Randy's Reflections
September 16, 2014, 5:00 PM

Randy's Reflections "Face to Face"

The Gospels are an amazing record of Jesus. They aren’t duplicates of each other, they sometimes have things in a different order, and they even may have conflicting material, but combined they give us a diversely rich picture of Jesus.

    Labels are part of who we are and part of how we define others. Labels help us know how to relate to others.  Yet sometimes we forget those labels are our invention. You may be able to understand someone better if you label them, democrat, republican, liberal, conservative, moderate. But when we label people we think we know what they believe or where they are coming from, but we must remember when we give people labels we are putting a box around them, which we can do, but we need to allow them to move out of that box.

    As I was thinking about the differences between the gospels I thought about how the gospel of John has so many stories about one-on-one encounters with Jesus. Jesus speaks to Nicodemus, the Samaritan Woman, the Invalid at the Pool of Bethesda, the Blind Man and many more. That is how we know these people, but in the story these people become more than how they are labeled.

    Jesus speaks to those who are considered unclean or imperfect. Jesus speaks to those who even we would question whether it would beneficial to talk to, such as the Pharisee Nicodemus. Jesus is willing to talk with, to care for, and to challenge those who are so easily labeled as sinners.

    Yet Jesus does not call them sinners. Jesus talks to them face to face. Jesus puts a face on the sinner, whether they are outcasts, whether they are considered self-righteous, even whether they know him or not, such as the blind man.  The Blind Man never did speak the name of Jesus, yet he was asked if he believed in the Son of Man. He was given an opportunity to become a follower, a worshipper of this man Jesus.

    We need to remember when we think we know someone we need to allow them to be different than who we think they are. We need to be concerned about what they need and share with them our hope and joy. We need to think of them more as a friend than someone whom we have labeled.

    Let us strive to allow others to be more than the label we have given them. Let us, like Jesus, open up the box we have put them in and seek to become their friend. This is what Jesus did and this is what we need to do.


    Seeking to allow others out of the box with you,


    Pastor Randy

August 28, 2014, 3:00 PM

Randy's Reflections "Doubled Grace"



    Double your pleasure and double your fun. That is an old advertisement about Doublemint gum. Yet it is also true of the grace we receive from God. We receive double grace.

    In my daily (or almost daily) devotion of “Coffee with Calvin” I found an interesting insight. Today the devotion was about Sanctification. This is a word that labels our continuing walk with Jesus. Calvin reminds us that we are justified, that is reconciled to God, because of Jesus. Calvin also says we are learning to walk in the ways of Jesus because the Holy Spirit is guiding us, this is Sanctification.

    It is not our actions which gain us merit or provide the means to salvation it is Jesus. Nor is it our actions which Sanctify us, it is the Holy Spirit. We need to remember that the beginning of our relationship with God was because of what Christ did and our continuing relationship with God is because of the Holy Spirit. So when we think we are so great because of the decisions we have made or are making we must remember, in humility, it is God who calls us to him and God who helps us continue to walk with him.

    This is good news. We could never do this on our own. Yet we have God and God justifies us and God sanctifies us. We must continue to strive to follow the ways of Jesus, but remember God is the one who helps us stay on the path. Let us be grateful for what God has done and is doing and let us be witnesses and not judges that God is calling us to be his witnesses to the world around us.

    This is our double grace, a grace granted to us by the loving, living God, who calls all creation to redemption. We are becoming a redeemed creation through God’s grace and not because of our own efforts but because of God. So let us always give God the glory. Hallelujah!!!


     Celebratin Grace with you,


     Pastor Randy

August 12, 2014, 2:00 PM

Randy's Reflections "Coffee in Calvin"

Last week I was talking to a friend who wanted a recommendation for a book to read about faith. We all know that as Christians the Bible is our primary resource, but God has given us a community, through the centuries, which shares their insights with us through the written word (and with current technology through the spoken word). These insights help us grow, not only in head knowledge, but also in heart knowledge.

    That is as we grow in our knowledge about God, head knowledge, we also need to grow in our connection to God, heart knowledge. As we grow in our faith we also grow in dependence on the Holy Spirit for insight, for direction, for encouragement, and for courage to face all that life brings us.

    One way to grow in heart knowledge is through reading a daily devotional (or an every other day devotional, depending on how often you make time for it). My friend who was looking for a book shared that he wanted something to supplement his daily devotional reading. I realized then that it has been a while since I have read a daily devotional. The thing a like about daily devotionals is that they set the tone for the day. They give me an opportunity to look at the world through the lens of that particular theme for the day.

    Recently I renewed my subscription to The Presbyterian Outlook, as a bonus I was sent a daily devotional called “Coffee with Calvin.” How more perfectly orchestrated can it get? Here I was inspired, by my friend, to start using a daily devotional and right there in the mail before me was a new daily devotional.

    John Calvin was one of the pillars of our reformed faith and to start the day with a short quote and some inspired thoughts about Calvin sounded like just the ticket. As I thought about it more I realized that many of us use coffee to wake us up to greet the day. It gives us a jolt or a nudge, depending on your choice of strength or additives, to meet the day.

    Today’s reading reminded me that God’s providence is that which we can depend on and trust. “We can trust that God’s work will be for our welfare. This is the great comfort and hope for God’s providence for us and for our world” (Coffee with Calvin, Page 5). Just as I realized my need for a daily devotional so I had a daily reading gifted to me at just the right time. God’s providence in action? I think so.

    So today my soul is encouraged, my mind is opened, and my heart is embraced by God’s care. I hope you too are using or can find a devotional which will help you greet the day, a day which is a gift to you from God and a day filled with his work for your welfare.


    Reading with you,


    Pastor Randy