Hello, Crossroads Family!
The Bible I use is one I bought shortly after arriving in Nevada almost eight years ago! I remember purchasing it at the Christian bookstore in the mall in Joplin! (Pretty sure that store isn’t there anymore!)
Sometimes when a particular verse or passage of Scripture speaks to me, I write the day’s date in the margin. This morning, as I was reading through Psalms 32, 33, and 34, I noticed that exactly a year ago I had written the date in the margin next to Psalm 33:18-19:
“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness, to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.”
I thought: “Isn’t it interesting that for exactly one year the Lord has kept me and delivered me from all kinds of things!” Isn’t He faithful and good?
I’ve also written in the margin that Psalms 32-34 have as their theme, “Deliverance.” Consider these good words:
- Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him. Psalm 32:10
- Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. Our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Psalm 33:20-21
- I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4
- The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them. Psalm 34:7
- They who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing. Psalm 34:10
- The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. Psalm 34:17
- The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
These are good promises, aren’t they? God keeps His word, day after day, and year after year.
Seven Little Words
I was blessed by our worship service last Sunday, and I hope you’re still thinking about (and praying about) the “seven little words for Crossroads’ big future.” The seven words were:
- Spiritual Gifts
- Numerical Growth
- A Home
If you missed the sermon, or would like to hear it again, you can access it on the Crossroads’ Facebook page. As I think back, I hope you’ll take to heart…
- … our need to reach out to newcomers and to build new relationships. This is such a simple and rewarding thing to do. Consider the importance of hospitality. Let’s not let our routines keep us from making time and space for new people God has placed in our lives!
- … discipleship. Do you ever feel like the little guy who cried out last Sunday during my Scripture reading, “This makes no sense at all”? Don’t be afraid if you feel like you just need some “basic training” in the Christian life. Let me know, and we can help you get some!
Someone who is new to Crossroads is Mitch Shiffer who also brings with him his two sons, Russell and Jacob. Mitch is originally from Harrisonville, and is new to Nevada. God has given Mitch a love of writing. I’ve attached his faith story to this email. I hope you’ll pray for Mitch and reach out to him and his boys.
Home Group this Sunday evening, 6 pm
This is a great opportunity for learning, encouragement, and fellowship. I hope you’ll plan to join several others from the Crossroads family. It’s our last session in “Church History Made Easy,” but it will be totally possible to jump in, as we’ll be looking at Church of the 20th and 21st centuries. We start at 6 and are usually done around 7:30. We’d love to have you join us at my house, 628 W. Arch Street.
Continued prayer needed for…
- Liz Hunt
- Shane’s mom and dad and extended family following hip surgery for Shane’s mom, Barb.
Please pray for Andrew LaNear’s grandmother, Brenda, who will have surgery February 8 for a tumor behind her eye.
Thank you for praying for each other, these ones mentioned here and others in the church family.
Worship this Sunday
We’ll jump into the book of Revelation, and we’ll enjoy good worship and fellowship! I hope you’ll plan to be there this Sunday morning, 10:00, at the Community Center!
Mitch Shiffer’s faith story:
I looked in the mirror this morning, like I always do—the hair on my head is gone and the hair on my chin is graying. But twenty-one years prior just wasn’t the case. My hair was dark and thick, and my chin was smooth. But things were about to change. Shortly after turning twenty-three, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. And just like my hair fell out, got gray, and became a beard, the inside of me changed too. I was a baby-faced twenty-three-year-old, at the end of a seedy rope. I was paralyzed with deep fears about eternity. I thought it was over—with the stuff that had been going through my head—I was doomed for sure. No hope.
Then, to begin that summer, I was given the complete gospel, verbally. I surrendered at first presentation. No intellectual arguments. I did not need to hear multiple times. There was no need convince me. It had been a long chase, and it had come to an end. I folded like a chap tent. Suppressed brokenness all blew up, tumbled out, or boiled over—whichever terminology suits you. Someone is born again and a new creation has come. But that really is the end of the chase—and the beginning of the last twenty years.
In retrospect I first noticed Him after me when I was about fourteen. But honestly, it’s probably longer than that. I often see it as a high-speed chase on the freeway. You know you know, the kind that are on true crime shows that have a camera up above with a narrator giving a play-by-play?
I was churched at a young age, and thought what been told was the truth. “You are okay,” or something to suppress anxiety or to shut me up….
So I’d go with it, really with no relief. I was praying to God I didn’t know, claiming to be counted by the name of the Christ— of which I had no business, and thought I was “safe” by the Lord whom I had not received. I was lost as a dime in a quarter slot. In January of 2001 the resolve to endure my life was beginning to buckle. “The chase” was in the home stretch.
That was difficult year for me. So was the year I was twenty-one. But the year I was twenty-two, really “owns” it. It was desolate—it was the year I sought to kill myself. I remember going into the kitchen searching for a method—how I was going to do this. I decided to find a household chemical to swallow. A family member interrupted the process.
God works in brokenness. To this day, I have a New International Version Bible Promise Book, which I purchased when my thoughts took a suicidal turn. Truth be told, I don’t even remember where I got it. At the time, I probably couldn’t have given you a straight answer why I did. I probably wouldn’t have. I did not want you to see my heart succumb. I was too embarrassed to ask and too proud to beg. I was a young man who wasn’t even twenty-five yet, and I was supposed to be bulletproof, right? The book contains stand-alone verses pertaining to life issues, and fits nicely in the pocket of a winter coat. I would read it in my room, but lacked understanding to its message. But deep down I knew what was in it was my only hope. God works in brokenness—and I was broken.
After failing in search for self-termination, it became crystal that this way of life had become more than just thoughts. Something had to change. I went into secular counseling for a short period of time. This did not help. Explaining my horrors, at a one-time meeting with clergy, seemed to work for a short duration—but again destructive thoughts and depression returned to me.
At the end of March, I was out of ideas and again was drained dry. I mentioned the weight of my burden to a young lady I’d been spending time with.
Girlfriend? No, not hardly. Did I have a thing for her then? Yup. She invited me to a church service, and I gave her a reason for non-attendance to which she replied—
“Well, I guess you just don’t love God enough.”
My reason was truthful, but her statement motivated me. The next week, this schedule problem had been “mysteriously” eliminated.
Interesting. So I went to church with her. She’s pretty, smart, bubbly, and liked to spend time with me. That seemed liked a good reason.
Oh by the way—my first Sunday in church near the finish line of the “chase”—Easter Sunday. I think about that often. The friend of mine quit going, I continued. I met the pastor on my first visit and took care of the obstacle that was occupying my Sundays. All was good for about a month.
But here it all goes again. After a bit my resolve, was waning like the moon. So I talking to the pastor and gave him the bullet points of my life. In his office, for the first time, I received the Gospel of Jesus Christ verbally. The chase had ended—tears.
“Tears are good” I remember the pastor saying. I also remember in the days following, noticing changes in myself like not finding pleasure in things that I had previously. But that was just the beginning.
So here He has brought me—twenty years later, with more blessings than I can count. And here I write, write and continue to write words. I use them to glorify God.
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