Cross Creek Church Blog

Bring Them to Jesus

Bring Them to Jesus

[Written by Shawndee Lovoy]

Matt. 19:14 “But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

When mom and dad lose our temper. When we argue. When we don’t keep our promises. When we disappoint them. When we forget to show grace. Bring them to Jesus. Who teaches to let no unwholesome talk come out of our mouths. Who, in His very nature, will always keep his promises. Who will never disappoint because His will is revealed perfectly in time. Who is the author and founder of grace.

When they don’t make the honor roll. When they don’t make the team. When they are left out at school. When they don’t bond with a teacher. When it seems like everything comes easy to everyone else except for them. Bring them to Jesus. Who teaches they are fearfully and wonderfully made. Who teaches that their worth is found as His child and nothing else. Who teaches to love your enemies and pray for those who hurt you. Who teaches that He has given them everything they need for life and holiness. Who teaches that their purpose is to know Him and to enjoy Him forever.

Sickness, fear, anxiety, self-esteem, performance, status, hopes and dreams are all a part of this earthly life. Our kids will face every single one of these. We will mess up. They will mess up. Bring them to Jesus. Put His word in front of them. Teach them His grace, love, and desire for their lives. Listen to worship songs that remind us of who He is. Take them to church. Put the church body in their lives and pray for others to speak truth to them.

Bring them to Jesus. In every triumph, bring them to Jesus. In every heartache, bring them to Jesus. Every day when we rise and when we lie down. Bring them to Jesus.

God is on the Move

Cross Creek Church

[Written by Dr. Chris Peters]

For all of us older than age 25 or 30, I’m sure the next week will bring up poignant memories of one of the saddest days in contemporary American life – September 11, 2001. We all remember where we were when we heard the news and saw the images of human destruction, pain and loss. Some of us even lost friends, family or business associates. As we rightly acknowledge the sobering anniversary of that national event, we are also reminded about the kingdom of God. In the midst of sadness and reflection, we can also take joy that the gates of hell shall not prevail against God’s kingdom, and that God is on the move globally and locally.

One of the primary ways God is active in the world is through His church, the body of Christ. At least for me, it is comforting and motivating to realize that by pursuing God’s kingdom on a daily basis, I am participating in God’s redeeming work in this world. Just as nations face opposition and attacks, the kingdom of God does as well, from the Evil One, but Jesus says he is the Strongest Man who has bound up that strong man.

For me this means that engaging in our church vision – Glorifying God, by Inviting All, Into God’s Grace – through the strategies of Growing in Truth, Living in Community and Serving in the Kingdom – is a vital daily endeavor. The recent decision of our church to purchase the land and building we have been meeting in for 3 years is just one part of pursuing that vision. In reality, this is a good moment to revisit our core mission – so that the edifice we prepare to own is something we use for the Lord’s work – a help to our mission in this community and even around the world – not a distraction from that.

Moments of national reflection and moments of church development are great chances for all of us, including me as Pastor, to ask some key questions:

  • How is God’s grace shaping my life in fresh ways?
  • What ways can I renew my pursuit to glorify God in all I do?
  • Who is God calling me to invite into his Kingdom and into His church?
  • Have I stagnated in pursuing God’s truth in His Word? How can I put myself in the way of truth?
  • Where have I opened myself up to the blessing of a committed local church community where I am known and know others? Where am I resistant to or hiding from that?
  • What new ways might the Lord want me to serve – whether through the ministry of our church, or the local organizations we partner with, or in our schools or kid’s activities or business arena?

If our hearts and minds are propelled by God’s redeeming work in our lives to engage deeply with these core questions of the Christian walk, then whether buildings fall or buildings are bought, we will be living as the adopted Children of God we are, and God will be using us to advance his joyful, powerful, transformational kingdom.

Overflowing Love

[Written by Garrett Greer]

11 And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

Isaiah 58:11, ESV

Recently I was on a bike path in rural Georgia, it was around 98 degrees, I was hot and thirsty, and I knew it might be a while before I made it to the next source of water. Half grumbling, half praying, I questioned why it had to be so hot, wondering when I’d get some water. As I rounded a corner, I saw a man with a large white cooler, sitting in the shade, waving to come on over. While I stopped he introduced himself, his name was Rick, and he was giving out free water and Gatorade. As I reached into the deep ice of the cooler to pull out a cold drink, I tried to express how glad I was that he was there and that he was a bit of an answered prayer. At this he laughed, but told me that he wasn’t there because he was a Christian—quite the contrary. He was there because he wanted to prove that you didn’t need to be a Christian to be nice and hand out drinks to people. Apparently, a church in the area had been handing out free drinks to folks on the trail, and my new friend Rick was frustrated. He wasn’t a believer and was annoyed that people might think this sort of kindness was limited to Christians, and so he decided to give out drinks as well. We had a great conversation about how he was frustrated by Christian kindness. “They’re only doing it because God said so, I’m doing it to show you can do it just to be nice, without needing a God to tell you to do it.” This unbeliever had latched onto the idea that Christians only did nice things because they have to—and he wanted to show he could be friendly all on his own.

My run in with Rick gave me a lot to think about. I was thankful that God used Rick to quench my thirst, even when Rick didn’t acknowledge God. But I’ve also been thinking about Rick’s idea that Christians only do nice things because they have to—that we live in love because it’s a command. It’s certainly a command in Scripture, but hopefully there’s more to love than duty. When I’m doing kind things, what’s my real motivation? As a Christian do I only do nice things because I know I’m supposed to and not because of any genuine love? I hope not.  

As Christians we are supposed to be known by our love for one another (John 13:35). It sounds like Rick knew some Christians by their love, and wanted in on it, even without God. But we must remember that the reason we love one another isn’t really because we’re just nice, and it also isn’t just because “God said so.” We love one another because in Christ we’ve received so much love that there’s no other place for it to go but outwards—it simply pours forth! Christ’s sacrificial love for each of us on the cross is something that we receive and then also pour out onto those around us. Romans 12:9 asks us to “let love be genuine”—this doesn’t mean loving one another out of duty, or just pure good feelings, rather “genuine” Christian love overflows from the love we receive in Jesus. Genuine love is the only result when we truly receive Christ’s grace. We act in love and in kindness not because we have to, but because we are filled with love in Christ.

My encounter with Rick was a blessing—I got a cold drink on a hot day—but also because it challenged me to remember the reason for kindness. It’s not so that we look good to the world, it’s not so that we earn points by following God’s commands. Instead, we love one another as Christ loved us, because as his love overflows in our hearts, that manifests in kindness to the world. I pray that I might let that love pour forth in more tangible ways. Who knows, maybe soon I’ll be handing out free water and Gatorade on the side of the trail with Rick.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Romans 12:9-13, ESV

Heavenly Minded and Earthly Good

Heavenly Minded and Earthly Good

[Written by Dr. Chris Peters]

In his excellent book Heaven, Randy Alcorn comments on how strange it would be for a group of astronauts to be finally getting the chance to launch into space to reach Mars, and moments after lift-off, turning to each other to ask, “So, does anyone know anything about Mars?” Or maybe closer to home, most of us have probably read and meditated more about our next desired vacation destination, than we have about our eternal home in the New Heaven and New Earth. In our upcoming 6-week sermon series I hope to help us become more heavenly-minded, which, contrary to the old saying, will actually make us “more earthly good.”

One of the reasons we struggle to value heaven is that we live in a particular part of history and a particular society where earthly life can be amazingly good. By just about any statistical quantification, life today for the average American is remarkably better than 100 years ago, and the same can be said for most societies around the world – lower infant mortality, longer life span, antibiotics and other remarkable medicines that address ailments and sustain our lives, economic provision, leisure time, quality and quantity of food and housing, just for starters. I know that these things make it challenging for me to long for heaven, and I’m confident I’m not alone.

Yet 2 Corinthians 5:6;8-9, written by the apostle Paul over 2000 years ago, when day-to-day life, and even the process of death, were so much more difficult, says “We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord… we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.”

Hope you will pray for yourself, your household and our church family, as well as for me, as we begin on August 1. For more details, visit the sermon series schedule here.

Savoring God on Thanksgiving Day 2020

On this Thanksgiving Day 2020, could it be that our Covid situation is meant to show us…
What C.S. Lewis meant in the 1950s when he said that pain, suffering, struggle was “God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world?”
What Spurgeon meant in the 1800s when we he invited us to “kiss the wave that throws us against the Rock of Ages?”
What Piper meant in 2005 when he said we actually face a “tsunami of death” in the millions of us who die every day in every year, decade and century, but we have just become sadly unaffected by this longstanding judgment of God?
What the Lord meant for all humanity to understand since The Garden, that without a saving relationship with Christ, we all face death, now, and eternal death, complete separation from Him – “For when you eat of it, you shall surely die.”
What our rightly jealous God will do to make us grow in Him by savoring delight in who He is above all earthly delights and to praise Him in all those delights – even our accustomed extended family gatherings, our usual entertainments, our freedom of activity, and our delicious food.
What our gracious loving God means when he beckons us to turn back, to run to his arms, to surrender our self-sufficient human pride, to reject our constant dissatisfaction, to confess our foolish and disobedient tendency to “do what is right in our own eyes” instead of surrendering to the goodness of His commanded way finding the truest thankfulness of redemption?
“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:3-7
What step of thankful response will you and I take toward Him today? In the days ahead?

How to Read the Bible – Blog #2 – Bible Overview

Here is the next video I hope our congregation will take 5 min to watch this week. This is a broad overview and subsequent videos will get more specific.

As you watch, what do you learn that is new for you about the Bible?

What is a bit confusing? What helps clarify?

With whom in your circle of influence can you share this video? On social media? in a text?

 

How to Read the Bible – Blog #1 – Introduction

I recently challenged our congregation to take just a few minutes a week (or a few minutes a day if you want to be on the fast track!) to respond to God’s loving, but also correcting, hand in the Covid-19 situation, by learning more about the Bible. I will plan to post a blog each week with a video link for each of the videos in this helpful series produced by The Bible Project.

As we watch this very short intro video, let’s ask ourselves some important questions:

– What am I most familiar with in the Bible?

– What do I understand the least?

– What do I think is the overarching theme of the Bible?

– How do the sections of the Bible relate to each other?

– If I have doubts about the Bible’s truth and reliability, what steps will I take to get answers?

“Ars Moriendi” – The Good Life vs The Good Death – Lessons from the Civil War for COVID-19

A few nights ago, I made the mistake of watching a short Washington Post news video documenting the tragic conditions of those dying from COVID-19 in one of New York’s overwhelmed hospitals. I had a restless night and woke early, troubled. As a pastor I’ve encountered death, I’ve visited hospital rooms where I had to put on a complicated hazmat suit to enter, I’ve sat with a family as they disconnected life support, I’ve been to funerals with coffins just slightly larger than a shoebox, and I’ve even had a couple of my own near-misses. But seeing those ICU rooms with precious human beings straining to breathe their last breaths haunted me more than I thought it would. The few medical personnel who had time to enter patient rooms did so as rarely as possible, separated by layers of protective gear. Even more tragic, the severely sick could have no family or friends with them and no pastor or chaplain holding a hand. They were alone in this world, as they passed from it. Maybe a few were spiritually well-prepared for that moment. Whatever kind of life they had lived, they certainly seemed to be undergoing a very BAD DEATH.

A GOOD DEATH? – As we face COVID-19, even if we only experience the lowest estimated death tolls, we are all thinking more about health and sickness, life and death than we were 2 months ago. Of course it is fitting to mourn this loss, to be concerned for our wellbeing and that of loved ones, and to be stressed by the new framework of daily life into which we have been thrown. None of these seems particularly “good.” If we do see any good in the global pandemic it is in the sense of commonality we experience, or the blessing of added family time. Perhaps, we also have taken time to reflect on what is happening from a Christian posture, no doubt considering afresh the general truth that we are not in control as much as we thought. And this Easter season our pastor will probably help us to realize how the resurrection can have special meaning at this time. These are reasonable Christian thoughts. Yet they may lead us away too quickly from the powerful message God could want us to hear – about the hard-cold reality of death and the error of our normal practice of pushing it out of our sight. What if we are being beckoned to look head-on at what we could learn about the longstanding powerful perspective on death – the ARS MORIENDI – the “art of dying” – or as everyday Christians used to commonly understand – the GOOD DEATH.

THIS REPUBLIC OF SUFFERING – Most academic histories probably do not end up the subject of light-hearted dinner parties or casual water-cooler discussions at work. But merely the title of Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, would be unwelcome at any carefree social engagement. These are not “carefree” days though, and maybe our current “distancing” will allow us the context to give Faust due attention. In any event, Faust, was the first woman president of Harvard, the first from the South, and the first since 1672 who did not have a degree from Harvard. So maybe she does not have to care if her writings would be a big hit at our social gatherings or not. She wrote, “The concept of the Good Death was central to mid-nineteenth-century America, as it had long been at the core of Christian practice. Dying was an art, and the tradition of ars moriendi had provided rules of conduct for the moribund and their attendants since at least the fifteenth century: how to give up one’s soul “gladlye and wilfully”; how to meet the devil’s temptations of unbelief, despair, and impatience, and worldly attachment; how to pattern one’s dying on that of Christ; how to pray.” (Page 6 of the abovementioned) What can we learn from Faust’s account of how American’s, from both North and South, generally viewed their “man-made” wave of death, one that took over 600,000 American lives, or what today would be 6 million deaths? And how can this help us with COVID-19?

OUR MORTALITY REALITY – Prior to the Civil War, most Americans faced their mortality much more regularly than we do. Today we have vaccines for many of the illnesses that threatened them daily, we have a massive medical infrastructure and they had almost no medical care. Infant mortality rates were so high that in any given family the number of children that died commonly outweighed the number who survived. But just as we have gotten used to the fact that most of us won’t make it past age 95, and we might get in a car wreck, and terrorist threats could take us out, the believers of the 1800s had grown used to “typical” mortality. The Civil War carnage changed all that, and forced them to reconsider not only human frailty, but how they processed death. Maybe this pandemic could do that for us.

ELEMENTS OF “THE ART” – Since most Americans before 1860 rarely traveled more than a day’s horseback ride from home, when a loved one took gravely ill, the family was customarily nearby. For Christian’s who sensed they were nearing death, they would have initiated the normative steps to ready themselves to give up their soul. In a time when “secular” would have been a perplexing concept to most, Christians recognized the devil was real and were particularly sensitive to how he might work through the threat of death. They guarded against discouragement, doubt and worldliness, to protect their final witness. Many of them, in a far less busy time than our own, had learned to pray, in greater depth and dependence. As the Civil War threatened to disrupt their patterns for encountering their day of reckoning, they, and their loved ones fought hard to keep hold of those practices. In short, they embraced a GOOD DEATH as a central concept for all Christians and prepared for it just as we spend hours with the school guidance counselor to help our child take the steps for college or we gather at least annually with our financial planner to organize our affairs for retirement.

THROUGH DEATH TO RESURRECTION – In our time, the threat of death from COVID-19 is not just redefining how we live, but maybe it could have the potential to recalibrate how our culture, including many Christians, comprehend death. We have all heard the saying, “He’s too heavenly minded, to be of any earthly good.” As Christians, we know the reverse is actually true. The more we “set our minds on things above,” the better we are equipped to live now. But how can we as 21st Century First-World Christians begin to have the heavenly mindset if we don’t first embrace our mortality? What if we don’t just take a quick glance at it, but a hard stare and even a sobering preparation for “giving up our soul?” What if we if we put on God’s armor through much deeper prayer lives so we can face COVID-19, or whatever will one day be our demise? What if we learned the art of walking in step with our Savior the path he took when He died, on that “good” Friday, that we might better appreciate the glorious resurrection He grants to us?!

Cross Creek Church Coronavirus Plan For March 15

Cross Creek Church Family,

See below for Live Streaming Info.

In addition, as each of us personally works through this situation, I invite you to make use of the numerous great articles at The Gospel Coalition.

As I’m sure we are all aware, the health situation in our country and community continues to fluctuate daily. Unless some further action is taken by our state or other major developments occur, we plan to continue with 8:45 am Worship Service tomorrow (with the instructions below in place). We will not meet for Sunday school since it is of secondary importance, and would involve kids and adults in smaller spaces.

This week our church elders and deacons organized a committee to make recommendations regarding the Coronavirus. They, along with myself, certainly wrestle with two aspects of our Christian faith. One is that we need the encouragement of weekly worship at all times and especially in times of anxiety and difficulty. We are in one sense, a spiritual hospital, so we feel we should stay open to be physically present with each other if we can reasonably do so. The Church has weathered many storms over the centuries and been the source of strength, hope and love.

The other side of the coin is that we want to be good neighbors. We are mindful of members in our own church who are most vulnerable, the elderly and any with preexisting conditions and want them to be safe, as well as the membership of Lake Crest PCA, and our whole community, in terms of playing our part to restrain, not spread the virus. Below is a plan to pursue that tomorrow, and we will re-evaluate this week, for future Sundays.

At present our community schools remain in session thru Wednesday and the Governor has recommended no gathering larger than 500. We think those are also good guidelines.

THERE IS ZERO PRESSURE OR EXPECTATION ON ANYONE TO ATTEND WORSHIP TOMORROW. SO EACH HOUSEHOLD CAN MAKE ITS OWN DECISION AND WE SUPPORT EACH OTHER AS A CHURCH BODY.

Update on our Plan for Tomorrow:

1) If you are feeling sick or believe you have been exposed to the virus, please seek medical attention and stay at home. Particularly if you have fever, cough or shortness of breath.

2) We believe we will have the technology and connectivity in place to LIVE STREAM the service tomorrow. This is our first attempt. Thanks to William Monroe for his help. Go to the above link to find our youtube channel (great time to subscribe if you never have!). If for some reason this does not work, we will also aim to record the service and upload it in segments later in the day.

3) We are taking extra sanitizing measures today, thanks to Garrett and Gracie cleaning.

4) We will not have hospitality table, pass the worship registry, or serve communion. Offering plates will be placed at the back on a table for any contributions to be made. As always giving can be done in a variety of ways including digitally.

5) It is fine and in fact we recommend some other greeting beside shaking hands or hugging.

6) We will add extra seating if needed so people can maintain 6 ft buffer if they prefer and please try to respect that with others.

7) Stay tuned to your email. If we make any further changes we will notify everyone as soon as possible and at the latest Sunday by 730 am.

8) See the Creek Week this week for further info. I’m encouraging all our Groups leaders to make their best decision about whether to meet or not, but with Spring Break on the horizon it would probably be wise for groups to wait til April to see where we stand.

In Christ,
Pastor Chris Peters

2020 Churchwide Spiritual Growth Plan – “New Morning Mercies” Devotional Book

As we saw in our recent sermon series in Colossians we are called to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is…to set your minds on things that are above…For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (3:1-3) Later in the same chapter we read, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…and whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” How do we fulfill this? Through the daily Christian 3-step dance of repenting, believing, and striving, in the Gospel.

The past several years, all in our church family have been encouraged to join in this dance of spiritual growth individually or as a household, which is also linked to readings in our weekly church worship service. With our lives often scattered and our attention easily distracted, carving out even just 10 minutes a day to learn something new from God’s Word or remind ourselves of things we forget, is vital. Having resources in hand to pursue that teaching during the week, is as important as it ever was. To that end, in the past, we have invited everyone to walk together through the Westminster Shorter Catechism (English from 1640s) and the Heidelberg Catechism (German from 1563), using the daily readings from Starr Meade, as well as the Read Scripture app for daily bible reading, and last year the New City Catechism (American from recent years!).

This year we are doing something similar and different. Similar in daily content that is easily accessible, but different because it is not in the question and answer format of a catechism. I hope everyone in our church will take a moment right now to purchase the book “New Morning Mercies” by Paul David Tripp through Christianbook.com or Amazon, in good ole fashion paper, or e-book if you prefer. If you have children old enough to read a one page devotional each day or several days a week, you may want to purchase extra copies for them as well. See video for an introduction.

The devotion runs Jan 1 – Dec 31, daily, but each stands on its own, so no worries if you missed the Jan 1 kickoff. (Our family has been on vacation so will be getting a start a few days late, while we are on the road). If you are a highly disciplined family, you may want to read the devotionals as a family, once a day and discuss, perhaps in the morning before the days activities or around the dinner table. Or it may make sense to block out 3-4 times a week to read together as a family and allow for individual reading the other days of the week.

For those with children, I would encourage you not to be the least bit surprised if your children are not excited about this! Ha. Just like us adults, they are not always enthusiastic about the means of grace we know we need for spiritual growth. As children do not usually love to eat a healthy meal, or go to the dentist, or yield their precious screen time, they will not necessarily see why they should read for spiritual growth on their own, or join in family devotional time, or for that matter, go to worship service or youth activities! Ha. They will need loving but clear direction from parents who care about them, and are okay with not always being perfectly liked by their children.

If you have another devotional plan for the year, this certainly does not need to replace that, but it would be awesome if everyone in our church engaged with this process at some level, beyond our Sunday morning worship. As we do, we will look for the truth of God’s Word to transform us, and make us a blessing to those around us for God’s Kingdom. John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth.”