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From the heart of the Father to a father's heart…

Easter Week

Greetings Crossroads Family,

I am well and ready to be released to full activity! It’s hard for me to hold back and not do the things the doctors warned me not to. I really love life! I appreciate your prayers and concerns. Thanks for being the best friends anyone could ask for.

Easter week is coming and it is important that you set aside the time necessary to read and prepare your hearts for the greatest event in the history of the world, the Resurrection of Christ. This Sunday I will be continuing the series on prayer, “Your Will be Done.” Reading from Matthew 20, I will take you down the dusty road from Jericho to Jerusalem, a 14-mile journey that takes Jesus to the cross. It’s an amazing story of a “man on a mission” to do the will of His Father. The life principles I will share are timeless truths that bring clarity to the purposes of God in our lives. Truly you don’t want to miss this teaching…it’s a keeper, and one you will treasure for a lifetime.

Janice has included in this Sunday’s bulletin, a reading guide for Easter week that will help you and your family follow the Easter story. Dorald has put together a program (she calls it a “drama”) for the Good Friday service at 7pm. She has shared with me a bit of her plan, but has kept most of it secret…..imagine that? Guess she thinks I’ll tell you too much? I can tell you this, she is excited and anticipating a special service that will leave you deeply moved.

Easter Sunday, Sarah and her team will be leading worship. They are young and very talented, but struggle with hymns, so George Miller will be with us to fill in the hymns. He has a powerful voice and will take the wallpaper off the walls using his opera voice to usher us before the resurrected KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS. Freeda and her Hospitality Team will set tables between services at 8:45am and 10:15am with baked goods, fruit and Easter treats. I haven’t settled on a message yet, but that will come and I will be there challenging you to FOLLOW the KING! So all in all, it should be fun! I hope to see you there, and make sure you bring a friend.

Love to all,

Pastor Pat

Strategy for Battle

The excitement surrounding the “WAR ROOM” small groups is contagious!  I’m still looking for more photos of your own “war room.”  Send them to me or Bernie so I can show the congregation on Sunday morning.  It’s encouraging to see what others are doing to establish a battlefront in their own homes.  We just ordered 60 more study guides and this brings the total to over 200 guides that we have ordered.  Amazing!

Last Sunday’s service was very moving.  Great worship, and Jed’s teaching was spot on!  I love the description of war that he used, “the fog of war.”  When there’s dust and debris in the air and the army is moving in the midst of the battle, it’s hard to see clearly what’s happening around you.  You’re in a fog.  That’s why it’s so important to have a strategy for battle before you enter into it.  It’s important that the Holy Spirit is guiding you and others are by your side.  In one of the “War Room” small group sessions you will discuss accountability. It’s important that you are not alone and others know your condition.

In the following weeks we will develop a prayer strategy that will give you a clear battle plan and strategy in prayer that will revolutionize how you pray.  Make every effort to be present on Sunday morning.  It’s so important that you be in church to “fill the bowl” and pray.

Construction on the “War Room” at Crossroads has begun and the target date for completion is February 28th.  I look forward to seeing all of you this Sunday.

Blessings,

Pastor Pat

 

Prayer

This  was given to me yesterday by Dean Bye.  I love it!   What a great devotional to consider as we go into our “War Rooms” for prayer and intercession.  “Your God, who is among you is a great and awesome God”.   

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I will see you Sunday as we begin our series on “THE WAR ROOM.”   Remember to sign up for a small group.  Small groups are listed online, on our APP, in Sunday’s bulletin and in the foyer.

God will go ahead of you.  He will do for you what you cannot do for yourself, but you’ve got to show up for the fight.” 

Blessings,

Pastor Pat

Who is Jesus Christ (Part 9)

Recently the Washington Post “On Faith” section sponsored a discussion called The Case for God based on a question from Karen Armstrong who asked, “What is the best ‘case for God’ to present to a skeptic or non-believer or to an open-minded seeker, or to a person of faith?” That’s a fairly broad question, and the answers came from an equally broad cross-section of thinkers, including theologians, atheists, New Age author Deepak Chopra, and Rabbi David Wolpe. All the essays are worth reading, but the shortest one came from the famed New Testament scholar (and Bishop of Durham) N. T. Wright. I reproduce his answer in full: “Beauty, justice, and above all Jesus.” That’s just six words, but they say all that needs to be said. The appearance of beauty and the desire for justice points us to a Creator greater than ourselves. And then there is Jesus who remains the central figure of history. In fact, we divide all of history by the date of his birth: B.C. and A.D. He remains the most compelling personality ever to walk on planet earth.

Jesus remains the central figure of history. 

I close by reminding you that after Jesus had asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” He made the question more personal, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13-16). When Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16), he uttered the words that became the foundation of the worldwide Christian movement. That in one short sentence is what Christians believe about Jesus. We confess one revolutionary truth-that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of the living God.

In short we believe something special about someone special.

  • We believe that a man once walked this earth who was like no other man who ever lived.
  • He said things no other man has ever said.
  • He did things no other man has ever done.
  • He made claims for himself which, if they are not true, brand him as history’s greatest fraud.
  • He gathered around himself a group of men who believed his claims.
  • He predicted his own death . . . and then he predicted his own resurrection.
  • He made good on all his claims.
  • After He left, his followers took his message and spread it around the earth.
  • And for 2,000 years countless men and women have believed that this man was indeed the Son of the living God. And they have staked their lives upon it.
  • That man is Jesus of Nazareth.
  • That is what Christians believe.

Where do you stand? You don’t have to answer out loud, but you’ve got to answer.

Who is Jesus Christ? A good man? A great teacher? A revolutionary leader? Or is he the Christ, the Son of the Living God?

Think about this amazing man who lived 2000 years ago. Who was he? Who is he? What do you say? Your eternal destiny hangs on your answer. May God open your eyes to see Jesus as the Son of God, and may the Holy Spirit grant you faith to believe in him. Amen.

 

Who is Jesus Christ? (Part 8)

C.S. Lewis on Jesus

And so we return to the foundational question. It is sometimes said this way: “When I look at Jesus, I see the greatest moral teacher the world has ever known. He may or he may not be the Son of God-to me that doesn’t matter-what’s important is that I recognize and follow his moral teachings.” Is such a view compatible with the New Testament picture of Jesus Christ? Does it present him as a great moral teacher or as the ultimate example for mankind?

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis considers this very common viewpoint and concludes his chapter “The Shocking Alternative” with these penetrating words:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him or kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

If you are still unsure about Jesus, let me encourage you to pick up the New Testament and read it for yourself. You don’t have to take my word for it. If what I am saying is true, then the facts ought to be self-evident to any intelligent man or woman. Please don’t make a final decision about Jesus without checking things out for yourself. Pick any one of the four gospels-Matthew, Mark, Luke or John-and read the story of Jesus for yourself. Make notes. Ask questions as you read. Before you render your final verdict, please take the time to check every verse for yourself. Study the evidence on your own. Then make up your mind about Jesus Christ.

Who is Jesus Christ? (Part 7)

Fact #5: Transformed Lives

Before you make a final decision about Jesus, there is one additional fact to consider. When Jesus left this earth 2000 years ago, He left behind a few hundred disciples in Israel. That’s all He had to show for His time on earth.

Today over two billion people bear His name. That tiny band of followers has spread to every nation on every continent. Thousands more join the ranks every single day. To put matters in perspective, more people have come to Christ in the last generation than in the previous 2000 years.

John Lennon is dead, Jerry Garcia is dead, Michael Jackson is dead, Karl Marx is dead, Napoleon is dead. But Jesus Christ is alive!

History shows that Jesus Christ continues to change lives 20 centuries after He walked the dusty roads of Galilee and braved the narrow cobblestone streets of Jerusalem. Yet today He is the single most influential person in all human history. John Lennon is dead, Jerry Garcia is dead, Michael Jackson is dead, Karl Marx is dead, Napoleon is dead. But Jesus Christ is alive!

Listen to the words of Napoleon Bonaparte after he was exiled. As he contemplated his exploits in Europe versus the legacy of Jesus, he came to this stunning conclusion:

I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world, there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded great empires; but upon what did the creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded his empire upon love, and to this very day millions would die for Him.

 

Who is Jesus Christ? (Part 6)

Fact #4: The Empty Tomb

This of course is the ultimate proof.  It is also the ultimate question – Did Jesus really rise from the dead? If He did, then He really was the Son of God. If He didn’t, then He’s not the Son of God. In fact, if He didn’t, He’s not even a good man but the world’s greater faker. And we are fools for following Him.

Therefore, I invite you to study the gospels with an unprejudiced mind and come to your own conclusions. Read the resurrection accounts in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20. Check out 1 Corinthians 15. When you do, I believe you will find the following four statements to be absolutely true:

  1. Jesus was really dead.
  2. Jesus was buried in a tomb on Friday evening.
  3. The tomb was empty on Sunday morning.
  4. Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection, alive from the dead.

In the years following the French Revolution, there was a great turning away from Christianity. A man named La Revilliere concocted a new religion that he fancied to be superior to Christianity. Unfortunately, he had trouble gaining converts. So he went to the great diplomat Charles de Tallyrand for help. His advice was simple: To ensure success for your new religion, all you needed to do was to have yourself crucified and then rise again from the dead on the third day.

His religion disappeared because he was unable to follow Talleyrand’s advice. Only one person ever has – Jesus our Lord. The story of his death and resurrection is perhaps the single, best-attested fact of ancient history.

If you don’t really believe that Jesus rose from the dead, you’re not a Christian in the true sense of the term.

Recently I read Christopher Buckley’s moving memoir of the death of his mother and father called Losing Mum and Pup. He father, William F. Buckley, was well-known for his staunch Catholic faith and for his spirited defense of Christianity in general. Years earlier Christopher had jettisoned his faith. Speaking of one poignant moment during his father’s final year, he writes that he hesitated to bring up anything religious because it would likely make for a painful discussion:

This was not the moment to break what remained of his heart by telling him that although I greatly admired the teachings of Jesus, I had long ago stopped believing that He had risen from the dead; it’s an honest enough doubt, really, but one that undercuts the supernatural aspect of Christianity (pp. 146-147).

Christopher Buckley is exactly right. Deny the resurrection and you’ve removed the supernatural heart of the Christian faith. If you don’t really believe that Jesus rose from the dead, you’re not a Christian in the true sense of the term. The entire Christian faith hangs on this one fact: Jesus rose from the dead-literally, physically, bodily, visibly. It is the testimony of the empty tomb that forever sets Jesus Christ apart from all other religious leaders.

They are dead. He is alive today.

 

Who is Jesus Christ? (Part 5)

Fact #3: Supernatural Power

When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent his disciples to Jesus with a very poignant question, “Are you the one who was to come or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3). Jesus answered by listing the miracles He had performed: the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the lepers are cleansed, and the dead are raised (v. 5). No one could fake such miracles as that. No religious charlatan could give sight to the blind. Not even the great Houdini could raise the dead. Only the mighty Son of God could work such stupendous miracles.

Let me highlight some of Jesus’ miracles:

  • Turned water into wine (John 2:1-11).
  • Multiplied the loaves and fishes (John 6:1-13).
  • Walked on water (Matthew 14:22-32).
  • Opened the eyes of the blind (John 9).
  • Made the lame walk (Matthew 9:1-8).
  • Cast out demons (Mark 5:1-20).
  • Stilled a raging storm (Mark 4:35-41).
  • Healed an invalid (John 5:5-17).
  • Cleansed 10 lepers (Luke 17:11-19).
  • Raised the dead (John 11:17-44).

Only the mighty Son of God could work such stupendous miracles.  

Anyone can claim to work miracles. But only Jesus can do it! His life was marked by miraculous power, which is exactly what you would expect from the Son of God.

 

Who is Jesus Christ? (Part 4)

Fact #2: Amazing Claims

Here is a fact not often appreciated by the non-religious person. Jesus made absolutely astounding claims concerning Himself. In fact, if you catalogue His own words, you must conclude that either He is who He said He was or else He is a liar or a madman. The people who say, “Jesus was a good man-nothing more” have never read the gospels because you could never come to that conclusion if you actually read what Jesus said about Himself.

For instance,

  • He claimed to be the Son of God.
    • “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16).
  • He claimed that the angels obeyed him.
    • “The Son of Man will send out his angels” (Matthew 13:41).
  • He claimed to be the ultimate judge of all men.
    • “The Father … has entrusted all judgment to the Son”(John 5:22).
  • He claimed to possess all power in heaven and on earth.
    • “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”(Matthew 28:18).
  • He claimed the power to forgive sin.
    • “Friend, your sins are forgiven” (Luke 5:20).
  • He claimed that he could raise people from the dead.
    • “All who are in the grave will hear his voice and come out”(John 5:28).
  • He claimed that he could raise himself from the dead.
    • “I have the authority to lay it down and . . . take it up again” (John 10:18).
  • He claimed to be one with God.
    • “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

Jesus made absolutely astounding claims concerning himself.  

Before we go any further, let us note that these are absolutely stupendous claims. What would you do if your neighbor knocked on your door this afternoon and said, “I am God’s Son and I can raise myself from the dead?” I daresay that you would close the door and call the police because anyone who goes around talking like that is likely to be a danger to himself and possibly to others.

But Jesus routinely made such claims about himself. Laugh if you will, but before you dismiss Him, consider what He has to say.

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