Pastor Steve's Weekly Letter for May 5, 2022

05May

We serve the Lord Jesus with the conviction that God has put us here “for such a time as this” (to borrow the language of Esther 4:14). We have an opportunity in this place at this time in history to advance the gospel and to seek first God’s kingdom. To this end, our elders and ministry staff are going to embark on a vision discernment process. We want to discern what it looks like to obey Jesus’ “great commission” (see Matthew 28:18-20) in the next chapter of our church’s life—especially as we emerge from the pandemic. Thus, this process is all about stewardship. How can we best use the strengths, opportunities, and gifts God has given us to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ? That’s the question we want to answer. We want to be clear on what it will look like for CrossLife to serve God faithfully in the 2020s and beyond.

Here is a snapshot of the process. Gary Mayes, a church consultant who has a long history with our church, will be our guide. Our plan is to prepare for a “Vision Discernment Day” when our elders and ministry staff will gather in early June to begin the process of discerning how God’s Spirit is leading us to carry out our mission. We’ll refine this throughout the summer and then present our conclusions early in the fall. In the meantime, we’re going to invite people from our church family to serve on one of four teams to help us get ready for the “Vision Discernment Day.” There will be an Intercessory Prayer team, a Community Profile team, a Church Profile team, and a Biblical Purpose team. The latter three teams will do some research to help guide us as we discern our ministry priorities in the future. Would you please join me in praying that God will work in a mighty way in our hearts during this process? Thank you!

One of the realities of post-pandemic life may be the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision which ruled the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s freedom to choose to have an abortion. A Supreme Court draft leaked earlier this week signals the Court may be on the verge of overruling Roe vs. Wade, although this is not an absolute certainty. If the court overturns this landmark decision, it does not make abortion illegal. Rather, it shifts the legal responsibility for this decision to individual states. Whatever the outcome, I believe followers of Jesus Christ need to do two things.

  1. Assume a posture of compassion and grace. The fight over abortion is about to get uglier and more heated. In our efforts to defend the lives of the unborn, it is easy to adopt a strident tone. Yet this will only do more harm to women who have had abortions. Psalm 147 declares that God “heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds,” and Jesus came to do the same (see Luke 4:16-21). This should be our approach as well. I’ve met with several women over the years who have had abortions, and what they need is the healing and forgiveness that comes from the gospel. If any of you who read this have had an abortion, please know Jesus can heal you from guilt, shame, regret, and pain. Any of our ministry staff members, including me, would be happy to meet with you to encourage you and help you.
  2. Continue helping moms who choose life. I use the word “continue” deliberately because followers of Jesus have done so much over the years to support crisis pregnancy centers, help single moms, provide foster care, and even adopt children. For example, FIT Moms was started by women in our church family and continues to support moms who are under-resourced. These kinds of efforts are responsible, I believe, for the drop in abortions over the years. Overturning Roe vs. Wade by itself will not lead to a steep decline in abortions. One news outlet says it may reduce abortion by only 14%. Supporting those who choose life is what makes the difference. So, let’s continue to show we are for life, not simply against abortion.

This Sunday, May 8, I plan to preach Joshua 13-21. That will require a 4-hour sermon. Just kidding! It’s important to take the entire block of chapters together, and we’ll simply hit the highlights, especially 21:43-45. There will be encouragement for all, including moms on Mother’s Day. Finally, on the family front, my granddaughter Halle (5) told her mom last week she wanted a “Halle and Mom Day.” When her mom, Anna, asked her what she wanted to do, Halle replied: “I want you to sit by me while I eat cereal and then sit by me when I play on my Kindle.” Anna suggested an alternative—taking Halle to breakfast. When Halle agreed, Anna asked where she wanted to go for breakfast. Instead of naming a restaurant, Halle said, “Nana’s house.” So I guess Halle’s grandma, my wife Priscilla, will need to be ready for breakfast guests one of these days. Thanks for reading. Grace and peace to all of you.

FaithEvangelism
Posted by Steve Mathewson

Steve Mathewson started in his position on May 7, 2006. Steve came to Libertyville from Belgrade, Montana, where he was the senior pastor of Dry Creek Bible Church. He received a Master of Arts Degree in Old Testament in 1986 from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Ore. Most recently, he received his Doctor of Ministry in 2000 from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass., where he studied preaching under Dr. Haddon Robinson. He and his wife, Priscilla, reside in Libertyville and have four adult children and grandchildren.

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