Saturday, November 30, 2013

November Wrap-up

Good evening all!  It's the end of November.  Tomorrow at Crossroads we'll be blessed by the ministry of our sons Dan & Jon Thorson as we kick off "The Advent Conspiracy."  We'll start with an emphasis on worship.  To make sure we don't rush through this topic, we've decided to postpone communion to Dec. 8.

Early this morning 9 folks from Crossroads met together to study and pray together.  We invited people to participate through an email, and through announcements made during worship.  I am praising God that we had such a good group get together.  I'm hoping others choose to join us in coming weeks.  Our next meeting of this "Church Study Group" is scheduled for two weeks from today, Dec. 14, at 7:30 AM.

I've been blessed these days with a break from bus driving.  On Wednesday evening we shared a time of worship with Crossroads friends, and then on Thursday Toni and I were at home with a small crowd (24) of our relatives here at home.  Since then we've enjoyed special time with each of our three grown children and others.  I've been able to do a project that I've been meaning to get to for many years, scanning old slides from our time in Brazil back in the early 1980s.

This is just a quick update about what's going on with us.  I look forward to hearing from each of you as I can.  God bless you all.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tomorrow 7 PM

Crossroads Friends -
Thanksgiving!  What a great time to be together!  We're sending this note out tonight just to remind you all that TOMORROW (Wednesday) here at Crossroads we'll celebrate Thanksgiving together with worship at 7:00 PM!  Don't miss this special time as we sing and praise and share. 
Here’s the scripture we’ll be using as the basis of tomorrow night’s service,  “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart…”  (Philippians 1:3–7).

In that scripture the Apostle Paul, directed by the Holy Spirit, expressed his whole hearted thanksgiving to God and let the people of Philippi know how he felt!  What a blessing it was for them!

When we gather tomorrow  sing and share thanksgivings... and encourage one another to share a blessing with those we thank God for!  And then after worship, we'll share pie!  Bring one if you can!

God bless you all and see you tomorrow at 7!  ALL AGES INVITED!  We'll help the children participate tomorrow night too.
More at our website

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Put Your Whole Self In

We're wrapping our Sermon on the Mount series today at Crossroads.  Next week we'll begin something new -- something called "The Advent Conspiracy."  Our sons Dan & Jon Thorson will launch the series Dec. 1 with a focus on worship.  Between the two Sundays we'll celebrate Thanksgiving.  More about all these things on the Crossroads website.

The Sermon on the Mount is the longest and most intense example of Jesus' teachings that we have in the Bible.  In it, and in the other teachings of Jesus' that we find throughout the gospels: 
  1. He pictures and describes a life totally dedicated to God.  
  2. He shakes us up, not letting us be content with compromise.  
  3. He invites us to repent, to turn around, to begin a new life with Him.
Praise God, this is a joyful way of life!  It's sweet!  It's a dance!  Go to to see what I mean!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The End of Preaching

The following is from Are sermons becoming obsolete? by
Two hundred years ago, lectures and speeches were common. People assembled to hear learned individuals lecture on a variety of topics because this was the only way to transmit complex ideas  (other than books, which were expensive).

Today, there are literally millions of communications channels through which ideas can be transmitted. As a result, the live lecture is disappearing. Only two institutions still regularly offer them: universities and churches. And if a recent article in the Washington Post is accurate, the church may soon be the last institution on Earth that trains people primarily by verbal lecture.

According to the article, universities are “abandoning or retooling the lecture as a style of teaching, worried that it’s driving students away.”

“Just because teachers say something at the front of the room doesn’t mean that students learn,” said Diane Bunce, a chemistry professor at Catholic University.

“Since the 1990s, research on pedagogy has shifted from what instructors teach to what students learn. And studies have shown students in traditional lecture courses learn comparatively little,” the article says.

Universities are also being pressured by the Internet, which allows students to sit under the world’s great professors, who are often gifted communicators.

Colleges are responding with more collaborative, participatory lessons. Students are divided into groups and given projects to work on. Chemistry instructor Jane Greco “records her lectures and posts them online as homework.” She devotes classroom time to interactive discussion of the lesson and helps students work through problems.

So, what does this mean for the church? Is the lecture style sermon going the way of the dinosaur?

Yes and no. There will always be live sermons. But will anyone be listening?

Just as universities are re-thinking the lecture, it might be time for churches to re-think the sermon. Thom and Joani Schultz polled churchgoers and found that just 12 percent could recall the topic of the last sermon they heard. Only five percent of men credited sermons as their primary source of knowledge about God.

So if sermons are becoming obsolete, what will take their place?

Discipleship. Our generation may be drowning in ideas, but we’re starving for real human contact.

The problem is, our churches are structured to deliver sermons and music. If there’s any energy left, we disciple people.

What if we could turn that around? What if there were a way of organizing believers around a weekly discipleship experience, instead of a weekly lecture-and-singalong?

Universities are doing it. They’re moving lectures to the web, and turning classroom time into small group and individual “discipleship.”

Funny. That’s exactly what the early church was like. Sermons were for nonbelievers, but the church was essentially a small group discipleship experience. Perhaps it’s time to experiment once again with this ancient strain of church planting, less reliant on a weekly sermon, and more dependent on believers spurring one another on toward good works.
Let's talk about this!  AND THEN LET'S PRAY!

Saturday, November 16, 2013


I remember in 1983 going to São Paulo with a professor from what was known then as the "Faculdade de Teologia" in São Leopoldo.  I remember we took a bus to an area of that immense city that I wasn't familiar with at all.  The professor, Dick Wangen, told me, before we got going, that he was going to walk fast and I should keep up with him, look straight ahead, and not ask any questions until we got to our destination.  It wasn't the safest area of town for two "Americanos."

I've remembered that advice for times when I'm in places where I might stand out as a foreigner or stranger.  Walk fast, look straight ahead, and don't ask questions.

With the Lord, though, we don't need to follow that advice.  We can ASK him anything at all... and there are great and wonderful promises that come with asking FOR THOSE WHO FOLLOW HIM with everything they have and all that they are.
  • Ask and it will be given to you...
  • Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
  • If any of you lacks wisdom, he or she should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault.
  • This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
We'll look at those verses and more tomorrow at Crossroads.  Come, or, if you can't, click here after tomorrow morning for a link to the recorded worship and message.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

You're Not Alone

It is good to be together!   God loves us and wants us to be His, not as lonely individuals, but as a family.

The pictures posted here are from Wednesday night's Crossroads Youth.  We didn't go outside for our game so we played "ELECTRICITY" inside after supper.  Too bad we don't have a video.  It was fun and loud!

After the game we heard from a community leader... some of you will recognize him... He works in the field of education and he came in to share his walk with the Lord Jesus.  I scratched a few notes as he shared with us:
  • I tend to be very focused and very independent and that's not what God wants from us.
  • Until your faith becomes your own, and until you know you need God, your life is not going to change for the better.
  • Acknowledge your need to Christ every day.
  • Enduring change takes time.
I was thankful for our guest's honesty.  He shared so much with our kids about many topics, some very personal, including his need for God's peace in the midst of his job.  Thank you so much for taking time to be with us!

Just his being there with our youth Wednesday night, and his being at school in his leadership role is a sign for them that they are not alone even as a group of students.  Many adults are there for them spiritually, prayerfully, with the heart of Jesus.

It was a good evening.  Unbeknownst to any of us God had arranged it all under the theme "You're Not Alone," a theme that was set by a song that one of our youth leaders had heard on the radio and played for us between the "Electricity" game and the guest speaker... some of the words are:
I'm not gonna stand here, when my friend's down and out.
I'm not gonna run, when it's hard to figure it all out.
If there's anything I'd say,
I will tell you right now:
You're not alone...
Those woulds could have come from our Lord... they were sung by Marie Miller..., but still, our Lord does not leave us, and he sends us one another.  So good!  (A music video of the song is at

It's true -- You are not alone.  If you feel like you are, pray and reach out.  Talk with someone.  Even in the public schools where prayer must be more private than it should be, believers are there.  We had a sign of that last night and we were all blessed.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Come Together

COMMUNITY and togetherness have been front and center in my heart for quite some time. Those qualities have always been important in my walk with the Lord, but even more in the past few months.  So right now, I can't wait for tomorrow!

I think it's my desire for closer community that leads me to write like this and publish so people might possibly read some of it.  I do other things to, like make phone calls "out of the blue" to people I care about.  And that is good.
* But, in the process, it's important that I don't forget that it is in those places and among those people where we are known personally and well that God does His best work in us and through us. The Lord commands each believer to love "one another" that that means specific people, not just the "Church" in general.

I think sometimes believers are tempted to avoid deep, personal, consistent, long-term, mutually accountable relationships with nearby believers because it is in those close relationships that God works on us as individuals, shaping our character.

Remember: Even Jesus Christ committed himself to one group.

I don't think just "belonging" to one local church is the complete solution, especially since most local churches are more like institutions than like families or communities, but we need to guard against being scattered in our spiritual and personal lives, and not being willing to commit for a time to a body where we are known well enough to be "worked on" and corrected in that group.

Just a few thoughts.

God bless you all.
* indented section added 6 AM Sunday

Friday, November 1, 2013

Redefining Pastor

For many years, and more clearly in the last year or so, probably since about the time that Crossroads began studying the book of Acts on Sunday mornings, I've been wondering what it might mean, in a practical sense, to re-form a church based more closely on the patterns of Christian life that we find in the New Testament.

Back on Monday I mentioned in this blog that I had been reading a book (see photo) that connects closely with this.  As I have started studying this book, I've discovered that I feel "at home" in it.  It's as if Frank Viola is clearly spelling out what I have always believed.

I'm hoping to spend time with brothers and sisters at Crossroads in prayer and study of these things, perhaps by reading and studying Reimaginging Church, but, in any case, the outcome will not mean only a "reimagining" of church, but a redefining of my own self too, especially in the eyes of others.  For I've never accepted some of the stereotypes that people have of "pastors" in the church.

I've been called "pastor" since 1986.  Right now I'm honored to serve as "pastor" of Crossroads Community Church.  But what is a "pastor"?  Where do we get our definition of that term?  Do we get it from the Bible?  Or do we get it from somewhere else?

Frank's book says that many of our ideas come from hierarchical systems, systems or organizations in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority.  Sometimes we think of pastors as the "Chief Executive Officer" or "CEO."  Other ideas come from the Old Testament, such as when we consider the pastor to be "the shepherd of the flock," the flock being the people of the church, or the "chief spokesman" or "figurehead."

But does God truly recommend that a single leader do these things?  As we read the New Testament, we will not find this "single leader" model.  The emphasis in the New Testament is on co-equal ministry as brothers and sisters, with more experienced believers being honored and respected.  Church leadership is to be recognized from the bottom up, not from the top down.

As I have read the Bible, as I have prayed, and as I have lived life in the role of "pastor" for many years, I have always believed, and have worked to the end that spiritual leadership be shared, that no one person should be "the leader" of a church in a spiritual sense.

I have always worked for the sharing of that leadership on a more equal basis.  I have preached this, advised this and tried to be an example of someone who respects the leadership of those who are not "ordained" or "commissioned" in an official way.  I could tell stories and share anecdotes of how my work in the church has been marked by this commitment.  I can remember times when people have been set free to minister with me as equals.  I can also share memories of times when I've been told I'm a failure as a pastor because I do not accept the hierarchical model.

If some of us at Crossroads would be willing to read and study the ideas that the book Reimagining Church puts forward, I believe this would be a good step toward the future God has for us, and for the future God desires for me personally.  Being a "pastor" in this sense would be defined as being one of those responsible, with others who are respected for their spiritual leadership, for equipping and building up every believer, so we all are mature and unified, ready to do the work of God.

Ephesians 4:11-16 "The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love."