Cross Creek Church Blog

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.

Go to Dark Gethsemane

Go to Dark Gethsemane

[Written by Dr. Chris Peters]

For some years now, I have been challenged and blessed by the simple song “Go to Dark Gethsemane.” From what I can tell, not many contemporary Christians have heard or sung it. Perhaps there are musical reasons for that, but the words are profound, and I trust will strengthen and enlighten all who ponder and apply them, especially this Easter week. Below are the lyrics followed by one rendition of the song. Note, in particular, the call to unite with Christ in his life and death. This might seem a bit mystical, but is in fact a privilege for all believers, simply through faith in Christ’s gracious sacrificial death for all of us sinners, and a repentant intention of our hearts to turn to him and away from denying his Lordship in our lives.

In particular, this week, note the final line of each stanza calling us to take spiritual steps – Pray, Bear, Die, Rise

1 Go to dark Gethsemane,
You who feel the tempter’s pow’r;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see;
Watch with Him one bitter hour;
Turn not from His griefs away;
Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

2 Follow to the judgment hall;
View the Lord of life arraigned;
O the worm-wood and the gall!
O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suff’ring, shame, or loss;
Learn of Him to bear the cross.

3 Calv’ry’s mournful mountain climb
There’ adoring at His feet,
Mark the miracle of time,
God’s own sacrifice complete:
“It is finished!” Hear the cry;
Learn of Jesus Christ to die.

4 Early hasten to the tomb
Where they laid his breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom;
Who hath taken Him away?
Christ is ris’n! He meets our eyes:
Savior, teach us so to rise.

 

Get Used to Different

[Written by Stephanie Vander Noot, Building Campaign Director]

If you know me, you know that I am a huge fan of The Chosen – the first ever multi-season series about the life of Jesus. The story of Jesus is told through the eyes of those who encountered Him. The title of this blog post is from a scene in the show: Jesus and his followers (so far) are passing by Matthew’s booth when Jesus stops to call Matthew to join them. Jesus can barely get the words “Follow me” out before Simon protests – “I don’t get it,” he says. “You didn’t get it when I chose you either,” Jesus responds. Peter goes on to say, “But this is different. I’m not a tax collector.” Jesus shuts down Peter’s arguing by saying, “Get used to different.”

Over the years, members of Cross Creek Church have had to get used to different in many ways. I can count at least 6 different venues that housed our congregation over the past 12 years! Maybe you have been asked to fill a particular role at Cross Creek that was unfamiliar to you due to the need for “all hands on deck”. I would have never planned myself to be a part of a church plant, until God clearly orchestrated things so that it was obvious that is where we as a family were called to be.

Of course, the scene from The Chosen is a dramatization, but Jesus actually did say “if any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24 NLT) See? Surrender. And get used to different.

Now we find ourselves in the season of Lent, in a season of Church Building Campaign, in a season of more getting used to different, lean into the Holy Spirit leading you. I honestly identify with Simon, reacting by arguing with Him and relying on what makes sense to me. Jonathan Roumie, the actor who portrays Jesus, recently shared this testimony:

“I had to look at everything that I had achieved and not achieved at this point in my life, and realize that unless I invited God into my career, no matter what I did or how hard I tried, my career wasn’t going to move forward because He did not want that to happen without Him.” Three months after he made the decision to surrender his career to God, Roumie was cast in the leading role of The Chosen.

Cross Creek Church, as a building and as a body, will not be able to move forward without Him. “We are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We who believe are carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:20-21 NLT) May we continue to surrender to His way, to a greater and greater degree, and witness His faithfulness in new and greater ways!

To watch The Chosen, go to https://watch.angelstudios.com/thechosen

Bump the Lamp

Bump the Lamp

[Written by Alicia Monroe]

There is a lamp that sits on stage behind Greg Hartley at church. Have you noticed it? Noticing that lamp threw me back to the summer I met William and how I was introduced to “Bumping the lamp.” William and I met at Pine Cove Summer camp in the summer of 2007. We were to be a part of the staff working at the family camp called Bluffs. To have any staff role during the summer, a week of orientation and training is required. During that week we learned important duties for our positions but also what expectations Pine Cove has for all its members of staff.

Orientation was held in a large auditorium so that all staff could be in attendance. The centerpiece on stage at orientation was a floor lamp. No other furniture, decor, or props. Just a lit floor lamp. The week began with all lights being turned off except that floor lamp and then a video began to play behind it on the projector. A minute-long clip of Who Framed Roger Rabbit plays. In the clip, Eddie is trying to be free of Roger while they are handcuffed together. It takes place in the secret back room in the diner. In this room is a hanging lamp and as Eddie, Roger and Delores have a lengthy conversation and walk back and forth in the room to saw off the handcuff connection, this said lamp is bumped several times and sent wildly swaying back and forth throughout this scene. Said scene ends and the director of Pine Cove walks out. He proceeds to tell us that when this scene was first produced the scene played out with no movement of the lamp and it felt long-winded and dragged out. Producers then asked for the scene to be modified with a lamp bump. Well, they were gifted not only with what they requested but animators worked hard to add in multiple lamp bumps that livened up the scene and added drama effect with light and shadow. This was a lot of work, with the light being in constant motion and having an animated character with a moving shadow that had to be created with each swing of the lamp.

The attention to detail and the drive of the animation team to go above and beyond the call was impressive and something to make a model of. So much so that Disney, while working on the movie, coined the phrase “Bumping the Lamp.” They use it in their own training process for team members to go “above and beyond what is expected, to create something genuinely great.” Our director finished with this, as Disney and other well-run companies have adopted this as a way for working and to be in pursuit of the best of the best experience so should we as Pine Cove staffers create that kind of atmosphere but more Christ-minded. Christ goes above and beyond the call, He died for my sin so that I might live. He continues to bless us beyond imagination. How too can we heed the call to go above and beyond what is expected of us in our everyday in order to create something great for His name and His glory? How can you bump the lamp today?

Prayer

Prayer

[Written by Dr. Chris Peters]

“You can do more than pray after you pray, but you cannot do more than pray, until you pray.” – John Bunyan

The past Sunday, I invited our church to join me in four weeks of growing our prayer life. This is not only a helpful theme in general, but an important way for us to conclude our fantastic Missions Month and prepare to enter our Building Campaign in about a month.

4 Passages

Over the next few weeks we will examine four passages the Apostle Paul wrote, each of which gives us a model of how we can pray for ourselves, our families, our church family and our community. We started with Colossians 1:3-14 and saw that both spiritual growth, in general, and maturing in prayer, in particular, are grounded in God’s Good News of grace. We can pray and we should pray, propelled by the knowledge God has “qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” And he has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son.” Because of Christ’s work in our lives we have the privilege and responsibility of prayer.

4 Tools

In addition to learning from these specific passages from Paul, I hope to share four key resources for prayer. On Sunday, I mentioned Donald Whitney’s short, but profound, book Praying the Bible. He contends that the primary reason most of us don’t pray more is that we are bored in prayer, and that we are bored in prayer, not because we pray over the same life matters, but because we do not use Scripture to direct our prayers.

In the upcoming weeks I will help us learn for the first time, or recall for fresh application, the acrostic A.C.T.S as a format for prayer, and also will show us how to use PrayerMate, a useful prayer App for smart devices. And lastly, we will talk about combining fasting with prayer.

In all of this, I hope we will be propelled to engage more deeply in prayer for missions, as one commitment we call make from our Missions Month, and I trust we will be equipped for the season of prayer we aim to have as a centerpiece for Twelve – Called By Him, Called For Him – our upcoming Building Campaign.

Tabasumu

[Written by Shawndee Lovoy]

In Swahili, Tabasumu means smile.

The largest slum in Africa is the Kibera Slum. In fact, it is one of the largest slums in the world. It is home to about 250,000 souls in the space of about 1.5 miles. The government owns the land and about 10% of the people are shack owners, and the other 90% are tenants with no rights. The average size of a shack is about 12ft by 12 ft, and usually houses and sleeps about 8 people. Only about 20% of Kibera has electricity. There are no toilet facilities and about 50 shacks will generally share 1 latrine (hole in the ground). When the hole is full then young boys will carry the contents and dump it in the rivers. Water is scarce and polluted. Cheap alcohol and drugs are rampant. About 50% of the young girls ages 16-25 are pregnant and most babies are unwanted/aborted, or uncared for if born. The average life expectancy is 30 years old.

There doesn’t seem to be much to smile about in Kibera slum.  3 of my 4 children have been to Kibera slum with their grandparents. We have ministry partners there who are the hands and feet of Jesus in one of the darkest places on earth. The circumstances of these children’s lives are dire and without much hope. But I’ve seen the smiles. I’ve seen the pictures of hundreds of smiling children who just want to be loved and noticed. They are drawn to anyone who will show them attention and my children have had the life-changing chance to meet them, love them, laugh with them, and see them for the children of God that they are.

We have the chance this missions month at Cross Creek to provide smiles through shoes, socks, snacks, and bibles gifted to the Tabasumu ministry in Kibera slum. Our Cross Creek kids are working hard to raise money to purchase as many of these items as we can, and to bring smiles to the faces of these precious children. We are so thankful to the Lord for our ministry partners and friends who give of their lives to love these children and provide basic needs to make their lives a little better. Let’s continue to pray for the smiles of the Kibera slum children. Pray that they would know their worth and life is rooted in Jesus. That He sees them and cares for them. Pray that Jesus would be their smile and their peace.

 

Bible Reading Plan, Missions Month, & Building Campaign

[Written by Dr. Chris Peters]

As we enter a new year, I imagine for all of us it is a chance to recalibrate. Whether we make any resolutions, or not, to at least think about how we desire for our life and relationship with God to proceed in the upcoming 12 months. Let me highlight three wonderful upcoming aspects of the life of our church, as we continue to Glorify God, By Inviting All, Into God’s Grace, through the pathways of Growing in Truth, Living in Community and Serving in the Kingdom: 1) Bible Reading Plan, 2) Missions Month, and 3) Our Building Campaign

Bible Reading

As we have mentioned in the Creek Week, in our worship services and on social media, we hope God will bring a wave of revival in all our lives this year, that would greatly impact our church and flow over into the surrounding community and even the world. By the same token, we know there is a daily journey to the Christian life, and except for special movements when God may catapult us forward, the regular use of the means of grace is the food and drink for the church. These means come through our congregational worship services, which is why we have made every reasonable effort to keep those in-person gatherings going the last two years. But growth also happens in truth for any serious believer through daily time with God in prayer and God’s Word. 

The last several years we have encouraged various approaches, including daily one page reading from Paul David Tripp’s New Morning Mercies and last year the short readings with Scripture references formed around the Westminster Shorter Catechism in Starr Meade’s book. Each approach has its pluses and minuses but this year we will come back to taking in the broad scope of the Bible through direct reading of Scripture using the Five Day Bible Reading Program. We have paper copies available on Sunday mornings or you can print it out yourself. We are using this paper edition, even though many Bible apps offer something similar because it seems like it would be good to push ourselves to get away from our devices at least for a brief time each day and to get our eyes and hands reacquainted with the tried-and-true paper Bible. I certainly plan to also use an app to listen some while commuting or working out, if I get behind, but hopefully can read, and perhaps journal as well, most of the time.

 

Arise and Go

Missions Month

We are also moving into a regular season, that is so special each year for our church – Missions Month. If you are new to our church you are in for a treat. Each Sunday morning we will focus on a different theme area of our missions efforts – Church Planting, College Ministry, Local Ministries, and International Missions. Please make plans to attend both worship service and our Sunday school time even if you normally forego the latter, and on Jan 23, we will hear from our keynote speaker, Ronnie Stevens, in the evening, after we enjoy a churchwide meal together.

 

Building Campaign

Beginning at the end of February and extending for 3 weeks into mid-March, we will be inviting our congregation to a journey of faith and stewardship. You will be hearing a lot more about this once Missions Month concludes, but for now we would ask all in the church to pray for our Building Campaign Committee. If you did not get a chance to watch this 1 min video with our pastor and a member of our committee, please do so. 

In addition to those mentioned in the video who are joint chairs of the committee (Sherry Hartley, Bill Shine, Stephanie VanderNoot and Abe Zanayed) we are thankful for the following subcommittees who will help lead our church each step of the way, as we look to God to provide the resources for the building purchase, the renovations already completed, and potential future renovations and improvements we will share about soon.

Communication – Kayla Holsomback

Groups – Garrett Greer and Mason Ellenberger

Prayer – Chris and Patience Peters, Angie Daspit, Denson and Jackie Hardgrove

Children’s – Shawndee Lovoy and Whitney Halbrooks

Special Events – Paige Smith and Ruth Zanayed

The Mountains Are Calling And I Must Go

[Written by Garrett Greer]

I love good climbing documentaries. The really good ones manage to capture some of the thrill of climbing and exploration, but without any of the actual work or danger. I recently watched The Alpinist on Netlfix, and while I can say that not all of it is totally family-friendly, it’s well worth a watch. It’s the story of Marc-André Leclerc, a young climber obsessed with exploring the wilderness and the hardest to reach places on Earth.

The film at first shows his impossible abilities—his strength, confidence, and speed in climbing impossible peaks—all without ropes or harnesses. Apparently he would dodge the cameramen and didn’t really want to be with anyone else while climbing—he wanted it to be just him and the mountain. Leclerc sought to climb not as a sport or a profession, but as a spiritual exercise, trying to find some spiritual meaning or significance in his experience with untamed mountains.

In pursuit of ever greater achievements and summits, the film follows Leclerc’s adventures until his tragic and surprising death while summiting a new route on the North face of the Mendenhall Towers. Leclerc had summited the peak, even texted his girlfriend and mom, only to be killed by the mountain on his way back down. The film ends on a bittersweet note as both the filmmakers and his girlfriend try to understand his death and give it some sort significance. It ends as something of a memorial to Leclerc, essentially arguing that his death was worth it since he died doing what he loved.

I couldn’t help but remember a clip of a John Piper entitled “Don’t Waste Your Life.” In it, John Piper contrasts two news stories. The first is a tale of two women in their 80’s, a doctor and a nurse, that had taken their retirement years and chosen to live as medical missionaries. They had suddenly died in a car crash in Cameroon when their brakes failed. The second is a story of an elderly couple that took an early retirement to move to Florida, collect seashells, and play softball. Piper pleads with the crowd to grasp that the true tragedy wasn’t the death of two women serving the Lord on mission, but the couple that build their lives around recreation.

As Piper says, “With all my heart I plead with you: don’t buy that dream. The American Dream: a nice house, a nice car, a nice job, a nice family, a nice retirement, collecting shells as the last chapter before you stand before the Creator of the universe to give an account of what you did: ‘Here it is Lord — my shell collection! And I’ve got a nice swing, and look at my boat!’ Don’t waste your life; don’t waste it.”

As I watched The Alpinist I was struck by the tragedy of Leclerc’s death. Here was a man enraptured by creation—something I can relate to. This man clearly saw the beauty of mountains shaped by the hand of God, and yet tragically failed to see God himself. He only saw the creation instead of the creator. Devoting his life to himself, he was willing to die in search of the next great adventure.

I was convicted that I too sometimes get caught up in my “shell collecting.” I too often look for the next great adventure, wishing to be somewhere else and shirking the mission in front of me. I hope that as believers we can somehow find a way to combine Leclerc’s spirit of adventure with the fervor of Piper’s plea to live on mission. Hopefully we can correctly distinguish between creation and creator, and also see that our role on Earth isn’t just to find ourselves and our happiness, collecting shells and summiting peaks, but to live on mission too.

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made…. 25 but they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served creation rather than the Creator….
-Romans 1:19-20, 25

Cross Creek Church

Building Renovation Update

We are so thankful for the progress on our building restoration and renovation. Some may have been following the process all along, but in case you missed all that has been happening, here you go:

Mid-October – The building we have now purchased flooded in the 100-year rains that hit our whole community. With water reaching 1-2 inches at most.

4-5 Days later – We vacuumed out all the water and then teams from our church removed all the current carpet.

Beginning of Nov – We conducted an environmental study. Per that report, we have repaired issues with the roof and contracted to have the bottom section of sheetrock replaced around the entire building and insulation treated, as a precautionary measure.

Repaired drywall

All walls are currently being painted in a new color scheme.

And in a few days, the workers will install highly functional carpet square flooring throughout the entire worship space, and all perimeter rooms will receive durable plank flooring.

In the process, we also removed the basketball rims and expanded our previous Room 3/4 into a large fellowship/classroom space.

Stay tuned for info on the BIG DAY! When we move back in, and ways you can help with that process.

Strangers and Aliens

[Written by Dr. Chris Peters]

A few weeks ago, in the men’s discipleship group I lead with 3 guys who are studying what the Bible teaches about the core beliefs of the Christian life, we came across the “heroes of faith” – chapter 11 of the Book of Hebrews. It reads, in part…

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”

As I’ve mentioned in some comments and other written communication to our church recently, God seems to want to make sure Cross Creek Church remembers we should never get too comfortable with the things of this earth and this life. We can enjoy all the blessings of this life deeply and sincerely, and in fact, our relationship with God should enliven that enjoyment, but we also hold all things with a loose hand.

When the 100 year rain storm we had a few weeks ago flowed into the church building we are preparing to buy, it was a bit perplexing. After 12 years of growing to a place of having our own church facility, meeting at two area schools the first 8 years, and the last few renting the church building we are purchasing, you would think we would have no trouble remembering we are strangers and aliens in this world… but I know I easily forget.

God knows best, even in what appears to me to be setbacks or frustrations. Thanks to Parkwood Church of God we have a temporary space and will have the joy of coming back into a building with new flooring and paint, but we can thank Him most of all for helping us remember what the church actually is – God’s people, not a facility; the ministries we have for outreach and our own growth, not an address on a map; the vision to Glorify God By Inviting All Into God’s Grace, pursued by Growing in Truth, Living in Community and Serving in the Kingdom, not a deed and title.

I’ve said before, spiritual Alzheimer’s is one of our chief problems – failing to remember what we know from God’s Word, what God has shown us in experience, what others have helped us believe. Let’s thank God these next 4-5 weeks while we are at a temporary meeting place, for helping us remember the nomadic life… the alien existence. And when we set foot on new carpet and new plank flooring, let’s ask God to help us also remember the good vision he has given to us as a church, to be salt and light to a hurting and fallen community and to invite others to experience the grace we have the privilege of receiving through the ministry we use our facility to pursue.

In a few weeks, I’ll have the blessing of staying up late 3-4 nights to teach a seminary course online for 40-50 pastors halfway around the world in a place where churches are rare but the Gospel is rapidly spreading. Just like church facilities are helpful in our part of the world for all the ministries of the church, they are likewise for the churches led by these faithful pastors. Limitations of resources, of government restrictions and of community persecution might keep these believers from having a building. Yet we have more in common with them, than we might presume. They, like us, stand in the light of the accomplished work of God in Christ. Thus we can all say together…

“For you have not come to what may be touched….but you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:18-24)