Randy's Reflections
November 28, 2017, 11:54 AM

Advent Words of Winter


Stars

The night can be so dark, but it is stars which can guide us through that dark night. It is stars which remind me that darkness never is the final condition of our soul. Though they may be only beams of light that come to us over the millions of miles they still touch the very essence of our nature. They are reminders of how far God’s love will travel to embrace us even in the most desperate of times. Stars bring us light and life through the darkness of space.

 

Lord, it is out of the darkness and chaos that you bring order and light. You touch us with the fingers of light which you placed in the heavens to remind us that you are there watching over us through out our dark night. Thank you for the stars that even though they are so far away they can still guide us to the place which we can call home. Amen.




November 28, 2017, 11:52 AM

November Reflections


―God is our refuge and strength, an ever - present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear.‖ Psalm 46

 

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather together and acknowledge the many blessings we have been given. Sometimes being thankful is difficult, especially in the last number of weeks as we witnessed unprecedented natural disasters from hurricanes to wildfires, man inflicted atrocities like we saw in Las Vegas, or heart crushing news like family members who died suddenly at an early age when they had so much promise. When these kind of things happen it is hard to give God thanks, especially when it seems so much calamity surrounds us.

Last Sunday I talked a bit about the Reformation of the 16th century which emphasized three concepts: grace alone, faith alone, scripture alone. Grace alone highlights the freedom we are given in knowing Jesus on a personal basis because of God’s grace. Faith alone means we have an opportunity to receive this grace through faith, not because we have earned it. Scripture alone refers to the privilege we have of learning about our God and experiencing transformation due to the access we have to God’s word. These three gifts from God are available to everyone, but often we forget what amazing gifts they are.

Another trifecta we have from the Reformation is guilt, grace and gratitude. Scripture and the Holy Spirit reveal to us our sin, those times where we have failed to be the people God created us to be. Once we see where we have sinned we experience guilt for allowing that sin to govern our lives.

We then have an opportunity to ask God to take that sin away, and all its consequences, and start fresh, we are given the opportunity to confess our sin. It is in that confession that we are assured that God will forgive us; this is true grace . We don't earn that forgiveness, it is given to us freely and by God’s own initiative. This is God’s doing not ours.

Receiving forgiveness causes us to experience gratitude . Without the revelation of our sin by the Holy Spirit, through scripture, or some other God - given experience, we would not understand our need for God’s grace. And if we didn’t understand our inability to achieve that grace we wouldn’t truly be grateful for the most important gift God can give us, forgiveness.

So these are some of the important spiritual gifts we have received from the Reformation. But gratitude does not have to be just for our freedom from sin, it also can be for our church community, our friends, and

our family. We can be grateful for a host

of other things as well.

 

So during this Thanksgiving month, let’s truly count our blessings. It may not change our life circumstances with the tragedies around us, but we have been blessed. Let’s take a moment each day and give God thanks for one thing for which we are grateful. May we also remember that ―every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows‖ James 1:17.

God is our refuge and strength, of whom or what shall I be afraid? Na - da.

Thankful for Jesus with you,

Pastor Randy 




November 2, 2017, 4:10 PM

Follow-up to the October 29 Sermon


 Sunday I shared about the importance of being Fully Present like Jesus was to those who came to him for comfort, healing, or to be fed. I think that listening still seems to be the primary challenge in my life so I wanted to share with you the rest of the quote I found by Henri Nouwen. Please take time to read it, and if it touches a chord in your soul, be challenged to seek to be known as a listener. This is the true beginning for anyone who wants to emulate the Lord and Savior of the Universe. Read and listen.

      To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

      Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves.

     Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you. 

                                                                                              Henri Nouwen

 

Blessings to you this Thanksgiving season,

Pastor Randy