Randy's Reflections
July 5, 2014, 3:00 PM

Pastor Randy's Summer Reflection



“Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”
Acts 17: 23c

            As I write this, we are in the midst of the World Cup. The buzz on the street is about soccer and the USA team’s chances of making it beyond the preliminary rounds. There is high expectation and many positive thoughts about how well the USA can and will do. Even though not everyone is glued to the games on their TV, tablet, or Smartphone, almost everyone knows this is an event being watched around the world.

            Spirituality is also something that most people accept and think about now. During the last half of the 20th century, belief in spiritual things seemed to be waning and people often made disparaging remarks about those who held to some form of spiritual belief. Science and human effort were touted as the source of the world’s salvation. However, although we were able to put a man on the moon, wars continued to erupt, disease continued to flourish, and natural catastrophes still plagued our earth. We finally came to the realization that we can’t solve all our problems and we recognized that changes in people’s lives sometimes happen without any logical explanation.

            The importance, and even efficacy, of spirituality is now accepted world wide. We know there is something more than just the physical reality we encounter in our daily lives. There are unexplained miracles, fortuitous events and transformed lives which can only be attributed to another force beyond our own.

            This is the issue with which the first century Athenians had to contend. Their solution was to honor a god that they didn’t know by name but who they saw operating in the world. This is what many people in our world do today as well; they acknowledge there is a God, a higher power, a spiritual realm out there, but they don’t have a name for it.

            So we, like Paul, need to help people learn the name and personhood of this God. Our God, the three-in-one, is most easily understood as Jesus, the fully human, fully divine person who walked on this earth two thousand years ago. This God is also the Creator who is manifested in the Holy Spirit, but most easily understood as the Son of God, Jesus.

            Our mission statement is currently: “To Honor God and follow the Son, while loving and serving others.” Giving God honor is something the Athenians did without knowing who that God was, but Paul understood they needed more than just to honor God. God wanted a relationship with them, and in order to have a relationship they needed to know God, so Paul was going to be the one to tell them who God was, and is.

            Can we really know God? Not completely, but God did give us his Son to catch a glimpse of what he is like and he gave us the Spirit to walk with us, the Paraclete (the Greek word used in the Bible). And God gave us Scripture which tells us about him and his desire for a relationship with us.

            Perhaps it would be good to add to our Mission Statement that we wish to not only “Honor God,” but we also want to “Know God.” As we get to know God then we can be like Paul and help others to get to know him also.

            Maybe you are not sure you know God well enough to share that knowledge with others. If that is the case, then I urge you to continue to read the Bible, to pray and to ask God to make himself known to you, as well as to spend time with other people who are interested in knowing God also.

            We may not have the answers to everyone’s questions about who God is, but we can certainly let them know that we have a glimpse of God in our life and we would like to share it with them.

            Seeking to know God with you, Pastor Randy!




June 19, 2014, 2:00 PM

Randy's Reflections "Nothing is Wasted"



     Regrets. Do you ever have any regrets about your life? I was talking to a friend the other day and they said, “If only I knew then what I know now, I would have done things differently.” Isn’t that the truth for a lot of us? If only we had known how important it was to do well in high school we probably would have had greater success in college. If only we had known how important it was to be respectful to our previous employers we could have had more options for references for that new job we want. If only we had known how important it was to use sunscreen we wouldn’t be suffering with that sunburn.

    Well obviously some actions we should have done when we were younger will make more of an impact on our life than others, but then I think if nothing else we learn how we can be intentional now so we will benefit more in the future.

    I know now I remember that whatever I do I am doing for God. “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3: 17). By doing my best all the time now, I am not only doing things I can be proud of, but I am being the witness God wants me to be. When now we treat our supervisors with respect we learn that all people need to be treated with respect. When we do the little things well we learn the importance of doing big things well. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16: 10a).

    Recently we had a small issue with a sprinkler head in the Joy Preschool play yard. The head just needed to be replaced, but it was hard to read the label because it was so far down in the ground. It was actually too close to the sidewalk. I couldn’t just unscrew it I had to dig all around it and make sure the dirt was well cleared away. It took maybe about a half an hour, not much time really, but longer than the five minutes I wanted to give it. As I was working on this I remembered when I was in college and helped the landscape manager of our school replace sprinkler heads on the campus. Those lessons of making sure dirt doesn’t get into the system, of not forcing one component on to the other so you don’t damage the threads, and even making sure you have the right spray configuration for the placement of the sprinkler all are important.

    That sprinkler is now working great and unbeknownst to me I was going to have to replace one of our home sprinkler heads the next week. It was a snap.

    Though it would be nice to know then what we know now at least we can be sure those past lessons will be put to good use in the future. God does not waste our experience. So though we may regret some of our actions or words in the past we still can use those lessons we learn in the present and as we are more intentional about what we do now there will be less to regret in the future.

 

     Using all I have learned whenever I can,

    

     Pastor Randy




June 3, 2014, 8:00 AM

Randy's Reflections "Church Matters"


“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27 
 
 I am currently in Orange, California, waiting to celebrate the graduation of our youngest 
daughter from Chapman University. It is hard to believe that 24 hours from now all our children will 
have completed their college studies – at least their undergraduate degrees (some are considering 
pursuing graduate studies down the road; maybe they will eventually come to their senses, although I 
probably shouldn’t be talking). 


Education has always been important to our immediate and extended family. We have college 
professors; elementary and middle school administrators; elementary, middle and high school 
teachers in just two generations of Joan’s and my family. In the last couple of years the next 
generation has also taken up the teacher banner. 

Church has also been an important component of our family life. Our grandparents, parents, 
and children have made and are making church an essential part of their lives. More and more people 
in America, however, do not consider church to be an important part of their lives. It is ironic that at a 
time when interest in spiritual things has been on the rise in America, church attendance and 
participation is waning. 

This contradiction was brought home to me recently when I attended a soccer presentation 
featuring an official who was a referee at the latest World Cup. It was very interesting, and those 
attending were an elite group of referees (barring myself). During a break, I shared with a fellow 
referee my disappointment at being unable to stay for the whole event; he replied that the same 
program was happening the next morning, so I could catch it then. I told him I wasn’t able to attend, 
because I had church the next day. His response was, “This is my church.” He then gave a little 
chuckle. As I looked around, I observed that during the break very few people were talking with each 
other. A lot of the guys were standing alone drinking their Gatorade and eating their cookies. In fact, 
when I started to leave for my next obligation, the referee with whom I’d been talking invited me to go 
back into the auditorium with him. He had no one else to talk with. This may have been his church, but 
he was the only member as far as I could tell.  This encounter caused me to ponder a question that has been
at the forefront of my thoughts lately.

Why is church important? At a recent retreat that Joan attended, one of the speakers made the 
comment that most of us, when asked to describe ourselves in one word, choose a relational noun 
such as wife, mother, teacher, friend. We are created for connection. Church is, therefore, not only a 
place where you can grow in your faith with God, but also a place where you make connections with 
other people. It is a place where we can give and receive unconditional acceptance (at least we are 
trying to do that). Church is a place where we can share our joys and our concerns, find support, and 
be challenged. We can be challenged to grow in our relationship with others as well as in our faith in God.

 
This challenge includes learning how to focus on others, not just on ourselves. When we come 
together as a church we learn to love not just the people we know, but also the people God gives us 
to love. We are challenged to honor God in all things and to serve and love others, even when it is the 
hard thing to do. 

What is church to you? Is it important to you? Why or why not? Starting on June 15 we will begin a “Discovery Class” that will meet for three consecutive Sundays. This is the class that people attend who want to consider joining John Knox Presbyterian Church. It is an organized class where we can get to know a small group of people better as well as explore what it means to be a Christian. 


Attending this class does not obligate you to join this church, but will help you to explore your faith and 
let you know what we at John Knox think are the important elements of faith.  Maybe you feel your faith has stalled for the moment. Maybe you wonder if now is the time to make a public commitment to this church, a group of people seeking to grow in their relationship with God and each other. Maybe you just want to learn more about faith in general. If so, I urge you to sign up for this class. We will include exploring the importance of the Bible, what prayer is all about, and how we can love as God loves us. Child care will be available for those who need it.

 
Blessings, 
Pastor Randy