Monday, September 16, 2019

A New Thing

Nothing is older than God. But as old as he is, God still does new things.

He has been thinking about new things for a long time. In Isaiah 43, God says,

See, I am doing a new thing
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

God is still doing new things today. As we continue our "All Things New" series this Sunday, we will explore the new things God is doing today.

God is always doing new things. Unfortunately we may not perceive it. There's a new sunrise, a new opportunity, a new baby, new wine, new harvest, new moon.

God is doing a new thing today. Don't miss it!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Are you ready for something new?

Every fall makes me think about newness. Maybe it's a throwback to my days as a student. Every fall is a new school year, with new notebooks, class schedules, maybe some new clothes; new classes, new teachers, new friends. As students go back to school in the fall, I feel the newness with them.

And God likes new things, too. He's always doing something new.

We're beginning a new sermon series in worship this Sunday, "All Things New." Just think about all the new things in scripture: new creation, new song, new thing, new birth, new wine, new command, new covenant, new mind.

Maybe it's time for something new in your life. When your faith feels old, tired, and dusty, it's time for the new that Jesus brings. God takes newness to a whole other level.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Super-Sized Serving this August!

At Crossroads we are challenging our folks to a 31-day challenge. In the month of August, we are urging our congregation to serve someone each day in an intentional, non-routine way. It could be as simple as making a special effort to pick up that piece of litter in the grocery store parking lot. Or it could be something major like committing to foster a child. 

The point is this: each day, do some act of service that you would not ordinarily do--or become more intentional about a customary act of service. Tune in to the leadership of God's Spirit, and let him show you how acts of kindness make a difference. To help you think of ways to serve, both big and small, we have created a list.  

Get ready for your month of service. Here are some ways to prepare.
  • Print out the list of Super-Sized Serving ideas and check the ones you could do.
  • Put on your calendar some of the time intensive service opportunities, like volunteering at a charity.
  • Ask a friend or family member to join you on some of your serving "capers."
  • Set a daily reminder on your phone, so you will be tuned in for random acts of service.
  • Get creative and brainstorm with friends about ways to serve.
  • Get ready to have fun and see the Spirit of God at work!
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Super-Sized Serving Ideas

Super-Sized Serving Ideas for August, 2019

Get ready to have some fun serving others! This list provides some ideas to get you thinking about how you can make a difference in people’s lives. There are easy, quick ideas and big commitment ideas. We have made four categories to help you think about various places for serving. Let’s take the Love of Jesus to a whole new level. Find some way to serve every day this August!


Do someone else’s chores.

Text a friend to say you are praying for them.

Pray for a missionary or missions agency.

Pray for someone who is not on your usual prayer list.

Keep an exchange student.

Foster a child.

Complete the “honey-do” item that you have avoided.

Pray for the first 5 people in your Facebook or Instagram feed.

Leave a love note for a family member.

Bring home fresh flowers.

Ask a family member, How can I pray for you?, and follow up.

Give opportunity for a family member to take a nap.

Let someone serve you who offers.

Clean out the refrigerator.

Weed the flower bed.

Sweep the garage.


Bake a pie for a neighbor.

Mow for a vacationing neighbor.

Babysit for a friend.

Offer to tutor others on tech issues.

Invite a neighbor to go for a walk.

Play music at a nursing home.

Take a friend to coffee and really listen to their story.

Host a “get to know you” meal for your neighbors.

Listen intently to a kid’s stories.

Sign up to coach a sport.

Host a bingo night at a nursing home.

Visit someone in the hospital.

Take meal to someone in need.

Prepare care packages for college students.

Harvest your garden and share with a neighbor.

Order a pizza (and pay for it) for a friend close by or far away.

Sign up to be a “lunch buddy” at a local school.


Help a stranger haul groceries.

Buy a meal for a stranger at a fast food restaurant.

Visit a prison.

Leave a thank you note for a waiter.

Search Craigslist for someone in need and help them out (don’t go alone).

Sell a luxury item and donate the money to someone in need.

Teach a class about your passion at your church building.

Art, tech, business, fashion, décor, carpentry, etc.

Keep a cooler of water bottles in your car on a hot day; give them away to thirsty people.

Post on Facebook, “How can I help you?” and follow up with the comments.

Pick up (a piece of) trash in a parking lot.

Help someone holding a cardboard sign.

Read to children at a Public school.

Help serve a meal or snack for teachers and staff.

Provide gift bags for teachers or parents.

Provide gift bags for first responders.

Walk your dog among people (e.g. college students) who miss their pets at home.

Deliver Meals on Wheels

Join in a workday

Piedmont Land Conservancy, Mountains to Sea Trail, your neighborhood, Habitat for Humanity, Camp Carefree


Make a craft to sell for Operation Christmas Child shipping.

Buy some food to donate.

Harvest your garden and share with a ministry.

Join the bone marrow registry.

Mentor an ex-prisoner through Prison Fellowship.

Go through your closet and donate your unneeded clothes to LOT 2540.

Donate blood, or platelets, or double red.

Meet a need for your favorite charity.

Volunteer for a local helping organization:

LOT 2540, Good Samaritan, Operation XCEL, Library, Hospital, Nursing home

Play in a charity golf tournament.

Compete in a 5k charity race.

Help with a game night at Hannah’s Haven.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Moon Landing Nostalgia

I remember where I was 50 years ago, when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon. It was late at night, and my parents insisted that we children stay up late to watch this historic event.

Just a few months before my family had visited Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The whole place was buzzing with anticipation and excitement. We walked through the tall building where the rockets were built. Our tour guide pointed out a huge sign on the ceiling of the facility, saying that the sign was the size of a football field. As a 6-year-old, I doubted that the sign could be that big. I also remember seeing a big digital clock counting down the days and hours until the next launch. The space program made a big impression on me. I proudly brought home a souvenir wall pennant from that visit, and I think I still have it somewhere...

It was an exciting time in our country. We were all cheering on the Apollo program, united in the spirit of exploration. Yes, we were racing against the Soviets, but everyone hoped for the safe voyage for our astronauts. I don't remember that particular launch. I don't remember the splashdown. But I do remember sitting in my den, late at night, with friends visiting from out-of-state, watching the historic step.

I didn't realize how significant that time was, when all our nation, and all the world, watched together as peaceful history was made.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Patriotism and Perfection

Patriotism seems to be suspect these days.

There has never been a perfect government on earth. Some governments are better than others, but none is perfect. That's because human governments are run by humans. Our selfish, arrogant, blaming, judgmental natures come through every time and mess things up. The best we humans can do is anticipate the bad actors and plan accordingly. And by the way, we are all potentially bad actors, especially when we are entrusted with power.

Our imperfect founders realized that only flawed people are available to lead any nation. They set up a system whereby no single person or group of people can run the whole government. The hope was that unwise or selfish policy would be avoided when responsibility is shared. With our Constitution, there are three branches of federal government, each with its own limited responsibility.

Unfortunately, these checks and balances have not prevented unwise government policies and actions. It took far too long for the U.S. to allow Americans of African descent to have rights equal to those of European descent. The battle continues today. Women were not allowed to vote until 1920. Agreements with Native Americans have been virtually worthless as our country has shoved that population into scattered reservations.

This country is flawed. It has a history of abusing its power and its citizens. It has rewarded those who exploit others. It has meddled in the affairs of virtually every other country of the world. It has fostered in its citizens a sense of pride and arrogance.


The United States stands for high ideals that are worth celebrating:
  • The promise of opportunity, that lures people around the world to risk life and limb to enter our borders
  • The freedom to choose one's career, art, entertainment, religion
  • The hope that injustices may be corrected
  • The context of lawfulness in which one's life and property are generally safe
  • The belief that a population can be trusted with freedom
  • The incentive to be creative and reap reward for innovation
I do love this country. It is the only place I have ever lived. I choose to love this imperfect country, partly because it's all I know, and partly because its system offers the hope that wrongs can be made right.

I don't worship the United States, but I choose to be patriotic. Patriotism does not require perfection. This Independence Day let's celebrate this imperfect land of freedom and opportunity!

I'm trusting Jesus for the perfection piece.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Purpose of Trees

God did some spectacular setting up in the Garden of Eden. Somewhere in the creation process he made a garden, especially for Adam. In it he put some trees. Of course we know about the forbidden tree in the middle of the garden, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Less well known is the Tree of Life, also in the middle of the garden. These were among all the trees that God put there.

But notice why God made these trees: "And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground--trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food" (Genesis 2:9).

Trees have a purpose. Trees are pleasing to the eye. I love to see the green leaves of an oak tree against a deep blue sky, leaves rustling in the breeze on a summer day. In the fall this same stand of trees turns golden, orange, and red, giving depth to the woods that changes with the hourly angle of the sun. When these trees lose their leaves, their lines show the simplicity and complexity of their skeletons. These lines gain depth again when snow marks them so carefully and individually.

Yes, trees are pleasing to the eye.

Trees are also good for food. We harvest their fruit and enjoy the sweetness of peaches and apples. Other trees are also useful. We can use their leaves for compost, we can cut the trees and mill them for lumber. We can hang swings from their branches.

Trees are beautiful, and trees are useful. Notice that beauty comes before utility in Genesis. We like to skip the beauty, and go straight to the utility. After all, what use is beauty?

Beauty is all around us. But we need to recognize it, encounter it, and let it transform us. God made this world both functional and beautiful. Among all God's creatures, only we are able to recognize this beauty. We have the capacity to engage with beauty, but so often we just ignore it.

Pondering, considering, absorbing, basking in, rejoicing in, resting in--this is how we encounter beauty. And this encounter transforms our souls.

Do we have time for that? When no one has time for beauty, we erode away into nothing but production. And there is so much more to life than production.