Cross Creek Church Blog

God Likes You

[Written by Derek Dougherty]

Do you remember the first time someone said, “I like you”. Can you remember how it felt? Maybe for some it was a best friend that was genuinely excited to see you. Or perhaps the first time someone from the opposite sex showed that kind of interest in you. Can you feel the butterflies in your stomach and the overwhelming joy that causes you to smile from ear to ear?

Jim Wilder in his book The Other Half of Church says that “joy is what we feel when we are with someone who is happy to be with us. Joy does not exist outside of a relationship.” 

During the Thanksgiving season the oft-quoted verses like “Rejoice always… give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thess. 5:16, 18), can be really hard to balance with the mixed emotions around the table due to sadness of loved ones that have passed away or in dealing with family conflict. 

In general, I have always struggled with God’s command to always rejoice. I feel like I need to muster up some measure of excited happiness when often I am operating out of a fuel tank that is depleted of joy.   

This week I heard a pastor get up in front of a room full of pastors and leaders, who could rattle off all of the benefits of being loved by God and this pastor very simply stated, “God likes you!”. Or to put it in Jim Wilder’s language, God is happy to be with you! His face lights up when He looks at you. 

I know intellectually that God loves me or why else would He have sent His son to die for me. But in the back of my mind, it’s hard to get out this notion that somehow His love is driven by duty or obligation. Just like Jesus calls us to love our enemies, He loves us but there is no way that He actually likes me. Is there? 

“God Likes Me!” When I stopped to let the reality of that message wash over me, I began to feel some of those butterflies return to my stomach. A grin started to form on my face and my joy tank began to fill back up.

In Zephaniah 3:17 we are given a picture of this God who delights in you even causing Him to burst out in song. 

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing. 

Zephaniah 3:17

This theme is repeated time and time again throughout Isaiah and the Psalms as if God is shouting from the rafters “I LIKE YOU!!!” “It is a delight to be with you!” 

This Thanksgiving if you are feeling like your joy tank is depleted, I encourage you to let the good news of this truth wash over you. Even if you are struggling to find reasons in your current circumstances to rejoice there is one who is delighted in YOU. Let Him fill your joy tank up as He reminds you how much He Likes YOU.

What Are We Having For Thanksgiving?

[Written by Dr. Chris Peters]

My wife recently shared with me the humorous responses of several of our sons (Age 14-19) to her text inquiring what food items they wanted to make sure we had for Thanksgiving Day. Moms can be awesomely conscientious that way! Some of the responses from my sons were not quite what you might expect.

“Chicken and Rice Soup,” was one response.

Another sent, “BBQ Ribs”!

I thought about chiming in with, “Kung Pao Steak, Bratwurst, and Spaghetti and Meatballs!”

A couple mentioned hashbrown casserole which was a bit closer to the mark. No one sent such off-the-wall requests as TURKEY! Or MASHED POTATOES! HA…

I guess it is not a big deal when it comes to a family meal to modify things a bit, but when we look at Biblical Thanksgiving, the Lord gives us some specific items to include in the “meal” of praise.

Psalm 100 reads, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

The menu of Biblical thanksgiving ought to include:

Expression

“Make a noise” “singing” “praise” “bless his name” – We are encouraged to vocalize the gratitude which hopefully is in our hearts. This is part of the reason for daily prayer life for us all, and for stopping to have special prayer at family gathering times. It should mean more than that, but certainly not less.

Approach

“Come” “Enter” – We are invited to move toward the Lord, whether things are great in our life or a struggle, whether we feel worthy in Christ, or are struggling to remember God’s love, whether we are actively conscious of our total dependence on the Lord, or drifting into self-sufficiency.

Truth

“Know that the Lord, he is God!” “We are his people” “the Lord is good” “his steadfastness endures forever and his faithfulness to all generations.” – We do not need to make up reasons to praise and we should not create our own definition of the nature of the God we worship. Part of the way the Psalms help us in worship and in prayer is to keep us focused on the Bible’s definition of the Triune God.

This E.A.T. acrostic help us this season to respond to God’s unfathomable grace to sinners like you and me, who have great cause, not just the end of November, but every day of the year, to thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in all things.

Meditating on the Word of God

[Written by William Monroe]

Lately I’ve been thinking about what it means to meditate on the word of God. God calls us to meditate on his word day and night.

Psalm 1:2, “but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Ok. I don’t do that. If/When I try, or even ponder what that would look like, I’m overwhelmed. I think I understand what that means, but practically speaking, how do I do that? Let’s check another passage.

Joshua 1:8, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

Still, that feels like a tall order. This kind of meditation is promised in this passage to be a good thing, clearly, but again I come back to, how?

I think there are two practical things that can encourage us with this call to meditate on the word day and night.

First, looking at a little bit of context, in Joshua 1:5, it says Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” So this seems like a piece of the puzzle, and personally one of the most encouraging things is that God is with us continually, much as he is asking us to be with him.

I saw a meme recently that said, “I don’t believe in bigfoot. He never believed in me, every piano recital I ever had, I would look into the audience and see one empty seat.”

The beautiful thing here is God isn’t being like bigfoot in this scenario. This passage reminds us that God absolutely is with us and caring for us in a present way.

Secondly, as a music lover, I think songs have an excellent role to play here. Have you ever gotten a song stuck in your head? What types of songs get stuck in your head? Frequently for me, it is the chorus of a song that will get stuck in my head that will lead me back to the depth and richness of well-written verses.

Sometimes repetition and simplicity is looked down upon in church music, but when used appropriately, even if it isn’t our preference, the result can be unintentional meditation on the word of God!

Now full disclosure, contemporary music which adds a chorus to traditional hymns isn’t always the most successful from a pure musicality aspect, but by adding some repetition, it can lead us to that meditation on the full depth written into the rest of the song. A good example of this is the version of Amazing Grace with the “My Chains are gone” chorus.

My favorites are ones that incorporate a beautiful chorus in a way that has great continuity AND is adapted straight from scripture. A good example of this is the Ellie Holcomb song, “Fear Not”, based on Isaiah 43.

This is my preferred method for writing songs for congregational singing. If scripture is used as the base text, there is little need to stress that the theology is right. Here are two of my songs that are written this way:

So next time you are trying to be more meditative, turn on some music and remember that God is with you!

Church Officer Appreciation Day

[Written by Dr. Chris Peters]

Well, okay…that is not really a thing…but maybe it should be…

“Now I urge you brothers – you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints – be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such people.” 1 Corinthians 16:15-18

Perhaps this post will feel like a pastor revealing a bit too much of “how the sausage is made.” Or to others maybe it seems like a bit of insider patting on the back. I can’t help how some might read this, but as I enter into my 20th year of ordained ministry in my denomination (the Presbyterian Church in America) I think it is right to give recognition where recognition is due.

We all have seen failure in church leaders, most notably in pastors, but also in elders or deacons (or whatever your church calls the folks who help direct the church and facilitate the work of the church, but are not the paid pastors). Just recently I spoke with someone outside our church but near to me about the devastating impact the moral abuse by a church leader has had on his perspective about God. I don’t write this to dismiss or minimize any of those issues – they are real, and sadly far too common.

But I do think that it is easy to let a few bad apples ruin our view of the whole bunch. So I just want to highlight three things that I believe are genuinely worthy of praise about the elders and deacons I have known, in the 3 churches I have served on staff, and from my observation of others. As others read this, I hope they too will pause and give thanks to God for faithful lay church leaders who have 

          shared the Gospel, 

          served behind the scenes, 

          organized building projects, 

          prayed for struggling marriages and wayward children, 

          overseen areas of ministry, 

          attended denominational meetings

          managed church finances, 

          facilitated global missions work and local ministries of mercy, 

          and generally served all the rest of us well.

What a blessing to see men of COMMITMENT, CAMARADERIE, and CORRECTION

  1. Commitment–In most churches it is hard to match the raw hours staff give to ministry, and key volunteers who are not officers can give as much or more than both staff and officers, but the church officers I know give a lot of time, emotional energy, and financial resources to the church. I’ve had the privilege over the years of a front row seat to officers who spend countless unpaid hours, taking time away from family or from billable hours at work, to help a couple through a difficult marriage situation. I’ve seen such leaders, who are already typically giving financially more than others might to the church, reach in their pockets and give to the latest missions special need because they love Christ and his servants. Do church officers fail sometimes? Absolutely, but for every one I know that fits that category, I know 10 who, though sinners, are walking the path to repent, believe, and fight, and seek to fulfill Mark 10:45 – “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.”
  2. Camaraderie–As a pastor, I get together with other pastors from time to time. I appreciate greatly the support and encouragement of those brothers – some in my own affiliation and others in different denominations. But those brothers are not in the trenches with me as a pastor in ministry week-to-week and day-to-day. When you serve closely together you are more likely to see each others’ failings, and personality quarks. And on a few occasions, I have certainly been disappointed to feel unsupported by church officers. But for every 1 situation of that sort, I have had the joy of 100 others, where elders or deacons have blessed me by their presence, their words, and their actions of support (at times where I may not have warranted such backing). As I already cited, “…for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours…”
  3. Correction–In prominent church settings with a well-known pastoral figure and perhaps paid pastoral staff leading various parts of the worship service, the public does not see the elders or trustees until some sizeable pastoral moral failure. Then the poor soul who got selected by his brethren to step to the microphone and make the ominous announcement all-of-the-sudden represents the reality of some “group” or “board” who are having to correct the church’s version of CEO. Although sometimes hidden agendas of personality and power underly these events, in many cases the elders are genuinely seeking to balance grace and godliness in responding to a situation they did not make, but now have to address. But, as Paul David Tripp highlights in his book Lead, the ideal is for pastors and lay leaders to be in a regular lifestyle of loving correction. As a pastor, who struggles with pride, I generally do not like it when the plan or decision or idea that I feel I have carefully considered and determined, is challenged by my fellow church leaders. It is not usually something I immediately welcome. And I have probably on some occasions been prone to dodge conflict by not pressing my conviction more strongly. However, for every 1 time I may have been correct and the collective wisdom of my church officers was misguided, perhaps 1000 times it has been the opposite. Usually this correction is not confrontive but merely a sharing of wisdom and perspective that informs an ultimately unanimous fruitful decision. Proverbs 27:17 – “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

In my context of a complementarian church structure, I could also make a strong case for “Wives of Church Officer Appreciation Day” but since I imagine few have read all the way to this line of this blog, that will have to wait for another post.

Raising Them to Leave

[Written by Shawndee Lovoy]

We had 4 children in 5 years. Yes, you read that right! When our oldest son Isaac was 5 our youngest child Maryrose was born. December of 2007, when we brought our 4th baby home, Isaac was 5, Juliette was 4, James was 2, and we brought home our newborn Maryrose. My body, heart, mind and soul belonged to so many people that it was hard to distinguish who I was from them. Those were precious years and many years of pure survival. 

Fast forward….to August 2022. Isaac is a sophomore at Auburn University. Juliette is a freshman at Mississippi State University. James is a sophomore at Hoover High School, and Maryrose is a freshman at Briarwood Christian School. My heart still lives in 5 different places each day, but it is different. They are there and I am here. Some need me more than others and all need me for different reasons, but they aren’t dependent on me for survival. 

My amazing parents always told me, it is our job as parents to raise you to leave. We aren’t raising you to be dependent on us, we are raising you to be dependent on the Lord and to be fully capable humans ready to thrive in this world. This has always been in mine and Jason’s minds through all these years of raising our children. We have certainly not done it all right and we have made countless mistakes. Thank you, Jesus that we have a perfect Savior, who loves them, calls them His own, and always keeps His Covenant Promises.

So here we are. Isaac spent the entire summer after his freshman year at Auburn living in Greenville, SC, working sun up to sundown at a paid internship with Brasfield and Gorrie in his field of study. Juliette was beyond ready to move to another state, study fashion production/design, join a sorority, and get involved in a campus ministry. James continues to work towards his goal of playing soccer in college and has matured so much this past year it blows me away. Maryrose is pure fun and laughter. She keeps us smiling and works hard at her goals for high school and beyond. 

We have good seasons and tough seasons. There have been trials, tears, and hard decisions, but most of all, great peace in watching God’s providence play out in our children’s lives. Through it all, my prayer and goal is for my children to trust that God is at work even when they can’t see it. My prayer is that they need us less and less and need Him more and more. My prayer is that they have confidence in everyday life because they know the One who holds their lives. 

It’s hard to describe the feeling of being needed less and less by your children. It is something I have to pray through, give to the Lord over and over, and fill in other ways. It is something I will bear knowing that the goal is being accomplished. The goal of raising them to leave.

A Season of Growth and Flourishing For Cross Creek Church

[Written by Dr. Chris Peters]

What a difference two years makes! As we enter into what seems to be a new season of growth and flourishing for our church body, I think it is valuable to reflect. In doing so, we realize that the Lord is in our midst in every season, and working His purposes even when, to us, things may look bleak and lean.

  • Two years ago we did not really know whether to plan any “Fall kickoff” ministries because we did not even know what ministry amidst Covid would look like.
  • This year, we are delighted to see a full worship space on Sundays, a great lineup of groups where all in our church can connect, and multiple missions/service initiatives having significant kingdom impact.
  • Two years ago we were sharing a church building, at the kind invitation of a sister church, but not able to renovate or improve the facility for it to most effectively serve the gospel ministries of our church.
  • This year, many in our congregation made planned giving commitments for our “Twelve – Called by Him, Called for Him” building purchase and renovation initiative. As those contributions are received, we have already renovated almost all of the church interior flooring and walls, upgraded our technology/security infrastructure, refinished and repainted the exterior, recoated the parking lot, improved the water flow around our site, and will very soon install a new playground.
  • Two years ago we were forced to learn to love each other and show grace to each other across varying viewpoints on matters of physical health, and it sure wasn’t easy at times.
  • This year, we are able to translate the unity amidst diversity that the Gospel provides into celebratory weekly worship and a purposeful pursuit of our church vision.

 Over the next few weeks, we can pray for one another to:

  • Engage meaningfully in personal and family devotionals, perhaps joining in on or resuming the Read-Thru-The-Bible plan, and also growing in truth through our weekly sermon series in Isaiah.
  • Commit to our Sunday morning pathways for discipleship in Sunday school as a great blessing to young and old who “put themselves in the way of God’s grace.”
  • Connect for the first time, or more deeply in Christian community through our Life Groups and also the joy of fellowship at our Men’s and Women’s ministries gatherings.
  • Serve dependently, trusting God to provide gifting and strength for us to all play our part in the spiritual family of our local church.
  • Invite those around us who need the love and truth of Christ into our homes, into relationship, and into the ministries of our church, with the ultimate hope for revival to come, such that many are spiritually saved and even our culture is transformed.

Salt and Light – For the Sanctity of Life

[Written by Dr. Chris Peters]

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

-Matthew 5:13-16


For those interested in why our church and denomination have historically been, and presently remain, thoroughly pro-life, here are just a few blog posts from The Gospel Coalition. These posts cover the issue from numerous perspectives for thoughtful consideration. For a more extended written treatment, Randy Alcorn’s book, Why Pro-Life? is also helpful. As always, our pastor and church elders would be more than happy to talk about the spiritual importance of these matters.

Why I’m Thankful for the Biblical Commitment of Our Denomination: On the Eve of General Assembly 2022 in Birmingham, AL

[Written by Dr. Chris Peters]

Blessed in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)

As our city of Birmingham prepares to host the General Assembly of the PCA, the annual gathering of pastors and elders, I’m thankful for our denomination. I have been an ordained “teaching elder” in the Presbyterian Church in America for almost 20 years. I’m definitely encouraged to see other Biblically focused denominations in our nation and around the world, and I know we in the PCA certainly have issues we regularly seek to work through, but I’ve been greatly blessed by those who have gone before me and by my brothers and sisters in the denomination currently. 

Why be “denominational”?

Before talking about some reasons for my thankfulness, I probably should answer a question some may ask in our “non-denominational” era. While I understand the impetus for both pastors and church members to seek such an unaffiliated church, I have always felt I needed the accountability and the structure of a committed network of churches. At the end of the day, every “non-denominational” church must decide what it believes about debated biblical matters and church practices – who to baptize and when, what type of leadership structure, what theological framework, and so forth. Denominations at their best are simply groups of churches and church leaders who have agreement on these matters. I value both the agreed theological framework and the connectional life of the PCA. Furthermore, knowing my weakness and the ways I have seen other church leaders stumble, I’m concerned whenever I see pastors live outside of accountable networks of peers.

Lean Not On Your Own Understanding

One of the things I love about our particular affiliation is our consistent commitment to the Bible as the “only infallible rule for faith and practice.” In the 20 years I have been in the PCA, and for that matter, in the 27 years prior to that, I have seen that manmade culture blows wherever it will,usually with devastating consequences. Proverbs 3:5-6 provided a central message of conviction and encouragement for me in my conversion – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” A central step of my coming to faith in Christ was realizing not just that I did things that were wrong to others, but that I offended God with the things I did and did not do, and that the very framework I had in my mind for living was prone to be out of alignment with the flourishing path of God’s revealed commands. As one both morally and mentally out of alignment, I was so thankful to realize God’s grace to me through the atoning work of Christ, and hopefully continue to grow in that gratitude every day.

Fruitful “Study Committee Reports”

In light of this, I’m regularly refreshed by a denomination where “Study Committees” assess pressing matters, seeking to acknowledge Him and follow his direction from a Biblical framework. We in the PCA can undoubtedly be too cognitive, and maybe to some seem overly precise, but as I read the Scriptures, God is quite interested in how His people and His church will live out His will. We should never prescribe where He has been silent, but we also should not fail to speak where He has done so if we hope to be a people of God who glorify Him as He has designed and as we seek to be salt and light in this needy world.

To that end, I would commend to anyone, the “Position Papers” as they were more commonly called in the past, or just “Study Committee Reports” as we seem to prefer to call them today, from over 4 decades of our history. You can see the list of them all here. These are non-binding but, when received by the General Assembly, certainly to be understood as a valid expression of denominational views at the time of publishing. 

Presently our denomination is greatly focused on matters of sexuality, and specifically homosexuality. I am thankful for a denomination that proclaims God’s free grace to those who have repented of sexual sin (heterosexual or homosexual), and by faith alone have received the righteousness of Christ. I praise God, that although glorifying God with my own sexuality remains a daily journey of sanctification for me and I have a far from perfect track record, I can know God’s plan for fidelity in heart, mind and action. As a student of history, I know that we live in a very particular moment in a particular American societal framework, and that people in other times, and presently in other places were not perfect in their understanding of God’s design for sexual flourishing. Nevertheless, we have made decisions as churches and as a society going back to the 1960s and 70s, to ignore Jesus’s challenge to recognize the lustful look as adultery, to abandon the idea that God has a purpose in sexuality within a lifelong committed marriage of one man and one woman, and more recently to reject God’s design for sex to be an activity of a male and a female, rather than any other formulations. To any open to insight from the Lord on these matters, I would commend these Biblically based studies on the topic (2021 Report and 1980 Report), and also Kevin DeYoung’s book. Or for more general understanding of the comprehensive message of the Bible about sexuality, Paul David Tripp’s book. Whatever the outworking of this summer’s General Assembly on the specific matters before us, I’m glad for where we have planted our feet so far, as we speak the truth in love, pointing in all matters of sexuality to God’s good plan of flourishing, and warning about both the temporal and eternal impact of ignoring that plan.

Indeed, as I have considered the more recent study report on sexuality, it has reminded me of many other areas addressed by these helpful study reports, all of which give such rich grounding for the life of believers in an age where both truth and identity are re-invented annually, where down is up and up is down. If you are interested, here are some of those topics and why I’m thankful for the PCA caring enough to speak to them:

Creation

Nearly all the applications of Biblical truth to the matters of Christian living and impact as salt and light in our society, flow from the vital reality that we, as people, and our environment, the universe, are the handiwork of the Sovereign, Righteous, and Loving God. While we make room for varied perspectives on the length of those creation days, we robustly affirm that all is from God, was created of nothing, that humanity, male and female, is in God’s image, and that Adam and Eve were real people in a real place.

Male and Female Complementarian Flourishing

The PCA also clearly affirms there are two sexes, male and female, though not ignorant of the tiny percentage of people born with some deformity that confuses the physical distinction. The distinction between male and female is not something we define or “identify” for ourselves but is how God defines us, and can be seen across much of animal creation. Although across cultures and time, and allowing for a scope of distinctions in the particular individual manifestation of maleness or femaleness, the Bible prescribes human flourishing best achieved when we recognize the equal value of men and women, while at the same time acknowledging a different role each will generally play. Notably, in the church, men are called to loving wise leadership authority in the ordained role of elder, and the servant role of deacon, and in the household, men are called to the same, as they sacrificially shepherd their family, and their wife respects and follows his direction, in all matters Biblically sound. If we did not see the tremendous value and great blessing of holding strongly and vocally to a complementarian view in the past – over against merely egalitarian perspective of men’s and women’s roles at church and home – the current absurd confusion in our culture over such matters should help us desire clarity.

Race

Although the PCA is a predominantly “Anglo” denomination, the fact that we are not “all white” or “all black” and also have always included a large number of Korean churches, and more recently a growing number of Latino congregations, means that based on raw percentages we are more ethnically diverse than most American denominations, even though we desire to more readily reflect the ethnic diversity of our nation. In addition to consistently affirming the image of God in all human beings, we have most recently aimed to repent of any sins of omission as well as commission regarding the Civil Rights Movement, while at the same time guarding against more contemporary views of race which seem likely to move us backward, as Thaddeus Williams seeks to address in his book Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth.

Divorce

We recognize that “redefining” marriage is not merely an issue of the 21st century concerning homosexual partnerships, but that marriage as a life-long covenant relationship between one male and one female has been a target of the Enemy since our fall into sin. The Bible certainly offers valid reasons for which a marriage may be ended, and God is gracious to forgive any past decisions we may make. But the purpose of every married couple should be not only to remain in that bond, but also to live life both “face to face” and “arm and arm,” as sinners, but with purpose toward each other and the world. There are a variety of threats to the sanctity of marriage, including adultery and abandonment, as well as abuse and lack of forgiveness, but undoubtedly the proliferation of pornography, and media content laced with such imagery, has undercut the core intimate bond.

Preventing Abuse

We have also aimed for our churches to adopt policies of child protection to make our churches as safe as reasonably possible for young ones. Although not yet adopted by our General Assembly, we will consider this year a full study report on this topic, as well as other forms of abuse, in general.

Sanctity of Life

Last, but certainly not least, as we see the shifting waves of our society, I’m grateful we are a denomination seeking to uphold the sanctity of human life comprehensively – organizing women’s care centers, promoting chastity outside of marriage as God’s good design, advocating adoption as the right pathway in the case of mother/parents who are unable or undesiring to keep and raise their child, and working toward the end of abortion. Simultaneously we extend to men and women who have pursued abortion, the same free grace and forgiveness that Jesus offers to all, whatever choices any may make against His good commands, and we foster groups for abortion healing.

Many of these same topics are also addressed by articles found on The Gospel Coalition website in more contemporary and specific formulation. The site is not aligned with any particular denomination but seeks to share Biblical perspectives on matters for the church and culture.

For all the reasons and a host more, I’m thankful for the PCA, and all others of like-minded conviction on these vital matters. I’m hopeful, as we move forward, we will continue to “lean not on our own understanding” and “trust in the Lord” every step of the way.

From the First Day Until Now

[Written by Garrett Greer]

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. —Philippians 1:3-5

When I came to Cross Creek I was still finishing up my senior year of college at Samford, I didn’t know Gracie, and I’d just began to really act on God’s call to ministry in my life. I remember my first day of youth group in the Lovoy’s breezeway back in Ross Bridge. After what seemed like lots of phone calls and emails, we had six kids show up, and I’d picked up three pizzas and Jason had picked up three, so we had one pizza per student. Remembering that first day I’m encouraged by the growth not only in numbers, but in our lives and in the lives of our students. In the last six plus years we’ve seen the church move buildings, go through Covid and a flood, and I’ve gotten to mature (a bit) alongside our students as well. 

And thinking about leaving has been really hard for both me and Gracie. We think we’ve been called to serve in a community where the gospel isn’t as easy to find, but trying to make sure that’s really God’s will is hard. We’ve spent a lot of time in prayer, lots of good walks around Bluff Park, talking over what it means to leave Cross Creek and step into the relative unknown, and we’re still quite unsure about what our next steps look like. But all of that aside, I’m encouraged that leaving is so hard, because it means that our time here has been really good.

Most of the New Testament is a series of letters from believers in similar circumstances—wishing to be with the people (or often churches) they were writing to but not physically being in the same place anymore. In the above verses from Philippians, Paul is writing to a church to express how thankful he feels when he remembers their time together and how they’ve both grown together. We think the church at Philippi was the first church Paul planted in Europe, and in these verses you can feel his memories extending back to those earlier years and his first days there as well, overflowing with love for Christians he has known that fill his “prayer with joy.” I’m certainly not the apostle Paul or even anything close, but I can relate a bit as I can’t say thank you enough for the ways we’ve been poured into and encouraged in this church home. From meals together, to countless Bible studies, to getting to serve your kids—thank you. 

Despite Paul’s absence from Philippi, he was still encouraged because in verse six he tells them that, “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.” I know the same is true about our time at Cross Creek and what God is doing in this church and in this community. As much as it wasn’t Paul who began a good work among the Philippians, it’s also anyone one of us who does the real work at Cross Creek–it has always been and always will be the Lord. And that work of gospel-centered sanctification will be brought to completion. 

As we look back “from the first day until now,” we are sad to go, but also excited to continue to serve the Lord and serve the larger church just in a different place. I’m excited because that means a new opportunity for Cross Creek to grow through a new person and their gifts, and I’m excited because we know that what God is doing at Cross Creek won’t stop, but that he’ll bring it to completion.

God Cares for You

[Written by William Monroe]

On a Friday, a little over 8 years ago, I lost my job. I was working at a startup company in Iowa and the company finances were such that I was laid off along with another person or two to help the company’s balance sheet. My boss at the time had said I could come back and get my things, but I wasn’t too crazy about that idea. I already felt the disappointment, shame, and guilt that went along with the situation. So even though I had biked to work that day, I packed up my desk and you can imagine the sight I was, with a backpack full of books, pedaling drearily back to our apartment.

I didn’t know what I was going to do. I went home and walked the dog and waited for Alicia to get home from her job.

2 days later, we found out that Alicia was pregnant with our oldest, Adeline Rose. We were excited…

…and terrified.

We had no idea what we should do. Even though technically I still had insurance at that time, we did not want to use our declining emergency funds if we didn’t have to. We called and set an appointment at the Iowa City equivalent of Sav-A-Life.

We were able to get an appointment that following week and went in together. The staff were so loving and accommodating and were overjoyed to come to our aid in the difficult situation in which we found ourselves. When we saw our bouncing, dancing jellybean on the ultrasound and heard her heartbeat, we felt great relief. When we left, they prayed with us and didn’t allow us to leave empty-handed, we had a full bag of items for the new life that was entering our family soon.

In 2nd Corinthians, the Bible says, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

We felt crushed and forsaken after the job loss, but God certainly lifted us up through the ministry that aided us at the beginning of the pregnancy and through our friends and through the church.

God absolutely knows what is happening in our lives. He absolutely cares. He absolutely has plans to care for you.