Weekly Devotion

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

Catch | Deciding to Fish

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.

Luke 5:4-6 NIV

I was talking to another church planter this week and he worked on a church plant for several years. It grew and he discipled a lot of persons into fully devoted followers of Jesus. But because of an illness, he had to discontinue church planting. Some would say his church plant failed. I would say God gave him a respite and allowed him to see how his disciples continued on without his leadership. After years of healing, he has been discerning where God will use him next. He was reading this passage and realized that God wants him to cast out his net, again. He could easily say, “been there, done that, and I am not doing it again”. But in his heart he knows the miracle of Jesus and wants to experience the joy of partnering in the catch once again. He wants to listen to God’s voice and cast out his net again even though it doesn’t make sense.

Deciding to take the risk to reach out to people is hard. Whether we are talking to a family member, a friend, or someone we just met. I can easily come up with excuses as to why I don’t want to share about the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. At the CROSSROADS Men’s Bible study, we came up with a few excuses of our own: 1) I don’t know how, 2) I am afraid, 3) I’m not smart enough, 4) My faith is weak, 5) I have a lot questions and doubts myself, 6) I still sin and feel I am a hypocrite. This week we hope to explore together how to fish for people that are far from God. May God give you the courage to fish so you can experience the joy of the catch.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Catch | Going Out to Fish

Therefore as you are going make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 28:18-20.

For part of my son’s graduation gift we went to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. While going down the Kawishiwi River we did some fishing, canoeing, and even running on the rapids. (We did flip our canoe in the 34 degree water, but that is a story for another day.) Sometimes I fished from shore by casting out into the river and intentionally worked the shore for a short period of time. Sometimes I trawled for fish while canoeing; I would pull the lure behind and enjoy fish biting as I was moving along.

Jesus encourages us to trawl or fish “as we are going.”  Jesus challenges his closest disciples to make other disciples. He wants them to do this as a part of their everyday lives. Jesus is advocating “lifestyle evangelism” where we invite persons into a relationship with God through sharing God’s love. Simply put, we are asked to witness to our faith as we go throughout the day. Some think of outreach as a program or activity. Lifestyle evangelism taught by Jesus is a reminder that we disciple best by doing it over time through relationships.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Connect Through Worship

While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.

Luke 24:51, 52 NIV

Worship attendance in America is on the decline. Some of this is due to non-believers choosing to stay away from church.  Attendance is also down because many Christ followers that attended weekly are now becoming “once-a-monthers.”  Once a month fills the minimum requirement for some. Some choose worship as an optional free time activity, “Should I go to worship or should I go to a Twins game on Sunday?” Some attend a gathering of believers in a service but never really engage God or enter into the presence of the sacred. Worship is a habit or mere ritual. True worship is connecting with God and looking forward to each time we can gather with other believers.

I heard a story of a whale that was trapped offshore in Alaska. As the winter became colder the whale moved with the ice flow until it was cut off from the open water. In order to free the whale, the residents cut holes in the ice so the whale could come up to breath.  To encourage the whale to move they cut holes about 100 feet apart heading in the direction of freedom.  The giant mammal would take a deep breath and swim from one hole to the next.  Each hole provided much needed air for survival and movement. I feel worship is like air. When we worship, we are like that whale that pops out from under the ice and gulps a breath of fresh air. Worship allows us to breath the Spirit of God and refreshes us. It moves us closer to freedom.  May you be refreshed this week with worship.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn