Pastor’s Corner

2016 is all but completed and 2017 awaits. No doubt there are triumphs and accomplishments to celebrate and failures and hardships to mourn.  This is the journey of life and the tension we find ourselves in daily in a world that is broken and yet offers a glimpse of Heaven because it was created by our good God.

How do you handle the good and evil experiences so common to us all? Are you elated in the good and and devastated in the bad?  Does the heartache overwhelm and rob you of the joyous? Maybe you pretend the bad doesn’t exist and try to surround yourself only with good.

The power of God at Christmas is the ability to transform the evil into good. To take that mess of a world we live in and to “work good for those called according to His purpose.”(Romans 8:28)  According to the power of the Holy Spirit our lives are not made to look like the cover of some magazine but to be a redeemed life that cries in heartache, celebrates in joy and takes joy from knowing that God is with us in all circumstances.

So what does 2017 hold for us? My guess would be there will be some tremendous celebrations and there will be some difficult–maybe even horrific circumstances.  Through it all, God will be present and deliver us from all evil as we hold to Him.  This is the challenging part, to hold firm to Him even as the ground shakes and the mountains tremble and the waves come.

Typically, in times of joy we wander away from God. We get a false sense of confidence, like a child learning to swim begins to wander away from their parent too soon. Then a “big” wave comes and their mouth is full of water.  The learner panics and something small becomes life threatening.  The swim instructor knows what can come and so has followed the novice swimmer to grab their arm as they start to sink.

God is with you too, He will lift you up as the waters seem high. But, if we stay close to Him we never have to panic. We can always be confident and the waves never seem too big.  As we turn the page to 2017, we can be ready for the joys and the troubles if we get close to Him.  Consider making your relationship with God a priority in 2017 and experience the joy of peace in all circumstances.  That is unless you enjoy being “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness and deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:14).

 In Christ,
Pastor Erik

Pastor’s Corner

Christmas Blessings

The child born in the manger is a gift from God, He is God! He is God who came to save us from the heartache and brokenness of the world. At Christmas our culture seems to try to hide the bad with good. Food and shelter for the homeless, presents and gifts, maybe even tolerate enemies at our family gatherings. But what happens on January 1st? According to the Chicago Tribune, divorce rates skyrocket 200% – 300%. reveals that more deaths happen in January than any other month of the year. Unfortunately, it appears, covering over our own heartache doesn’t fix anything, it only delays it.

How in the world can this horrible news be titled Christmas blessings? Please read on!

God sees our heartache and did something about it! He left His throne and came to dwell, live, and experience this earthly world in the same way we have. He didn’t come to earth for its beautiful seasons and happy people. In other words, He came to save us not be like us. He only became one of us because it was necessary to accomplish His gift of salvation.

I’ve started using a phrase I developed In Guatemala from what I learned there this summer; “Fixing” things doesn’t change things. A natural desire, especially around Christmas, is to fix something that is wrong in order to make it better. But, fixing it doesn’t change its nature and soon it will return to the way it was. Only God can bring about the change that is necessary to allow the new mindset and new actions to last more than a month or two.

This is best expressed in the reality that even though Jesus came to save us, many of the troubles we endure didn’t get “fixed.” We still experience death, temptation, illness, heartache and sorrow. If God saved us why do we still endure these things? Because fixing these issues wouldn’t change our nature it would only ignore our nature. Our nature is sinful and selfish, we spend lots of energy defending ourselves and protecting those we love. Yet those very protections are what end up causing hurt in the world. Only when we all lay down our “rights” will we truly be free and when we stop defending ourselves will we never be hurt.

This is what happened at Christmas. Jesus lay down His rights to the throne, His power to destroy selfish people (all of us) and became one of us, except without sin. He came to save us by being one of us and it worked! Everything is changed. When we live in that truth and trust our Heavenly Father with our own lives it changes us too! When we know He would die for us before letting us get hurt we too have the power to offer that same change in circumstances to the world around us.

Christ lay down His life for us that we are saved, this is the Gospel. Believing in Him allows us to lay down our lives for one another; this is the fruit of the Gospel and is made possible only by the change that occurs in us through the Holy Spirit. What a blessed gift to you and to me. Merry Christmas and may your full life in Christ be renewed again in Him, may your heart and mind be transformed by the Gospel and fill you with His peace.

“And when the Shepherds saw Jesus, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” Luke 2

Pastor’s Corner

Home For Christmas

Making plans for Christmas are often times stressful. Who goes where and for how long?  Who brings what and how much?  Who all will be there and do we want them to be?  Is it fair?  Is it tradition?  Is it an obligation? Is it fun?

Several years ago Alicia and I decided that we needed to be “home” for Christmas day, even if for only a few hours, so we could establish some of our own traditions with the girls and for our new family. This was a great idea and I am so thankful that we have many memories of getting up early, after a full slate on Christmas Eve, and having Christmas at “home” before Christmas Day worship and driving to grandparent’s houses.

Each year more things pull and tug on the values and traditions we have as family. Some traditions disappear, some are replaced.  I hope and pray the tradition of being home on Christmas lasts for a bit longer.  Coming together as a family of faith is part of going “Home for Christmas”.  We gather together in our Father’s house, even if only for an hour (or so), and celebrate the greatest gift ever given.  The gift of a savior and a perfectly restored relationship with our Heavenly Father!

Each year for Christmas services at Cross some things are a little different, and many things remain the same. This is so when you and your extended families, or your neighbors, or friends, or just you by yourself come to Cross you can feel “at home”.  A place where you are welcome, a –place where you have memories and traditions, a place where you are missed.   Cross is a place where you will be reminded of the love your God has for you.

Whether your Christmas plans bring you to Cross or take you across the country, remember to visit your Christian family in your Father’s house. He has an amazing gift to give you! Below is a brief schedule of opportunities to celebrate and be together with the family of faith at Cross this Christmas.

Saturday               December 17        5:00 p.m.
Sunday                 December 18        7:45 a.m.
Sunday                 December 18        9:15 a.m.

Christmas Eve / Day
Saturday              December 24         3:00 p.m.             Large Gym            Praise Team                             
Saturday              December 24         5:00 p.m.             Large Gym            Praise Team                             
Saturday              December 24         7:00 p.m.             Sanctuary             Traditional                             
Saturday              December 24         11:00 p.m.            Sanctuary             Traditional w/Candlelight        
Sunday                 December 25        10:00 a.m.            Sanctuary             Traditional w/Communion

New Year’s Weekend
Saturday               December 31           5:00 p.m.          Sanctuary             Traditional w/Communion
Sunday                 January 1             7:45 a.m.          Sanctuary             Traditional w/Communion
Sunday                 January 1             9:15 a.m.          Sanctuary             Traditional w/Communion
Sunday                 January 1             10:45 a.m.         Sanctuary             Praise Team w/Communion

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Pastor’s Corner


The Season of Advent is one of the most fun in the church year for me. I get to wear a blue stole (my favorite color) and each week builds with the anticipation of CHRISTMAS!!!  Unfortunately, it goes by so fast that if you blink, you’ll miss it.  The first week of Advent is always the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the last week, week four, is the Sunday before Christmas.  No wonder our culture is extending Christmas to Halloween, more time to get excited for CHRISTMAS!!!

Advent is intended to be a time to think about life before Jesus came; the people, the circumstances, the history. In this world before Jesus, in the world before Christmas, people were waiting for a savior and wondering if He would ever come.  Had God forgotten about them?  Had they missed something?  Was it all just a made up legend to keep people in line?

When Jesus finally did come there was no fanfare or public ceremony, not at first. When the long- awaited savior came it wasn’t like anyone anticipated.  Because it wasn’t what the people were looking for, many of them missed it.  Who could blame them, a baby in a manger, born of a carpenter, a supposed virgin birth out of wedlock?  No way God uses this to save His people.

That would be the first time of many times that God didn’t show up in the manner or with the results His followers expected. In fact the entirety of the Bible is about how God does things differently than the word anticipates, especially a world that looks inward.  We want God to save us from our circumstances, debt, anger, injustice.  He came to save us from eternal death.

This advent season take time to consider one of the many ways you can pause and reflect on why Jesus really came. Remember His purposes really are and how the work He has done and continues to do for us makes an eternal difference.  Think about how blessed we are to have witnessed the death and resurrection of Jesus and the confidence that gives us in addition to all the ways of old God has been faithful.  Get excited, because every one of those memories, every experience, every truth that has been recorded and passed down through the generations happened so that, at just the right time, God would come to save us. Let’s get excited, it’s almost CHRISTMAS!!!!

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Galatians 4: 4,5

Pastor’s Corner

The Rise of A Kingdom

rise-of-the-kingdomThis history of God’s people has always been one of difficulty, yet God remained faithful to them even when the people were faithless. Israel cried out for a king, so they could be like the nations all around them.  God warned them that a king would be problematic, but the people persisted – and so God provided a king.

In this next session of His Story, we find Israel living in the Promised Land, with various kings ruling over them. Saul was a man’s man: tall, handsome, kingly and impressive.  He was just the kind of person that Israel wanted as a king.  The problem was that Saul was not God’s man – and he finds himself cut out of the picture.

Next we have David, an unlikely choice in the eyes of the people. But God saw what the people did not.  So David ends up being the king who confronts Giants, lions, and kings – with power and bold faith.  He was a man after God’s own heart.

But David was not without his own problems. He commits adultery with Bathsheba, another man’s wife, and in an effort to cover up his own sin, David has Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed.  While David is remembered as Israel’s greatest king – his story is one full of difficult and hardship.  Life was far from perfect for David’s family.

Eventually David’s son Solomon will follow in his father’s footsteps and become king. And David does all he can to prepare the way for Solomon’s task – building a the temple in Jerusalem, a permanent dwelling place for the presence of God.

The story of God’s people living under a king is a story full of sin and the tragic consequences for sin. But woven through His Story is God’s ultimate story of forgiveness and redemption.  No one is righteous on their own.  But God’s promise to David points ahead to a perfect King, a sinless king, the King of Kings and Lord of Lord – Jesus the Christ.  His Story points us to look a head to a kingdom where there is no end of righteousness or peace, and one in which all things are redeemed.