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Life at Cross of Christ | January 2016

Life at Cross of Christ | January 2016

At Cross of Christ, we believe that community is a gift.

Here is a snapshot of the life of the Cross of Christ community from January 2016

Tag your photos with #crossofchristoc to be included in future posts.


SECOND ANNIVERSARY SERVICE

BABY DEDICATIONS

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NEW SERMON SERIES

As a church, we believe God is a creative God (Genesis 1-2, Psalm 19) and that we should steward our gifts for his glory (Romans 12:1-2). We are excited and thankful that husband and wife team Tim and Katie Wright created the art for our new sermon series.

COMMUNITY GROUPS SERVING THEIR CITIES

Last month the Orange Community Group served their city by picking oranges to donate to a local food bank. They then headed over to Hopper & Burr (owned by our very own Truman Severson) to enjoy some coffee and time together.

View the full Photo Set on Flickr.

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Grace Upon Grace | 2015 Annual Report

Grace Upon Grace | 2015 Annual Report

As we close out our second year as a church we are continuing to see the way in which God is forming and growing our community; “Renewal-empowered mission” is the clearest way to articulate it. We want our mission – to help people know God’s love in Jesus, and to bring the Gospel to bear in every aspect of their life – to start with us, in our own hearts and lives first.

Perhaps the best way to show you is through our story and people.

We’ve doubled the number of Community Groups from three to six and just under 60% of Cross of Christ are in Community Groups.

Our attendance is up an average of 31% on Sundays.

We now have 33 members and 7 deacons committed to loving and serving our church.

We got to baptize a deacon.

We brought Dustin Kensrue (Thrice), David Zahl (Mockingbird Ministries), and Brett McCracken (Christianity Today) together for the Love, Suffering, & Creativity event in August.

We served the poor in Orange County through food drives and adopting families through Families Forward.

We moved into a new Sunday location that is great for both worship and mission.

We held two great retreats for our men (in Julien, CA) and women (in Lake Arrowhead).

We helped financially support 23 other churches in the Acts 29 and Sojourn networks and have given away over $6700 in benevolence to needs in our church.


Who do you say Jesus is?

“I don’t know how else to put this, but Jesus is the coolest person who ever lived. He is both fully God and fully man. He knew exactly what to say and how to say it. He walked with captivating power and dignity, and yet His actions were of humility and service. He is Messiah in all the moments I cannot run from my sin. He is near when my actions or thoughts isolate me. He is my companion, sharing my adventures and passions and sorrows. He is King over all the things I can’t do and don’t understand. He fights for my heart and never ceases in sending scripture, circumstances, or community to combat all my stone walls and rebellion. He is all of these and more, and as desperately as I need Him, his character is not dependent on anything that has to do with me. Show me someone cooler than that.” - Melissa


How has Jesus been faithful to you?

“He pursues me when I’m not pursuing him, he blesses me when there is absolutely no reason I deserve to be blessed. Actually, when I think about it, it's really hard to not see how Jesus has been faithful to me.” - Ben

 


Thank you for being a conduit of God’s provision and grace for us this year. We couldn’t exist without your support and I’m excited to see what God does in and through Cross of Christ in 2016!

Gratefully,

Pastor Nick Bogardus

If you want to help the mission of Cross of Christ and the Gospel go forth in 2016,  please consider giving a tax deductible donation or setting up recurring giving.


Hope vs. Nostalgia | Opportunities to Serve and Give

Hope vs. Nostalgia | Opportunities to Serve and Give

Cross of Christ,

In the same way you don’t really know faithfulness until it costs something, you can’t really put your finger on where your hope is until there is darkness and a lack of answers, fear and uncertainty. As you are bombarded with bad news every day, in a society where ‘change’ seems to the be only constant, have you thought about where your hope is?

This past Sunday we focused in on one subtle but profound way we distort hope: nostalgia. Nostalgia was originally a medical diagnosis from the 1600’s used to “describe the pain a sick person feels because he is not in his native land, or fears never to see it again”. There are many ways we see this in our lives – from the resurgence of movies from our childhood like Jurassic Park, Marvel comics, and Star Wars to the results of one study that indicated 70% of people stalk their exes on the site – but when it comes to Christians we can be prone to nostalgia in ways like thinking, “If I can just get back to those kind of quiet times my relationship with Jesus would be better”, "If I could just get back to that group of friends, I would feel close to Jesus again. And in particular, in Orange County, there is a nostalgia that causes people to say, “This church isn’t like Calvary Chapel in the 60’s, or Mariners in 1997, or Rockharbor in 2004”. 

There are multiple problems with nostalgia. The first is that it generally results in despair or delusion – despair that ‘things will never be that good again’ or delusion that things were better than they actually were. For Christians, it also removes Jesus as the hero or Giver of whatever was good and carries an expectation you can’t find in the Bible: that God work the same way twice. More critically, I believe many Christians can cherish a sense of nostalgia and quietly, without realizing it, live into a place they don’t have any hope. 

One of the crucial things to see at Christmas is the reality of hope in Jesus. The manger was good news after centuries of seeming silence from God. There were centuries of rebellion from his people, of being conquered and in exile, and then being brought back to the land God promised them. God didn’t fulfill his promises immediately; he orchestrated his plan of redemption on his own timeline…but there was always hope. You may be in a season of wondering when God is going to act or you may be wondering why a particular is circumstance is happening, the manger – or more particular the Jesus in the manger – is God’s “yes” to all of his promises and proof that there is always hope in the midst of fear and uncertainty.

Opportunities to Serve and Give

Kids Ministry: Help disciple the kids and serve the parents of our church by serving in Kids Ministry. We currently need 14 volunteers to get to the sustainable and healthy rhythm of volunteers needing to serve only one time per month. Sign up here.

Sponsor a Family: Help families in need have a Christmas they wouldn’t have otherwise. My wife, Kim, shared her story of being raised by a single mom and being blessed one Christmas by strangers who provided presents for her and her brother to wake up to. We are adopting families in Orange County and you can help sponsor one by signing up here.

Give: We are 15% of our way to our goal of giving $35,000 in December! So far we’ve given $5,470 toward some key hopes for 2016. You can give simply through the Cross of Christ website.

With faith and hope,

Pastor Nick

Resources for Advent

Resources for Advent

Cross of Christ,

The Church season of Advent starts this week. Advent is a time in the church year of preparation. Whereas the church season of Lent prepares us to remember and celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross (on Good Friday) and resurrection from the grave (on Easter), Advent prepares us to remember Jesus’ first coming on Christmas. 

How to Plan Traditions

This time of year is a great point to consider what traditions you currently, or one day would like to, celebrate as a family. I wrote a blog post especially for the men and fathers about this that I hope will be helpful for you.

Advent Devotionals

Here are some great resources to help you prepare your heart and soul to celebrate Jesus this Christmas. You can use any of them individually or with your family.

The Village Church Texas’ Advent Devotional

Desiring God’s Advent Devotional “Good News of Great Joy”

Redeemer Presbyterian’s Advent Meditations

Mission This Season

As a church we talk about renewal-empowered mission. One way to say it is that an experience of the Gospel always flows out into mission. Another is that healthy mission is rooted in personal affection for Jesus. Both affections without action and action without affection are distortions of God’s design for the Christian life. So, as we prepare our hearts and celebrate Jesus this Advent, be mindful of those you can be on mission to this season. Pray for who Jesus would want you to share the Gospel with – and look for opportunities to do so! – this Christmas season.

See you next Sunday at 4PM

With anticipation and gratitude,

Pastor Nick

The Gospel Centered Life | How God's Grace Saves, Sustains & Transforms

The Gospel Centered Life | How God's Grace Saves, Sustains & Transforms

AUDIO

REFERENCES

Sermon Text: Ephesians 3:14-19

Scriptures Referenced: Romans 4:3-5, Galatians 3:1-3, Galatians 2:14, Ephesians 4:1-3, Titus 2:11-14, Romans 12:1, Colossians 3:1

New City Catechism: Question # 32 | What do justification and sanctification mean? Justification means our declared righteousness before God, made possible by Christ's death and resurrection for us. Sanctification means our gradual growing righteousness, made possible by the Spirits work in us.

SONGS

Grace Alone

Praise to the Lord

Hallelujah to my King

Father You Are All We Need

It Is Finished

 

Matthew #18 | JESUS GIVES REST TO THE WEARY

Matthew #18 | JESUS GIVES REST TO THE WEARY

AUDIO

REFERENCES

Sermon Text: Matthew 11:25-30

Scriptures Referenced: Proverbs 14:12, Proverbs 16:25, Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5, 1 Corinthians 1:21-25, Romans 4:4-5, Galatians 3:1-3

New City Catechism, Question #23 | Why must the Redeemer be truly God? That because of his divine nature his obedience and suffering would be perfect and effective; and also that he would be able to bear the righteous anger of God against sin and yet overcome death.

QUOTES

“The story she recounts is revealing about how society tells us we can have it all, be whoever we want to be, without warning us not to embrace the dream too hard for our own good: 'I ended up having a breakdown,' she says. 'I found myself in a hotel room in Poland completely alone in every sense. I hadn't had a relationship for years. I had nobody to talk to, no proper friends. I was addicted to four grams of cocaine a week. I worked all day, every day, flying across the world on my own, pursuing this dream I had to be a director. And I was exhausted. Everything became about me as the director, not me as the person. I'd work all day, and party all night, literally all night because that's what the profession demanded. And that meant that I could never work without coke in my back pocket to keep me going.’ Louise Carpenter, The Guardian, “The Exhaustion Epidemic”

“You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.” — St. Augustine

“Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you. And see, you were within and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The lovely things kept me far from you, though if they did not have their existence in you, they had no existence at all. You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.” — St. Augustine, Confessions

SONGS


TOGETHER ON RENEWAL EMPOWERED MISSION

TOGETHER ON RENEWAL EMPOWERED MISSION

Cross of Christ,

Wasn’t it great to be back in the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday? I love how going through books of the Bible together is always timely; the Bible always speaks. Sunday night we saw how Jesus is over our physical and spiritual chaos. A big thank you to the Prayer Team for praying for people during communion and worship. 

Renewal-Empowered Mission Together

An important reminder we saw in Matthew 8 Sunday night was that God’s design is for us to endure the chaos on mission together. One way we describe what we, as Cross of Christ Church, are about is ‘renewal-empowered mission’. What we mean is that renewal – seeing people renewed by the love and grace of Jesus – isn’t only a goal, it is a means. We naturally do and share what we love (Matthew 12:33-37). I am a better husband and father when I am deeply aware of how amazing my wife and kids are. I share everything from Bear Flag Fish Company to the new Mumford & Sons album because one is delicious and the other is beautiful. So whether it is a sermon, a community group discussion, our kids curriculum, or a song, my hope is that we are always aiming to help one another build our affections for Jesus.

Did you know there is a group of people who love you and are giving a lot of their time to learn how to do this better for you? There are a few ways we are trying to build renewal-empowered mission into the culture of our church.

  1. Our Community Group leaders, worship leaders, and service team leaders have been going through Paul Tripp’s “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands” training since February.
  2. Our Community Group leaders are taking turns writing the questions for the groups each week so that each leader can grow in leading people to the Gospel from any passage of the Bible.
  3. We will be taking turns leading the group in devotions before every meeting in an effort to grow in explaining the Bible and applying the Gospel together.

I’m thankful for these men and women and their love for Jesus and you. When you see them this week, would you encourage them?

Church Planting & Benevolence

Two ways that mission plays out are multiplication and care. We set aside 11% of everything given internally to support others. Though we are a young church, God, through our church, has already been so gracious! Our elders and two elders from Sojourn have expressed how unheard of for a church at our stage to be doing the things we are – we are like an infant helping to make bottles for other infants. The money we give goes to support 17 churches in the Sojourn Network and 6 churches in Acts 29 West. We’ve also given close to $2000 in benevolence through Community Groups since the beginning of the year. It is wonderful to see grace and generosity already shaping the mission of our church.

Because of Him,

Pastor Nick

SIX QUESTIONS TO ASK IN PREPARING A DEVOTIONAL

SIX QUESTIONS TO ASK IN PREPARING A DEVOTIONAL

One of my hopes for Cross of Christ as a church, and especially the leaders, is that we be biblical and not just theological. Luther, Calvin, Keller, and Piper are all great interpreters of scripture, but their work points us to a far more amazing and sure foundation—the Bible itself. 

A conviction that underlies this is that personal renewal precedes corporate renewal. Worship is the point and catalyst for mission - we do and share what we love - so we consistently aim to increase our affections for Jesus.

One simple way our leaders are cultivating their understanding of scripture together is to take turns at meetings leading the group in a devotion. In addition to helping them love Jesus and the Bible more, I think there are some great benefits to doing this together: 

  • They’ll be equipped to lead their families, friends, co-workers, neighbors in devotions.
  • They’ll grow in seeing the Gospel in all of the Bible as they look for it. 
  • They’ll have a great toolbox of biblical applications of the Gospel for counseling friends in need. 
  • They’ll get the pleasure of hearing their friends interpret the Bible and bring it to bear on their lives. 

I get excited thinking about a church whose leadership and culture is shaped by opening the Bible and preaching the Gospel together! 

There are other good paradigms out there, but here are the six questions I trained our team to ask when preparing a devotional. One reason I like them is because you can roughly describe them as head (Q’s 1-2), heart (Q’s 3-5), and hands (Q 6). 

SIX QUESTIONS TO ASK IN PREPARING A DEVOTIONAL

1. What does it say?  

This is the scriptural question. What is the plain reading of this scripture? How would you summarize it in your own words? If it is a narrative passage, what is happening and why? 

2. What does it mean? 

This is the theological question. How are the verses you’ve selected related to the passages around them? To the chapter or book as a whole? Who was the audience and what is the author’s intent? Is there a truth in here that you can explain with biblical or systematic theology? 

3. Why do we resist it? 

This is the heart-level and apologetic question. What in your heart keeps you from believing or obeying the truth? Why and what are you trying to gain? Is there something on a cultural level that makes disbelief or disobedience more plausible? This needs to be granular and particular, not general. 

4. Is there a story I can use to illustrate it? 

Stories and illustrations add power and help people make connections that simply telling them information cannot. Is there a story from your life, a movie, a song, something in nature, or an everyday occurrence that can help illustrate the point? 

5. How is Jesus the hero? 

This is the Christological question. Without Jesus your devotional will just be good advice that isn’t even necessarily Christian; with Jesus, it will convey the great news of a loving and gracious God. Jesus said all of Scripture was about him (Luke 24) so we should be able to, without clumsily shoehorning him in there, find him from any point of scripture. The application of the Gospel here should be as granular and particular as what was exposed in question three. 

6. Why does it matter for our community? 

This is the mission question. Why does what we’ve seen from the Bible about our hearts and Jesus matter for our community and the mission where God has placed us? Why is this not only true but good enough to shape and move us and others? 

I hope these questions serve you, your team, and your church well. 

Pastor Nick