Pastor’s Corner

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Blessed New Year! 

The New Year is a time of great excitement and anticipation. It is great to turn the page, to wipe the slate clean and to get a fresh start. The New Year provides a new hope that this time things will be different. But, how do we keep this New Year from turning into another year we can’t wait to leave? This New Year might bring more loss or more weight or less money or more difficult days. We hope this year is better than the last, but if experience proves true, this year will have its highlights and also its lowlights. How do we get more highlights than lowlights?

God promises us joy that is new every morning (Psalm 30:5). The secret to a good year is to have good days, one day after another. Here are some Godly tips for a good day.

Wake each morning and praise God – Each day is busy and filled with worry, if you start your day right it will right your whole day. “But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.” Psalm 59:16

When trouble comes, seek God – God never promised an easy life, but He did promise to be with you in all circumstances. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:2,3

Look for God at work – God is bringing good, even in tragedy; look for Him and you will see Him. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. Romans 8:28

Resolve conflict – Don’t run from it, speak truth. Don’t seek it, but when it comes confess and forgive. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26,27

Seek God’s will – Most of our frustration comes when our expectations aren’t met. Look for God and see if His were met instead. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1

Thank God for each day – and all that it brings and however He used you. A spirit of thankfulness will drown out discontent every time. “..with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6,7

Simple isn’t always easy! That is why it is important to surround ourselves with the things of God so the world cannot steal our Godly Joy! And, when it does, His mercies are new EVERY morning!

Have a Blessed New Year!


Pastor’s Corner

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No Room?

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the [guest room]. Luke 2:4-7

What’s your Christmas story?  Is your story about the blizzard which stranded your family from holiday travels, so you couldn’t make it over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house that one year?  Is it the time Uncle Murry burnt the Christmas ham so bad that Christmas dinner was leftovers from the night before?  Is your Christmas story about the time you really wanted a Transformer from Santa but he brought you Gobots instead?  I am sure that each of us, as we think about Christmases past, probably have a good story or two.

The Gospel of Luke tells us that the first Christmas wasn’t exactly perfect. Mary and Joseph find themselves in Bethlehem for a census – along with everyone else from the lineage of David.  With all the extended family in town there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the guestrooms.  Every space was spoken for.  No room…life wasn’t perfect that first Christmas.  Life maybe wasn’t what Mary and Joseph expected for the birth of their first child, yet still they managed.  When it came time for baby Jesus to be born, they swaddled him and placed him in the manger in the lower rooms of the house, where the animals stay for the night.

Life isn’t always what we expect, and yet, we can still manage, can’t we? We have a God and Savior who loved us so much that He broke into our world that first Christmas.  Our Christmas story of Christmas is that in God’s grand plan for salvation, He made room to come to us, to wrap himself up in our skin, to live among us in the person of Jesus.  Emmanuel – God with us.  Maybe that first Christmas wasn’t exactly what Mary and Joseph had in mind for His birth – the first visitors smelled like sheep, baby Jesus’ first bed wasn’t Joseph’s expertly carved crib –

This Christmas Eve, Cross will not only have our “normal” worship services at 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM, 7:00 PM, and 11:00 PM. We will also be hosting our PADS guests starting at 7pm.  Even though we all have so much going on those few days of Christmas celebrations, some dedicated volunteers have made room this holiday to host our PADS guests – to make sure they have a warm place to sleep, a good meal to fill their belly, and also a little Christmas gift to remind them that they are important to us too.  That means some of the building will be off-limits for the rest of us during our worship services.  Sure, it might not be convenient to walk outside in the cold from the parking lot – but here at Cross, there’s room for those who have no place to call home.

Do you feel you have “no room” this Christmas? Where does the Christmas story need to break into your life?  Our stories aren’t perfect, but God’s story is bigger than our messes.  And in Him, everything comes together.  Share the gift of a Savior this Christmas and watch Jesus work through you to bring Christmas hope.

Pastor’s Corner

Perfect Christmas

The Perfect Christmas!

It’s the last weekend before Christmas and everyone is asking, “Are you ready?” Last minute gifts, preparations, groceries, travel arrangements, etc.  We put in all this time and effort in for a chance at a day or two of “peace.”  If it works out, it is time well spent.  If it doesn’t go as planned, it can be extremely stressful.  What is the key to a perfect Christmas?

The key to a perfect Christmas is NOT lowering expectations. A commonly stated ideal is that if you lower expectations you’ll never be disappointed.  But, in return, if you never dream big you’ll never be amazed.  I often pray for God to make me have “awe” about what He is doing like the disciples did. “And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” Luke 5:26

The key to a perfect Christmas is NOT a perfect present – Any gift we give will eventually fade. While there certainly are gifts that can make a tremendous impact, or be an immeasurable blessing, these do not impact the quality of a Christmas. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8

The key to a perfect Christmas is NOT in the destination – The first Christmas had great plans for their destination and in the end they wound up gathering around a feeding trough.   Sure visiting family or a getaway over the break or just good times with friends add to the pleasures, but Christmas is Christmas if the only one there is you and Jesus.

I hope I am painting the picture for you. You have already received the greatest present.  No matter where you go, you have Christ with you.  If God is with you the possibilities are endless.  In fact, the simpler the Christmas the more focused we can be; the more we treasure the things that matter most.

What makes a perfect Christmas? Christ of course.  The wise men from the East followed the star; they never took their eyes off of it.  They didn’t end up at the castle, the gifts they brought were underwhelming for the Savior, and they were blown away with the results even though it wasn’t what they planned.  May that be your Christmas as well; look to Christ, never take your eyes off Him and you will have a Christmas filled with peace and joy.


Pastor’s Corner

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Christmas Spirit!

Christmas is a season for giving and Cross has been no exception. The people of Cross have been giving generously this Holiday season and I want to thank you for those who are not able to thank you.  For Thanksgiving, 40 meals were purchased and delivered to families in our community.  Our PADS ministry started another season of providing shelter for the homeless in the area.  Many groups are participating in caroling to seniors and shut-ins.   We commissioned a new Cancer Care Ministry team!

This Fall, our Capital Campaign kicked off with a Jubilee celebration with a dedicated faithful Steering Committee! Our Youth just completed their annual fundraiser.  Our Cross-in-Action Day took on ambitious and selfless projects to love our neighbors!  Many of you recommitted to ministry this Fall and took steps of faith like communion, confirmation, baptism and Community Group leadership or participation.

Currently, we are putting together a toy store for our Hispanic ministry. Our Thrift shop saw a record November of $20,000 in sales, but more importantly more people prayed for than in any month prior.  Our Sunday School put together blankets for Phil’s Friends and our Day School is collecting chapel offerings for Hurricane victims.  Many of our people are putting in extra time for rehearsals in preparation for the numerous special services that are occurring at Cross during the Christmas season (The Cantata, Christmas worship services, School Christmas programs etc.)

The list goes on and on. When I think of the generosity of this congregation, I am blessed beyond measure.  It is an honor and humbling to serve in a place and among people like this.   While far from perfect, and with so many more in need around us, I still believe the community is blessed through your acts of love and generosity.  Thank you for all the things I mentioned.  Thank you for all the things I failed to mention.  Thank you for keeping Christ and His love at the center of it all—all this serving, without Christ’s love, is just busy-ness. The Scripture calls in a resounding gong or a clanging symbol.

Finally, pray. Pray that all these works would be done as a true blessing for those they reach; pray our faith would grow because of our service; and, pray that those would praise God on behalf of the love they are shown.  Merry Christmas and God Bless!!!

2 Corinthians 9:13 “As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.”

Pastor’s Corner


Making a List, Checking It Twice

This song about an icon of Christmas, Santa, is often how we imagine God – Man of great resources who blesses the “good” and punishes the “bad.” God and Santa are all knowing; both are never seen; both are thought to always be jolly and kind.  In fact, I might go so far as to say most people trust Santa more than they trust God.  What do I mean?  If Santa brings you coal, you probably deserve it, but if God brings judgment, He is wrong and unloving.

OK, maybe I’m going a little over the top to emphasize the point, but it isn’t a far reach. This might be an interesting conversation at your community group gathering or next family time.  The ultimate answer for me is that too many people misunderstand God and trust our own imagination.  The image of God as a soft, jolly, sensitive human is one that deemphasizes His divine nature and over emphasizes our perceived human need.  We all want God to love us, and we want that love to be gentle.  But true love isn’t and shouldn’t always be gentle.  True love discerns with compassion what is needed and addresses that need.  Often times, love holds up a mirror to us and shows us an image we are uncomfortable with.

The TRUE difference between Santa and God (other than the obvious) is that Santa gives sinners coal where God takes the coal you deserve and gives you the gift He earned. Most of us are more comfortable with believing we are good at heart and giving ourselves a pass than we are looking in the mirror and recognizing we earned coal this year.  But if we take a minute to confront the harsh reality of our sin, the gift we receive isn’t coal; it is forgiveness and healing from God.

Santa is known in our culture as the ultimate gift giver, but Santa has never brought a gift that didn’t break, rust or decay. Jesus brought a gift that will never pass away; in fact, Jesus makes all things new and continues to make all things new every day.  The old is gone; the new has come.  This Christmas, don’t cherish any gift man can give more than you cherish the gift God has given and continues to give each day.  If you cherish the gift of God, His Son – your Savior, you will love giving gifts more than you love to receive a gift; that changes everything.

 “And the One sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’”  Revelation 21:5