Monday, August 31, 2015


I heard a message on conflict that had some worthwhile tidbits for all of us in God's Church. When Priscilla and Aquila heard a young and brash Apollos speak they did a masterful job of confronting his doctrinal failings in a beautiful and encouraging way.  They called him aside, they expressed encouragement, they did not raise a stink and they DID all they could to maintain his ability to go out and become what God had called this young man to be.  I hope we will learn from their example that the Biblical way of dealing with conflict (going straight to the person) should always be our norm.  We are to bear each other up in life's great times and life's failings.  Thanks for listening!  Randy

Monday, August 24, 2015


Our spiritual life is truly a balance.  This is true for us as individuals and as corporate bodies (congregations).  Two components of that balance are correct belief and correct action.  As Jesus speaks through John in Revelation 2 we find a description of this balance.

The congregation at Ephesus is given good marks for their attention to orthodoxy and keeping false beliefs and teachers out of the church.  They test their teachers against the foundation of God's Word and they expel falseness.  That is a good thing.

However, it appears that the church had become a bastion of doctrinal correctness but also inattentiveness to God's first priority, love.  Paul, in 1 Cor. 13 tells us that without love our prophecy, eloquence, knowledge and even our faith is lost in nothingness.  Jesus said that WITH love of God and people we would be true to all of the commandments of God.  I think they are onto what the Ephesians had lost ... the true # 1 thing.

I believe what is being said in Revelation 2, 1 Cor. 13 and Jesus' "Great Commandment" is that the flow of our faith, our ability to teach, our ability to win others to an understanding of God and our worship must necessarily flow from a love of God and people.  This is the foundation upon which our doctrine and our orthodoxy rests.  Without love it all blows away like (to quote a famous song) dust in the wind.  That is precisely why Jesus Himself tells the Ephesians that failure to get this right will result in Jesus removing their lampstand ... they would cease to be part of the Church.  WOW, love must be really important as the foundation of correct action!

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Artist

Will you watch the Potters hand moving in and through the clay
a vessel not yet born, through His gift transform, into a thing of beauty.

Do you love the way, a summer sunset’s painted on the sky
oh how the eagle dances when he flies, and if you find you’re silenced
by the beauty that surrounds us, wait until you meet the Artist.

You come from a secret place, where fear and wonder meet
woven together, in the image of our Maker, you are His masterpiece.

Do you love to hear the poetry of a mother’s lullaby, or the music in a newborn babies cry
and if you find you’re humbled by the beauty that surrounds us, wait until you meet the Artist.

Do you love the way, a summer sunset’s painted on the sky, or the music in a newborn babies cry
and if you find you’re humbled by the beauty that surrounds us, wait until you meet the Artist.

These beautiful words by Geoff Moore (The Artist) are from a wonderful, classical song in which God is viewed as an artist molding the people and world around Him.  As we prepare for God's double-edged sword of words to the 7 Churches of Asia, we see the stark contrast of how each church views their world and how God sees their life-context and their witness in the world.  Those who are proud are brought down.  Those who are tired and weary find a God who sees and praises their work.  Those who are trying to straddle the fence find a God who is angry at the clay pot he has formed.  Jesus has invested His life in forming and equipping His Church.  Let's listen together as the Master's hand forms and shapes ... encourages and warns ... reveals and exposes ... tears down and builds up.  Solomon was right ... there is a time for every purpose under heaven.  Randy

Monday, August 10, 2015

Beyond Sight

As Christians we are believers in things that are beyond what we see with our eyes.  We believe in faith, "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1).  We transcend the obvious to see people with the eyes of Jesus, seeing past their flaws and into their possibilities (Jesus told the woman caught in adultery that He didn't come to condemn her).  We believe that God can forgive and change us, claiming God's designation of us as new creations.  And, we believe that God wants us to find Him, though that search is sometimes clouded by daily events or our idols and priorities.

John (Revelation 1:10) is worshiping "in the Spirit" on the Lord's Day (Sunday for these new Christians).  John hears a voice commanding him to "Write in a book everything you see."  The vision that John experiences is vivid, textured and difficult to describe (note that John uses the term "like" often because he does not have words that adequately describe what he sees).  This vision has appeared out of a normal worship time and a normal worship experience.  But sometimes we forget something beyond our sight happens every time we gather for worship.  God is present, active and available in the context of worship.

I wonder ... what would happen to this people called Christians if we grasped this truth and lived accordingly?   What if we really believe and are really open to the God who is truly present in our daily lives and especially in our times of worship?  Would this knowledge allow us to see visions and dream dreams (Joel 2)?  Would it bring us to our knees, shunning the pride that keeps us "appropriately dignified" in our worship?  Would we or could we describe the experience?  Would we fall at the feet of this God who has come to us, emerging from the fog of this world into what we might call reality?  Or ... has He been there waiting for us to emerge from the unreality of the daily grind into His glorious presence?  I hope this is a good and piercing question for all of us.  Randy

Monday, August 3, 2015

In the Title

I have been amused at names and titles that desire to tell one story and end up saying another thing entirely.  On the way to Foley, Alabama there is a church called the "Overcoming Faith" iteration of some Christian denomination.  As I processed the name I decided I would never go there.  My faith is overcome by too many daily distractions and world events ... I certainly don't need training for my faith to be overcome.

This week we will begin our first week of the Sermon Series "A Wild Ride."  The series will explore the Revelation in depth and I will be devotion time and energy to provide some extra resources.  Most of these resources will be in blog form or will appear on the Abbeville United Methodist Church website. I invite you to look for these resources each week.

As for today, I will just remind you that John, in the Revelation, makes a point to address the main point when he says,  "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants" (Rev.1:1, NKJV).  The book reveals the nature ... the mission ... the passion ... the cross ... the victory of Jesus Christ.  Jesus, and the story of Jesus imbedded in the Jewish narrative, is the point.  So come to hear about Jesus.  Come to learn and dialogue.  Come to hear, not about the end of all things, but the beginning of a reality that will go on for eternity.

I am excited to take this journey with you.  I pray you are excited too!  Randy