“And The Greatest Of These Is Love – Part 1” by Dave Good

Good day!! Welcome back to another edition of GSM’s “Refill with Randy” blog. Once again my name is Dave Good and it is my honor to spend the next few minutes with you. I pray my words will be a blessing and encouragement as you start your day.

Today, I would like to start a 2 part series on the greatest commandments. Jesus himself confirms to us the greatest commandments in Matthew 22:36-39 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

That sounds easy enough. I love how Jesus keeps simplifying things for us. At first God gave the Israelites some 600 plus laws to follow after He guided them out of Egypt. No one could uphold all those laws so God proceeds to give us the 10 commandments. Surely we can follow 10 simple rules, right? Once again 10 rules were too much for us to handle. So Jesus sums up our entire Christian walk in two commands: Love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. How easy is that?

Let’s take a few minutes and dissect the first command, “Love your God with all you heart, all your soul, and all your mind”. That sounds easy enough. Don’t we all sit here and say, “I love God!” The clause to that whole statement is with All your whole heart, soul, and mind. This is the part that will separate His people from others.

We all love someone or something. There are just components to our life that occupy our love. For some it’s a spouse, a job, money, a reputation, or a car. For others it’s an addiction or a vice that steals our love away from God. I apologize if I’m getting a little personal but the hard truth is the only thing that opened my eyes. I will be honest and tell you that over my lifetime I think I’ve loved every example I listed. The good news I have to report is that my God slowly began shifting my attention to His love.

Over the years I have really begun to understand just how much God loves me. God has provided me with countless blessings and gifts. God has given me a beautiful family, a wonderful career, amazing friends, and He has showered me with more grace than I deserve. I haven’t even mentioned the most important gift of all which of course is the gift of sending His one and only Son, Jesus, to die for my sins. If all those blessings don’t make you appreciate and love God with all your heart, soul, and mind I would encourage you to spend some reflection time with God. Ask God to reveal just a portion of His love to you and you will soon realize that loving God back is the least we can do.

So the question is, “How exactly can I love the Lord with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind?”

I’m glad you asked. I have a few recommendations for you to explore. 

1. Spend time with God on a daily basis. Devoting time to reading your Bible along with a healthy prayer life will bring you closer to God.

2. Count your blessings. Take time to reflect on how good God has been to you. Make a list of the grace, mercy and favor God has bestowed on you over the years and it will illuminate Gods great love for you.

3. Evaluate how you spend your spare time. When you take a step back and examine how you utilize you time you might be surprised. How much time are we spending on our phones watching tv, or hobbies. You might be surprised how much time is given to those instead of your walk with God. Once you get a sense of where you spend your time ask God to help you reprioritize.

Friends, the true key to loving God begins with the recognition of how much God loves us. He loved us first and sent his son to save us from our sins. Living for Jesus and loving him with all your heart requires gratitude and purpose. As you grow closer and closer to Him it becomes easier and easier to love him with all your heart. This type of love doesn’t always happen overnight but will be the most rewarding decision of your life. 

Join me next week when we will visit the 2nd greatest command. Love thy neighbor as they self. Until then have a great week!

“It’s Time to Put God’s Plans First” by Dave Good

Good day!!! Welcome back to another edition of the GSM’s “Refill with Randy” blog. Once again my name is Dave Good and it’s my honor to share the next few minutes with you.

Today, I want to talk about God’s perfect timing. In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 we learn that, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (NIV)

If you take a minute and let those verses sink you I am confident you will discover that nothing is by accident. God has a timing for everything in our life. In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I don’t know about you, but I had plans for my life. I had dreams I wanted to achieve and goals I wanted to accomplish. I call this Dave’s Plan. I pursued my plan for most of my earlier life and I am happy to report that I accomplished almost everything I set out to do. I am not boasting or bragging because it was only by the grace of God that I was able to do this. Despite all the good things I’ve done, God had bigger plans for me.

Almost 20 years ago, God took my dreams and shook them to the core. He flipped my world upside down and set me on another course. This is the period in my life that I accepted Christ as my Savior. My whole world was falling apart and God was in the process of rebuilding it back right. Since then, Jesus has captivated my life and instilled new dreams and new goals.

One of the dreams I have since been nurturing is to one day preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Early on in my life this dream was not even a consideration because I was too worried about starting a career, beginning a family, and buying a car, to worry about my relationship with Christ. Boy how my life has changed! God took my priorities and refocused them on Him instead of the world and I am so glad he did.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of serving God in many ways. I taught Sunday school to the kids, I’ve helped with Vacation Bible School, and most recently I’ve led Bible studies on Wednesday night. Sometimes I just shake my head when I think about how God is using me. I don’t deserve to be used like this, to be honest none of us do, but yet God’s amazing grace permits us to be useful.

When I look back on the twists and turns of my life I can start to see God’s Plan and not just Dave’s Plan. I also know that God had to clean me up quite a bit so that I could even become aware of God’s Plan for my life. Thankfully He has been refining my life, giving me knowledge and wisdom, and restoring my heart and mind to His standards ever since.

Friends, I am here today to tell you that God has a plan for each and everyone one of us. He has instilled dreams in our heart for His purpose. Those dreams will come true if they are a part of His Plans and not just ours. The only way to figure out those dreams are to abide in Him, following Him and His Word closely, and to prioritize His Will for our lives. Among other things we do this by spending time in prayer, searching His Word, and getting to know His Ways. All this won’t happen over night but, if we are faithful and consistent, He will turn His dreams into ours. Then when the time is right our dreams will come true and all for His glory.

I hope my words encourage you today to dream big and allow God to fulfill Your dreams

Until next time…

“Anonymous & Generous + Summer Update” by Pastor Randy

Good morning friends and Happy Friday!!! Before I share today’s blog post with you I wanted to give you an update on both this “Refill with Randy” blog as well as the Video Blog. For these summer months, which will be filled with work, travel, speaking engagements, family events, camps, etc., there will still be both written and video blog posts but not every weekday or every week respectively. So please continue to follow, read, and comment on GSM’s content when it comes out knowing that we will be back to our regular posting by Fall. Thanks! PR

And now, for today’s post, I simply wanted to share about an encouraging piece of mail that I received this past week. It came in an envelope that stood out because my name and address was written for both the sender and the recipient. It reminded me of some of the spam calls I have received from my own #. I joked to Sheryl that I must have been in a fog and sent myself mail again and she joked back that if there was any white dust in it to keep it away from her.

After opening it I found two things inside: the unsigned card show above, which simply read “God Bless you as you continue to serve him.”, and a large bill.

Now please do not think that I am any less grateful for the many other cards and gifts I have received over the past 3 yrs. that I may or may not have known where they were coming from but this just happened to come when I was in the middle of a difficult week filled with sadness from patients who had passed at Hospice, church politics, and number of other things related to ministry. And what this anonymous and generous gift said to me in that moment was… “I see you”, “I appreciate you.”, and “Your gifts, calling, and ministry matter.”

Not that ministry is done for recognition but pastors, just like every other person I know, do want to feel like they are making a difference or fulfilling a purpose and affirmation and encouragement can certainly play a part in that.

So… if the anonymous donor is reading this “THANK YOU!!!” And if anyone else who has shown me love, support, and encouragement whether I knew it came from you or not “THANK YOU!!!”

And please don’t read this and walk away thinking that Pastor Randy needs his ego boosted and is fishing for praise. I can tell you in all honesty that that is not at all my desire. What I would like your takeaway to be however is that sometimes something as simple as a note (there doesn’t have to be money in it), a call, a text, or a visit that reminds someone that you are thankful for them and/or how they are using their gifts for God can make their day in many more ways than you can imagine.

And for anyone reading this I just want to remind you that The Creator of The Universe cares about you and that you are Valuable to Him so, if you don’t hear it anywhere else today… YOUR LIFE MATTERS!!! YOU ARE LOVED!!! AND… as my friend Pastor Trellis Pore would say, THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!!! 😇

“Holy Spirit Come” performed by Patrick Mayberry

Good morning friends! As you hit the midpoint of your week, and maybe in need of a boost, I invite you to listen to the lyrics of Patrick Mayberry’s song, “Holy Spirit Come”, and make it your prayer today.

I’m coming with a heart of worship
I’m bringing in a brand new song
I’m ready to see the unthinkable
I’m ready for a miracle

Hearts praying for a fresh encounter
Souls looking to the living God
I’m ready for a real revival

Oh Holy Spirit come
Like a flood, like a fire
Holy Spirit fall
In this place, fill our hearts
Holy Spirit come
Like a flood, like a fire
Holy Spirit come
Oh, Holy Spirit come
(Woo!)
We’re on the edge of a new beginning
God, we know you have so much more
We’re looking to a new horizon
We’re praying for Your rain to pour

An overflowing of true redemption
An overflowing of Your kingdom
We’re ready for a real revival

Oh Holy Spirit come
Like a flood, like a fire
Holy Spirit fall
In this place, fill our hearts
Holy Spirit come
Like a flood, like a fire
Holy Spirit come
Oh, Holy Spirit come

Oh, can you feel it?
Heaven is reaching
Oh, can you hear it?
Our God is speaking
Oh, can you see it?
He’s got your healing
Oh, just receive it
Receive the freedom

Oh, can you feel it?
Heaven is reaching
Oh, can you hear it?
Our God is speaking
Oh, can you see it?
He’s got your healing
Oh, just receive it
Receive the freedom

Come, like a flood, like a fire
Holy Spirit fall
In this place, fill our hearts
Holy Spirit come
Like a flood, like a fire
Holy Spirit come
Oh, Holy Spirit come

Oh, come along

“Actions Speak Louder Than Words” by Dave Good

Good day!!! Welcome back to another edition of GSM’s “Refill with Randy” blog. Once again, my name is Dave Good. I am honored to spend the next few minutes with you. I pray my words will be a blessing to you and bring you closer to Christ.

Today I want to explore an old saying that most of you are probably familiar with. The saying goes like this, “Actions speak louder than words.” I am almost certain we all have either heard or even said this well known principle of life. When you take a few moments and really examine the meaning of this phrase you can see the truth in it. Although this phrase is not biblical I really believe that God wants us all to live by its standards. We can find similar phrasing in Scripture though like in 1 John 3:18 where the author writes, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

I don’t know about you but this saying speaks volume to me. I am guilty of not upholding the standard we just read. I have made promises or said things that I did not follow through with. I had good intentions when I said the words, but I failed to deliver on the promise. This realization drives me to want to do better and I will definitely use it as motivation to do so.

The encouraging part of my downfall is that we serve a God that never fails on His words. If God promises to do something it is done. He will never go back on His word. The Lord models what it truly means to let your actions speak louder than words. The Bible is full of God telling us He loves us. Over and over again, God reminds his people that He loves them and will protect them. I have told a lot of people I love them but do I always show them I love them? The answer is no. I often fall short on showing my love with action. God, on the other hand, displays His love with the ultimate action. God sent his only Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for our sins. If that doesn’t show you God loves you I don’t know what will. We serve a God of action—not just words.

God is also a God of promises. He not only tells you His promises but He actually keeps them. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Friends, we may never to be able to keep every promise that we make or be able to consistently show our love like we should but with Gods as our role model good thing is God is our role model we can learn to live out our love, keep our promises, and allow our actions to speak louder than ever before. The only thing we can do is strive to be better. Strive to be more consistent. Strive to be more like the example God has modeled for us. This is not easy and we won’t always get it right but the closer we walk with God the more our actions will speak louder than words.

Have a great week I look forward to connecting with you again!

“I Believe It Now” performed by Sidewalk Prophets (ft. Olivia Lane)

Happy Friday Friends!!! As you head off into the weekend take some time to listen to this great new song from Sidewalk Prophets featuring Olivia Lane. I have been listening to this on repeat ever since I heard it on the radio for the first time last week and hope you will enjoy it too.

I couldn’t see it then, but I believe it now
Just a searching soul tired of reaching out
Stuck on the tracks, train bearing down
Screaming from my lungs, ” Who will save me now?”

As the reruns of the regrets, they replay inside my head
Got the devil on my shoulder, and he’s leaving me for dead
Whispers and lies have brought me here
Flooding my veins with doubt and fear

Oh, I
I could not see it then
Oh, I
I could not see

Oh, my God
I remember when I cried
Shook my fists up at the sky
I wondered why
You felt so far from me

Oh, God
It was in my deepest pain
That I heard You call my name
I heard You say
That You were right there with me

I couldn’t see it then, but I believe it now
Trying to hold my head up when the ground fell out
I felt all alone even in a crowd
Like a sinking stone dragging my heart down

And the weight of the sorrows I carried on my chest
It kept pulling me under, and I couldn’t catch my breath
Not how I thought my life would go
Didn’t know my heart could sink this low

No, I
I could not see it then
No, I
I could not see it

Oh, my God
I remember when I cried
Shook my fists up at the sky
I wondered why
You felt so far from me

Oh, God
It was in my deepest pain
That I heard You call my name
I heard You say
That You were right there with me

Love was standing there
Holding me
But I couldn’t see
That love was always there
He carried me
And now, I believe

Oh, my God
I know You heard me when I cried
‘Cause You were right there by my side
I realized
That You have never left me

Oh, God
It was in my deepest pain
That I heard You call my name
I heard You say
That You were right there with me

I couldn’t see it then (I could not see it)
But now I believe (now I believe)
I couldn’t see it then (I could not see it)
But now I believe (now I believe)
(I could not see, now I believe)
But now I believe

Now I believe
(I could not see, now I believe)
(I could not see, now I believe)

“Take Up Your Cross Daily” by Dave Good

Good morning and welcome back to another edition of GSM’s “Refill with Randy” Blog!

Today, I would like to spend a few moments talking about the decisions we make on a daily basis. Throughout your day you will be faced with hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions to make. Some may be easy, like what time I have to get up and get ready for work. If you are like me you probably have that down to the minute. Other decisions will be harder. For instance, what am I going to wear or what do you want for dinner? ( By the way, I hate that question. Lol) Some questions are more important than others. What do you want to be when you grow up or what college will you attend? There is always the most important question of all. Do you believe in Jesus Christ? As you can see, just a few examples of the decisions we face can have a drastic impact on our life.

Jesus, himself had to face many decisions while on Earth . He had to decide what to wear, what to eat, and where to go. He walked this earth and faced challenges every day just like us. The only difference was that Jesus navigated this world without making a poor decision and without sinning. Unfortunately, we will never be able to achieve the same perfection on our own. We live in a fallen world and perfection is impossible without Christ. The Bible tells us, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10) We may never obtain righteousness here on earth but it shouldn’t stop us from trying. So the question remains, how do we strive towards righteousness and make good decisions?

For that answer we must turn to The Word. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew‬ ‭16:24‬) ‬‬Take a minute and let that sink in. Jesus, himself said, if you want to be my disciple you must deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me. What you just read is a truth that will transform your life. ‬‬‬‬

When I read a rather complex and powerful statement. I like to break it down into smaller more understandable concepts.

The first command is to deny yourself. In other words, it’s not about you. The world doesn’t revolve around you and you cannot have or do whatever you want. Living as Jesus did requires you to live selflessly and put the needs of others before you.

Next, Jesus tells us to take up our cross. The cross is not the same cross he died on. The cross is a symbol of the responsibility and life that is entrusted to us. I don’t think I have to remind you that this life is not easy. Life is full of ups and downs and adversity. We must live responsibility each and every day. It’s not easy but the cross of life is something God gives us the strength to endure.

The final piece of this verse is To follow me. This command is the easiest to understand. Jesus wants us to follow his lead. He wants us to live a life that He first modeled for us. Jesus spent his life loving, helping, and taking care of others. If we are going to follow Him, it is essential that we live that same way.

Friends, our Christian walk is not easy. We must decide each and every day who we are going to follow. Are we going to follow ourselves and live our way or will we follow Jesus? We need to make that decision daily. The good news is that Jesus has already set the example as to how to live life. Jesus would never expect you to do anything that He hasn’t done first. I hope my words are encouraging and bring you closer to God. I look forward to seeing you next week.

“A Little Kindness Can Go A Long Way” by Pastor Randy

Happy Wednesday! I hope the first part of your week has gone well and that the second half will be even better!!! Today I want to talk to you about how a little kindness can go a long way especially in the world that we live in today.

You have probably heard the saying, “Be kind because everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Well, there is a lot of truth in that and so, as Christians, we should be extra intentional when it comes to exhibiting the fruit of the spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control – Galatians 5:22-23) in response to others.

I know that sometimes it can be frustrating if you are waiting in a long line or if there aren’t any bags at checkout but, rather than getting upset at the closest person on staff who is probably making minimum wage and has no control over the situation, maybe say a quick prayer for patience and then offer the person a smile instead of a scowl or even say something to them like, “No bags again, huh? That’s got to be tough because it’s not your fault but you probably still take the heat for it.” Or maybe, after a long wait in line where you have heard other customers berating the cashier, pause when it gets to be your turn and say to them, “It sounds like you are having a tough time. I pray the rest of your shift goes better.” And if you say it loud enough it will hopefully set the tone for the others waiting in line behind you. 😇

My friends and I actually had the opportunity to show kindness in this way a week ago when we having breakfast at a local restaurant. When we arrived we were seated and had our orders taken shortly after. We then jumped into some good conversation, my two friends discussed world problems while the one’s son and I had more important matters to discuss like LEGOS, and after quite a while ha passed, and I was just starting to wonder where our food was, someone other than our waitress came to our table and said, “I’m very sorry but your order was lost.” She explained that she had noticed that people had come in after us who already had their bill so she went to find out about our order only to find that it was missing. She said she would put it right in and thanked us for our patience and understanding.

It wasn’t really a big deal. We weren’t starving and saw it as just getting to enjoy more time together in conversation. A little while later we received our food, which was worth the wait by the way, and then a few minutes later the lady who had taken our original order came up to our table. As she started to apologize we tried to stop her saying that it wasn’t a problem but she continued on explaining that she was actually the owner of the restaurant and that she had taken our order because the waitress who was supposed to be there for the morning shift hadn’t shown up. She went on to say that on her way back to the kitchen she had answered the phone since she saw that it was from the hospital where her husband had been admitted with some severe health problems, and after hearing some not great news she had forgotten all about our order.

Once again we assured her that it wasn’t a problem and asked what her husband’s name was so that we could pause and pray for him right then. After we finished our meal and went to leave (after my buddy left a very generous tip which I only mention because as a former waiter I can attest that Christians have earned a bad rap over the years from being stingy tippers) she cashed us out and then gave us hugs saying that we were the perfect table for that to happen to.

You wouldn’t think that we would enjoy being labeled as the perfect table to have our ticket lost but it was obviously a compliment, not only because of how we responded but also because of how we didn’t respond. Think about it… we could have been angry, we could have demanded that we get our food for free, we could have got up and left, we could have passive aggressively posted a bad review on social media. There are a number of ways that we could have reacted poorly in the moment, and I wish I could tell you that I have never done any of these things in the past, but any negative reaction would not have allowed us to offer comfort and hope to someone who was obviously in need of both. Beyond that how bad would we have felt after finding out why our food was delivered late?

I know that we all have times when we are rushing and not as kind or as patient as we would normally be but friends it is in those moments that we can truly shine for Christ if we only slow down and try to picture the situation from another’s point of view. Let’s make it a point to pray each morning and ask God to make us more aware of these holy opportunities so that those we come in contact with will be better for it and will understand more about the tangible love of Christ shown through our words and actions.

Let us be Christ’s hands, Christ’s feet, and Christ’s voice in the world today.

GO SCATTER!!!

“A Different Type of Memorial Day” by Pastor Randy

Happy Memorial Day friends! For those who don’t know, Memorial Day is not just a long weekend filled with Parades & BBQs. That has certainly become part of our tradition but the intention of setting aside the day was to honor those who died in active military service.

Something I just recently learned, thanks to my youngest daughter who playing in a parade there the other day with the Albion High School Marching Band, is that Waterloo, NY is the birthplace of Memorial Day.

So, all that being said, I do wish to honor all those men and women who gave their lives to save ours but as this post titles states this is a different type of Memorial Day… for me anyway.

It was 10 yrs. ago today that my mother died after battling brain cancer. As much as the anniversary ofPearl Harbor or 9/11 hit some May 30th, 2012 is a day I will always remember. Today I remember and honor my mother, Ellen LeBaron, and thank God for the impact she had on my life. Love you mom. Miss you…

“Sobering” by Pastor Randy

Good morning friends, I pray that you are doing well. On Wednesday I stopped by the school to drop something off to my wife, she teaches in the Elementary School, and all of a sudden I was hit with the reality of what took place in Uvalde just a day earlier and it was sobering.

As I walked through the parking lot toward the front door I found myself looking around and making sure that nothing looked suspicious. Normally I am not overly aware of my surroundings but even at my son’s baseball game the evening before, which took place just a block away from the Buffalo Tops shootings, I found myself constantly looking behind me to make sure someone wasn’t getting too close to the fence I was sitting in front of. I have talked to others since who also have found themselves experiencing a new sense of paranoia.

It would be easy to justify these thoughts and feelings after all since our school in Albion had a legitimate threat of violence just a couple years ago and because I currently have family in all three schools of the district with Sheryl in the Elementary, Jillian at the Middle School, and both Brendan and Maddie in the High School. That being said, I do not want to live in fear or be suspicious of anyone who seems “different”. I believe an argument can be made to practice caution but not so much that we get consumed with panic.

So how do we not become consumed by all of the things that are happening in the world today? How do we respond without overreacting. I believe the answer is found in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 which says…

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

We respond not in fear but by praying to the One Who has already overcome and by taking captive every thought. Like I shared in last Thursday’s blog, we find peace by putting Philippians 4:4-8 into practice—praying instead of worrying and thinking about things that are true, noble, right, etc.

I pray that as we fix are eyes on Christ that we can once again experience the peace that passes understanding.

“Healer” performed by Casting Crowns

Good morning friends, as we all continue to process the tragedy that took place in Uvalde where 19 students and 2 adults lost their lives at Robb Elementary School I thought the song “Healer” performed by Casting Crowns would be a good focal point for today’s blog.

When the world gets turned upside down we need to remember that there is only One who can offer real healing, true comfort, and lasting peace. Take some time today to meditate on the lyrics below and to listen to the song via the YouTube link at the bottom.

It’s hard to see the storm blowing over
Anytime soon
It’s hard to hear any hope in the headlines
Oh, I don’t know what’s true
We been trusting in the broken
To make us whole
But there’s no new rescue coming
Let’s do the one we’ve always known

We need the healer
We don’t need another hero
We need the healer
Deep down every hurting heart knows
We need the healer
And only Jesus is the healer

The whole world’s looking for something
But what we need is someone (need is someone)
And every road leads back to one name
When all the searching is done
‘Cause there’s no world view, no religion
That can make the blind eye see
Let the eyes of our heart be open
To the healing that we need

We need the healer
We don’t need another hero
We need the healer
Deep down every hurting heart knows
We need the healer
And only Jesus is the healer (You’re the healer)

More than comfort we need the king
More than gifts, we need the giver
More than blessings we need Your presence
More than the healing, we need the healer
More than comfort we need the king
More than gifts, we need the giver
More than blessings we need Your presence
More than the healing, we need the healer
More than comfort we need the king
More than gifts, we need the giver
More than blessings we need Your presence
More than the healing

“Sometimes It Just Seems To Be Too Much” by Ted Loder

Good morning friends, in the midst of yet another terrible tragedy I find myself praying along with Ted Loder in his prayer, “Sometimes it Just Seems to Be Too Much” from his book Guerrillas of Grace.


Sometimes, Lord,
it just seems to be too much:
too much violence, too much fear;
too much of demands and problems;
too much of broken dreams and broken lives;
too much of war and slums and dying;
too much of greed and squishy fatness
and the sounds of people
devouring each other
and the earth;
too much of stale routines and quarrels,
unpaid bills and dead ends;
too much of words lobbed in to explode
and leaving shredded hearts and lacerated souls;
too much of turned away backs and yellow silence,
red rage and the bitter taste of ashes in my mouth.


Sometimes the very air seems scorched
by threats and rejection and decay
until there is nothing
but to inhale pain
and exhale confusion.


Too much of darkness, Lord,
too much of cruelty
and selfishness
and indifference…


Too much, Lord,
too much,
too bloody,
bruising,
brain-washing much.


Or is it too little,
too little of compassion,
too little of courage,
of daring,
of persistence,
of sacrifice;
too little of music
and laughter
and celebration?


O God,
make of me some nourishment
for these starved times,
some food for my brothers and sisters
who are hungry for gladness and hope,
that, being bread for them,
I may also be fed
and be full.

“Love…”

Good morning,

Today’s encouragement is short but not always simple. Today I encourage you to LOVE…

LOVE those closest to you in the way that they will recognize and receive it best.

LOVE those who have offended you and don’t wait for their permission to forgive.

LOVE your friends and family unconditionally based on who they are instead of what they do.

LOVE your enemies and treat them kindly as you would want them to treat you.

LOVE people–not things.

LOVE good–not evil

LOVE…

And, going along with Dave’s post yesterday about looking in the mirror, here is a good way to measure how you are doing when it comes to loving others the way that Christ expects of us.

Most people are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13 whether or not you have read it, listened to a message on it, or heard it being read at a wedding, but have you ever taken inventory of how you are doing in the area of love using this passage as a plum line line? Let’s start by reading the passage together…

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (‭‭vv. 4-8‬ )‬‬

Now here’s the test. Replace the word “Love” with your name and see if it still rings true. Here is an example using my name.

“Pastor Randy is patient, Pastor Randy is kind. Pastor Randy does not envy, he does not boast, Pastor Randy is not proud. Pastor Randy does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, and is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. Pastor Randy does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Pastor Randy never fails.” (‭‭vv. 4-8‬ )‬‬

Now, I wish I could say that with these changes the passage still rang true 100% of the time but the reality is that there are areas that I fall short in and ultimately need to ask God’s help to get better in.

So now, how about you? Write your name in each blank, rate yourself (or ask a spouse or a close friend if you’re feeling daring), and then ask God to help you to work on the areas where you fall short. Ultimately though the best thing we can do to grow in each and every area is to spend time getting to know the one who perfected love—Jesus himself.

________________ is patient

________________ is kind

________________ does not envy

________________ does not boast

________________ is not proud

________________ does not dishonor others

________________ is not self-seeking

________________ is not easily angered

________________ keeps no record of wrongs

________________ does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth

________________ always protects

________________ always trusts

________________ always hopes

________________ always perseveres

________________ never fails

“A Long Look in the Mirror” by Dave Good

Happy Monday! Welcome back to another edition of GSM’s “Refill with Randy” Blog. Once again my name is Dave Good and I am honored to spend the next few minutes with you. I pray my words are encouraging and have a profound impact on your Christian walk.

Today, I want to talk about something that we do every day. It’s a really simple thing to do, yet it can have a dramatic impact on your life. It’s really so easy, everyone can do it. What I’m talking about is looking in the mirror. I can hear the “come on Dave’s” already. You are probably saying, I look in the mirror all the time and other than admiring my hair, how is that going to change my life?

I’m not just talking about the glance in the mirror to wash your face or, for you ladies out there, apply your makeup. I’m talking about taking a long look deep into your soul. Here is where the complete honesty comes in. There were many times in my life when I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. There were periods in my life when I suffered from low self esteem. I remember growing up and going through my teenage, brace wearing, new glasses, acne faced phase and really thinking, “Dave you are a mess and pretty ugly”.

I also recall times of shame and regret. Have you ever sinned or done something you weren’t proud of and then tried to look at yourself in the mirror the next morning. I can honestly say that I’ve had that feeling too many times. I’m talking about the not even looking at yourself when you are brushing you teeth kind of guilt and shame.

Taking a long stare at yourself in the mirror is one of the most revealing things we can do. According to William Shakespeare, “Eyes are the window to the soul.” Jesus tells us that, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew‬ ‭6:22-23‬ ‭NIV‬‬) Our eyes are so important to our health and outlook. ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

So the next question is, “How can looking in the mirror improve my Christian walk?”

  1. It allows you to be completely honest with yourself. We need to take the time to examine our lives, admit our flaws, repent of our sins, and expose our shortcomings. A mirror doesn’t hide our flaws, it exposes them, and when we get to the point where we can work on those flaws and repent of those sins our reflection will look so much better.
  2. It challenges you to want to be better. When you take a long look in the mirror it can often drives you to clean up our act. No one wants to look at themselves with a mess on their face, if you see something you would to wash it off. Your life and soul are no different. The mirror will force you to clean up your act.
  3. In order to see yourself clearly in the mirror, you must have a good light. The light of our soul is Christ. The more we allow Christ into our life the brighter our light is. Working on your closeness with God will always allow His radiance to shine through you.

Friends, I understand that taking a good hard look at your life may be difficult but I promise you it’s worth it. I’ve spent too many years with the wrong perception of my self, living under the guilt and shame from my mistakes. I am here today to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way forever. God created each and every one of you in His image. If you are willing to work on your problems and be honest with yourself, your reflection will become closer and closer to image that God created. I pray these words are impactful to you and I look forward to our time next week.

“Experiencing Peace through Prayer” by Pastor Randy

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians‬ ‭4:4-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

I love to read this passage during troubling times because it promises what nothing else in this world can… peace. True peace. God’s Peace.

Another reason why I find this passage as a whole both meaningful and believable is because the person who wrote it, The Apostle Paul, was in prison at the time and yet he experienced firsthand the joy of the Lord in spite of his current circumstances. He was on death row and still he was able to experience the peace that can only come from God—the peace that passes understanding. And so, when we are struggling ourselves and find ourselves fixating on our storms, we need to heed Paul’s advice so that we too can receive this promised peace.

In a nutshell Paul shared a two step approach to experiencing God’s peace and both steps entail mastery over our mindset.

The first thing he says to do is to pray about our problems instead of just worrying about them. The reality is that worrying about something does nothing to change the situation but praying can because the One whom we pray to is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent… all powerful, all knowing, and all around us. There is nothing that we can throw at Him that he can’t handle and, whether he chooses to change our circumstances or to change our mindset, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
‭‭(Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬
)

So, the first thing we do is choose how to spend our time and then the second thing we do is to determine what will fill our minds. If you are anxious about everything bad happening in our world right now then I’ve got news for you, turning on the news or going on social media isn’t going to help. You will only feed your fears and allow your anxiety to control your thinking. Instead Paul urges us to fix our minds on things that are constructive and not destructive. Things that are true, and admiral and right. Things are that excellent and praiseworthy. Things that will help us focus on The Problem Solver instead of just the problem itself.

Years ago, when I was still fairly new to the ministry, I found myself laying awake most nights worrying about things that someone had said to me or about me, things that I could not change or control. I had effectively allowed my anxiety over others opinions of me to affect my thinking and rob me of some much needed sleep. Then one time, after suffering a few restless nights in a row replaying an argument with a board member that had taken place, I broke down and opened my Bible up to this passage. As I read it I asked God to help me to do what was written so that I could experience His Peace.

I started by praying to God and simply asking Him to reboot my mind and then I laid there literally coming up with things that were lovely, that were true, that were right, that were admirable, etc. I began to shift my focus from dwelling on what had been done to me to what God had done for me.

After a while I noticed that I wasn’t feeling as restless, I wasn’t feeling anxious or upset, and when I tried to think what it was that had seemed so overwhelming the past few nights I literally could not remember. I was experiencing God’s Peace in such a real way that I drifted off to sleep and woke up the next morning feeling renewed, restored, and ready to reconcile with the person regardless of whether they regretted their actions or not.

Friends, this is just one example but there are many more I could give. Like Paul, I would urge you to retrain your brain by making prayer your default during difficult times and finding those things to think on which are helpful versus hurtful.

I pray you all have a great day today followed by a peaceful, and peace-filled, rest tonight.

“Do Something” performed by Matthew West

Good morning friends, as I was praying for the families of the victims of the Buffalo shooting that took place earlier this week and trying to understand how racism and hatred can continue to thrive in our world today this song by Matthew West popped into my head.

May we heal our world together… in Christ… through the bonds of love.

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now, thought
How’d we ever get so far down, and
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, yeah, I created you” (now listen)

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something, yeah
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
Oh, it’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

I’m so tired of talking about
How we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire and
I wanna be the one who stands up and says
“I’m gonna do something”

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something, yes it is, come on
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
Oh oh, it’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill
We’re never gonna change the world
By standing still
No, we won’t stand still
No, we won’t stand still
No, we won’t stand still
No

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now
It’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something
It’s time for us to do something
It’s time for us to do something

“The Race of Life” by Dave Good

Good day!! Welcome back to another edition of the GSM blog. My name is Dave Good. I am excited about our time together. I pray my words are a blessing and bring you closer to God.

Last week, I wrote a blog called,”Who do you run to?” If you missed it I encourage you to take a minute and read it. The gist of it was that we all have someone or something we run to when things start to fall apart. We should be running to God, but that’s easier said than done. I am not going to go over all the details here (you can still access that post) I just wanted to set the foundation for what we are going to talk about today.

A few weeks ago, I decided to start running again and I signed up to run the Albion Strawberry Festival 5K. It’s a 3.1 mile race that winds through the village of Albion and down the Erie Canal. The course is fairly flat and very scenic. I have run it a hundred times over the years so I’m quite familiar with the terrain. To be completely honest with you, I haven’t really run in a few years and getting back into shape has been quite the challenge. The last time I ran this race was 2018 which was before the pandemic.

As I started my training, I decided to test my endurance right of the bat and just run as long as I could without stopping. The good news was I was able to run the full 3.1 miles without stopping. The bad news was I was so sore the next 3 days that I could barely walk. (All I can say is this getting old thing is not fun. Lol) My first run gave me a lot of confidence that I could complete the race, it also reminded me I have a long way to go. My next run didn’t go so well. I started out really fast and ran out of breath quickly and before I finished the course I had to stop and walk 3 separate times. I’ve gone out a few more times and I’m happy to report that I’m making strides. I have been able to run longer and faster and only have to stop 2 times lol. I’m getting there, I know in my heart I will be ready for the start of the race.

Now, you are probably thinking what does this have to do with my Christian walk? Our Christian walk is like a race. Hebrews 12:1 tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Each and every one of us has a course for our life God has planned for us. Some people call it destiny, I like to call it’s God’s plan for our life. God created us to run a specific journey on this earth. The good news is we know where the finish line is and that is life eternal with God himself. The problem is that trying to get to the finish line is not as easy as it seems

We all have hindrances that weigh us down throughout the race. It could be the sin or addiction we can’t shake, the anxiety and fear that consumes our minds, or the problems and issues of this world that seem to come at us from all directions. Our race of life is often filled with stuff that slows us down.

I am here today to tell you to just keep going. Keep your eyes on the finish line. Paul tells us, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
‭(Philippians‬ ‭3:14‬)
The course of life may be full of hills, obstacles, and long distances but God will be with you the entire time. He is faithful and will spur you on at times towards the finish line. He will point you in the right direction and sometimes even carry you up the hill. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy‬ ‭31:8‬) That is the God I serve. ‬‬‬‬

The last point I want to make before I wrap this up is simply this: it’s ok to stop or slow down when you are out of breath. There are times in training or even in a race when you are just too tired to keep going and you have to just slow down and catch your breath. It’s OK to slow down and recover. Maybe you just need to take a day to relax, maybe you need to just spend the day reading or being still and allow yourself to be restored so that you can continue your race.

Friends, I could go on and on about what running has taught me over the years. I have learned so much about myself, my strengths and my limitations. The race we are running is not easy, it’s long and difficult. Always keep your eye on the finish line and let God run with you. He knows the way and He knows the pace we need to run to get there.

Have yourself a great week!
‭‭‬‬

“The Lord Is My Shepherd” by Pastor Randy

Happy Monday Morning! Today I want to talk to you about Jehovah Jireh, the Lord our Provider, that David writes about in Psalm 23 when he states in v.1 “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not be in want.”

Specifically I want to share about an instance where God was already providing for a specific need before I even knew to ask Him for it. This has happened many times through my ministry and walk with The Lord but this just the most recent and it has to do with the photo at the top of this post. This is a pic of me mowing on my trusty old John Deere mower that, shortly after this was taken, proved not to be so trustworthy.

Now I have had my share of mower fails over the past 18 yrs. that we have lived here in Albion. Broken blades, broken belts, broken cylinders, you name it. Thankfully though I have always had a group of friends much more mechanically inclined than I am who have helped me in the past. Knowing that might not always be the case though, when my mower suddenly stopped at the bottom corner of our property and I found the culprit to be a broken spring, I decided that it was time to do something I had wanted/needed to do for a while now… I was going to buy a new mower.

I asked my buddy Dave how much HP I needed and what size deck I should get because my current 17.5 HP and 42” deck just wasn’t cutting it (pun intended). He told me I should be looking for a minimum of 20 HP and 50” deck. After researching online I went to a local dealer the next town over started to look through their inventory. I immediately realized that mowers had gone up in price since the last time I had to by a new one, I found my John Deere used on Craigslist about a decade ago, and so I would be spending more than anticipated.

As I looked at the fancy zero-turns and imagined whipping around my yard on one I couldn’t justify the extra expense so I narrowed in on a Troy-Bilt which was 24 HP with a 54” deck. It was still more than I was planning to spend but the thought of not always having my yard get out of control while I waited for yet another repair was very appealing.

After going home and talking it over with Sheryl I made the call and became the proud new owner of a lawn tractor. All there was left was to have it delivered and then pay for it. Oh yeah, and figure out what we were going to do with my broke down John Deere that was still stuck at the bottom of the hill.

This is where Jehovah Jireh comes in. Apparently God knew that we would need to purchase a new mower because the final price with tax was almost exactly what we would be able to pay without dipping into other savings. And, just to remind me that He excels in the details, less than 1 min. after my new mower was delivered a neighbor came over and asked me what I was going to do with the other one. I said I didn’t know but explained what was wrong with it and said he could take a look if he wanted. I then had to take off to get to my kids baseball and softball games.

That was yesterday. This there was a knock on my back door and a man handed me a bank envelope of cash before proceeding to pull the mower out of my yard. Now you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? I was expecting bigger than that. That kind of stuff happens all the time.” And that my friends is the point. I do believe that things like this happen all the time but God doesn’t get the credit or we don’t think it is something as spectacular as if I had woken up and found a brand new zero-turn in my driveway with a bow on it.

The reality is that thanks to God giving Sheryl and I the ability to work and save we were able to get what we needed when we needed it most without going into debt AND not only did I not have to worry about going through the process of listing the old mower on Marketplace, let alone breaking my back trying to push it up the hill, but both things happened immediately with zero effort on my part. Oh yeah, and the cash given to me was the exact amount we had gone over what we had originally want to spend on the new mower.

In the end the reality was this… The Lord is my Shepherd and because of that I am not in want. Thank you to The One Who Provides.

What are some ways that God has provided for you lately?

“Counter Culture Prayer” by Pastor Randy

Happy Friday friends! The following is a prayer that I wrote inspired inspired by Romans 12:1-21. Let’s pray this together as we close out the week.

Father God,


I desire to worship you today with my body, my mind, and my soul. Help me to die to self so that I can become a living sacrifice for You.

Transform my thinking so that instead of constantly conforming to the world’s ways I will learn to discern and follow Your Will for my life.

Remind me often that I am but one member of a larger body with a mission much bigger than my own. Help me to understand and exercise the unique gifts and skills that You have given me so that I can assist the Whole Body in accomplishing Your Plans and Your Purpose.


Enable me to cling to what is good, hate what is evil, and to choose consistently to do what is right over what is almost right.


Allow me to love others just as sincerely and unconditionally as You have loved me. Help me to love and show hospitality not only to other Christians, or to those who love me in return, but also to those I do not know and even to those who treat me as an enemy with their unkind words and actions.

Convict me to return their cruelty with kindness and to treat them the way I would want to be treated. Empower me not to be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good.

Challenge me to always choose those words and actions that promote peace and lay the foundation for living in harmony with others. Help me to do everything in my own effort to reconcile those relationships that have been derailed—including making the first move just as You did when you sent Jesus to die for my sins even though I had first separated from You to live for myself.


Lord help me to be in the world but not of the world so that I will shine like a star in the night to those who are still stuck in darkness. Help Your Light within me guide them back to You.

For Your Glory.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

“Who Do You Run To?” By Dave Good

Good day!!! Welcome back to another edition of GSM’s “Refill with Randy” blog. Once again, my name is Dave Good and I am really excited to spend the next few minutes with you. I pray my words are a blessing and that they can help bring you closer to God.

Today, we are going to have a very practical and revealing discussion. I have a question for you. Who or what do you run to when things turn for the worse? I want you to think about that question for a minute. The answer may surprise you.

When I asked myself this question, I would appropriately tell you I turn to God when things get tough. You are probably sitting there saying to yourself, that is the correct answer. Then if I sit and think about it, maybe it’s not always God. Other appropriate answer would include: I call my spouse, I call my parents, I call my best friend, or maybe it’s a brother or sister. Again, all of those are great answers and would definitely help you cope when life throws you a curve ball.

Now is the time to get brutally honest and hopefully address a situation that could be a hindrance to your Christian walk. What if I asked you the same question again and you answered with things like this: I grab a bottle of wine and drink my tears away, I get really angry and start throwing things or punching walls, I turn my computer on and visit sites I shouldn’t just to dull the pain, or maybe you just get in your head and scream at anyone you run into. I am sorry if it seems like I’m being harsh but I am just keeping it completely transparent right now.

You see, when we are facing with trials and tribulations we have a lot of options in which we can choose to handle the situation. Some are good and some are bad. The whole purpose of this entry is that I want you to really think about how you deal with adversity. Confession… ALL of the above answers were in reality my own answers at certain points in my life. I covered just about every approach in the past. I can also sit here and say that the first answer works the best. I know you are probably thinking, God doesn’t always answer my prayers and my situation has gotten better. You may also tell me that God takes too long and that you need to figure this problem out right now. I completely understand where you are coming from. God doesn’t always resolve the situation right away but I can also assure you that His solution will be best.

When we take matters into our own hands we often create more of a mess and I won’t even bring up the hangover the next morning or the busted wall that needs fixed. Even if we confide in a loved one or a trusted friend they may not give you the best advice. I’m not saying never talk it over with others, I just want you to be mindful of the limitations of human guidance. We are all flawed and I can assure you I’ve given advice that may not have been the best. I didn’t do it intentionally but it was based on my limited understanding and not the eternal wisdom that only God can offer us.

As I wrap this up I would like to share with you some strategies I have found useful in dealing with adversity.

  1. Always take a minute and pray. We serve a God that is always there for us. All you have to do is talk to Him. Tell God how you are feeling and ask Him to help you sort things out.
  2. Open your Bible and search the scriptures for guidance. So many times the best advice has already been written in the pages of His Word.
  3. Take a deep breath and regain your sound mind. A lot of times problems can really disrupt our spirit. We get angry, confused, and at times our emotions may run wild. If you take a minute just to calm down and refocus you will realize that a clearer head can help reveal a proper reaction.
  4. Talk to a trusted family member, friend, or your pastor. After you have spent some time with God and regained your composure a conversation with a loved one can clarify the situation. Just make sure their response is in line with God’s Word and answer.

Friends, I hope this entry is helpful to you. I confess that I have not always attacked a problem correctly, I am not perfect and I don’t have this life all figured out, but I can tell you that over the years and many failures I have learned to trust God to guide me out of many situations. Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself. He is faithful and will never steer you wrong

Until next time have a great rest of your week!

“Graves Into Gardens” performed by Elevation Worship ft. Brandon Lake

Good morning friends, a lot has been happening and this seemed like an appropriate song to meditate on midweek. Take a listen with me…

I searched the world
But it couldn’t fill me
Man’s empty praise
And treasures that fade
Are never enough

Then You came along
And put me back together
And every desire
Is now satisfied
Here in Your love (hey)

Oh, there’s nothing better than You
There’s nothing better than You
Lord, there’s nothing
Nothing is better than You

I’m not afraid
To show You my weakness
My failures and flaws
Lord, You’ve seen ’em all
And You still call me friend

‘Cause the God of the mountain
Is the God of the valley
There’s not a place
Your mercy and grace
Won’t find me again

Oh, there’s nothing better than You
There’s nothing better than You
Lord, there’s nothing
Nothing is better than You

Oh, there’s nothing better than You
There’s nothing better than You
Lord, there’s nothing
Nothing is better than You

You turn mourning to dancing
You give beauty for ashes
You turn shame into glory
You’re the only one who can

You turn mourning to dancing
You give beauty for ashes
You turn shame into glory
You’re the only one who can

You turn graves into garden
You turn bones into armies
You turn seas into highways
You’re the only one who can
You’re the only one who can

Oh, there’s nothing better than You
There’s nothing better than You
Lord, there’s nothing
Nothing is better than You

Oh, there’s nothing better than You
There’s nothing better than You
Lord, there’s nothing
Nothing is better than You

You turn graves into gardens
You turn bones into armies
You turn seas into highways
You’re the only one who can

You turn graves into gardens
You turn bones into armies
You turn seas into highways
You’re the only one who can
You’re the only one who can
You’re the only one who can

“God Said, No” by Pastor Randy

There is a poem by an anonymous author entitled, “I Asked God”, that I like because it helps to see things from a different perspective when life doesn’t feel fair or when it seems like God is not answering our prayers.

If you have felt like this lately please read it and hopefully you will gain a new perspective as well.

I asked God to take away my pain.
God said, No.
It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
God said, No.
Her spirit is whole, her body is only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience.
God said, No.
Patience is a by-product of trials, it isn’t granted, it’s earned.

I asked God to give me happiness.
God said, No.
I give you blessings. Happiness is up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain.
God said, No.
Suffering draws you apart from worldy cares and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said, No.
You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
God said, No.
I will give you life so that you may enjoy all things.

I ask God to help me love others, as much as He loves me.
God said, Ahhhh, finally you have the idea.

“Call Jonathan” by Pastor Randy

Call Jonathan… I can’t tell you how many times I received a text or a DM with that message. And when I would call Jonathan back it was more often than not because he: wanted a ride somewhere, wanted me to bring him a coffee, wanted to remind me of an upcoming event, wanted to let me know how I could be praying for him or for someone else, wanted to encourage me (he did this a lot), or wanted to let me know that The Bills were going to win.

Sometimes I would laugh because his urgency for me to call him back was often the same whether he was in the hurt and wanting prayer or if he was at Tim Horton’s wanting me to buy a ticket to the latest church dinner. No matter what the reason was though he always started off with, “Hey buddy” followed by a quick explanation for his call.

I would love to get one of those messages again. I would love to hear his voice and his signature laugh. I would love to see him walking down the road and offer him a lift. I would love to grab him an X-Large Coffee w/ 4 Cream at Tim Horton’s. I would love to get a reminder from him that we have coffee group coming up (it would have been today).

Unfortunately those opportunities are no more but still present are the opportunities to honor Jonathan by living life to the fullest, exuding kindness and becoming an advocate for those who may not look or act the same as we do, supporting and promoting local organizations, and helping to facilitate fellowship between a broad spectrum of individuals.

The next time you buy a ticket for a fundraiser, grab a coffee at Tim Horton’s, or root for The Purple Eagles or The Bills, remember Jonathan. I know I will and I hope it brings a smile to my face each and every time. Love you buddy.

For anyone wanting to read Jonathan’s obituary, or to get details about his Callings Hours this Wednesday and Service this Thursday, please click on the link below.

https://www.mitchellfamilyfuneralhomes.com/memorials/jonathan-doherty/4923630/index.php

“Worn” performed by Tenth Avenue North

Friends, it has been a week. After a funeral for a friend, ministering to many grieving through Hospice, and then getting the news that a good friend had passed unexpectedly yesterday… I’m worn. So please end this week with me by meditating on the lyrics of Tenth Avenue North;s song “Worn”.

I’m tired
I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing

I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That You can mend a heart that’s frail and torn

I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I’m worn

I know I need
To lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That You can mend a heart that’s frail and torn

I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I’m worn

And my prayers are wearing thin
I’m worn even before the day begins
I’m worn I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn so heaven so come and flood my eyes

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That You can mend a heart that’s frail and torn

I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Yes, all that’s dead inside will be reborn
Though I’m worn
Yeah, I’m worn

“What Do You Stand For?” by Pastor Randy

Good morning! Happy Friday Eve!!! Today I want to talk about what we stand for and, more to the point, what is the public perception of what you and I stand for as Christians.

Nowadays it’s pretty easy to find out what people stand against. All you have to do is jump on any social media platform and it takes no time at all before reading derogatory comments aimed at a person, group, or party with differing views from the author or this symbol 🚫 placed over top of you name it. And I am not even addressing the secular culture here as much as I am Christians online.

Whether it’s berating a government figure (guilty), picketing against a political issue, or calling out a particular sin, Christians are pretty good and making known what they stand against. Now, I am not arguing that there are things that that Christians should not tolerate but the point I would like to emphasize is that those outside the church should know more about what, and Who, we stand for vs only what we stand against.

Josh McDowell once made the statement that, “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” I would add that when all we present are rules without first having a relationship with people it leads to repelling them.

Years ago I arrived at church where I found a car it the front most spot by the road. Normally that would not be a problem but this car stood out because it was completely covered with bumper stickers that read things like, “All have sinned—this means you” and “Ask me why you serve hell”. I actually took a picture of it and posted it on FB noting that the owner of the vehicle did not have any affiliation with our church.

Eventually the owner of the car came out of the jail across the street where he had been leading a Bible Study. I walked out to meet him and was somewhat surprised as this older, jovial gentleman immediately started telling me that he had been spreading the love of Christ to the inmates. I thanked him for that but also shared my concern that his vehicle did not convey the love of Christ that he had spoke of. I said that I would be glad to have a longer conversation with him about it but asked that he please not park in front of our church in the future.

I didn’t make this request because I was upset with this man but rather because I cared about how people perceived our church. I believe that when we hide the love of Christ behind a wall of judgment it impairs our ability to build actual relationships with people where we can share those truths with them from a place of compassion and with the hope that only comes from knowing, believing in, and following faithfully Jesus Christ.

May we stand for Christ and clothe ourselves with him so that the world will know him, his love, and the hope of his salvation.

Romans 13:8-10 “Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” (NLT‬‬)

Colossians‬ ‭3:12-17‬ ‭“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

“Fill My Cup” performed by Andrew Ripp

Hey friends, I decided to take one more week off from taping a “Refill with Randy” episode in order to let my voice get stronger so, instead of me saying, “grab your favorite cup and fill it up”, let’s take some time to meditate on the words of Andrew Rip’s song, “Fill My Cup” and make it our midweek prayer.

“Fill My Cup”

Been walking to a city I cannot see
Through the depths of the valley where the sun can’t reach
I’ve been high, I’ve been low
I’ve been looking for the river that could fill my soul
Been walking to a city I cannot see

Fill my cup, Lord
Run it over
Give me love, give me joy, give me peace
Fill my cup, Lord
Run it over
I am your child in need
Lord, I need you to fill my cup

Fill my cup
Fill my cup
Fill my cup
Fill my cup

Been walking over lies standin’ in my way
They can say what they want, I don’t want what they say
I was born far from home
But I’ve been thriving in the wonder of the great unknown
‘Cause I’m drinking from a well from another place

Fill my cup, Lord
Run it over
Give me love, give me joy, give me peace
Fill my cup, Lord
Run it over
I am your child in need
Lord, I need you to fill my cup

Fill my cup
Fill my cup
Fill my cup
Fill my cup

Fill my house up with hoping
Fill my plans up with purpose
Fill my wounds up with healing
Lord, I need you to fill my cup
Fill my days up with meaning
Fill my future with vision
Goodness, grace and provision
Lord, I need you to fill my cup

And when I get to that city I cannot see
I’ll know that even this valley was a golden street

Fill my cup, Lord
Run it over
Give me love, give me joy, give me peace
Fill my cup, Lord
Run it over
I am your child in need
Lord, I need you to fill my cup

Fill my house up with hoping (Fill my cup)
Fill my plans up with purpose (Fill my cup)
Fill my wounds up with healing (Fill my cup)
Lord, I need you to fill my cup
Fill my days up with meaning (Fill my cup)
Fill my future with vision (Fill my cup)
Goodness, grace and provision (Fill my cup)
Lord, I need you to fill my cup

“I Surrender All” by Dave Good

What’s it going to take? That’s the question I want to address today.

What is it going to take for you to finally turn your life over to God? Now some of you are going to say, “What are you talking about Dave? I accepted Christ years ago and turned my life over then.” If that is the case, I applaud you. However, just because you accepted Christ doesn’t mean you surrendered your life to Him. There are a lot of saved Christians who are still at the wheel and control of their life. I am one of them. I accepted Christ almost 20 years ago, yet there are still areas of my life that I still hold onto. I hold on to my financial situation, I hold on to my use of free time and pleasure, and I hold on to my decision making. In many ways I am still in control.

One of the scariest things in life is to be out of control. Ironically, a lot of us are out of control and don’t even know it. We go about our daily life, tackle all the problems that arise, and make it through the day. We head home, try to get some rest, and do it all again tomorrow. Does this sound familiar? I get the chance to interact with hundreds of people every day, as a pharmacist and one of my favorite things to do is ask someone, “How are you doing?” It’s a simple question and I get answers like: “Living the dream”, “Pretty good”, “OK”, or my personal favorite, “So far so good”. All of these are good answers but do they sound like the truth?

The majority of time we put on our happy face and bare and grin it. I don’t believe that is what God had in mind for our lives when He created us. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us God has a plan for our life, a plan for us to thrive and conquer this life. I do not believe God created us to just make it through the day. That is why it is so important to hand over our life to His plan. His plan is a promise, we can trust Him with our life. He will never let us down or forsake us. The one who created you will put you in a career that you were created for. He will put you in a relationship that he intended you to be in. He will provide for you on a daily basis. These are all promises which God can not fail to fulfill. The problems come when our own control based decisions influence His plan for our life.

So the question arises, “How do I surrender my life fully to Jesus? “ I can honestly say that I don’t have the exact answer to that question except to say that you just have to take it one day at a time. Every day we have hundreds of decisions to make, right? How you make those decisions determines who is in control of your life. If you make snap decisions and just do what you feel is right then that is a self controlled mindset. My recommendation to you is pretty simple, when you are faced with decisions, whether big or small, prayerfully ask God for guidance and discernment. Now you may wonder how how you could say a prayer and wait for an answer when a decision needs to be made quickly? In those situations we rely on what we have already learned from reading His Word and trust that The Holy Spirit, aka The Helper, will guide us daily. That little small voice that nudges you while you make decisions, that is God’s way of prompting us to make right decisions on a daily basis. We just have to listen and obey.

Friends, I don’t even pretend to have all the answers. My life is not perfect and I haven’t always make the best decisions. I have learned over the years though that my best decisions have been made when I have gone to God in prayer or heeded to The Holy Spirit’s still, voice. God will always point you in the right direction. He will always guide you along His will for your life. The more decisions you make according to God’s plan the more you surrender your life to Christ. Surrendering to God is a daily choice but it is also the wisest choice

Thank you for you time. I look forward to the next time. Have a great rest of the week and may God bless you!

“Stand” performed by Newsboys (feat. Toby Mac)

Happy Friday!!! This is a great new song from my favorites… Newsboys and Toby Mac. I used to love going to Newsboys and DC Talk concerts back in the day and here is a mini-reunion. Watch the video, meditate on the lyrics, and enjoy!

Who will I be
When trouble comes callin’ for me?
Will I live the way I believe
When I’m backed up against the wall?

What kind of heart do I have in my chest?
Does it beat for my Savior or just for my flesh?
What will I do in the moment that everything falls?

I’m gonna stand in a world that’s breaking
Stand for a truth unchanging
I’m not ashamed I’ve considered the cost
I’ll stand right here at the foot of the cross, and stand
They can call me a fool
Or stubborn for following You
For trusting without any proof
But I’ve seen you here through it all

So what kind of person do I wanna be
Am I committed to you or Committed to me?
What will I chooose the second that everything falls?

I’m gonna stand in a world that’s breaking
Stand for a truth unchangin’
I’m not ashamed, I’ve considered the cost
I’ll stand right here at the Foot of the cross, and stand (stand)
(Stand)

I’m not ashamed, I’ve considered the cost
I’ll stand right here at the foot of the cross
And stand up for the one who gave everything

Stand up because You deserve all of me
I won’t give up, I won’t give in, and if it takes all I am

I’m gonna stand in a world that’s breaking
Stand for a truth unchangin’
I’m not ashamed, I’ve considered the cost

I’ll stand right here at the foot of the cross, and

Stand Jesus help me stand (stand)
I’m not ashamed, I’ve considered the cost (not ashamed)
I’ll stand right here at the foot of the cross
And stand

“Thanking God for Your Miracle” by Dave Good

Welcome back to another edition of the Refill with Randy blog. My name once again is Dave Good. I pray that the message God has imprinted on my heart will be a blessing to you.

Today, I’d like to talk about miracles. The first question I have to ask is, “Do you believe in miracles? “ I hope your answer is yes! I am a big believer in miracles. I have seen God do some amazing things. I’ve seen family members healed, I’ve seen people set free from addictions and bondage, I’ve seen money and blessings from out of nowhere. These are just a few examples of the many ways God has touched my life and the love ones around me. Now you may be sitting there thinking to yourself “That’s all good but how do you explain a miracle?”

I’m glad you asked that question. A miracle, according to the dictionary, is an event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God.

A miracle simply put is something you really can’t explain. It can only be explained as an act of God. 

I’d like for you to let that definition soak in for a minute and take a moment to think back at a time in your life when something happened that you really can’t explain. Maybe it’s surviving an accident that you don’t know how you did. Maybe it’s landing a job which you weren’t really qualified for. Maybe it’s a check in the mail that you weren’t expecting which came at just the right time so that you could keep the lights on. My friends this is a short list but they are all examples of what I would consider a miracle. I’m telling you right now, we have all experienced a miracle at one time or another.

Just writing this has caused a flood of miracles to rush into my memory. Over the years God has been so good to me. Thank you Jesus!!!

So how do miracles happen? In order to answer that question we have to look at the master of miracles himself—Jesus Christ. If you’ve spent any time in the Bible, and even if you haven’t, I’m sure that you are aware of at least a few of the miracles he performed during his time on earth. There was the feeding of thousands with just a few fish or loaves. There were the countless accounts of him healing of the deaf, blind, and lame. How did Jesus solidify these miracles?

I believe there are two essential elements of a miracle. 

1. Faith…. You’ve got to have faith ( ugh side note – as soon as I wrote that I suddenly heard George Michaels in my head. So of you may know what I’m talking about lol) Anyway, miracles have to be based in faith. Mark 5:34. Matthew 15:28, Matthew 9:29, speak to this just to name a few. The miracles were performed for each and every example listed because of the great faith in the power of Jesus.

2. Prayer… it is important to pray and ask God for your miracle. One of the clearest examples of the need for prayer comes when the disciples were unable to free the boy from the unclean spirit. The story can be found in Mark 9:14-29. The disciples couldn’t free the boy so then sought Jesus to perform the miracle. Jesus later shared with his disciples that this kind of unclean spirit can only come out with prayer.

3. Thanksgiving… No I’m not talking about turkey here. I’m talking about giving thanks to God for what He is about to do. Jesus displayed this essential part of a miracle multiple times in the Bible, most prominently in the feeding of the multitudes from Matthew 15:36 and Mark 6:41. Jesus took the tiny fish or the loaves of bread and first thing he did each time was “give thanks”. He gave thanks to His Father in Heaven for what he was about to do. All miracles need to start with a grateful heart and an anticipatory spirit.

Friends, I don’t know if any of you out there are waiting for your miracle but I pray that what I have shared might help you. Anytime you put faith, prayer, and thanks all together I know something miraculous is going to happen.

Thank you for your time, I pray my words are a blessing and allow you to uncover even more miracles in life. I look forward to seeing you next week.

“Spring Cleaning” by Dave Good

Good day!! Welcome back to another edition of the Refill with Randy Blog. My name is Dave Good and I pray that my words will be an encouragement to you and add some blessing to your life.

Today, I’d like to talk about spring cleaning. I know most of you are probably going to say, I hate cleaning. Lol. I know this isn’t the best topic but I think you will find out it can be a rewarding experience. I would have to say spring is one of my favorite times of the year. If you take a few moments and look around you will soon see signs of life everywhere. The weather is starting to get warmer, the trees are starting to bud, flowers are emerging from their winter slumber, and the grass is turning a vivid shade of green. The world is starting to awake from the long winter hibernation. To me, this is an exciting time of the year. 

Spring is also the perfect time to do some cleaning and evaluation. One of the first projects I do each spring is get the garage and mower ready for the work that lies ahead. The mower oil and blades need to be changed, the porch and garage need swept and organized. There is work to be done all around the house. I know right now you are probably thinking what does all of this have to do with my Christian walk and ministry? I’m glad you asked.

Spring is a time of new growth, reorganization, and new life. I really think our Christian walk could use a season of new growth, reorganization, and new life too. I am not here to throw stones or point fingers but I really think if we are honest with ourselves, we would all agree. I can only speak for myself but I love the idea of breathing new life in my walk. A lot of the time we can get stuck in a bit of a routine or a rut. So the next question we need to ask is what are some of the ways we can grow and mature spiritually this spring?

1. Spend more time in The Word. One of the easiest ways to grow spiritually is to read your Bible more. I don’t care how long or how many times you’ve read the Bible, it will always speak to you in new ways. The Bible is God’s Living Word and you will never master the depth of it so keep reading it and rereading it.

2. Start a devotional. Another way to grow close to God is through the reading of devotionals. Pastor Randy and I have completed many devotionals together using the YouVersion Bible app. It is a wonderful tool to not only deepen your scripture reading but it also helps with accountability. I encourage you to take a look at it if you haven’t already.

3. Spring clean your daily routine. Since the topic of this entry is all about spring cleaning, I think this is a perfect time to take a look at our daily routine and get rid of some of the clutter. I encourage you to take a look at how you are using your time. How much time are you spending with the Lord? How much time are you spending on social media? How much time are you working ? How much time are you relaxing? All of this is important for a well rounded life yet, like everything else, it must be done in proportion. If we are spending too much time in any one of the list above our life could be out of balance and could lead to problems down the road. Spring is the perfect time to reorganize our daily routine to ensure a balanced daily walk.

Friends, Spring is the perfect time of year to fine tune our lives. Spring is a time of rebirth and I hope you seize the opportunity to breathe some fresh life into you walk with Jesus. I will never claim to have all the answers. I will never claim to know it all. The one thing I will tell you is that over the years I’ve used some of these things to deepen my own relationship with Jesus. I can assure you they are helpful because I’ve seen the fruits of it in my own life and I pray that you will too.

“Lessons Learned from Catching Covid & Quarantining – Part 2” by Pastor Randy

Happy Tuesday! If you read yesterday’s post you know that I was recently quarantined after catching Covid-19 and I shared some lessons that I learned from it. If you didn’t read yesterday’s post then go read it. I’ll wait… 😇

Ok, now that you are all caught up, here are a few more lessons that I learned last week…

LESSON #5 – God Is The Good Shepherd & A Good, Good Father

One of the things I love about God is that He cares about us. And He doesn’t just care about the big stuff but He cares about the little stuff too. He really is the Good Shepherd from Psalm 23:1 that supplies all of our needs and the Good Father from Matthew 7:11 who knows how to give good gifts to his children. Not only did God bless me by not allowing me to suffer some of the debilitating symptoms and side effects that some have had to go through and ultimately, I believe, healing me but He also blessed me along the way. And the best part was that he used others to do it! That brings me to…

LESSON #6 – God’s Kids Are Pretty Great Too

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post that it was tough not having anyone to talk to or touch but that didn’t mean that others didn’t talk to me via texting and social media and that I didn’t get touched by their encouraging words and generous acts. Some examples were…

  • A friend showing up w/ coffee and meds
  • Another friend showing up with tea and cough drops
  • Yet another friend showing up with coffee
  • My wife bringing me coffee in bed each morning
  • Are you starting to sense a theme here? Lol
  • Friends offering to bring me take-out or groceries
  • Hundreds of Birthday wishes online
  • $4,815 raised for my Birthday Fundraiser
  • A friend and fellow pastor offering not only to preach at the two churches I was scheduled to speak at this past Sunday but also to donate the honorariums from each to Go Scatter Ministries.
  • Friends sharing that they have their churches and friends praying for me.
  • Encouraging messages coming from other countries
  • Birthday breakfast in bed ☕️🥓🍳🥞
  • I could go on but you get the picture. 😁

LESSON #7 – I Am Not An Essential Worker

Sometimes it takes getting sidelined for a bit to realize that, whether out of a sense of self worth or in trying to live up to others’ expectations, we have taken on too much. The reality is that, like many found out at the beginning of the pandemic, we are not as essential as we assumed we were. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that it is God’s desire to partner with us in order to achieve His Will but sometimes we overstep and forget that God is God and we are not. When this happens we need to be reminded that the world will turn and that ministry will still happen without us. For me this is not a new lesson but actually one that God reminds me of often and one that I now receive with joy.

I have come to learn that there is no greater privilege than to be used by God for His Purpose but also that there is no greater relief than realizing that He can and does use a lot more people than just me. Last week I had friends cover for me with preaching, with Hospice, with Hands 4 Hope, etc. and I didn’t lose one wink of sleep over it because I knew that the same God who would have worked through me in those settings would work just as mightily through them. That isn’t an excuse to stay sidelined and leave ministry to others but rather an opportunity to reevaluate what you are doing and to ask God to reveal any areas that you took on without His prompting. To have Him refine your purpose will ultimately be a blessing to you and to others as you will accomplish more together.

Well, I could go on but seven ramblings is probably enough for now. Thank you for reading and please share any lessons that you have learned while going through a crisis, big or small, so that I can learn from you as well.

“Lessons Learned from Catching Covid & Quarantining – Part 1” by Pastor Randy

Good morning friends, it’s good to be back with you after an unanticipated, yet necessary, hiatus. For those that don’t know, I tested positive for Covid-19 a week ago Saturday and ended up spending Easter through my birthday sick in bed and isolated from friends and family. Currently I am out of quarantine but still nowhere near 100% as I struggle to speak without coughing and I feel like I am constantly fighting fatigue. I am however doing much better than I was a week ago so the blog is back on and I thought I would kick things off with a two part post listing some of the lessons that I learned after having Covid-19 and being quarantined.

LESSON #1Covid Isn’t As Fun As The Kids Make It Out To Be

Seriously folks, Covid kicked my butt. It reminded me of when I came down with the Swine Flu, not once but twice, over a decade ago. That seemed worse because I had a bad fever, and I haven’t had one since, but with Covid I did experience waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to breathe—and this was before the coughing began.

I hadn’t felt well for a while but since Sheryl had had Covid herself right before Spring Break I had been cautious and was tested six times over 12 days and they all came back negative, including earlier in the day before The Good Friday Service. It was that night however that I woke up choking, which I blamed on reflux, and the next day after attending a funeral and not feeling well that I decided to take Test #7 prior to going to church and my in-laws the next day for Easter. For this I used a home test and it took all of 20 sec. before both lines shown clearly. I immediately started self-quarantining and my journey began.

LESSON #2 – Even In Isolation It’s Hard To Just “Be” And Not “Do”

It’s hard to turn off the world even when you are sick and all by yourself. As much as I stopped doing a lot of things (i.e. visiting with patients, counseling with clients, having coffee with friends, leaving my bedroom…) I still had a few little devices that “allowed” me to stay up to date with things whether I wanted to or not. From needing to be on social media because I was in the middle of a much needed fundraising effort (Praise God I reached my goal of $4,800 by the time I turned 48!!!) to receiving counseling requests via text late at night when I was trying to sleep, the world did stop spinning nor did my mind. This was a wake up call for me to develop better habits and better boundaries when it comes to having tech always on whether I’m sick or not.

LESSON #3 – Always Multi-Tasking Isn’t Always Good

For better or worse I am a multitasker—not because I think it is a more efficient or effective way to get things done but because my ADHD riddled brain gets bored if I’m not doing at least three things at once. That being said, Covid brain made me slow down and multitasking was near impossible. The other day I laid in bed and read an old fashioned paper and print book from cover to cover in one sitting. No tv on in the background. No reading on the same screen where I get pop up notifications non-stop. No thinking of five other things I could be doing and setting the book down never to be picked up again. No, I read it, enjoyed it, and was inspired by it. In case you are wondering it was The Dream King by Will Ford & Matt Lockett who will be speaking at a number of events this week sponsored by PACT. This is another benefit of having better boundaries with my devices… FOCUS.

LESSON #4 – I Get Why Jesus Only Stayed In The Tomb For 3 Days

Ok, let me preface this by saying that I am only kidding around by comparing Jesus’ being buried with me being quarantined. I think God has a sense of humor and he certainly made me with one. For example, at The Good Friday Service another pastor and I carried a large wooden cross into the sanctuary and when we were placing it on stage I got a splinter from it. When returning to our seats I showed him my wound and whispered, “Now I really understand Jesus’ suffering.” I laughed. He laughed. I came down with Covid the next day. 😳

On second thought maybe I should cool it with the jokes and just get to the point which is that, for an extreme extrovert with physical touch being high up on his list of Love Languages, being by myself without anyone to talk to or touch was downright depressing. My wife would bring me food and drink but the rest of the family stayed as far away as possible so as to avoid any germs. Even though Sheryl had just had it herself a couple weeks prior she avoided getting close to me so as to not carry any of my germs back to the kids or her class. All necessary but also depressing. Even the cats, who never left Sheryl’s side when she was in bed, wouldn’t venture into the room with me. To say that being quarantined was at least as bad, if not worse, than the actually illness would not be an exaggeration. It really made me feel that much more for the people in the hospitals and nursing homes during the height of Covid who had to suffer through so much while not being allowed to have loved ones by their side. Needless to say, as soon as I am sure I will not cough in your face as a result you will all being getting a big hug from me the next time I see you—whether you want one or not. 😉

These were just some of the lessons I learned. Come back tomorrow and read about a few more. SPOILER ALERT!!! They are all positive! 😇

“Pastor Randy’s GSM Birthday Fundraiser – Updated”

Friends, from now until my birthday on April 23rd I am raising support for my evangelism efforts through GSM. The total is currently at $1,819 but there are only 6 DAYS LEFT to raise the final $2,981. Can you help me reach my goal of $4,800? Any amount will help! Thank you in advance for considering.

You can give using the PayPal link https://www.paypal.me/GoScatterMinistries?locale.x=en_US you can Venmo me @Randy-LeBaron or to receive tax credit you can write a check to “GENESIS CONFERENCE FMC” with “EVANGELIST FUND” in the memo line and mail it to:
GENESIS CONFERENCE FMC
2260 Westside Drive
P.O. Box 206
N.Chili, NY 14514

If you send a check please DM or e-mail me at RandyLeBaron@gmail.com with the amount. Thank you in advance for your support!!! To find out more about my ministry check out goscatterministries.org

“A Father’s Sacrifice” by Pastor Randy

When we think of Jesus going to the cross we often focus on his actions, his emotions, and his sacrifice, right? And though there is nothing wrong with that because he did endure so much for our sake the fact remains that his Father did and experienced much of the same—just from a different perspective.

One of the most quoted verses in all the Bible is John 3:16. It states…

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (NLT)

God the Father was not merely a passive bystander in Jesus’ sacrifice but a willing participant. He gave us his son to stand in our place and die for our sin. He sent his son into the world, not to condemn it but to save anyone who would put their faith in him.

And, before you start thinking that Jesus was the only one who experienced pain as a part of this plan to redeem mankind, remember that when Jesus took our sins upon him and was separated from his Father for the first time in all eternity that the Father ached as well.

Imagine, as a parent, watching your only son be tortured, mocked, and nailed to a cross and then hearing him cry out…

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).” (Matthew‬ ‭27:46‬b NIV‬‬)

A little over 18 yrs. ago, the day before our daughter Ashlyn’s 2nd birthday, we were staying at a friend;s place and where she fell and cracked her head open on the corner of a coffee table. As young parents we were overwhelmed with emotion as we rushed her to the E.R.

Eventually we were told that she would need staples to hold the wound together so that it would heal and, inexplicably, they told us that we would need to hold her down while the doctor did it. TALK ABOUT TRAUMATIZING!!! And I don’t just mean for her.

Our hearts broke as she cried out for us to help her—not understanding that what we were doing was for just that reason. As she cried we joined in and to this day I do not understand why we were made to participate in that way.

What I do understand though is that it must have been just as heart-wrenching for God the Father to watch all that his son went through and not step in and stop it. For the same reason though that Jesus didn’t save himself so that he could save others, God watched without intervening out of His great love for us. A chance to be reconnected with His creation.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans‬ ‭8:28-39‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

“Imagine” by Pastor Randy

Imagine the night before Jesus’ arrest, before Judas’ betrayal, before Peter’s denials, and before the disciples desertion.

Imagine what it must have been like for Jesus.

Imagine knowing in advance that those closest to you in the good times would be furthest from you in the bad.

Imagine washing your friends’ feet, serving them food, and praying for their protection and perseverance—even as one plotted to kill you, two vied for position, and three would fall asleep as you poured your heart out in gut-wrenching fashion at the Garden of Gethsemane.

Imagine knowing that you were about to experience an unimaginable amount of pain—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually—but allowed yourself to be arrested all the same.

Imagine knowing that death was waiting for you in the form of a cross but still choosing to walk toward it—not because you deserve it but because you have great compassion for those who do.

Imagine every difficult choice Jesus made just to give us the opportunity to choose him, to choose life, to choose eternity.

Imagine how much he must have loved us to leave heaven, to become human, to live a sinless life, and to die a sinner’s death, for our sake.

Imagine what our lives could look like if we chose to follow him and his example of loving others unconditionally and unflinchingly.

Imagine…

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans‬ ‭5:6-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

“Jesus is Bad for Business” by Dave Good

Good morning!!! Welcome back to another edition of GSM’s “Refill with Randy” Blog. It’s my honor to spend the next few minutes with you. I hope my words are a blessing and bring you closer to the Lord.

Today, I’d like to talk about what happened after Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The gospels of Matthew and Mark give us a few clues of what Jesus did once he was paraded into Jerusalem. In Mark 11:15-18 it says..,

“When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching.” (NLT‬‬)

When I reflect on the actions of Jesus in the temple I am reminded of the threat Jesus posed to the Jewish leaders. Jesus was truly bad for business. He shined a bright light on the corruption of the Temple and shrewd business practices of the moneychangers and sacrifice vendors. Jesus was disrupting the flow of money into the Religious Leaders pockets and he also seized the power and status from them. Jesus repeatedly called the Temple, “His Father’s House”, completely contradicting the claim of the Elders as rulers and managers of the Temple. In other words, it’s like walking into a store and dealing with the manager who thought he had the final say but the owner walks in and completely overturns the decision. Jesus put His full authority on display and there was nothing they could do about it. Once again, Jesus was bad for business.

This response of the Jewish leaders to the threat and authority of Jesus was simple. They plotted to eliminate him. Over the next few days, the urgency to kill Jesus escalated tremendously. This really was the last straw that sealed the fate of Jesus. A few days from now they would succeed by nailing him to the cross.

As I am sitting here reflecting on the actions of Jesus, I am convinced that this story is just as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. Today, Jesus is still bad for business in a way. How many people are offended by the name Jesus? How many businesses are avoided because they bare a Christian focus? How many conversations are avoided when the name of Jesus enters it? How many friendships are altered when Jesus enters into someone’s life? These are just a few examples of the impact Jesus has on the world today.

Friends, as we continue our journey through Holy Week, let us hold on to the authority and power of Jesus. To the world, Jesus is a threat. He is bad for the schemes of this world. I am here to tell you today that doing business with Jesus and modeling your life after His example will have a remarkable effect on your life. Jesus came to die and save us from the punishment of our sins but he didn’t come to be a friend of the world. Yes, Jesus may be bad for business… but he is great for our life.

“Jesus followed God’s GPS” by Pastor Randy

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, and so I want to take a look at not only Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem but also what led him there in the first place. Let’s start by reading…

Matthew 20:1-11 “As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.” This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said, “Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.’” The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!” The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked. And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”” (NLT‬‬)

This seems like a pretty good first day in the city but, as we know all too well, it kind of went down hill from there at least from an earthly point of view. The fact though was that Jesus knew what was coming all along. He knew that even though there were those now crying “Hosanna! Hosanna!” And throwing Palm branches at his feet that a mere five days later others would be crying, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” and pressing a crown of thorns into his head. We know that he knew this because he had already told his disciples as much. If you go back four chapters Jesus says in…

Matthew‬ ‭16:21-24‬ “From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” (‭NLT‬‬)

Jesus knew what would happen by going to Jerusalem and yet he kept going in that direction. Why? My friend Pastor Mike Rivera shared in his message yesterday morning that it was because Jesus was heading home and the way was through Jerusalem… through the pain… through the cross. I would argue that you can look back to the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry and see that he had been going in this direction the entire time as he followed GPS (God’s Positioning System).

Jesus chose to go to and through the cross for us. On this first day of Holy Week I would encourage you to take some time and consider where you would be willing to go and what you would be willing to do for him, remembering that he said…

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.”

“Pastor Randy’s GSM Birthday Fundraiser”

Friends, giving is currently at $570 which is just under 12% of the goal if $4,800. Would you consider helping me reach my goal today? You can use the PayPal link below.

You can also Venmo me @Randy-LeBaron or, to receive tax credit, you can write a check to “GENESIS CONFERENCE FMC” with “EVANGELIST FUND” in the memo line and mail it to:


GENESIS CONFERENCE FMC
2260 Westside Drive
P.O. Box 206
N.Chili, NY 14514

If you send a check please e-mail me at RandyLebaron@gmail.com with the amount. Thank you in advance for your support!!!

“7 Haikus” by Pastor Randy

From an early age I have enjoyed all types of creative writing including haiku. These bite-sized poems are comprised of three lines with exactly 5, 7, and 5 syllables each. The following are seven random haikus that I have written. If you are feeling creative yourself I would encourage you try your hand at some and please feel free to share!

The Christian witness
Our lives lived out on canvas;
Painted with purpose

Hospitality
Welcoming others as friends;
The first time you meet

The Christian journey
Daily choices that are made;
To keep your first choice

Missional mindset
Purpose over preference;
What would Jesus do?

Hypocrisy reigns
When Christianity is
Compartmentalized

A broken cistern
No water to quench one’s thirst
Many still return

The Imago Dei
Created to be creative
Living works of art

The Incarnation
An ultimate act of love
God becoming flesh

“Body, Mind, and Soul” by Dave Good

Welcome back to another edition of GSM’s “Refill with Randy” blog. I am so glad you are here today. If this is your first time, welcome! I hope you continue to follow us as we scatter words of hope to all of you. My name is Dave Good and I am honored to share the next few minutes with you.

Today, I’d like to discussed your triunity. You are probably thinking, “Come on Dave, that’s a big word, what in the world are you talking about?” I am so glad you asked. I think we all have heard that Our God is a triune being. He is God the father, God the Son, and God the Spirit all in one. Many people refer to this as the Trinity. Let’s take it one step further and remember that we were created in God’s Image (Genesis 1:27). God created us with a body, mind , and soul. So we are also triune in nature. Today we will discuss how we are to take care of each one.

The first part of us is our body. Your body is your physical appearance and structure. You know… your arms, legs, face, and torso which, if you are anything like me, has the tendency to keep expanding. Go ahead and look back at an old photo and see how much you have changed over the years. Your body, once you get past your youthful prime, is on a constant decline through the years (I’m getting a little depressed just writing this). Anyway, we need to take care of our bodies the best we can. Our God created us to take care of this temple that houses our mind and soul. We should participate in regular exercise, eat right, and not abuse ourselves with any substance that could harm us such as smoking, drugs, or too much alcohol. I know this is getting touchy but I want you all to live your best life.

The second part of us is our mind. The mind is where our thinking takes place, decision are made, and it is the source of our intelligence, and, just like with our physical bodies, our minds also need to be nurtured, taken care of, and developed. I know some of you may be saying hey Dave I’m pretty smart I went to college. Others may be saying I’m not too smart and didn’t do well in school so not much I can do. I’m here to tell you God has given us a mind that is so dynamic that if you put the time in you might just be amazed. God also gave us the owners manual to help nurture our minds in the form of His Word. The Bible has the ability to stretch, transform, restore, and renew our minds if we put the effort in and read it daily. Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to be transformed by the renewing our mind.

The third and final part of ourselves is our soul. The soul is a little harder to define but it can best be described as our inner being which consists of our character, our conscience, and our spirit. Our soul is what departs from our earthly body and, if we choose Jesus as our savior, taken up to heaven. The best thing we can do for our soul which will never die is accept Jesus. That boils down to accepting that we are all sinners and we need a sacrifice to make us right with God. Jesus came to earth in the form of man, lived a holy life, and died a sinner’s death on the cross for our sake. If you can accept that and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead then God’s Word says that you will be saved and you (your soul) will spend eternity in heaven. I hope you will make that decision today.

As you can see, there is a lot of effort involved in taking care of our whole self. It takes a daily decision to make sure we are living our best life. However, sometimes we get out of practice and neglect or hurt ourselves. Maybe we aren’t reading our Bible like we should and our mind gets out of focus. Maybe we just got back from vacation and eating out every day has added a few more pounds. To tell you the truth it’s really easy to become a little off track. That is why I think it’ is so important to take an inventory on a regular basis. Look yourself in the mirror and check your body, ask some questions that check your mindset, and make sure things are in balance. If they aren’t in balance make a plan to fix it.

Friends, I know I gave you a lot of things to consider today. I know I may have shed some light on areas that are really out of balance or need a lot of attention but I’m here to tell you that you can start to get back in shape today! Make the decision to work on your body, mind, and soul and you will be amazed how quickly things can change and how much better you will feel when things slide into balance. I hope this entry was helpful for you and I pray God will help you in balance all areas of our life. Blessings! DG

“Praying Uncomfortable Prayers” by Pastor Randy

Good afternoon! Today I am sharing a previously published post I came across because I realized as I read it that I needed to hear it again and thought maybe you did as well.


I pray that your week is going well. If not, then I’m still praying for you.

And prayer is what I want to talk about today. I want to encourage you to expand your prayer life. Now most of the time when a pastor issues a challenge concerning prayer it typically has to do with the rhythm, frequency, or duration of your prayers but not this time. This time…

I CHALLENGE YOU TO PRAY UNCOMFORTABLE PRAYERS

And what is an uncomfortable prayer you might ask? I would define it as any prayer that doesn’t fit easily into our Christian Comfort Zone such as…

  • asking God to meet a GOD-SIZED need (something we can’t control)
  • asking God AGAIN for something that we still haven’t seen any fruit from (be persistent)
  • asking God to use you to be an answer to someone else’s prayer
  • asking God to place HIS AGENDA ahead of yours
  • asking God to do a miracle (putting Him on the line w/out a Plan B)
  • asking God why such and such did or didn’t happen to you (real emotions w/out being pc)
  • asking God for something publicly (like blessing your food in a crowded restaurant)
  • asking God for healing and forgiveness (confessing your sin)
  • asking God for the strength to forgive others
  • Asking God to bless your enemies

You get the picture. Sometimes we get stuck lifting up prayers to God that are short, sweet, safe, and sanitized. What God wants, and what we often need, though is to go off script and have a real conversation with God without pretense. David excelled in this as we see in the Psalms like in…

Psalm 13:1-6 “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? 3 Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; 4 my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. 5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.”

So follow David’s lead and let God hear your real thoughts, your real fears, your real desires, your real doubts, and your real requests. He already knows what they are anyway so in being real with God we will actually start to be real with ourselves. And that’s when God can start responding to our requests in really awesome ways!

“Detox Your Thoughts” by Pastor Randy

Happy Friday! I pray that you have had a good week and are hopefully headed into a restful weekend. For some of you though you may be burdened and your mind still busy with all that has happened throughout the week… at home, at school, at work, online. I’m writing this for you today.

This past month I detoxed in a couple of different ways. At the beginning of the month I did a digital detox to start my Lenten journey. I deleted my FB and IG Apps for a couple of weeks and took time off from posting “Refill with Randy” Blogs & Videos. It’s good for the soul to take some time way every now and again, right?

Then for the latter part of the month I did a physical detox or, as my chiropractor calls it, a Cleanse. For 21 days I purge certain foods from my diet (initially all but veggies & fruit) and take supplements to help get rid of the bad and green foods to replenish the good. Losing weight is a nice side-effect (I’m on Day 15 and down exactly 15 lbs.) but the real goal is to become healthier and hopefully continuing eating better.

What I want to encourage you to do today though is what I would describe as a thought detox. All week long we are bombarded by the noise of this world—social media rants, never ending news coverage, cutting remarks from coworkers or bosses, unkind words at home, you name it. The point is that all of these words compound and impact us whether we realize it or not. There is a reason why our society as a whole is so filled with fear, anxiety, and no sense of identity or self worth. We hear negative things all the time, we personalize them, and then we start to believe them.

What I want to propose is that, in order to prepare for a weekend that can be restorative, we need to intentionally purge those things that we continually think about which are not healthy, helpful, or hopeful. Rather than constantly trying to avoid thinking about those things that trouble us, that can be exhausting, and allow those thoughts to come to the surface where we can deal with them with God’s help.

Ask Him to filter out those things which would be deemed toxic (worrying about things out of your control, dwelling on what someone commented on your post, etc.) and to fill you with His Spirit which can guide your thinking and give you peace.

I hope you enjoy a weekend full of rest for your body, mind, and soul.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Make Every Second Count” by Dave Good

Good day and welcome to another edition of GSM’s “Refill with Randy” blog. It is my pleasure to spend the next couple of minutes with you. I pray that the words of this message speak to your heart and are a blessing to you.

The topic I’d like to speak with you about is time management. If you take a few minutes and take an inventory of your day, I think you will conclude that you are pretty busy. If you are like me, you are probably juggling a full time job, a busy family, responsibilities at home, and trying to keep up to date with this fast paced world. Just writing that sentence seemed a bit overwhelming and exhausting lol. 

The point I’m getting at is that we are living a lifestyle that is busier, more demanding, and faster paced than at any point in history. Things are getting accomplished faster than ever. I remember writing a letter, sticking it in an envelope and throwing it in the mailbox. Now we have emails, faxes, and text messages that will deliver information in a nanosecond. People have gotten used to an instantaneous lifestyle and time is moving so rapidly.

Taking into account all the demands on our life, I would ask you to take a moment and analyze how you spend your free time. If you are like me you may not have much down time. I work 13 hours days, I have a family to care for, and I only have a limited amount of time to catch my breath. So what do you do with that precious down time? Are you reading your Bible, and spending time with God? Are you scrolling through social media and catching up with friends and family? Are you just relaxing in your favorite recliner watching Tv and movies? None of these things are wrong, we all need to rest and unwind.

Now that you have taken an inventory of how you utilize your free time let’s talk to you about priorities. Is God and His word a significant priority? I am going to be completely transparent and honest with you on this question. The answer is yes, God is a priority but I tend to get a little distracted.

My typical day is extremely busy and I’ve had to fight off the temptation of losing valuable time sifting through social media posts and YouTube videos instead of spending time in prayer or devotion.

Having a smart phone or an iPad is a blessing. One of my favorite apps is the Youversion Bible app. I can read my Bible, participate in a group devotional, and have immediate access to God’s Word with the tap of the screen. It’s truly amazing! However, I have a problem. My Bible app is on the same phone as my Twitter app, my YouTube app, my email app, my text app, etc. I think you get the picture. Too many times I have found myself having the good intention of reading my Bible but ending up scrolling through posts or videos and before I know it my free time is almost over. I am just being honest here folks.

I think most of you reading this can relate to what I’m saying. I had great intentions yet my execution was poor. I didn’t spend enough time with God but boy am I caught up on the news and gossip of this world. So what are we supposed to do?

Hear is what I did. First, I moved my apps around so my Bible is on my Home Screen and my social media apps are tucked away towards the back where I can’t get to them as easy.

The second thing I did was I made a prayerful commitment to God to spend more time with Him. I promised that I would read His Word and asked him to hold me accountable if I don’t. Trust me ,my spirit will always let me know when it’s not being fed and I’m not holding up my end of the bargain.

The third thing I did was I designated a specific time of the day to spend time in the Word. For me, I try to make that the very first thing I do. God likes when He is put first BTW. I have made reading my Bible a priority in my life. Do I succeed every single day? I would be lying if I said yes but you know what? I really try and it has made a huge difference in my life and I know it will yours too.

Friends, I know we are all busy and life is hectic but I can’t stress to you enough the importance of spending time with God and His Word. I guarantee it will change your life. The commitment is not easy at first but after a while it becomes more of a joy than all the other distractions in your life. So, as we wrap up our time together, I urge you to make a commitment today. Heck, start with just a chapter a day or maybe 10 minutes and watch how the wonderful words of God impact your life.

“But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
‭‭(2 Timothy‬ ‭3:14-17‬ ‭NLT)‬‬

“By Your Grace” performed by Cody Johnson

Hey friends, let’s start our Tuesday together by listening to a song filled hope, mercy, and grace. Watch the video and meditate on the lyrics to Cody Johnson’s “Saved By Grace”.

I’m aware of everything that’s wrong with me
But still You accept me anyway
I live with a past I can’t get past and it still haunts me
So I’m askin’ for the courage to make a change

By Your grace, I have hope
You’ve already paid every debt I owe
Please take my chains and make me see
That by Your grace, I’ve been set free

Teach me, Lord, to seek You day by day
Let only You define just where I stand
Let me not take for granted
All the dеpths of Your forgiveness
Becausе the only way I’m gonna be a better man

Is by Your grace, I have hope (I have hope)
You’ve already paid every debt I owe (debt I owe)
Please take my chains and make me see
That by Your grace, I’ve been set free

I’ve got a long way to go
But Lord, I know
There’s not a step I’m gonna take
When You’re not with me

I’ve got a long way to go
But Lord, I know
There’s not a step I’m gonna take
When You’re not with me

I’ve got a long way to go
Oh, but Lord, I know
There’s not a step I’m gonna take
When You’re not with me
You’re always with me

And by Your grace (by Your grace)
I have hope (I have blessed hope, yeah)
You’ve already paid every debt I owe (every debt I owe)
Please take my chains and make me see
That by Your grace, I’ve been set free (been set free)
By Your grace, I’ve been set free
(By your grace)

“Wholesome Chaos” by Pastor Randy

Happy Monday and Welcome Back to the “Refill with Randy” Blog!!!

Ok, technically I was the one who left for a few weeks but I’m glad to reconnect with you either way. I will share about some of my adventures while away in future posts, including this Wednesday’s All New Episode of “Refill with Randy” on FB & YouTube, but for today I wanted to give you a glimpse into my life these days.

Wholesome Chaos is a favorite podcast of mine by a Christian Dad & Daughter (Dan & Maggie Thurmon) who gained fame on TikTok for their positive messages and funny dance numbers. Check it out!

Wholesome chaos is also a good way to describe the life of an evangelist, preacher, husband, and father like myself. When people ask me how I am doing it’s hard not to answer with the typical, “keeping busy”, but there is a lot of truth in that statement.

On a typical week I wear many hats and serve in many different roles. In addition to the aforementioned evangelist, pastor, husband, and father I am also…

  • President of Go Scatter Ministries
  • Uber/Bus Driver for all of my kid’s school & sports
  • Spiritual Care & Bereavement Counselor at Supportive Care (Hospice) of Orleans
  • Blogger
  • Sheriff’s Chaplain
  • Care-Net Pastoral/ Peer Counselor
  • Host of “Refill with Randy”
  • Event Photographer
  • Hands 4 Hope Volunteer
  • Provider of Spiritual Care via Social Media
  • Community Pastor/ Coffee Shop Chaplain
  • Cupbearer to our cats
  • Financial Advisor
  • I.T.
  • Graphic Designor
  • Guest Speaker
  • Missionary
  • Sounding Board
  • Friend

I could keep going but you get the picture. I am not listing these off to say “Look at me. Look at all I do” but simply to share with you that the old joke about a pastor working only 1 hr. a week needs to be retired ASAP. I also expect that most of you can relate to what it is like to try to keep a lot of plates spinning at the same time, trying to meet a lot of different expectations (many self-imposed), and trying to be all things to all people all the time.

You know who else had many different hats, many different expectations put upon him, and met the needs of many people? That’s right… JESUS! The main difference between Jesus and me though (and there are many) us that he prepared himself for a life of Wholesome Chaos by practicing two things as illustrated in this account from…

Mark‬ ‭1:35-39‬ “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.” (NLT‬‬)

  1. He started the day in prayer away from all the other voices vying for his attention and talked to His Father about what He should do.
  2. He learned to say NO to those things that others thought he should do but did not fit into God;s Agenda.

Throughout my ministry I have struggled to implement these same practices with different degrees of success and one thing I know is that when I do them consistently well I am more effective for the Kingdom, more at peace at the end of the day, and ultimately a better friend, family member, communicator, caregiver, example, etc. to those who God has called me into community with.

So, how about you? Do you ever get frustrated with how busy you are? Is it because others are demanding too much? Or is it because you say Yes too often because you listen to others vs taking the time to listen to The One Who wants to put you on the path to fulfill a purpose in this life that will impact others and impact His Kingdom?

I urge you to take some time today as we start a new week to get away to a place where you can tune into the voice of God and shut all others out. This may mean physically going somewhere or simply turning off your phone, PC, and tablets for 20 min. If you start to make this a habit, I would suggest at the start of each day, then I believe you will end each day feeling less frenzied and more fulfilled.

Give it a try even for a week or two and then let me know what happened. Did your call become clearer? Did it become easier to say no to the suggestions of others, not because they weren’t asking you to do good things but because God had better things in mind? Or did you sense something else happen as a side effect of spending that solitary time listening to The Lord.

PLEASE MESSAGE ME AND LET ME KNOW!!! 😇

“My God is Still the Same” by Sanctus Real

Today I invite you to watch the video and meditate on the lyrics of the song “My God is Still the Same” performed by Sanctus Real. As you head into the weekend after what may have been an upside down kind of week I want to encourage you with the fact that though our circumstances are ever-changing our God is still the same.

MY GOD IS STILL THE SAME

Just ask the waves
If they are stilled at the mention of His name
They’ll say my God is still the same
Ask the walls
If they still fall at the mighty sound of praise
They’ll say my God is still the same

When did He break His promise?
When did His kindness fail?
Never has, never will
My God is still the same
When did He lose His power?
When did His mercy change?
Never has, never will
My God is still the same, yeah
My God is still the same

Just ask the words
You prayed in desperation if they’re heard
They’ll say my God is still the same
Ask the grave
If it’s strong enough to keep hope in it’s chains
It’ll say, “God is still the same”
Yeah

When did He break His promise?
When did His kindness fail?
Never has, never will
My God is still the same
When did He lose His power?
When did His mercy change?
Never has, never will
My God is still the same, yeah

Not once did He ever stop moving
Not once has He ever let go
Not once did He ever stop proving
Our God is in control
Not once did He ever stop moving
Not once has He ever let go
Not once did He ever stop proving
Our God is in control

When did He break His promise?
When did His kindness fail?
Never has, never will
My God is still the same
When did He lose His power?
When did His mercy change?
Never has, never will
My God is still the same, yeah

Not once did He ever stop moving
Not once has He ever let go
Not once did He ever stop proving
Our God is in control
Not once did He ever stop moving
Not once has He ever let go
Never has, never will
My God is still the same
(My God is still the same)
My God is still the same

“The Decisions We Make” by Dave Good

Good morning!!! I like to ponder life a lot. I think that is one way we can grow. I think it’s really beneficial to ask yourself tough question and seek God and your inner self for some answers. I don’t think you have to dwell on them continuously, but being able to identify some answers to these question can offer a dose of healing. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.

Here is a really simple question. Have you ever made an important decision which had a major impact on your life? I can only answer for myself and the answer is most definitely YES. There have been times when the decision I made was so beneficial to my life that it has brought me much reward and blessing. For instance, my decision to attend pharmacy school many years ago has enabled me to pursue a career and provide for my family. I would say that was one of the best decisions of my life. I have no regrets whatsoever on that one.

Let’s flip the coin a bit. I have also made decisions that didn’t turn out so great. Looking back on my life I can definitely see times when the choices I made led to more problems than anything. The one area that this often shows up most is our relationship choices. I can only speak from the lens of my past relationships and I can see how God has guided the outcome because I couldn’t see clearly at the time.  I will be the first to admit that I haven’t made the best relationship choices. The main reason for that is that I never included God in on that decision. 

Most of my life, especially before I made Christ my savior, I chose relationships that looked good on the outside. I’m here to tell you that looks can be deceiving and often misleading. I think that is why God reminds us that we should not judge by the outside and look at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7). God looks and knows our heart and makes decisions on what is on the inside—not the packaging. It’s kinda like going to the store when you are hungry. You browse the freezer case or the snack aisle for something that will satisfy your hunger and end up picking the box with the most appealing picture. We never really turn the box over and looks at the ingredients and decide if it is good for us.

Friends, I’m no expert and God knows I’ve made a ton of poor decisions and mistakes. I’ve picked the wrong girls to date and I even initially picked the wrong one to marry (and later divorced) but I’m here today to tell you that we serve a God who loves us and wants the best for us. Despite my poor choices I can honestly say that God has given me a second chance and blessed me with an amazing wife and an incredible family and He was able to turn my heart towards Him. I can also say that God has changed the way I make a decision. I try my best to avoid the impulse buy or snap decision. I do my best to include Him in the process and I have been blessed because of it.

Life is very complicated and we are faced with decisions each and every day. My hope and prayer is that each and every one of you who read this will take a few minutes to evaluate how you make decisions. I pray that You include God in on even the small choices. You will be amazed at the difference it can make.

“Animal Adventures” by Pastor Randy

We LeBarons like our animals and we always try to interact with them whenever we get a chance. I shared yesterday about our many road trips and often times a place with animals would either be our destination (Sea World, Gator Land, African Lion Safari, etc.) or a quick detour to break up a long trip (we have stopped at a lot of Zoos over the years and always find something unique about each one).

And, when I said interact, that’s exactly what I meant because as much as we like looking at animals we also like to pet, feed, hold, ride, swim with, or drive through. For example, we have petted dolphins, beluga whales, killer whales, elephants, sharks, sting rays, and more. We have fed goats, bears, giraffes, and tigers to name a few. We have held alligators, snakes, tarantulas, and lemurs. We have ridden horses, camels, and elephants. We have swam with sharks (technically anytime you are in the ocean you are swimming with sharks, right? 😏) and dolphins (Sheryl anyway), and we have given rides to many monkeys and had other animals like lions, ostriches, and giraffes try to get in or on our car. For that matter I even wrestled a 5’ alligator once (albeit with it’s mouth taped shut and a line of elementary age kids behind me waiting for their turn). Needless to say… we love animals.

I believe that God has instilled in us a love for His creation that causes us to want to interact with all of these beautiful creatures just as described in the 1st Chapter of Genesis…

“Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day. Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.” (Genesis‬ ‭1:20-31‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

How about you? Do you like interacting with animals? Has God given you a passion for some other aspect of His Creation or perhaps a desire to follow in your Heavenly Father’s footsteps by creating something yourself? Let me know some of the things that you enjoy and be sure to thank God today for all that He has made and all that He has given to us.

“Road Trip!” By Pastor Randy

Happy President’s Day! I don’t know about you but whenever we get some time off together we enjoy going on road trips. They seem to be getting fewer and far between these days, as far as all 6 of us having time off together between work, school, college, sports, etc. anyway, but for a few days this February break we have all climbed into our trusty Dodge Caravan and are headed to one of our favorite hotels in Columbus, Ohio. Not only does it feature and indoor/outdoor pool that you can swim in year round but it also has wonderful breakfast and dinner buffets included as well as all you can eat popcorn and soda throughout the day. It has become our go to destination for a retreat even if we aren’t traveling through to anywhere else. Another fun freebie that we try to take advantage of every February is visiting The Columbus Zoo on President’s Day.

Road trips have been part of our family’s routine for over two decades now but some things have surely changed. Whereas today everyone is connected to their own individual devices, back when the kids were little we didn’t even have one cell phone let alone a screen of any kind. We would amuse ourselves by playing the typical car games, locating signs that start with each letter of the alphabet until you find them all or seeing who could point out the most license plates from different states, or even before the kids were old enough to read we would pass the time by playing animal guessing games and having coloring contests. It always amazed us that no matter what age they were and no matter how often they might complain or squabble on a relatively short outing, like the 1 hr. drive to Grandpa & Grandma’s house, that when we set out on a longer trip, like our annual trek to Florida, that we rarely ever had an issue. I think that, because they knew the trip would be long, that they had mentally prepared for it ahead of time and having a fun destination to look forward to didn’t hurt either.

As I consider this I can’t help but make a correlation between my children’ s mindset on road trips and what a Christian’s mindset should be during their life here on earth. I think that when we focus only on the temporary things of this world that we can easily find ourselves complaining about this or that, arguing with others, and focusing on our own wants in the moment versus focusing on our ultimate destination. But, when we prepare ourselves for the longer journey, we become more patient with those around us, we find ways to discover joy in the moments together, and we are willing to put up with some detours and distractions because we know that once we get to where we are going that any struggle to get there will have been forgotten.

So friends, as you start off yet another new week, I would remind you that we are on this long journey called life together and that we are to encourage one another along the way—enjoying the little things rather than giving into road rage or focusing only on the potholes or flat tires. Trust me, it will be a lot more fun and fulfilling if you do.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:16-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

“My Jesus” performed by Anne Wilson

Happy Friday Friends! As we close out the week I wanted to give you another song to meditate on and, knowing that there are many who feel overwhelmed with so much, I thought Anne Wilson’s song “My Jesus” would be a good choice. Watch the video, listen to the lyrics, and cry out to Jesus—the source of all hope—today.

Are you past the point of weary?
Is your burden weighin’ heavy?
Is it all too much to carry?
Let me tell you ’bout my Jesus
Do you feel that empty feeling?
‘Cause shame’s done all its stealin’
And you’re desperate for some healin’
Let me tell you ’bout my Jesus

He makes a way where there ain’t no way
Rises up from an empty grave
Ain’t no sinner that He can’t save
Let me tell you ’bout my Jesus
His love is strong and His grace is free
And the good news is I know that He
Can do for you what He’s done for me
Let me tell you ’bout my Jesus
And let my Jesus change your life

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Amen
Amen

Who can wipe away the tears
From broken dreams and wasted years
And tell the past to disappear? Oh
Let me tell you ’bout my Jesus
And all the wrong turns that you would
Go and undo if you could
Who can work it all for your good
Let me tell you about my Jesus

He makes a way where there ain’t no way
Rises up from an empty grave
Ain’t no sinner that He can’t save
Let me tell you ’bout my Jesus
His love is strong and His grace is free
And the good news is I know that He
Can do for you what He’s done for me
Let me tell you ’bout my Jesus
And let my Jesus change your life

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Amen
Amen, Amen

Who would take my cross to Calvary?
Pay the price for all my guilty?
Who would care that much about me?
Let me tell you ’bout my Jesus, ohHe makes a way where there ain’t no way
Rises up from an empty grave
Ain’t no sinner that He can’t save
Let me tell you ’bout my Jesus
His love is strong and His grace is free
And the good news is I know that He
Can do for you what He’s done for me
Let me tell you ’bout my Jesus
And let my Jesus change your life

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah, amen
Amen
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Let my Jesus change your life

“What’s in Your Closet?” by Dave Good

Good morning! Today I’d like to talk about your heart. Our hearts are the most important organ God created in us. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)

God commands us to above all else, guard your heart. I don’t think there is a more direct command in all of the Bible. The heart is precious and the contents of your heart display a lot about what matters most. 

When I was praying about this week’s blog God gave me the analogy that our heart is like a house with many rooms. Within that house there are rooms which we allow anyone into, kinda like the living room. This part of our heart is usually well maintained, clean and organized. We don’t mind showing off this room and often allow people to spend the most time here

The other rooms of our heart are for special guests only. I’d like to think of this room as the formal dining room. Sure we tend to invite a lot of people over and share a meal with them in the kitchen but most people only use the dining room for special accessions with their family and closest friends.  This area is a little more guarded and often protected. 

Another room we keep close to our heart is the bedroom. The bedroom is where we rest at night and should be reserved for our spouse and family only. Too often times we allow people who are not supposed to be in these rooms and those decisions can lead to serious consequences. This is the room that I really feel God wants us to guard at all costs.

When I was putting this passage together, the movie War Room popped into my mind. The last room in the house is probably the one which is most important. Let’s call it “The Secret Room”. You know, the one room of the house that is most private and considered to be yours and only yours. Most guys have a man cave or a workshop or ladies may have a sewing room or craft room. This place is the one place where you can be alone, seek God, and just get away for a bit. We all need a room like this. Our inner room can be a place of healing, relaxation, and prayer. Very few people are introduced to your inner room but the one person you must include is God. God needs to have access to all of our rooms to ensure our lives are in order.

Friends, our rooms may not always be in order, or even clean, but it’s important to make sure we are guarding our rooms above anything else. We need to make sure we are only allowing certain people in certain rooms and we must make sure that we are using our inner room to meet with God and allow Him to help us clean each room.

I hope this analogy is useful to each and everyone of you. I pray you take a few moments and, with God’s help, clean up your rooms and always guard your heart above everything else.

Have a great week and I look forward to connecting with you again next week.

“Waken in Me a Gratitude for My Life” by Ted Loder

This month for my “Refill with Randy” videos I have been reciting different prayers from one of my favorite authors, Ted Loder, in his book, “Guerrillas of Grace”. There are two more videos coming this month, including tomorrow which you will find here, but I wanted to include at least one simply so that you can read and meditate it on your own. So please spend some time reciting the following prayer to God and make it your own.

“Monday Checklist” by Pastor Randy

Happy Monday Morning!!! Sunday is over, the Super Bowl has been won, and now it’s time to start a new week. What’s on your checklist?

As much as I love my coffee the pics at the top of this blog is missing one major checkpoint. It should read…

☑️ wake up

☑️ make coffee

☑️ spend time with God

☑️ do amazing things

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John‬ ‭14:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

As Christians we are called to do amazing things as the pic suggests but we cannot accomplish anything in our own effort, even when overly caffeinated, so we must spend time with God so that we know His Agenda and are empowered to do accomplish it through the power of The Holy Spirit. Jesus started his days this way so who are we to try and do it all on our own?

“Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” (Mark‬ ‭1:35‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

So what is on your Monday Checklist? I would suggest the following…

  • praying for discernment & direction throughout the week
  • reading God’s Word for information, inspiration, & transformation
  • listing steps to live out Sunday’s sermon throughout the week
  • choosing to have an attitude of gratitude regardless of your current circumstances
  • finding at least one person to encourage & inspire
  • being Christ’s hands, feet, & voice wherever you go

“No Matter What” by Pastor Randy

Friends, this morning I am overwhelmed with the weight of what others around me are going through and so I simply want to share a few encouraging reminders for those who may be struggling today.


No matter what your current circumstances are… God loves you and He will meet you where you are at.

No matter how you feel at this moment… God loves you and His feelings toward you will not change.


No matter how dark it seems… God loves you and He Has promised that He will never leave you or forsake you!!!

No matter how scared you may be… God loves you and He promises to protect you as you travel through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

No matter what happens… God loves you and you are not alone.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Fix Your Eyes on God” by Dave Good

Good morning and welcome back to the “Refill with Randy” blog. Once again my name is Dave Good and it is my honor to spend a few moments with you. I pray our posts are a source of encouragement and hope for you during this time of uncertainty and adversity. I pray they would bring light into your life in the midst of all the darkness that surrounds us on a daily basis.

Today I’d like to share a few thoughts that are inspired by one of my favorite songs. “Fix my eyes” by for King & Country. If you have a few minutes, I’d encourage you to give the song a listen to and see how it’s words really relate to our daily walk.

One of the hardest things to do in this world is to not get discouraged. Our circumstances, situations, and decisions can directly impact our mindset or focus. The first verse of the song talks a lot about our regrets and downfalls, I call it living in the rear view mirror. Sometimes we can get trapped by some mistakes or poor decisions we have made in the past. We have a tendency to dwell on those memories and some people never get past them whether it’s a divorce, a failed relationship, an addiction, or any other form of bondage we put ourselves in. I’m here to tell you today, “Stop looking in the rear view mirror and start focusing your eyes on the road ahead of you.” Fix your eyes on God.

The second part of the song talks about difficulties we encounter trying to navigate this world. Being a Christian in today’s world is not easy. We face challenges every day that tempt us to stray off the narrow road. Jesus warns us of the adversity in life. He reminds us that the way to heaven requires discipline and a steadfast spirit. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13 NIV)

The words of Jesus himself remind us to fix our eyes on Him. Fix your eyes on the reward of spending eternity with Him. 

As I said before, this world is extremely difficult to navigate because there are problems and obstacles all around us. How we respond to our problems is often determined on whose strength and focus we use to attack them. If we keep our eyes fixed on the problems and do not seek the Lord’s help, our issues will overwhelm us quite easily.

Friends, I’m here to encourage you today. No matter what you are going through, no matter the obstacles in front of you, God has the means to overcome your situation. The key is to keep your eyes on Him. Don’t let the world distract you and steal your victory. Jesus reminds us of this fact in the following verse. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

No matter what your are going through take heart and keep your eyes fixed on Him!

“ In Jesus Name” by Katy Nichole

I came across these videos a few days ago on TikTok and YouTube and wanted to share this beautiful song (the 2nd YouTube video) along with the backstory (the 1st embedded video). Watch, listen, and let it speak to you throughout the day!

I speak the name of Jesus over you
In your hurting, in your sorrow
I will ask my God to move
I speak the name cause it’s all that I can do
In desperation, I’ll seek heaven
And pray this for you

I pray for your healing
That circumstances would change
I pray that the fear inside would flee
In Jesus name
I pray that a breakthrough would happen today
I pray miracles over your life in
Jesus name
In Jesus name

I speak the name of all authority
Declaring blessings
And every promise
He is faithful to keep
I speak the name no grave could ever hold
He is greater, He is stronger
He’s the God of possible

I pray for your healing
That circumstances would change
I pray that the fear inside would flee
In Jesus name
I pray that a breakthrough would happen today
I pray miracles over your life in
Jesus name
In Jesus name

Come believe it
Come receive it
Oh the power of His Spirit is now forever yours
Come believe it
Come receive it
In the mighty name of Jesus, all things are possible

I pray for your healing
That circumstances will change
I pray that the fear inside will flee in Jesus name
I pray that a breakthrough
Would happen today
I pray miracles over your life
In Jesus name
I pray for revival
For restoration of faith
I pray that the dead will come to life
In Jesus name
In Jesus name

“Monday Morning Motivation” by Pastor Randy

Friends it’s Monday morning and that means it’s a new week and a fresh start on a road filled with possibilities! So, as the Scripture says, “stop looking in the rear view mirror and focusing on yesterday’s failures, instead put your car in drive and hit the gas until you get to where God wants you to go.” (Pastor Randy’s Paraphrase)

Seriously though, how many times to we keep from moving forward with our life because we are still stuck in the past? Past hurts, past relationships, past sins, even past successes… if we don’t stop focusing on where we have already been then we will never get to where we are supposed to be going. We will be like the Israelites who, rather than focusing on God and the Promised Land, kept reminiscing about the good old days when they were back in Egypt (doing back breaking work as slaves).

My pastor, Andy Sass, likes to point out that there is a reason why the windshield in a car is so much bigger than the rear view mirror. We are meant to glance at the mirror from time to time but our attention should mostly be directed toward the road in front of us.

So what does that look like for you this week? What should you let go of from last week so that you can start fresh this week? Sin? Repent. Bitterness? Forgive. Failure? Compassion toward yourself.

The past is in the past but the future will be decided by what you choose to focus on and do today, so refocus on who God has called you to be and what He has called you to do and then…

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, PRESS ON toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called (you) heavenward in Christ Jesus.

“God Is Not Mad At You” by Dave Good

God is not mad at you. 

Good morning and welcome back to the “Refill with Randy” blog. Once again, my name is Dave Good and it my pleasure to share this time with you. I hope you are having a great week and I pray the following words will be a blessing to you.

I have a real simple question for you. Have you ever done something wrong and felt bad about it? You know that feeling when you did something and it bothers you all day. It leaves that sour feeling in the pit of your stomach and never really goes away until you make it right. I can only speak for myself and answer that by saying, “Most definitely yes.” and I know that feeling all too well.

Maybe you told a lie, maybe you raised your voice at a family member, maybe you talked about a friend behind their back, maybe you watched something you shouldn’t have, or maybe you drank a little more than you should have. These are just a few examples of the situations we put ourselves in that lead to remorse, guilt, and shame. I can only list a few that I know firsthand, I’ll leave it to you to think of a few more examples.

Now that we all have relived that feeling of guilt, shame, and remorse the next question is, “Where does it come from and how do we get rid of it?”. We often feel guilty when we sin or miss the mark. We have done something wrong and we have a feeling of sorrow for it. The Word reminds us that…

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)

As you can see, guilt can be a good thing. On the other hand shame can be very debilitating. One way to look at shame is as follows: Guilt is seeing you did something wrong, shame is seeing yourself as a failure. You can see how the feeling of shame can cause you to feel even worse.

I want to make one thing perfectly clear. Shame does not come from God. God does not want us to view ourselves as failures. He is not mad at you. When we do something wrong He loves us not matter what. Now, that being said, God doesn’t want you to keep on sinning but rather to repent and get back on track.

So now the question is, “How to we deal with guilt for the things we do wrong?”

1. Confess your sin to God. Ask Him for forgiveness and strength to avoid future sins.

2. Repent or turn away from the sin that so easily entangles us. In other words, stop doing the things that are causing you so much grief.

3. Ask for forgiveness and make it right with those you offended or hurt.

4. Accept God’s forgiveness. “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9)

Did you catch that? If we confess our sins, He will forgive us and cleanse us. See, God is not mad at us. God loves us more than anything, He just doesn’t want us to stray from the path He created for our lives because He knows that in doing so we will inevitably hurt ourselves and others.

Friends, I don’t know about you, but I’ve wrestled with sin for a long time and the battle isn’t over yet. I’ve spent a lot of energy fending off guilt and shame and at times I’ve run from God because I thought He was mad at me. I’m here today though to urge you not to run from God but, rather, run to Him. Allow Him to heal you and cleanse you. He’s not mad at you, He loves you more than anything and simply wants the best for you.

I hope these words are an encouragement to you. You are not alone in this battle and the battle is not over yet. Keep your head up, press on and always remember that God loves you and is not mad at you. Have a great rest of the week!

“Why God” by Austin French

Spend some time today listening to the song, and meditating on the lyrics of Austin French’s song, “Why God”. Austin also shares the meaning behind the song at the beginning of the video.

Why God
Do people have to die?
A daughter or a son
Sudden and so young
Long before their time?

Why God
Do people fall apart?
A promise and a ring
Becomes a broken thing
A road that got too hard?

I don’t understand
But I understand

Why God, I need You
It’s, why God, I run to Your arms
Over and over again
It’s, why God, I cling to Your love
And hold on for dear life
And I find, You are right by my side

Why God
Do we feel so alone?
Every single day
Fighting through the pain
Hoping there is hope?

I don’t understand
But I understand

Why God, I need You
It’s, why God, I run to Your arms
Over and over again
It’s why God, I cling to Your love
And hold on for dear life
And I find, You are right by my side, ooh…

Give me a faith stronger than I have
I need to know when it hurts this bad
That You hold my heart when it breaks
And I’m not alone in this place

That’s why God, I need You
Why God, I run to Your arms
Over and over again
It’s, why God, I cling to Your love
And hold on for dear life
And I find, You are right by my side
Always right by my side
Even here in the why… God

“Good Morning!” by Pastor Randy

Good morning!!! That’s the way that most of us typically greet one another without giving it a second thought but what constitutes a “good morning”? How would you define it?

For me it would involve a cup of coffee and some quiet time before I start my day but someone else might describe a good morning as one where they can sleep in, where deadlines do not exist, or where the kids get ready for school without a fuss.

For others a good morning might simply be one where they get to see another sunrise, take another breath, and experience another day.

It obviously all depends on perspective, personal preferences, and current circumstances. So what exactly are we saying when we say “Good morning”?

All of it and then some. We are telling the other person that we hope that their day starts off in such a way that they are going to go to sleep that night counting their blessings.

Or maybe we just mean “hi” and hope to get on with our own agenda.

I would challenge you to try to make it mean the former. Even as you speak it to someone today say a simple prayer under your breath asking God to bless them and all they need to accomplish. You may say the same words but your intent will come through.

So, to all of you reading this this morning I want to wish you a very…

GOOD MORNING!!!

Now go and make someone else’s morning good as well. 😄

“Any Given Sunday” by Pastor Randy

Happy Monday!!! Even if you’re not a huge football fan you may have found yourself watching the end of some of the latest playoff games. Underdogs. Upsets. Unbelievable plays. You name it and it has happened over the past few weeks. “That’s why they play the game”, is one of the cliches that you will hear announcers say whenever a team wins that was favored to win or, when an underdogs defies the odds and wins they might remind us that anything can happen on “Any Given Sunday”.

A week ago my Buffalo Bills played their hearts out against the Kansas City Chiefs and seemingly had the game won with only 13 sec. left. Unfortunately that was just enough time for The Chiefs to go down the field and kick a game tying field goal only to then win the coin toss and win the game in over-time.

Fast forward to yesterday, those same Chiefs were walking all over the Cincinnati Bengals who had just beaten the #1 seeded Titans at home with a second year QB and a team that had only won 4 games the previous year, hadn’t won a playoff game since 1990, and had never won an away playoff game prior to their victory over the Titans.

Being up 21-3 at the end of the first half The Chiefs were probably already preparing for their Super Bowl appearance 3 peat but then, after Cincinnati scored 21 unanswered points in the 2nd half The Chiefs found themselves once again having to kick a field goal at the end of regulation to tie the game and then they once again won the coin toss in OT. The Super Bowl seemed inevitable… until it wasn’t. The QB got picked off and the Bengals drove down the field where Shooter McPherson kicked the game winning field goal.

It definitely seemed like a David vs. Goliath scenario in paper anyway but you never know what can happen on “Any Given Sunday”. And the same could be said of other unlikely situations outside of football.

Remember the man with the deformed hand that went to the temple like usual only to have Jesus show up and heal his hand? (Mark 3)

On Any Given Sunday.

Or what about the invalid that had waited by the pool of Bethesda for 38 yrs. unsuccessfully waiting someone to help him into the healing waters only to have Jesus show up on the Sabbath and tell him to pick up his mat and walk—which miraculously he did. (John 5)

On Any Given Sunday.

Ok, technically those first two examples were Saturdays but what about that Sunday after Jesus had been crucified and his disciples were doubting and distressed only to discover that the tomb was empty and that Jesus had risen from the dead just as he said he would?

On Any Given Sunday.

And the same can be true for you and whatever it is that seems insurmountable to you. Addiction? Sin? Disease? Grief? Finance problems? Whatever it is you can go to God for help and you will find freedom, forgiveness, healing, comfort, and direction. No matter what you are up against it is not impossible to overcome with God at your side so go to Him all you weary and heavy burdened, give it all to Him, and expect that the impossible is possible.

On Any Given Sunday.

“There Was Jesus” by Zach Williams & Dolly Parton

Friends, we have focused a lot on struggles and loss this week but I wanted to end it on an encouraging note by reminding you that no matter what you are going through that Jesus is with you—no matter what. watch the video and meditate on the lyrics to this beautiful song performed by Zach Williams & Dolly Parton that reminds of of just that.

Every time I tried to make it on my own
Every time I tried to stand and start to fall
And all those lonely roads that I have travelled on
There was Jesus

When the life I built came crashing to the ground
When the friends I had were nowhere to be found
I couldn’t see it then but I can see it now
There was Jesus

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing and the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I’ve been and where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus

For this man who needs amazing kind of grace (Mmm)
For forgiveness at a price I couldn’t pay (Mmm)
I’m not perfect so I thank God every day
There was Jesus (There was Jesus)

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing and the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I’ve been and where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus

On the mountain, in the valleys (There was Jesus)
In the shadows of the alleys (There was Jesus)
In the fire, in the flood (There was Jesus)
Always is and always was
No I never walk alone (Never walk alone)
You are always there

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing and the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute (Every minute), every moment (Every moment)
Where I’ve been and where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus

There was Jesus
There was Jesus
There was Jesus

“When Life Hurts” by Dave Good

Good day everyone. Welcome back to The GSM blog. Once again my name is Dave Good and I’m honored to spend this time with you. I hope you are having a great week, full of blessings. Today I would like to discuss a topic that I think we can all relate to at one time or another—when life hurts.

I don’t know about you but, although I am greatly blessed and God has does so much for me, there are those days when life just hurts. Jesus reminds of this fact when he says…

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

Over the next couple of minutes I’d love to equip you with a few tools to combat the hurts of life.

1. Prayer – One of the easiest ways to deal with a hurt in this life is to pray about it. Prayer is like making a phone call to God. When life throws you a curve sometimes the easiest way to deal with it is to talk about it, you know get it off your chest. Prayer allows us to bear our issues before God anytime, any place. What a gift to have access to God himself when things aren’t going right.

2. Trusted Friends & Family – Another blessing God gives us are trusted family members and friends. I lost my mom almost 10 years ago and I miss have the opportunity to bounce my cares off her and ask her for advice. That being said, God does not leave us alone. God is gracious enough to also put trusted brothers, sisters, and friends on our path to assist when life just hurts. My advice is to not try and go it alone but rather reach out to your circle of trust and learn to overcome together.

3. Read The Word – God was so gracious to us to send down His Written Word. The Bible is the owners manual for navigating this world. When the hurts happen The Bible is a source for so much encouragement. The next time life knocks you down take some time to seek His Word and allow it to console you.

These are just a few ways to combat the adversity of this world. No one deals with the hurts of this life the same but I pray that some of the tactics I have found helpful will benefit you as well. However you choose to deal with the hurts of life I pray you do it in a healthy and constructive manner. Don’t allow the hurt to derail your growth or walk with the Lord

Thank you for you time. I pray my thoughts and suggestions were helpful and will ultimately allow you to navigate this world a little more efficiently. Until we meet again, may God bless you and heal all the hurts we encounter on a daily basis.

“Using Our Hurts to Help Others” by Pastor Randy

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

If it’s true that “hurt people hurt people” then it can be equally true that hurt people who find healing can help other hurt people find healing.

Tomorrow (January 26th) will be the 10th Anniversary of one of the worst 24 hrs. of my life. I will share more about that on tomorrow’s Refill with Randy video but, in a nutshell, that was the day that my dad died and my mother was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. It was then a rollercoaster for the next 4 months before my mom passed.

During that time Sheryl and I struggled to care for her while also caring for our 4 young children. Between the frequent hospital visits, daily trips to radiation, more and more home care each week, and trying to do full-time ministry our energy waned and our emotions were tapped.

In spite of many rides and meals given to us from our church family we still needed more help and that is where Hospice stepped in. Between the home health aide and nurse visits, the hospital bed and other necessities, the care-givers support group, and the volunteers who offered us respite (like sitting with mom on Mother’s Day so we could be at church together), we were able to keep mom with us until the final 2 weeks. It was at that point that she moved into a Hospice Home (The Aurora House in Spencerport since Albion’s was still in the process of being built) and I met so many volunteers who had gone through something similar with their loved one and wanted to offer the same empathetic care for others. They allowed me to be a son instead of just a caregiver during those final days and I will always be grateful.

Fast forward to today and I have just begun my new position of Spiritual Care & Bereavement Coordinator for Supportive Care of Orleans (aka Hospice). Over the past decade I have been able to comfort many going through the same type of grief that I journeyed through at that time and I also experienced more along the way as I said goodbye to several church members, close friends, and all 3 of my brothers. And now I have the opportunity to continue helping others through their hurt just like others have helped me along the way.

I thank God for this new opportunity and I would ask that you please keep me in prayer, as well as those who I have the privilege of standing with during difficult times.

In what way might God use your past hurts to help people who are going through similar circumstances today?

“Heaven Help Me” by Zach Williams

If you have had a difficult week and don’t know what to pray watch the video and meditate on the lyrics to Zach Williams’ song “Heaven Help Me”.

When I can’t find the words
When I can barely breathe
I’m falling on my knees
Heaven help me, Heaven help me

When I can’t feel You near
And I can’t hear You speak
I’m falling on my knees
Heaven help me, Heaven help me

Help me, help me
‘Cause I can’t walk this road alone
And I can’t do this on my own
Tell me, tell me
I just need to hear You say
That everything will be okay

When I don’t understand
When I don’t think I can
I know You have a plan
So Heaven help me, Heaven help me

Help me, help me
‘Cause I can’t walk this road alone
And I can’t do this on my own
Tell me, tell me
‘Cause I just need to hear You say
That everything will be okay

Help me believe it
When I can’t see it
Help me to know it
When I can’t hold it
Oh, help me believe it
When I can’t see it
Help me to know it
When I can’t hold it

Help me, help me
‘Cause I can’t walk this road alone
And I can’t do this on my own
Tell me (tell me), tell me (tell me)
I just need to hear You say
That everything will be okay
Oh, I just need to hear You say
That everything will be okay

When I can’t find the words
When I can barely breathe
I’m falling on my knees
Heaven help me, Heaven help me

“Who Am I?” by Dave Good

Welcome back to another edition of the “Refill with Randy” Blog. Once again my name is Dave Good and it is my pleasure to share a few thoughts with you today.

I’ll start by posing a simple question, “Who do you say you are?” Take a minute to actually answer it. If you are like me you might respond: I’m a husband, I’m a dad, I’m a Christian, I’m a Bills fan, I’m a pharmacist, I’m a music lover… you get the picture. There are countless ways to answer that question and I’m sure we all came up with a variety of different responses.

I would say that all of the answers I gave as examples were pretty positive, because I am genuinely pretty positive, but often times others might be less positive when describing themselves. Some people may answer that question with: I’m a loser, I’m ugly, I’m cursed, I’m a horrible person, I’m fearful, etc. There are just so many ways to answer a simple question.

What if we answered that question through the eyes of others? Be careful who you ask because you might get responses like: You’re a loser, You’re an addict, You’re a cheater, You’re a liar, You’re ugly, You’re dumb, You’re worthless, and so on. Once again there are a ton of not so encouraging ways other people can define us and that can have an adverse effect on us to say the least.

Let’s also take a minute to consider how God would answer that question for us. Perhaps “You are loved” or “You are chosen.”

“We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people.” (1 Thessalonians 1:4)

When I first started thinking about this question I have to admit that some of my answers were good, some were bad, some matched who God says I am, and others did not. Some were positive and some were negative. There is just not one way to answer the question but ultimately we have to continue to find our true identity in Christ in order for it to match our Creator’s design for our life.

As we have discovered, there are many ways that we could answer this simple question so I really feel that it would be beneficial to take some time to consider a number of them. Maybe reflect on your first answer and then apply some of the answers God himself has given us and see if they coincide or really just don’t line up with the truth.

Folks, I guess I’m writing this entry today because I have battled my way through poor self image and insecurity in the past and perhaps you have too. I have had some really negative answers to that simple question and it wasn’t until I devoted my life to The Lord and spent a lot of time learning how He has already answered that question that I was able to see myself differently. God doesn’t make junk or mistakes. We are wonderfully and fearfully made and our answer to the question should reflect that fact.

I hope this is helpful to you. I hope it offers you encouragement and I pray that over the next few weeks you begin to change your answer to the question into a more positive and God inspired one. I look forward to spending some more time with you soon but until then God bless and have yourself a great week!

“Living By Faith” by Pastor Randy

I am currently reading through the Bible in a year, along with many others from my church, and every time I take on this challenge (around my 40th time cover to cover and my 3rd time going through w/ BFMC) I find myself looking in the mirror and finding new things to ask God to prune in me so that I can be one more like him.

In the book of Genesis there are numerous accounts of Abraham (the Father of faith) believing God’s promises but then trying to bring them about by his own means.

For example, we learn in Genesis 12:1-7 that…

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth—his livestock and all the people he had taken into his household at Haran—and headed for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan, Abram traveled through the land as far as Shechem. There he set up camp beside the oak of Moreh. At that time, the area was inhabited by Canaanites. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the Lord, who had appeared to him.” (NLT‬‬)

All seems good but then after a famine hit the land and they had to take a detour through Egypt he told his wife to tell people she was his sister so that they would not try to kill him to get to her. On the one hand he was trusting The Lord and on the other he was trying to make sure The Lord’s promise would come to fruition through deception because he obviously doubted that God would be able to protect him.

This backfired of course and not only were they found out but he put innocent people in jeopardy when Pharaoh took a liking to her and subsequently God sent plagues on Egypt.

Abraham apologized, justifying his actions because technically Sarah was his half sister, but he didn’t learn his lesson because in Genesis 20 he did the exact same thing—this time putting King Abimilech in harm’s way. and, in between these two incidents he believed The Lord that he would have a son but, rather than trust that it could be through his wife, he had a son with her servant Hagar which caused enmity between the two women he put Abraham and Hagar;s son Ishmael in danger.

I could go on but you get the picture. Abraham did indeed have faith but he also wavered in that faith and the result was placing his own limitations onto GoD and trying to take care of business on his own.

I can relate. I feel like I have definitely been on a faith journey since making the decision to follow Christ three decades ago, and even more so these past few years since starting Go Scatter Ministries, and I have absolutely taken my fair share steps of faith on the belief that God was calling me to do so but I have also found myself trying to “make sure” some of those things came to fruition by my own effort.

No, I didn’t tell people Sheryl was my sister or sleep with her servant, but there have been times along that way that I have tried to provide for myself when God had clearly said He would provide for me. I don’t mean in getting a part-time job but with a number of attempts to get “any” job focusing on pay vs purpose. Thankfully God helped me stay on the path and has blessed me because of it but only in spite of myself at times.

How about you? Do you find yourself trusting God initially but then trying to fulfill His promise to you in your own? I feel like Christians do this all the time when it comes to tithing, they believe that God can sustain them but then, rather than giving Him the first fruits of their labor, they give a little or give out of their leftovers—making sure to meet their own needs first.

The fact is that we all do this to an extent in one or more areas of our Christian walk but the key is to learn from it and then not repeat it like Abraham did. We serve a BIG GOD Who keeps His promises so let’s give Him the benefit of the doubt and live by faith.

“I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy Monday! Since we are celebrating MLK Jr. today I thought it would be appropriate to have us start the day off by listening to his speech that is often quoted but not yet fully realized. May God give us ears to hear what is being taught, eyes to see where injustice still exists, and a heart to drive us to do whatever we can to get one step closer to experiencing equality in Christ.

“Taking Time to Rest & Reset” by Pastor Randy

Happy Friday! Today’s blog is simply an assignment for you to complete over the weekend… Rest in the Lord.

In Mark 1:35 it says that “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.”
‭‭

If you’re like most people you have had a busy week filled with ups and downs, quotas and deadlines, work and play, etc. and you are entering into the weekend a bit drained. That’s just how Jesus felt after ministering to people, healing them, casting our demons, and so forth and so he got up early, went to a solitary place, and spent time with His Father.

Now the purpose of this was two-fold: (1) to get away from the noise and constant demands so that he could recharge physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and (2) to get still enough to be able to Hear His Father and understand what he should do next.

Friends, if it’s necessary for Jesus then you had better believe that it’s necessary for us so take some time over the weekend to go where you can be alone with The Lord for a little while and simply spend time talking, and more important listening, to Him. Allow Him to refresh you and give you direction so that you spend the next week living purposely for Him and not just spinning your wheels hoping that you are doing the right things.

Go to The Shepherd and He will give you rest.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” (Psalms‬ ‭23:1-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

“Trust the Process” by Dave Good

Welcome to another edition of the GSM blog. My name is Dave Good and once again it is a pleasure to share some thoughts with you. I hope my words will be an encouragement to you as we continue to walk and deepen our faith together. Today, I’d like to encourage all of you to Trust the Process. I know, most of you are probably wondering what that means?

As some of you know Pastor Randy and I are huge Buffalo Bills fan. I know you are probably thinking, “What does a football team have to do with our walk with Christ?” I’m glad you asked 😇 and if you lend me your attention for a few more minutes I will explain the correlation between the two.

The phrase Trust the Process has been a team slogan for the Bills ever since Head Coach Sean McDermott was hired. Trusting the Process means that in order to achieve your dreams and your goals you must trust a systematic and deliberate process to reach the end. The process may not always make sense, and often takes longer than we would like, but if you persevere the end result will be achieved.

Coach McDermott has taken the Bills on quite a journey as he inherited a broken- down football team but has been fine tuning them into a championship caliber squad. Practice by practice, lesson by lesson, and detail by detail, the process has slowly been changing the entire culture of the organization.

I know you are probably still sitting here wondering what this has to do with our Christian walk. Well, if you think about it, the majority of the time we begin that walk when we are just a broken-down shell of ourselves. I personally found Christ when my life seemed to be falling apart. I was flawed, personally and spiritually broken, and full of sin. I didn’t know where I was headed and I had no process to resurrect my life.

Fortunately, a man named Jesus walked into my life and The Process of restoring my life began. The truth is that the Process that Jesus used to restore my life wasn’t always fun and a lot of time it didn’t make sense to me. There were times of doubt and uncertainty, and maybe even a lack of faith on my part, but Jesus slowly started the Process of chipping away at my stony heart.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

God has started a Process in all of us. He knows every detail of our inner being and He desires for us to be the best version of ourselves for His glory.

Now, my best version doesn’t always shine forth. There are days, and even weeks, when I need God to instill some more Process in me. There are times when the Process is thriving and my words, actions, and life display God’s work in my life. I guess what that really means is that the Process for me isn’t complete and I need to keep trusting in His ways.

I could go on and on giving you details of how our lives aren’t perfect but that we still be to keep Trusting the Process of God in our life but I really just really want to give you some encouragement that none of us are finished products. We need to keep working in step with God’s plan. We need to keep striving for the best version of ourselves. We need to keep our minds and hearts sharp with the Scriptures. We need to approach God on a daily basis through prayer and devotion. We need to keep trusting God and His Process for our lives. It won’t happen over night, it takes a lifetime, but in the end God’s Process is perfect and will lead us closer to His glory.

I pray these words I’ve shared with you are a blessing. I pray they give you some hope and encouragement. Don’t give up, keep striving, and, as always, Trust the Process. In the end you will be the best version of yourself and you will bring God glory.

Until next tine, may God bless and may His Process continue to refine your life.

“Rattle” by Elevation Worship

Happy Tuesday! If you’re like me sometimes you need an extra jolt after Monday to get going and here is the song to do it!!! Take some time this morning to watch the video, meditate on the lyrics, and pray for God to move in and through you in a new way this year.

“RATTLE”

Saturday was silent
Surely it was through
But since when has impossible
Ever stopped You
Friday’s disappointment
Is Sunday’s empty tomb
Since when has impossible
Ever stopped You

This is the sound of dry bones rattling
This is the praise, make a dead man walk again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling, yeah

Pentecostal fire stirring something new
You’re not gonna run out of miracles anytime soon
Yeah, resurrection power runs in my veins too and
I believe there’s another miracle here in this room

This is the sound of dry bones rattling
This is the praise, make a dead man walk again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling

Yeah
Whoa
Do you hear it?
Do you hear it?
Do you hear it? Woo

My God is able to save and deliver and heal
And restore anything that He wants to
Just ask the man who was thrown
On the bones of Elisha
If there’s anything that He can’t do
Just ask the stone that was rolled
At the tomb in the garden
What happens when God says to move (you gotta move)

I feel Him moving it now
I feel Him doing it now
I feel Him doing it now
Do it now, do it now

This is the sound
This is the sound of dry bones rattling, oh
This is the praise, make a dead man walk again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling, rattling, yeah

I hear the sound (I hear the sound)
I hear the sound (I hear the sound)
I hear the sound (I hear the sound)
I hear the sound (I hear the sound)

And the bones began to rattle
Rattle, rattle
Rattle
God said live, God said live
Hear the Word
And this is what He said

Live, live
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Live, live, live, live, live

This is the sound of dry bones rattling, yeah
This is the praise, make a dead man walk again
(Open) open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling
Dry bones rattle
Dry bones rattle

Rattle, rattle, rattle
Live, live, live
Live, live
Live, live

Songwriters: Steven Furtick / Chris Brown / Brandon Lake

“Everything is Meaningless… or is it?” by Pastor Randy

Happy New Year!!! After a couple weeks away I am glad to be back with you all here on the blog. I pray that your year is going well but also I want to remind you right at the start that if you ever do need prayer that you can contact me here anytime. Now onto the devo…

““Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭1:2-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

These words written by Solomon paint a very cynical picture of this world we live in. He states plainly that…

Everything is meaningless…. No one is ever content…

Nothing ever changes…

Everything is wearisome… Nothing is ever truly new..,

No one will remember you…

It’s hard to believe that this is the same guy who wrote the mushiest songs in Scripture, right? If this were a song it would probably be about a Taylor Swift break up.

Seriously though, to really think this way would make for a depressing existence. That being said I have heard a number of people lately that, when talking about the futility of this New Year, you might mistake them for some of Solomon’s speech writers.

But I get it. I do. And I feel it too.

Everyone is exhausted from polarizing politics to this never ending pandemic. People are tired of living in fear, living with loss, and living with almost constant uncertainty.

I get it!

But, unlike Solomon and so many like him, I also believe that as much as things might seem the same that, because of Christ, all things can be made new. Look at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. He writes…

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds;”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:17-23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Friends, the way we think about this world affects the way we act in this world and eventually it will effect our lasting imprint on this world. Rather than becoming cynical I would challenge you to stop conforming “to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2a)

Look for new ways to make a difference in this world and in the lives of others.

2022 can become 2020-TOO but only if we let it.

Let us become a light in this world rather than helping to spread the darkness. Let us encourage and inspire rather than subscribing to defeatism. And let us remember that as new creations in Christ we focus not on what is seen but what is unseen since what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.

“For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed… Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:5-9, 16-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Merry Christmas!” by Pastor Randy

Merry Christmas everyone! I am truly thankful for each of you and the support and encouragement you have shown me this past year. I will be back with new blog posts in 2022 but in the meantime I pray that God will bless you this Christmas and in the New Year!!!

“This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.” [Matthew‬ ‭1:18-25‬ ‭NLT‬‬]

“At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.” [Luke‬ ‭2:1-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬]

“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. God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 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.” [John‬ ‭1:1-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬]

Advent Week 4 – “Thursday” by Wende Swick

Last Sunday, my pastor gave the most beautiful definition of JOY.

He said that PEACE is “joy resting” and that JOY is “peace dancing”!  

Peace dancing – I love it!!! This definition resonates with my experience.

Joy is one of my favorite fruits of the Holy Spirit among the nine named in Scripture- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides these definitions for JOY:

Noun- the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : DELIGHT; the expression or exhibition of such emotion : GAIETY; a state of happiness or felicity : BLISS; a source or cause of delight

Verb- Rejoice; Gladden; Enjoy

Did you know that JOY can be a verb? It’s true! I joy, enjoy, take joy, or rejoice, in Jesus, my Savior, and in my personal relationship with God, Maker of the universe, who knows me intimately and loves me unconditionally. I also joy in, or enjoy, many of life’s daily experiences, including special activities which are Christmastime traditions.

I have a few friends, and even my own mother, who have lost a child and find it hard to completely enjoy the Christmas season. The grief a mother experiences with such a loss is monumental. It’s understandable that during holiday seasons which are purportedly times of special joy, experiences may be tainted with sorrow and grief for many who’ve lost loved ones – not exclusively mothers and children. I understand this and my heart hurts with them, for them. 

I would like to share with you an aid I’ve incorporated in my life for many years now – one which has helped me choose joy and experience it so much that people sometimes comment on my joy, saying that it’s what they notice most about me. I love that!

At one point, while living in Hawaii if you can believe it, I went through a struggle with depression. At some point in the midst of it, I realized that I should thank God for three things before I got out of bed in the morning. I started doing that and quickly reached ten items daily. Before I knew it, I was bounding out of bed in the morning, brewing my coffee and sitting down with my prayer journal, recording things for which I was thankful. I went from ten to twenty things, and twenty is now my minimum each morning. It is amazing, actually, how MUCH we can be thankful for… how much GOOD (from God) occurs in our lives each day! 

Prayer journals are one of my favorite gifts to give others, because using one has transformed my outlook. After giving thanks, I pray for my needs, those of others, and ask questions, waiting for God to speak to me. (Prayer IS two-way communication, but I find it hard to wait long enough to hear sometimes. True confession.)

Using a journal to record my prayers and what God says to me helps me stay focused on prayer much more effectively. If you don’t already use one, I recommend you try using a prayer journal. It’s fun to go back and fill in how God has answered prayers. It also helps me remember whom to pray for, over time. 

Focusing on God (my source of JOY) and His goodness to me is a huge factor in my experiencing (most of the time), PEACE (joy resting) and JOY (peace dancing). When I’m out of peace or joy, it’s usually because my focus has been taken from Him and placed on other things.

Shalom & Simchah,

(Peace & Joy in Hebrew),

Wende

P.S. for JOY

This morning, as I visually took in the newly falling snow, my lit tree, etcetera, I was reminded of something related to JOY. Have you ever said or thought, “This is really good for my soul”?

I marvel that God, in His brilliance and great love, chose to design our eyes with rods & cones, to perceive the beauty of lines/shape/design and colors galore! He chose to place hammers, anvils and stirrups (bone set), ear drums, etc., in our ears, so we perceive beautiful music and other desirable sounds. Tastebuds… we don’t need them for survival, but who doesn’t enjoy a delicious meal or sweet treat? Aromas, perceived via our olfactory system, enhance dining and other experiences. Don’t get me started on the sense of touch! With our nervous system’s nerve endings in all the right places, those hugs, massages, or tickles we receive bring sensations of comfort, love and fun to our minds and emotions. 

I hope we each take time to savor or JOY in some of the things which bring pleasure to our souls this could-be-very-busy season.

Advent Week 4 – “Tuesday” by Dave Good

Hello friends, it’s Dave Good here again and this week we are delving into a topic we all seek and desire more of. I think we can all agree that joy is one of the most impactful emotions. The dictionary defines joy as the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.

Who doesn’t want some great delight or happiness. I know I would love more joy in my life. Joy can be derived in so many ways.

Joy can come from a newfound relationship. Who doesn’t love the feelings associated with the prospect of a new love.

Joy can come from a new job or a promotion at work. The excitement of new career opportunities gives us such hope.

Sometimes we find our joy through the victories of our favorite sports team. Who doesn’t love the feeling of walking into work the next day after a Bills win.

Joy can come from the birth of a new child or grandchild. I don’t know about you but getting to hold my daughters for the first time was an unbelievable feeling.

How bout the purchase of a new car. Who doesn’t love the smell of a new car and the exhilaration of its acceleration.

Or how about the smell or first bite of your favorite food? The joy of tasting mom’s spaghetti or a perfectly done steak always puts a smile on my face.

These are just a few examples of what we find joy in. For the most part that list is all positive and harmless right? But what happens when our pursuit of joy causes us damage or harm? For instance, a new car is nice but can you afford that new car payment? How bout that perfectly grilled steak? Can you push away from the table when you are full or will your gluttonous side persuade you to eat the last bite? What bout that victory from you favorite team? Can you keep your celebration to a limit and not rub it in a friends face? As you can see there can be an ill effect to our pursuit of joy.

Another limitation of the pursuit of joy is that it never seems to last long enough. That new promotion is turning into a lot of work and longer hours. That new born baby brings with it sleepless nights and diaper changing. That new car turns into a repair bill after a few months. That sweet victory turns into the agony of defeat in just a week. All this pursuit of worldly joy can be draining and all in vain.

The pursuit of joy as we have seen,  can be good for us, bad for us, and often short lived here on earth. It is no wonder why people have a hard time truly finding joy. Joy can be very unstable and short lived. So what’s the solution to our pursuit of joy?  It is actually pretty simple and straightforward. The Bible tells us “but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”

Did you catch that? I bring you good news that will bring great Joy to all people. Yes the Messiah has been born.  True everlasting joy is found in Jesus Christ. Jesus was born that first Christmas morning to save us from our sins.  Jesus died on the cross and later rose again so that we may have eternal life with the Father.  Jesus was born to redeem us from the punishment we rightfully deserve. We can now live with hope and a future. I don’t know about you but the hope of eternal life is the greatest sense of joy I’ve ever experienced. The Bible takes the joy of eternal life one step further in the following verse: “and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

Everlasting joy will crown our head. Gladness and joy will overtake us!!! When I read encouragement like that I find it hard not to let my emotions swell. We serve a great God who loves us and wants nothing but the best for us. Just to know God and worship Him is a source of joy that this world can not duplicate. There is nothing on this earth that gives more joy than taking refuge in the Lord and soaking in His love. That is where the ultimate joy comes from.

As we enter into this final week of Advent and get closer and closer to the birth of Jesus let’s hold on to that joy. I pray that the familiar words of the song “Joy to the World” that Pastor Randy shared yesterday would resonates even louder to you this Christmas. And I pray that the Joy of knowing Christ and His love becomes the source of your happiness. I promise you if you make room for Him and adore Him this Christmas will be the most joyous ever.

Advent Week 4 – “Monday” by Pastor Randy

Good morning! This is the final week of Advent and our theme is joy.

“Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he is coming! He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with his truth.”
‭‭[Psalms‬ ‭96:11-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬]

When I think of joy the first thing that comes to mind is Isaac Watt’s classic Christmas Hymn “Joy to the World”. Let’s start the week off my meditating on the lyrics and then listening to a remixed version from Pentatonix.

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Advent Week 3 – “Friday” by Pastor Randy (featuring a live performance of “Here This Christmas” by Pastor Russ Peters)

Hey friends, after receiving a number of messages in response to Wednesday’s “Refill with Randy” video regarding remembering loved ones at Christmas I wanted to share a song that my good friend Pastor Russ Peters wrote and performed live this morning at our P.A.C.T. Pastors Christmas Party.

This is especially poignant since Russ lost his grandmother just 2 days ago and will be performing this at her funeral tomorrow (Saturday). Please pray for him and his family at this time and also look for the studio release of this song. You can check out his other songs and videos on his YouTube page.

Advent Week 3 – “Thursday” by Pastor Randy

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” [John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬]

Good morning friends, as we continue to think about love in regard to Advent I wanted to focus on this very familiar passage but from a little different perspective.

Most Christians, at least from my generation, can rattle off John 3:16 on the spot because it has become the go to verse for summing up the good news of the gospel. And rightly so because it shares the action God took to save us as well as the action we must take in order to be saved. But take a minute to consider this passage in the content of Christmas.

We tend to focus on the birth of Christ and his entry into our world but in order for us to receive him his Father had to first send him.

Imagine for a minute what that had to feel like from God’s perspective. Even as the Shepherds were about to go and celebrate Jesus’ birth He was aware that He had literally just sent him to his death.

Through my work with families through Care-Net I have counseled couples that are doing everything they can not to have to give their child up. Sometimes though a judge may deem it necessary to send the child to stay with someone else for a time if it means that the child will be better taken care of. What happened on Christmas was the opposite of that though! God was willing to send His only son to earth… to those who were created by him but would not recognize him… to those who would mistreat him and eventually crucify him. God sacrificed His son in order to save us.

Friends.. that is love.

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” ‭‭[Romans‬ ‭5:6-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬]

Advent Week 3 – “Wednesday” by Pastor Randy

Good morning friends! I apologize for the temporary hiatus but I have been without power and internet since Saturday so I am playing catch up.

Speaking of power outages… today’s post will be my special “Power Out” episode of Refill with Randy. This third week of Advent’s theme is love and in this video I talk about remembering those loved ones we have lost. Take a look…

Advent Week 2 – “Friday” by Pastor Randy

Happy Friday! Spend some time today listening to the song and meditating on the words of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” performed by Casting Crowns.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on Earth, good will to men

And the bells are ringing (peace on Earth)
Like a choir they’re singing (peace on Earth)
In my heart I hear them (peace on Earth)
Peace on Earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on Earth, ” I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on Earth, good will to men

But the bells are ringing (peace on Earth)
Like a choir singing (peace on Earth)
Does anybody hear them? (Peace on Earth)
Peace on Earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
(Peace on Earth)
(Peace on Earth)
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on Earth, good will to men

Then ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on Earth, good will to men

And the bells, they’re ringing (peace on Earth)
Like a choir they’re singing (peace on Earth)
And with our hearts, we’ll hear them (peace on Earth)
Peace on Earth, good will to men

Do you hear the bells, they’re ringing? (Peace on Earth)
The light, the angels singing (peace on Earth)
Open up your heart and hear them (peace on Earth)
Peace on Earth, good will to men

Peace on Earth
Peace on Earth
Peace on Earth, good will to men