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Thank You, Crossroads! /

Brothers and Sisters, Fellow Servants,

There is a church I know that exalts Christ and the cross, that loves one another as family, that obeys the Great Commission by making disciples of all nations. This church has sent out 50% of its members and gives 70% of its money outward to missions and ministry. The church glorifies God as it ignites a passion to reach the nations.

Crossroads to the Nations, thank you for building us up (Eph. 4:12)! Thanks for making our work a joy (Heb. 13:17)! Thanks for sending us in a way worthy of God (3 Jn. 6)!

Remember what we taught you about the gospel and how we lived among you. That is what I had the privilege of saying during our last meeting together (Acts 20:17–36). I thank God because he helped me stay faithful. He’s put a deep love in our hearts for you all that makes it hard to leave.

We will still be several more months before we travel to South Asia for the sake of the gospel. We’re now in New York visiting family and we’re packing long-term bags. Then we go to language training in January. Pray with us so we see opportunities to give outwardly as we go.

May God establish more churches like Crossroads around the world! Remember us in prayer as we pray for you!

Amen!
The Helmer family

What will you bring to church this Sunday? /

Church,

What will you bring to share at church this Sunday? A Scripture, a song, a story of God’s work and grace?

Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Eph. 4:15–16)

Share to build up others. Do this whether in Louisville or far away when you meet with God’s people. It’s the God-given way of maturity into Christ.

I look forward to meeting! Your brother,
C.

Go to Jesus Outside the City Gates /

Faithful,

Look! Jesus has risen, just as he said! This past Sunday during our church meeting T—— prayed with us for the first time, the church gave generously to L——’s mission and M——’s need, H—— served us with dinner, S—— taught us a worship song in Hindi, and M—— lead us in spontaneous worship. Awesome thunder rolled outside as we boldly approached God’s throne of grace. We welcomed our brother P—— who powerfully shared the good news and told the story of how his father in India turned from worshiping a spiritual guru’s lifeless skeleton to loving and serving the Living Lord Jesus. Our church meeting was such a demonstration that Jesus lives among his church.

Christians traditionally celebrate the week before Easter as “Palm Sunday.” On Palm Sunday we remember Jesus, riding on a donkey finally through the city gates of Jerusalem. He was praised as the humble King (Lk. 19:28–44), even welcomed in the name of the Lord in the spirit of Psalms 118. But that same week the people turn on the One they praised. This week points us to the most crucial moment of history in Christ’s crucifixion on the cross.

The Holy Spirit warns us not to welcome Jesus in vain. Jesus is not who we often think he is. We want to put Jesus on the throne because we hope to share in his glory. But Jesus’ purpose went far beyond the fanfare of the crowds that day. He was not looking for the praise of those in the crowd. He was looking for us, those outside God’s gates. “Jesus suffered outside the city gates on the cross to make people holy by his own blood” (Heb. 13:12). Jesus left the city for Calvary, the place of the cross. That place on the hill outside the city was for sacrifices and criminals; it is a place of spectacle and ridicule far from the fanfare of Jerusalem.

Jesus truly is the King of Kings. He has the right to demand obedience from the world. But first, Jesus gave everything. He disrobed and lived the life of a man as a servant. He died a bloody, disgraceful death for our sins. His life was sacrificed in our place. If you welcome this truth, you enter into God’s gates. If you turn away from this truth you reject the “stone” God made the “capstone” that holds everything together (Ps. 118:19–23). You cannot seek glory and shy away from the cross. To avoid the hard path of the cross is to miss Jesus and heaven altogether.

The Spirit now challenges us to “go to Jesus outside the city gates and bear the disgrace that he bore” (Heb. 13:13). Following Jesus always leads us in humility and thankfulness to his sacrifice for us on the cross. It is about repentance before a holy God. And it’s about dismantling high hopes for yourself or for this world because you’ve entered into the joy of the real fanfare and festival of heaven. “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14).

And this has everything to do with Christian missions and evangelism. Going to where Jesus is outside the gates means going to others who lived like us in shame and disgrace apart from God. It is going out to welcome the international into your home, to train the soldier to fight the good fight, to share a tract at the curb of the bus-stop, to serve college students partying on spring break, to live like Christ among a jungle tribe, to stand in the path of those heading toward karoshi (“death from overwork”), to whisper living words to the terminally ill, and to adopt the orphan into your family. For broken hearts this season, the news of a permanent home specially prepared in God’s city is good news.

And what does Jesus, your gracious Savior, demand of you? For your own offering, continually offer to God this sacrifice of praise from a new heart: confess his name at every opportunity (Heb. 13:15). With the disgrace of the world behind and the glory of the cross before, may it be said of you, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Ps. 118:26).

Your brother,
C.

Retreat Week 2009 /

Praying Church,

What’s at the center of your life right now? I pray at the beginning of this year you clutch to the truth of cross as the most essential thing. “I want to remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you… For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins…” (1 Cor. 15:1–4).

This past Sunday’s simple message, “Life’s Most Important Truth Can Be the Easiest to Forget,” was part 1. It was part 1. Part 2 will be this Wednesday evening at our home. We’ll meet at 6:30pm for a short meeting of worship, prayer, and God’s Word. For those who were not at church Sunday, this Wednesday time will launch us into three days of prayer and fasting.

Our annual retreat begins Saturday at 6:30pm at our home. We’ll be studying what it means for Crossroads to be a cross-cultural church (that is, a church with a culture defined by the cross, and a church going across cultures with the gospel). After a time of worship together Saturday, we’ll break our fast that evening with simple foods. The retreat will go until 4:30 or 5pm Sunday. There will be no church meeting at 5pm this Sunday.

Wednesday, 6:30 – 7:30pm: Church meeting
Wednesday evening – Saturday evening: Prayer and fasting
Saturday, 6:30pm – Sunday, 4:30pm: Retreat!

Near the Cross,
C.

The Cross is the blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled, but we have to get near enough for its sparks to fall on us.

—John Stott

May All the Peoples Praise You, O God! /

Psalms 67
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm. A song.

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine upon us,
Selah

2 that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.

3 May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.

4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples justly
and guide the nations of the earth.
Selah

5 May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.

6 Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God, will bless us.

7 God will bless us,
and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

Psalms 67 is a prayer inspired by God’s gracious promises and provision. God had promised Abraham that through him all the peoples of the world would be blessed (Gen. 12:1–3, 15:1–6). His descendants became the Jewish people. God’s promises shaped the hearts and thoughts of some of these descendants, and they prayed that foreigners would have the same joy in belonging to God. It is a prayer that has been answered. God blessed the world through his Son, the Savior. Now we who were once outside God’s family as foreigners, we for whom Psalms 67 was prayed, are brought near to God through Jesus Christ. We who believe in Jesus become Abraham’s descendants, children of God’s promise (Eph. 3:6, Gal. 3:14).

All good blessings in this world — wealth, home, family, work, food, play — serve the best blessing: Jesus. All the things we possess and do — the things with which God has blessed us — bow down to the purpose for which they were given: “that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.”

We make God’s purposes our purposes.

With the Son on our faces, we prayed on Sunday to send off M—— and J——. Family members were in attendance as we met outside to worship, and we sent them “in a manner worthy of God” (3 John 6).

We are not sorry for those who give up some blessings in order to bring the Best Blessing of All to the nations. They have all that is necessary for complete happiness: “the love and fellowship of our Lord, and a real purpose in life that keeps material things in proper perspective” (Frank and Marie Drown, Mission to the Headhunters).

We stand by their side in prayer. Our church meeting this Sunday (May 25) will be a special prayer service for our church’s missions in Louisville and for our missionaries. Also, when you bow to thank God before each meal, thank the Father also for sending Jesus, and pray that the nations would be blessed through what God has given you. And if necessary, pray in your own heart that God would soften you towards the nations.

We are ready to go ourselves at a moment’s notice. Stay alert so that you don’t waste one of your blessings — your summer. Get on the ball with memorizing Philippians. Men should prepare themselves for the men’s meeting. Give finances to support the church’s ministries. If you give money to Crossroads designated to “disaster relief” we will send it to ministries working in Myanmar or China. Build up others in the church and carry their burdens. Keep ready with the message, “Have joy in belonging to God!” and “Have real purpose in Jesus.” Fulfill your ministry.

I thank God that I am part of a church that prays big prayers to impact all peoples, a church that seeks to ignite a passion to reach the nations through Jesus Christ. I also thank God that we send out our best, and we pray for more to rise up in their place. Thank God for his promises and for the answered prayer of Psalms 67! God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

C.

Sending D—— and M——, Sunday’s Sermon, and Living It Out ‘Today’ /

Church,

The Commander of the Lord’s Army has appeared to His people and has charged them to finish the task. Forgive me for failing to keep this vision in front of us. I send this bulletin to you so that we can go forward together.

Read on for:

  • A report on the sending of D—— and M——,
  • A follow-up from Sunday’s sermon, and
  • An invitation to begin to live it out.

We were praying for D—— and M—— before we knew them. It was God’s will that this couple join a church that would care for them and train them. We thank God that Crossroads was a safe haven for them and also for their service among us. Sunday they asked the church to pray for them because it was time for them to return to Rolling Fields, the church which they left two years ago due to difficulty, and the church that helped commission Crossroads. We blessed them with stories of the grace we received through them, and we prayed for one another then, and for Rolling Fields. It is not easy, but it is good. Continue to carry this burden with them!

We read of Israel’s re-commitment in Joshua 24 to finish the task God gave them, and we closed with a practical application from Hebrews. It is my joyful duty to remind you again of God’s Word to us in Hebrews 3:12–13:

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

You know by now that sin wages a constant battle against us. The enemy does not sleep. It is easy to sigh in relief when a prayer meeting is cancelled or no one at church asked you about a particular area in your life. Guard your heart. Actually, we must guard one another’s. Our life of ongoing transformation is a community project.

Embrace God’s way to stay daily consecrated: Do not let an opportunity pass without encouraging your brother or sister in Christ with the Word and with prayer. Make intentional efforts to meet, share stories, pray, and strategize against the Enemy. This is a necessity for a true Christian and a gift of God’s grace.

John Piper on Hebrews 3:12–13:

Why don’t you go ahead and take the initiative to seek out some fellow-believers? If we knew that the Gestapo was closing in on us, if we knew that at any time some could disappear from our number never to be heard from again, we would gather often in our homes and in secret rendezvous to strengthen our hands in God. And love would cover a multitude of sins, and our handshakes and embraces and the meetings of our eyes would be like gifts of roses and lilies from the bottom of the heart.

Well, we are in war time. We are in enemy territory. Thousands of lives hang in the balance. The danger of hard hearts and unbelief and cool love and American luxury lurks everywhere. O, how we need to exhort one another every day to have strong confidence of victory in Christ, and to dream of new strategies of love to sabotage the enemy’s concentration camps of unbelief!

Forgive us leaders, as examples to God’s flock, for not encouraging and enabling you to meet together in smaller groups where you can obey this text and exhort each other with the promises and warnings and commands of Scripture and do ministry together.

At least on Wednesday, two such meetings will happen. At 6pm, men are invited to meet at the seminary’s Founder’s Café, and women with K—— at our home on campus. For one hour we will pray and share faith-building stories of God’s grace. Just one hour will help us continue to live out God’s Word daily. We must be intentional about ministry, especially Today. The days are increasingly busy, and you are now too busy not to pray.

It is exciting to meet as a church in the community room on the basement level of UTA. We will meet there again this Sunday. Gather outside at 5pm. B—— will reserve the room for us. In the meantime, begin praying for the people there… that the gospel of God’s grace would storm that tower.

Anyone you know who needs to take joy in God and join this fellowship this week? Stand in the gap for them and invite them.

I thank God for you and for His ever-present Son, Jesus. God may allow Crossroads to give itself away. But as long as it is called Today, and God’s gracious invitation is open to the nations, we must see to it that His Church is there.

Yours for the gospel until we join hands in the resurrection,
C.

Go Forward: A Call to Pray and Fast /

Now that we have read encouraging news from others in the church today, please read below and prepare your heart to continue to go forward.

Crossroads,

There are things that only God can do: change hearts, convict people of their sin and their need for Him, reveal the truth of Jesus as the Promised One and the Son of God, give true and lasting joy. These things have happened to us during the last months, so we know: God is working among us. God dwells in the church by His Spirit (Eph. 2:22).

We also know that God will be glorified among the nations (Ps. 46:10). And He is pleased to include us to share His glory and joy. We join God in reaching, training and sending worshipers of Jesus among the nations. We should not be surprised when God — Who answers prayer — sends some of our most precious people to join His work and carry His worship around the world. This is glorious: we are so small, and God is too great for just Crossroads. He will build His church where Christ is not known (Rom 15:20).

We have joined God in praying for this to happen. If God is answering our prayers (and He is), then we must now pray: God, sustain your church, Crossroads, so that we can continue to be a part of this mighty work, in Louisville and the world. Give us more people to give away. Give us the daily bread and support we need to succeed. Give us a place to meet. Give us hearts to pray and worship you while You do these incredible things. Help us not rest from working nor cease from praying until You are glorified among the nations.

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make our joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” (Php. 2:1–2). Renew your commitment again to Christ’s church and let’s pray together.

On Sunday, we called the church to pray and fast this coming Sunday (5/20). We are renewing that call now, in case you have forgotten or you were not there to hear it. The church is at a crossroads, and we must humble ourselves so that we will jointly go God’s way.

If you are able to fast (if you are not pregnant or getting married…), take the time you would to eat a meal in order to pray, worship and read Scripture alone and with your family. You are a part of this church; this call is not for someone else, nor is it time to see how to get by with as little prayer as possible. In fact, churches around the world are setting aside time next week for a day of prayer and fasting for world evangelization. You are not alone.

K—— and I will be praying near H——’s (outside around UPA) before church on Sunday from 4–5pm. For over two years, we have prayed early before our church meetings, for the church and for ministry. Please try to come if you are able for any time before the church meeting. We will be walking around outside.

If you need guidance while praying, please remember:

  • D—— in Kuwait
  • D——, S——, and their families, and H—— and L——
  • Need for a church location
  • Summer missions (M——, S——, M——, W—— and W——, trip to Dallas, Helmers)
  • J—— and J——’s marriage
  • Pray for a specific unreached people group (the IMB asks churches to pray for the Udmurts of Russia; see link above)
  • Concerns of church members (you are always welcome to send additional prayer requests and praises to the church)

Be encouraged! Keep going forward! Your summer is a wonderful gift to use for God’s glory. I truly look forward to seeing you soon.

Your brother,
C.

Psalms 133 /

Family,

During the “ascent,” pilgrims came to Jerusalem from many different walks of life, regions, and tribes to celebrate one common heritage: redemption! As Christians we are adopted into one family; and Crossroads is a very beautiful and diverse local expression of that united family. Our unity is precious because we are all ministers (Ps. 133:2, 1 Pet. 2:9–10) and we actively forgive and bless each other. And our unity is precious to me because of how refreshing it always is (like dew on a dry summer day! Ps. 133:3).

Prepare to be refreshed. Examine yourselves today while you await the coming of the Lord, and turn away from all that hinders. The health and growth of our church family begins with individuals being right with God. “But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you — even Jesus” (Acts 3:18–20).

Remember to pray for (and participate in!) ministry; our celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection provides a great opportunity. This morning was a U of L soccer tournament and outreach. This evening is the International BSU “Saturday Nights Together” outreach for Easter. Your friends are waiting to hear!

How good and pleasant it is to be a part of God’s family with you,
C.

Psalms 133
A song of ascents.

1 How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!

2 It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down upon the collar of his robes.

3 It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.