Hi friends, I pray that you are on your way to having a blessed week! The Go Scatter Blog will be taking the week off for Thanksgiving but we will be back next Monday for the beginning of Advent.
In the meantime I just want you to know how grateful I am for each of you. I pray that God will be generous with his love, mercy, and grace toward you and that you will in turn be generous in those same areas with others.
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalms 100:1-5 NIV)
Happy Monday!!! Friends, I encourage you to find something to laugh about today. Look for a reason to smile. Take note of something beautiful. Find a reason to show somebody love in a tangible way.
It’s very easy to see the brokenness in the world around us but, as a friend shared in church yesterday, “We see what we look for.” So look for something positive today. Find the silver lining in every situation.
Rather than allowing current circumstances to dictate your mood or your attitude I challenge you to intentionally focus in on those things that will feed your soul today.
“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 4:8-9 NLT
Happy Monday!!! Let’s start the week by learning how to have peace by putting into practice three things that Paul writes to the Philippians about.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9)
REJOICE – Praise is a great habit to form for anyone who wants to know peace no matter their circumstances. When we rejoice always, whether in the midst of something good or something bad, it helps to shape our worldview by reminding us that we serve a God who is always in control and who deserves our praise even when we don’t understand why we are going through something. When we focus on the storms all we see are the winds and the waves and we reactively worry and stress butwhen we focus on God everything else fades away and then, whether the storm subsides or not, we have peace even as we walk through it.
REQUEST – Paul says that we are to present our requests to God through prayer, petition, and praise. It’s one thing to give something to God in prayer but it’s another to actually leave it with Him. Too often we tell God our troubles but then proceed to worry about them and try to work them out in our own strength rather than actually relying on Him. It’s no wonder that we do not know God’s Perfect Peace when we don’t ever allow Him to truly carry our burdens for us as Christ encourages us to do in Matthew 11:28-30 “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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” However, when we cast our cares on Him as well as praise his for past help, we not only feel peaceful but we are reminded of how He has already helped us in the past and we are even more at peace having the assurance that He is able to help us at this point in time as well.
RENEW – Much like in his letter to the Romans (12:1-2) Paul gives instructions about being transformed by the renewing our minds. He explains that we are to take captive each thought for Christ by taking control of what we think about. He says that we need to choose to think about those things which are: true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy.Easier said than done though, right? What we also need to understand is that one of the main factors that contributes to what we focus on is what we fill ourselves with. If we spend all day listening to gangster rap with graphic lyrics we will most likely not have a lot of material to work with later hen we are trying to think about something pure. Or if we spend all night watching the news or trolling FB we probably stay up stressed rather than go to sleep without a care in the world. In order to dictate what we dwell on in our thought life we need to be more discerning about what we decide to fill our minds with.
So how are you when it comes to experiencing God’s Peace in your life? Do you think Paul makes some good points but are skeptical about their effectiveness or have you actually put them into practice? What is one thing that you can do today to take back control of your thought life while simultaneously giving God control over your current circumstances?
Good morning! Here is your Monday Motivation to follow Christ on the narrow road no matter what this week.
The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
After sharing with the crowd in John 6 that he was The Bread of Life and that his followers would need to eat his flesh and drink his blood many got upset at Jesus.
“At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66-69)
Friends, though the world may turn away we must be willing to continue on that narrow path like the true disciples who were determined to follow Jesus even when they didn’t understand everything he was asking them to do, even when he told them things would be difficult ahead, and even when everyone turned away. They did this because they believed he was The Way, The Truth, and The Life and that there was no way back to The Father but by him. And so they took the harder more difficult path. Which one will you take?
It’s easy to follow Jesus in the manger but much more difficult to follow Jesus on the cross.
It’s easy to follow Jesus when he says to love our neighbors until he explains that our neighbors are sometimes our enemies.
It’s easy to follow Jesus when he promises to forgive us but much harder when he says we must also be willing to forgive others.
It’s easy to follow Jesus when we’re healthy and well fed but what about when we get sick or lose our job?
It’s easy to follow Jesus when he says things that are comforting but what about when he says things that are convicting?
Will you follow Jesus this week only when it’s easy or will you choose the narrow path no matter what?
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Happy Monday!!! I hope that your week is off to a great start and, those who are new on here, WELCOME!!!
Since some of you on here have followed me on social media I just wanted to make everyone aware that as of last Sunday (10/17/22) FB has permanently disabled both my personal (Randy LeBaron) and ministry (Go Scatter Ministries, Refill with Randy) accounts along with my Instagram (Refill with Randy) and Messenger.
Let me start by answering some of the questions I have been getting since then?
WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?
To be honest, I don’t know. I have theories but what I can tell you for certain is that I have not presently or in the past violated FB’s Community Standards. I take it as an affirmation of this that people asked WHY this happened and not WHAT did I do. The reality is that I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. I don’t make political posts, I don’t harass people, and I definitely do not use derogatory or vulgar language. My personal mission is to make FB a better place by encouraging others and posting about coffee, my kids, my cats, and Christ. If I were to guess it is the last one that got me in trouble.
On the day in question I had posted a prayer, shared a video of myself preaching at Albion First Baptist, posted a pic from Shiloh’s service when the pastor pulled me onstage to sing and dance, shared a stat about The Buffalo Bills, and put up a notice that I was going to be taking a week off of social media since I had been so busy lately doing funerals and because I had more in the coming week including attending my sister-in-law’s. Little did I know that that would be my final post and that instead of taking off a week I would be taken off of FB, Instagram, and Messenger completely.
DID YOU APPEAL?
Yes! I appealed immediately since I assumed it was a mistake and would be a quick fix.
I have never been banned or had my account questioned before but I did have an issue in the past where FB took down a post of mine on Market Place saying that I was “selling sexualized material”. Below is the actual pic from my post…
As you can see this is a DVD set of the 1980’s tv series “The Incredible Hulk” with lenticular covers. After explaining this to FB they immediately put my listing back up so I figured the same thing would happen regarding this latest misunderstanding. I. WAS. WRONG.
After filling out FB’s form, including an explanation (though I wasn’t told what I had done wrong) and proof of identity, I waited. In the meantime I noticed that Meta, who FB uses to oversee this, had removed $ from my PayPal account without reason. I had not paid for an Ad since 2021 so this was very unusual and I quickly disabled the link so that it couldn’t happen again. It was then that I received a response to my appeal saying that my FB page would be permanently disabled.
FB MUST HAVE GIVEN YOU A REASON? YOU MUST BE ABLE TO FIGHT THIS?
You would think that after 14 yrs. without ever so much as being put in FB jail, as a number of other users have had happen, that there must be a good explanation as to why this has happened and someone who I could speak to further before this extreme action was taken against me but you would be wrong. I quickly found out that FB is judge, jury, and executioner and that they can act with impunity and without accountability. Below is the response I received from them…
This was definitely a gut punch. All I could think of was how this was going to impact my online ministry since FB is how I have reached thousands over 34 countries with my blogs and Refill with Randy videos, it is one of the easiest ways to connect with my supporters (including fundraising), and it is how I market myself to receive speaking jobs such as guest preaching or Camp Evangelist.
On the personal side of things FB is the easiest way to stay in contact with friends and family both in my community and on the other side of the country. Since my sister-in-law’s funeral was in Utah this past Tuesday the only way I could attend was via FB Live which proved challenging since I couldn’t log in. 😔 I also have tons of posts where I shared things my kids said when they were little of posts on my wall from those who are no longer here like my mother. FB has said that I could download my info. but after a dozen plus failed attempts it is beginning to feel futile.
I also thought about the fact that without notification people might assume that I unfriended or blocked them when they tried to go on my page so I texted or e-mailed those who I had contact info. for, but that was a fraction of those who friended and/or followed me. In fact, if you would please share this on FB or with others that you know we’re friends with me I would really appreciate getting the word out.
WHY DON’T YOU JUST SET UP A NEW ACCOUNT?
That may eventually happen but right now I don’t see it happening for a number of reasons including:
- It was a lot of work to create content and build a base over the years and that can’t be duplicated over night.
- If I did create new content and go through the trouble of setting everything up what would keep FB from doing the same thing again for no reason?
- I am not sure that I want to continue on with an organization that treats its customers and/or Christians this way especially when I see people post horrible content day and day out without a problem simply because they fit FB;s narrative.
- I am still making numerous attempts to appeal (though every time the message I get is that they have too few people to review my appeal at this time).
- It’s still pretty raw.
SO WHAT NOW?
Well, it’s not like I’m not staying busy offline. Between being an Evangelist for the Genesis Conference FMC, President at Go Scatter Ministries, Spiritual Care & Bereavement Coordinator at Supportive Care of Orleans (Hospice), Interim-Pastor at Albion First Baptist Church, Adjunct Professor at Robert’s Wesleyan University, Counselor at Care-Net of Greater Orleans, Volunteer Chaplain at Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, Helper at Hands 4 Hope, and a Core Leader at P.A.C.T. and a few other things I don’t stay idle for long. And if I have free time then there are plenty of sporting events that my wife and I go to to watch our kids.
If I when I return to FB in another form or simply start using a different social media platform
Seriously, I am mourning the relationships and connection far more than anything but I hope for now that many will stay connected by following this blog, subscribing to my “Refill with Randy” YouTube Channel, and staying updated on my website goscatterministries.org
If I start a new account on FB or try another social media format I will be sure to let you know but, for now, thanks for sticking with me here and please reach out anytime by replying to a blog post or simply e-mailing me at email@example.com
And if anyone ever feels led to help support my ministry you can do so by giving via PayPal (@GoScatterMinistries or @RandyLeBaron), Venmo (@GoScatterMinistries or @RandyLeBaron) or GoScatterMinistries.org
Happy Monday! Welcome back to another edition of the GSM 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 are an encouragement to you as you deepen your walk with Our Lord.
Today, I want to talk about your light. No, I’m not talking about the light in your house that you always forget to turn off. I want to take about the light inside of you. You may have read that Jesus referred to himself as the light of the world, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5 NIV), but what does that even mean?
Well, the light refers to his nature, his presence, and his character. The way Jesus lived was unlike anything this world had ever seen. He lived a sinless life full of love, sacrifice, and compassion. Everything he did was geared towards loving others, helping the needy, and bringing glory to His Father in heaven. He modeled what it means to live for God and let your light shine before men.
The example of Jesus’s life is so valuable to each and everyone of us. In case you haven’t noticed, the world we live in is becoming darker and darker by the day. We have wars, rumors of wars, famines, crime, and economic hardships. When you focus on all the adversity in the world it is not hard to develop a feeling of hopelessness and despair. Now more than ever we need a source of light in the world.
So you may be asking yourself right about now, “What does this have to do with me? To be completely honest, this has everything to do with all of us. We have to be the light in this dark world. Our actions, our lives, our decisions have to shine a light everywhere we go. We have to use the example that Jesus displayed for us and influence the world around us. We have to live like Christ. Sure we are not perfect like Jesus but as Christians we have his Spirit living inside of us to help us. The Holy Spirit is our helper that aids us as we navigate this life
Did you know that light overcomes darkness? If you walk into a room with a flashlight the room gets lighter. The light doesn’t get darker. This is the same thing that happen when we enter a room. Our light should shine and illuminate the room. I know you are thinking you don’t glow or light up but that is where you are wrong. Your eyes, your smile, your whole appearance has the potential to change the room. Your words, your actions, and even your reactions can set the tone wherever you go. That is why it is so important to live in a Godly manner. We need to allow the light of Christ to shine through us each and every day.
The final question we have to ask ourselves today is this, “How can I let my light shine before men and bring glory to God?” The answer is actually pretty simple. In the Bible, Jesus gave us the two greatest commandments; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 NIV).
Loving your neighbor as yourself is pretty self explanatory. Treat those around you with love, respect, and honor. Put yourself in their shoes and treat them how you’d like to be treated. That is the easiest way to let your light shine.
Friends, I know there are days when we don’t always feel like letting our lights shine. There are days when the world seems to overshadow our best efforts to treat others with love. I know that we may not always get it right but we just have to try our best. We need to rely on the Holy Spirit and allow the example of Jesus to guide our decisions and actions. The more we fill ourselves with His Word and rely on His strength the brighter our lights will become.
I hope everyone has a great week and that you will let Christ’s light shine brightly through you!
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NLT)
Welcome back friends!!! Well technically you didn’t go anywhere, since we were the ones who took a hiatus, but either way it’s good to be back with you. And, if you’re new, please be sure to subscribe so that you can receive new posts in your inbox every weekday from myself and fellow blogger Dave Good.
Today seemed like an appropriate time to talk about how as Christians we need to constantly Begin Again. I’m not talking about falling into a futile pattern (as some do) of sinning, asking forgiveness, and then starting the cycle of sin and saying sorry day after day after day. Sorry, the preacher in me started coming out there.
What I am talking about however is our need to start everyday with a fresh-filling of The Holy Spirit, an intentional time of prayer & study, and a renewed focus on putting God’s agenda ahead of our own.
The Christian life was never meant to be static or talked about in the past-tense. Rather, it is a relationship that we must invest in on a daily basis just like any other that we want to succeed.
When you first start dating someone you think about them all the time, you let them know how you feel often, you make sacrifices in order to spend time together, you hang on every word that they write to you, and you can’t help but share how you feel about them with others.
And then something happens… , passion gives way to passivity and prioritizing your relationship is replaced with keeping up the routine. Sound familiar? What if that didn’t have to be the case? What if everyday you began again in your marriage. What if you renewed your passion for your spouse by spending time with them first thing every morning, stayed in contact with them throughout the day, intentionally told them how you feel, and, rather than going to bed angry, admitted when you are wrong and choosing to begin again.
Imagine what your marriage might look like if you followed even a few of these suggestions? I’ll admit that even as I am writing them I am feeling convicted to be much more intentional in practicing what I preach consistently when it comes to “loving my bride the same way that Christ loves the church”.
Now imagine what your spiritual life might look like if you applied these same principles to your daily walk with God. Much like dating, when someone first becomes a Christian they might be so elated having been set free from their sin that they can’t get enough of their Savior. Each day starts with prayer, the Bible truly does feel like The Living Word that you can’t get enough of, and you tell anyone who will listen about who Jesus is and how he changed your life.
And then something happens… passion gives way to passivity and prioritizing your relationship with The Lord is replaced with rituals and routine. Sound familiar? But what if it doesn’t have to be that way?
What if you begin again? What if you ask God to renew your passion and refill you with His Holy Spirit? What if you make a deliberate decision to start each day by simply asking God to go with you throughout the day? What if you spent even 15 min. a day rereading His Word and allowing it to speak into your life? What if you gather with others on a regular basis to encourage and motivate one another in your relationship with The Lord? What if?
Friends, I am committing to BEGIN AGAIN everyday in my walk with Christ and I invite you to join me. Please share what practices you find helpful in reigniting your passion for your First Love and sustaining it for the long run.
“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.”
Revelation 2:2-5a (NLT)
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT)
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…
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?”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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?
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.
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 #1 – Covid 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! 😇
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.”
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
- 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
- Graphic Designor
- Guest Speaker
- Sounding Board
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)
- 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.
- 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!!! 😇
Happy Monday Morning! I am going to be taking a 2 week social media break to start the Lenten Season so there will not be any “Refill with Randy” blog posts or videos until later this month. In the meantime please enjoy the latest GSM Newsletter.
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)
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
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.
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.
In honor of yesterday being Sanctity of Human Life Sunday I wanted to share this short video to you presented by Care Net Center of Greater Orleans where I am a volunteer pastoral/ peer counselor.
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.
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
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.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
(Isaiah 9:6 NIV)
On this second week of Advent our focus is on peace.
Most Saturdays I spend my morning helping out with Hands 4 Hope. As people gather to pick pick up food and clothes I have the opportunity to talk with each person and pray with them. I always ask what I can specifically pray for and, though I do get the usual requests for healing, for a job, for help with finances, etc., I have noticed one request that has become very prominent over these past two years—pray for peace.
In the midst of the pandemic, and an ever-growing political divide, peace seems more elusive than ever before. And yet we put our hope in the Prince of Peace to do what individuals and governments cannot do on their own.
Paul talks about this ministry of reconciliation in his letter to the Ephesians. He speaks specifically to healing the hostility between gentiles and Jews but we can see where it is applicable to all of the divisions that we experience today as well. Referring to Jesus in Ephesians 2:14-18 he says…
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
The only way that we will experience peace in our lifetime is by crucifying our desires, humbling ourselves, and allowing Christ to heal our hearts, heal our relationships, heal our nation, and heal our world.
Lord give us peace.
Advent is a season of remembering the events of Christmas past and getting ready for the time when Christ will come again. It is a time filled with anticipation, preparation, and expectation. It is also often marked by weekly themes, celebrated with the lighting of a different candle each Sunday, and so from now until Christmas we will be highlighting those same themes here. They are: Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. And I say “we” because there will be some other contributors, such as GSM’s own Dave Good who will be writing tomorrow’s blog.
The dictionary defines hope /hōp/ as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. In relation to Advent we are talking about both the hope that the Jews had that God would send them a Messiah and the hope that we have today that, because that same Messiah (Jesus) came to earth on that first Christmas, died for our sins on Good Friday, and rose from the dead on Easter, we can be saved and will join Christ when he comes again.
It is the kind of hope that the Israelites held onto generation after generation, even while wondering when it would happen, and it is the kind of hope that we hold onto today even though nearly 2,000 have passed since Jesus made the promise to return.
Isaiah spoke to this hope long before Christ when he shared in 9:2 that, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (9:2 NIV)
A few verses later he would go on to paint a picture of what this hope, this light at the end of the tunnel, would look like. He says in vv. 6-7 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” (NIV)
The reason why this gave them hope was not because they thought it would happen immediately but because they fully believed in The One Who said that it would indeed happen. They trusted that God would fulfill this prophesy when He deemed that the time was right.
Unfortunately I think that many times today we read about God’s promises in Scripture but we want instant gratification so when something doesn’t happen the way we want at the time we want it we tend to get cynical and our hope starts to wane.
The reality though is that if God has promised it but it has not happened, it’s not that it won’t happen but that it just hasn’t happened yet. Like our Jewish forefathers we need to have patience and perseverance trusting in The Author of our hope Who says in Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
The fact is that Christ came at just the right time, he died at just the right time (“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6 NIV), and so we can trust that he will return at just the right time. Until then we walk in hope.
I spent yesterday praising God in the morning at FreeChurch.net and then praising Him more at the P.A.C.T. Good Friday Service in the evening and I can honestly say that even if The Bills hadn’t trounced The Jets yesterday that I would have gone to bed with a smile on my face because there is just something joyful about being in the presence of God and His people.
I want to encourage you to find time each day this week to spend in worship. It may not always be possible to gather with others but it IS always possible to praise God throughout the day.
- Turn on Your favorite Christian station or playlist while you commute to work
- Start and end the day with prayer
- Ask a friend to get a cup of coffee with you and enjoy the gift of fellowship
- Intentionally look for things that you can thank God for throughout the day
- Spend some time in The Word
- Meet with a Small Group
- Find a mid-week service to attend
- Watch a service online (better yet, sing along!)
- Find ways to acknowledge God’s generosity toward you by extending generosity to others
There are a lot more possibilities. Get creative. And I guarantee you will see a difference in your own attitude at the end of each day.
Good morning! It’s Monday which means it’s time for you to start living the sermon you heard on Sunday.
When I would preach regularly at the church I pastored at I would often stand in the back to greet people as they left and inevitably I would hear things like, “Nice message” or “Good sermon Pastor”. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to hear feedback like that but it’s better to hear about how someone applied the sermon to their life.
In fact, after a while I started to respond to those who complimented me with, “Thank you! I would love to hear how you put some feet on it this week.” And you know what, after a while some started doing just that.
I would getting mid-week texts or e-mails telling me about their actions in response to the message and sometimes I would walk into church the next Sunday only to have someone run up to me excited to share a testimony. To me this was the most encouraging feedback that I could receive because it meant that the words that God was giving me actually impacted lives and the lives of others around them.
So… how will you start living yesterday’s sermon today?
How will you take a Scripture, a point, or a challenge that your pastor shared and put some feet on it?
How will you go from passively hearing God’s Word to actively living it today?
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:22-25)
I would love to hear some ways that you are doing this and I’m sure that your pastor would love to hear it too!
[This week 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.]
Sext is Latin for the sixth hour. It takes place at midday when the sun is overhead and one has become tired and lost their motivation. It is a time for earnest prayer to resist temptation, to keep from being overcome by the demands and pressures of life. We are reminded of Christ being crucified at the sixth hour and we unite ourselves with Him. One is aware of one’s failures and mistakes and prays for true conversion even to the point of sacrifice.
I don’t know about you but this describes me after lunch when it’s hard to concentrate, easy to fall into a FB scroll spiral, and the only thing I am motivated to do is take a nap. It’s this time of day that I need be that much more intentional about how I spend my time. When I was pastoring I would often plan visitation at this time because then I was alone so I wouldn’t be tempted to go into a social media spiral and it was much easier to pay attention to another person than whatever project I was currently working on.
Psalm 55:16-23 “As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change— he will hear them and humble them, because they have no fear of God. My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords. Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. But you, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay; the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you.” (NIV)
Happy Monday! I’m praying that your week is already off to a great start and just keeps getting better. 😇
Both this week and next I want to draw your attention to a different hour of The Divine Office, also referred to as The Daily Office, each day. If you are unfamiliar with this terminology, or the practice of pausing to pray and read Scripture at set times throughout the day, then you are not alone. Many Protestants, like myself, have never even heard of this practice let alone observed it. In fact, it wasn’t until over a decade ago while doing my doctoral work at Northeastern Seminary that I first learned about it. I then stayed at The Abbey of the Genesee in 2012 for my initial experience of practicing it. And though I don’t even attempt to observe them all on a consist basis, outside of when actually staying at The Abbey, even observing one in the Morning and one in the Evening helps me draw closer to The Lord by facilitating a rhythm of contemplation throughout each day. It is for that reason that I would like to share a bit here because I have found it to be a a very beneficIal part of my personal devotional life and you may find the same to be true for you.
There are what are determined to be Major Hours and minor hours and, depending on your tradition, some may observe all or only a few. The hours I will be sharing about are as follows:
- Vigils (during the night, at about 2 a.m.)
- Lauds (at dawn, at about 5 a.m.)
- Prime (early morning, at about 6 a.m.)
- Terce (mid-morning, at about 9 a.m.)
- Sext (midday, at about 12 p.m.)
- None (mid-afternoon, at about 3 p.m.)
- Vespers (evening, at about 6 p.m.)
- Compline (before bed, at about 7 p.m.)
Every morning I will share about the purpose of one of the hours and will provide a hymn, chorus, Psalm, or prayer that you can use as part of your own personal praxis. Unlike the more traditional observation of the hours I will sometimes add contemporary prayers and songs into the mix. For example, let’s start the week off by praying together the…
“PRAYER FOR THE WORKPLACE” by Anonymous
Dear Heavenly Father,
As I enter my workplace today, I invite you to join me so that everyone here will sense your presence. I give you this day and ask you to work through me by the power of the Holy Spirit.
May I convey your peace, just as I am aware of your comforting proximity at all times. Fill me with Your grace, mercy, and power to serve you and others in this place.
Lord Jesus, I want you to be glorified in my life and in this place of business. I pray you will be Lord over everything that is said and done here.
God, I thank you for the numerous blessings and
gifts you have given me. May I bring honor to your name and spread joy to others.
Holy Spirit, help me to depend on you wholly today. Renew my strength. Fill me with physical and spiritual energy so that I will be the best employee I can be. Give me eyes of faith to see from a heavenly perspective as I do my job.
Lord, guide me with your wisdom. Help me to work through every challenge and conflict. Let me be a beacon for you and a blessing to my coworkers.
My prayer is to be a living witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the name of Jesus,
Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people.“
At one of my stays at The Abbey of the Genesee I took note of how fast people drove down the road next to the walking path from the Retreat Center to The Abbey because it seemed liked such a juxtaposition and, as a result, I wrote the following poem. As you read it think about your week ahead and make a conscious decision to enter it hurried and overwhelmed or at a slower pace, spending time in prayer and pause.
As the cars and trucks speed by
filled with people with hurried schedules
and urgent appointments
inside there are others
focused and steady
They too have full days
work to be accomplished
a schedule to follow
commitments to keep
Their urgency though is in their being
not their doing
There are prayers to be said and psalms to be read
psalters to create and bread to bake
but the most important moments of the day are filled with
spirit speaking to Spirit
“Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.”
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 NLT
October is PASTOR APPRECIATION MONTH and I would like to encourage you to be intentional when it comes to showing love and support for the spiritual leaders in your life. Also, as someone who has served in this role previously for more than two decades, allow me to share some insight with you into why and how you should participate.
As rewarding as ministry might be it can also be stressful, isolating, and even hurtful at times (Sheep bite!) Imagine being in a position where there is an unspoken expectation to be all things to all people (leader, counselor, life coach, biblical expert, visionary, manager, preacher, teacher, evangelist, missionary, friend, encourager, disciplinarian, boss, employee, etc.) all the while being on call 24/7, never feeling like you are “done” for the day, trying to balance church & family, and making appropriate time to care for necessary physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. And did I mention coming up with a fresh message every week! Considering the fact that The Fear of Public Speaking ranks ahead of the Fear of Death that is no small fete. 🤔 😇
Obviously no two clergy or congregations are alike but in a culture that constantly asks, “What have you done for me lately?”, why not make sure that those who care for you know that you care about them.
I would suggest that you attempt to make it…
MEANINGFUL – Knowing that my top love languages are Words of Affirmation & Gifts and that I like watching football and collecting Batman memorabilia I have been blessed to receive many thoughtful cards and letters of appreciation over the years and have been surprised with Buffalo Bills’ tickets for me and my boy as well as everything Batman from lunch boxes to clothing & books.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR PASTOR’S PERSONAL INTERESTS AND HOBBIES? WHAT COULD YOU GET, OR DO, FOR THEM TO SHOW THAT YOU SEE THEM AS A PERSON AND NOT JUST A PASTOR?
PRACTICAL – This isn’t maybe as necessary as making it meaningful but it is always great to get something meaningful that is also useful. For example, I have received numerous gift cards over the years as well as new tires, a years worth of oil changes, free babysitting, meals, etc.
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT WOULD BE USEFUL TO YOUR SPIRITUAL LEADER?
MEMORABLE – For my very first Pastor Appreciation Month back when I was a bachelor serving as an Assistant Pastor I received a gigantic card filled with coupons for free weekly meals and desserts, oil changes, movie nights, and other fun stuff good for a full year! My second year at that same church I was thrown a surprise party in my own apartment that took me forever to realize what was going on. Lol I was taken to Universal Studios once while already in Orlando for a Church Conference and I once I even came home from church to find a goat tied to a pole in my yard with a card letting me know it was my new lawnmower (named Billy). 😂
WHAT IS REALLY REMARKABLE THAT WOULD MAKE YOUR PASTOR’S DAY?
The reality is that it doesn’t have to be something big or expensive but it should be intentional and convey what you feel about him or her.
Here are some suggestions…
- Take them out for a meal to show your appreciation and to share with them what they mean to you.
- Send a handwritten card (not just hallmark with a signature) to encourage them (I have kept everyone of these over the past two decades of ministry and they still bring me joy when rereading).
- As mentioned above, it is always a welcomed idea to give cash or gift cards that could be used for days off, date nights, and family outings. BONUS… offer free childcare too!
- Commit to praying for your pastor on a certain day or time period and then let them know in case they ever want to share something specific. Better yet, recruit others to each take a day of the month so that they will be covered daily throughout the entire year.
- Go the extra mile! One time the Jr. Teen Sunday School Class literally covered my minivan with post-it-notes sharing thank yous, encouragements, funny stories, etc. IT! WAS!! AWESOME!!!
Whatever you can do will be great as long as you do something! I would love to know what types of things you choose to do so please message me what your plan is. 😇
Good morning! I hope that you are ready for the start of a great week. As you begin your day I have a confession to make—Fall is my favorite time of the year (and not just because I love to watch football).
When the leaves start changing and the temperatures start dropping I just feel more alive. I tend to sleep better, I spend more time outside, I take more walks, and I don’t even mind having to mow more often because it feels like less of a chore and more of a chance to connect with my Creator in His Creation. I will often even take whatever project I’m working on to a nearby waterfall and allow the sights and sounds to inspire me as I write.
I’m not a big fan of pumpkin spice but pumpkin pie is high on my list. I love apple picking, apple cider, apple pie (with Muenster Cheese on top), and Pennsylvania Dutch Style Apple Dumplings. I look forward to being able to “fall back” an hour for Daylight Saving Time, even though I really don’t like having to “spring ahead” the following year, and I especially enjoy wearing comfy clothes and bundling up on those cooler nights.
I also have to admit that I look forward to a certain holiday that falls on October 31st and am already grieving the fact that all of my kids are grown and too old to take trick or treating. I like the colors, the costumes, carving Jack-o-lanterns, and collecting candy (from my kids’ stash 😉). I like movies set in Haddonfield and tv specials Linus’ search for The Great Pumpkin.
I. Like. Fall. 🍁🎃🍎
How about you? Do you enjoy this time of year or is another season your favorite? Why?
Happy Monday! Let’s start this week off by talking about hospitality. The featured picture is one that I took of my typical snack when staying at The Abbey of the Genesee where the monks consider hospitality to be one of their greatest gifts to others. I have been on the receiving end of this hospitality for more than a decade now and one of the significant ways came through Spiritual Direction with Father Jerome.
I think that the ministry of hospitality is too often misunderstood, underused, and overlooked. It is the act of allowing someone the gift of sacred space and quality time but people often equate it with a clean house and a lot of cooking. The fact is that it is easy to equate hospitality to Martha the busybody from Luke 10 but Jesus pointed out that it was Mary sitting at his feet listening intently to his every word who actually demonstrated it better.
– offering someone the gift of quality time
– making someone feel comfortable/valuable even in their own home
– offering someone a cup of coffee and good conversation to go with it
– a listening ear and a closed mouth
– caring for others’ needs before they have to ask for it
– more about “being” with someone than “doing” something for them
I know many people who have ministered through the typical definition of hospitality, an open home and an open heart, but there have also been those times when others have gone above and beyond and the overall effect cannot be diminished.
Some example are…
- putting an old orange recliner in the sanctuary to make it possible for a woman with cancer to worship with her church family
- sitting with someone on their deathbed so her son could get some rest before the inevitable, emotionally draining outcome
- showing up at someone’s house with groceries or a cup of coffee
- sitting next to a newcomer at church rather than in the comfort of your close circle of friends
- asking someone how they are doing and then taking the time to listen for the real answer
- Offering hug or flashing a maskless smile
- praying with someone rather than simply for them
- being willing to do extra cleaning after the fact to allow guests the option of keeping their shoes on vs requiring them to remove them
- thinking more of the comfort of others than self
- child proofing (at least to a degree) even if you don’t have kids
- sitting in silence even when it’s awkward as long as it is valuable to another
- learning to communicate with someone from another generation, culture, etc. rather than waiting for them to learn your ways and your customs in order to try to fit in
- attending to someone’s physical and emotional needs before worrying about the state of their spirituality or citizenship
These are just some of the acts of hospitality that I am personally aware of (and more often than not on the receiving end) and I’m sure there are many more to be discovered and tried so, rather than holding onto a narrow definition, let’s expand it together and be Jesus to everyone we come in contact with.
What is one way that you have shown or received hospitality recently?
In Hebrews 10:24 the author writes, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
Growing up in Gerry, NY (That’s Rodeo City USA to you non-natives) when I think of the term “spur” I think about the many times that I have watched cowboys and cowgirls kick their heel against the side of a horse or bull to get it moving.
Now that may not seem to fit within the context of motivating someone to love and good deeds but I believe the author realized that sometimes (often times) we tend to lean toward complacency and need to be reminded in a loving yet firm way to “never tire in doing good”. That’s probably why the author follows up with a challenge in the the next verse…
Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
So today I want to encourage you. I want to encourage you that following Christ is not foolish even when you can’t immediately see the fruit. I want to encourage you that God has begun a good work in you and will be faithful to complete it. And I want to encourage you to continue getting together with other Christians often and spurring them on with love and encouragement.
Remember, we’re all in this together.
Good morning and welcome to the new blog from Go Scatter Ministries… “Refill with Randy: 5 Cups of Coffee”
Every weekday morning you can expect to find something here to motivate you for the day ahead. Whether it’s a poem, a prayer, a Scripture quote, or simply some pastoral pondering, my hope is to both challenge and encourage you as you live out your faith on a daily basis.
I encourage you to get engaged by answering questions, sharing insights, offering feedback, and sharing your prayer requests and praises. My hope is that this blog would bless both you and me!
And now that you’re here…
Grab your favorite Cup
Fill it up
And let’s start this day right
It’s Monday morning and, like many other Monday mornings, I am overly tired, caffeine deprived, and lamenting a Buffalo Bills’ loss. I know, great way to start off a blog that is supposed to inspire and motivate, right? Lol
The reality though is that I know I will eventually wake up, drink some coffee, (maybe in reverse order) and The Bills will inevitably win The Super Bowl. (What can I say, I’m an optimist!) The point is that even if I was having the Mondayest Monday ever I know that it is probably just a temporary setback and that the potential for things to turn around is much more likely when I remember that it often has little to do with my circumstances changing and more to do with me choosing to adopt a different attitude.
I’m a big believer that my attitude will eventually shape my day and that over time it will have a profound effect on my life, my relationships, and my walk with Christ. I see evidence of this all the time! There’s the guy who has a good job and a healthy family who for all intents and purposes should be happy and content but is constantly in a bad mood. On the other hand there is the poor widow who has scraped by for years but is the first one to offer to come beside anyone else in need to encourage and pray for them.
I wish I could say that I always choose right or that I do not allow outside factors to have any affect on my worldview but that would not be true. However, I do make this my goal and so when I find myself moping or starting to feel cynical about a situation I go to God and ask Him to renew a right spirit with me. It’s amazing how such a simple request can help turn the tide just by allowing me to pause and gain some much needed perspective.
So how about you? Do you intentionally ask God to give you a right attitude as you start your week or do you allow your attitude to be dictated by others or outside factors? Do you dwell on difficult situations and expect things to just get worse or do remain hopeful, believing that even if God doesn’t change the scenario that it will be beneficial to change your mindset?
The best thing about choosing a right attitude is that it can have a positive effect on others around us. Unfortunately the same could be said of choosing a bad attitude. So what attitude will you choose today?
“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:1-5 NLT)