Randy's Reflections
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

May 24, 2016, 6:20 PM

Randy's Reflections "Unexpected Light"

May 2, 2016, 12:00 AM

Pastor Randy's May Reflection

Vitamins are good for you, right?

The best medicine is preventive medicine. Yet for some reason I find it more of a chore than a privilege to take my vitamins, work out, and eat healthily. Don’t get me wrong, I like not being sick, I love reffing soccer, and I seem to have more energy when I eat healthy food at appropriate intervals. But sometimes I get tired of being sure to take those vitamins, of making time to work out so I can run up and down a soccer field, and of planning my food intake so it is timely, well-balanced, and nutritious.

So it is with our faith walk sometimes. We believe in the spiritual side of things, and we know there are ways in which we can make our souls more healthy. We also know that daily exercise of faith practices will benefit us not only that day, but our whole journey through. It is especially in times of struggle or great joy that we notice how important our faith really is. So why do we resist taking just a few short moments in our day to pray, read scripture, and spend time with other believers?

I think we feel the pressure to get things done. There are so many things that seem
urgent for us to take care of. It is hard to spend time on activities that don’t show tangible results – like prayer, reading the Bible, or  spending time with people. We feel like we aren’t really doing something significant unless we have a paycheck or a product or praise from others to show for it. Yet faith, hope, and love are not things we can hold in our hands. They are not something that we can hang on a wall or put in a safe, but they do bring us a sense of assurance, peace and joy.

So, even though it is hard to take the time to do these things, both healthy living things and healthy spiritual things, they will bring us a sense of contentment and satisfaction. Martin Luther is famous for commenting, "I have so much to do today that I'm going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.”

I am not suggesting we spend three hours in prayer every day, but I think as we pray we can certainly ask God to make us aware of those things we need to do, as well as those we need to just let go. We can ask God to help us carve out time to read His Word and to put on our hearts anyone we should call this week to check on.“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right side of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1b-3.

Running (slowly) with you,

Pastor Randy