Encouragement for Thursday

I have been on vacation the past 11 days. Last night I returned from a visit to the Tampa, Florida area. The older I get the less heat bothers me and the more cold bothers me. So, I didn’t mind a week of temperatures of 90 and above. When I travel I like to explore places and things I haven’t seen before, as well as revisiting places I especially liked.

My first Sunday night I was trying to decide where to eat. I was hit by a particular desire for something from the past; not my past in the Tampa area, but much further back to my time in college. I decided to visit the Skyline Chili restaurant in Clearwater. It is Cincinnati chili, which is a distinct variety compared to the chili most people are used to. It and competing Cincinnati chili restaurants like Gold Star are plentiful around the CIncinnati area. There are a number around Columbus. The closest ones I am aware of in the Cleveland area are in Mansfield and Stow, neither of which is very close. The attached picture is what I had for dinner: 2 cheese coneys (no onion), a side of freshly shredded mild cheddar cheese, and my bowl of crackers. As a side dish, I pinch a small lump of the cheese between 2 of the crackers to make a mini sandwich. The picture attached to this message is an actual picture of my dinner. I shared this picture as well as a few pictures of the outside and inside of the building on an alumni Facebook group page, letting people know where to stop for Skyline in Florida.

Later I signed onto Facebook again, and had many responses to my post. One of them was a message from a former classmate who lives in the general area I was visiting. I had heard he was in Florida, but didn’t know he had been ministering at a church in the city of Seminole for the past 20 years. He told me he was nearby, and suggested that we meet there to visit. The next night I met him, his wife, and another former classmate that I didn’t know was in the area (and wasn’t expecting) for dinner. We had a great time visiting for a couple hours. I attended his church the next Sunday.

These episodes caused me to reflect about memories in general. Some memories are precious. Sometimes we have negative or bittersweet ones. As Christians we remember our past lives before accepting Christ. Often people remember past difficulties or problems with sin. We remember those who have died before us– loved ones who are truly missed. Thankfully Christ has brought us a bright future of salvation and eternity with Him. I hope we remember people and events that can help strengthen our present, and motivate us to appreciate God’s presence in our lives.

In Philippians 1, Paul writes:

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:3-8).

It is natural as believers to look to the future. Paul reminds us that we aren’t yet finished with the present. Part of our present involves relationships with others that we have built throughout our lives. Paul doesn’t consider the Philippians coworkers, but partners. He knows that God works through all of them for the same purpose of spreading the Gospel with their lives. That good work will continue until Christ returns.

I am thankful that I had a happy memory of Skyline Chili, and took advantage of it. I was satisfied by the food, but through sharing my experience I received much more. I received the reassurance from reconnecting with a few people that God still works through all of us. It was great to be reminded of, and discuss how memories we shared helped bring us to where we are today. We are looking forward to trying to stay connected more regularly, and hope to be able to visit again.

I pray that each of us, like Paul, remembers those with whom we have shared life and the work of the Gospel. We can remember the past with joy, and allow our present to be strengthened at the same time.

Take heart and be encouraged!


May 22, 2022 Worship Service

This is our service order for Sunday, May 22, 2022, at Calvary Community Church.

Livestream at our website or the YouTube Channel.

Download: Worship Guide for May 22

Online giving is available here



Praise the Lord, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord!

Behold Our God

Wonderful Merciful Savior

GRACE & ASSURANCE – Ephesians 1:7-9

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,  which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ.

Here Is Love


“And Who Then Is Like God?” – Daniel 12:1-13

Ancient of Days


Encouragement for Thursday

This past Sunday we were reminded what an important role mothers, and women in general have in God’s design and care for us. David acknowledged that his mother was his good example. Paul mentions the role of Timothy’s mother and grandmother in teaching him and building his faith. We also read of many other mothers like Elizabeth and Mary who had great faith and were used by God in special roles. My own mother set for me the example of how faith lives. She loved people and cared about them. She helped those who needed help, listened to problems, and gave what she could to support those in need. When she was sick or depressed she always tried her best to not let it impact her family or others negatively. She often helped with church dinners and meetings, or hosting guests—cooking, cleaning, making invitations, greeting, and trying to be mindful of meeting needs. My talents are different than hers in some ways, but she taught me to be ready to do what you can and contribute.

She departed this Earth almost 19 years ago. Sometimes that day seems like yesterday, and others it seems like forever ago. I miss her here. In the 8 or 10 years before she passed on I had the opportunity to travel with her a number of times. She traveled a lot for business and loved to visit new places. My dad, in contrast, was more of a homebody. He didn’t like to fly any more than he absolutely had to. I remember trying to talk him into visiting Hawaii, and hearing him respond, “No, I don’t really need to go there. I never lost anything there.” I tend to be more like my mom in this regard, so I was glad to travel with her.

I had been to Hawaii once with my brother Jeff. My mother wanted to visit it also, so we made reservations. On the first of several trips there over a number of years we heard a song playing locally that was popular at the time. It was recorded by a Hawaiian singer and hula teacher named Keali’i Reichel. It is called “Wanting Memories.” It was written by a woman of African descent named Ysaye Barnwell. She wrote it as a tribute to her parents and they way they raised her. It is written from the point of view of one who is feeling loss and a sense of loneliness. Although it is not a song with an expressly Christian message its message is powerful. It speaks about the fact that the teachings of our parents become part of us. We usually don’t have to stop to think about the right thing to do because their example is imprinted in our thoughts and behavior. Those of us with Christian parents are blessed in ways we don’t always stop to realize.

This song was written in an African music style, and resembles a chant in harmony. Mr. Reichel recorded 4 acapella parts in his version that were blended to make the whole song. It touched both of us deeply from the first time we heard it. I later bought her the CD with the song on it (which also has many other great songs). I also had the song played in her memorial service after she passed. Whenever I hear it I remember her, and how lucky I was to have her as my mother.

Please listen:

Take heart and be encouraged!

May 8, 2022 Worship Service

This is our service order for Sunday, May 8, 2022, at Calvary Community Church.

Livestream at our website or the YouTube Channel.

Download: Worship Guide for May 8

Online giving is available here


CALL TO WORSHIP — Psalm 147:1, 3-5
Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
    his understanding is beyond measure.

Across the Lands

Revelation Song

GRACE & ASSURANCE – Psalm 36:5-7
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O Lord.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Oh the Deep Deep Love


“And It Will Happen Because You Pray Too” – Daniel 10:1-21

Shine On Us


Encouragement for Thursday

Engage your imagination for a moment. Imagine that you are a businessman named Simon living in the year 33 A.D. You have journeyed for over a month with your family from Cyrene in northern Africa to reach the city of Jerusalem. One day as you are walking through the city you meet a large procession of people headed out of town and led by Roman soldiers. There are a few men dragging crosses, and you reasonably guess that they are condemned to die by crucifixion. Suddenly one of the soldiers grabs you. He orders you to carry the cross for a man that is particularly struggling, and seems nearly dead already. You do as you’re ordered, and carry the cross until the procession reaches the hill outside of town called Golgotha (the Skull). You watch as the soldiers take the cross and nail the comdemned man to it. Then you see him hoisted into the air in pain as the cross is set in the ground. You listen as people laugh at him and mock him as “King of the Jews.” He hangs on it until he dies, and you see the sky darken and hear a loud rumbling and cracking sound. As you return to the city, you reflect on the part you took in the series of events, and wonder of you did the right thing.

We know very little about Simon of Cyrene, the man mentioned in three of the Gospels as carrying Jesus’ cross for Him. Matthew 27:32 and Luke 23:26 mention that Simon of Cyrene was the man chosen to carry the cross behind Jesus when He could not carry it Himself. Mark 15:21 adds that Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus. Some theorize that he was a dispersed Jew living in the city of Cyrene, which was known to have a Jewish community. If this was true, he may have been in Jerusalem with his sons to celebrate the Passover. Acts 2 mentions that there were people of Cyrene included in the group being addressed by the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost. Some further theorize that the Rufus that Paul mentions in Romans 16:13 is the son of Simon. These things may be true, but are theory and conjecture.

Simon may have been a successful businessman, a community leader, a great father, and well known and loved by many people. I would guarantee that what Simon will be forever most remembered for is his carrying of the Lord’s cross. He played a role in an event that I am sure he wouldn’t have imagined when he arose that morning. There is really no way he could have prepared for it. He simply responded to the need and urgency of the situation. I have no doubt that while he was carrying the cross, and even afterward, he might have thought, “Why me? I don’t know what this man has done. Why do I have to contribute to his death in any way?”

I was prompted to consider Simon after reading Pastor James’ message this morning about the death of Camryn’s friend. People usually ask, “Why did this happen? It isn’t fair.” God gives people the freedom to choose to do things, and often they choose to do sinful things. They usually don’t think about what is fair. Their choices ultimately affect countless people that they didn’t even consider. Those people need care and compassion from believers. Helpers like Camryn might have an impact in this situation in ways that she never might have expected. As Simon demonstrated, even one person’s action can have an unexpected role in resolving a situation that fulfills God’s plan. Could Simon or Camryn have prepared for what they faced? Specifically, no. Yet everything they have learned and experienced in life to that critical point prepared them to serve in unexpected ways.

Lord, strengthen Camryn through the loss of her friend, and help her to be able to help others. Your love through her can introduce Christ to those who don’t know Him. It can bring comfort to the hurting. It can strengthen believers for other tasks ahead. Please strengthen and prepare each of us for the unexpected, and help us to bring You glory. Amen!

Take heart and be encouraged!