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Crossways to Life
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Finding Life in Christ
Finding Life in Christ

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Some things in life cannot be explained very well to those who have never experienced it. Imagining trying to explain a sunset to a person born blind, or the feeling of holding your baby for the first time right after they were born to someone who has no children. Words often fail to capture what these moments really felt like.

Depression is one of those things. Studies tell us that 1 in 5 people will struggle with depression at some point in their lifetime. But for those who have been fortunate enough to never have to fight the monster of depression they look from afar and can’t understand why the depressed person struggles.  There doesn’t appear to be a physical problem so why don’t they  just get up out of bed, do their job, clean their house, or any of the other countless tasks that seem impossible for the person battling with depression.

John Lynch, co-author of the book The Cure, wrote these words to help those blessed to have never battled through depression, to help them understand what life is like to those who fight with depression.

“There are countless friends today choosing to get up this morning, to get dressed. They sit and stare for a bit, they drink strong coffee or tea. And then fight hard to stand up and walk out into this life. They don't especially want to. They can't seem to rally it. There is sadness all over them that they can't label. They keep trying to fight it off, self-talk it off, but it stays on them like a wet, woolen coat. They have this conversation going on inside: "Come on. Just get in the flow of it. It’s just a conversation with another person. Walk some more steps. We've got this. Come on kid. I know you can do this. God, help me find me. Help me wake up." Some days are better than others. Some have chemical issues. Some just can't figure out their sadness. Some are trapped in woundedness and don't know a way home. Mostly, I'm thinking today of the ones able to carry on with life, but they can't figure out why. They just want to get to bed, somewhere around two in the afternoon. You might tell them to think on happy things or be thankful for what they have, list them one by one. They do everything you tell them, but their coat is still dragging and getting caught on edges. When you're in that place nothing seems to drive out the thick, smoky, alienating haze. I only know I have visited that place. You have identified yourself and we have waved kindly to each other. ...You are not alone. And you are not wrong. And you are not estranged, or forgotten. This is not your fault. You are the best kind of heroic. Because what you are going through is invisible to most.”

It is important to know that it is okay to be depressed, to fight and toil in this great battle. That struggling with depression is not a sign of sinfulness or a lack of faith. Some of the greatest saints in history have battled with depression in their lifetime. King David, the prophet Elijah and the Apostle Paul all reached a point of despair that they considered death to be their best answer.

When we make it a sin to be depressed we make it harder for the person to reach out for help. They begin to feel the need to hide their struggle, for fear of being seen as a failure. This leaves them alone in the darkness facing the greatest fight of their life without any support. 

Instead, we, the Church, need to rally around these people and encourage them to reach out for help. For the Healer, Jesus, loves them and longs to bring them healing at the source of their problem.
And thank God there is help. For as big and dark as depression is, it is not greater than Jesus Christ. His offer to bind up the brokenhearted and release the prisoners from darkness most certainly include those who struggle with their mental health.

For some, the roots of their depression can be traced all the way back to the Garden of Eden where sin and death entered the world leaving our bodies broken. For these people, medication is an answer to prayer much like insulin is to the diabetic or Lipitor is to high blood pressure. For sometimes God brings healing through medication. (see 1 Timothy 5:23) 

For others, the physical side of depression (the stuff the medication addresses) is a symptom of unaddressed emotional hurts and traumas. For these people medication may bring some relief and help them to function, praise God, but more help is required to bring long term relief. Here, Jesus wants to bring the emotional healing this person desperately needs. 

The hardest part of their journey to healing may be reaching out for help. For some, just asking for help seems too big, while others just don’t know where to turn. 

For those who have sought counselling before and it didn’t seem to work and wonder why will this time be any different, the answer is Jesus. He is the Healer, not the counsellor or the latest fad in counselling. But coming to Jesus with your hurts and receiving healing from Him. (see Mark 5:25-34 and the story of the woman who bled for 12 years and could not be helped by others until she came to Jesus)

We understand this at Crossways to Life. Our Christ centered counselling approach has allowed us to walk with many people who are battling depression, helping them to discover the freedom and healing in Christ they need. 

If you, or someone you know, is battling with depression then please contact our office (www.crosswaystolife.org) to make an appointment. It may be the first step towards a brighter future.

http://www.crosswaystolife.org/help_for_those_struggling_with_depression.html
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Sixty-five years ago the world was introduced to an instant classic by C.S. Lewis with the release of a much beloved book "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Aslan, the Pevensie children and the land of Narnia have continued to be strongly loved with each generation since and have included six more books in the series by Lewis and various movie adaptations.

Lewis used the fictional books to introduce many people to Jesus, who was portrayed through the mighty lion Aslan. One characteristic of Jesus that is brought out in each of the books through Aslan is how he is not a tame lion. A good lion yes, but certainly not a safe or tame one.

This theme has struck a chord with countless readers because I believe deep down, if given the choice, we would prefer a safe, predictable, tame God over a wild, unpredictable one. And the reason comes down to trust and control.

With a safe, tame God then we have some control over our circumstances. We can begin to plan and predict God's response to every situation based on what I do. I have heard the following 'promises' in various forms too many times to count.

"Struggling in your marriage? Then make sure you pray together, read your Bible, never go to bed angry and God will bless your marriage."
"Are finances tight? They make sure that you are tithing the correct amount, are going to church and giving to all the right ministries and God will bless you seven times over what you could imagine."
"Struggling with depression, anxiety or just feeling empty? Make sure you are doing your devotions, are praying and reading your Bible and are not committing any sins and then God will grant you the peace that He has been withholding because you have not been living right."

They all share the common idea that if you live/do/perform right then, and only then, God will bless you. And who wouldn't want this for a God since it would allow us the best chance to guarantee that I will find happiness and contentment in life, at least a life with the least amount of suffering.

Is this not the approach that we take with our physical health? Eat right, exercise daily, don't smoke, get enough sleep and you will live a long healthy life. Until we are surprised at the health conscious person who gets a heart attack and dies in their 40's and the fast-food eating, chain smoking, alcoholic that lives into their 90's.

We cannot control our life, but even more we cannot control God. But thankfully God cannot be controlled. I say thankfully because God wants more for you than you want for yourself.

God wants more for you than you want for yourself

God is unpredictable and wild, and because we cannot predict with great certainty what circumstances we will have based on how we live, we may feel that God has failed us. That He has not kept us His end of the bargain - I live right and He makes sure that my life is mostly smooth and pain free.

God wants more for you than you want for yourself.

We tend to think small. We focus much of our thinking to our time here on earth. Who will I marry? What career will I have? How many children should I have? What car should I drive? Should I rent or buy a home? Do I have enough to retire? Where shall I retire to? These questions are important and deserve careful thought, but is that all there is to life? Of course not.

God wants more for you than you want for yourself.

God is working with the big picture in mind. He is more interested in your spiritual heart and your level of intimacy with Him because He knows nothing else will ever satisfy you the way He can. He knows that a relationship with Him is not a means to an end, but that a relationship with Him is the greatest end.

So He uses all things, the good, the bad and even the ugly, to lead us into a deeper experience of His love, comfort, hope and peace. But for us to experience this intimacy means we trust that His motives and heart towards us is in fact our best good.

And we can because, God wants more for you than you want for yourself.

- See more at: http://www.crosswaystolife.org/God-wants-more-for-you-than-you-want-for-yourself.html
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This is going to be a very special weekend beginning Thursday evening at 7pm.

We have Frank Friedmann of Grace Life Fellowship in Baton Rouge, LA coming to speak Thursday and Friday evening and Saturday morning. Frank is one of the best teachers of the New Covenant and he will be speaking from a number of the Psalms leading us to discover the heart of Jesus.

You definitely do not want to miss this special event. 

If you have already registered then we are looking forward to seeing you Thursday.

If you have not already registered then there is still time by going online and registering online at www.crosswaystolife.org/signup.html

An offering will be taken to cover the costs of this event and support the ministry of Crossways to Life.
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Beginning Monday September 14th, 2015 at 7pm at the office of Crossways to Life

The Growing in Grace course is a nine-week class meeting Monday evenings from 7-9pm. It provides insight and learning about who you are in Christ and how Christ can live His Life through you.

For more information check out our brochure or you can register online at www.crosswaystolife.org/upcoming_events.html. Cost is $60/person.
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This world is not easy. The pressures that come from the demands on us by our families, friends, work and even ourselves can feel overbearing at times. We try and develop plans to make life easy but they never seem to be enough. So we search for new methods, new diets, new energy drinks only to find ourselves back where we started. Things begin to feel hopeless.

Grace changes everything.

Grace is more than just forgiveness and love. Grace is the power of God to live life each and every day. It is more than a method or a formula. It is the person of Jesus Christ.

We have many different courses and events where you and your friends can come discover how to experience and live from God's Grace everyday. Even if you have attended one of these events before, maybe you will benefit from hearing it again and maybe there is a friend or two that would benefit from hearing it for the first time.

Check them out at the link below.
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We live in a broken world. You don't have to look far to see that things are not what God made them to be in the Garden of Eden. It could be a terminal or debilitating illness, loss of loved ones, difficulties with those around you, inability to find a job, or haunted by your past from the sin and failures of yourself or others towards you, we all face troubles and trials in this world.

And how you deal with those trials depends less on the trial itself and more on how you approach them. Put another way, it is not what you face, but how you face it that matters most. That's because regardless of the size and difficulty of the trial - Jesus is always bigger. That means that the battle is not won and lost in dealing with the trial itself, but in whether we will turn to and trust Jesus in us to handle the trial. And while that is a simple explanation, the application is anything but.

Depending on the trial, my first reaction is not always turning to Jesus, especially if the trial is somehow related to things in my past that have left a wound on my soul. But it is in these moments where Jesus is doing His greatest miracle of healing - He is sanctifying me.

We often think of sanctification as the process where we sin less and live more upright lives. And while that will happen as a result of Jesus' work in our soul, that is not His primary goal. It is something much greater. His goal of sanctification is to bring healing to my soul, which has been damaged by this broken world. The damage being the lies and mistrust that our enemy bombards us with. Lies that I believe to be true as a result of the disappointments and hurts that I have and am experiencing. It is from these lies that our enemy provokes us to choosing to live out of the flesh, to try and find comfort and strength somewhere other than God.

So Jesus, after exposing the lies to be just that, lies, He begins to tell us the truth. The truth about Himself, that He is a God that loves us fully, deeply and completely with a love that never changes regardless of my behaviour, either good or bad. It is a love that already knows about every single one of my past and future mistakes, but accepts me and wants me anyways.

He tells me the truth about myself, that while I may not yet live as I want to, I am still His beloved, holy and righteous child. That the old me was crucified with Him and now I am a brand new creation that has been forever united to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That He is proud of me and nothing can ever change that. Absolutely nothing, not even me.

He tells me the truth that while the circumstances that I face are difficult, challenging and would cause many brave souls to lose hope, He lives in me to face it alongside me. That I do not have to battle with trouble in my own strength, but with the strength of God who has proven to be stronger and greater than giants, lions, entire armies and even death itself.

Armed with the truth, I can begin to make better choices in life, the best and most important of all is to trust the One who loves me. This is the work of sanctification and healing that Jesus is doing inside of me and you right now. And notice that it is His work. (see Philippians 1:6 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) My work is to believe Him, to listen to Him, to trust Him. And as He works in me, my trust in Him grows.

- See more at: http://www.crosswaystolife.org/Jun_2015_Sanctification_and_Healing.html#sthash.6gY2hJPD.dpuf
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Who is the most spiritually mature person that you know? Can you picture them in your mind? Now, why did you pick that person? What was the criteria for your selection?

In Luke 10:25-37 a lawyer asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. It was not likely a genuine question as much as it was an attempt to trick Jesus into saying something foolish. But it is hard to trick the one who made the Heavens and the earth. So Jesus responds by asking the lawyer how he understands what the law says. The lawyer, who apparently had a much deeper understanding of the Law than most, saw rightly that the Law could be summarised into one word - love. Love God with all you have, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus commends the lawyer for his correct answer, to which the lawyer replies, in a smug manner to justify himself, "And, who is my neighbor?" He was asking because he likely felt that he was doing a great job loving those who were like him - those he found easy to love.

In response Jesus tells one of His most famous parables, the good Samaritan. In the parable a Jewish man leaving Jerusalem for Jericho is robbed, beaten and left half dead on the side of a road. A priest and then a Levite each saw their countryman hurt and dying, but instead of rushing to help him, they crossed over to the other side of the road, wanting to do as little as possible with him, afraid that they would get dirty. Then a Samaritan came and helped the man by bandaging up his wounds and taking him to an inn so he could heal, all paid for by the stranger.

What made this parable so striking was that Samaritans and Jews were enemies. Jews would look down upon Samaritans as being unclean and impure due to their intermarrying with non-Jews and how their forefathers worshipped pagan gods. Yet he was the one that sacrificed himself and loved the beaten and messy man.

Too often in our churches we measure maturity and godliness based on how much or how eloquently someone prays. By how well they know their Bible and are able to communicate deep spiritual truths. Or by how active they are in the church activities.

Yet, I believe the greatest test for someone's spiritual maturity is in how they love. Do they love only when it is convenient? Do they try and protect themselves as the priest and Levite did? Or do they, at their own personal cost and sacrifice, join others in their mess and care for and love them unconditionally, with no expected response in return?

If you are thinking, "No problem. I can do that." Then you don't understand the kind and depth of love that Jesus is speaking of. But if you are thinking, "Personal sacrifice, loving unconditionally, while it is not very hard for those who are easy to love, but it is so hard with the unlovable, the difficult people, those who are mean to me, those who are hurt and messy." then you properly understand the kind of love Jesus is talking about. Because it is a love that is not meant to come from us, but a love that is meant to flow through us.

John, who would have heard Jesus tell the parable of the good Samaritan, wrote; "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him." (see 1 John 4:7-9)

You see, God is wanting to do through us what we cannot do on our own. Love with His love, even the messiest, most difficult person of us all. And the mature Christian is the one who knows that they cannot, but Christ in them can and does.

- See more at: http://www.crosswaystolife.org/May_2015_True_Spiritual_Maturity.html#sthash.SKNd8aiB.dpuf
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"Why God?"

Has there ever been a more asked question than "Why God?" It is a question that is often asked in the wake of a tragedy such as when a loved one dies unexpectedly, a prayer for a miracle to cure a loved one is not fulfilled or when we see the destruction of a natural disaster such as the recent earthquake in Nepal.

Sometimes, often in hindsight, we discover that God had a plan and is greater than the tragedy we have faced. But more often than not, we receive no answer.

But have you ever asked the question "Why God?" in terms of why He would choose to die for someone like you and I? What motivated Father and Son to conspire and send Jesus to earth as a man with the goal that He would suffer and die at the hands of murderous, wicked men in order to save them and us, sinners who were children of wrath, deserving of damnation? Why God?

David asked this question in Psalm 8. Looking up into the night sky and seeing the stars and moon and how big God must be to make all this, he asks, "What is man that You take thought of him, and son of man that You care for him?" How is it that He would care so deeply about a world full of rebellious people that did not seek Him or love Him?

Fortunately God made sure to answer this "Why God?" question. I wonder if it maybe the most important "Why God" question out there based on the number of passages in scripture that God makes the answer clearly known to us. So what would motivate a holy and perfect God to suffer and rescue a sinful world?
Love. He loved and loves you.

Do you see it? The answer was not so that we would have another chance at living a clean life without sin and failure. It was not to have a group of people to worship Him. It was not so that He could boast in His power and ability. It was not that we would create a large movement with people singing His praises. It was not that we would build churches and fill them each and every Sunday. It was simply, God loved and loves you.

It was not "God will love you on the condition that you hold up some part of the bargain, that you act good and not embarrass Him." No. It was while we were yet sinners God demonstrated, proved, displayed, screamed from the Heavens about how much He loves you in sending His Son to suffer and die for us. (see Romans 5:8)

Why is this so important? Because being loved is so crucial to all of us. It is something all of us desperately seek and need and God desires to satisfy, for only He can. The danger is when we do not look to God to satisfy that the hunger for love, we consume, use and sometimes devour those around us for it. For until you know that God is your only source of love, you will manipulate and demand it from others. But when you experience His love, you can't contain it, it will flow out of you to others, giving them a taste of what motivated Jesus to suffer and die for them.

- See more at: http://www.crosswaystolife.org/Apr_2015_Why_God.html#sthash.8zCXTjrI.dpuf
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There is an abundance of resources available to aid people in the area of evangelism, of how to share your faith in a way that leads others to Christ for salvation. I am sure that they would all agree that the best scenario would be one where the person who is lost asks the question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" For this question is from someone that is presumably ready to make a decision for Jesus and simply needs to be taught how.

This is the situation that Jesus, the master evangelist, found Himself in one day when a rich young ruler came up to Him. (see Mark 10:17-31) Jesus answers the man's question by first mentioning the Law and listing some of the 10 commandments which related to how we interact with others, "Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not lie, etc." (see v.19) To which the young man replied, "Teacher, I have kept all those things from my youth up." (see v.20) I imagine that the young man was getting excited at this point as he seemed to meet the requirements. Surely he qualifies for this great and wonderful gift called eternal life because he has earned it through his hard work and diligent obedience to the Law.

Verse 21 then says, "Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, "One thing you lack: go sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me."

Now let's be very clear. Jesus was not saying that the way to salvation was keeping the Law and selling all of your possessions to give to the poor. In fact, His response is helping the young man to see something even greater than just possessing eternal life, but how does one experience the fullness of it now. So Jesus asked him about the Law and then instructed him to sell all his belongings because Jesus was leading him to discover what He was really after, which was this young man's heart.

Did you notice what Jesus felt towards this man? Jesus loved him. Not because he had kept the commands, the behaviour of this man was not the issue. In fact, it wasn't nearly enough. Instead, Jesus wanted this young man to love Him with all of his heart. So Jesus asked him to give up what he treasured in this world the most, his material possessions, so that he would then be able to give his heart fully to Jesus and follow Him.

And what was the young man's response? "But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property." (see v.22) He was unwilling to give up what he treasured most and follow Jesus. He decided that his real treasure, his property, was too valuable to him to give up. And the result, he grieved, he was left unsatisfied.

Have you ever wondered how the story would have gone if it was you asking Jesus the question instead of the rich young ruler? What would, or is, Jesus asking you to give up to come walk with Him today, after salvation? And to be clear, it is not that poverty is more holy or going without something that is the issue. Sometimes giving something up doesn't mean losing it, but setting it aside within our heart. It is discovering how to possess something without it possessing you.

Maybe Jesus is asking you to surrender your finances or financial security like the young man. It could be a relationship such as your marriage, or your kids, or a friendship. It may be your job, your reputation or your personal freedom, happiness or comfort. What is Jesus asking you to give up, to surrender, to lay aside in your heart, so that you can fully belong to and follow Him?

Too often we focus on what we are losing, but it should be more about what we are gaining. At the end of the passage Jesus promises, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life."

The cost of following Jesus is great, everything that you hold dear. But the reward is even greater - knowing and experiencing an intimate relationship with Jesus. That is eternal life.

- See more at: http://www.crosswaystolife.org/Mar_2015_Rich_Young_Ruler.html#sthash.qv0pp7ZH.dpuf
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When you ask people what they really want in life I expect many people would answer, "To be happy." This desire has been so central to the western mindset that the founders of America decided that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" was an "unalienable right."
This pursuit has been the deciding factor of so many choices in our life. We have gotten married and divorced looking for happiness. Had children and given them up looking for happiness. Devoted ourselves to careers and quit careers looking for happiness. Gone on strict no-carb, no-sugar, no-meat, no-identifiable food diets as well as binge-eaten ice cream sandwiches wrapped in bacon dipped in chocolate looking for happiness.

And for a brief time we seem to find what we are looking for. But it is temporary at best and too often unsatisfying. So we try to get more or do something else. We might change our hair-styles, clothes, houses, relationships or just dream about what life might look like a year or two away when the kids are older, the job has changed, the difficulties pass, or the finances have improved.

But the happiness we seek remains unattainable. Why do you suppose this is so?

First off, I think we have confused happiness with contentment. We believe that when we are happy then we will be content so we seek to be happy. But ultimately what we are all looking for is contentment. That deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. We will only rest when we find it.

But we have made the grave mistake of believing that this world can ever truly offer it. King Solomon's book Ecclesiastics is a prime example of this. He sought contentment through riches, fame, property, beauty, freedom, power, relationships, entertainment only to come to the realisation that it is futile, like trying to capture the wind in a jar.

But where Solomon failed, the Apostle Paul however succeeded because he had a very different approach. In his letter to the Philippians, a letter he wrote while imprisoned in Rome, Paul writes,
"For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13)
Paul had learned the secret to being content, regardless of the situation, the circumstances, the trouble, the pressures around him. That secret was in looking to Jesus to provide the contentment he, and we, need.

Contentment=Reality-Expectations

Let's explain it another way. Think of contentment being a function of your reality minus your expectations. We could write it out as 'Reality - Expectations = Contentment.'

Think of it in terms of a movie you might have seen, a book that you read, or a dinner that you may have tried. If you go in with high expectations, and it fails to deliver, meaning the reality was below what you expected, then you will be disappointed, or discontent, with the movie, book or dinner. But if the reality is greater than the expectations, then we rave at how good it was because we were content in what we found.

We might even write it as 'What you got - What you think you need = Contentment.'

So how does this apply to what Paul wrote to the Philippians? I believe Paul saw what was real and what he had better than most because he knew where to look. Paul realised that his reality, what he had, was based on his relationship to Jesus. Paul was loved, accepted, safe, belonged, protected, provided and cared for by the single most important person in or out of the universe - Jesus Christ. That this same Jesus lived in him and was with him every moment of every day, providing for him the grace and strength for every task Paul was called to face.

When Paul held onto the truth of who he was in Christ and who Christ was in him, he discovered that what he had, his reality, was everything he needed. Thus his reality was much greater than what he might have thought he needed.

So let us learn from Paul, and remember that Jesus is better and greater than anything else. He is greater than your despair, greater than your fears, greater than your failures, greater than your disappointments, greater than your hurts.

The hard part is remembering to focus on our reality and not get distracted by the empty promises from the world of the latest flashy trinkets that guarantees instant, pain free happiness instead. Remember, they are like trying to catch the wind in a jar.

- See more at: http://www.crosswaystolife.org/Jan_2015_Contentment.html#sthash.9s0DvAfC.dpuf
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