Weekly Devotion

Overwhelmed By Anger

John 10:31-33 NLT – “Once again the people picked up stones to kill him. Jesus said, ‘At my Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone me?’ They replied, ‘We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.’”
A person’s anger can run very deep. Anger’s history can reveal a lifelong struggle to overcome resentment, bitterness, and hostility. Anger is easy … self-control is hard. There are a variety of causes for anger. Externally, we may become angry with others who tempt or entice us to do something morally wrong or against our better judgment. And we might get angry when someone lies or preys upon our vulnerability or weakness. Internally, we may become angry with ourselves for being gullible, buying into a lie, or participating in a sinful act—even though we knew it was wrong. We blame ourselves and often feel shame—living disgraced, dishonored, unworthy, or embarrassed in our own minds. God wants us to know there’s a better way to react.
Anger is a thief. A thief of peace, joy, and time. In today’s Scripture, the people become angry at Jesus to the point of wanting to kill Him. Jesus demonstrates forgiveness and does not respond with anger back toward the crowd. When we’re assured of our relationship with God, we can take responsibility for our own actions including our anger. And when we accept God’s forgiveness for our sins and extend that same forgiveness toward others, anger has no power over us. May we release whatever anger we may be feeling this week. May we all demonstrate the love of Jesus when others are angry toward us.
Questions To Consider:
When have you witnessed someone who was angry? How did it make you feel?
Are there certain things that trigger anger in you? What makes you most upset?
When was the last time you were angry? What happened?
When you are angry what helps you get over it?
In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn

Overwhelmed – By Anxiety

“There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, ‘He’s a good man,’ but others said, ‘He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.’” John‬ ‭7:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The Bible does not assume believers won’t have anxieties. Like Jesus, we will experience people being frustrated with us. The Bible tells us how to fight when we experience those feelings. For example, 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” It does not say, you will never feel any anxieties. It says, when you have them, cast them on God. When the mud splatters on our windshield (or depending on the season it may be snow) we temporarily lose sight of the road. We may start to swerve in anxiety because we can’t see. The solution is to turn on our wipers and squirt our windshield washer fluid. We fight anxieties by fighting against unbelief and focusing on our faith. The way we fight this “good fight” is by meditating on God’s assurances. We also focus on God’s grace and by asking for help from the Holy Spirit. The windshield wipers are the promises of God that clear away the mud of unbelief, and the windshield washer fluid is the help of the Holy Spirit. The battle is to be freed from sin — including the sin of anxiety. The work of the Spirit and the word of truth. These are the great faith-builders. Without the softening work of the Holy Spirit, the wipers of the word just scrape over the blinding clumps of unbelief on the windshield.

Both the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures are necessary to overcome anxiety. We read the promises of God and we pray for the help of God’s Spirit. And as the windshield clears we can see the plans God has for us. Our faith grows stronger so we are better able to “wipe off” the anxiety holding us back. My prayer for us today is we allow the windshield wipers of the promises of God to help us this day. May each of us follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit this week in our lives.
In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn

Overwhelmed By Guilt

“Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband—for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!” ‭John‬ ‭4:16-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬
Guilt is a complex topic because it involves both subjective elements (opinions or preferences) and objective elements (facts and truth). Subjectively, feelings of guilt are a universal phenomenon. We approach guilt in a variety of ways through religious confession, psychological therapy, self help, and so on. As human beings, we want to erase our personal experiences of guilt and regret. As God’s image-bearers, we feel overwhelmed with guilt whenever we are aware we have disappointed God. Scripture alludes to guilty feelings in many places, especially in the Psalms. In today’s reading from John, Jesus confronts a woman about her adultery. She confesses it to Jesus after He encounters her at a well during the middle of the day. She acknowledges her sin of having been intimate with several men. It is not stated as “guilt,” but we can conclude the feeling is guilt because she is coming to get water at an uncomfortably hot time of day when others would typically not be around to stare and point at her.

Feelings of guilt are an acknowledged reality. We must admit our objective guilt is far more important than our subjective experience of it. In the first place, guilty feelings do not always correspond to our actual, guilty situation. Many of us are plagued by guilt because we think we have broken God’s law even when we haven’t, and there are others who are actually guilty of violating God’s commands are not bothered in their violations. Repeated indulgence in sin can deaden one’s conscience to the point where it is all too easy to call good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20).

In the final analysis, true guilt results from us violating the objective standards of God. Guilty feelings help us become aware of violating God’s standards. Whether we “feel” guilty or not, all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Let us take time today to repent of our sin and acknowledge the truth that God forgives us. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to make us hate sin so our conscience will be stricken with disgust and sorrow each time we violate God’s law. May we all strive to imitate the holiness of Jesus and hate sin just as God does.
In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn

Overwhelmed With Fear and Doubt

“Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt?” ‭Luke‬ ‭24:38‬ ‭NLT‬‬
Fear and doubt are common responses to situations we do not understand. The disciples had lost their leader and friend to the cross. He died right in front of them. They believed in Jesus as Messiah, but His death shook their confidence. Sometimes life takes a toll on my confidence. I get overwhelmed, stressed, and tired of dealing with all the ups and downs. Fear and doubt creep into my thinking.
When I am overwhelmed with fear and doubt I cling to the promises of God. I remember promises like Psalm 23 that remind me God will be with me “even in the valley of the shadow of death and I should fear no evil.” I am grateful to know I will never have to go through pain and suffering alone. God, I know You are on my side as it says in Psalms 118 so I will not fear. Fear defeats so many people and I pray you keep me from being one of them. I pray trusting You becomes simpler for me.
My prayer for you today is you will not let fear and doubt overwhelm you. My prayer for you today is you will focus on Jesus to get you through whatever challenges you’re facing and believe your best days are ahead of you.
Lord, help me to view trusting You as the prerequisite for overcoming all fear and doubt. I know as I trust in You things will be better for me in the end. Today, I am going to make a conscious decision to trust You Lord. I will not let the concerns of today create fear in my heart, defeat my spirit and steal my joy. AMEN
Questions To Consider:
What are some of my biggest fears?  
Why do I doubt? What causes doubt in my life the most?
Who are the people around me who help me when I have doubts or are afraid?  How can I utilize their strength more?
In Christ’s love and service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


“The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!” – Luke‬ ‭24:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬
Imagine joining a movement so powerful that you give up everything to be a part of it. You sell your house, give up your job, and even travel frequently away from family and friends. You are invested and passionate about the leader of this movement and spend almost every waking moment with him for three years. Then in almost an instant your leader and your movement is gone. Not only is your leader arrested, but he is killed, and anyone associated with him has their life threatened as well. You are left with no idea what to do, where to go, or how to find another job. You are probably feeling quite OVERWHELMED.
The followers of Jesus felt life was hopeless. Yet at least the women summoned up the courage to go visit the tomb of the Leader they loved. When they approached the tomb they realized the stone was rolled away and gone. Even more stress. Then they were approached by Angels who scared them so much they fell to the ground. They were overwhelmed.
Perhaps today you are feeling overwhelmed. Your calendar and credit card bill may be causing you stress. Maybe you are worried about your future and the direction you are going. The transitions and change happening around may leave you feeling anxious. The Resurrection story is a reminder that God is in control. It is proof God can bring dead things back to life. Jesus also reassured His disciples when He returned that even though He would soon leave them He would send the Holy Spirit to guide them. The promise of the Holy Spirit’s guidance is still with us today. May you rely on God and the power of the Holy Spirit to help you feel less overwhelmed this week.
In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn

Walking To The Cross – The Centurion

“When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, ‘Surely this man was innocent.’” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:47‬ ‭NLT‬‬
A Pastor and colleague of mine by the name of Sean Gladding is great at picking apart Scripture. We both are students at Asbury Seminary and love to look at the Bible in unique ways. For the last ten years at CROSSROADS, we have celebrated Palm to Passion Sunday in a unique way with a dramatic approach. We have looked at the story of Jesus through the eyes of John, Peter, Judas, Mary & Lazarus, and a variety of other Biblical characters. We have also looked at the Story with a modern twist like we did two years ago as a CNN news report. But in examining the last week of Jesus life rarely do we hear the story from an “outsider’s perspective.” My friend Pastor Sean wrote a drama for his church looking at Jesus through the eyes of the Centurion mentioned briefly in the Bible. We have adapted his drama to share at CROSSROADS this Sunday and again next Wednesday the 17th as a dinner theater production.
The Centurion mentioned in Scripture was probably versed in the Hebrew culture but did not truly understand its intricacies. He was unfamiliar with the true nature of the Messiah and probably confused by this radical religious culture that refused the hospitality of Rome. After all they brought in new roads, aqueducts & water, and money & trade. Their technology and building techniques improved their lives so why were they so hostile? The Centurion helps us understand Jesus was so profoundly unique even an outsider could see He was the Son of God.
What was it like to have been in Jerusalem for Passover as part of an occupying foreign army?  What would it be like to have a vague sense of the faith of the people around you, but not really understand it? What was it like to live unquestioning of your own cultural narrative until one dying man turned everything you believed upside down? We will explore these questions and more as we hear the story of Jesus through the eyes of The Centurion.
Come see The Centurion drama during service this Sunday and invite your friends to come to the dinner theater performance this Wednesday (tickets on sale on the home page). May we all take the time to see and hear the Story with a perspective we haven’t before.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul

Walking To The Cross – Walking With The Kingdom

“‘Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.’” Luke‬ ‭12:31‬ ‭NLT‬‬
It is generally not a good idea to get in my way when I’m hungry. Hunger has a way of bypassing my higher brain functions and leaving me with a version of myself I am often not proud of. I’m more aggressive, less patient, and generally more likely to say something I’ll regret later. I move from hungry to “HANGRY” fairly quickly. Just ask my wife. It’s not easy for any of us to control the flesh. We are creatures consumed by many different hungers. We long for food, sex, love, control, money, security, and more. Given their proper perspective, these hungers help us to live and thrive. When these hungers are allowed to grow beyond their natural boundaries, the results are obesity, sexual immorality, idolatry, pride and gluttony.  
In this week’s Scripture readings, Jesus is speaking a lot about the Kingdom of God. He is reminding His listeners our desires can pull us away from the Kingdom life. For example, the love of money over love of God can quickly move us towards thinking money is the key to happiness. If we are to follow Christ, then we must learn to practice self control. Galatians 5:23 teaches self control is a fruit of the Spirit. God had given the believer the Holy Spirit, and by extension, His self-control. We only need to use it. It is no coincidence the tradition of Lent has historically included some form of self-control discipline. Jesus reminds us a “rich relationship with God is more important than earthly wealth. This relationship draws us into the Kingdom.  May you experience His kingdom presence this week.
In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn

Walking To The Cross – Walking With The Cross

“Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke‬ ‭9:23‬ ‭NET‬‬
When Jesus first told His disciples they needed to take up their cross and follow Him, it might have been easy for them to imagine Him speaking in metaphor. That is, until they saw Him actually picking up a cross and marching off to His death. At that point, it was hard to deny the severity of their call. Jesus was serious. To follow Him, they would need to be “all in.” They would need to be willing to give up everything. It’s no wonder those disciples initially ran away and hid. I would probably have done the same! It seems so radical. Why would God ask this of His disciples?
A message of sacrifice probably didn’t sell well. Where were the throngs who ate the fishes and loaves? What happened to the thousands who worshipped Him when He entered the city?  They did not like this message of denial and sacrifice. Most of us, if we’re honest, want just enough Jesus to get the benefits, but not so much we feel the cost. Yet is it really possible to get one without the other?
This Sunday we are going to look at the question of how we can pick up our cross and serve Jesus. Why should we expect to live a life of freedom in Christ without sacrifice. May we all practice sacrifice this week as we walk toward the cross. May we all demonstrate what it means to deny ourselves and follow Jesus.
In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn

Walking To The Cross – Walking With Compassion

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also.” Luke 6:27-29
Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness is one you’ve heard numerous times, but the world still needs to hear it at least once more. Everywhere you look, there is hate and retribution. Even if we look at society, one of the biggest movie blockbusters this summer is Avengers: Endgame. For us, Jesus was the ultimate Avenger. This Avenger didn’t fight with His fists, but instead fought with love. He tells us to do likewise.
We live in a world where we’re often informed of injustices performed by others. Even just last week, there was a shooting in New Zealand. We yearn for God’s justice to reign, but until then we are called to love and forgive. It’s not easy, but it is possible.
In October 2006, there was a school shooting where 10 girls were killed, some of them belonging to the Amish community. They knew the shooter as the guy who delivered milk. Yet still, the Amish forgave the shooter and his family. They even attended the shooter’s funeral to support the widow and her three children. This is such an amazing act of compassion that still speaks volumes today.
God calls us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek. Who are the people in your life you need to forgive? How have they wronged you and how can you turn the other cheek by showing compassion? God calls us to love and forgive everyone. No exceptions.
Questions to consider:
Have you ever known anyone you’d consider to be an enemy? If not, then who are the people in your life you need to forgive?
How have you shown compassion to those who have done you wrong?
Where might God be calling you to bring compassion in a situation?
Mark Schlasner

Walking To The Cross – Walking In My Father’s House

“‘Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’” Luke‬ ‭2:49‬ ‭NIV‬‬
In today’s Scripture, Jesus was in the temple teaching. His parents were upset because they looked all over for Him. He let them know they should have expected to find Him in “God’s House” (His Father’s House). He wanted them to know he respected them as parents, but also that He was about doing God’s work in the world.
This Sunday is Saint Patrick’s Day. He was also searched for by his parents when he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave. We will be celebrating in worship at CROSSROADS someone who was willing to use a tragic circumstance in his life as a springboard to make a difference among the very people who had enslaved him. Rather than run away from conflict or opposition, St.Patrick moved toward it. Very much like Jesus. Rather than buy into fear and say, “Well, they’re a lost cause,” instead he grew to love the outsiders and gave his life over to them.  St. Patrick’s tenacity and devotion to Christ serve as a model for all of us who call ourselves Christians. So go ahead and wear your green on St. Patrick’s weekend celebrations. If you really want to honor Saint Patrick, and the Christ he served, the best way might be for you to:
1) Begin by connecting with someone you don’t know.
2) Offer a holy conversation to a person who needs it.
3) Engage a person at work who may be difficult for you.
4) Offer some help to a neighbor without being asked.
5) Drop a note to someone who could use some encouragement.
6) Pray with someone who is struggling physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
We are called to be more like Patrick and “walk among” the people of our community. We all need to offer those around us hospitality, friendship, and the Good News of Jesus Christ. It’s the kind of ministry that can transform a community and even the world. May we say with conviction that there is a wee bit of the Irish saint in all of us! Wear your GREEN this Sunday as we celebrate together St. Patrick’s day at CROSSROADS.
Questions To Consider:
What are some of your favorite St. Patrick’s Day traditions?
What do you know about the historic St. Patrick?
Was there ever a time in your life where your parents went looking for you?
In what ways are Jesus and St. Patrick similar in their ministries?
Who is someone you can engage that needs help around you?
In Christ’s love and service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn