Why We Are Called To Be Anti-Racist
Why We Are Called To Be Anti-Racist

Mishawn Gudipati • August 07, 2020

As of late I've constantly found myself at a loss for words, understanding and how to move forward. All the emotions, opinions, experiences, stories, news, past, present and thoughts about the future have been overwhelming and constant. Who do I listen to? What do I do? Should I stay silent? Should I stick with like minded people? Do I make a statement? Should I take action? Lots and lots of questions have passed through my mind. At times I felt unsettled, confused, off balance. Can anyone relate to this?

How are we as believers called to act in "unprecedented times" or when there's "political polarity" or when people are saying "we can't breathe" because of oppression or injustice? 

We recently finished our Book/Video Study of The Color of Compromise as a church. Those who participated met last Saturday to discuss final thoughts and next steps. I wanted to share some thoughts and next steps discussed as we concluded this study and look ahead to the future.


1. We Are Called to Be Anti-Racist. The definition of Anti-racist is simply taking a stand against racist attitudes, words and behaviors that discount or disqualify a person based on the color of their skin. To be anti-racist as a Christian means three things:

  • You acknowledge that every person regardless of ability, race, background, choices are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)
  • Remember our battle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). You choose to respond not react with the checklist of love to situations and people who may be racist. And choose to not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing and good (1 Peter 3:9Romans 12:9-21).
  • Being Anti-racist is more than choosing to not be racist in your thoughts or actions towards others, it also means taking action when you see it happening through the interactions of others or in systems (James 4:17)


2. YOU are the Church. Have you ever thought, "The church should really do something about that"? I think we all have at some point. But it's time we realize that when that thought comes, it means we should consider how I WILL DO SOMETHING about that. It might just be that Holy Spirit is highlighting something that HE is inviting you into (Hebrews 3:15). This is not to say we are alone in invoking change, but we also need to consider our part and take the steps we need to rather than assuming someone else should do it instead.


3. Next steps. The book ends with very thorough, practical steps that can be taken to help each person get involved in ending racism. Among some of which include educate yourself. Get to know people different that you. Commit to not just knowing people of color, but to also using your spheres of influence to evoke change in systems and institutions that continue to be racist. Here are a few upcoming events to participate in:

 

Unity Revival March: Merge Twin Cities is co-hosting this march with Unity Revival Movement on Saturday, August 8th at 11 AM. Those interested in joining can meet at K-mart on Lake St and the march will end at Phelps Park.

 

Pray on MLK: Pray on MLK is an example of holy activism— a two hour, nationwide prayer and worship protest located along every Martin Luther King Jr. street or memorial in the United States (and around the world). Happening THIS Saturday, August 8th from 6:01PM-8:01PM. Click HERE to signup.

 


This conversation is important. If you have thoughts, questions, comments feel free to reach out. We, as a staff, are here to journey alongside each other as together we grow, mature and attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

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How A Glass Of Water Can Change Your Week
How A Glass Of Water Can Change Your Week

Mishawn Gudipati • August 02, 2020

It's been hot! So very hot and humid. I know there are some within our church family that thrive in this weather, and I must say we are thankful for you because you bring us perspective in how this heavy, hot weather can also be enjoyed. Naturally when it is hot out we HYDRATE! In the passage this past Sunday, we explored Mark 9:36-41. The conversation  on the part of the disciples was riddled with competition, otherness and once again GREATNESS. It is so easy for us to look at the disciples from hundreds of years ago and shake our heads thinking,"What is wrong with them? Jesus is living among them. Get it together! Stop missing it." But if we pause like we did on Sunday and reflect on our own personal attitudes, persuasions, and motivations, could it be possible that we at times are more like them than we think?


The disciples throughout chapter 9 have struggled. They were unable to fulfill their call in casting out a demon tormenting a little boy and later on in the chapter they find OTHER people, not a part of the IN crowd with Jesus successfully casting out demons in Jesus' Name. This comes right after they were caught by Jesus arguing about who was the greatest. Time and time again Jesus reorients and refocuses them back to the way, the truth and the life; himself. They didn't need to have the right way or the best truth or live their best life, they needed to return to listening to Jesus, asking questions and being willing to be faithful in the small, ordinary tasks, just as much as the big tasks.


Jesus in this passage could have highlighted amazing, powerful, big spiritual wonders, as something worthy of reward, but instead he highlighted a simple cup of water. A symbolic representation of the stance we should have in relationships to those within the church and outside the church. He was calling them to have a default stance of being FOR others rather than against. This looks like being willing to celebrate how God is moving in and through the lives of others, being willing to receive from others rather than just give. Where are the places where it's hard to choose to be for rather than against others? Where is it hard to believe that others are for you rather than against you? How might God be reorienting you and refocusing you in these places? 

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Why You Don't Have To Be The Greatest
Why You Don't Have To Be The Greatest

Mishawn Gudipati • July 26, 2020

Questions. There are times questions are helpful and there are times questions are not. I laugh when I think about this now, but I remember when Jessy and I were in college and how one day he was recounting his day and the conversations he had had with various people. One conversation in particular left me mortified. He reported that during a class lecture he raised his hand and asked the professor, "Why do you have an airplane landing strip on your head?" He was referring to his receded hairline! The professor was was not phased and laughed, but that question while OK to ask in one culture was not OK to ask in another. Jessy has since learned the socially appropriate conversation topics here, while I must say that I still have a ways to go at learning those for his homeland :)


In reflecting on the Discovery Bible Passage from this past Sunday, Mark 9:30-37, I was struck by verse 32, "But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it." Jesus just told them THE PLAN and they were afraid to ask? Why? Perhaps because they were embarrassed and disillusioned that they were the greatest and thought that they should already know what Jesus was talking about? Perhaps because of their pride they missed the equipping and hope that Jesus was extending to them? How many times does our pride get in the way of what God is working within us? Too often I think we discount, disqualify, deny, disapprove or even doubt the opportunities God is placing before and miss out on the things He is inviting us into. 

This passage highlights the stance Jesus calls us to have in the midst of the everyday.


1. Humility:  The text clearly shows us that Jesus wasn't living to perform for people. In fact he didn't want people to know where He and His disciples were.


2. Authenticity: It's funny how in the text, the argument between the disciples about who was the greatest was in fact very childish. Perhaps when Jesus placed a little child among them he was emphasizing that to them. I wonder if Jesus was also highlighting how we are not called to pretend like we have it altogether, but to come authentically with our questions, our failures, our true identities and passions before God.


3. Teachable: I think we've all been asked a slew of questions at some point in our life by a child wondering how the world works. So many questions are asked and so many answers are given that ultimately we come to a point where we aren't sure how to answer those questions anymore! Have you been there? But the stance we are invited to take from this passage is one of learning, no one has arrived until we see Jesus face to face. If the disciples had stopped in their confusion and asked Jesus, who knows what might have been different when the time actually came for THE PLAN to happen. Would they have been scared and hiding in a room? Or would they have taken advantage of the situation compelled by the joy and hope that Jesus would rise three days later?


So this week and in the weeks to come may we ask questions. I believe one of the greatest strategies we can take in humbling ourselves is to ask questions. Not to assume. Not to act like we have it all together. Asking questions reminds us we need each other and allows us to receive from another. It allows us to step out of being blinded by our need to be right or prove ourselves and rather step into complete and utter dependence on God, leaning into His understanding and trusting that He will make our paths straight. 

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When There's Unbelief
When There's Unbelief

Mishawn Gudipati • July 15, 2020

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you start out strong, but as time passes or events occur you feel your strength failing?


This past Saturday I experienced this firsthand with Noele. As many of you heard, we took on an "Almost 30K" in hopes of walking from the State Capitol of Minnesota to the Mall of America. Though we started out a few minutes late (parking issues), we also started out strong! The path wasn't clear at times so we pulled out our GPS and confirmed the route. At another point we had friends meet us past the halfway mark and cheer us on with liquids, buckets of ice and chairs to rest our feet. And still at other points when exhaustion was upon us we were able to find a bench to take a seat and regroup. But then the last stretch came. We excitedly entered the caged walkway and entered onto a sidewalk that journeyed along the highway, getting closer to our destination. At this point, by car, Mall of America was about 4 minutes away, by feet nearly two hours. 


This path was unlike any other we had previously taken. The sun was high in the sky, shade was not present, benches for resting were nonexistent, bikes were whirring past us unexpectedly and after many steps, the way in front of us seemed unending! Our feeling of strength, our ways of coping, our plans of finishing became distant. With every passing minute I seemed to become more and more present to the pain in my toes and legs. At this point I questioned if I could even take another step, let alone make it to our destination.


Have you ever been there? Maybe you haven't taken on a unique walking endeavor, but what about in the day to day? Have you ever held out hope for something to change? Or held onto belief that God would show up and after you reached the end of your patience, your resources, your support, maybe even yourself, you wondered if God could even do something!?


I think this gives us a glimpse into the experience of the father from our Discovery Bible Study this past Sunday. In Mark 9:14-29 , we see a parent who has had a child suffering for many years with no change. And as Jesus converses with the father their dialogue is intriguing. I imagine this wasn't the first time the father had sought help for his son. And as he stands before Jesus, I assume he's speaking from experience when he asks Jesus for help and then he ends with, "if you can". So many times he probably sought solutions or answers it to help his son but to no avail. Jesus notices this, and reminds him of who God is and what He can do. Jesus says, "Anything is possible for him who believes." 


Faithless versus belief, how do we move from one to the other? In looking further into the Greek we can see that the key ingredient in both of these stances is a four lettered word called TRUST. We all know this word, but do we really know it? To trust someone is to hold a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something (dictionary.com). Where are the places today where God is inviting you to step out in trust that HE is reliable, truthful, able and strong enough? So often we want answers that we can see or understand and often God's response is to lean in and trust Him and to see Him make our paths straight. Let's together seek to move from the stance of "If you can Lord" to declaring the truth "Lord you're able".

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What To Do When We Don't Understand
What To Do When We Don't Understand

Mishawn Gudipati • July 08, 2020

July 8th, 2020


This past Sunday we started our Discovery Bible Study of the Book of Mark picking up where we left off last summer. We met in small groups spaced out on the park lawn. Some groups (possibly mine) had children crawling all over them, but it was cool to see how God was moving in the intergenerational conversations happening over the Scripture Mark 9:2-10. There were points made about Jesus' very bright wardrobe change, corrections that it wasn't Jonah who appeared but rather Elijah and Moses, comments on what the shelters looked like some thought an airplane, others tents. And the thing that struck me the most was God's response to Peter, who possibly was a verbal processor. The text clearly says none of the disciples knew what to say, but it seems Peter in his fright was trying to make some sense of what was happening before him.

This amazing, inexplainable, unexpected, thing happens, and Peter, like I so often do, tried to make sense of something that was beyond understanding. He turned to his experiences from the past, possibly his cultural heritage and in the midst of not understanding and being afraid he made a plan. He tried to regain control. How often do we do that? We find ourselves in a space, situation or season and we don't quite understand what has happened, what God is currently doing and we feel helpless or uncertain. But I love in the passage how God interrupts. He reorients them to what they already know about Jesus, "this is my son whom I love" and he refocuses them to "listen to him". What would it be like for us to handle the unknowns, the places we don't understand like that this week? If we reminded ourselves of what we know about God and we seek Him and His ways first, choosing to stop and listen before speaking and acting?


Reorienting and refocusing with you,

Mishawn Gudipati

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All Things New
All Things New

Cross Culture Community Church • July 07, 2020

July 1st, 2020

Mishawn Gudipati


We did a new thing yesterday as we gathered IN PERSON, IN THE PARK, together for our church service. If you missed it you can watch it HERE. It was so nice to see faces and share stories with one another about how God has been moving over the past few months. While we continue to try and make needed adjustments to our time together in the park, this idea about better versus new has been rolling around in my head. There are a lot of things that have re-opened, restarted or are about to. Lots of new changes that have come and may stay for a time or may remain. What are we called to as Christians when it comes to desiring better versus new?


It is common rhetoric these days for people to say in encouragement, "Better Yourself" or "Be Your Best Self". Is this Jesus' call for us as His followers? When we surrender to Him and the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us does that mean our aim is to become a better version of us pre-Christ? Even as we look outwardly to the communities and systems we find ourselves in, are we called to long for better versions? Isaiah 43:19 says, "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." And in 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"


I think the real answer is, we need to start agreeing with the things God says about us and seeking to see God's plans and purposes come to fruition rather than our own agendas or opinions on what we understand to the "better thing". Where are the places today where God is inviting you to lean into His understanding rather than your own? Where are the places you need to agree with the newness He brings and let go of striving or trying harder to be a better you?


As we look ahead to this week here are a few ways to intentionally walk in newness:


1. Wednesday Chapel: Are you free Wednesdays at 12 PM? We are extending invitations to anyone who might be free Wednesdays at 12 PM to come and worship and pray. This is a powerful time to connect and declare the promises and truth of God together and to take a break mid-week to pause and listen to Him. Will you join us? Plan to bring a mask, rows will be sectioned off in the sanctuary to allow for social distancing.


2. Church in the Park: We are officially back to the Huset park and will remain in the park, outside until the first weekend in September. Plan to bring your mask, something to sit on (blanket or chair etc) and water. Parents if you missed our plan for kids please reach out to Mishawn or check out the Faithlife Parents page to stay updated. 


3. Walking in Newness: As we continue to know Jesus more and more and live for Him, occasionally we hit a place where we feel stuck spiritually or find ourselves continuing to struggle. I want you to know you are not alone and myself or Sam would love to meet and pray with you. We also have prayer appointments available where we can seek God and listen together. If this is something you are interested in click HERE to email me and get the conversation started.

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Ending the Way of Jesus
Ending the Way of Jesus

Mishawn Gudipati • July 07, 2020

June 19th, 2020


We've been going through our sermon series The Way of Jesus for the past couple of months. It's been a timely word as this is a time of significant need for the church to be living in the truth and grace of God so that the whole church can bring the whole Gospel to the whole city and world! We've been challenged as a church family to realize this call is not just for those that lead us within the church, but for each of us to live the way Jesus lived every day.


This week as we continue to live out our charge to pray for one person and seek to live naturally supernatural here's some practical ways to do that:


1. Pray with one person. Our challenge on Sunday was to listen to Holy Spirit's promptings and pray for one person this week. Maybe it's a neighbor who's fret with anxiety or a friend who's feeling hopeless after losing a job, whatever it might be let's believe God's love for those around us, step out in faith and trust him to show up and display His presence and love to those around us.


2. Ask to be divinely interrupted. Schedules, plans, and desires often can cloud our vision in the day to day and cause us to miss the opportunities Holy Spirit is inviting us into to be a blessing to those around us. Start you day out asking the Lord to divinely interrupt you throughout the day. It's amazing how when we seek first His kingdom the rest follows.

 

3. Catch up on the Sermon Series. We are all called to live how Jesus did. To see what that means or if you've missed a message click HERE to catch up and be encouraged to Live how Jesus lived!

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Living Sent Out Into Injustice
Living Sent Out Into Injustice

Cross Culture Community Church • July 07, 2020

May 29th, 2020

Mishawn Gudipati


My heart is heavy as I write this post. The sorrow in our city and the brutal injustice that dehumanized George Floyd bring feelings that go beyond words. I'm wrestling with the truth that George Floyd was made in the image of God. And not only George, but so were his murders. They are all made in the image of God. How are we as a church, His sent ones, called to respond in this time of great injustice, loss and tension in our community?


Recently a friend was highlighting Romans 12 for me and I keep going back to this passage of Scripture: 

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

God's love is active and goes beyond feelings. Love is a choice. We as followers of Jesus are empowered with this same love through Holy Spirit living in and working through us. Just as Jesus chose to love and loved in action we too are called to do the same.


1. "Love must be sincere..." As you process this week and choose to interact with comments on social media or in conversation, let your love be sincere. Choose to respond and not react. Consider your responses and ensure it lines up with the "checklist of love". Ask yourself is my response Patient? Kind? Am I dishonoring another? Am I being self-seeking? Am I being easily angered? Am I delighting in evil or rejoicing in truth?


2. "...mourn with those who mourn." Consider what this looks like for you. Is it setting aside time to pray daily for those affected, for the city, for God to heal our land and to right the injustices? Is it creating something to show support? a poem? a sign? a picture? Is it calling a brother or sister in the black community and listening and praying with them? Join this event National Day of Action (Saturday, 2 pm). Donate to This fundraiser for George Floyd's family that was shared by their lawyer. Contact government leaders to demand justice and accountability. Check out Be the Bridge resources to be informed and grow in our call to be ambassadors of reconciliation. How is God inviting you to love in action in this space?


3. "as far as it depends on you..." We cannot be responsible for the actions and words of others. We are only responsible for ourselves and how we choose to respond in the words we use and the actions we choose. We are limited. We can't change hearts and minds. Notice when you begin to enter into power struggles, because those conversations and interactions never are profitable. Whatever feels stuck, immovable, impossible, let's bring it to God in prayer and let's live a sent life responding to Holy Spirit's leading in our lives so that through God's work in us others might be changed and we can overcome evil with good.

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Seeking Peace & Justice
Seeking Peace & Justice

Cross Culture Community Church • July 07, 2020

June 5th, 2020

Mishawn Gudipati

There have been a lot of words shared, opinions offered, questions asked and my heart behind this post isn't to just add to the noise. It's to exhort us into next steps individually as a Cross Culture family, but also corporately as the body of Christ across the nations.


Church,

we will make mistakes in the days to come. And change will not come simply from cleaning up our streets and rebuilding buildings. Change will come as we daily choose to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, wanting them to to live in a world where they are not judged by the color of their skin but on the content of their character. We are in process together being transformed into his likeness.


To our sisters and brothers of color,

We mourn with you, we acknowledge you and say we are thankful to have you in our midst. We stand with you and say your lives do matter and forgive those of us who are white who have not used our privilege to help make a difference for racial injustice or who have knowingly or unknowingly played a part in continuing racial injustices.


To our sisters and brothers who are white,


1. It starts with me. It is so easy to avoid, disengage, or even blame another, but what God calls us to is "consider the own plank in our eye first". It starts with each of us reflecting, repenting, and reorienting into the things of God. Click HERE for a great resource with questions to consider and reflect on (scroll to the bottom of the home page).


2. Seek transformation rather than getting back to normal. With COVID and recent riots, I have heard in conversations many people longing to get back to "normal". We as Christians have never been called to live a normal life, but rather to live a life that is being transformed daily by the renewing of our minds in Christ Jesus. It is also worth noting that returning back to the "way things were" before the murder of George Floyd would mean that we invalidate the unjust and inexcusable experiences our beloved people of color in our our church family and communities have had to live under for so long. The fear of being wrongly accused at a moment's notice, the need to ensure they are wise in how they interact for fear of being seen as a threat, the lack of freedom and peace in the day to day. So we don't want normal, we want God to rebuild our city and we want to allow him to rebuild the broken places and bring His completeness. Click HERE for a video explaining true justice, God's justice.


3. Seek true peace. Often times we define peace as the absence of chaos, distress or tension and we achieve it by avoiding or ignoring situations that make us uncomfortable. True peace that the Prince of Peace brings is shalom which means wholeness. We don't want to seek a return to comfort in our cities and communities. We want to seek God for Him to make us all whole through redemption and restoration. We are called to be peaceMAKERS not peaceKEEPERS or even peaceFAKERS. Also, click HERE for a message on what it looks like to be a true peacemaker.


4. Learn, Grow, Transform. Many have taken to the streets to help with clean and prayer walk which have all been needed things. But also, consider the conversations you are having or seeing around you. Use your own privilege to speak up where people of color maybe can't or won't be heard. When a person says something out of a place of ignorance or because of white privilege, speak the truth in love and speak up. Here are some other resources to look into:

  • The Color of Compromise 
  • Just Mercy is a movie worth watching.
  • 13th a documentary detailing how the Thirteenth Amendment led to an epidemic of mass incarceration in the United States.


5. Reach Out. Lastly, we have dear sisters and brothers that are people of color in our very own church family, seek them out, ask questions, listen, acknowledge, validate, don't discount their stories by trying to consider other options on why a situation may have happened, take a walk in their shoes. Seeing and hearing another person is one of the greatest kindnesses we can do as another human being and a powerful way for us to grow and increase our understanding. 


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What You Need to Know About The New Normal
What You Need to Know About The New Normal

Cross Culture Community Church • May 25, 2020

The definition of normal according to the Oxford Dictionary is conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. I've been stuck on the word normal today as things begin to open up and many have hopes that we are returning back to "normal". I think the appeal in returning to the way things were, is that it brings a sense of familiarity and certainty that has been missing over the past eight weeks. But are we called to return to a place where we find certainty and familiarity in routines and stocked store shelves? What are we called to as followers of Jesus? Do we need to long for a "new normal"?


In Romans 12:2 our friend Paul discusses conforming when he says,"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." We are not called to be conformed to a standard, to go back to life as usual, but rather we before COVID and now living with COVID in our world have always been called to be transformed. We can see this with the Israelites as they left the familiar and moved into the wilderness. There were many points along the journey where they complained and longed for the things of Egypt, the familiar, expected and usual things they had known for many years, though God had a greater thing He was calling them into. We can see in Scripture that God was visibly and consistently present with them in the day and night. Yet, so often along the journey they would cast their eyes back, doubt, resist or miss the invitation and transformation that God was holding out to them as His people. How often do we do this?


So may our question today and in the days to come not be how can I get back to normal? But may it rather be, how can I be transformed in this moment with the renewing of my mind? May we continue to look to God and His ways that are good, pleasing and perfect. Because the truth is that time, health, and toilet paper stashes come and go, but our God remains, unwavered, consistent and present. 



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