Randy's Reflections
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August 28, 2015, 2:20 PM

Pastor Randy's September Reflection


           Recently Joan was teaching our granddaughter Lincoln about the different parts of her body using the song, “Head, shoulders, knees and toes.” Kids love moving up and down. It is so fun to see them move their hands from their head to their shoulders to their knees and then to their toes. As this song moves faster and faster, usually before the song is over they are giggling uncontrollably. An important part of this song is the movement involved. It helps the children to better remember the names and the parts of the body. Many of us learn better when we are mimicking certain movements. This movement helps us develop muscle memory which helps us remember how to walk or jump or run or duck. Being a bit taller than average can be hazardous to my head if I don’t duck sometimes.

          Action is also an important part of living. This summer I have talked about head knowledge, that which we most often gain when reading the Bible. I also talked about heart knowledge, those practices which help us move that information into our hearts. We call this spiritual formation.

          Resurrected living, the third part of our Christian faith, occurs when head knowledge and heart knowledge begin to transform our actions. It is transformative in the sense that people see us begin to follow the model of Jesus; others see that being a disciple is not just talking the talk, but also walking the walk. The community in which we live recognizes that we are different because we exhibit the hope, joy and peace of God regardless of the circumstances. In resurrected living we begin to become the people God created us to be.

          Hope, joy, and peace are positive aspects of our faith, but we need to not only say we experience these; we need to also show that we experience them.   If we say we have hope then we need to live hopefully. If we say being a follower of God bring us joy then we need to live joyfully. If we say we have peace then we need to live with each other, and ourselves, peacefully.

          When difficult times occur do we rely only on our own resources or do we spend time in prayer, as Nancy suggested in her sermon? Do we rely on God and maintain the expectation that God will surprise us with a totally unexpected solution? When Joan and I were having to move out of Pleasanton because our landlord wanted to sell his house, we had no idea where we would go. We just happened to have a conversation with our Chiropractor who, we found out, was looking for a new renter. This place was in Dublin. They were willing to wait an extra month before we started paying rent. They supported our painting the inside the colors we wanted and we could upgrade the yard however we wanted. A dead end turned into a highway of hope.

          At times we face circumstances that bring darkness and despair. We struggle to find the good in the midst of turmoil. We need to ask ourselves, “Are we looking for ways in which we can experience the wonder and joy of God in the midst of this?” It is not easy having all three of our children living so far from our home. One is in Washington, another in Texas, and the third in L.A. Yet we get to talk with them, we get to Skype with them, and we Facebook each other. We enjoy them during our annual summer vacation and we get to see them at Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the midst of being so far from them, we still experience joy. Because of technology we are connected in many different ways. In the midst of our separation we can experience joy. 

          There are times when all of us are concerned about how we will survive financially, emotionally, or even physically. Yet if we can remind ourselves that God is for us and not against us we can experience peace. We can live with a sense that what is just over the horizon is something tremendously good. God does not just want us to survive, God wants us to thrive. We need to remind ourselves that God has our best interests at heart. We can be at peace knowing that God is in control. Just leave it in God’s hands and God will take care of you.

          Remember that the God of all creation is the God who made your head, shoulders, knees and toes. 

          Seeking to live this fall in a resurrected way with hope, joy and peace with you,

                                            Pastor Randy




June 25, 2015, 12:00 AM

Randy's Reflections: Stewardship Alive


    As we head into the summer I thought it would be good for our congregation to hear some good news about our finances as well as be reminded of the challenge we have to be good stewards throughout the summer.

 

    As of the end of June we have paid off the mortgage we had from the Synod of the Pacific. This mortgage was taken out to repair the damage to our Christian Education wing about ten years ago. The pay off was to occur in October of this year, yet with timely payments and a reserve account set aside we were able to pay off what we owed June 25th.

 

    The early payoff date was not expected, but we had planned our 2015 budget with the pay off in mind, so the only savings will be a couple months of interest, but hey, a month or two of interest is better than none.

 

    Speaking of our budget as of last month, we are about $500 in the black. Why is this good news? Well based on our stewardship history we would normally be about $20,000 in arrears. In the fourth quarter of the year is when we receive the highest percentage of our capital. It should be noted that a couple of annual pledges, usually received in December, have already been received so those pledges have come early and have moved us ahead of what we anticipated.

 

    But still we are heading into the summer with a positive balance and if people continue to meet their pledge, and perhaps give a bit more, we can start thinking about raising our budget for 2016. That would mean we might be able to increase some hours with our staff and recover those hours we lost this last year.

 

    The staff continues to put in the necessary work time to get things done and I would say sometimes that is more than the time they have been scheduled for. Please be advised we will be asking for some volunteers to help with the administrative staff since Nancy Stokely retired this month, without a replacement.

 

    So we have good news and challenging news. We can continue to live out the ministry God has called JKPC to with everyone pitching in, both financially and service wise. Let us keep stewardship alive throughout the summer and look forward to great things this fall.

 

    Thank you, 

    and keep your eyes on the prize 

    to which we have been called (Philippians 3:14),

 

    Pastor Randy




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

 


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