LOVE SPEAKS | Through the Holy Spirit

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”
Romans 8:26-27 NIV
 
Love speaks to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. We connect with God through the Spirit of God knowing our needs and desires. We cry out for more of God and God answers that prayer through the Holy Spirit. I want more too—to see more than I’ve seen, know God better than I’ve known Him, and love Him more than I’ve loved Him. We should not be content to just “do church” but rather crave to connect with God. He has already given us all of Himself. He didn’t give us just a portion of the Spirit; He gave us The Spirit. The cry for more is deep calling out to deep, a longing to experience more and have greater awareness. It’s growing in our knowledge of what He has given and what we can freely access in Him.
 
I believe the Holy Spirit has been conditioning our minds to understand this and bringing us to a place where our hearts are so uncluttered that we can be truly filled with all His peace and fullness. We are in a tremendous season at CROSSROADS where I sense the Holy Spirit encouraging us. May we yield to the Spirit and allow the Holy Spirit to work through us.  May we allow the Spirit to intercede on our behalf. May we all share the power of the Spirit with others.
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn



LOVE SPEAKS | Through Creation & Nature

“Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20

God speaks to us in many ways. God speaks through His Word – The Bible and we discussed the importance of the Love Story of God in Scripture last week. This week we will look at how God speaks to us through Creation. I personally have had some of my most powerful worship experiences in natural surroundings. In my 20’s I worked at a Christian Camp called Star Lake Wilderness Camp. We would worship at the beach around the fire, in an old TeePee and an outdoor chapel. We would sing songs, tell stories, hear testimonies and even share communion outdoors. We would also just lay at the beach at night and stare up at the stars. I saw God’s presence and heard God’s voice everywhere. God called me into ministry through wilderness experiences. One major conversation with God was on a mountain top in Montana that included some thunder and lightning. I was reminded of God’s awesome power.

Creation and nature are powerful reminders of God and the gift of this world He gave us. Creation is amazing. It points to God and His love for us. We have to remember to not worship creation but instead The Creator who gave us the world and everything in it. Deb and I love hiking the trails of Sedona, Arizona. The beautiful Red Rocks draw us into his presence as we see wade through streams climb Cathedral Rock. We encounter some on the trails who believe Vortexes and other things are God in nature. This “New Age” faith is an older tradition called pantheism. Pantheism or the worship of nature was alive and well during the time of Jesus and the early church. We are called to care for and steward creation but not to worship it.

As we look at the power and presence of God revealed through CREATION this week may God speak to you. Take some time this week to enjoy being outside (yes even in Minnesota in the winter.). May we continue to see God all around us as we hear His voice. May we also care for the creation he has given us.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn



LOVE SPEAKS | Through His Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”
John‬ ‭1:1-2 ‭

John Wesley the founder of the Methodist movement was a firm believer that the love of God spoke through God’s Word – The Holy Scriptures.

“I want to know one thing – the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore…God himself has condescended to teach me the way. For this very end He came from heaven. He has written it down in a book.

O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be “homo unius libri”: a man of ONE BOOK! Here then I am far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone: only God is there. In his presence I open the book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights: Lord, is it not said in Your Word, ‘if any lack wisdom, let him ask God?’ You give liberally…I then search after and consider parallel passage of Scripture, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

I meditate therein with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God: and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet still speak.” (John Wesley, Preface to his published 53 sermons)

One way we hear God is by reading and meditating upon the Bible. God’s Word opens our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. To hear God, we need to read God’s truth. May we all hear LOVE SPEAK through Scriptures. May we all take time to listen to God and read His Word daily.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul

Questions to Consider:

1. What was the first bible you ever had? What do you remember most about it?
2. What’s your favorite bible verse or story?
3. What are your non-negotiables? Where have you drawn the line on what you won’t compromise on your beliefs?
4. When is a time you applied Biblical principle?



DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING | Knowledge and Self-control

Add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control….
-2 Peter 1:6

(Excerpt from Roger Thompson’s Book – Doing the Next Right Thing”)

“On April 26, 2003, Aaron Ralston was hiking through Blue John Canyon. While he was descending into a narrow, slot canyon, a suspended eight-hundred-pound boulder became dislodged, crushing his right hand against the wall. He was trapped and unable to move. He had told no one of his hiking plans so he knew no one would be searching for him. He spent five days rationing his food but eventually had to do something or die in the wilderness. Ralston eventually arrived at the conclusion he would have to amputate his arm. He broke both of the bones on his arm and then spent the better part of an hour cutting his arm off with a dull two-inch knife. After amputating his arm, he was dehydrated and had lost about 25 percent of his blood. He then had to rappel 65 a foot sheer wall with one hand and hike out the canyon. While hiking out of the canyon, Aaron was blessed to encounter a family from the Netherlands on vacation, who gave him water and Oreos. They then alerted the authorities who came and gave Aaron the medical treatment he so desperately needed.”

Why do I share such a gruesome tale? Because Aaron Ralston exhibited both of the qualities we are studying this week – Knowledge and Self-control. He used his knowledge of human anatomy to make a difficult but lifesaving decision. He exhibited self-control by overcoming the pain during such a difficult procedure. The Apostle Peter in his letter acknowledges that knowledge and self-control are needed to build upon one’s faith. Blind faith can lead to bad decisions. Informed faith can move one toward more mature decisions. May we all seek more knowledge to sustain our faith. May we all grow in our self-control, so we exhibit maturity in Christ.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul
 
Questions to Consider:
1. How would you define knowledge? Why is it beneficial?
2. What is one new truth you have discovered recently about God or Scripture?
3. What experiences have required you to keep a strong handhold on knowledge in order to keep you from falling?
4. How have you learned self-control the hard way through consequences?
5. What situations have you exhibited self-control? What positive benefits have you seen as a result?


Better Together | Through Example

“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned.”
‭‭Titus ‭2:7-8 ‭NIV‬‬
 
Deb and I have been blessed by having our grandson Bellamy James living with us over the past year. He and his parents will be moving out in November into their own home. We will miss them. It has been a joy having them around. At 5 years of age, Bellamy has changed the dynamics of our home with his indoor soccer practice and daily creative play.
 
At supper time when we eat together, we share highs and lows of our day. We also share one thing we learned. We go around the table and each take our turns. I shared how much I enjoyed preaching with his grandma (Pastor Deb) on Sunday. As a low I shared how I cut my fingers with a chainsaw while trimming trees. I told everyone my learning for the day was copyright law on photographs taken from the internet. Bellamy was moving around a lot at supper but eventually shared with me about school stuff going on for highs and lows. But the thing he learned struck me right between the eyes. Bellamy learned that “if you have a phone you look at you don’t have to listen to people.” Wow! I wonder where he picked up that tidbit of information? Watching me? Watching other adults?
 

Setting an example is never easy. We have to be aware that others are watching us. People observe more of what we do than what we say. In the book of Titus, the leaders are being told to set an EXAMPLE by doing good. If we are to share our faith it starts through our actions. May our lives be good examples of how to live as Christ would have us live. May we share God’s love this week wherever we go to demonstrate His love in our lives.

 

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Better Together | Through Honor

“Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance.”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬
 
I’ve got to be honest, I’ve never preached from this passage before. But because CROSSROADS is walking through the One Year Bible readings I am challenged to preach on new passages. This passage reminds the church to “HONOR” those in leadership. In another part of Scripture, Paul states to show “Double Honor.”
 
“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”
‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
Many congregations have seen spiritual pain, hurt and wounds. Pastors and family are often caught in the middle of the “hand-to-hand” combat. They are unable to leave the field of battle, for it follows them everywhere. Families have broken up over doctrines. Friendships have ended because of disagreements in the church. Many clergy have seen ugly scenes of hostility and animosity. Pastors are always attempting to comfort, soothe, encourage, uplift, direct and gently admonish. Ministry is difficult work. When ministers are respected and appreciated for their hard work it can make a big difference.
 
A mentor of mine explained to me that caring for a pastor (and the pastor’s family) is like caring for the church. When we as leaders are healthy and supported, we can care for the needs of the church more fully. He also told me we model respect to our youth and children when we show honor to those in authority. Oxford dictionary defines honor as showing high respect; or demonstrating great esteem. This October is Ministry Appreciation month so take time to honor those who serve in ministry.
 

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

 

Actions To Consider:
Here is a modified list of ways to honor a pastor that was shared by LifeWay Resources.

1. Pray for your pastors every day for a week and send a note of encouragement to one of them.

2. Support your church financially and generously.

3. Find out the name of a lost person your pastor is praying for and covenant to also pray for this person.

4. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s fullness to be evident in the Sunday services. Come early to worship and pray with others for the service.

5. On Sundays in October, ask him what you can pray about for him this week. Then the next Sunday ask him how things went regarding what you prayed for.

6. Encourage your friends to join you in sitting closer to the front during October’s Sunday services.

7. Defend him or her against critics. Every pastor is imperfect and has some people whose expectations are not met by his ministry.

8. Take notes on your pastor’s preaching and teaching. Such a practice is spiritually healthy and demonstrates that you value what he says.

9. Listen and have an open heart to his/her ideas for change. Oftentimes, the value of that change may take months or years to be fully appreciated.

10. Tag your pastor in a social media post with the hashtag #pastorappreciation and tell your friends, family and fellow church members what you appreciate about your pastor.



Better Together | Through Prayer

“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.”
2 Thessalonians 1:11
 
Imagine for a moment that you are Jesus during His earthly ministry. You have been given the most important assignment that anyone will ever be given. What would you do and where would you spend most of your time? Most of us would probably jump immediately to teaching in the synagogues, performing miracles, and perhaps even telling the world that we were the Son of God. But not Jesus. While Jesus did perform miracles and teach in the synagogues, the majority of His time was spent with twelve close friends – His disciples. Even Jesus did not attempt to live the Christian life alone. He knew His work would be endlessly demanding, frustrating, and tiring. Jesus knew He would want time away from the crowds to pray and draw close to the Father. He also taught his disciples the importance of prayer and fasting. Jesus chose close friends to ministry alongside. He didn’t want to face the hardships or experience the joy alone. He wanted friends. He wanted community. I also believe, Jesus wanted to set an example for us to not do life alone.
 
The way that Jesus chose to live His life on earth is a model for all Christians who have come after Him. As fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, we need real fellowship with other believers. We need the kind of fellowship that cannot take place in a worship service on Sunday morning, but rather the kind that happens by living life alongside one another and sharing joys and burdens. That is why finding a meaningful small group is so important. We need to pray for one another and remember we are better together.
 

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

 

Questions to consider:
1. Some people enjoy praying with other Christians, while others find it intimidating. What’s your initial reaction to the idea of praying with others? Why do you think you feel that way?

2. When is the last time you prayed out loud for another person? When is the last time you prayed out loud?

3. Have you ever asked anyone else to pray for you? Why or why not? If they did what did that feel like?



Better Together | Through Encouragement

“Therefore if you have any ENCOURAGEMENT from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
Philippians ‭2:1-2 ‭NIV‬‬
 
We live in a challenging perfectionist society where we are in a quest for “zero defect.” We call it the “Rat Race”. We are surrounded by an overwhelming number of fake and often unrealistic finish lines: If our body looks a certain way, if we drive a certain car, if we live at a particular address or socialize with these exclusive people, then we have won the race. Because of these unrealistic expectations, it is not unusual for people to feel irrelevant, overwhelmed, discouraged and depressed. But when challenges and setbacks come into our lives, we can be encouragers. Paul encouraged his churches and shared a message of encouragement particularly to the people of Phillipi. If we want to be like the Apostle Paul, here are a few modern phrases of encouragement we can offer:
 
“You’re doing a great job even though you think no one notices.”
“Don’t worry, you may have missed it this time, but you can try again.”
“I really believe you can do it – even if you don’t believe in yourself.”
“Great Job! Thanks for the hard work!”
“I know it’s a big challenge, but I’m praying for you.”
“You’re not alone – I’ll be here for you!”
“I will always love you! It doesn’t matter if you try and fail.”
 
You can probably think of more encouraging phrases. Feel free to share some with me 🙂 The secret is to find ways to encourage our loved ones with notes, calls, cards, verses, emails, snap chats or instant messages. Give someone this week a pat on the back, a word of recognition, prayer support or a look that says, “I believe in you!” In a society where people are quick to criticize and condemn, let’s let our mouths speak differently. May we this week share encouragement with others. May we be a people of a God that reminds the world that we are “better together.”
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul
 
 

Questions To Consider:
1.What is one negative thing someone said or did to me this week. Why did it discourage me?

2.When is a time recently that someone encouraged you? How did that change your day?

3.When is a time recently you encouraged someone else? What did you say or do?

4.Name three people you should encourage this week in your life.



Game Changers | Fourth & Long

All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.
‭‭Galatians ‭2:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In high school and junior high, I played football. In the glory days of youth there are many memories of sports moments that were “game changers.” One play could change the entire outcome of the game. I recall one game where we were behind and the coach called in an unusual play. It is called a “flea-flicker” pass. It was fourth down and long yards to get a first down. I threw the ball to my wide receiver and friend of mine named Tim. He pretended to run with it but instead stopped and then proceeded to stand still as everyone ran towards him. Meanwhile since the defense is focused on the wide receiver, I can sneak down field undetected. I ran as fast as I could and deep down the field as I could run. My friend Tim, at the last minute, planted his feet and threw the ball as far down the field as he could possibly throw. Somehow, in this crazy play, I was able to catch the ball and waltz into the end zone unscathed. The play was a “Game Changer”, as we went ahead in the score with only seconds left on the clock. We took a calculated risk but the payoff changed the game.

Caring for the poor is a game changer. It changes us from the inside out. It also changes those we share our resources with. It is a sacrifice of time and money to do local outreach like CROSSROADS. We make sandwiches for the homeless, and also bring food to schools through The Sheridan Story ministry to help kids who suffer from food scarcity. This last Saturday, I was at the Grocery Giveaway at CROSSROADS of Inver Grove Heights. I prayed with a woman who was struggling with medical bills. She was grateful for the food because her husband had his legs amputated recently and could not support the family any more. She shared with me that the groceries she took every month have helped her and her children tremendously. Our church has been a game changer in her life. The Apostle Paul challenges the Galatians to be “game changers” by remembering the poor and helping them. Paul himself collected many offerings to help widows and orphans who were struggling. It is a reminder for us to care for the least, the lost and the left behind. May we be game changers this week as we remember the poor. May we continue at CROSSROADS to reach out to the least, the lost and left behind.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul



Game Changers | Free Agent Pickup

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
 
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬
In a sport franchise athletes were once on a team for life. They signed up with a city or a state team and played their entire career with that team.  A franchise player was one who dedicated their career to a single team.  Later in the sport’s world, players began shopping around for better opportunities and coaches began looking at ways to increase their talent pool. The name “free agent” became the term used because they were not committed to one team. A team or franchise picked up a free agent and blended them into their team. In essence, they adopted them into their sports family even though they started in another sports family.
 
God loves us so much and wants us to be a part of His family. Paul uses the term adoption because we are not biological children of God but born of the Spirit of God. Paul reminds us it gives God great pleasure to be one of His children. And just like biological children we will receive an inheritance from our Heavenly Father.  God chooses us as free agents to join His team (family) but he doesn’t force us. He simply offers the invitation. May we all recognize this day that we are children of God. May we all receive our Kingdom inheritance and share the inheritance with others.
 

Questions To Consider:

  1. When you hear the phrase “child of God” what does that mean to you?
  2. What is your definition of adoption? How does one incorporate a non-biological son or daughter into the family?
  3. What is our inheritance as children of God?