Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hang Out Time

Someone submitted this question on Sunday at Crossroads:
"Do you have youth events where the kids can just hang out-not study scripture or hearing lectures?  When 1 of my kids wouldn’t come to church they would attend other youth get-togethers “super bowl party”, movie night, ping pong, pool table at a local church.  Soon they were also attending on Sundays-Yeah!  Now I have another who refuses.  He also hangs with 2 other boys.  1 an exchange student who has told us he’s never even heard of our God.  Just thought having a place to go, play games, goof off etc could be a start of something.  If there is this type of thing in place already I am unaware of it."
The answer to this question is YES. The next event is FRIDAY NIGHT FRIENDZY -- go to THIS LINK to learn more. (We don't know who submitted the question so I'm just posting the answer here.)

DC United Friday Night Friendzy  (next on Nov. 14)
This is a free event for our middle schoolers, those in grades 5th - 8th grades. It is being held at the First Baptist Church in Cokato on the second Friday of every month from 9:00pm to midnight. About 50 students attended the first and second ones (Sep. 12 and Oct. 10). 

What is Friday Night Friendzy?  It is simply a safe and friendly place for kids to hang out! Many of our middle schoolers because of they are unable to drive yet, their "activities" tend to be limited, or experimental. Here there are games, music, and food. The idea here is simply to for the youth to feel safe and loved, and give them a safe place to hang out.

These nights are supported by DC United Youth Leaders, not just the First Baptist Church, so we do need adult helpers that are willing to come help supervise, hang out, and play some games.  We need help providing snacks (brownies, popcorn, chips....) and even lemonade or pop as well.  The hope is that as this grows, we will be able to expand to other churches on other nights as well.  We want our youth to understand that church is a safe place that they can come, not be judged and just simply accepted. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Brave Parents Invited

This is a very quick post that has come about because I listened to a podcast connected with the book A Teacher's Introduction to Attachment. Click HERE to listen.

I recommend that parents listen to this, especially if you are dealing with children that have behavior issues that don't seem to respond to normal love and discipline.

It might be a bit hard to listen to. "Attachment" issues have to do with the parent-child relationship. Sometimes, in early childhood, children experience chaotic environments--and and because a child's brain develops during those early years, even when the chaos or difficulties get better later on, even when, for example, parents begin to learn new ways of relating to their children, sometimes the child's inner life doesn't recover very quickly.

The podcast summary that I listened to explains how this happens and suggests strategies for teachers and other adults who work with "troubled children," strategies that will help the child cope with their extremely active and sensitive brain and the unhelpful ways they sometimes learn to cope.

After listening I wrote to the author and mentioned that I would like to see a similar resource to share with parents. She said that she is planning on doing a regular podcast for parents next year.

Even though this particular book and podcast are directed towards non-parents, I'd encourage brave parents to listen to the podcast that she already put together. Some of the strategies she suggests may be helpful for you now.

As I said, it may be a bit hard to listen to, but it is better to face the facts and make adjustments now if you can. And, if it seems right to you, talk with a professional, or with a school counselor, if you have questions about your particular child and family. I can help you find someone to talk with if you contact me.

Here's a quick explanation of what's in the book:
Simple and concise, The Teacher's Introduction to Attachment offers an easy way to understand children with attachment issues and how they can be supported.

Author Nicola Marshall combines her expertise as an adoptive parent and schools trainer to describe in plain English what attachment is, how children develop attachment problems and how these problems affect a child's social, emotional and neurological development.

She addresses some of the difficulties in identifying attachment issues in children - common among children who are in care or adopted, but which are sometimes mistaken for symptoms of ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Nicola also describes a range of helpful principles and practical strategies which will help children flourish - from simple tips for the individual on how to improve their communication to the changes a school can make to reduce a child's anxiety about changes and transitions.

Ideal for teachers and support staff to pick up and use, this book is an essential addition to any school's staff library.
Please pray for parents and teachers and all who spend time with children. Pray for and share unconditional love with parents whose children have experienced chaos early in life. Pray for them and support them. Don't shame them. Just care for them where they are at. Pray they will be brave enough to look at their children with fresh eyes and learn new skills in parenting, knowing that forgiveness is theirs today through our wonderful Lord Jesus.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Powered from Behind

So tonight I zoomed over to "Holy Spirit Christian Camaraderie" at Don & Robin Begarowicz's home where the Lord revealed something of His intentions for this coming Sunday at Crossroads. I've had a sense that it would be good for us to in some ways do some "basics" of the faith and proposed that we take a look at some points of Romans chapters 1-3... but Robin brought up an important point. It would be good to build, practically, on what we've experienced during Community Builders, with some practical teachings about "not being afraid." So then I read the following verses:
"I have complete confidence in the good news of Jesus; it is God’s power to save all who believe, first the Jews and also the Gentiles. For that good news reveals how God puts people right with himself: it is through faith from beginning to end. As the scripture says, 'The person who is put right with God through faith shall live.'" (Romans 1:16-17)
The good news of Jesus is the power of God... that gospel powers believers--through faith and into all of life. As Robin says, faith teaching needs to be practical and active. It's not just about getting our understanding right, it pushes us into action. That's what it means to LIVE by (or from) faith.

I wanted to get a few words about this written down so I don't forget about this inspiration. I joked that on Sunday that we'll need to hear from both Ron, who emphasizes receiving the gift of God's grace through faith, and Robin, who will fall asleep if we don't move to ACTION. It's both, you see; faith is always active. Gospel and grace always move, pushing us from behind like a rocket. More about this as the week goes on.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cardboard Testimonies

Today we shared a few Cardboard Testimonies at Crossroads. All praise to Jesus! For more on this see "Testimony for Today."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Testimony for *Today*

My school bus and I are down at Ridgewater College in Hutchinson; I was asked if I could do this trip since they needed 4 buses to bring 10th graders down here for a sort of college/career day. I'll take advantage of this time to get some things done.

One thing I want to do is to communicate in the next hour or two with the folks who are a part of our local church. Yesterday our administrative assistant put together a tentative email and I'll send that out while I'm here. I hope it will be helpful. I hope it gets read (you can read it by clicking HERE). I hope this blogpost gets read too.

This Sunday at Crossroads some of our people will be sharing something called "Cardboard Testimonies."  If you go to THIS LINK you can learn more about what that is about. Those who have not yet made your own "Cardboard Testimony" are invited to make them before Sunday worship this week at Crossroads. Worship begins at 10 or 10:15 so maybe you'd like to make one at about 9:30. Call me or text me at 763-291-3499 or email me at if you have questions.

Once again I encourage you to take the time to listen to the messages and look at the resources provided by Igniter Ministries from the last three weeks if you missed them or if you could use a refresher. They are worth your time. You'll find them here.

In regard to "Cardboard Testimonies," most of the one's I've seen are about more or less "resolved" issues, a "before I knew Jesus" and "after." Sharing those wonderful healings is such an excellent thing. And giving glory to Jesus because of how he brought major change to lives is so sweet. If you have that sort of story, please share it!

But if I had the ear of our people today I'd share an encouragement for you who know Jesus but for whom issues and problems and temptations continue. You have a testimony to share too.

Let me explain using my own life as an example:

I can certainly see how the overall direction of my life has changed since the time when I surrendered to the will of God for me. The cardboard testimony I put together for Sunday celebrates the HUGE transformation I experienced in 1980--when God rescued me from being a "desperate hungry liar" and saved me for "34 years of energetic ministry in Jesus' name."

EVEN SO--there are temptations (directed by the Tempter himself) that continue to dog me, pursuing me and sometimes catching me in ways that are not good.

For example, I am sometimes tempted to be anxious. These anxieties come at me in different ways depending on the circumstances of my everyday life. I believe they come at me from the "outside" as it were. I suffer temptation. But even though I sometimes I fall away from the perfect trust God has for me, even though I sometimes fall into the SIN of anxiety, I still have a testimony that I can share -- and here it is:

I know where to turn and I know what to do--I know who to turn to in prayer and how to meditate on God's Word when those feelings of worry come. And, when I DO turn to Jesus in those moments or hours, when I go to prayer and to God's Word instead of resorting to coping skills of my own devising, I do find that victory in Christ that I am promised. I find it every day.

I could make a cardboard testimony, therefore, with the word "anxious" on one side, and the word "peace and trust in Jesus" on the other, even though the temptations, and the fall into the sin of worry, are not over and done with.

The devil is a defeated enemy, but, for now, he continues to pursue. But I will claim the promises if God BY FAITH and I will walk in HIS name even when I am under threat, even when the "fiery darts" of temptation and worry come my way. I have seen VICTORY when I do trust in Jesus, and I will claim that promise today.

By proclaiming the name of the One I trust in those moments of temptation, I have an ongoing testimony to the power of God in my life. Because I know Jesus, I know someone who can rescue me even now.

God working in your life TODAY to bring you through tests and into a new place of peace... for this day... for this moment... Receive it now.

Added Tuesday, Oct. 29 - the photo below was edited to highlight the words on the cardboard testimonies from Sunday at Crossroads - we'll try to post more later.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

God Gives Strength

This past summer, when we (3 of our high school students and I) were at Leadership Quest we spent time in The Apostle Paul's Second Letter to Timothy. One theme of that letter (especially in chapter 4) is Paul's grief over having been abandoned by several of his dear friends and colleagues. At one point he says "only Luke is with me." (I'm writing this without looking at the Bible references so I can't cite the verses. Read 2nd Timothy and you'll see.)

In one way or another, we have experienced "abandonment." It's not good to blame anyone for leaving. The feelings are often the same, no matter what the reason for "leaving" (or being left) may be. After all, people leave for many reasons and we cannot judge "the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Only God and His Word can do that.

But no matter what the reasons may be, the feelings are still there--feelings that it difficult to do all God may be calling you and I to do.

The Apostle Paul experienced all of this. But, as it says in Second Timothy 4:17, after all deserted him, "The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it..." and he goes on to say, "the Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen"

When you or I feel abandoned, we don't blame or shame. We go to the Word of God, and to the Lord himself, for strength that never fails. And he will give all we need.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Today, Tomorrow and Monday

The following email went out at 10AM Saturday.
Crossroads Friends:

Good morning!

You're invited to a potluck meal after worship tomorrow (Oct. 19). Bring a dish or 2 to share if you can, but in any case plan to enjoy a meal tomorrow at about 11:30.

Here's tomorrow's plan:
9:00 AM Bible Study and Sunday School
10:00 Worship Music Begins
10:15 Order of Worship
+ Church Family Time
+ Message "Fellowship in the Spirit"
+ Extended Worship with Communion, Prayer, Blessing, Sharing
      (No small groups this week)
11:30 Potluck Meal

We've been very much blessed and encouraged by having Igniter Ministries with us during this month of Community Builders. I have personally gained a lot as I have re-listened to the messages that have been shared on Oct. 5 and 12. I'd encourage you to do the same -- each message is about 20 minutes long. We've posted them on our Community Builders webpage (click here) and at (click here).

Al and Becky Sorenson invite us to a time of prayer for Crossroads on Monday, Oct. 20. All are invited to come at about 7:00 PM to their home at 74375 200th St. Dassel.  You can stay for as much time as you are able to. If you have any questions or need directions, please speak with Allan or Becky tomorrow or call them at 320-275-4141 (home).

Today we're headed down to the Franklin Avenue mission in about an hour, meeting at church before 11:30 AM. Questions, or if you want to join us, contact Ron Olson, 612-269-7795.


Pastor Steve T

Friday, October 17, 2014


When Jesus said "follow me" he was inviting his disciples into a different kind of life. In later generations, when "disciples" turned into church goers, they started asking how their church life was going to fit into their lives.
(I wrote those sentences earlier this week.)

Do you know the grand invitation? Do you say yes to Jesus every chance you get? Are you willing to follow Him into something new? When you do, you will leave fear behind and walk into the freedom and joy of the One who knows and loves you best.

This month at Crossroads we're experiencing that invitation through Community Builders. I hope you will come along for the next two Sundays. Let me know if you'd like a preview of what's coming up on Oct. 19.

This coming Sunday we'll be meeting under the theme "Fellowship of the Spirit." There will be no small groups this week. Instead we'll share more time in worship, with opportunities for prayer, scripture reading, blessing and the proclamation of God's Word. And the Lord's Supper too.

Please come!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Get Smart

Don Adams as Maxwell Smart
Jesus' disciples are God's agents, chosen and equipped to be instruments of blessing in particular local areas of a broken and sinful world. When we pray and spend time with the Word of God, we are in conversation with headquarters, receiving instruction, reporting needs, being strengthened to know that we are part of God's grand design.

O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart. Psalm 10:17

This is the boldness we have in God, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14

Spend time with the Lord one-on-one today, dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, so you won't forget who you are.

Friday, October 10, 2014

What to Say to Spiritual Leaders

When I got up early this morning, I read this verse from the last part of the book of Colossians
"Say to Archippus, 'See that you complete the task that you have received in the Lord.'" Colossians 4:17
These words are directed to the people of the church at Colossae. The encouragement here, from the Apostle Paul, is that the people of the church would tell a particular spiritual leader to keep at the task that THE LORD HAS GIVEN him, so that he would not slack off or give up.

This is not a call for the people to tell their leader what THEY would want him to do, but, rather, that they push him to do what GOD has told him to do.

Are you encouraging your spiritual leaders in this way?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Encourage One Another

On Sunday, in Dan's message, he said this:
"There are two main purposes for church, for us gathering together on a Sunday morning and at other times for us to talk and engage and relate. The first one is for me and for you.

"Does anyone in here have too much encouragement in their life? [pause]

"No? No one?

"So we need this. I need encouragement. I need love. I need intentionality, accountability, purpose. I think it's fair to say we need more of that than we're getting. We need more of it than we have a comprehension or expectancy for.

"I need those things. I need to belong. I need to be ministered to. And so do you."

(More of Dan's message can be found here -- the message begins about 29 minutes from the beginning of the recording.)
When we were at Leadership Quest this summer we learned a four part process of encouragement. I'll share it here.
A. Each of says what the others did well.

B. Each of us would say what we personally would have done differently ourselves -- pointing to our own performance.

C. What suggestions for improvement would each of us have for the others?

D. Finish with affirmations and encouragements.
The New Testament word for "encourage" is parakaleo meaning, literally, "to call to one's side." Para is like para in "parallel," and "kaleo" is the verb form of "kal" (in English spelled "call"), Other ways this word is used:
+ to call for, summon
+ to address, speak to,
+ to call to, call upon--which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.
+ to admonish, exhort
+ to beg, entreat, beseech
+ to strive to appease by entreaty
+ to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation,
+ to comfort
+ to receive consolation, be comforted
+ to encourage, strengthen
+ to instruct, teach
As we spend time with one another let's do these things with love and care, loving one another as Christ has first loved us.  Let's help one another in every way.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Getting To Know You

This morning I filled out a "self-assessment" as a part of a "discernment process" that could lead to the eventual development of a Love INC affiliate in the Dassel-Cokato area. I'm hoping to move ahead on this "discernment process" during October -- especially since I'm freed up a bit from preaching responsibilities. Igniter Ministries is leading a month of "Community Builders" at Crossroads. That began yesterday.

The recording from Sunday is a bit different because the music began at 10:00 (15 minutes earlier than usual) and then our A/V assistant edited out the small group section of our time together.

Building community requires that we spend time getting to know each other. Some of that time is just "fun" time. It doesn't always have to be full of "purpose." But it does require that we get out of our normal circle of friends. You can't just stay behind closed doors and expect to make friends.

On Sunday Jon Thorson (my son) shared about how he had prayed for an opportunity to get to know some high school students in the area where he lives, and how God gave that chance in an unexpected way. He'd seen some of them near a parking lot, he joked with them as he left, but then, he got a phone call that caused him to go back again and, unexpectedly, he ended up playing hacky-sack with a few of the "kids." He said:
"I hung out with them for about 15 minutes and got to know them a little bit. I didn't get to share the gospel with them yet. I didn't get a chance to relate with them in a Christian way. But I got an "in" with them. I know they're there pretty much every day of the week at 3:00. I asked God for an opportunity and it came so surprisingly. I was so thankful that happened and it was a way I saw Jesus come through. He proved himself to me that day.
In what ways are you open to getting to know people that you don't know well? As a part of Crossroads' community builders month we each have an assignment: to spend some time with someone from church that we don't know very well yet. I'm praying that the people of our church will take a chance and ask someone (or a family) that they don't know well about getting together.
from the bulletin insert from Sunday Oct. 5
One way I get to know people who I don't ordinarily cross paths with is when I spend time on a few Friday mornings every year at the Cokato Area Food Shelf. I'm always asking those who come about what else they need and that usually leads to a conversation and sometimes to prayer or to meeting another practical need. I'm hoping to do that even more with Love INC if we can get that going in the years to come.

If you read this, I hope sometime you'll let me know! I want to get to know you too.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Time to Mourn

Habakkuk 1:2-4 
    O LORD, how long shall I cry,
    And You will not hear?
    Even cry out to You, "Violence!"
    And You will not save.
    Why do You show me iniquity,
    And cause me to see trouble?
    For plundering and violence are before me;
    There is strife, and contention arises.
    Therefore the law is powerless,
    And justice never goes forth.
    For the wicked surround the righteous;
    Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.
                                             (New King James Version)

(I read those verses and following meditation on the passage above early this morning. The words below were writtenn by someone I know almost nothing about, but what he says in this instance rings true.)

"The anguish in his voice is palpable. 'God, I've been crying out to You day and night, and still violence, perversity, and all these terrible things are happening in the land. How long will this evil last? How much longer must we endure this constant wickedness, this corruption? When are you going to act, God?' We have probably prayed similar prayers ourselves: 'We need You, God. How long, O Lord?'

"Ezekiel was a slightly later contemporary of Habakkuk. In Ezekiel 9:1-6 is a prophecy, a vision, that he saw while a captive in Babylon. The vision describes what God was doing in Judah and answers, at least in part, Habakkuk's question: 'Why have You not judged all this evil, God?' His reply in Ezekiel 9 is, 'I am going through the land, through My chosen people, and I am marking each one who sighs and cries over what is happening. I am searching out and seeing who is righteous, who has character, and whom I must destroy.'

"It is good that we mourn over all the corruption, wickedness, and abominations that are happening in this land. It tells God something about our heart and our character. He is seeking out those who are concerned, distressed, and repulsed by what is occurring around them, and He is setting them apart for deliverance. All the while, we must endure it, but it is a necessary wait, because it takes time for God to evaluate our character, to see what we will do over the long haul. As Jesus advises in Luke 21:19, 'In your patience possess your souls.'

"So we must ask ourselves, 'How do we react to what is happening in [this world]?' How do we react to sex and violence on television, movies, and magazines, in books, on billboards, and in just about all advertising and entertainment? How do we react to terrorism, to drug use, to abortion, to oppression? How do we react to our court system, which allows so much injustice to stand? How do we react to racial inequalities? Have we become numb and hardened to all of these things, or do we still sigh and cry over the depths of this nation's depravity?

"Habakkuk is certainly concerned, and so he asks God for answers, crying out, 'Save us!' God replies in Habakkuk 1:5-11, and His reply is very interesting."