Luke |

From the book of Luke: Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (1:1-4) 
Investigate. Consider. Think about. Look deeper.  Carfeully study. If we are to understand truth we have to look at the facts and examine them. That is what Luke tries to present. As an author, he is trying to chronicle the life of Christ and the early life of the church. Luke wrote both Luke and Acts as one book. He wrote an “orderly account” for his friend Theophilus and other disciples of Jesus the Messiah.

We know that several authors including Luke contibuted to the writing of the overall Bible.  The Bible itself is actually a collection of many books and stories. About 40 authors are acredited to writing the Scriptures. Scholars estimate that 30 authors wrote the 39 books in the Hebrew Scripture and 10 authors contributed to the writings in the New Testament. Actually the Bible is a collection of writings from many oral contributors that were consolidated by the authors. We know that the teachings of Jesus were widely circulated among the early churches and shared frequently by his disciples. The letters of Paul were written to several cities as well as other letters (called epistles) that were shared among the churches.

During the next six months at CROSSROADS we are going to consider the life of Christ and what it means to us. We will investigate his early ministry around the region of Galilee. We will see how he taught and healed in Samaria and Judea. Lastly we will follow the life of Jesus as he spends his last days in Jerusalem. After Easter, we will examine the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus until he ascends to heaven. We will consider how Jesus lived and try to better understand his plan for our lives. The Apostle Paul states that we should also consider carefully all that is taught on how to be disciples. “Consider what I am saying, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” (Timothy 2:7) May we all better understand God’s wisdom for our lives.



Gifts |

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:9-12 NIV)
I love Christmas and part of the reason is because of the surprises that happen during this season.  God’s unexpected presence pokes itself up in the strangest places. I put some money in a Salvation Army red kettle by Cub Foods and started a conversation with the bell ringer. I learned he was without a job and I knew someone I had talked to earlier looking for his skill set. With a short phone call and an exchange of information he was soon employed again. God is good….. Some generous persons dropped off toys, another family food, another man flowers, another family blankets, etc… Before long I felt like the wiseman handing out gifts to people who nessed them. God’s unexpected love being shared in tangible ways with our community. God is good… I was asked to lead singing last night at CROSSROADS COMMONS. I has a vision over 15 years ago that we would have a church building some day and near the church would be a senior high rise. In my vision I was playing guitar and people were gathered singing. Last night was the fruition of a vision 15 years in the making. God is good…

The Shepherds in today’s Scripture were surprised with God’s unexpected message of love. They were told that the messiah had come and they were to go worship him. They must have been overwhelmed by the news. Why would lowly shepherds be charged with welcoming the king of kings into the world. Why? Because we worship a God that speaks to us in unexpected ways. God came and dwelled among us as “Immanuel.”  God is good……

Come join us tonight at 5:00 or 10:00 for worship. We have5:00 worship at both IGH and Lakeville Campuses. We have a 10:00 service at the Lakeville Campus. Come ready to receive God’s unexpected love.



Trouble |

“Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet.”

Matthew 1:19-20, 22

Sadly a lot of persons I talk with expect trouble around Christmas. In some families there is estrangement, division, tension, bitterness and even open hostility. How many embarrassing scenes will unfold? How many obscenities will be yelled? How many will even experience violence? A few years ago we had a college student come to Mission Mexico after the messy divorce of his parents. During our “bus games” sharing time, he shared it was the best Christmas in a long time. I asked him what made it so special. He said Christmas was special because, for the first time, in as long as he could remember there was no fighting. Whenever there is peace in the family, Christmas love reigns.

In this gospel story, Joseph is expecting trouble. Because his wife is pregnant before marriage, Joseph expects that his family and friends will accuse him. He knows he is not the biological father, but what does one do when trouble comes? Run away? Explain away? Or trust in God’s messenger and message?

Christmas is the dramatic reminder that Christ came to bring a message of peace to our troubled souls. In the midst of troubled times, Christmas offers us peace with God, peace with ourselves, and peace with others.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn



Fear |

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.

Matthew 2:1-3

Fear is a great motivator. It’s also not what the Messiah, the King of Kings used to lead others. Herod the current king of Israel ruled with fear. “Herod the Great” was considered a great king by some but by many a fear mongering tyrant. He had some great building accomplishments such as rebuilding the city of Caesarea Maritima and remodeling the temple built during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.

He also helped the Romans stamp out a revolt in 40-37 BCE. Near the end of his life he became fearful and in his fear lashed out at others. He had three of his own sons and several wives killed to instill fear and solidify his reign. He built a huge fortress to protect himself in Jerusalem and two alternative fortresses as well. One called Masada still stands until this day. When he heard that the prophecy of the Messiah had come to pass he was “disturbed” because he felt his throne was being threatened by this new born baby. He even killed children two and under in Bethlehem in hopes that he could kill this future king. The “baby killer king” reigned using fear and force.

Contrast that with Jesus who came to bring faith, hope and love. Mary and Joseph had every reason to be afraid knowing that the Herods of this world wanted to hurt them and their baby. Yet, the angel appeared to both Mary and Joseph and reminded them to not be afraid. In the bible God uses the phrase “fear not” 365 times. That is one reminder for every day of the year. Jesus came to rid us of our fears. John who followed Jesus reminded the world that “perfect love casts out fear.” Don’t allow the Herods of this world to cause you to be afraid. This Christmas season remember to expect love rather then to expect fear.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn



The Next Step |

At CROSSROADS CHURCH we have been challenging everyone to take that Next Step of Faith to grow. As our Leadership Team Chairperson Michael Rivera stated: “Sometime you have to get out of your comfort zone.” To take the Next Step can be uncomfortable but it helps us move closer to God and closer to others.  Recently, we gave a handout in church that helps each of us look where we are at and where we can grow.  Here are the five basic categories of spiritual growth that we have been discussing.
  1. Discovering – Not a believer but seeking spiritual truths and attending some church activities.
  2. Beginning – A new believer and still learning spiritual habits of faith.
  3. Deepening – A believer that hungers after growth and wants to deepen their faith.
  4. Centered – A mature believer that spends time with God and commits to the church.
  5. Discipling – A mature leader in the church committed to discipling other leaders.
This Sunday in worship you will be able to hear more about those who have been taking Next Steps of faith in our youth ministry. Several youth will be sharing portions of their testimony as part of the message time.  Some of these youth will also be making a public proclamation of their faith in a commitment known as Confirmation. They will be proclaiming their next step of faith and challenging each of us to take our next step of faith as well.
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Money |

“Whoever loves money never has enough, whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.  This too is meaningless.As goods increase,so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners,  except to feast their eyes on them?”(Ecc.5:10-11)

The philosopher Jacob Needleman has written about ethics and religion and recently wrote an interesting book entitled: Money And The Meaning Of Life.  The author does a great job at putting money into perspective.  He actually thinks money is the new taboo that people don’t like to talk about.

“In earlier times, you could not talk honestly about sex, yet it entered into -everything. Money, like sex, is there in almost everything we do. There are a few people who think they do not need money, that they can just be idealistic. If we were to really -observe how we are with money, we would see that we are suppressing it. We are being -hypocritical about it. You can observe that: After anybody with some money dies, just watch what happens with the will. -Ninety percent of the time, horrible, terrible things happen. It used to be that in cultured -circles, you did not mention money. It was dirty. In that sense, it is comparable to the way people once used to act, think and talk about sex. It really does enter into almost all the aspects of our life now. It is a source of our values, and a source of our immorality.  There is no one who is normal about money. Do you know anybody who isn’t a little strange with money, a little hypocritical, or at least a little conflicted? What we’ve done wrong with money has to do with an increasing error about our understanding of what it means to be a human being in our culture. Money can buy anything, except meaning. To put it in a nutshell, it comes from the balance of these two parts of ourselves.”

Another author and King by the name of Solomon also realized that riches without meaning was useless. He was the richest man in the world and made Bill Gates look impoverished.  He realized himself that without a faith relationship with God it is also just folly. He gave generously back to God by building the first Temple and by caring for the needs of the kingdom.  He realized that through giving he could find meaning.

 



Abilities |

grew up in a church where serving the church was a “fill a slot that needs to be filled” type of church. If we were missing a junior high teacher someone would corner a parent and coerce them into serving. They would tell the parent if they couldn’t serve than more than likely all the youth would go to hell and it would be their fault.
On top of that, they would convince the parent that unless they taught Sunday school all the youth in church would probably drop out of school, get pregnant, use drugs and then commit suicide. Finally some parent would give into guilt an serve so the slot would be filled. I thought all churches recruited leadership this way. Fortunately, I learned there are better ways to encourage people to serve according to gifts God has given them.
Deb and I went to a conference at Saddleback Church in California where Pastor Rick Warren preached passionately about how and why we serve. We really enjoyed learning more about the system they have in place. They discussed people using their abilities to serve God by finding their S.H.A.P.E. The acrostic shape references the following: Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences.
As you discern your Next Step at CROSSROADS may you find your God-given SHAPE. May you find a place in service where you can build up the church in love. If you are interested taking a Shape Class to discern where you may wish to serve please contact the church office.
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzhan


Time |

 One of the most difficult areas in Christian maturity is evangelism. Many long standing Christians never share their faith. They may come to worship and even small group but never tell their family or friends why. We have to ask ourselves do we have the “good news” of God in our hearts? If we do, then why are we afraid to share it. I think for Halloween this year I’ll dress up as an evangelist and jump out at people and yell, “Jesus saves.” That will scare them.
    A parent recently sent me a message about her son who was given an assignment in class about how to overcome hardships. Her son responded in a way all good Christians should respond. He was authentic. He shares his story and God’s story in a way that is real and compelling. Here is a faith witness from an 11 year old in our congregation.

At the hardest times in my life God was there. Because when my great grandma died God was there with my family to help me get over it. I am 11 years old and this is my life with God. The day I was born I wondered who is God. Well now I know. I try to go to church every Sunday andWednesday. I go to Crossroads Church in Lakeville.


May we all be so bold in sharing God’s presence in our lives. I will be sharing more about evangelism in my midweek YouTube message and on Sunday with Pastor Gordon at New Prague/Elko/New  Market. Pastor Jeremiah will be preaching in Lakeville, Pastor Russ in Inver Grove Heights and George Gipson in Minneapolis.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzhan



Evangelism |

 One of the most difficult areas in Christian maturity is evangelism. Many long standing Christians never share their faith. They may come to worship and even small group but never tell their family or friends why. We have to ask ourselves do we have the “good news” of God in our hearts? If we do, then why are we afraid to share it. I think for Halloween this year I’ll dress up as an evangelist and jump out at people and yell, “Jesus saves.” That will scare them.
    A parent recently sent me a message about her son who was given an assignment in class about how to overcome hardships. Her son responded in a way all good Christians should respond. He was authentic. He shares his story and God’s story in a way that is real and compelling. Here is a faith witness from an 11 year old in our congregation.

At the hardest times in my life God was there. Because when my great grandma died God was there with my family to help me get over it. I am 11 years old and this is my life with God. The day I was born I wondered who is God. Well now I know. I try to go to church every Sunday and Wednesday. I go to Crossroads Church in Lakeville.


May we all be so bold in sharing God’s presence in our lives. I will be sharing more about evangelism in my midweek YouTube message and on Sunday with Pastor Gordon at New Prague/Elko/New  Market. Pastor Jeremiah will be preaching in Lakeville, Pastor Russ in Inver Grove Heights and George Gipson in Minneapolis.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzhan



The Next Step |

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:5-6
Taking new steps is never easy. I remember when our children were younger and they were learning to walk. They started by crawling, then standing and eventually taking that wobbly first step with help of mom and dad.  They would hold our finger and walk around the room so excited they could finally be mobile. Eventually they would not need us to hold their hand and they could walk on their own. Soon they were outside not only walking but running around and it was hard for us to catch them.  Taking next steps is never easy but the rewards are worth the effort.
When it comes to our faith some people can get stuck in a certain stage of spiritual growth and not move on. They can be afraid or unwilling to take the next step. They get stuck as baby Christians still crawling or they take that first wobbly step but refuse to walk on their own. Some Christians began to walk but never get the courage to take the next step to run. They never feel the Holy Spirit deep inside their soul giving them the freedom to run the race set before them as described by the Apostle Paul. “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24
In today’s text we see Enoch in a strong relationship with God. In Genesis it states that “he walks with God.”  Enoch spent time with God every day so that when the time came for him to die God simply took him with Him to heaven.  May God give you the courage to take your next step of faith. May God show you ways to spend time together so you can run the race set before you.