Weekly Devotion

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