Monday, June 29, 2015


In a society where greatness is discussed as the athlete who excels or the business executive that makes big bucks for his/her company, I wonder if we know what greatness really is? We will look at true greatness over the next few weeks as we explore the great things of God.  What is true greatness?  What is brave, courageous, worthy?  Does society have it right or wrong?

These are good questions and they can be somewhat addressed by watching a sporting event.  The announcers will call Lebron James great because he raises the level of his team.  They will call a player courageous because he/she makes great plays and excels in athletic prowess.  They will proclaim a player the "king" because of skills, size, strength, dexterity or "having a head" for that sport.  But are any of these things really great?  Are the great pastors on TV or serving mega-churches?  A better question might be, what does God think is great, because God's opinion is the only one that really counts.

Why is God great?  What is great about the great commandment, the great commission, the great requirement and the great promises of God?

Maybe, great describes a person who places others before themselves.  As we celebrate our independence and freedom, lets ask, "Who are those great people that founded, affirmed and protected our freedom?"  And, who is the one who gives us true freedom?

"Let them know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth!" Ps. 84:18 NRSV

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Yesterday I went home at lunch and did an hour ride on my bicycle.  As I cooled-down I sat on the couch and found myself drifting off in a very short (10 min.) little power nap.  I wish I could say I plan and do this every day.  I think it might make me more productive, but usually I am moving form one place to another.  But since Wednesday is a long day (7am-8pm plus homework after 8pm) I didn't feel too guilty.  Sometimes sleeping is good.  But sometimes sleeping is not so good.

The New Testament talks about sleeping.  The message is pretty clear ... be alert!  "So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation. For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing."  Paul writes these words to the church in Thessalonia (Chapter 5) in a time of strife, turmoil and darkness.  It is not unlike our times.  Last evening, while we worshiped God and studied His word from Philippians, a church in Charleston, South Carolina was attacked by a vicious, troubled and evil presence in the form of a young man.  Nine African-American believers were killed, including their pastor.

Two comments about this story.  First, we never know when that day is coming when Christ returns or when we will go on to be with God.  So be "clearheaded."  We serve a loving and perfect God in a fallen world where people are capable on atrocities we wouldn't ever consider possible.  We must be awake and sober to these events and be listening for how God would have us respond. The mayor of Charleston encouraged his community to embrace and uphold this little church in their grief, loss and recovery.  We can pray, be aware of our surroundings and become those people who respond by making our presence in the life and work of God's church felt, seen, persistent and awake!  Come alive Church ... now is the time for God's people to shine!

Second, we (as a nation) have become asleep and inattentive to the work of Satan through drugs, alcohol, gangs and violence.  Our congregation has been hit directly by this as we have been robbed of our belongings and the memories those belongings represented.  I would be willing to bet (and I think law enforcement would agree) all of these thefts (my guitar, the Navajo mission team) are related to drugs, alcohol or the violent threads being woven through the fabric of society.  People's possessions, including precious life, have become things to be taken if the perpetrator has a need, desire or whim to take them.  Personal desires have trumped the good of society.  Wake up, especially you fathers and mothers, and tell your kids that this is not how to do life.  Wake up church and teach that the world is not about self, getting what YOU want from God ... life is about God getting what HE needs from the people HE created.  Pray ... act ... love those that have been hurt and oppressed ... teach ... learn ... become examples/witnesses ... and do what the United Methodist Discipline leads pastors/leaders to do ... oppose evil wherever it presents itself.  The violence in our society isn't against those other people ... it is against people that God created. THEY are our brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, mothers, fathers ... part of that true vine called Christ.  Randy

Sunday, June 14, 2015


Persisting is an honest and necessary attribute of the Christian journey.  Much of life isn't found in the glitzy, the glamorous, the flashy, the easy, the push-button mindset or the quick rise to the top.  Life generally doesn't work that way.  Life, instead, seems to be a constant act of persisting through, past, over and under obstacles.  Those who persist seem to get to those places where God's plan and work become more evident.  Peter knew this as he encourages us to persist when it is appropriate and wait when it is necessary.

Jimmy Rane forwarded an email to me which reflected this theme.  Someone was questioning the value of being in church for the past 30 years, yet not remembering sermons, Sunday School lessons and other "teachings" that would constitute the spiritual food of the church experience.  A wise person answered the questioner asking how many meals they had consumed during that time.  They might not remember each meal (maybe only a handful) yet each meal gave them the nourishment for that day's journey through life.  Without that food, they would not have survived to ask that theological question.

I wonder ... do we take in the lessons of the sermons, Sunday School teachings and other spiritual mentoring that feed us what we need to survive each day?  Do we notice the nourishment or do we take it for granted like those meals that have sustained us over time?  What would our lives be like without that spiritual nourishment?  And ... what would our lives be like if we had listened, savored, reflected and applied those lessons?  Randy

Monday, June 8, 2015

Wrap Me In Your Arms

On our trip to Belize this past month we were blessed to be in worship with Ed and Arita Lemas in their church.  It was a great participatory worship experience as Ed led the music and the people sang with passion.  Ed introduced us to a new song called "Wrap Me In Your Arms" which expresses God's attributes of nurture, transformation and presence in the midst of our struggles. 

If you were in our worship Sunday I believe you felt and saw passion as we sang with both joy and tears.  One of our favorite people was not with us, for she has gone on ahead to God and His glory.  But we sang remembering Jackie Leddon and her legacy of singing with us.  What I believe Jackie might say to us today, the day after her funeral, is this.  There is a point and destination to what God is doing with us.  The song Ed sang says, "take me to that place Lord ... where I am changed ... where I can become more like You."  Did you know that every experience in life points to those things?  To how God will change you through today's events.  To how God will comfort you by wrapping you in His arms.  To how God (amazing for the creator of the universe to desire this) longs for us to come to Him and be held in His perfect place, just for us.

I must end this blog today with pride for the way all of the Church followed God's lead yesterday.  You wrapped Jackie and her family in your arms.  You expressed love to Ron and his friends/family materially, verbally and physically as you shouted your love for them.  Did you know that during that process God achieved His purpose in you?  For you became His hands, feet, tears and heart as you loved like He would love.  Well done!  Thanks for wrapping this family in your arms of grace, love and comfort.  You are amazing!  Randy

Monday, June 1, 2015


Last evening, at the opening session of Annual Conference, we were ably reminded of God's activity in the world, sometimes because of our faithfulness and sometimes in spite of our faithlessness.  Bishop Lowry, from Texas, spoke from Acts 12, which finds God doing miraculous things that release Peter from prison and God's Church meeting behind closed doors.  When the Church is told the freed Peter is at the door they think the servant girl giving them the report is off her rocker.  I find this story so much like the present Church.

God is doing great things and we sometimes meet and bemoan the condition of the world and our country.  Prisoners are being freed ... addicted people are being healed ... people are coming to Christ in the middle east ... Samaritan's Purse boxes are flooding Belize (YOU are part of this) ... and yet we sit, pray for God to help our nation and believe that hiding behind our safe doors will protect us from the world out there. 

Here is where I want to give you an "attaboy."  Thank you for leaving the safe places and going to our (yes OUR) kids at the Boys and Girls Club, OUR brothers and sisters in New Mexico, OUR kindred in Appalachia and OUR community to give love and proclaim the message that God still reigns.  In 2 Peter we hear negative words about those that scoff at God's activity and God's promises.  Let's continue to be doers and not scoffers.  Yes, there is plenty of trouble and danger out there.  But let's stop and remember why Peter was imprisoned in the first place.  He was cast into jail because he was considered DANGEROUS to the Jewish leadership and Roman occupiers.  He was heavily guarded because his words ( the Gospel) challenged and confronted the leaders in charge.  He was freed because God was sending a message ... "I still reign."  Let's continue to be part of that powerful kingdom of God that is still seeing miracles!