Category: Resources (page 1 of 6)

Road Trip – Peter

Adventure starts where plans end.-3

Several years ago, my cell phone rang while John and I were out on a Saturday night date. Maggie, driving home to MN from Colorado, was on the other end of the line.

“Mom, I think I took a detour and I’m in the wrong state. Can you talk me in?” 

Note, that was “wrong STATE”, not “wrong road” or “wrong town”. She had gotten WAY off track before asking for help and being willing to turn around.

This was before the days of the nice British woman with the soothing voice on your GPS saying “Recalculating…Make a U-turn at the next available intersection. Return to route.”

We all take wrong turns and get off-course. Sometimes those wrong turns have huge consequences that leave us wandering in the wilderness for a season. Other times, we do a course correction and get back on track quickly, thankful for grace and the company of other lost-and-found companions along the way.

Peter took a detour that he thought was fatal, but he was wrong.

Failure is never fatal in the economy of God.

When Jesus was in his darkest moments, when He most needed a friend, Peter bailed on Him. This disciple who was a close friend, acted like an enemy. He took a detour from faithfulness, and went the road of self-preservation.

In saving himself, he lost himself, as is always the case.

In shame, he ran and “hid” in his old self – fishing for fish. But…

There is no detour you can take where God can’t find and restore you.

Jesus meets Peter where he is (John 21) and He asks a simple question, “Do you love me?”

Jesus reaches out and says, “Recalculate your route. Come back with me. It’s ok. I’ll show you the way.”

My brother, David, who I’ve written about here, crossed the finish line of faith on Saturday and is now face to face with Jesus. He was a remarkable, godly man. He was also broken and he messed up like all of us (after all, he did pull off the tail to my stuffed mouse when we were kids!) But what he wanted more than anything was for everyone to know that through Jesus, God is the God of bazillionty chances. He desires to be the leader and forgiver of our life if we just turn to him.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Where has a detour taken you today or in the past?

  • To numbing substance abuse?
  • To unhealthy relationships?
  • To spending too much money or eating too much food, or doing too much work?
  • Running from God instead of toward Him?IMG_8367

There’s always a way back. If you’ve taken a detour, what’s the first step you need to take to get back on track?

  • Telling the truth?
  • Asking forgiveness?
  • Seeking help from someone else who’s been where you are?
  • Putting in some “guardrails” to help you stay on course?

Read Luke 15. List all the things you note about God’s character regarding those who get lost.

What has your experience been with detours and getting back on track?

Summer Reading and Resources in a Hard Season

 

IMG_0431As most of you know, this summer has been an emotional roller coaster for our family as my little brother battles cancer. Honestly, I’ve had all the crazy irrational thoughts like…

“If I don’t think about David in pain, it’s not really happening.”

“If I don’t go see him he’ll continue to live.”

I’ve had some precious time with David, and am so grateful for faith-filled family and friends who have leaned in with us. I’ve prayed and prayed til I think if God was lesser He’d tell me to get lost and stop bugging Him. But He doesn’t.

Tuesday David was moved to home hospice.

Bottom line is that I’ve craved a mixture of meaningful and soul-strengthening stuff to read, but most are escapist, with themes of redemption and happy endings.  As I mentioned before, I get a lot of book suggestions from my friend Joanne’s reading blog.

The first isn’t a book, but a great new app I found called Abide. It has guided prayer for many different situations. You’ll quickly find some voices you like better than others (somehow, the men bug me, but I love the women). It’s been a lovely, quiet guide.

Also, most nights John and I watch an episode of the West Wing. This is nothing new, but if someone in our family hasn’t gotten you hooked on this inspiring show, you haven’t talked to us in the past 8 years. Watch the episode, Shibboleth from Season 2 anytime you’ve had a rough day. Here’s a clip.

Then there are some lovely (and fun) books I’ve been reading also…

Joy in the Journey: Finding Abundance in the Shadow of Death

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Last year we walked alongside our friends, Steve and Sharol Hayner from a distance as Steve battled pancreatic cancer. In February he went from life to Life. Perhaps it was God preparing us for this season with my brother. We “walked” this with Steve and Sharol through their Caring Bridge posts. Because those posts ministered to so many, IVP has created a book from that content. I re-read it yesterday and it was a gift all over again.

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The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan – Such a guilty pleasure! American twin, Rebecca Porter goes to study for a semester at Oxford and ends up falling in love with the future king. Although it depicts a debauched lifestyle, there aren’t lurid details and it’s a really engaging read.

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Water From My Heart – Classic Charles Martin, one of my favorite authors. This is the story of Charlie Finn, a former drug dealer whose devastating life choices lead him to Nicaragua where he finds redemption through a relationship with an old man, a young woman, and her daughter.

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The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain “He was about to commit a forbidden act. A transgression. For a man should never go through a woman’s handbag.”  This is the story of a bookseller in Paris who finds a woman’s abandoned purse. When he empties it, there is no phone or contact information, but there is a red notebook with some clues as to who the owner is, which he begins to follow. Meanwhile, the owner, who has been robbed of her bag, lies in a coma. This is a quick, clever, delightful read.

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Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger. I loved this book! A beautifully written, compelling coming-of-age story of mystery, tragedy, love and redemption set in a rural Minnesota town in 1961. You can read Joanne’s full review here.

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Your turn! What are you reading that you’d recommend?

 

 

Road Trip – When you need a Rest Stop

Adventure starts where plans end.-3

As I wrote in the first post of this series, our family vacations were totally homemade-find-a-roadside-rest-stop-no-McDonalds-for-us affairs. And yes, we did eat peanut butter with egg salad sandwiches (those are not two separate kinds of sandwich :) ).

In those pre-seatbelt safety days my dad was sometimes able to leave a narrow cubby hole in the back of our station wagon for one of us to stretch out in, but what’s imprinted on my memory is the three of us side by side in the back seat for hours on end, watching America out the window, playing the Alphabet game, Car Bingo,  and 20 Questions. I’ve tried to convince John that that enclosed, enforced family time without videos is the key to our conflict-solving skills. However it did mean that we were more than ready to stretch our legs and take a break from “He looked at me funny… She touched my foot…Are we there yet…”

Elijah is one of my favorite road trip stories, and it culminates in a rest stop – something we all need.

1 Kings 19:1-3 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. (Road trip!)

When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” (Rest stop)

Elijah wears himself out.

After seeing God’s supernatural display of power in His showdown with the prophets of Baal, and after years of being protected and fed by God, he’s afraid of a middle-aged woman – Jezebel!  He runs, not for his life really, but from his life!  He’s running from circumstances, not to God.  He focuses on circumstances and takes his eyes off God.

But he can’t outrun God. God loves him (and you and me) too much.

Wherever we are on our journey God doesn’t leave us alone.

5 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

Just like a cranky toddler, God knows that Elijah needs a snack and a nap so he provides a “Happy meal” and lets Elijah go back to sleep.  John Ortberg writes about how Americans are the most sleep deprived nation in the world and says “Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is sleep.”

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. 

The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

Elijah focuses on the negative and it’s an exaggeration…distortion of the truth.  God says in verse 18 that there are still 7,000 in Israel who haven’t bowed to Baal.  What are the negative “tapes” that play in your head when you get down?

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.

And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

Sometimes when we’re lowest God speaks softest – we need to lean in close to hear Him.

13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

I love it when we see God ask questions like this in Scripture!  He KNOWS the answer, but He wants a relationship with us and a relationship involves dialog…interaction…We are invited into a conversation with the Almighty God.

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

Elijah repeats his “poor me” speech. He forgets God in his recounting.  He skips over the miraculous powerful way God has shown up time after time. When we get to overstretched isn’t this the same way we’re affected? We lose perspective.

Isn’t it incredible that God can take anything we dish out and is patient with us?  He lets Elijah vent and then calmly gives him new instructions.

15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.

We lose our balance and our joy when our output exceeds our intake, our talk exceeds our walk, our worry exceeds our wonder.

Questions

Bill Hybels suggests an exercise that has been helpful to me. Consider three gauges on the “dashboard” of your life, like gas gauges in your car. Where would you draw the arrows on each of these tanks? Towards the F for Full or towards the E for Empty?

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  • Which tank do you need most to address?
  • Are there ways you can take mini rest stops – a pause to breathe in summer and thank God?
  • Are there things you need to say “no” to that are robbing you of the joy of a balanced life?
  • Can you share some ways that you take “rest stops”?

Road Trip – Provision

Good Morning! Today’s post is a little different…A lot of questions for YOU to dig into. I’d really encourage you to give this some time and share your insights in the comments! 

Adventure starts where plans end.-3

When my husband John and I travel our strategy is to always pack everything in a carry-on. No matter how long we’re going to be gone.  We had experiences with lost luggage early in our travels that prompted this.

For John, 10 days in Africa washing out one set of clothing was enough motivation for a lifetime. When you “go” you want at least the illusion of being in control and prepared for anything.

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Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you were lacking what you needed? Not just a toothbrush, but courage, or wisdom, or resources…?

Moses didn’t live with the illusion that he was adequate at all. Continue reading

One Thing to do in August we Promise You Won’t Regret

John and I really don’t endorse many things. We don’t endorse political parties or candidates. We don’t don’t recommend realtors we know, and rarely endorse movies. We’re kind of like Switzerland.

But there is one event over the years that we have enthusiastically, unequivocally endorsed and guaranteed as a “sure thing”. We have said, “If you do this, we pinky swear promise you won’t regret it.” (Gulp.)

Every year we have invited folks from our church to attend the Global Leadership Summit  at Willow Creek Church in Barrington, Illinois. And we have promised them that it will be well worth the sacrifice of time and money it will take to make it happen. That’s a big promise, but we have never regretted it, and neither have those who come with us.

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Each year, Bill Hybels, along with world-class leaders from around the globe, speak on teamwork, vision, significance, conflict, motivation and more. We take notes like crazy, but more importantly, we gather to process and contextualize.

This isn’t just for church leaders. It is for business people, soccer coaches, soccer moms, and influencers in every environment. We have friends in business who bring their whole management teams.

The investment in this time of equipping, inspiration, worship, and fellowship has paid off big time for our church.

It has changed our vocabulary. “Umbrella of grace”, getting from “here to there”, “crucial conversations”, and “true north” are part of our shared leadership language.

It has changed our sense of ownership. When we process as a group, we don’t ask, “What should John do?”, but “What can we do in partnership with God to be more effective kingdom-bringers at CPC and wherever we are?” We all become share-holders in kingdom vision, not just the senior pastor.

It has changed our yearly rhythm. Each summer we look forward to this time, knowing we will get a re-charge that will energize us for the upcoming year.

Here’s the thing…This year, August 6-7, for the first time ever, we’re not taking folks down to the GLS. Instead, we’re going to be a satellite host church. If you are in the Twin Cities, this is your chance, for a smaller time and money investment, to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

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Our church site, CPC, is located at 70th and 100 in Edina, Minnesota. Sign up now! Or if you live elsewhere around the world, you can find a satellite site near you.

You won’t regret it. I guarantee.

For those of you who have attended the GLS, what have been some of your “take aways”?

Road Trip – Leaving

Adventure starts where plans end.-3

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…Genesis 12:1-5

Every year, the night before we left on vacation, we got the pep talk from Dad. “Ok guys, I want everyone up early so we can get on the road by 6:30 and beat the traffic!”

Mom would make her magic mixture of Grape HiC and Lemonade in a big jug that sat at her feet in the front passenger seat. She’d pack Bugles for snacking and peanut butter and egg salad sandwiches for lunch at a roadside rest stop. (Don’t mock. Our family had our things, your family has yours).

But no matter how organized we were, or how adamant Dad was, it was always hard to actually LEAVE. Someone would forget a crucial stuffed animal, or have to go to the bathroom at the last minute, but it was nothing compared to what I imagine Abraham experienced.  He was leaving everything he knew. Everything that was comfortable. For some mystery destination. (What if it turned out to be MINOT?)  And did you see that he was 75 years old???!

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8-9)

How hard is leaving for any of us? Continue reading

Road Trips

 

Adventure starts where plans end.-3It’s June 1st – the start of summer, and for many of you that means VACATION!

Every year when I was growing up, our family took The Big Vacation. We conquered a different region of the United States each summer. Planning for these extravaganzas began in the freeze of Chicago winters when the July road trip was just a tiny glimmer of warm light at the end of a cold, dark tunnel.

I’ve been thinking about those family adventures and decided it would be fun to do a summer blog series on Bible “road trips”. I’ll post once a week and include questions so you can use this for personal study or with a small group. Because these are a little more substantive, and because it’s summer, I’m just going to commit to one post a week. My small group is going to be discussing this IRL and you can join virtually. Sound ok?

In addition, I‘d love it if you’d post pictures of your road trips on Instagram (https://instagram.com – lauracrosby) or on my Facebook page with the hashtag #roadtrip and what you’re learning with a link to the blog.

Some of the things we experienced on our family vacations are consistent with what I see in biblical road trips:

  • Packing up – Abraham
  • Provision – Moses
  • Promise – Joshua
  • Pit stops – Elijah
  • Peter
  • Perspective – Paul

But today, just one thought…

No matter what road trip we’re on with the Lord, no matter where we go, our home is in Him.

They will ask the way to Jerusalem
    and will start back home again.
They will bind themselves to the Lord
    with an eternal covenant that will never be forgotten. Jer. 50:5 NLT

Questions (We’d love to hear any of your thoughts in the comments below!):

  1. What’s the most fun trip you’ve ever taken?
  2. How would you describe this leg of your journey or “road trip” with God? You may want to take a look at this Discipleship Map for help.
  3. What are the biggest challenges and fears as you look at the road you’re on?
  4. What promises do we have for our road trips? Exodus 33:14, Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 16:11, Hebrews 13:5b. Which means the most to you?

3 Suggestions to Maintain Sanity in the Summertime

Dear Mamas,

I know you. I’ve been you. It’s May and you are so over school.

You are over science projects that involve late-night trips to Target, and one million school permission slips, and person of the week posters, and lost binders, and room-mother cupcakes to bake, and being the Enforcer of All things Homework.

You’re ready for Summertime when the livin’ is easy. You have dreams of vacation and weekend lemonade stands, popsicles, and your kids happily making forts in the back yard or having a marathon game of Monopoly on a stormy day. There will be barbecues and lake time, sparklers,  hopscotch and baseball games that will just magically happen like at Disney World where no one ever loses a flip flop or  their temper.FullSizeRender-14

Can I offer a few suggestions before Summer is upon us and your dreams come crashing down like the Excalliber Roller Coaster at Valley Fair? Continue reading

5 Reminders For Your Heart

We’ve been in San Francisco over the weekend for Maggie’s graduation with her Masters from Berkley.  This is that time of year – one of graduations and weddings and new ventures and births of every kind. It’s a season of marking moments. Looking back and looking forward. As I was reflecting on this I thought it’s a time when maybe our heart needs reminding of some things.

So, today, a list of 5 Reminders your heart needs as you launch into whatever new things God has for you: Continue reading

One Party and Four Reasons You Should Try It

One time John and I went to a party where a guy was accidentally set on fire.

It kind of put a damper on a very fun evening, but we all took him to the hospital to get checked out and his heavy fisherman knit sweater saved him from being badly burned.  It ended up being a great story we tell and a cautionary tale for those who think making flaming Rice Krispy Treats might be a good idea. (NOTE TO FILE: do NOT pour the brandy and light the flame at the same time. Fire tends to travel up the liquid stream and on to pourer)

I share this because I was talking to daughter, Katy recently and suggested a party like the one we attended years ago and have copied since.  It might be called “The Stretch Yourself and Get to Know Some New People While Making a Mess Together Party”.

There’s no one right way to do hospitality. But always, hospitality is about “There you are!” not “Here I am!”

It’s about welcome not wow. Knitting together hands and hearts with thanksgiving and a little laughter. And this party did all of those things. Continue reading

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