Thursday, January 30, 2014

Just a Quick Hello

It's late.  I need to get to bed so I can get up for bus driving but I just wanted to say hello.  It's been about 10 days since I wrote anything here (on this blog).  There are many things going on... there are no dull moments.

I hope to see you soon!  If you're in the Dassel-Cokato area, let's get together!  Or, if that doesn't work, give me a call at 763-291-3499.  To know what's up at our church, check out the Crossroads website.  There's a bit of conversation going on in the Crossroads facebook group.  Or check out my own facebook page or see my "twitter feed" on the right side of this blog.

God's peace to you tonight as you follow Jesus with all you are and with all you have.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Needed: Discipleship Training

Earlier tonight (Monday night) at Begarowiczes' home (see yesterday's post) the Lord impressed upon me the need for discipleship.  What I mean by "discipleship" here is specific training and teaching about the Christian life, about how believers are to live, having repented of their sin, having been baptized, having been filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

In the churches I've been part of we sort of assume that newer believers will learn the Christian life just by being together with older and more mature believers.  We've been a part of churches where we assume that believers will start young and will learn the faith, and the Christian life, from their parents and Sunday school teachers.  We haven't had "discipleship training" programs.  It's time to change that.

As a pastor, I confess that I've done a poor job over the years of training up disciples... other than my own kids... and my own kids have had to learn a lot from others that they didn't learn from me.  I confess, also, that at this point I'm not exactly sure how to proceed.  What I don't want to do is to put in place some sort of rigid program that is not led by the Holy Spirit.  There's always the danger of being legalistic, of pushing people to follow simply because of some sort of external authority instead of being led by the Holy Spirit and being "transformed by the renewing of [the] mind," that is, from the inside out.

Still, if we are going to be reaching out to people who are not yet sold out believers in Jesus, we need to have some idea about how we're going to help them mature.  I invite you to pray for me and for others as we learn to do this.  Thank you.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Christian Comaradarie

I'm starting this little post a little after 5:30 on a Monday early evening.  Out my office window here at home I can see a purple-blue sky through the bare branches of trees and the tops of the red pines across the street.  The lights on the hockey rink are on; their glow coming through the trees cause there to be shadows on the snowy front lawn.  Soon the dark will take over.  Soon it will be night.

I have an invitation to go over to the Begarowiczes' home tonight for what they are calling "Holy Spirit Christian Camaraderie."  It's tempting to think about just staying home instead of going out into the 5 degreeF air.  We don't have children at home these days so it's warm and peaceful here.  But the Holy Spirit works together with the Word of God to lead me out to a place where other brothers and sisters in the Lord just might be gathering.  So I will go -- at least for awhile.

I said "I" have an invitation to Begarowiczes'... but it's not just me who is invited.  It's a wide open invitation that was printed in the handout everyone got yesterday at church.  Don has given the invitation at Crossroads during our church family time, he's posted it on facebook, and it's been up on the website for awhile.  This couple (Don & Robin) have invited people to their home in this way for about two years now on most Monday evenings.

Do people respond?  Do people come?  There was a time, I think in late 2012*, when about a dozen, more or less, were gathering regularly, studying to learn more about the work of the Holy Spirit--not just in study but also in practice--in prayer and in the sharing of experiences--such as when one or another person has believed themselves to be led or guided by God in a direct way.  The group dwindled a bit as the spring progressed and then, in the summer, it changed and most of the people who were coming were people who were staying at the Cokato RV Resort and Campground through the summer.  Now, this winter, there have only been two or three who have been there (other than Don & Robin).

Even so, I'm going to go.  We Christians, disciples of Jesus--we spend far too little time together with one another around the Word of God.  We live our Christian lives separately.  We don't have deep experiences consistent community and "camaraderie."  When we could gather, we tend to stay home.  We stay home because we're tired or because we just don't want to go out.  But, as I said at the beginning, the Holy Spirit, together with the Word of God--the Word of God that describes a church that meets together constantly and loves each other deeply--the Holy Spirit calls me to go, and so I will.

Will it be a wonderful evening?  Perhaps.  Or perhaps it will be mundane.  I don't know.  But gathering with brothers and sisters in Christ around the Word of God and prayer is going to be a whole lot better than always staying home.


* At that time we were going through a book--I think it was called How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit (by A. W. Tozer).  I liked some parts of the book but it was too detailed to be very inspirational for me.  The group began as a "huddle" but changed into something else.  More about that later.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Unsettling Work of God

I've spent most of the day writing this and I know it's not polished up. There are other things to do, though, so I just will need to stop for now and hope it's helpful to someone out there, or at our own church.
The slide above is from the message that we shared at Crossroads on Dec. 29.  The message was titled "The One and Only" and was based on John 1:14-25.  We shared other scriptures that day too: Phil 2:5-7;  John 3:13; 1 Cor 1:10-17--plus this one -- Matthew 23:8-12.

I thought I'd write just a bit about this because I think some of what was said on Dec. 29, plus some of what we've been reading in connection with our "Church Study Group" has, for some, been unsettling.  And what has felt strange?  It's the way the Word of God seems to question the religious titles (that is, the "names" we call people -- "Pastor," "Rabbi," "Father" etc.) we have used all our lives.

I believe it is the Word of God that unsettles us in this.  And, in the end, if we follow God's Word, we will come to a place where we will be settled once more, not in the opinions of human beings that are codified in denominations, but, instead, in the Truth of God.

So let the Word have its way -- unsettling or not.
un·set·tle - verb
cause to feel anxious or uneasy; disturb.
example: "the crisis has unsettled the financial markets"
synonyms: unnerve, upset, disturb, disquiet, perturb, discomfit, disconcert, alarm, dismay, trouble, bother, agitate, fluster, ruffle, shake (up), throw, unbalance, destabilize; informal: rattle, faze, pull the rug (out) from under
- - - - - - -

I'll share a bit below about what actually was unsettling for some on Dec. 29, but before I get there I think it would be helpful to say that the journey of faith that I've been on, particularly since 2010, has been "unsettling" for me too--and for my family.

Since 1986 I've been called "pastor."
I DON'T MIND.  It's okay.  Feel free to call me that.  I have not gone off being called "Pastor Steve" or even "Pastor Thorson."  Or call me "Steve."  Nothing I write here is about personal preference.  The "greeting" on my phone is still a cheerful "Hi! This is Pastor Steve..."  Calling me pastor is just fine.  When you do that, however, just remember that we're doing it as a matter of "custom," not as a matter of what the Bible teaches about leadership.  More about that in the future. (*See note at end.)
Pastor Walter Dörr in "Alfavil"
near Brasilia in early 1984
In fact, some people called me pastor even before I was "ordained" in June 1986.  When I lived in Brasil (1983-84) I served alongside pastors as an "intern."  Many local people called me "pastor" then.

They didn't care much about whether I was "ordained" or not.  I was working alongside pastors and participating in some of their work... and I wasn't from their community, so they called me "Pastor."  (Same spelling as in English.)  And, when I was there, when I was serving as an intern, I wore what Brazilian pastors wore - a black cassock with long white "tabs" (history here).

(The picture at right was taken at a worship service conducted by Walter Dörr, one of the pastors I worked with while in Brazil.  This particular worship service was held in someone's home.  Click here for a picture of a Brazilian Lutheran ordination -- it will give you a better view of their clerical garb.)

When I returned to the USA, I completed my years of seminary and was ordained and installed as associate pastor in Ladysmith (Wisconsin) I again worked with more experienced pastors.  It wasn't until 1992, when we moved to Taylors Falls, that I was "the" pastor of a church.  By that time it seemed normal and natural to be called "Pastor Steve."

Fast forward 18 years to 2010.  By that time I had served as pastor of four Lutheran churches.  In 2010 things changed.  I can't go into detail -- that would truly take a book to write about -- ask me personally and I'll fill you in -- or click here to look at some of the things written in August of that year.  To make a long story very short, I made a choice.  I decided that I would follow the Word of God no matter where it led.

It's been so good.  God has been faithful.  I praise Him every day.  But His Word is POWERFUL.  It is sharper than any two edged sword.  It doesn't care about our comfort.  It continues to call us to places we would never imagine that we would go.  As we read this week in My Utmost for His Highest: "The call of God is not a reflection of my nature; my personal desires and temperament are of no consideration."

There are so many things that the Lord has taught me (and others... I know of many who have been on a similar spiritual journey over the past few years including my own personal family members and folks connected with our spiritual family at Crossroads).  Some of the things we've learned have caused me and us to reconsider and examine, using God's Word as our guide, almost everything we have ever known and experienced about the church--including the whole issue of spiritual leadership and the titles these leaders have traditionally been given.

None of us expected that moving out of a particular denomination would have caused so many things about our "religious" lives to become unsettled.  Some of us may have thought that perhaps we could settle in a denomination or affiliation that was more or less like the one we had left, just a bit more conservative.  But because we allowed the Word of God to have first place, we've allowed God to move us in unexpected ways.  And, as I said above, it's very good.

Part of what I've been hearing from God has affected what I think about myself as a "pastor."  Once again I need to say that there is much more about this to share, more than I could ever fit in any one blog post. The Holy Spirit, however, has been bringing this issue up in several ways: beginning most significantly by means of the the High School JAM time scripture from Matthew 23 that one of our students chose just before Christmas, I think on Dec. 18 -- and that fed into the sermon I'll talk about below.

- - - - - - -

As I was preaching along on Dec. 29, someone asked about the Catholic church's tradition of calling their priests "Father."  Then someone asked about calling me pastor.

Here's a transcript - you can listen to the original here.  I posted my written notes too - they are here

In any case, here we pick up in the middle of the sermon.
... and then I want to look at another passage that we read at high school JAM a couple weeks ago from Matthew 23.  Some of you will remember this.  "You are not to be called ‘Rabbi'"...

And what is the word Rabbi?  It's a Jewish religious leader... really he [Jesus] is saying you're not to be called by the name of a religious leader. "For you have only one Master and you are all brothers and sisters." 

There's no distinction between different "levels" of spiritual authority in the church.  There is one man, "one master and you are all brothers and sisters."

"And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father..."

Someone asked at JAM time "Does that mean I shouldn't call my dad 'Father'?"

You can take this too literally. What he [Jesus] means by that is you don't want to call other spiritual leaders "Father." Because really, honestly, it's all about Jesus.  He's the only One.  Any other spiritual leader will fail you.  Any other spiritual pastor or teacher or priest or whatever will come to the end of themselves and you have to focus on Jesus instead.

"You have one 'Father' and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ."

And then he goes on and says, "The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (v. 8-12).
[At the point someone interrupted.  I love it when that happens.  The Holy Spirit often works through the gathered community!  (See 1 Cor 14.)  Just what they said is something I can't hear on the recording.  But I know they asked a question about the Catholic church's practice of calling priests "Father."]

[Here's what I said in response:]
Yeah that's a problem, I think.
[Someone else then interrupted asking about pastors, like me, being called "pastor," so I continued:]
Yeah, I think it's a problem even in our churches when we call somebody "Pastor." 

Because we really only have one*... because the word "pastor" means shepherd, and the scriptures say we have one Shepherd, really, and who is the One Shepherd?  Jesus Christ. 

So really, any of these titles, if you're not careful, they can get in the way of focusing on the One deserves focus.
[This is where I got back, more or less, to my prepared message.]
There's only One who deserves a title. 

There's only One Person who should be lifted up--and that's Jesus.  Only One.  Our Lord calls us to lift up Jesus, just like John the Baptist did, just like John the Evangelist did that... and Paul...

We are all brothers and sisters.  The scripture speaks of us as a family and we have One Leader, One Head.  As soon as we start to have other heads we divide up into factions... [a bit more extemporaneous speaking here] We decide we are in favor or we are opposed.  We decide we are in the group that is in favor of a particular person or we decide we are in the opposition.  And this should not be.  That's sin.  Factions is a matter of sinful behavior.

Anytime we divide up into competing groups or factions, anytime we follow leaders or teachers and grab a hold of them instead of just focusing on Jesus and the Word of God itself, we are turning against God.     
- - - - - - - 

That's the end of what I quoting here from Dec. 29.

As you have read through this VERY LONG post, I hope you have gotten a picture of this as a journey that I believe God is leading through his Word.  Whether someone calls me "pastor" or not isn't as important as whether we're willing to surrender everything to God and be willing to release any understandings we have to Him.

I'm going to stop writing now and publish this.  I'm sure I'll have to come back to this subject in the weeks to come.  Our church study group will be dealing with the question of leadership after we do some looking at whether the church is better understood on the basis of relationships (as an "organism") or as an organization.  The issue of leadership needs to connect with that if it is going to be faithful to Jesus Christ, the Head of the church.

As I said, more at a later date.

- - - - - -
*One of the things I want to write more about would be the scriptural background for what I wrote above, saying that we truly have only ONE shepherd (that is, "pastor") and that one is Jesus himself.  We can shepherd one another -- we can guide and care for one another -- but giving one human being that title in a church is different than what the scriptures call for.  Again, I'll need to substantiate this later.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

School Closing Early

The Dassel-Cokato schools are closing early today - really early!  In about 15 minutes we'll be bringing the kids home.

I'm at the church building at the moment.  I walked over here from the high school--with the wind--it's the wind and blowing snow that is closing the schools today.

Toni's coming by to bring me back to my bus.  TTYL

Church Alert

The following is from Bryan Lowe, a pastor living in Alaska.  I'm acquainted with him through his blog "Broken Believers."  I highly recommend his work.

When I rose early this morning, I saw this and thought it was truly helpful and important to share because: 

1. Our every other Saturday morning "church study group" is looking at portrayals of the church.  This is helpful in that regard.  

2. It points ways in which the church is subject to attack.  "Spiritual warfare" is a real part of every believer's life--whether we're aware of it or not.  

Don't be naïve! When believers are tempted to separate themselves from brothers and sisters in Christ, when we are tempted to examine the sins of our church family members we must be alert!  Satan prowls.  

What do we then do?  Put on the whole armor of God! Stay in close fellowship and PRAY TOGETHER as often as you can!  Greater is He that is in You (plural) than He who is in the world.

Why the Church?

It is easy to become cynical and hard about the Church. We easily see failure and defeat permeating our local churches. That is a serious problem, if we look too close, or for too long. The sins of the Church are evident and massive.

Satan has a personal vendetta against the Church. He clearly strategizes and makes tactical moves to stultify it. It is his grim effort to make the Church a non-factor in the lives of many. This is Satan’s will. The black lord desires to destroy the saints. The question begs to be asked, “Why the Church?”

Fellowship, or in Koine Greek is “Koinonia.” It implies a common sharing of things or experiences. It is to share with others what you have. At it’s best, believers share all that is good and right with each other. However, bad things can also be shared. Yes, we have seen this!

However, to be a Christian is to be:
  • A branch of the vine– John 15:9
  • A limb of the body– 1 Corinthians 12
  • A reborn child of the Father– John 1:12-13
There is a real dependence in all of these, an attachment to something that provides nourishment to the individual and protection of the person. God has designed it so we come to Him corporately (this is “koinonia”). We are family, and that is how we must access the Father.
for more of Bryan Lowe's work go to View all posts by Bryan Lowe

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Church Is . . .

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance...
Tonight at a meeting we began by looking at the first chapter of Ephesians.  Read it and consider what the Lord created the church to be.  Then allow your understanding of the church to be changed.

I believe the church is much more about relationships with God and with one another than it is about an organization that we choose to belong to (or not).  I  believe it is created and headed by Jesus Christ, not by any human beings, though human beings, filled with the Holy Spirit, are a part of it and take part in it in various ways.

Earlier today I encountered the following written by Sumair Mirza in 2010.  I forwarded it on to folks from our church who are considering in what ways the church is an "organism" and in what ways it is an "organization."  What do you think?  Would you be willing to study and share?  If so, let me know!

Go to for Sumair's original writing - also you can listen to it being read to you!
Sumair Mirza writes:

As we look throughout Scripture we can see several analogies used of the church to convey a variety of characteristics for this regenerated group of people.

The church was first introduced by Christ in Matthew 16 at a time of great importance. It was a time after John the Baptist’s execution and followed the feeding of the five thousand – a time where interest and confusion were both at high points. John 6:15 exemplifies the mindset of the crowd as they viewed Christ as instituting a Kingship by force – a political reformation from a political messiah, if you will. It is at this time that Jesus hears Peter’s confessions and begins to establish an understanding of the church in contrast to that of the Pharisees and Scribes.

The word used for the church is “ekklesia” (which means assembly in Greek) is helpful in ensuring we understand the church is not an institution or building. It is beyond infrastructure and is about a body of disciples who are following the true Triune God. As the new church was being unfolded, as something that was organic and refreshed from a Jewish heritage, the need to define, clarify, and explain is where analogies were most useful.

Three analogies that helped present a more complete picture of the church are [click here to go to Sumair's original post and continue reading]: ...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Looking forward to a Sunday Thaw!

Good evening!  It's a cold one.  About 16 belowF right now.  The local schools have announced that there will be no classes again tomorrow.  I'm sure it's partly because of the cold and partly because the slick roads.

This Upper Midwest weather leads the national news and a friend in Brazil asked about it when we were chatting yesterday.  It'll come to an end soon, though, and I see that by the time Sunday rolls around again we might be in the 30s.  A nice little one day thaw.

I've been home almost all day.  I did get out to Snap Fitness and the grocery store, then connected with a couple of folks who have connections with people who might be having a hard time getting out.  I'm hoping no one feels all alone or without any needed help on this coldest day of the year.

Because I've been home I've been able to communicate with a friend who has had some big questions about the faith and the church.  I've been encouraging that friend to express him/her self, to not hold back, to share whatever is on his/her mind.  I think I'm doing that in the "spirit" of Jesus (and by the Holy Spirit) in harmony with one of the scriptures we'll be sharing in church on Jan. 12.

We've been going through the first chapter of John's Gospel.  This week we arrive at the part wherein we find Jesus' encounter with Nathaniel.  Nathaniel is one of my favorite Bible characters because he is so honest.  He is prejudiced against Jesus but, after being confronted by him, his hardened attitudes fall away and he, like Thomas later on, proclaims the truth without reservation, saying "You are the Son of God! You are the King...!"

An honest encounter with Jesus can transform the hardest heart.  Right now your attitudes may be as frozen as the ice on the Cokato streets--but a personal meeting with Jesus--where HE knows you and EVERYTHING about you (see John 4)--that personal meeting will make you new.

I've got a ways to go before I'm ready to preach this Sunday, but that's the direction the Lord is calling me to on this cold night.  I'd encourage you to NEVER GIVE UP on the work Jesus wants to do in you.  Even if you've been disappointed a thousands times, God does not give up on you.

Friday, January 3, 2014

What Brings Us Together

It's a Friday evening at home.  Normally I try to take Friday late afternoon through Saturday late afternoon "off" from work related pursuits - but this is an odd week due to the New Year holiday so I'm taking the liberty to continue the study that I wrote about yesterday... and writing this... plus doing a variety of other things.  It's quite enjoyable for me--especially because we don't need to go anywhere on this sleety night.

On the way home from Dassel today a pickup truck skidded across the center line and collided with the car I was following (at a distance thank God!).  God blessed us all and no one was badly hurt though the pickup and car were totaled.  I was there to call 911 and check on the people, plus had a chance to pray over those in the pickup.

I'm so glad they were all okay!  Thank you Jesus!  I stayed awhile, talked with the officer and then he let me know that I could go.  I don't have the names of all the people but I do ask that you who pray would lift up the young people and the middle aged woman whose car was hit in my lane.

It's often the needs of others that bring us out of isolation and into relationship.

Here are some of the other things that went on this week that got me involved with folks that have needs of one sort or another.  These are some of the ways that happened this week.
  • On Monday I spent some time with a friend at his business, encouraging one another and talking about a few challenges.  It was very good, especially because it was a slower day for him and we weren't interrupted.  I had looked forward to meeting with this person for a long time and finally our schedules clicked.
  • On Tuesday night, after our regular prayer time at church, we went to a New Year's Eve party at the home of someone who had invited everyone from church to come out to their place.  One woman from church came with us.  She needed a ride because her car is broken down.  She came because she responded to the invitation given at church.  She responded because she didn't have a lot of other options,  She was looking forward to being away from her home situation for awhile.  The three of us (Toni and I plus this friend) joined 7 others for a very fun time!
  • On Wednesday morning I was up early.  I'm glad I was because an older man we've known for several years phoned just to talk (at 6 AM) and to let me know about some health issues that he's been having.  I tried to reconnect tonight but no luck.  I'll try again tomorrow.
  • That same day (Wednesday), Toni took a meatloaf out of the freezer and then invited a single parent family to supper.  They've been here before.  The kids, and the parent, feel very much at home.  We had the fireplace going while we talked and the kids played.
  • Yesterday (and today) I got up early -- school is open again.  After my morning bus run yesterday, I did some work getting ready for Sunday.  After school the office was open and I went by there after bus and worked awhile with Kristine.
  • Today (Friday) I spent time with a member of that extended family, a woman who is not much older than me but who has suffered a wide variety of losses--physical, financial, occupational--plus her husband has died.  We shared scripture and prayer and caring conversation.  (It was the single parent who had mentioned that perhaps she'd appreciate a chance to talk.)
  • As I prayed and talked with the widow, someone who is staying with her (the son of a friend) began to share about his own life.  He is working part time because his health won't allow full time--and his car is in need of repair too.
Normally it's our needs and our vulnerabilities that bring us together.  I hope you'll never be too shy to share what's going on with you.  Don't try to handle everything alone.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Scattered Thoughts On Togetherness

It was a cold day in Minnesota--a cold day in a long succession of cold days.  We had two days toward the end of last week where it was pretty warm out, but, other than that, I don't remember a colder first month of winter.  Many times I've said it has felt like January in December, and now January is here.

Cold weather keeps people indoors.  (Now there's a profound statement.)  To a certain extent it keeps people away from each other too.  If you have money you might go out and eat, if you have friends you might go to someone's home for fun, but there are many days when its below zero that people just like to stay home.  And that means people don't get together much, not even for "church."

(I talked with my aunt a bit ago on the phone and she said lots of people have the flu in the building where she and my uncle live.  That's something else that keeps people apart.)

Anyway, this all comes to mind because of what we've been studying together
  1. on Sundays at 9 (on the book of Acts) and
  2. every other Saturday morning in the "Church Study Group" - see near the end of my Dec. 27 post for an invite [click here]
and because of some things I've heard the Lord saying to me for a long time about God's design and desire that people spend time together in ways that honor Him.

I could write about this for a long time.
If I were to write, I wouldn't say much about "coming to church" in the sense that most Christians think about it, because, for most of us, being "at church" is less about being together and more about
  • learning (from the sermon) or 
  • worshiping (something that can be done anywhere) or, sadly,
  • "being seen" (even by one's own children!) doing one's "religious duty."  
I'd like to write about
  • what seems to be taught by Jesus and by other Biblical authors when they speak about the power (is that the right word?) of "two or three" agreeing together, 
  • the way Jesus gathered and then spent time with his disciples in a lonely place (together alone!),
  • what Jesus said about his family being those who do his will (Matthew 12: 48-50),
  • Jesus' intense desire to eat the passover with his disciples and his heartfelt yearning to have them nearby as he sweated and battled in the Garden before his crucifixion and his tender re-claiming of all his living followers after his resurrection,
  • what the Holy Spirit did when He came down on Pentecost, gathering the believers into a close spiritual (and practical!) fellowship (repeated several times in Acts and alluded to in the Epistles), and,
  • the many times that the physical laying on of hands and praying "over" someone and anointing with oil are called for forgiveness and healing.  There's something sweet and spiritually strong that happens when we call on spiritually mature brothers and sisters for that sort of hands on prayer!
  • what Paul says often in his letters, about his yearning and longing to be with those to whom he writes, taking the time to name dear ones even when writing materials were scarce and the writing process was tedious.  
I'd look for the theological and spiritual basis of this intense push toward togetherness, something that may be found in
  • the unity and community of the triune God, 
  • the fact of human beings' creation in "our" (plural) image and
  • God's statement that it is "not good for the man to be alone" even though he was alone with God in a perfect way (Genesis 2), 
  • the powerful image of sexual, marital love as a symbol of the divine-human relationship,
  • the physical incarnation of Jesus into physical reality and his physical relationship with those he came to save,
  • the Biblical image of church as a BODY--profound and little understood--with ONE head (Jesus!).
And there is so much more...

I conclude from this that our personal "one on one" relationship with Jesus always needs to include others  (See First John chapter 4 etc.) -- not necessarily every minute, but frequently!  I see no sign that the "day by day" pattern of togetherness set by first first Holy Spirit gatherings at the end of Acts 2 were intended to be incidental or secondary.  They should be part of our "normal Christian life."

Someday, I'd like to really do this writing and teaching work.  It's needed because the experience of "church" that most of us have had throughout our lives doesn't even come close to what God desires for us.  The institution and typical organization of the "church" tends to keep people at arms' length just as much as it keeps them together.

At Crossroads, we have a chance to build togetherness in a way that will be much more real than what we've experienced in the past.  I don't know just how that will look, but as we spend time TOGETHER in Jesus' name, praying and studying and "doing life" together, we will learn.

In any case, don't let the cold keep you away from your church family, wherever it may be.  And, if you're a part of Crossroads, come out and gather at those times when there can be more personal attention given - Tuesday prayer, Wednesday High School JAM time, every other Saturday church study group and Sunday morning Bible study.  If none of those times work for you, please let me know and we'll set something else up.

"Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Don't give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24–25