“Practicing Peace” by Pastor Randy

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?






“Sobering” by Pastor Randy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Experiencing Peace through Prayer” by Pastor Randy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Detox Your Thoughts” by Pastor Randy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advent Week 2 – “Friday” by Pastor Randy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advent Week 2 – “Thursday” by Dave Good

Welcome back to the GSM advent series. My name is Dave Good and once again I am honored to share this time with you. I pray that you find our time together is beneficial to you. Advent is one of my favorite times of the year. A time to prepare our hearts for the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. A time to just focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

As we celebrate this second week of advent, our attention turns to peace on earth. I could imagine that the night Jesus was born there was anything but peace in and around Bethlehem. The little town was turned into an overbooked, overcrowded metropolis thanks to the census decree that was called by The Roman emperor, Augustus. Every Jew was to return to their tribal hometown to be counted for taxation purposes. That fulfills a prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

The whole town was saturated with people. There were people in the streets trying to return to their family home. There were people stuffed into the local establishments enjoying a meal with friends and families. The inn was completely overbooked. I’m sure there were people in the markets scurrying about trying to buy goods and fresh food. The little town of Bethlehem was just buzzing with activity. The once small, quiet town was anything but peaceful at that time.

When you stop and think about it this is kind of how we spend every Christmas Eve. Most of us spend it preoccupied with stuff to do. We spend the day cooking or preparing a lovely meal for our friends and family and then we make that last minute run to the mall to ensure that we can cross every name off our Christmas gift list. After we spend the day driving home to spend quality time with loved ones. Christmas Eve usually turns into a lot of hustle and bustle most of the time. For a lot of people Christmas Eve is anything but peaceful.

Mary and Joseph were in quite the predicament that first Christmas Eve. Mary was having contractions and birthing pains and they had no place to spend the night. The inn was full, yet fortunately for them the resourceful innkeeper allows them to take refuge in the barn behind the inn. The Savior of the world was about to be born in a manger, among the animals. What should be a monumental celebration turns out to be more of an afterthought than anything else.

I think we have to be honest with ourselves. Our Christmas Eve traditions often turn the miracle of the birth of our Savior from a monumental celebration to an afterthought. We allow the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to rob us of our peace. We focus so much on the non essentials of Christmas that we lose our joy.

Mary had every right to complain about her situation and yet her circumstances did not steal her peace. She understood what was really happening at the moment her baby let out his first cry. She understood the prince of peace was here on earth. Her eyes were on the true meaning of Christmas and that will always restore the peace deep inside you.

Friends, I pray this Christmas we keep our eyes on Christ as we seek his peace as well as the joy and hope that is associated with his coming. Let’s try not to get too wrapped up in the business of the season and allow the stillness and serenity of Jesus to fill our hearts. Have a great rest of the week and may the advent season be a blessing to each and everyone of you.

Advent Week 2 – “Tuesday” by Pastor Randy

Happy Tuesday!!! For our second day of focusing on peace please take some time to listen to the song and meditate on the lyrics of Austin French’s “Peace on Earth”

Into darkness
Comes a light
Into silence
A baby’s cry
The birth of freedom
The death of fear
In a manger
Christ is here

Let there be peace on earth
Let there be peace on earth
Long awaited love
Heaven’s come for us
Let there be peace on earth

All division
May it cease
Every worry
May it flee
A weary heart finds
A thrill of hope
The world rejoices
We’re not alone

Let there be peace on earth
Let there be peace on earth
Long awaited love
Heaven’s come for us
Let there be peace on earth

Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing

Peace on earth
Peace on earth

Let there be peace on earth
Let there be peace on earth
Long awaited love
Heaven’s come for us

Let there be peace on earth
Let there be peace on earth

Advent Week 2 – “Monday” by Pastor Randy

“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.