Nickels 4 Neighbors… Dollars 4 Daughters

Each week at CrossWay we have a children’s offering called Nickels 4 Neighbors.  It’s something that our conference does.  All 34 churches in the conference collect this offering each week, and every six months we give it to a ministry that benefits children.  It’s really cool to see all the kids come up each week to drop in their money.  They’re learning to give, and to give as an act of worship.  It’s also pretty neat that this offering helps other kids.

The past three weeks, Laura Marie has participated in the Nickels 4 Neighbors collection.  Since she can walk now, she’s able to come up (with some… um… direction) and drop money into the container.  It’s so cute to watch her walking up there with the other kids!

As I was reflecting on last Sunday’s worship service, a certain irony hit me.  Laura Marie came up during Nickels 4 Neighbors, carrying her dollar (apparently this offering was named before inflation), but she didn’t want to let go of it!  Here’s her daddy three minutes away from preaching about money, and she won’t let go of her dollar.

Actually, it’s a pretty good illustration of stewardship, but I didn’t think of it at the time.  She was given that money specifically for the purpose of giving it to the children’s offering, but she wanted to hold on to it.  How often do we do that with what God has entrusted to us for a specific purpose?

When I told Carolyn about all this, she told Laura Marie that she should have stayed in the service for the sermon.  Funny mommy.  That reminds me: Sunday marked a milestone for Laura Marie.  She stayed in the nursery without her mommy for the first time!  Of course, it helps that she had four other babies to play with.

Published in: on April 29, 2010 at 9:30 am  Comments (3)  

Trusting God With Our Money

On Sunday at CrossWay Church we talked about trusting God with our money.  It was the second week in our three-week series “The Almighty’s Dollar.”

The words “trust” and “faith” are very closely related.  To have faith in God is to trust Him: to trust Him with our souls, our families, our health… and our money.  The Bible has a lot to say about how we can exercise our faith in God by what we do with our money.  Money is very much a spiritual issue.

We discussed three ways of trusting God with our money:

(1) Give first.  Rather than paying off all the bills and seeing if there is enough money left over to give to support the church, other ministries, and people with financial needs, the Bible instructs us to give first (see Exodus 23:19).  Giving first shows that we trust God with the rest.  The Scriptures teach that we should give at least 10% of our income to the church–the Bible word for this is “tithe.”  Just as Jesus took one kid’s lunch and multiplied it to feed thousands of families (see John 6:1-13), so He can take our 90% after the tithe and do more with it than we could do with 100%.

(2) Give sacrificially.  This means giving to the point that we can feel it.  It means that our giving really costs us something.  This is very different from giving a little out of our extra.  Jesus teaches about this, among other places, in Luke 21:1-4.

(3) Give cheerfully and generously.  God loves a cheerful giver!  Some people give out of guilt, but God says not to do that.  Instead, we should give joyfully, as an act of worship and gratitude.  The more generously we sow, the more generously we reap.  (See 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 for a passage about this that is so simple yet so profound that we would do well to order our lives around it.)

By giving first, giving sacrificially, and giving cheerfully and generously, we actively trust God.  We show that our faith in God is not just something we talk about, but how we actually live.

Next week: Following God with our money.

Published in: on April 20, 2010 at 9:41 am  Comments (1)  

ACC Spring Assembly

On Saturday at CrossWay we had the opportunity to host our conference‘s spring assembly.  We had about 80 people representing 34 Mennonite churches, mostly from Pennsylvania but also New York, Delaware, Maryland, and probably some others.

They asked our praise band to lead the music.  That was the first time we had led music anywhere other than our worship services.  It was neat getting to worship with a different group of Christians!

One of the highlights for me was the message brought by Dr. Ervin Stutzman, who is the executive director of Mennonite Church USA.  I really enjoyed a class I took a year or so ago that he taught, so I’d been looking forward to this.  He talked about how the missional church is about loving God and loving people, which is also our motto here at CrossWay.  We recorded his message, so it should be up on the podcast soon.

Another highlight was hearing Josh Engle, our worship pastor, sharing a “God At Work” story during the conference.  He talked about what God is doing in our music ministry.  He did an excellent job, and with only about 10 minutes notice!

During lunch I went to Panera Bread with Josh, Keith Wilson (the administrative assistant at ACC), and Harry Jarrett (pastor of Neffsville Mennonite Church).  I loved having that time to get to know each other, compare notes, and learn from each other.

In the afternoon we had a great time of reading, reflecting on, and discussing Acts 9:10-19.  We spent quite awhile reading it together–three times–then discussing it around our tables, followed by a conversation with the whole assembly.  It was really cool!  I’d love to be a part of that kind of thing much more often.

As much as I enjoyed all those things, perhaps the highlight for me was the way our crew at CrossWay came together to pull off hosting the event.  Our numbers were small, but as Josh said, you wouldn’t know it.  The place was set up so nice for the gathering, there was a ton of food, the whole music team participated, and we had folks who spent Friday night setting up, Saturday serving, and Saturday evening getting everything cleaned up and ready for Sunday.  It was definitely one of my most satisfying experiences as a pastor at CrossWay.

Published in: on April 19, 2010 at 11:11 am  Leave a Comment  

Loving God With Our Money

At CrossWay on Sunday we began a three-week series about money, called The Almighty’s Dollar.  Everyone’s favorite topic to hear about in church, right?

Actually, money does have great spiritual significance.  Jesus talked about it a lot.  The gist of His teaching about it is that what you do with your money reveals where your heart is.

We show people we love them by spending money on things that are important to them.  When I was still in college and working part-time as a pizza delivery guy, I bought Carolyn an engagement ring that cost more money than my car.  Why?  To show her that I love her!  (On a side note, a hint to the guys: The same principle works with spending time as well as money.)

The same principle applies with God.  Our money gives us an opportunity to show God that we love Him.  We can express our love for God by spending our money on things that are important to Him, things that have eternal significance.  In Matthew 6:20, Jesus refers to this as storing up treasures in heaven.

How do we do this?  It’s easy because the possibilities are limitless: the most obvious way is to give financially to support the work of the local church, but you can also support a myriad of ministries that help people around the globe in the name of Christ, help someone you know personally that has a need, or simply bless someone by giving them something you know they would enjoy.  Anything you can do with your money that puts a smile on God’s face is a practical way to use your dough to show God you love Him.

To read more of Jesus’ teaching about money, read Matthew 6:19-34.

Next week we’re talking about trusting God with our dinero.

Published in: on April 14, 2010 at 5:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Update On SonRise East

Exciting times!  A new satellite church location is opening up near CrossWaySonRise Church in Berlin is launching a campus just a little up the road from us, toward Ocean City.  Pastor Kyle, who is leading the new site, posted on his blog some of the needs they still have.

Please check out the list here and see what you can contribute.  Thanks!

Published in: on April 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Resurrection Sunday

I don’t understand why we call it “Easter” after the name of a pagan god, when it’s to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Therefore the title of this post.  A few years ago when I was on staff at another church, I brought this up.  Our lead pastor responded, “Yeah, why don’t you head that up?”  So I’m heading it up.  Let’s call it Resurrection Sunday!

So at CrossWay Church on Resurrection Sunday we talked about, of course, the resurrection of Jesus.

Hmm… that about sums it up!  Hopefully the podcast will be up soon.

Next Sunday we begin a three-week series called The Almighty’s Dollar.

Published in: on April 7, 2010 at 11:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Easter Egg Hunt at CrossWay

Last Saturday we had our third annual Easter Egg Hunt at CrossWay.  It was a blast!  We had about 60 kids and at least that many adults.  God answered our prayers for a break in the weather, and we had a beautiful sunny day with mild temperatures–right in between two chilly rainstorms.

In the sanctuary we had a lot of fun stuff for the kids to do: decorating cookies, a spoon walk (carrying an egg or marshmallow or something on a spoon in their mouths), face painting, some art stations, and the favorite: the ring toss.  That last one had a line so long you’d think they were waiting to get Thrasher’s fries on the boardwalk.

Carolyn shared the Easter story and did a great job.  She started by breaking an egg into a bowl, then asked for a volunteer.  She asked the volunteer if he would be surprised if she broke an egg on his head.  The first volunteer backed out but another jumped up to volunteer and Carolyn cracked the egg on his head.  Lo and behold, it was empty–surprise!  (At this point one little boy shouted: “Try another egg!”)  Carolyn compared the surprise of the empty egg to the surprise of Jesus’ empty tomb, and she explained how Jesus wants to be their forever friend and all they have to do is believe.  It was pretty cool.

Then we had the Easter egg hunt in two groups, one for the younger children and one for the older kids.  We hid a thousand eggs, and they found every single one!

It was a lot of fun for everyone, and it was great getting to spend time with people.

Published in: on March 29, 2010 at 9:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Midway Praise

Last night at CrossWay Church we had our first Midway Praise.  It’s something we’re just starting to do every three months.  We had 20 people come out for some celebration, music, and focused prayer (and a short devotional, which is Christianese for sermonette).

It was great!  We started with four songs, then spent about 15 minutes praying in small groups for several specific topics.  We had one more song before a very brief message about Patrick, who I learned is the patron saint of Ireland, Nigeria, Montserrat, New York, Boston, engineers, and paralegals.  Seriously.  A lot of myth has sprung up around Patrick, legends about four-leaf clovers and snakes and green beer and Lucky Charms.  Or something like that.  But we do know some facts about his life.  He was born into a rich British family, was taken captive by raiders, and was sold into slavery in Ireland.  After spending a few years as a slave shepherd, he escaped and went back home, where he trained for the priesthood and returned to Ireland–the land of his captivity–as a missionary.  We read some verses (Romans 6:17-18,22-23; 1 Corinthians 9:19) about how Christ has freed us from captivity to sin, but rather than kicking back and being all mellow, like, “Whew, glad that’s over with!”, we’re actually to venture back out into the land of captivity to share with others the good news of freedom in Jesus Christ!

We prayed that God would transform us into a people on mission.  Then we sang four more songs and ate green food with green drinks (nope, no beer–I know you were wondering).

I’m already looking forward to the next Midway Praise: June 16!

Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 10:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Upcoming Easter Series at CrossWay Church

What’s coming up at CrossWay:

Published in: on March 17, 2010 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Our First 12 Members

We held session 2 of the CrossWay Church membership class on Sunday afternoon.  We now have 12 members!  Our Constitution & By-Laws require completion of the class in order to be eligible for membership, so officially our only members are those who were able to make it both weeks (since this is the first time we’ve actually had the class).  We’ll have the class again soon for those who are interested but weren’t able to make it.

Hey, Jesus started with 12, so I’d say we’re in good company.

Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 11:07 am  Leave a Comment