Stillness
Stillness

Cross Culture Community Church • January 23, 2021

This week's encouraging post brought to you by Anna Woo


I recently had a conversation with an out of state friend that I’ve been witnessing to and she shared that she hears so many voices of thoughts when in quiet and in stillness and that it’s unsettling. But rather than avoiding sitting in stillness, she identified that stillness was the very thing that she needed to practice. Stillness is an exercise of disciplining the will, to pause.


But this made me think of what would keep us, who have the hope of Christ, from coming to be still with Him? For believers, however, we know who we would be still with, so asking ourselves questions around identifying any barriers that keep us from entering into times of stillness in the Lord's presence is a good exercise to do! Are there any thoughts around God that might be keeping us from entering into times of stillness with Jesus? Are there any thoughts around how we view ourselves that might be deterring us? Is it that we don’t see it as a useful use of our time? Or that we feel like we have to get our ducks in a row before coming to Him and just, being? I encourage you, speak it into the light with another brother or sister in Christ! The enemy schemes to keep us from resting in His presence because he knows there is grace and beauty that comes from that place of rest and stillness with the Lord. 



In Stillness, A Peace of Mind

In stillness with the Lord, when we turn the gaze of our thoughts to gaze at God, we enter into reorienting our minds to God’s truths, God’s bigger perspective of things seeing circumstances through His eyes, and God’s bigger plan that we’ve been born into (which is a relationship with Him and a participation with Him to worship Him and bring Him glory). We’ll find that other things that might be taking up estate preoccupying our mind falls in their rightful place, bringing about inner peace. Our mind gets to rest in knowing that God is capable of doing all things, and yet He has invited us into participating with Him to bring Him worship and glory, allowing us to view life through a lens of grace and stewardship onto Him out of love! What a beautiful thing. 


What are the things that are preoccupying your mind? Are they voices of thoughts that need to discern whether they are of God or not? Are they taking up too much estate in your mind pulling you away from living connected to God, connected to your present, connected to your current relationships? Are you experiencing inner peace through experiencing Kingdom values taking residences in your heart and mind in Kingdom priority? Come and sit with Jesus in His presence in stillness, inclining your thoughts to be preoccupied by His truth, His bigger perspective, His bigger plan! 


In Stillness, Created for Love

In stillness when we turn the gaze of our will to gaze at the beauty of Jesus Christ, His embodiment of God manifest in revelation, the beauty of His gospel that He came to deliver, and the beauty of the invitation for us and the rest of humanity to experience wholeness in Christ, the other persons or things that takes residence in our hearts falls into their rightful place. What is greater in magnitude in love than Jesus and His gospel? Everything else pales in comparison! 

Gazing at Him gives us space to be refueled; a grace that comes from receiving His love and loving Him in return. This exchange is a fundamental part of our relationship with Him. We were created for love and not just to receive love, but to love as well. When we sit with the Lord to just be with Him for who He is and make Him the focus of our attention, any emotion that is not of him gets pushed aside and replaced with being loved by Him and being in love with Him. What a beautiful thing. 


Do you have emotions that come from the desire for control like worry or fear? or emotions that come from hopelessness like overwhelming sadness? or emotions that come from false thinking such as self-devaluation? Come, and be still in the Lord’s presence, with Him as the primary person you come to be with above any other person or reason! Come, and in stillness in the Lord’s presence, let us delight in God for who He is and receive His delight for who we are! Come, come before Him and still the soul in His presence, and just be. 

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Finding Perfect Peace Today
Finding Perfect Peace Today

Mishawn Gudipati • January 13, 2021

Jessy and I once were traveling and spent the night at an acquaintance's home. We had never been there before and upon arrival it appeared that the main spaces were kept nicely, but the more private spaces were unkempt. Judging by the level of grime and dust they hadn't been cleaned in months, but more likely years. Our acquaintances were busy with demanding jobs, and it appeared that the time just wasn't there to maintain their space. We were so grateful to have a place for the night, but it was a struggle to sleep well in the uncleaned sheets and space littered with piling garbage. We STAYED there for only six hours overnight, but the surroundings made finding rest a challenge and it felt like each hour was doubled.


Isaiah 26:3 "You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." Today, I am meditating on the word "stayed". Jessy and I physically stayed in a situation that made our skin crawl, and rest was hard to find. Our surroundings as we fixed our eyes upon them brought distress, discomfort, disgust, and definitely not perfect peace. But as we can see in the verse, what's important is to stay our minds not on our physical surroundings, but on God. From this place comes perfect peace. How do we do this currently when there seems to be much tension, disagreement, sickness, hostility, or uncertainty that it makes our skin crawl and causes peace of mind to be absent? Just as this verse states, we trust God.

How do we trust God? We know Him more. This looks like remembering what the Bible says about Him. Knowing He is able, reliable, does what He says He will do and is strong enough. Where are the places in your life today that make your "brain" crawl? Where is it hard to find peace? Where are the places where you need to remind yourself that He is able, experience that He is reliable, remember that He does what He says and declare that He is strong enough even though you may not be?


Here are some practical opportunities we as a church family have to keep our mind "stayed" on Him this week and in the weeks to come:


Prayer & Worship


Prayer with Amenumeys- Fridays at 7 PM via Zoom


Gudipati's Morning worship and prayer- Mornings at 8:30 AM via Facebook livestream on Jessy's page


Wednesday Word With Sam- 12 PM on Cross Culture page via Livestream


Sam and Tyler have some more intimate prayer times going on throughout the week as well. Reach out to them if interested tyler@crossculturemn.org or sam@crossculturemn.org.


Pilgrim Center for Reconciliation Events


Octave Prayer

Monday, January 18th - Monday, January 25th. Every January for the last 113 years Jesus's followers from around the world have participated in 8 days (an octave) a prayer for Christian unity towards the fulfillment of Jesus's prayer in John 17 that we may all be one. You can join a 1/2 hour prayer gathering at 10:00 a.m. Central Time each day by signing up at this link: https://compassionconnect.regfox.com/prayer2021. 


Journey to Hope, an MLK Celebration

PCR is partnering with two Minneapolis congregations, the Urban Refuge and Mercy Vineyard, along with several other ministries  Monday, Jan. 18th at 7:00 p.m. You can participate by joining at this link. https://www.youtube.com/c/TheUrbanRefugeChurch



There are many (What a great problem!). Perhaps picking one this week and another the next would help with making a choice.


Seeking the ONLY ONE who brings perfect peace with you,

Mishawn

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Christmas Celebration
Christmas Celebration

Cross Culture Community Church • December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas Cross Culture!!!


This year's Christmas Eve & Christmas are looking a little different...like seemingly everything else in 2020! Instead of a Christmas Eve service we wanted to provide you with a few options of things you could do tonight or tomorrow morning based on how you're celebrating.


Christmas time is a GREAT time to share the Love of Jesus with others! I am encouraged by all of the ways that we are living for God's purposes together during this Christmas season:

Dropping off gifts, groceries, Christmas Cards...gift cards...shoveling driveways...Making something to share, whether a meal or sharing your skills with others...Taking time to connect with others...Sharing Good News or the meaning of Christmas (like Larry the Lumberjack - see below) over family gatherings or on social media...AND MORE: Even giving our Christmas Cards & Gifts that we sent to our friends around the world have begun to get arrive and encourage them!


Here are a few Christmas and Christmas Eve videos & resources that I hope will enjoy:



  • Here's a short animated video on the Birth of Jesus that our family watched this together during our prayer time this morning: “Luke 1-2”:

...AND if you want to dig deeper, you can check out The Bible Project's Bible Study on Luke 1-2.


  • The Shepherd is an episode from The Chosen and is aproximately 20 mins. "While bringing a lamb acceptable for sacrifice to Bethlehem, a shepherd hears the angelic announcement and is witness to the birth of the Lamb of God." One of our missional communities used this to celebrate Christmas together and it was very moving.


  • Charting Christmas For those of you who would like to learn more about some of the traditions that surround Christmas there's this 40 minute Documentary looking at some of these questions: Why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25? How did Saint Nicholas become Santa Claus? Why do we have Christmas trees?


  • Finally, this morning I shared some thoughts on The Christmas Star that I had shared previously but that seemed relevant and interesting to look at again.



It is really cool to think that we are closing out our year and beginning our new year by having Jonas and Bet Cortes sharing from God's Word and from their hearts this Sunday and next!


I am excited to worship together, whether you're able to make it in person or online, either way, God's presence and power will be working in us and through us as we live for HIS purposes together!


MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!


--

For His Purposes,

Sam Snyder


Cross Culture

Community Church


www.crossculturemn.org


For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves

but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

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The Christmas Star
The Christmas Star

Sam Snyder • December 24, 2020

This last week has had a lot of thought and attention given to "the Christmas Star." We didn't really get a good view here in the Twin Cities because of the cloudiness, but it was a sight to behold. That really had people thinking about the "star of Bethelehem" and what that may have been about. Here are some notes I adapted from a friend of mine, Tom Flaherty, around the nature and possible timing of the star of Bethlehem. There is also a 27 minute video exploring the Census, Star, and timing of the birth of Jesus.


There are two good possibilities for the star:


1. It was supernatural, like the fire over the people of Israel...a very real possibility.

2. God worked through nature to orchestrate an event where the stars literally and figuratively aligned in a way that stargazers who would look to the sky for signs would interpret them to come from afar to worship Jesus. The only problem with the timing of this theory is the dating of Herod's death, which isn't as stronly corroborated as the dates of the movements of the stars and planets. I did research that backed this up as a good theory based on movements of the stars, but a friend of mine, Tom Flaherty, wrote this out in a really accessible way, so I will just send you a silgithly abbreivated version of what he wrote:


What Did the Magi See?  


"We saw His star in the east…The star went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was." Matthew 2:2; 10


The Magi were from the same region as Daniel, the most famous of their kind, and most likely had access to all his prophecies. Daniel had prophesied extensively about the kingdoms that would follow Babylon and every word so far had been fulfilled in actual history; he was batting one hundred percent. Daniel had also given the approximate time the Messiah would appear (Daniel 9:24-27) and the mystery of His Divine identity that would invite worship (Daniel 7:13-14). Without that access, why would the Magi come so far and be so sure? Listen to their confidence: "Where is He who was born king of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." (Matthew 2:2)


From Daniel's time, the Magi were known for all kinds of wisdom including astrology (Daniel 2:4,5,10) which involved looking for signs in the heavens. What did they see that convinced them they were witnessing Messiah's star?


The Greek word for planet means "wandering star," so there were two kinds of stars for the Magi - those which moved (planets) and those which were stationary (stars). Astronomy is an exact science so we can know today what they saw then. Historians have located the worldwide census and have dated it through three different extra-Biblical sources to 3 BC. (See my CD on "The Puzzle of Christmas History" available online or at City Church.) What was happening in the stars at that time? A study on what happened in the 3/2 BC skies has been given by Doctor of Astronomy, John Moseley.


On August 12, 3 BC there was a conjunction (a close approach of celestial bodies is called a conjunction) of Jupiter (the king) and Venus (the mother) in Leo the lion, the ancient constellation associated with Judah (Genesis 49:9). On September 14th, 3 BC there was another conjunction, this time it was between Jupiter (the king of the wandering stars) and Regulus. Regulus is the brightest star in Leo and its name is translated king. So the king of the wandering stars came into conjunction with the king of the fixed stars in the constellation associated with Judah. 


Was this enough to convince the Magi that the prophesied King had been born? Conjunctions aren't that rare so even though the timing was right, I don't know if it was enough for them to head toward Judah. What happened in 2 BC that confirmed Messiah's star and led to the journey the Magi made to Bethlehem?


"Where is the One who has been born king of the Jews…Herod called the Magi secretly and found out the exact time the star appeared…and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was."  Matthew 2:2; 7; 9


The magi weren't at the nativity, in fact, we know from the time they gave Herod that their visit was over a year after the birth. (See Matt. 2:16) They didn't come right after the conjunctions of Jupiter (king) and Venus (mother) in Leo (Judah's constellation) combined with the conjunction of Jupiter and Regulus (king) or they would have arrived much earlier in Judah.


To understand what they observed next we have to define an astronomical term: retrograde motion. Even though the planets (wandering stars) continue their orbit around the sun, sometimes they appear to stop, and turnaround from earth's perspective. This allusion is called: "retrograde motion."  


After Jupiter's conjunction with Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, on September 14, 3 BC, it continued its orbit. But then it stopped, turned around, and came back for a second conjunction with Regulus on February 17, 2 BC. It passed Regulus again and then turned around again and made a third conjunction on May 8, 2 BC.  Here's what one scholar has written about these events: 


"In 3/2 BC, Jupiter's retrograde wandering would have called for our magi's full attention. After Jupiter and Regulus had their kingly encounter, Jupiter continued on its path through the star field. But then it entered retrograde. It 'changed its mind' and headed back to Regulus for a second conjunction. After this second pass it reversed course again for yet a third rendezvous with Regulus. A triple conjunction. A triple pass like this is very rare. Over a period of months, our watching magi would have seen the Planet of Kings dance out a halo above the Star of Kings. A coronation. The association of Messiah with the tribe of Judah and with the lion clarifies the connection between Jupiter's behavior and the Jewish nation, because the starry coronation--the triple conjunction--occurred within the constellation of Leo, the Lion."


After the three conjunctions, Jupiter one more time comes back to Regulus, but this time meets Venus there in one of the closest conjunctions in recorded history (.01 degrees was the distance between them). On June 17, 2 BC, Jupiter and Venus would have appeared like a single star right next to Regulus. Planetariums all over the world show this as the Christmas Star. (Go HERE to watch a flash presentation.) Here's what one astronomer said about this event:


"Exact conjunctions of Venus and Jupiter when they fuse into one body to the naked eye in the evening or night sky are very rare. And having such a conjunction happen on both sides of Regulus with Jupiter passing over Regulus three times in the interim is unique, and an impressive thing to view. It never happened 2000 years before nor 2000 years after 3/2 BC."


Our text says the star went before them and then stopped over the place where the child was. Jupiter was the Christmas star. Do we know when it stopped over Bethlehem when viewed from Jerusalem? Interestingly, it was on December 25, 2 BC. In the word of another scholar:


"After the conjunction with Venus and Regulus, Jupiter then moved westwards. By mid-November it had passed the zenith and was shining in the western sky, and still moving west. Six weeks later, Jupiter had reached its furthest point west, came to a halt and stood still against the background stars in the sky 65 degrees above Bethlehem. It is called 'retrograde motion.' An astronomer tracking the movement of planets through the star field watches not so much on the scale of minutes, but on the longer scale of days, weeks and months. On this scale of time, Jupiter did stop. On December 25 of 2 BC as it entered retrograde, Jupiter reached full stop in its travel through the fixed stars.  Magi viewing from Jerusalem would have seen it stopped in the sky above the little town of Bethlehem in the abdomen of the constellation Virgo."  

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Loving One Another
Loving One Another

Cross Culture Community Church • December 18, 2020

This week's encouragement is brought to you by Savannah Pruett:


Loving each other may have to look a lot different in this season of covid regulations…or does it? It is pretty simple actually. All we have to do is love others the way that scripture instructs us to. This is simple, but it doesn’t mean it is easy.


First, we should look at ourselves because scripture says that from "out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45). What is on the inside of us will flow to the outside affecting the people around us! This is very important to know, as we are constantly being infiltrated by the media, our friends, others' opinions, the government, you name it. We have to remember that we are responsible for ourselves, and can only control our own actions, and correct our own sins (Matthew 7:5).



Second, scripture tells us to “walk by the spirit” and in doing so “you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).  What does this mean? How does this help me to love others better? This chapter goes on to say, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law” (5:22-23).

This shows us that it is our job to walk by the spirit, and by doing so, we will see this fruit start to spring up in our lives! As we choose the Spirit of God, we reject the desires of the flesh, and can better love people because we exhibit goodness, love, faithfulness, self-control, etc.


Third, why is this even important to me or you, that is, to love others? Well, the bible clearly states that we will be known BY our love for one another! In John 13:35 Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

We should want to be known by the way we love people through the way we prefer them, serve, care, and treat them. God loves to see his children not only representing who HE is, but also leading others to Him through their LOVE. It is stated in 1 John 4:8, “whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” What?! This is the truth, that if we are not exemplifying love, we do not know God!


What should we take away from this? We should take away the simple truth that as we bear God’s image, we also bear His love for His people. In the way we should go about loving people, it doesn’t have to be complicated, we just have to surrender what WE want for what HE wants.

  1.  We looked at the fact that we should be inspecting our own hearts for error and watch what we allow into our spirit.
  2. We saw that it is through communion with God (walking by the spirit), spending time in our word, praying, listening that we will see the good fruits growing in our lives.
  3. It leads us to action or application so that we can see these things being done in our lives here and now!


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Joy
Joy

Cross Culture Community Church • December 11, 2020

We're going to be sharing an encouraging article from one of the interns each week. You have been getting these weekly from Pastor Mishawn Gudipati or Sam Snyder...BUT this week's encouragement is brought to you by Hannah McIntosh:


“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King!” 


These lyrics have been playing over and over again in my head since I asked the Lord what he wanted me to write about for this devotional.

Joy to the world… these words remind me of how not joyous the world is today and how this truth has been buried from all of the grievances that the nations are experiencing. However, just because this truth seems to be lost sometimes, it does not mean that this truth has disappeared.


There is a truth that allows us to still declare joy over this dark and dreary world. There is still a reason to sing, to have hope, and be rescued. The truth that we can still cling on to and shout with our lips and lives is that the Lord has come! Our Savior, Redeemer, Justifier, and Reconciler has come to the world! He humbled himself and took on humanity, suffering with us, dying for us so that we could be re-born, renewed, forgiven, and grafted into the inheritance of eternal life with Him.


Let earth receive her King! Oh, that the nations would receive the gift of their Savior Jesus Christ! If you have already initially received Christ as your King and Savior, then I hope this message will fill your spirit with joy and thanksgiving! In Luke 2:14 we read the exultation that the angels sang while witnessing to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Jesus is the joy of our salvation and he is also our peace that passes our human intellect and experiences.


I do believe that Joy and Peace go hand in hand. If you do not have peace, then how can you have true joy (not merely the emotion of excitement)? And vice versa. Both joy and peace go beyond feelings and environments. Its hard to comprehend sometimes because the world wants us to base truth off of feelings instead of facts, but the fact is genuine peace and authentic joy can only come from one source: Jesus Christ.


The lyrics go “Joy TO the world” not “Joy IN the world”. Our source of peace and joy comes from a being who is not of this world. It says in John 16:33 that Jesus gives us peace that is not of this world, and that is why we can take heart and not be afraid. Isaiah 53:5 reminds us that through Christ taking on our punishment he established peace between us and God. These truths in turn, allow our spirits to be full of joy! We are no longer under the wrath of God, we have been reconciled, adopted, and now awaiting our promised inheritance of eternal glory with Him!


Take heart and take joy in these FACTS! These facts cannot be disproven by some government nor can our holy rights as children of God be taken away by the world’s greedy hands. Let this next month's celebrations remind you of why we get to celebrate. Dwell and rest in the peace and joy of the Lord, brothers and sisters. May the well-spring of life within you overflow to the lost and dying world around you!  

Revelations 22:12-14

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” 

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”


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Even in a Broken World
Even in a Broken World

Sam Snyder • December 05, 2020

I just got back to my room after holding and crying with someone whose world is falling apart. I'm regularly reminded we live in a broken world and we are longing for eternity and wholeness in the midst of this broken world. 

I got back and clicked play on THIS song that I had queued up earlier because it just came out today but didn't get to hit play because of everything that's been going on today. It was SO fitting for this day, this season, and our discovery in Revelation of how WORTHY Jesus is!


 Do you feel the world is broken? (We do)

 Do you feel the shadows deepen? (We do)

 Do you know that all the dark won't stop the light from getting through? (We do)

 Do you wish that you could see it all made new? (We do)


 Is all creation groaning? (It is)

 Is a new creation coming? (It is)


I had written this earlier and just hadn't posted because of everything else going:


Have you found yourself longing for PEACE lately? We live in a world that is often crazy, chaotic, and filled with conflict. There are wars and rumors of wars on a macro scale and on micro scale we often have conflicts and craziness of our own. Yet there is a longing for peace within all of us. There is something deep inside that tells us that there should be peace and that something is wrong when there is no peace.

During this Advent season of waiting and longing for the day of the complete peace that comes with the consummation of the kingdom of God and the return of Jesus, I want to remind you that Jesus came to bring us peace!


1. He IS the Prince of Peace

"...And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

+ When HE rules in our hearts His peace rules in our hearts!

(Colossians 3:15, Philippians 4:7)


2. He brings us Peace with God

"For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven." Colossians 1:19-20

+ Jesus is the key to inner peace! True inner peace starts with being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.


3. He gives us the Power to live at Peace with others

Ephesians 2:13-20

 "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone."

+ JESUS is the key to world peace!


This Sunday we will be reflecting on His PEACE as we worship together, take communion and continue on our focus on how WORTHY Jesus is!


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Hope...In The Moment
Hope...In The Moment

Cross Culture Community Church • November 25, 2020

We're going to be sharing an encouraging article from one of the interns each week. You had been getting these weekly from Pastor Mishawn Gudipati or Sam Snyder...BUT this week's encouragement is brought to you by Amanda Rodd:


It’s no secret that this year has been hard on a lot of people. During which it has been easy for people to feel justified in their hurts and sufferings. Rightly so, we’ve been through a lot. However, I think in some ways our world has twisted the healthy venting of hard times into complaining and seeing the worst in the times and other people. I’ve recognized that for a while now I have been starving for positivity. I think the world is too. There is still good in the world! We should focus on that! However, as Ecclesiastes suggests there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Sometimes it is necessary to focus your heart on the positive. And other times it’s just plain hard to say the glass is half full when it’s actually almost empty. Sometimes trying to be positive feels fake and inauthentic. That’s when I realized that we need something stronger than positivity. An optimistic outlook isn’t enough sometimes.


So, what is stronger than positivity to help in hard times???

What can defy time, reach beyond our circumstances, and outweigh our emotions even if we are feeling there is no light at the end of the tunnel?


The psalmist talks to his own soul in Psalm 42:5, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” Are his enemies pursuing him? Has he lost something or someone? Is he just in a difficult season of life? The Psalmist does not actually give us an answer as to why he is cast down. But he gives us the answer to his anguish as he commands his soul, “Hope in God!” Why? “For I shall again praise him, my salvation.”

Hope in God is what can transcend our circumstances, our feelings and keep the harsh reality around us from shifting our perspective.


A few weeks ago we went through a passage in Romans 5 in our Bible discussion during our Missional Community gathering. Romans 5:3-4 reads, “but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” Hope is the result of our patient suffering. Paul adds, “and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

If we are in Christ, we have the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance! Talk about hope!


Sadly, I think we forget about hope a lot because we don’t hope in things that are right in front of our faces. Otherwise it wouldn’t be called hope. Out of sight out of mind, right? Paul tells us that we don’t hope in what is seen but what we cannot see (Romans 8:24-25). And the writer of Hebrews expands that hope is “the conviction of things not seen” (11:1).


So, what are we waiting on that we cannot see right now? To not wear masks? To embrace our loved ones again? To enjoy a nice meal out with friends without acting like everyone has infectious cooties? That all is well and good but again we need something stronger and… something surer. What could we be surer of than God’s faithfulness to keep his promises?!? Heaven doesn’t have masks, social distancing, sickness or sin! Instead, it is the home of our King, our Savior, our friend and our faithful Lord.


The question is not whether or not he is worthy for you to place your hope in Him. As we’ve been learning on Sundays, He is the only one who is worthy! The question is whether or not you’re willing to reconcile yourself with that truth.

So, what is your hope in? Is the object of your faith sure enough, strong enough to get you through moment by moment? Do you consider Him faithful who has promised? In what ways do you need to actively realign your heart to set your hope in the One who will never fail you?


My prayer is that we will hold fast to our confession without wavering (Hebrews 10:23) and that “the God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13). 

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Fixing Our Eyes
Fixing Our Eyes

Sam Snyder • November 21, 2020

I know that it's been a hard 8 months and many of us are tired, tired of so many different things. Tired of all of the changes. Tired of the losses we've faced of loved ones, of time, of health, of jobs, etc. This virus and the decisions that have been made around it has impacted funerals, weddings, visiting family, being with friends, Sunday Worship Celebrations, how our missional communities gather, how discipleship groups connect, and more! In the midst of this, it is natural to feel tired and to grow frustrated when things seem to get more difficult. It can be easy to just want to disconnect from people on the one hand or disregard precautions on the other. It can feel like life has been on pause, or even reverse, for the last few months and now it may feel like it's getting worse. You may be wondering, "what's the point!?!" (check out Sunday's message if you haven't yet).


I want to encourage you that God is at work in this season that we are in! God has been waking me in the nights with clear words about things, encouragements, and an awareness of His presence. My times of prayer with God have been growing more intimate. The word that has been consistent throughout all of this season is that God is still working! Like a seed in the ground that goes through a long process where you wonder if anything is actually happening under the surface. Yet, as the seed goes into the ground, into the darkness, and it then dies and produces life through that process. Another picture that I've had in mind is that of a woman's pregnancy; pregnancy is long and uncomfortable, it is a process that, though painful, will bring life and multiplication. 


One song that has a line that God keeps using to remind is Way Maker by Sinach that says "Even when I don't see it, You're working! Even when I can't feel it, You're working! You never stop, You never stop working!"


It really is a matter of perspective. What are you fixing your eyes on? That's what you're going to see more of. We've been looking at Revelation and we see that the saints and the angels fixed their eyes on the one on the throne and all that they could do was respond with worship! Hebrews 12 tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith! What we fix our eyes on will determine the directions we go. I want to invite you to fix your eyes on Jesus, fix your eyes on the one who is seated on the throne, the one who is WORTHY!


He's worthy to receive ALL of our worship and thanksgiving. One of the ways that we can change our direction is by changing our attention. I want to encourage you to begin to look for at least one thing each day that you can be thankful for. You may even challenge yourself to be increasing that number each day. I invite you to go to our Church Page/App and share something you're thankful for each day (or even just once before Thanksgiving!)  This helps us all take our eyes off of our situation, off of our disappointments, discouragements, or distractions, and to see how God is still working in us and through us in the MIDDLE of this situation. I love the things I have seen shared by our church in the midst of it all. It increases the depth and breadth of our personal and corporate times of prayer and worship because we're told to enter his presence with thanksgiving and his courts with praise (Psalm 100) and to "not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4).


One of the songs that has been helping me worship with thanksgiving is Thank You by Maverick City Music. We put together a YouTube playlist with worship around Revelation and the Worthiness of God HERE. Emily also put together a Spotify playlist on Thankfulness HERE.


We know that this Thanksgiving Day will look different for all of us, so we want to lean into the spirit of giving thanks and come together as a church family at 7 PM for some fun and sharing together...you'll have to provide the snack on your side of the screen and we'll provide the fun and thanksgiving together!


Finally, here's a quick update on a few changes to our Sunday Worship Celebrations over the next 4 weeks as we do our part to keep everyone healthy when we gather during the current surge in Covid cases: We will not be serving coffee or snacks following worship. We'll evaluate if any other adjustments are needed along the way, but we are THANKFUL that gathering for worship with the current precautions has been shown to NOT be a significant source of community spread of this virus! I'm also thankful for (mostly) reliable technology that helps us connect via Livestream AND Video calls for worship, prayer, Bible study, fellowship, outreach, and spiritual growth. We encourage you to stay home if you or someone in your home is sick and join us ONLINE instead at our YouTube channel or Facebook page for the Livestream. Every week we also have a group discussion taking place after the message right HERE.


What are YOU thankful for??? #monthofthanksgiving let us know on www.faithlife.com/crossculturemn

--

For His Purposes,

Sam Snyder


Cross Culture

Community Church

www.crossculturemn.org


For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves

but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

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What Really Matters
What Really Matters

Mishawn Gudipati • November 05, 2020

Recently, I've been doing a lot of self-reflection. I've been thinking a lot about what defines me. Is it my culture? My sexuality? My religion? My preferences? A job title? My circumstances? My ability? My successes or failures? In our world there are so many places we can look to for this answer. We can base our identity on what's societally acceptable, the opinions of others, political views, social media, appearance, ability, success, material possessions and the list could go on. We could. I could. But the Lord has been nudging me to gaze up. Colossians 3 has a lot of wonderful things to say about this, if you get a chance to read it for yourself I have no doubt that Holy Spirit will highlight something for you in there, but in this passage I see a reminder in the midst of the charge to look up, to also remember whose you are.

Colossians 3:12-14 highlights our identity as a follower of Jesus, and I don't see it defined by any of the earlier things mentioned. I see it reorienting us back to the truth that we are chosen people of God, holy and dearly loved. In other words, people who are wanted, set apart, known, cared for, delighted in by our Creator. It's His love for us that defines us, compels us, and enables us to live out our calling in a manner worthy of the Gospel. And because of this love that we get to experience in relationship to Him, we can operate out of a place of compassion, kindness, humility, patience and gentleness towards others. We can chose to bear with each other and choose to forgive. It's out of this love that all these pieces of our identity come as well as our calling. What's our calling? Well it shows up differently in each of us, but it boils down to love God and love Others.


It is election week. The news tells us that things are tense, volatile, unsteady, but as we look up, we don't have to be. We aren't called to be defined by the opinions and events on earth. We are called to look up and remember whose we are (Colossians 3:1-4), to be known by our love for one another (John 13:35) and to do everything in the name of the Lord (Colossians 3:17).


Where are the places you need to look up today? What are the truths you need to remind yourself of and choose to stay grounded in?


Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” - Proverbs 19:21

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