Christmas and Hope

When I was a kid, I loved Christmas.  Everything else in my little world was bleak, cold, and without hope.  Those were the years I usually cried myself to sleep each night because I couldn’t articulate what that big black hole was in the pit of my gut.  But, Christmas was bright, exciting, full of expectation and . . . hope.

  • Hope that my mom would come back.
  • Hope that I wouldn’t be “different” anymore.
  • Hope that I would be warm and secure and loved.
  • Hope that things would be normal again.

I love this definition of hope:

“A future certainty – based on a present reality.”

Thirteen years ago today I preached for the first time at Westside.  Teri and I were wondering if this was the next step for us.  Was this what God had been preparing our hearts for?  We didn’t know for sure at that point, but we KNEW God was directing our steps and He had our highest and best interests in mind – as well as the faithful and precious remnant at the church destined to become Westside.

We had hope . . .

I am so thankful that we trusted God.  I am so grateful for the work God has done in my life since moving to Placerville.  I feel that I am the most blessed man on the planet.  I am thankful for my marriage – Teri and I have grown closer together and stronger in God these last thirteen years.  I am thankful for being used by God to impact hundreds and hundreds of lives at Westside.  I am blown away by God’s goodness – that even during tough times –

He provides, encourages, strengthens and sustains us.

God came through.

He did what He promised.  During my first preach at the old Bee Street building (photo attached) when there were 25 people at church on the Sunday before Christmas . . . God showed me in my mind’s eye a building full of people.  The last service we had there in 2007 was packed out and God had shown me that picture seven years earlier!

Then God gave me a word to “prepare for 300.”  Not long after that – Westside had 300 regular attenders.

God came through again.

God continued to heal marriages, heal bodies of serious diseases including cancers, bad hearts, and other big issues.  We started to see families become healthy and whole again.  We witnessed singles truly blessed by becoming part of our church family.  Businesses thrived in the middle of a recession. But, most of all, folks continued turning to Christ for salvation and a chance for a new life in Him.  A chance for freedom.

Today, we have three services and He continues to bring more folks through our doors who need Jesus and the richness of a healthy church family.  They are finding hope that is real and life changing.

I just can’t tell you in mere words how AWESOME our God is!

Hope is a future certainty . . . not just because of wishful thinking.  It is certain because of what the Lord has already done!  He’s come through in the past – He will come through in the future!  Our vision at Westside is bigger than ever!  It’s not about numbers or buildings – it’s about changed lives . . . folks who are free, forgiven, confident, whole, growing, and making an impact for Jesus in their sphere of influence!

Back to when I was a kid . . .  I loved Christmas because of hope.  Hope that things would be better.  I soon learned that true hope – lasting hope can only come from God.  Jesus alone is our certainty.  That’s why Christmas . . . the celebration of God becoming man . . . can give us hope.  I urge you today to put your trust in the One who can truly give us hope.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Steve 🙂

For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end.    Isaiah 9:6-7

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