• Ep. 17 // It's Getting Hot In Here

    Do we choose burnout or is it inevitable.  It seems in this highly busy culture we live that we’re often teetering on the brink of burning out.  What does that look like?  How does that effect us and how can we handle it and even overcome.  Bryce gets together with Mark and Debbie to discuss the dangers and methods of overcoming burnout.

  • Harmony of The Christmas Story

    Years ago, I was introduced to a remix of the gospels called The Harmony of the Gospels. It is an attempt to combine the Gospels into one chronological story of the ministry of Jesus. It allows the reader to see the consistency of the gospel narrative through the unique perspective of the Gospel writers.

    This Christmas, I thought, why not pull out the Christmas story from the Harmony of the Gospels to get a similar experience reading about the birth of Jesus. I searched around for several resources and lists.

    “Why?” you ask? I say, “why not?”

    As a seasoned Christian, I’ve heard the Christmas story at the very least 37 times, but in reality, it’s in the triple digits. Iron Will or not, things can become stagnant in our hearts, and this story is too remarkable to allow it to stagnate, so I love reading it in new ways to see what God can reveal to me.

    Below is my attempt at a Harmony of The Gospels with a few additions along the way. One such inclusion is Revelation 12, which I contend is the Spiritual backdrop under which the Christmas story takes place.

    The birth of Jesus wasn’t only a beautiful story about God intervening in human history to ultimately bring about our salvation. It is Normandy beach of God’s salvation plan for humanity, a bulwark that the devil could not overcome and meant salvation for us all. It is truly an epic victory, and Revelation 12 bares that out. So when the Angel visits the Shepherds, it is more than a message; it is a victory cry for God. How great!

    Click Here to Read The Christmas story

    A rough outline (minus Revelation 12) can be found below if you want...

  • What if We Viewed Refugees as "Guests?"

    My first experience with refugees was when I was very young, although I didn’t learn the word, “refugee,” until many years later. I was taught to call them, “Guests.” 

    For a short time, my father worked for an inner-city mission in the Bay Area of California. As a mechanic, he was responsible to keep the mission’s vans and buses running. When they were short-staffed, my father drove the bus to pick up Guests and bring them to the mission. On occasion, I was allowed to accompany him on these trips. 

    I sat on the front seat and watched as the bus filled with people very different than me. Dad told me they were from Vietnam and Cambodia, places I didn’t know how to find on a map. Brown-skinned parents carried tired children, some without shoes. They whispered words that clipped and twanged in my ears. Their clothes, in various shades of brown, hung loose on every one of them. The oldest, wrinkled and hunched over, were given the best seats, a clear sign of reverence even a child could not miss. As they piled in, I wondered why they were there and why they looked so sad. 

    Once, I followed the crowd off the bus and into a small chapel. The room was familiar enough, with lines of wooden pews and a large oak table near the front. There, the Guests sang hymns using strange words, not the words I sang to the same tune on Sundays. I watched more than listened as a man at the front stood to speak. It didn’t need to be in English for me to recognize the sounds of a fiery gospel message. The children fell asleep while their mothers rubbed their heads and the preacher droned on. My sister and I would have run off...

  • The Goal of Paceline (pt. 4)

    Have you ever watched a cycling team riding down a bike trail?  A group of men and women riding closely together in single file lines, wheels inches apart along windy roads paying close attention to the rider in front of them. If so, you may have seen that on occasion, each rider’s position changes. The lead rider switches to the back, and the second rider pushes forward. This shift in group dynamics is very similar to the shifts that happen within The Christian Pace Line. There comes a time where the lead rider must take his place at the back of the group to take a well-deserved break and allow others to lead in his place.

    “19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and The Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    Matthew 28:19-20

    Jesus is leaving His disciples very soon. They have been behind him in His pace line for three years. He has shown them the pitfalls of life. He has given them warnings. He has spoken hard truths. Now he is fading to the background, saying, “Now it’s your turn. I’ve shown you what to do. I’ll be here to guide, but it’s your turn to lead.” If Jesus is the example, then this is our goal: to create leaders who have learned to follow Christ and can, in turn, be a leader to future disciples.

    God does amazing work through the discipleship relationship He instituted. As you go about your day, I want to leave you with this challenge: Every believer should have at least one person they are drafting off and one person they are leading. Who is that for...

  • I am not a sinner, I am Included

    Am I that vain that I can say I am not a sinner? Well, I am human, so I do have vanity within me, but trust me, that is not the reason for me saying, “I am not a sinner.” I will do the best I can to explain this. 


    Let me begin by defining some terms.

    Sinner: A noun. One who falls short of God’s standard of perfection. Your entire positional identity.

    Saint: A noun. In Christ. Holy, sanctified, set apart for Christ’s work. Your new identity.

    My Identity as a Saint

    I am a saint, holy, sanctified, set apart for Christ’s work. In Brian’s words, I am “included.” Through Christ’s death on the cross, He covered my sins and made me a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” Make a mental note of that “the old has gone.” Romans 5:8 states, “But God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Notice “we were still sinners.” That is past tense, my friend. I firmly believe that Paul had grasped onto the fact that as Christians, we are saints. That is why he often started his letters “to the saints of…”

    Interesting Note: There are roughly 45 references to Christians as “Saints,” 40 as “Holy,” and five as sanctified as compared to a whopping four as “Sinners.”

    Please note that these numbers are approximations, but relatively accurate.

    There is quite a difference in those numbers. Do you think maybe God is trying to get something across to us? One thing I do not understand is how it is possible...

  • Training With The Pros (pt. 3)

    When I bought my newest bike in December 2014, I effectively started to re-learn cycling. I began with eight-mile rides and expanded from there.

    Recently, I’ve noticed my average speed is about 15.5 miles per hour, which is roughly 3 minutes and 45 seconds per mile. Not bad, but not great either.

    Try as I might, I haven’t been able to raise my average speed for a few months. Very frustrating. Dissatisfied, I’ve started matching speed with poor unsuspecting cyclists on the bike trail. But, I’m not just doing this with any cyclists. I’m doing this with cyclists that are better and stronger than I am. Why? By attempting to match speed with stronger riders, I can increase my overall pace.

    Awhile back, I rode forty-four miles. For the majority of that ride, my average speed was 15.3 mph. As I looked at my mile by mile breakdown, however, I noticed a six-mile segment where my average rate increased to between seventeen and nineteen miles an hour nearly thirty miles in! Usually, my speed would decrease around this time, so I was confused.

    As I thought back on my ride, I remembered that four stronger riders passed me. I made it my mission to keep pace with them for as long as I could. These riders caused me to push myself more than I would have otherwise and, at least for a short time, improve. A productive drafting partner is further along in life and stronger in faith than you are.

    If you want to plateau, train with a person of equal skill. If you’re going to improve, you must train with a pro. So it is in Christian Discipleship. Do you want to grow in your faith? It is best to align yourself with someone who can...

  • God does not need Kanye, but welcomes him with...
    Who is Kanye West, and why is everyone on the internet talking about him? In short, Kanye West is one of the most influential rap artists in modern history. He’s also married to a Kardashian, in short, super-duper wealthy and famous.
    On October 21, West released his latest album “Jesus Is King” to a mixed reaction. Many celebrate the album as a fantastic Gospel rap work, long time non-religious fans criticized the overt Christian message and skeptics, well, were skeptical. I skeptically enjoyed the album. What happened in Kanye’s life that led him from the semi-erratic narcissist who referred to himself as “Yeezus” and “The greatest human of all time” to release an album proclaiming Jesus is King? The more reports I read, the hot takes I listened to, and interviews I watched led me to believe Kanye got saved. Great news, the good news changed another life.
    Still, the skeptic in me persists. “Did it really?” I thought to myself. As if the power of the Gospel wasn’t strong enough to overcome the ego. Ridiculous. Why do I, as a Christian, go straight to skepticism when we hear unexpected news like this? Does Kanye’s history not match up to my standards of living? Self-Check, my history didn’t match up to God’s either. Whoops… For a group of redeemed, regenerated people who have been forgiven of much, we sometimes lack faith in God’s regenerative power.
    Did Kanye meet Jesus Christ? I believe he did. Is he saved? I believe he is. Is this a “good get” for God? Well, no Kanye West adds nothing to God because God is not lacking. The salvation of Kanye West is no more celebrated by God than the salvation of your neighbor, your sister, your cousin. But like all...
  • Beware The Squirrel (Part 2)

    In part one of my article I encouraged you to bypass my road to failure and begin looking for a mentor. For some reason though, I feel like many people will not do this. There is something in us that blocks us from making wise, healthy decisions. Biblically I suppose it is the sin nature we are all born into.  But, in Christ we are new creations, we have the Holy Spirit on our side fighting and advocating on our behalf.  So in reality, it’s you and your laziness.  Wouldn’t it be better to learn without failing? Surely a cyclist would prefer not to get into an accident because they missed an oncoming obstacle that could have easily been avoided.

    So let’s assume you’re on board, When deciding on your drafting partner it is important to follow behind those who are following Christ. You need someone who can share wisdom and act as an early warning system for your life.

    I don’t believe we ever grow out of this need.  Though at times we must handle situations on our own, there are times when we need to draft off the faith and experience of others.

    “Carry each others burders…for each one should carry their own load,” Galatians 6:2,5

    We see the example of biblical drafting throughout the New Testament. The disciples drafted off Jesus in the three years of His earthly ministry. Timothy drafted off Paul on his missionary journeys. The early church drafted off Paul and the other disciples as they faced difficult circumstances.

    It is not enough to simply follow closely behind your leader. A true disciple must heed their leaders warnings.

    The road of life, like the open road, has some unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes our circumstances are by our own design; sometimes they are thrust upon us. Just like...

  • Redefining a Healthy Body

    In our culture, we value healthy bodies. My friend, Matt, has arguably the healthiest body I know. He trained for a whole year to compete in an Ironman competition — early morning swims before work, daily run workouts while his sons went to football practice, Saturday bike rides. He schooled himself in nutrition and physical therapy. As a culture, we value healthy bodies like Matt’s because they allow us to work, play with our children, and live long lives. As Christians, we steward our bodies so we can serve and worship our Lord, but what does that mean for those of us with bodies that aren’t healthy?

    I have never had a body like Matt’s. The body God gave me is weak and clumsy. Poor hearing has caused balance issues for me, proven by the scar on my right knee when I had tripped over first base in junior high P.E. Yes, I was that kid. The wheezing sound coming from my lungs was such a concern for my high school P.E. teacher that she feared I’d stop breathing at some point during the mile run and would jog with me the whole way. The only success I had in high school P.E. was holding my breath underwater the longest, although I’ve always wondered if the other girls just didn’t try.

    No matter how much time I’ve spent on a treadmill or in a lap pool, I’ve remained the weakest person in every group. It is disheartening and no fun to be that person. Often, it’s led me to question, Does my weakness mean I am unhealthy?

    Last year, I collapsed at a park when my body failed me in a new way. The blood vessels in my lungs burst. It took multiple surgeries to save my life. I spent months gaining back enough strength to...

  • Ep. 15 // Abortion and the Church

    The topic of abortion is a divisive one. But, it’s one the church must engage in to be a light in our culture. Is this a political issue or a spiritual one? How do we bring grace, compassion and truth into this topic? How do we offer a soft landing to women embroiled in this battle? How can men step in and be a positive force of grace and truth? Bryce sits down with Tanelle Forgy of Pregnancy Counseling Services and OBGYN Dr. Alli Tobin-WIlliams and have a discussion about this and much much more.

  • The Christian Paceline // Part 1

    In my twenties, after a rough breakup, I found healing in an unexpected place. Riding my bike. Since that time I have been an avid cyclist, as time permits. Eventually I bought my first road bike so I could “get serious” about riding. Unfortunately, I was never serious about security and my bike was stolen. 

    Fast forward to December 2014, I finally saved up enough money to buy a new bike. I couldn’t wait to get on and ride again. Truth be told I may have romanticized bike riding in my time away. Words like, “freedom,” “joy,” and “flying” come to mind when I think of winding down the American River Trail. Selective memory blocked out words like, “sweat,” “soreness,” and “exhaustion.” But alas, I had my bike again and was regularly riding about 216 miles a month, not bad.

    When you love something you push yourself to be better at it. It also helps that I’d like to not be as “squeezable” as I currently am. I’m not looking to win any races, I just love to ride.

    Sports on television is often a bore to me. Cycling is no different. There are only so many angles you can see before saying “Yep, still riding…” I will say however, seeing a cluster of cyclists riding in a peloton (the main field or group of cyclists in a race) or even smaller groups riding wheel-to-wheel in a pace line is an amazing sight, and requires much precision and skill. I always wondered why they do this. It seemed to me like a recipe for disaster. Though it can be dangerous, there is a lot to the pace line.

    Drafting occurs when the following riders follow close behind the lead rider, taking advantage of the pocket of calmer air behind him. DOIng so allows them to match his speed and...

  • Ep. 14 // Let's Be Clear (Like a Heart...

    As social media has grown the amount of information we share has expanded.  This has caused many people to close up and reject any kind of openness with others.  Others have gone the other way oversharing things usually reserved for close family and friends.  Bryce and Mark talk about the idea of transparency in relationships and transparency with God.  What are the dangers, fears and freedoms that come from being transparent about who you are?  How do we know when it’s safe to share?  Let us know your thoughts @foothillscp on twitter or instagram.

  • Dangerously Speaking

    What you’re about to read is my inner dialogue over the past few years as it pertains to speech in our modern context. In a society where inflammatory headlines, partisan rhetoric and freedom of speech are on many people’s mind it’s important for me to figure out where I stand. I grew up in the church with a specific morality and attitude toward language, basically, “Some are good, some are bad,” and “don’t say the bad ones.” I feel like as you grow it is important to critique your own beliefs and conclusions to see what is truly biblical and what is just good old fashion legalism. What is that line between legalism and grace and how do I walk in faithfulness while not justifying sin that grace may increase? (Romans 6:1)? Small questions perfect for a short blog. Let’s jump in.

    I want to start writing more. There is something about writing that is therapeutic to me. If I may over-spiritualize for a moment, writing gives me a connection point with God. As God created, so I create. The ability to use words, music and art as an expression of my Imago Dei (Image of God) is satisfying but also a little weighty. Like going on a hike out in the wilderness with my 3 1/2 year old in one of those fancy toddler backpacks. Each step matters and can mean the difference between a safe, though strenuous trip, and disaster.

    “The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on...

  • Ep. 13 // Our Speech Matters

    All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. We live in a time when it seems like many people want to restrict speech all around the world. What do we think of free speech? What is a Christians role in culture in how they interact with the calling to be peacemakers and glorify God in with their lives? Mark and Bryce discuss.

  • Comparison

    Psalm 139:14

    “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14

    For years I have looked at the verse and wondered, what does fearfully mean, people will quote this verse to me and share you are worthy, loved and enough. Awesome! Great! But what does that mean? What is the Lord speaking over us?

    The God of the universe, the one who created the sun and the stars, He created a being in which He respected and set apart. This is what fearfully means. We are distinguished among all of His work, for His Glory, created in His image. We are unique.

    “Unique means “without equal or rival.” Our Father God stands alone without rival, so we shouldn’t be surprised that in His eyes we are without rival, which eliminates every reason that we should ever compete with one another.” – Lisa Bevere

    But if we are not pursuing humility in all of this, pride will overrule everything. Pride wants glory for the self, building up who we are and not who God is and what He has done for us.

    Keep your eyes on the Creator. Repent of self – glorification. Set yourself free.

  • Fighting From Victory

    Mark Monroe // Colossians 2:6-15

    “We (humans) are forgetful people”- Colossians 2:6-15

    This is very true in my own life.  I regularly have to relearn truth, sometimes very fundamental truth, over and over again.  This forgetfulness causes me to resort back to how I lived, or better yet survived before I began to trust, lean and abide in Jesus.

    I would fight, push and will power my way through obstacles (sin, hardships, anxieties) to try and claim a victory for myself, Jesus or my family and friends.  These battles commonly ended in defeat whether immediately or in some other form later on in life. 

    But, it’s by God’s grace that I am continually reminded of this truth: We do not need to fight for victory in our life alone.  As children of God we are fighting a battle that has already been won by Jesus.

    So instead, we can fight to abide with Him and His truth.  We should remain sharp and allow Him to conform us to His image.  But we must continually be reminded and refreshed in this truth that we have the authority given by Jesus Christ to push back the darkness of this world.  We have The Holy Spirit to lead our steps.  When we abide, we are never on our own.

  • Ep. 12 // Biblical Sexual Identity Extended

    Drew Berryessa is a very unique voice in the conversation on biblical sexuality as it pertains to homosexuality and the churches response to it.   How should the church react to homosexuality?  Does the Gospel truly transform lives? Many Christians feel like they have a good foundation for these questions but when applied to sexual identity and homosexuality we have questions and doubts.  Bryce & Mark pick Drew’s brain on this and much more.

  • Walking with Purpose while Living in Action

    Douglas Mcnett // 1 Peter 2:9

    There is no doubt that we are living in a fast paced world with so many demands for our attention and time. There is a grave cost to doing life at such high speeds. We get so caught up in the flow of our jobs, activities, and really in ourselves that we become distracted from what our life purpose is and what it looks like lived out. Our identity comes from our God, not our job, not our hobbies, and surely not our bank account. Our identity as God’s chosen people will reveal our life purpose, to make Him known. When the distractions of the world around us pull our attention away we lose sight of what God has called us to. How we spend our time, our finances, our energy begins shifting from what God intends to what the world wants. We must keep ourselves focused, walking with purpose.

    It is not merely enough to have purpose. Purpose must be followed with living in action. As God’s chosen people He has called us to “declare,” and to be His “witnesses” in our work places, our homes, and everywhere we find ourselves. That is, we are to be living out our life purpose by living in action.

  • How Do We Change?

    Dillon Barber // 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

    I am often asking the question: how do I change? What motivates me to change my thoughts, habits and behaviors to be the kind of healthy adult that God has called me to be? We often do one of two things. Either go through the motions in order to try to bring about change, or we wait for a crisis to force us to change. A health crisis, a marriage crisis, a financial crisis (big or small) can each motivate us to change how we behave.

    But what about the normal healthy kind of change? What motivates me to change my prayer habits, or the way I speak to my children, or the way I react to my co-workers? How do I find the strength, energy, or stick-to-it-ness to make those necessary growth adjustments to be healthy and stay healthy? I think we find the answer in the simple, yet profound truth of God’s love.

    Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15:
    “For the love of Christ compels us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

    In other words, it is Christ’s love at work in us through the Holy Spirit, that compels us to change. When we experience His love at work in our hearts, we respond to that love through changed hearts and changed lives. So lets, throw away the self help books and even set aside the spiritual disciplines books, and sit back and enjoy the love of Christ through the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is at work in us, transforming us into the people that God has called us to be.

  • Ep. 11 // Hope Despite Grief

    Let’s face it, we live in a world that feels unfair. We deal with grief and suffering that seem so far beyond our capacity to endure that it’s easy to lose hope. In these times John 16:33 rings in our ears “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Even in the deep deserts of our souls God is there. Mark sits down with Nicole O’ Meara to talk about her unexpected and unwelcome journey into a life threatening and life changing medical emergency. What happens when you wake up healthy and happy and find yourself in an ICU fighting for your life with the knowledge that it was all a mirage? How do you cope? How do you lean on God? Can you? Nicole shares sobering truth forged in grief few can understand.


    Pastor Ryan Connelly // Psalm 67:3

    “May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise You.” – Psalm 67:3

    When your favorite team scores, you raise your hands. When you find out your daughter-in-law is pregnant, you scream and raise you hands. When you visit Disneyland, you can’t help but “raise your hands”. It’s almost safe to say that its a primal instinct. Everyone at one point in life has felt this urge.

    The Israelites showed their excitement and enthusiasm for God in praise and worship by raising their hands. This posture of worship in Hebrew was called yadah. It’s one of seven words of praise found in the OT. Its used over 111 times in scripture. The word is defined as “extending your hands” or to “throw out” your hands.

    When we look at Psalm 67:3, the word praise was originally written “yadah”. It definitely changes the way you read the verse and is given a broader meaning. The second half of that verse says, “may all the peoples praise (yadah) You.” This posture was not only for the Israelites but for all of us who are apart of God’s family will yadah our Father and for ETERNITY. (Psalm 44:8)

    Here at Foothills, we don’t worship nostalgia and we don’t worship style. We simply respond to who GOD is. To extend/throw out our hands is a response of praise for ALL of God’s people. It transcends denomination, culture, time, space. And it will happen for eternity.

    So shouldn’t we start practicing now?

  • EP. 10 // Mawwiage is wat bwings us togeder

    Post “Even Better” series at Foothills Church Bryce and Debbie sit down and talk about Marriage. We are not experts in marital relationships, we are flawed people who love the institution of marriage that God has ordained and want to talk about it. What’s your soapbox pitch to newlyweds? The difficulties of marriage? The Benefits? What are some of your marital blind spots? We discuss these and much more today in our studio conversation.

  • Look Up

    Rev. Samuel Parsons // Acts 3:1-4:19

    Acts 3:1-4:19 tells a story about Peter and John on their way to church. As they go Peter and John run into a beggar who was crippled. John and Peter begin to minister to the crippled man by healing him in the name of Jesus. People in the community took notice of this beggars healing and a crowd began to form around Peter, which Peter capitalizes on by preaching the gospel.

    When peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, The God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. …. V.16 It is by faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. V.19 Repent then and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” – Acts 3:17-19

    Have you ever had a similar experience like Peter and John that day? You thought you were just going to the grocery store but God had other plans. The next thing you know your sharing the gospel with the person loading groceries in your car.

    I am a man of routines. I have a routine for everything, when I wake up… go to bed… arrive to work… Well if you learn anything from Peter and John the Spirit has a reputation of drawing us out of our routines. Like Peter and John the Spirit calls us often to step out of...

  • Shame & Identity

    John 10:10

    Shame is in escapable these days isn’t it? Everywhere we turn we receive some sort of message that we aren’t good enough the way we are. Whether it’s the political climate telling us we have to think a certain way. Or Hollywood telling us what kind of body type to have. Or the American culture telling us that we have to have every new toy available, to be busy or you’re lazy, and you’re only good enough if you’re above a certain poverty level.

    The problem with living in a cultural climate like this is that it can easily be absorbed into our own way of thinking, including the expectations we set for ourselves. The truth is that these messages are just lies that attack our real Identity in Christ Jesus. Jesus states:

    “The thief comes ONLY to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.”- John 10:10

    So, ask yourself, “are you living your life to the fullest?” Or are you allowing those confusing and harmful message steal your identity? Do you believe that you need to conform the standards of the world, or are you looking to the only one who can truly define you?

    Spend a few moments reading through Romans Ch. 8. Start at verse 29 for a foundational truth, then go back to the beginning and let God’s word build upon itself as it builds into you.

  • Ep. 9 // Excuse Me? Excuse Me? What's My...

    We’re all motivated by something. But, when you really stop and think about it, it’s not often clear what it is. Is it family, prestige, money,happiness, greed? If we are so unclear what motivates us, why are we so quick to assume the motivations of others? What does a heavenly perspective of examining our motives and the motives of others look like? Bryce and Mark discuss.

  • Loneliness and a Friendship Garden

    I read an article about loneliness last week.  Loneliness is a new topic of interest for me so I took notice.  It was about a new role in the British Parliament, the Minister of Loneliness.  The article noted a 2017 report that showed more than 9,000,000 people feel lonely often or always.  That’s a lot of people!  I’m not sure how a new ministry department can fix this problem (and that was the point of the article).  But I do know that I believe that statistic.  I believe it because I have felt lonely.  And I have friends who feel lonely.  Loneliness is this silent, shadowy thing that we don’t easily see or recognize.  And it’s growing.

    Chronic pain or chronic illness leads to loneliness.  Actually, chronic anything will lead to loneliness: depression, migraines, panic attacks.  Or just being alone a lot, such as a single mom, a widow, or a wife whose husband travels full time.  When our circumstances force us to be alone often, we are stuck with the thoughts in our head.  And that can be dangerous.  Pain, physical or emotional, distorts our thinking.  It can send us down desperate paths of fear and doubt.  We can begin to believe lies such as, “No one cares about me.”  “I must be dying or if I’m not, I want to.”  “I believe God is real, but I don’t understand why He’s making me go through this.  He must not love me.”

    I used to think I was the only one who struggled with this illness-induced loneliness.  But then, as usual, once I started talking about it, I discovered I was not alone in this struggle.  This week, I read an account of Martin Luther’s struggle with this despair and loneliness.  Martin Luther!  The Father of the Reformation!  A man...

  • Ten Great Date ideas for under $10.00

    My wife and I have recently started budgeting in order to pay off debt and save some money. If you’ve ever taken a stab at budgeting before, you know it brings money to the forefront of your mind no matter what the activity. Dates are no exception.  Unfortunately, dates are usually expensive, but they don’t have to be. Here are some ideas for some fun date ideas for under ten dollars (gas not included).

    Photo Adventure & Froyo

    Do you enjoy photography, or at least enjoy having photos of and with your significant other? Perhaps a photo adventure is in order. What is a photo adventure? It can be as simple or complex as you want. Maybe you just want to go to a picturesque place and take photos while talking. Perhaps you want to theme it and take pictures in front of old buildings or interesting doors. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can go on a photo scavenger hunt by creating your own list of funny and cool things to get pictures of. What great memories that will bring! At the end of the night, grab some frozen yogurt and look through the photos you took. It will be a night to remember, but start slow… you don’t want your first date to be your best, keep some tricks up your sleeve for later!

    Community Events

    A lot of cities have community events throughout the year. I live in Sacramento, CA, and there is a site called www.sac365.com that has listings of all the events going on in the greater Sacramento area. This can be a treasure trove of cheap or free activities. Show your date you are classy and take them to a free day at the museum. Share a blanket at a free outdoor concert and...

  • Greet Someone!

    Matthew 10:12

    Through the years I have heard really deep lessons on the many ways one can look more like Jesus.

    But as I read my Bible, I am really struck at times by the simplicity of Jesus commands to His disciples. Here’s one of my favorites:

    “As you enter the house, greet it.” – Matthew 10:12

    Jesus instructs his disciples to greet people as they are going out to share the Good News. As you look closer at the life of Jesus, this isn’t just something He instructs others to do; this is something He lives by.

    Jesus greeted some fishermen and they decided to devote their whole lives to Him.

    Jesus greeted the Samaritan woman at the well and offered her a drink that left us with one of the most quoted stories in the New Testament.

    Jesus greeted children and welcomed them to be with Him.

    Jesus says hello to two men walking to Emmaus, shares the Gospel with them and eventually enjoys a dinner with them.

    Where else does Jesus greet people in Scripture? Can you think of any?

    I think sometimes we just need to look at the life of Jesus and try to do the things that He did. Jesus was nice to people, He greeted them. We can do that! Today let’s say hi to the waiter. Invite your neighbors and their children over for dinner. Take time to ask someone how they are really doing.

  • You're Enough

    Josiah O’laughlin // Psalm 149

    Knowledge is at everybody’s fingertips. It used to be only the Jeopardy winners of the world knew what seemed to be everything. Due to technology however, everyone has the same ability to gain knowledge. Culture even puts a lot of emphasis and value on knowledge. For many their ability to retain knowledge is what give them meaning in their life. Unfortunately knowledge is not enough.

    We are broken in a way that has masked what we truly desire through the pursuit of knowledge. We try so hard to fill that hole in our heart and yet we seem to always come up short. Still wanting to learn yet still lacking inside with an eternal desire “to just be enough.”

    Thank God we can be! I am truly blessed to tell you, you are enough. You do not need to change anything to be loved by your creator and to be valued. He has made you purposely, purposely weird or smart or even quirky on purpose. Embrace it and thank God for it. Check out the below verses and remember he takes delight in you!

    Praise the Lord.
    Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
    Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
    let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
    Let them praise his name with dancing
    and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
    For the Lord takes delight in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory.
    Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
    and sing for joy on their beds.
    – Psalm 149

  • Ep 8. // Relativism is Absolutely True

    We live in a confused society that in many ways seems to rail against the concepts of moral and philosophical absolutes. Where does scripture and Christian tradition fit in here? Is the Christian way of thinking archaiac? How can we believe the things we believe when so many smart people out there wholly disagree? Bryce, Mark & Pastor Sam discuss.

  • Trust

    Patty Herrera // Job 42:1-2

    “Then Job answered the Lord and said: I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” – Job 42:1-2

    “Catch me Mom!”  Looking up from in the pool, I could see a tangle of arms and legs flying towards me. There was no fear. There was just an absolute trust that I would be there to catch him before he went under the water.

    As an adult who prides herself in constant risk assessment, I marvel at that level of abandonment and sheer trust. I test the water temperature before I ever stick a toe in the pool. I check to see how deep the water is. I look for live creatures that might have fallen in. When everything checks out, I cautiously slip into the pool gradually lowering my quaking limbs one at a time.

    Sometimes I wonder if I trust God’s promises in the same way: one slow step at a time to see if what he asserted could really be true. I have noticed that children aren’t plagued with reserved trust. If God said that he answers prayer, then they expectantly look for his answer. If God promises to forgive them, then they confess and move on. If God calls them to tell others about Jesus, then they boldly tell the grocery clerk about him.

    What if we abandoned our caution and broke away from our adult-onset wariness? What if we trusted God to be who he says he is and believed that his Word is true? What if we asserted with Job that we know that God can do all things and that his plans cannot not be stopped? Would that make any...

  • The Goodness of God

    Mark Shoquist // Psalm 34:8

    Do you want to know what one of the strongest antidotes to fear and despair is? Mediating upon God’s goodness.

    As a child of God, He longs for you to know that He is working his perfect plan into your life—whatever the circumstance, and whether you see Him working or not. God continually invites you to explore His goodness.

    The writer of Psalm 34 uses an interesting verb to explore God’s goodness: taste. It’s one thing to challenge someone to hear about God’s goodness, or see God’s goodness. But it’s a completely different thing to actually taste. Tasting is close and intimate. Tasting involves a full commitment and an element of trust. God wants much more than for you to just experience His goodness from afar!

    Meditating on God’s goodness when things are going well is fairly easy. However, God also wants you to experience more than just the “low hanging fruit” of his goodness during good times—those times when His goodness is obvious. Here’s the key: When fear or despair begin to creep in, you must choose to continually focus on His goodness. It’s there where you are forced to climb higher into the tree to discover more fruit, sweeter fruit that he has specifically prepared for you to enjoy.

    To help you begin mediating on God’s goodness, spend several minutes reflecting on, or writing in a journal, these questions:

    • What attributes of God am I most thankful for that demonstrate His goodness to me?
    • As the perfect, loving Father, how has God demonstrated His goodness to me in my life?
    • What am I thankful for?

    Enjoy His goodness!

  • Enjoying life

    Rev. Samuel Parsons // Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

    Apart from fly-fishing my favorite hobby is landscaping.  My wife and I several years back, bought a home on one acre of property.  I wanted more but at the time it was all we could afford.  This acre had no landscaping except for one hillside that had a few plants and some roses by the front door.  The thing that drew me to this home was that it provided an empty canvas for me to paint my own vision into this acre of property.  Since than I have planted an orchard, a vineyard, a garden, lawn, created a patio space, play structure, sand box etc.  One of my favorite joys in this world is sitting in my rocking chair and enjoying what God has allowed me to create.  This is what I love about barbecuing as well. There is nothing better than preparing a pork shoulder, filet of salmon, setting it on the smoker for eight hours and sitting down with friends, family and enjoying a good meal in a beautifully landscaped yard. 

    Sometimes life can be moving at such a fast pace that we can miss the enjoyment of it.   Solomon towards the end of his life shares some wisdom warning us of that truth as he writes,

    “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work, this too, I see is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment.” – Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

    What I love about this wisdom from Solomon is that it causes us to slow down and find satisfaction and enjoyment in the little things.  In addition, he...

  • Ep 7. // Empower To The People

    We all need change in our lives. All of us have accrued hurts, habits and hangups throughout our lives that work themselves out in various unhealthy ways. Don’t think so? Ask a close friend, they’ll tell you. So how do we deal with these toxic habits? Simply put Christ empowers us beyond our will and ability to conform our lives more and more to his likeness daily. Not perfection, but direction. Mark and Bryce discuss their reaction to Pastor Brian’s Sermon “The Spirit of Christmas Present.”

    Let us know your thoughts by e-mailing us or by using the #foothillsconvos on twitter.


  • Forgiven and Set Free

    Pregnancy Counseling Services

    516 Main Street, Placerville

    Abortion Recovery Group

    Every Monday
    January 14 – April 8
    9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

    Are you ready to work through your sorrow and move beyond your pain? An abortion recovery group offers support and a safe place to begin healing.

    Who Is PCS?

    Pregnancy Counseling Services of El Dorado County (PCS) is a pregnancy resource center located in Placerville, California. We are a non-profit organization with volunteers trained to review your concerns, process your situation, and answer any questions you may have. Our goal is to offer support so you can make an informed choice when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. We provide a safe, non-judgmental and confidential environment.

    PCS operates solely on grants and the generosity of financial partners who donate one time gifts or make monthly commitments. If you would like to partner with us financially please contact us at 530-626-6720 or send an email to info@pregnancycounselingservices.org.

    E-mail TaNelle Forgy to sign up or for more information:

    More Information on Pregnancy Counseling Services

  • Ep 6. // Redefining Your Identity

    Often we are controlled by our past. We allow our past mistakes, victories and everything in between define us. Though these are important, in Christ we are a new creation. This week Bryce and Mark react to Phil’s sermon “The Spirit of Christmas Past” speaking on the significance of Christmas and the joy that comes from our new identity in Christ as saints.

    We’d love to hear how phil’s sermon connected with you. Please connect with us on Twitter, Facebook or instagram @foothillscp or by commenting below. You can also send questions to us using the #foothillsconvos and we’ll try to incorporate them into our conversations.

  • Advent Reading Options

    This one has a bit of history or explanation on Advent…then some suggested readings:

    Here’s another from Focus on the Family

    Here is a link to a number of Advent Reading Plans from YouVersion Bible

  • Ep 5. // Anxiety and the Church

    It seems pretty clear that anxiety and depression are on a rise in culture due to a wide range of factors. Foothills Church as well as The Church can act as the beacon of light directing people towards the life that Jesus has for them. But how do we do that? How do we confront such a difficult problem in our culture. We sit down with Pastor and counselor Steve Sewell to get some ideas. If you have any other input or if you suffer from anxiety and depression please reach out to us @foothillscp on social media or by commenting below. We’d love to be a resource for you.

  • How the Church Can Get Along (Part 2)

    Dr. Roy Price // Philippians 2:1-4

    What Getting Along with Each Other Looks Like (2)

    • I need to bring my personal viewpoint into submission to the community—“being of the same mind”

    “Of the same mind” literally means to think the same. Paul is not asking that everyone have the same opinion.  That would create a drab gray fellowship.  Instead, the church is rich with color and contrast. God is a magnificent artist who is using the full spectrum of color to produce a painting of unsurpassed beauty.

    • I need to have greater concern for others than for myself

    “Same love” describes a shared love, something both parties have in common. It is the love of Christ. It simply means I care more about my relationship with you than I do about my getting you agree with me.

    • I need to connect with other believers

    “With one soul” states we are soul-mates. God is not glorified when believers are at each other’s throats, getting into fights over secondary issues, bad-mouthing one another, gossiping, eating the pastor for lunch, or attacking character.

    • I need to submit to God’s stated purpose for His church

    Paul told the Corinthians to do everything for the glory of God. God’s purpose is God-glorifying lives. This overriding purpose should be the constant focal point of our activities and attitudes.

    How Getting Along can be Achieved (3-4)

    There is one thing I am not to do and one I am to do.

    • I must not be self-centered

    The middle letter of pride is “I” and the middle letter of sin is “I”. An egotistical drive to glorify oneself destroys relationships.  It divides the church....

  • Alternative Gift Giving


    Kiva is an international nonprofit, founded in 2005 and based in San Francisco, with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. We celebrate and support people looking to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.

    Heifer International

    The core of our model is Passing on the Gift. This means families share the training they receive, and pass on the first female offspring of their livestock to another family. This extends the impact of the original gift, allowing a once impoverished family to become donors and full participants in improving their communities.

    The goal of every Heifer project is to help families achieve self-reliance. We do this by providing them the tools they need to sustain themselves, and it’s thanks to the generosity of donors like you.

    You have the power to give a hungry family the training it takes to feed themselves and their children; to give a young girl a chance at an education; to empower a woman to have a voice in her community. Together, we can change the world, one family, one community, at a time. And it all starts with a gift.

    Samaritan’s Purse


    Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.

    World Vision

    World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.


    Your donation to the GCF creates gospel access among the least-reached peoples in the United States and more than 60...

  • Camp Fire Relief

    Greetings Foothills Church Family…

    I wanted to reach out to you with an update on actions our church has taken to support both our sister churches impacted by the Camp Fire tragedy: The Paradise Alliance Church and the Chico Neighborhood Church (serving as an evacuation shelter).

    We have sent a 10k dollar donation to each church from our Benevolent Fund, which many of you support regularly. We are also designating a Foothills Response Team to help our church mobilize further assistance that will be needed in the early weeks following this tragedy.


    1. To learn of the latest needs please visit the Fire Disaster Relief table at on our patio this Sunday.

    2. Over the next month, I would ask you to be mindful of furniture/household items that you might be able to part ways with in order to help families outfit their new rentals or temporary housing they secure.

    3. Give to our Benevolent Fund at Foothills Church to help replenish what we have given to our sister churches in Paradise and Chico.

    4. If you would like to give additional support directly to the Paradise Alliance Church donate through the push-pay account: Click Here. When you click this link it will take you to the Paradise donation page. Please note: You must select the drop down menu labeled “Giving Type” and then choose “Camp Fire Relief Fund.” These direct donations will be distributed by the Paradise Alliance Leadership Board as they see fit for their church families and families they minister to in the community.

    5. You can Click Here to view the volunteer schedule at the Chico Neighborhood Church and add your name. The Google Doc is also posted on the Neighborhood Church of Chico Facebook Page. Go to the “Posts” tab to...

  • Ep. 4 // What Is Love?

    Our culture holds many definitions of love. The Bible boldly proclaims that God is Love. What does that mean? What does God’s look like in our day-to-day life. In this first installment of a conversation on the broad topic of love Dillon, Kaley and Bryce attempt to attack this question. Please give us your insight @foothillscp on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or leave a comment below.

  • How the Church Can Get Along (Part 1)

    Dr. Roy Price // Philippians 2:1-4

    The “if” carries the meaning of affirmation, not of doubt. It is “because” we are in Christ that we are encouraged, “because” we have been loved we should learn to think alike, and so forth.

    These four verses are among the strongest statements in the New Testament on the community of the church. To grow in our knowledge of God is “not” to become a theological fathead or a brain-on-a-stick.  It is to discern what God says and then do it.  It’s not complicated.

    In this two day devotional we will reflect on 3 things:  1) Why the church must work at getting along?  2) What getting along with each other looks like?  3) How getting along can be achieved?

    Why the Church Must Work at Getting Along (1)

    • Because we have been encouraged

    “Encouragement” is speaking a word to strengthen based on the Word of God and given in the power of the Holy Spirit.

    • Because we have been loved

    This comfort of love is the result of someone caring enough to come alongside and speak in a friendly way.

    • Because we have fellowship with the Holy Spirit

    “‘The Spirit has brought you into fellowship with one another’” (Life Application Bible, QuickVerse).

    • Because we have experienced affection and compassion

    “Affection,” actually speaks of the intestines, where it was thought the affections originated.  It is a gut feeling.

  • Ep. 3 // You Got To Have Faith

    What does it mean to have faith? How does that faith play out in scripture and in our day to day lives? When we suffer pain, tragedy and loss how can our faith carry us through? Mark and Bryce start the discussion on faith and trust in God as soon in the book of Job, Jeremiah and our their own lives. Please join in the conversation as this is only one small facet of the faith and belief discussion. What have you learned as you’ve approached this subject from the biblical perspective?

  • Obedience

    Luke 10:41-42

    Be still. Listening Prayer. Journaling. Solitude. Obedience. These are things I’ve had to continually work at because my flesh pulls me to move fast and get things done. GO GO GO!

    “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:41-42

    When I think about obedience I am always brought back to the story of Mary and Martha, the Spirit always convicts me. How often am I Martha? GO GO GO! Get this done, go do that, prepare this meal, be the perfect hostess, and love others through doing. Well, while all of these things might be good and at time necessary, what is my motivation for doing them? To seek praise from my peers, to feel in control, to be a “servant” leader?

    How often do we sit at the feet of Jesus and ask, Lord, what is it you want to say to me? How often do we make time for his Spirit to lead us?

    We cannot serve on empty.
    We cannot go without direction.
    We cannot listen when we are distracted.
    We cannot obey God without God.

    “Working for Christ has today been accepted as the ultimate test of godliness…Christ has become a project to be promoted or a cause to be served instead of a Lord to be obeyed.” – A.W. Tozer

  • Ep. 2 // Moneytalks

    Money is a surprisingly sensitive topic for people. Our wealth is typically an emotionally tied conversation and therefore a revealing conversation for where our priorities lie. This makes the discussion even more important to have. Bryce and Mark sit down in the Foothills Studio to talk with Matt Hillicker about money and its influence on our lives.

  • God’s Goodness

    Mark Monroe // Psalm 73:21-28

    When you watch the world, listen to the news, experience the unapologetic brokenness of humanity, it is easy to become closed off or detached from your surroundings. Even more, despair can take root when you look inside yourself and identify all the brokenness within. Where do you go from there?  Often, we choose bitterness, bitterness towards others, our circumstances, or even ourselves. Surely there is a better option?  Yes, there is.

    Draw close to God with your whole being. The more we do so, the more we will experience the life that God offers.  You will see the world through God’s eyes, hear the news through God’s ears, have compassion on the broken and remain engaged in your life.  Your bitterness will look like foolishness when you know God and His great never-ending goodness.  So, do not get lost in the trees of brokenness, despair, bitterness and division but pull back to view the forest of God’s intricately made creation which testifies to His goodness and plan for you & humanity (Romans 1:20).

    With this perspective it becomes easy to draw near to the Father and recognize and experience His goodness that has been at the heart of everything all along. Then, be encouraged because His goodness has no end!  So, when your heart and flesh fail and begins to lean towards bitterness, remember God will be your strength in all things.

  • When God is Silent

    Doug Mcnett // 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 // We do not get to know what it was that Paul was struggling with. Some feel as if it was some sort of physical ailment, such as poor eyesight or a skin condition. Regardless of exactly what Paul’s thorn was, we do know that Paul was struggling and that he desired God to remove it.  Paul pleaded with God to free him from the torment that He was experiencing and God’s response was “no”.

    The reality that we learn from Paul here is that sometimes God is silent. Sometimes, God says “no,” as he did with Paul.  However, God also states:

    “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

    Paul turns his attention to God’s power, not just to remove the thorn, but he relies on that power to work through the pain of the thorn. Paul says, “he delights in his weakness, in persecution, in hardships and difficulties, he says, it’s because when he, Paul is weak, then, he is truly strong by the power of God.”

    God will not grant our every request. He will not take away every pain. But He will always be there to gently wrap us in His arms of love, wiping our tears and giving us the strength and motivation to press on.

  • Ep. 1 // The Art of Civility

    In such a divided culture it seems like simple conversations have become more and more difficult to have. Bryce & Mark talk about the need for civil conversation, even in times of disagreement and the Christians calling to put our faith mission before all else.

  • Photo Credit eberhard grossgasteiger
    Be still and know

    Ryan Connelly // Psalm 46:10 // “Be still, and know that I am God…” – Psalm 46:10

    At the end of the day, Is God everything you need? Is He enough? Our natural response to any sort of trouble in life is to ask “why?” Why did the results come back positive? Why is my marriage failing? Why does evil exist?

    Earlier this year, I lost a dear friend. He was on his way to London to record an album, but later fell into cardiac arrest while on the plane and passed away shortly after landing in London. I will never forget the moment I received that text message. I was fuming on the inside. I knew my friend was face-to-face with Jesus, but it just wasn’t right. It was in that moment I made a decision that I was not going to allow these other voices in my head to take over my emotions, heart and mind. This was the moment my faith got real.

    I drove to our worship space, turned on worship music, grabbed my Bible and began to declare who God was in the midst of the storm waging in my heart. I told God that I wasn’t leaving until his peace fell upon me. I ended up on my knees listening for His still voice.

    The first verse in Psalm 46 says that God is not only our refuge and strength, but that He is our PRESENT help in times of trouble. Did you catch that? He is PRESENT in your circumstances. Even now as you sit reading this let God be your refuge and strength. Don’t fear the storms just because you hear it roar.

    God met me in that moment when I was...

  • photo credit fireskystudios.com

    Dillon Barber  // Ephesians 2:10 // As a hobby woodworker, I have thoroughly enjoyed the recent trend of using reclaimed wood for furniture and home decorating.  Barn wood, fence boards, even pallets can be reclaimed and repurposed in thousands of creative ways.  As much as I like the rustic reclaimed look, I am even more attracted to the metaphor it offers. 

    Just as a carpenter or craftsman salvages an old piece of lumber, God is in the process of reclaiming human beings.  Each of one of us was created to live in a loving, intimate relationship with God.  We were created with purpose and intent.  Yet sin has broken that relationship and disrupted God’s purpose.  We bear the scars of that sin in our lives and stories.  Just like rusty nail holes, dry rot, and deep cracks, we have broken hearts, broken relationships, hurts and hang-ups that have become a part of who we are. 

    The good news is that God is reclaiming us.  By the blood of Jesus on the cross and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, we are being made new again.  God is removing the dry rot, sanding down the rough edges and reshaping us into something different, new and beautiful.   We are being reclaimed and made into something useful for God’s kingdom work.  We may carry some of our scars through the rest of our lives, but instead of ugly wounds, God uses them to demonstrate his power of redemption in our lives.  By God’s grace, our wounds become part of the character that makes us beautiful and usable by Him. 

    “For we are Gods’ workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God...

  • Suffering & God’s Promises

    Jordan Randall // 1 Peter 5:10 // Some years ago while I was in college, I experienced what you might call a crisis. I lost my job, my apartment and my car. With the thought of homelessness looming over my head, I dove into God’s word searching for answers.

    For months after that, night after night, I read through scripture page after page. Then one night, I opened my bible right to this verse:

    “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”- 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)

    In that instant, I knew I had my answer. As I read it over and over, I came to realize that God has just promised me that I am going to walk through difficult circumstances. However, He followed it up with another promise. That God himself is going to be the one that brings me out of the turmoil.

    I’ve held onto that as a life verse ever since.

    What about you? Have you walked through suffering? More importantly, have you discovered any one of God’s promises, like 1 Peter 5:10 that will sustain you through rough patches in life? If not, I would encourage you to adopt 1 Peter 5:10 as yours.

    Live in the reality that while we will have to suffer, you can be encouraged that the God of all grace will be there to walk through it with you. It’s a promise.

  • Photo by Jeffrey Wing @jrwing
    Welcoming the Stranger

    Leviticus 19:33-34 //  Immigrant: a person who comes to live long term in a foreign country. This is the definition of the word but in our culture it has become much more. National security. Political positioning. Cultural Identity. Walls.  Fear. Immigration is now a buzzword in our society. But what does God’s Word say about it?

    “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. – Leviticus 19:33-34

    We may have never seen the word immigrant in Scripture, but many times we see the terms sojourner, alien, stranger in Scripture. All of these come from the Hebrew word ger. The meaning of this word in Hebrew is “a foreign-born inhabitant of Israel, a newcomer lacking inherited rights.” This word occurs 92 times in the Scriptures, and the command to welcome the stranger is one of the most repeated in the Old Testament.

    As we look at the command to welcome the stranger in Scripture, may we look for practical ways to love our neighbors, protect the vulnerable, and welcome the stranger.

    The Lord watches over the sojourners;
    he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

    Psalm 146:9

  • Soul Rest

    Rev. Phil Christiansen  // Matthew 11:28-30 // Balance is a myth. Who do you know personally, that’s living a balanced life? Who isn’t frantically running from one thing to the next, ceaselessly pushing to achieve, accomplish or acquire more? Who isn’t longing for some sense of stability and assurance that the hurry-scurry is worth it?

    Whether you’re a student racing from class to class, extracurricular, work, homework, interspersed with heaps of social media…or you’re a parent raising munchkins, shopping, changing, picking-up, playing, hauling to the doctor, school, practice, game, or dance and still find time for you spouse…or you’re an empty-nester working harder than ever, trying to figure out how to lovingly guide young-adult children, care for aging, ailing parents, and nurture your marriage (now that you have all this “time”)…balance is elusive. There’s always a stretch in a new direction and balancing it all is fleeting, at best.

    What if it’s not really about balance, but about rest? Not lazy-day, sunny afternoon, vacation kind of rest (though that’s great!)—but SOUL REST. Only Jesus makes that possible. When He says, “Take my yoke upon you…” it’s an invitation to intimate relationship and the deepest rest possible. Even while the world swirls around you, Jesus promises that if you will stay very near to Him—like oxen yoked together, teamwork style—that you’ll find rest: SOUL REST.

    Stop chasing the myth. Instead, stay close to Jesus and find the rest you long for as you partner with Him each day.

  • Prayer During

    Josiah O’laughlin  // Ephesians 3:16 // Nobody likes conflict. There isn’t a time in my life where I thought; “You know what… I think I am going to make my social life harder.”  I believe we all strive to have deep worthwhile relationships, but one thing that keeps us from that goal is the “drama.”  If we had just the good parts of the friendship it would be so much easier right?

    As a friend, I believe we experience greater bonds when we choose to engage in conflict with Godly help. I cannot control the other persons response or feelings, but I can add value to the conflict in real time as it’s happening. How? I find that if I am praying for the Holy Spirit to guide us, something supernatural tends to happen.  If my heart in conflict can align with God’s heart the outcome will be far greater than either person could’ve made happen. The verse that comes to mind:

    I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.”- Ephesians 3:16

    You hear that?  Call on His spirit and we will be strengthened even in the moments of conflict. It works… Try it.  Pray for peace.  Pray for each of you to not see it as a win or lose.  Pray to let the spirit work in you both, and to communicate as God would have you. Pray your relationship would be fortified. Watch what God does.  God wants it and so do you.

  • Spirit Filled Living

    Mark Shoquist  // Ephesians 5:18 // Have you wondered why some professing Christians don’t look any different from unbelievers? It’s likely because they aren’t living a Spirit-filled life.

    The moment we come to faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit immediately comes to dwell within us. Being indwelt with the Spirit is a one-time, wonderful event that lasts for eternity.

    However, the Bible also tells us to continually be filled with the Spirit, which means to allow the Spirit full access to empower and direct us. It’s different from being indwelt with the Spirit.

    Since I’m a chocolate lover, I’ll use the analogy of chocolate milk to explain the difference. Think of your life as a glass of milk and the Spirit as chocolate syrup. Being indwelt is like generously pouring chocolate into a glass of milk. All the ingredients are fully present to make a delicious glass of chocolate milk. However, unless you stir the chocolate, enabling it to have full influence over the milk, the milk will only continue to taste…well, like milk. Stirring the chocolate is like being filled with the Spirit.

    To take the analogy further, notice the milk doesn’t “muster up” the taste of chocolate on its own. Instead, the chocolate does the work. The milk merely needs to make itself fully accessible to the chocolate.  Same goes for the Spirit in our lives.

    Just how chocolate can quickly resettle at the bottom of a glass moments later, we need to continually be filled with the Spirit, moment-by-moment, asking Him to empower and direct our lives.

    Ask the Lord to fill you and empower you right now, as you go about your day today.

  • Finding Security in God

    Patty Herrera  // Psalm 46:1-2 // “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”

    One of our most loved and used toys in Sunday school is an old durable set of cardboard bricks. The kids love fencing themselves in forts and walls.  It becomes both a place of security and adventure.  The best part is exploding out of walls when the teacher is not looking!

    But kids aren’t the only ones looking for security. As adults we also are drawn to build walls of security and refuge. Sometimes we seek refuge through relationships that offer love and acceptance. Other times we rely on our own capabilities and strength. For some it is building a strong bank account. But in the end, these sources of security are as sturdy and reliable as cardboard bricks.

    The only sure refuge in life is found in God.  Throughout scripture God has called us to explode out of our flimsy walls of self-made security and to embrace a true and lasting refuge in a relationship with his Son Jesus. The great thing is that he has done all the work for us through Christ’s death on our behalf. Trading our crumbling facades for his strong, life-giving embrace offers us freedom from fear for the future and a peace in the storms of today. Let Him be your refuge and strength.

  • Are You Becoming a Better You?

    Dr. Brian Long  // 2 Corinthians 3:18 // My wife Cindy and I are avid Fixer Upper fans. We actually went to visit the Silos, Magnolia Market, Clint’s wood shop, we even ran into Jimmy Don the metal guy.

    Truth be told, we nerd out on a number of different “home improvement” type shows on HGTV and DIY. I’m not sure of the roots of our addiction, but there is just something about seeing the beauty that can be created out of neglected, outdated, overlooked homes.

    What’s more thrilling however, is experiencing the beauty that God can create out of bruised, banged up, broken lives. The God of the Bible is a life renovator! When you surrender your life to his capable craftsmanship as forgiver and leader, he brings beauty from ashes, strength from shame, and a fruitful life from those who feel lost.

    The Bible says, As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him” (2 Corinthians 3:18-The Living Bible). In other words, God is remodeling your life to look like Jesus.

    I love the “big reveal” at the end of the show. What’s more profound is God’s big reveal of redemption in our lives. Philippians 1:6 promises, “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (The Living Bible).

    Are you ready to see your fixer upper?

  • True Present Connection

    VIDEO // We live in a culture that is distracted. Bombarded by countless to-do’s, caught up in work or pursuing our dreams, our phones stealing our attention everyday, we are consumed. Pastor Sam comes into the studio to talk about the plague of endless business and what we can do to stop, breathe, and become more present in life.

  • The Christian Response To Evil

    VIDEO // Our society is divided. Hate is prevalent. In recent weeks past we’ve seen police officers attacked and violence erupt between white supremacists and those who oppose them. Is this a government issue? Is this a free-speech issue? What is the response of the Christ follower? What is the Biblical view of racism and hate? In the CoTF Studio Pastor Mark and Pastor Doug discuss the underlying cause of the hate in our nation and three important ways the Christian can make positive contribution in the fight against hate.