Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Quiet Comes With

So I'm sitting in the corner of a McDonald's restaurant in Isanti.  I left the hermitage at about 11:30, drove over here, and have been catching up on correspondence and other things ever since.  I was able to get things pretty much ready for Sunday while at the hermitage, after ending a 40+ hour fast and having dinner with the Pacem In Terris staff and three or four other guests, so I'm not feeling rushed.

It is pretty noisy here but I'm still carrying the quiet inside.  Of course, there's no one I know here at the restaurant, so that helps I guess.  I've got a few stops to make before I get home, including at the North Heights Prayer Room in Roseville.  Most likely I'll write a bit about that later.  I see they have set up a blog where people are writing about their time in the prayer room there at  Check it out.

I am thankful for the time away.  It is good to be still, to be quiet, to be alone with God.  I wonder though: If Jesus took time for this, why don't we, as his followers, take time for this more often?  Maybe it's because we don't know how. 

That's one thing that's been good about my time at Pacem In Terris (see Wednesday's post: 48 in 84).  They gave a few instructions--don't bring much with you.  Mostly take time to just be still and be quiet.  Rest and sleep when you are tired.  Read a few verses of scripture.  Enjoy quiet time alone with God's creation.  Being in a natural setting is helpful.  Fasting, for me, was really important.  Food can be such a distraction!  I chose to start my fast about 24 hours before I actually got to the hermitage and broke my fast when it seemed it was good to do so.  Also, I didn't look at a clock at all until my fast was over.  That was good too.

I feel a lightness of soul and spirit, a sense of peace.  I chose to break my fast and then do some quiet work on sermon preparation during the later part of my time in the hermitage, not because I had to, but because it seemed that was what the Lord was calling me to do at the time.  I found great peace and good energy in completing that work.  I am so thankful to my Lord!  And thankful to the staff and volunteers at Pacem In Terris who provide that protective environment and a place to be quiet.  So good.

So I've got a few more things to do before I leave McDonald's.  Even here one can be still and know God.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

48 in 84

Note as of Thursday morning: I wrote this last evening but now I won't be leaving Cokato as early as I thought.  Some things need to be taken care of first.  But I will go today.

During our church's 84 hours of prayer I plan to spend 48 hours at the Pacem In Terris retreat center.  I plan to fast and pray and just BE with the Lord.  I'll leave Cokato at around 9:30 tomorrow morning, drive to the center near Isanti, and return sometime on Saturday afternoon.  I'll be staying in a comfortable "hermitage," a place for solitude and quiet.  No electricity.  I'll turn my phone off and leave it in my car.  Toni will check my voice mail so don't hesitate to leave a message there, or call her at 763-957-9296.

I've never done anything like this before.  I will listen for the Lord's voice and bring to him the cries of my heart and whatever else comes to mind by his grace.  According to the Pacem In Terris website in each hermitage there is an altar, a Bible, a bed, a rocking chair, a gaslight and candles, a gas burner for heating water.  Few distractions.  And, of course, no computer.

I hope you are able to find at least some time to pray during these 84 hours.  Check the Crossroads website for more about that.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lazarus Come Out!

Crossroads 84 hours of prayer begins during worship on Wednesday.  Fittingly, at our 6:30 p.m. worship, we're looking at the verse where Jesus says "I am the resurrection and the life."

It's fitting because, of all the "I AM" statements of Jesus, this is the one that drives us the most toward prayer.  Why?  Prayer is the way we handle what we cannot handle, how we do what we cannot do.  Prayer is at its best when we know we can't.  Prayer reaches out to the invisible hand of God to rescue us when there is no other out.

So was the situation in John 11, and so are we when we are honest.  There is no way out other than through a relationship with Jesus, who IS, in himself, The resurrection and The life.  No other way except through Him.

The whole of John chapter 11 is laid out to teach us this truth.  Jesus deliberately waits 4 days from the time he finds out that Lazarus is deathly ill.  He doesn't begin his journey to Bethany until Lazarus is dead.  He does this to show us we can turn to Him no matter what.  We can trust him with death itself.  There is no situation too desperate for our Lord.

We followers of the Lord can help with many things.  We can help people hear the Lord's voice and even help guide people for a while (as a shepherd).  We can help feed people (bread of life).  We can help people connect with the Lord (vine and branches).  We can, at times, shine the light of truth on their path of life (light of the world).  We can relate to these in some ways.  Our Lord allows us to participate directly in them.  As He is, so we are... in many ways.

But, when it comes to Jesus statement in John 11, "I Am the Resurrection and the Life," we can't.  Life and resurrection is out of our hands.  That is something that can only be handled by the Lord.  That's something we must surrender to the Lord in prayer.  There's nothing else we can do.

Today a spiritual acquaintance gave me these good words early today -- let's carry them into our time of prayer:
"Such a glorious morning, full of hope as things are revealed that need to be revealed by You, LORD, not by me who wants so much to 'help.' Thank You for teaching me that there are times I will question Your guidance..."
Then she compared how she feels to how Abraham must have felt as he surrendered his son Isaac on the altar.  Then she asks...
"Is it You, God?  Could it really be You? ... You are telling me to keep my hands off, to resist all temptation to do anything beyond Prayer in this matter. It is really difficult, LORD, and hard to believe. But I know Your voice, and I thank You, LORD, that know to follow You and You alone. I will follow You and not the inclinations of my human heart, with hope that is expectant and full of faith in Your Almighty, Merciful Lavish Love and Grace. In Jesus and by Your Holy Spirit I do pray."
And so, knowing that Life and Resurrection in our Lord's hands alone, we will enter into this time of prayer.  We enter with the expectation that the Lord will answer us and do what we consider impossible.  Even raising the dead and giving life where there is no hope at all.

If you have not yet signed up for an hour of prayer time, please do so, or email our church office to let us know when you plan to take an hour for prayer--anytime between Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Sunday, 7:00 a.m.  For more on this, see the Crossroads Prayer webpage

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Not Recorded

It was such a great morning at Crossroads.  Only God knows how the "Easy Worship" file got corrupted -- and because that happened we have no recording of this Sunday's service.  All I have are my preparation notes which I share here. Today we had a Bible study of Romans 1:18-32; some of that was incorporated into the message. I don't think the Evil One liked this message one bit.

Pre-Service Music
"Shout  to the North" (song)
Welcome! and church family time (Tom Harpole's birthday, Altar donated from Stockholm township and plants Barb Yeager and her crew are getting ready, call to 84 hours of prayer)
Time for Children  (comparing idols to children's stuffed animals that make them feel better--fine for children, not for adults... God desires us to turn to him)

Isaiah 41:1-10
    1     Listen to me in silence, O coastlands;
let the peoples renew their strength;
        let them approach, then let them speak;
let us together draw near for judgment.
    2     Who stirred up one from the east
whom victory meets at every step?
        He gives up nations before him,
so that he tramples kings underfoot;
        he makes them like dust with his sword,
like driven stubble with his bow.
    3     He pursues them and passes on safely,
by paths his feet have not trod.

    4     Who has performed and done this,
calling the generations from the beginning?
        I, the LORD, the first,
and with the last; I am he.----------

    5     The coastlands have seen and are afraid;
the ends of the earth tremble;
they have drawn near and come.
    6     Every maker of idols helps his neighbor
and says to his brother, “Be strong!”
    7     The craftsman strengthens the goldsmith,
and he who smooths with the hammer encourages him who strikes the anvil,
        saying of the soldering, “It is good”;
and they strengthen the idol with nails so that it cannot be moved.----------

    8     But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
    9     you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
        saying to you,
“You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
    10     fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
        I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

"Here I am to Worship" (song)
 Confession and Forgiveness
"From the Inside Out" (song)

First Peter 2:20b-25
“…if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is com-mendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22    “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;
by his wounds you have been healed.
25 For you were like sheep going astray,
but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

"Beneath the Cross of Jesus" (song)
I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

Message - Consider It Done
    My glory… my pride… my joy… my love… the Cross.
    Up until last week we had been going through this series of messages about the Cross.
    First we talked about how the cross was promised.  Promised hundreds of years before Jesus and then promised again by Jesus himself weeks or months before he was actually crucified.  But the Cross of Jesus brings peace—because after the Cross we know there is Resurrection, New Life—Jesus did not stay dead and neither will we!
    Then, on March 11, we saw how the Cross is POWER.
First Cor. 1:22
Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
    Through the cross sinful, sin-filled human beings are rescued, redeemed, bought back and brought back to God.
Oh the wonderful Cross!...  All who gather here by grace draw near and bless your name!
    At the cross my sinful self, my shame, my unworthiness, all of my past unfaithfulness, my hypocrisy, my lack of love, my unwillingness to obey God – at the cross it’s all gone, it’s all done, it is taken care of.
    Jesus was given for me at my worst.  That’s what I can let go of today.
    But in order to let Jesus take my sin away, I need to let him do it.  I need to let him take it.  I need to give up any and every other way that I come up with to deal with the sin and brokenness of my life.
    That’s the temptation.  We human beings hate to humble ourselves before God.  We run away from like Adam and Eve in the garden.  We pretend God can’t see.  We try to hide ourselves in fig leaf flimsy lies.  Or, like we read in Isaiah 41, we set up idols. 
    In Isaiah 41 God is on the move.  The wages of sin is death and there are many different ways that death comes.  In Isaiah 41 and in much of the Old Testament you’ll see armies on the move.  God has told his people that there is no escape from his decisions, and when God allows an army to march people reach for whatever they can to protect themselves… In Isaiah 41 you see how spiritual experts get busy… idol makers… men and women who specialize in spiritual protection.
    Isaiah 41:6 and 7 – this is the New Living Translation…
6 The idol makers encourage one another,
saying to each other, “Be strong!”
7 The carver encourages the goldsmith,
and the molder helps at the anvil.
“Good,” they say. “It’s coming along fine.”
Carefully they join the parts together,
then fasten the thing in place so it won’t fall over.

    I’d like to pause here and say something more about idols.
When God-sized problems come into our lives; when we come across situations or emotions or trouble that we can’t handle on our own… at times like that what does God want us to do?
    God wants us to humble ourselves.  God wants us to cry out to him.  God wants us to turn to him in prayer.
God says to us (Philippians 4:7):
Do not worry about anything, but in everything, with prayer and supplication MAKE YOUR REQUESTS KNOWN TO GOD…
    God says THAT is the way we are to deal with our fears.  That is the way to find peace.  Anything else we use to handle our fears is an IDOL.
    In Isaiah 41… this was about 500 years before Jesus… the very real problem that provoked terrible fear was that King Cyrus of Persia was out to conquer the world…
    The people in other countries were horribly afraid…
    But they didn’t turn to God… they didn’t turn to the creator…
    The Bible tells us, and this is in the book of Romans… The Bible tells us that
the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men and women who suppress the truth. 
In Romans 1:19 it says this:
What may be known about God is plain to them since God has made it plain to them. 
Verse 20 –
Since the creation of the world God’s power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from the creation… so that human beings, men and women, have NO EXCUSE.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God no gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for IDOLS… for “images” made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
    In Isaiah 41, the people of many nations were afraid because they knew that King Cyrus’ armies were stronger than theirs…
    But instead of crying out to God in prayer, they turned to they turned to their idols… to statues of metal and wood that their idol makers had made.
    Romans 1 goes on to talk about the perversions and evils that come upon human beings… these perversions and evils… using sex for purposes that it was not intended for, other sorts of evils… verse 29…
“They are full of envy, murder, strive, deceit and malice.  They are gossips, slanderous, boastful, they invent ways of doing evil…
(At this point in my not recorded message I spoke with amazement about the ways people, and especially young people now in the 21st century, have come up with to soothe themeselves... truly hurtful...)
   Verse 31 –
Although they know God’s righteous decree that such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
   Turning to idols… turning to anything else except God with your fears is a death sentence.  It puts you outside the grace of God.

   But there is no idol that can beat death.  There is no idol that can beat the cause of death—sin.  Nothing you or I can EVER do will succeed.  We will always be the victims of sin and death and hell itself… we will always be the victims and the guilty ones… we will not escape… not until we give in to the Lord.
   Isaiah 41 continues with verse 8--
8 “But as for you, Israel my servant,
Jacob my chosen one,
descended from Abraham my friend,
9 I have called you back from the ends of the earth,
saying, ‘You are my servant.’
For I have chosen you
and will not throw you away.
10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
   When you and I give in to Jesus—when we come to the Cross with NO EXCUSES then the promises that God gave Israel… the promises God gave Jacob and Abraham and all of God’s chosen people… when we come to Jesus all those promises come to us too.
   When we come to the cross we can hear God say:
I have called you back from the ends of the earth,
saying, ‘You are my servant.’
For I have chosen you
and will not throw you away.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
   And all of those promises come because of the Cross.
What can wash away my sins nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus!  Oh precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow, no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.
   God has set up the world in such a way that there is always justice.  Sin will be punished.  The consequence is death. 
Revelation 20 says this:
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
   And nothing can rescue you from that death—nothing but the Cross.  Nothing but Jesus risen from the dead.
   No one but God.
God has provided a way, one way, to take away all of your sins.  As we read in    First Peter chapter 2 –
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.  25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
   Have you returned?  Have you come back to God?
   Have you asked him for grace? 
   Or are you still fighting?
   Anything you have or anything you do that gives you spiritual strength outside of a personal relationship with Jesus, who died on the cross for you, anything other than that is an idol, a lie, a trick from hell.
   And it will not protect you.
   I don’t care if it’s shopping or sports or activities that keep your mind busy, I don’t care if it’s religious work for God, if there is any way that you think you’re building yourself a safe place it will not hold.
   Without Jesus there is no hope.  Your sins will follow you until the day you die.  And then comes judgment.
   It makes no difference how good you think you are.  One sin is all it takes.  James 2:10 -
whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
But when you surrender you will find life, you will find freedom, you will find joy, you will find total and tremendous peace.
Revelation 21
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making every-thing new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who over-comes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
   So that’s why we come today to communion, to the Lord’s Supper.  We come here to receive grace and mercy, for the first time or for the twelve hundredth time.  Receive the body of Christ—broken for you… the blood of Christ—shed for you for the complete forgiveness of all your sins.
A   nd then the transformation can begin.  And the Holy Spirit can take hold of you.  And you can be remade from the inside out.  You do not need to keep living the way you are living today.  You can quit hiding, quit pretending, stop being afraid, stop avoiding whatever it is that is most troubling… because the Lord will be with you, he will fight for you, not against you, and you will be his, not just now, but forever and ever.  In Jesus’ name.

Invitation, Words of Institution, Prayer
Communion, "Above All" (song)
Blessing, "Hallelujah, Your Love is Amazing" (song)

Friday, March 23, 2012


One of the goals of my ministry is to have our individual spiritual lives deepened and to make them less centered on the outer religious aspects of "church."  What I am constantly praying for, yearning for, is more transparency, more authenticity, more being "real" with one another.  What I hope for is that we would come to worship with a desire to be changed, to be transformed, not by what the pastor or any other leader directly says or contrives to say, but by what God is doing in and through our life together.

This way of looking at "church" requires us to be less guarded with what the Lord has been saying to us.  It requires us to speak the truth in love to one another, regularly, constantly, prayerfully.  It also requires lots and lots of prayer.  That's one reason why I have wanted prayer time to be central to what we are doing as a church and, specifically, to what we have been doing on Wednesday evenings during this Lenten season.

This requires more spiritual effort on the part of those who "attend."*  It's a select group of deeply spiritual people who come out to worship on Wednesdays.**  On Wednesdays, therefore, I've put less emphasis on the "performance" aspect of what we do and more emphasis on participation.  That is the direction that the Lord seems to have led us in, though I have not been able to put it into words until now.***

I know the things that have been shared on Wednesday have been important, whether they are things that I planned in advance or things that others shared in the moment.  This past week something my wife shared was straight from the Lord's heart for us.  Unfortunately none of our Wednesday evening services have been recorded, so going back to see just what has been said is impossible.  But, with prayer, the Lord can speak to our hearts and work through what we have experienced.

I certainly hope people have been seeking to hear the Lord's voice more deeply through these weeks.  If what is shared is not considered and prayed over after worship is through, if it's not applied to our personal lives, then something is certainly amiss.

You who read this are an important partner in the gospel, whether or not you are part of our particular local church.  Your voice is important.  Please comment, send me an email, give me a call or find another way to share what the Lord is saying to you about "church."  It's important business.  It's God's.


* "Attend" is such a strange word, I think, to apply to worship, unless "attend" has the sense of being "in attendance" to the King in the way that servants and ministers wait upon the King or Queen in the courts of old.

** Not that there aren't equally spiritual people who do not or cannot come out on Wednesday for worship.  So many of our people are deeply committed to regular Bible study and prayer.  So many are parts of Bible study groups and other spiritual disciples with others.  What we do on Wednesdays during this season is just "one more" option for many, even though we may like it to be otherwise.

*** That's also true on Sundays at Crossroads.  Worship is not a "performance" to be "watched" on Sundays either.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Come to the Light

This week on Wednesday evening we'll gather at Crossroads for another in the series of worship and prayer gatherings.  We'll sing, read scripture (primarily from John chapters 8 & 9), spend some moments in quiet thought and prayer, discuss what the Lord is saying to us, and pray for true hearts and honest lives.  More detail can be found at

Jesus said:

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." - John 8:12

As the light of the world, Jesus reveals truth.  Jesus confronts us with truth in every area of our lives.  As Jesus says "Nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light" (Luke 8:17).  The good news is that when we know Jesus and the truth of his great love for us, we can dare open our eyes to all the truth.  We do not need to hide anymore.

So, as you prepare for worship, pray and ask our Lord to reveal the truth.  Are there areas of your life that you are hiding?  Are there areas of truth that you will not deal with?  Is there any area of your life that you will not allow our Lord to penetrate?  Are you building a stronghold against Him?  In some ways do you prefer darkness? 

Living in darkness is no solution.  Much better to deal with truth.  So, come to Jesus!  Come to love!  Come to light!  Jesus loves you and it's wonderful to walk in the truth.  It's so good, so refreshing, so wonderful to be free!

Crossroads Huddle #2

I met with several men from our church yesterday late afternoon - early evening and began our church's second huddle.  Our first huddle began in September with the leadership of  Marcus Haug from North Heights Lutheran Church.*  I'm hoping that a group of women will begin a huddle soon.

So what's a huddle?  I have to admit that we could have done a better job of explaining this before our first huddle began.  The truth is, however, that I honestly didn't know exactly what it was we were getting into.  I am very pleased, however, and I'm thrilled for what we have learned in and through our first huddle and am even more excited about the second. 

Just yesterday the Director of Content for 3DM, Doug Paul, posted the following in an article entitled "The Difference Between Huddles and Small Groups and Why Many Churches Use Both."  Because he posted this article, I can now answer that question!  I'm thankful for the wonderful timing!  Thank you Doug and thank you Holy Spirit for arranging this so well!

A Huddle is:
  • A place for leaders to receive investment, training, imitation and accountability (in other words…discipleship!). Here’s the big thing to note on this one: It is for current and/or future leaders. The people accepting an invitation into a Huddle should know they are expected to lead something (and maybe they already are, but if they aren’t, the expectation that they will start leading something). This is the principle at work: If you disciple leaders in how to disciple people, everyone in your community will be discipled. Why? Because you’re instilling in your leaders the Great Commission principle that “every disciple disciples others.”
  • By invitation only. A Huddle is an invitation for 6-12 leaders to regularly receive intentional investment by a discipling leader. But it is more than that. It’s also an invitation in that person’s life, not just a 90-minute-per-week gathering point.  You have access to the life of the discipling leader outside of just the Huddle time. As we know, the principles of discipleship at work are often better caught than taught.
  • Something that is reproduced. Rather than adding people to a Huddle, we multiply the discipling culture that is created with the expectation that every leader start their own Huddle at some point. But this isn’t something we spring on them. They should know that by accepting the invitation that this is the expectation. So rather than growing your Huddle to have 10 people instead of the 8 that it started with, we ask that the 8 people you started with all start Huddles of their own. It’s growth by multiplication that eventually leads to exponential growth.
  • A place for invitation and challenge. The discipling leader, as they invest in the lives of the people in their Huddle, will invite them into their life, their rhythms and have access to their Spiritual capital. But they will also, from time to time, be challenged (gracefully) to live more fully into the Kingdom when their way of life is different or out-of-step with the things we read about in scripture and the Kingdom.
  • High commitment. For all the reasons stated above. ;-)
 I encourage you to ►click here◄ and go to the original article written by Doug Peters to learn more.


* Huddle #1 began in the fall of 2011.  Another huddle, not numbered because the only Crossroads participant is myself, began in late January 2012.  It is led by Pastor Per Nilsen and includes key leadership from North Heights (Arden Hills and Roseville) and Community of Hope (Rosemount and Hastings).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Missionary Patrick

Almost two years ago I heard a fascinating account of Saint Patrick from Bjørn Pedersen at a Prayer Watch International "prayer school" (held in May 2010 at Mount Carmel Retreat Center).  There is more to the story of Apostolic Christianity in early Ireland and England that we heard about at the time.  When I find more I'll let you know.

Here's an item from a website that I discovered today.  I cannot vouch personally for Pastor David L. Brown or what he says... I just find it fascinating.

The Real Patrick:
Missionary to Ireland

Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
March 1999 by Pastor David L. Brown

Links to Topics:

The Truth About St. Patrick
Authentic Information About Patrick
From Birth To Age 16
From Slavery To Salvation
His Call To Missions & Return to Ireland
Is Jesus Christ your personal Savior?


What nationality do you think of when you hear the name O’Donahue? Irish of course. I have a good part of Irish blood running though my veins. Why? My maternal grandmother was an O’Donahue. Her parents were directly from Ireland and like more than a million others they fled starvation about the time of the Irish potato famine which began in 1845.

Now, when most Americans think of the Irish, they think of St. Patrick’s Day. Yearly, on March 17th many people wear green, particularly green shamrocks, think of leprechauns with pots of gold at the end of a rainbow, drink green beer, smile at the thought of the old Irish saint chasing the snakes out of the emerald Isle and then the Catholics go to a special mass in St. Patrick’s honor.

The Truth About St. Patrick

But, there’s a BIG problem with all of this. None of it’s true, except it is perhaps true that the one called Patrick (actually Patricus) died on March 17th sometime between 465 and 493 A.D.(the year is disputed). Actually his real name was Maewyn Succat. It is believe that he took the Latin name Patricius (Patrick) when he began his missionary work. He was not Irish but was a "free born" son of an area Roman-British decurio.

A decurio was an area magistrate, a nobleman who was the leader of ten others, such as the head of a municipal council. Further, Maewyn (we’ll call him Patrick from here on out), would have had nothing to do with leprechan’s. These fairies have their origins in the bloody occult religion of the Druids, whom Patrick preached against. As for green beer, that is a the modern invention of perverse capitalists looking for a "pot of gold" in the pockets of the drunkards they serve. Oh, I must not forget. There were never any snakes or other reptiles in Ireland, just as their were never any kangaroos in America (until they were imported).

Let me see. What have I missed? Oh yes. Green...shamrocks. To be sure, Ireland is the "Emerald Isle" because of its green pastureland. Legend has it that Patrick illustrated the truth of the Holy Trinity by using the three leaf green clover. While there is clear evidence that Patrick did believe in and teach the Trinity, there is no clear evidence that he used the green three-leafed clover to illustrate that Bible truth. Oh yes, there is one more thing. Indeed, perhaps the most important thing of all. Patrick was NOT a Catholic! Here is how Thomas Cahill puts it in his wonderful book "How The Irish Saved Civilization" -- "Patrick’s gift to the Irish was his Christianity -- the first de-Romanized Christianity in human history, a Christianity without the sociopolitical baggage of the Greco-Roman world... Ireland is unique in religious history for being the only land into which Christianity was introduced without bloodshed." Cahill is nearly correct, with one exception.

To be sure, Patrick was not a Catholic. They claimed him later and made him over in their own image. His name is nowhere to be found in Catholic writing until almost two centuries after he had died. But, the first de-Romanized Christianity in human history was the Christianity of the Apostles and the Apostle Paul which is recorded in the New Testament and which was spread throughout the known world for the first 150 or so years after the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. What missionary Patrick preached to the Irish pagans was the Biblical Christianity of the New Testament. He taught salvation by grace through faith in Christ, not a the spurious works oriented version of salvation propagated by the Roman Church. He taught believers baptism. But, I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning.

Authentic Information About Patrick

Part of the problem you encounter in doing research about Patrick is that there is very little authentic information available. It is almost as difficult as doing research on Nicholas of Myra, dubbed by Catholics as St. Nicholas. This preacher of Asia Minor has been mythologically transformed into today’s Santa Claus.

Concerning authentic information relating to Patrick, we have two authentic documents. The first is his Epistle to the Irish more commonly called The Confession of Patrick which begins, I Patrick, a sinner..." It is his testimony, written later in his life, about his life, his salvation, his beliefs, call to missionary service and a brief accounting of his missionary trials and triumphs. The second authentic document we have is his Letter to Coroticus which is an open letter to British Christians under the rule of cruel king Coroticus. There is one hymn that could have originally been authored by Patrick, but most historians believe there have been measurable additions and changes throughout the years. It is called The Loric or Hymn of Patrick which is also known as The Brestplate (or Shield) of St. Patrick and The Deer’s Cry. 

From Birth To Age 16

Patrick was born some time between 385 and 415 A.D. No one knows for sure. But he was a Roman Brit. His father Calpurnius was a civil magistrate, a tax collector as well as a deacon in their local church. His mother’s name was Conchessa. His grandfather, Potitus, was a presbyter, or a pastor. He lived in England during a very turbulent time. For 470 years, the Roman legions had held off the foreign barbarians from pillaging the English countryside. When the last legion sailed from Britain in 400 A.D., immediately Irish warlords and others raided the once peaceful coastal towns. These roving bands of pirates looted, pillaged, raped and captured huge numbers of slaves to sell to the highest bidder back in their homeland.

When Patrick was about 16 years of age a fleet of 50 currachs (longboats) weaved their way toward the shore, where the young Roman Birt and his family lived. "The warriors quickly demolished the village, and as Patricius darted among the burning houses and screaming women, he was caught."1 We learn more by reading Patrick’s Confession which says, "I was taken into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of people, and deservedly so, because we turned away from God, and did not keep His commandments, and did not obey our pastors, who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought over us the wrath of his anger and scattered us among the nations…" Patrick was sold as a slave to Miliucc, a Druid tribal chieftain and put to work herding pigs and or sheep. He lived like an animal himself, with the animals day and night, often in hunger and thirst. He felt helpless and hopeless. He went from an nobleman’s son with all the privileges to a swine herding slave overnight.

From Slavery To Salvation

Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Patrick had ignored the Lord up to this point in his life. But things were different now, very different. He began to remember some things that his preacher grandfather had told him. The despair of slavery and the solitude of his occupation compelled him to remember his Christian upbringing and his need of the Lord. He writes in his confession, "I was about sixteen but did not know the true God, but in a strange land, the Lord opened my unbelieving eyes, and I was converted."2 Patrick came to know Christ as his personal Savior and was freed from his slavery to sin. Patrick grew in the Lord. "His devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ brought upon him a nickname, ‘Holy-Boy" from his fellow slaves. Through the years, he learned to pray whether he was working or resting."3 It is evident by his own testimony he learned to practice 1 Thessalonians 5:17 which says, Pray without ceasing. He says this in his Confession: "After I came to Ireland, every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed. The Love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was moved so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountains; I used to get up and pray before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm, and there was no sloth in me…because the spirit within me was then fervent."

Patrick remained a slave to Miliucc for six years. Then, one night, when he was 22 years old he testifies, "I head a voice while I was sleeping say, ‘…soon you will go to your own country. See, your ship is ready." That night he fled. Assured God was leading him, he plunged through the bogs and scaled the mountains that separated him from the sea. In his confession he says he traveled, "perhaps 200 miles." He goes on, "I went in the strength of God who directed my way to my good, and I feared nothing until I came to that ship." It is obvious that Patrick believed the truth of Psalms 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.

At first, the sailors would not allow him to come on the ship, but as he turned to walk to the hut where he was staying he began to pray. He says, "before I had ended my prayer, I heard one of them shouting behind me, ‘come, hurry, we shall take you on in good faith; make friends with us in whatever way you like.’ And so on that day I…hoped they would come to the faith of Jesus Christ because they were pagans."

Three days later they landed on the coast of Gaul (today called France) but found only devastation. "Goths or Vandals had so decimated the land that no food was to be found in this once furtile area."4 For almost a month they walked searching for food until hunger overcame them. The pagan captain, who had mocked Patrick’s faith finally came to him and said, "You say your God is great and all-powerful? Then pray for us. We are all starving to death, and we may not survive to see another soul."

Patrick responded, "Be converted from your faith to the Lord my God, to Whom nothing is impossible, that He may send you food in you way, even until you are satisfied; because everywhere there is abundance with Him."5 Patrick believed the truth of Luke 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. Patrick writes in his Confession, "With the help of God, so it came to pass: suddenly a herd of pigs appeared on the road before our eyes, and they killed many of them." God indeed had provided. After quite some time, Patrick made it back to Britain and his family. He was home at last – free.

His Call To Missions & Return to Ireland

Look at Acts 16:9. This is a passage of scripture that is referred to as Paul’s Macedonian Call. -- And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. Well, Patrick received his Ireland Call in a similar fashion. Victoricus urged in his dream, "We beseech thee, holy youth, come and live among us once more."

The Lord made it clear to Patrick that he was calling him back to Ireland to preach the Gospel. The problem was that his family did not want him to go. It was well known that escaped slaves were woven into giant wicker baskets, suspended over fires, and roasted alive in sacrifice to the Druids gods. But Patrick was called of God and in began his missionary work about 430 A.D. He preached the Gospel in Ireland for about 30 years. Cahill says, "Patrick was really a first – the first missionary to barbarians beyond the reach of Roman law."6 One source says, "he planted over 200 churches and had over 100,000 truly saved converts."7 Patrick writes in his confession, "I am greatly a debtor to God, who has bestowed his grace so largely upon me, that multitudes were born again to God through me…Hence, the Irish, who had never had the knowledge of God and worshipped only idols and unclean things, have lately become the people of the Lord, and are called the sons of God."

Patrick loved the Lord and urged his converts to follow the Great Commission. He wrote – "As the Lord in the Gospel states, exhorts and teaches, saying: Going therefore now, teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days ever to the consummation of the world."

While the Roman empire and occupied lands were going from peace to chaos, the land of Ireland was going from chaos to peace under the ministry of Patrick. Under his ministry, "the Irish slave trade came to a halt, and other forms of violence, such as murder and intertribal warfare, deceased."8

God mightily used Patrick and Patrick gave God the glory. In his confession he states, "I give unwearied thanks to God, who kept me faithful in the days of my temptations, so that today I can confidently offer Him my soul as a living sacrifice – to Christ my Lord, who saved me out of all my troubles."
Patrick, the missionary to Ireland, was not a Catholic. He was a born-again, blood bought believer who loved the Lord Jesus Christ and preached His Word. He stepped into the presence of the Lord he loved and served on March 17th sometime between 465 and 493 A.D. (the year is disputed).

Is Jesus Christ your personal Savior?

If he is not, read the Bible passages below and call upon Christ to be your personal Savior right now. Patrick did that when he was 16 years old. You can do it today!
    Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.
    Romans 3:23
    For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
    Romans 5:12
    Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
    Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    Romans 5:8 But God commendeth (proved) His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
    Romans 10:9-10
    That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shalt not be ashamed.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
  • Why not call upon the Lord right now and ask him to Save you from your sins.
    Pray something like this
 Dear Lord Jesus,
I confess that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I believe that you, Lord Jesus Christ, died for my sins and rose again from the dead. I now trust only in you Christ to save me from my sins and take me to Heaven. Come into my life, forgive my sins and save my soul. Thank you for hearing my prayer. AMEN


Thursday, March 15, 2012

What Do You Live?

Jesus said "I Am The Way and The Truth and The Life.  I Am the Good Shepherd.  I Am the Bread of Life.  I Am the Vine."  Then Jesus asks: Who do you say I am?  Christians echo Jesus' words.  We say to Jesus: Yes, Jesus, You are The Way, The Truth, The Life, the Good Shepherd, the Bread of Life, the True Vine.  These have been our themes so far on Wednesdays at Crossroads during Lent.

When we have gathered on Wednesdays the Lord has been challenging us, through His Word and through the Holy Spirit. He has been provoking and pushing and prodding, asking us if what we say with our words is also what we "say" with our lives.
  • If we say Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life, do we trust him completely?  
  • If we say Jesus is the Good Shepherd, are we listening for his voice?  
  • If we say Jesus provides for all of our needs (being the Bread of Life), do we live in the expectation that He will indeed provide for us in the future?  
  • And if Jesus is the source of our life, do we take time to be with Him?
These are some things the Lord has been asking us on the last four Wednesdays.  We then put these words into action through prayer, praying for trust, for discernment, for provision, and, last night, for time in His Holy Presence.  The scriptures we used for our meditation last night can be downloaded by clicking ►here◄.  I encourage you to read these scriptures and pray them, asking the Lord to bring your life into harmony with what He says.

Let us continue to pray with and for one another in the weeks to come.  Let us stand with one another as we repent and trust our Lord to bring our lives into alignment with His Word.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Just a Branch (But A Great Vine)

When I came home tonight Toni was out getting screens ready to put up in place of the storm windows.  It's so early for that but we decided to take the risk and the screens are on.  I went out to the garden too and cut down the asparagus plants so they could come up fresh when spring truly comes.  I took out the old manual weed wacker and with a few swings the old overgrown plants were no more.

What needs to be changed, pruned, cut away in your life?  Jesus says "I am the vine."  Getting rid of old growth, cutting away a few branches -- that needs to be done so new growth can come.  What do you need to let go of in this season so there can be good fruit?  What might the Lord be wanting to remove?  Will you pray about it?

In John 15 Jesus says:  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit."  We are only branches, but He is a great Vine, growing fruit that will last forever.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Living at the Crossroads

I'm beginning to write this at 6:10 a.m.  We school district employees got an automated phone call 2-3 minutes ago letting us know that classes are postponed two hours due to fog.  I would have preferred a call to come in before I was all ready to head out the door but if the decision had to be made I say "better late than never."

Before the call came I was thinking I would write something more about the "altar call" that we experienced yesterday at Crossroads Community Church.  As I wrote yesterday in Invitation Accepted, this invitation to come forward is a new thing.  This morning the Lord was reminding me that this new thing, together with other unfamiliar ways of "doing church" is all a part of living constantly at the crossroads of life, understanding that God is constantly intervening and calling us to be more and more transformed into the image of Jesus.

Too often our church experience makes us comfortable with the way we are.  Being made comfortable can lead us to misunderstand the work of God in our midst.  God does come to us as the "Comforter," but He comes in that way not because we are already comfortable, but because we need him to comfort us.  Sometimes God needs to comfort us because He has made us uncomfortable! 

It's true!  In fact, we the better we know the Word of God, the more "normal" being uncomfortable is!  God grants us grace for life today, just as it is, but God loves us so much that he pushes us to change!  Many times it is at the most uncomfortable moments that God is doing his best work in us.  So Christian disciples should never be surprised at those moments.  In fact, we should expect them, especially at church.

The name "Crossroads" attached to our church is a prophetic, Godly statement about what God is doing in our midst.  He is growing us up to live at the crossroads, at moments of decision.  Imagine being comfortable with being uncomfortable!  Imagine relaxing and knowing "all is well" even when we are being pushed to change!  Imagine surrendering regularly to the work of God in your life.  That's what "living at the crossroads" can mean.

As we live there, God transforms and refines us, making us more effective and loving disciples, leading us to live more and more like his Son, Jesus, who knew no other comfort than the presence of His Father God.

For more on this, see "Enter the Circle."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Invitation Accepted

At church today I invited people to come forward if they wanted to, to step out from the crowd as a sign that they wanted God to do some work in their lives.  4-5 came.

It's such a new experience, to invite people to respond publicly.  I am trusting that the Lord will use these moments of invitation to do His Work among us.  I know that, at a certain point in my own life, it was truly important for me to step out from the crowd in worship, to come forward, and to ask for prayer.  Because it was a blessing for me, I know it can be for others.

Please let us know what you think.  We all have so much to learn.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Being A Disciple

Tonight I met with some friends and colleagues from Crossroads.  As we discussed and prayed together, it became evident that many of us are dealing with tremendous challenges.  Sometimes we wonder where our Lord is leading us.  Will we be prosperous?  Will we be secure?  Will we continue to live in the way we expect?  Will the pain ever go away?

As I was mulling this over, I came across the following video.  It speaks so clearly because it is based squarely on the Word of God. 

Here's the truth:  God is calling us to become more dependent on Him every day.  The key to a close relationship with the Lord is the loss of other attachments.  Not that we live homeless and naked at all times, but whatever there is that we think we need beyond what He gives us will stand in the way of God's work in our lives. That may sound hard, but it's worth it!  When we let God work as he desires, when we open the door to God's FULL involvement in our lives, then there is power. When we sell out entirely to the Lord, he will come and be with us Himself. With all that He has and all that He is.

Here's the video.  The speaker is Francis Chan.  He's the author of Crazy Love, a book that is being studied by many of our women on Saturday mornings.  The video can be found at  It's called "The Cost of Following Jesus and is based on Luke 14:25-34.

The audio is slightly off, don't let it distract.  God bless you on your journey of following Him.

Luke 14
     25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
     28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
     31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
     34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
     “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Say It!

Last night during our small group conversation and prayer, one of our group members (actually it was my wonderful wife Toni) mentioned how important it is for us to point out to one another the remarkable provision of the Lord in our lives.  We were looking at the miracle of Jesus in providing food for 5,000 plus and she wondered out loud how many of the crowd had any idea that they had just been fed by miracle.  The disciples knew, but did anyone else? 

If you have experienced an ordinary or extraordinary miracle of God, say it!  Tell it!  Do not be silent!  If you are silent, then others may not come to know the one who provides.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sweet Trust

Through providing for our needs, God transforms our minds to trust Him in every way.  When God provides for me today, He is saying "you can trust me for tomorrow."  Because of Jesus, who gave himself for the life of the world, there is no limit to how much we can trust Him.  We can trust Him forever. 

In Christ we have an "unambiguous sense of safety, a lasting home."  (Henry Nouwen)

Will you let us pray for you?  Will you allow us the privilege of calling out to the God of the universe on your behalf?  Our Lord longs for us to return to Him, humbled and saved.

O how sweet to trust in Jesus!  Just to take Him at His Word.  Just to rest upon his promise.  Just to say "thus saith the Lord."

"Come to me," says Jesus, "All you who labor and are heavy laden.  Come to me and I will give you rest."  (Matthew 11)

Our Lord longs to provide for your every need, setting you free to follow Him in all your life.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Thank You GOD!

So yesterday afternoon Daniel tells me that the sermon I heard yesterday morning (see Hidden in Cokato) was not the one that he had sent to me.  I was blessed so much by the one I found when I clicked the link Daniel sent but it wasn't from him.  He had sent me a link, but the link directed me to a different sermon, one God wanted me to hear.  That was a gift --  straight from God.

Saturday, March 3, 2012