Monday, February 27, 2012

A Sign of Good Things

The past few weeks have be interesting.  It seems that Satan has been throwing things at me, our staff, our people and at our faith.  He does that, you know, I think to get us off our game and out of our walk with God.  As I was thinking about why this seems to happen.  Then I thought of 2 Corinthians 4 where Paul recounts his troubles and hardships.  He gives us hope in these times of trial.

Paul reminds us that we are fragile (I've always liked the term 'cracked-pots').  He says we are breakable containers that hold great treasure.  We face troubles, we are pressed on every side and we are knocked down by our life-issues.  But then Paul tells us something that comes from our solid foundation in Christ and our basis in His life.  Paul tells us  we are not crushed and we are not driven to despair.  Instead, we rise up again after falling.  We are not destroyed by our trials.  The very life of Christ is seen in our ability to bounce back.

In speaking with one of my friends I remarked that people who are living in the place where Satan is pleased might not be facing today's turmoil or even tomorrow's challenges.  Why should Satan torment them out of the comfort they are experiencing?  They are living in temporary pleasure, a false state of comfort or a place in the unreality of this world that will one day fade away.  My hope for them is that we can lead them into the dangerous, challenging and real world where God is our source of sustenance, Jesus is our source of life and we are always becoming people who live out the resurrection daily.

If life deals you a couple bags of cow manure, go out and plant a tree!  Pastor Randy

Sunday, February 19, 2012


As we begin the journey through Lent to Easter (Lent starts this Wednesday, February 22nd) I have spent the day reflecting over how long-time churchgoers often get confused and off-track.  I hear things like "oh ... that's Old Testament," dismissing something said because it came from the books written prior to Matthew.  I wonder if these folks bother to look into Scriptural quotes from Jesus, all of which were 'Old Testament.'  I hear other people speak negatively about certain topics because the topic makes them uncomfortable.  Again, these topics are often the subject of significant material from Jesus, the example Christians are supposed to follow.  I'm not trying to be negative ... only understand the behavior and Biblical knowledge of these people who have been in the church their entire lives and continue to make these statements.  Then it dawned on me ... the issue is one of experience.

I used to hire lots of people and would employ them in the business I managed.  Some were quick learners, knowledge seekers and curious to know new things.  When such an employee worked for me for three years, I would deem them to have three years of experience.  Others did the very minimum (if that) and resisted anything they were asked to do beyond the basics.  If I was unlucky enough to have that person with me for three years, he/she still only had one year of experience, just three times.  I believe this is the issue I often see in the church.  Biblical writers make this same observation.  Paul observes "I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready," (1 Cor. 3:2).  The writer of Hebrews says "you have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food" (Hebrews 5:12).

During Lent I call each of us to travel in a state of humility, openness to teaching and an attitude of seeking God's will.  Let's grow in knowledge, service, worship, generosity and grace as God teaches us (through Old and New Testaments).  And let's allow God's word to do what God's Spirit always does ... blows where it will.  After all, God is not a tame God and we will not be in a true state of growth and grace until we accept Jesus' teaching ... all of it!  If we do that, what an amazing experience we will have as we are transformed from spiritual babies into mature, useful and productive Jesus followers.  Pastor Randy

Sunday, February 12, 2012


It is sometimes amazing how many hats I get to wear each week (one of the things I really like ... variety).  As a pastor those hats can be almost anything.

I was reminded of these hats the first week I was in pastoral ministry.  Believe it or not, my first task as the pastor of a small Kentucky church was to get a cat out of a tree.  Maybe God was trying to teach me a lesson in humility.  I hope it worked because we are the love justice, do mercy and walk in humility with God.

This has been a humbling week.  Counselor, financial planner, cook, grandfather, father, preacher, pastor, husband, mover, backpack blesser, CFO, graphic designer and Sunday school teacher ... all hats I have worn.  It is all part of life when you are the only pastor (with lots of help from JK) at a 380 member congregation.  I think the key to sanity and "keeping it between the lines" lies in two things.  The first thing is what my friend Jennifer shared in church this morning ... "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding [check it out in Proverbs]."  Without God's power, wisdom and provision I would get nothing worthwhile accomplished.  The second key for me is to remember not to take myself too seriously.  The weekly experience of having people tell me about their revelations from the Holy Spirit (sometimes in direct contradiction to one another), people telling me that their solutions to life are more practical than God's solutions, people asking if God will forgive them for what they are about to do and people who are so caught up in our fallen world that they don't even see God's blessings passing by are all temptations to play the experience card or the knowledge card or the seminary card ... and they would all be mistakes that would shut down discussion, giving me comfort but distancing myself from the people I have been sent to serve.  Jesus put it best (paraphrased) "Leaders in the world lord over those they lead but it will not be this way for you [His followers].  For the greatest among you will be those that become servants."

Hey ... if it's good enough for Jesus it should be good enough for me!  Pastor Randy

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cell Phones and Mountain Dew

One day as I hurried through life I learned several simultaneous lessons.  With my 44oz. Diet Mountain Dew, stoked on caffeine, multitasking while driving I tried one too many tasks ... answering my cell phone.  Don't know how it happened but my phone slipped from my hand and somehow made it into the 44oz cup of tasty sweetness, carbonation and citric acid.  I am not sure whether the moisture or the acid got through first but I learned your phone works about 7 minutes after such an event.  I also learned a few other things ...

"Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes." Proverbs 19:2 reminds me that when I get caught up in the rat race, no matter how fast I move I am still a rat.

"It is safer to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than to confront a fool caught in foolishness."  Proverbs 17:12 reminds me that my lack of judgement sometimes makes me my own worst enemy.  I have learned that even well meaning Christians get caught up in self-righteous foolishness thinking that the voice of the Holy Spirit is clearer to them than to anyone else.  They seem to tell themselves that by quoting a bunch of Scripture they can 'prove' their particular take on a doctrine, thought great minds have searched the Scripture for thousands of years, coming to alternate conclusions.  And worse they are stuck on doctrine that isn't even foundational for salvation.  One of my professors describes these self-proclaimed experts like this ... "It is like a group of blind men in a cave searching for a bear that is really there."  Translation ... when they see God they might not like what they find.

Cell phones and mountain dew don't mix.  Real faith and divisive arguments over doctrine don't mix well either.  Proverbs also says, "Don't lean on your own understanding, but instead trust the Lord in your heart."
Good advice.  Simple, principled and perfect! Pastor Randy