Randy's Reflections
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September 1, 2016, 12:00 AM

Pastor Randy's September Reflection

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”                                 Matthew 5: 13

 

In the staff meeting today we talked about what a great summer of activities and worship it has been, but we are all anxious to get back to a regular routine. It was a wonderful worship celebration in June when we acknowledged new leadership for the coming year, four new elders and four new deacons. Vacation Bible School, as always, was fantastic with over 220 kids and 100, or so, volunteers. The set design was amazing, the songs were great and we had an extravagant worship celebration at the end of July. The quick turn around for the staff and participants the very next week to head off to Mexico to build a house supervised by Amor was mind boggling, but very satisfying. Meanwhile, five from our church spent over ten days in South Africa serving with Amor by building relationships and houses in 40-50 degree weather. The worship service on the 21st of August with slides, dialogue, and videos about both mission trips was fabulous.

So now we head into the fall, to catch our breath, really? Well actually, we have some great things planned for fall and please keep attuned to the newsletters, bulletin announcements  and Wednesday updates to hear about them. But the fall is also a time to re-establish, or establish, for the first time, some routines to help us grow in our Christian faith.

Over the summer we explored listening. We began with “The One Who Listens,” that is God listening to us; this is evidenced in Exodus when God hears his chosen peopled being oppressed. Through the rest of the summer we looked at listening to God, scripture, creation, others and as a life practice. This fall I want us to move ahead in our faith by exploring the “Primary Practices” of the followers of Jesus.

I have divided these practices into four categories; worship, discipleship, community life, and service. They could also be categorized as “Loving God,” most evidenced in worship. “Listening to God” as we seek to grow in our faith by following God’s guidance for us. “Listening to Others,” worked out most effectively by participating in community life. Finally, “Loving Others” as we live out our faith in service.

It is one thing to say we believe in Jesus it is another to live it out. It is one thing to give lip service, it is another to give hand and foot service. True commitment is visible when we show we have a heart for service, a heart which is filled with God’s love poured out to the world around us.

So as we seek to find a routine for this fall, let’s be sure it includes faith practices; let’s be sure to spend time in worship each week; listen to God in prayer and scripture as we seek his guidance for our lives. Let us not isolate ourselves, but connect and interact with other believers around us. Finally, let us look for ways we can serve the community in which we live on a weekly basis.

This is how we maintain, or recover, our saltiness. Let us seek to become the people God has called us to be by practicing the primary ways God has given us to become the salt of the earth.

Seeking to be salty with you,

Pastor Randy McGrady-Beach

 




July 20, 2016, 12:49 PM

Afterword "Bestsellers"


So on Sunday I mentioned that the "Harry Potter" books have sold more than 450 million copies since its first publication in 1997. What I forgot to mention is that though this is an amazing number of books sold which provide entertainment for millions of people, in the USA the Bible sells about 40 million copies a year. So that would mean in that same period of time 800 million Bibles were sold, and that is in the USA alone. Also a recent survey indicates that 88 percent of the homes in the USA have a bible.

So even though we are influenced throughout the world by the "Harry Potter" written word, the Bible, God's written word, has an even greater influence. This is a good thing since the Potter books are for entertainment, where as the bible helps us reconnect to the author of this world and gives us not only encouragement and direction, but insight to the workings of the entire Universe.

So let us not neglect in reading the inspired words of God as we traverse this world.

Blessings and happy reading to you,

Pastor Randy

 




July 15, 2016, 7:01 PM

Randy's Reflections "Shaped by Forgiveness"


Forgiveness comes in all kinds of shapes and packages. When I think of forgiveness I think of the ability to start over. I think of an opportunity to begin again. Recently I experienced forgiveness with Joan’s car. We decided to go to the Spirit West Concert in Concord last June. It was a looonnngg concert, good, but looonnngg, so we went two hours after it had begun. Once there we still had four hours of concert and we got to see some bands we had hoped to see.

    Since we arrived after it had begun we didn’t have a lot of places to choose for parking. We found one about a half mile out, not too bad. I thought, hey, when we leave it will be easier if I just head straight out and not have to back out of the space. Of course that meant I needed to back into the space. It was between two cars and there was a light pole toward which I backed.

    It was kind of snug and there was a concrete pylon surrounding the light pole. I slowly eased back into the space and once I thought I was just about to touch the pylon I stopped. A dead stop. I was not going to move any further, because I did not want to provide any chance of denting Joan’s car.

    We got out and I went back to check the rear end of the car. Did you guess what I saw? I was not only snug up against the pylon, but it looked as if I had wrapped a small portion of the bumper around it. It wasn’t wrapped very much, but it definitely was indented. I felt embarrassed. I felt incompetent. I felt badly that I had just put the first dent in Joan’s car.

    As we walked up to the concert I went over in mind how could this have happened? I was very careful when I backed up yet some how I had missed hearing or sensing I was already at the touch point of the pylon before I backed up another small amount.

    After the concert we drove home. I apologized to Joan and told myself that I had really messed up. I felt really badly.

    The next morning I went out to look at the bumper, and it was fine. It was as if there had never been a dent in that bumper at all. The only thing I can think is that the plastic went back to its original shape once it was warmed up in the sun.

    When we have to ask forgiveness of someone we would like everything to go back the way it was before we gossiped about that person, or before we yelled at our neighbor, or before we intentionally broke someone else’s property, yet we can’t. That person will often have scars from that circumstance or that event or that painful memory. When someone asks forgiveness of us it is the same thing. 

    We will have some tell tale sign that we were hurt. It is kind of like my truck when it gets dented it doesn’t go back to its original shape. It no longer looks as good as new. It is far from when I first bought it nine years ago. It bears scars, but it still runs, it still does the job it was made to do, getting me from place to place.

    So when we forgive others we may not be as good as new, but we can have a restored relationship. We may not forget completely the hurtful event, but we can ask God to help us move forward. We can grant forgiveness and we can also ask others to forgive us. I think as God’s people we are more like my truck than Joan’s bumper. Let us not let those dings and dents hamper our growth as a Christian as we learn to follow God’s leading in loving our neighbor as our self, even if we have dents because of them.

 

Being shaped anew by God with you,

Pastor Randy


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