Come Home for Christmas: Chaotic Christmas

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.                     Luke 2:6-7
 
 
I don’t know about your life, but my life is quite chaotic around Christmas. I feel stressed because of all the commitments and expectations. There are increased social gatherings that are fun, but stretch my waistband and my time. Finances are stretched thin as we pay for extra meals out, and extra shopping excursions. I love the extra worship gatherings for the Children’s Program, Rotary Christmas party, Blue Christmas worship and Christmas eve gatherings. But each of the extra services require special planning and practices. I love celebrating the Savior’s birth, but sometimes the focus can be less on Jesus and more on activities.
 
 
For Mary and Joseph it was not much different. Their simple life was also filled with chaos. They had to uproot their life and travel across the country to participate in a census; Not to mention they were not able find adequate accommodations so they had to sleep in a stable. Somehow in the midst of having a baby, they also had to come up with extra money to pay taxes. Yet, in spite of all these competing stresses Mary and Joseph welcomed the “Prince of Peace” into the world. May we experience peace this Christmas instead of chaos. May we embrace the love of Jesus in its fullness so we can enjoy this sacred time of year. May we exchange chaos for Christ so we can proclaim the good news.
 
 

In Christ’s Love and Service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn


Come Home For Christmas: Christmas Cards

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
                                                                                      Matthew? ?1:22-23?

I don’t know about you, but I love getting Christmas Cards. In this age of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook it is always great to receive something tangible. An electronic meme does not replace the feeling of opening a Christmas card. It is also hard to put an electronic greeting on my refrigerator.

In today’s Scripture Joseph receives a message from an angel that let’s him know God is coming. Joseph had a crucial part to play in the unfolding drama of God’s reaching out to us. Jesus coming to earth was God’s way of demonstrating his love for us. It was his Christmas Card in a way. He was letting us know in a tangible way that he wants to be in a relationship with us. Immanuel. God with us. This Christmas season come home to God’s love. Experience his forgiveness and grace. Receive the gift God is extending to you which is a relationship with him now and for eternity.
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Come Home For Christmas: Company’s Coming

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.                                                                                      Luke? ?1:28?

Christmas is the season of gatherings and celebrations. We put up the Christmas lights and decorate. We clean the house and prepare special foods. We invite guests and celebrate when company comes over. Company coming becomes our focus as we celebrate with family and friends.

In today’s passage, Mary has a special guest come visit. An angel stops by the house. How would you feel about a guest like that? No wonder she was afraid. Then, on top of that, she is also told another guest will be coming- The son of God. It is one thing to entertain an expected guest but it usually stressful to entertain an unexpected one. Yet Mary is gracious and later claims her “soul glorifies the Lord, and her spirit rejoices in God.” May we also glorify God as we share God’s love this Christmas season.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Come Home For Christmas- Company’s Coming

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.                                                                                       Luke? ?1:28?

Christmas is the season of gatherings and celebrations. We put up the Christmas lights and decorate. We clean the house and prepare special foods. We invite guests and celebrate when company comes over. Company coming becomes our focus as we celebrate with family and friends.

In today’s passage, Mary has a special guest come visit. An angel stops by the house. How would you feel about a guest like that? No wonder she was afraid. Then, on top of that, she is also told another guest will be coming- The son of God. It is one thing to entertain an expected guest but it usually stressful to entertain an unexpected one. Yet Mary is gracious and later claims her “soul glorifies the Lord, and her spirit rejoices in God.” May we also glorify God as we share God’s love this Christmas season.

 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Financial Well-Being: Give Until It Helps

The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.                                                                       Proverbs 11:24
 

I loved growing up on a farm because I learned a lot of basic facts on life. For example, I learned that the more you plant, the more of a harvest you will get back. I also learned that if you do not intentionally plant, you will still get a crop. It will just be a crop of weeds. The same is true in giving generously. If I sow generosity, it’s going to come back to me, and I’m going to reap generosity. Every farmer knows this. A farmer has sacks of seed in his barn and he looks at his empty field. He doesn’t complain, “There’s no crop! I wish there was a crop!” He just goes out and starts planting seed.

Our God is generous and our God gives generously. God is the most generous giver in the universe, and God wants us to learn to be like Him. God wants to build character in us through our giving. Whenever we give we draw closer to God. The Bible says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce” (Proverbs 3:9 NLT). This is the principle of tithing. It’s the principle that says every time I make $100 — the first $10 goes back to God. Tithing is an act of worship. We’re giving to God. We are generous to God and the CROSSROADS family because God has been generous to us. Share your love and generosity by making a commitment to God through a pledge to CROSSROADS. May that pledge be a seed that grows into a mighty harvest.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn



Financial Well-Being: Live Like No One Else

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’                                                                       Matthew 25:21

People often go through life looking for fulfillment or purpose. We may seek it by buying stuff or pursue out certain experiences. Some may even think a large savings account will provide meaning and security. A wise man by the name of Solomon wrote it was all “meaningless”’unless we have a relationship with God. Our relationship with God calls us to be generous. It is through generosity we experience a sense of fulfillment like no other.

Dave Ramsey in Financial Peace University Reminds us: “The more you give, the more you are fulfilled and the more you want to give. It’s a great cycle to be on. Giving is not a matter of moving money from your wallet to a charity or collection plate; it is a matter of realizing that there are others less fortunate than you and you have a genuine desire to help them. Money is just one way to do that.”

This week we will be discussing how to build up our resources so and we can experience the joy of sharing with others. Remember to “live like no one else so you can live and give like no one else”

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn



Financial Well-Being: Understanding Investments

Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.                                                                         Ecclesiastes 11:2

                        

Despite being the most affluent generation the world has ever seen, 54% of Americans have saved less than $25,000 for retirement. We’re sacrificing our retirement to support our lifestyles by buying big houses, cars, boats, flat screens, and other things we cannot afford. Few people can embrace the idea of cutting back their lifestyle and settling for the basics. Dave Ramsey states: “If you’re going to do what rich people do, forget about impressing your neighbors. Instead of seeking satisfaction in what you buy, why not consider gaining satisfaction from a simpler lifestyle?”

Dr. Thomas J. Stanley has studied the habits of wealthy people, revealing his findings in several books, including “Stop Acting Rich” and “The Millionaire Mind”. His groundbreaking research has uncovered the truth about the lifestyles of the wealthiest Americans. Dr. Stanley demonstrates that those with simplest lifestyles invest the most. If you want to live and give like no one else, it starts with living a simpler lifestyle that prioritizes saving.

 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Financial Well-Being: Role of Insurance

Joseph interprets the dream, comes up with the plan, “so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.” Genesis 41:36

Life is risky business. The purpose of Insurance is a transfer of risk. Insurance is basically sharing in a community pool where everyone contributes. When a person is in need, a person can withdraw from the pool of resources.

Some types of Insurance include:
Homeowners/Renters, Auto, Health, Disability, Long-Term Care, Identity Theft Protection and Life Insurance. Insurance as we practice it in modern culture is relatively new. Yet, the concept of community sharing with those in need is centuries old.

In today’s Scripture, Joseph is practicing a form of insurance. He interpreted a dream from God that a famine was coming. The nation would need to save during the good years to provide for the bad years. This plan insured for the bad times. God wants us to feel secure. God wants us to save or pool resources together to help each other in times of need. It is always important to remember that our ultimate insurance is our relationship with Jesus Christ. God’s love provides the best security and there are no premiums.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn



Financial Well-Being: Buyer Beware

                                             Buyer Beware

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—
                                                                                               Proverbs 1:5

The book AFFLUENZA is a good read when you have the time. It points out a lot of concerns about our consumer society. One concern mentioned is that the average consumer is struck with more than 3,000 commercial messages each day. Our kids will see over one million commercials by the time they are twenty years old. If you string together all the ads the average person will watch, it totals two years of viewing. That is just video advertising. Think about radio, magazines, billboards, Google ads and Facebook promotions. We are bombarded to buy. It is easy to overspend.

Our Scripture from Proverbs reminds us that we are wise when we get guidance in our purchases. Talk to your spouse. Get advice from a friend. Read Consumer Reports. Don’t jump into major purchases or even little ones. Stick to a budget. Make sure you are managing your money, and your money is not managing you. As a buyer be aware and beware.

 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Financial Well-Being: Cash Flow Planning

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?

                                                                                                      Luke? ?14:28?

I love my wife Deb for so many reasons. She is beautiful, intelligent and best of all she is a planner. I love big picture thinking planning and she loves detailed planning. That is why when we married we sat down together and worked on budgets for our household. I was concerned about our IRA, insurance and giving. She was worried about paying the bills and having enough food to eat. Together we developed a plan that included giving, saving and spending.

In today’s Scripture Jesus reminds his followers about the importance of planning. Only a fool starts something he cannot complete. How are you doing at planning so you can not only pay your bills but plan for your future as well. Dave Ramsey says: “You will either learn to manage your money or the lack of it will always manage you.” 

 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn