is receiving the opposite of what we deserve. It is getting what we do not deserve. It is the free forgiveness of sin. Salvation by grace

means our salvation is not attained or maintained by human works; it is instead the free gift from God offered to sinners through faith in Christ's blood. This is the Gospel of grace.

For by grace you have been saved through

faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Lord, We thank You for these gifts. 

We praise You for shining the light of

these truths into a dark world through

Reformers like Martin Luther. Lord, help

us to remain focused on and daily live

these Reformation truths in our sin-

battling life. These truths change the

world! Help us to live for You. Amen. 

Peace, 

Deacon Hurst

Despair

Despair Interlude-Skillet


 

Despair, you come to me, with your poison and your misery

Oh oh death you come to sting with your poison and your misery

Death death death death death

Death surrounds me, singing to me softly

Let the shadow spread his wings around me

In the night, close your eyes, for it means to come in

This is how it feels when you're bent and broken

This is how it feels when your dignity's stolen

Singing to me softly

In the night, close your eyes, for it means to

come in

I'll be here to call back

I can feel the shadow creeping in my mind

Don't close your eyes

 

Politics, war, broken relationships, disease, draught, famine, debt, hunger, death, fear.

 

Despair  is not  God’s  plan for  humanity. The  above interlude  appears  on Skillet’s  Rise album between the tracks Good to Be Alive and Not   Gonna  Die   Tonight.   I  know   that   it’s placement  is  no  accident. We  have  all been there, haven’t we? Life is good, it’s great to be alive   and  then…BOOM…the   hammer   falls; ‘gloom,  despair, and  agony  on  me’  enter what

was a great life. You can probably choose the

culprit(s) from the list above. What was most

recently a good day to be alive can become a

day of despair wrapped in the mourning cloths of

death before we can even process what is

happening. The devil whispers ‘death’ into our

ears and—if we believe him—despair follows.

This is not God’s will for humanity. He

never wanted us to hear the word death

whispered in our ears or chanted from our

mouth. God wants us to know that He has

fought, conquered, and vanquished death on our

behalf. Jesus has won life for us and offers that

life to us free for the taking. When we are part of

God’s eternal family, we never have to fear

death again, we don’t need to despair over the

things of this world, instead, we can rejoice in

the life that has been given to us. Life will

challenge us, but the ultimate victory already

belongs to Christ!! Amen and amen!

Peace, 

Deacon Hurst 

    Called To Be

 

We are just under a year away from the next LCMS

National Youth Gathering in Houston, Texas and that fact

has me remembering events and themes from past

Gatherings. Twenty three summers ago I was in Atlanta,

Georgia with a group of high schoolers for the

National LCMS Youth Gathering, my second

time taking a group of youth. It does not seem like it was that long ago, and while ATL 1998 was not my favorite Gathering, some of the memories are still very vivid and valuable and some very important growth happened there.

The Gathering Theme in 1998 was Called To Be. Memories of that Gathering were brought back as I thought of the words Jesus calls Matthew with… ‘Follow me.’ These simple and direct words used to call Matthew were more than an invitation; they were a gathering in and a call to service. What does it mean to be called or Called To Be?

  Here are some of my notes on the theme: 

We are Called To Be

1) Alert-to be aware of all the opportunities God gives us to serve others and to share the Good News of Christ.

2) (Be)long- through baptism we are the adopted children of a loving Father.

3) Me-to be the wonderfully and fearfully made creation of an all-powerful God who knit us each together as unique individuals.

4) Free-we are no longer slaves to sin, but live the freedom Christ has won for us.

5) Servants-we now have the freedom to choose to serve our loving Father instead of our own sinful and selfish desires.

What is the connection? As Christ called Matthew to follow him, so too have we been called. We have been Called To Be all that we are and so much more. We have been called to… Grow and Show Everyone Life in Christ. As members of God’s family each of us has been uniquely equipped to do just that, to Grow in Faith and Show the love of God to the world as we live each day in Christ. Let’s live our calling!!

Peace,

Deacon Hurst

WEAR YOUR WORST TO CHURCH! 

Wear your worst to Church! Wear what you think God would never stomach. Wear your tattered hopes. Wear your stained shame. Wear your reeking guilt. Wear that outfit soiled with sin. And Jesus will gladly take it off you and put it on himself. Indeed, he already has. Jesus may have been crucified naked, but he was clothed with the rags of a world gone wrong. And now he stands ready to clothe that same world with the robes of a love gone right. God makes your worst his own, and his best your own in Jesus his Son. Chad Bird

We’ve been studying Luther’s Small Catechism, specifically “The Ten Commandments” in the Sunday morning education hour. I found these words from Lutheran author and theologian Chad Bird to be particularly on target as we spend time discussing the three uses of the Law. Many will remember learning the Law acts a curb to help keep us on the path or roadway. The Law also functions as a mirror in which we can view ourselves and see how we live up to God’s expectations as He lays them out in the Law. Finally, the Law acts as a guide to help lead us through life and its many challenges. 

The explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism reminds us that the second use, as a mirror, is critical in helping us recognize that we are indeed sinners and in need of God’s Gospel as found in the person of Jesus Christ. We are taught that the Law always accuses. It tells us where we fail and that we deserve nothing but eternal death and separation from our loving God. The Law indicts us and has no power to save us. This truth can lead to us despair, to throw in the towel and give up on everything… seeing no point in living or trying. But God has sent Christ to serve our death sentence. Jesus has done what we cannot do. He lived a perfect life, He kept the Law of God without failure, then He went to the cross as a perfect sacrifice (perfect because He was sinless and perfect because He was the proper sacrifice), He died for us, and He rose from the dead to ultimately conquer death for us. When we consider ourselves in the mirror of the Law, we are lost and headed for despair if we also do not see ourselves as being redeemed by Christ, the Gospel, the living Son of the Father. He has done what we could not do for ourselves and offered salvation as a free gift. The Holy Spirit brings us to the truth of this salvation found in the Gospel and builds true faith in us when we are demolished by the truth of the Law. Praise be to God that He seeks us at our worst to give us His best. 

Peace, 

Deacon Hurst 

 

 

A CURE FOR THE SUMMERTIME BLUES

     Summer is upon us once again. For many of us, the dogdays of summer may not be too far away. Sometimes the summer doldrums can get to us. Eddie Cochran famously sang,  

     ‘Sometimes I wonder what I’m a-going to do But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues’ 

     I believe that there is a cure for the summertime blues, especially in the summer of 2021. I would like to suggest that we all get out there and enjoy the summer! There are many opportunities to join with friends, family, and even strangers in doing something fun and, well, summery! Here are just a few that you can do with your Calvary family: 

June 27 Super Sunday Tailgate: 11:30 am -1:00 pm Food, Fellowship, Lessons & Craft 

July 3 Parma Independence Parade 

July 25 Super Sunday: 11:30 am - 1:00 pm Christmas in July 

July 30-31 Friday: 6:30 - 8:30: Family VBS with Bethany Lutheran (@Bethany) 

Saturday: 3:30 - 6:00: Family VBS with Bethany Lutheran (@Bethany) followed by a cookout and concert. 

     Let’s join together and celebrate the summer that the Lord has given us after a very long separation from one another. Worship services and studies at Calvary are open and the family is enjoying the reunion of smiling faces. Special events like those listed above and others will make for an enjoyable summer together. Invite your friends and neighbors to join us. In Christ we have a whole lot more than the cure to the summertime blues! Let’s share the Good News!! 

Peace,

 Deacon Hurst 

UPCYCLED in CHRIST

 
Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the renewal of life. Many of the things that looked dead throughout the winter months are now bursting, seemingly unable to contain the life within them. 
I think this is a good picture of the Christian life. We have new life within us though Christ. Easter is celebrated with flowers that have lain dormant for months just waiting to burst through the soil. We use the image of the butterfly as a reminder of the new life that is found in Christ. Beautiful things coming forth from ugliness and death are appropriate pictures for the life we have in Christ. 
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 
2 Corinthians 5:17 
I have often used this verse from Paul to the Corinthians with the youth to talk about baptism and the new life we have in Christ. I have illustrated this concept with the idea of recycling a used aluminum can into something useful. Interestingly, the triangular recycling symbol also lends itself well to the work of the Trinity in our becoming a new creation. 
Recently though, I have come across a term that I feel fits the process of becoming a newly created child of God better than recycle. The new term I am planning to use in the future is upcycle. There is a movement among craftspeople and artists to reuse old materials and make them into something not only useful, but beautiful. I think this concept fits the newly created Christian so much better. We are not just made into something useful when we are in Christ, we are also made beautiful in the eyes of the Father. In Christ, our putrid, ugly sin is gone, and we are upcycled to a life in service to the King of Kings. 
It is also important for us to remember from where the power to make us new comes from. The word Upcycle reminds us that the changes that occur in the believer come from above. These changes are not our doing, they do not come from within, they come from above. 
What a gift it is to look around us and see the new life that emerges each Spring and know that we too are new creations in Christ, useful and beautiful, ready to serve our Lord by sharing His gracious love with the world around us. 
Peace, 
Deacon Hurst

Lord, I need You

Lord I need You,  oh I need You 

Every hour, I need You 

My one defense, my righteousness 

Oh God, how I need You 

Matt Maher, Lord, I Need You (refrain) 

. I cannot tell you how many times over the last three- or four-years words to this effect have entered my mind and crossed my lips. These years included an extended pastoral vacancy, a divorce, the deaths of my parents, a pandemic, and more. You know, you have lived though many of these very things and more as well and I am confident that similar thoughts and phrases have accompanied your daily lives as well. 

I need the Lord, and He is here. What does He look like? He looks like my Calvary family when they love me, even when I am prickly and unlovable. He looks like cards and gifts that I do not expect or deserve, but sure do appreciate. He looks like conversations in the parking lot after a long meeting. He looks like Calvary leadership reminding me to use my vacation time. He looks like a friend asking me if it is okay to share a hug. He looks like a fellowship hall of people enjoying a Super Sunday with some of the kids and a puppet named Gordy. 

 This is the Lord meeting our needs and more. He comes to us through Christian friends and family who are sometimes just as broken and hurting as we are. He shares some of Himself through them. He comes to us in Word and Sacrament to strengthen and preserve us as we travel life’s winding roads. He promises He will never leave us of forsake us. These are the most comforting words I know. 

Please do not expect the Lord to appear only in the form of Bible pages and footnotes or perfectly presented scripture readings, Bible studies, and worship. Does He appear in those things, of course He does, but not only there; our Lord meets us on the ground floor and provides daily strength, hope, and love in His perfect Word, even when our presentation is imperfect. He gives us a family of faith to lean on, love on, and grow with. Does it get any better? Not on this side of eternity.

 Peace be with you all and thank you my Calvary family. 

Deacon Hurst

The next day the huge crowd that had arrived for the Feast heard that Jesus was entering Jerusalem. They broke off palm branches and went out to meet him. And they cheered: 

Hosanna! 

Blessed is he who comes in God’s name! 

Yes! The King of Israel! John 12:12-14 (MSG) 

According to Wikipedia, in ancient times palm branches symbolized goodness and victory. The people welcoming Jesus that day saw a King, the King of Israel. We certainly understand later that most of the people welcoming Him were most likely interested in Jesus and a worldly savior, a political figure who would somehow overthrow the Roman occupiers and lead Israel back to her former glory. 

We really cannot blame them, can we? It is hard to find fault with those people when we continue to fall into the same trap. In today’s world Jesus often becomes a sort of spiritual vending machine that we go to get what we want. We want goods and fame, cash, perfect families and lives. We want healing and freedom from pain, peace and quiet. We want what Jesus can give and we are more than willing to pay the price of waving a few palms to get what we want. Thank God the story does not end with us just getting what we want and dying. God provides more than we need for our life in this ‘veil of tears’ and then outdoes Himself by gifting us a perfect life in eternity with Him and all believers. This has all been accomplished by THE ONE the Father sent to live a perfect life, die an undeserved death, and rise from that death to life. This is why we wave our palms; this is why we worship Jesus who set His eyes to Jerusalem for us. 

The book of Revelation also describes palm waving. This time it is the gathered saints worshipping the Lamb on a King’s throne. THE ONE who has brought salvation to the doomed. Our Savior, Jesus, the Lamb of God. Amen and amen!!! 

I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing: 

Salvation to our God on his Throne! 

Salvation to the Lamb! Revelation 7:9-11 (MSG) 

Free Hosanna Cliparts, Download Free Clip Art, Free Clip Art on ...

Peace, 

Deacon Hurst

 

 

 

 


I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 

These words from Hebrews 13:5 are a sure promise of God. We are certainly living in unusual and trying times at the moment, but God’s promise to never leave or forsake His children is a guarantee. While we continually fall short of keeping our promises or outright break them, our Heavenly Father keeps His. This is good news for us, His children, because it means that no matter the duration or outcome of these challenging times He is with us; loving and caring, building up and calming down, and keeping His promises. God keeps His promises, He will not forsake us. We have the gift of life found only in Christ Himself. Praise the One Who breaks the darkness! 

LSB 849 Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness 

Praise the one who breaks the darkness with a liberating light. 

Praise the one who frees the prisoners, turning blindness into sight. 

Praise the one who preached the Gospel, healing every dread disease, 

calming storms and feeding thousands with the very bread of peace. 

Praise the one who blessed the children with a strong yet gentle word. 

Praise the one who drove out demons with a piercing two-edged sword. 

Praise the one who brings cool water to the desert's burning sand. 

From this well comes living water, quenching thirst in every land. 

Praise the one true love incarnate: 

Christ who suffered in our place. 

Jesus died and rose for many that we may know God by grace. 

Let us sing for joy and gladness, seeing what our God has done. 

Praise the one redeeming glory, praise the One who makes us one. 

Please know that God keeps His promises in many ways including using His people to love, serve, and comfort one another. Please call upon Pastor Dieterichs, me, Calvary’s Elders and others in your Calvary family in times of need. We are here to love and care for one another. 

Peace, 

Deacon Hurst 

 

 

NOISE

It seems noise is a constant these days. Everywhere we go there is noise. Some of it is good, much of it isn’t. In our homes, cars, schools, and workplaces noise is a constant companion. This constant barrage can break us down; wear us thin as we try to make sense of the sounds and their meanings. The noise I’m thinking of are not just things we hear, but also things that go deeper into our thoughts and even into our soul. 

In today’s world we are dealing with the noise of doubt; “What should I believe? Who can I trust.” The noise of anger also appears regularly; “I want things my way! You guys cheated.” Worst of all, the noise of fear seems to have grown deep roots in our world; “Be ready for the crash. Be prepared for the revolution.’ 

The noise is real and so are the feelings and emotions the noise elicits. Satan uses the noise. He uses the noise to throw us off and encourage a change of focus. He wants us to be afraid. He wants us to give into the noise and panic. 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we need not fear! Our eternity is already settled. The noise cannot change what Christ has done for us. This is a truth to hold on to. Christ has won the battle, it is done. We find great comfort in this even when surrounded by the noise. 

While the noise is constant, so is our Lord. He has provided weapons to battle the bad noise in life. Dare I call these weapons WHITE NOISE? White noise is a sort of constant background sound that can help distract us from the intense sounds around us. Examples of white noise are a running fan, crashing waves, or even falling rain…you get the idea. I am suggesting that God gives us His Word, His songs and worship, prayer conversations with Him, and His sacraments as a constant in our daily lives to combat the crazy noise in our daily lives. God’s ‘white noise’ is the good noise that we can trust and find comfort in when the noise of the world is buzzing around us.

 All in all, our Heavenly Father wants us to know that we can trust in Him and have no reason to fear the noise of the world. He gives us the tools we need to cope with our fears. He is supreme! The battle is already won! There is no need to fear the future, for God is already there. Amen and amen! 

Peace, 

Deacon Hurst

Always Expect a Miracle

‘Expect a miracle!’ How many times have we heard this phrase when we are confronted with something ugly or challenging in our life? It seems to be one of the go to phrases to encourage someone who is in a bad place or even to remind ourselves that God is omni-powerful and can indeed cause something miraculous to happen to change our bad fortune. 
I wonder though, if the phrase should read something more like, ‘ACCEPT THE MIRACLE!’ Sometimes we get so caught up in the drags and challenges of daily life that we seem to forget we are already living a miracle. Jesus Christ, God, was born as one of us. He lived the perfect life that is demanded of each of us, when we had failed to do so. He then sacrificed His perfect life by dying an undeserved death for us. Three days later our Savior conquered death by rising from the dead and He passes the fruit of His victory over death to us when we most certainly don’t deserve it. He has won life for us, and He gives us this life as a free gift for simply believing that He is who He is and has done what He has done. 
Can we really expect more? Is it reasonable to expect another miracle? Do we really even need another miracle? No, we don’t need anything more. THE miracle has been performed. We are no longer chained to an eternal death. We can trust in a loving, saving, perfect God who will take care of our every need in His all-knowing ways. He has and will provide for us in ordinary and extraordinary ways. We can trust Him. God has never let us down, He hears us, He knows us, He provides for us, and He loves us. 
Thanks be to God! Peace, 
Deacon Hurst
Well, it’s time. It is time at my house to pack up the Christmas decorations. I like to wait until after Epiphany to box things up and get them all packed away back into the attic. I suppose it is all a little bittersweet and maybe even a little sad. There’s been a nice break from work, a few visits with friends and family and now and the ‘regular’ life and schedule resumes. While it does feel good to get back to the comfort of a familiar routine, don’t put all of Christmas away! Sure, we expect to pack away the glass globes, lights, tinsel, garland, and even the artificial tree, but don’t put it ALL away. It’s OK to put away the tree skirt, the wreath, and the bells…even the manger scene; ox, donkey, and sheep will find their summer home wrapped carefully and placed in a box in the attic; but don’t put it ALL AWAY! Finally, Mary and Joseph, the wise guys, and even baby Jesus in the manger get wrapped in bubble wrap for their eleven month hibernation. BUT DON’T PUT IT ALL AWAY! We can pack away all the decorations but the true gift of Christmas, our Immanuel ‘God with us’ cannot and should not be packed away, ever. 
God came to the earth to be one of us. He came to deal with the deadly problem of sin that we brought upon ourselves. Sin would separate us from Him forever, but He solved our sin problem by not only becoming one of us, but by living the perfect life we each fail to live and dying a death that He had not earned. He ultimately conquered death, by rising back to life. All this He has gifted to us out of His great love so that we may live with Him for eternity. DON’T PUT IT ALL AWAY! Take the baby Jesus, the sinless Jesus, the crucified and risen Jesus with you each and every brand new day wherever you go. Share the love of Christ - the gift that keeps on giving - with the world. Live each day with the Savior in your heart, on your mind, in your hands, and on your tongue. Live for Him! He came for you! 
Peace,
 Deacon Hurst 
thank –verb (used with object) 
1. to express gratitude, appreciation, or acknowledgment to: She thanked them for their hospitality. 
‘What do you say?’ I can still hear myself saying those words as a parent training up a young child. Whether it was for a birthday gift, Christmas present, or a piece of candy given by the bank teller, that phrase was repeated time and time again as I sought to train our child to be a thankful receiver. 
I wonder if our Heavenly Father ever sits back on His throne and says ‘What do you say?’ to us. He blesses us daily with so much, yet we often recognize so little. We are given body, soul, daily bread, family, shelter and so much more yet we often focus on what we want or do not have instead of the gifts we do have. Most importantly, our Heavenly Father has gifted us eternal life through the perfect sacrifice and triumphant resurrection of His beloved Son. What do we say? We say ‘Thank You Lord, for all You have given to us, for Your loving patience, complete forgiveness, and gentle training.’ Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! 
Peace, 
Deacon Hurst 

Going Viral

Not too long ago the term ‘Going Viral’ meant something positive. We had myriad silly videos mainly featuring cats, self-help, bloopers, and home-improvement ideas that went ‘viral’ meaning they were watched and enjoyed by millions. 
Today I’m not sure if the term ‘Going Viral’ is even considered politically correct. We all have a degree of fear and weariness associated with the word virus. It is even a trigger word or concept for some who will put on their internet boxing gloves and go beastmode on anyone who disagrees with lockdown, mask mandates, or other such precautions that are viewed as restrictive by many. I’ve witnessed incredibly distasteful exchanges in the name of love and compassion or protection of freedom that I sometimes feel that I’m living the pages of a horror novel or sci-fi book. 
I’d like to suggest that we can do better. While kittens are indeed cute, I think the saving truth of the Gospel is a much more worthy item to go viral. I think most would agree with that premise, so what’s the problem? The problem is that much of the time we want to define what that love looks like or means and maybe that definition isn’t carved in stone. Some will say loving each other means wearing a mask; others say it means removing the mask to stand for some freedom. I hear both sides of the argument and it is frustrating. I think the answer is actually simpler than we want to believe. To truly love someone means to share the love of Christ with them. The truth of an eternity with God himself is the best and most loving gift we can offer anyone and I cannot understand why this simple message is not the one going viral. Actually, we all know that our sinful nature and the fiery darts of the devil are the things that get in the way of this purest of loves. We can ask for forgiveness in our failures and seek strength for future opportunities to make this true gift of love GO VIRAL! 
Peace, 
Deacon Hurst 

Reformation

O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8 
This week I was reminded of a song we used to sing at Lutheran West chapel services back in the 80s. The song was based on the above verse from Isaiah and it went something like this,
Abba, Abba Father, 
You are the potter, 
I am the clay, 
The work of Your hands. 
Mold us, mold us and fashion us 
Into the image of Jesus Your Son, 
Of Jesus Your Son. 
I’ve been thinking about the idea of REFORMATION. It may seem obvious to us now, but God has approached the idea of reformation in a way that I think is very foreign to us. God takes what He has and molds or remolds it into something that will work for His plans. 
We see this is Eden and with Noah when God doesn’t destroy everything and start fresh, but uses what was broken and remolds it to do His will. We see a similar approach in the Protestant Reformation. God could have scrapped the corrupt church and its false teachings completely, but instead, He once again shows mercy and remolds something beneficial and beautiful from what had become far from what He envisioned. 
God does the same with each of us as well. The beautiful vessel He had planned to make of us has been corrupted by our own stubborn vision. God could have dumped or destroyed us and sent back to the ash bin any old time. Instead He remolds and fashions us into His image. He doesn’t give up on His children, His church, or His creation. He claims us as His own and makes us new in Christ. He makes us presentable and useful once again. He gives us a reason not only to exist, but to truly live…to find life in Christ. What will you do with the gifts God has given you? 
Peace, 
Deacon Hurst 

The Colors of Autumn

It’s my favorite time of the year. The cool weather, crisp air, and changing colors of the landscape bring me great joy and help me see God the Father’s artistic hand in action. 
I know we have all experienced some very unusual changes these past few months. It seems our lives have changed so much with precautions and interruptions in what was normal that we are not sure which way is up any more. These things can cause unrest in our spirit and fear in our hearts, but I think this year’s change of seasons sends us a message that much has stayed the same. In fact, God is still with us. God is still in control. God still blesses us beyond measure and He has a place prepared for His children in eternity. This is the unchangeable truth that will comfort us in times of fear and uncertainty. Let go of fear and listen to God. He will never let us down. 
As I thought about the changing colors I was reminded of this song from my younger days. I pray it is a blessing to you today and every day. Below is the link to “The Coloring Song.” 
Peace, 
Deacon Hurst
Link to The Coloring Song https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=J_uDcoyzAIE&list=RDAMVMJ_uDcoyzAIE
The Coloring Song - Petra 
Red is the color of the blood that flowed. 
Down the face of someone who loved us so. 
He's the perfect man, He's the Lord's own son. 
He's the lamb of God, He's the only one 
That can give us life, that can make us grow. 
That can make the love between us flow.
 Blue is the color of a heart so cold 
That will not bend when the story's told 
Of the love of God for a sinful race 
Of the blood that flowed down Jesus’ face 
That can give us life, that can make us grow 
That can keep our hearts from growing cold. 
Gold is the color of the morning sun 
That shines so freely on everyone 
It's the sun above that keeps us warm 
It's the Son of Love that calms the storm 
That can give us life, that can make us grow 
That can turn our mornings into gold. 
Brown is the color of the autumn leaves 
When the winter comes to the barren trees 
There is birth, there death, there is a plan 
And there's just one God and there's just one man 
That can give us life, that can make us grow 
That can make our sins as white as snow. 
That can give us life, that can make us grow. 
That can turn our mornings into gold. 
That can give us life that can make us grow. 
That can keep our hearts from growing cold. 
That can give us life that can make us grow. 
That can make the love between us flow

This is Getting Old

‘I’ve had enough. This is getting old!’ I’m sure I am not the only one who has uttered these words or something close to them sometime in the last few months. What has you feeling this way? Is it mean and angry people? Is it fear? Maybe you have become tired of being alone and lonely. Have you had enough of masks and arrows on the grocery store floor? I’m tired, my tank is empty, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. 
Jesus reassures His disciples in John when He says, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 
We don’t always see it, maybe because we are looking in the wrong direction, but, God is in control. He has already won the battle and these daily mundane, even aggravating challenges are just bumps along the road. God has a few things to say to us that are worth remembering every morning when our eyes open to start the day. 
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:4-5 
God is making all things new. The things that we struggle with in this life will be no more for all of eternity. This is His promise to us. I love the picture of God wiping away our every tear and comforting us while He removes our fear. These words also bring to mind God’s words in Isaiah about Him ‘doing a new thing.’ 
Yes, most of us are worn down by the daily struggle, but the knowledge that God lives in us and is making us and all things new is a true blessing that strengthens us for the daily grind. God knows the plans He has for us. He plans to guide and bless us in this life and throughout eternity. Suddenly things are not looking so old. Thanks be to God! 
Peace, 
Deacon Hurst 
His Bride, the Church
In Scripture, we hear the church referred to as the bride of Christ. What can we learn from this phrase? What does this mean? While there certainly are many ideas to be developed from this phrase I’d like to consider the concept of the marriage relationship today. 
God is a God of perfection. We see this in creation and in His expecting us to keep His law perfectly. He does not mess around or mince words. He tells us that He expects us to live perfect lives, love Him perfectly, and live perfect relationships with one another. We don’t do this. We don’t love Him or others as we should. We fail to put Him first. We fail to love our spouses, friends, and neighbors as ourselves. Where have we gone wrong? Why have we failed? The simple answer is SIN. The very first sin came from the desire to elevate oneself to be equal to or better than God. This sin continues to haunt us today. We can’t seem to get better. We definitely don’t get it perfect. Please understand that sin cannot be used as an excuse. It is a reality that we live with, but it does not excuse us from keeping God’s commands. 
How does this relate to the marriage relationship? We know that sin damages all relationships. We know that we too often desire to put our desires ahead of other’s needs. We fail to love unconditionally and we damage and sometimes even destroy the relationships we are a part of. But God shows us better. He loves us perfectly. He put us and our need to be loved and ultimately saved ahead of His own desires. He gave Himself completely to redeem us into a perfect relationship with Him. He modeled His expectations of us. 
The reality is we all have failed to meet God’s expectations in our relationships. Some of us have even lived through the destruction of a marriage. Obviously, this is not God’s plan for us, but it is a reality we live with. None of our failings should lead us to a belief that God’s plans for marriage are wrong or bad. We should place blame where blame lies; with ourselves and our sinful, worldly nature. Through Christ God has given us a living example of what a true loving, Godly relationship looks like. I pray we can all learn from Christ’s perfect love of His bride, usthe church, as we seek to love each other in God’s way. 
Peace, 
Deacon Hurst     

PHOS/Φ Ο Ϛ

‘the light, to shine or make manifest’ 
Jesus tells us in John 8:12 that HE is the light of the world. 
‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ 
I love the Lighthouse imagery that creates a picture of Jesus as the one who lights our path and leads us away from temptation and danger along a lighted path through turmoil and ultimately to safe harbor. But I think that beautiful image is a bit over-simplified and can lead us to believing that we choose to take the safely lighted path ahead of us and ultimately have something to do with our own redemption. 
I believe a more complete picture begins with the light itself. The light is a gift from God. The Father sent the Light into the world to do the work He had planned. The work of the Light, Jesus, goes beyond getting us on a safe path away from the bumps and bruises of rough waters. Jesus’ work is to create the safe path and flood it in light for all to see. Unfortunately, because of our sin, we are too blind to see that most brilliant of lighted paths that takes us away from death eternal to life with Him. The Holy Spirit works to open the eyes that we have clenched shut so tightly with fear, selfishness, and independence; it clears the scales from our eyes and brings us to a faith that allows us to see the bright light of Christ living among us so that we can walk along that path of faith, a faith gifted to us, to life eternal. 
But that is not the end of the story. As followers of Christ who seek to walk, swim, or float along the lighted path we can now see, we are given the privilege to literally mirror the Light of Christ to the world; in a sense, we become little lighthouses of Christ, ‘Little-Christs’…or Christians to the world. I believe this is what Jesus had in mind in Matthew 5:14 when He said, ‘
You are the light of the world.’ 
Jesus says that anyone who recognizes Him and follows Him can be light in the world. How do we do that? We can reflect Jesus’ saving light in the world when we share our faith with those still in darkness or maybe just living in the shade. We can shine as we serve others with the heart of Jesus both as individuals and the body of Christ we call the church. We are the light of the world any time we act as a little-lighthouse and reflect God’s light into the darkness of our sin-stained world. We are the Children of God. We are His Church, we are the family of Calvary Lutheran Church, growing and Showing Everyone Life in Christ. May we be ever-faithful in our calling to serve our Lord. 
Peace, 
Deacon Hurst 

 

Takes a Licking, Keeps on Ticking

This phrase from old Timex watch commercials stuck in my head this week as I was thinking about the current 
state of life. There seems to be an overwhelming negativity hanging in the air. We have covid -19 shelter in place and quarantine orders. We see masks and sanitizer everywhere to remind us. There is unrest in many of our cities. Many protests turn to riots that cause damage to property, people, and lives. The political climate is summed up in social media shouting matches using what is true hate speech. What have we come to? Who are we? Where is peace to be found? 
We Christians know the answer is found in Jesus. It is Jesus, only Jesus, who took on our sin. He was stricken, smitten, and afflicted for us. He chose to die a death He did not deserve and then the Son of God rose from the dead so we might not die, but accept the gift of life eternal He freely offers us. Talk about taking a licking and still ticking! 
This is the Good News that we and those around us need so desperately to hear these days. Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again for the love of sinners; a love that offers life forever with Him. This is the character of our Savior. He is a loving God who does not leave us to struggle with the challenges of life on our own, but loves us during them and walks with us through them. This is a picture of our Lord that comforts us in the most challenging of times. The wonderful news is that this Savior’s character is unchanging. This is a truth we can hang on to in these challenging times. This is a truth we can share with those around us. This is a truth that we can put our faith in. 
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8. 
Peace, 
Deacon Hurst

REJOICE AND GIVE THANKS IN ALL THINGS

Psalm 9
Psalm of David 
1-2 I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders. I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy; I’m singing your song, High God. 
13-14 Be kind to me, God; I’ve been kicked around long enough. Once you’ve pulled me back from the gates of death, I’ll write the book on Hallelujahs; on the corner of Main and First I’ll hold a street meeting; I’ll be the song leader; we’ll fill the air with salvation songs. 
The Message Translation I love having the opportunity to read different translations of scripture. I always begin with a standard translation like the NIV or ESV and then read how others have translated the scripture into English. The Message is a modern language almost conversational English translation that often captures the overall feeling and setting of a passage in modern English. I found this passage of Psalm 9 to speak clearly to our life situation today. 
The picture of giving thanks in this passage…whistling, laughing, jumping and singing is wonderful! I need this reminder today as I plod through another day that looks very much like the past several days. Sometimes it feels like my brain has gone into hibernation, but the gifts of God bring rejoicing, they bring thankfulness, a song and acts of pure joy. God is king to us. He loves us and does indeed pull us to safety from the brink of death. This is a daily gift of life and there is no better reason to rejoice! I’ll sing, laugh, and dance for joy. I’ll shout it in the streets! God is the author of Salvation! 
THANKS BE TO GOD!! 
Peace,
Deacon Hurst 

 

BE STILL

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
During these strange times I have decided to take a familiar verse and really meditate on and visualize it. One of my visualization creations is shown here. The stillness that can come only from focusing on God and the fact that He is in control even though the world seems to be falling apart around me is a very comforting thought. I can find calmness in Him, even in the midst of the craziness because I know that nothing that happens here and now can separate me from Him and the promise of eternal life. Jesus has won! I pray God’s words of comfort help you find calmness in a very loud world. 
Peace, 
Deacon Hurst

WHAT'S WRONG WITH US?

Spend just a few minutes watching the news, reading the paper (online or in hand), or scanning social media and it is very likely that many of us share is posing this exact question, ‘What’s wrong with us?’ The question is reasonable as we see hatred, violence, destruction, fights, riots, and even death in our newsfeeds. Sometimes we may deflect the concern a little bit and adjust the question to, ‘What’s wrong with them?’ Our thinking leads us to conclude that I’m not participating in these horrible things that I am seeing and hearing about, so, they must be the problem. This certainly seems like a logical conclusion, but I have some bad news for us all. 
The bad news is this: the very same force driving people to destroy and kill exists within each of us. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, things changed. Keep in mind, that it’s not the fruit that is the big problem; it is the unquenchably sinful desire of man to call his own shots, to be God that plunged all of creation into the chaos of sin. The blueprint of God’s perfect universe was torn to shreds because man desperately wanted to be God’s equal rather than His child. It doesn’t take long after the fall into sin before man is taking the life of others and running headlong into lives of destruction and disobedience. That’s what’s wrong with them and us. Our sinful nature continues to rebel against nearly everything good and orderly. This is our sinful nature. 
There is Good News though. Our heavenly Father has seen what we have become. He knew before it even happened and He had a plan in His back pocket that would save us from the death and destruction that we have chosen. That plan was to send His only Son to live the perfect life that we had shunned, to die the death we deserved. A death, He did not deserve or earn and ultimately for Jesus to rise from the dead, to be victorious over death, to own life and now that Savior has given the life He earned to us as a precious and free gift. Our God wants to spend eternity with us. WOW! He loves us so very much; He gave all so that we would be redeemed. Thanks be to God! Peace, Deacon Hurst

REST

Have you ever experienced a quiet day with very few items on the to-do list and very little energy being used? Have you ever experienced one of those lazy type days that left you thoroughly exhausted? It’s a weird situation that leaves me baffled. How can I be exhausted from doing nothing? I thought I was resting so that I would not feel exhausted, so I would have the energy I want and need to get my stuff done. Funny how sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. 
Jesus says, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 
So why am I tired after resting? I think it has a lot to do with what we today call stress and/or worry. Our minds don’t shut down. We worry and stress about work, pandemics, finances, family, politics, investments, check engine lights…to name a few things on my mind currently. So what do we do about this uneasiness? Trust God more! This is a true statement that certainly is the correct answer, but that answer is too easy for me to drop on you without some further explanation. 
Look at Matthew 11:28-30 from The Message translation. I think it gives us a real picture of what Jesus’ ‘rest’ is. Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30“ 
True rest is found in more than relaxing the body. True and complete rest comes from walking in a relationship with Jesus that allows us to see that those stress and worry triggers are in His hands. He’s got them covered. He promises that His yoke is ‘carry able’ and that He will not leave us to deal with these things on our own. Our unrestful rest usually comes from us trying too hard to solve every issue and answer every concern in our lives rather than giving them to our God who will shoulder the heavy burdens for us as we walk with, rest with, and ‘keep company’ with our Creator, Savior, and Supporter and God’s amazing grace. 
Peace, 
Deacon Hurst

IT’S A CONSIPRACY

We are all living and witnessing a conspiracy that involves our lives. No, it is not a political or racial conspiracy, it’s not even an economic conspiracy; it really is a conspiracy that involves life and death. The conspiracy I speak of is the work of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature that seek to convince us to believe that we can right all the wrongs of humanity against humanity and nature. How arrogant our wisdom has made us! How unfaithful our self-trust has allowed us to become. We believe if we only think differently or recycle differently or pollute differently we can change the world. 
The sad truth is that we can fix nothing. Sins evil grasp on humanity and all of creation itself leaves us moaning and groaning and living with the effects of our most evil of choices. We now experience pain, fear, and distrust. Hatred and dissatisfaction run rampant in our world. Instead of seeing humanity as a family and the crown of God’s creation, we divide ourselves up into clans and races and seek to find differences to exploit and hate. 
This is a conspiracy of death! Lucifer seeks to separate us from the Truth, from God Himself, who is our only hope to get through this veil of tears we call life. Satan smiles at dissention and hatred, he giggles at death, murder and destruction, he applauds our sanctimonious attempts and finding true peace without God being the beginning and end of the conversation. My friends, the devil rejoices in our failures and even our atheistic ‘successes.’ LORD HAVE MERCY! 
GOOD NEWS! The Lord has had mercy on us. He wants us to live a life of joy and an eternity of peace with Him. Do not let this thought leave your minds. Share it with everyone you know. Jesus Christ has come into the world that we ALL might have life and have it abundantly. This is the life changing, deathconspiracy crushing truth of our Savior Jesus. Praise be to God! If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 
Peace, 
Deacon Hurst
THE NEW NORMAL?
 
I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely tired of hearing the phrase, ‘This is the new normal.’ New normal what? Let’s look at the phrase and break it down. ‘New.’ 
What’s new about humanity being scared and unable to control the world around us? What’s new about some of us believing we have all the answers and are actually in control of our lives? What’s new about us being frustrated by the way our lives are not going according to our plans? Is there really anything new here at all? I’m sure we could come up with some specifics, but our current overall situation is not new or novel to human history.
 ‘Normal.’ Well, this is a fun one. Certainly, we each could define our version of normal differently. Working situations, toilet paper value, mask wearing, civil liberty concerns are all part of people’s conversations when it comes to normality. May I suggest that the old normal and the new normal are the same? We’re still sinners falling short of the glory of God and we still don’t like hearing that. That’s normal. That’s our situation pre-corona, during corona, and post-corona. 
What do we do? Where do we go? Many will undoubtedly fall back on the old human standard of depending on ourselves (and only ourselves) to get us out of this mess. This is a mistake and it is doomed to fail as it always has. Where do we go? To the One who has the power to save us not only from the new normal, but from the old normal human situation of sin and death. God and God alone has the power to assist in our true need and He is ready, willing, and able to provide the cure for our sin sickness. Accept the gift He has to offer and share that good news with those around you today and every day. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good! 
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 
Peace, 
Deacon Hurst

 


Quid est veritas?  What is truth

“What is truth?” These are the words of Pontius Pilate asking Jesus what truth it is to which He testifies. This is a reasonable thought and question that many of us may be asking these days. There is so much information, misinformation, and disinformation available to us about our current struggle with the corona virus and all that comes along with that nasty little critter. What’s the truth? A question that has popped into my head daily as I see internet posts and memes, watch video presentations, and view television news and commercials. Where should I be looking for the good and right answers, the truth about all this? You know as well as I do that the Truth can be found in only one place. Be that as true as it may be, you and I often get sidetracked as we seek out the wrong truths as Pilate, Herod, the Jewish leadership, and even the Palm Sunday crowd did. We constantly find ourselves getting caught up in seeking the truths of this world while ignoring the Truth that really matters. 

So what is TRUTH? 

The Truth is this: Jesus Christ conquered death so that you and I can live eternally with Him. No other truth matters because death has lost its grip on us. Nothing can harm us or separate us from Him. He has won us, the battle is over, there is nothing ahead of us but eternity with Him. This is TRUTH! Will there be struggle and suffering and fear? Yes, but all of that is only temporary and because of that we have no need to fear. 

Please do not spend your days living in fear. Be wise, use common sense, don’t allow yourself to get caught up in over-zealousness or conspiracy theories. Instead, fix your eyes on Christ, who is TRUTH, who has already seen us through the worst pandemic we could ever imagine, the pandemic of sin which guarantees an eternal death and separation from God Himself. Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is TRUTH in which we can trust. 

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going. ” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:1-6. Peace, 

Deacon Hurst

 

 

THE JESUS PRAYER

Over the past few weeks, I have shared some thoughts on devotion and spiritual practices. We’ve looked at Lectio Divina and Praying Luther’s Catechism. I’d like to continue this theme with a look at one of my favorite prayers called simply “The Jesus Prayer.” 

The words of The Jesus Prayer are simple. 

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” 

The prayer is based on words and concepts found in these verses: Psalm 123:3, Luke 18:13, Luke 18:38 and others. The idea of The Jesus Prayer is to repeat the words over and over using the opportunity to meditate on the phrase and listen to God’s response. Prayer after all, is a two-way conversation. We need to leave space to hear God’s response. 

I like to use The Jesus Prayer as a ‘Breath Prayer.’ A breath prayer takes a short prayer phrase breaking it into two parts and matching the parts with your breathing, creating a very natural, meditative rhythm. 

Using this technique, The Jesus Prayer works like this: 

On the inhale… “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,” 

On the exhale… “have mercy on me a sinner.” 

Breath prayers can be easily adjusted to other short phrases or scriptures. Other possibilities include: 

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” 

"My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth." 

"When I am afraid, I will trust you." 

"Not my will, but your will be done." 

Believe it or not, my favorite place to practice breath prayers is in the dentist’s chair. I have a dentist phobia that leads to high stress when I’m in the chair for the simplest of visits, but I have found that the meditative practice of breath prayer is a true blessing that offers the gift of calm and an opportunity to focus on God’s amazing gifts to me.

 I hope you find these spiritual practices beneficial in this time of physical separation from your Calvary family, but find comfort in knowing that your family of faith loves you and raises you up in prayer. God’s richest blessings to you all. Peace, Deacon Hurst


 Prayer

During this time of separation I have made it my goal to suggest ways for the Calvary family to stay spiritually active. One way to remain spiritually active is to have regular conversation with the Lord, we call this prayer. One of my favorite prayer activities is to pray the Ten Commandments. Yes, I know that it sounds odd, and the first time I tried it, I struggled, but the following article written by LCMS President Harrison for the 2017 Reporter is an excellent primer on how to pray the commandments as Martin Luther taught in a letter to his barber. I have edited the article slightly, but kept the parts that will be helpful in adding this prayer technique to your prayer routine. God be with you all. I sincerely miss my Calvary family.  

How  to Pray the Ten Commandments  

Here’s a little piece I wrote as a preface to a collection of biblical texts. It teaches Luther’s method of prayer, which interestingly encompasses both rote and free prayer! — Pastor Harrison  

The method anchors prayer in the texts of Scripture or the catechism but allows the Holy Spirit to prompt thoughts via the Word, which may be chased more freely by the mind at prayer. . . .  

Luther explains his method, using the Ten Commandments:  

First, I think of each commandment as instruction, which is really what it is intended to be, and consider what the Lord God demands of me so earnestly. I do so in thoughts or words such as these: “I am the Lord your God, etc. You shall have no other gods before me,” etc. Here I earnestly consider that God expects and teaches me to trust him sincerely in all things and that it is his most earnest purpose to be my God.  

Second, I give thanks for his infinite compassion by which he has come to me in such a fatherly way and, unasked, unbidden, and unmerited, has offered to be my God, to care for me, and to be my comfort, guardian, help, and strength in every time of need. We poor mortals have sought so many gods and would have to seek them still if he did not enable us to hear him openly tell us in our own language that he intends to be our God. How could we ever—in all eternity—thank him enough!  

Third, I confess and acknowledge my great sin and ingratitude for having so shamefully despised such sublime teachings and such a precious gift throughout my whole life, and for having fearfully provoked his wrath by countless acts of idolatry. I repent of these and ask for his grace.  

Fourth, I pray and say: “O my God and Lord, help me by thy grace to learn and understand thy commandments more fully every day and to live by them in sincere confidence. Preserve my heart so that I shall never again become forgetful and ungrateful, that I may never seek after other gods or other consolation on earth or in any creature, but cling truly and solely to thee, my only God. Amen, dear Lord God and Father. Amen” (Luther’s Works 43:200).  

Luther’s advice to his barber, Peter, is brilliant. You can pray texts of the Bible, hymns, creed, catechism, etc. Start with the Ten Commandments!   

LCMS Reporter Feb. 1, 2017  

Peace,  

Deacon Hurst 

 



Lectio Divina-Divine Reading 

I believe this time of extended separation and sheltering allows a great opportunity for us to grow in faith and try some new study methods and spiritual disciplines. One of my favorites is the practice of Lectio Divina. 

Lectio Divina is a meditative prayer, allowing God to speak through his living Word. It has been described as a way to “feast on God’s Word.” I’d like to suggest using Psalm 46 to practice this discipline. I have included the reading here for simplicity. Please note that I have used The Message translation as I believe its everyday language works well when focusing on specific words or phrases as we do in this technique. In the future, should you choose to continue this discipline, you can choose a familiar reading or even allow the Holy Spirit to direct you by simply opening your Bible and beginning to read. God Bless and keep you all. 

Here are the basic steps. To begin, you might open with a short prayer, asking God to guide your prayer time. You may choose to light a candle. Then do the following: 

1. Reading (lectio): Slowly and thoughtfully, read the Scripture passage several times, leaving room for the Holy Spirit to call your attention to a word, phrase, or line that God wants you to hear. 

2. Meditation (meditatio): Think about the word or words that the Holy Spirit has called to your attention, holding them in your mind and considering them from different angles. What is God saying to you in this passage? offering you? asking you? 

3. Prayer (oratio): Respond to these sacred words in prayer, either silently or out loud, or in writing. 

4. Contemplation (contemplatio): Possibly read the passage another time. Rest in God’s love, and listen. Rest in God’s presence, quieting yourself and listening for God’s response to your prayer. 

 Psalm 46 (The Message Translation) 

1-3God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, Before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, GOD-of-Angel-Armies protects us. 

4-6 River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city, this sacred haunt of the Most High God lives here, the streets are safe, God at your service from crack of dawn. Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten, but Earth does anything he says. 

7 Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, GOD-of-AngelArmies protects us. 

8-10 Attention, all! See the marvels of GOD! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, oving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” 

11 Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, GOD-of-AngelArmies protects us. 

Peace, Deacon Hurst 

NEVER

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” These words from Hebrews 13:5 are a sure promise of God. We are certainly living in unusual and trying times at the moment, but God’s promise to never leave or forsake His children is a guarantee. 

While we continually fall short of keeping our promises or outright break them, our Heavenly Father keeps His. This is good news for us, His children, because it means that no matter the duration or outcome of these challenging times He is with us; loving and caring, building up and calming down, and keeping His promises. 

God keeps His promises, He will not forsake us. We have the gift of life found only in Christ Himself. Praise the One Who breaks the darkness! 

LSB 849 

Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness 

Praise the one who breaks the darkness with a liberating light. 

Praise the one who frees the prisoners, turning blindness into sight. 

Praise the one who preached the Gospel, healing every dread disease, calming storms and feeding thousands with the very bread of peace. 

Praise the one who blessed the children with a strong yet gentle word. 

Praise the one who drove out demons with a piercing two-edged sword. 

Praise the one who brings cool water to the desert's burning sand. From this well comes living water, quenching thirst in every land. 

Praise the one true love incarnate: Christ who suffered in our place. Jesus died and rose for many that we may know God by grace. Let us sing for joy and gladness, seeing what our God has done. 

Praise the one redeeming glory, praise the One who makes us one. 

Peace, Deacon Hurst 

Please know that God keeps His promises in many ways including using His people to love, serve, and comfort one another. Please call upon Pastor Dieterichs, Deacon Hurst, Calvary’s Elders and others in your Calvary family in times of need. We are here to love and care for one another

Boldly 

Lent is a penitential season for Christians; a period of time each year for us to examine ourselves spiritually. How have we failed our Savior Jesus over this past year? What have we done or left undone? What have we thought or said? What bad habits have we begun and good habits abandoned? Have we been in prayer, study and service and in the regular reception of the Lord’s Supper? 

The process of penitential examination may be uncomfortable at times, but it can be quite a blessing as we learn to rely more and more on our Savior than ourselves. Writing to the Corinthian Christians the Apostle Paul was quite blunt when he asserted simply: 

              “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.                                            Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?                                              —unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5). 

The season of Lent allows Christians to practice this examination annually and purposefully. In all reality, approaching penitence as Paul suggests allows us to boldly celebrate the great gift of our Savior every day. Certainly, we carry sinful garbage that we should not. Jesus has already paid the price to remove that garbage from our lives. To be penitent is to acknowledge our failures, but even more, to boldly proclaim that Jesus has removed the stain of my sin from me for eternity. His victory is won; the deed is done. 

Boldly I approach Your throne                                                                                                                     Blameless now I'm running home                                                                                                               By Your blood I come.                                                                                                                                 Welcomed as Your own.                                                                                                                           Into the arms of majesty.                                                                                                                           This is the art of celebration.                                                                                                           Knowing we're free from condemnation                                                                                                 Oh praise the One, praise the One                                                                                                           Who made an end to all my sin.

 The Art of Celebration (Boldly I Approach) Rend Collective 

Peace,

Deacon Hurst


Filling Up

Have you seen the video of the young driver attempting to fill up her car at the gas station only to find that she had pulled in on the wrong side and the filler door was on the opposite side of the pump? 

The driver re-enters her car and drives around in a half circle only to find that the filler door is still on the wrong side and the hose will not reach. This scene continues on for a few more drive arounds before the driver ultimately drives away unfilled and unfulfilled. 

Free Old Fashioned Gas Pump, Download Free Clip Art, Free Clip Art ...

I have had a chuckle or two at the expense of this young driver, but as think about the whole scene I realize there is a lesson to be learned here. How many people do you know that have pulled up to the spiritual gas pump only to be frustrated that the hose doesn’t fit or fill their tank with what they believe they need. Make me rich, a pro-athlete, or accept me as I continue on my own path (God should accept that because He loves me). They want something else from God. Sometimes they may have even pulled up to the wrong filling station all together. Imagine a spiritual gas station of options: Buddhism, mysticism, humanism, new-age, spiritualism, Hinduism, kabbalah, hedonism, wicca, even satanism are just a few options that are easily accessed at the spiritual fill-up stations today. The sad fact is that if anyone expects to have their tanks filled by any of these options they will soon find themselves driving around in circles searching for more and ultimately leave unfilled and unfulfilled. 

Hear the Good News. We don’t need to search for the truth because Christ has revealed Himself to us as Lord and Savior of humanity. We have no need to search for other spiritual fill-ups. Jesus is all we need and He is all we will ever need. May you find yourself filled to overflowing with Jesus Himself as we walk this earth filled and fulfilled in Him. Peace, Deacon Hurst 

Love Never Fails

Love never gives up. 

Love cares more for others than for self. 

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. 

Love doesn’t strut, 

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

 Doesn’t force itself on others, 

Isn’t always “me first,” 

Doesn’t fly off the handle, 

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, 

Doesn’t revel when others grovel, 

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, 

Puts up with anything, 

Trusts God always, 

Always looks for the best, 

Never looks back, 

But keeps going to the end.   

(The Message)

I’ve heard these words from I Corinthians chapter 13 often referred to as the ‘LOVE’ chapter. It is often quoted as a favorite verse in relationships and has been used as a scripture lesson at several weddings I have attended. 

I have to admit that when I really think about these words, I struggle with them. I know I’ll never reach these lofty standards of love in Christ. I know I’ll let people down and hurt them. I know that my intentions are to be Christ-like in my love, but my actions are far too often very Jim-like. Luther’s teaching about us being saint and sinner at the same time is very real to me. So, what’s the answer? I could give up or I could try harder; maybe pretend I never read these verses? I believe the answer is to pray for the Holy Spirit to continue to transform and strengthen me to become more and more like Jesus. If left to my own devices I will only fail, but led by the Spirit of God I will mature and grow in Christ-like love as I pray, study, and live as His child. This is a promise that God keeps for all of His children. Seek His promises because God’s love never fails. 

 Peace, 

Deacon Hurst



Epiphany 20/20

 January 6, 2020 found me sitting in the chair at my optometrist’s office for an annual appointment.  Between ‘1 or 2?’, puffs of air in my eyeballs, blinking lights, and eye charts I found myself almost laughing out loud at the circumstances and this reading from The Message:  

“Get out of bed, Jerusalem!     Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight.     God’s bright glory has risen for you. The whole earth is wrapped in darkness,     all people sunk in deep darkness, But God rises on you,     his sunrise glory breaks over you. Nations will come to your light,     kings to your sunburst brightness. Look up! Look around!     Watch as they gather, watch as they  approach you: Your sons coming from great distances,   your daughters carried by their nannies. When you see them coming you’ll smile—big smiles!     Your heart will swell and, yes, burst!”     Isaiah 60:1-5  

“Look up! Look around!” How perfect!  Arise, shine, get out of bed! Your light has come! Unfortunately, we are too often blind to the Light that has come. We want to live our lives for ourselves and make our own way out of the miry pit. We want to believe we can somehow contribute to our own salvation. But our Father knows better, and He knows us. He sent the Light into the darkness so humanity could be rescued. In Jesus we can live in the light of eternity. In Jesus we find hearts filled to bursting and smiles for our huge family of believers. In Jesus there is hope. Let us ever look to Jesus, the giver of life. May our 2020 be 20/20 toward Him. 

Peace,  

Deacon Hurst

Pages