Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Free at the Crossroads

Today I got a chance to take the school bus out for a trial run.  School starts on Tuesday and I wanted to make sure I know the route.  It's a quite complicated drive with about 28 stops and maybe 50 turns.  Twice the route has me pulling into driveways to turn around.  I was glad to have Dean Carlson, an experienced driver, ride along.  With his help I didn't make any wrong turns.  It might be different with a few dozen students on board, distracting me or making suggestions about potential "short cuts.".  That's why it was good to make this run today.  Now I know where I'm going.  At least that part should go well.

Just as Dean guided me today, I need the Lord Jesus to lead me through the many intersections of my life.  When I have a good guide, I can be free from fear and I can be free from being led by other voices, whether they happen to come from children or anyone else.  When I have a good guide, I don't need to rely on my own understanding.  I can be free to do what God has called me to do.  I don't need to worry about what anyone else says.  It's so much better to be led by the Lord.

Coming up at the end of September our church will be sponsoring an "all church retreat."  The purpose of this retreat will be to help us get out from under OTHER expectations so we can be FREE to follow the one who knows and loves us best.  Free at the Crossroads will help you and me to know know, follow and serve Jesus through all of life's transitions.  You will become more free to follow Jesus in your family, in your work, in your church and community.

Please mark your calendars for the evening of September 30 and the morning and early afternoon of October 1.  This is sponsored by Crossroads Community Church and is open to all.  Contribute what you can for the book, lunch and speaker: $25 suggested donation per individual, $45 per couple, under age 25 free.  More details to follow.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Crossroads Website Begins

We now have a website... just beginning to get it working...  Thanks to our own Veda Davis from Crossroads, her son A.J., and Kelly Gilbert, who is going off to Africa with Youth Encounter this fall.  We shared Kelly's testimony at Crossroads back in March -- see the eighth paragraph and following of "The Doors Are In."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Real Life and Facebook

I haven't written since Monday, at least not on this blog.  I've posted things on facebook but not here.  Honestly, I wish more of my real life friends were my friends on facebook.  Here's why:
Facebook, to me, feels more like a community than this blog does, especially because I rarely get comments here.  On facebook, because lots of people write and comment, there's a sense of relationship.  I know that the facebook world excludes lots of people, and I wish there was a way to reproduce what goes on there in person, but that's impossible.  Even printing on paper, doesn't work well.  You can read what's written or printed but it's not easy for you to respond that way.  On line, responding is immediate.  It's like having everyone in the same room.
Feel free to friend me on facebook, or, if you're on facebook and you don't want to do that, feel free to go to my public facebook page (known as a "profile" or a "wall" as often as you like (screen shot above).  I'll never know who is there looking or clicking.  But it's a lot more fun to be facebook friends.

Unfortunately, you can't see my "wall" if you're not registered on facebook.  We will print some things on paper, and make them available at church, but, as I said, it's not the same.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Baptism at Crossroads

I'm needing to correct this post... I was incorrect about the date of the upcoming baptism.  It's September 25, NOT Aug. 28.  I have called the family already but need to make this correction here as well.  Thank you so much to the person who called this to my attention.  
We'll be celebrating our first baptism at Crossroads next [Sunday] month.  I announced this yesterday by saying that at Crossroads we honor the desire of parents who bring their children for baptism at whatever age.  We do this even though it's not possible to convince all Christians that the Bible allows the baptism of small children.  When we baptize little ones, we rely completely on the grace and mercy of God.  And that is never a bad thing to do.

Are you relying completely on God's grace and mercy?  Do you believe Jesus forgives all your sins?  Can you be like a small child in your relationship with the Lord, not trusting in your own goodness in any way but simply relying instead on the love of your heavenly Father?  Can you rely on Him even when you know you will never understand everything about what is "right" or "correct" in God's eyes?  Can you receive everything God teaches as a gift instead of as a demand for compliance?  Can you do this no matter at what age you choose to bring your children for baptism, or at what age you are baptized yourself?

When we get close to Jesus, we will learn this kind of trust.  And when we do desperately trust God as he has been revealed in Jesus Christ, God will fill you with Himself (the Holy Spirit).  You will live then not by your own power or from the "correctness" of your doctrine, but from his grace, his mercy and his saving and healing power, which will flow through you to the world.

Relying completely on Jesus: That is the best thing any of us can ever do.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Toward a "Stated Vision"

The application for congregation membership in the Alliance of Renewal Churches asks for the "stated vision" of our church, Crossroads Community Church of Cokato.  I'm glad for the push to get clear on what Crossroads is about.  No church can be all things to all people.  So how can God's purpose for our church be put into words?

We start with what God has already done.  We look for patterns in the history that led up to Crossroads' beginning.  We examine our story.  What has God been teaching us?  What scriptures could be sort of "themes" for this history?  What words summarize our journey with the Lord?  Who are the partners, locally and beyond, who the Lord has brought to us for these days?  We'll take a look at the "footprints in the sand" to see where they are leading.

How would you answer these questions personally?  What has God been teaching you as an individual?  What scriptures are themes for your personal story?  What words would summarize what God has been doing in your life over the past few years?  Who are your partners?  Who else's footprints have been beside your own?  Who has God been carrying by your side?

Please send me your own answers to those questions.  I will look forward to talking about these with your personally in the days and weeks to come... leading up to our All Church Retreat on September 30 - October 1.  God will lead us as we discern the purposes God has put in each of us, in each of our hearts and minds and souls. 

I will pray for you and ask God to inspire you as you look for his footprints in the sand of your life.  It's not for no reason God has brought us together to this point.  He has brought us here to lead us forward, to be a blessing to our families, to our communities, and to the world. 

So, first, we will look back.  Then, we then boldly look ahead in the same general direction.  If God has brought us thus far, forming among us certain characteristics and strengths and weaknesses, where do we guess that God is leading us?  God will bring good out of this journey when we love him and are called according to his purpose!

The Lord will lead us in stating a vision, writing down the purpose for our church's existence.  The Lord will lead us to this.  He wants us to be a blessing, and getting clarity will be helpful.  That way, even when we think we are strong, our footprints will be moving along at least in a similar direction to the way the Lord carries us when we cannot carry ourselves.

I will pray and do my best to lead us toward getting this "stated vision" written down in God's time.
"I will stand at my watch-post... I will keep watch to see what the Lord will say to me...

"Write the vision; make it plain... so that a runner may read it.  For there is still a vision for the appointed times... it does not lie.  If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will not delay... the righteous live by their faith."  (from Habakkuk 2:1-4)
Let's see what we will do together.  God is moving us toward a future that belongs to Him.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Send A Missionary (part 2)

The following is from Andria Jasper's blog Walking The Path Thank you to everyone who has supported Andria so far. For more of Andria's story, see Send A Missionary (part 1).
"...My plane ticket has been purchased and I will be flying out September 10th at 7:20am for Thailand! My funds right now are at 65%, it still blows me away with how far I have come and how little I have left to raise! Only $500 in monthly supporters and $1,000 of my set-up, I am oh so close to calling Thailand my home!

"The process of fundraising thus far has been a journey I will never forget. I have learned to trust the Lord in a way that I never have before. I daily had to wake up and say ok I trust you Lord to provide for me because I have nothing. To see the Lord continually provide for me throughout this journey has been a huge blessing. I admit it has been a struggle, a struggle I never expected. But man I would not change a minute of it, to be in a position to not be able to do anything but trust the Lord! To see the funds come in has proven to me time and time again that I am in the will of the Lord, He has called me to Thailand and I will go!

"I still have about 3 weeks left of this fundraising process and I am excited to see the Lord bring in the funds! Please continue to join with me in prayer! That those the Lord are calling to give would do so!"
The information on how to donate to Andria's mission is found on Send A Missionary (part 1).

Andria asks that we share her story with others, that we would let them know of her mission to the most broken of the world. Andria's email address is Please contact her with any encouragements or questions.

Thank you all so much

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Daily Report

Thursday has become a day for out of town meetings.  I've been going to a pastoral staff meeting at North Heights from 11 - noon on Thursdays, but today, the third Thursday of the month, there are two other groups to attend to.  I'm on the board for an organization dedicated to helping volunteers serve senior citizens and the disabled, an organization that has been called "Faith In Action of Wright County."  Today, at our regular monthly meeting in Buffalo, we renamed it "Wright At Home: Independence for Seniors" and approved a new logo.  After that I met with Twin Cities LCMC pastors for prayer and conversation, this time at Holy Cross Lutheran in Maple Lake, a church building that also houses Sola Publishing.  Earlier today I was at my desk, where I often pray and study, communicating with people who are in various leadership positions at Crossroads.  I'm back at my desk now--my desk at home.

One of the purposes of this blog is to let people know what I'm up to.  That's even more important than it used to be because Crossroads doesn't have a full time staff that keeps me in line ;-) or an office where I report for duty each day.  Neither my current part time interim pastoral contract nor the contract that is in the works for Sep 16, 2011 through Sep. 15, 2012 requires me to keep everyone in the loop as often as I do, but, for me, that's part of what "Sharing Ministry and Faith" is about.

The more-or-less major projects in the works right now are doing what I can to encourage and work with our church's leaders as they get the education program going for youth and adults, working toward getting plans together for the Crossroads retreat (save the date, Friday evening through Saturday mid-afternoon, Sep. 30-Oct. 1) and, as I discovered I need to do last night, work with our leadership to describe our church's mission and vision--that's for the Alliance of Renewal Churches congregation application.  All of this needs to be done with boldness, humility and teamwork, and putting this up in public will help our people feel they are a part of things and that decisions aren't being made in secret by some authoritarian "Herr Pastor."

I'd like to listen as well as speak (or write), so please don't hesitate to call or write back.  As my new "senior pastor" Per Nilsen tweeted yesterday, "Leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing significant to say."  You all who are now, or who are considering becoming partners at Crossroads: You have the gift of God's Holy Spirit among you!  Please share your thoughts, your dreams, your prayers, words of correction.  You are no less important than anyone else, and the Lord may be speaking in and through you now, with words that we need to hear.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hesitate? NO!

You know that I would be untrue,
You know that I would be a liar,
If I were to say to you,
___ we couldn't get much higher...

The time to hesitate is through,
No time to wallow in the mire...
Other than a few conversations and some prayer care opportunities, the past two days, Monday and Tuesday, have been pretty much filled with what's necessary for my family's life in this world... accepting a contract to drive school bus on a regular route, participating in a first aid and CPR refresher with other drivers and coaches, reading through school district policies, updating what I still call my "checkbook register" (actually using personal finance software for credit and checking accounts), paying college bills, making dents in neglected paperwork...

Today I'm inspired to get some planning and publicity done for our work at Crossroads... it's not something, however, that I do alone..  I've contacted the leaders of our education programs (children, youth, adult) to see how I can help them with publicity and did the same in regard to the All Church Retreat (Sep. 30 - Oct. 1).  Then there are lots of other things in the works: baptisms, a funeral, an application for official Alliance of Renewal Churches membership and my own plans to attend the LCMC Annual Gathering (in Des Moines Oct. 2-5 with a "New Ministry Workshop" Oct. 5-6).  All of these things are done in cooperation with people in our local area--people like you!

Some publicity is already done -- here's a piece from this week's Enterprise Dispatch newspaper -- thanks to Veda Davis for getting this published.  Dave Anderson's ancestors were among the founders of three local churches.  He'll be with us this Sunday. Click the image below to see the entire story.
I encourage anyone who knows of events that are (or should be!) coming up at Crossroads, or in our Dassel-Cokato area, things that would benefit others, to leap out and share them with others through personal conversations, email, or the Crossroads facebook page.

Please don't wait for someone else to act!

If there's anything we learned over the weekend, as people stepped out to lead the benefit for Elijah Morris, it's that, as The Doors said back long ago, "the time to hesitate is through," done with, OVER!

What I Don't Write About

There are some things I don't write about on my blog.  Politics is one, but I've said that before--politics is full of gray and necessary evil.  It's very important, and there are many ways in which Christian teachings can be applied to it, but it is a terribly messy part of life, full of compromise and behind the scenes deal making.  Politics and government are necessary according to the scriptures, but they cannot bring God's kingdom.1

I also don't write about things that would embarrass people, whether the person who would be embarrassed is me or someone else.  Even though I believe the grace of God covers everything, and even though I believe, according to scripture, that we human beings are very much alike,2 some things are best left to personal and private conversations when just two or three are present.3  Though I might allude to personal things, I don't clearly reveal things here that are not already commonly known and that are pretty much accepted by those I live with and encounter in daily life.

It's actually hard for me not to write about everything.  I'm a pretty open person and I like to think there's nothing I wouldn't talk about with an individual or small group.  Honesty and transparency are indispensable parts of ministry.  If leaders aren't obviously human beings with broken edges, if leaders can't appropriately admit their faults and sins and seek forgiveness, then those leaders play God.  Such leaders may seem super competent, they may attract large followings, but they end up diverting attention from God Himself.  And that, obviously, is a huge problem--a betrayal, actually, of God's call.  Nevertheless, in open forum blogs like this, where anyone can read and share what is written here, some caution is required.

I only hope the things I do write about are honest enough so that people who read this will know they can come to me (or to another mature Christian) to talk and pray about whatever needs they may have.  In personal ministry, nothing is out of bounds.


1 technically politics is a part of the "kingdom on the left."
2 First Corinthians 10:13a
3 for example, Matthew 18:15

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Our Business with God

Sunday morning.  Getting ready to head over to the church building.  Yesterday was a big day over there, a great social event, a wonderful fundraiser, a good day to see what can be done when we work together in Jesus' name.  Today will be a good morning too, with youth sharing how the Lord worked in their lives during their July mission trip to Jamaica.  This is all a sign of the Holy Spirit at work--not to say that the Lord isn't just as active out in the world.  A group from Crossroads took time yesterday to pack meals for Feed My Starving Children and next Saturday another group will spend the afternoon at Paul Gustafson's Street Outreach at Franklin Avenue and Thirteenth Street in south Minneapolis.  And God is involved with you whenever you do anything in Jesus' name.

Today, however, let's go one-on-one with God Himself.  Let's allow God's Word to speak to us and let us examine ourselves before him, recognizing that we really do need to receive his Grace.  That's what we'll do this morning at church.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crossroads on the Web

Even if you don't want to use "facebook," you can visit and connect with Crossroads Community Church through our facebook page.  That's the only "website" we have at the moment..  When you click this link you will see what is pictured above.  Feel free to ignore the invitation to "Sign Up" for facebook and just scroll down through the page to see what is offered there.  Also new yesterday and today is a Crossroads Calendar.  See the link at top right.

How to Be "Church"

Crossroads does not discriminate between people who are "members" and "non-members."  We will step out in faith and prayer for people no matter who they are.  We invite people to consider becoming partners in our ministry, but if individuals or families are not yet ready to become partners, we will still pray and care.  In like manner, we will not be offended or troubled if some of "our people" are ministered to by people (or pastors) from other churches.  We will not be possessive.  We will trust the Lord to be our shepherd, even when the Lord sends people or pastors from other churches to care for us.

Will you pray and ask the Lord to break down the barriers that keep the Lord's people apart from one another?  If church membership is one of those barriers, if church membership makes us possessive, then we need to repent.

I believe the Lord is calling us to this new way of being "church."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Crossroads Update

The following email was sent to Crossroads Partners and Friends a few moments ago.

It's an exciting time to be part of the Crossroads Community. Did you see Crossroads in the Corn Carnival Parade? Does anyone have photos? Send them to me ( or Veda Davis or just post them on the Crossroads facebook page That's the nearest thing we've got to a website so far, but we're praying that the Lord will provide a "real website" with a real calendar of events soon!

The Elijah Morris benefit (Little e Big G) will be at the Crossroads church building this Saturday, August 13. Thanks to all who are helping with the event. It is featured in this weeks edition of the Enterprise Dispatch newspaper (see We still need your participation--call Lynne Lahr (320-286-5773) or Mary Kay Morris (320-286-6143) to find out how you can help or just come in the late morning or early afternoon. The event to be held from 4:00 - 7:30 will include a pork chop supper, a silent auction, music and games--all around fun for the whole family. Please come! Bring your neighbors and friends!

On Sunday August 14 we'll share the Lord's Supper and hear from the youth people who were on a mission trip to Jamaica last month. Education and youth programming and a "Leadership Growth Group" are about to begin. Our first Crossroads High School Youth Event is scheduled for 6:30 next Wednesday, August 17, 6:30 p.m with swimming and a picnic at Pleasant Lake (north side) near Annandale. On Sunday, August 21 we'll hear a powerful message of hope from a musician, Dave Anderson, whose ancestors were founders of three Lutheran churches in the Cokato area. A story about that will be in the Enterprise-Dispatch next week. A picnic for the whole family is on tap for Sunday afternoon, August 28!

Now to the main subject of this pastoral email:

You may know that we are moving toward affiliation with the Alliance of Renewal Churches. We would like to hear from you on this. What questions do you have?

As an important part of this journey, we have entered into a strong and supportive relationship with North Heights Lutheran Church (Arden Hills and Roseville), which is a member of the Alliance (the ARC), together with Community of Hope Church (Rosemount and Hastings). These relationships will give us a firm foundation as we go forward to do what the Lord is calling us to do in our community, reaching out in Jesus' name to save and bring healing to the lost and making disciples of Jesus who are Christians first and members of any "denomination" second.

The Lord has been using these relationships in our midst for many years, beginning in the 1970s with "Evangelizations" in Cokato by Pastor Morris Vaaganes and the "Lutheran Renewal" movement ( I heard God's call to be a pastor at the Lutheran Conference on the Holy Spirit in 1980. The ARC grew out of the Lutheran Renewal movement about ten years ago. It is a good fit for us.

The ARC is Lutheran. It honors the Lutheran Confessions, the Creeds, the sacraments of baptism and communion and, above all, the Word of God in the scriptures and the empowering work of the Holy Spirit. It does not bind itself, however, to any written document other than the Bible. This opens us to strong relationships with those who do not share a Lutheran heritage. To be a member of Crossroads, for example, we simply ask people to sign a partnership agreement each year: Trusting Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, accepting the Bible as authoritative for faith and life, we believe God is calling us together through 2011 to pray, worship, study the scriptures, serve, care for one another and give financially for the ministry and mission of God through Crossroads Community Church of Cokato.

I encourage you to become familiar with the ARC by visiting their website at - go to the "Welcome" tab and the "About Us" section. A summary on paper is available at church.

Here is a summary of beliefs of the Alliance of Renewal Churches that is found on their website. No set of beliefs drawn up by human beings are ever perfect. Perfection is only found in God himself, who we never know perfectly in this life. Together with the relationships we will build in our relationship with the ARC, these beliefs will be a strong and God honoring foundation for Crossroads as we move into the future:
  • God is One, revealed in the Scriptures as three persons, the Father, the source and creator of all, the Son, our Savior and Lord, and the Spirit, who calls us to faith and empowers us for effective service,
  • Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, through His virgin birth, sinless life, sacrificial death on our behalf, and resurrection from the dead, offers eternal life to all who believe. We are justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and the same grace that saves also empowers for victorious living.
  • The whole human race has fallen and cannot be rescued from bondage to sin and to Satan without Christ.
  • The Word of God, the Bible, is true, and we can therefore trust in it without reservation. We accept all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as a whole and in all their parts as the divinely inspired and revealed Word of God and joyfully submit to it as the only infallible authority in all matters of life and faith.
  • The Church is composed of all those who have been born of the Spirit by believing in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Church is the Body of Christ, with Jesus Christ as the Head. We purpose to submit to Christ's headship in all things.
  • Baptism unites us with Christ's death and resurrection and the Lord's Supper gives us fellowship with the living Christ in His true body and blood.
  • The local congregation consists of true believers, submitted to Christ, and carrying out His ministry and mandates in the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. Pastors help equip the members to do the ministry. The Holy Spirit gives gifts to all members of the Church to do the supernatural ministry of Christ until He returns. Christ will return for His Bride, the Church, and true believers will live forever with Christ, while unbelievers will be sent to eternal punishment.
  • The ecumenical creeds (the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian) are true declarations of the faith we affirm.
  • How we live affirms or denies what we profess. We do not want to deny the Gospel by wrong living. We adorn our creed with our conduct.
  • Right relationships are as necessary as right theology. We will not invalidate sound doctrine by unsound attitudes and actions toward others.
Again, I encourage you to go to the Alliance of Renewal Churches website to learn more at It would also be helpful for you to become familiar with other churches in our region that are affiliating with the ARC.

North Heights Lutheran Church in Arden Hills and Roseville (website:

Community of Hope Church in Rosemount and Hastings (website:

Hosanna! Lutheran Church in Lakeville (website: is a member of both the ARC and Lutheran Churches in Mission for Christ (LCMC).

We count on your prayers, your participation, and your support as we do the work God has called us to in the community and beyond. Please forward this email to anyone you think might be interested.

Thank you!

Steve Thorson
Crossroads Community Church
15905 US Hwy 12 SW
P.O. Box 295
Cokato, MN 55321

Friday, August 5, 2011

What to Do with the Past

Have you suffered?  Have you been in pain?  Are you tempted to bury your past, to try to forget about it?  God has a better way, and he warns us against pushing the past underground.  God wants to use all the circumstances of our lives to transform us so we are more and more like Jesus, and his past, his cross--that's the power of God.

If you desire to have the gifts and joy and power of God in your life, don't forget the past.  Walk prayerfully through it.  Process it wisely, with the help of a wise Christian friend.  If there are people in your past that have hurt or offended you, or you have hurt others, pray about going to them.  Don't rush, but don't build a wall between you and them.  Get help to reach out, to reach back, to prayerfully learn what it is God wants you to learn.  Let the affliction do its work.  Self-pity or self-protection keeps your wounds alive.

If you could use a friend to help you walk through your past in a Christian and spiritual way, I might be able to help you or help you find a wise someone to do that with you.  It's best not to do it alone.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Growing Connections

Toni and I are back in Cokato; she's returning from Okoboji and I'm coming back from the Cities.  Toni spent time with our boys and some friends who have gone to family camp with us several times over the years; I was at North Heights for the Holy Spirit Conference and staff meetings, also stopped at Bethany College of Missions and Hosanna! Lutheran Church in the southern suburbs. 

We are very much looking forward to seeing what the Lord will do in our area in the days and weeks to come!  The connections the Lord has provided beyond the local area will be helpful as we move ahead at Crossroads. 

What connections do you have that could be helpful in your home area? 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sixty-One Miles

We need that power.  God calls us to bring healing, joy and saving grace to those who are in turmoil, pain and loss.  We can't do it on our own.  An opportunity to experience and be filled with the Holy Spirit's gifts is happening right now at North Heights in Arden Hills.

It's a sixty-one mile drive from Cokato to the Lutheran Holy Spirit Conference.  Hundreds of people are here tonight praising the Lord and learning from Him about becoming Unoffendable.  The conference continues until each day and each evening until Saturday.  Click this link for more information

It's free if you come to North Heights, there's a $20 charge for "streaming" the all four of the 7:00 p.m. evening sessions to your computer... here's a link to that.