Randy's Reflections
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November 28, 2016, 4:00 PM

Pastor Randy's December Reflection


The fall colors are finally out and the air has turned crisp. Autumn has finally arrived in California, but we are also just a few days from the month of December. In Iowa, fall settled in by late September and we often had snow by October. But regardless of the weather, we are moving toward the great anniversary of our Savior’s birth.

 

This year as I have thought about Christmas, I have reflected on the significance of the birth of Jesus. Why was it important for this child to have been born in a humble shed or cave over two thousand years ago? Why did Jesus come to earth and what is our role in this event?

 

In our tradition we rely on the Bible to give us information and to help us be transformed in light of God’s plans for us. The Bible’s first five books, called the “Torah,” or the instruction, or the teaching, were given to the people of God, the Jews. Yet the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures don’t end there. We also have the “Prophets” and the “Writings.” Some of the books which make up these two additional groups are historical books, some are poetic books, and some are commentaries on the lives of certain Jewish believers.

 

I believe all the writings are inspired by God and are there to help us reconnect with our divine creator. This is also why Jesus came. Jesus came not to correct us about our failure to keep the laws, nor to institute a new religion, but to provide us with a way to experience a change in our lives. Jesus came to help us be transformed. He not only gave us numerous examples in his life, but he gave us the Holy Spirit, the one to come after him, to give us the insight, the courage, and the power to be transformed.

 

As we gather together in a safe community, one that accepts us in our brokenness, with all our failed dreams and fears, we gather to reflect, embrace, and strive to become who God calls us to be. It is through the Holy Spirit that we can become more like Jesus. This is why Jesus came to earth to make it possible for us become transformed into whom God calls us to be.

 

This Christmas season we will be looking at Isaiah 9:6 as our Advent verse. We will reflect on who Jesus was, is and will ever be. To help us do this, Joan and I have provided everyone who attends JKPC with an advent devotional booklet that focuses on the different names used to describe Jesus. During our days on this earth we will never be fully like Jesus;  we are not God in the flesh, but we can seek to be like Jesus, to be God’s representatives, God’s ambassadors to this world, sharing his love, compassion, and hope for this present life and the future still to come.

 

As we explore who Jesus is this Christmas, let us see, hear, and experience the one who came to free us from our past so we can live into the future with insight, courage, and compassion.

 

Christmas Blessings,

 

Pastor Randy

 

 

 




November 13, 2016, 8:42 PM

Randy's Reflections November Newsletter 2016


Give thanks to God, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1

November is a pivotal month for JKPC. This is a month where we remember to give thanks. We give thanks because

we “gain” an hour on the first Sunday of the month, November 6. We give thanks for people willing to take the “Discovery Class,” on the first two Sundays of this month, to explore our faith together. In that exploration we can get to know other
attenders of JKPC as we grow deeper in our faith. We also give thanks as we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday, but a reminder to whom we owe our greatest gratitude, a God who is always with us. We also give thanks for the opportunity to pledge a portion of our financial resources to the ministry of JKPC. Finally, we give thanks on the last Sunday of the month when we celebrate the beginning of the Christian year, the First Sunday of Advent, November 27. This will be the first Sunday of four before Christmas, the celebration of our Lord’s birth, Emmanuel - God with us.

In our church services we are exploring the stories of faith found in the Old Testament recorded in Daniel and Esther. We witness the believers in God who are stretched in their faith. They respond with the resilience and confidence in a God who is committed to them even more than they are committed to their God. Though these believers lived long ago, they are an inspiration for us today and for all-world Christians. Especially those whom we lift up in prayer on November 6, the day we acknowledge the “Persecuted Church.” There are Christians across the global who are persecuted for their faith. We all have some hard and difficult times, but there are people who, because they profess to be Christian, are jailed or tortured because of that faith. We also give thanks for their witness.

The amazing and wondrous thing about God is that He receives our gratitude, Whether it be for a Thanksgiving turkey or for the courage to stand up for our faith. No matter what path we are treading we can give God thanks. We thank God for walking with us through good and tough times.

One other important thing about thankfulness at JKPC is that in our worship service we are now spending some time acknowledging God’s goodness with “Words of Praise.” This part of the service helps us be more aware of those things which bring us great blessing. We all have moments of challenge, but as we remember for what we are thankful, we gain the confidence that God will help us meet that challenge. At the end of the month as we begin advent we remember that our God is always with us, Emmanuel.

So this month remember that for which you are thankful, knowing that our God is a great and gracious God. And in our thankfulness let us use more than words, but also show our gratitude through our actions toward others, for actions always speak louder than words.

Thanking God with you, Pastor Randy 




October 1, 2016, 10:21 AM

Pastor Randy's October Reflection

Sing to the Lord a new song,Image result for fall picture pumpkin

for he has done marvelous things.    Psalm 98:1

 

I have always liked the fall weather, the briskness of the early mornings and early evenings, the changing of the colors on the trees, and the harvesting of pumpkins and squash for decorations and special meals. I have to admit that I miss having four seasons in the year. Though having two seasons makes for greater flexibility to go outdoors, four seasons can be very satisfying.

One reason I like the four seasons is when the snow comes we have to rest from being productive all the time. We have to adjust our schedule and take longer to get to work and spend less time outside, which means we can spend more time around the house and perhaps even just sit a bit more. We have time to reflect and think about any changes we would like to make in our life, maybe even ask God what changes we should make.

Since we only have two seasons in the Bay Area, we have to carve out a section of our day for taking time to listen to the world outside of us, the world within us, even to listen to God who is in our midst. This is an important part of growing our spiritual side. If we don’t take time to listen to our bodies, our friends, our world and God, we will miss some special opportunities to experience the world God made because of the extreme flurry activities in which we are involved.

I mentioned last week that people in our nation believe there is a spiritual side to our lives, 95% of the people believe that, but most don’t feel compelled to be connected to a church. Only about 50% attend church more than three times a year. There are a lot of good reasons for that feeling, but what they are missing are some very special opportunities to hear God. God is not only evident in our creation around us, but also in the people we meet and the events in which we participate.

Fall can be a great time to grow in our awareness of the spiritual side of life. It can be a great time to not only be aware, but to stretch the spiritual side of our life by trying new things. We have some great opportunities happening at JKPC. ROCK, for kindergarten through fifth grade, is a great time on Sunday afternoons for the younger kids to experience God. We also have youth groups, both Middle School and High School. The new Adult Education class will help you explore the spiritual resources available for growing in your faith, just to mention some of the opportunities we offer currently.

Another exciting part of JKPC are the new people attending worship. Now is the time to make some new friends. Now is the time to participate in new activities at church. Now is the time to stretch yourself in life-with-God opportunities. Chose one new God-thing to do this fall. 

Take advantage of something new this fall. Even if we only have two seasons, this can be a new season for you and your spiritual growth. This can be a season of new commitment to some new friends. This can be a new commitment to become the person God created you to be. Let us celebrate together as we become more aware of God around us and God in our midst as we live out a new season in our lives.

New Fall Blessings to you,

 

Pastor Randy

 

 


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