“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!!! 😇

“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)

“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.

“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

“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

“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)

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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!

“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

“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

“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)

“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 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 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

Advent Week 1 – “Friday” by Pastor Randy

From the haunting tune to the arcane language I have always loved listening to the great Advent Hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”.

For me it is a symbol of the beginning of Advent as it encompasses both the longing of the Israelites waiting for their Messiah as well as the longing that we have today for that same Messiah’s return.

It also embodies the hope that we have been focusing on this week as there is an inherent sense that rejoicing will be inevitable as the redeemer will come. So take a moment to meditate on the lyrics and listen along with the video.

“More Love More Power” by Pastor Randy

The song, “More Love More Power”, played a significant part in my Christian journey as it played on the radio one night—prompting me to pray for Christ to be Lord of my life.

Even as I listen to it now it brings back more than just a feeling of nostalgia. It reminds me that being a Christian is not about what I’m saved from but rather what I am saved for—to live this life on purpose with a passion for God!

Listen to the song, meditate on the lyrics, and ask The Lord to refuel your passion for Him today.

More love, more power
More of You in my life
More love, more power
More of You in my life

And I will worship You, with all of my heart
I will worship You, with all of my mind
I will worship You, with all of my strength
For You are my Lord

More love, more power
More of You in my life
More love, more power
More of You in my life

And I will worship You, with all of my heart
I will worship You, with all of my mind
I will worship You, with all of my strength
For You are my Lord

More loveMore love, more power
More of You in my life
More love, more power
More of You in my life

More love, more power
More of You in my life
More love, more power
More of You in my life

performed by Michael W. Smith

“Terce – The Third Hour”

[This week and next I am sharing about the different hours of The Divine Office. If you are new here I would suggest going back and reading Monday’s (10/25) post to get a better understanding of what this is and why I am sharing about it.]

Terce simply means “third hour” in Latin is prayed mid-morning around 9am. Traditionally it is dedicated to the coming of the Holy Spirit which took place at mid-morning as stated in the account of Pentecost in Acts 2. It is time to ask for a fresh refilling of The Spirit and for strength for the day.

‭‭Acts‬ ‭1:8‬ “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (‭NIV‬)

Psalm 51:10-12 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (NIV‬‬)

“Holy Spirit”

There’s nothing worth more

That will ever come close

Nothing can compare

You’re our living Hope

Your presence, Lord

I’ve tasted and seen

Of the sweetest of love

When my heart becomes free

And my shame is undone

Your presence, Lord

Holy Spirit You are welcome here

Come flood this place

And fill the atmosphere

Your glory God

Is what our hearts long for

To be overcome

By Your presence, Lord

There’s nothing worth more

That will ever come close

Nothing can compare

You’re our living Hope

Your presence, Lord

I’ve tasted and seen

Of the sweetest of love

When my heart becomes free

And my shame is undone

Your presence, Lord

Oh, Holy Spirit You are welcome here

Come flood this place

And fill the atmosphere

Your glory God

Is what our hearts long for

To be overcome

By Your presence, Lord

Oh, Holy Spirit You are welcome here

Come flood this place

And fill the atmosphere

Your glory God

Is what our hearts long for

To be overcome

By Your presence, Lord

Overwhelm us with Your presence God

Overwhelm us now

Oh, beautiful name

Let us become more aware

Of Your presence

Let us experience the glory

Of Your goodness

Let us become more aware

Of Your presence

Let us experience the glory

Of Your goodness

Let us become more aware

Of Your presence

Let us experience the glory

Of Your goodness

Oh Lord!

Holy Spirit You are welcome here

Come flood this place

And fill the atmosphere

Your glory God

Is what our hearts long for

To be overcome

By Your presence, Lord

“Holy Spirit” by Jesus Culture

“Father Forgive Us” by Pastor Randy

Happy Friday! We are going to close the week with a prayer of confession accompanied by the promise of forgiveness.

Father forgive our eyes
when we linger too long where we should not have been looking

Father forgive our ears
when we entertain gossip and listen to godless chatter

Father forgive our mouths
when we speak careless words to or about others

Father forgive our hands
when we raise them to root for our team but refuse to lift them in praise

Father forgive our feet
when we run races but will not walk out of our way for another

Father forgive our hearts
when we compartmentalize our love for You and for others

Father forgive our minds
when we conform to the patterns of this world
instead of being transformed by Your Word

Father forgive our souls
when we seek to be forgiven even as we sin by not forgiving

Father forgive our pride
when we only use our gifts to work for personal gain

Father forgive us

Amen

“Oh, How He Loves Us” by Pastor Randy

For this Friday’s post I have chosen to simply share the lyrics to the song “How He Loves” written by John Mark McMillan and (in the embedded video below) performed by Kim Walker Smith.

This is a beautiful song that is a simple reminder of how much God really does loves us, whether we feel like we deserve it or not. So please meditate on the lyrics, listen to the song, and allow God’s love to flow over you and fill you up.

… He is jealous for me
Love’s like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy


When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me…

And oh, how He loves us, oh
Oh, how He loves us
How He loves us all…

And He is jealous for me
Love’s like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy

When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me…

And, oh, how He loves us, oh
Oh, how He loves us
How He loves us all…

Yeah, He loves us
Oh, how He loves us
Oh, how He loves us
Oh, how He loves…

And we are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking


And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about, the way……

That He loves us
Oh, how He loves us
Oh, how He loves us
Oh, how He loves…

Yeah, He loves us
Oh, how He loves us
Oh, how He loves us
Oh, how He loves…

Yeah, He loves us
Oh, how He loves us
Oh, how He loves us
Oh, how He loves

“Feeding Ourselves Spiritual Food – Part 4” by Pastor Randy

“How are you feeding yourself spiritually these days?”  So far we have talked about different methods for digging into God’s Word and about the benefits of creating sacred space in our calendars for silence and solitude. Yesterday I shared some of the ways I have done this on a daily basis and today I’ll write about creating space in our calendars for longer times of this on a  monthly and quarterly basis. And just in case you are wondering why I am not including a weekly basis here as well it is because I will be sharing about that in a different post focusing on all of the aspects of Sabbath keeping, So for now let’s start with monthly.

Once a month I like to get away to a specific place, anywhere from a few hours to a good portion of the day, for a mini-spiritual retreat. It could be somewhere close by or a couple hours drive but the main thing is that I go somewhere that I can be alone, for the most part, and spend a significant amount of time away from my devices and other distractions.

In the past I have…

  • hung out at a friend’s place while they were at work
  • hijacked a room at a church or some other organization
  • sequestered myself in the Conference Room of a local Bed & Breakfast
  • walked around Holley Falls
  • Sat under a tree at a park
  • spent time at a campground
  • gone to a Christian retreat center

There are more that I could list but that gives you a sense of some of the places that I have chosen to go to. As you can see, there are some similarities and the first and foremost one is that they are all FREE!!! Taking money out of the equation also helps take away the excuses we make about getting away.

And while I am spending time at these places I typically bring a few things…

  • my phone (on airplane mode) so that I have access to my camera as I love to take pictures while I am out on a prayer walk – especially at a place like Holley Falls.
  • My Bible and a Retreat Book that gives me a devotion to read and then asks questions or offers prayer suggestions to help guide my time
  • A notebook and pen for the dual purpose of writing down anything The Lord is saying to me as well as jotting down the multitude of things that I need to do and that always come to my mind during these times.  The main reason I do this is because if I can write them down then I don’t need to keep trying to remember them throughout.

That’s it. Pretty simple. Basically I spend time in listening prayer mode but also have on hand tools to help me stay focused when other voices, including my own, start to get too loud to hear The Voice of The One Who I truly want and need to hear from. So that is what I do for my monthly retreats and my quarterly ones are similar though longer and with a few more elements.

I have done these 3-5 day retreats in different places but by far the one that I go to the most and and have gotten the most from over the past decade is The Abby of the Genesee. This is a small Trappist Monastery in Western New York where I truly experienced Silence & Solitude for an extended period of time and it remains a sacred place that I hold dear to my heart. And it’s also here they literally make Monk’s Bread!!!

Beyond the fact that I bring a few more books into the mix, my focus is pretty much the same as my monthly retreats except that: (1) there is a minimal fee for room & lodging and (2) since the majority of the time there is spent in silence I do participate also in some of the speaking events hen they are offered which include: observation of The Daily Office (corporate worship at different times through the day and night which including chanting,singing, and sometimes a short homily), seminars which are given twice a week for roughly an hour on a certain topic or segment of Scripture, and one on one Spiritual Direction with a monk. For me this is most beneficial because it helps me to process out loud with someone what God has been speaking to me in my silence up to that point.

So there you have it. If anyone wants more details about specific books I might recommend, places to go, or other things that I use to aid my effort to sustain the practice of silence and solitude, in spite of my ADHD and extrovert tendencies, I would be happy help. Also, I only mentioned a few practices and methods to that I feed myself spiritually in these posts but would love to hear what other things you are doing as well.

“I’m Fine” by Pastor Randy

“I’m fine.”

We’ve all given this pat answer when asked how we are doing, right? It’s the easy answer, the simple answer, even the expected answer, but it’s not always the real answer.

Now you aren’t expected to bare your soul with every person who offers you a polite, “How are you doing?”, as they pass you by at the grocery store but there does need to be certain people and certain places where you can let your guard down, show some vulnerability, and share what is really on your heart and mind.

Whether it’s your spouse, best friend, pastor, therapist, coworker, or member of your small group at church I would encourage you to figure out who the person(s) is and make it a point to be real with them at least once a week. And, if they are wanting and willing, allow them to do the same.

As we navigate this world filled with pseudo friendships founded through social media we need to make sure that we are intentionally making some real connections with real people who really care about how we are doing physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

John Wesley used to start his Class Meetings by asking the question, “How is it with your soul today?” Imagine if even one person asked you that one question even once a week and you answered honestly, knowing that you would be heard with intent to pray for you and not simply fix you or your situation?

My hope is that each of you would seek out and find such a person and, in the meantime, let me ask you sincerely…

HOW ARE YOU TODAY?

“A Simple Prayer “by Pastor Randy

Father,

Allow me always to act
with Your Purposes in mind;
Never simply to react.

Help me always to make decisions 
     based on faith in The Known;
          Never on fear of the unknown.

Guide me in paths of righteousness
     in order to serve You well;
          Never compromising in order to please others.

Give me the courage to pursue my Call
     out of a sense of humble obedience;
          Never out of a sense of self-worth.

Mold me into the man You created me to be
     when you knitted me together in my mother’s womb;
          Never letting me forget that I was forged in Your Image.
          
Sanctify every aspect of my life
     that I might become more like You;
          Never withholding Your Refiner’s Fire.

Forgive my sins against You
     even as I forgive those who sin against me;
          Never allowing me to believe that I am deserving and they are not.

Hear my prayer
     and receive my praise;
          Never ceasing world without end.

Amen.

T.G.I.F.

T.G.I.F. stands for “Thank God It’s Friday”. And, though it is often times used by those who are excited about the end of another work week or who are preparing to party over the weekend, I would like to adopt a more straight forward definition here. Let’s take time to. literally thank God today—not just because it’s Friday but because He Is Worthy!

As your week comes to a close what are some of the things that you are most thankful for?

Where have you seen God working in your life or in the lives of those around you?

Who has come beside you this week to help with a need? To show you Christ’s love in a tangible way? To be a listening ear? To offer a word of encouragement?

Take some time this morning to thank God for all that comes to mind and then go into the day expecting more things to be added to your list!

“I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever. I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness. Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness. The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation. All of your works will thank you, Lord, and your faithful followers will praise you. They will speak of the glory of your kingdom; they will give examples of your power. They will tell about your mighty deeds and about the majesty and glory of your reign. For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does. The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness. The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth. He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them. The Lord protects all those who love him, but he destroys the wicked. I will praise the Lord, and may everyone on earth bless his holy name forever and ever.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭145:1-21‬ ‭NLT‬‬)