Living Like Champions

Living Like Champions

This afternoon four teams will play in the NFL Conference Championship games. Each team is made up of fifty-three players who have spent every day since the end of July preparing for today. There have been countless hours of training on the track, in the weightroom and on the practice field as well as a dizzying amount of time learning their team’s strategy and the strengths and weaknesses of opponents. All of it has led to today. The really good news is that all 200+ of these players are winners. They have won in the regular season, and in the postseason they have defeated their biggest rivals. The bad news is that when they get up in the morning half of them will be losers, too. There are no participation trophies in the NFL, so they are all going to go out to day and lay everything they can on the line. Why? Because if they can win one more game, they will have that experience every one of them has dreamed about since the first time they picked up a football: walking out onto the field to play in the Super Bowl – and maybe even holding the Lombardi Trophy over their heads with their teammates.

One of my favorite things about sports is how athletes’ stories and struggles can inspire us to make more of our lives. This past Thursday night I got to be part of a new small group. This one happens to be full of young men. I happened to be the oldest (which seems to happen a lot more often these days). We spent some time reading and discussing Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. We also got to talk about where we are in life and how we would like to see faith impact us. In the words of these men I heard the same thing I hear from interviews with great athletes. As each man spoke, I heard him say these three things: Life has been tough. I’m grateful for where I am. Now, with God’s help I want to be a better man. This is the heart that, when we share it together, will turn us into people who live like champions. And as we serve Christ together, this kind of heart just might change the world.

This morning I’m going to continue to share our strategy to touch lives outside of CrossRoads with our small groups. Next week we will spend Sunday morning experiencing our small groups together during our regular worship time. While I can’t promise you the kind of experience I shared with these guys Thursday night, you will get a little taste of what it’s like to share life in one of our small groups. I pray that in one of our small groups you might find a place where you can be part of living like a champion.

Church Faster

Church, Only Faster

This month we have been taking a look at what exactly church is all about. We are at a place in the life of our church that we have to ask some hard questions. The problem I keep running into is that the Bible doesn’t give us lots of guidance. Some people would tell us that when the Bible doesn’t tell us which way to go, we should look at church history for answers. Some people say that when the Bible doesn’t speak directly, we have freedom. I would agree that we have freedom. (How many times does the New Testament tell us we are free in Christ?) But, also think we have a lot to learn from our history.

Tonight our church is beginning a class called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. (Click here for more info on the class we will be attending. You’re welcome to come with us if you live in our area.) This is a class about how God has worked and is currently working around the world. After Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension the Holy Spirit showed up, and the church begins in earnest in Jerusalem. At the end of Acts 2 Luke tells us that the believers were getting together as often as daily. They were meeting in their homes and the Temple sharing everything and devoting themselves to the Apostles’ teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers. Then, the church began to face persecution that drove many believers out of Jerusalem. As believers spread across Palestine, Turkey, Greece and into Europe, many people trusted in Christ who did not have a Jewish background. Paul’s letters to believers in Europe seem to indicate that he was OK with a lot of freedom in how they worshipped. Following the close of Acts church began to develop traditions that helped explain faith to worshipers. These traditions always centered on communion and traditions handed down from the generations before them.

Over the centuries the church has continued to grow move across the world. When the church came to North America, many believers fled church traditions that had become oppressive and expressed their faith in new ways. They still involved weekly meetings built around communion, the Bible and often extra-biblical prayers and hymns. Because the communities were born out of a desire to worship, the church depended on people coming through its doors to spread the gospel. As the church grew and strengthened in North America, churches began to send missionaries to the other side of the world. In strange places most missionaries needed a safe place to learn the culture and meet needs to share Christ’s love. Unfortunately, this strategy created a cultural barrier between the mainstream culture and the missionaries.

Over the past couple decades missionaries have worked to develop new strategies that give them closer relationships with the people among whom they are working to make disciples. Instead of building a compound, believers have learned to become part of the broader culture, pray and listen for spiritual questions from the people around them. Out of this strategy the gospel has begun to move quickly in cultures where it had not previously been heard. Instead of asking people to come to a building to hear the gospel, missionaries began going into homes of people who expressed interest in knowing Christ. As they entered homes, whole households began to trust in Jesus. Because they removed the compound walls and went to the people, not just churches were born but movements have begun to take place among new people groups around the world.

Over the past decade here in the States we have watched a cultural barrier built between the American church and people who are not believers. While many churches try to overcome this barrier by becoming more culturally sensitive, we have begun a new strategy to touch the lives of the people around us. Instead of asking people to come, we are learning lessons from Christ’s workers on the other side of the world. As we pray, we are training people from our church to be missionaries taking the gospel to the homes of people around us God is causing to ask spiritual questions. As we sit down with them, read the Bible and talk about following Jesus, we have found that people averse to “going to church” are excited to find real answers to their spiritual questions. And, they are often pleasantly surprised to find them in the Bible.

Are you praying for the people around you? Are people in your life asking spiritual questions? Are you listening? Our prayer is that in this new year God would continue to bring new families to follow Christ starting in their living rooms simply answering spiritual questions and teaching them what it means to follow Jesus. We are looking forward to a movement of God that brings church to households faster than we could ever dream of bringing them to church. Are you ready to be part of the movement?

Knowing God’s Work

Ride the Wave Banner-1200

Knowing God’s Work Like a Surfer Knows the Waves

It’s January in North Texas. Probably the last thing on your mind – unless you’re a beach junkie like me – is the ocean. (At least until you got to church this morning.) If you’ve ever spent much time in the ocean trying to boogie board or body surf (or maybe even surf?) you know picking the right wave to ride can be pretty challenging for North Texas land-lovers. But knowing how to find the right wave makes all the difference. Knowing God’s work in our world is as important for us as a surfer knowing the waves.

As 2016 begins we will be talking about what has been taking place at CrossRoads over the last year and what’s next for us. This morning we are beginning this series with a message about knowing God and what he is up to in our world. There are a few beautiful principles about God that help us understand him. First, our God is consistent. The Bible goes so far as to call him unchanging. The fancy theological word for this is immutability. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that God never changes his mind (that’s a whole different discussion), it means that the attributes at the heart of God do not change: his character, his mercy, his love, his truth, etc.

We also know that God has revealed himself to us. Jesus told his followers that knowing him is knowing the Father. Knowing Jesus we know who God the Father is, what he is like and – because Jesus told us – what he’s up to. That’s what we are going to be talking about this morning at CrossRoads: What, exactly, is it God is up to? Because when we know what he’s up to, it’s like a surfer who knows how to read the waves. We know where to be and what to be doing in order to catch his wave and ride it. This morning we will be talking about what God has shown us about what he is up to in the world and how we will make a difference in it.

If you aren’t able to be part of our service this morning, you will be able to listen to this week’s message or catch up on past messages by checking out our podcast: iTunes Podcast

New Year Big Plans

New Year Big Plans and You

Welcome to the last week of 2015. I hope it has been a good year for you. It has been an exciting year here at CrossRoads, and it has all been about what you have done as part of our church family. I have no doubt that in the New Year we will see God’s big plans continue to take shape here at CrossRoads.

Last spring we began to work on a new strategy for giving people an opportunity to hear the message of Christ and to take his Kingdom outside the walls of our church. At the time we had four small groups made up of people attending CrossRoads on Sunday morning. I issued you a challenge to begin listening for people in your life asking spiritual questions. You responded. Over the next nine months you listened, and God moved. We now have nine small groups meeting each week. Five of those groups are places our CrossRoads folks get together to love and support one another. Four of those groups are made up of people outside of CrossRoads – many of whom do not have a “Sunday morning church” they call home. Many weeks we have more people getting together in our small groups than come to worship in our building on Sunday morning. It’s been exciting to see our small groups become the heart of ministry for us.

As our small groups have grown, I’ve watched a new ministry paradigm become reality for us. One day this fall I was sitting in a meeting with pastors from other churches in our area. We were talking about how to get better at doing ministry within a specific demographic in our community. (For those of you who haven’t spent your lives around church, ministry is a church word for meeting people’s needs.) As I listened to the speaker at that meeting, I realized that our small groups have not become one of  our ministries. They have become how we do ministry. They have become the way you are meeting one another’s needs for support, friendship, growing in Christ and sometimes even when financial emergencies strike. Your commitment to this new idea for touching lives is reshaping our church to become a movement in our community for Christ. Make sure not to miss out this January as we take a look at Riding the Wave God started this year.

So, what does God have in store for 2016? Of course, none of us knows for sure, but if the last nine months is any reflection of what’s to come, I can’t wait to see what the new year has for us. Make sure not to miss this January as we talk about the next wave in the movement God has started!

Santa and Star Wars

What do you teach your children about Santa and Star Wars?

I thought I would take a minute to share an article I ran across about Santa Claus. As I thought about the article, I realized that some of the principles about Santa also applied to talking with your children about Star Wars and just about every other make believe story. In an article he wrote for the Washington Post, Mark Driscoll made some great points about what he and his wife teach their children about Santa.

One of the first principles in Mark’s article is that parents have to decide how they are going to address issues in our culture. He points out that Santa and similar ideas are hard to dismiss because they are so prominent. Since they can’t be dismissed, parents have to decide if they are going to demonize or redeem them. In light of the movie everyone is going to see this week, this is a pretty important idea for parents to understand. When you take your kids to see Star Wars, will you use the principles in the film to teach them about make believe stories and what they can teach us about good and evil? Or, will you let them believe it really happened “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”? Sounds silly, right? Recently, I spoke with a children’s Sunday School teacher who asked his students what they were afraid of. Their answer: ZOMBIES! Some of the children in his class actually believed that zombies are real and might one day take over the world! Seriously!

In his article Mark writes that they teach their children the truth about Santa Clause – that his story is based on the life of a real person who showed God’s love by giving gifts to people who need it. He tells them that just like children enjoy dressing up like pirates or princesses, people dress up like the person in Santa’s story to remember him and how he helped people.

As believers we all need to be careful what we teach about myths, legends, stories and make believe. Our children need to understand how to read an interpret stories that are true as well as fiction. I hope between Santa and Star Wars you will take some time to think about how you want to teach your children to understand the make believe around us.

Read all of Mark Driscoll’s article: markdriscoll.org/what-we-tell-our-kids-about-santa