Weekly Devotion
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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.


Included |

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7

This week I have been serving with the CROSSROADS Mission Team helping victims of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey. It has been a huge blessing and as with any mission experience I am always humbled at God’s faithfulness. Yesterday we went to a training session with another church.They arrived first and took all the chairs in the small fellowship hall. They all had snacks and were enjoying fellowship among themselves. When we arrived we had to stand awkwardly around the perimeter of the room. No one greeted us. No one offered us a seat. No one shared their food or beverages. I thought very little about until I was discussing inclusion verses exclusion with our youth director Becky Canny. She explained how she felt excluded when we through orientation. She shared how she hoped our church does not act like this. I told her we all have to be careful about how we extend God’s love and acceptance.

Sometimes we can unintentionally make others feel excluded. We can be so busy fellowshipping with our friends we forget to see those who need our friendship. As we were leaving our meeting a member of the other church walked up to me with a bag of chocolate covered pretzels. She apologized for her team and said, “They can get very focused sometimes.” I shared the chocolate pretzels with Becky and she shared with me “that chocolate can cover a multitude of sins.” Have a blessed week and continue to share God’s love. I look forward to seeing youSunday when our team returns.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Chosen |

“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:10
When I perform weddings I always ask the historic question of “Do you choose this woman (or man) to be your lawfully wedded wife (husband)?” Just last Saturday I asked this question of a young man and it was amazing to see how his bride teared up. Even though she was expecting the question the reality of her fiance saying he wanted her forever triggered those emotions of her desire to be chosen. Like this bride, we all want to be chosen. We all want to be special. It hurts when we are rejected or not chosen. Can you remember a time in elementary school when they were picking teams for a sports activity and you were chosen last? Was there a time when you were cut from a music group or another group where you felt you belonged? Have you ever lost a job or not been chosen for a job that you felt was right for you? It hurts. The desire to be chosen runs deep.
I still remember the day I was rejected by a young girl when I asked her to go with me to a dance. I felt humiliated. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to the dance after that. I went with a group of friends and stood around and watched others dance. Then there was a moment when a girl walked across the room and asked if I wanted to dance. It was amazing. I was standing around feeling sorry for myself and this girl choosing me totally transformed me.  It fulfilled the deep desire to be chosen.
In today’s scripture we are reminded that God gives us a choice to be relationship with him. God allows us to choose him. He always chooses us and waits for us to choose him back.  Whenever we are feeling not chosen remember that God chose you.  God loves you and has a special plan for your life. God chose you just like a groom chooses his bride. He loves you now and forever.
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Touched |


“When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.” (Matthew 8:14-15)
There are many religions in the world where the gods are remote and distant. They show these gods as all knowing and powerful but also sometimes cruel.  In Christianity we have a God that became intimately involved with creation. Jesus came to us as God in the flesh.  Only Christianity gives us a God that is so concerned with us that he became one of us and lived among us.  Jesus was God but lived a human life and touched those around him. He breathed air, laughed and ate at the dinner table with friends. He would have hugged and kissed his friends as was the custom of his day.

Jesus also used touch in incredible ways to heal. Jesus went to his close friend’s house and saw his mother-in-law sick. He had such compassion on her he went and touched her hand. I love the part where she got well immediately and then began to serve them. I don’t think Jesus had an alternative motive but I find that when we touch the lives of others they cannot help but want to give back as well.

My challenge for you this day is to look for ways you can extend God’s healing touch to the world.  Maybe you can help with the grocery give-away at church this Friday, October 4th. Maybe you can come give blood at church next Tuesday, October 8th. Attend the Mission Trip to New York to help victims of Hurricane Sandy or go with us to Mission Mexico and help at the orphanage. Find a neighbor who has a need and fill it.  Look for a co-worker that is hurting and listen to their problems. Babysit for a young couple that needs a break from their kids.  Bottom line is we all need God’s healing touch and we all need to extend God’s healing touch. How will you extend God’s healing touch this week?
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Safe |

 “How can we sing a song of the Lord while we are in a foreign land?”
Psalm 137:4

Today’s headlines are filled with reports of violence and death.  We read about massive killings in Nigeria and hear how terrorists are holding others hostage. We even read that some of these terrorists may have had ties to Minnesota. We read stories locally of crime sprees and even members of our own congregation have been robbed. In today’s environment of violence we can often feel unsafe. Even when we feel unsafe we try to cope in a variety of ways.  Mark and Debra Laaser state, “Our survival self is very powerful. We figure out ways to manage our anxiety, to control relatively insignificant things, health issues, money and people. Our rationale brain knows better most of the time.” (Seven Desires – pg 32) There are 365 “fear nots” in the Bible.  I believe this is God’s way to remind us every day to not be afraid. Each day of the year God wants us to feel safe.  In the Scripture written by the Psalmist while he is in captivity in a foreign land, he expresses concern. Yet the Psalmist later writes about God being present in spite of living away from the promised land.  We also must remember we live in a “foreign land.”  Until we reach heaven we will never be truly safe. Our ultimate security comes from our relationship with God.
In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn