Randy's Reflections
January 3, 2017, 12:45 AM

Pastor Randy's January Reflection


Our mission is to honor God and follow the Son while loving and serving others.

  Two weeks ago I had my final meeting with the Wells sixth grade girls basketball team. I had the privilege of being their head coach this year. I have been the assistant for the last four, and this year they couldn’t find anyone else so I took on the challenge. I enjoyed getting to watch these young women improve their skills on the basketball court, though I know some of them have never touched a basketball before. It was great to see their confidence and enjoyment when they actually caught a rebound or blocked a shot, or even made a basket.

  At the end of the season they shared some of their highlights with me and I was able to share mine with them. One thing I didn’t share with them, but I think is very important for every coach to do, is to evaluate the program and figure out how it can be better next year.

  This year has been a banner year for JKPC. We had a fantastic year of worship, Easter and Christmas being a definite highlight. We again had more Vacation Bible School attenders than ever before. We not only had a team of JKPCers go to Mexico with Amor, we had five women go to South Africa with Amor also, and both teams built houses. We had a great beginning year barbecue in September, and our Advent services along with the Children’s Pageant were fantastic, not only in attendance, but in presentation.

  So what can we do better for next year? Well, just as we grow and mature as people, so we need to grow and mature in our faith. The mission statement which is stated above is a great statement about our priorities as Christians. As we never tire of doing good by loving and serving others, so we must continue to strive to follow Jesus the Son, but I think we can improve on how we honor God. I think in order to honor God as best we can, we need to know, or at least attempt to understand, who this God is.

  Therefore I am suggesting that we change our mission statement to begin with, “Our mission is to know and to honor God . . .” How can we truly honor God unless we have a glimpse of who this God is? As Presbyterians we believe our primary resource to know God is through scripture. So to follow along with a change in our mission statement we will march our way through Mark the first six months of 2017.

  We have published a booklet which will suggest which chapter to read every week, and I will preach from that chapter in Mark the following Sunday. I will also have a class during the

Christian Education hour to discuss that particular chapter, a class which will include additional information, as well as time for questions and discussion.

  This is how I want to start 2017 - with a renewed commitment to knowing God. During the Lenten season we will have another class which will explore other ways to know God besides just  studying scripture. But more on that later.

So start with me this New Year, and let’s learn more about the God we seek to honor and the Jesus we strive to follow, and listen more closely to the Spirit who prompts us to love and serve others in the name of our God. And may we not only remember our mission statement, but may we become our mission statement. And we will give God the glory. Hallelujah!!!

Pastor Randy

****  This just in, at our last Session meeting we changed our mission statement to read:

  Our mission is to know and honor God and follow the Son
    while loving and serving others.

 

 




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