Randy's Reflections
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

July 4, 2016, 12:22 PM

Randy's Reflections "Listening"

    “Whoever has ears to hear, let then hear.” Luke 14:35


    Last week I was able to spend a day at a seminar entitled “Capturing Kid’s Hearts.” This was put on by the Dublin School District and is a requirement for all employees to attend at some point during their tenure. The purpose of this seminar is to provide tools to help better connect with the kids so the kids will become more engaged in learning.

    One of the areas discussed was active listening. Active listening is more than just using your ears. If we really listen we not only listen with our ears, but we use our eyes and our hearts as well. A reminder to do this is the acronym SOLER. That is to S-sit squarely in front of the person, O- use an open posture, L-lean towards the individual, E- use contact, and R-relax.

    Is this only a good practice for teachers, principals, or staff employees of the school district? Certainly not. It is helpful for use when anyone is talking to us. It helps us give them our full attention. Listening is a skill that all of us could benefit from. When someone is talking to us, it is important to hear what he or she is saying. Each person comes to an issue, a thought or a possible solution from a different perspective. When we listen, we need to not only hear the words that are spoken, but we also need to seek to understand the meaning behind those words.

    This is why listening is so important and also why listening can be so taxing. We need to attend to the tone and the phrasing, as well as to learn the context from which the person is speaking.

    The same is true of our relationship with God.

    Our Mission right now at JKPC is to “Honor God, and follow the Son, while loving and serving others.” I don’t think we can honor God unless we understand who God is. We don’t know what will bring honor to God unless we know God. The way we first learn about God is by listening to the spirit of God, to the scriptures and to others in our faith community. I would suggest that we need to add to our mission statement so it will read, “Our Mission is to know and honor God, as we follow the Son, while loving and serving others.” As we learn who God is, we will better understand how to honor God.

    My next few sermons will focus on listening – listening to God, listening to scripture, listening to nature, listening to others. Listening is so important that God gave us two ears and one mouth.

    Listening is not easy. It takes effort. It takes concentration. It takes understanding. I want us to be able to hear God so we can know God better. This, in turn, will help us learn to love God and since we are to love our neighbor, we also need to learn to listen to our neighbor.

    Our Session is currently trying to determine the best way to move ahead in our ministry at JKPC. We believe there are people who long to have a relationship with God in our community, but we don’t or haven’t taken the time to get to know them.

    How do we best get to know others? We listen. We pay attention to our neighbors. We pay attention to our co-workers. We even pay attention to our family. By “pay attention” I mean we “listen” to them.

    By listening to others we learn to understand them. If we understand them we can then partner with them in their walk on this earth. As we partner with them we can share our ups and downs, our celebrations and our sorrows, our faith and our doubts. If we listen to others we will be able to let them know they are not alone in this world and that we have a God who will always walk with you.

    So as you go into this summer, I invite you to join me in seeking to be a better listener. Not only will we learn more about God, but we may even learn about our neighbor as well.


    Let us who have ears, truly hear. Seeking to listen with you,


    Pastor Randy



May 24, 2016, 6:49 PM

Randy's Reflections "Sin or Sinners"

As I prepare for the lesson on June 12th I am reading the story of the Jesus being anointed, Luke 7: 36-50. In this preparation I have been reading Kenneth Bailey’s book Jesus Through Middle Easter Eyes. Bailey was a long time teacher in Middle East where he not only taught but lived among the culture in which Jesus lived.

    His insight is so amazing that I always learn something new as Bailey takes us inside a culture so different than ours. This story helps us remember that if we focus on sins of others instead of our own sin we lost sight of God’s desire to love us into sainthood.

    In the story the Pharisee evaluates or judges the women as a greater sinner than himself. He doesn’t understand how Jesus can accept the ministrations of such a pariah to society. Yet neither does he understand or at least see, that he has failed to treat Jesus with the cultural hospitality expected, which is an atrocious sin as well.

    Jesus tells a story within his story of two men who both are sinners. There is no way for these sinners to pay their debt, yet the creditor cancels those debts. Jesus asks who loved the creditor more, the one with the smaller debit or the one with the larger debit.

    The Pharisee answers correctly and hopefully sees that both the woman and himself are debtors to God. Jesus wants him to know both are forgiven, but they both must realize their debt.

    Jesus did not come to convict us of our sin, but to offer us an opportunity to lose our sinner identity. There is no one who does not sin, Romans 3:23, but neither is there anyone who can not be forgiven. We must ask God to show us where we have “missed the mark,” the meaning of the greek word for sin, so we can ask for forgiveness.

    Jesus is not so concerned about proclaiming our sins as offering us forgiveness for our sins. God knows that as we grow wiser we will see our sinful nature more readily and can ask God to forgive us those sins. The amazing thing is that God also gives us the Holy Spirit so we can avoid those sins and we can become more like God wants us to be.

    As the Holy Spirit dwells within us we can choose to not be shackled to our sinful ways, but we can choose to grow in our relationship to God and to one another. We can move toward God instead of away from God, for it is sin which separates us from one another and from God.

    God wants to redeem us not condemn us. Let us seek to grow closer to God and become empowered to choose ways in which we can become more who God calls us to be, so we wouldn’t be stuck in our sinful ways.

    Let us hear this story as one who has an opportunity to repent as opposed to being the one choosing who one is the greater sinner.


    Redeemed by the love of God,

    Pastor Randy