Monday, September 24, 2012


Wow have we had lots of new people and visitors at Good News over the past few weeks.  I could give all of the Good News regulars a pep talk to be friendly, attentive and "step across the room" to get to know these new folks.  Many of you will do a great job of this anyway so what I would like to do is address this blog to the folks who are new members, visitors, people who are seeking a place to worship God and to hear God's Word.  Here goes:

1. First, I am honored to be in worship with you!  Isn't it wonderful that we can come together and collectively point toward God, seeking His advice, hearing His word, giving to His work and loving His people?  Just so you know, my goal in worship and in preaching isn't to tell you what I know, give you some pop psychology or tell you some platitudes that will make you feel good.  My goal is to tell you, in the best way I know how, what the Lord says.  This calling goes all the way back to the Patriarchs in the Old Testament to the writers of the short letters in the New Testament.  Jesus said in John that we would worship in Spirit and Truth.  We will strive to do that.
2. Second, we are very far from perfect.  Good News is relatively new and there are ways we don't have our act as together as we should.  Be patient and become part of our ability to do all things better ... we need your help and your giftedness.  We are not a refuge of saints but rather a place where sick people gather for healing.  After all, Jesus said He came to reach and heal the sick ... not to help those who think they are righteous.  If you want to be part of a ministry, if you desire to serve in some way, if you have an idea for a new ministry or if you just want to participate in some meaningful way we hope Good News will be just the place for you.  I will personally try to connect you to a place where you can make a difference to God.
3. Third, Good News is committed to making the community better because God placed us here.  So we will be more and more focused on mission.  This will mean all of our groups, old and new, will be challenged to be in a missional posture as it related to God and our community.  After all ... we ARE the mission.
4. Finally, we are serious about knowing God (learning/Bible study) ... loving God (worship, giving and nurture)  ... serving God (mission).  Through these paths we hope to relate to God with our heart, soul, mind and strength and love those people God sends our way.

On October 7th I hope you will join me after the 2nd service (NOON) and have PIZZA WITH THE PASTOR.  I will supply pizza, drinks and salad.  We will gather in the sanctuary and you will have the opportunity to ask questions of me and the ministry staff.  All of you who have visited (even one time) or are regular attenders who just have questions, please come.  Also new members and people who are seeking a place to worship God are welcome.  I will be honored to meet you and get to know you!
Pastor Randy

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Every December Sky

The lyrics (below) by Beth Nielson Chapman closely relate to my message for this Sunday.  I will be talking about grief, grieving, mourning and how we deal with these issues in a healthy way.  Jesus has some very short and helpful words in the Beatitudes from Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." There is scholarly speculation whether this mourning is about personal sin or personal loss.  My take is it is both, but Sunday I will focus on the second ... dealing with loss.  This is why I love the poetry of the lyrics to "Every December Sky" which touch my heart and help me to see past the veil of death to "the spring inside the trees."

As I watch life unfold I marvel at how small we make God and the spirit God has placed inside His treasure, people.  We grieve like God didn't see this coming.  We, rather than mourn, often think that death is an end even God cannot overcome.  The song below reminds us ... 1) there is spring inside the trees ... 2) we must sometimes trust God's nature and promises rather than the difficult vision of a dying friend ... 3) we are invited to God's paradise (for all who say yes to God) ... 4) heaven isn't far away, it is close and we will be provided for even there.  Here is my favorite part ... we can look around us and see the assurance of God in every vision of beauty He shows us.

As I write today my friend and Assistant Leah Manning is mourning the imminent loss of her mother.  There will be lots of tears but God will bless and comfort them.  There will be stories (also part of mourning) and God will bless the hearts of the tellers and the hearers.  There will be outbursts of emotion, and God will provide grace and understanding to those mourners who seek Him.  Because if we mourn in the context of God's nurture we truly will receive comfort and the answer to the 'why' that so permeates out thoughts at these difficult times.  The answer to 'why' is a God who, in the midst of loss, tells us it is well with our soul.  He truly has it under control so that death and the toils of life truly have no sting for those who call on Him.  Praise God!

Every December sky must lose it's faith in leaves and dream of the spring inside the trees.
How heavy the empty heart, how light the heart that's full.
Sometimes I have to trust what I can't know ... sometimes I have to trust what I can't know

We walk into Paradise; the angels lend us shoes.
'Cause all that we own, we'll come to lose,
And Heaven is not so far, outside this womb of words.
With every rose that blooms, my soul is assured
It's just like a song I've known yet still unheard.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kiosk is Coming

OK ... many of you are asking ... what?  Has Pastor Randy gone crazy (those of you who didn't already think that)?  But, upon approval by our Finance Team ... kiosk is coming!  What am I talking about?

Here is the background.  At a conference I attended a speaker asked about 1,000 people a question.  "How many of you have your checkbook?"  Five people raised their hand.  Then he asked, "How many of you have $200 in your wallet?"  Another five people.  Then he asked, "How many of you have less than $20 cash?" A solid majority.  To further make a point, I stood in line at a convenience store today and three people in front of me, all spending less than $10, used debit cards to pay for their purchase.

Fact is, the world is changed.  We are in a debit-card society and we sit in church beside people who pay most of their bills online, many of their recurring bills by automatic withdrawal and look with puzzlement at the traditional offering plate wondering what to do.

Tonight I met with the 14% Team of Good News.  The name comes from a statistic that only 14% of churches (from a survey of 1,079 churches) are exceeding their budgets.  We need to be in that 14%, not for financial reasons but because we want to do all the ministry God is calling Good News to do.  Truly, all we do ... every meeting, every plan, every expense, every move we make ... should be focused on making disciples of Jesus who know God, love God and serve God.  So ... the kiosk is coming.

The kiosk is simply a computer that allows us (any and all of us) to give online right at church ... right in the narthex ... and in the way that our current society handles their money.  It meets our people where they are and is the offering plate of this current age.  We will be able to give to a mission, the building fund, the regular budget ... and we will be able to do this in the same way we give to any cause on the planet.  We will still be able to go to the Good News website and give (we can all do this right now ... just click on online giving from the website and follow instructions ... if you get lost or confused call Leah at 850-622-9191).  But if we want to give to the Wednesday night dinner fund ... a special mission project ... an appeal for giving to a specific fund ... or just do your weekly, monthly or annual giving, you will be able to do it all right at church.

For the naysayers (there will be some) I will quote a very traditional song that has the following lyrics (words I have sung many times) "To serve this present age, my calling to fulfill).  Jesus told stories using agricultural and herdsman terminology ... He spoke to His present age.  John (in the Revelation) used the metaphoric language of Hebrew apocalyptic literature.  Paul understood that to communicate was to speak the language and step into the culture you were trying to reach.  So ... the kiosk is coming.  All I ask is your tolerance, your understanding and your willingness to allow this current generation the awesome blessing of giving to God's work in the way they do life!  Thanks for listening!  Pastor Randy