Weekly Devotion

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

The Ultimate Challenge

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.
2 Timothy 1:9

We are still being inundated everywhere by the “ALS ice bucket challenge.” Some are using water and ice, and others are being more creative. Patrick Stewart used ice and Scotch and then wrote out a check. Charlie Sheen just poured money over his head. I have seen many of you who are reading this, pour water and ice on yourself for this worthy cause. Thanks for your spirit of generosity. On Sunday during worship, I did the fire and ice challenge. I was doing fire breathing when a bucket of ice was poured over me. I challenged each of the campus Pastors and CROSSROADS Campuses to contribute.

As many of you know, I lost my dad, Don Marzahn, to ALS -also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  Why Lou Gehrig’s Disease?  Because humans need to associate things with people.  It’s easier that way. That’s why celebrity faces and personal challenges are so effective at bringing in money. If someone gets to look good at giving $10 or $100 to the ALS tip jar, I have no problem with that. It creates awareness and it is all in good fun. If you want to have a hint of what it means to experience ALS, try this out: Pick up a 10 pound weight. Move it to your mouth like it is a fork. Do this repeatedly without shaking. Sit in a chair for 15 minutes without moving or speaking. No scratching your nose. No shifting your weight. Or try to breathe with four marshmallows in your mouth.  When you experience discomfort you began to realize how difficult this disease really is. It becomes personal. As I shared in worship, Jesus gives us all a challenge to have a personal relationship with him. He wants us to experience his love and grace. For some it will be an overwhelming experience like ice from a bucket. For others, it may be more gradual. For all of us, God’s challenge is to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Dropping the F-Bomb – The Forgiveness Offensive

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Matthew 6:12, 13 NIV
This fall at CROSSROADS we will be looking at the issue of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the new unspoken word. We do not say it out loud. Like a vulgar phrase, we do not say it in public company. Yet, I find unforgiveness to be a major problem in our society. The wars continuing in the Middle East, the riots in Ferguson, Missouri and  half of all marriages end in divorce. Grudges, bitterness and strife occur when we do not “forgive those who trespass against us.”
When we think of a bomb dropping,  we need to assess the damage and realize it will be a process to rebuild and restore. Forgiveness work is like a bomb dropping. It takes time to recover.  It is a process of recognizing our own sin and our contribution to the problems around us. During this series we will learn to forgive ourselves and others. We will also examine how to work through negative guilt and blame.
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Catch | Outdoor Worship

Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Psalm 100:2 NIV

Someone asked me how outdoor worship began at CROSSROADS and I had to admit it was not a carefully, well thought out plan.  It began by accident,  but we enjoyed it so much we decided to make it a yearly tradition.  At the time we were meeting at North Trail Elementary School. For some reason there was a schedule mix up and the janitor who opened the school never showed up. We called and waited for over two hours. We had most of our equipment in our truck so we pulled the truck to a spot behind the school and set up for the worship service.  We had several neighbors walking by who heard us and stopped by to join us.  We had a baptism that day and had the joy of doing it outdoors and witnessing to all who came by. During my message time my kids were watching our dog – Anna – and she got away from them. The dog ran right up on stage and into my arms.  It was a God moment so I talked about how dogs have similar characteristics to God. God demonstrates unconditional love, God is always excited when we come into the house of the Lord, God loves to hear us call His name, etc…. I even shared how the word for worship is a word derivative that comes from the understanding of a dog licking its master’s hand in love and devotion.  We had a great service and decided to do an outdoor service even when we moved into our building in Lakeville to remind us to continue to reach out to our neighbors.

The Elko New Market will have outdoor worship on Saturday August 16th at 5:00p,The Inver Grove Heights Campus has an outdoor worship service at 10:30a on August 17th, Lakeville Campus will have outdoor worship on August 24th at 10:30a and Minneapolis Campus will have Outdoor Worship on August 31st at 5:00p.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Catch | Making Guests Feel Welcome

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Romans 12:11-13 NIV

On our family summer vacation we visited Boston, walked the “Freedom Trail” and looked at the history of how our nation was formed.  As we were walking, we passes right by the bar “CHEERS” where they filmed the television sitcom opening credits. If you recall the theme song to “Cheers”, it reminds us that we all want to go some place where everyone “knows your name.”  We all have a longing to connect to a group of people who recognize us and care about us. Some find those connections at a bar (just stop by Ole Piper in Lakeville and ask for Steve), or an athletic club or even a sports team. God created us with a desire to belong.

The Apostle Paul in today’s passage was reminding the early church to practice hospitality. At CROSSROADS we want to create an atmosphere where anyone walking in can feel welcome and accepted.  We use nametags so persons can get comfortable knowing one another’s names. We have free coffee, donuts and treats each week so people can relax after or before the service and talk with one another. We explain things in worship so if someone is new to the church they understand why we do baptism, or communion or offering.  It takes everyone to make guests feel welcome. As we participate in worship at CROSSROADS let us all do our best to welcome others and practice hospitality.

Servant Opportunities To Help People Feel Welcome at CROSSROADS

Currently the Hospitality team is looking for servant leaders to help in a number of ways:

Mugging Ministry – This team goes out after worship and drops off a coffee mug or drink glass to someone who visited the church.

Greeting and Welcoming – This team works to ensure everyone that walks through the door is warmly greeted and has on a nametag.

Connection Table – These leaders are knowledgeable of the church and willing to answer guests’ questions. These leaders help direct persons to their desired location or connection with another staff member.

Marketing / Communications Team – This group will work on thoughtful, well-design communication pieces that will engage others.

Phone Ministry – This team will make calls using provided lists to follow up with guests after they visit the church.

Desert and Discussion with the Pastors – This team helps connect guests with the pastors for conversation. This may include providing refreshments, and helping invite people to attend.

If you wish to join one of these teams contact lrand@public_html or dmarzahn@public_html.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn