Crossroads Fellowship

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A REAL Youth Group

Last night the women of Crossroads had their final wrap up session in the study they were doing. At the same time the youth group of Crossroads was wrapping up it's study of Victory Over The Darkness. A lot of times at our church we have brought attention to the amazing victories we have won in outreach. We talk about the skater outreach that 30 or more teens attend weekly. We talk about the salivations, and the lives that are changed. But rarely do we talk about what is going on in the smaller discipleship group that is made up of youth. On Monday nights six teens have been consistently coming to the group. Larry has been trying to grow them in their faith, and often feeling like a failure because they just won't seem to open up. Well last night some things changed.

Youth group last night moved from the comfortable Sunday school answers to the kids really talking about what was going on in their lives. No more was the application of the lesson about silly little things that don't matter, but these kids actually started opening up about feelings of suicide, not feeling loved, the desire to be someone else, etc. They all made a covenant with Larry, their leader, to be real and follow him. They all agreed to be open and be discipled so that they might someday disciple someone else. We told them the real youth group of Crossroads was in that room, the 30 or so kids on Friday night were flirting with the youth group and if we begin to minister as a team and grow in our faith those others might end up being in the group someday. I am not saying that every problem they had was solved last night, but it was a good start.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Leaking Roof - What a week!

This past week has been quite the crazy week indeed. We finished up the Way of the Master boot camp and went out to the Clarksville Fairgrounds to put on a concert and do street evangelism before the big Demolition Derby down there. In the process of setting up I hurt my leg so bad that I was having difficulty walking for a while. To tell you the truth it is still hurting a little even now. We announced on Sunday at church that we will be going to two services on the third Sunday of November in order that the church could continue to grow, and then Sunday evening Austin preached his second ever sermon. Then comes Monday, which is supposed to be my day off and be an easy day, and man oh man was it a crazy day.

I stayed home during the day, and that evening went down to Clarksville with my wife to drop her off for women's study and then head with the kids to youth group. Monday had been a dreary day all day because it had finally started raining here, which as you all know we needed very badly. As much as we needed the rain I was dreading getting to the church because in the past we have had some real roof leak problems. We have tried just about everything to fix the roof with no luck, and our last fix action had not had to go through a really big rain yet. Well let me show you what I saw when I walked in the building. I saw a sight that looked like this:

AHHHHHHHH! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! It was leaking, and worse than it had ever leaked before. What's worse it was leaking right on top of our literature table where we keep all the missionary prayer cards - sorry Bernie, Mike, and all the rest - we didn't mean to let you get wet. So the prayer cards are ruined, the wooden table is warped, the ceiling tiles above it are crumbling and when I pull them out the steady drip turns in to a pretty constant stream. I just wanted to pull my hair out. So in my frustration I try to clean up some of the mess. Keep in mind my leg is hurt, so when I try to get up off the floor from cleaning up I have some problems and I fall down. There is nothing more humbling to me than to have a couple of the ladies of the church come drag my sorry behind up off the floor because I can't get up, but thank God for faithful sisters in Christ.

So we put out buckets under the leaks and I leave. Well youth group is going ok, and then towards the end I get a call from Sara and she tells me that one of the ladies went in the hall and said it was getting worse and I needed to bring a pool up there to catch it all. Oh my! Well rather than bringing a pool I go to Lowe's and pick up some tarps and four guys from the church tarp the roof to keep the water out. It got a little soggy doing the work but the leak is stopped for now.

So where do we go from here? Well we know that we need to fix the roof right and the women's group had already started praying for God to provide a solution. To make a long story short many families have called me this week and offered to help financially pay for the roof repair. I am so blessed to Pastor a church full of generous people! People who take an active role in our church and care about our people. You guys are awesome. It would be very easy to let these families pay the whole bill for the roof to get fixed, but Chris Leccese pointed out that the roof keeps the whole church dry, and we should allow the whole church the chance to help out in fixing it. So that is what we are going to do. We have decided that this Sunday we will receive a special offering to repair the roof. But what happens if we take in more money than is needed to fix the roof? Well the answer to that question is pretty simple. We currently owe about $78,000 on our mortgage for the church building. Anything that comes in over and above what it takes to fix the building will be used to reduce the balance on the mortgage. Perhaps this roof leak might just be a blessing in disguise as it gets us ready to expand the building later for all the extra people that we will reach with the gospel.

So what is your part? I want each of you to pray and ask God how he would want you to give towards this project. Sara and I are praying, as are the elders and many other families. I want you to prayerfully consider how we all might work together, and may God get all the glory.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Happy Hobbies - The Selfers Way

Each one of us has hobbies we like to do. For some of us it is gardening, others like knitting, or maybe sewing, but for me it is video games. I guess I am from the generation that really gets into video games. I could probably sit here and analyze why I like video games so much, but I think it would be a little pointless because those who like them already know why, and for those who don't - well they just won't understand. Besides video games aren't the point, it just happens to be that video games are my hobby that I really like. The point is that I want each one of us to get in our mind the hobby that we like the best and spend the most time doing. OK everyone got it in their mind? Then read on and let's explore the world of hobbies.

It seems I have stated all of this once before, and unfortunately for me I will probably state it all again someday, as my stumbling in this area seems to be part of the old selfish nature I have to die to. When I say I like my hobby, I mean I really like my hobby. I think I like it to the point that it is unhealthy for my marriage, my parenting, and my walk with Christ. Now I am not saying that all hobbies are this way, but for me my hobby of playing video games is a bit unhealthy. As many of you know I have committed to getting up early and praying everyday for our church and anything else the Lord leads me to pray for. As of late I have found during that time of prayer my mind would begin to drift off to thinking about video games. So I would be like, "God why is my mind wandering like this, can you help me stay focused." It seems the resounding answer that came back over and over again in my spirit was that it is hard to keep your mind off of you god. WHAT! Did I just say video games were my god(s)? Yes, unfortunately that is what I said. I don't mean that I bow down at an altar of games, nor do I send my tithes to the game company, but I mean that in a very real sense the amount of time I spent playing (or thinking about playing) was time that should have been devoted to Jesus and/or my family.

I have found myself from time to time neglecting my wife and kids at times playing a video game, neglecting responsibilities of pastoring playing a game, even neglecting household chores playing a game. My walk with Christ is 24/7, my responsibilities to my family is 24/7, and pastoring is 24/7. Am I saying that I can not have a hobby? Nope that is not what I am saying. I am just saying that when I begin to serve my hobby instead of my hobby serving me then I need to quit that hobby and find better things to do with my time. So my game of choice has been tossed out, and hopefully I can find a hobby that my wife and kids like as well. Then perhaps we can do it in a God honoring way as a family. Are any of your hobbies taking over? Are your kids and spouse staring at the back of your head while you do your hobby? Are you finding yourself thinking about your hobby instead of work, Christ, family, or other important things? Is there anything in life that you may need to let go of? This is one area where I have been a selfer and need to change. What about you?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

How do we respond?

I have often times stated in my preaching and teaching that it is not the actual circumstances of the trial that we are going through that are what is so important to God, rather it is how we respond and get through the trial that is truly important. For instance I was just reading a prayer request from a friend of mine who's mother had a heart attack and passed away. Dan was stating in his request he didn't know how to feel. He got to her house the day she passed and when he walked in the door he said he was overwhelmed by the fact that she was having the best day of her life. How so you say? She was a born again believer who was finally at home with the Lord Jesus. So Dan was sad that his mom was gone, yet happy for her at the same time - how do we respond?

Death is one that everyone of us will encounter in our lives. However an even bigger question is how do we respond when someone that we care about deeply has a moral failure? Another friend of mine who is a Pastor had a mentor that he truly loved and looked up to have a moral failure. This mentor of his had been caught in an adulterous affair with one of the women that attended his church. Years of mentoring and caring had taken place between these two men, yet here is the mentor falling into the very sins that he had cautioned the pupil against. To make it worse from many of the accounts that I have heard this Pastor/mentor has not yet repented of this moral failure, and is now in the process of divorce - how do we respond?

What about the person who is a leader in the church has a moral failure that they are repentant from? The person who didn't get caught in the failure, but came forward and admitted the failure. The person who came forward and said, "I have sinned in "x" manner, and I am sorry and want to turn away from that. I have to admit it and ask for your forgiveness as well as God's." How do we respond? Jesus told his disciples when they asked him how many times they should forgive the brother that sins against them and then asks for forgiveness. Jesus response was basically that we forgive them every time without keeping track. (Matthew 18:21-35) John tells us in 1John 1:9 that if we confess our sins to God he is faithful not only to forgive us of those sins, but also to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Basically God is saying that he accepts our apology and acts as though it never happened. Wow - what a love we have from the father, and if he responds that way to us then how should we respond in this?

How do we respond?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A New Way To Present An Old Message

This past weekend was one of excitement at Crossroads Fellowship. Why was it so exciting? Well sit back, relax, and I will let you know.

Every year at Crossroads we have what is called an annual missions conference. This has been, in years gone by, a half a week where we work very intently at highlighting the work of our missionaries around the globe. We would have a different missionary speaker each year come and share what God was doing in the field they were in, and how we could give, go, and pray about that. Typically a small portion of our congregation was able to make it out to these special meetings during the week. The highest attendance being maybe 25 people, and if we were lucky enough to get the missionary on Sunday morning we might have a service that was attended by 50 - 100 people.

This year though at our National Council I was introduced to a new team called Coffee and Conversations. This team is comprised of a group of young people, twenty somethings, who are led of God to travel the country sharing God's vision for global missions through an interactive coffee house format, with a wonderful live band, and intensive multi-media presentations. The music, much of it original, is very cutting edge and might not work in some churches. The coffee house is done right inside the church building, and in particular we transformed our sanctuary for the event into a Starbucks of sorts.

The team, led by Shuree Rivera, challenged our congregation to consider what we might do about two major ministry projects that the C&MA is involved with. First was how we might partner with Remember Nhu and the Alliance in reaching young children who are sold into the sex slave market in Cambodia. One lady in our church in particular told me of how the time spent looking at that just broke her heart. The second thing was we were challenged about how we might minister to those in Africa suffering from the aids pandemic. Both topics were very heavy and heart breaking. Yet at the end of each service people were looking at them not with frustration, but with hope.

The most awesome thing was that on Saturday night, the night we looked at the sex trade in Cambodia, we had 77 people attend. Many of these were fist time attendees to our church. We even had a large group of youth attend. Now I will tell you up front we bribed the youth to come by holding a skateboarding contest afterward that you had to attend the services of the evening to enter the contest. We paid about $18 for the prizes we gave away, and we probably had 7 -9 teenagers come that would not have come otherwise. So all in all it was a REALLY GOOD $18. The next morning we had 84 people present, and people were actually signing up for ministry opportunities to help in this critical areas. Not everyone in the church attended the special services, but this was by far the best connection we have ever made with missions in the Alliance as a church body.

The week before we had a video teleconference with missionary friends in Mongolia, and the next two weeks we will have a missionary FROM Nicaragua who is reaching Mexicans in the U.S. come and share, and Ivan lay will finish us up as he shares about 38 years in missionary service and the life of sacrifice, which he calls privilege, that he lived as he took the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. Pray for us as we continue to be led by the Lord in how we might impact our community, our country, and our whole world with the Gospel!