Pastor’s Corner

God's Authority

The Problem with Authority

Romans 13:1 states “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God?” I can only think of a handful of statements that could be more controversial than this one right now.  It is tempting to explain this chapter away and say that “Paul doesn’t get it.”  We could also bring up the most evil abuses of power and explain how those teaching  are wrong.  I have done all these things, and more, as I have wrestled with this text.

The problem with these society-based efforts to explain away God’s word is that Paul is smack dab in the midst of a Godless regime. The Roman civilization was not friendly towards the followers of Christ. Roman officials could barely spend effort to work with the Jewish leaders! The Roman and Jewish authorities were the ones who killed Christ and were coming after the disciples and their followers.

Paul wrote about submitting to authorities when doing so could cost him his life? So now who doesn’t get it?  I have never felt my life was threatened by authorities for believing my faith. If Paul could do it under threat of death, why is it so difficult to submit to authorities we simply disagree with?

The fleshly desire to be our own boss, our own God, to be independent is rooted deep within us. It goes all the way back to the first sin with Adam and Eve.  One simple rule is all Adam and Eve disagreed with; it just happened to be the only rule they had.  The problem with authority is us.  We only like authority when we agree with it.

There is only one true authority, and He is Lord over all. He is over good governments and bad governments.  God doesn’t endorse bad governments, but He is still over them.  Any good governments will still fail to be perfect, and God is over them.   When God calls us to submit to people in authority over us; spouses, parents, employers, government, etc., He is really asking us to submit to Him, to trust in Him, and to remember our vocation to be His witnesses in every circumstance.

When we honor those who are supposed to be honored, respect those who are to be respected and offer our objections respectively; we bear a witness to all who are watching and listening that we have a powerful God who remains in control and a loving a God that truly loves all people whether they deserve it or not.

Pastor’s Corner

Cultural Unity

The Roll of the Church in Culture

Recent events in our country have taken over the headlines.  This seems to happen every once in a while.  An event or story resonates with a large segment of the population and every media outlet gets involved.  The event can be tragic, like the beheadings that were videoed and distributed by ISIS.  The events can be silly and heartwarming, like the giraffe that was to give birth live on camera.   These events seem to come and go and each of us has to decide what we are going to do, if anything, to be a part of it.

The events in Charlottesville and the response of the U.S. President are the current news bit that everyone has latched on to.  My typical response is to be informed, say some prayers, have meaningful conversations with those who are interested and move on.  This is usually because I know there will be another national news story that, quite honestly, I can make very little impact on coming around the corner.

Charlottesville hits home for me and it should hit home for our church.   Hate/anger is rooted in fear, and fear is the opposite of love. 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” Those who rally together against another group are fearful of what that other group will change.  The fear could be about losing the way it “used to be”, the fear could be the unknown, and the fear could be from ignorance and misperception.  The end result is the same–each group uses their resources (loud voice, deep pockets, positions of influence, violence, etc.) to try to get the upper hand.

These actions rooted in fear of others are Godless at every level and actions of fear need to be transformed into actions of love.  Actions of true love can only be done by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Gospel teaches us that God is on our side and, therefore, we have nothing to fear.  We are enabled and empowered to set aside our fears and our egos and reach out in love.  The world needs people who will do that now as much as any time in history.

At Cross, we are quite comfortable.  We are somewhat insulated from the issues in the world around us, but God didn’t call us to be comfortable.  God sends us out to transform hearts of fear and anger into hearts of peace and love, hope and healing.   For 136 years Cross has been raising up and training Christians to be disciples, leaders and future leaders in their area of influence.  This is something the world needs now and will continue to need.  We are called to remain diligent and ready to defend against the attacks of the devil.

This Fall, I believe God is challenging us as a family of God to recommit to His mission.  That is, to share the message of His Good News and hope to all people—the message of healing and forgiveness in a world that is hurt, broken and deeply divided.  This is a problem that only the church is equipped to solve.  No other group is capable of providing wholistic healing.   Only the true Christian church teaches repentance and forgiveness and is equipped with the power of God and the humility necessary to carry it out.

Romans 8 tells us that each of these horrific events are the world “groaning as in the pains of childbirth” in hopes and anticipation of the future Glory that will be revealed.  Each of these events reminds me of the importance of the Christian Church on earth, to bring Christ to all people now so the old can die and the new can come today!   So, I’m writing this in hopes that you might hear God calling you too; calling you to make a difference by sharing the healing hope and investing in the sharing of the Good News that so many people are lacking today so that the saying that God wrote will come true in our lives.  His perfect love would drive out all fear, anger and hate. 

Pastor’s Corner


Back to School!

These three words are everywhere! The meanings of these three words are completely in the mind of the listener.  Excitement about seeing friends again, fear about homework, uncertainty about a new school, anticipation for a milestone year and, that is just what is going through the minds of the parents!

Through all of life’s beginnings, endings and new beginnings this world contains much uncertainty. Our emotions about the uncertainty can and will lead us all over the place to make all types of decisions.  In the joys and fears, in the excitement and the anxiety, in the good times and bad we have a stabilizing presence; clear focus that will lead us through.  This presence is like a light in the fog or a solid rock in the crashing sea, a firm support in the swirling winds. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” Psalm 28:7

This promise of hope and stability is there for us, through it all. God is our strength and shield in every situation; school, work, finances, friendships, neighbors, enemies, triumph and tragedy.  We do well when we cling to Him, rather than trying to figure it out ourselves.  Worry, anxiety and self-glorification all take considerably more time and energy than trusting in God.  The Devil is pleased to allow us to spend our energy on anything and everything accept encouraging those around us in the truth and hope that is Jesus the Christ.

This weekend (August 12-13) we will be once again be hosting a Blessing of the Backpacks. This serves as an encouraging reminder to students and parents that God is with these youngsters; that they can have peace in God’s protection and be enabled to serve as missionaries into their schools.  But, Lord willing, this will also serve as a reminder to teachers and people of all vocations and walks of life that God is truly with us, leading and guiding us.  Christ is our ever-present help and hope so that we can have peace and stability in every circumstance.  Once we have that peace, we are emboldened to share it with our corner of the world!


Pastor’s Corner – We Are All Important!


Pastor’s Corner – We Are All Important

1 Corinthians 12 has “popped up” a whole lot in my life lately. Whether in personal devotions or in study materials for groups I am a part of, it seems like God is trying to get through to me.  As a pastor, I also need to consider if God is trying to get through to somebody else through me.  So, here is what God has been reminding me of and maybe wants to remind you too!

1 Corinthians 12 is all about the body of Christ working together for one purpose. The purpose is pretty straightforward; it is to Glorify God and submits to the head of the body which is Jesus Christ.  Paul spends very little time talking about this submission to Christ and spends significantly more time about how the body works together.  For the entirety of the chapter the emphasis is on how we work together and what is expected of each of us as parts or members of the same body.

All parts of the body are important – No one can say I have nothing to offer, I have no value.  Any person who is feeling excluded, unimportant or of little value is believing a lie.  1 Corinthians says the parts that are hurting and seem the least important or weaker are actually “indispensable!”

Everyone has value – God through the Holy Spirit gifts each of us with His gifts.  The gift is divinely given and has limitless value.  The gift is given to us for us to use and implement and contribute to the work of God’s kingdom. If we say we have no value or others have no value then we are rejecting the truth God says about us and others! 

The body suffers without you- In our highly individualized culture it is easy to say my relationship with God is personal and I don’t need others.  We can also be convinced that others don’t need or want me.  These are, again, both lies spread by the devil in an effort to weaken the body of Christ and negatively affect its Kingdom impact. The body needs each other and every part to fulfill what the head, Jesus Christ, has in mind!

We are still growing- We are taught to love all the gifts God gives to us and we can still desire to grow and expand those gifts!  We can and should call on God to give us every gift we need AND recognize He might send us that gift through someone else so we can get better at working together! 

The Devil is at work – The Devil is said to be striking at the heel; this hurts and distracts, but it is not disabling if we don’t let it be! 

Love conquers all – Chapter 12 transitions to Chapter 13 by teaching us about love.  Love is what keeps God from giving up on us.  Love is what helps us see we have value.  Love is what allows us to see others have value.  Love covers our sin, crushes the head of the Devil, and restores the body to be effective again.

As a pastor, I have tremendous love for each of you whether I talk to you a lot or very little. God is working great things in you and I pray Corinthians 12 encourages you to see yourself, each other and the people of Christ around the world as partners in the Gospel.  Each of us is needed and gifted to share God’s love with the world. 

1 Corinthians 12:12 “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”