Weekly Devotion

Rise to the Challenge

The gym I belong to used to issue monthly challenges. Even though I didn’t always participate in them, I appreciated the challenge because I knew it would push me outside of my comfort zone and would help me grow in my strength. The purpose of a good challenge is to help us grow. If the challenge is too great, then we may be quick to give in and move on to something we can handle. How is it we can rise to the challenges ahead? By rising to the challenge in God’s strength.
When God lead the Israelites to the promise land, the challenge was just beginning. The Israelites still needed to take possession of the land the Lord their God was giving them. Yes God had promised them the land, but it wasn’t empty. Instead they needed to rise to the challenge.
In Joshua, the Lord calls forth a new generation of Leadership. Joshua and Israel are encouraged to be strong and courageous as they prepare for challenge ahead. With each conquest, Israel starts living into God’s promises through their faith. God doesn’t just give them the land, no, they must rise to the challenge in faith, learning to trust God and recognize that God is fighting on their behalf. It is a story of continued faith in God, recognizing God as the source of their strength.
We all have our challenges. Rather than pulling back or giving in, what would it look like if we started rising to the challenge in faith? What if we started fighting our battles with our prayers? What would it mean for us to find encouragement and hope in knowing that God is with us? It is time for us to rise to the challenge. It is time for us to discover God’s strength.

In Christ’s Service,

Pastor Gordon Deuel


For as yet they did not know (understand) the statement of Scripture that He must rise again from the dead.                                                 John 20:9     
I have to admit when my son Josh asked me to see the movie “Revenant,” I was not anxious to go. Isn’t this about some guy in the wilderness who gets mauled by a bear? I looked up the word Revenant in the dictionary and learned it is of French origin and it means “someone who has come back from the dead.”
Easter is all about Jesus coming back from the dead. The early disciples struggled with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Many followers of Jesus still struggle with this historic event today. When we understand the importance of the cross and the resurrection, we realize Jesus is the son of God who came to save us. Without the resurrection, Jesus is just another great teacher and martyr.  Jesus came back from the dead and promised we will too if we believe in Him. May you experience the Revenant faith of Jesus Christ this Easter in your life.
In Christ’s Love and Service,

Pastors Paul & Deb Marzahn

Palm to Passion Sunday


As we approach Holy Week we are celebrating this Sunday with what is known as a Palm to Passion worship experience. Some churches celebrate Palm Sunday and then celebrate different worship services throughout the week commemorating the final events in the life of Jesus Christ. Other churches like CROSSROADS combine all the final events of Christ into one Sunday. Since many are not able to come to special services during Holy Week, everyone is able to see the final events in the life of Christ. Together in worship we will celebrate Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The kids and adults will sing Hosanna and wave palm branches during this part of worship reminding us that Christ is the King.  We will experience together Jesus with his disciples in the upper room where they celebrated the Passover Seder and then we will celebrate with communion in remembrance of this meal.  We will also re-live the passion scene of Jesus being beaten, sentenced and crucified.  Although the worship service ends with the death of Jesus, we are reminded of the hope of the resurrection that is to come.

We also have a tradition at CROSSROADS of celebrating this Sunday with special dramas. This year is no exception.  The last week of Jesus will be seen through the eyes of his good friends Lazarus and Mary. Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus and his sister Mary was one of Jesus’ female disciples and close friends. Pastor Paul Marzahn will play the role of Lazarus and Pastor Deb Marzahn, the role of Mary.  This week and next week are great opportunities to invite family and friends.  These special worship services tell the core of why we are followers of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

In Christ’s Love and Service,

Pastors Paul & Deb Marzahn

Detour: No U-Turn

And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.”                          Numbers 13:32?
In today’s passage the Israelites want to make a “U-Turn.” God brings them to the promised land and Moses sends in spies to scout out the land. Caleb and Joshua see potential in the land promised to them by God. The other spies see giants in the land. How often do we look at all the problems rather than the promises of God? I know God often puts before me tremendous opportunities. Yet, I can often cower and tremble like the spies sent by Moses.

I think the spies were afraid because they looked up, but didn’t look up high enough. They looked up to the faces of giant men and women, but didn’t look above them to the clouds of heaven and remember the God who saved them from the Egyptians. They didn’t look up and remember the quail that fell from the sky to feed them. They didn’t look up and remember God’s pillar cloud that lead them by day and protected them at night. They didn’t look up high enough and remember God’s Shekinah glory at Mount Sinai. Caleb and Joshua looked up high enough to see God and remember God was with them. 

In Christ’s Love and Service,

Pastors Paul and Deb Marzahn

Detour: Fines Double In Work Zones

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.
                                                                                             Exodus 19:5
Roadway work zones are hazardous both for motorists who drive through the complex array of signs, barrels, and lane changes and for workers who repair, and maintain our nation’s streets, bridges, and highways. According to worksafety.org, Minnesota had “361 work zone accidents in 2014 and nine resulted in fatalities. Minnesota is one of the safer states. Fatalities in Texas, California, and Florida ranked as the three States with the most motor vehicle crash fatalities in construction and maintenance work zones in 2014—each with at least 60 deaths.”
There is a reason for the laws and the fines in work zones.
As a community we want people to be safe on our roadways. We know that high speeds in construction zones can cause severe accidents. Thus the laws help us to save lives and limit harm to ourselves and others. The law has a purpose. It is not designed to frustrate us. God’s law and covenants are the same. God’s laws are designed to protect us and bless us in the long haul. Join us in worship or small this week to learn more about God’s covenants of love.
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastors Paul and Deb Marzahn

Detour: Uneven Lanes

So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink.

Grumbling and complaining is a huge problem. It brings down those around us and it also affects our spirit. Many people feel that they are not complaining but merely “venting” or blowing off some steam. Venting and complaining are quite different. We vent when we complain about the snowstorm making us late for work. We walk in, we commiserate with our work colleagues and then get on with our day. Done correctly, venting should be an intentional and temporary state. It’s not about wallowing in the situation for weeks, days, or even hours. We vent about the weather and then once it’s off our chest, we move on

Complaining, on the other hand, may look similar to venting, but they are really nothing alike. There is no clear goal to complaining. More often than not, complainers aren’t even interested in finding a solution to what they’re whining about. Whereas venting can be done alone or in prayer to God, complaining is intentionally done in the presence of others. “Complaining is all about choosing to stay in a negative state by projecting that negativity onto someone else.” (Definition from positivity solution.com) Complaining isn’t a temporary state of blowing off steam. Complainers are usually stuck in a destructive pattern of needing a captive audience to serve as a dumping ground for their negative emotions. If you allow them to, they’ll end up dragging you down into their emotional cesspool with you.

In today’s Scripture, Moses is surrounded by grumbling and complaining. He has just freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Yet once free, they complain about water, food, leadership and even where they are going. We are often a lot like the Israelites. We focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do. Join us at CROSSROADS worship this week to discover ways to overcome grumbling in our lives.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastors Paul and Deb Marzahn

Detour: Detour Ahead

Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.                                      Exodus? ?7:4-5?
It is not always easy to follow the signs. I was recently at a Mega Church here in Lakeville that has a lot of signage. There are one way enter and exit signs in and out of the parking lot. There are over five main entrances and several smaller emergency exits and entrances. Once inside there is also a map and numerous signs to show me where to go to the restroom and where I can find the bookstore. There are wings of the church for youth and children and a couple of different gathering places for worship. It can be confusing.
As I was entering the parking lot to go to a wedding, I spotted a pastor friend of mine from Hosanna. I decided to follow him because I figured he knew where he was going. I followed him in the “Do Not Enter” side of the parking lot because it seemed shorter. He then went through a side entrance which made sense instead fighting the crowd. I ran down the hallway to catch up to him as he walked through the back entrance to the worship center. It did not take me long to realize he was hurrying to a prayer meeting and this was not the gathering for the wedding I was to attend. Had I come through the main entrance there were signs everywhere but I chose to ignore them.
We are sometimes like Pharaoh. We have signs all around us and we ignore them. Eventually the reality becomes too difficult to ignore. God’s presence overwhelms us and we know where we need to turn next. We need to follow God’s direction and not our own. May God show you his presence this week in powerful ways.

In Christ’s Love and Service,

Pastors Paul and Deb Marzahn

Fresh Perspective


But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
                                                                                                       Genesis 50:19-20

Joseph lives a complicated life. He grows up a favored son, but is hated by his brothers. They sell him into slavery and tell his dad that he died. Yet, through a series of trials and tribulations Joseph eventually rises to power in Egypt. The same brothers who despised him and sold him eventually come back to Joseph in need of food. Famine is in the land and Egypt has stockpiled grain due to the wisdom Joseph provided Pharoah. His brothers tremble when they discover their brother is now able to save them or destroy them. They ask for forgiveness and beg for their lives. Joseph does more that forgive them. Joseph restores their relationship and reconciles the past. He also explains the perspective of God in this matter.

Getting a fresh perspective often means seeing our lives through the lens of God. When we can learn to see God’s glory in all things, we experience life differently. We can move from defeat to triumph simply by understanding God’s plan in our lives. Genesis 50:20 is a summary of the life of Joseph but also a summary of all the great leaders in Genesis. This passage reminds us that God is at work and is with us even when we don’t know it.

In Christ’s Love and Service,

Pastors Paul and Deb Marzahn

Fresh Start: Fresh Relationships

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”                                                  Genesis? ?12:1-3?
As we walk through the Hebrew Scriptures at CROSSROADS CHURCH, we continue to find God seeking a relationship with God’s creation. Just as God developed a relationship with Adam and Eve, Noah and others, God now chooses Abram and Sarai for a special covenantal relationship. God changes their names from Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah to live out a new calling. They are called to move to a new location, a new promise and also a new hope. God’s promises they will be blessed and that blessing will spread to all of humanity.

I heard growing up by my pastors and my parents that “we are blessed to be a blessing.” Paul talks about this 2 Corinthians 9:8-12 that we are “enriched in every way to be generous in every way.” God calls us just like Abraham to follow God’s will for our life. As we follow God’s will the blessings follow. This blessing is not a “prosperity gospel” blessing which means God gives me lots of stuff personally. It is a principle that allows me to overflow with the love of God to others. God’s love becomes such a blessing we seek to share that love so others may experience the blessing. May you experience God’s rich blessings this week as you continue to engage with God in worship, your devotional life and in Bible Study.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul and Deb Marzahn

Fresh Start: Making A Fresh Start

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”
                                                                                        Genesis 9:12-13

During the new year we often have opportunities to make a fresh start. We can make changes anytime during the year, but there is something about a new year and a new start. If we look back at our past year we often see areas of our lives that we would like to change. For myself, I seem to have seasons of success around certain habits of fitness, finances, family time, etc… I often review these areas of my life and realize I need a fresh start.

God saw changes needed with humanity. He made a fresh start through Noah and his family. As part of this fresh start God created a covenant with Noah and with us. God promised he would never flood the earth again. God gave humanity a second chance for redemption. What a blessing that we worship a God of second chances. Where do you need a second chance? Where do you need a fresh start?
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn