Women's Weekend at Sandy Cove 2019: Fearless



The women's weekend at Sandy Cove proved to be another opportunity to grow closer to God and to the other women in our church. Featured speaker, Dr. Veirdre Jackson, started out the preaching on Friday night with an object lesson to help us see the layers of obstacles that stand in the way of us being close to GOD.  We all have "life issues" we are dealing with, and we discussed how those life issues often lead to changes in our behavior and then behaviors inevitably lead to toxic self-talk. Dr. Jackson used the story of the Woman with the Issue of Blood in Mark 5 to give an example of how breakthrough comes when we start changing our inner conversations and decide to go the LORD with our issues. When we have tried and failed to fix ourselves we understand that our hope and faith is in His healing power. But it all starts with what we say to ourselves. We must choose to get close to Him, give it to Him and trust Him.

Saturday morning's message was about how to develop a fearless faith. Dr. Jackson talked about the primary emotions LOVE and FEAR and how every other emotion stems from these two. When life "rocks" us we have the choice to be grounded in love or fear. Dr. Jackson highlighted the woman with the demon-possessed daughter (Matthew 15:22-28) who came to Jesus for her healing as an example of fearless faith. Initially, Jesus told the woman that He couldn't help her, but she wouldn't take NO for an answer. She trusted in who she knew God to be. The most repeated command in the Bible is DO NOT FEAR. We talked about the different ways we commonly respond to fear (Forget Everything And Run, Finding Excuses And Reasons, Failure Expected And Received, and Fake Everything And Repeat).  The challenge was the Face Everything And Rise in the face of fear.  In addition to being a gifted speaker, Dr. Jackson used brain science to show us how our beliefs control our behavior.  Our "homework" was to come up with a Power Plan so that we can prepare for life challenges before they happen.  For me personally I renewed my commitment to studying and memorizing God's Word daily and living a life of praise and worship regardless of my circumstances and feelings.

The Saturday night message was about joy and how God brings us joy as a result of worship.  Dr. Jackson explained how God has used dance as a way for her to worship Him and to lift her out of some deep depression in her life.  The story of the Woman at the Well was used as an example of how we need to be vulnerable with God and with others.  When we are honest with others and tell our story that's when shame's power is broken in our lives.  We need each other, and the Enemy uses shame to keep us in isolation.  Our challenge was to take one step of obedience after another...focus on the what, not the how.  God's job is the how, we just need to worry about what to do next.

On Sunday morning, Dr. Jackson discussed transformation, and how we must train in the valley so we are prepared to move higher in our faith. Just like runners must be consistent in their training, our spiritual lives are meant to be lived with consistency as the key to our faith being strong and sustained over time. We read the story of Eljah in I Kings 19 coming off of a mountaintop experience/life victory and then running away and hiding to show how sometimes we want to just quit.  He was exhausted, so an angel of God appeared to Him and commanded him first to Eat and then Rest. We discussed self-care and how we sometimes can burn out, even when we are serving God. Our challenge was to find training partners and surround ourselves with a team of like-minded women who are fully committed to developing a strong fearless faith.

The messages were extremely powerful all weekend and I felt confirmed in many things God was already showing me before I arrived (my desire to praise Him at all times, rest in His love, know Scripture, trust God's character, be bold in my faith, and find deeper friendships). One of the highlights of the weekend for me, was identifying two women in my life (one at church and one at work) that are fully committed to the LORD and willing to be vulnerable with me and let me be fully vulnerable with them. God worked as only He can do, literally obliterating the small fears I was holding onto as I was walking out the door of the last session. He is REAL, and He LOVES us so much and He makes Himself evident when we trust and obey. For any women seeking to grow closer to God, I highly recommend attending next year's Women's Weekend. It might just bring the breakthrough you've been looking for.

– Faith Ralph


Facing the Real Giant: Men's Retreat 2019 Recap

Facing the Real Giant: Men’s Retreat 2019 Recap

A ministry highlight of our year is our annual Men’s Retreat. This year, our retreat was held at Eden Resort in Lancaster, PA. After checking in to our rooms on Friday night, 40+ men, mostly from Trinity, gathered in one of the meeting rooms for our first session. We were introduced to John Schmid, a musician from Ohio, who played familiar country tunes and shared stories from his time ministering to inmates through music. 

After a time of music, Pastor Doug Smith, senior pastor at Sharptown UMC and brother of Ron Smith, shared his first message with us. David and his story was the centerpiece of our theme for the retreat, so Doug started by spending time in the Bible looking at David’s humble beginnings as a shepherd. Even though David was often overlooked, God called him “ a man after his own heart.” David’s story reminded us that just like David, God could take nobodies like us and make us into somebodies. Man may look on the outside, but God looks at our heart.

After Doug shared, Patrick closed us out with some worship music before we broke into small groups to talk more about the message. It was great to spend time together with some of the guys and talk about what God was teaching us. After small groups, we settled into our rooms for the night.

We had an early start on Saturday morning, as we carpooled to Shady Maple for a giant breakfast buffet. After stuffing ourselves with omelets, pancakes, and even chocolate chip cookies, we waddled back to our cars to head back to the resort and get ready for our morning session.

During our session, John started things off with some old country tunes followed by some praise music with Patrick. Then it was time for Doug to continue our study of David. For this session, Doug shared about the familiar story of David defeating the giant, Goliath. By outward appearance, David had no shot at beating Goliath, but through David’s faith in God, he was able to face his fears and defeat the giant. Just like David, we need to face our fears and giants in our lives. If our hearts are in line with God’s like David’s was, those giants that we face become dwarfs and we become the giant.

You could really sense the spirit moving as Doug finished his message and Patrick started to lead us in the song “Surrounded” (Fight My Battles). As we repeated the words “it may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you,” we were reminded that we are not alone in our battle with our giants and that we can have victory in Jesus. Check out a video clip of us singing below.

After we finished with worship, we broke into our small groups to talk more about the message. After we finished, it was time for some rest and relaxation. Some of us went bowling at a nearby bowling alley or traveled to Cabelas, while others swam in the pool or relaxed around the resort. 

After free time, we cleaned up and reunited in the hotel restaurant for a dinner buffet. After stuffing ourselves with Prime Rib and other delicious entrees, we were treated to a brief concert with John as he played popular Johnny Cash tunes and other classic country numbers and shared stories. We then wrangled everyone up to take a group picture.

After a short break, it was time for our evening session. Patrick started us off with some familiar praise songs and then it was time for our third part of our study of David with Pastor Doug. We covered the time in David’s story when he was forced to flee for his life and hide in a cave. David was at a low point and he didn’t want anyone to know about it. Doug talked about how In order for us to get out of the “cave” that we find ourselves in, we have to admit that we are powerless and we need God in our lives. The more transparent that we are with God and with others, the more that they can be there to help us. After Doug’s message, we broke into our small groups again to talk about how we can be more transparent with each other. After we finished our discussion, it was time to call it a night.

On Saturday morning, we gathered in the hotel restaurant for our final meal of the retreat; a breakfast buffet, of course! Once we finished stuffing ourselves at breakfast, we checked out and then gathered in the meeting room. In our last session, Pastor Doug talked about David’s time as king and his affair with Bathsheba. David was at the peak of his popularity and yet he was vulnerable to sin. He let sin reside in his heart and rationalized the poor choices that he made, but as Doug shared, we never sin in private. Sin not only affects us, but it affects others. It is not until we repent that we can restore our relationship with the Lord. God wants us to have a clean heart, but he wants our whole heart. Not part of it. 

At the conclusion of our last session, we had a time of Holy Communion and shared the sacraments together as Patrick played on the keyboard. A perfect ending to a great weekend of relaxation, learning, faith building, and bonding together as brothers in Christ. Thanks to all the men who joined us for the weekend. We look forward to seeing you at our next Men’s Retreat. For more pictures from the retreat, click here.

  • Mike Ralph, Communications Director 

For more video content from our Men’s Retreat, check out our YouTube channel here.