Randy's Reflections
December 12, 2014, 6:00 PM

Randy's Reflections "Purpose Full"

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2: 8-9


    I was reading the daily devotional that Joan and I gave to the congregation for the Advent season. It is written by Eugene Peterson, who translated the Bible into a readable manuscript. In the beginning he uses only scripture to tell the story of the birth of Jesus. In the later part of the pamphlet he talks about “The Gifts of Christmas” given to us by God. Those gifts include love, joy, and peace. I found it interesting that in his list he also includes "purpose."

    Decades ago purpose was not so important when discussing or thinking about one’s faith. Religion was part of the fabric of life in the United States of America. It was an acceptable and even essential part of much of American life. Yet over the last half century it has begun to recede into the background of the lives of Americans. In fact more people leave churches than join them today.

    So often there is little concern or desire for growing or even having a faith in one’s life. We have so many possessions or distractions that we fail to see the importance or the need for a faith community in our lives. Most of us aren’t concerned about where our next meal will come from. We aren’t worried that our children will have less than we will. We also don’t concern ourselves about having a roof over our heads.

    In the midst of this plenty we have come to realize that we want to have some kind of goal for ourselves. We long to accomplish something. We desire to leave legacy that is unique or profound. There has been a strong movement in our society to become fulfilled. We may not seek the necessities in life, or at least we don’t spend the bulk of our time trying to eek out dollars for shelter, or clothing, or food, yet we desire to “do” something important. We desire to fulfill a purpose in life.

    Purpose has become an important part of our existence. We want our life to mean something. We aren’t just content to live, but we want to thrive. We want to be known as someone unique, someone who has something to say, or someone who is sought out because of our expertise, or someone who is making a mark in the world.

    Yet Paul reminds us in Ephesians that what ever we have done to further the work of God, the master of the universe, it is not because of who we are, but because of whose we are. There is a purpose for our life, but that purpose is found in God. The importance of our life is not found in what we do or don’t do, it is found in following God. God is the one who orchestrates our world and it is God who needs our attention.

    So during this advent time we shouldn’t be concerned about making a name for yourself or fulfilling a purpose that only we can fill, but we need to be concerned about being attentive to God. If we are, then God will direct us and guide us in all that we do and say. This is what will bring us all those other gifts of Christmas, which are love, joy, peace, hope, forgiveness, and of course purpose.


    Blessings to all and to all a good night,


    Pastor Randy

December 1, 2014, 11:00 PM

Pastor Randy's December Reflection

We have just finished reading, discussing and preaching our way through The Story.
It took us eleven months to complete its 31 chapters. Some of us got bogged down in the history section;
some of us became confused with the law section. It is interesting that three quarters of the Bible is
comprised of the Old Testament, yet many of us prefer reading the New Testament - possibly because it is much easier to relate to and to understand.

Nonetheless, this year we at John Knox Presbyterian Church walked through the entire Bible.
This is an amazing accomplishment. If you didn’t finish it, at least you started it and gave it your best shot.
Yet, we Christians aren’t supposed to simply read the Bible. We are also supposed to live the Bible.
We are challenged to incorporate the message of the Bible into our daily lives, for we may be the only
Bible some people read. That may seem like an ominous task. How can we ever hope to adequately convey the
message of love and sacrifice found in the Bible? How can we ever hope to be the people God
has called us to be in the midst of all our responsibilities, concerns, and struggles? There are
times when we feel like we have succeeded in being patient, kind, and loving to those who don’t
deserve it. There are times when we have really been generous with our time, talent and treasure,
even when it means giving up something we so desperately long for. There are times when
we have truly walked the walk, and not just talked the talk. But then, someone comes to us and
tells us we just aren’t good enough. In times like that, we feel utterly alone. We feel we have
failed our faith. We may even feel that we have been more a detriment to the Christian message
than an asset to God. Yet we also have Jesus’ promise: “And surely I am with you always, to
the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). God is with us. We ARE NOT ALONE.

No matter who you are, no matter what you have done, no matter whose expectations you don’t
live up to, Jesus is there for you. Jesus can right any wrong, Jesus can heal any hurt. Jesus can
and does walk with you through any valley that is lined with your enemies. This one of the reasons
we celebrate Christmas. We need to know that God sent his Son not only to guide us, but
also to love us as we are. People may not understand you. People may pick at you. People may
be disappointed in you. But Jesus is not only our Lord, our guide in following the right path; Jesus
is also our Savior. He picks us up when we fall, dusts us off when we are falsely accused,
embraces us when we feel alone. This Advent season I hope you will know and believe that God
is for you, even if others speak against you. God offers his unconditional love, even when others
say you are not worthy. Each of us is made worthy by His love. Take heart from knowing that He
died for you so that you may have new life, and life abundant, forever. This is the True Story.
Blessings to you this Christmas. And may you never turn from the warmth of God’s embrace, for
you are not alone.


Peace to you, Pastor Randy

November 20, 2014, 12:00 PM

Randy's Reflections "All Accounted For"


He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.

    Psalm 147: 4



    I like early morning walks. It seems quieter. It smells fresher, especially after a rain. I am more alert. So Tuesday as I was walking I noticed the trees along Amador Valley Boulevard. I noticed that each tree had a one inch diameter metal tag on it, kind of like a dog tag. As I looked closer I saw that each one, though I only looked at three, had a different number. 

    I think they are numbered so if there is a problem with one of them the city maintenance department can know where they are located. If there is an emergency the city can rush to which ever one is in need. Each tree, at least along Amador Valley Boulevard, is accounted for.

    Yet so are we. God knows each of us. Just as God knows each star in the heavens, so God knows each of us. God is ready to listen to our concerns and joys. So whenever you feel like you are all alone, not noticed, or have no one who tells you how special you are, know that God wants you to know he is there for you.

    God is aware of all your struggles and all your joys. God is longing to hear from you and knows you by name. Be encouraged for he is there ready to walk with you, be it late in the darkest of nights or early before the sunrise. God is there for each of us and not just as a number but as a person, a person that is loved by the most amazing God there is.


    Blessings, Pastor Randy