Thursday, September 26, 2013

With Eyes Closed

God blessed us highly last night at Crossroads youth.  In particular the Lord blessed us richly with His presence and wisdom at the high school JAM time (learn more here) as we studied and applied Matthew 6:1-15.  Each of the JAM participants (Matt*, Caitlin, Staci, Aaron, Brody, Brenden and I) received different but complimentary messages from the Lord through this passage.  We ended with a time where each of us prayed for the person on our right.  So sweet.

One theme that came through was the question of who our charity and prayer are for.  Jesus spoke to those who considered their worship and generosity to be a form of making themselves look good to others.  As I was reading and studying, praying and listening to Matthew 6:1-15 I was shown how much of our typical worship and prayer is planned and "done" to make ourselves and others comfortable.

Who are we worshiping?  As the Lord says in Galatians 1:10 - "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ."  That doesn't mean we can act without love as we pray and worship, but it does mean that God needs always to be number one.

That's why we sometimes pray and worship with our eyes closed.  We do that not because we must, or because there is a religious rule, but so can focus on God, who is unseen, and direct our worship to Him alone.  Try it at church when you know the song or in the prayer time.  As you close your eyes you will worry less about pleasing the others who are around us as you pray.  It's a way of "closing the door" and praying to God who is in secret even when we are in the company of others.

I am so thankful what God is doing at Crossroads, and at high school JAM.  Like I said, others received other "words" from God for their lives last night, but this is what I heard Him saying to me.


* Matthew Dahlseng was our leader last night.
 ** IQA is a Bible study method we learned at Leadership Quest.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cure Bitterness

This morning, as I was preparing for the day, the Lord gave me a word that connects with the Biblical term "root of bitterness."  I tweeted what I could at the time but now I'd like to share a bit more.

So what is a "root of bitterness"?  The following is from John Piper at

Pastor John doesn't speak of the cure... it's JESUS!  When we recognize rightly where our security is found, and when we praise and express love for Jesus, openly and regularly, the "root of bitterness" is deprived of what it needs to continue.

Here's John Piper's insight:
“Bitterness” is usually associated with anger and grudges. But is this what it means in Hebrews 12:15? “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness, springing up, causes trouble, and by it many be defiled”? I don’t think so.

Let’s ask a few questions. First of all, does “root of bitterness” mean that the root is bitterness (like block of wood)? Or does it mean that the root grows up into a plant and bears the bitter fruit? Second, does “bitterness” in Hebrews 12:15 mean “festering anger,” or does it mean “poisonous and foul”? Third, where did this image of a “root of bitterness” come from?

Let’s start with the last question. Answer: it came from Deuteronomy 29:18. “Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away this day from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations; lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit.” This background also helps us answer the first two questions: the root is not itself bitterness but rather bears the fruit of bitterness. And the bitterness it bears is something poisonous. This bitter fruit may be festering anger, or it may be something else. The point seems to be that it is deadly.

The key question is, What is this root that causes deadly, bitter fruit to sprout in the church? The next verse in Deuteronomy 29 gives the surprising answer, but it fits perfectly with the book of Hebrews. Verse 18 ends: “…lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit.” Then verse 19 begins by defining this root: “…one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This would lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike.”

What then is the root that brings forth the bitter fruit? It is a person who has a wrong view of eternal security. He feels secure when he is not secure. He says, “I shall be safe [=secure], though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.” He misunderstands the covenant God makes. He thinks that because he is part of the covenant people, he is secure from God’s judgment.

This kind of presumption is what the book of Hebrews deals with repeatedly—professing Christians who think they are secure because of some past spiritual experience or some present association with Christian people. The aim of Hebrews is to cure Christians of presumption, and to cultivate earnest perseverance in faith and holiness. At least four times it warns that we must not neglect our great salvation but be vigilant to fight the fight of faith every day lest we become hardened and fall away and prove that we had no share in Christ (Hebrews 2:3; 3:12-14; 6:4-7; 10:23-29).

This is also the very point of the context of the term “root of bitterness” in Hebrews 12:15. “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness, springing up, causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (12:14-15). This is a warning not to treat holiness lightly or to presume upon more grace.

Therefore a “root of bitterness” is a person or a doctrine in the church which encourages people to act presumptuously and treats salvation as an automatic thing that does not require a life of vigilance in the fight of faith and the pursuit of holiness. Such a person or a doctrine defiles many and can lead to the experience of Esau who played fast and loose with his inheritance and could not repent in the end, and find life.


Pastor John

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Good Life

Here are some advance plans for October and November at Crossroads as put together by the network team.  Pray that God would be in charge of it all.
  • Oct 06 "The Good Life" Mt 5:1-12 "... find joy and blessedness in the coming of God's Kingdom..."
  • Oct 13 "The Full Story" Mt 5:13-20 "... draw strength from deep roots in the long plan of God..."
  • Oct 20 "Children of the Father" Mt 5:21-47 "... grow into our identity ..."
  • Oct 27 "Quiet Righteousness" Mt 6:1-8 "... secure in identity, live to please our Father in heaven..."
  • Nov 02 "Why Do You Worry?" Mt 6:19-34 "... trust treasure in heaven, set hearts on his kingdom..."
  • Nov 10 "Judge Not" Mt 7:1-6 "... treat bro & sis with grace as God has been gracious to us..."
  • Nov 17 "Ask, Seek, Knock" Mt 7:7-12 "... to trust our Father to give good gifts to those who ask him..."
  • Nov. 24 "Rock Solid" Mt 7:13-29 "... be not only hearers of the Word but doers..."

Many Good Choices

At Crossroads we've been reading/studying the book of Acts on Sunday mornings before worship for several months. As we have entered the section focusing on the Apostle Paul and his journeys, we learn how many choices need to be made - where to travel, who to travel with, who to meet with in each town, what to do when the missionaries arrive, how to deal with success and opposition, when to move on to the next place.

For those of us who are more or less "fixed" in place, we still have many choices to make.  We have only so much time in every day, only so many people that we can relate to in significant ways, only so many groups we can join or participate in.  Being part of a local church is one of those choices.  So is the decision about which responsibilities to take on in that local church and in other groups and activities beyond the church.

God seems to be working on me to be deliberate in some of the choices I am making.  This doesn't mean I can't be led by the Holy Spirit, but it does mean I can't pretend that just "drifting" is the same thing as being led by God.  I will be studying Acts in more depth, but it seems to me that there was planning involved as the apostle(s) traveled.  Of course, the Holy Spirit can veto those plans (see Acts 16), but that doesn't mean we can't be strategic and have focus in what we do.

The place God is directing me to now is to the development of a spiritual leadership team for our local church.  If I am to follow God's lead in this I will need to "prune" some other groups and activities from my list of what I do on a weekly basis.  Because I'm already committed to, for example, involvement in youth on Wednesday evenings, and because I do need to have time on some evenings just to be at home, and to open our home to be a ministry center for others, I will need to say "no" to some very good opportunities that would involve me with other groups.

For example, there are two excellent choices that I could involve myself with on Monday evenings.  What I'm praying about right now is whether it's better for me to "prune" both of those choices so I can focus on building that spiritual leadership team I mentioned.  This is what I'm praying about now.  In Acts 16 God provided a vision to the apostle(s) about what they should be doing.  Sometimes we will receive that sort of direct guidance, at other times we will just need to trust that the Lord is speaking and take a leap of faith, believing that God is calling, and trusting that if it is a wrong choice that the Lord will indeed clarify and correct us.  He loves us so.

There are many good choices in life.  Here's praying that we will hear and obey the Lord's lead.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Special Guests

The following email went out an hour ago.

Crossroads Friends -

Tomorrow in worship we will welcome Kelly Gilbert, a young missionary on her way to Tanzania, and Godly Agala, a pastor from Nigeria. Our Lord connects us around the world by His Holy Spirit. Please be in prayer that everything we do tomorrow in worship will honor our Lord.

More about Kelly can be found at African Orphan Mission - Kelly has been staying with Toni and me as she prepares to fly to Tanzania on Wednesday.

Pastor Godly met us in an hour of need in 2010, blessing us with a message straight from the heart of our Father God. He will be meeting our Franklin Avenue mission group today and will be with us for worship tomorrow.  (He was in St. Louis for a Wycliffe Bible Translators event and came to this area to visit his friend Marica Higley. It was through Marica that Toni and I met Godly and his wife Ndede in October 2010).

And don't forget the Sarah Hill event tomorrow evening at the PAC - Sarah Hill at the PAC


Pastor Steve

Kelly Gilbert took this photo shortly after Pst Godly Agala arrived at our home late this afternoon. He was telling us about the situation in Nigeria where the Buko Haram are a regular threat to the people of his "Christian Teaching Centre Madalla"... I was looking up what the "Buko Haram" were and where the town of "Madalla" is located. The Catholic church across the street from his church was bombed on Christmas Day 2011. Tomorrow's message, based on the encouragement Barnabas gave Saul (Acts 9:26-28) is being lived out as Godly and his wife Ndede have encouraged Toni and me. Such a blessing to have Godly in our home.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Stand Up

This is a Sunday sermon in the process of being written... Enjoy as I "publish" various incomplete versions...God loves lost people.  He adores the most dangerous ones.  He will do anything for them.  .  He pursues them and when they are captured by God, God transforms them but others may not believe this is true.  This message is based on a passage from Acts 9:26-28 where Barnabas stands up for formerly lost and dangerous Saul, the one who was transformed to be the greatest missionary the world has ever know.


God loves lost people. He adores the dangerous ones. I read the Bible and I know that's true. He takes the most dangerous and makes them His own. Moses--the great leader of the Old Testament; Paul--also called Saul--the one chosen by God to bring the saving gospel of Jesus to more people than anyone else... both of them... so dangerous... and so powerful for God when GOD did his work in their lives.

Is there ANYONE God cannot save?  The answer to that is NO. God can, and God does, take on the hardest cases. He touches, penetrates, makes new. He does it in ways that just seem too good to be true. In fact, God moves them from the pits to the heights. God lifts them UP... Up beyond belief.

The disciples in Jerusalem didn't believe Saul could be one of them. And it's no wonder. Just at the beginning of Acts chapter 9, Saul had been "breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples." But then God got a hold of Saul, brought him to his knees, blinded him, brought him to a disciple named Ananias who laid hands on him aid said "Brother Saul, the Lord--Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here--has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately, it says, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes and he could see. He got up, was baptized, and, after taking some food, he regained his strength and at once, right away, he began to preach about Jesus!  Saul grew powerful, it says, and baffled the Jewish people living in Damascus, proving that Jesus is the Christ.

That happened in Damascus, 150 miles from Jerusalem. So, when Saul came to Jerusalem, because he was in danger in Damascus, and when he tried to join his new family... the family of believers... the disciples in Jerusalem did not believe he was really a disciple.

It reminds me a little of what happened to Moses...  In Exodus 2 it says this... One day, after Moses was grown up, he went out to where his people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew... Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one, "Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?" The man said, "Who made you ruler and judge...? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed that Egyptian..."   

Once a person has a reputation... once someone is labeled as dangerous, will YOU believe that they are really good? Will you trust that they mean well? But what if they tell you they've changed? And what if they really have changed? Will you doubt? Or will you believe?

Even though God can, and does, change lost and dangerous people, and even though this change is so deep that people are "BORN AGAIN" with a whole new I.D., those people look, on the outside, pretty much the same. Their faces, their bodies, their voices, the ways they talk and the ways they move, their laughter: all of these will remind us of how things were... and they will not always act like saints. They will slip, they will fall, they will need to repent. Like David--another Bible murderer--there will still be times when, they give into temptation--like Adam and Eve in the Garden, like you and me.

And that's why lost and dangerous people, people who are being transformed by God... that's why they need an advocate, a trusted friend who will STAND UP for them... someone who knows their story, someone who has seen the changes, someone who can STAND UP for them when others do not trust that their transformation is real, that the changes are not just a big show.

Moses' brother, Aaron, was an advocate for Moses when Moses came back to Egypt after spending years in the a land called Midian. Exodus 4:29-31 says Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and seen their misery, the people bowed down and worshiped.

And, in a similar way, Barnabas stood up for Saul. Here's the Bible passage:
Acts 9:26–28  When he (Saul) came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
What would have happened if Barnabas had stayed quiet?

What if he didn't put his fear behind him?

What if he chickened out and left Paul (Saul) to fend for himself, to stand up for himself...

What if Paul had been sidelined because of his past? 

What if someone looked at all YOUR sins and disqualified YOU from belonging to God, from being any use in God's kingdom?

PRAISE THE LORD that he has become our ADVOCATE... JESUS stands up for US!  First John 2:1 says - "We have an advocate who pleads our case... He is JESUS CHRIST, the one who is TRULY righteous." And, because Jesus stands up for us, we then will stand up for others... First John 2:9-10 says: Anyone who loves a brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is still living and walking in darkness. 

The disciples in Jerusalem were living in darkness as far as Paul was concerned.  They did not know the truth.  It took Barnabas' testimony to show them the truth.

What did Barnabas say? What did he do?

He did something a little like what our Dassel-Cokato schools encourage our students to do when a fellow or sister student is bullied.

In the story of Barnabas and Saul, Saul is in danger of being bullied by the disciples in Jerusalem.

Did you know you can bully someone just by leaving them out of your life?  Paul needed a Christian family to support him in his new life there in Jerusalem, but he was in danger of being left out and rejected, left out and being put in danger by not being included in the Christian group.  What would have happened if Paul had not been able to be a part of the disciples?  What if they had kept spreading bad stories about him? That's bullying, my friends, and if we are doing that, leaving people out just because they aren't yet good friends, we need to step up and do something differently.

But the thing about Paul's story is that he wasn't just the one who was being left out, he had been a bully, a murderous bully, and what Barnabas did was to stand up for him... the one who had been the bully in the past.  An amazing story.

But how was it that Barnabas could do that? How was it that he could know for sure that Paul was changed?

Two things:  1. Barnabas SAW what was going on in Paul's life.  2. Paul told Barnabas his story, the story of his changed life... he shared his testimony with Barnabas.

And then, being filled with the Holy Spirit of Jesus, the true advocate, Barnabas took courage and stood up for this new apostle, Paul.

And we are called to do the same...

(This is where I'm ending for now... more later...)

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Are you a grown up believer in Jesus?

According to Hebrews 5:14, we only grow up when we spend time consistently in God's Word.

Do you read, study and meditate on God's Word regularly?

If not, it's time to begin.  Reading, studying and meditating on God's Word is the way we grow up.  If you do not do that and are just depending on someone else, for example, your pastor or preacher, to "preach" to you, then you are still infants.  If you don't, you will have a really hard time telling good from evil.  If you don't, you'll often be tossed around by people's opinions and be weaker, less likely to stand strong.

Let's let God bring us to maturity, day by day, by spending time in the Word.  If you don't have a pattern, if you don't know where to begin, I suggest you begin with the New Testament, for example, with the Gospel of John.  Or, if you wish to join in with me and the group I pray with, you can read the "Moravian Daily Texts."  (We usually focus on the New Testament verses.)

PRAY and ask God to speak to you. READ a verse, a sentence, a paragraph, or even a chapter... read until something stands out.  Something that catches your attention.  PAUSE.  Ask God to teach you about that part.  Re-read the verse or word or sentence that caught your attention.  Ask QUESTIONS.  Write (or just consider) those questions and SEEK to understand by using a "STUDY BIBLE" with notes and cross-references.  ASK God "Is there something in this verse you want to teach me?"  WRITE (I tweet or blog) any ways that you think that God may be asking you to apply that verse.  Then PRAY again, asking God to help you remember what you have learned.  Then stop and begin again the next day.

I usually do my scripture reading first thing in the morning.  I read alone and then, often, join with others who are reading the same passages for a 15 minute daily prayer time. I have found this to be a very helpful thing.  (Reading consistently in this way has been a new thing in the last year.)  If you'd like me to join you in a prayer time, just ask!  Or ask a friend or family member to do this with you.  I find that doing this in harmony with others keeps me going day by day.

Here's the Bible passage that caused me to consider all of this when I woke at 3:30 this morning.  Now I'll have a bite to eat and perhaps slip back to bed for a half hour before I hit the road.

Hebrews 5:11-14 "It is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

71 minutes

As I write this I'm listening to a recording of Sunday worship at Crossroads.  Parts of the recording catch the spirit of our lively church.  Other parts of the recording are bit odd.  Some of that is because the recording catches only (mostly) the up front voices and there were many people who shared that we can't hear...

The longest part was my message.  I listened to it now and I see that it was about a half hour long.  For us at Crossroads that's too long.  I just forgot to pay attention to the clock this week until the message was over.

By the end of the message, and after a prayer, we we already over an hour into worship.  I proceeded with the planned communion service but I felt really awkward.  There were long silences and my own personal prayer where I asked God to help me know how to better shepherd this church.  The total time of the worship service as a little over 1 hour and 10 minutes.

One of the things I am sure God is doing among us at Crossroads is inspiring many, many voices.  Like was true in the early church, the Holy Spirit is inspiring many to speak.  Part of the reason my message was long this week is because I wanted to involve others in it.  We stopped and looked up Bible passages.  There were opportunities for others to speak during the message.

That is good, and the topic we covered on Sunday was important, but it was still too long.  Too long for us.  I probably could have stopped after a 10-12 minute message and people would have benefited.  Then we could have gone into communion with time to spare.  I'm sure many* of you would agree, though I had no idea at the time that I was getting long.  No idea at all.

Why am I sharing this?  I'm asking for your prayers and your advice.  Please pray, ask God, and share with me what you hear the Lord saying to these questions:

What should we do, as a church family, when we see that the message is getting on past 15-20 minutes?
  1. Should we cut the rest of the service, even if communion is scheduled?  
  2. Or should we proceed as we did on Sunday?  
  3. Or do you have another solution?
I'm sure there are many who would say "just don't preach so long."  I will do my best in that (especially since this last Sunday I became so aware of it once again).  However, because I believe God is calling me to follow the Holy Spirit along in my preaching, there will be times when the message does get past the length that is helpful for many of our people, especially families with children.  So, I do need to hear from you.  What should we do when the message does get long?

Let me know.


* Some appreciate half hour sermons.  Some have told me we shouldn't worry about time and I mostly agree!  But, in our setting, lengthy messages aren't a good practice, at least not on a regular basis.  We all need to remember those who appreciate brevity.  We need to remember the children and our youth.  I need to do that and I need your help.

** There's a connection between this blogpost and the message and scripture shared this Sunday.  We read the story of Blind Bartimaeus who received encouragement from Jesus after crying out in a public way.  I expect that the Lord will answer my prayer too.

Added Thur., Sep. 26, 5:30 p.m. - here are the comments to this post I received on facebook as of now--your comments would be helpful as we discern the way forward.  As always you can comment by clicking "comment" below, by emailing me at or by texting or calling 763-291-2399.  Thank you.  (I think you can access the original post on facebook by clicking here.)

Here's my response to the facebook comments above: I love the Spirit-filled liberty that the Lord is giving me these days, the willingness of people at Crossroads to allow that freedom to continue, and I love the support you all have given. I especially appreciate ____'s comment as she had children with her. It's interesting to me that on the next Sunday (Sep. 22) we were blessed with a VERY long service, but this time it didn't have to do with me directly. Pst Godly Agala was with us and I thought he was going to pray for us at what I thought was the end of the worship service (at about 11:10 a.m.) but he ended up preaching an African Holy Spirit style message leading up to a ministry time. Instead of 71 minutes the service on Sep. 22 was 108 minutes long (based on the recording at - click below). This has caused no little consternation for some folks who attend our church, not only because of the close to two hour long service, but because it brought to the surface some more-or-less hidden frustrations about the "free" style of worship we've been getting used to here at Crossroads. The challenge for me is that my personality lends itself well to freedom and not so well to structure, so the help I need is to discern how much is "me" and how much is the Spirit of God that is moving us. We do not yet have a specifically chosen "spiritual leadership team" that helps me with that discernment, though Toni and others do their best. Anyway, I'd just ask your prayers as we continue this journey. Pray for lots of patience, loads of listening, practical forgiveness, and, when needed, the willingness to speak. Thank you again for the comments you've made already and others that you may make below.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Rejoice! Give Thanks!

Last night at Crossroads we had fun with a game.  Something like "Capture the Flag" except with lots of things to steal from the other team - swimming noodles, wiffle balls, fox tails, footballs, baseball gloves... "MIGHTY MIGHTY SCOOP NOODLE CHALLENGE" we call it.  A fun beginning to a year of youth programs -- please learn what's going on at and PRAY that the kids and adults will hear God's Voice through it.

God is doing good things among us.  You'll find a lot more to celebrate at  Then come and worship on Sunday--10:15 AM... Come at 9:00 for Bible Study, Sunday School and/or Libby Bayuk's "Faith Formation Class."  Once again, you can find out more about all these things on our website.

When life is not a game, when enemies press on every side, let's gather and rejoice in the good news--and give thanks!  Here's an old hymn from Charles Wesley--you can listen to the tune and sing along here.
Rejoice, the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore; Mortals give thanks and sing, and triumph evermore; Lift up your heart, lift up your voice; Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Jesus, the Savior, reigns, the God of truth and love; When He had purged our stains He took His seat above; Lift up your heart, lift up your voice; Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

His kingdom cannot fail, He rules o’er earth and Heav’n, The keys of death and hell are to our Jesus giv’n; Lift up your heart, lift up your voice; Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He sits at God’s right hand till all His foes submit, And bow to His command, and fall beneath His feet: Lift up your heart, lift up your voice; Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He all His foes shall quell, shall all our sins destroy, And every bosom swell with pure seraphic joy; Lift up your heart, lift up your voice, Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Rejoice in glorious hope! Jesus the Judge shall come, And take His servants up to their eternal home. We soon shall hear th’archangel’s voice; The trump of God shall sound, rejoice!
                                         words from Charles Wesley, 1744

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rise Up!

At right you'll find the fruit of some advance planning that's been done by the network team of pastors that I appreciate so much working with.  Tomorrow I travel to North Heights in Arden Hills to continue the process of putting together preliminary outlines.

Is this what God has in mind for OUR church here at Crossroads?

Will you pray about it?

What would you add or take out?  What do you believe God is calling us to focus on in the next weeks and months?  None of this needs to stay this way.  It can all be changed.  Even the very idea of having "themes" and "series" can be scrapped.  Please pray about what God would have us do!

Do you have a guest speaker you'd like to invite?  Should we schedule a day when we will just share together without a planned message.  (We did that, more or less, last Sunday.)  And, just because we have a particular theme planned that doesn't mean I have to preach!  Others can bring a message just as well.

Each of the themes in the two planning boxes just have titles that are based on scripture.  The scriptures and titles were selected by a prayerful group of pastors.  But they have not been "tested" or "prayed over" by anyone here in the Dassel-Cokato area.  (Four of us did meet yesterday evening to consider the plans for September 8, but that's all that's been done on this LOCALLY by anyone other than little old me.)

(See note below for changes as of Nov. 14)

What do YOU think God is calling us to do as a church with our precious Sunday mornings?  Will you pray and let me know?  Will you gather with others to talk and pray?  We're planning another get together around suppertime next Monday or Tuesday evening so we can share, or just get together with others on your own.

Back at the time Crossroads was founded there was no assigned pastor.  The "launch team" would gather and the members of the team would decide who to ask to preach or lead worship.  There is no reason why that could not be the case now.  A group could gather to do that.  In fact, I think it would be wonderful!  Don't think that I need to be in charge.  I don't.

Rise up!

NOTE - on Nov. 14 we were informed that the "Breathing Room" series is unavailable...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Spontaneous and Unexpected Invitation

Crossroads Friends -

This is an open invitation, please RSVP, to supper tonight at our home - 785 Mooers Ave. SE in Cokato, across the street from the outdoor hockey rink.  If you can come text or call me at 763-291-3499.

If you forget to RSVP just come!  The door will be open.  Anyone is invited including children.  So far I know at least one person will join me, so you won't be the only guest!

Toni is out of town so if you're able to bring something to share food wise, that would be wonderful, though I'll have some simple food ready.  We'll meet at 5:30 or anytime after that, or, if you want to come early and help get things organized, come at 5.  Stay for 45 minutes, for an hour, or as long as you like -- or go to church for prayer at 6:30.

One thing we'll do is to share a bit and pray about what the Lord desires to do with this Sunday's worship time.  Check out my posts from yesterday and, especially, the day before yesterday to learn more

God has been changing this "Old Dog" of a preacher.  I need your prayers and partnership to continue the process.  (It's been a long process... I'm hoping to speak less on Sundays so there is more time for prayer and for other to share.  Please PRAY that anything in me that is standing in the way of what the Holy Spirit wants to do will be eliminated, in Jesus' name.)

Thank you.


Pastor Steve Thorson

Monday, September 2, 2013


Beginning this Sunday, unless the Lord instructs us otherwise (see yesterday's post), we will begin a four week series of messages designed to bring encouragement from God into the lives of people.
  • Sep. 8 "What's Up?" -  This time of worship will be based on a verse from Second Thessalonians (2:16-17) where God is encouraging people after their vision of the future has been distorted by false teachers.  We'll look ahead at the sweet future God has in store for us.
  • Sep. 15 "Cheer Up!" - Because of Jesus, this is not an empty phrase!  We can cheer up when we honestly and boldly bring all our needs to Him because HE IS ABLE to supply every need!  We will not skimp on this good news!  (See the example of Blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52). 
  • Sep. 22 "Stand Up!" - When lost and dangerous people begin to believe in Jesus, God lifts them up. We praise God for those who stand up with us as we are in the process of deliverance and healing. Who has stood up for you?  Who will you stand up for? (Acts 9:26-28)
for more on the Abels click here
  • Sep. 29 "Rise Up!" - Inexperienced? Unsure of yourself? With the Holy Spirit at work in your life, timid people become powerful, loving and self-disciplined when they allow the Word of God to push them beyond so-called "natural" abilities.  Our example is Timothy (2 Tim 1:6-8 etc.). 

    NEW ANNOUNCEMENT (added Sep 20) Toni's sister and brother-in-law will share be with us Sep. 29!  We'll have a potluck together too after worship!
Jesus! He IS God's encouragement! Pray that we would be open to His presence through the Holy Spirit this month and always, at Crossroads and wherever we go.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Looking Ahead Together

Today, this afternoon, I sat and talked with my son Dan about how it is that God desires to lead us forward here at Crossroads Church.  It was a helpful conversation.  I enjoy talking with Dan.  He is a son and a brother.  We share a lot.  He has helped me many times, refining ideas, praying, challenging, clarifying.  So often we are on the same page.  I believe it is God's page, that is, what God writes on our hearts as His desire, His plan, His ways.

The thing is that Dan isn't a part of our local church.  He's only here now and then.  He's a bit like our partners in the network of churches that I participate with.  Great to work with, fun to pray with, but not "here."  Not living here and working here and relating here with the people that we live and work and relate with from day to day in this community we affectionately call "DC."

What I long for, and what I believe God wants for us, is that we, the people of our local church here, somehow find the time, or, perhaps better said, take or prioritize the time, to (1) get to know each other at a deeper level so we can (2) have those significant Holy Spirit led conversations about how God is leading us from the here and now to the future God wants for us.

As I look ahead I see a way for us to practice this "looking ahead together" as a church.  With our network of church partners we have a series of scripture passages and some preliminary ideas (for worship themes and messages) that are ready to go for September 8, 15, 22 and 29.  But rather than just importing or imposing those themes from the outside, please pray that we can find a helpful way to gather a few of scripture loving, God fearing, Holy Spirit filled men and women from Crossroads to share and pray about what God would like to do with next Sunday morning's worship time. 

What I'm thinking now is that we'd share together, as a small group, a bit from the ideas that the network has put together and then pray and talk together about how these things might, or might not, be God's plan for Crossroads the next Sunday.  We'd try to do this each week this month as a trial run.

Please pray that God will lead us to be wise in how we encourage this to happen in the days and weeks to come.  Ideally we would do this each week, perhaps on Monday or Tuesday, perhaps at suppertime.  Chances are the group would change from week to week.  Some will enjoy this and others will find it just another "thing to do."  Pray that God will lead those who He desires to be a part of this to come along and try it.  Pray that I'll find the proper way to invite people.

If you already know you would like to be part of this please let me know as soon as you can.  Thank you.