Pastor’s Corner


What Did You Say?!?

There is one important truth I try to teach any couple that talks to me about marriage. If someone says “You aren’t listening to me,” that person is always right, 100% of the time.  There is usually some initial protest, but that typically doesn’t last.  Why?  If someone says you aren’t listening, what they are really saying is “I don’t feel like I’m being heard.”  The job of the listener isn’t to just physically detect the noise from the mouth of the speaker but also to assure the speaker they have been heard.

When a speaker and a listener have a healthy relationship, a simple nod or grunted affirmation can be enough. In some instances this isn’t even necessary because the affirmation of hearing comes through a responsive action, such as “Let the dog out, please!”  No other acknowledgment is needed other than the requested action be accomplished.

What happens in stressful times or in unhealthy relationships is both people become speakers and no one listens and acknowledges. We might give the courtesy nod or say “I am too listening!” but our body language and responses do not affirm to the listener that we are in fact listening.  If we are “truly” listening, we take in ALL the information the speaker is telling us before we formulate a response.  Our response would then be impacted by the information that was shared with us rather than whatever we had already decided to say.

Not sure what I mean? Try this.  Next time someone says “How are you?” don’t say “Fine.”  Give an honest response that requires someone to listen.  Say you are tired, sad or excited or don’t say anything.  If the person says “Me too” or “Fine,” you know they didn’t listen!  If they say “Why are you sad?” or “What are you excited about?” you know they are listening.

What does this mean? It means the world in the flesh doesn’t by nature listen well.  We, the children of God, will make a meaningful impact if we truly listen and hear those near us.  When we can take a moment from telling people about God to listen to their real questions about God, we might just meet them where they are.  We might make God more tangible or acceptable than ever before.

We are the Body of Christ. We are the physical presence of God on earth, His Church.  When we listen to others, we don’t just hear the noise they make; we listen to the cry of their heart.  Jesus heard our cry and showed us God’s love.  I pray as we hear the cry of those around us, we will answer with the same love God showed to us.


Pastor’s Corner

Love Conquers All

Love Conquers Evil

This last Valentine’s Day we were poised to celebrate love when evil struck. Unfortunately this isn’t new or unique; it is something we went through ten years ago on Valentine’s Day.  This year it was a high school in Florida; ten years ago it was Northern Illinois University.  The cycle of evil and violence seems to be increasing, and the heartache is indescribable.

In the wake of school shootings and other unspeakable violence the reactions and the emotions range from paralyzing sorrow to a call to “do something.” What are we to do?  How can we end these types of horrific crimes and the generations of sorrow they cause?  Is it even possible or is this the unavoidable result of living in a sinful and broken world?

I don’t find it a coincidence that Valentine’s Day, the day of love, has been a time when some have chosen to act out in hate by inflicting pain on others. As a nation we have been increasing our focus on individuality and failing to remind people we are part of a whole.  We leave people to their own abilities to decide who they are and what their truth is.  We have turned our attention and time to “finding ourselves” and have failed to learn how to love others.

The Bible teaches that we are each unique and special but that we have been created by a loving God to be a part of a whole. While we are each individuals who spend a lifetime finding ourselves, we are not lost.  We are loved, created, formed, adopted by God.  We are not genderless beings that need to identify ourselves; we are men and women, boys and girls created in God’s image to project the image of God to the world.  We each have purpose and a calling; we are each filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered by His love, a love that led Him to lay down His life for us.

In these days after tragedies we will hear heroic stories of sacrificial love, like the football coach who gave his life to save students. These are inspirational and God pleasing.  These accounts should motivate us to be sacrificial before evil strikes.  If someone reached out, cared, loved, noticed, could this have been avoided?  Could other acts of evil be conquered with love?  Legislation, background checks, better security will be the answers the world and politicians clamor for, but God’s response to fear and evil is real love.

Love is a gift, not a feeling. Love is a gift to be given to someone who doesn’t have it.  Why would we give love to someone who already has an abundance of it?  Love is a gift that in its ultimate expression has us lay down our life for the sake of another.  It doesn’t, shouldn’t, require a mass shooting or other horrific event for this to happen.  Every day, all around us, are people who are hurting, broken, scared and overcome by evil.  They don’t know who they are and don’t know they are loved by God or by us.  What should we do?  The answer is another question:  Are we, as God’s people, going to spend more time protecting our own lives, or are we going to ask God for courage to lay down our lives for those hurting around us?


Pastor’s Corner

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God Space

This weekend, we launched into Lent with our church-wide emphasis called God Space. God Space is a book by Doug Pollock that will challenge us and equip us to invite God to be present in every moment.  In particular, the chapters invite us to grow deeper relationships with others around us and eventually engage in conversations about the things that matter the most.

I am pleased to lead out congregation through this as I find it to be a perfect fit for where we are as a congregation.  For years, we have been praying and living as God’s people in the community.  I hear many people saying they have people they are praying for and growing relationships with, but wondering how to have the important conversations.  God Space will equip us to do just that.

This is not an evangelism book or a bait and switch guide to spiritual conversation. Instead, it serves more as a field guide about what to do and what not to do.  For example, one take away I have from this book is the quote “The best way to show you are interested in what someone is saying is to actually be interested.” Profound isn’t it!  This book helps to tear down the fear of not knowing the best strategy or having all the answers.  God Space shows, with clear, real life examples, how to recognize people are interested in spiritual conversation.   God Space illustrates how to let others lead the conversation and helps us be ready to share when invited to.

God Space is about helping us let go of the pressure to lead a spiritual conversation and instead, allow God Space in our conversations to do what He wills. Through prayer, noticing those around us, listening, wondering about their life and sharing when asked, we can give God Space to work while we get to enjoy what He is doing in us and through us.

Join with the congregation and other believers at Cross as we Activate God Space in each of our lives. If you are not in a Community Group, this is a perfect time to get connected.  You will be able to encourage one another and work together to put into practice the skills we learn and to see things the way God sees them, not the way we think they are.  Visit the kiosk on Sunday or contact the church office to get connected today!


Pastor’s Corner

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Why Lent? 

Lent is likely derived from the old word for lengthen and seemingly referred to the lengthening or stretching of daylight hours that is occurring now and ushers in the season of spring on March 20. In honor of the origin of the word Lenten, I would like to challenge you to participate in something that will stretch your faith during Lent. 

Lent is a very specific word that means the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. This year Ash Wednesday is February 14 – appropriate considering the greatest way the Bible says we can show love is to lay down our lives for someone else. Lent is a great time to set aside something that is taking your attention or energy away from God or away from the work of God and focus on living our faith.

These 40 days of Lent are set apart for the purpose of self-reflection and examining ourselves against God’s desire for us. It is traditionally a somber time because, if we are honest, measuring ourselves to God’s standards is a huge disappointment for us. In fact, many Christians give up or sacrifice something they love to remind them of the sorrow that Jesus had when He sacrificed His life for us.

You can certainly give up something as is the custom for Lent, but would you also consider lengthening your faith, stretching it to a point that is less comfortable and causes you to rely on God? This year in Lent we are reading through the book, God Space. Everyone connected to Cross is invited and challenged to join us make space for God in our everyday lives. This book will take us on a Biblical adventure that stretches our faith to join Him where He is working rather than asking Him to join us where we are comfortable.

Officially Lent is 40 days long, but it takes up 46 days on the calendar. (Sundays are not traditionally considered a part of Lent because Sunday is a day to celebrate that God has forgiven our sins, not being immersed in sorrow. Yay Sundays!) Would you consider reading God Space and see if it doesn’t lengthen your faith, stretching it to the point that you will pray for God’s strength, courage and Holy Spirit? Would you consider getting together with other believers to do the same? There is strength in numbers, and Jesus joins us when we gather together in His name!

You can sign up for a group to go through God Space together online, at the kiosk in the fellowship hall or by filling out a card in worship!

“Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” – Jesus in Matthew 4:19 –