Randy's Reflections
June 4, 2018, 11:12 AM

Pastor Randy's June Reflection


              The world and everything in it belongs to the Holy One,
so too the fertile world and all who live there.          Psalm 24:1

         

 In the last few months, our neighborhood has drastically changed. The landmarks which told me where I needed to turn or go straight or slow down have all changed. First, it was the palm trees near the corner of Portage Road and Maple Drive- those trees, thirty to thirty-five feet tall, which when the winds hit dropped fronds in the most inconvenient places, were taken down. Then, the thirty foot pine tree on Maple by the canal, just a few yards from the crosswalk to Valley High School was felled. You can see one of the burls from a branch that had grown around a supporting telephone pole wire still hanging on it about fifteen feet up.

 

Two weeks ago, they took down two palm trees, which were on the other side of Portage and Maple. I thought at first they were just trimming those dead fronds thirty feet up, so they wouldn’t fall into the street anymore. But that afternoon, the trunks also came down. Then, the forty foot cedar tree on Maple and Pike Court was dropped. The house which I had never seen before was now visible, though the mound of shredded bark still obscures the front of the house. This tree was right where the curve on Maple is as you headed toward York Drive.

 

The houses are all the same but the view has drastically changed. You no longer need to worry about fallen fronds or limbs. You can see the houses and the streets unobstructed. It seems more open and cleaner. Yet those landmarks were views I had seen for the last eight years as I traveled the streets around our home and they had become familiar not only as landmarks, but also as indelible marks of the neighborhood. People would move in and people would move out, but these trees would be there forever, or so I thought.

 

It is not always easy to give up the old familiar sights, even when the new brings clearer more accurate vision. So, it is when we need to embrace new understanding of our selves and our
surroundings.

 

As I continue my devotional reading in the “Earth Gospel”, I am becoming more aware of the interwoven connections between myself and all living creatures. Our environment is not just a gift to possess and use as we will, it is a trust given to us for which we are responsible to leave in a better condition than when we received it.

 

So too are people whom we meet and get to know. Each person is a gift to us. Each meeting is an opportunity to gain greater understanding of others around us. As we move closer to summer time, we will be crossing paths with people whom we don’t normally cross paths or encounter. We will have opportunities to meet new people as well as see familiar friends, but maybe in a new way.

 

I pray that as our landscape changes we will not be despondent over what we lose, but we will look for new opportunities to embrace God’s creation, be it people or nature. Let us find new ways we can praise God and new blessings we can experience, and then share with others. We are the people of God and we are essential to what makes this world become what God intended. Let us look with great anticipation a summer of change and celebrate all the new opportunities God gives us.

 

Blessings, Pastor Randy

 




May 17, 2018, 11:19 PM

Pastor Randy's May Reflection


It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone
in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
For this I (we) toil and struggle with all the energy that he
powerfully inspires within me (us).           

Colossians 1:28-29

 

I had an amazing week at the  West Coast Presbyterian Pastors Conference (WCPPC)  a couple of weeks ago. Each year, eight days after Easter at Mount Hermon, the WCPPC begins. We usually have two teachers, one who emphasizes biblical study and one who emphasizes theology, who lead us in informative, stimulating, and challenging sessions. They usually split nine different sessions and we have an opportunity to quiz them about their presentations.

This year’s conference was the best ever. The first teacher, Adam Neder, is from Whitworth University, my undergraduate alma mater. He taught a challenging perspective based on Barth about our connection with God and participation in the ongoing presence of Jesus. Because of Christ Jesus all of us are reconciled to God, each other, and ourselves. We need to continually seek to be in Christ so we can act out our transformation in Christ. It is through Jesus that we say good bye to the old person, and it is through him that we can learn to embrace the new one.

Haley Jacob, our second presenter, shared her findings from having investigated the word glory and glorified throughout the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament. She found that when these two words are used in reference to human beings, in all but one occurrence they mean status, authority, power, rule, or dominion. When someone is glorified he or she is granted, or acts, as one with God-given authority. This was an authority that was to be imparted from the very beginning to those who bear the image of God (see Genesis chapter one).

When Jesus talks about being glorified in the gospel of John, chapters twelve and thirteen, he is referring to fulfilling his role as the one true bearer of the image of God. Jesus predicts his crucifixion. It was the crucifixion which glorified Jesus; through crucifixion, Jesus was living, or actually dying, out his calling. As was true for Jesus, we each also have a calling; when we live out that calling we will be, and are being, glorified by God.

Glorification is not only what will happen in the future. Just as Jesus lived out his call to die on the cross and was glorified in that crucifixion, John 12:23-26, so we are glorified when we live out our calling. So what is our calling? Our calling is multifaceted. It includes our participation in the Body of Christ and our behavior in this world, as well as the way we live out our God-given personalities and potential together.

Our Session is considering how we can help equip the people of God here at JKPC. We hope to help people discover their calling, if they aren’t sure of it already. We want to continue to offer various opportunities for people to engage in our church, our community, and our world. If this strikes a chord in your heart and you desire to be actively pursuing your calling, please let the office know, and if you haven’t already filled out the talent sheet, that would be a great place to start.

Know this, that we are called to be God’s people and, as it says in Romans 8:30, “those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” All of us are on the road to maturing in Christ. Let us help you, so you can help us grow in faith, hope, and love. To God be the glory.

Hallelujah!

 

Pastor Randy

 




April 11, 2018, 1:24 AM

Pastor Randy's April Reflection


Image result for puzzle piece for god

"Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called.
Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential;
not many were of noble birth.
But God chose the foolish things to shame the wise.”

I Corinthians 1:26-27a

 

 

 

In our study of the Sermon on the Mount we have been exploring the last verse of chapter 5, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The perfection Jesus is talking about does not mean we are to be without fault, but rather that we are to fulfill the purpose for which God has created us. Each of us is an important part of the puzzle that makes up the universe. By being and acting out our part, we help the universe be what it was created to be.

That being said, the Corinthians passage cited above reminds us that we may not be the wisest, most influential, or noblest person, but because of Christ’s call and our reception of his grace we can become the best puzzle piece ever.

So how do we move from being called to fulfilling our role? How do we become that person who fits best into the ongoing purpose of God? I think it is by becoming the disciple Jesus has called us to be.  Disciples are those, like Jesus, who are living out the greatest commandments, to love God and love our neighbor as ourself (Matthew 22:34-40).

I don’t think you can truly love God or your neighbor without knowing them. It isn’t too hard to get to know your neighbor; you can simply introduce yourself and have a conversation with them, but how do we get to know God? Since God isn’t visible, we have to depend on learning about God from others and from reading the Bible. One reason we have been doing “Words of Encouragement” during the worship service is to learn about God through others. But the other avenue through which we learn about God is the Bible. If we are to learn, however, we need to take time to read, study, and reflect on it.

I want to help you learn more about the Bible. Some may say they already know enough about the Bible, but I can attest that I have been studying it for years, and I am still learning new things every time I read it.

What book, of the 66 books of the Bible, do you want to learn more about? Please let me know. This is one reason we have Adult Education classes so we can learn about the Bible, but I would like to hear from you as to in which books you are interested in learning about. I want to help you learn more about the love God has for you and to help us both learn to love God more. I want us to become the best puzzle pieces God designed us to be.

This is one way we can move towards perfection, that is to fulfill the purpose for which we were created.

 

Growing in discipleship with you,

 

Pastor Randy