Monday, February 24, 2014


I really don't like the word surviving.  It implies just hanging on to life without quality of life and I don't think it fits with Jesus saying, "I came so you might have life and have it to the fullest."  Still, at times, we travel through places in life where we just need to survive.

I am rereading a book by Philip Yancey called "Soul Survivor."  It tells the story of how Mr. Yancey was able to survive his fundamentalist upbringing and negative church experience and find real faith where we love God with our heart, soul MIND and strength (note the emphasis on mind).  I, and Philip Yancey, agree that Christians should be the greatest thinkers, the most vivid dreamers and the most profound storytellers of any people on earth.  We are told that when Jesus comes we will "dream dreams and see visions (Joel 2:28)" ... that means all of us!  We are blessed by the writings of Paul and the great Christian thinkers of history including G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis (Yancey talks about both of them in his book).  And Jesus was, in my estimation, the greatest storyteller of all time, bringing truth, challenge and clarity to us through His stories of life.

Yancey, in this amazing book (my favorite Yancey book), tells of 13 people who directly and/or indirectly strengthened his faith by mentoring him through a time of simple survival into the abundant life Jesus promised.  The book reminds me that we all need mentors and those who challenge us, lead us, correct us, make us think and give us a breath of fresh air in a world where we, too often, feel like cattle wandering through the desert.  Maybe God sends these people who reflect a little of Jesus and give us Isaiah's "streams in the desert."

Sunday I will be sharing some of my favorite parts of this book and the stories of faith that lift us up out of the miry clay of being stuck in our faith journey.  You know I love stories so come and hear those stories that have pierced my heart and led me to God's place.  Randy

Monday, February 17, 2014


In our last few houses we have had a garage.  I should say a vestigial garage, since we have, to my knowledge, almost never had the available space to actually park a car.  Our garage has always been filled with stuff we couldn't put anywhere else.  So the stuff has displaced the car that should be there.

There is a lesson the garage can teach me.  I have always been a driven person.  I am writing this blog at 10:07 on a Friday evening (it is supposed to be my day off).  But here I am, because when the message comes into my mind, I go to my computer to write it down.  If I don't, it will be gone and I might never get it back again.  I know that sounds noble in some way, but there is something not so good here.  I will be thinking about this, my message on Sunday, the schedule for the next week and lots of other things at 11pm when I put my head on the pillow.  I will stop ... put myself in the "garage" but I will forget something ... to turn off the motor.

I have always had difficulty shutting down and really resting.  I share this because I have tried, in the past few years, to take some outdoor time when I get totally away and into nature.  This is my real "down" time when all I am thinking about is paddling across the bay or along the bank of a lake.  A long time ago I learned a song that is in our hymnal.  It is an Hispanic hymn that can be sung in either Spanish or English.  It has a beautiful classical tune that gives me comfort and peace.  The words are "Lord, you have come to the lake shore looking neither for wealthy nor wise ones. You only asked me to follow humbly. O Lord, with your eyes you have searched me, kindly smiling, have spoken my name. Now my boat's left on the shoreline behind me; by your side I will seek other seas. You know so well my possessions; my boat carries no gold and no weapons; You only need, my nets and labor. O Lord, with your eyes you have searched me, kindly smiling, have spoken my name. Now my boat's left on the shoreline behind me; by your side I will seek other seas."

Jesus remind us that following Him means bearing a yoke that is easy and carrying a burden that is light, because He is with us.  I think this means giving up our worries and our type-a-ness to a God who gives us peace and rest.  I need to yield my day, my worries, my life to Him and turn off that motor.  Pray that I will be successful.  Randy

Monday, February 10, 2014

It's Hard

It is hard for me to do what is asked by the sermon this Sunday.  I have a tendency to interject myself into conversations before I let the speaker play out what they are saying.  I have to consciously work on listening and not talking when I am involved in a conversation.  I, to all of you who I have interrupted, ask your forgiveness and pardon ... I will try to do better.  The kicker is, I even do this when I am talking to God.

On February 2nd, during Communion at the 1st service, I used a video from Kari Jobe called "The More I Seek You."  The words of the song are beautiful and reflect the words of Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  Herein lies my problem ... I often tell God what I want rather than listen to what God wants.  I forget that I have two ears and one mouth and should listen twice as much as I speak.  I forget that God has a opinion that is better and smarter than mine.

I often remind myself of a friend named Amos, a preacher from a previous church.  Amos was a good soul but we knew to never ask Amos to preach before a meal (at least if you were hungry).  Amos would go off into the salutations of a great, merciful and mighty God and would get through this part of the prayer in about five minutes.  Then it was time to settle in.  When Amos prayed you could count on cold green beans and tepid stew ... and growling stomachs.

This week I hope all of us can go to God and use our ears.  God has a lot to say and he will direct our paths if we let Him.  Maybe we will find less trouble, less anxiety, less tension, fewer headaches and less conflict. Maybe we will find more calm, more peace, more grace and more God when we choose to listen.

Let's give it a try and trust God to be a light unto our path and a lamp unto our feet.  Randy

Monday, February 3, 2014

Our Real Name

There are three basic relationships that drive everyday life.  Our relationships with other people, our relationship to God and our relationship with ourselves.  But the foundation of these three relationships is our relationship to God.  Are we honest with God?  Are we transparent with God?  Are we willing to let down our guard and show God our real name?

A long time ago I read a series of books by Ursula Le Guin.  The books were "The Earthsea Trilogy."  I don't remember much about the books except that they involved a mythical kingdom where magic was alive and well, demons roamed around freely, and you only gave your real name out to those you would trust with your life.  In the books, knowing the true name of something or someone gave you power over that person or thing.  While the book was fantasy I think there is some truth to this concept.  We closely hold our true self ... our true name.  We tell and show the world what they want to see or what we want them to see.  It is a rare person we can be so vulnerable to that we can tell them our true name.  We hide that name from others and we hide that name from God.  We often don't know that name ourselves.

Here are a couple of errors in this line of thought and this way of living life.  First, while we are careful to hide our real self we really can't hide completely.  I have news for you.  The honest people around you probably already know something is wrong and that you have brokenness in your life.  It is OK.  In Celebrate Recovery we face that brokenness and evaluate our relationships to see if we need to forgive someone or ourselves.

Second, God sees us clearly and chooses to love us anyway.  His children (Adam and Eve) messed up pretty bad, so if we or our children mess up, join the rest of humanity.  God is omnipresent ... so we cannot hide anything from Him.  That is both reassuring and scary.

I love the passage in Isaiah (43:1-2) that says "But thus says the Lord, He who created you O Jacob, He who formed you O Israel: Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name and you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flames shall not consume you."  God's Word says God knows our name.  He made us.  He is the one who gives us our real name.  Maybe we should learn that name, become real and become open and transparent to God.  He can get us through the bad places.  And He has power over us whether we acknowledge it or not.  Knowing your real name, sharing it with God and those you trust is a good start to healing.