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New Year

Start Your Brave New Year Here!

By Intersections

“Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus” (Philippians 3:13).

Happy Brave New Year!

2020 looks to be a significant year. Why? The start of every new year holds promise, but 2020? It’s the start of a new decade! Take a moment and re-read the verse above from Philippians.

For Paul, being a follower of Jesus Christ meant that he was paying attention to the signs Christ had placed before him. He was connected to spiritual energy moving him forward to the future. Like Jesus, he didn’t spend all of his time in religious assemblies, but out and about in the public square, in the neighborhood, with people from every walk of life, from every country, with diverse ideas and experiences. (Compare John 1:14 and Acts 17.)

The Mission Study Team and the session have invested a great deal of prayerful work over the past two years listening to the Spirit and the many voices in the congregation. Our congregational Focus Your Vision event and surveys last year were especially meaningful as we began to design our future-looking mission. All these inputs and discernment have produced clarity about our mission.

When we speak of “our mission,” we refer to our purpose put into action. Put into action that can be appreciated, accessed, and experienced by those we love and serve- our community of faith and the community at large. In other words, the measure of our success in fulfilling our mission is what our entire community says it is. We care about what our neighbors experience and we want them to experience God’s abundance and grace in 2020!

Every church of Jesus Christ can be assumed to worship Christ, proclaim the Bible, and serve others. But each of us, and each congregation, has a unique mission, a special call, as well. Why is Cold Spring Presbyterian Church at the corner of Seashore and Academy roads?

What has God called us to focus on in 2020?

We can’t do everything, because if everything is our priority, then nothing is a priority. If we focus on doing it all, we end up doing nothing at all. So our mission is what God has called us to do as a unique community of faith right now. For such a time as this, God has called Cold Spring Presbyterian Church, and all those participating in its worship and work, (thats you and me!) to celebrate, communicate, engage with, and promote our mission.

Similarly, when we refer to vision, we mean the imagined future we seek to see. Our vision describes the outcomes accomplished by God’s empowerment and grace.

VISION: Cold Spring Presbyterian Church

We believe that everyone deserves to experience God’s love in relevant and authentic ways. Our thriving faith community energizes spirits and transforms lives by putting God’s love into action to help make greater Cape May a better place. We invite others to join with us as we joyfully love and serve God and our neighbors through the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ.

MISSION: Cold Spring Presbyterian Church

Cold Spring Presbyterian Church delivers spiritual resources and experiences that are centered in God’s love. We enthusiastically proclaim the abundant life through Jesus Christ. Our mission is to improve the spiritual vitality and wellness of our congregation and community throughout the Cape May region through inspiring worship, practical teaching from God’s word, innovative programs, and community-focused events and ministry.

You will find our vision and mission statements on our website, in each Connections and Brickette issue, in our weekly bulletin. Our mission helps us tell our story! Our clear vision helps us know when to say yes or no. Our clear mission guides every decision the session makes about by our resources, priorities, and values as we listen to God’s Spirit. Our mission informs our teams, committees, and all our work across our congregation. Even more, our compelling vision and mission will attract new individuals, families, resources, partnerships and opportunities!

We are beginning our 306th year of ministry! And you are an important part of its success! Member, friend, neighbor… you have a place at Cold Spring Church in 2020!

Join us on Sunday, January 26th, after worship in Price Hall when we hold our 2020 Annual Congregational Meeting. We will celebrate all that God has done in our midst in 2019! You are invited to participate and be energized during this very special gathering.

What’s ahead in 2020? With the apostle Paul, we know three important things about the future:

  1. We are learning and growing as we follow Jesus.
  2. We have a mission.
  3. God is calling us all to bravely fulfill our mission and move forward into the future.

Thank you for all you do…praying and supporting, engaging, and serving… in the name of Jesus Christ!

Let’s expect a brave new year in 2020 as we experience God’s abundance and grace, working together to achieve our mission in God’s emerging, hopeful future! That’s why we can confidently say, “Happy Brave New Year!”


Pastor Kevin

Why We Should Expect More in 2018

By Intersections

Expect More!

How is your new year looking so far? Are you expecting much? We are not victims to our past. We are not destined to merely repeat last year, this year. We can choose a different, more hopeful future. Want to find out how 2018 can be different? Read on, and here’s a hint: Expect more.

They arrived at Bethsaida. Some people brought a sightless man and begged Jesus to give him a healing touch. Taking him by the hand, he led him out of the village. He put spit in the man’s eyes, laid hands on him, and asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up. “I see men. They look like walking trees.” So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty focus. Jesus sent him straight home, telling him, “Don’t enter the village.” (Mark 8.22-26)

Someone shared a brochure they picked up at a church they had recently visited when out of town. (I really appreciate learning how other communities of faith communicate their mission and message, so keep sharing your experiences when you are away!)

The brochure is entitled, What to Expect During Your Visit. It was intended to be read by the first-time visitor and previewed what a normal, regular order of worship looked like, how the service would be conducted, the pastor’s theology, and a brief description of church groups. It sounded so complete. (Incidentally, it was not a Presbyterian church.)

I wondered though, how many people only experienced what that brochure described should be expected? As if that brochure was the bar to be met. Nothing more or less. We have produced our own Welcome to Cold Spring Church brochure and I am reviewing it with different eyes now.

We do want everyone, especially our first-time guests, to feel safe and not be caught off guard or made to feel uncomfortable. That is why I try to help aclimate guests during my Welcome each week as worship begins. But I wonder if our worship is too regimented, regular, and maybe a bit too predictable. It might be better if more surprises were experienced! That is, if worshippers expected MORE from God, and we experienced MORE in worship, wouldn’t we more likely be more energized as God’s creativity and wonder were released?!

The story above from the Gospel of Mark about the man who could not see tells what on the surface looks like a failed miracle of Jesus. But it actually tells the story of expectations being exceeded.

The man’s friends expected that Jesus would heal the condition of blindness. Imagine like in a post office you line up to see Jesus. Next. Next. And so on. Jesus will heal you. Next, please.

As if that was the man’s only need, the man’s vision circumstance, could Jesus possibly care about. But surprisingly, what we learn is that Jesus cared about the man’s entire life experience not just his vision challenges. Jesus took the man out of town, where otherwise-abled people gathered (those we thoughtlessly refer to as the disabled). Jesus wanted the man to experience something other than same old shame and rejection. Using his own saliva as a healing balm, Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes, asking him if he could see.

Yes!, the man exclaimed. The now-sighted man reported that he saw people upside down! Seeing upside down was better than not seeing at all, right? Maybe they should leave well enough alone. They expected that he would see after being with Jesus. Good enough, then! Maybe they should just go back to town with the little they got.

But thankfully, they waited, they managed to expect more. They recognized in that moment of increasing clarity that Jesus not only could, but would do much more than they at first imagined. At the Master’s Second Touch, all was well, and Jesus reminded him, there is no need to go back to that village begging! Jesus exceeded the expectations, and I believe, he wants to exceed ours, and our community’s expectations, as well.

What do we expect in our congregation’s worship and ministry? I suggest, not nearly enough! God’s transforming Spirit is urging us to go beyond incremental and incomplete blessings to receive the empowering Second Touch to be that real, new, community of Christ’s disciples. Come on! We have already found we can dream again. We have increased our energy. We have increased our financial giving. We have experienced healing and hope and I don;t think God is out of blessings. Do you?

Our 303 year old mission, should we fully embrace it, is to deliver spiritual and other resources through our community of faith to our community at large that transforms our neighbor’s lives in the name of Jesus Christ. What do you expect?!

In 2018, our leadership and caring teams, groups, teams, staff, and individuals just like you all have an opportunity to expect more of Christ and of each other. Imagine how our greater Cold Spring area neighbors could experience God is new ways, more relevant and effective ways? How could seniors be energized by hope? How can younger people grow and connect to serve and learn so that more and more people experience the abundant life like that man did, like Jesus continues to offer to us today?

During the past year you may be in a better place, but look carefully. You may see, but are “people walking upside down.”? Well, pay attention, because the Master’s Second Touch is on the way for a new, healthy, and abundant year. Get involved a bit more. Give a bit more. Engage a bit more. Serve a bit more.

Cold Spring Church: Energizing Spirits. Transforming Lives. Expecting More.

Let’s not settle for a new year, but an expect more year. I can’t wait to see what emerges…

Pastor Kevin

Gift Assessment

By Intersections

The Clerk’s Corner by Rob Riehl, Clerk of Session

Now that the customary exchange of Christmas gifts has passed, we have decided which gifts received are worthy of our keeping, which gifts can be “temporarily” put aside, and which are “unwanted” that can be given away — be given a “new life”: perhaps re-gifted to a friend or relative, donated to a charity, or become a “prize” in a fund-raiser raffle! Of the gifts we choose to keep, we select which ones should hold a prominent place of display and which will be kept in a place of easy access. Of the gifts we put aside, we determine which will be put in the attic or basement for “the short term” – and the remainder stored off-site for “the long term”. Those gifts we placed “out of sight” can come back to haunt us: what were we thinking? Why did we hold on to these unused gifts for so many years? What do we do with them now? Whether you received just one, a few, or many gifts, each gift calls you to make an assessment and a resolution. What will you do with each gift?

As Christians, we believe that God has blessed us in many ways with His many gifts; among these are the gift of life itself and the opportunity for eternal life with Him. We are especially reminded at Christmas that our Creator Father God gave humanity the gift of His Son Jesus Christ so that we can know Him personally and intimately – to be in continual communion with Him. This is the greatest gift to be offered to us, freely given and undeserved, out of eternal love for us created in His image! Once we realize the incomprehensible magnitude of this gift, we are confronted with the assessment question: what do I do now?

In a recent meeting of our Men’s Ministry group, we speculated on the one question that Father God might ask of us at Judgment Day. The one proposed question that stayed with me is this: “What have you done with the gift of my Son?” Truly a sobering question and one that compels me to assess my relationship with God. Where have I placed this gift of God in my life? Have I put this gift aside and neglected it? Or have I embraced, honored, and treasured this gift? Have I shared this gift of His Son with others? The secular-atheist world has rejected it, marginalized it, and strives to dispose of it; let not any one of us be found on that side of the assessment!

With the new calendar year upon us, the secular world suggests that we make “New Year’s Resolutions” such as a new diet or weight-loss program, learning another language or skill. As believers in God, let us consider a resolution that really matters — one that truly creates a new life with eternal consequences: resolve to not only know more about God, but get to know Him personally and intimately. Once you have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord, you will abandon everything inferior. So open this gift! Eagerly embrace the gift your heart has been seeking — the unique plan God has called you to become and to accomplish in this life; this is your divine purpose and mission. Do not put this gift aside or store it hidden away — and then forgotten! What other gift could enable and empower you to become greater than your perceived self-image, to become more Christ-like, and then partner with your heavenly Father in furthering the restoration of His will “on earth as it is in heaven”!

There is a local church “reminder” sign (which I drive by everyday) whose message reads: “Be a mirror. Reflect the glory of God in everything you do.” For those of us who are aligned with Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we are reflecting the greatest gift bestowed upon humankind by the Father. This truly is “the gift that keeps on giving” — of ourselves, our talents, and our resources to the greater honor and glory of God. All we need do is willingly accept God’s gracious gift and be thankful for His mercy, grace, and love. No greater gift can be received — and then given! 2 Corinthians 5:17; Psalm 34:8; Luke 12:18; Corinthians 13:12

Mr. Rob Riehl, ruling elder