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Individual and Social Change

  • Written by Nathan Willowby
  • Published: 12 February 2013

I recently read an interesting book by Tim Suttle, a pastor and frontman of Satellite Soul. This book brings the work of Walter Rauschenbusch to bear on the Evangelical tradition. An Evangelical Social Gospel?: Finding God's Story in the Midst of Extremes raised several interesting issues that face the church today. One of the biggest issues that he challenges is the three-fold problem that he sees getting in the way of the church actually living out its true mission. Individualism, Nationalism, and Consumerism undermine the full gospel life. But the image I wanted to share here was one that I found really helpful for communicating our calling to witness to Christ with our lives.

He invokes the images that were so prevalent during Saddam's Iraq--pictures of Saddam holding bread in the market, and holding books in school, and holding a gun outside the government buildings--all images to remind the people that whatever they are participating in, Saddam was behind it as provider of the food, knowledge, and safety. In other words, these images serve to point to a deeper meaning. Suttle then turns to our creation in the image of God. This sets up the framing of the Christian Mission as being to Image God wherever we are. I like that idea. What if we took seriously the reality that our lives do point to the deeper truth that inspires them. If our lives reflect the values of individualism or consumerism, then our lives will present icons to them. On the other hand, our lives should flow from our understanding of the gospel. Obviously, many people are rightly frustrated when the church does not imitate Christ and live in a way that points to God (hear hypocrisy).

A while back, I used the phrase--Windex for our Witness--to think about cleaning up the reflection of Christ that we are bearing to the world. I don't really think that the guy behind the counter at Alterra will look at me as an icon. But shouldn't we approach life in such a way that when people do look at the way we live (you know: treat our families, approach our work, spend our money, and respond to neighbors), they can see that something stands behind our lives and there is a deeper truth behind it.

Maybe this Lent, you can focus upon some way that your life as icon can better point to the reality behind it.


Framing Matters

  • Written by Nathan Willowby
  • Published: 03 December 2012

The Live Nativity set is up! We had great weather for it so there were fewer frozen fingers putting on all those bolts. Along the way, the roof just wasn't sitting right until we corrected the way the back piece was sitting into the framing post on the southeast corner. Framing matters.

Today as I was doing some dissertation research, I came across this statement by Ephraim Radner in Leviticus: A Brazos Theological Commentary. He wrote that instead of the title in our Christian bibles, Leviticus, which brings the idea that we are about to read an instruction manual for the Levites, “the Hebrew title Vayikra [“and he called” i.e., the Lord called Moses] is a far more accurate way of naming the purpose of the book.”

The title in one sense does serve to establish our expectations. In Genesis, we expect to read about the beginnings of the world and God's people. In Exodus we expect to read of Israel's exodus from Pharaoh. So if we see the title, Leviticus and expect to read about the priests, that is probably what we will spend our time emphasizing as we read. I think the book of Leviticus becomes more appropriately situated with the Hebrew name that invites readers to think in terms of being called by God to live in a particular manner instead of expecting an instruction manual for the Levites. Now I'm not out to change the names of Bible books--but I'll gladly go on record to say, we can change our expectations for what we'll read in Leviticus to "and then God called..."

Worship Service and Worship through Service

  • Written by Nathan Willowby
  • Published: 07 September 2012

This week's CWC email had a great quoted passage from the Church of God hymnal and a catchy image to reiterate the message.  Here they are:

I suppose if I was the editor for the song, I would have suggested that the words be changed from "Called from Worship unto Service" to "Called in Worship unto Service" or "Called to Worship through Service." We should view the totality of our lives as worship. And that's not to minimize the worship that happens in church buildings on Sunday mornings which is also crucial worship that forms our lives around embodied relationships with each other and sets a rhythm of time to our lives while also creating space for God to speak through songs, prayers, scriptures, ordinances, and the preached word.

Faith Promise

  • Written by Nathan Willowby
  • Published: 02 November 2012

It's November and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. One of the things we'll be doing at Crossroads this year is taking time to prayerfully consider our partnerships with our ministry partners. For 2013, our partners will be:


Evangelical Child & Family Agency

Sojourner Peace Family Center

Teen Challenge Wisconsin

I invite you to check out their websites before they come and present their ministries to us on 11/18 and 11/25. 

Trust and Obey

  • Written by Nathan Willowby
  • Published: 31 August 2012

The Church of God's Christian Women's Connection sends out a weekly email and this week it included this reflection.


Notes from the pastors of Crossroads Church of God