Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More Than Words

Christians say that Jesus is the "Good Shepherd."  We say that with our voices and we sing songs that say that is true.  Do we also say it with our lives?  

Here are some questions to pray over as we prepare for worship tonight at Crossroads:
  • Do you really want to hear your Good Shepherd's voice or do you prefer to go your own way?  
  • Is there evidence from your life that our Good Shepherd has called you?
  • Are there times you have obeyed His voice, changing something in your life, getting you out of an unwise or sinful path?
  • Can you think of an example from the last week? 
  • Are there ways you still need to surrender to what you know your Good Shepherd is saying?
Saying one thing and doing another makes our "saying" into a lie. That's not what Jesus has in mind when he asks who we "say" he is.  Jesus is asking you what we truly believe and DO now, in these days, in the circumstances and situation in which we find yourself now.  Are there ways in which your life demonstrates that you are desiring to follow our Lord?  Is Jesus really real for you?  Do you truly want to hear what He has to say?

Come and be with us tonight (see details below).  Let's be Real about our Good Shepherd.  For He loves you more than you will ever completely know.


At 5:45 p.m., weather permitting, we'll get together at Crossroads Community Church for a simple soup supper and then, at 6:30, we'll move to the worship area for singing, scripture, conversation and prayer.  This is the season of "Lent."  We're continuing this Lenten tradition because it's truly a blessing.  How wonderful to gather for worship twice in a week instead of only once.

Through our cooperative relationship with North Heights and Community of Hope, we are in our second week of a series focused on the "I AM" messages of Jesus and Jesus' question "Who Do You Say that I Am?"  Tonight our theme is from John 10 where Jesus says "I Am the Good Shepherd."  The Good Shepherd brings Psalm 23 to mind as well as Old Testament promises like this one from Jeremiah 3:15 - "I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding."

There are many aspects of the idea that Jesus is our Good Shepherd.  The one that is most important, most important because it allows us to trust Him for the rest of life, is the fact that Jesus love us more than we will ever know.  When Jesus says "I Am the Good Shepherd" he immediately continues by saying that he "lays down his life for the sheep."  That's we can trust him to lead us always, every day.  We can.  Will we?  Will you?

I hear God calling us to focus on hearing and obeying the voice of the Good Shepherd tonight for several reasons.  (1) As you read through John 10, you'll see that theme coming forward several times.  (2) Hearing the voice of God has been major theme of a small group that several of us from Crossroads have experienced.  In what we call a "huddle" we look for "kairos" moments in our lives when God is speaking and then discuss the changes God is calling us to make.  (3) Yesterday the Lord arranged for two conversations about hearing God's voice, one with a Crossroads partner who is seeking after God with all her heart, and one with a friend who does not believe we can hear God's voice at all.  So, we will sing, hear scripture, discuss and pray together tonight, asking God to speak to us, and surrendering ourselves to follow His lead.


* NOTE:  The Lord calls us to "enter the circle" of repentance/change and belief/action by bringing us to kairos moments.  More about those moments, and "the circle" can be found by clicking the word ►kairos◄.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Love Acts through Andria!

This is an update on the missionary work of Andria Jasper.  It was prepared on Saturday, February 25 for use at Crossroads Community Church of Cokato.  Due to a computer issue we were unable to share it fully at that time.  (On Feb 29 we received an email and newsletter from Andria that you can access by clicking ►here◄ [pdf document]).  (As always, the colored words on this blog are links).

Almost two years ago, in April 2010, God brought a group of young people into our lives.

This group, here pictured the evening we met them—this group was from Bethel College of Missions.

They had been on a faith walk that day and the Lord arranged for them to stay overnight at our house and to come to church the next day. It was truly a blessing for all of us.

We’ve kept in touch since then. One of the group, one you see in the middle of this picture, Andria Jasper, she came back to our area last August.

When she was here she shared her testimony to God’s work in her life and her dream—her dream to go to Thailand as a missionary, to go to Thailand to work with some of the most broken people in the world.

Andria has been in Thailand now for several months. At right is a photo of her with one of the other students from Bethel College of Missions in Thailand—Andria is on your right.

Thanks to donations from many including from Crossroads, she was able to go to Thailand to work even though she does not have a home church to support her.

Since September she has learned the Thai language and the Thai culture and as of this month is working with an organization called “LOVE ACTS.” They city Andria is living and working in is called Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai is a sex tourism destination. Many prostitutes work the streets and bars—women, men and children. Some are literally enslaved, others see no other option for their lives.

The LOVE ACTS website says:
"During tourist high season thousands of visitors crowd the city’s bars, nightclubs, massage parlors. If you talk statistics it can seem hopeless."
HOWEVER, with the POWER OF GOD active through the Holy Spirit, touching the flame of love and courage in people like you and me, Andria and others who work through the LOVE ACTS organization and others like it—it’s far from hopeless.

With Jesus, no one is without hope.

So what is Andria doing in Chiang Mai?

Here’s what she wrote earlier this week:
I think the website you found covers a lot about what Love Acts is. But just an overview from my aspect: Love Acts is all about building relationships with the girls in the bars, being there for them when no one else is. Showing them the love of Christ daily. We teach them English in the mornings, a few girls, this gives us opportunities to go one on one with them and really build a deep relationship with them and in time are able to share Jesus with them when they start asking questions. In the evenings we go out to the bars when they are all working and hang out with them, try to build more relationship with them. Usually when we show up they forget their jobs and will play pool with us or just talk with us. It is awesome to see!
Though the red light district may be dark, there is no darkness that can overcome the Light, so that is what LOVE ACTS, and Andria bring to broken people every week.

(By the way, when Andria and others teach English, they teach right where the “girls” are… in bars and massage parlors.  Wow.)

So that’s what Andria is doing these days.

The LOVE ACTS group also works with children. There are little children who work in Chiang Mai selling roses in the red-light district. So the LOVE ACTS organization sends volunteers like Andria to build trusting relationships with those children, to visit them in their slum homes, and then to show them Jesus through their actions and their lives.

You can keep in touch with Andria through her blogs at and  Another way she shares her ministry with us is through her facebook group.  I'd encourage you to join it... Please let me (Pastor Steve) know you're interested and I'll connect you with "Andria's Journey Ahead."

Here are a couple things she has written recently, in her words:
Feb. 3 - So as I was sitting in a bar last night talking with some of the women, and sharing the gospel with a guy.....I sat there wondering how did I get here? lol! I started thinking how for literally the next 11 months I will be hanging out in bars (of course only ever having orange juice), it is crazy to think this is where the Lord has brought me, but man He is already giving me a deep heart for them so much that it already hurts! The darkest places need to see the light and I now find myself spending most nights in the darkest places here in Chiang Mai. The light will shine forth in these women's lives and the men that go to these bars, pray for them when you think about it! Kap Khun Kha! (Thank you!)
Two days later she wrote this:
Feb. 5 - Darkness is all around, every direction you look you see the influence of Satan. How can one place be so dark, I keep finding myself asking time and time again as I walk the street? Thinking how broken every person is that I am walking by, no matter who they are or why they are there the Lord desires to break through their walls. The darkness does not have to overtake them, no matter the choices they make daily. He still longs for them, His heart is after them. Who am I to judge, who am I to think I have them figured out? I was once lost and broken, confused and searching for something that would fill the hole in my heart. It took me time and many mistakes to find the Lord, and many other mistakes after that to come to the point of fully trusting Him. The love of the Father is so much stronger than anything we could ever face. With His love running through me I can love these women and men and ladyboys in the way that He does, I can see them how He does. If I need love I can only imagine how much more they long for genuine love, the love of the Father who will never hurt them.
I asked Andria what she would have us pray about specifically, she mentioned two things, the first having to do with an opportunity LOVE ACTS has been presented with in Chiang Mai.  In response Andria wrote:
Love Acts is praying for a building on the red light district that they can have for the women to come and hang out and be safe. There is currently one building for sale that is directly in the middle of the red light district. Sadly this building is expensive so we cannot afford it, please pray that the Lord would provide a way for Love Acts to get this building before it is sold to someone else! Thank you!
I wrote to the LOVE ACTS organization and their director (Bethsaida Portalatin) responded by saying:
"This building would be a center for the women and children who work [in the red-light district], a safe place for classes, babysitting, a prayer room, and would give us a safe place to bring the “girls” and spend more quality time with them.
"Other prayer requests that are perpetual:
-continued favor with the bar girls, bar owners, ladyboys, and children who work there.
-continued physical and spiritual protection as the enemy is NOT happy about the presence God is making there.
- long term, full-time volunteers to work alongside us, men and women, who are willing to invest in the Thai people for the long run.
-for our translator to grow in the Lord. She used to work in the bars, but is now working with us, and recently put her faith in Jesus. She has a long road ahead. Her name is Bee."
As for Andria, her second prayer request was for her finances. She is a bit under-funded. I happen to know that is because of specific challenges you can read more about in her testimony. Andria has come out of a difficult time in her life and that means she doesn’t have as much support as others do. Her personal mission work is underfunded about $100 per month, but Andria’s faith is so strong. She says:
I know the Lord will take care of it! Thank you for your prayers and support, The Lord is doing a lot here and it is a blessing to be a part of it.
Here's a video produced by LOVE ACTS that showcases their ministry:
Love Acts | Thailand Outreach Ministry from Susanna April on Vimeo.

I hope you will consider supporting Andira. Go to this link to learn how you might do that -

In any case PLEASE pray!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Andria's Testimony

Today we, as a part of FREEDOM SUNDAY, will hear an update on the ministry of Andria Jasper in Thailand.  She was with us at Crossroads in August of last year and shared her testimony at that time.  I'm posting it here as I get ready for church.  


The following is a transcript of Missionary Andria Jasper’s message as given at Crossroads Community Church, Cokato, MN, July 17, 2011. For the audio version, please to to  where you will find a link.

Introduction (Steve Thorson): Sometimes we wonder why it is we suffer often in this life. This passage from Jesus in Matthew 13 is one of the answers to that question. The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field… (Steve read Matthew 13:1-23.)

Do you know how precious you are? Do you know how much value the Lord places in you, singular, personally? The value is way beyond anything we can imagine. It doesn't matter whether you may look, or feel, or act “weedy.” Our God will stand by, and wait, and see, and give and bless with His Holy Spirit, send his Word to transform and change, and use all of the circumstances of your life, and my life, to change us and do a miracle that only God can do, which is this transformation from weeds into wheat. And, because we sometimes do judge others and make mistakes, our Lord would counsel gentleness and care for every single one.

There are times in all of our lives when we may consider ourselves to be beyond hope or beyond help. [That is the work of the enemy too. He wants to steal our joy, kill our soul, destroy our joy.] Our guest speaker today is one who, at times in her life, has seen this. Now, though, she's come to recognize that she has a role in bringing light into the darkness and in setting the captives free, and doing that trans-formative work through the power of the Holy Spirit. Her name is Andria, and I'd like to ask her to come on up. Let's give her a hand.

We first met on the road out here when you were coming by with a few other folks. What were you doing when I saw you on the road?

Andria:  We were doing what we call a Cross-Walk. I go to Bethany College of Missions. My freshman year our mentor decided to send us out and drop us off two hours away from campus and said “Find your way back, trust the Lord to get there” and we're like “Okay...”

So that's what we did. We [were dropped off in the morning] I think in New London-Spicer and started walking toward what we thought was home and trusted the Lord that we would get there. We had to find somewhere to stay by like 7:00 that night or we would call in and they would come and pick us up, but we were all very much determined that the Lord was going to provide for us.

We started walking. We got actually a lot of rides, which was kind of crazy. We all had expectations before we left and we just asked the Lord to provide different things—everything from as small as something to eat to being able to preach at a church—one of my teammates wanted to do that.

We were walking into Cokato. We were done. We were tired. We'd been walking for probably 20 miles. We didn't want to call. We didn't want to go back. We wanted to make it home. Then Steve came along and he's like “Hey, want to stay at our house?” and “only if you preach in the morning.”

Steve: That was because I was desperate. I had been at home and I'd been trying to get ready to preach. I'd gotten half the message done and couldn't figure out the “So What?” part of the message. And so I said “Okay God what do you want me to do?” and I went on a bike ride and there they were! And then I brought them over to Marketplace and bought food and said “You can have food but I'm not gonna cook.” So they cooked dinner for us and we had a wonderful time. And now you're back and I'm thankful for that.

Let's pray. Heavenly Father I thank you for Andria and for the work that you've done in her life. I ask Father that you would use her during this time as you choose... to do that trans-formative work and to help us as we look out at the world, as we see “weeds” and we think we know who is good and who is bad. We ask, Lord, that you would do the work of correction in our lives; that you, Lord, would help us reach out to all of the broken, to all of those who are trapped and captured in one way or another and that you, Lord, would set them free. In Jesus' name.

Andria: Okay. So bear with me. I've never really done this before. So, like I said, I'm attending Bethany College of Missions right now with the goal of going out to be a full time missionary somewhere in the world. I still have two years left and I will be spending sixteen months overseas in Thailand starting in September, leaving September 10th.

When I came to Bethany I was very lost and very broken. I came a very broken household where it was hard to follow the Lord; my family wasn't really doing that. It was hard.

It's kind of crazy how I ended up at Bethany. I wouldn't really say I was following the Lord when I went there. The Lord guided my steps. I got there not really knowing what I was getting into. I was feeling a desire to go overseas but really not knowing who the Lord was or knowing what His heart was for me.

Bethany is all about discipleship. There goal is to get you out overseas but they will spend the first two years discipling you and helping you to find the freedom that you may not find out in the world.

So I started Bethany very quiet and very reserved, not wanting to talk to anybody, coming from a very bad home and just being hurt a lot over and over again. In the eyes of everybody I was hopeless.

There came a time at Bethany where it didn't look like I would be able to go any farther. They were telling me I couldn't continue the program. They were telling me that I couldn't go overseas. And then I kind of just snapped and said, “No, I know what the Lord is calling me to and I want to do this.”

So I started seeking the Lord in a way I hadn't before. I started to see His heart for me and His heart for the broken.

These last to years have been kind of crazy. The fact that I'm going to Thailand in less than two months now is pretty much a miracle because the leadership told me “No, you're not going. You can't do this right now. You need to take some time.” The Lord really broke in and spoke to me.

I want to read Psalm 71:1-2
Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God,
you who have done great things.
Who, O God, is like you?
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor
and comfort me once again.

I will praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to you—
I, whom you have redeemed.
My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
have been put to shame and confusion.
One day I came across that verse. It says “I have redeemed you.” “You're not lost. I have a hold of you.” I was “Okay... whoa... it makes sense.”

I didn't understand what faith was until I went on that "crosswalk" and just trusted the Lord to provide. We had no money. We had a cell phone in case of an emergency but otherwise we weren't allowed to turn it on. We set out, on foot, for we didn't know how long. We had no clue how far we were from campus or which direction. I think that's the first time I learned what it is to trust in the Lord to provide even the small things and even the big things—and to see Him continually guide my steps these last few years and to see the leaps that I've taken forward and the desire that He has for not only me but the broken and the lost.

That is my heart—to go out there and to free those that have been lost in the darkness for so long.

In Psalm 34:18 it says that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 147:3 says “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

For me, being so broken, I couldn't believe that the Lord would love me. I couldn't believe that He cared because all I had seen was pain. All I had seen was hurt my whole childhood and growing up. Coming to Bethany it was like “It doesn't make any sense? How can people say that the Lord has this plan? It doesn't pan out from what I had seen in the past.”

The Lord kept seeking me—through others because I wasn't always willing to listen, at the beginning stages, to the Lord. It was like “He loves you. He cares for you. You are a daughter of the most high king.” I was like “No, that can't be true.”

One day, after someone had gotten done praying for me I came across First John 3:1 and he says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God. That is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

It's such a hard reality for broken people to realize, that the Lord loves us, that we are His children. The world doesn't know that because not everybody sees him. They don't understand what we're doing and what we desire to do. But he does! He loves each and every one. He loves the broken, and he loves those that seem to have it all together.

We're all on a journey with the Lord, a journey that needs restoration.

Sometimes it's a scary path. Many times I've had to step out in faith and be like “I don't want to do this, I don't know what You're doing” and it kind of scares me and I don't understand it, especially with going to Thailand. I don't really know what I'm walking into but I know that is where the Lord has called me.

It's a hard journey right now with not really knowing how He's going to provide the funds. It's not cheap. But it's been cool to see that people have come alongside me already to support me in this journey and the desire that I have to go out and speak the truth, not only in Thailand but even to come here today is a huge blessing to me and something that I have desired for a long time.

My heart is that the broken will see that the Lord loves them, that they will see that truth can break through the lies.

So many people, all they hear is lies day in and day out. The lies that the Lord doesn't love them, that He doesn't care, that no one cares. It's hard for them to even see that He does because they hear the lies 24/7 whether that be from a friend, a family member, or just what you're hearing in your head, talking to yourself. It's so hard for that truth to break through.

That was one of the hardest things for me was to get that truth to break through and to focus on the Lord and to look to Him to guide me. And it's been crazy. It's been a weird journey. But it's really cool to see what the Lord has done and to see him speak through me, even to friends. I've done a lot of street ministries through my time at Bethany. To see him use my testimony to speak to others and to break in in their lives. I just lived it, I'm don't understand. But the Lord is slowly showing me that what I've lived is going to bring freedom to others, because he has restored me.

His desire is for restoration for each and every one of us. His desire is for restoration for everyone, outside of these walls and inside of these walls.

All of those people that we walk by daily. They're lost and they're broken—they need Jesus. They need his love. And I want to do everything I can to share that with them.

Everybody, especially back home thinks I'm crazy that I'm going into full time missions, and I was like “Sometimes I feel the same” 'cause you don't have a steady income, you really don't have one at all! They ask “What are you doing?” and I was like “I don't know. I'm just doing what Jesus told me to do.

So it's funny just follow the Lord's direction and do that. I mean, mission field is everywhere... I'm working at a resort near Nisswa to raise money for Thailand. I see day in and day out that I'm working in a mission field even here in the States. I walk into a place where people don't know the Lord and I have to learn how to love them even when it seems really hard.

It's been a cool process to see the Lord walk through it all and show that you are in a mission field with every step you take whether you're here in the States or you're over in Thailand.

I went to Azerbaijan back in November for a mission trip. It was just crazy to see the darkness there and the people that are so lost. We went and visited one of the intern teams from our college over there. How much they sowed into that group! They were there for sixteen months also. To see their heart for those people and to be able to minister to them as a short term team going to the long term team, to show them the light—It's crazy!

No matter what you do or where you go there's a mission field. If you're doing any type of job it's still a mission field. That was the hugest revelation for me going through my time at Bethany.

A lot of people don't go to Bethany to become full time missionaries. They don't even know why they're there. Most people the Lord calls there and we don't have a clue why. Like “I don't want to go into full time missions.” The Lord will either change that or he'll reveal very clearly why He brought you there. A lot of times it's so you can find freedom and seek the Lord and be able to get a clear picture of what he wants.

That's what I desire. I want to go overseas to work with human trafficking, to be able to help victims of that, to work in those environments because it's similar to the kind of childhood I lived. Not the same of course but similar. I want to be able to do that in Thailand.

The call that the Lord has placed on my life is Isaiah 61. This chapter is one someone spoke over me during one of my first weeks at Bethany and I was like “No, I don't want to go do that. I don't know what that looks like.” So... Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
Andria then showed the team video.  Here is the transcript -- the video itself is available
Eight people coming together because of their love for Jesus and the Thai people. Relying on the Holy Spirit to guide us as we follow on the path he has laid out for our lives. Loving God and loving others. Spreading the gospel in a country with 0.8% Christians and as few as 45 church buildings. Thailand, “The Land of Smiles” is located in southeast Asia. A country of 68 million people where human trafficking is a 12 billion dollar industry and the average age of entering prostitution is 13. Roughly ten people a day commit suicide.
On September 10, 2011 we will be embarking on a journey to reach the Thai people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. 16 months. 8 people united in Christ, joined in one calling to shine like stars in a warped and crooked generation. We are headed to the city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand where we will live cross-culturally, being students of the Thai culture, learning the language, and forming relationships with locals.
Millions of people have never heard the name of Jesus. How can they believe if they've never head? How can they hear unless we tell them? How can we tell them unless we have been sent. We have answered the call to go.

My name is Fernando Ramos,
and I will show the Thai people how perfect love casts out all fear.

My name is Kayla [unintelligible],
I will bring will bring joy where there has been no joy before.

My name is Andria Jasper,
and I am called to bring the captives out of darkness and into the light.

My name is Chelsea Hoffmaster.
I’ll be a friend to the lonely and encourage weary hearts.

My name is Matthew Williams.
I’ll follow Christ who desires all people to be saved.

My name is Julia Ortega,
and I will go as an ambassador of Christ to reflect the heart of the [unintelligible].

My name is Catilyn Real I will go to show love to the unloved.

My name is Julie Dennon. I am committed to bringing restoration to the brokenhearted.

There is hope. His hand is not too short to save. The love of Christ compels us to go. We will unashamedly preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in Thailand.

Will you help send us? Would you join the work that the Lord has already begun among the Thai people?

The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Will you commit to pray for us? Will you partner with us financially?

I will go. I will go. I will go. I will go. I will go. I will go. I will go. I will go.

Will you help send us?
So that’s a little bit of an intro to my team as well as to what I’ll be doing in Thailand.

The eight of us are an interesting group of people that are very different, but we’ve come together over the last couple of months but we’re really excited to go overseas together and to be able to share the love of Christ with the Thai people.

At Bethany you do two years on campus and then sixteen months overseas in the internship program where we work with ministries as well as we take classes to further our bachelor’s degree in Inter-Cultural studies.

So we’ll go there in September (10th) and spend four months learning the Thai language which is pretty intense learning. They want us to become as close to fluent as we can in that language, which sadly, the Thai language is tonal so it will be interesting. So then after that we have a month to decide, to test out ministries we want to work with, and we then commit to that ministry for a year while we are in Thailand.

I’m hoping to work with the Garden of Hope ( which is a human trafficking group that helps victims come out of it. They have a children’s drop in center where people can just come and drop off kids who they have found. They have a teenager program and an adult program.

After we’re done in Thailand we come back to Bloomington where Bethany College is and we spend four months debriefing. And figure out what we’ve been doing and seeing what the Lord did in our lives and what he desires us to do for the rest of our journey. For most of us that are going on internship our goal is to go on full time missions after Bethany, whether that be back to Thailand or wherever else the Lord may lead us.

My heart, not only for Thailand but for the rest of my life, is to go and proclaim the light of Jesus and to set the captives free. That’s what I want to do for the rest of my life no matter where that may be. I want them to find the freedom that I have found. I want them to understand the love I have found. Even if it seems like nobody else is standing beside me the Lord has never left. He never gave up hope when everybody else did. He kept me going even when it seemed like I was down for the count. He had hope and he said “It’s okay, stand up and keep going, take that next step.” He desires that for all of us. Every one. He has a plan for each of your lives, and mine.

It’s always crazy to see what the Lord does and how he works it all out. To be standing here today is kinda crazy for me, to have come this far in a rather short amount of time from what I walked out of.
But, yeah… thank you for listening!

…If you guys would like to be on my monthly newsletter and receive that through email I have a signup sheet if you would like I’ll have that if you would like to touch base with me afterwards.

Toni Thorson: We can’t all go to Thailand, but we could all support Andria. So if the Lord is urging you in your heart to give something today, I’d encourage you to do that. It costs a lot to go overseas and some people may be on her team come from families that are healthier she came from and come from churches that can gather around and help support. Andria is at a little bit of a disadvantage I think because of her life situation. We can be part of her family and so I encourage you to do that.

NOTE - This post was written in early 2012.  Andria Jasper has, as of late 2013, been completed her studies and Thailand internship at Bethany College of Missions and has been approved to be a full time missionary with Bethany International.  See for info as of late 2013 and instructions about how to donate to Andria's return to Thailand.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It's Harvest Time!

Psalm 126 comes from a time when God’s people were rescued from an hopelessness.  The nation had been completely destroyed,  The people had been driven hundreds of miles away to live as exiles in a foreign country.

They were far away for many years.  While they were there, they learned to trust God.  After all, there was no other hope.

Then 70 years later, through completely unexpected series of events, they were brought back to their homeland!  It was truly a miracle of God.

This is their testimony.  There is no such thing as a hopeless situation or a hopeless person.  When you surrender to God, God brings victory every time.
Psalm 126
1 When the LORD brought his exiles back to Jerusalem,
  it was like a dream!
2 We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy.
  The other nations said,
  “What amazing things the LORD has done for them.”
3 Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us!
  What joy!
4 Restore our fortunes, LORD,
  as streams renew the desert.
5 Those who sow seeds with tears
  will harvest with shouts of joy.
6 They weep when they sow their seed.
  But at harvest time, they sing!
Tomorrow at Crossroads we'll share this Psalm and other scriptures, together with present day testimonies to the FREEING power of God... AND WE WILL SING!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Let Me Explain...

When I was over at Snap Fitness this morning, after my morning school bus run, I listened to the television as I was doing my normal "half workout" on the circuit machines.  The political analysts were dissecting last night's primary debate and one of them was saying how Santorum got caught up in explaining himself too much.  I wish I remembered the exact line the analyst used, but it was something like "explanation is not a winning strategy."  And as I heard that, I thought of this blog.

I do a lot of explaining on here.  I do it mostly to organize my thoughts.  But that's not the only reason that I blog.  I do it for you too.  I do it because God has worked in and through my life and I believe that sharing these things is really helpful.  This blog could be seen as an ongoing testimony to the work of God in my life and in the ministry and family and people God has given me.  More than a testimony, however, because I take time to explain, at least sometimes, why I believe the way I do.  And though that may not be a winning strategy, I think it's mostly good.

I think I can use Jesus as an example of someone who explained things.  This was not his winning strategy.  In fact, when he explained things there were some who quit following!  Explaining wasn't the first thing he did.  Explaining came later.  Explaining came with discussion after his followers (disciples) had some experience with what Jesus was doing.  In fact, some of the explanation happened after he was done teaching them in the flesh.  Some of the explanation was given directly by the Holy Spirit.

If I was hoping that people would follow me as a spiritual leader just because I told them to do so, I would not need to explain anything.  But because I believe our relationship with one another as disciples of Jesus is to be more friendship than follower-ship (see John 15:15) explanation, and even better, discussion--that is very important.  A "servant" or a "follower" doesn't need to know what his master is doing.  A friend does.  So, as a leader who hopes for friendship with those who come after does need to explain.  Even if it means losing some people along the way.

For more on this, see Lifeshapes Discipleship - The Square.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Who Jesus Is

I'm getting ready, little by little, for tomorrow's "Ash Wednesday"* worship.  The goal of our time together tomorrow will be to help people act upon what it says in Hebrews 4:16
Let us then approach the throne of grace
with confidence
so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help in our time of need.
The theme of the day is the question Jesus asked in Luke 9:18, "Who do you say that I am?"  One of Jesus disciples answered "The Christ of God."  Jesus answered his own question in several ways, and we'll be looking at many of these on Wednesdays beginning tomorrow:

Feb 22 "I am the way and the truth and the life."
Feb 29 “I am the good shepherd”
Mar 7 “I am the bread of life”
Mar 14 “I am the vine”
Mar 21 “I am the light of the world”
Mar 28 “I am the resurrection and the life”

But how do WE answer that question?  How do you?  One of the best ways to tell is from our life of prayer.  When we cast all our cares on Jesus, we trust him to be all these things for us.

Come and worship on Wednesdays in Lent, and then check out all the other things going on at Crossroads.

* added Wednesday noon - If I can find ashes today, I will make them available for disciples of Jesus who desire to receive them as a mark of humility, humility like that of Christ who came to be sin for us.  See Philippians 2 and Second Corinthians 5, especially verses 20-21.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's Not Actually that Quiet

It seems there is so much to "say" these days that I don't write much of anything here... God has been so evident that it seems a shame that I haven't found time, but so it is.  I have done some work on the Crossroads website so I haven't been entirely absent from the internet. but most of what's going on is "off line."

There have been dozens of answers to prayer...  amazing things in my life, in the lives of those we care about, in the lives of my family members, particularly my kids.  I've been reading much... recent authors that have gotten my attention are Bill Johnson, Herbert Mjorud and Jim Cymbala.  There have been many spiritual insights, and more each day, but not enough leisure to get it down in writing.

God has been showing up on the school bus that I drive, in the expansion of our church ministry and in MUCH prayer.  So there's lots going on but little writing.  So it is for now.

I do long to hear from you, though, so please friend me on facebook or call me - 763-291-3499.  I write little, very brief, insights on facebook.  That's where most of the online ministry is for me right now.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Surrender and Healing

So many need God's healing.  As I move through each day I can see this.  People crying out for help, or at least beginning to do so, people who know things are not right, perhaps simply because they have come up against difficult circumstances in their health, in their finances, in their relationships or the pain of their lives... people are crying out for some sort of help.  I want to see them healed and restored by the power of God, by the power of God in the forgiveness and love of Jesus.

The power of God needs to flow through those of us who have experienced his healing and love already, but if there are areas of our lives that we are UNWILLING to surrender to God, how can that power flow?  How can it flow to heal us and then through us to others?

It's time for every Christian to allow God to seek deeply within their hearts, to root out any vestige of resistance to God's will, any resistance to his Holy Spirit's power.  When we are willing to do this, even if God's work in us is incomplete, then the power of God will flow and people will be healed.

Let us say to God, "I Surrender."  And then when God speaks, let us obey.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Truth Is

Truth is, though you and I may not see it every day, you and I are living in the middle of a war zone.  This whole earth is a place of war and that is a very good thing.

If this earth were not a war zone, we would all be lost.  Why?  Truth is, this world, as it is now, is in the possession of the devil.

People often ask why there is so much pain and suffering in this world--and the reason is that we human beings, made in God's image and having been given authority over the earth--we turned it all over to the devil long ago.

But God has not forgotten us.  God has come to rescue us!  He has come to retake the creation to be His own forever.  Praise God for his remarkable love--and praise God for spiritual war!  God has not left us for lost!  He has come!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Refreshing Alliance

After worship on Sunday--it was truly a remarkable time that we enjoyed with Gina Mueller and the youth she brought with her from North Heights--after worship on Sunday we were talking together with some who had received prayer and the Lord brought to our remembrance the long history of what God has done in our community over the years through the Holy Spirit.*  For example, back in the 1970s and 1980s, many Lutheran people in the Cokato area were impacted by a fresh move of God.  Go to this link to learn more:

Pastor Russel Peterson,** who passed away recently after a long term illness, opened the doors of the Lutheran church in Cokato to allow evangelists such as Herbert Mjorud and Morris Vaagenes to come with preaching and prayer ministry.  It's a living memory.  Many who were touched during that time are still in this world.  As far as I know, however, that story is not yet recorded in writing.  Perhaps the Lord will move someone to do that good work.

In any case, over the past few years God has continued to nurture that Holy Spirit led work, and now, at Crossroads, there He has made a new place for that work to flourish.  Interestingly, God has provided a reconnection with North Heights Lutheran Church, the church that Pastor Vaagenes led for many years, and a church that likewise welcomed the ministry of Pastor Mjorud.

Please pray that the Lord himself would guide this alliance with North Heights.  Pray that we would always follow the Spirit of Truth.


*The Holy Spirit is always present when anyone comes to faith in Jesus, but we often grieve the Holy Spirit and when harden our hearts against what God desires to do in our lives.  Often that happens with religious traditions.  We can see that clearly in the New Testament when Jesus confronted the Pharisees.  In Mark 7, for example, the Lord says:
“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

‘These people honor me with their lips,
   but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
   their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
This scripture applies not only to the religious leaders of Jesus day, but also to the religious leaders of every time and every place.  There's a danger always that traditions take over.  Even "Spirit-led" Christians can fall into patterns where God's action of the past is revered more than God himself, who is doing fresh work at this time, work that is always done in concert with the written Word of God.

**Pastor Russell Peterson's funeral is at Zion Lutheran Church in Chisago City MN on Saturday of this week. Go to this link for more details about the funeral, and to this link for more about Pastor Peterson