Sunday, December 28, 2014

More than Nice

Because Steve Basney is preaching this morning (We will be blessed!) I've been free to be studying and praying about Sunday January 4 and the Sundays after that. God has been working strongly in me about a series of messages focused on the themes found in the book The Dangerous Kind.

The first chapter, "Living Dangerously in A Perilous Time," reminds us of the ongoing present day spiritual battle that God calls us to. Sometimes Christians are seduced into thinking that all the great acts for God are intended for other more important people, and that we just do "nice" things sometimes, like anyone else. Just being a "good neighbor" for example might be enough for the likes of us.

But that's not what God says. For example, in 2nd Corinthians 5:16, it says that we don't "know anyone in a purely human way." And in chapter 6 verse 7 the Lord speaks to us of "weapons of righteousness." There's something more going on here than simple human kindness.

To prepare for next week, we're studying the passage of scripture you'll see at the bottom of this blogpost. Also, if you are willing, begin reading and praying over Graeme Sellers' book The Dangerous Kind. You can download the first chapter here, or listen to a sample of Graeme Sellers teaching by clicking this link.
2 Corinthians 5:16–6:10 16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him in this way. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. 18 Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 6:1 Working together with Him, we also appeal to you, “Don’t receive God’s grace in vain.” 2 For He says: I heard you in an acceptable time, and I helped you in the day of salvation. Look, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation. 3 We give no opportunity for stumbling to anyone, so that the ministry will not be blamed. 4 But as God’s ministers, we commend ourselves in everything: by great endurance, by afflictions, by hardship, by difficulties, 5 by beatings, by imprisonments, by riots, by labors, by sleepless nights, by times of hunger, 6 by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7 by the message of truth, by the power of God; through weapons of righteousness on the right hand and the left, 8 through glory and dishonor, through slander and good report; as deceivers yet true; 9 as unknown yet recognized; as dying and look—we live; as being disciplined yet not killed; 10 as grieving yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing yet possessing everything.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Serving in Hard Places

Note: This was written the day after Christmas. On the following day I went to visit the person we're speaking of and am contacting those who have been willing to help to make sure they know how important their volunteer service is in this case.

So early this (Friday) morning I was doing some study of The Dangerous Kind book, trying to get to the nub of the first chapter. After I'd been doing that for awhile I went to find my phone and found urgent text messages, left earlier, from someone who is doing their best to help a loved one deal with the the justice system. It turns out we had screwed up and a particular kind of essential help we had promised didn't show up at the time it was needed.

Tomorrow I'll visit that loved one at the jail and do my best to make things work out in the days and weeks to come. The justice system doesn't forgive, at least not easily, so our mistake has already caused great anxiety for the inmate and their family and might cause more significant problems for them. Please pray for us that we would recognize how important it is that we do a very good job in what we have agreed to do.

Why did we screw up this morning? Well, the person who had agreed to provide the help was not focused in on the regular schedule of things, and, frankly, neither was I. Today is the day after Christmas and so many people aren't quite as focused on "getting things done" as usual. It's a Friday after a Thursday holiday. It's not unusual for people to have a more relaxed attitude on a day like this. But for the one who is in jail, that's not reality. The truth is, we sort of "forgot" today... not good.

The fact is that God often leads us into situations that aren't all that easy. We find ourselves in uncomfortable places dealing with systems and with people (and sometimes professional people) who have little tolerance for what we may think of as "normal" human error. Those of us on the outside, and those of us who have lived with forgiveness on a regular basis, just don't experience the same stress or even understand why "perfection" is sometimes required. It many not be fair, but if we're going to get involved in those places, we need to play by the rules. It's just what needs to be done.

In The Dangerous Kind the author presses us toward the kind of "Kingdom of God" work that was championed by Jesus and the Apostles. Not only were they personally familiar with the "justice systems" of their time, they also were not shy about getting involved with people who were suffering from various sorts of injustice. The life that they call us to, the sort of life that the Word of God speaks of and that Holy Spirit pushes us into will have us in hard places often. Even on days when we'd rather be sleeping in.

In the Bible there is no expectation that life on this earth would be easy. God does provide what's needed, and we are praying for supernatural peace to come upon this man and his family, but "escape" is not an option. Pray for me and for the "team" of helpers that we would do a better job of staying alert in the days and weeks to come. Pray that God would use all we do to bring His Kingdom in power and love to all we encounter as we serve. Pray that we would serve well.

"Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body." Hebrews 13:8

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Crossroads Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Come and worship!
Christmas Eve at Crossroads - 4:00 PM
or, for an abbreviated non-communion service, 2:15 at the Cokato Manor.

(recordings of this service are posted at this link)

Order of Gathering
Special Music
"Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus"
Isaiah 11:1-10
"Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful"
Offering and Special Music
Luke 2:1-5
"O Little Town of Bethlehem"
Luke 2:6-14
"Angels We Have Heard on High"
Luke 2:15-20
"Joy For All"
"Joy to the World"
Communion, Blessing, Candles
"Silent Night"

(recordings of this service are posted at this link

Together with the angels, we proclaim GREAT JOY!
"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Joy for All!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sunday and More at Crossroads (emails)

The following email went out just a few minutes ago from Crossroads -- also a copy of what went out yesterday below that --

Just a quick update on the potluck for Sunday - a large cake, some jello and milk have already been provided...

Before the Potluck, we're thrilled to have the Mahlstedt family here to share music and a witness to the Lord's work in their lives.  The planned order of worship follows... INVITE FRIENDS!

Here's a note from Lorna:
      We have been created with a purpose in this life;  what are we doing with what God has given us.  Do we hide and bury our talents or are we willing to multiply them?  This is where we were challenged as a family and decided that sharing music with others is one area that we can multiply what God has given us.
      It all started with violin lessons with the kids, and from there they diversified into more instruments.  The younger also learn the joy of music from the older.  And we are no strangers to the Cokato area as both Dean (Dennis & Adele Mahlstedt) and Lorna (Harvey & Heidi Barberg) have a deep family heritage in the area.  Of which we have seen that life is spurring each other on, especially the next generation.
      And our purpose is to share the music that builds our souls; music we enjoy and are encouraged from and find others are encouraged from it also.  We have experienced that life is short and has no guarantees, but we all can use EVERYTHING we have been given to find a way to glorify God.  Jesus in is humble beginnings born in a manger, to dying on the cross in place of our sins.  Showing us the perfect example of of what glorifying God with one's life is like.  We are far from perfect, but we are given a chance each moment of the day to practice.
      You too have been given talents. It may be talents of service, great cooking, encouraging words, prayer for others, wisdom, understanding, or compassion in an area because of things you have gone through, specific skills, or many other number of things.  So what are you willing to do to multiply what the Lord has given?  We all will get even better at our "talents" with practice, practice, and more practice.  So thanks, for joining us today as we practice at using our talents with you.   May you in return be encouraged to share with others as we have shared with you.
      It’s our prayer that we will all hear these words from our Lord when we meet face to face:
"Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord".  
      Blessings during this season of celebrating Christ's Birth,
      The Dean Mahlstedt family

Here's the plan for Sunday Worship:

And here's the email from yesterday -

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Sunday, Christmas Eve, and beyond
From: Crossroads Community Church

Good evening Crossroads!

This Sunday 2 wonderful things are happening:
  1. We will be having a special Christmas service with the Dean Mahlstedt Family.  Dean, Lorna and their 9 children are quite musically talented and will be sharing their talents with us and their love for the Lord for our 10:15 am service. 
  2. It is the 3rd Sunday…that means POTLUCK!!!  I know just thinking about all the food that will be consumed in the next week is daunting, but think of it this way, you in training!  You need to do some warm up before the real dealJ.  If  you are able to bring a dish or 2 to share, that would be wonderful.  But please do plan on staying for food and fellowship!
Christmas Cards/letter:  We have decorated a little portion of our kiosk to be filled with your Christmas cards, letters and pictures.  Please bring them and add them to the kiosk.  If you received a card/picture from others that you feel Crossroads would enjoy seeing, please bring those as well.

Wednesday is Christmas Eve:  Our Christmas Eve service will be at 4:00 pm. The theme will be "JOY FOR ALL" based on Luke 2. Please bring family and invite and bring a friend or someone who may otherwise be left out. If you didn’t fill out a Christmas Worship Survey and would like to read a scripture (either one that you choose or one that can be chosen for you), or if you can help in any other way (greeting, hand out or fold bulletins, usher, communion, sound, handing out candles, be available to snow plow if needed, give someone a ride, or other etc.) please let Pastor Steve know.

Looking ahead to 2015, we're looking forward to all God will be up to among us and through us. Some of you have seen the first chapter of the book The Dangerous Kind that has been made available. We're praying about how the Lord will be guiding us into a series of messages and conversations around the Biblical and spiritual themes of that book on Sundays and in small groups. We're also looking ahead to some training for those who would like to be more effective in prayer ministry. God has opened up these opportunities and we're excited to see how the Lord will be utilizing them in our midst for the good of all those He loves.

Finally, please be in prayer, together whenever you meet and on Tuesday evenings and, of course, individually. Stay alert to topics for prayer in connection with what the Lord is doing in and through our church. One of the best ways you can do that is to spend some time on our church website, on our church's facebook page and on the pastor's blog. God has given us these means to stay in touch with one another; we encourage you to use them often. ALSO...

You can often can see quick updates of the work of our church and its spiritual direction at (This will take you to the pastor's "twitter" account.) When you see something interesting, share it. When something concerns you, pray and ask a question. We want to be open in every way to the Word and Work of the Holy Spirit. If you do not want to use "twitter," you can see those quick updates on the "web" version of his blog. If you wish, let him know you'd like to receive them as text messages and he'll set that up for you.

Peace to you in Jesus' name.