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2019-03-03 Message- FaceTime With God

By Sermons

Mardi Gras is all the buzz this week. From New Orleans to Cape May, the festive celebrations that precedes Lent’s constraints is a lot to take in as groups of people interact at arm’s length along streets and balconies.  All of us want to feel connected, but noisy, chaotic, whirlwinds of activity is not what we are truly looking for. Each of us, and every community, longs for something substantial, sustainable, and shareable. We want to be “face to face” with experiences and people that bring us love, peace, forgiveness, justice, and hope. 

Imagine what it would be like to have FaceTime with God? While you can’t pick up your phone and dial God, if you could, that kinda sounds terrifying, right! What would you say? How would you act? FaceTime with God is the title of the message from from Luke 9 and Exodus 24. It will take us from Mardi Gras to the mountain of God with Moses and Jesus. Let’s follow Moses up to the mountain where he experiences God’s incredible and indescribable holiness. When he came back down the mountain, everyone knew something was shockingly different! The people in the camp couldn’t even look at his face because it was so bright! Moses had to put a covering on just to get through his day. Then we visit Moses who joins Elijah who have a conversation with Jesus and his companions on another mountain. In a similar manner, the majestic glory of God was dazzlingly bright. Wow!

FaceTime with God might appear to be a risky idea except that God is good and accessible to us. Where we see God, where we see Jesus “face to face,” is not just in “religious” settings, a beautiful sanctuary, or even in some miraculous vision. Where we see God, where we discover Jesus’ presence most brightly, is in our daily, face-to-face encounters with God’s word, creation, our neighbors, our enemies, our friends, the faces of each and every child of God on this earth. Let’s see God’s face and show God’s face as we make a difference in our neighborhoods in the name of Jesus Christ. You are invited to come as you are and get involved. There is a place for you, here! (If you’re new to our church, discover more about what we believe and why we do what we do by visiting a special Welcome First-Time Guests page on our website, here.)

Listen to this message and discover how and why to have FaceTime with God. You got this!

2019-01-06 Message- Star Words, Following The Jesus Star

By Sermons

Today is Epiphany, the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Did a few of your ordered Christmas gifts arrive after Christmas?! Sure, it happens. While upsetting, we and the recipient are likely to appreciate the gift. The Three Kings did not arrive late. They were right on time before they even met him, they knew he was worthy of their best. We, too, celebrate the day when the Star of Bethlehem, a very bright moving star, came to a rest just above the spot where Jesus lay, ending its journey from the East and leading a caravan of Magi to the Christ child. The word Epiphany literally means a season of light and Jesus is the source, he is the Light of the World! He is the shining Star.

Celebrities in our culture are VIP’s from sports, to entertainment, to politics. Some stars are rising and others falling and we should be careful not to follow their words too carefully. You just don’t know where they will lead you! We can also be our own “star” as if wearing the T-Shirt that reads, Its All About Me. The Three Wise Men remind us that we are not the star, but rather Jesus is and we have an opportunity to reflect his light, no tonly in our community of faith, but even better, to the community at large! That is our mission as a church. And God invites you to give your very best, too. Can 2019 be the year you give Jesus your very best so that you can live your very best selves, the abundant life Jesus’ promised to us? I think it can!

Today, as you are sent out after worship, I will open this box of Frankincense and Myrrh and if you’re ready to give your best to Jesus, go ahead and take a piece. We have plenty for all of us. But its up to you.

Wow, the Three Kings presented their best and they didn’t even know Jesus. Now here we are, all these years later, and we have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord, we know that God did not send his son into the world to condemn it, but that the world through him would be saved! Now that’s Good News. Star Words for the year ahead.

Christmas- The Gift That Keeps Us Growing

By Intersections

Once you open Christmas, God’s Gift, nothing remains the same.


“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son. Generous inside and out, true from start to finish(John 1:14).


Hello friends,

Every day of the year is special. To someone. Yourbirthday is special, for example! In fact, every single day of the year has been co-opted to celebrate or commemorate one thing or another. Did you know that January is “National Bath Safety Month” and “Penguin Awareness Day” is January 20? The list is endless! Among thousands of personal, regional, national, and religious special days, Christmas, December 25, is unique. It’s the day we have chosen to especially celebrate God’s Gift when long ago, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood”(John 1:14). What a day!

No doubt your memories of Christmas’ past are expressed through today’s traditions and customs. They help you unpack Christmas’ meaning. Seasonal food favorites. Special ornaments and events. Christmas movies and holiday music. Gatherings and gift-exchanges. Christmas Eve candlelight worship. The traditions go on and on. Sometimes the pastfamiliar traditions can overwhelm us as we miss loved ones, reminisce about by-gone days, or just feel a bit lonely during Christmas. Now is a great time to remember that from that First Noel, Christmas was always about the futureinvading our present.

Those former memories may be little more than nostalgic, but the real gift of Christmas is anything but! All things can become new…again. Once you open Christmas, God’s Gift, nothing remains the same.

We can incorporate and build upon Christmas memories when we invest time to learn and grow. We can create new memories, making this Christmas, and every Christmas to come, vitally different, better.

Can you imagine a thriving Christmas, not merely surviving it?! This year, let’s take all the best of Christmas’ pastand open our arms and spirits to new ways to receive God’s gift of Christmas now? And help others do the same. Our greater Cape May community needs to experience Christmas anew this year, and you can be a part of that experience.

And what is that Gift ready to be opened this year? Jesus. Jesus is the Gift. The Gift that keeps on giving. It’s Jesus moving into our neighborhood, now. Today. Sure, he was born in the pastto Mary and Joseph among the animals in crowded Bethlehem. But it’s (also) todaythat God is with us. Today, God can blossom afresh into our lives.

This week, all month, and as the new year unfolds, make time to talk with God. Pause long enough to listen, too. (Check out our online resources for your very own 30-Day Challenge.) Let God know you are grateful as you recall the best of your Christmas’ past, but that you want the Spirit to energize your life this Christmas!

God wants to inspire your thoughts. (Pick up the Bible and take fifteen minutes to read Nehemiah, chapter 1 and Romans, chapter 12. Consider how Nehemiah responded to the cries of his community and how the Apostle Paul urged the house churches to renew their minds for action.) Once you open Christmas, God’s Gift, nothing remains the same.

This Christmas, God can empower us to live our very best selves. Or, sure, we can remain stuck in Christmas’ past, repeating fine traditions but not learning or growing into God’s preferred future. Overhearing the Greatest Story Ever Told is O.K., but not letting the radical Good News transform our life is just a missed opportunity. God Is With Us, Emmanuel(Isaiah 7:14, 8:8; Matthew 1:23), as God’s emerging future unfolds with our every step. How exciting this Christmas could be!

The first New Testament letter was sent to the house churches in the city of Thessalonica, in modern-day Turkey. Paul begins his letter thanking God for the way their lives were changing. He praised them for how they let the Good News shape their community. Each believer responded to God’s invitation to faithfulness in their own, unique way. It was all good. And different. Their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” empowered them to revolutionize their neighborhoods, improve people’s lives, and it elicited some of Paul’s strongest affirmations and expressions of gratitude.

Be a Part of the Advent Adventure. It All Begins December 2

Cold Spring Presbyterian Church enjoys many wonderful traditions during Advent and Christmas that will provide a foundation for experiencing the presence of God in our lives today. Everyone is welcome to come and worship with us every Sunday in December. Enjoy special music, an interactive and inspiring message from God’s word, and a joyful community of faith! This year’s Advent Message Series is titled The All-Inclusive Storyfeaturing the animals of Christmas. Animals, you ask? Yes!

The pastor, Jerome (347-420 AD), helped early believers learn the four gospels using familiar creatures, each representing Mark (the Lion, 12/2), Luke (the Ox, 12/9), John (the Eagle, 12/16), and Matthew (men and women, 12/23). Let’s open God’s Gift of Christmas together using these traditional illustrations.

Melissa and I wish you a very merry Christmas. Remember: Once you open Christmas, God’s Gift, nothing remains the same.

2018-10-28 Message- UnCloaking the Masks Towards Transformation

By Sermons

People don’t usually ask, “What costume are you going to wear for halloween?” No, instead we ask, “Who are you going to BE this year?” Halloween isn’t just about putting together a clever “costume.” It is about creating a personal “image.”

Mask wearing is always associated with this time of year for more than two millennia, and ironically, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther pulled the “mask” off of the Church when he posted his 95 complaints on the neighborhood billboard. He saw the Church hiding and pretending to be something very unlike Christ. Along with John Knox in Scotland, John Calvin in Switzerland, and other reformers, he fanned the flames of the Great Reformation across Europe.

We all wear masks, and some masks are authentic and appropriate ways for us to interact in the world. But some masks we wear mey help us hid or pretend to be something we are not and not be part of a costume, at all. In this week’s text from Mark 10:46-52, we meet a man named Bartimaeus who becomes “uncloaked.” He shows us that when we come “face-to-face” with Jesus, any mask or pretense must fall away and our most basic needs and desires are revealed to the Son of David who has the power to heal us and heal the world, transforming us to be our real selves.

Romans 8:29-30 The Message (MSG)

God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.”

Now, that’s transformation!


2018-09-23 Message- Make Church Great Again. No Child Left Behind.

By Sermons

Make America Great Again is , well, a great slogan! It stirs our imaginations to conjure images of America as Great! But what is our frame of reference to be Great? Back a few centuries ago, America was considered Great because it was the friend of all, welcoming of every religion, even the Puritans (who were kicked out of England because their faith was just weird), the Anabaptists (who fled Europe because their faith was non-conformist), the Roman Catholics (who were feared to be worshipping a prince in a tall white hat instead of the Prince of Peace), and welcoming of Italians, Germans, Scots, French, Asian, African, and South American countries, too. Being great means no one is left behind. There is room for you. One more. The ones no one else seems to want. The others who are forgotten. Being Great as in winning the Great War, enjoying the Greatest Show on Earth, hearing the Greatest story ever told, singing Great is Thy Faithfulness, and recalling Jesus tell his disciples, Greater things you will do, are all, as I said, really great. Aspiring to greatness can be a great thing to aspire to. But what is great? And how do we as individuals become truly great? How do our communities become great? How can Cold Spring Church become great?  How can America become great? Well, what did Jesus say about greatness? Let’s take a look at Mark 9:30-37.

The disciples followed Jesus, literally followed him as he walked around. They were his students and where Jesus went, they went. But from many accounts in the Gospels, the disciples not only stayed attentive to their spiritual coach, they also had their own huddles with one another just out of earshot of Jesus. (An interesting Bible study could be looking up the manny times Jesus asks, “What were you discussing along the road?” ) Just out of earshot may protect your private conversation from a hard of hearing friend, but Jesus is not hard of hearing. He hears the whimpers of a baby and the sighs of the aged, Jesus hears all, something the disciples just couldn’t understand. So, the disciples were in their huddle, chatting up a storm, when Jesus asks, “What were you discussing on the road?”

Not a peep. Like getting caught in science class whispering to a classmate. Stoic Silence. Apparently no one admitted the conversational topic. THey were too embarrassed. But like I said, Jesus is not hard of hearing. He sits them down in the home they arrived at, and starts addressing what they thought was a silent running.

“So you want to be great?”

Simple. Include everyone. Welcome this child. Love this child. Protect this child. As you welcome children, you are welcoming me, Jesus said. To be great, is to be the servant of all. All of us are children. Some of us just move faster or slower than others. Every age. Every person. Welcome. Now, let’s show God’s love as servants in the community, and to the degree we serve, we will be great again! And that’s Great!

2018-09-16 Message- Who I Am… Becoming

By Sermons

Who am I? This week, Jesus asks his disciples who others say he is. Our identity, sense of self, is something that is uniquely ours, yet also something that others influence and may even have opinions about. Many of us struggle as we attempt to deal with the opinions of others, or we seem to invest a lot of energy in trying to live up to the unrealistic or artificial expectations of others. We also take steps to “protect our identity” whether it is the password on our bank account or smart phone, the key code on our garage door, or the safe keeping of our wallet. Some aspects of our identity can be “stolen” but our true self is not only safe in God’s hands, it is not static either because as we learn and grow, our sense of self grows, as well. Our text this week from Mark 7:27-38 invites us into a dramatic encounter with Jesus who gives a rather shocking answer regarding his identity. His messianic identity of suffering, rejection, death, and resurrection is hard for the disciples to comprehend, and Peter tries to dissuade Jesus from his mission. Jesus’ disciples must see themselves as “followers” more than  as “leaders.” What does Jesus mean when he declares that those who “follow” him must “take up their cross and follow me”?

When we feel we don’t measure up… on the inside because of how we have been treated, or because of the choices we have made, or our circumstances, remember and internalize this:

  • God told us who we were. Created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26; 1 Corinthians 6:19).
  • Jesus Tells us who we are. His friends, his disciples, his co-workers planting seeds of hope (John 14:12-14; John 15:15).
  • The Holy Spirit tells us who we are becoming as our minds are renewed, being transformed day by day. One day we will be presented faultless before the throne of grace (Romans 12:1-2; Jude 1:24).

2018-08-05 Message- Q+A with Jesus. Ask for clearer vision

By Sermons

 The Gospel lesson (John 6:24-35) continues the image of Jesus as the bread of life. This is particularly fitting for communion Sunday when we gather at the table.

Sometimes our vision is obscured. In the Gospel story, Jesus has compassion on the people because they keep looking for physical bread (what they can see), and he says “I have so much more to give!” They just don’t see it. What do you ask Jesus for? Is your vision and faith prompting you to ask for something beyond yourself? How can God use you to bless others. Feed the hungry. Quench the thirst. And remember God wants to do way beyond our wildest imaginations!

Focus Your Vision — 30-Day Challenge

By Intersections

“If you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith” (Gal. 6:8b-10, NRSV).

On June 24, about sixty people participated in our Focus Your Vision Day in Price Hall that included worship, luncheon, and conversations about the future. It was an engaging and energizing milestone on our transformation journey. A summary of our focused vision includes: 1) Hold on to the best of the past, 2) Explore the new, 3) Plant spiritual seeds, 4) Serve everyone in the community, 5) Grow the ministry. The session will be leading us in th next view months as we put this vision into action.

We are grateful to everyone who participated, offered comments, shared ideas, concerns, and hopes, and affirmed their visions for the future. We expressed thanks to the Mission Study Team, especially to Lenore Bowne for organizing the delicious luncheon and making Price Hall welcoming for everyone, including many first-time and returning visitors and guests.

Keep the best of what you have moving into the future.

Hold On To The Best, Let The Rest Fall Away

About forty-five remained after lunch to watch the Focus Your Vision video and table conversations led by Melissa and Pastor Kevin. We filled a dozen newsprint sheets with great ideas that included:

  1. Celebrated our congregation’s many strengths, staff, leadership, new members, 200 acres including our facilities, cemetery, and historic red brick church
  2. Identified the best of what we do that we want to keep doing as we move into the future including our Reformed worship, events, tours, and dinners, a history of service to veterans, families, and the community at large
  3. Proposed improvements to areas and facilities to make our ministry more welcoming, accessible, and able to serve youth, younger families, and older individuals
  4. Listed priorities to guide us as we follow Jesus Christ into the future to ensure that we do what we agree is important as we grow

Focusing our vision is not just a one day event. Every day we listen to God’s Spirit who is showing us where and how to become more engaged with our community through worship, witness, mission, and service. Our leadership team (Session), caring team (Deacons) and our many groups and committees will ensure that Cold Spring Presbyterian Church continues to learn and grow as we follow Jesus Christ.

Keeping the best of what we have was one of the seven key insights from the video. Blessings from God include tangible assets (people, location, property, buildings, and finances) and intangible assets such as our history, relationships, experiences, passions, hopes, talents, abilities, and our mental, physical, and spiritual gifts.

On June 17, the message Feed the World, Plant More Seeds considered the mustard seed. (Listen to the message by clicking here.) Though it is the smallest of seeds, it will grow into an incredibly large tree. The same is true of our faith. While we may think our faith is small compared to others, it is enough and it can grow. We are in the seed planting business. Not only in our ministry as a Farming Church, planting seeds and sharing the produce with the community at large, but we are planting spiritual seeds, as well. Whatever amount of faith you have, it is sufficient for God to bless and use us in amazing ways! But we don’t want to merely consume the spiritual fruit for ourselves. If we consume all our fruit, we not only will become overfed, but others are left hungry! We want God to produce fruit in abundance to feed us to feed others! So, how can we nurture our community of faith to have spiritual fruit to generously share with the community at large? One way is to accept the 30-Day Challenge.

The 30-Day Challenge I am passing on to you a gift given to me years ago by my mentor, the Rev. Chuck Reinhold, a Presbyterian minister and regional director for Young Life when I was on staff with that national youth ministry.

Like any gift, this gift comes free and is useless unless you use it. As Chuck said, this gift is also very expensive and actually cost Jesus Christ his life, which was his mission and his joy (Heb. 12:12). He died on the cross for our sins in order to bring us to God (John 3:16, John 1:12, 1 John 5:11–12). This gift comes alive to us when we accept the challenge every day.

We can know a lot about religion. We can recount historical facts about faith, the Bible, and might be able to tell wonderful stories about Cold Spring Presbyterian Church, but this gift is not to know more about Jesus Christ, it is to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. The gift is received when we accept this Challenge: decide to meet with God every day for thirty straight days by reading a portion of Scripture and asking the Lord for something specific to apply that day. That’s it!

If we miss a day, then we start the thirty-days over again until we read and apply what we read for thirty straight days. If you already set aside time to read Scripture daily, make sure that you actively try to internalize and apply it to your day. The 30-Day Challenge should be challenging! And practical. When we do this, chances are we’ll never quit, and the spiritual seeds planted in our life will continue to grow. What’s more, this gift becomes a gift to others through you!
As you read a portion of Scripture ask yourself, “What does God want me to be, feel, or do today?” Then as you pray, write out a sentence about what you discovered so you will remember to put it into practice. Repeat daily.

As we gathered around the Lord’s Table July 1, we recalled John 15:5 when Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We are in the seed planting business at Cold Spring Presbyterian Church. Growing is what we do. Imagine the possibilities if each of us in our own way commit to the 30-Day Challenge. Remember, if you miss a day, there is no failure or judgement. Just renew your commitment the next day!

To bring our focused vision to life we need nourishment to grow. Let’s plant spiritual seeds. Let’s share God’s abundance and grace with others. It sounds pretty simple, but many things most treasured in life are just that, simple. So start the 30-Day Challenge today to spend time with God and you will enjoy renewed energy, insight, sensitivity, and love for yourself and others, too. You might want to share your experience, too. As you keep the gift going you will be amazed how your life, our congregation, and community are being transformed!

Let’s get growing!