To Prepare the Way
Sunday, December 6, 2015
God chooses faithful men and women to prepare the way for Christ.
God chooses faithful men and women to prepare the way for Christ.
What are the first ten items you would write on a list of things you are thankful for? Your spouse. Your family. Your home. Your job. A friend or two. Oh yeah. This is about the point I have to go back and put Christ at the top of the list. (But, seriously, if you’re making a thanksgiving list at church, doesn’t it go without saying that Jesus is already at the top of the list of people you would say thank you to?)
I think (or at least hope) that people top the list for most of us. If that’s true, when was the last time you honestly told those people how much you appreciate them? This past week I was texting back and forth with one of our ministry leaders. Toward the end of the conversation, they took one text message to simply say, “Thanks for supporting my ministry.” Wow. That meant a lot. It was simple and sincere. Have you noticed how meaningful simple sincerity is in our world full of sarcasm and shiny things.
This morning I want to ask everyone in our church to do something that I think just might revolutionize our relationships here at CrossRoads. I want you to make a list of five people in our church family you owe a simple, sincere “Thank you.” Then, I want to challenge you to settle that debt. This week I want you to say “Thank you” in a way each person will appreciate. Here are the rules: it has to be simple – nothing flashy, nothing expensive. You don’t have to build a cake or anything. Just send a card or a text or take them for coffee. It has to be sincere. No sarcasm allowed. I know. Sarcasm is fun. But, I’m afraid when we say thanks with sarcasm, it still has some teeth. It still causes a little pain.
We are at a very special place in the life of our church. Let’s take a week to say “thank you” and remember the incredible people God has made a part of our journey together.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this morning at CrossRoads, I want to invite you to plan on sharing Christmas joy with us this Christmas season. During the month of December our goal is to give your family opportunities to touch lives, build relationships and invite people to see how much fun and meaningful faith in Christ can be.
It begins Saturday, December 5th, as we get together to make a difference in families in our area who need a little help with Christmas. It’s so much fun to spend a few hours on a Saturday shopping with friends. It’s also beautiful to watch our children pick out gifts for other children. It’s a great lesson about God’s love in a world that focuses on “me.”
Then on Friday, December 11th, our ladies will get together to share laughs, gifts and goodies at the Ladies’ Ornament Exchange. This is a special night for you to take a break from the Christmas craziness and share an evening with other ladies. If you are new to CrossRoads, be sure to ask one of our ladies how much fun this evening is. And, if you have a friend who would enjoy a ladies’ night, invite them to be part of the fun.
On Sunday, December 13th, Santa makes a visit to CrossRoads. Santa, really? Yep. The big man in the red suit. Right after church we’ll have cookies and a chance for pictures with Mr. Claus. It’s about family and fun together. (And, if you’re going to get pictures taken with Santa, why not with your church family?)
Finally, we wrap up the Christmas season with an intimate Christmas Eve service. It’s pretty simple, really. We take a few minutes Christmas eve to sing some carols, light some candles, read the Christmas story together and remember the gift God has given us in Christ.
Christmas is a special time for us here at CrossRoads. We hope you will be part of sharing the joy of Christ with us. And, remember, friends and family are always welcome!
I hope you took a few minutes this week to say “thank you” to a veteran. Veterans, I want to say a very special thank you for peace and freedom your service has offered our nation and God’s church as we work to take the message of Christ to the nations.
Is it possible to overvalue peace? Over the past several months we have been able to share life with a family of refugees from Syria. This family has told us about family members who are political prisoners and others who have lost limbs in fighting. As an American I can’t imagine leaving for work knowing that I might be a casualty of the horrors of war before I make it home to my family. I thank God and the men and women who have served in our military for the peace we enjoy. This peace serves the Kingdom of God as well. In 1 Timothy the Apostle Paul tells us to pray for our leaders that they would provide for us to live peaceful, quiet lives. He writes that this facilitates people coming to faith in Christ. Veterans, many of you have served to bring peace to people on the other side of the world as well as bringing peace at home. I have personally been able to help carry the message of God’s love to people on the other side of the world knowing that the men and women of our military were helping keep the peace and provide safety for us.
And freedom. It’s pretty amazing that for the last two hundred thirty-nine years our nation has been free from the control of any outside government. Even with all our political differences we still have freedom to worship as we choose. This gives us the ability to let the gospel speak for itself in hearts and minds rather than faith being dictated by the powers that be. We feel like our gospel has a pretty good chance when we have the freedom to share it.
Veterans, thank you for for doing your part for peace and freedom. Now, pray for us, that we would honor your service by using the peace and freedom you have given us to share the peace and freedom we have found in Christ.
For freedom Christ has set us free… Galatians 5:1
I want to say a great big thanks this morning to all of you who have been part of growing God’s kingdom! Our Small Groups are one of the most impactful ways we are making a difference here at CrossRoads. These groups are a big deal because they allow us to do all the important things we need to do for each other that we can’t take care of on Sunday mornings. Our Small Groups are where we get to sit down and discuss the Bible and encourage one another each week. We get to ask one another the questions we really want answered. We share the challenges we are facing and the victories we’ve won. We pray for one another and share communion. When someone is sick, it’s their Small Group who steps up to make sure they have everything they need. And when we have friends who have spiritual questions but aren’t interested in “going to church,” our Small Groups become places they can begin to follow Jesus without the pressures of big crowds and unfamiliar surroundings.
Over the last nine months we doubled the number of Small Groups meeting each week. By the time we started Explore God together, we had almost seventy adults and teenagers meeting to talk about God together each week. At CrossRoads we have two different kinds of Small Groups that each have a specific purpose helping people follow Jesus. Our Home Groups consist mostly of people who attend CrossRoads on Sunday mornings. They give each family who is part of our Sunday services a place to call home and a group of friends to walk with them on their journey with Christ each week. Our House Churches are a slightly different flavor of Small Group. Our House Churches are started by people in whose life God has placed a special desire to help people follow Jesus who don’t really want to “go to church” on Sunday morning. They begin praying for people in their lives and listening for someone to ask a spiritual question. When they begin to hear spiritual questions, they invite the people asking those questions to get together with them to talk about what it means to follow Jesus. Over the past year we have found there are a lot of people in our culture who have spiritual questions even if they aren’t interested in “going to church.” And, believe it or not, at CrossRoads we believe you can follow Jesus even if you don’t feel comfortable attending a church on Sunday mornings. (We believe this so strongly, we don’t even ask you why you don’t want to “go to church.” Weird, right?) Why? We believe Jesus commands us to invite people to trust in Jesus and begin following him. We believe the Bible teaches that no one can follow Jesus alone. But, we we’ve never found the verse where Jesus says a church should have a minimum size or must be led by someone with a seminary degree, so we offer people the chance to follow Jesus with a handful of friends who care about them and are committed to meeting their needs and helping them follow Jesus. Throw in communion and occasional baptisms and you know what you call that? Church! (And that, my friends, is why we call them House Churches.) So, if you haven’t found a Home Group or House Church to call your own, I want to invite you to become one of the cool kids by finding a Small Group where you can grow together with us.
This Thursday night we will kick off one more new House Church at Chris and Mandi’s house in Northwest Fort Worth. If you would like more info about Chris and Mandi’s new group or any of our other Small Groups, send me a note. I’d love to help you find a Home Group or House Church to call home!
Faith isn’t just something we believe, faith is a conversation. You’re invited to be part of the conversation in our new podcast, Conversations at the CrossRoads. Sit down with Charles, Cos and our Lead Pastor, Jonathan Atwell, as they talk about faith and life together.
You can be part of the conversation by sending your comments and questions to email@example.com.
In this episode: Upcoming events at CrossRoads Church and some important background for the book of Joshua.