Randy's Reflections
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November 28, 2017, 11:52 AM

November Reflections

―God is our refuge and strength, an ever - present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear.‖ Psalm 46

 

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather together and acknowledge the many blessings we have been given. Sometimes being thankful is difficult, especially in the last number of weeks as we witnessed unprecedented natural disasters from hurricanes to wildfires, man inflicted atrocities like we saw in Las Vegas, or heart crushing news like family members who died suddenly at an early age when they had so much promise. When these kind of things happen it is hard to give God thanks, especially when it seems so much calamity surrounds us.

Last Sunday I talked a bit about the Reformation of the 16th century which emphasized three concepts: grace alone, faith alone, scripture alone. Grace alone highlights the freedom we are given in knowing Jesus on a personal basis because of God’s grace. Faith alone means we have an opportunity to receive this grace through faith, not because we have earned it. Scripture alone refers to the privilege we have of learning about our God and experiencing transformation due to the access we have to God’s word. These three gifts from God are available to everyone, but often we forget what amazing gifts they are.

Another trifecta we have from the Reformation is guilt, grace and gratitude. Scripture and the Holy Spirit reveal to us our sin, those times where we have failed to be the people God created us to be. Once we see where we have sinned we experience guilt for allowing that sin to govern our lives.

We then have an opportunity to ask God to take that sin away, and all its consequences, and start fresh, we are given the opportunity to confess our sin. It is in that confession that we are assured that God will forgive us; this is true grace . We don't earn that forgiveness, it is given to us freely and by God’s own initiative. This is God’s doing not ours.

Receiving forgiveness causes us to experience gratitude . Without the revelation of our sin by the Holy Spirit, through scripture, or some other God - given experience, we would not understand our need for God’s grace. And if we didn’t understand our inability to achieve that grace we wouldn’t truly be grateful for the most important gift God can give us, forgiveness.

So these are some of the important spiritual gifts we have received from the Reformation. But gratitude does not have to be just for our freedom from sin, it also can be for our church community, our friends, and

our family. We can be grateful for a host

of other things as well.

 

So during this Thanksgiving month, let’s truly count our blessings. It may not change our life circumstances with the tragedies around us, but we have been blessed. Let’s take a moment each day and give God thanks for one thing for which we are grateful. May we also remember that ―every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows‖ James 1:17.

God is our refuge and strength, of whom or what shall I be afraid? Na - da.

Thankful for Jesus with you,

Pastor Randy 




November 2, 2017, 4:10 PM

Follow-up to the October 29 Sermon

 Sunday I shared about the importance of being Fully Present like Jesus was to those who came to him for comfort, healing, or to be fed. I think that listening still seems to be the primary challenge in my life so I wanted to share with you the rest of the quote I found by Henri Nouwen. Please take time to read it, and if it touches a chord in your soul, be challenged to seek to be known as a listener. This is the true beginning for anyone who wants to emulate the Lord and Savior of the Universe. Read and listen.

      To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

      Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves.

     Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you. 

                                                                                              Henri Nouwen

 

Blessings to you this Thanksgiving season,

Pastor Randy




October 26, 2017, 2:55 PM

October Reflection

In our current sermon series we are discovering how to more accurately understand who this Jesus, the Son of God, is. We are looking at Jesus’ seven “I am” statements in the gospel of John. We began with “I am the bread of life,” bread being the very essence of life. This substance was used in the Passover Matzah, which is pierced, scarred, and hidden away for a time, before it is brought back to leave the final taste of the feast on one’s tongue.

This same substance took a different form during the years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness; it came from the sky to feed the “people of God” on a daily basis. This was called Manna, which means “What is it?” This same foundational substance was mentioned in the familiar Passover Haggadah but was given new meaning as Jesus shared the Passover with his disciples before he was betrayed, beaten, bullied, and hung on a cross for all our transgressions.

This was also the substance given to Abraham after a battlefield victory by a local priest named Melchizedek. In the time of Jesus again it was blessed, broken and multiplied when thousands of people had nowhere to turn for their meal away from home. Finally this was the same substance that Jesus gave the disciples for a resurrection breakfast after they were done fishing.

Bread is an appropriate symbol, metaphor, or image for any who long for nourishment both physically and spiritually. It is faith, that which spiritual bread feeds, which brings comfort, consolation, and challenge for us both now and the future. Bread is a world wide commodity, sometimes made in an oven, sometimes baked on a stone, and sometimes in a make shift pan with only coals to heat the raw ingredients.

“I am the light of the World” is the second “I am” statement Jesus uses. Light is that which chases away darkness and accompanies warmth from the largest ball of fire we can see with the naked eye. Light exposes darkness and makes clear what we face and have to overcome if we are not to let darkness overwhelm us. Grayish, fuzzy images become more clear and colors pop out with the light of the morning dawn as it creeps over the mountains and onto the land.

Light can help us to physically see, but it also is a great metaphor for a sudden brilliant understanding of what was once unknown, but is now clearly apparent. It can provide the environment for growth which occurs to those who are maturing in knowledge and wisdom, the application of our growing knowledge.

Light is what shines on all that is good and will guide us to a vista which when viewed from the eyes of God will take our breath away, perhaps even the very breath God gave us, but not without first freeing us from the gloom and darkness that can envelop the soul.

Jesus is all that is good in the midst of a battered and bruised world begging for relief and restoration. We are the ones who can share the light and the bread. We are the ones who can help dispel the darkness and ease the hunger. Let us receive the bread and light of life, not just for ourselves, but for all who yearn for something that is best when shared and celebrated.

May all your doubts be made clear and all your hopes be fully fed.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Randy

 


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