Randy's Reflections
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June 1, 2015, 5:01 PM

Pastor Randy's June Reflection

Is it really the beginning of summer already? It seems like the school year just began, yet this month we will be celebrating graduating high school seniors, Father’s Day, and filling in the details for Vacation Bible School.

This is also a great time to assess how we are growing in our faith. It is great time to start something new, perhaps begin a new habit which will help us live into the Kingdom of God, which is here and now.

Over the next three newsletters, I want to look at three facets of spiritual growth. We will start with Biblical Knowledge, then move on to Spiritual Formation, and finally to Resurrection Living. We could also call this moving from our head, to our heart, and finally to our hands. God has given us all three, and we need to learn to live out our faith using all three.

As we all know, words are merely the vehicle which we use to try to communicate our thoughts and ideas. Words are limited to our vocabulary and to our understanding, but I will do the best I can with the words I know and pray that the Holy Spirit will guide your understanding.

Coming from a tradition that emerged from the Reformation, we believe Scripture is our primary resource for understanding who God is. This is why we emphasize reading the Bible. In fact , we believe so strongly in this that we encourage people to not only read, but to also study the Bible. As a part of that study, we need to learn about the culture in which the Bible was written. In our study we try to discover the intent or reason God chose this particular author for the book we are examining. It is also helpful to understand what genre of writing we are reading, be it history, poetry, instruction, or a prophecy, to name a few.

Whenever we read about the history of the Jews or the Christians, we know that the author is going to focus on a sequence of events and wants to let us know how the author believes those events impacted the world around them. When we read the Psalms we know the author is trying to convey something that is in his heart and what it is he is hoping for. When we read letters from Paul we know that he is trying to address certain issues pertaining to the various churches which he established.

All these things have some application to our lives today;  the beauty of Bible Study, especially in a group, is that each of us understands each story, each poem, and each issue differently. In a group Bible Study we can learn from each other, always remembering to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit for our understanding.

Biblical knowledge is an important facet of our spiritual life. It is foundational to our understanding of God. It also helps us learn about the spiritual mysteries in our world. The last several years we have read through the entire Bible using The Story. We walked through the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John during Lent. We have perused various books of the Bible from the Old Testament, or Hebrew Scriptures as they are often called, and have looked at particular passages found in the New Testament. We have even read through the Psalms over an extended time.

I encourage you to continue or start reading the scripture passages on which I will be preaching each week. I also would encourage you to become involved in one of our Bible studies ~ the women’s Bible study on Tuesday or Friday morning, or the men’s Bible study that meets on Friday mornings, or gather a few friends to read together every two weeks. Increasing Bible knowledge is not all we do for our spiritual growth, but it is certainly foundational to our spiritual growth.

In the July newsletter I will discuss Spiritual Formation and how you can move that head knowledge into your heart, so your faith becomes more alive. By the way, we will be studying Ephesians during the coming months. It is a letter written by Paul which gives a great foundation for understanding our faith. I encourage you to read it through several times as we learn more about our faith through the writings of Paul.

Blessings to you as we walk the path of faith together, moving from our head to our heart to our hands, so we can become the transformed people God desires us to become.

Pastor Randy

 




June 1, 2015, 4:57 PM

Pastor Randy's March Reflection

Is it really the beginning of summer already? It seems like the school year just began, yet this month we will be celebrating graduating high school seniors, Father’s Day, and filling in the details for Vacation Bible School.

           This is also a great time to assess how we are growing in our faith. It is great time to start something new, perhaps begin a new habit which will help us live into the Kingdom of God, which is here and now.

Over the next three newsletters, I want to look at three facets of

spiritual growth. We will start with Biblical Knowledge, then move on to Spiritual Formation, and

finally to Resurrection Living. We could also call this moving from our head, to our heart, and finally to our hands. God has given us all three, and we need to learn to live out our faith using all three.

As we all know, words are merely the vehicle which we use to try to communicate our thoughts and ideas. Words are limited to our vocabulary and to our understanding, but I will do the best I can with the words I know and pray that the Holy Spirit will guide your understanding.

Coming from a tradition that emerged from the Reformation, we believe Scripture is our

primary resource for understanding who God is. This is why we emphasize reading the Bible. In fact ,we believe so strongly in this that we encourage people to not only read, but to also study the Bible. As a part of that study, we need to learn about the culture in which the Bible was written. In our study we try to discover the intent or reason God chose this particular author for the book we are examining. It is also helpful to understand what genre of writing we are reading, be it history, poetry, instruction, or a prophecy, to name a few.

Whenever we read about the history of the Jews or the Christians, we know that the author is going to focus on a sequence of events and wants to let us know how the author believes those events impacted the world around them. When we read the Psalms we know the author is trying to convey something that is in his heart and what it is he is hoping for. When we read letters from Paul we know that he is trying to address certain issues pertaining to the various churches which he

established.

All these things have some application to our lives today;  the beauty of Bible Study, especially in a group, is that each of us understands each story, each poem, and each issue differently. In a group Bible Study we can learn from each other, always remembering to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit for our understanding.

Biblical knowledge is an important facet of our spiritual life. It is foundational to our

understanding of God. It also helps us learn about the spiritual mysteries in our world.

The last several years we have read through the entire Bible using The Story. We walked through the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John during Lent. We have perused various books of the Bible from the Old Testament, or Hebrew Scriptures as they are often called, and have looked at

particular passages found in the New Testament. We have even read through the Psalms over an

extended time.

I encourage you to continue or start reading the scripture passages on which I will be preaching each week. I also would encourage you to become involved in one of our Bible studies ~ the women’s Bible study on Tuesday or Friday morning, or the men’s Bible study that meets on Friday mornings, or gather a few friends to read together every two weeks. Increasing Bible knowledge is not all we do for our spiritual growth, but it is certainly foundational to our spiritual growth.

In the July newsletter I will discuss Spiritual Formation and how you can move that head knowledge into your heart, so your faith becomes more alive. By the way, we will be studying

Ephesians during the coming months. It is a letter written by Paul which gives a great foundation for understanding our faith. I encourage you to read it through several times as we learn more about our faith through the writings of Paul.

Blessings to you as we walk the path of faith together, moving from our head to our heart to our hands, so we can become the transformed people God desires us to become.

 

Pastor Randy

 




May 7, 2015, 11:35 PM

Pastor Randy's May Reflection

“You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:14-15

We believe that to be a Christian you need to call Jesus your Lord and Savior. This is the primary confession for all people who call themselves Christian (“confession” meaning what you say you believe, your conviction of faith). Yet, when Jesus addressed his disciples, he also called them “friends.” Jesus says that what distinguishes a servant from a friend, is that a friend knows the master’s business.

The good news we learned at Easter time was that the power which raised Jesus from the dead is available to us, so that we may lead lives that are not shackled to the past, but are raised up to a new future. We live into this future during the present. This is called the resurrected life, which is the life we are to model and proclaim in the kingdom of God; this is the business of our master.

We are the ones who get to live in and proclaim the kingdom of God, the kingdom which is here and now, whenever we do what the master calls us to do. As we do these things, we become more like the people God has called us to become. So we are to be Christians, as well as do things which proclaim our Christianity.

During the month of May we will explore what it means to be a friend of Jesus. We will explore how Jonah* was the “reluctant” friend, how Ruth* was the “embracing" friend, and how Mordecai was “a friend beyond all friends” in the book of Esther*. Also, Children’s Ministry Sunday will look at how Jesus models being a friend, which helps us be a friend to others.

What does friendship mean to you? How are you a friend to others? Are you concerned more about how others treat you as a friend, or are you seeking ways you can be a friend to others? How do you choose your friends? Are your only friends those who are like you, or do you have some friends that are not like you at all? Do you spend time with just your friends, or do you reach out to others around you seeking to make new friends?

Jesus, in the passage above, is with his disciples in the upper room the night before he was crucified. The people gathered around him are definitely those he has chosen, but I don’t think these are the only friends he had. These friends are special because they will be the ones to carry on the banner of love that Jesus had come to proclaim.

So it seems that we can have friends at different levels. We can have new friends which we are just getting to know. We can have friends which we have known for years. Jesus also had some very close friends, three as a matter of fact, with whom he shared his transfiguration. They are also the ones he took to the Garden when he was so distressed he needed company while he pleaded with God to let him travel another way. These are also the friends who preached the Pentecost sermon, who led the church in Jerusalem, and the friend who wrote the most amazing gospel, and later letters, which talk about the importance of showing the world what it means to love God, which is by loving your neighbor.

Is Jesus your Savior, the one who you ask to rescue you from the sins of this world, yours and others? Is Jesus your Lord, the one who you ask to guide you through the most difficult decisions of life? But most importantly, is Jesus your friend, the one you ask to walk with you as you seek to share his friendship with others who cross your path?

I hope this month we can really learn what it means to be a friend, not just to the people we know already, but also to the people we have yet to meet. The question is not who is my friend, but how can I be a friend, like Jesus?

Seeking to celebrate new friends with you, Pastor Randy

*Short books in the Bible to read as you prepare for the messages in our Worship service during the month of May.


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