Weekly Devotion

Connect As Witnesses

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

Luke 24:45-48

We are called to be witnesses of the story of Jesus. Some define witnessing as giving a testimony or sharing about something you have seen. This is part of the meaning, but the witnessing the early disciples did eventually cost many of them their lives. The word in the Greek for witness is similar to our modern word of “martyr.” A martyr, according to Wikipedia, is a person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her religion or a person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle, or cause.  We give thanks to those who have gone before us who have suffered because of their faith in this incredible story.

We are blessed that we can often witness to our faith without the extreme prejudice that is experienced in some parts of the world. We are called to share the good news of the story of Jesus who offers hope and not condemnation. Jesus offers empowerment and not imprisonment. The message of Jesus, when shared in word and deed, gives life and not death. Be a true witness to the love of God in the world this week.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Connecting With Reality

And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.

Luke 24:41-43 NIV

Last weekend I preached on the disciples’ encounter with Jesus on their walk to Emmaus. I mentioned that Jesus was recognized in the breaking of the bread.  What is it with food in the Bible? Why is it mentioned so often? Jesus was tempted by food in the wilderness, Jesus gave out food to 5000, Jesus shared a last supper with his disciples, and then when Jesus was resurrected he returns and starts eating with them again. Today’s text of Jesus requesting food demonstrates that he has a real body. He is not a ghost but a real person returned from the dead. A person who eats with his friends.

Viktor E. Frankl recounted an experience he had when he was in a Nazi concentration camp. He was at the end of his rope from having so little food. When he had lost every possession and had every value destroyed, someone gave him a piece of bread. Frankl wrote, “I remember how a foreman secretly gave me a piece of bread which I knew he must have saved from his breakfast ration. It was far more than the small piece of bread which moved me to tears at the time. It was the human ‘something’ this man also gave to me — the word and the look which accompanied the gift.” Keep on the lookout for that ‘human something’ the next time you break bread with another person. It is amazing how sharing food and a kind word can allow people to see the presence of Christ. May you share the reality of Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Connecting With Jesus

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Luke 24:32

I love going to RED ROCK Camp. It has amazing worship, great preaching, and lots of fun things to do. One of my favorite free time activities is sailing. Rev. Gordon Langmade, who used to attend our church, donated his sailboat to Red Rock Camp and every day he would start morning chapel by shouting “IT IS A GREAT DAY FOR SAILING.” Deb and I would love to take the boat out and sail around the lake. One particular time we got out past the shore and the wind stopped. We were dead in the water. No way to get back. Then a group from the camp came by in a pontoon boat. It was embarrassing, but we flagged them down and they towed us back to shore. It was quite humbling, but I learned a valuable life lesson: The difference between a sailboat and a pontoon is great. The sailboat depends on the weather and the wind. The pontoon has power within itself. The engine and fuel can allow it to make progress regardless of the wind and weather.

Jesus opened the eyes of the disciples by showing them the Scriptures. He, in essence, gave them power. This type of power given by God is not dependent upon education, circumstances, or even talent. Jesus let us know that when we understand the Scripture our hearts will burn and we will receive the power of the Holy Spirit. They were no longer defeated by the authorities but rather used the power of God to spread the good news.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Sign up for Red Rock Camp on the [Events Page] today!

Connect With God’s Story

During Holy Week CROSSROADS spent a great deal of time connecting the story of Jesus to our story.  We started the week with a special drama that I had written and acted in and was produced by Zach Lemmens. This drama depicted the final hours of Jesus through the eyes of Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross for Jesus. This powerful drama is still on our CROSSROADS YouTube Site. If you care to watch or share with others, Click HERE .

On Palm Sunday we also held a special concert and worship service led by Sara Renner at our Minneapolis Campus. Throughout the week we celebrated the Passover Seder in small groups in a variety of locations and on Wednesday night had larger celebrations at the Inver Grove Heights Campus and Lakeville Campus. At the Seder meals we discussed the symbolic foods and retold the story of the Exodus and how Jesus was now the Passover lamb.  On Maundy Thursday we joined in a special ecumenical prayer service and on Good Friday we celebrated with a Tenebrae service in the historic Heritage Chapel at the Inver Grove Heights church..  Saturday morning was the launch of our CROSSROADS Motorcycle Ministry which did its first prayer and ride to Henderson, Minnesota. On Saturday evening, Pastor Gordon Deuel led his first worship service at the Elko – New Market Campus. This “sneak peak” worship service will continue to be held at the Heritage UMC church in New Prague, on the third Saturdays at 5:00pm as they do outreach, grow small groups, and continue to prepare for the public phase of their ministry.

Resurrection Day was a huge blessing as we returned our CROSSES to the front of their respective sanctuaries. Inver Grove Heights and Lakeville Campuses were recently painted and bringing the crosses back after 40 days put the finishing touches on our spaces.  We challenged everyone to carry a personal wooden cross the last 40 days of lent and share the story of Jesus wherever they went. I have heard some incredible transformation stories of how the 800 crosses we gave out during Lent impacted others. At the Easter Worship Services at all campuses we took a “God’s Selfie.” This photo is a tangible reminder that we are Christ’s Ambassadors to the world. We need to be the hands and feet and reflection of Jesus to others. As we move into this season called Eastertide remember that Christ has risen. We are a resurrection people. We are “God’s Selfie.” Share God’s love with a hurting world.

In Christ’s love and service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Connect to the Empty Tomb

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.    

Luke 24:1-3 NIV

Jeff London in his book, You Think It Is All Over, discusses how we as pastors and as churches like to rush to the empty tomb. He states, “Do we really need the emotional roller coaster of Holy Week? What’s so wrong with just jumping from one parade to the next and skipping all the sacrifice and death stuff?”  One person from our church recently critiqued the movie, Son Of God. She stated,”I liked the healing and miracle stories, but I wish they could have sped up the part where he was suffering. In the movie Jesus’ suffering lasted approximately 15 minutes. In real time it was more than 18 hours. This is why on Palm Sunday we discussed the suffering of Jesus through the eyes of Simon of Cyrene. As believers, We need to understand that the only way to Easter is through the cross. Please consider the CROSSROADS invitation this week to not rush to the empty tomb. Reflect on Christ’s suffering and death as you carry the cross this final week of Lent. Watch the drama performed by Pastor Paul on www.public_html or the CROSSRADS You Tube Channel. Think about what Simon says about Jesus being the blood of the lamb that takes away the sins of the world. Come to the Seder Meal service Wednesday night at the Lakeville or Inver Grove Heights Campuses and the Thursday Tenebra candlelight service at the Inver Grove Heights Campus. I look forward to seeing you at Resurrection Day this Sunday at CROSSROADS. Don’t forget to invite a friend!

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


He Carried The Cross

As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.

Luke 23:26 NIV

Simon of Cyrene is barely mentioned in Scripture but his story is an important one. The Bible records that Jesus was on his way to be crucified. As part of the punishment, a prisoner was often forced to carry the large cross beam or a full cross to the place where they were to be killed. It would be like a prisoner carrying their own rope to the gallows. It was part of the torture and humiliation. Jesus was probably exhausted from the 39 lashes and severe beatings he had already endured. With all the blood loss he probably was barely able to walk let alone carry a large cross. The Roman guards wanting to keep moving toward Golgotha were not going to help a criminal. Therefore, they forced Simon who was passing by to carry the cross for Jesus.  Simon was not a willing participant. It says they “seized him” and “made him” carry the cross. Simon would not have wanted to help the Romans kill a fellow Jew. He also would not have wanted the blood of another on him since he was participating in the Passover Festival.  The blood, in Simon’s mind, would have made him “unclean.”  According to Levitical law, Simon would have had to go through ceremonial cleansing before participating in the passover if the blood of Jesus was on him. The irony is that it is by the blood of Jesus we have all been made clean.  As you reflect on Jesus suffering on the cross, how has the blood of Jesus cleansed you?

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul

This Sunday at the Lakeville and Inver Grove Heights Campuses we will have a special drama performance during the regular worship times called, “HE CARRIED THE CROSS.” This drama performance is seen through the eyes of Simon of Cyrene who shares the final events in the life of Jesus as depicted in the book of Luke.  Pastor Paul Marzahn will play the character of Simon and will share what it feels like to carry the cross of Jesus. This is a special opportunity to invite guests who may need to understand the story of Jesus.

[Spiritual Disciplines Worksheet]

Carry the Cross: I Am a Good Person

Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

Luke 18:24, 25 NIV

This passage of Jesus in Luke is often quoted, but seldom fully explained. Jesus is discussing money and salvation with a

rich young ruler. The ruler asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. When Nicodemus asks the same question, Jesus responds that you must be born again. This time Jesus tells the rich ruler that he has to sell all he has. There are over 2000 verses in the Bible that either directly or indirectly relate to finances in the Bible. It is a popular topic because

God knows that we struggle with our possessions. Jesus then continues the lesson saying, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Jesus was not teaching poverty in this example. Jesus was not even teaching that we need to sell or give away everything in order to be saved. He was teaching that rich people must not love their possessions more than they love God. Jesus was making a point to the rich ruler that he needed to learn to trust in God and God’s grace rather than to place all his confidence in worldly possessions.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

[Spiritual Disciplines Worksheet]

Carry the Cross: I’m Too Busy

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all….Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.¨

Luke 17:26, 27,33 NIV

You could actually call this the ¨Year of the Ark.¨ Ark themes are popping up everywhere.

In the Netherlands, you can now visit “Ark van Noach.” This ark is full-sized and actually floats. It was built by a construction company owner named Johan Huibers and cost $1.3 million. This replica of the ark weighs over 3,000 tons. In Hong Kong, another full-sized replica of Noah’s ark exists at “Noah’s Ark Park and Resort.” Alongside the ark is a solar telescope, gardens, and evangelistic displays. It reminds persons that God destroyed the world and will be coming again in final glory as depicted in Revelation. (Unfortunately, its Christian benefactors are on trial facing bribery and corruption charges.) In Frostburg, Maryland, you can see “God’s Ark of Safety.” It was started by Church of the Brethren and Rev. Richard Greene in 1974. Rev Greens saw a series of visions that inspired him to build Noah’s ark next to Interstate 64. He’s been working on it ever since.  Similar to the movie “Evan Almighty,” people are quite concerned about his sanity. In Williamstown, Kentucky, plans are being laid for “Ark Encounter.” A group called “Answers in Genesis” wants to build a $73 million theme park with a full-scale ark and a zoo. Even Hollywood is getting on the bandwagon. Coming out next week is the major motion picture NOAH starring Russell Crowe. Hard to believe a 601 year old man could look as good as Russell Crowe or be as buff. I hope I look that good at 601.

In the Scripture for this week Jesus is giving the disciples and those listening, “a warning and an encouragement.” He is encouraging them by letting them know the “Kingdom of God” is in their midst. He is warning them by letting them know that judgement will come like the days of Noah and persons will not be prepared. Like many of them, we may be too busy living life to think about God and God´s reign. Jesus is also encouraging them by letting them know that the Kingdom of God is a present reality and a future reality. The key to being a part of the kingdom is the same now as in the time of Noah. Surrender your will to the will of God and experience the reign of God as a reward. Come this weekend to learn more about how Luke challenges us to lose our life so Christ can save it.


In Christ´s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

How are you doing on your [Spiritual Disciplines]?

Carry Your Cross: It Costs Too Much

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

Luke 4:1, 2 NIV

During the 40 Days of Lent we are encouraging persons to follow the Wesley Spiritual Disciplines and choose a discipline of abstinence and a discipline of engagement. We are studying the life of Jesus and have been discussing how he fasted and prayed for 40 days. Fasting brings our bodies into harmony with God’s love because it teaches us to realize that we don’t need to give our body what it wants all the time. It helps to subdue all those things that we overdo, like overeating, too much media, compulsive shopping, etc… We can abstain or fast from many things in order to focus more fully on God’s presence during the next 40 days.

If you choose to abstain from food, this is how I would suggest doing it:

-Make sure you talk with your doctor before you fast. If you have health issues that prevent it, you may choose to abstain from something other than food. Examples include electronic devices or other things that may distract you from the love of God.

-If you’re going to fast from food and have never done it before, start by fasting one meal only, like lunch.

-If you want to fast for a day, I would encourage you to start after dinner so that you fast through the next dinner and just drink water for that entire day. You fast 24 hours but are then able to end your fast and not go to bed hungry.

-If you want to go hard-core for three days, drink only liquid made of one part healthy unpasteurized apple juice and two parts water. You may also buy a drink that has electrolytes in it so you do not became nauseous or dehydrated. The first day is difficult, the second day is torturous, but by the third day it is better.  I would not suggest beyond a three day fast without some liquid supplement.

Whatever you do, don’t fast to prove anything to yourself. Don’t do it to prove anything to anybody else. Do it to remind your body that “humanity does not live by bread alone,” as Jesus reminded Satan. When you fast, you train your body and teach it that the Spirit controls the flesh. As you fast, it frees up extra time for prayer, Bible reading, and serving. Through fasting, God will allow you to discover new truths to help you grow.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

(Spiritual Disciplines Worksheet)

** There will be NO Community Meal or CROSSTRAINING this week in observance of Lakeville Spring Break.

Ash Wednesday

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Luke 9:23 NIV

Jesus teaches his disciples many truths about spiritual disciplines and denial of selfish desires. In his ministry, Jesus was working himself geographically from Galilee south to Samaria and then to Judea, and eventually to Jerusalem.  He knew he was heading toward a brutal death on the cross but his disciples were still unsure. Some were holding on to the fact that he was a miracle worker and healer. Some thought he would go to Jerusalem and overthrow the government. Few really understood that the role of the suffering servant would mean dying on a cross.  This concept of taking up the cross would have been very confusing.  Why was Jesus asking us to deny ourselves for the kingdom?  We may ask the same thing.  Why is denial of self interlinked with discipleship?  The word “Disciple” is the root word for discipline.  They go together. John Wesley also picked up on these similar themes and required that pastors and spiritual mature Christians should practice the spiritual disciplines.   He outlined a number of things to abstain from and a number of spiritual engagements we should proactive regularly in order to “deny ourselves and take up our cross daily.” During our next message series we are challenging everyone to take up their cross – literally. We are handing out a small wooden cross at our Ash Wednesday service in worship and at CROSSTRAINING. We are asking everyone to carry their cross and think about the sacrifice of Jesus. We are also asking persons to use the cross to start spiritual conversations and think about ways they can deny themselves during the 40 days known as “lent.”  Join us through following the spiritual disciplines, participating in worship, engaging in a small group, and carrying our cross for the next 40 days until we all celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

Please click for a [SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES WORKSHEET] you may use for your growth and edification.

*Pastor Paul and Pastor Laura will be leading Ash Wednesday worship alongside our CROSSROADS youth praise team at the Lakeville Campus from 6:30-7:30.  Pastor Deb Marzahn will be leading worship at the Inver Grove Heights Campus alongside Lynn Suilman at 6:30.  Community Meals begins at the Lakeville Campus at 5:45.  Children and youth are welcome at both campuses.*