Pastor's Blog

Chris Boehnke

Chris Boehnke

Hi! My name is Chris Boehnke (a good German name pronounced “Bane-key”). Tracy, my wife, and I have been married for 21 years and God has blessed us with four beautiful children: Joshua (18), Lauren (16), Nathaniel (13), and Mikayla (9). I treasure my wife and family among the greatest gifts God has given me in life.

I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska – the heartland of the Midwest – by two loving parents, Don and Linda. I grew up attending a conservative but vibrant Lutheran congregation, while also experiencing excursions into other evangelical and charismatic church environments. This exposed me to a breadth of Christian practice and teaching that has incited me over the years to ask a ton of questions and to seek deeper understanding regarding what “the church” is and what it’s central message, “the Gospel,” is all about.

While my interests were in art (drawing and painting) and language (excelling in German) at Millard North High School, I ended up completing a B.A. in Philosophy at the University of Nebraska in Omaha (I consider philosophy “the art of asking good questions”). I attended Concordia Seminary in St Louis to finish a Master of Divinity in May 2000. Since then I have served as a shepherd-teacher for followers of Jesus in Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota, and now Michigan. I happily reside with my family in Grand Haven, Michigan, where I serve a community of Jesus followers in Spring Lake called Lakeshore Fellowship. When I’m not reading or studying one of several books at a time, I enjoy spending time with Tracy and the kids, going for walks in nature, relaxing at the beach (with a good book!), cycling, exploring new things and places, watching Star Trek, or painting.

Along the way I’ve encountered many casualties of organized Christianity – those who have been sorely hurt, turned off, offended, or just disenchanted with all its stale rules and rituals. My desire is to compassionately hear and love those who have been broken or turned off by the church and those who have rejected an ugly God they can no longer worship. I want to wrestle alongside those who have nagging questions and doubts about who God is and what our place in this ugly world is. Most especially, I want to paint a better, more beautiful picture for them and for the world – to reimagine – who God is as unfailing, relentless LOVE, gloriously revealed in Jesus the Messiah-King.

I invite you to join the conversation!

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He healed the sick.

He fed the poor and hungry.

He brought freedom to the oppressed and victimized.

He showed compassion to the grieving and raised the dead.

He served the outcasts, the despised, and the lowly.

King Jesus is the embodiment of God’s mercy in action for each one of us at our point of need. 

When He willingly surrendered His life into the violent, tyrannical hands of the Jewish leaders and the Romans, Jesus absorbed into Himself all the evil injustice and rebellion of humanity, the demonic powers of darkness, and the decay and death of creation.

In mercy Jesus, the Son of God united to our humanity, entered our darkness and shone the light of His sacrificial love that scattered the darkness – by His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead!

God’s mercy in Jesus is the healing balm for all people and for each one of us to freely receive by trusting in Him. God’s mercy frees us from our self-centered, sin-sick hearts, so we may freely and sacrificially give ourselves with mercy in action to others in need.

Israel was called to show mercy to the nations and failed in the strength of their own flesh and blood. But as the kingdom community of Jesus, we are called to show mercy to all people in need as the mercy of Jesus enlivens us and flows through us.

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and…transgression…You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” (Micah 7:18)

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and truth.” (1 John 3:16-18)

Who are the people in need that God is calling you to reach out to with acts of loving mercy?

It’s easy to show mercy when the people in need are those we like and care for. It’s not so easy when the people in need are those we honestly don’t like. Or their lifestyle and values are different from ours.

In his book, The Divine Commodity, Skye Jethani tells the following story about showing mercy even to our “enemies.”

“Ghassan Thomas leads one of the few public churches that emerged [in Baghdad] after Saddam Hussein was toppled. His congregation erected a sign on their building that said ‘Jesus Is the Light of the World,’ but the church was raided by bandits who left behind a threat on a piece of cardboard. It read: ‘Jesus is not the light of the world, Allah is, and you have been warned.’ The note was signed ‘The Islamic Shiite Party.’

In response, Pastor Ghassan loaded a van with children’s gifts and medical supplies—which were in critically short supply following the American invasion—and drove to the headquarters of the Islamic Shiite Party. After presenting the gifts and supplies to the sheikh, Ghassan told the leader, ‘Christians have love for you, because our God is a God of love.’ He then asked permission to read from the Bible. Ghassan turned to Jesus’ words in John 8, ‘I am the light of the world.’ He then showed the cardboard note to the sheikh. The Muslim leaders, astounded by Pastor Thomas’s actions, apologized.

‘This will not happen again,’ [the sheikh] vowed. ‘You are my brother. If anyone comes to kill you, it will be my neck first.’ The sheikh later attended Pastor Thomas’s ordination service at the church.

(Skye Jethani, The Divine Commodity [Zondervan, 2009], pp. 61-62)

As the mercy of God we receive in Jesus flows out through our actions to others, we will experience the blessing of God. We will know the true joy and blessed-happiness that comes from following Jesus as He lives in and through us with the Spirit of mercy.

Receive God’s mercy and become a conduit of His mercy. 

And no matter how much you give away, you have the promise that there’s always more mercy to receive from the inexhaustibly-flowing fountain of love within the Triune God.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
(Matthew 5:7)

Next week we will continue with “Blessed are the pure in heart.”


Seeing an arrow fly into the center yellow circle of a bullseye is a thrill. It’s even more exciting when you actually shoot an arrow through the back of another arrow and split it at the center of the bullseye! (I actually accomplished that once).

When I competed in tournament archery as a 12-year-old boy, the hardest aspect of shooting an arrow was maintaining a clear, calm, mental focus. I remember my archery trainer telling me at a Saturday morning practice, “Archery is about 15% physical form and strength and 85% mental focus.”

Keeping your sight on the bullseye with an undistracted, calm focus is the key.

This axiom is true not just for archery and other endeavors in life. This is also true for how we follow King Jesus as the Lord of our lives.

Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.”(Matthew 5:8)

We are truly happy when the focus of our hearts is purely and clearly on the God revealed in Jesus. For one day, we will see Him face-to-face!

Our struggle with “sin” is about our hearts being distracted in their focus from our Creator God. In fact, the word sin even means, “missing the mark” (hamartia in Greek and hattat in Hebrew).

The words of Jesus here are likely based on Psalm 24, which describes who may live in the presence of God. “Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?” (Ps 24:3)

The answer: “The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior.”(Ps 24:4)

The Psalmist defines a “pure heart” as someone who “does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” Blessing comes from the LORD for a person whose trust is aimed at Him and nothing else. The bullseye of life is centered in the LORD – the “I AM.”

So why have our hearts been distracted from God as the bullseye center of LIFE?

God created everything good. The I AM is Goodness and Life!

The problem is we have believed a lie – the lie of the enemy that God is not good and His Word to us is not trustworthy. This is the heart of sin. This is the original temptation of Adam and Eve.

The LIE says we need to determine what is good and evil and then aim the trust of our heart at the target we determine to be good for us.

The result is that our hearts are darkened, corrupted, and impure. We are blind to who God really is. We imagine Him to be an angry, Zeus-like god who is out to get us. Or we imagine Him to be an aloof and senile grandfather in the sky who couldn’t care less about us.

Our blind, impure hearts can’t see God for who He really is. We are distracted by false gods and images (“idols”). And our blind, impure hearts can’t see ourselves for who we really are – children of God made in His image to share His Divine glory!

Blind, distracted, impure hearts are the cause of all our fear, our anxiety, and all our unhappiness.

King Jesus, however, gives us a heart transplant!

Jesus is the Word of the Father who reveals the goodness of God’s love for us – like light shining into the darkness!

He entered the darkness of our blind, distracted flesh and blood. Yet, His heart remained pure and focused in trust on His heavenly Father. He plunged Himself into our deepest darkness, corruption, and impurity when He hung on the cross. By giving His life, Jesus gives us the goodness of God’s redeeming love.

Jesus reveals the truth that God is good.

The Father has loved us and will always love us as His dear children. Jesus gives us His heart – the heart of God – that illuminates us with the eyes of faith so we may see who God really is.

Through this Good News the Holy Spirit is at work to purify and cleanse our hearts and to give us new, pure hearts that aim their trust in Jesus. You are included in Christ and He is in you. His pure heart is your pure heart. You are already in the bullseye center of God’s goodness and life!

Trust in Him. Let Him be the focus of your heart and life.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

We have the blessed joy of a pure heart in Jesus that sees God with the eyes of faith.

May eager anticipation rise up in our hearts. For the day is coming when our faith will turn into sight.

We “will see His face”! (Rev 22:4)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Jesus is our peace and He has made peace.

Jesus surrendered His life into the violent hands of the corrupt Jewish leaders and the tyrannical Roman authorities. He gave His life as a sacrifice to be scourged, beaten, and crucified.

Not because God needed a violent sacrifice to be appeased – as many Christians wrongly seem to think. God is not some pagan Volcano god who requires a young, virgin, island girl to be thrown into the flames to placate his anger.

The sacrifice of the cross was the enemy-embracing, non-violent, sacrifice of love that God made through Jesus to bring the violent evil and sin of mankind to an end with His death. The light of His love conquered the darkness of our self-centered evil and violence with His resurrection from the dead to give us peace with God and peace with each other.

The apostle Paul’s words about the end of hostility between Jews and Gentiles also applies to the hostility between all people:

“For Jesus himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.” (Ephesians 2:14-17)

Jesus preached peace and is now making peace through us – a new, reconciled humanity!

King Jesus established His Kingdom-reign of peace on earth through His teaching, His ministry of mercy, and finally with His sacrifice of love at the cross.

By preaching and making peace, King Jesus declares that every single woman, man, and child, no matter what nationality or background is a made-in-the-image-of-God child of the heavenly Father. Not everyone knows this yet, believes it now, or is living out of this identity. But it’s already a reality in Jesus.

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.

And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

King Jesus began a sacrificial-love, peace revolution that we’ve been enlisted into as His followers.

He is advancing the reconciling peace of His kingdom through us, His brothers and sisters – baptized into union with Jesus as beloved sons and daughters of God our Father and anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit.

In His Sermon on the Mount teaching for His kingdom community, Jesus says in the seventh beatitude – or “happiness” statement: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Jesus gives us true happiness in life as we trust in Him, the Peacemaker, and as He makes us to be peacemakers like Him. In our life-transforming union with Jesus and the peace we share in Him, we are reconciling peacemakers who serve others with His non-violent, enemy-embracing, sacrificial love.

Our self-centered thinking will resist this and it will certainly befuddle those with the world’s mindset of strength through violent power. But this is the supernatural kingdom life of Jesus’s goodness that conquers all evil.

Consider the peacemaking life Jesus works in us:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:38-39)

When someone insults or hurts us, Jesus says we need not retaliate with anger, threats, or violence in order to take revenge or get pay-back. (Jesus is not saying we can’t protect ourselves or keep ourselves from becoming objects of violence – let’s be clear on this!)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate you enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”(Matthew 5:43-45)

God’s peace works through us when we extend the goodness of His mercy, forgiveness, and love to those who oppose us, to those who are “enemies.”

When Jesus hung on the cross, He prayed for His enemies – including sinners like us – who crucified Him as He spoke these words, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Prayerfully reflect on the lyrics of the recent song by The Brilliance, called “My Brother”:

When I look into the face

Of my enemy

I see my brother

I see my brother


Forgiveness is the garment

Of our courage

The power to make the peace

We long to know

Open up our eyes

To see the wounds that bind

All of humankind

May our shutter hearts

Greet the dawn of life

With charity and love


Jesus, the Prince of Peace, blesses us with the joy of living as peacemakers. Together we are and one day will all be called children of God.


(Next week we will continue with “Blessed are those who are persecuted.”)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Born Again Believer

Are you born again? Perhaps you have heard people describe themselves as a "born again Christian." What does that mean? To make matters more confusing, different churches have different teachings on this subject.

This Sunday we will look at what Scripture says and how the church has historically understood what it means to be born again. The message, titled "Born Again Believer", is based on John 3:1-36.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Empowered Witnesses

How does Jesus' resurrection change our lives? He gives us more than a future hope. The transforming presence of Jesus lives within us today. And He empowers us with His peace to live as witnesses of His resurrection life in everything we do and wherever we go. Our message this Sunday is "Empowered Witnesses" based on Luke 24:36-53.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Hearts Awakened

After experiencing the joy of King Jesus's resurrection, it doesn't take long for discouragement to work its way back into our hearts. We're tempted to live as if Jesus never really rose from the dead. But Jesus promises that He is with us in our daily journey. This Sunday we start a new series, Encountering the Risen Lord, with the message, "Hearts Set On Fire" based on Luke 24:13-35.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

New Life Out of Death

Jesus has risen from the dead! Death is defeated and the powers of darkness have been conquered. Now new life and the sure hope of the resurrection is available for all people in Jesus.  This Sunday we celebrate the Resurrection Day of Jesus. Our message is titled, "New Life Out of Death!" from Luke 24:1-12.


Sunday, April 09, 2017

God Empties Himself for You

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Spread the Good News

Whether we realize it or not, we have an influence on the people around us - either positively or negatively.  As Jesus attracted people as He served them with the love of God so we are called to Follow the Leader. This Sunday we continue our series with the message, "Catching People with the Love of Jesus" based on Luke 5:1-11.

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Meet Pastor Chris

  • Hi! My name is Chris Boehnke (a good German name pronounced “Bane-key”). Tracy, my wife, and I have been married for 21 years and God has blessed us with four beautiful children: Joshua (18), Lauren (16), Nathaniel (13), and Mikayla (9). I treasure my wife and family among the greatest gifts God has given me in life. I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska – the heartland of the Midwest – by two loving parents, Don and Linda. I grew up attending a conservative but vibrant Lutheran congregation, while also experiencing excursions into other evangelical and charismatic church environments. This exposed me to a breadth of Christian practice and teaching that has incited me over the years to ask a ton of questions and to seek deeper understanding regarding what “the church” is and what it’s central message, “the Gospel,” is all about. While my interests were in art…

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A Congregation of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod