Monday, April 13, 2015

Small But Mighty in the Lord

Jan. 4, 2015
The picture that I'm posting at right is from January, the first worship gathering of this year. (On my computer screen it's at my right, not sure how it will appear on yours.)

I put it here because I'm so much enjoying being with these people, maybe even especially this year. Our numbers are small -- I need to be reminded of that because I have had such a positive feeling about Crossroads these days.  It is sad for me that so many that have been a part of this church family over the past 4 years have chosen to leave and go elsewhere, but it's been such a blessing to serve the Lord alongside those who have felt God's call to either stay or to come as fresh faces in our fellowship.

One of the big highlights for me has been seeing people take leadership roles. These include Crossroads people heading up:
  • Youth Ministry. This is an ongoing blessing. We wondered, last summer, how our work with young people was going to fare when two or more of the key adults chose to step away from Crossroads. But Libby and Mark (doing double duty with youth on Wednesdays AND Sundays!) Nancy, Krista and Toni and Steve Nelson (from Freedom Church) bring blessing to our kids every week, and then there's the upcoming June YouthWorks Mission Trip--Mark Koller and Mary Kay Morris are making that happen--along with Libby as fundraiser in chief. I help our youth lead High School JAM -- and have a blast every Wednesday coming up with crazy games. Fun! 
  • The "third Saturday of the month" involvement at the Franklin Avenue Mission, highlighted in our local newspaper last week. (We have permission to make the full article available, download here or ask for a copy if you'd like to see it.) Ron, Betty, Randy, Nicki, their kids and others make it possible for folks from our area to participate there. I am so thankful for Paul Gustafson--because he's the one who got us involved in the first place. Tom Stover, with Paul, founded the mission back in 2010--and Tom will be our guest speaker on our annual meeting Sunday April 26. I am so blessed when I can go along!
  • the Elijah House Prayer, Healing, Transformation workshops (held March thru May and scheduled again for Wednesdays in June & July). Patty, together with Becky, are sharing this with us and there is a hope to launch an Elijah House "School of Ministry 201" this fall. "Elijah House School of Ministry is founded upon principles from Malachi 4: 5-6 and Matthew 17: 11. In the spirit of Elijah, we call God's people to restore the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers and to restore all things. We believe God is passionate to bring restoration to individuals, families, churches, communities, regions and nations."
  • Prayers and Actions on behalf of those in need. Tuesday Evening Prayer is going strong. Diann, Norma Jean, Toni, Becky and I have been joined now, on a fairly regular basis, by Mark (Patty's husband) and Jerry. This same group, with others, have faithfully reached out to several people in need locally, and some participate also in the Franklin Avenue mission. At the moment we're banding together with others to help a single mother and her kids get ready to move. Many hands, praying and helping -- they do good work.
  • Nancy (praise God for her and for John!) began a women's Bible study group on Thursday evenings last fall and it's continuing now; about 10 women have participated from Crossroads and from the community. They are now going through a study called "Becoming A Woman Whose God Is Enough." These women are mighty warriors of prayer and action on behalf of many.
  • For about 3-4 years Don & Robin Begarowicz have invited Crossroads folks and others to their home on Monday evenings for prayer and praise at the Cokato Lake RV Resort and Campground. A couple weeks ago we went through the property praying at the various locations where people gather each summer. For some reason fewer people have been coming on Mondays than when it began, but I still find our time together in prayer and praise to be a great blessing.
  • The Spirit of the Lord has come upon Danielle, Tammy, volunteers at the Cokato Food Shelf and Thrift Store and others to push us to reach out and care for those who might otherwise be forgotten. I have my role in this but there is so much going on that God is clearly in charge! For example, the Lord blessed us to help organize early morning rides to work for Danielle's son John, beginning before Christmas and continuing until a fellow inmate got a job at the same place. I only had to drive once during all that time. Praise God for Mike, Joel, Chuck and Don, all from the wider community!
  • Bonita Garthus has been leading our 3-4 times a year "Meals on Wheels" outreach. What gift you are!
  • Nancy, John, Libby, Diann, Matt, Paul, Randy, Amy, Toni, Brenden, Krista, Ron, and so many others make our Sunday morning gatherings possible with cleaning, serving, audio visuals, worship leading and Adult Bible study facilitation. All is done with a cheerful heart--no one is compelled to serve other than by the willing heart God gives them. Thank you Jesus!
  • Al Sorenson capably leads our church board of directors, Robin keeps great financial records, Miranda gets the board minutes out in a flash and the other board members do the behind the scenes counting and recording of offerings each Sunday. Each one shares scriptures and prayers as we meet together every month.
This morning, at our regular 6:00 AM prayer time we were led through the sixteenth chapter of Romans where the Apostle Paul greets almost 30 Christian leaders by name. In prayer today a sister in the Lord, either Jean or Gina, prayed that we will grow in this model of shared ministry in the future, allowing our leaders to equip us for the Lord's work, so we all become mature in Christ. My hope is that Crossroads will continue some sort of partnership with churches whose ministry model is not only "top down" but has deep respect and enthusiasm for the ways God works among the  MANY uncommon people of God that we find right here in our midst.
For me personally, as far as my pastoral role goes, two major highlights so far this year have been:
  • The preaching series "JESUS" and the previous "The Dangerous Kind" have challenged and blessed me, both in the hours of prayer and study and in the time of presentation when we're together on Sunday mornings. The plan going forward is to finish the "JESUS" series this coming Sunday and then move into a "Holy Spirit" series in May (after our annual meeting April 26 with guest speaker Tom Stover). Pray that the Lord would continue to lead us boldly in His ways as we gather. And, as the Lord leads you, let us know how you have been blessed by what has been shared.
  • Continued ministry with people in need. I am blessed to be one of the trusted "first call for help" people in our area. I've been meeting with many in our area who come alongside elders, low income households, people in crisis, those who suffer addictions, but so far I haven't found anyone who wants to partner with me on this. Pray about this please, and take a look at the "Help! I Need Somebody!" page on our website and the "DC Help" page too. My prayer is that this ministry will be seen to be a calling for Crossroads as a whole, and not just for me personally. Our communities would be less compassionate if Crossroads people were not here to support this work.
I know there are many other aspects to Crossroads ministry that should be highlighted, and I humbly ask that you let me know what I've missed. I haven't even mentioned the wider missions we support in East Africa, South Central Asia, South East Asia and New York City. We try to keep all this updated on our website but I know we fall behind.

I'm looking forward to meeting with the Crossroads board of directors tonight as we pray together about what the way forward will be for us in the months and years to come.

slightly updated 23 April 2015

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