Monday, February 29, 2016

     For many of us, we are always looking for small ways to serve the church family that is Crossroads.  While the larger opportunities can seem overwhelming at times the small opportunities can see insignificant.  I would like to offer up a way that all of us can help our church body grow and become what God has in store for us.  By simply taking a few minutes every Sunday to truly welcome and love our visitors as Jesus called us to do in Matthew 7:12, we can turn a visitor into a member of our family.  Many of us are familiar with this passage as the "Golden Rule", but how often is it really easy to neglect this simple philosophy on how to love one another and not just worry about ourselves.  In our culture we are riddled daily with self serving thoughts and even heralded if we do so in a way that raises us to the top of our chosen profession.  I propose that we need a change of heart and mind in this vital area.  All of us need to work on the basics of loving one another as we want to be loved.  I have borrowed a unique list of ways to make someone visiting our family feel as if they are important and that we want to welcome them into our body of Christ in a way that is genuine and real.  This will help us to reach more people for the Lord as well as allowing us to grow in a way that can give us the opportunity to birth another church that will also love God as called to do so.  It is imperative for us to find a way to actively love each other and any new comers if we are to carry out the mission of Crossroads.  Below is the of things that can be done simply to make a huge impact on wither non-believers, visitors or new Christians entering our church for the first time.  These are the 7 things that we should say to our guests to make a huge impact.

           1.  "Thank you for being here."  It's just that basic.  Many people will return to a church simply because they were thanked and it makes them feel appreciated.
           2.  "Let me help you with that."  If you see someone struggling with umbrellas, diaper bags, coats, etc... A gesture to hold something for the is a huge positive.  Of course, this is appropriate for us to offer to other members as well.
           3.  "Please take my seat."  This is a very powerful way to show love and true appreciation for someone that is new and looking for a place to call home.  When a family is attepting to find a place to sit together, offering up your seat could make it much easier to for them to be together while showing them that their family is very important to ours.
           4.  "Here is my e-mail address.  Please let me know if I can help in any way."  Making ourselves available to is huge for creating relationships and bonds to hold together and increase our family.  Obviously, this needs to be used with discretion, but imagine the impact that it can make when used appropriately to give someone an avenue to reach out to the church without having to feel like they will be attacked by the leadership team, or guilted into coming back if they give out their email.
           5.  "Can I show you where you need to go."  When its your first time going to a new place, you don't know where things are and being available to point out the location of the nursery, the childrens church or even just offering up a cup of coffee really eases the tensions of being in a new place.
           6.  "Let me introduce you to __________."  The return rate of visitors when they meet more than a couple of people is much higher,  It increases the chances of actually making a connection with someone.  Be sure to find an elder, the pastor  or any outgoing member of the church to help minimize any awkwardness.
           7.  "Would you join us for lunch."  When we have a potluck or any opportunity to share food together, it is uncomfortable for a guest to come to the meal.  Even though the pastor will invite them from the pulpit, their reluctance will be very high.  What an amazing opportunity for us to make our guests feel truly welcome as we extend a personal invite.  It also allows us to get to know them a little better and gives them an opportunity to see what makes us tick.  This last one has huge ipact on the returning as they are afforded real time to interact with our church family and see how they fit in.

     It is a beautiful thing to take a minute and put others before ourselves in a way that will make our Father proud.  I truly believe that these types of actions and attitudes are truly infectious in a way that makes people want to be a part of it.  Just think of how these small gestures would make you feel in a new place where you don't know anyone.  I believe that it would make you feel genuinely wanted and appreciated.  I know that I would want to come back and find out what this church is all about.  We all have a desire to be loved and needed and that's just what these types of actions will show our guests.

In His Mighty Grip,

Monday, January 11, 2016

God's Generosity

There is a parable in Mathew 20 in which Jesus talks about Laborers in the Vineyard. In it, the master of the house goes out to find laborers to work in his vineyard and promises to pay them a certain sum. He later goes out and finds more workers and promises to pay them. This goes on a couple more times until it’s time to pay out the workers. In the end all of the workers make the same amount. The workers that have been there the entire day are a little upset about this as they thought they deserved more. Interestingly, rather than capitulating to the demand the master of the house responds with a beautiful statement: “Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?”

How often in life do we complain about others getting blessings from God. How often are we guilty of chastising God for giving to others what we want. How quickly we often forget God’s generosity in our own lives. Many times we are so busy looking at what others have that we neglect to see what God has provided for us in our own lives.

How about for the next week you look to what God has provided you in your life? Not the things you think you want, or perhaps think you need; but the things you already have that God has generously given to you. Let’s not begrudge God’s generosity. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Developing Character

Developing Character by Sonny Weathers

The first and foremost Marine Corps leadership principle is to “know
yourself and seek self improvement.” I often wonder why we regularly skip
right past this principle in life and living. Before we master anything
else, we have the task of knowing and accepting who we are as God defines
it. In the Book of Proverbs, Chapter 3 and verse 6 the Bible says, “In all
your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” If we
want to be straight with God and each other—if we really desire authentic
community with God and others—then we need to take time to discover and
accept who we are and all the ways that come with it. Some synonyms of
authentic are genuine, true, reliable, and dependable … so when we talk
about authentic community you can know that we are talking about healthy
relationships with God and others that are genuine, true, reliable, and

We are overwhelmingly attracted to people of authentic character. Who
a person is and how they relate with God and others matters more than what
a person does or how well they do it. Even if you stripped away the many
benefits God provides … We are still drawn to Him simply for who He is.
Consider that if this is how we are with God and others … this is how God
and others are with us. Stop being defined by what you have done and where
you have been and start being known for who God designed you to be. By
trying to be someone you are not you will never be loved for who you are!

Read and consider the following Bible verses:

Psalm 119:13-18; John 3:16; Philippians 2:12-16; 2 Peter 1:3-10; Colossians
3:1-4:6; Ephesians 4:20-24; 2 Corinthians 1:12

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Challenge for the Pastor by Pastor Steve

A Challenge for the Pastor
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.  20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.  21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.  22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some.  23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

What is Paul saying in these verses? My cloistered view of the world was recently challenged by being co-located for several weeks with a team of individuals from all over the country with different faith backgrounds, different social status, different lifestyles, and different views on God. We were gathered together for common purposes of accomplishing both individual and group responsibilities. In this group my status of a pastor did not change. However, my understanding of how to reach them with the gospel was challenged. Do I break out my Bible and read to them of their sin challenging them to accept Christ? Do I forego the notion of sin so as not to offend and tell them of just the Good News of God’s love? Do I ignore it all together and finish the task before me so I can return to my family and church and leave them to their own issues with God? The above verse rang out in my head.

I am not my own but I was purchased at a price. Therefore, I was placed in the location with this group of people by God’s design. The challenge then became, how do I become all things to all men so that some might be saved, and how do I do so without watering down the truth? The answer became abundantly clear to me after a few days of wrestling with my own desires…I have to die in order to offer others the truth of life. Death of me and of my intention allows for the Holy Spirit to manifest and speak to others. While I may be the tool, it is His understanding of others that will allow Him to speak through me to them.

Easy enough right? I thought so, until the conversations turned to areas that I did not want them to. Conversations of challenges to God’s authority, challenges to my own politics, and challenges of God’s love…this certainly couldn’t be what God would want me…a pastor…to engage in. After all, my primary purpose is to tell people what God says, not to have to relate to them where they are in order to speak to them what they can hear. Certainly they needed to adjust to me in order to receive the message, not the other way around. The task required an almost hourly reminder of my needing to die to self in order that God can reach the lost. Removing whatever status I think I have in order that others have an opportunity to hear the message wherever they are in their relationship with God (oh yes, even those who deny God have a relationship with Him. It may not be a very good one, but they have one).

My lesson in the midst of this was twofold: 1) Was I willing to be all things to all men so that some might be saved. Knowing this would mean that I would have to meet them where they are to deliver the message of Christ in a way they would understand, and not force them to hear what I thought they needed to hear. The task would not be about me, but would be about serving others so that they might be saved. 2) Could I really trust God to deliver the message? That is the sticky point, do I trust God enough to entrust others to Him. How often we as Christians feel a need to cram in as much information to others forcing an acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty but not seeing our own challenge to it by pressing beyond necessity. The battle here is the need to be right verses the need for others to be delivered. I know that sexual immorality is a sin, I know that greed, pride, lust, envy…are all sins; the tendency is to get others to acknowledge this by telling them that. I don’t believe our culture allows for this approach any longer. Sin is no longer considered sin and truth is no longer truth (although both are logically fallacious statements they are the statements of the culture).
I experienced the need to build relationships before anyone will hear a word I would say; being a pastor, almost automatically created a credibility issue. A culture that doesn’t trust, a culture that wants what feels good, a culture in which the missteps of others in the pastorate are rung loudly through the media, a culture when leaders are challenged and lies are believed…this is our culture. Telling others what you want them to believe is no longer an effective means of transmitting the Gospel (although I am unclear if it ever was or if this was something that no one challenged). Being able to share in life with others, this is both the necessity for us today as well as what was modeled by Christ. This is a challenge for the cloistered Christian, it is far easier for us to stay in our church buildings, relating to our church friends, having pot-lucks with our church members…but to let the heathens into our lives, to trust that God loves them…c’mon…they might be gay, they might be a drunkard, they might be cheating on their spouses, they might be a thief…I can’t be in a relationship with them. God would never approve. Yet God not only approves, he sought me out in the midst of my debased life. How easy it is to forget where I came from and neglect to take the message back to those in need.

What was miraculous in the midst of my time was that I was asked to deliver a sermon to those in my group. There was a desire based on my relationship with them to hear what God has called to say. I was asked to give words of encouragement in the morning to help with the day, I was asked by folks both inside and outside of my group where I pastor and what denomination I am (questions that stemmed from a challenged view of what a pastor looks like and acts like), one woman going so far as to identify traveling to Spokane to hear me preach was going to be a little too far from Florida (praise God for the internet). Establishing relationships and trusting them to God opened doors and allowed for seeds to be planted that I could never have done by attempting to evangelize them (after all, my list of evangelism opportunities doesn’t tend to include going to a bar as the designated driver and withholding all judgment in order to assure the safety of the team). These opportunities happened by dying for them to allow God to minister to them. I was just fortunate enough to be one of the one’s He used. It was God’s grace that was allowed to shine through in order that God’s message could be heard.  

How about you? How will you reach the lost? Some are at your work, some are in your class, some are in your home. Do you care enough to die for them? Do you care enough to speak the message in a language that they might hear, in order that they might be saved?      
In Christ,

 Pastor Steve

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Discipleship Process

Discipleship is the process associated with becoming wholehearted followers
of Jesus Christ and His way. What process are you using?

*Observation:* I have yet to meet anyone who accidentally ended up godly.
Those who truly exemplify Jesus and glorify God do it deliberately by
working hard at it every day.

*What that means to me:* I cannot do nothing and end up where God has
called me. I must do something. I need a plan.

*Observation:* Every godly person I know has their own story as to what
worked for them.

*What that means to me:* I need to do some research to find what process I
find most meaningful and practical and then walk it out.

The result of an effective discipleship process will be a community where
you and I can be real about life (and living) and loving God and others
while we grow in our faith as our living and believing become completely
congruent ... a well developed faith fully expressed in our lives and
living … you and me exemplifying Jesus and glorifying God on purpose.
What are you waiting for ... Let's get started!