Pastor's Blog

Thanksgiving - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of November 20-26

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 2:40 PM

As we approach this Thanksgiving Season, it is good to ponder the valiant witness of the English Pilgrims who settled in Cape Cod in 1620. Accounts of their journey and survival in Plymouth reveal a dynamic faith that weathered incredible hardships.  Their courage also challenges us to trust God in the midst of formidable odds.

Imagine the nightmare of being cramped with 120 in a small ship for three months. Huddled ‘tween decks, the pilgrims endured relentless high waves battering the bow. The darkness, stench, and sounds of the vessel cracking under the strain must have seemed unbearable. Still, amid groans of the sick and screams of frightened children there arose continual prayer and the assuring cry, “Lord, thou canst save. Lord, thou canst save.” When all seemed lost, they had confidence that God had called them and would somehow sustain them.

Miraculously, all but one passenger survived the trip. Their leader, Samuel Bradford recorded the landing, “Being thus arrived in good harbor, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean.”  The trip was treacherous, but it was nothing compared to the brutal winter that followed their landing. The Pilgrims were plagued by torrential rains, devastating droughts, threats from violent Indian tribes and deceitful fur traders. Their daily ration was five kernels of corn a day. Still, few pilgrims perished. In response to God’s intervention, they held a thanksgiving feast. They included 120 Indians who had assisted them in their darkest hours. Beside each plate was set five kernels of corn. . . lest anyone should forget.

Given all God has done for them, Lonnie and Kristina Ashley will celebrate this Thanksgiving by preparing a meal for residents of their former trailer park. Kristina says, “God has been so good to us, we want to share our joy with folks who may not have family.” The loving spirit of the Pilgrims is alive and well in our church family. May this week prompt us to stop and thank God and pass on the goodness we have received. Who can we call or reach with the generous love of Jesus?

STAND BY ME - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of November 13-19

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 @ 3:46 PM

STAND BY ME

Jenn was an emotionally handicapped gal who fell through the cracks of our social system. She joined our El Cajon church and seemed to be making great strides to break free from drugs and other addictions. Tragically all this changed when Jenn was arrested and convicted of a horrible crime. While Jenn confessed her part in a lesser crime, an over zealous prosecutor accused her of much more. Jenn sadly had an inexperienced, overbooked public defender on her side. He visited her once in jail during the six months preceding the trial and did little to speak on her behalf during the trial. It was heart wrenching to observe the process. Even more frustrating because the prosecutor (a professed Christian who just happened to be running for office) called me after the trial and confessed to using “over the top” tactics. Maybe he was trying to clear his conscience. All I know is he has never taken action to help reduce Jenn’s sentence.

 

Whether or not Jenn had a good defender in the courtroom, she does have the best defender of all in heaven. All true Christians do. He is Jesus Christ. The author of the book of Hebrews says “ . . . he [Jesus] is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf” (Hebrews 7:24-25).

 

Some people think they are beyond help. Today’s verses make it clear that no one is beyond the loving, defending power of Jesus. What he accomplished for us on the cross continues now that he is a living, exalted, and triumphant Redeemer. And what is Jesus doing in heaven? He is not taking a break, but lives to intercede for us (Romans 8:34). He is always pleading our case before the Father, like a defense lawyer on our behalf. He intercedes for us while Satan (whose name means “accuser”) accuses us, pointing out our sins and frailties before God, just as he did with Job (Job 1:6-12). Those accusations fall upon deaf ears in heaven, however, because Jesus’ work on the cross paid our sin debt in full. God sees in his children the perfect righteousness of Jesus.

 

Everybody needs friends or family members who will stand by them and defend them in a crunch. This day, this very moment, you and I have a Divine Defender who is standing by and for us. We may occasionally feel alone, as if no one understands or cares. The Bible makes it clear, however, this is not the case. Whatever injustice we’ve committed or endured will come to light in the end. If we seek Christ’s forgiveness and help, we will be covered.

 

TODAY'S THE DAY - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of November 6-12

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 @ 3:04 PM

TODAY’S THE DAY

The writer of the Book of Hebrews encourages Christians to live a fully committed faith.

      See to it, brothers and sisters, 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. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. As has just been said:

      “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”

      Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief”               (Hebrews 3:12-19).

 

Check out verse 12. The author is not addressing unbelievers, but siblings in Christ. He warns them against “having a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” The verse implies IT IS POSSIBLE FOR CHRISTIANS TO TURN AWAY FROM THE LIVING GOD. It’s also possible to be “hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (13).

  

If that’s the case, believers really need each other for mutual help and accountability!  One of the greatest reasons to stay close to the Body of Christ is to “encourage one another daily” (13).

 

STOP AND THANK GOD FOR SOMEONE WHO HAD A POSITIVE IMPACT ON OUR CHRISTIAN JOURNEY.

 

WHO IS SOMEONE YOU CAN ENCOURAGE TODAY?

 

The author also urges believers to “hold our original conviction firmly to the very end”(14). The “we’ve done our part” spirit does not fly with God unless we have adequately discipled others to carry on the mission. Every believer must remain strong so that our surrendered lives will inspire others to do the same. The first generation of Israelites who left Egypt failed to enter the Promised Land not because their enemies were too big or numerous, but “because of their unbelief” (19).

 

THINK OF THE REST WE FORFEIT WHEN WE FORGET OUR GOD IS ABLE TO SEE US THROUGH.

BOAST ABOUT THIS! - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of October 22-28

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 @ 2:41 PM

BOAST ABOUT THIS! 

God tells the people of Judah to be careful:

“For death has crept in through our windows and has entered our mansions. It has killed off the flower of our youth: Children no longer play in the streets, and young men no longer gather in the squares (Jeremiah 9:21).

 

Sounds a little like the danger we see on nightly newscasts. Instead of shaking our heads in anger, maybe we should pay attention to what God told his people.

This is what the Lord says:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom, or the strong boast of their strength, or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

 

GOD TOLD HIS PEOPLE NOT TO BOAST OF THREE THINGS. WHAT WERE THEY? (23)

 

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE WISE, AND GOD SHOWED YOU OTHERWISE?

We may not stand and brag about ourselves, but we can exhibit a boastful spirit by:

  • Not noticing or responding to the needs of others
  • Sizing up people without knowing who they really are
  • Withholding our offerings to God as an expression of our gratitude and daily dependence on his is mercy

In an effort to not appear prideful, many stop boasting about anything. But God tells Judah THEY DO HAVE SOMETHING TO BOAST ABOUT.

 

WHAT ARE THE WISE TO BOAST ABOUT? (24)

Those who are wise can KNOW GOD – He’s not just a distant Creator, but our Intimate Savior who longs for us to draw near. He also regularly cares for us. Stop and consider how God has broken into your life and into our chaotic world to exercise kindness, justice and righteousness. Then ask how we can do the same.

“Lord, how can I exhibit your kindness to someone? 

“How can I promote your justice or be a model of your righteousness?”

“How can I live to bring you delight today?”

 

 

GOD'S GOT THIS! - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of October 9-15

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 @ 5:15 PM

GOD’S GOT THIS!

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
(Isaiah 41:10).

What are you afraid of? A recent Gallup Poll of thousands throughout the U. S. shows we are most afraid of:

1.    Snakes

2.    Failure

3.    Rejection

4.    Public Speaking

5.    Heights

6.    Being closed in a small place

7.    Spiders

8.    Getting shots

9.    Loneliness

10.  The dark

 

What on your list? When God, through the prophet Isaiah, sent encouragement to the Israelites they were terrified. They were exiled in Babylonia with little hope of going home.

 

In the above well-known verse, God reminds them and us to not be afraid. Why? Because he is with us. There is something about having the Creator of the Universe, Our all knowing, loving Savior with us in tough times.

 

I’ll never forget walking out of the hospital room with we heard dad’s cancer had spread and he had weeks to live. I stepped away trying to absorb the shock. As I closed my eyes, the most vivid picture of Jesus walking toward me. “Take courage, daughter. It is I. Do not be afraid.” My fears gave way to an unusual calm that carried us through to dad’s last breaths and beyond. Jesus was not named, “Immanuel” God with us for nothing! If you are anxious about something today, ask God to reveal his presence to you. Check out these comforting passages Psalm 23:4; Matthew 28:20.

 

God then tells Israel to not be dismayed because he is their God . To be “dismayed” in the Hebrew means that you are utterly disheartened.  Have you ever been there? The key to rising out of this dark pit is to believe God is OUR GOD. When David was running away from Saul “he found strength in the LORD his God (1 Sam 30:6). Many of his Psalms declare the LORD was his shepherd (23:1), his deliverer (3:7) and his king (5:2).  We can arise because God is not just our God, but we are his!  God told his people “I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1). God not only pardons our sins and knows our name. He has claimed us as his own. This guards us from Satan’s lies to isolate and defeat us.

 

Another reason to not fear is God’s promise to strengthen and uphold us. That word “uphold” means to catch or support.” It reminds me of a net installed during the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. The net cost more than $100,000, but it saved eight lives and improved the efficiency of construction workers. Just knowing they wouldn’t fall to their deaths gave them added confidence. In a similar way, God’s hands are outstretched today to prevent us from spiraling into despair.

 

Pastor John Piper says Isaiah 41:10 assures us GOD'S GOT US COVERED!

  • I am your God – over you
  • I am with you – by your side
  • I will strengthen you – from the inside
  • I will uphold you – from underneath.

With this kind of help, who or what can be against us? Nobody!

God’s got this. God’s got me! AMEN!

DON'T FORGET - Pastor Janine Metcalf - September 29th

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Monday, October 2, 2017 @ 9:43 AM

DON’T FORGET

Most grandparents know that it’s a hoot to watch our little ones open presents. Nothing like hearing them scream with glee when they see their new toys. At the same time, it is kind of crazy to watch them play with your gift for five minutes and move on to something else. “Wait a minute,” you secretly think, “I looked all over town and spent “bookoo bucks” for that toy! And now all that grabs your attention is a two crayons and a piece of paper?”

 

That’s the way it is sometimes with our kiddos. And that’s the way it is sometimes with Christians! God the Father went out of his way to give us immeasurable blessings. And we, his children, frequently acknowledge them for a moment and move on. Other things, especially worries, consume our attention.

 

Ephesians 1 is a great place to land if you’re having one of those days when problems are piling up. Read through Ephesians 1 and count the gifts God has purchased for us through the sacrifice of his beloved Son. Go ahead. Do it right now. Unwrap the gifts that have been personally sent to you special delivery from heaven. God, through Jesus, has chosen us, adopted us, lavished his grace on us, forgiven and redeemed us, just to name a few. In other words, WE BELONG TO THE ALMIGHTY LORD OF THE UNIVERSE!  AND AS HIS, WE HAVE ALL WE NEED TO CLIMB OUT OF OUR FUNK AND EMBRACE THE DAY.

 

Need a lift? Check out this joyous paraphrase of Ephesians 1:3-14.

 

How marvelous God is! His Spirit has provided everything needed for life. Every good thing has been made available in Christ.

 

Right from the first, God has been busy devising a way to draw us home to himself so that we may live with him and for him. Through Jesus Christ he has made us family. As a result we owe God praise for the way he freely gave himself to us in Christ. In Christ’s death God’s abundant care for us is known; God gave himself for us to bring us back and make us his people. What lavish love he has for us! We honor you God!

 

Amazingly God’s plan includes us and gives us a share in what he is doing.  When we heard about the truth from God and believed the good news about his plan, God marked us as his own by giving us his Spirit. The Spirit’s dwelling in us is a pledge from God that he will complete his plan and that one day we will truly live with him. For this we owe God praise. Our God, we do worship you!

                                                                                                    Klyne Snodgrass

 

OH YEAH? - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of September 18-24

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 4:17 PM

OH YEAH?

We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. (Ecclesiastes 5:15)

 

I can just imagine King Solomon, the named author of Ecclesiastes, sitting before an assembly of admirers discussing “Is life worth living?” With all his power and possessions Solomon determines that hard work, wisdom, pleasure and wealth cannot bring contentment.
 

I’m reminded of some of my former newscaster colleagues. They were in the upper echelon of the network news business pulling in “seven figures” a year – sizable cash for the ‘80s. They drove sleek sports cars, owned homes atop Mulholland Drive and hit all the big clubs. Even so,  they were constantly plagued by fear that their ratings might decline or that some pup reporter in the wings could take their place. Anxiety kept them “on edge” and always in pursuit of the bigger and better.

 

I looked at that restlessness and determined that life was not for me. I began to pray to the God I had disregarded for more than a decade. Oh, I knew he was there for counsel and help in a pinch. He just wasn’t that important to me. Then it happened. An unmistakable yearning began to brew in my soul. We Wesleyans call it “prevenient grace.” It is the steady tug of the Holy Spirit awakening everything within to God’s loving presence. This grace is persistent. It comforts and stalks us to find its source. Seekers are mesmerized and terrorized by it as we follow its trail to “one narrow gate.” In Christ’s light, we see ourselves as we really are -- so loved and so needy for forgiveness. And in a moment of genuine repentance, we see what life is meant to be --  meaningful, purposeful and forever.

 

Solomon was wrong. We may come to the end of our lives here naked in a physical sense, but those who know Jesus as Lord are not empty handed! Stored in my heart is the blessed reality of rich companionship with our Creator and with countless people who have blessed my life. A life spent well for our Savior is filled with purpose and a deep resolve that every day and every person along the way matters. Even the rude, stingy and mean ones. Their presence presses us into God’s grace all the more. No, Solomon. We don’t all leave our riches behind. The riches offered by God last forever.

HEALTHY FEAR - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of September 11-17

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Monday, September 11, 2017 @ 3:55 PM

HEALTHY FEAR

The fear of the Lord leads to life;
    then one rests content, untouched by trouble. Prov 19:23

 

So what does it mean to have “fear of the Lord?” The phrase shows up more than 300 times in Scripture and it is usually not a negative, but a positive thing. For example in Genesis 42:18, Joseph wins his brothers' trust when he declares he is a God-fearing man. It was because the midwives feared God that they obeyed him instead of the authorities by sparing the Hebrew babies (Exodus 1:17). Pharaoh brought disaster on his nation because he did not fear God (Exodus 9:29:31).

And in the New Testament Jesus calls his followers to rightly fear God. "Do not be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell"  (Matthew 10:28). And the apostle Paul says to work toward complete holiness because we fear God (2 Corinthians 7:1).

So fearing God is not about dreading him as much as humbly acknowledging his power and authority over all. And that includes all my struggles from the past and anxiety about the future. Knowing God’s in the house should transform haphazard worship into genuine praise. It should make us think twice before caving into temptation, or daring to call our sins mere “mistakes.” There is a blessed peace in knowing Someone far greater than me is still in control.

Genelle Guzman found that out 16 years ago today. She was the last person pulled out alive from the World Trade Center. She had become a Christian just a few months before. And knowing God as her Lord and Savior really came in handy. On the day of the attack, Genelle was caught on the 64th floor of the North Tower. She somehow found the nearest stairs and started running down. She didn’t make it. The building collapsed on her.

Prayer was new to her, but Genelle just began to speak to God. She remembers asking, “Please God, show me that you’re here with me. Show me that you’re listening.” As she prayed, an unusual calm flooded her body and she fell asleep. Some 27 hours later, she heard voices. She screamed as loud as she could, “I’m here! HEY, I’M RIGHT HERE!"

Genelle wedged her hand through a crack in the wall, and felt someone grab it. She heard a voice say, "I’m Paul, Genelle, I’ve got you," and Genelle said, "OH GOD, THANK YOU.”

It took 20 long minutes to pull her out. BUT HERE’S THE FUN PART. As Genelle was taken to the hospital, she asked to see Paul to tell him thanks. No one knew of a rescue worker by that name. No one saw him or anyone holding her hand. To this day, Genelle believes God responded to her prayer with an angel – one who helped her somehow rest in the horrific darkness.

WORDS - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of September 4-10

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Thursday, September 7, 2017 @ 4:34 PM

WORDS

The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions. Proverbs 10:11

 

The Book of Proverbs repeatedly teaches us that WORDS MATTER. Consider the last words Alace Longham heard from her son, Mark.
"Mom, I love you. We've been hijacked. I love you."

Mark managed to call his mom minutes before his United flight 93 crashed into a field outside of Pittsburgh on 9/11. Sensing his hijacked plane was doomed, he still had the composure to let his family know he loved them.

Given our world’s current crazy weather, natural disasters and ongoing terrorism and violence, we’re reminded daily about the fragile nature of life. We’re also reminded about the value of our words. If something redemptive needs to be expressed, it probably should be said now.

I learned this lesson two decades ago. My relationship with my dad was strained in my teens and twenties because of his struggle with alcohol and my hardheadedness. After committing my life to Christ, I sensed the need to forgive dad and seek his forgiveness for my angry attitude. We eventually met and began the long process of reconciliation. This included follow up letters to dad, just to let him know that I loved him and was thinking about him. Please know forgiveness does not guarantee a restored relationship. Many have offered and sought forgiveness without any response. Regardless, I knew God would be pleased by a willingness to follow through. In our case, the relationship between dad and I was renewed. When he died, there were no lose ends, no regrets for words spoken or not spoken. And as I looked through his night stand, I found the letters I had written to him. They were crinkled and tear stained. They looked as if they had been prayed and cried over many times. I realized those God-inspired words really mattered.

That is why we should not wait for holidays or tragedies to express what needs to be said or written now. May more of our words be graced with thoughtful reflection, awareness of our own shortcomings, and reverence for God who has given us the immeasurable gift of every day, every breath.

SONG IN THE DARK - Pastor Janine Metcalf - Week of August 28- September 3

Posted by Brianna Hickman on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 @ 3:40 PM

 How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:4) 

Picture yourself an Israelite, seated with other captives on the banks of a river in Babylon. Instead of celebrating a break from your hard work, the sound of weeping fills the air. The tears are not necessarily from the harsh treatment of the Babylonians, but from the reality that Jerusalem is gone. Your beloved Temple and houses were destroyed and people you loved were killed or enslaved.  This no picnic for praise, but a wake for what used to be. And to make matters worse, some of your captors drop by and mockingly ask for a song.

Thus, the Psalmist responds, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:4). Remembering their great loss sucked the song right out of their hearts.

You don’t have to be in Babylonia to be in exile. From time to time we’ve all entered “a foreign place” of loss or suffering. And it hurts. It hurts so bad that you cannot sing and can barely breathe. Tears are close to the surface. At any moment a trigger word or memory comes and they flow. Grieving is like that sometimes. You think you are moving on, but every now and then you just feel like crying. And the last thing you want to do is sing.

God gets it. He cried too – among grieving friends (John 11), when his own people missed his coming (Lk 19:44), or in Gethsemane pondering the agony ahead (Lk 22:44). Yes, Jesus cried, even wailed the original Greek tells us. And with his last breath on the cross, God’s song of life seemed silenced for good.  Then came Sunday. And life burst through the tomb and those who knew him had a reason to sing again.

And the song continues. Whenever believers see their sorrow in light of the eternal love and glory God wants to give us. Whatever we once had is nothing compared to what awaits us.

So we sing. Sometimes silently or softly in the midst of sniffles. But we sing. Because wherever we are, whatever we’re going though, God gladly receives our weary offering. And in exchange for praise, he lavishes grace to keep going and to keep singing in the dark.



1, 2
Email A Friend
From Name
From Email
To Name
To Email
Note