Saturday, October 18, 2014

Today, Tomorrow and Monday

The following email went out at 10AM Saturday.
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Crossroads Friends:

Good morning!

You're invited to a potluck meal after worship tomorrow (Oct. 19). Bring a dish or 2 to share if you can, but in any case plan to enjoy a meal tomorrow at about 11:30.

Here's tomorrow's plan:
9:00 AM Bible Study and Sunday School
10:00 Worship Music Begins
10:15 Order of Worship
+ Church Family Time
+ Message "Fellowship in the Spirit"
+ Extended Worship with Communion, Prayer, Blessing, Sharing
      (No small groups this week)
11:30 Potluck Meal

We've been very much blessed and encouraged by having Igniter Ministries with us during this month of Community Builders. I have personally gained a lot as I have re-listened to the messages that have been shared on Oct. 5 and 12. I'd encourage you to do the same -- each message is about 20 minutes long. We've posted them on our Community Builders webpage (click here) and at vimeo.com (click here).

Al and Becky Sorenson invite us to a time of prayer for Crossroads on Monday, Oct. 20. All are invited to come at about 7:00 PM to their home at 74375 200th St. Dassel.  You can stay for as much time as you are able to. If you have any questions or need directions, please speak with Allan or Becky tomorrow or call them at 320-275-4141 (home).

Today we're headed down to the Franklin Avenue mission in about an hour, meeting at church before 11:30 AM. Questions, or if you want to join us, contact Ron Olson, 612-269-7795.

Sincerely,

Pastor Steve T


Friday, October 17, 2014

Invitation

When Jesus said "follow me" he was inviting his disciples into a different kind of life. In later generations, when "disciples" turned into church goers, they started asking how their church life was going to fit into their lives.
(I wrote those sentences earlier this week.)

Do you know the grand invitation? Do you say yes to Jesus every chance you get? Are you willing to follow Him into something new? When you do, you will leave fear behind and walk into the freedom and joy of the One who knows and loves you best.

This month at Crossroads we're experiencing that invitation through Community Builders. I hope you will come along for the next two Sundays. Let me know if you'd like a preview of what's coming up on Oct. 19.

This coming Sunday we'll be meeting under the theme "Fellowship of the Spirit." There will be no small groups this week. Instead we'll share more time in worship, with opportunities for prayer, scripture reading, blessing and the proclamation of God's Word. And the Lord's Supper too.

Please come!

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Get Smart

Don Adams as Maxwell Smart
Jesus' disciples are God's agents, chosen and equipped to be instruments of blessing in particular local areas of a broken and sinful world. When we pray and spend time with the Word of God, we are in conversation with headquarters, receiving instruction, reporting needs, being strengthened to know that we are part of God's grand design.

O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart. Psalm 10:17

This is the boldness we have in God, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14

Spend time with the Lord one-on-one today, dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, so you won't forget who you are.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

What to Say to Spiritual Leaders

When I got up early this morning, I read this verse from the last part of the book of Colossians
"Say to Archippus, 'See that you complete the task that you have received in the Lord.'" Colossians 4:17
These words are directed to the people of the church at Colossae. The encouragement here, from the Apostle Paul, is that the people of the church would tell a particular spiritual leader to keep at the task that THE LORD HAS GIVEN him, so that he would not slack off or give up.

This is not a call for the people to tell their leader what THEY would want him to do, but, rather, that they push him to do what GOD has told him to do.

Are you encouraging your spiritual leaders in this way?

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Encourage One Another

On Sunday, in Dan's message, he said this:
"There are two main purposes for church, for us gathering together on a Sunday morning and at other times for us to talk and engage and relate. The first one is for me and for you.

"Does anyone in here have too much encouragement in their life? [pause]

"No? No one?

"So we need this. I need encouragement. I need love. I need intentionality, accountability, purpose. I think it's fair to say we need more of that than we're getting. We need more of it than we have a comprehension or expectancy for.

"I need those things. I need to belong. I need to be ministered to. And so do you."

(More of Dan's message can be found here -- the message begins about 29 minutes from the beginning of the recording.)
When we were at Leadership Quest this summer we learned a four part process of encouragement. I'll share it here.
A. Each of says what the others did well.

B. Each of us would say what we personally would have done differently ourselves -- pointing to our own performance.

C. What suggestions for improvement would each of us have for the others?

D. Finish with affirmations and encouragements.
The New Testament word for "encourage" is parakaleo meaning, literally, "to call to one's side." Para is like para in "parallel," and "kaleo" is the verb form of "kal" (in English spelled "call"), Other ways this word is used:
+ to call for, summon
+ to address, speak to,
+ to call to, call upon--which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.
+ to admonish, exhort
+ to beg, entreat, beseech
+ to strive to appease by entreaty
+ to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation,
+ to comfort
+ to receive consolation, be comforted
+ to encourage, strengthen
+ to instruct, teach
As we spend time with one another let's do these things with love and care, loving one another as Christ has first loved us.  Let's help one another in every way.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Getting To Know You

This morning I filled out a "self-assessment" as a part of a "discernment process" that could lead to the eventual development of a Love INC affiliate in the Dassel-Cokato area. I'm hoping to move ahead on this "discernment process" during October -- especially since I'm freed up a bit from preaching responsibilities. Igniter Ministries is leading a month of "Community Builders" at Crossroads. That began yesterday.

The recording from Sunday is a bit different because the music began at 10:00 (15 minutes earlier than usual) and then our A/V assistant edited out the small group section of our time together.

Building community requires that we spend time getting to know each other. Some of that time is just "fun" time. It doesn't always have to be full of "purpose." But it does require that we get out of our normal circle of friends. You can't just stay behind closed doors and expect to make friends.

On Sunday Jon Thorson (my son) shared about how he had prayed for an opportunity to get to know some high school students in the area where he lives, and how God gave that chance in an unexpected way. He'd seen some of them near a parking lot, he joked with them as he left, but then, he got a phone call that caused him to go back again and, unexpectedly, he ended up playing hacky-sack with a few of the "kids." He said:
"I hung out with them for about 15 minutes and got to know them a little bit. I didn't get to share the gospel with them yet. I didn't get a chance to relate with them in a Christian way. But I got an "in" with them. I know they're there pretty much every day of the week at 3:00. I asked God for an opportunity and it came so surprisingly. I was so thankful that happened and it was a way I saw Jesus come through. He proved himself to me that day.
In what ways are you open to getting to know people that you don't know well? As a part of Crossroads' community builders month we each have an assignment: to spend some time with someone from church that we don't know very well yet. I'm praying that the people of our church will take a chance and ask someone (or a family) that they don't know well about getting together.
from the bulletin insert from Sunday Oct. 5
One way I get to know people who I don't ordinarily cross paths with is when I spend time on a few Friday mornings every year at the Cokato Area Food Shelf. I'm always asking those who come about what else they need and that usually leads to a conversation and sometimes to prayer or to meeting another practical need. I'm hoping to do that even more with Love INC if we can get that going in the years to come.

If you read this, I hope sometime you'll let me know! I want to get to know you too.

www.equalsharing.com

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Time to Mourn

Habakkuk 1:2-4 
    O LORD, how long shall I cry,
    And You will not hear?
    Even cry out to You, "Violence!"
    And You will not save.
    Why do You show me iniquity,
    And cause me to see trouble?
    For plundering and violence are before me;
    There is strife, and contention arises.
    Therefore the law is powerless,
    And justice never goes forth.
    For the wicked surround the righteous;
    Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.
                                             (New King James Version)

(I read those verses and following meditation on the passage above early this morning. The words below were writtenn by someone I know almost nothing about, but what he says in this instance rings true.)

"The anguish in his voice is palpable. 'God, I've been crying out to You day and night, and still violence, perversity, and all these terrible things are happening in the land. How long will this evil last? How much longer must we endure this constant wickedness, this corruption? When are you going to act, God?' We have probably prayed similar prayers ourselves: 'We need You, God. How long, O Lord?'

"Ezekiel was a slightly later contemporary of Habakkuk. In Ezekiel 9:1-6 is a prophecy, a vision, that he saw while a captive in Babylon. The vision describes what God was doing in Judah and answers, at least in part, Habakkuk's question: 'Why have You not judged all this evil, God?' His reply in Ezekiel 9 is, 'I am going through the land, through My chosen people, and I am marking each one who sighs and cries over what is happening. I am searching out and seeing who is righteous, who has character, and whom I must destroy.'

"It is good that we mourn over all the corruption, wickedness, and abominations that are happening in this land. It tells God something about our heart and our character. He is seeking out those who are concerned, distressed, and repulsed by what is occurring around them, and He is setting them apart for deliverance. All the while, we must endure it, but it is a necessary wait, because it takes time for God to evaluate our character, to see what we will do over the long haul. As Jesus advises in Luke 21:19, 'In your patience possess your souls.'

"So we must ask ourselves, 'How do we react to what is happening in [this world]?' How do we react to sex and violence on television, movies, and magazines, in books, on billboards, and in just about all advertising and entertainment? How do we react to terrorism, to drug use, to abortion, to oppression? How do we react to our court system, which allows so much injustice to stand? How do we react to racial inequalities? Have we become numb and hardened to all of these things, or do we still sigh and cry over the depths of this nation's depravity?

"Habakkuk is certainly concerned, and so he asks God for answers, crying out, 'Save us!' God replies in Habakkuk 1:5-11, and His reply is very interesting."

www.equalsharing.com

Monday, September 29, 2014

"Killing My Sin" (by Pastor Bryan Lowe)

The following is a helpful post that I found a few moments ago on the website "Broken Believers.".

It not only applies to those who suffer from depression as does its author, Pastor Bryan Lowe.

This teaching applies to every believer in Jesus Christ.

Killing My Sin Before It Kills Me

We are for the most part anyway, eager to please God. We are Jesus’ people with the occasional brush with sin. But hey, who doesn’t? But that attitude must be questioned.
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.” 1 John 2:1
John hopes that his readers would make a choice— not to commit sin. After all, what soldier goes into battle with the intent of getting just a little wounded? Often we will sin just because it seems so inevitable, and we feel we can’t help ourselves. (But the reality is that we can.)

But the Holy Spirit now lives inside. Cooperation with Him is needed. Often we will work ourselves into a ‘no win scenario’ where we believe that sin rules. We can’t beat it, so we stop trying. That is common, and sad.

‘Passivity’ is defined as not participating readily or actively; inactive. When we are passive spiritually, we disengage ourselves from any effort of living holy and pure lives. Not being ‘hot’, but content to be lukewarm. At this point sin becomes, reluctantly, tolerated. “After all, I’m a sinner, what can I do?”

Mentally ill people are often passive. We are told that we have an uncontrolled illness which dictates that we act ‘irresponsible.’ Our depression often escalates and we feel victimized by it. My experience has taught me that there are three kinds of depression:
  • organic depression, or the ‘biochemistry’ of the disease,
  • Guilty depression, the kind that feels bad because of what we’ve done (or didn’t do),
  • reactionary depression, the type we feel when experiencing a loss, a loved one, or a job
Depression will almost always fall in these three categories. And passivity plays a part in all three. We  frequently feel victimized and ‘acted upon.’ When it comes to our discipleship we don’t act, we react. We are utterly convinced of the Bible— God’s truth, but we are so sporadic we can’t seem to get it to work for any length of time.

Yes, we are believers. And yes, we have issues. We’re waiting for a miracle, and hope we get a breakthrough soon.

At the base point of our lives, quite often, there is a passive attitude. Passivity aggravates our depression or mental illness. It deepens, spreading through our lives like a contagious illness. Our discipleship sputters and stalls. We no longer act on God’s Word, but we find ourselves fabricating a faith that makes allowances for our situation.

But we must ‘act the miracle.’ Everything God gives… everything… must be received by a convinced faith. We must be persuaded to give up our flawed ideas, and believe God for the real thing. I opened up this with 1 John 2:1. But there’s much more to this verse:

“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

I don’t want you to sin. Avoid sin. But even if you do— we have someone who will plead our case before God. He stands and argues our case. He loves us that much.

bry-signat (2)Take a look at Pastor Bryan Lowe's work here.  It might be helpful for you or for someone else who suffers. 

Also check out "Faith Way" on the "Mental Health Platform" here.

www.equalsharing.com

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday

Good evening friends. It's been awhile since I've done anything much online. I'm behind on keeping the church website up to date and it would be good if I would tend to that now, but I guess I'm needing a bit of down time. I was up very early this morning getting ready for this morning's time of worship (you can listen here) and then this afternoon we hosted an Eagle Scout Court of Honor for Matthew Dahlseng. Later Toni and I put our bikes on the rack on the back of our car, drove to Litchfield and rode around Lake Ripley. It was a beautiful day.

I continue to post on twitter on a regular basis. That's the best way to know what's up with me and often also with us at Crossroads on a day to day basis.

God's peace to you tonight.

www.equalsharing.com

Monday, September 22, 2014

Local Church Relationships: Holy or Casual?

In what way are the relationships that we have among us to be considered holy, specifically in local churches?

Or, on the other hand, in what ways are those relationships just the result of casual or intentional choices among various options that people make, that is, to associate with church "A" instead of church "B"?

Where in scripture can we find guidance about this?
-  -  -  -  -  -  - 

I wrote the questions above as a quick email to Igniter Ministries. They are planning on working with us on a "community building" month in October.

I'd like to hear what any of you think who are reading this.

Please comment or otherwise contact me and let me know.

Thanks.

www.equalsharing.com

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Just Being There

"Never underestimate the importance of simply being physically present in the place where God wants you. You may not be asked to perform some dramatic ministry, but simply being there is a ministry."

(Commentary on Nehemiah 11:1-2 by Warren W. Wiersbe - see below for the context)

Today at Crossroads we shared a message called "Faith for Building." We took a quick look at Nehemiah 7:4, where the faith and courage of Nehemiah and all those who took part in the rebuilding of the walls and gates of Jerusalem become evident, because, as it says, "The city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not yet been rebuilt."

Later on, in Nehemiah 11:1-2, we hear how 1 out of every 10 of God's people were drafted and required to move to the city. They were honored for doing so.
"Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem. And the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem the holy city, while nine out of ten remained in the other towns. And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem."
Unless the Lord pushes me and us in a different direction before next Sunday, we'll look at these verses next week and apply them to our lives today.

There's a lot more to say about this, but there is something important about just being present when we gather together with other brothers and sisters in Christ.

It's a great encouragement. Don't forget.

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From Warren Wiersbe's commentary on Nehemiah 11:
     Now that the walls and gates of Jerusalem were restored, it was important that the Jews inhabit their capital city and make the population grow. For one thing, people were needed to protect the city; for they never knew when the enemy might decide to attack. It may have been safer for the people to live in the small outlying villages that were no threat to the Gentile society, but somebody had to take the risk and move into the big city.
     Also, if the people really loved God and their holy city, they would want to live there, if only as a witness to the skeptical Gentiles around them. After all, why rebuild the city if you don’t plan to live there? But most of all, God had brought the remnant back home because He had a special job for them to do; and to abandon the restored city was to obstruct the working out of God’s will through Israel.
     In other words, God needed people—live bodies—in the holy city. The Jews were asked to heed a call not unlike the one Paul wrote in Romans 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (NKJV).
     Never underestimate the importance of simply being physically present in the place where God wants you. You may not be asked to perform some dramatic ministry, but simply being there is a ministry. The men, women, and children who helped to populate the city of Jerusalem were serving God, their nation, and future generations by their step of faith.
     Some of these citizens volunteered willingly while others had to be “drafted” (Neh. 11:1–2). The people had promised to tithe their produce (10:37–38), so Nehemiah decided to tithe the people; and 10 percent were chosen by lot to move from the villages into Jerusalem. Since there were few residents in the city and since the housing situation was bad (7:4), it isn’t surprising that many of the Jews were unwilling to move. We wonder what would happen in the average local church if 10 percent of the congregation were asked to relocate in order to strengthen and extend the work of the Lord!
     We have grown accustomed to Nehemiah’s practice of listing the names of the people involved in his projects. In chapter 3, he told us who the people were who worked on the wall and what part of the wall they repaired. Chapter 7 lists the names of the people who returned with Zerubbabel, and chapter 8 records the names of the leaders involved in the “Bible conference” at the Water Gate. Chapter 10 contains the names of eighty-four men who set their seals to the dedication covenant. In listing these names, Nehemiah was giving evidence of his sincere appreciation for each individual who assisted in the work. It also reminds us that our Father sees and records what His children do as they serve Him. Even if others don’t recognize or appreciate your ministry, you can be sure that God knows all about it and will reward you accordingly.

Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Determined. “Be” Commentary Series (127–130). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Good Thoughts

As I'm thinking in advance a bit about this Sunday's message that I've titled "Faith for Building." I'm considering the attitudes that are necessary in order to undertake good work in the Lord's name. There is a spiritual battle we engage whenever we take positive steps in our lives, or in the lives of others in our community. Joyce Meyer has a good word on this today.

On-Purpose Thinking  

by Joyce Meyer - posted September 20, 2014

But Jesus, knowing (seeing) their thoughts, said, Why do you think evil and harbor malice in your hearts?
—Matthew 9:4

It's amazing how quickly and completely our thoughts can change our moods. Negative thinking of any kind quickly steals my joy and causes a variety of bad moods. When we are negative and gloomy, other people don't enjoy being with us; when our thoughts are down, everything else goes down with them. Our moods, countenance, conversation, and even our body can begin to droop in a downward position. Hands hang down, shoulders slump, and we tend to look down instead of up. People who tend to be negative in their thoughts and conversations are usually unhappy and rarely content with anything for very long.

Even if something exciting does happen, they soon find something wrong with it. As soon as they see one thing wrong, they tend to fix their minds on it; any enjoyment they might have is blocked by concentrating on the one negative. They may occasionally experience momentary enthusiasm, but it quickly evaporates and gloom once again fills their entire demeanor. They probably do not realize that they could be happy if they would simply change the way they think. We must stop merely waiting for something good to happen and take action to ensure that something good will happen.

I am truly amazed when I consider the fact that we have the ability to make ourselves happy or sad by what we choose to think about. The Bible says we must be satisfied with the consequences of our words, whether they are good or evil (see Prov. 18:20).

Our words begin with our thoughts, so the same principle that applies to our mouths also applies to our minds. We need to be satisfied with the consequences of our thoughts because they hold the power of life and death. I would add that they hold the power of contentment and discontent, of joy and sadness.

Trust in Him

God has given us the ability to make choices about so many things in life, including our thoughts, and we [are] responsible to make those choices carefully. Trust Him to help you choose positive thoughts and to think on purpose.



From the book Trusting God Day by Day by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2012 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.

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