Weekly Devotion

Emotionally Healthy Christians – Self Management

“Moses was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was powerful in both speech and action.” – ‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭7:20-22‬ ‭NLT‬‬
Moses was blessed by proper teaching. He was taught how to speak and how to respond. Acts chapter 7 is filled with examples of how Moses listened to God and responded to the struggles before him. An Apostle named Stephen tells this story of Moses to help explain Jesus, like Moses, came to proclaim the Word of God. Moses was rejected by many leaders of his day in the same way the leaders rejected Jesus. Stephen goes on to say, “Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt,” (‭‭Acts‬ ‭7:39‬ ‭RSV‬‬)
In this week’s message we will be further examining this young man Stephen. He was emotionally and spiritually mature. Through the power of the Holy Spirit he kept his composure as he testified about Jesus. Threatened by death he never wavered. At the end, as they stoned him, his response was that of love and compassion. In his final words before dying he echoed the sentiment of Jesus when He died, “And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep,” (‭‭Acts‬ ‭7:60‬ ‭RSV‬‬). Let us follow their example and be more like Moses and Stephen allowing the Holy Spirit to control our thoughts and speech. Pray for the self control to share Jesus even when we are afraid.
Questions to Consider:
  1. Would you consider yourself an emotionally mature person? Why or why not?
  2. When is a time when you “lost it” emotionally and lashed out at others? What triggered the event?
  3. How do you allow the Holy Spirit to control your thoughts and speech?
  4. What are you currently focusing on in your faith to become more emotionally secure?
In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn

Emotionally Healthy Christians – Relationship Management

John 21:16 – “Jesus repeated the question: ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter said, ‘you know I love you.’ ‘Then take care of my sheep,’ Jesus said.”
This Sunday we are starting a new series called “Emotionally Healthy Christians”. We will be looking at different biblical stories and seeing how emotional health is displayed. Also this will be a time where we get to explore together where we may need emotional health in our lives and relationships.
This week we are looking at Jesus and Peter’s relationship after Jesus’ death and resurrection. In this reading Jesus is resurrected and appears before Peter and the disciples. Needless to say, Jesus and Peter have issues. If we were to look at Jesus and Peter as two friends, we could immediately mention two things that they need to work on: trust and communication. Jesus cuts to the point and asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” He does this to reconcile their relationship because previously Peter denied knowing Jesus three times.
There are times in our lives where we need reconciliation. Whether it’s because someone hurt us or we hurt someone else. When I was growing up, my sister and I fought many times. Once I crushed her fingers in a car door, and she once kicked me in the knees. Like most children these conflicts were frequent, but we would always come back together to reconcile and say that we love each other. This week may we seek reconciliation, and let us do it like Jesus and remain in love
Questions to consider:
  • Did you ever have an argument with anyone that was silly or ridiculous? How did it start and did it get resolved?
  • Have you ever had an argument with your spouse or significant other? If so, how did you resolve it?
  • Have you ever had some issue where you were upset or irritated with God?

Mark Schlasner

Overwhelmed – By Transition

John 15:1-4 NLT – “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”
Transition is difficult. Transition is an unknown. The unknown can be scary because we don’t know what dangers wait for us. In this scripture, Jesus is telling the disciples everything will be okay as long as they remain in Him. The disciples, though, find it challenging to remain in Him when He’s not there instructing them in what to do. This is a scary transition for the disciples where there is no longer safety in staying with Jesus, but it instead presents many dangers.
We worry about dangers when we’re in transition. We try to prepare ourselves by asking questions. When looking for a new job, we ask, “will it be enough to support my family?” When looking for a new place to live, we ask, “will it be good enough to call it ‘home’ without making me broke?” Sometimes when making new friends, we ask, “will they really accept every part of me? Even the ugly parts that I don’t like about myself?” When looking for new relationships, we ask, “will this next person accept me for who I am or will I have to settle for whomever I get?” Transition can be overwhelming, but it’s important to take that first step knowing Jesus will be with us just as He was with His disciples. So this week let us take comfort in knowing Jesus is with us and whenever changes come He will us throughout the transition.
Questions To Consider
What was a time of transition for you? What challenges did it bring? What opportunities did it present?
Why was transition difficult for the disciples? Why is it difficult for us now?
How has Jesus brought peace during your times of transition?
How can we allow Jesus to use us to bring that peace to others who are overwhelmed by transition?
In Christ’s love and service,

Mark Schlasner

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