“Solitude” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Friends, as much as I appreciate this poem let’s prove the poet wrong and commit to sitting with others in their pain and bearing the burden of their brokenness. It’s true that no man can help you die but The Son of Man has already gone ahead of us and taken the sting away from death. Even more, he promises to never leave us nor forsake us and, having already gone ahead of us, will come back and take us to be where he is.

“Following Christ on the Narrow Road” by Pastor Randy

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.

“God Said, No” by Pastor Randy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“7 Haikus” by Pastor Randy

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

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

Welcoming others as friends;
The first time you meet

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

Missional mindset
Purpose over preference;
What would Jesus do?

Hypocrisy reigns
When Christianity is

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

The Imago Dei
Created to be creative
Living works of art

The Incarnation
An ultimate act of love
God becoming flesh

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

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

“Vigils – The Night Watch”

Some of you may be familiar with a candlelight prayer vigil, where you gather together and stay up late praying for.a specific purpose, and that practice comes from the same concept of what is practiced here in The Daily Office.

Vigils are prayers offered up in the middle of the night when one would normally be sleeping but instead is up waiting and watching in prayer. It is a time of learning to trust the darkness as one is immersed into the mystery of the night. It has also been referred to as “purposeful sleeplessness” with the focus on staying awake to watch for The Bridegroom.

When I started staying at The Abbey of the Genesee this was the first office and it was celebrated right after the Monks woke up at 2am. Since then it has changed and now Vigils are being celebrated at 3:30am. Here are some Scriptures and a prayer to meditate on…

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:145-148‬ ‭‬ “I call with all my heart; answer me, Lord, and I will obey your decrees. I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statutes. I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.” (‭NIV‬‬)

Luke 12:35-40 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (NIV‬‬)

“Night Time”

(a prayer poem)

As the darkness draws in,
you are the light in my heart
As the air turns colder,
you are the warmth in my soul
As the stars are revealed,
you renew my spirit
As the moon shines,
I know I am held safe in your arms.

“Abbey Road” by Pastor Randy

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
moving slower
focused and steady
but slower

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