Randy's Reflections
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




August 4, 2014, 9:00 PM

Randy's Reflections "Patience"



Last year I heard about a new on-line Hebrew class. The class is conducted via Skype and the professor resides in Israel. When I first considered taking this class, it was way out of my price range. A few months later I was offered a 60% discount, but I decided I couldn’t allot the necessary time to it at that time. I, therefore, asked to defer until the spring of 2014; this request was granted. In January I received an email informing me that my class would start in February; I asked to defer one more time, at least until after Easter. This request was granted with the caveat that if I asked for one more deferment I would have to pay an additional fee. This was no problem; I just asked that the one hour class be on Thursday mornings, as I had been told that there were many different times available.

    In March I was informed that the class would begin the last Wednesday in April from 6:10 to 7:10 pm. This was not what I had asked for, but not wanting to pay for yet another deferment, I began the class on the last week of April and have now completed twelve class sessions. It has been a long time since I last studied Hebrew. I am surprised at how little I remember from my previous studies, but I am enjoying re-learning the language, along with the special nuances this instructor brings to each class.

    The last two class sessions proved to be challenging. Two Wednesdays ago, while I was in Los Angeles meeting Alyssa’s boyfriend’s family, I had to excuse myself for an hour to a secluded room to Skype with my instructor and other classmates for that particular class. Then last week, when class was scheduled to meet, I was at Pinecrest Lake, where I had to pay for Internet usage and the connection was erratic. About twenty minutes into the class I lost signal. I was frustrated at being unable to hear, see, or participate in any way. I tried closing out of the class and then reentering, hoping for a better signal. Just as I began the close out, the signal came back on and I heard my instructor for a few seconds before the connection closed. Once I reconnected with the class, I was asked to answer a question; unfortunately, since I had missed the instruction while I was trying to get reconnected, my answer was incorrect. Frustrating. If I had only waited a few more seconds, perhaps I wouldn’t have lost the connection. Another option would have been to view a recording of the class session later, but I wanted to participate in the “live” class and not have to wait to view the instruction.

    Because the Internet has made information, goods and services more easily and immediately available, I have grown less patient with waiting for things to happen. By contrast, consider the fact that Jesus took three years to teach his disciples the simple command to love one another. Think about all those centuries God took before he sent his son to embody his love to his chosen people. Or even that the proclamation of his love to the world has taken thousands of years to disseminate across the globe.

    In the book, Slow Church, the authors remind us that, “The local church is the crucible in which we are forged as the patient people of God. We have been united with each other in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. As we mature together into the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13), over time and in our places, we learn patience by forgiving and being reconciled to one another. Our brothers and sisters may incessantly annoy us. But we are called to Christ to love and to be reconciled to them” (page 87). We are even reminded by Tertullian, a third century church father, that the first word to describe love in 1 Corinthians 13 is patience.

    Most of us want to belong to a church, a family, an organization which celebrates with us, supports us, and even challenges us, but that means we need to be patient with each other, as well as with ourselves. Are we willing to wait for the good things in life? Are we willing to take the time to grow in relationship with others? Are we willing to take the time to get to know other people in our church so we can offer them the support they need as well as be able to share with them our requests for support?

    Patience is not a highly prized commodity in our culture. We don’t want to have to wait in line for anything, although I have met some pretty interesting people while waiting in lines. We don’t want to wait for that new furniture, appliance or car, but perhaps saving up for that item would be better in the long run than taking out another loan.

    Like the consumer impatient for their goods, not wanting to delay gratification, I want to know Hebrew right now. I want to be able to read the Hebrew prayers at our next Seder meal, even though I am now only a third of the way through my class; I will probably need to take another 30 week class before I can read and understand what I am reading.

    Perhaps as summer draws to a close, it is a good time to consider what you are willing to wait for. Perhaps it would be good to ask God what is it that you want right now, but you need to learn to wait for. I know there are certain things I would like right now, but now is not the time for me to have them or experience them.

    As I watch our new granddaughter grow, I am impatient for us to be able to walk and talk together; in reality, however, a few more years is really a short time in the span of my life time and certainly in hers. I hope that as our relationship with each other develops, she and I will learn to be patient with each other and to more fully appreciate those walks and talks, especially if we can speak in Hebrew.

 

    Praying for patience in all our lives,

 

    Pastor Randy