Mission/Vision

KING’S CROSS CHURCH exists to glorify God and enlarge His Kingdom by gathering regularly to proclaim and celebrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ, yielding to the authority of God’s Word as illuminated by the Holy Spirit and summarized in the historic Christian Creeds and Reformed Confessions, partaking together of Christ’s presence in the Sacraments, providing opportunities to love and serve one another in Community, equipping the saints for Ministry to those who are lost and hurting, both locally and globally, and preparing them to cultivate Shalom (peace and well-being) wherever God calls them to serve.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

No Hell Below Us, Above Us Only Sky


In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek [the LORD]; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”…He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; 9 he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket; … The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might. 11 He says in his heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.” (Psalm 10:6-11)

Many years ago, the late ex-Beatle John Lennon penned his hauntingly beautiful song, “Imagine”:
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Lennon wanted the world to, “be as one” and suggested that the surest path to that lofty goal was the removal of religion, including the rewards of heaven and the punishments of hell. Many believed him, and adopted his literally god-less view of the world.

But then something that sociologists and economists call, “The Law of Unintended Consequences” kicked in. What is that, you say?
"The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people—and especially of government—always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended. Economists and other social scientists have heeded its power for centuries; for just as long, politicians and popular opinion have largely ignored it.” (Rob Norton)
A short time ago, our nation reeled in horror as a lone gunman acted upon the lies espoused in Lennon’s song. He acted as if there were “no hell below us, above us only sky.”

As the psalmist wrote, describing just such a man: “all his thoughts are, ‘there is no God’ and if there is, “he has forgotten, hidden his face and will not see.” And thusly freed from accountability to anyone other than himself, he pretended to take to himself the divine prerogative of ending life, and likewise attempted to take the divine prerogative of judging himself before anyone else could. Having completed his charade in the taking his own life, the pathetic figure then immediately found himself in the presence of the One whose throne and bench he had attempted to usurp. For, as the author of Hebrews reminds us, “It is appointed for every man to die once, and then the judgment.”

John Lennon’s dream of everything being united together as one is lofty and surprisingly Biblical. But his means of achieving that objective is as ill-conceived as it is deadly. For as Paul details in Ephesians 1, the only way to bring differing, disparate, indeed even warring parties together as one, is in the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of the eternal purpose of the Father.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Hellfire and Brimstone


“Oh brother, not this guy again! That’s the same nut I heard out at the lake last weekend.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Look over there.” The two men directed their attention across the street where a small crowd had gathered around a fiery-eyed preacher.

“What the…”

“Remember the hellfire and brimstone preacher I was telling you about?

“Oh yeah, last Sunday up at the lake.”

“Right. That’s him.”

“Not much to look at, is he?”

“Yeah, but wait ‘til he warms up a bit. It’s really quite a show.”

As if on cue, the preacher across the street launched into his sermon.

“Oh good. This is the same harangue that I heard last weekend. You’re gonna love this. Wait for it….. here it comes.”

Across the street the preacher boomed, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, than to go to hell with two hands, into the fire that shall never be quenched - where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.”

“Alright, let’s go.”

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Restore Unto Me


(2 Samuel 24:10) But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” 


King David was a Spirit-filled man, a godly ruler, a prophet and potent type of Christ. He was also a man whose epic faithfulness was too often eclipsed by his epic disobedience. When David sinned, he sinned big-time. But when he sinned, he knew how to access the restorative mercies of God via heartfelt prayers of contrition. Psalm 51 is David’s mea culpa after his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. And at the end of 2 Samuel we have a much pithier prayer for pardon after David’s faithless numbering of Israel. The soul-wrenching grittiness of Psalm 51 is moving. But the almost bullet-point concision of David’s prayer in 2 Samuel 24 helps us get at the very essence of confession.

Elements of David’s Prayer:
- “David’s heart struck him.” David was truly convicted of his sin. David was not merely “checking the box” of confession as he prayed.

- “David said to the LORD.” David knew that his sin of “numbering Israel” was against God and not merely against Israel.

- “I have sinned greatly.” David did not minimize the seriousness of his sin. He maximized he offense as he confessed it to God.

- “In what I have done.” David did not confess general sins. He confessed a specific sin, the sin of numbering Israel.

- “Take away the iniquity of your servant.” David did not just pray for God to take away the guilt of his iniquity. David asked God to take away the iniquity itself; to purge David of the sin itself.

- “I have done very foolishly.” David offered no excuses or reasons for his sin save his own foolishness.


Awhile back (before I was a pastor) I wrote the following story to illustrate what prayers of confession that lack David’s insights sound like. And what a prayer informed by the Gospel and the likes of Ezra 9, Nehemiah 9 and Daniel 9 sounds like.


Restore Unto Me

I was hitch-hiking my way across eastern Kansas when a sudden summer storm convinced me to seek refuge in a small, white-washed church on the edge of a dusty little town. I knocked vigorously several times on the large double-doors at the front of the building. Silence. The well-worn brass knob turned when I tried it, and the door swung easily open. "Hello? Is anybody here?" I hollered. Still no response.

I entered the small foyer, and stood for a moment, breathing in the various "church-smells" and scanning the maps and faces neatly arranged before me on the self-described "Missions Bulletin Board". The sights and smells triggered a flood of childhood church memories. How many years had it been? I calculated it effortlessly in the same way that I marked all passages of time. "Let’s see, one year after the divorce. The divorce was eight years ago. Seven years." It seemed like less.


Thunder boomed and the rain battered the roof, walls and window panes of my sacred shelter, as I searched it from "steeple to baptistery". 
I wound up in the choir loft at the back of the church, looking down on the well-worn wooden pews that lined the sanctuary. A rough-hewn cross hung on the front wall and overlooked a non-descript pulpit and communion table. The table was flanked on two sides by a few folding chairs, and all floated on a sea of orange-brown carpet.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

If the Foundations Be Destroyed

(Genesis 2:21–25) So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

If you were charged with the task of toppling a tall office building, would you attempt to do so by shooting out the topmost windows with a BB gun, or by blowing up the foundation upon which the building rested?

This is what we call “a rhetorical question.” Of course, you would topple the building by demolishing its foundation.

The first three chapters of the Bible lay the foundation for everything that follows, including, and especially God’s triune nature and the meaning and import of salvation. The enemy of our souls knows this to be true. And so, it is no coincidence that he has devoted much energy to attacking the Biblical principles concerning gender and marriage.

A plain reading of Genesis indicates that God created his image bearers “male and female” accompanied by a charge to multiply their numbers within the protective covenant of a monogamous and heterosexual marriage.

Recently, a large number of faithful, Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, Christian theologians, leaders and pastors signed their names to a document entitled, “The Nashville Statement” upholding what the Scriptures clearly teach about gender and marriage.

This document, along with the Christians who authored and signed it, were almost immediately denounced, deplored and abhorred by people without, and sadly within the Church. And all in the name of love, tolerance and exegetical superiority (i.e. the assertion that their newly-minted interpretations of Scripture overrule what the vast majority of God’s people have believed and taught for millennia.)

But make no mistake here: The issues of gender and marriage, coupled together with the issue of abortion; specifically, who gets to define gender and marriage, and who gets to determine who lives and who dies, are foundational issues. And they are foundational because everyone involved in the debate understands (at least at some level) that whoever decides and determines these issues is God.

This recent ruckus is simply a repeat of Genesis 3, where our first parents succumbed to the temptation to "be like God" (Gen. 3:5) and attempted to elevate their own notions of “good and evil” over and above what God had clearly revealed, and as we all know, with disastrous results for them and for their posterity.

So, we gather each Sunday morning to lean hard against this rebellious tendency within us to elevate ourselves and our thoughts over the person and revelations of our Sovereign Lord. We gather to faithfully hear and then cheerfully submit ourselves to God’s “fixed givens”, i.e. His divine definitions and determinations, thanking Him, and acknowledging together in song and in prayer that all of His counsels and commandments; His purposes and prescriptions, are not only for His glory, but also for our good.


Note: I would also encourage you to read Rosaria Butterfield's excellent, "Why I signed the Nashville Statement."

Friday, July 21, 2017

Set Free Audio and Text


Here is the theme song that I wrote for this year's Summer Sanctus PNW. Click on the song title (below.) GH

Summer Sanctus PNW 2017


Trapped in this prison-house of shame and sin

I’m shackled from without and wedged within

I long to breathe the air outside my jail

So hear my plaintive cry and wail

I yearn to be set free, set free


My dungeon walls seem like they’re ten feet thick

Impervious as steel and stone-hard brick

My only hope is for a Savior true

To do for me what I can’t do

I need to be set free, set free


The warden called, he said my debt’s been paid

I’m free to leave this stifling stone stockade

My Savior waits for me outside the gate

The time has come to relocate

Because I’ve been set free, set free


Sometimes I’m tempted to retake my chains

Pretending that I’m still in sin’s domain

But when I do, I hear my Savior say

“I died to put those chains away

C’mon and follow me, and live set free”

Set free, set free


If the Son sets me, free, then I’ll be free indeed

If the Son sets you, free, then you’ll be free indeed

If the Son sets us, free, then we’ll be free indeed

Set free!









Monday, July 17, 2017

Taste and See that the LORD is Good



One of the Spirit’s favorite metaphors for God’s Word is food, indicating that it is tasty, nourishing and meant to be ingested and digested, not merely tasted (like gum.) In chapter 3 of his prophecy Ezekiel is instructed to “eat” a scroll of God’s Word. And John is likewise instructed to do so in Revelation 10. In Psalm 19, David describes God’s law as “sweeter also than honey and the drippings from the honeycomb.” Oh yeah…


Recently, I had the privilege of filling the pulpit at one of our sister churches, and chose to preach out of Daniel 9. There are 1189 chapters in the Bible, and unbeknownst to me, the guest preacher (who received his PhD in Hebrew from Oxford University!) the previous week had used the same chapter for his sermon text. Fortunately, this repetition was not brought my attention until after I had delivered the sermon. But from the people’s comments afterward, it was quite obvious that God’s Word is indeed food, and not merely the recitation of data. Like pizza or a Milepost 111 burger, the same texts can be enjoyed and provide nourishment over and over again.


But sometimes it is a challenge to get beyond tasting God’s Word to actually ingesting it in a way that it becomes a part of us, shaping our affections and directing our thoughts, words and deeds. I recently came across eight questions to ask of a text in order to better hear what the Holy Spirit is saying as I read a portion of God’s Word. I use the King’s Cross lectionary, so after I have read the 2-3 chapters for the day, I spend a few minutes praying back to God my answers to the questions, and then conclude with a short prayer focused on the one or two questions/answers that seem most pertinent/applicable.


These questions have helped me move from tasting to feeding upon God’s Word, but they may or may not be helpful to you. As with a sumptuous feast, there are lots of different ways to eat and enjoy at table. Here they are:


Understanding:
1. What do I learn about God?

2. What do I learn about people?

3. What do I learn about relating to God?

4. What do I learn about relating to others?

     Pray…



Application:

1. What does God want me to understand?

2. What does God want me to believe?

3. What does God want me to desire?

4. What does God want me to do?

     Pray…


GH