Weekly Devotion

 

Living Your Strengths

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

‭‭-Psalm‬ ‭139:13-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I grew up a runner, and one of my all time favorite movies is Chariots of Fire. One character in the movie who is both a missionary and a runner is named Eric Little. Some wondered why he chose to run instead of focusing full time work in missions. He answered his critics that God created him to run. He stated: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast!”
I love when people figure out God created them for a purpose. When we start understanding God’s will for our lives we feel joy like nothing else. Although I still get a little nervous every time before preaching, once I start speaking I feel a sense of God’s purpose flow through me. It doesn’t mean I don’t get outside my comfort zone. It does mean I feel most fulfilled and experience the most productivity when I use the strengths given to me by God. 

Strengthsfinder is an inventory tool I use to help business leaders, school administrators, teachers, youth, and others discover their 5 key strengths. Less than 12% of most Americans feel they are working in an area of their strength. Once people focus on their strengths instead of fixing their weaknesses it can become life changing. My prayer for you is you discover God’s purpose for your life and live out the strengths God has given you. As you are living your strengths, may God use you to share the love of God with others.

In Christ,

Pastor Paul Marzahn


Living In Community

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.

-Acts 2:42-45

When Deb and I started CROSSROADS CHURCH it began as 5 people in our living room discussing the Book of Acts. When we discussed Acts 2 we all prayed our new family called, CROSSROADS could live like the early Christian believers. We wanted vibrant, life changing worship. We craved intimate fellowship in small groups. We spent time in prayer, fellowship, and breaking bread in each of our homes. Then God added to our numbers and we outgrew our living room. We started a second small group down the street, and then a third within the first six months of the church. We made small groups a Core Value of the church and declared groups are not a program of the church, they are THE CHURCH.

God created us to be in community. God made the church family to encourage and support one another. Small groups and worship allow us to grow with God and one another.

I ran into an early CROSSROADS Member at the gym who moved away from the church and is now back in the area. We were reminiscing about the early days 20 years ago. He said those were, “some of my greatest memories of being on fire for God and my church family.” I gently reminded him he could visit CROSSROADS anytime and enjoy that fellowship again. He pulled a “Pastor Paul” and said he “would pray about it.” I hope and pray he certainly does.

We all need a place to call our spiritual home. CROSSROADS is a great place to call home. Yet, we all need small groups to have the intimate relationships we crave to grow deeper with God and one another. This Sunday at CROSSROADS is small group Sunday. We hope you will come celebrate the value of small groups with us. We also hope you may find or start a new small group that can help you grow in Christ.

Blessings,

Pastor Paul Marzahn


Aiming For True Greatness

2 Peter 3:17-18  – 17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Raising kids (and grandkids) is not easy. My first priority has always been to not kill them or injure them. Anything else is a blessing. Our first daughter Rebekah had to be resilient. We took her everywhere and she did everything we did. I remember her first summer with us when I was a youth pastor when we were part of the church sand volleyball league. Bekah came to every game with us and we often carried her around in a child carrier backpack so she could stay close. One game we were short players so I joined into the game. Bekah was strapped to my back giggling the whole time as she watched the ball flying around the court. Things went really well until the ball was spiked low and I decided to dive for it. Needless to say Bekah did not appreciate the sudden lurch into the sand. Fortunately, Bekah survived my lack of judgement, and I survived my wife Deb who saw what I did. No wonder my daughter Bekah has been cautious with letting me watch my grandson Bellamy the first year of his life. Fortunately, both my wife and my daughter have extended me grace through the years in spite of my imperfections.

Peter talks about, “growing in grace.” Grace is not a static, one time gift. It is a process of understanding God’s love for us more fully. The Greek word for grace is “charis,” which also translates into the words love, thankfulness, or kindness. It is a reminder God’s favor was given to humanity as a gift through Jesus Christ. We did not deserve this gift, therefore we are thankful God came in the flesh as Jesus and sacrificed himself upon the cross. The sacrifice of Jesus paid for our sins and gave us the gift of eternal life. When we receive this gift (undeserved grace) we understand more fully our relationship with God. This allows us to grow in our knowledge of Jesus and strengthen our relationship with God.

This week in worship we will be discussing how grace needs to be a part of Christian families. Balancing grace and truth allows us as believers to strengthen our relationships. It helps us forgive each other’s faults, and at the same time expect the best in each other. May God’s grace guide you this week as you continue to share the love of Jesus Christ. May you develop rules in your home that share the character of Christ.

Pastor Paul Marzahn



The Times They Are A Changin

Bob Dylan wrote a song about the world and how a lot was in turmoil. Dylan stated:

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin
’”

What was true then is still true today. The times are changing. Politics and social issues continue to be make us more aware every day we need Jesus. The “Prince of Peace” is the one who can bring about peace when worry and anxiety overwhelm us. Only a relationship with God can bring light to our hearts and our society.

CROSSROADS CHURCH continues to try to be an instrument of God to help our community weather the storms of life.

The CROSSROADS CHURCH family is also going through changes. We are making intentional changes to help strengthen our church family by offering new resources.

NEW SERVICE TIME IN LAKEVILLE – 9:30am
September 3rd CROSSROADS CHURCH of Lakeville will consolidate our 9:00 and 10:30 service times to 9:30. There will be adult Sunday School classes at 8:30 and also at 10:45. Kids Own Worship and youth will be dismissed during the 9:30 service after the praise music portion of worship.

CHRISTIAN HERITAGE ACADEMY SCHOOL OPENING
September 11th will mark the opening of the school at CROSSROADS. There is still space to enroll your child in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. Scholarships are available.

SELLING OF LAND TO FOUR SQUARE CHILDCARE CENTER FOR NEW BUILDING
September 14th at 6:30pm we are having an all church meeting to vote on the expansion of the Four Square Daycare Center. The plan is for Four Square to purchase a little over one acre and add a 15,000 square foot building attached to CROSSROADS CHURCH.

CAPITAL CAMPAIGN FOR SPECIAL PROJECTS AND TO PAY DOWN DEBT
CROSSROADS CHURCH is putting together a team to work on a finance campaign to help with capital improvements and also pay down mortgage debt at the Lakeville Campus.

NEW CHILDRENS AND YOUTH CURRICULUM AND LEADERSHIP
A task force was formed to look at curriculum for children and youth ministries. It was decided the new ORANGE curriculum will be used for the next year. ORANGE is great because it reminds us the church’s role is to come alongside parents to help them instruct their kids. We also recently hired Shelly Kuyatt as our Children’s Director and E.J. Lee as our Youth Director to work on implementing some of these needed changes.

We believe the Lord is leading us to these changes so as to further empower the CROSSROADS CHURCH community to be lights in the darkness of life as times continue to change.

In Christ,

Pastor Paul Marzahn


How to Neighbor Those That are Left Out

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians‬ ‭2:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

When I was growing up in a rural community my neighbors were there for generations. Many were even family members. However, as I moved to the suburbs, I realized neighbors come and go. Our culture is now one that is more transient. Comparatively, learning how to neighbor in this environment has been more challenging for me. Probably for my neighbors, as well, as they have tried to put up with me and my farm antics. Many still can’t believe I swim in the pond behind our house. After all it isn’t lined with concrete and it doesn’t have a filter system.

Our neighbor Becky Nelson lived by us for over 10 years. She was amazing and still is even though she now lives in St. Paul. She knew how to be a great neighbor. She would loan us her power washer, air compressor, lawnmower, or snow blower and never complained when it took me a week to return them.

Looking back I seldom did much to help her. Fortunately, my wife is not like me. When Becky had to go through surgery and was laid up for a while, my wife Deb would go over and water her plants or walk her dogs. She would even shovel the sidewalk if it was needed. I can’t prove it, but I’m sure she even brought food over when I wasn’t looking. You know, come to think of it, my wife is an awesome neighbor, too.

As I was reflecting on this passage of scripture, I realized I fall quite short of following it. And not only with my neighbor Becky. My biggest problem is I’m not always seeing the needs of others. I need to put on a different set of lenses. One that focuses on others and not myself. Maybe you struggle sometimes with that same issue. I believe God calls us to neighbor those around us. Those who physically live next to us, and also those who need us. That is what the Apostle Paul was trying to teach his church family in Philippi. It is what every church family should be doing. Christ followers should be the best neighbors around. I’ll say it again – Christ followers should be the best neighbors around! I am going to try harder to live up to being a better Christ follower. May each of us do better at being the neighbors Christ would have us be.

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Christian Atheist – I Believe In God, But I Don’t Want To Go Overboard

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit (vomit) you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked… (Revelation 3:15-17)

In the early days of CROSSROADS CHURCH a group of us went skydiving together as part of our “No Fear” worship series. On the way up to 10,000 feet I admit I was feeling pretty queasy. Everything I had for breakfast was reminding me it was in my stomach as it increasingly churned with the elevation. It didn’t help that they left the plane door open so we could see the ground as the plane ascended.  

We hit our elevation and two others jumped before me. I could hear their screams as they were drug out of the plane. Since these were tandem parachute jumps, the instructors jumped and we had no choice but to follow. We crawled out on the wing to jump next and that is when I saw and smelled it. The person in front of me had vomited all over the plane! The plane propellor had done an excellent job of spraying it all over. I was repulsed beyond belief. For a short moment it took my mind off of being 10,000 feet in the air. Reality sunk in quickly however as my instructor jumped off the wing and I soon followed. I didn’t vomit, but I came close.

The word “spit” in today’s Scripture also translates from the Greek word “em eo” (em-eh’-o); to spit, vomit, utter rejection, puke, or supremely repulsed. It is a reminder from God’s perspective that a lukewarm faith is repulsive to God.

This passage from Revelation is one of seven letters to seven churches. This letter was written to the church of Laodicea which was a wealthy Roman community now located in modern day Turkey. This church struggled with a lukewarm faith in God. They believed in God, but their actions demonstrated otherwise. That is why God said He wanted to vomit. Their lack of obedience in their faith made them repulsive to God. Thus God wanted to vomit them out unless they changed. God doesn’t need more lukewarm Christians. God needs fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ who live out their faith.

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Christian Atheist – Trust

I Believe in God But I Don’t Trust Him 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

A former Youth Director and intern Samantha Lewis (now Sam Evans), recently wrote a blog about a time we went camping at a place called Star Lake Wilderness Camp and went canoeing down the Pine River. As I have been reflecting on trust this week I thought about how she trusted me as her co-leader to take her some place she had never been and bring her home safely. She also trusted me with a sharp knife. Check out her story:

Day Three out on the river I could still smell myself at that point and something had to be done. The water level was low and the current was lazy due to lack of rain that year. Therefore, I couldn’t simply wade out from shore.

My friend Paul and I canoed out to the middle of the river. The first thing that I had to do was jump out of the canoe without tipping it. I stood atop the seat, did my best to jump more upward than outward, and Paul managed to counterbalance the abrupt motion.

I scrubbed my hair with shampoo while treading water. Treading water in a river—with no hands— is difficult. Every few minutes I’d latch on to the lip of the canoe and Paul would paddle backwards toward where our camp was set up. I finally finished washing my hair and I swung one of my legs up over the side of the canoe to check for leeches.

I wasn’t actually supposed to find one on my shin. I was certainly not supposed to find two. Brown with a translucent quality to them, one was about an inch long and a centimeter wide. The other was much smaller—just a cute, little baby leech learning the ways of the world. There was no screaming, but there was panic. I tried to pull Baby off and it latched onto my thumb instead. I used the edge of the canoe to scrape it off.

“I have a knife,” Paul offered. “Do it, please,” I replied. After he scraped off the second one, I pulled my second leg up. Paul readied his knife. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I have never worked so hard just to wash my hair. Here’s the thing to realize, as gross as that experience was, if I got three leeches on my legs treading water in the current, imagine how many I could have collected had I waded through knee-deep muck and the cesspools along the shore. I would have emerged looking like a cheetah. Our friends on the shore thought we were nuts, but I was clean and refreshed and they were not.

As I was reflecting on this camping adventure, I realized how much trust Sam had by co-leading with me. Up to this point, she had respected me as Senior Pastor. She had even demonstrated loyalty as an intern to come early every Sunday and help set up at North Trail Elementary School. Yet, this camping trip put her outside her comfort zone. She had to trust me in a way she had never demonstrated before. She had to decide if following me was the right path. Through our relationship together we built mutual trust.  

God wants to build a relationship with you so you will trust in Him. He wants you to do more than simply believe in Him. God wants you to live your life in such a way that you rely on Him each and every day. Even when the going gets tough, God wants you to put your trust in Him that He will see you through.
Blessings In Christ,

Sam and I at Star Lake Wilderness Camp.

Pastor Paul Marzahn


YOUnited States of America

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” He replied.,“How do you read it?” He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, with all your mind, all your strength and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”               – Luke‬ ‭10:25-27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

During the time of Jesus, the law of Moses was debated frequently. It was both a moral code and a civil law that was to be interpreted. Other volumes of commentaries written by Rabbi’s, called “Midrash”, were often discussed by influential leaders. Jesus was being questioned to see what political party or leader he followed. Was he a Pharisee or a Sadducee? Was he taught by the Essenes or did he follow the teachings of the Sanhedrin? Would he vote conservative or liberal? Progressive or Libertarian? Jesus refused to follow any party lines. He summed up the Law in words of love.

The United States of America is a nation of laws. But laws merely define what is permissible or not. It only defines what we can or cannot do. Laws don’t tell us what we should do. Laws define our rights without the necessary counterpart: our responsibilities. My favorite line from Voltaire (and Spider-Man) – “With great power comes great responsibility.”  As Christians living in this nation of laws, we can do better. We can follow Christ’s command to, “love our neighbors as ourselves”. We can exercise our personal rights with great responsibility in caring for others. A true YOUnited States is less focused on getting our way and is instead focused on following God’s way. May God’s Law of Love guide you this week and always.

In Christ’s Service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn


Downfall: Pride

“Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel!” 2 Kings‬ ‭19:22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A pastor was recently telling my prayer group that lately that he was feeling like the joint in the middle of a mobile. He felt like the section that holds all the floating toys above a crib. He shared that on his “mobile” were all the employees of the church, the bills the ministry had to pay, and his wife and family.  The needs of people within the church were  spinning with people that were dying, those that were just kicked out of their homes, couples that were going through divorces.
His pain and pressure hit close to my heart and the hearts of many pastors in the room.


Pastors carry the weight of a lot ministry concerns and also their personal family lives, and friendships. So, if I’m this joint in the middle how do I balance it all? I began to pray into that question and realized that a big part of being a Christian is not being that joint. Although we have responsibilities, and although we matter, Christ is the joint. Jesus is what is holding us all together. It is our pride that makes us think we need to be in the center.  God should be at the center of our life mobile because only God can care for all things. He’ll take care of us, and he’ll take care of the people that we’re responsible for. May God show all of us our part in helping to take care of others.  May God release us from having to be everything for everybody. May you remind us God that you are the one who holds it all together.
 
In Christ’s Service, 
 
Pastor Paul 


Downfall: Divided Families

“I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes.” 1 Kings 14:8

 

There is a story about a king who sends his military out to defend the Kingdom. A knight and his men return to their castle after a long hard day of fighting.”How are we faring?” asks the king. “Sire,” replies the knight, “I have been robbing and pillaging on your behalf all day, burning the towns of your enemies in the west.” “What?!” shrieks the king.  “I don’t have any enemies to the west!”
“Oh, no…” says the knight.  “Well, you do now.”

 
It is easy to have divided kingdom’s and divided families. Misunderstandings happen. Bad communication can contribute to the problem. It is hard to maintain unity. In today’s scripture passage, division is occurring in the nation of Israel. Selfishness, pride, and sin are all at the root of the division. This passage reminds us to be careful. We must always be vigilant to watch out for division. Today’s Scripture reminds us that following God with all our heart leads us to building the kingdom of God rather than dividing it. This week reflect on how the Reign of God heals strife in your own life.
 
In Christ’s Service, 
 
Pastor Paul