“Holy Spirit Come” performed by Patrick Mayberry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, come along

“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.

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

“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.

“Counter Culture Prayer” by Pastor Randy

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

Father God,


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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

For Your Glory.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

“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.

“Fill My Cup” performed by Andrew Ripp

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

“Fill My Cup”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Praying Uncomfortable Prayers” by Pastor Randy

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


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

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

I CHALLENGE YOU TO PRAY UNCOMFORTABLE PRAYERS

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

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

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

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

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

“My Jesus” performed by Anne Wilson

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

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

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

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Amen
Amen

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

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

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Amen
Amen, Amen

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

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

“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.

“Why God” by Austin French

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

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

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

I don’t understand
But I understand

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

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

I don’t understand
But I understand

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

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

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

“Heaven Help Me” by Zach Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Taking Time to Rest & Reset” by Pastor Randy

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

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

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

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

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

Go to The Shepherd and He will give you rest.

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

“Compline: Night Prayer” by Pastor Randy

[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.]

Compline comes from the Latin which means to complete. It is the final prayer before going to bed. It marks the completion of our day and is considered to be a daily exercise in the act of dying.

Luke 2:29-32 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” (NLT)

Psalm 121:1-8 “I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” (NLT‬‬)

Be our light in the darkness, O Lord, and in your great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of your only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hoursof this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes andchances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Look down, O Lord, from your heavenly throne, andillumine this night with your celestial brightness; that bynight as by day your people may glorify your holy Name;through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Visit this place, O Lord, and drive far from it all snares of the enemy; let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us inpeace; and let your blessing be upon us always; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

————————————————-

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, orweep this night, and give your angels charge over those whosleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

————————————————-
O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we livein and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day, who work while others sleep, and grant that we may neverforget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
————————————————-
Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awakewe may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.

————————————————-

The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end. Amen.

excerpts from The Book of Common Prayer

“Vespers: Evening Prayer” by Pastor Randy

[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.]

Vespers, celebrated at dusk, takes on the character of evening when day is almost over and our work has come to an end. This hour is marked with rest and contemplation of the day’s successes and failures. It is often marked by thanksgiving for the day just past and a sacrifice of praise for the night yet to come.

Psalms‬ ‭141:1-2‬ “O Lord, I am calling to you. Please hurry! Listen when I cry to you for help! Accept my prayer as incense offered to you, and my upraised hands as an evening offering.” ‭‭(‭NLT‬)

Psalms‬ ‭119:55‬ ‭“I reflect at night on who you are, O Lord; therefore, I obey your instructions.” ‭‭(NLT‬‬)

Praise From All Creatures


Praise be to you, O Lord
Who spins shining stars across the wondrous heavens
And stretches out the seas,
Who lifts the dawn into place And sets boundaries for night,
Who awes the earth with storms And gentles it with green,
Who gives everything a season
And breathes life and love into the dust of us.
Praise be to You.


Praise in all things, For all things,
The soft slant of sunlight, The sweat of battle,
a song in the wilderness, the evening breeze,
the deep breath,
the tended wound,
mercy, quietness, a friend; for the miracles of the daily,
the mysteries of the eternal.
Praise be to You.


Praise from all creatures, Laughers and list-makers,
Wonders and worriers,
Poets and plodders and prophets,
The wrinkled, the newborn, The whale, and the worm,
From all, and from me. Praise, praise be to You
For amazing grace.

by Ted Loder

“None – The Ninth Hour” by Pastor Randy

[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.]

None, refers to the ninth hour, roughly mid-afternoon. Much like with Prime, it is a time to pray for perseverance and for the strength to continue bearing fruit. It is a time when one becomes aware of the sun’s eventual setting and the strength one needs to cope with the demands and responsibilities of life.

Philippians‬ ‭3:7-21‬ ‭“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (‭‭NIV‬‬)

STAY STEADFAST MY SOUL


Stay steadfast my soul
when the waves seem too high
When my confidence wanes
and my well has run dry


Stay steadfast my soul
when the hurts of ministry cut deep
When I am sad
when I am tired
without tears
without sleep


Stay steadfast my soul
when from depression I can no longer hide
It is always hungry
all consuming
yet never seems satisfied


Stay steadfast my soul
when other’s voices drown out my own
When their troubles and their vices
on my weary shoulders find a home


Stay steadfast my soul
for it will all come to an end
When my Savior and Lord
comes back again


Stay steadfast my soul
continue to be fervent
And on that day He will say
Well done faithful servant

Randy LeBaron

“Sext – The Noonday Devil” by Pastor Randy

[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)

In the strong name of Jesus Christ I stand against the world, the flesh, and the devil.

I resist every force that would seek to distract me from my center in God.

I reject the distorted concepts and ideas that make sin plausible and desirable.

I oppose every attempt to keep me from knowing full fellowship with God.

By the power of the Holy Spirit I speak directly to the thoughts, emotions, and desires of my heart and command you to find your satisfaction in the infinite variety of God’s love rather than the bland diet of sin.

I call upon the good, the true, and the beautiful to rise up within me and the evil to subside.

I ask for an increase of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

By the authority of almighty God I tear down Satan’s strongholds in my life, in the lives of those I love, and in the society in which I live.

I take into myself the weapons of truth, righteousness, peace, salvation, the word of God, and prayer.

I command every evil influence to leave; you have no right here and I allow you no point of entry.

I ask for an increase of faith, hope, and love so that, by the power of God, I can be a light set on a hill, causing truth and justice to flourish.

These things I pray for the sake of him who loved me and gave himself for me.

Amen.

Richard Foster

“Terce – The Third Hour”

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

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

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

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

“Holy Spirit”

There’s nothing worth more

That will ever come close

Nothing can compare

You’re our living Hope

Your presence, Lord

I’ve tasted and seen

Of the sweetest of love

When my heart becomes free

And my shame is undone

Your presence, Lord

Holy Spirit You are welcome here

Come flood this place

And fill the atmosphere

Your glory God

Is what our hearts long for

To be overcome

By Your presence, Lord

There’s nothing worth more

That will ever come close

Nothing can compare

You’re our living Hope

Your presence, Lord

I’ve tasted and seen

Of the sweetest of love

When my heart becomes free

And my shame is undone

Your presence, Lord

Oh, Holy Spirit You are welcome here

Come flood this place

And fill the atmosphere

Your glory God

Is what our hearts long for

To be overcome

By Your presence, Lord

Oh, Holy Spirit You are welcome here

Come flood this place

And fill the atmosphere

Your glory God

Is what our hearts long for

To be overcome

By Your presence, Lord

Overwhelm us with Your presence God

Overwhelm us now

Oh, beautiful name

Let us become more aware

Of Your presence

Let us experience the glory

Of Your goodness

Let us become more aware

Of Your presence

Let us experience the glory

Of Your goodness

Let us become more aware

Of Your presence

Let us experience the glory

Of Your goodness

Oh Lord!

Holy Spirit You are welcome here

Come flood this place

And fill the atmosphere

Your glory God

Is what our hearts long for

To be overcome

By Your presence, Lord

“Holy Spirit” by Jesus Culture

“Prime – The First Hour”

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

Prime, which is celebrated during the first hour of daylight, is a minor hour which many stopped observing around 1970. I include it however because it began in the 4th Century for a reason I find a bit humorous and one that I that I thought some on here might relate to.

Typically the monks would get up and begin their day with Lauds at Daybreak but some of the “lazy” ones would sleep in and not start their day until Terce. As a way of compromising with these monks who needed more sleep, but who they didn’t want to start their day without prayer and devotion, the practice of Prime began by offering a chance o pray and read Scripture together as the monks met to start their tasks for the day and it took place in between Lauds and Terce.

So for you non-morning people out there, who need more than just a cup of coffee to start your workday, this hour was created for you. 😇

Psalms‬ ‭5:3‬ “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” ‭(NIV‬‬)

Colossians‬ ‭3:23-24‬ ‭“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (NIV‬‬)

Jesus, I desire to start this day with you.
And yet, my mind keeps flitting to so many things:
the projects I want to accomplish,
the people I want to talk to,
the people I wish I didn’t have to talk to.
I wonder. Are these things distractions to spiritual concentration
or invitation to see God in the ordinary? I’m not sure.
Jesus, I know that you are that Center who knows no distraction.
So I offer up my mental fragmentation to you, O Lord my God.
May my scatteredness become your gatheredness.
As I am contemplating a thousand things,
Jesus, may I somehow be contemplating you.
Amen.

~Richard J. Foster; Prayers From the Heart

“Lauds – Prayer at Dawn”

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

Lauds is celebrated at sunrise when the night is dispelled and the new day is born. The Church has always considered the sun to be a symbol of Christ rising from the dead. We thank God for the first light at the beginning of creation and for the second light that came into the world—Christ. This hour is filled with joyful prayers and songs.

Genesis‬ ‭1:3-5‬ “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” ‭(NIV‬‬)

John 1:1-9 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” ‭(NIV‬‬)

John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” (NIV‬‬)

“Light of the World” by Lauren Daigle

The world waits for a miracle
The heart longs for a little bit of hope
Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel
A child prays for peace on Earth
And she’s calling out from a sea of hurt
Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel

And can you hear the angels singing
Glory to the light of the world
Glory the light of the world is here

The drought breaks with the tears of a mother
A baby’s cry is the sound of love
Come down, come down, Emmanuel

Oh, He is the song for the suffering
He is Messiah, the Prince of Peace has come
He has come, Emmanuel

Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world

For all who wait
For all who hunger
For all who’ve prayed
For all who wonder
Behold your King
Behold Messiah
Emmanuel, Emmanuel

Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world

Behold your King
Behold Messiah
Emmanuel, Emmanuel
The world waits for the miracle
The heart longs for a little bit of hope
Oh come, oh come Emmanuel

Shed your clear light on our hearts, Lord, so that walking continually in the way of your commandments we may never be deceived or misled. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, (one) God, for ever and ever. Amen.

“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.

“The Divine Office” by Pastor Randy

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,

Amen.

Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people.“

“Father Forgive Us” by Pastor Randy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Father forgive us

Amen

“An Alert Mind and a Thankful Heart” by Pastor Randy

Colossians‬ ‭4:2‬ “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” ‭‭‭(NLT‬‬)

I love how Paul places the emphasis here on having an alert mind and a thankful heart when we pray.

How many times have you rattled off a recited prayer before a meal or during a church service without a thought about what you’re saying?

Or how many times have you neglected to thank God for an answer to prayer or taken for granted some of the blessings in your life that others would be more than grateful for if they were in your shoes?

We’ve all done it, right? Not intentionally but it’s easy to get busy, to get distracted, or to get caught up just going through the motions. That’s why Paul reminds us to go to God intentionally, considering what is coming out of our mouths as well as what The Spirit is speaking to our hearts, and to learning to be grateful to God for all that He has done.

I encourage you to take even ten minutes today to do just that. Pray on purpose with the expectancy that you will encounter the Creator of the Universe and praise Him for all that He is and all that He has done.

“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
silence
solitude
spirit speaking to Spirit

“Practice the Pause” by Pastor Randy

Happy Wednesday!

As you pause to read this in the middle of your week I want to talk to you about Practicing the Pause.

In my post last Friday I shared about spending time in Silence & Solitude, learning to listen to God, but the reality is that as Christians we are to become people who pray perpetually.

Now that doesn’t mean that we should all just hide away in our prayer closet all day, every day rather that we you become the type of person to whom prayer becomes a second language that you use throughout the day to talk with your Father.

When Paul exhorts us to “pray continually” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 I don’t think that he is asking us to become “so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good” as the saying goes but, rather, to learn to be in constant communication with the Father—through the Son—as directed by The Holy Spirit.

And I believe the key to praying continually is to practice a holy PAUSE

Before you get out of bed in the morning PAUSE and ask God to make His Agenda your agenda.

Before you eat PAUSE and thank God for all that He has provided for you.

Before you make a big decision PAUSE and ask God to give you wisdom and discernment.

Before you speak to, or about, someone PAUSE and ask God if it is beneficial for building them or others up.

Before you leave your house each day PAUSE and ask God to give you an attitude worth catching.

Before you go to bed at night PAUSE and thank God for all of the blessings of the day.

I could list more but you get the picture. I encourage you to try it and let me know how it goes.

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

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

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

In the past I have…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Feeding Ourselves Spiritual Food – Part 3” by Pastor Randy

The question this week is, “How are you feeding yourself spiritually?”  So far I have shared different methods  for getting into The Word but today I want to shift the discussion to prayer. And, since we are focusing on finding nourishment for our souls, I want to look at the more passive aspect of prayer—listening.

Most of the time when someone says they are going to pray they mean that they are going to petition God for something, for themselves or someone else, but the reality is that for us to experience prayer as it was meant it needs to be a two-way conversation.

I must confess that for me listening doesn’t come easy. I write and speak words for a living and am used to shaping a conversation but when it is time for me to open my ears and close my mouth it feels like foreign territory. That is why I have to be very intentional when it comes to setting aside time on a regular basis for silence and solitude.

The reality is that we live in a very noisy, fast-paced world where there is little margin for quiet time with God if we do not purposefully build it into our schedule. For me, I try to find some sense of this on a daily, monthly, and quarterly basis. I’ll start with daily here and then share more about monthly and quarterly in tomorrow’s post.

As a father of four it can be difficult finding sacred space to do this. Sometimes I feel like Jesus who was overwhelmed by all the people constantly crowding around him and so he had to sneak off by himself early in the morning to the solitary places.

For me this often means either getting up earlier or staying up later than everyone else. I have also found being on the lawnmower with my noise-canceling headphones on helpful. When I was at the church I would regularly hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on my office door so that I could spend uninterrupted time listening to The Lord.

Even if it’s for just 10 min. a day in order to hear and learn to recognize The Shepherd’s voice more clearly on a more consistent basis above all the other voices in this world, including your own, it is worth it. And once you start really hearing Him, and wanting to hear Him louder and clearer, you will want to find longer stretches of time to spend with Him. I will share more about that tomorrow.

“Be Still” by Pastor Randy

Today’s post is meant to facilitate a short pause in your day/week in order to fix your eyes back on God. In the midst of your busyness, your circumstances, your deadlines, your chaos, it’s an invite to pause… to be still… and to be reminded that HE is God.

Simply read through each line of Psalm 46:10a meditating on the meaning of the words left in each phrase. If you would like I have also embedded my episode of “Refill with Randy” that came out today and adds some audio/visual elements to this practice.

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM

BE STILL AND KNOW

BE STILL

BE

“A Simple Prayer “by Pastor Randy

Father,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

“Lord of All Pots & Pans and Things” by Pastor Randy

Lord of all pots and pans and things,
since I've no time to be a great saint
by doing lovely things,
or watching late with Thee,
or dreaming in the dawnlight,
or storming heaven's gates,
make me a saint by getting meals,
and washing up the plates.
Warm all the kitchen with Thy Love,
and light it with Thy peace;
forgive me all my worrying,
and make my grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
in room, or by the sea,
accept the service that I do,
I do it unto Thee.
Amen

This is the prayer of Brother Lawrence, a monk who worked in the kitchen, who sought to speak to and honor God in all that he did. Now you may not think that praying while brushing your teeth or taking a shower is “holy” but in the day and age that we live in as ideal as it would be to always get away to our prayer closet it’s not often practical. Besides, we are to “pray continuously” in all circumstances so why not practice at the start of each day so that you will continue communing with God throughout the day.

“A Midweek Prayer for Focus” by Richard Foster

Jesus, I desire to start this day with you. And yet, my mind keeps flitting to so many things:

the projects I want to accomplish,

the people I want to talk to,

the people I wish I didn’t have to talk to.

I wonder.  Are these things distractions to spiritual concentration or invitation to see God in the ordinary?  I’m not sure.

Jesus, I know that you are that Center who knows no distraction.  So I offer up my mental fragmentation to you, O Lord my God.

May my scatteredness become your gatheredness.

As I am contemplating a thousand things, Jesus, may I somehow be contemplating you.

Amen.

~ Richard J. Foster; Prayers From the Heart

“A Prayer to Start Each Day” – Pastor Randy LeBaron

I took this photo at one of my favorite places to go for study, silence, and solitude… Holley Falls. The prayer that I have paired with it with was written by Richard J. Foster in his book Prayers from the Heart.

I find that whenever, and wherever, you are when preparing to start your day that a good practice is to go somewhere out of earshot of the noise and chaos of this world and to pray a prayer like this one.

“A Prayer for the New Year” – Pastor Randy LeBaron

I remember taking this photo a few years back while staying at The Abbey of the Genesee. Little things tend to catch my eye and so I was drawn to this one lone leaf holding on while all the others had already fallen.

As we prepare to say goodbye to the year 2020 I felt it fitting to pair this picture with this prayer. As we move into 2021 I would encourage you to cling to the good of the year past while letting go of all bitterness, anger, hurt, unforgiveness, and anything else that would keep you from moving forward.

God bless and have a Happy New Year!!!

“Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” – An Advent Prayer

In keeping with our theme of the week here is an Advent Hymn that is very much a prayer…

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.


Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.


By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Tom Howard / R. H. Pritchard / Charles Wesley

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

Advent – Week 1 “Prayer” – Pastor Randy LeBaron

FYI – each week of Advent starting on Sunday each of our TAKE 5 bloggers will take turns answering a question or commenting on the same theme. That takes place Sun-Thur. On Fridays I will be posting an Advent Prayer that coincides with that week and then on Saturday I will simply post a passage of Scripture for you to meditate on your own.

O’God of Christmas past
and of Christmas still to come.
We pray to You during this first week of Advent
and ask that you fill our hearts with the same longing for Messiah
as those who watched and waited centuries ago.
Help us to be mindful of all of our desires at this time and to cleanse our hearts by casting aside any that take our eyes off of You.
Let us live is such a way that should Christ return tonight
he will find us doing those things expected of us and be pleased.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.