Randy's Reflections
March 2, 2017, 12:00 AM

Lenten Word of the Day for March 1: Community


Last year I shared a new word with you every day with an accompaying short reflection. For some of you it was helpful as you walked through Lent towards our great celebration on Easter. This year I found a book by the former Moderator of the 2008 General Assembly of the (PCUSA) Bruce Reyes-Chow, who is a member of our Presbytery. I will use words from his 40 Days, 40 Prayers, 40 Words book to stimulate our spiritual thinking during this Lenten Season.

Community

Last Sunday I mentioned three subject areas which were referred to most in our survey question "What is going well at JKPC?" The one area I didn't say, which was the most frequently mentioned, was Fellowship or our emphasis on Community. This is a hallmark of our church family. This is what draws people to JKPC, that is our friendly openness to each other, be it new friends or long time companions. How can we be a better welcoming community so those who don't have a place so they can find a home in our midst? Let's seek new ways we can welcome and care for anyone who walks on to our campus at JKPC.

When I live believing my life is the only life that matters, God, remind me that the faces of others reflect your face, the struggles of others bring your liberation to my life, and the kindness of others speaks your grace into my soul. Amen.

 

Peace to you,

Pastor Randy




March 1, 2017, 1:00 PM

Pastor Randy's March Reflection


What makes these forty days (minus Sundays) different from any other forty days of the year? Our faith tradition calls this time period Lent. It is a time to reflect on our mortality and consider what changes we think God would like us to make in order to become the person he has called us to be. People often give up something or fast during Lent.

 

Fasting can help people focus on their spiritual health. Whenever they have an inclination for that item from which they wish to abstain, they instead turn their attention to prayer, reading the Bible, or spending time serving others – activities that promote spiritual well-being and growth.

 

Some fast from chocolate, which wouldn’t be my choice, or other candy, or they may fast from soft drinks. This helps them to seek greater physical health as well as spiritual health. Some folks have even fasted from using their electronic devices as often, or from a certain App like “Words with Friends.”

 

Other people add something that will help them focus on their spiritual life. They may try to pray every morning and evening. They may try to have a moment of silence every day for five minutes, just to listen for God speaking to them. They may read through one of the gospels over the forty day period. Last year I sent out a “daily word” with a short reflection for people to use during the Lenten season.

 

This forty day time period begins with an Ash Wednesday service. The service is to help us kick off this reflection period. The service is a more contemplative service than usual. In the service we will have a time of confession, read scripture, and hear a meditation. Toward the end of the service we will have a time to receive ashes either on our forehead or on our hand.

 

Through this Lenten period, over the next six weeks (minus Sundays), we will “Travel with Jesus” as he goes through the wilderness, heals the infirm, proclaims the kingdom, calms the storm, welcomes sinners, outcasts, and the poor, and enters Jerusalem the final week of his life.

 

I am looking forward to sharing with you these journeys of Jesus from mountains to valleys to walking by the sea. He comes not to judge us, but to encourage us and challenge us to care for our spiritual lives that we may look forward to life in his kingdom here on earth as well as his kingdom to come.

 

Blessings this Lenten Season,

Pastor Randy

 




February 1, 2017, 6:04 PM

Pastor Randy's February Reflection


There are different views about what kind of God we worship. Recently I started reading a book called Surrender To Love by David G. Benner. In the first chapter he asks the reader a question: “Imagine God thinking about you. What do you assume God feels when you come to mind?” Ask yourself this question. Take just a moment to reflect how you would answer. Go on, this is not a test, just an opportunity to consider how you think God feels about you. . . .

Some people may answer in words like I saw recently posted on a church sign. It read, “Don’t make me come down there . . .” God. This kind of thinking points to the idea that God is just waiting to zap you for whatever you are doing wrong. It is a threat that you don’t want to see happen. I wonder what kind of expectations that person has for when Jesus returns. Are they hoping that Jesus will overlook all their mistakes, failures and sins? Are they confident that Jesus has already or will cover their sins so they can join the right side? This kind of thinking would cause me to fear ever meeting Jesus, who is supposed to be my Savior.

My concern about such thinking, suggested by the above quote, is that there is no sparing the rod for God’s children. God will make us conform to his will after he punishes us for all that we have done wrong. This would mean that God is a tyrant and we are under constant threat of punishment or even annihilation.

Some people will answer the question that God is feeling compassion for us. God is loving us, just as he told his son when he was baptized, “You are my son, with whom I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). Jesus had done nothing in ministry up to this point, yet God is telling him he is loved, which is how I think God feels about us. If God didn’t love us before we turned to him there would be no reason to sacrifice his son for us, especially when we were still sinners. It isbecause of God’s compassion, mercy, and grace that we can come to him to ask for forgiveness.

C. S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, “A Christian is not a man (sic) who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble - because Christ-life is inside him.” So we, like the Christian Lewis defines, are able to receive the love of God and, because of it, repent. We could respond to the billboard sign with the following quote, “He already did . . .” Signed H.S. (Holy Spirit).

You see, Jesus has already come down here. Jesus has already completed all that needs to be done for us to have a loving relationship with God and to be empowered to live life to the fullest. So know, during this month of February with Valentine’s Day in the middle of it, that you are loved by God and that God has a fondness for you that is beyond belief. This is how God feels about us and is the model for how we should be feeling about ourselves and others. Let us seek to recognize at all times that we are loved by God and that we need to, in turn, love those around us.
 

Celebrating His love with you, Pastor Randy