Weekly Devotion

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

Catch | Answering Three Important Questions

And this is the testimony, God had given us eternal life and this life is in the son.

1 John 5:11

Growing up I worked on the farm and for my dad at his construction company. As I grew older, my dad needed a person to help with sales in his agribusiness company. He trained me to go out to farmers and sell grain dryers, grain bins, augers and various agricultural supplies. In training me, my dad let me know I really did not need to “sell” anything. I just had to be knowledgeable of the product and understand the customer’s needs. I simply had to align their needs with a product that would help them.

Now that I am a pastor, I realize that I have the greatest product in the world – Jesus Christ.  He offers abundant life in this world and eternal life when we die. Jesus and the church (the body of Christ) are the solutions to so many of the the world’s problems: We offer hope and light in a world of darkness. We offer encouragement and support in the midst of trials. The only problem is that Christ followers often are reluctant to share the good news of how amazing it is to be a part of the body of Christ. We should all be able to answer three important questions for ourselves and others. Why do we need Jesus?  Why do we need the church?  Why do we need CROSSROADS CHURCH?

“As followers of Jesus, we are called to persuade people to come and follow him.   We are his “sales force” here on earth.” (Adam Hamilton, Senior Pastor of Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, Kansas – Catch pg 24)

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Catch | Becoming Relentlessly Outwardly Focused

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew 9:12, 13 NIV

I love CROSSROADS CHURCH!  I love the people, the worship, my small group, the mission trips, the youth and children ministries, the community meals and especially the way people accept one another. It is a great community, but like any community, the deeper our friendships develop, the harder it is for those outside to join in.

Last week I watched in the lobby after worship as several new persons visited. Many of us were eating donuts, drinking coffee and talking to one another. The problem was that we were facing one another and our backs were to the guests trying to join in. Jesus reminded his followers that his ministry was to those outside the community of God. Some were referred to as “sinners.”  He wasn’t satisfied by simply hanging out with those closest to him. He reached out in love and acceptance to include others . He was relentlessly outwardly focused. How can we at CROSSROADS work harder at reaching out like Jesus did?

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Catch | Committed to Casting

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Romans 10:9-10

The truth be told, I am a lazy fisherman. I grew up with my great uncles, Willard and Eddy Goltz teaching me to fish. My great uncles were retired and fished all the time. They would use a cane pole, bobber, weight, hook and nightcrawlers. We would put on the bait, sit in a lawn chair by shore, and wait to see if the bobber went under water. If it went under, we would yank it up and do it all over again. Slow and easy I was told. Don’t be so anxious. Just wait.

When I went to college, a friend took me “fly fishing” in a stream for trout. I wanted to sit in a lawn chair and cast from shore. He made me wear boots and wade into the stream. I wanted to relax and wait for the bobber to go down. He told me there was no bobber and I had to cast over and over and over again in order to get a catch. He stated in order to be a good fly fisherman you had to be “committed to casting.” When it comes to sharing our faith, we have to be committed to “casting”. It is not a one time cast and wait. We share our faith story and God’s story over and over again. When we share (or cast) repeatedly we began to see results. How committed are you to casting?

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Catch | No Bragging Rights

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do

Ephesians 2:8-10

Consider for a moment some of your biggest accomplishments. Maybe you were a star athlete, a scholar, debate champion, drama star, robotics national champion, or an accomplished musician. You probably earned your accomplishment through dedication and hard work. You could “brag” or “boast” that you worked hard and now have something to show for it.

When you are a Christian, you cannot take credit for your biggest accomplishment. Only God can. We are saved (or rescued) as Christians due to God’s grace. We cannot earn salvation because it is a gift. On top of that, once we become a Christ follower we are asked to sacrifice our needs for the needs of others. That is why, the more we get connected to God, the more privileges we lose. God calls us to give rather than to receive. We ask that once you get connected to Christ and the church, to please park farther away from the building and let newcomers park close by. You give up your seat in the worship area if needed so that a guest can sit down. You may be asked to take on greater responsibility for serving in the church and even be asked to share more financial resources. The closer you connect with Jesus the more burden you feel to share the story of His love and grace. As a Christ follower, you stop bragging about yourself and start bragging about Him.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Catch | Using the Right Bait

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

I am not a very good fisherman because I do not own a depth finder, a boat, a decent rod and reel or a large selection of lures.  I often fish with others who have pity on me because they see my lack of fishing gear and skills yet want to help me out.  By the end of the day they usually split the catch with me because they don’t want me to return home humiliated.  The reality, is I have fun fishing and I catch stuff using mostly live bait.  I know how to dig up nightcrawler worms and the local bait shop has plenty of minnows.  I can hang out on the dock or use my canoe and catch a fair amount of sunfish, crappies and an occasional bass.  I might not reel in the big one very often but I have found live bait attracts other fish. Therefore, I have not spent a lot of money on special baits or lures, but stick with what I know.

When it comes to sharing the good news of Jesus I think it is the same.  A lot of churches do major outreach events with big name music artists and big name evangelists. They spend lots of money to put on some incredible performances. It is effective in some ways but I still think basic sharing using “live bait” is the easiest.  We don’t have to sell or promote Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He died for our sins, and rose from the dead to demonstrate his love for us.  He is a living and loving God.  We don’t need fancy lures to bring people into a relationship with Jesus, we just have to have the courage to go fishing. Cast God’s love into our relationships and discuss spiritual questions with others. Take the time to invite a friend or family member to be a part of the CROSSROADS family.  Be real and share the real love of God.

Remember this week we have one service at 10:30 a.m. at the Lakeville Campus with an all church meeting at the end of the service.  IGH Campus will join the meeting via “Skype” and both groups will celebrate with a meal following worship. Minneapolis Campus will meet at 5:00 as usual.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Catch | The Story of Jonah

This summer we are blessed to have a special worship series being led by Garth Heckman. Garth is leading worship on Wednesdays for those who are gone on Sundays or just want another learning opportunity. Garth is a dynamic teacher and all who attend will be blessed.  It is our hope to to continue this service in the fall and merge it with our youth and adult discipleship programming. Wednesday Night Worship is for all ages and childcare will be provided.

“If you read the story of Jonah you can quickly become enamored with the idea of the big fish. But there is so much more to that story than meets the eye. Jonah was just like you.  Just like me!  He whined, complained, had prejudices and was slow to love others and listen to God’s voice. The good news?  ….even in his rebellion God used him….and he can do that with us.  He was more excited about his care then the care of others.  He was more concerned about his needs, wants and desires then Gods needs, wants and desires. Jonah should have been a world class marathoner because he made a life out of running from God. He went to great expense to run from God no matter what it took. Jonah is a book about rebellion, racism, running, redemption and reward. it speaks to us today and no matter where you find yourself in life. When you read it you will ask yourself one question…What in the whale is going on?”

~Garth Heckman

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Catch | Slipping Through the Net

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23

Several decades ago there was a problem with overpopulation on an African game preserve. There were too many elephants. Limited by the technology available at the time, the solution was to move the babies to new preserves. Everyone watched, gravely concerned, but the baby elephants thrived. However, unintended consequences emerged. At the new locations, a decade after the transfer, someone was killing off rhinoceros which were an endangered species. It turned out the killers were young male elephants. At first the game wardens couldn’t believe it; this was uncharacteristic behavior never before seen in elephants. They deduced that the young males had grown up without fathers, without any male role models. Some suggested that mature males were needed. There was concern that it would be too late, that the adolescent males had to have grown up with their elders. Some felt that bringing “daddies” in later in life would do no good. They decided to try it anyway. The new mature male elephants trained the young males how to behave. In a matter of weeks, the elephant herds returned to normal behavior. All the young elephants needed was guidance and direction.

Did you know that if a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5% probability everyone else in the household will follow? If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17% probability everyone else in the household will follow. Did you know if the father is first in the household to become a fully devoted follower, there is a 93% probability everyone else in the household will follow? Godliness, like fatherliness, is no easy task. This week we pray for Fathers who are teaching their children what Christ has done for us on the cross.   We also pray for those who have absent fathers that God the Father will be their teacher and guide.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn