January 14, 2022

What an honor and privilege now to be your pastor at Crossgate! And what an encouragement the installation service was last Sunday evening! As I said then my heart is full, and I am deeply humbled by your willingness for me to take on this role.
 
God has called us together into the gospel work that He has for us here at Crossgate. And I look forward to the future as God guides our steps and uses us to glorify his name. And while I have commented numerous times that I have big shoes to fill, there is also a strong foundation to stand on – a great history of a church built on the foundation of God’s Word, Christ Jesus himself the chief cornerstone.
 
Let me make two requests of you as I begin this new role. First, I hope you will take the opportunities to allow me get to know you better as your pastor. Having been here for more than two years, I am so glad to already know you as much as I do. And what a wonderful group of people God has brought together as the Crossgate church family! It is a joy to see your faces, catch up, and talk more each week. You mean so much to me already.
 
At the same time, I am aware that there is a deeper closeness and openness to develop in being your pastor – a level that wasn’t as much looked for or needed when Tom was here as your pastor but that can be felt more keenly now. There is so much more of your story that I have yet to hear, how God has worked in your past, your struggles and joys in the present, and your hopes for the future. You need your pastor to know you deeply, and I look forward to us developing that together.
 
Secondly, I want to encourage you to continue serving and using your gifts at Crossgate. This one body has many members and it is only when each part is working properly that the body grows, building itself up in love. I have been here long enough to know that there are a lot of parts that keep this ship moving and that I may not know even half of what each of you do. If you all were to suddenly stop and wait for specific direction from me, things would fall apart quickly. But I am encouraged by how well you love one another, meet the needs around you, study Scripture, reach out, draw others in, and seek out the opportunities God has give you. Let’s keep that going!
 
While I hope to strengthen and encourage you in your role and to further fan into flame the good work that God is doing in you, I want to remind you that at my installation, Crossgate did not become David’s church any more than it was Tom’s church previously. Crossgate has always been Christ’s church, as well as your church when God called you into it. Let’s each of us continue to honor God with the gifts He has given us. And if you are wondering how you can serve and be more involved, please consider this an invitation to jump right in, and know that I am glad to guide you and talk with you more.
 
Well, it has been a good “first week” in this new role, and I look forward to the weeks and years ahead serving the Lord together, depending on His grace, and continuing to grow true disciples!
 
In Christ,
David Story

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December 17, 2021

Well, words are inadequate to express our surprise and deepest gratitude for the amazing retirement party this past Saturday.  Joye and I were overwhelmed to put it mildly.  We couldn’t believe all the trouble everyone went to in order to pull this off.  I think it’s fair to say that we have never felt more loved and appreciated!  So thank you a million times over for the blessing of this night – for this amazing outpouring of love.  This night has been etched indelibly on our hearts so that we will never forget it.  This was an event, the likes of which very few pastors ever get to experience.  I’m so grateful that Joye and I got to.

And there are a couple more things I want to thank you for.  First let me thank you for the generous monetary gift that you gave us.  Your generosity was mind-boggling.  The fact is that you just kept blowing us away the whole night – one thing after another.  Thank you dear, dear friends for  blessing us and causing our hearts to overflow with love and joy.

And lastly, thank you for all the cards and kind words you shared with us.  Joye and I read each one yesterday, and we were so encouraged and blessed by each one. 

Well, our time in Seneca is coming to an end and we have such mixed emotions about this move.  We are really looking forward to being with our children and grandchildren – eager to be able to invest in our grandchildren while we have the opportunity.  But to leave this amazing body of believers behind is painful.  How we love you all and how we will miss you.  But you can be sure that we will continue praying for you and are confident that God will continue to grow this body under David’s leadership and use you in some wonderful ways to grow the kingdom of God both locally and around the world.  

As most of you probably know, we are starting to build a house on Lookout Mt., and when it is finished, we would love for you to come and visit.  Nothing would make us happier than to have our Crossgate family visit us in our new home.  

With our deepest love and affection!  

Tom and Joye


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November 5, 2021

This coming Sunday will be a special day in the life of our church.  For the past year and a half as all of us have struggled through the Pandemic and tried to maintain social distance, we have had to meet at two different times for worship.  I’m thankful we could at least meet for worship, but I know that all of us have missed being together as a whole body.  We have all felt like something was missing.  Well, this coming Sunday, all of that will change.  The Session has decided that it is time for us to return to one service and so we will revert back to our traditional times for CGC and Worship.  We will have our Christian Growth Classes at 9:30 am and then our worship service at 10:45 am.  I hope you are as excited as David and I are about this.  It’s going to be so much fun having everyone together again – seeing people that you may not have seen in a while – and then worshiping our great God and Savior together.

Let me encourage you to do a few things as we prepare to come together Sunday.  First of all, when you arrive, grab your nametag and wear it so everyone knows who you are.  Secondly, if you see someone you don’t know – and I’m sure that will happen – be sure and reach out to them by introducing yourself.  We’ve had quite a few new people begin worshiping with us, so don’t be timid.  Introduce yourself and get to know them. Thirdly, because Covid is still lingering around, if you or your children get sick or even display some mild symptoms, please don’t come to church and take the chance of exposing others to what could possibly be Covid.  For the health and wellbeing of the body, stay home and enjoy worshiping with us online. 

As our two services come to an end, I want to say a special thanks to a number of people who have diligently and faithfully served this body through this trying time.  I’m not going to name names because I’m afraid I would leave someone out.  But I do want to recognize the Worship Team and all the men and women who have made some pretty significant sacrifices so that we could have two services.  They have arrived at church each Sunday around 7:30 am and then stayed through the second service.  Talk about a long day!  But never once did I hear a complaint from anyone about having to spend so much time doing this.  And the same goes for the men who have operated the A/V booth.  They have been amazing!  There are others like Mark Buford who have faithfully served behind the scenes.  Almost every Sunday when I come to church, Mark is out front blowing off the sidewalk so it’s not so messy.  You might not think that a clean porch is that important – but these small things make a big difference!  So a big, big thank-you to the men and women who out of love for Christ and His church tirelessly serve His people.  See you Sunday!!
 

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October 22, 2021

How important is prayer to you?  How important do you think prayer ought to be at Crossgate?  If we decided not to pray about the various ministries of the church and instead, just worked hard to have programs that were helping people to grow spiritually, do you think it would matter?  Interesting questions, aren’t they?  I know probably all of you would say that prayer is indeed important – or at least, ought to be.  And I’m pretty sure that most of you would say that prayer ought to be an important, if not central ministry in any church that is hoping to be used by God.  

Well, this coming Tuesday evening at 7:00 pm you’ll have an opportunity to make it known how you feel about these things.  We’re going to have a prayer meeting and we are inviting everyone to come and spend time together praying about the various ministries of the church along with other concerns and needs that may be on your heart. 

In the past, we have had a weekly prayer meeting in which a dozen or so people met to pray.  With the beginning of our Community Groups, we decided that we would encourage each group to pray for one or two ministries each time they met, and then we would have a church-wide prayer meeting on the last Tuesday of each month.  And so this coming Tuesday is the last Tuesday in October (I know it is hard to believe) and we would love to have a lot of you join us as we worship the Lord and join our hearts before His throne of grace.  We need this time together!  We need to seek the Lord and His face so that He might bless us and He might use us in a powerful way to promote His glory!

I know what some of you are thinking – “I can’t pray in a group” or it might be that you just don’t like to pray in a group.  Either way – I’ve heard this a zillion times over the years.  But what most people don’t realize is that this excuse is nothing more than Satan’s way of weakening the church by keeping her from her power source.  There really is power in prayer, and there really is weakness when prayer is neglected.  Listen, no one is going to force you to pray out loud.   But even if you don’t pray out loud, you can still listen and you can still pray silently along with others.  So would you take an hour out of your week – out of your month – to pray with us.  Hope you will and I can guarantee you, it will be a special time together. 
 

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August 13, 2021

Do you know how to listen to a sermon?  On the surface that may seem like a crazy question to ask, but it really isn’t.  Actually, I think it may be one of the big problems in the church of Christ today.  People have ears to hear, but cannot hear – they cannot hear what God is saying to them through His Word.   They don’t know how to listen to sermons.  They are like the people that Jesus addressed on a few different occasions.  These people obviously heard the words that Jesus was speaking and they were even amazed at his teaching, but they really didn’t grasp the spiritual significance of those words.  In other words, the message didn’t penetrate their hearts so as to make a difference in the way they lived.  Sadly, I believe a lot of people sitting in churches on Sunday mornings fall into this same camp.

Why is that?  There are probably a number of reasons, but let me mention a few.

  1.  Our hearts have been hardened by sin (cf. Parable of the Soils in Matthew 13) so that the seed of God’s Word cannot penetrate the heart.  If God has convicted us of sin and we have refused to repent of it, we will not profit from the preaching of God’s Word regardless of who is delivering the message.
  2. We really don’t want to change.  We want our ears to be tickled (cf. 2 Timothy 4:3). We want to feel good so we’re not going to hear what God has to say.
  3. We’re too focused on the messenger rather than the message.  All of us like to hear good speakers but eloquence and spiritual power do not necessarily go hand in hand.  Let me remind you what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:4 – “my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”  I’m convinced that a lot of people today would not have enjoyed listening to Paul because of how he presented his message.  
  4. We want to be spoon-fed so we don’t have to think too hard (or at all).  We expect the preacher to fully digest the Scriptures and tell us what we need to know and if he doesn’t do that like we want,  if we actually have to think for ourselves, we become a little peeved.  

Well, I could list some more reasons, but I don’t want to be too wordy here.  The point I want to make is this:  if our hearts are right with the Lord and we really want Him to speak to us so we can change AND if our focus is on the Word and we’re trying to understand it so as to apply it to our lives, God’s Word will feed our souls and it will change us.  We may not think the messenger is the most eloquent in his presentation, but if he is faithfully turning our attention to the Scriptures, God will speak through him powerfully and we will grow as true disciples. 

The bottom line is this:  there are all sorts of preachers out there and some are better than others but if they are true to the Word, God will use them to feed us spiritually and help us grow as true disciples.  So, let’s ask God to give us ears to hear Him regardless of who is preaching.  

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July 30, 2021

As you all have read in my letter and the letter from the Session, we have two very important congregational meetings coming up. We don’t have many congregational meetings at Crossgate, so I wanted to clarify what is about to happen.  

Next Sunday, August 8, we will have the first of these meetings to elect a Search Committee for the next Senior Pastor at Crossgate.  As you already know, the recommendation of the Session and the motion that will be presented to you is that the Session serve as this committee.  And if so elected, the Session intends to recommend at the next congregational meeting two weeks later that David Story be elected to serve as your next pastor.  This is the direction that the Session believes God is moving our church.  We believe that David is a man of God who can effectively lead this church in the days/years ahead.  But having said that, you as the congregation have the responsibility to either confirm or overturn this.  It is not a “done deal” until the congregation votes.  This is one of the great privileges and responsibilities of a member of Crossgate.  You have a voice and get to have a say in who will pastor this church.

So next Sunday, you will vote by ballot on the Search Committee and if the motion of the Session passes by a majority vote, the Session will serve in this capacity.  But in the interim two weeks before the next meeting, the Session would like to hear from you if you should have concerns/questions or simply want to affirm the direction we are moving in.  We believe that God uses the counsel of godly men and women to reveal His will for a church and so we want to hear what you have to say.  In this way, we believe that Crossgate can move forward as one – in the unity of His Spirit.  This doesn’t mean that everyone agrees on every single thing, but it does mean that we “be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Ephesians 5:21) and that we “give preference to one another in honor.” (Romans 12:10)  In other words, we must be willing to accept the vote of the majority in the congregation as, not only the will of God for Crossgate, but His will for individual members.  

This is one of the most important votes that you will ever cast as a member of Crossgate, so please plan on being at this meeting next Sunday.  We will begin the meeting at 10:15 am, and begin the second service at 11:00 am, rather than 10:45 am.  And in the meantime, let’s be praying that as we come together, we might clearly discern God’s will for us and we might wholeheartedly embrace this together.
 

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April 30, 2021

I love the passage in Psalm 67 which says “God, our God, blesses us.  God blesses us that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.”  Think about that for a minute.  God doesn’t simply bless us so we can be comfortable or feel good about ourselves or simply enjoy the good life.  He blesses us so that people around the world will stand in awe of Him, and will love, trust and obey Him.  God wants the nations to know of His mercy and grace that is found in Christ and proclaimed in the Gospel.  And He invites us to collaborate with Him in this great work.

One of the ways that we can join God in this is by giving.  Now there are two ways that you and I can give.  We can give by sight or we can give by faith.  Giving by sight is what you would imagine.  It is simply pulling out your budget and going over your income and expenses and then deciding how much you can afford to let go of.  Giving by faith doesn’t completely overlook this process;  you still look at your budget and evaluate where you are financially.  But when you give by faith, you take it a step further by asking an all-important question:  Lord, how much above my regular giving can I trust you to channel through me for your work?  At this point, it’s not a matter of how much you can afford – but how much can you believe God to supply through you out of His resources.  And so as you pray about this, you simply ask God to put an amount on your heart that He wants you to give (and it’s usually an amount that is greater than you could imagine giving), and once He does that, you promise to give that as He provides.

Over the years, our congregation has been able to support numerous missionaries around the world through our Faith Promise Giving.  Our congregation has accepted the challenge to help reach the nations by giving generously to this work.    Now the time is here once again for each of us to prayerfully consider what the Lord would have you give to missions over the next year.  Our commitment to various missionaries and missions over the next year is $122,400 but our hope is that we could even surpass this number so that we could expand our world outreach even further.  

So would you make your Faith Promise to Missions over the next week?  Simply click HERE to go to the page where you can make your Faith Promise.  There is also a link on our website’s homepage.  I’m excited to see what the Lord will do through us this year as we step out in faith to do His work.  Thanks in advance for your participation in the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus!
 

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April 2, 2021

A MESSAGE TO PARENTS: Whenever we baptize a child at Crossgate, we ask the congregation this question: “Do you as a congregation undertake the responsibility of assisting the parents in the Christian nurture of this child?” We believe that the parents are ultimately responsible for the spiritual development of their children. But this is a major undertaking and presents all sorts of challenges for us. How do we ground them in the Truth of Scripture so that they are not swept away by the lies of atheistic professors? How do we prepare them to live as true disciples of Christ once they get out from under our authority and begin living on their own? How do we keep our children from doing what so many college age children are doing now and that is dropping out of church because they no longer see it as relevant to their lives? These are some important questions that every parent needs to be asking. But sadly, too many parents give little if any thought to the spiritual development of their children and tragically, to their eternal destiny. We erroneously assume that if we inculcate in our children good morals – that if we teach them right from wrong – they will just naturally grow up to love and serve God. Nothing could be further from the Truth!
 
Listen! Parenting is tough and the stakes couldn’t be higher! And more often than not, we feel our inadequacy. Our shortcomings are somewhat glaring in our own eyes. Fortunately for us, God in His infinite wisdom has provided the help we need in raising our children and that help is found in the church, the body of Christ. There are godly men and women who are willing to invest in your children and assist you in your work. Through their teaching and example and outpouring of love, these godly people will reinforce the teaching that you give your children at home. This is why we ask our congregation to make this vow at a child’s baptism. We know that you need this help!!
 
Unfortunately, what we are seeing today is that too many parents are so busy promoting their children’s educational and social development, that they are neglecting the spiritual development of their children. Church is not a priority for them. They think that their children are so small that if they don’t go to church regularly, their children will not even notice. Well, not only are the children missing out on a great opportunity to learn the Truth of God’s Word, but the parents are also missing out on an opportunity to grow so that they can be the primary spiritual nurturers in the home. At Crossgate, we have had Kid’s Worship for years. Most of the teens in our youth ministry now, have grown up in Kid’s Worship. But sadly, we have had to pull the plug on this recently – not because we don’t have children in this age group – but because parents aren’t committed to bringing their children to church. We would like to start this back because we see the value in this ministry. It’s just another opportunity to invest in our children. We have adults who are committed to helping your children, but without the commitment of parents, it becomes an exercise in futility.
 
So I want to challenge each of the parents to re-think your priorities when it comes to your children. And I want to challenge you to make church a consistent part of their lives so that they will grow up with a love for Jesus and a love for His church. If you are willing to commit to bringing your children to church on a regular basis, call Debbie Chapa, our Children’s Ministry Team Leader at 781-883-6064 and let her know. Then when we have 3-5 children who are committed to this, we can re-start our Kid’s worship.
 
Our motto at Crossgate is “Growing True Disciples”. We want to do this with every age group – from small children to adults – but we can only effectively do this if people are willing to make church a priority and show up consistently. So, let us help you raise your children as true disciples! We’re willing to make this sort of commitment to you and your children; are you willing to do the same?
 

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Reflections with David Story

Well, this time a year ago we were having our Missions Conference, our last worship service before the world came to a screeching halt, with things shutting down left and right in reaction to the spreading pandemic. What an unexpected turn of events! And what a year it has been.
 
It brings a fresh perspective on the Biblical phrase from James 4, “you do not know what tomorrow will bring.” How little any of us knew then of what would come! 
 
It is worth looking back though now and reflecting on the path the Lord has brought us down. How often Scripture tells us to remember, and to remember the Lord! 
 
How have you grown? How have you also languished? What were things that have most challenged you? And were there unexpected things that encouraged you? What have these events exposed for you? Have you grown closer to the Lord or drifted further away? What lessons have you learned that you want to remember?
 
While we all may have different answers to these questions, the main thing I would encourage you to remember is that the Lord has been in it. He has had His purposes in it, and He has been with us in it, leading us through both pleasant and difficult times. And even now the Lord is working in us and in history for the glory of His name. 
 
Whatever other lessons you may have learned, I hope we all remember these two: that we need God desperately and that we need one another continually as well. 
 
At times, we wish we could push the veil to the side and see a little bit into the future (when will the pandemic be over? what else is coming?), but it remains unknown to us. As we take the time to reflect and look back though, we can face the future in faith, remembering that the Lord will be in it. 

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February 26, 2021

It’s been encouraging over the last few weeks to see the number of Covid cases decreasing both in Oconee County and nationwide.  This can be attributed to a couple of factors.  First, more people have gotten Covid so this is pushing us closer to the herd immunity (something that at least one expert predicted we will reach by the end of April.  Who knows??).  And of course, the vaccine has certainly helped move us in this direction.  Now as we witness the decline in the number of Covid cases, this obviously doesn’t mean that the pandemic is over.  The reality is that Covid will be with us for quite some time – maybe even years (just like the seasonal flu).  But it does help us to breathe a little easier and not be as uptight or fearful about catching this virus.  And hopefully, the fact that things are moving in the right direction will encourage more people to return to church and resume worshiping in person.  I’m so glad that we have been able to stream our worship services, but as you well-know, there’s nothing like being with God’s people and worshiping Him together.

Last week we saw an uptick in the number of people who came to our worship services and that was exciting.  It’s still not crowded, but as more of our people are vaccinated, we will see those numbers grow.  We still want to be considerate of one another in both services and not make anyone feel uncomfortable by how we interact with them.  But if you are still a little gun-shy about being around people, then let me encourage you to consider coming to the 9:00 am service.  We only had 45 people in this service last week, so there is plenty of room to spread out.  And remember, you are free to wear a mask if that makes you feel a little safer

Now I realize that some may not yet feel comfortable returning to church and we certainly respect that.  We will continue streaming the service and you can continue to join us online.  But I would like for you to ask yourself this:  At what point will I feel comfortable going back to church?  What conditions will have to be met?  As I mentioned earlier, Covid will in all probability be around for a long time, so if you wait till it’s completely gone, you will be worshiping online for some time.  And keep in mind that there are no guarantees when it comes to Covid.  Even with the vaccine, there is no guarantee that you will not get the virus.  So at what point do we step out and say, “God, my health and life are in your hands.  I’m going back to church – I need to be with your people – and I trust you to bring to fruition your purpose and plans for my life.”?  May God direct each of us as we seek to do His will.

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