Northside Blog

It's Complicated: August 2

By Nate Ross, Lead Pastor Rocks. Pebbles. Sand.  The order of these three items matters when filling up a jar. Get them out of order and something gets left out.  This is a great illustration of the book of Jonah.  Instead of starting with “rocks” (God’s Word), Jonah fills his life first with “sand” and takes off running from God and his calling. Jonah finds “quicksand” while running from God and eventually ends up by... Read More

It's Complicated: July 30

By Nate Ross, Lead Pastor God’s Bigger Plan for Conflict 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (write it out) God has a plan to deal with the conflict in the world.  Sometimes you come across a section of Scripture that just puts a “bow” on the Gospel for us and this is one of them!  The reconciling work of Jesus doesn’t just change our hearts but changes our hearts to view others, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of... Read More

It's Complicated: July 29

By George Ross, Teaching Pastor Scripture "Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone." - Romans 12:18 NLT Reflection Wow, that sounds easy! Not really. This verse is pretty clear though. You and I are to put forth the effort. With a goal of peace. Realizing that our containment area is not contained, but includes everyone and every relationship we may find ourselves a part of! I have always loved Romans 12. It calls us to be living sacrifices and not be... Read More

It's Complicated: July 28

By George Ross, Teaching Pastor Scripture What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don't they come from the evil desires that war within you? You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it. - James 4:1-2 Your OUTSIDE Problem is Really your INSIDE Problem ... Read More

It's Complicated: July 27

By Nate Ross, Lead Pastor Praying Our Way Through Conflict There’s not one person that has walked the face of this earth that has not encountered conflict. We’re all looking for quick fixes in life, in our relationships, and in our emotions. But when we open the pages of Scripture, we’re shocked when we don’t find a bunch of clean-cut, brilliant examples of healthy Biblical families. Do you know why? Because we ALL have ISSUES! In my family when a funny... Read More

It's Complicated: July 26

By Nate Ross, Lead Pastor Facing our Fear of Conflict   Scripture Matthew 5:21-24  (Look it up and write it down. Writing it our commits it to your heart and head.) “It’s not like I’ve killed somebody.”    I’ve heard people say this and I have even used it as a way to validate my spiritual ‘goodness.’  But Jesus takes us farther by equating dealing with our conflict with someone else to be just as... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 23

by Michael Watson Scripture “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.” - Proverbs 28:27 Reflection While living in Las Vegas, we saw a lot of poverty. An ordinary day resulted in multiple encounters with panhandlers at intersections and folks coming to our church for some form of financial assistance. My wife and I helped when and where we could but after a while I grew weary and jaded–as did my... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 22

by Sam Hancock, Worship Minister Scripture “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.”  - Proverbs 10:4-5 Reflection When I was a disgruntled and “misunderstood” kid in high school, my mom would have to wake me up three to five times every Sunday morning so I wouldn’t be late to worship rehearsal.  I remember my mom... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 21

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Scripture “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” - Proverbs 17:22 Reflection A couple of weeks ago I preached on sadness and wrote a week’s worth of devotions on brokenness. Rough week. My wife said somebody was going to have to fund some serious therapy for me. (Actually, I decided to take a vacation, which I thought was better.) I love this proverb. It reminds me of a... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 20

by Lydia Robbins, Young Women’s Ministry Intern Scripture  “With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity. My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver.” - Proverbs 8:18-19 Reflection Oftentimes, I want to take control in my life . I am a planner. I like to have a plan and I want to follow it. If I am honest, when I am planning my day usually I think I know best. Or, when people ask me for advice I put so much... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 19

by Neal Windham, Pastor of Spiritual Formation Scripture “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” - Proverbs 29:7 Reflection A pastor of compassion in a large multi-site metro church once explained to me that the single greatest challenge before her was connecting people in one of the richest suburbs of Chicago (and, therefore, Illinois) with some of the poorest people in the state, who lived just fifteen minutes away.... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 16

by George Ross, Teaching Pastor SCRIPTURE "People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness". - Proverbs 14:29, NLT REFLECTION I've often wondered about the order in which the "Fruits of the Spirit" are mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. Leading off is Love, which for many folks, depending upon their hurts from the past, can be a difficult thing to consistently allow to surface. Healing from the Spirit of God in our heart... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 15

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Scripture “Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find life and receive favor from the LORD.” - Proverbs 8:34-35 Reflection Thought Listening fosters understanding. For example, in the process of discerning God’s will, it is critically important to listen for God’s voice and the Spirit’s promptings as these emerge in Scripture and... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 14

By Caroline Krouse, Local Outreach Minister Scripture “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” - Proverbs 12:11 Reflection If I am honest, I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. What I want to do typically comes to mind first. Not what I should do. The more idle my hands are, the more consumed my thoughts are of earthly things. We are a society consumed with doing what makes us happy in the moment.... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 13

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Scripture “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” - Proverbs 22:3 Meditation I got the call on one of those stormy, ominous spring days Central Illinoians so often endure, days when the sky actually turns some weird shade of green. Miriam’s voice was really shaky as she reported, “Neal, a tornado has just gone through our backyard.” I said, “Which way... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 12

by Rebecca Stoner Scripture "for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." - Proverbs 8:11  Reflection Let’s consider whether we own any precious jewels or things we spend time on that are very important to us. What value do we place on gaining wisdom vs. those things? God talks a lot about wisdom. Forms of Hebrew and Greek words meaning “wisdom” are used over 350 times in the Bible. And here in... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 9

by Kelsea Mays, Young Women’s Discipleship Minister Scripture “The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.” - Proverbs 15:8 Reflection I don’t know about you but I would rather please God than do something He detests. In this verse, we learn that God strongly dislikes the sacrifice of a wicked person. Today, we use the word “sacrifice” differently than is used here. The meaning of sacrifice in the... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 8

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Scripture “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” - Proverbs 19:21 Reflection How different would life be today had Covid not come? I mean, you had plans, didn’t you? Travel plans, vacation plans, family plans, work plans - all of them scrapped, or at the very least altered. Remember? It really wasn’t that long ago.  What prevailed in those... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 7

Scripture “Encourage one another daily … so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” - Hebrews 3:13 Reflection There’s a war at work within our souls today. The enemy is chipping away at the foundations. We may walk away from responsibility a thousand times in our minds, replaying the risks, weighing the costs - “It would be so much easier not to go back!” - but when the moment of decision actually comes, we remember the faces... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 6

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Scripture “Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.” – Proverbs 28:26 Reflection I once showed up late for work because I couldn’t find my keys. Searching high and low, looking in all the familiar spots, several times each, I nevertheless came up short every single time. Do you know this feeling? On the verge of giving up, and having lost all sense of... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 5

by Nate Ross, Lead Pastor Scripture “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.” - Proverbs 21:31 Reflection I’ve not prepared too many actual horses for battle in my lifetime.  Ok, so I’ve not prepared any horses for battle in my lifetime. Actually, I had to jump off my grandpa’s horse once when I was in 7th grade because the horse wanted back in the barn so bad. So what do horses have to do with trusting... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 2

by Anita Oldham Scripture “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” - Proverbs 27:17 Reflection I have a shovel called the Root Slayer . It has sharp serrated edges on the sides of the blade. It is a great tool for cutting through earth that is filled with tree roots. It looks dangerous - like I could slice open part of my leg but when I use this shovel, it helps me dig about 85% better.  This verse leads me to think about each of us as being an... Read More

Word to the Wise: July 1

by Jacob Bales, Student Ministry Pastor Scripture “Never abandon a friend—either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away.” - Proverbs 27:10 A Family of Friends If we are being honest, this is one of the verses (at least for me) that leaves me scratching my head for a second. “Never abandon a friend, when disaster... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 30

Scripture “Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.” - Proverbs 11:12 Reflection Have you heard of the so-called “Silent Generation,” of those children who grew up during the Great Depression? Both before and after them, the nation heard a lot of verbiage, much of it very harmful, but the Silent Generation chose a different path. Some combination of powerful economic deprivation, the fear of communism,... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 29

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Scripture “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” - Proverbs 18:24 Reflection How many friends do you have? Tricky question. Are we talking about close friends? Casual friends? Or something in between? I’ve read that people normally can’t really sustain more than five to seven strong friendships. Anything beyond that and substance becomes... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 28

Scripture “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” - Proverbs 17:17 Reflection It was June. Grades were in, and the school year was over. According to plan, Tom, J.K., Mike, and I embarked upon a Rocky Mountain getaway, only to roll our fifteen passenger van somewhere near the Colorado border. Dean (Tom) Tanner had planned this trip and had invited the three of us, all faculty, to join him for a few days of R & R at Blessing Ranch... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 25

by Zach Hubbard, Outreach Associate Scripture “The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools poor out folly.” - Proverbs 15:2 Reflection I love my grandparents so much. For as long as I could remember, they have always wanted to be a part of my life and support me in everything that I do. I love spending time with my grandparents, not just for my grandmother's amazing cooking or my grandpa's hilarious stories about the good ol’... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 24

by Diane Rone, First Impressions Associate Scripture “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” – Proverbs 16:3 Reflection Proverbs is always practical. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, tells us to reverse the order of our thoughts and plans and first commit our works to God. Then, we can trust our thoughts, and our plans will be established. This is totally different from what we usually think of, first committing our plans to the... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 23

by Tom Gilbert, Care Pastor Scripture “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.”  – Proverbs 10:12 Reflection There is so much in this short Proverb! Sometimes when I want to get the most out of a passage like this, I look up the definitions of each of the major words.  In this instance, I looked up the definitions on Webster’s Online Dictionary.  Piecing the definitions together the scripture reads something like this: ... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 22

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Scripture "Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” – Proverbs 14:31 Reflection Thank God, there come those rare moments in life when our faith in people, flawed as we are, is nevertheless powerfully, jarringly restored. Recently, I had just such a moment while reading Lauren Winner’s book, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis . In it, Dr. Winner, a... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 21

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Scripture “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” – Proverbs 31:29 Reflection While Proverbs 31, a chapter largely devoted to one incredible woman, is written from the husband’s perspective, in the wake of this Father’s Day I find myself wondering just what her dad might have said and felt about this woman. After all, she is a loving wife, shrewd businesswoman, providing mom, and... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 18

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Note: In keeping with the father-to-son flow of the Book of Proverbs, the devotions this week come from Musings of a Prodigal Father , which I wrote for my son Luke upon graduation from high school in the late 90s. Scripture “From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.” – Proverbs 12:14 Reflection You know how I love Thoreau, Luke. He looked at... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 17

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Note: In keeping with the father-to-son flow of the Book of Proverbs, the devotions this week come from Musings of a Prodigal Father , which I wrote for my son Luke upon graduation from high school in the late 90s. Scripture “He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.” – Proverbs 14:26 Reflection I think you know how much family matters to me, Luke. But I want you... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 16

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Note: In keeping with the father-to-son flow of the Book of Proverbs, the devotions this week come from Musings of a Prodigal Father , which I wrote for my son Luke upon graduation from high school in the late 90s. Scripture “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.” – Proverbs 23:4 Reflection America lives with debt in staggering proportions. I remember when Pop used to pay about... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 15

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Note: In keeping with the father-to-son flow of the Book of Proverbs, the devotions this week come from Musings of a Prodigal Father , which I wrote for my son Luke upon graduation from high school in the late 90s. Scripture “ He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” - Proverbs 18:22 Reflection Few things are as important as marrying well. In this, you are choosing your one true ... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 14

Note:  In keeping with the father-to-son flow of the Book of Proverbs, the devotions this week come from Musings of a Prodigal Father , which I wrote for my son Luke upon graduation from high school in the late 90s. Scripture “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” – Proverbs 30:5 Reflection Luke, I once heard a prominent preacher say that, given a choice between Scripture and prayer during a hectic morning,... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 11

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Note: In keeping with the father-to-son flow of the Book of Proverbs, the devotions this week come from Musings of a Prodigal Father , which I wrote for my son Luke upon graduation from high school in the late 90s. Scripture “The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.” - Proverbs 15:8 From Musings of a Prodigal Father: Prayer is life. Really.  Every word, every... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 10

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Note: In keeping with the father-to-son flow of the Book of Proverbs, the devotions this week come from Musings of a Prodigal Father , which I wrote for my son Luke upon graduation from high school in the late 90s. Scripture “The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, and the good man rewarded for his.” - Proverbs 14:14 From Musings of a Prodigal Father Luke, I grew up in the Western Hemisphere and am a... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 9

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Note:  In keeping with the father-to-son flow of the Book of Proverbs, the devotions this week come from Musings of a Prodigal Father , which I wrote for my son Luke upon graduation from high school in the late 90s. Scripture “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” - Proverbs 3:5-6 Reflection ... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 8

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Note: The devotions this week come from Musings of a Prodigal Father , written for my son Luke upon graduation from high school in the late 90s. Scripture “Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” - Proverbs 21:21 From Musings of a Prodigal Father : I’ve discovered that nothing endears me to people more than genuine compassion, Luke. I’ve also found out that nothing... Read More

Word to the Wise: June 7

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor NOTE: In a departure from our usual devotional format, this week I am quoting selections from a graduation present I gave my son Luke back in 1998, entitled “Musings of a Prodigal Father.” In it, I wrote about things I wished I had said to him and to our daughter, Charis, who graduated several years later, but may never have gotten to. I have done a bit of editing in view of the times and audience. My prayer is that these little... Read More

Best Summer Ever: June 4

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Scripture “There is a man in your kingdom who is endowed with a spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father he was found to have enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods…. An excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in ... Daniel.” Daniel 5:11-12 (NRSV) Reflection A little context, please! Babylonian king... Read More

Best Summer Ever: June 3

by Caleb Brown, Young Adults Pastor Scripture For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. – Romans 8:5 Reflection Imagine for a moment, your neighbor knocked on your door to say “hello,” and perhaps offer some cookies with a smile. You kindly accepted, and luckily so, because the cookies were delicious. However, the next time your... Read More

Best Summer Ever: June 2

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Scripture “And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.” - John 16:8-9 Reflection This is the only place in Scripture where the Spirit is said to do a work “in the world,” says Leon Morris. That is to say, while we’re accustomed to talking about how the Holy Spirit empowers,... Read More

Best Summer Ever: June 1

By Michael Chanley, Children’s Ministry Pastor   Scripture   When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:13 (ESV)   Guidance In the Star Wars universe, “the force” is a type of mystical life energy which ties all things together. The heroes in the story, Jedi Knights, harness... Read More

Best Summer Ever: May 31

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Scripture “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.” –  John 15:26 Advocacy In 2016, Stephen Offutt edited a book entitled Advocating for Justice . In it, Offutt, a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, argued that it’s time for Christians to take the next step in caring for people who are at... Read More

Best Summer Ever: May 28

by Anita Oldham Scripture “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” - John 15:14-15 Reflection Some friends don’t get our best, do they? They text us, and we forget to text back. Or we are so wrapped up in what we are doing, that we never get around to having... Read More

Best Summer Ever: May 27

by Lydia Robbins, Young Women’s Ministry Intern Scripture Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. – James 4:8 Reflection Think of deep friendships or relationships with the people around you. These could be family, friends, or co-workers. To keep and pour into these relationships would be hard, almost impossible, to do without communication. As you think about these close relationships,... Read More

Best Summer Ever: May 26

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Scripture And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. – James 2:23 God’s Friend My grandson Stephen (he calls himself “Steen”), now two, is becoming God’s friend, Jesus’ friend. As online church began last week, he offered a glimpse of this emerging friendship with the following... Read More

Best Summer Ever: May 25

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Scripture “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” - John 15:10-11 Joy Made Complete Tonight, my dear friend and mentor George Ross is hosting Finishing Well , a call to spiritual growth and adventure for people 55 and then some, in the Centrum at 6:30pm.... Read More