Randy's Reflections
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January 30, 2014, 4:00 PM

Pastor Randy's February Update

To pray is to sit open-handed before God.
~ Georges Bernanos

To pray is nothing more than to lie in the sunshine of his grace.
~ O. Hallesby

Do you have your valentines ready yet? February is a great month to celebrate love, one of those things that make the world go around. In fact, I would say it is the thing that made the world, sustains the world, and is the hope for the world. Perfect love has one source, God. It is God who made the world, who keeps it turning, and who gives us hope for the future.

Love is not something I understand very well. I experience it, but I have a hard time articulating what it actually is. The Greeks had at least three words for love: Eros, the erotic love; Phileo, the love for family, like brotherly love; and Agape, which we know as unconditional love. They did not rely on one word to fit all situations.

One characteristic common to all three forms of love is that it requires another person. It is true we can love ourselves; in fact, to follow the second commandment, “To love your neighbor as yourself,” you must love yourself, or care for yourself in a healthy way. Yet, to perform any act of love requires some kind of relationship with another person.

John, the gospel writer, believes agape love to be the highest form of love. He uses it in the most famous verse about the way God loves the world, John 3:16. He uses it again at the end of the gospel when Jesus questions Peter about his love for Jesus.

Agape love is something that does not come easily. It is grounded in a relationship with another person. For this reason, it must be cultivated, and such cultivation takes time. Not only time in the sense of years, but also making time for the person with whom you have a relationship.

Our relationship with the author of love, God, also needs to develop over time. We need to spend time talking and listening to God. This is the reason for prayer and the reason why we consider prayer to be an essential Spiritual Practice.

Last month we held a class on Spiritual Practices, which included reading the Bible, Praying, Sharing your Faith Story, and Stewardship. Of these Spiritual Practices, I would say that Prayer is probably the foremost essential practice. It is the one practice which can be entered into at any time of day, be it dark or light. It does not require you to choose your words wisely or clearly, for “we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26b). Prayer is not a practice that requires a change in your spending habits or assessing your gifts, which you can share with the community of faith; it may, however, require a change in your schedule, because it does take time.

In our Spiritual Practices class, we discussed some guidelines for prayer that are gleaned from the Sermon on the Mount: 1) Prayer is not for show, 2) Prayer is not a formulaic path to get what we want, and 3) Prayer is a personal conversation between you and the God of the universe.

So let’s practice this special gift we have been given. God has invited us into conversation. Let God love you as he listens and as he speaks to you. Let God share his riches of grace, mercy, and peace with you. Speak, listen, and receive and you will be involved in the greatest love relationship for all eternity. God will meet you in the future. God is with you in the present moment. God’s spirit can dwell within you. I Thessalonians 5:17 says,  “Pray all the time.”

Praying with you, Pastor Randy

January 14, 2014, 11:14 PM

"The Story"

“The Story”

We have a great opportunity this year to do something we have never done. The Woman's Bible Study has started it. The Youth are using it as a curriculum. We were able to purchase copies at a 75% discount (just $5 each.) This is all about the book "The Story." This year we will go through, with a just a few breaks, the entire Bible. If you have never read the full story or you want to refresh your memory, I will be preaching on a section of each of the 31 chapters in succession.

We will begin January 5 and end on November 23, which is Christ the King Sunday, known as the last Sunday of the church year. This is your challenge for 2014 and my challenge as well. Please pray that as many people as possible will take up this challenge as we seek to understand more fully the word of God in its entirety.

Laura Bolin's class Old Testament 101 gave me great incentive to attempt this; and, if you didn't have a chance to attend that class, be sure to watch for and sign up for her New Testament 101 class this spring.

I look forward to learning with you new things which will shed light on our understanding of God's word and how we can rely on its guidance for our current time. The books are available after church.

Moving forward in faith with you, Pastor Randy

January 14, 2014, 11:00 PM

Randy's Reflections "Doing Things Right"

You know when you are doing something right when the girl on the opposing teams says, “Good job coach.” That’s what happened Tuesday night after our first sixth grade girl’s basketball game. I am not exactly sure what she was meaning but I try to applaud not only our shots that go through the basket but the other team’s as well.

    You see in sixth grade we don’t see a lot of points racking up, from either team. Oh sure there are scores, we aren’t even supposed to keep count, yeah right, but I don’t think we are too far beyond the twenties in points, especially at the beginning of the season.

    I can be pretty competitive, but I also know that without cooperation competition doesn’t work. Rules need to be followed and there is no “I” in “Team.” That is partly what I hope to teach these girls. You need to work together to be able to do well. Also that you can be competitive, but you should be willing to acknowledge a good shot, a good block, or a good play even if it is by the other team. If nothing else it gives you an example to follow or the motivation to try to do as well yourself.

    I also love to watch these girls smile when at a timeout or between halves I tell them they made a good play. Their whole face lights up. And later in the season when they learned to execute a play correctly it is a great accomplishment.

    So I don’t always know the play that will win the game or even teach them all the skills they need to know to be a great basketball player, but I do know that they, like all of us, love to be affirmed. So affirm someone today. Watch their face light up. Then listen to the Holy Spirit say to you, “Good job coach.” It will do your heart good.

Coaching others with you,

Pastor Randy

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