Weekly Devotion

Next Step | Learning to Dance

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;
2 Peter? ?1?:?5-6, NIV

I had no formal training in dance, but somehow in high school found myself in a Future Farmers of America dance competition. Disco was big back then, so we worked out a synchronized routine with another couple. Midway during the dance number we were to switch partners and finish the dance with our new partners in a big finale. I flung my partner Karen hard and she made it into the arms of my friend Steve. Steve flung his partner Debbie hard but somehow my reaction was a little off. Dance is supposed to be about ebb and flow. Let’s just say she ebbed while I flowed. With all the twirling and spinning some how I missed catching her. She literally spun right by me and off the stage.  My friend Steve continued the routine while my partner stayed off stage due to embarrassment. Needless to say my big swoop and dip at the end of the routine looked a little odd without a partner. I came to the realization a little late that I should have practiced my dance steps more.

This week we are discussing the importance of learning how to take that next step of faith. We will examine why learning to dance with God takes discipline and grace. We will also explore why we need to dance with a balance of knowledge and self control.
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Joining the Dance

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge.
2 Peter 1:5

I remember my first junior high dance. It was in Waterville, Minnesota held in the elementary school gym. We had a football game that evening and the dance was after the game. The gym was decorated with some stars and streamers at an attempt to create atmosphere in a 60 x 75 foot bricked in space. Chairs were lined against the wall and refreshments were in the hall. The D.J. was in the corner spinning real vinyl and chaperones were everywhere.

The guys were all lined up on one side and the ladies all on the other. Some of the girls were dancing with other girls to bad 70’s disco. The guys mostly stood around talking about the football game. Then “Staying Alive” played and one of the guys named Gerard walked across the room to ask a girl to dance. Some laughed, some stared, and others wondered how Gerard knew so many John Travolta moves. I was laughing when all of a sudden a girl asked me to dance. The lump in my stomach went to my my throat and I grunted something as I was dragged to the dance floor. That was how I joined in at my first dance. How about you? What do you remember about your first school dance? What do you remember about joining “God’s Great Dance floor?”

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Dropping the F-Bomb | Starting Over

Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times but seventy times seven”.       
Matthew 18:21-22 –

After worship a few weeks ago, one of our youth came up to me and said he is really enjoying the F-bomb series.  He said we should have another series like it sometime. He stated,  “We should call it the FAITH series. Christians should be dropping that F-bomb all the time.”  He is right. Faith is a prerequisite to forgiveness. Only faith in a forgiving God can empower us to live a life of forgiveness. Only faith allows us to forgive seventy times seven.

When we offer forgiveness, we come as close as any human can to the essential divine act of creation. When we forgive, we create a new beginning out of the past pain. In essence, we create healing for the future by changing a past that that only brought discouragement. When we forgive, we walk in stride with God and heal the hurt we never deserved. God gives us a second chance to start over. That is what God’s grace is all about. It is the ability to start again. It it grace for us and we are also called to extend this grace to others. Where do you need God’s grace? Where do you need to start over?

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Dropping the F-Bomb | Making Peace

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.     
Matthew 6:14-15

Some types of forgiving are easier than others. If someone cuts you off in traffic you may feel frustrated, but will probably let go of the offense. You may have someone insult you and that is a little harder to forgive. But forgiving and feeling a sense of peace are two different things. Peace is more than absence of conflict. When you make peace with someone, it is about moving beyond forgiveness toward establishing a “new normal” in your relationship.

I had an ongoing relationship difficulty with someone who was a friend and they stopped attending our church. After a while, the person came back and we discussed how we could forgive one another from our past hurts. One day we were working on a project together and before I knew it, we were laughing and laughing. I realized we had moved beyond forgiveness to a sense of peace with one another.

This week we will be looking at how to forgive difficult people, people who do not care and people who felt they did nothing wrong. We will examine not only how to forgive, but how to re-establish trust that leads to peace.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Dropping the F-Bomb | Throwing the First Stone

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
?John? ?8?:?7? NIV

Growing up on the farm,  I used to have the privilege of picking up rocks in the fields. One of us would drive a wagon around in the spring before planting and the rest of our extended family would follow behind and fill the wagon with rocks. I used to ask my dad how the fields grew so many rocks each spring. He said something about glaciers and God contributing. I just know I had to spend several days gathering stones.

Sometimes as cousins we would get a little reckless tossing rocks. One time my cousin Jerry was driving the tractor and someone threw a rock that missed the wagon and hit him in the back. He was not happy. “Who threw that rock,” he yelled?  He picked up the rock and held it in his hand ready to launch it at anyone within target range. One of my younger cousins raised her hand and said she was sorry. She told Jerry that she didn’t mean to hit him. Jerry forgave her and put down his rock. He never brought it up again.

We all have been hit by stones and many of us have thrown stones at others. We have been wounded and we have inflicted wounds on others. This week in our F-Bomb series we will focus on how to allow forgiveness to keep us from throwing stones.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Dropping the F-Bomb | Learning How to Forgive Ourselves

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
John? ?21?:?16-17? NIV

As the days get shorter it is now dark when I wake up in the morning. Our closet light is not very bright and so getting dressed can sometimes be a challenge. I got dressed hastily to head to a meeting. When I arrived at the meeting I realized I had put on my navy blue suit coat with a pair of black pants. I stayed seated most of the meeting so very few realized I was wearing two different colors. Black and blue. I should have noticed, but I didn’t.

I had shorts on the other day and my wife walked up behind me and started pointing out all the bruises on the back of my legs. I was black and blue. I should have noticed but I didn’t  I had hurt myself playing in a variety of sporting activities. Yet, the black and blue legs told the story of my pain. Let me say this clearly.Many of us are black and blue. Many of us are are hurting but refuse to acknowledge it. We cannot really forgive ourselves unless we look at our past and deal with the bruises. Come this week to CROSSROADS to learn how to get rid of the bruises and forgive yourself.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Dropping the F-Bomb | Steps to Forgiveness

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians? ?3?:?13-14? NIV

I hate going to the doctor unless I really need to. I will wait as long as I can until the pain becomes too much. Emotionally, I am much the same way. I put off dealing with negative feelings. If you live long enough, I guarantee you will be hurt by someone you love and trust. If you are like me, you may try to bury the hurt. Eventually you will realize the hurt isn’t going away. Emotional hurts fester just like an untreated wound. When the pain gets bad enough we address the hurt. Do I want to be healed or do I want to go on suffering? Do I want to hang on to the pain or do I want to feel joy? Today’s scripture reminds us that we are forgiven as Christ forgave us. How can we do that?

Take that first step. State your desire to make a change. Say out loud that you want the pain to stop. Each step after that will move you closer to forgiveness and eventual healing. The first step is always hard, but moves you along the pathway to wholeness. Forgiveness is a choice, but we need to stop burying the hurt and take the first step toward healing. Will  you take that first step today?

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Dropping the F-Bomb | Zeroing In On The Target

In our Forgiveness Series messages, I used an image from Adam Hamilton that describes stones as the weight we carry because of the wrongs done to us or the wrongs we have done to others.  I reminded everyone we have stones of all sizes. We carry around pebbles that are minor offenses that often are small irritations more than deliberate offenses.  We also carry around medium sized rocks that are legitimate offenses that are difficult to forgive. Some of you reading this have painful childhood memories. Others reading this had wonderful families but maybe had terrible experiences in school. Some of you have gone through a divorce or traumatic relationship break up that still is a rock you carry.  We often carry many pebbles, medium rocks and even large ones.  Eventually, we have to target which ones we want to get rid of and begin the process of eliminating them in our lives.

When a “smart bomb” is dropped they have new technological ways to zoom in on the target. Through laser sighting, G.P.S. and satellites we have ways to zero in on the precise location of the intended target.   By zeroing in on the correct target there is less collateral damage or possibility of others getting hurt.  Sometimes where we are in conflict there is a lot of unintended collateral damage.  When we feel hurt by our past or by others we have to be careful not to take it out on others around us. It is sometimes called the “kick the dog syndrome.”  Dad gets yelled at by boss and comes home and yells at wife. Wife gets mad and yells at daughter. Daughter gets mad and yells at brother. Brother has no one to yell at so he kicks the dog.  When we zero in on the target we work through forgiveness issues with the person or persons we are really mad at.
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Dropping the F-Bomb | Forgiveness is a Process

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.
2 Samuel 12:4-7 NIV

C.S. Lewis wrote a book entitled: The Great Divorce. In this book he describes Hell in a powerful way. Lewis depicts Hell as a large city inhabited only at its outer edges, with vast amounts of empty homes in the center. The houses in the center are empty because everyone quarreled so much they all moved away and left the old neighborhoods barren.  Lewis says “Hell is when we choose distance instead of forgiveness and reconciliation.”   We sometimes create our own Hell when we hold onto hurts.  We say things like: “She bad- mouthed me. Let her come and apologize.” “It will be a warm day in January (in Minnesota) before I will accept his apology.” “I will only forgive her if she agrees to say I am right.” These are great responses if you don’t mind living in Hell. Are we really so willing to give up our relationships with others that we emotionally separate ourselves from one another?  Do we really want to live lonely, isolated lives?

In today’s Scripture,  King David hurt his family, friends and even his kingdom.  He has to go through the process of forgiving himself and asking God for forgiveness. Only through this process will he move from the outer edges of separation back to the center of being in relationship. Where do you need to work through the process of forgiveness in your life?
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Dropping the F-Bomb | Forgiveness is a Gift to Yourself

Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him. When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased.
Genesis 45:14-16 NIV

C.S. Lewis once said – “Forgiveness is a beautiful word, until you have something to forgive.”  In today’s Scripture, we are looking at the story of Joseph and his brothers. You may read the whole story in Genesis Chapters 27- 45.  Through numerous circumstances Joseph and his brothers lived most of their life out of relationship with one another. Joseph ended up in Egypt where he became a prominent ruler. His brothers needed grain during a famine and Joseph was in charge of the grain distribution. Joseph was abused by his brothers growing up and could have used this opportunity to seek retribution. Instead, he choose mercy and grace.  Joseph in all his life lessons probably learned that retribution is seldom God’s plan. It also does not satisfy. It does not lead to peace or happiness.

Forgiveness gives the freedom to be happy again. It is a gift to ourselves and sometimes the other person as well. When we hold a grudge against someone it steals our joy. Unforgiveness may make the other person unhappy, but most often it leaves us feeling frustrated or angry. When you forgive, you stop giving that person power over how you feel. You break that negative emotional tie of resentment and bitterness. Forgiveness truly becomes a gift to yourself.

This week we kick off our F**** Bomb series in worship and in small groups. Come learn more about the Forgiveness factor in your life. Invite others as well.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn