Monthly Archives: April 2016

SHIFT: From Congregation to Kingdom Focus

Growing up I sang a song in Sunday School called “We are the Church” The lyrics are:

The church is not a building where people go to pray;
it’s not made out of sticks and stones, it’s not made out of clay.
We are the church, the body of the Lord,
we are all God’s children and we have been restored.

This past weekend 15 leaders from Crossroads attended the SHIFT: Leadership Conference in Altoona, Iowa. This first Shift we discussed was a shift from being congregation focused to  kingdom focused. In this session, we were challenged to focus our attention not on growing the numbers of church (such as attendance, membership, and finances.) These are the numbers of a building, not the church. Instead, we were called to be ambassadors who stand for God’s Kingdom. To shine Christ’s light wherever we go, like a fire sending out sparks ahead of the path of the coming forest fire.  We read this in Matthew:

“But what about you?” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, an on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be found in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19

Jesus builds the church on a foundation of faith and trust. Our work is in the kingdom. We are called to be ambassadors in God’s kingdom here on earth sharing Gods message of forgiveness of sins to those who repent. We live out our faith in every area of our lives: in our families, at work, in the community and in our congregations. We gather together each week to worship the Lord and be strengthened to go out to do it all over again. God’s builds the church – we are called to focus on the work of God’s Kingdom. As my Sunday School teacher would continue to lead us in singing:

The church it is the people living out their lives,
called, enlightened, sanctified for the work of Jesus Christ.
We are the church, the body of the Lord,
we are all God’s children and we have been restored.

Your Sister in Christ,

Pastor Sarah

PAIN – Keep your Fork!

There once was a women who wanted to be buried with her fork. When asked why, she stated “So that when people wonder about my fork, you can tell them  to keep their forks, because the best is yet to come!”

Did you know that there are more than 3 million cases of chronic pain in the United States, with pain lasting weeks to years? That doesn’t count those who are suffering from the pain of short-term illness or different types of pain such as spiritual, emotional, or mental anguish. Most of us have experienced some type of deep pain in our lives: the loss of a relationships through death or abandonment, broken friendships or marriages through cruelty or dishonesty, or haunting anxiety and doubt constantly covering lives in dark shadows. We can often try to do anything in our power to endure or erase the pain, even for a short while. This desire to escape pain causes many people to begin a deadly cycle of behaviors and addictions causing even more pain in their lives and the lives of others. Anything from stuffing our emotions to alcohol addictions, violence to an addiction to work.  Is there another way?

Yes! The good news is that we have a God who can understand our sufferings. In fact, Jesus Christ openly accepted suffering for us, taking our death and giving us new life. Isaiah 53:4-5 says:

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities: the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Jesus is the only way to truly stop this cycle of pain. Jesus can give us what we need to endure the pain, helping us find healthy ways to endure and forgiving us of our failed survival tactics. This is true in our spiritual, emotional, physical and mental lives. If Jesus took our pain and we are healed, why do we still see pain in our world. Why do people still suffer mental and physical illnesses. Why do people harbor spiritual and emotional wounds? We live in a world that is still steeped in sin. This promise is fulfilled in part today – but will be fulfilled in full in God’s timing! Revelation 21:4 reminds us of this promise:

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

You do not need to carry this pain on your own any longer. Share it openly with Jesus Christ and ask for healing. Trust this promise and receive the great gifts it gives both today and tomorrow. Do not lose faith! We may experience pain and death now, but keep your fork – the best is yet to come!

A dessert lover!

Pastor Sarah

Worship Services

9:15am Sunday School & Adult Bible Study
10:00am Fellowship
10:30am Worship

Pastor Sarah Carlstrom
(church) 320-312-7729
(cell) 320-226-5676

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