Monday, July 29, 2013


Most of you are not aware that my professional training and background are in the municipal planning genre.  I worked for the City of Charlotte and then for a private firm doing municipal transportation planning.  I thought back to this one day when one of my friends proudly announced that his employer told him they had plans for him.  He was glad he was in their thoughts and felt this was a very good thing.  I asked him a few questions ... did his employer ask him what his hopes and dreams were when they were deciding the right placement for him?  Did they talk to him about his giftedness?  Did they seek his input into their plans?  The truth is, this employer did not know this person, their talents, their dreams and their hopes from a hole in the ground.  Their plans were totally oriented to the needs of the company and the needs of the bottom line.

In Jeremiah God tells the people of Israel (in exile at the time) that He has plans for them.  He says His plans for them will prosper them and give them a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  What is the difference between these two planning scenarios?

I think the difference is stark.  The company has a motive of fitting the person into their plan and into the little box they need to accomplish their motive.  God, on the other hand, knows you when He is making plans for you.  Psalm 139 says He knows our innermost being.  He has woven us together in the womb ... and woven in this text means that God has intentionally formed us as a unique creation.  So when He is making plans He knows our thoughts, our desires, our talents and our heart.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  I am good with God making those plans for me.  But be careful when someone says they have plans for you.  Make sure they know you well enough to make plans that will give you hope and a future.  Randy

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Which Team?

Sunday we will be talking about your team allegiance.  Most of you are saying "No, no ... that will cause a big fight in Church."  The Alabama and Auburn fans will me unbolting pews and throwing them, not to mention Georgia, Florida and other fans.  Since I am a Duke basketball fan, I will be somewhat immune, but you get the picture.  However I will only peripherally be discussing football (but I promise it will make its way into the message).  The operative question is "Which team do you play for?"

Brandon Heath sings a song that challenges us, convicts us and calls us to a different attitude toward the world.  Here are the words to "Give Me Your Eyes"

Looked down from a broken sky  
Traced out by the city lights 
My world from a mile high 
Best seat in the house tonight
Touched down on the cold black tar 
Hold on for the sudden stop 
Breathe in the familiar shock  
Of confusion and chaos
All those people going somewhere  
Why have I never cared?
Give me Your eyes for just one second 
Give me Your eyes so I can see 
Everything that I keep missing 
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the brokenhearted 
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the one's forgotten 
Give me Your eyes so I can see

I wonder ... when people see us (the Church, Christians, Jesus followers) what do they see?  Do they see our political stance?  Do they see the distance between 'us' and 'them.'  Do they see heads raised and looking elsewhere or do they see people of compassion who hurt for others?  Do they see judgement or people who will walk beside them on their journey?

If you like music, listen to the song.  Even though it convicts me, I like it.  Because the Holy Spirit is in the business of convicting me often, and where the Spirit is alive, THAT is where I ought to be.  Lord, give me your eyes for just one second!  Pastor Randy

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


During the past few months life, finances, relationships and "my" world has been in a state of turmoil.  I won't go into detail about all of the issues but I know some of you have faced, are facing or will face some trials that might put mine to shame.  I am not writing to complain or even stop some of the painful things that are going on.  I am not writing asking you or God to anesthetize me so that I am living in a blissful state.  I am just remarking that life is troubling at times.

In His last words to the disciples before His arrest, Jesus has some words about troubling times and trying situations.  Here are some of His words of advice.

     1. Part of what is happening is that we are being "pruned and purified."  John 15 reminds us of this and recommends that we remain (abide) in Jesus, our true vine.

     2. Another part of the life-situation swirling around us is that we are living in a place that is not our true home.  1 Peter 2:11 says we are "temporary residents and foreigners" and Jesus confirms this in John 15 by telling us we do not belong to this world but are people who are to live in and serve in the world (in emulation of Jesus).  In effect we are God's investment in this world He loves, here to bear fruit and make a difference in the lives of people.

     3. Jesus tells us not to be troubled ... for He has it under control both now and in eternity (John 14).

     4. He also gives us a promise that even when we are overwhelmed He has overcome the world (John 16:33) and that we can have peace because of what Jesus has done.

As I read these passages, I will be working to take them in, digest them, appropriate them for my life and give them rule over my attitude (a difficult thing for me to do).  Pray for me to a) let Jesus rule my heart and b) for me to be able love in the way He loved us ... as He and the Father love one another.  This brings to mind the lyrics of a song written a while back called "Oh, The Deep Deep Love of Jesus (S. Trevor Francis, 1870)."  Here are those timeless words:

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

If I can allow Him to do this work of love in my life, I am pretty sure everything else will work itself out.  Thanks!  Pastor Randy