Monday, December 29, 2014

Unseen Hands ...

Christmas has been pretty busy this year.  It has made me appreciative of all of those unseen things that "just happen" at our church.  The decorations "happened" because of those unseen hands.  The communion elements "appeared" because of those unseen hands.  The food for Celebrate Recovery was not a mirage ... it was real and really good because of those unseen hands.  Programs for Motley Men, early December Wednesday nights, Miracle in a Manger and nursing homes "materialized" somehow in the midst of the franticness.  Music and sound "happened" from those unseen hands.  But unlike so many other churches I have been part of you noticed and showed your appreciation in meaningful ways.  On behalf of the staff, the volunteers and Lee and I, I thank you for noticing, for YOUR appreciation and the love you show us every day.  You are truly a blessing from God ... and we give thanks to Him for you.  May your Christmas stay bright in your heart and may His star shine through the New Year.  Thanks for showing all of us that those hands weren't really unseen!  Randy

Monday, December 15, 2014


Where is your treasure?  What do you value the highest?  What do you take with you everywhere?

Luke 2:19 says, "but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often."  What are "all these things?"

For Mary I could only guess from the text she might have played back the series of events that have brought her to that moment of reflection ... the angel's appearance in Luke 1:26-38, the visit with Elizabeth and the knowledge that she and Elizabeth are forever connected by the little boys they carry in the womb, her song of joy and faith (Luke 1:46-55), the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus in the stable and the visit of the shepherds.

The Scriptures about all of this reveal a Mary that seems to be calm and reflective in the midst of what, for most of us, would be events that bring anxiety, fear and a mind that is racing with possibilities.  "What will the neighbors say?"  "How will Joseph and I provide for him?"  "How does a 14 year old girl become a mother?"  "What is this child that brings peace and calm to his mother in the midst of all of this?"  "How do I keep my promise to God to be open and used by Him?"

I am challenged by that last question, because of all of those thoughts, that should be the one I keep in my heart and think about often.  It is a question for every day.  The answer answers another question ... where and what is my treasure?  Randy

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How Far

"In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son." (from John 1, NLT).

This passage describes how far Jesus came to meet us where we are.  From before creation ... from eternity into time ... from God's place to your place and my place.

The next time you entertain a thought of how far it is to church, how far you have to go to serve Him, think about how far God came to find and save you.  Pretty amazing?


Monday, December 1, 2014

That Name

You might have seen the sign "Jesus is the reason for the season" or heard the song, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus ... there is something about that name."  For Christians, both are true, but what is in a name?  Lots!

In Hebrew tradition people usually had one name with the addition of the father's name at times (problematic at the time of Jesus' birth, since He was God's only son).  For example, the Bible sometimes refers to Peter, also called Simon, as "Simon bar Jonah" ... Simon, son of Jonah.  So Jesus is called Jesus, but what does the name mean?

I will elaborate more on Sunday but Jesus is a name derived from the Hebrew name Jeshua or, more commonly, Joshua.  The name basically means "He saves" or, as many have translated it, "Our God saves."  It can also be translated as "Savior" and this translation is consistently affirmed by the Gospels which, in the Luke birth narrative, says, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11.

But the real question is one Jesus asked Himself.  "Who do you say I am?" (Matthew 16:15).  He is asking two things ... "Do you know who I am and do you CLAIM who I am."  In this world of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and someone selling almost everything, are you buying what Jesus is selling?  Wouldn't that be a bargain at any price, yet it is free but not cheap.  It will cost you nothing of worldly value but everything that is really worth anything.  Because we, especially at Christmas, should be asking if we are willing to do what Joseph did ... claim the name of Jesus?