Weekly Devotion
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Like Glue – Stick With Encouragment

“When he came and saw the grace of God, Barnabas was glad, and he encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.” ‭Acts‬ ‭11:23-24‬

We use carpet tile at CROSSROADS CHURCH and I was a part of the team that laid the original flooring. We took glue and brushed it on the concrete, then others came behind sticking the carpet to the floor. I have tried to remove some of the carpet tiles that have gotten stained to replace them. It is not easy. I literally have to pry them off the floor with a tool to detach them from the concrete. The carpet tiles stick so well because we used a strong adhesive. Relationships need a strong adhesive as well. In today’s culture, there are a lot of things pulling us apart from each other. There is a lot of negativity in our world and it seeps into how we treat one another. If we want our relationships to “stick like glue” we have to work on encouraging those around us.

Barnabas in today’s Scripture knew how to use encouragement to make his relationships stick. Barnabas had a given name which is Joseph of Cyprus. (See Acts 4:36). The Apostles recognize his gift and give him the nickname – “Barnabas” – which translates into “son of encouragement.” Apparently, he had developed a reputation for being someone who builds up others. God used Barnabas to bring Saul (later known as the Apostle Paul) to a place of prominence. Based on his past record, Saul wasn’t the kind of person Christians wanted to be around, unless they wanted to end up in jail or dead. Even though Saul’s heart had been changed completely through a personal encounter with Jesus, the believers in Jerusalem didn’t trust him. Barnabas saw Saul was a changed man so he encouraged him and vouched for him.  Barnabas also encouraged the apostles and believers to reconsider their skepticism of Saul and take a risk on this amazing rabbi. His encouragement changed Saul/Paul’s life and the early movement of Christ followers. You may not realize it, but your encouragement might change someone’s life as well.

May God use you as an instrument of His love to encourage someone this week. May you also receive encouragement this week to help your relationships stick like glue.

LIVE IT OUT

Say thanks: Express thanks to someone who has been an encouragement to you. Write a card or letter of encouragement. Reach out to someone and encourage them today.

Evaluate your day: Reflect on God and all the blessings you have been given. Think of ways to express your thanksgiving to God. Prayer, worship, financial giving, and service are a few ways to respond to blessings we have received.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Unplugged – Destress

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Did you know that stressed spelled backwards is “desserts?” I think God intended that whenever we are stressed that we should just eat more dessert. I don’t know about you but I feel stressed from time to time. During the week, Pastor Deb and I pray with and counsel a lot of people feeling stressed. Harris Interactive conducted an online survey of adults and young people ages 8 to 17 in August. Key findings include: stress is up. Most Americans are suffering from moderate to high stress, with 44 percent reporting their stress levels have increased over the past five years.

Some people cope with stress more effectively or recover from stressful events more quickly than others. There are different types of stress—all of which carry physical, mental, and spiritual risks. A stressor may be a one time or short term occurrence, or it can be an occurrence that keeps happening over a long period of time. Stress can motivate people to prepare or perform, like when they need to take a test or interview for a new job. Stress can even be life-saving in some situations. However, many times – over a prolonged period – stress can cause health concerns.

On Labor Day, my wife Deb and I drove to Camp Koronis to be a part of the Ground Breaking Ceremony for the new Tabernacle. Deb was asked to speak and pray at the beginning of the service. It was going to be a big crowd and the Bishop was preaching. Deb was stressed so therefore I was stressed. While I drove the two hours to Paynesville, Minnesota Deb practiced and edited her 8 minute speech about twenty times. I think I heard it enough to preach it myself. As soon as Deb walked up to talk I noticed a huge change in her occurred. She had “de-stressed”. She had let go of the anxiety and given it to God.

In today’s Scripture we see a prayer given by the Levitical priests. It is a reminder that ”God turns his face towards us and gives us peace.” May the God of peace relieve your stress this week. May you also turn to God this week and cast your cares upon Him.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Unplugged – Simplify

There is an old German folktale about the hands of God and creation. In this story God is creating humanity and sends His right hand into the world to take human form. The Right Hand of God contained all the truth and knowledge. God then sends His left hand into the world. That Hand is empty because it is seeking and searching. Man and woman are unfinished and therefore seek out the truth. One cannot receive the fullness of the Right Hand (truth and knowledge) except through the pilgrimage of the Left. A full Left Hand has no room to receive anything. Therefore, according to this story: fulfillment, peace, and perfection come about through a union of openness and fullness. Through emptying ourselves we are able to receive God’s insight into truth. I was raised on the illusion the more I stuffed into my life the more fulfilled I would become. Most of us are raised in a society that believes stuffing is “the way.”  The more activities we do the better we will feel. We put our kids into sports, dance, band, choir, drama, etc…. in the hopes we will provide happiness and fulfillment. We fill our lives with entertainment or work assuming we will find purpose. Even education can be an idol we worship. We forget simplicity and solitude can bring us toward the truth. An empty hand outstretched has room to grasp onto the truth. Growing up my mom use to sing this simple ”Shaker tune” when she would play piano. It reminds me time and time again to simplify my life:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

May you simplify your life so you can have room to grasp the truth God has for you. May you find yourself in the valley of love and delight.
 
In Christ’s love and service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Community – Courage

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭16:13-14‬ ‭
 
I was recently in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Apple Valley transferring the title of my mom’s car. She has not driven it for years so has decided to give it to my nieces who recently turned 16. Nothing like a beat up Buick to help train in rookie drivers. Like most in the room I grabbed a number when I walked in and waited my turn. I grabbed 96 and they just called 86 so I knew I had a wait time ahead of me.
 
While waiting at the DMV, I was approached by a young man who seemed nervous. He walked cautiously over to me and asked hesitantly, “are you Pastor Paul?” It was my day off and so I hadn’t shaved and I was wearing casual clothes with a baseball cap. I was kinda going “incognito” and I was surprised he recognized me. I responded that I was indeed Pastor Paul and he seemed relieved that he had not bothered a total stranger. He introduced himself and mentioned he was a part of our Minneapolis CROSSROADS Campus several years ago. He let me know the ministry of CROSSROADS and our non-profit partnership with Life Rebuilders changed his life. Right there in line at the DMV he told me his testimony of getting caught up in drugs and being far from God. Our church and other life coaches helped him get back on the right path. He explained how he is now employed as a contractor and he was in line because he just bought a truck for his new business. This new friend hugged me, we exchanged contact info and now we are talking about ways he can help others.
 
I was reflecting on courage today and this young man came to mind. He had the courage to walk across the room and talk to me. He showed courage to open up and explain his past failures and ways he overcame them. He had the courage to share his testimony of Jesus and the power of transformation in a lobby full of strangers at the DMV. He had the courage to overcome an addiction to drugs and the courage to ask for help from others. He had the courage to start over and now the courage to help others who are struggling.
 
Our culture sometimes lifts up courage on the battlefield or in war. Those who serve are to be commended. Yet, courage in the everyday battles of life also need to be celebrated. We are reminded in God’s word a life of faith in Jesus is not easy. May we all stand firm in our faith and be courageous. May we all remember to do everything in love so we bring forth the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
 
In Christ’s love and service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


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