Thanksgiving is tomorrow. We are having a small family gathering at our house for a traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet rolls and cranberry sauce. Of course there will also be plenty of gravy… and pumpkin pie for dessert. It is comforting to keep this annual tradition.
But some things are quite different. Janelle’s father passed away in July, and our son, Josiah, will be in Spokane at school until mid-December.
Some things are the same. But some things are different. Very different. And the difficult kind of different.
But we are still thankful. Thankful for the simple things in life like food to eat and a home to provide us shelter. Thankful for family and friends. Thankful for our church home.
Thankful also that in the midst of a broken world plagued with war, hunger, and immense suffering, we have the great hope that one day the brokenness will be of the past and we will spend eternity in the presence of our Lord.
I don’t know what our earthly future holds for us, but I am sure it includes some joys and plenty of sufferings as well.
In the midst of such uncertainty, we do have this certainty: God is with us. For that I am so thankful.
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” -Matthew 1:23 (NLT)
Happy Thanksgiving! May the Lord bless you in this season with the richness of his presence.
In His Grace and Love,
Cynicism is sneaky. It can appear sophisticated while masking woundedness. I recall a friend steeped in it over matters of the heart; namely, men. Her cynicism bled her ex-husband’s betrayal. The man she trusted would love her forever, did not.
Age-old story. She built walls to ward off hurt. But those defenses didn’t allow healing to reach her either. Her perspective skewed all men as equal. A lonely, exhausting burden.
Cynicism is sad, especially directed towards God. People blame God for myriad of things. Life doesn’t happen as expected, they conclude God failed. The Israelites did.
You have wearied the Lord with your words… By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?” (Malachi 2:17)
Notice the result. They “wearied” the Lord. Weary God? Isaiah says God “neither faints nor is weary” (40:28). Perhaps God was saddened by their persistent cynicism.
Giving up on God brings the inclination to replace him with humanity. And let’s face it, we disappoint. When disillusioned, God’s accused again. Wearying, misplaced cynicism! Yet God understands our limitations. Fulfilling his promise to the Israelites, he provided for us through Jesus.
Are you soul-weary, wondering when burdens will ease? Jesus invites: bring them! Learn from him. Rest in him.
It’s easy to feel cynical. It’s life-changing to trust Jesus.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
June’s theme for our Women’s Blog is “pause and align.” This seems like something I’m continually needing, especially in the world we live, in the times we live. I imagine every generation has felt this.
It’s an awareness thing. So I pause for it. But for what awareness? I must firstly be aware of God’s presence.
His presence prompts questions:
I lay aside anything that will deter me from focusing on God’s will as the ultimate value:
Biblical images or texts make their own contribution to this discernment process:
This world is filled with loud, intrusive input — some of worth, some not. What I give primacy to must align with what I say is my utmost value: God.
"We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words taught not by human wisdom but by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual” (1 Cor. 2:12–13).
I’ve often thought about the crowd calling for Jesus to be crucified. What were the stories behind these people turned so violent? I wonder… am I so different?
It’s easy with hindsight, to judge the fickle betrayal of the crowd towards Jesus, calling for his unjust death, just days after welcoming him with praise and adoration.
I wonder what I would have yelled had I stood in that crowd? I want to think I would stand with Jesus... I want to believe that about myself.
That anonymity of “mob mentality” is reminiscent of social media, manifested by false bravado through hidden anonymity rather than from a crowd. It’s easy to hide behind a keyboard, not facing the maligned in the comment threads — dehumanizing someone’s existence.
It’s easy to only see what we can handle. When things get too personal (painful), we cancel each other out. We log off, shutdown, silence our phones. (Sometimes those are appropriate when boundaries are lacking). But do we silence our hearts too?
But what of the attacked? People with real lives, lived out in real-time. Owning one’s part of the dialogue is not required on these digital platforms. Yet when I engage with others, it is required of me as a Jesus follower… because people matter to Jesus, they matter to me.
Let me be clear… this I do through the power of Jesus’ Spirit in me. Jesus did not shut down the crowd. He did not turn back. He went all the way... all the way to the cross for you and for me. And he conquered death, rising to victory! THAT’S the power available to us! (Romans 8:11)
So I ask myself: What kind of impact do my words make? What stories do my actions tell? Do I speak from the kind of sacrificial love and grace that Jesus showed the very ones who betrayed him?
I pray Jesus’ amazing grace rules over my soul this Easter, I desperately need it.
The Cosmological Argument (The Philosophical Version)
One of my favorite arguments for the existence of God is the Cosmological Argument:
Awhile back I posted about the scientific version of this argument; this is the philosophical version. The philosophical version of this argument gives evidence for premise #2 by arguing philosophically that the universe began to exist.
The argument is summed up well in William Lane Craig’s video (see below if you’d like to watch it - it is only just over 6 minutes long):
“If the universe did not have a beginning, then the number of past events in the history of the universe is infinite... But that’s a problem because the existence of an actually infinite number of past events leads to absurdity - it is a metaphysical impossibility.” -William Lane Craig
The philosophical evidence is that the universe (space, time, and matter) is not eternal in the past; it has a beginning. The cause of the universe must therefore be outside of the material universe; it must be spaceless, timeless, immaterial, and extremely powerful. Again, sounds like the God of the Bible?
Believing in the existence of the God of the Bible is therefore a reasonable belief. In fact, I am convinced that the evidence is overwhelming such that to disbelieve in God is intellectually unreasonable. Both the scientific and the philosophical evidence are in agreement.
"Modern science is based on the principle: Give us one free miracle and we'll explain the rest... And the one free miracle is the appearance of all the matter and energy in the universe and the laws that govern it for nothing in an instant." - Terence Mckenna
Lastly, below is a short, 6-minute YouTube video from William Lane Craig’s ministry on The Cosmological Argument (the Philosophical version) if you want to take a look.
Because Jesus satisfies the mind and the heart.
-Pastor Steve York
Philosophers and theologians have over the years presented philosophical and scientific evidence for the existence of God. One of my favorites is The Cosmological Argument for the existence of God.
The logical argument goes like this:
What is especially important to note is that when we say that “the universe began to exist” we mean the material universe, which includes time, space and matter.
Therefore, the cause of the universe is the cause of time, space and matter. The cause must then be outside of time, space and matter.
The cause of the universe must be timeless, spaceless, and immaterial.
Sounds a lot like the God of the Bible?
While the cosmological argument is obviously not a stand-alone argument for the Christian faith being true, it is an important argument showing that it is intellectually satisfying to believe that the God of the Bible does indeed exist.
If you want to watch a short video on the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God, here it is below.
Hello! Ben Wysong here, I have the privilege of being the Worship Arts Pastor at Cold Springs Church. I coordinate and lead the times of worship we have through music for all of our gatherings at the church.
As a worship leader it is always a goal of mine to never be stagnant, to always be learning, to be creative, and incorporate different elements into our times of worship. I recently read a book by Andrew Wilson titled “Spirit and Sacrament: An Invitation to Eucharasmatic Worship,” and I found it to be very compelling and have taken some ideas and begun applying it within my ministry, and within our time of worship.
Essentially, the book makes the point that honoring ancient traditions is very important, and just as important is applying modern and contemporary elements into our worship context. I wanted to take this idea and start introducing some of these things more frequently. How amazing is it that traditions that have been happening for years and years are things that we can do and become a part of? Communion is a popular one - we celebrate in communion the same way that Jesus and His disciples did, when I stop to think about this it makes me realize how powerful that really is - and we get to be a part of it! I am hoping to incorporate more liturgy into our services, scripture readings, call and response with the congregation, and songs that have been sung throughout the years. At the same time I want to incorporate more modern ideas - new songs that are being written, songs that we write as a worship team, prayer moments in the service, and art being created during our services. The possibilities to worship God are endless and I want that to be reflected in the time we share together. To me, it is important to be creative as we worship the creator of all.
Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals. It is the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and persevere when you face obstacles. This kind of passion is not about intense emotions or infatuation.
24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. (2 Corinthians 11:24-27)
THE WHY —
the purpose, cause, or belief behind WHAT they are doing.
Our why statement is a sentence that clearly expresses your unique contribution and impact. The impact reflects the difference you want to make in the world, and the contribution is the primary action that you take towards making your impact.
Hard is good.
Without resistance there is no personal growth in you or in who you are serving.
It is the journey of becoming the best version of yourself.
It is about perspective; is the situation or challenge an obstacle or an opportunity?
You get to choose the lens you see things and respond.
Hard is good.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
-Pastor David Samargo
I was reading Matthew 5:41 from where we get the expression “go the extra mile” — “If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.”
It got me thinking about the theme of “Emmanuel, God with us.” God with us brings so much extra that transcends our little worlds, that gives us something more.
What if “going the extra mile” is more than what we can do for someone else? Yes, there is always that. Going the extra the mile is good when serving someone... even someone demanding (as is the Matthew, “Sermon on the Mount” context). But perhaps in reality, it ends up benefiting the one doing the going (aka, serving)?
Going the extra mile serves to offer a new perspective. It creates the space to consider that something more, beyond my little bubble. To experience a broader scope — someone else’s reality. And God gave us an example by coming to dwell in ours.
Emmanuel, left his throne to give us a home forever with him. And isn’t that really why we “go the extra mile” in the first place? Because he is with us in every step along the way?
So going the extra mile can be a gift to the one who goes. It can give empathy, which leads to to compassion. The kind of compassion that loves like Emmanuel. And that kind of love changes everything.
So this Christmas season when you find yourself serving others, perhaps carrying their gear that extra mile… consider the gift you are receiving in doing so. And consider the One with you as you go.
“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.” (John 1:14a, NLT)
“If we’re going to move out of L.A. we might as well go where we already have family.” When I said those words to my husband in late 2004, little did I know that by Spring of 2006 we would be moving to Placerville!
After much prayer, I took a “leap of faith” and agreed to move. I knew this could be good in many ways, but questioned how I would find ministry fulfillment. I gave up much to move to Placerville - one was ministry with my parents (I was a leader in the church my dad pastored). The quality of ministry life I lived in Southern California was a gift. I didn’t expect God to replicate it.
I admit the first 6 months here were challenging. But God’s faithfulness is everlasting, his mercies are new every morning! He met me each day with his powerful presence, reminding me that home is wherever he is, not something determined by earthly situations. We found Cold Springs Church within a month. Yet I felt God nudge me to remain quiet about my call to ministry. So for months we simply attended and fell in love with the people of Cold Springs and Placerville itself.
Long story short, on March 27, 2007, I was invited on staff at Cold Springs. I cannot say enough that I have consistently felt in my “sweet spot” here. Pastor David is not simply a phenomenal preacher and pastor, he is an exceptional leader who brings out the best in those around him. My dad was a tough act to follow. God knew this. God knew the kind of leader I would need before I even thought to go into ministry.
I am so grateful that God knows us better than we know ourselves! If it were solely up to me, I would have never been bold enough to jump into the unknown. We are called to do the things we cannot do without Jesus. That is the only reason I took the leap.
I love the people who call Cold Springs Church their family. I love that. Calling a church your “faith family.” That’s what we are. And I wasn’t sure I would find that with the same depth again. My “leap of faith” wasn’t that big of a leap after all. Because what I forgot was that my little faith was all based upon God’s great faithfulness, not my own! And isn’t that a great relief?!
With much love,
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1, NLT)
to the Cold Springs Blog!