A Winter Musing

A Winter Musing

“In winter, are the trees bare? Yes. In winter, are the trees barren? No.” – Alicia Britt Chole This past Saturday I woke up in the middle of Upstate New York to a chilly 24 degrees. I had driven almost three hours to be there to minister at a young adult retreat. It had been a busy season of traveling and events. And it was already the last month of the year. Somehow December had snuck up on us. It didn’t feel like it at all, but it was on full display that day with frost all around. There was a heaviness in the frigid air and a dreariness that only winter brings. I have a love/hate relationship with winter. I love the holidays, but find the cold to be miserable. Snow can be enchanting, but who really enjoys shoveling? But that’s the thing about seasons. It always comes with both the negative and the positive. When it comes to the seasons of life, there is a positive to find even in winter seasons of the soul. Much of my journey the last few years has been learning to embrace the process. But recently God has been teaching me how to take the next step beyond embracing the process to actually enjoying it. Winter shows us that God isn’t in a hurry or ever in a rush to bring forth new life. In mercy He brings a divine slowness that saves us from our hectic busyness. He has a time and purpose in all that He does. So why not enjoy it? He brings a divine slowness that saves...
Beyond the Walls of Church

Beyond the Walls of Church

by Andrew Min The essential vice of man through history has been to please himself, to bring himself joy, to accomplish his own will, to receive his own glory. But when a person meets Jesus, everything changes; the Holy Spirit breathes a miracle into their soul, the curious reorientation of their entire life, turning it upside down. In the heart of a Christian, God plants a simple, small desire, a quiet Voice, that says, “I want to serve You, God. I want to do something meaningful for You. I want to do what makes my Father happy.” Your life is no longer about loving the things that that bring yourself pleasure, but to bring pleasure to the One you love. Surrender is no longer a reluctant yielding, but a joyful offering. It’s the upside down, backwards nature of true love, the beautiful foolishness of carrying the cross. It’s extraordinary. It’s silly. It’s divine. And the worldwide Kingdom revolution is going to begin with this holy desire. But I’m frustrated by the idolatry we practice as believers toward the position of pastor. I feel like a subtle lie persistently influences our church world, a thought that most of us would never explicitly agree with yet somehow continue to propagate: a person’s love for God is measured by their involvement in church. When you first start loving God, you become a greeter for Sunday service; and then when your love for God grows, you become a small group leader; and then if you’re really passionate about Jesus, you’ll be a volunteer staff to give announcements and plan events; and one day,...
Summer Testimonies

Summer Testimonies

We are entering into a new season! We are excited for what’s to come, but are also extremely grateful for what God did this past summer. We believe there is power in testimony! Testimonies not only give praise to God and highlight what He has done, but it also creates a sense of expectancy for Him to do it again and to do it even greater. That’s what it means when the Bible says that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10)! Testimonies prophesy into what He is able and willing to do in our lives. We overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11)! With that being said, here are some testimonies from the ministries we visited and partnered with in the summer of 2017. Thank you to these leaders for taking time to share with us, and to everyone who partnered with us in prayer! ALL GLORY TO GOD! “We were blessed to have Pastor Sam as our guest speaker for the summer retreat. He delivered God’s messages and His heart for our youth with clarity, profound insights, and affection. I didn’t know what to expect because I didn’t know him personally and had not heard his sermons prior to the retreat. But from the first message I could sense that God was speaking to me as well as our students. He tried to serve them as best as he could, and he really poured out his heart on our students as he spent time with them and talked during meals and free time....
Standing in Truth

Standing in Truth

Like most people in NYC, I have a go to spot for my daily needs. There’s the one coffee shop I go to every morning. There’s the nearby deli where I get all my sandwiches. And last but not least, there’s a small window storefront that I go to for my sodas. I can’t help it, but I am a soda addict. Anyways, I go there so much that the owner and I recognize one another instantly. He knows what I want before I even say a word. We usually have small talk here and there, but nothing beyond that. This is New York City after all. Everything is about quickness and efficiency. So most times we see each other, and without a word, he grabs a Diet Coke, and I put the money out, we say thanks and go on with our days. But this one afternoon, I came to the window and saw the owner moving some things around. He then looked at me and started sharing how he’s getting older and about his bad knees. He went on to share how he needed to get some work done on both knees, but couldn’t because no one would take care of his store. In that moment I wrestled with whether or not I should pray for him right there. But I didn’t. I told him I was sorry, and I walked away thinking maybe God will give me another opportunity at the right time. As I kept thinking about it, I felt discouraged and muttered to myself that I was nothing but a coward. Wait, what? Where...
The Father’s Heart

The Father’s Heart

Written by Brian Lee (originally posted here) From Aug 13th-16th, I had the opportunity to serve as leader at a youth church retreat. However, I want to share a story – a story of someone who will be called Mark. Upon getting on the bus to go to the retreat center, I knew Mark was different. Unlike the other kids who all gave up their phones, he refused to give up his. He also didn’t want anyone to sit next to him, regardless of the bus being full. I eventually forced myself into the seat beside him, exclaiming that by the end of the bus ride we would be best friends. He responded by saying he hated me; I don’t necessarily blame him. I probably freaked the kid out and was “extra” someway or another. Quickly, I found out we both shared lots of similarities. We both went to Murchison Middle School, we both watched Naruto, and we both liked sports. And then, he started to share more. Little did I know that Mark moved from place to place, school to school, difficulty to difficulty. Mark’s step-father was in the army, which caused his family to move often. Instead of going to one elementary school, Mark went to five. He described for 1.5 hours how he struggled with friends, loneliness, and an unstable family life. Later, I found out that Mark’s biological father passed away when Mark was starting elementary school. That night, we had our first worship service of the retreat. After a couple of songs, I looked to my side and I noticed Mark. I saw Mark...