Now What? – April Fools

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” – Psalm‬ ‭14:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Someone quoted this line to me and said this is why April Fool’s Day is actually National Atheists Day as well. This year National Atheists Day and Easter fall on the same day. In other words, only fools do not believe God is real.

Resurrection Day or Easter is proof God is real. Jesus not only died so our sins could be forgiven, but also was raised from the dead to demonstrate the gift of eternal life. The Apostle Paul reminded the early church, “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:14‬). Therefore, only a fool would deny the power of the resurrection. Only a fool would look at the evidence and conclude God is not real. Only a fool would refuse to accept the fact God’s kingdom is real on earth as it is in heaven.

If we are not foolish and accept God is real, then we have to ask the same question as the early believers – Now What? Believing Jesus rose from the dead changes everything. We know God’s love and are called to share His love with others. Come this Sunday to celebrate the Easter Story with the CROSSROADS Family.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Crucifixion

This Palm Sunday we will continue to look at the last 24 hours of Jesus’s life. We reflected the first week on how He spent time with his disciples in the upper room and celebrated the Passover Seder. The second week we discussed how He went with the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and later how Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. We also learned how He was condemned by the Jewish rulers, Herod and Pilate, and sentenced to death upon the cross. He was to be crucified, which is one of the most painful and shaming forms of death. While on the cross Jesus spoke the last seven phrases of His life, which are listed below. As you read these phrases, I invite you to reflect on how these words speak to you. What do you think they meant to those listening? What would be your last words to those closest to you?

John 19:27 – and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Luke 23:34 – Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Luke 23:43 – Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Matthew 27:46 – About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

John 19:28 – Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”

Luke 23:46 – Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last breath.

John 19:30 – When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.


Condemned

“‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ They all CONDEMNED him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards took him and beat him.” – ‭‭Mark‬ ‭14:64-65‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We continue the journey with Jesus to the cross. In the First week we looked at Jesus as He spent the evening with His disciples celebrating the Passover Seder. The second week we witnessed the intensity of Jesus praying at the Garden of Gethsemane. Now we will reflect on Jesus’ final hours being tortured, put on trial and condemned. Jesus was taken from the garden by the guards of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish ruling council). He is found guilty of blasphemy by them and tortured. Since the Jews cannot kill Him legally, according to Roman law, they take Him to Pilate. Only the Roman governor could order a sentence of death be carried out. In matters of this kind, the death penalty was meted out by the Roman magistrate as sole representative of the imperial authority – the Imperium. Moreover, Pilate may not have been interested in a charge of blasphemy, seeing it as a Jewish matter and not something he cared to be involved in. So Jesus was charged with a different offence: high treason. This was something Pilate could not overlook. The Jewish leaders claimed Jesus wanted to overthrow the government. Pilate could not find a credible witness and did not want to sentence Jesus to death.

This story is incredibly brutal and tragic yet part of God’s plan for the redemption of humanity. When we understand the “why” behind His torture and death we understand He died for us. His blood was shed to establish the new covenant or promise of redemption.

My prayer for you is that the flogging and condemnation would speak to your heart. The Bible tells of a great true story of redemption and rescue. Everything points to the greatness of Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. I pray each day as you wake up, you think of Jesus first. I pray you would reflect on Jesus Christ and what He has done for you. May you be confident as His follower to do powerful things in His name. May you share the story of Christ’s sacrifice, and may you demonstrate His servant love to others.

In Christ,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Garden Of Gethsemane

They went to a place called Gethsemane and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” – Mark 14:32

After the Passover Seder Jesus and His disciples left the upper room to walk to an Olive Garden outside the city gates. Jesus probably led the disciples east and then north on the road that ran along the Kidron Valley. On the right were tombs of priests, prophets, and ordinary people. The Kidron Valley is also referenced as the “Valley of Jehoshaphat” in Joel 3:12 and is referenced as the site of the Last Judgement. Joel prophesied “all nations” of the earth will one day be judged by the Messiah. Jesus may have thought of this as He walked through the valley that one day He would be returning here in final glory.

At the base of the Kidron Valley is a grove of Olive Trees called the Garden of Gethsemane. I have visited there twice with Pastor Deb and both times felt a strong presence of the Spirit. I can see why Jesus went to this place to pray. It was outside the city, quiet, and peaceful. There is a large stone outcropping in the garden and tradition holds this is where Jesus paused to pray. It was a blessing to kneel at the large rock and spend time in prayer there thinking about what it may have been like for Jesus to have knelt there. I also roamed among the olive trees where there is still an olive oil press where they squeezed the olives with a large stone. The word “Gethsemane” is the word for olive crushing used to extract the precious oil. I remember while there I reflected on how Jesus must have felt among the trees with those closest to Him. I imagined how frustrated He must have felt praying while His closest friends fell asleep next to Him. What I appreciate about this story in scripture is the human side of Jesus. We often celebrate Jesus and His miracles. We lift up His incredible parables and His teaching. But here we see a man facing His impending trial, torture, and eventual death. He is still the Messiah, but His statement in the garden reflects how I often feel, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  When I face trials and temptations I struggle with being strong enough. I can relate to a Jesus in the garden facing this temptation. I understand how He could be dealing with the very real emotions of feeling all alone in His darkest hour. I don’t see Him as lacking faith. I see Him as a man of faith confronting his emotions. I am encouraged to see a God who is real. I love Jesus and even more His humanity at this moment.

As we read and reflect on Jesus’ time in the garden it ends with Judas arriving with the guards from the temple. Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. He uses the kiss to signal to those arresting Him which man in the garden was Jesus. How sad it must have felt for Jesus to have a friend use an act of intimacy for betrayal. Have you ever been betrayed? Have you betrayed someone else? Join us this Sunday as we spend time in the garden together reflecting on Jesus with His disciples.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



The Last Supper – Seder to Eucharist

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take it; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ he said to them.”‭‭ – Mark‬ ‭14:22-24‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We read these words from Mark and they seem very familiar to us as Christians. Jesus said these words during the Passover Seder known as the “Haggadah”. This departure from the script moved it from being a traditional celebration to a new revelation. The disciples were probably quite perplexed.

Jesus probably took the third of the four cups shared (called the cup of redemption) and passed it around the table. Matthew records Jesus to say: “This is the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” This phrase transformed the Passover Seder to now what we think of as Communion. This new promise during the last supper was the establishment of the new covenant by the blood of Jesus. Where the Seder symbolized salvation for the Israelites, now Jesus extended the promise to all of humanity. Through the symbolism of this meal we are reminded of the death and resurrection of Jesus and His invitation to become God’s covenant people. The last 24 hours of Jesus life is a story of God’s love. It is an amazing story of a God who would send His son as the sign and seal of a covenant that would deliver the human race from death. The Apostle Paul states it well in I Corinthians 11:25 – “Do this in remembrance of me.”

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Sacred Finances

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” ?1 Chronicles? ?29:14? ?NIV??

King David knew about honoring God with his stuff. He knew that his days were numbered. I don’t mean that he was about to die. But in the grand scheme of life, David had a limited amount of time with which to honor God. We all do. And David knew that whatever he did in this life was somehow connected to life in eternity. He understood that even though he was materially wealthy that everything he had came from God. He wanted to be sure before he returned to spend eternity with God that he honored God with his finances.

If you look at Paul’s instructions to Timothy, he makes reference to this very same idea. He said, “Command those who are rich in this present world…” (1 Timothy 6:17)  Did you catch that? In this present world? Why would Paul word it that way? Is there a non-present world? Like a future world? In this statement, the apostle Paul tips his hand to the fact that he believes there is more to this life than this life. He believes there is something beyond this life. And he’s not alone. Ninety-seven percent of Americans believe there is something beyond this life. There’s another world besides this present world. And even if someone’s rich in this world, it won’t last forever. Another world is coming right after it. So rather than carry on like nothing will ever change, we need to honor God with our stuff now. Because not only are we guarding against the side effects of wealth here and now, we’re actually laying up treasure in heaven for eternity. We are investing in our Christian retirement account – Our E.R.A. or Eternal Retirement Account rather than our I.R.A.

There are many theories to describe exactly what that looks like, but you can be sure of this: Jesus talked about this concept throughout the Gospels, so there’s little doubt that the degree to which we honor God during this age will impact our experience in the age to come. Paul instructs Timothy to tell people that they get one opportunity to do good in such a way that they will impact their standing in the age to come. Don’t miss the opportunity. When Jesus talked about it, he was very clear. He asked the question, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36). In essence, he implored his followers to view wealth through the lens of eternity. That’s how David viewed it. David sacrificed and gave generously for the building of the new Temple. He encourage his leaders and other followers of God to do the same. When we do the same, we lose our grip on wealth, and wealth loses its grip on us. We live out our understanding that our finances are Sacred and part of our covenant with God.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Future Vision

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21?

About 12 years ago we did a worship series called IMAGINE. We looked at how God could do more than we could possibly ask or imagine. Our first Future Vision was to build a cross for the front of the Great Room. When we moved into the ministry center at Cedar and Dodd we had banners only on the front wall. CROSSROADS family members constructed a cross and attached it as a focal point of our worship space. We set future goals about paying down debt and raised $400,000 in the next three years. We prayed about an apartment building for senior citizens being built near the church and four years later God answered our prayers with CROSSROADS COMMONS. We prayed about opening our building for a preschool and daycare and seven years later God answered our prayers with Foursquare Daycare and Preschool. We prayed about a Christian school and once again God answered our prayers by allowing us to partner with Christian Heritage Academy. God has continued to be faithful in doing more than we could ever ask or imagine.

This Sunday we are discussing the life of King David. As king he had a future vision to build a Temple for God and the people. God challenged David to build a special place where ministry could happen in a more permanent setting. God is giving CROSSROADS a “Future Vision” as well. We are asking God how we can be a ministry where faith and life meet. We are praying about expanding our partnership with Foursquare by selling land and connecting their new building to ours. We are praying about how we can invest in our next generation by paying off the existing mortgage debt on our Lakeville campus. Once debt free, it will allow us to spend more on outreach and less on interest payments. At our Inver Grove Heights campus we are praying about starting a daycare, building a playground and expanding more outreach ministries. Both campuses are looking at ways to do building repair and remodeling. Along with the investments in buildings we are also praying about doing extensive investments in our children and youth ministries. As our communities are growing we are praying about ways to reach our new neighbors and friends. With God’s help we hope to invest in places where we see God leading us. May God give you a “Future Vision” this week to draw you closer to Him and His will for your life.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Heart Of Faith

David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”…..Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”” 1 Samuel? ?17:32, 36-37? ?NIV??

With our youth last year we did a “trust fall” for youth group. A trust fall is when we stand on a table or counter and then fall backwards. We cross our arms and stay stiff as a board while falling to allow our friends to catch us. We have to have faith they will not drop us or allow us to hit the floor. I remember how hard it was to let go of my fear and put my trust in those behind me. I kept thinking I was too heavy. Or they won’t be strong enough to hold me. Three deep breaths. Let go. Fall. And then it seemed like an eternity and then I felt their hands and arms slow my fall. They caught me and supported me.

Last week I discussed how God told Samuel man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. David had a heart of faith. He put his trust in God even though others did not believe in him or support him. David had limitations placed upon him by so many, but it never stopped him from pursuing God’s direction for his life. He was the youngest brother and the least in his family but that did not stop him. He faced the taunting giant Goliath but that didn’t stop him. Saul tried to kill him but that didn’t stop him. His heart of faith allowed him to overcome the limitations others placed on him. We have to remember with God’s help we can overcome limitations put on us by others.  May God grow your heart of faith this week to overcome the obstacles in your life.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Investing In Generations: Firm Foundation

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” ?1 Samuel? ?16:7? ?NIV??

In college, I shared with some of my football buddies I was thinking of being a pastor. I remember one of my early critics said, “No one is going to want to look at your ugly mug for 30 minutes standing in front.” I don’t know why but I thought of the scripture quoted in 1 Samuel 16 and quoted it back to my critic. “God does not look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I am grateful that I love and serve a God who is more focused on the heart than outward appearances. Otherwise, I would be in big trouble. David became King of Israel and built the foundation for his kingdom on his faith in God. He realized without God’s presence and power that kingdom would not stand.

My brother used to say, “Paul you have a great face for radio.” I couldn’t agree more. I am blessed God looked at my heart and not my appearance or natural abilities. God called me into a life of serving Him and I hope some day people will say, like they did of David, that I was a “man after God’s own heart.” May you build your life’s foundation this day on God’s love and grace. May you live your life chasing the heart of God.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



30 Days of Prayer: Day 6 – Birth and Death

Prayer Focus: Family Transitions

Ecclesiastes 3:2 – There is a time to be born and a time to die.

I am very blessed as a pastor to be with people at their most intimate moments of life. I am privileged to go to the hospital or to a parent’s home to hold babies when they are born. It is a joy that I am allowed to pray with parents and family members to celebrate life. Sometimes I sit in Children’s Hospital in Intensive Care praying for a child to cling to life. It is never easy for parents regardless of the transition.

Likewise, I get to hold hands of many CROSSROADS family members as they move from the Kingdom of God here on earth to the Kingdom of God in Heaven. I am privileged to mourn and celebrate eternal life with family members and friends. I pray at the bedside, the hospital, the various gatherings, the funeral, and eventually the graveside. A variety of comfort and support is needed at a time of family loss.

Family transitions can bring joy and sorrow. Babies bring joy but also sleepless nights. Losing a loved one to a battle with cancer can bring sorrow, but also relief as the suffering comes to an end. Regardless of the transition, it is important to spend time in prayer. If you are going through a time of transition, be in prayer for God to guide you and support you. If you see someone going through a transition, then offer to pray for them. As a CROSSROADS family sign up to be a part of the prayer small group team or join the prayer Facebook page to help support others through intercessory prayer, (Contact the church office at info@crossroadschurch.org for more information). Allow God to use you as an instrument of love to pray for others going through times of birth and death.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn