Monday, April 28, 2014


In my new message series I will be sharing about real people in real situations.  But never forget that the stories of the people in the Bible are also real people who are ably representing us in their faith, their faithlessness, their struggle, their triumph and their understanding (or lack of understanding) of the living God.  Their stories are OUR stories.

I have a friend named Michael Belk who has met more famous people that I will ever name ( you can check him out at ).  Michael's story is interesting, and maybe his story is your story.  During the past 30 years, Michael Belk’s photography has appeared in fashion publications including Vogue, Elle, GQ and Vanity Fair for clients that included Nautica, J.Crew and others.  A self-taught photographer who never picked-up a camera until he was 20, Michael grew up in Central Florida, working in retail clothing in high school and college. Although he planned a career in the fashion industry and worked as a sales executive for Gant, a popular men’s clothing line in the ’60s and 70s, photography snagged his soul. By 42, Michael says that his life was defined by “great excitement, huge success, but very little substance.” It was a busy life, but one running on empty. Something was missing. That's when he had a visitor (I think His name was Jesus) and he recalls “the absolute presence of God” in his room. God asked,  “More of your way or would you like to try Mine?” He wanted to try “God’s way.”

Michael's photography project, Journey With the Messiah places Jesus in modern settings that will challenge and change our world.  The rich young ruler stands beside a sports car, complete with a beautiful woman in the passenger seat.  A broken (and broke) executive lies across the lap of Jesus with his briefcase open and the papers scattered ... there is rest for the weary with Jesus!

Michael's project is unique but his story of meeting a very alive Jesus is not.  When we meet Jesus we are changed.  We will still have struggles ... some that take us to our limits.  But we never need to doubt that Jesus is there.  Michael learned that and it took his gift for creativity and beauty in a new direction.  Isaiah says that we, when God's day happens, will sing a new song.  So, what is your new tune?  Christ the Lord is risen.  Let's get to work together!  Randy

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Getting to Work

Easter was a wonderful and glorious celebration of God's goodness.  Robert and Janet Hinson joind Abbeville UMC ... Katie Hinson, Jackson Blalock, Faith-Anne Hunt and Clayton Larsen became full members of AUMC through confirmation and Katie and Clayton were baptized.  We held services on Thursday (Maundy Thursday), Friday (Tenebrae), a church-wide picnic on Saturday and two services (9am and 11am) on Sunday.  Lots of work, energy an effort went in to these events and I would be irresponsible if I didn't thank the unsung heroes (the choir and praise team, Lucky, Mark, all the people who prepared food and schlepped back and forth to make each event a success, those that prepared communion/the tomb in the Sanctuary/the eggs for the egg hunt/etc., Ron for keeping up with all the sound system stuff, Judi (and many helpers) for the picnic, and many others who (in unseen ways) did something to make things work out.  THANK YOU!

It would be easy to sit back and admire the work God did this week in the hearts and lives of the people.  But what God did was not what most of us think.  While all of these events were going on last week and we thought each event was an end in itself, it was not ... each event was a beginning.  Let me say it another way.  It is spring.  I have seen many farmers and some of you out plowing your fields.  Some have even planted something in those fields.  So your task is done, right?  NO ... your task has just started.  You have planted seed.  It must be watered.  It must be tilled and weeded.  The crop will not come till harvest time and that will be work too. 

So it is with last week.  God planted seed.  If we are obedient and attentive we will take advantage of the times when God will water that seed.  He will have that watering can out on Wednesday when John teaches at Motley men in the morning or at our Wednesday evening Bible study.  He will have it out at one of the current Bible Studies or maybe the new Bible Study Fellowship I would like to start in a few weeks (more on this later).  He will water, weed and till on Sunday mornings at the 9am or 11am services.  Several things can happen to the seed.  God's Word (Matthew 13) says God is planting seed.  Some of it falls on the footpath to be consumed by the birds.  Some of it falls in shallow soil where it germinates but wilts and dies.  Some of it falls among thorns and is choked out.  But some falls in fertile soil and produces an abundance.  It is up to you to decide whether you will invest time, prayer, study, fellowship, service and sacrifice to become that seed that produces fruit.  So you decide ... which seed are you?   Randy

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Telling

I saw the Noah movie the other day.  I won't spoil the movie for those of you who plan to go see it, but there was a scene that I really liked.  The ark is being tossed by the storm of all the centuries and the people are afraid.  So Noah, in true Hebrew form, does something that is remarkable in our electronic culture.  He tells a story ... and not just any story.

Noah tells the people on the arc the story of creation.  He describes how God made everything and how God is the most powerful force in the universe.  He tells them God made everything in its perfect order and how people failed to follow some fairly simple instructions.  In the telling of the story, I believe Noah gives comfort to the people who see the bigness, the creativity, the deft touch of a beautiful and fearsome God.  God, in creation, writes a story into which He writes people ... the treasure of His creation.

As I reread that story I get comfort in the telling of the creation account.  I see, hear and feel the poetry and beauty as God paints the beauty of nature in real and living color.  Friday I thought of this wondrous God as I paddled across Choctawhatchee Bay into a pod of dolphin ... and heard them breathing.  God gave them that breath, that life, that beauty and a grace that I cannot describe.  And that is small when compared to the grace He gave us on a cruel, ugly but necessary cross ... made necessary by the two people in that first creation story.  When they walked out of the garden in exile God was already making a way home.

Sunday (at 9am and 11am) come and hear the Telling of that story ... of Jesus and His love!


Monday, April 7, 2014


This is the time of the year when you might see me driving east after work toward Ft. Gaines.  Fishing season is in full force and I have already bagged a few bass (some have made it to the frying pan).  This year I had a different kind of fishing story.  Usually these stories are about the monstrous fish that were hooked but lost due to broken line or some other malfunction that wasn't my fault.  This year's story is different.  It is about how I caught a bass while riding my bicycle.

You might have seen me riding my bike through town, but one day a few weeks back I took the bicycle and my kayak to Ft. Gaines.  I placed the kayak in the water not too far from the dam and caught a few small fish along the bank.  I got tired of fishing so I put the kayak in the truck and got on the bike.  I rode along the Corps of Engineers area and was enjoying the ride when I looked down at the lake.  In a corner of the cove I saw a good sized bass swimming along the bank.  I wondered ... "Can I make it back to the truck, drive up here and get my fishing rod before the bass leaves the area?"  I did just that and caught that bass on the third cast ... he was in the frying pan that evening.

As I thought about how I caught the biggest fish of my season while doing something totally non-fishing oriented, I realized there was a lesson here.  When we are doing another kind of fishing (for people) we might have our plan played out in our mind.  A person will come up to us and ask, "What can I do to be saved?"  The truth is, that almost never happens, even to preachers.  Usually the opportunities to witness to someone about Christ come at inconvenient times when we are doing something else.  1 Peter 3:15 says ... "And if someone asks you about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it."  Always includes the times you are busy, the times you are distracted and the times when you really don't feel like it.  On my fishing trip, I could have said, "I am riding ... not fishing."  That would have been true but I would have missed the blessing of the big catch.  How about you ... do you realize that our number one vocation (as Christians) is fishing?  Are you ready to tell about your Christian hope in the midst of everyday life (God happens while life happens)?  Do you realize that our congregation has 234 evangelists (fisher-people), all with a story of hope, grace and love from our Savior?  What if all of us realized that every day is a fishing expedition, even when we are riding our bikes?  Randy