Pastor’s Corner


Unity:  The Body of Christ

In Acts chapter two I have been forever impacted by the words, “the disciples had everything in common.” This is especially true in our hyper-fractured society.  Every opinion is shouted without listening, and our president leads one 140 character tweet at a time through the Internet.  How do we gain unity in a culture and society so divided?

The source of division is the individual. When we want it “our way,” even when our way is the right way, we create division rather than unity.  We can’t point to other people as the problem because, as the saying goes, when you point your finger there are three pointing back at you.  (Try it with your hand right now if you don’t know what I am talking about.)

Unity comes from one place, when everyone focuses on a common point instead of their own opinion. Unity means sacrifice.  The disciples were only able to have unity and everything in common because they were willing to sacrifice their individual preferences.  For us as disciples today this means giving up the things that make us comfortable and exposing ourselves to things that make us uncomfortable.

If we remain comfortable, it most likely means we are not accomplishing what God is calling us to do. God is calling His Church, the followers of Jesus, to be light in the darkness, to be salt to the earth, to be holy amongst the unholy.  By the grace of God we can get better at being with unbelievers, but we will never be as comfortable amongst the unholy as we are sitting in the bubble with other believers.

When we are challenged to do something that makes us uncomfortable, the reaction of our flesh is to lash out and demand that things don’t change. The desire of God is for the believers to work together in unity to proclaim hope to the lost.  How do we transform from lashing out to working together?  By focusing on the one goal that matters:  Head of the Body, Jesus Christ.  Jesus routinely reminds us that the things of this world are meaningless when compared to the things God has in store for us.  The difficult part is trusting Him!

As we move forward in the Living ’n Active series, you will be uncomfortable, you will be challenged, and God will call you to go when you have never been. Give it a try.  Look to Him and see how He desires you, and each of us, to be a part of transforming both this world and the world to come.  But the transformation starts with us, when we sacrifice our desires for His perfect will.  Only then can miraculous things happen and we achieve unity.


Pastor’s Corner

God's Love one side of rainbow and God's Grace the other side. (

A Grace-Filled Response

“What is the Christian thing to do?” Over and over again, this question plagues the heart and mind of a believer.  You get home from the store and realize you didn’t pay for all your groceries.   You see a homeless person begging for money.  A friend or spouse lies to you.  What is the Christian thing to do?

Can I say this is a horrible question? I mean, ok, the question itself isn’t horrible; but, this question makes it sound like there is only one way to handle a situation if you are a Christian.   Let’s say you get punched in the face.  Is the Christian response to walk away or to punch them back?  Either one of these responses could be the correct response.  Either one could be the wrong response.  So how are we to know?

The “Christian” thing to do in every circumstance is to do what Jesus would do. We are called to reflect Christ and when we reflect Christ, we are doing exactly what needs to be done.  Jesus says this in John 14 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” The difficult part about this is that Jesus was sometimes harsh and condemning of behaviors and at other times He was merciful and understanding.  How do we know how to be?

Paul teaches us in Romans 12 how to know and live God’s will. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” When we allow our hearts and minds to be transformed by God then we can figure out the response God would have for us.  There is the key.  The response God would have for us.  This may not be the response we want to do, but the one God calls us to do.

I have often been encouraged to “Err on the side of Grace.” What this means to me is to consider all my options for response.  Among those options, I pray and seek God’s will for my response and then, if I still cannot decide, I choose the one that extends Grace.  This, too, I believe, is what it means to live like Christ. Many times, throughout Scripture, we learn that God is “slow to anger” and “rich in love.”

Please take note, the scripture teaches God is slow to anger.  God will pour out His wrath on the ungodly, just like He poured it out on His son.  But, He won’t pour it out on His children.  For those who have been called as children of God, He pours out only righteousness, grace and mercy.

As children of God and people of grace, we, too, are able to extend God’s love to others.   When we are slow to anger and rich in love others learn of God’s abundant love.  And, when we must respond firmly, we respond in love for God and for our neighbor;  that in hearing our rebuke, they may also know God’s great love!

Pastor’s Corner

Dependent on Grace

Dependent on Grace

If possible, try to imagine yourself in one of the homes of Florida or Texas, hunkered down for the hurricane. Suddenly the windows break and the waters start to rise; you don’t have a boat, and if you did, there is nowhere to go.  All you can do is wait and pray.

I went to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, and I assure you, it isn’t possible to imagine. Think of the worst devastation you’ve ever seen and then imagine that is literally everywhere you look.  There is nothing that still looks normal or safe.  Everything is destroyed.

In a country like the United States, it is almost impossible to imagine yourself completely helpless. No matter what happens there is always a place to go to get warm or eat, a 911 call that can be made, or a neighbor to offer you compassion.  In a mass disaster like a hurricane, there is nowhere to turn and nowhere to go until help arrives, and with the power out, they don’t even know you are there.

When we talk about being dependent on grace, this is what we are talking about — being completely dependent.  We are helpless without God’s grace, like falling down the edge of a tall cliff, just waiting to hit the bottom, or trapped in the middle of a violent storm, hoping our shelter and our lives aren’t destroyed.

Even when we are “helpless” we often comfort ourselves by believing we can do something to “help.” We can prepare for disasters or buy insurance; we can find the best doctors when we are sick, or have a savings account as a cushion.  These things are not true safety; they are only perceptions of safety and at best, increase our odds.  In reality putting our life’s security in these things is like putting on extra thick socks and jumping into the Grand Canyon; it might come in handy, but it isn’t guaranteed.

There are only two things guaranteed in life, and no, they aren’t death and taxes in Illinois; they are that we sin and God forgives. Because of our sin we are helpless, doomed for eternity, sentenced to eternal hell and punishment.  But because of God’s grace, we have earned our way back to heaven, eternal life with Christ and all the family of believers in a celebration that has no end.

It’s all about His grace earning our way back to heaven. His grace did not merely open the door for us to prove ourselves or finish up the job we started.  On the contrary, we are like “beggars” who have nothing to offer, nothing to eat, and no way to work.  We are dependent on Christ’s mercy for food, for forgiveness, for every breath we breathe.

Being completely dependent on someone else is not only difficult to imagine, it can be scary to consider.  Most of us like being in control or at least convincing ourselves we are.  When it comes to salvation and eternal life, it is critical we do not deceive ourselves but rather, grow daily in our dependence on Christ.  This is the expression of faith:  to trust Someone we have not seen and depend on Him for everything we have seen.

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8


Pastor’s Corner

Christian Community.png

I remember Mrs. Lentz very well. She was the mean fourth grade teacher.  There was another fourth grade teacher; she was the nice one.  I was hoping I got her.  You already know what happened.  I was scared to start school that year.  Mrs. Lentz was strict and demanding with her students.  Would I be smart enough, be disciplined for goofing off, have to sit in the front row because I was bad, stifled in a boring class – working hard – while the other class was happy and having fun?

Mrs. Lentz indeed had high expectations, but her love and commitment to her students helped each of us achieve them. We grew as students who were able to do things we didn’t think were possible:  memorize multiplication, read thick books, write long papers, etc.  Let me tell you – it was fun learning and accomplishing things, and believe it or not, we still had parties!

Encouragement, accountability, friendship, belonging, correction are all things we all need. Sometimes we want these things; sometimes we bristle at these things.  When we are completely honest with ourselves, we know that we accomplish more when there are other people alongside us to challenge us, encourage us, and correct us when we are wrong.  “Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Christian community is about intentionally putting ourselves amongst other believers so we can be encouraged to achieve more than we thought imaginable, and it’s fun!  Christian community gathers together regularly to be encouraged in the Word of God (Bible), to pray for each other, to celebrate with each other, and to grow deep, meaningful friendships.  As this happens, we are challenged to make time for each other in our busy schedules.  We are inspired to invite and welcome in others who long for the same connections.

Christian community takes time, and to be honest, sometimes it is hard work. That hard work equips and encourages us to follow Christ above all things and when we do, brings us tremendous joy and peace!  When we sharpen one another in faith, we also make each other better at work, at home and in our own life desires.

This week we are launching our Christian community groups. My prayers are with the hundreds of people already committed to being in a group this fall, that God will sharpen you and use you to sharpen others.  I also pray for the thousands of people who are not connected to Christian community and pray that you continue to grow in faith but also in appreciation for the many blessings that God brings when we gather together in His name.  Would you consider getting connected into a Christian community group to pray, study, challenge and encourage one another in His name?  I know it might sound too difficult, but I assure you the blessings of finding the right group are countless and the rewards are eternal!

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see The Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25


Pastor’s Corner

Save The Date

Save the Date!

It is with great excitement I am inviting you to a party! On Saturday evening October 28th, we will be hosting a “Jubilee Celebration” for the entire family of faith at Cross.  This type of celebration is long overdue, is intended for fun and to celebrate what God has done and is doing though this place.

We will start the evening with a short opening time together—think of a family devotion with some great songs and celebrations. After the opening, we will begin our fellowship and fun for every generation!  Dinner will be provided as well as games and activities for all ages.

This coincides with our Discipleship Re-commitment Weekend, the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, and the beginning of the Capital Campaign.  If ever there was as time to host a Cross family party it is now! This is a big event and will require all of us to pitch in, but most important is that you will be there.  So please, save the date now:  Saturday evening, October 28, 2017!

I am also inviting you to participate in the Living n’ Active series that will launch the weekend of September 10th.  This series will encourage us to live out our faith together in Christian Community.  Cross is poised for a season of strong spiritual growth and I truly believe you will be blessed by participating. I know the Kingdom of God, Cross and this community will be blessed through each of us working together for Christ’s sake.

To get connected to a Living n’ Active group please contact Bill Ziech, or the church office, or visit the app or website and click the yellow “help” link.

This is a great time for a fresh start and spiritual growth at Cross. My prayer is that you will take the time to get connected to the Body of Christ and allow Him to work in you.

“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