Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hard Reset

Do you know what a “hard reset” is?  If you have a smart phone, you have probably done at least one of these.  This is when you get so much stuff on phone that it starts doing weird things.  It gets glitchy and starts dropping calls and even will just shut down for no reason at all.   The only way to fix this condition is called a hard reset. When you do it, it will erase everything on your phone and strips back to the original condition.  This provides you an opportunity to add stuff back slowly and find out what was causing the problem.

With Spring Break coming, I find myself considering the thought that I may need to do a “hard reset” on my life.  Commitments are filling up my schedule and my life is feeling a bit glitchy.  It is not that my life is bad.  It is just not working at well as it should.  Some of my priorities are being dropped consistently.  I do not feel I am being as effective as can be and should be.  This may mean I need to eliminate something in favor of adding others things.  The process will be difficult but I think very necessary.

How about you?  Are you accomplishing the important things in your life?  Should you consider doing a hard reset as well?  Whether or not you are going away for Spring Break, you have an opportunity to make some changes in your life.  Has attending worship been neglected in your schedule?  Have been missing that daily time in God’s Word?  Is your prayer life on the verge of being non-existent?  Do you need to restore some balance between work, home, family, and church?

I am not suggesting that you need to consider doing MORE.  In fact, when I do my hard reset, I going to do a brutal evaluation of EVERYTHING I am doing and how I use my time.  Each week we are given 168 hours to invest.  There is such thing as “saving time”, like we can money. When this day is gone, it will be gone for eternity.

One tool I am going to use it a simple goal setting worksheet I found at http://dotconnectorblog.com/wp-content/uploads/Weekly-Planner-Template.pdf.   Of course, I am adapting to my situation.  However, it does provide an opportunity to examine our various roles in life.  Easter is all about new life and new directions.  Why not let the power of resurrection to fuel some great and positive changes in your life?

See You Sunday,Mike

Monday, March 4, 2013

Change a life...invite someone to worship with YOU!

If you missed “I Love My Church” Sunday, then you really missed a great time of celebration. Guy Louks and Dave Nance shared great testimonies of why they love Crossroads. Sue Huff did a wonderful job of coordinating the fellowship dinner. It was such a success that I am planning on making an annual Crossroads tradition for the last Sunday in February.

Another Crossroads tradition is our annual special offering on Easter Sunday. This year we are doing things a little different than the normal. As part of our stewardship strategy, the leadership team has committed that half of the offering will be used for debt reduction. With a goal of $20,000, that would mean that we would pay $10,000 directly on the principal of our mortgage. The impact of such a payment would be tremendous in terms of both saving us interest and shortening the length of the loan.

The other half of the offering is committed to several items. The first $5,000 would be used to replenish our emergency fund. Having such a fund is critical to our financial structure. We don’t want to come to the congregation for funds to deal with an unexpected breakdown or repair expense. We will use the remaining funds to catch up some commitments from last year as well as make some investments in the worship ministry.

Last year, God blessed us outrageously through you and provided the funds to purchase and install the new sign. We have already seen results from that investment. Please pray that God works through His people again and we are able celebrate another great outpouring of generosity. I hope you have already decided on what you will “sacrifice” in order to give to this offering. These gifts need to be over and above your regular tithing and giving to Crossroads. Remember we will be actually “passing the plate” to receive this offering so you cannot give through the online method.

Finally, now is a great time to invite your neighbors, family, and friends to join us for Easter Sunday. We are planning a great time of worship and honoring our resurrected Savior and Lord. Share an invitation with someone today. You might just change their life!

See You Sunday,


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Church Membership Matters

The leadership team and I have been studying and discussing prayerfully the Biblical concept of church membership. There are some, I know, who do not believe that there is a Scriptural basis for church membership. There was a time early in the Church’s history that membership was not really an issue. When there was only ONE CHURCH, everyone who was a believer would have been assumed a member of the local body of believers.

Today, the situation is quite different. Denominations number in the hundreds and even within those are hundreds of small groups and divisions. The term, “Christian” can mean various things. Many young people are refusing the label completely. Some congregations have abandoned the whole idea of membership. They simply consider anyone who attends to be a member.

We have always considered church membership at Crossroads Christian Church to be a covenant relationship between the congregation, as whole, and the member, as an individual. Those seeking membership have been required to sign a written membership covenant. We do this because we want there to be clarity about what we expect from members and what they can expect from us, as a congregation. We also realize that we are all imperfect sinners living in an imperfect world.

However, since it is our vision to be a place of genuine community, we must have a recognized body of believers with whom we are building community. Community requires that we hold each other accountable, develop a sense of belonging, and provide care for one another. This cannot be done unless we know who is a member.

It is important for the body of Christ to be a light in the community through the individual congregations. In order to properly shepherd the members of Christ’s Church, and maintain a God-honoring witness in our neighborhood, the elders and I are completely reviewing and rewriting our membership policy. This is not an easy task because it requires balancing the tension between grace and accountability.

The elders have also developed shepherding structure that assigns every member of the church an elder-shepherd. They will be contacting you over the next few weeks to discuss any concerns or ideas you may have. I hope you are all making plans to attend “I love my Church” Sunday on February 24th. This is going to be a great celebration of our church.

See You Sunday!

Friday, February 8, 2013

I Love My Church!

At a recent meeting of our ministry coordinators, I passed out index cards and ask them to respond to a question. Why do you love Crossroads? As you can imagine there was a variety of responses ranging from the relationships to the focus on the Word of God. The reason I did this is that February 24th is “I Love My Church” Sunday. We are devoting that entire service to celebrating Crossroads Christian Church and why we love her. We will preach on what it means to be a member of the church. We will be asking all of our members to sign the latest version of our membership covenant.

This will also be a great occasion for those who have been thinking about becoming members. We will be providing opportunities for those who need to be immersed to do so, either privately or with others. It will also be a great time for those who have been “missing in action” as members to get back involved. The elders are currently fine tuning our membership policy which we will also share on the day.

After the service, we are going to be sharing in an old fashion fellowship dinner. Fried chicken will be provided by the church. Everyone is asked to bring something to share at the meal. Sue Huff has graciously agreed to coordinate the dinner for us. Contact her to let her know what you would like to bring or find out what you could bring. (765-412-2409/huffbasket@yahoo.com).

If you have any questions, or would like to arrange a time to be immersed, feel free to contact me anytime (765-532-3996/mikejduff@crossroadschristianchurch.net). You can also speak to one of the elders as well.
See You Sunday,

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Important Updates

I ran into someone the other day and they asked me how the church was doing. Without giving it much thought, I answered “We are healthy”. For me, that was the best description I could give. That is not to say that we still do not face some serious challenges, and struggles. I believe, though, we are healthier than we have ever been and better equipped to deal with them. As a church, we have an overall sense that God is doing something special in our congregation to reach lost people in our community.

Not all churches share this view. In a recent survey of 1,000 church attenders, respondents were asked, “Why does the church exist?” According to 89 percent, the church’s purpose was “to take care of my family’s and my spiritual needs.” Only 11 percent said the purpose of the church is “to win the world for Jesus Christ.” I believe that most of our members understand that we are here to connect lost people with God through Jesus Christ.

We do have our share of challenges. Even those challenges have provided more evidence of how health we are as a congregation. For example, we are able to handle changes without experiencing a lot of the emotional upheaval we once did. We no longer see change as an enemy but the natural result of accomplishing our mission. Just recently we had a change in our staff with the departure of Raf Caudillo and Guy Louks taking over as our part-time student minister. I could not have asked for a more seamless transition in the ministry, with no loss of enthusiasm.

Another challenge we face today is keeping up-to-date with current law in regard to churches. We are working with StartChurch to bring us into compliance. We have already accomplished the first step of being incorporated. It will not actually affect you, as members, but it will provide us the proper framework legally. The next step is to do a complete rewrite of our constitution and by-laws. Most of the changes are needed in order for us to be in compliance with government requirements and to protect us from being targeted by the government.

Take the case of gay marriage. With the President making it a priority of his final term, the likelihood of it becoming a reality nationwide is quite possible. We need to include in our constitution the authority for us to refuse any use of the facilities to anyone if it violates our established doctrines and values. Without it, we could be sued for discrimination under federal law.

I realize that this is a BIG undertaking. Making changes in this document is a process that needs to be well thought out and carefully worded. We are still in the preliminary stages of this process. Dave Nance and I are working with StartChurch on a draft that we will be submitting to the Leadership team for review. Once we have the document completed, we will have a series of meetings with members to review, discuss, and revise as needed. The final draft will have to be approved by a vote of the entire congregation.

A parallel process is the leadership team considering a new membership policy. Not only is one needed as a companion to the new constitution and by-laws, but we need to update it to address some situations. For example, what role does one’s attendance play in being a member of this congregation? The elders have divided up the membership into shepherding groups. They will be contacting those in their group to introduce themselves and discuss any concerns.

In closing, I would ask you to begin praying for our Easter offering this year. Our goal is $20,000. Regardless of how much we receive, half will go immediately on our mortgage. The other half will be used to replenish our emergency fund and general fund. As you are well aware, the economy continues to struggle. This has impacted our finances as well. We are operating week to week, offering to offering. These funds will allow us to regain a positive cash-flow and stability.

See You Sunday,

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How does God speak to us?

      Is it really possible to talk or communicate with God?  As we all know, there are plenty of people around who claim that God talks to them.  A couple of years ago I read about a man that was personally taken on a “tour” of Heaven and then sent back down to earth to share what it was like.  That brings up a good question, though, does God talk directly only to a select group?  Does He speak audibly to anyone today?  Has He ever?  Does He listen?  Let’s dive in and find the answers in Scripture!

God Speaks Through What He Has Made
     Growing up in California has its advantages.  Seeing the great Sequoia trees in the mountains of Fresno or taking in the awesome beauty of the waterfalls of Yosemite National Park gives just a small glimpse of the greatness of our God!  Psalm 19:1-4 says,
1The heavens declare the glory of God;
     And the firmament shows His handiwork.
2    Day unto day utters speech,
     And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3    There is no speech nor language
     Where their voice is not heard.
4    Their line has gone out through all the earth,
     And their words to the end of the world.”

According to this Bible passage, God is constantly talking to us through His material universe—in a universal language! We would do well to stop and smell the roses more often!

God Speaks Through Supernatural Acts

True, creation tells of God’s glory and ways but He has also spoken through some unusual acts of intervention in the course of history and time.  In the Bible (Exodus 5-12) we have the story of the children of Israel in bondage to Egypt.  Moses was the one chosen by God to go to Pharaoh and demand that he release the children of Israel from captivity.  As Pharaoh refused to believe in the God of Moses, he hardened his heart against the Lord.  Then God said to Moses,

5And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.”  Exodus 7:5
It was part of God’s strategy to display His glory in bringing His children out of bondage.  It also taught Israel a lesson to be careful to believe in the Lord as Moses declared to Israel,
       35To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him.” Deuteronomy 4:35

The miracles of Jesus Himself were intended by God to speak to us:

30And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”  John 20:30-31

Miracles are real.  They have happened before and still happen today.  God is speaking through them to remind us of His power and greatness.

God Speaks to Us Today Through the Bible

As one writer puts it, “God in Christ came to us wrapped in swaddling clothes, so the word of God comes to us wrapped in the words of these men—in this human form.”   The Bible gives us a sharp resolution of who God is and what He wants from us.  But the question arises, ‘Can God reveal something “outside” of what the Bible says?’  Here are a couple of guidelines to help us stay ON COURSE with the truth of God:

If the Gospel that is Preached is NOT the Gospel of Jesus Christ,  Then God did not speak to them!
6I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”  Galatians 1:6-9
If What They Say Does NOT Agree with the Bible, then God Did Not Speak to Them!
19And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”  Isaiah 8:19

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Trip with a Lesson

One theme in Scripture that strikes me every Christmas is the worship of the Christ-child.  The account of the Magi stands out as the height of this theme in Matthew 2:1-12.  The opening verses in chapter two states, Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."   These strangers appear on the scene suddenly, declaring that they have seen “His” star in the East and desiring to worship the One “born King of the Jews”.  They have come a great distance to follow after a star they call “His star” that “went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was” (v.9b).  Just imagine the terrain and time that it took to make this journey.  This is not a whimsical decision to present valuable gifts to the King.  No, no—this was a sacrifice of great proportions.  All of this—to worship!  Think about that.  This was the greatest of honors to be in the presence of the King and give Him homage through their gifts.  God was calling them, that much is sure.  The star and the prophecy from Micah gave them the directions to find the Messiah but they had to make the commitment to follow and worship.
Fast forward to today: we are still called to follow the revelation of God in the Bible and worship the Lord Jesus. This time of year is a great reminder of the highest calling for believers to worship the King. This is what the Lord put into the heart of Abraham, David, and the Magi—to follow and worship. I want to encourage you this Christmas to set your heart’s desire upon worshipping the Lord everyday. There is so much joy and grace in kneeling before the Lord Jesus and giving Him the treasures of your heart—I promise you will never regret it!

Blessings, Pastor George