Prayer Focus for San Marino – Sunday, August 31

San Marino

San Marino, Europe: The Sammarinese are Catholic by tradition and culture, but most give only lip service to the Church and are very materialistic. Increasing numbers reject their religious heritage altogether, with smaller numbers of JWs, a small group of Baha’i, a few Waldensians and a scattering of people from other faith backgrounds. Pray that they may have a life-changing encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Grace of the Law – Genesis 34


Moses, by Marc Chagall 1956

Following are questions for conversation based on the Genesis 34 sermon. Please feel free to leave questions or comment.

  • Who is the author of Genesis? (Moses)
  • Who is the original audience for whom the book of Genesis was originally written? (Israel after the Exodus and on the way to the promised land)

Read Genesis 34:

  • Who is Dinah’s mother? Is she the more or less favored wife of Jacob?
  • As appropriate to your group, discuss the following: What did Shechem do to Dinah?
  • Has God revealed his laws to Israel at this point in history? When does God give the Ten Commandments and subsequent laws to Israel?
  • How would God’s law have helped in a situation like this? (see Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29).
  • Why might Jacob have under-reacted in hearing about the mistreatment of Dinah? (compare Jacob’s reaction in Genesis 34:5 to his reaction to Joseph’s supposed death in 37:31-35)
  • When have you experienced or witnessed an under-reaction to evil? Share with the group.
  • When the sons of Jacob return they react very strongly (v. 7) but then fail to exact a punishment that fit the crime (v. 25-29). How would laws from God have been a helpful provision in this case? Do any laws from the Old Testament come to mind as particularly relevant to this case? (see Exodus 21:23-24).
  • When have you experienced or witnessed an over-reaction to evil? Share with the group.
  • At the end of the story (v. 30-31) there is a disagreement between Jacob and his sons about what should have been done in response to Dinah’s severe mistreatment. Explain how this ending is “ambiguous.”
  • How do God’s laws given to Israel clear up that ambiguity?
  • The main point of this sermon was that the law is grace. How is law (or instruction) gracious?


    Crucifixion of Saint Peter, by Caravaggio 1601

  • Jesus, in John 13:34, commands his disciples. What has he commanded us to do?
  • How is Jesus’ instruction to love like him (laying down your life for others as he has laid down his life for us) a gracious thing?
  • No one perfectly loves like Jesus, and that is why we need to continually be reminded that we are rooted in his sacrificial, complete and perfect love for us (Ephesians 3:14-21). When have you seen a local church love like Jesus, laying down its life for the sake of others? What opportunities does Crossroads have to love others like Jesus?

God’s Tricky but He’s Good – Genesis 32:22-32


Jesters by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1885

Questions for Conversation

  1. What has God already promised Jacob according to chapter 28:13-15?
    1. Who else did God make these promises to in prior chapters of Genesis?
    2. How do these promises line up with the way God set up human life at creation (see Genesis 1-2).
  2. Read chapter 32:1-21.
    1. Who is Jacob afraid will attack and kill him? Why would Jacob be afraid of this? (Hint: see Genesis 27)
  1. Read 32:22-24
    1. Who do you think Jacob assumed the man was who attacked him in the night (see v. 24)?
  2. Read 32:25-30
    1. Who does Jacob realize it is in v. 30?
  3. Some people wonder how God, who cannot be seen and is a Spirit, can physically wrestle Jacob. Hosea 12:2-4 explains that an angel wrestled with Jacob. This is common for an angelic emissary of God to be God’s representative
  4. This was tricky of God to lead Jacob (and the hearers of Genesis) to think that it was a man who wrestled with him. But through this tricky attack God accomplished a few things:
    1. God can and does act shrewdly (withholding information) – he can be tricky.
    2. God is committed to his ancestral covenant promises to Jacob and is willing to act tricky to make that known. Do you remember how the putting Jacob’s hip out of joint indicated God’s commitment to keep his promises? (hint: see Genesis 24:1-3).
    3. Jacob’s tricky ways can be employed for the sake of God’s mission too.  Do you remember how God helped Jacob to act shrewdly with Esau? (hint: see Genesis 32:1 and the meaning of “Mahanaim” in the ESV margin note and compare with what Jacob does in 32:7
  1. How was Jesus’ crucifixion the greatest trick that God ever played?
    1. How did that shrewd move by God fulfill his ancestral covenant promises to Abraham?
  2. How is God tricky in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11?
    1. How is God’s trickiness employed for the sake of the covenant promises he has made to Christ’s people? How is his action performed for the sake of good?
  3. C.S. Lewis wrote of the Christ character in the Narnia series that “God is not safe but he’s good”. What do you think he meant by that? Does that help you understand how God can be tricky but also good?
  4. Why do we need the Bible to constantly expand and re-align our understanding of who God is toward us and others?
    1. Can you tell the group a story from your life when having your horizons expanded regarding Christ or the gospel really made a difference?
  5. God is obviously very serious about keeping his promise to Jacob, even giving him the enduring reminder in his hip joint.
    1. Do you believe that he is as committed to bring about salvation in the life of the church today? Where are you encouraged by what you see happening in the global, national or local church?

A nice day

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Christian Education Classes – Fall 2014

Christian Education – Fall 2014

Sundays from 11:15 – 12:15

September 7 through November 30, 2014


Preschool (Ages 2–4) Preschoolers learn about God’s thrilling rescue of Israel from Egypt and how the Old Testament points to the Savior. Taught by Phillip and Bridget DiBella with Assistant Elena Mourad

Younger Elementary (Grades K–3) Children learn to obey God through stories about the Old Testament prophets and kings. Taught by Robert Mourad

Older Elementary (Grades 4–6) Pre-teens learn about the life, work and teachings of Christ in the Gospels. Taught by Maria Dunn


Friendship Class (Special Needs Education)

Those with disabilities will study from the New Testament. The lessons will highlight the work of the Holy Spirit in the early church. Taught by Peggy Van Lowe and one adult/teen mentor for each student.


 Adult Education

 Exploring Crossroads – What is Crossroads all about? Come learn the basics of how our faith and practice are rooted in the glory of the triune God’s free grace received through faith in Jesus Christ as illuminated in the sacred pages of Scripture. This class is required for all seeking membership. Taught by Pastor Don Sampson

 Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – You can’t be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. Come learn how we can escape the lifelessness of unhealthy spirituality and experience a fresh faith charged with authenticity, contemplation, and a hunger for God that leaves you filled up and overflowing instead of burnt out and exhausted. Taught by Pastor Tim Carroll


Prayer Focus for Samoa – Sunday, August 24

Samoa, Pacific: The growth of evangelicals is encouraging – through renewal movements in mainline churches as well as through newer groups, especially Pentecostals/charismatics. This growth parallels a major decline in traditional denominations. Pentecostals/charismatics and other evangelical agencies, such as Youth for Christ, are met with opposition, particularly from some mainline denominations. Pray for harmony between the newer and the more traditional branches of the Church.










Prayer Focus for St Vincent and the Grenadines – Sunday, August 17

St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean:The need continues for biblical leadership and training in churches, although it is being addressed by programs such as Bible school extensions and BCCs.


St Vincent

Genesis 29:1-35


Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. 2 As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, 3 and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well.

4 Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” 5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” They said, “We know him.” 6 He said to them, “Is it well with him?” They said, “It is well; and see, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep!” 7 He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered together. Water the sheep and go, pasture them.” 8 But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”

9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 Now as soon as Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob came near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud. 12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.

13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, 14 and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.

15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 16 Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. 18 Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” 22 So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. 23 But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. 24 (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) 25 And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” 28 Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) 30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years.

31 When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” 33 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. 34Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. 35 And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing.


Tech’s Not Enough – Genesis 28

space elevator

Nanotube Space Elevator

Technology has exploded in recent history, and there’s no doubt that we are better off for it. Modern plumbing, travel by air, and medical advances are some of the first things that come to mind. I am happy that men and women have dreamed great dreams and sought to make them reality. And many now dream of where technology will take us next. Take the carbon nanotube, for instance. Some dream of a day when we will be able to build an elevator to space using this new molecular technology (, and I hope that we can find a way to do it.

Of course, the hope for technology to bridge heaven and earth can be taken metaphorically to stand for the hope that technology can lead us into an ideal future, an “age of abundance” This vision for the future is quite popular today and sounds like very good news. But here’s the question: Will technology usher in a peaceful, secure and happy future? Is technology the good news; is technological advancement the gospel?

Mesopotamia - Pergamum Museum, Berlin

Ziggurat Model in Pergamum Museum, Berlin

Let’s consider Genesis 28:10-22. This passage is famously remembered as “Jacob’s Ladder.” Here God appears to Jacob in a dream. The LORD stands above a ladder (or “flight of steps”) and makes great promises for Jacob and his family’s future. There are similarities and differences between Jacob’s dream and another famous passage in Genesis: the Tower of Babel. The connection between the two stories is clearest in the stairways or flights of steps (Genesis 28:12) that reach to the heavens (Genesis 11:4). In both passages, a ziggurat is being described. A ziggurat was a large building that invited the gods to come down the steps from heaven and bring their blessing to the earth.  The builders of Babel set the ladder up in the earth; in Jacob’s dream, God is the builder and he sets up the ladder.  Due to a distorted grasp of God, the builders in Babel thought he could be coerced to give them the heavenly life; in Jacob’s dream, the LORD comes to Jacob to explain how the heavenly life will be brought to the earth. The point is this: the blessed life that humanity desires will not come through human technological advancement but through God’s covenant with Abraham.

Eventually, many centuries after Jacob dreamed that dream, Jesus, a son of Abraham, spoke with a man named Nathanael. He explained to Nathanael that he is the ultimate fulfillment of Jacob’s ladder (Jladder Jesusohn 1:51). Jesus Christ is the way that heaven and earth are bridged so that God’s Kingdom can come to earth as it is in heaven. And rather than pleading our great worth to the Father because of our development of super-computers, Jesus died for our sins. Ultimate human flourishing required the sacrifice of the Son of God, not more hours at the office.

Now, technology is not opposed to the Kingdom of God. Although some may say that we must choose between science and faith, we ought to see the two as linked: science and faith. Technological advancement is not enough to bring about true human fulfillment. God must be at the center of the equation and Jesus, the son of Jacob, is the only mediator between God and men (2 Timothy 2:5). He is Lord of all, and all, including technology, must be brought into submission to his good purposes for the world.


1. What technologies do you use most? How are they typically used? Do you find yourself using them that way? Is that use helping to shape you and others  into the way of Christ?

2. Have you ever heard anyone make the argument that humanity’s best future lies in technological advancement? Can you think of movies or TV Shows that have featured that hope?

3.  How is the covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12) the way that God will bring true human fulfillment to the earth?

4. How has technology furthered the Kingdom of Jesus? How might it hinder it?

Prayer Focus for St Pierre & Miquelon – Sunday, August 10

St PierreSt. Pierre and Miquelon, North America: There are no longer any evangelical groups. The Baptists and AoG have both withdrawn from this hard field. While there may be a few private believers, there is no longer a formal evangelical or even Protestant presence in the islands.