Community – Celebrations

‭“So all the people went to Gilgal and made Saul king in the presence of the LORD. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the LORD, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration.”‭ (1 Samuel‬ ‭11:15‬)
 
“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD —a lasting ordinance.” (Exodus‬ ‭12:14‬)
 
“Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns.” (Deuteronomy‬ ‭16:14‬) ‬‬
 
I don’t know about you, but I love a good party! I enjoy the amazing amounts of food, beverages, and fellowship. Weddings, graduations, anniversaries, and even funerals are amazing times to gather and celebrate. At CROSSROADS we have been calling our funerals “Celebrations of Life” to remember we should celebrate those who are experiencing the kingdom of God in its fullness.
 
Sometimes, we forget how important it is to God that we gather to celebrate. There are over 50 passages that remind the Israelites to pause from busy life activities and celebrate with community. God wants us to take time to celebrate the life of abundance He has given us. He wants to remind us that we are blessed and He is the source of all good things.
 
In Christ’s love and service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Community – Resurrection

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” ‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:3-7‬ ‭ESV‬
 
I love communion Sunday. The first Sunday of every month at CROSSROADS we celebrate the remembrance of the Lord’s Supper. At one point we did it quarterly and at another time we did it weekly. Then we decided once a month felt about right for this season of our congregation. We sometimes serve the children communion in the Children’s area and sometimes they take it with their parents in the larger worship space. This past Sunday we invited the kids to come forward and take communion from me and Pastor Deb.
 
Pastor Deb did the liturgy by blessing the bread and cup. She reminded us all, “Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again.” One of the children later in line before taking the bread asked me “why are we doing this?” I shared this meal helps us remember Jesus died for us and He was resurrected. She replied “Oh, my mom told me eat the bread to remember Jesus loves me.” We were both right.
 
The Apostle Paul when talking to his church family at Corinth discussed with them the importance of the Resurrection. He had written to them about unity and focusing on love. Now in closing his letter he wanted to remind them about the core of what it means to be a Christ follower. He emphasized the importance of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Unless we believe in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and His power to overcome death, our faith is meaningless. May we like the Corinthians remember the core of what it means to be a follower of Christ. May we also understand the power of the resurrection story of Jesus and share it with others.

 

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Community – Tongues

“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭14:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We should all eagerly desire Spiritual Gifts. They help us through the power of the Holy Spirit and to help strengthen the church. Sometimes these gifts can also tear down the church if not used appropriately.  The believers in Corinth were impressed with big personalities and big talk. They were attracted to outward success and personal charisma. They mistook Paul’s sacrificial service for weakness and were not impressed. We have a problem today of “super-pastors”, or leaders in the church claiming super spiritual authority. Mega churches and mega personalities can sometimes pull us away from what the Holy Spirit intends. Like the Corinthians, we also have to heed the Apostle Paul’s advice.
 
 
When it came time for Paul to boast about his apostleship, he listed his sufferings for the gospel, and it was quite an overwhelming list. In contrast, other spiritual leaders in the church boasted in their strength, their abilities, their personalities, and their riches. And the Corinthians wanted to be like them.  We too can think too highly of ourselves. We must humble ourselves before the Lord and say, “Father, I’m here to serve, not to be served, to give, not to get. Help me follow in the footsteps of Your Son.” I ask God every day to show me ways to serve and somehow God seems to fill up each day with opportunities. I am sure for those reading this many of you could say the same.
 
 
Don’t miss the glorious forest of the Holy Spirit because of some very bad trees.  I wish you could get to know some of the incredible Charismatic believers I have worked with around the world, people of wonderful dedication, soundness, and integrity. I wish you could experience some of the moves of the Spirit I’ve been privileged to experience. If you could, while also armed with the unshakable truths of God’s Word, you would never be the same. God’s supernatural gifts are real. May you and I “eagerly desire” these gifts and may we use these gifts to Glorify Him.

 

In Christ’s Love and Service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Community – Love

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬ Love is one of the most used words in the English language, and also one of the most misused words. In America, we say we love everything from our pets, to pizza, to our friends, and even our spouse. When people use the word love it is almost like a generic term for liking something very much. When the Apostle Paul uses the word love he is very specific. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians is describing a type of love that is not selfish but rather a sacrificial love. He had several choices for the word love. In Greek, the language in which all of Paul’s letters are written, he could have used the word “Eros” which means romantic love or infatuated love. Eros is described as a sexual or passionate love, and is the type most akin to our modern construct of romantic love. In Greek myth, it is a form of madness brought about by one of Cupid’s arrows. The arrow breaches us and we ‘fall’ in love, as did Paris and Helen, leading to the Trojan War and the downfall of Troy and much of the assembled Greek army in Homer’s epic poem The Iliad. It is a love often depicted in literature as being uncontrollable, “love at first sight” and all that – after all, “you can’t control who you love,” right? Paul could have chosen the word “Philia” which is a friendship type of love. Friendship love  founded on goodness is associated not only with mutual benefit; but also with companionship, dependability, and trust. In this type of love, real friends seek together to live truer, fuller lives by relating to each other authentically. Paul could’ve chosen the word “Storge” which is a family type of love. More broadly, Storge is the fondness born out of familiarity or dependency of someone. Unlike Eros or Philia, Storge is not dependent on our personal qualities. One would almost expect Paul to use a word like Philia or Storge describing community and the church. But instead Paul chose the word “Agape.” Agape is a universal love, such as the love for strangers, nature, or God. It’s deeper meaning is an unselfish concern for the welfare of others. It is also a love of self sacrifice and mutual trust. Paul describes it well when he states love “bears all things” and “keeps no record of wrongs.” We are often like the believers in Corinth. We need to be reminded the most important thing is love. Even though Paul reminds us about the importance of faith and hope he also says the “greatest of these is love.” May you live out a life of love with those around you. May you experience God’s Agape, Eros, Philia, and Storge love this week.

In Christ’s love and service, Pastor Paul Marzahn



Community – Spiritual Gifts

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12-13‬
 
 
I don’t know about you but I like gifts and presents. I get something I want or need and I don’t have to spend any money. From some people you get a generic gift card and it is still nice to receive. But my my favorite gifts come from my wife. She knows me inside-out and knows exactly what I want. More importantly she knows what I need. For example, on Father’s Day I received a “nose hair trimmer.” Who else but your spouse can give you a gift like that and not insult you? (It may be because I bought her deodorant for Christmas.) Regardless, gifts are a great way to feel loved. Whenever I receive one it is a token of love and appreciation.
 

 

The Apostle Paul explains God sharing His love for us in the form of gift giving. He explains we receive specific gifts of the Spirit designed uniquely for us. Paul also discusses unity in the church in this section of his letter to the Corinthians and uses the analogy of a body. The body is one and yet has many parts. Society and even the church sometimes seeks unity in conformity, rather than encouraging each person’s uniqueness. Paul, using body imagery, reminds the church of Corinth that each part of the body is important. Combined with the imagery of spiritual gifts, we see how each gift is needed just like every part of the body is needed. May you feel loved and appreciated as you go through the life long process of discovering and exploring your spiritual gift from God. May your gift be used to strengthen and build up the body of Christ.

 

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Community – Communion

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying,’ This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” – ‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:23-26‬

The late Henri J.M. Nouwen wrote:

When Jesus came to redeem mankind, he came to free us from the boundaries of time. Through him it became clear not only that God is with us wherever our presence is in time or space, but also that our past does not have to be forgotten or denied but can be remembered and forgiven.

When Jesus left His apostles, He gave them bread and wine in memory of what He did so He could stay in their presence until the moment of His return. The word “eucharist,” which means thanksgiving, expresses a way of accepting life in which the past and future are brought together in the present moment. This thanksgiving by remembering what Jesus has done helps us to celebrate the past, present, and future. That is why each time we celebrate communion Pastor Deb or myself say, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” The past is represented by His death and sacrifice. The present is represented through His Resurrection power. The future is represented by His return in final glory.

This Sunday will be a Communion Sunday and we will have three different ways to celebrate and remember. Persons may receive Communion through the common cup by drinking from it and sharing bread. Others may choose to celebrate through “intinction” whereby a person dips a piece of bread into a common cup or chalice. The third way to receive Communion will be to take a wafer and small individual glass of juice to drink. We look forward to this Sunday celebrating our meal of remembrance together.

In Christ love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Community – Liberty

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23 ESV‬‬

The word liberty is thrown about quite regularly around July 4th. We celebrate our nation’s Declaration of Independence from Britain. We have parades, eat hot dogs, and shoot off fireworks all in the name of liberty and freedom. But how do we define this lofty term?

Here are some famous quotes regarding freedom and liberty:

“The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.”- Thomas Jefferson

“Liberty cannot be established without morality, and morality without faith.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

“Tensions exist in any free society. But the freedom we enjoy rests on the foundation of individual liberty and shared moral values.” – Tipper Gore

Paul discusses with the community of Corinth the importance of liberty. Paul reminds them even though they have the freedom to do whatever they want, they should practice behaviors that build up the body of Christ. Our freedom and liberty are not just individual, but corporate. We are given freedom by God for the greater good of community. May we continue to remember to be grateful for our freedoms. May we also continue to share freedom in Christ with others.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Community – Marriage

You were bought with a price; do not become servants to other men or women.” – 1 Corinthians 7:23

I have performed close to 3,000 weddings and each time I remind the couple that successful marriages are more than beautiful weddings. Weddings are one day and a great celebration, but pale in comparison to the important work of building a strong marriage. Strong marriages are built over time. The Apostle Paul comments about marriages to the Corinthians. A lot of his conversation has to do with expectations.

As we enter into marriage, we have dozens of unspoken expectations for the small, seemingly incidental details of life together (ie., who cleans the bathroom?) as well as the major, significant components of life (ie, who sacrifices to care for a sick child or aging parent?). Sometimes we’re not even cognizant of our expectations until others fail to meet them. Sometimes an expectation emanates out of our wounds, which makes it more difficult for us to identify the expectation, let alone discern what drives it. When we experience disappointment in marriage and it’s no one’s fault (such as loss of employment due to corporate downsizing), we generally grieve and figure out how to move on. It’s the disappointments that point back to our unrealistic expectations for each other, that tend to be harder to overcome.


Deb and I have had our share of disappointments. When Deb married me she was filled with naïve optimism. As much as she tried to fix me the first few years of our marriage she realized soon enough I was far from perfect. I also had certain expectations of Deb that were also not being realized. Together we worked for a stronger relationship. Instead of blaming each other for our disappointments, we learned to confess our failures and own our areas of weakness. My prayer for you today is that you would ask the Lord to help you do three things: repent of any unfair expectations, appreciate your spouse’s strengths, and develop realistic expectations.

“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Special thanks to Pastor Greg Strunk who will be preaching this Sunday at our Lakeville Campus and Pastor Mike Lee who will be preaching at our Inver Grove Heights Campus. Don’t miss this Sunday!

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Community – Immorality

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I read this passage and I think back to our “Get Fit” series. We discussed keeping our “Temples” or bodies in shape. That is somewhat a stretch of the text. Not that God does not want us to be physically fit, but God wants more than just fit bodies. God knows our body, mind, and spirit are intertwined with our faith. If we abuse our body it affects our faith life. Paul goes on to list a number of sins that affect our personal bodies as well the “the body,” known as the church. Paul clearly states if anyone in the community of believers is sinning it affects others so we need to help each other on our faith journey.

I regularly get together with our men’s group to discuss the upcoming weekly Scripture and message. Today we discussed 1 Corinthians Chapters 5 and 6. The overall theme is about Immorality but there so many truths it is difficult to touch them all in one message. This Sunday Pastor Mark (at IGH Campus) and I will both be preaching on how to allow our body, minds and spirits to experience the kingdom of heaven. May we together in the midst of community learn to live out a healthy body ethic according to God’s Word.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Community – Servant

“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭4:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

I drove a Ford Escort for about 10 years that had a personalized license plate. It was the word, “SERVANT.” I got a lot of strange looks driving and was often asked when filling up with gas if I was a “butler or something.” It was an opportunity when asked to explain that early Christians were called servants. Some people would ask more questions and others would give me a strange look and stop talking. Either way I gave them something to think about. My new license plate is IPRAY. A conversation for another day.

The Apostle Paul talks about how as believers our role should be that of a servant. The word translated here as “servant” is “diakonos” (the word sometimes used to refer to a table waiter). A diakonos cared for the needs of others rather than his or her own needs. It denotes a person who serves in some subservient and humble role. Paul wanted to remind believers that they were to put aside their differences and have more of a servant’s attitude toward other believers. Jesus said that to be greatest we need to learn how to be servants. He also emphasized with His disciples the need for being more concerned about other’s needs over our own.

I don’t know about you but having a servant heart is not easy. I tend to be selfish and have to fight against my own self centered desires. I like to be comfortable and when in a servant role it is often an uncomfortable situation. Yet, God calls us to live as servants.

May we all evaluate our desires this week and humbly submit to God’s desire for our lives. May we all put on a servant apron this week and look for ways to serve others. Lastly, may we serve those around us even though it makes us uncomfortable.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn