“Anonymous & Generous + Summer Update” by Pastor Randy

Good morning friends and Happy Friday!!! Before I share today’s blog post with you I wanted to give you an update on both this “Refill with Randy” blog as well as the Video Blog. For these summer months, which will be filled with work, travel, speaking engagements, family events, camps, etc., there will still be both written and video blog posts but not every weekday or every week respectively. So please continue to follow, read, and comment on GSM’s content when it comes out knowing that we will be back to our regular posting by Fall. Thanks! PR

And now, for today’s post, I simply wanted to share about an encouraging piece of mail that I received this past week. It came in an envelope that stood out because my name and address was written for both the sender and the recipient. It reminded me of some of the spam calls I have received from my own #. I joked to Sheryl that I must have been in a fog and sent myself mail again and she joked back that if there was any white dust in it to keep it away from her.

After opening it I found two things inside: the unsigned card show above, which simply read “God Bless you as you continue to serve him.”, and a large bill.

Now please do not think that I am any less grateful for the many other cards and gifts I have received over the past 3 yrs. that I may or may not have known where they were coming from but this just happened to come when I was in the middle of a difficult week filled with sadness from patients who had passed at Hospice, church politics, and number of other things related to ministry. And what this anonymous and generous gift said to me in that moment was… “I see you”, “I appreciate you.”, and “Your gifts, calling, and ministry matter.”

Not that ministry is done for recognition but pastors, just like every other person I know, do want to feel like they are making a difference or fulfilling a purpose and affirmation and encouragement can certainly play a part in that.

So… if the anonymous donor is reading this “THANK YOU!!!” And if anyone else who has shown me love, support, and encouragement whether I knew it came from you or not “THANK YOU!!!”

And please don’t read this and walk away thinking that Pastor Randy needs his ego boosted and is fishing for praise. I can tell you in all honesty that that is not at all my desire. What I would like your takeaway to be however is that sometimes something as simple as a note (there doesn’t have to be money in it), a call, a text, or a visit that reminds someone that you are thankful for them and/or how they are using their gifts for God can make their day in many more ways than you can imagine.

And for anyone reading this I just want to remind you that The Creator of The Universe cares about you and that you are Valuable to Him so, if you don’t hear it anywhere else today… YOUR LIFE MATTERS!!! YOU ARE LOVED!!! AND… as my friend Pastor Trellis Pore would say, THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!!! 😇

“A Little Kindness Can Go A Long Way” by Pastor Randy

Happy Wednesday! I hope the first part of your week has gone well and that the second half will be even better!!! Today I want to talk to you about how a little kindness can go a long way especially in the world that we live in today.

You have probably heard the saying, “Be kind because everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Well, there is a lot of truth in that and so, as Christians, we should be extra intentional when it comes to exhibiting the fruit of the spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control – Galatians 5:22-23) in response to others.

I know that sometimes it can be frustrating if you are waiting in a long line or if there aren’t any bags at checkout but, rather than getting upset at the closest person on staff who is probably making minimum wage and has no control over the situation, maybe say a quick prayer for patience and then offer the person a smile instead of a scowl or even say something to them like, “No bags again, huh? That’s got to be tough because it’s not your fault but you probably still take the heat for it.” Or maybe, after a long wait in line where you have heard other customers berating the cashier, pause when it gets to be your turn and say to them, “It sounds like you are having a tough time. I pray the rest of your shift goes better.” And if you say it loud enough it will hopefully set the tone for the others waiting in line behind you. 😇

My friends and I actually had the opportunity to show kindness in this way a week ago when we having breakfast at a local restaurant. When we arrived we were seated and had our orders taken shortly after. We then jumped into some good conversation, my two friends discussed world problems while the one’s son and I had more important matters to discuss like LEGOS, and after quite a while ha passed, and I was just starting to wonder where our food was, someone other than our waitress came to our table and said, “I’m very sorry but your order was lost.” She explained that she had noticed that people had come in after us who already had their bill so she went to find out about our order only to find that it was missing. She said she would put it right in and thanked us for our patience and understanding.

It wasn’t really a big deal. We weren’t starving and saw it as just getting to enjoy more time together in conversation. A little while later we received our food, which was worth the wait by the way, and then a few minutes later the lady who had taken our original order came up to our table. As she started to apologize we tried to stop her saying that it wasn’t a problem but she continued on explaining that she was actually the owner of the restaurant and that she had taken our order because the waitress who was supposed to be there for the morning shift hadn’t shown up. She went on to say that on her way back to the kitchen she had answered the phone since she saw that it was from the hospital where her husband had been admitted with some severe health problems, and after hearing some not great news she had forgotten all about our order.

Once again we assured her that it wasn’t a problem and asked what her husband’s name was so that we could pause and pray for him right then. After we finished our meal and went to leave (after my buddy left a very generous tip which I only mention because as a former waiter I can attest that Christians have earned a bad rap over the years from being stingy tippers) she cashed us out and then gave us hugs saying that we were the perfect table for that to happen to.

You wouldn’t think that we would enjoy being labeled as the perfect table to have our ticket lost but it was obviously a compliment, not only because of how we responded but also because of how we didn’t respond. Think about it… we could have been angry, we could have demanded that we get our food for free, we could have got up and left, we could have passive aggressively posted a bad review on social media. There are a number of ways that we could have reacted poorly in the moment, and I wish I could tell you that I have never done any of these things in the past, but any negative reaction would not have allowed us to offer comfort and hope to someone who was obviously in need of both. Beyond that how bad would we have felt after finding out why our food was delivered late?

I know that we all have times when we are rushing and not as kind or as patient as we would normally be but friends it is in those moments that we can truly shine for Christ if we only slow down and try to picture the situation from another’s point of view. Let’s make it a point to pray each morning and ask God to make us more aware of these holy opportunities so that those we come in contact with will be better for it and will understand more about the tangible love of Christ shown through our words and actions.

Let us be Christ’s hands, Christ’s feet, and Christ’s voice in the world today.

GO SCATTER!!!

“A Different Type of Memorial Day” by Pastor Randy

Happy Memorial Day friends! For those who don’t know, Memorial Day is not just a long weekend filled with Parades & BBQs. That has certainly become part of our tradition but the intention of setting aside the day was to honor those who died in active military service.

Something I just recently learned, thanks to my youngest daughter who playing in a parade there the other day with the Albion High School Marching Band, is that Waterloo, NY is the birthplace of Memorial Day.

So, all that being said, I do wish to honor all those men and women who gave their lives to save ours but as this post titles states this is a different type of Memorial Day… for me anyway.

It was 10 yrs. ago today that my mother died after battling brain cancer. As much as the anniversary ofPearl Harbor or 9/11 hit some May 30th, 2012 is a day I will always remember. Today I remember and honor my mother, Ellen LeBaron, and thank God for the impact she had on my life. Love you mom. Miss you…

“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.

“Love…”

Good morning,

Today’s encouragement is short but not always simple. Today I encourage you to LOVE…

LOVE those closest to you in the way that they will recognize and receive it best.

LOVE those who have offended you and don’t wait for their permission to forgive.

LOVE your friends and family unconditionally based on who they are instead of what they do.

LOVE your enemies and treat them kindly as you would want them to treat you.

LOVE people–not things.

LOVE good–not evil

LOVE…

And, going along with Dave’s post yesterday about looking in the mirror, here is a good way to measure how you are doing when it comes to loving others the way that Christ expects of us.

Most people are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13 whether or not you have read it, listened to a message on it, or heard it being read at a wedding, but have you ever taken inventory of how you are doing in the area of love using this passage as a plum line line? Let’s start by reading the passage together…

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (‭‭vv. 4-8‬ )‬‬

Now here’s the test. Replace the word “Love” with your name and see if it still rings true. Here is an example using my name.

“Pastor Randy is patient, Pastor Randy is kind. Pastor Randy does not envy, he does not boast, Pastor Randy is not proud. Pastor Randy does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, and is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. Pastor Randy does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Pastor Randy never fails.” (‭‭vv. 4-8‬ )‬‬

Now, I wish I could say that with these changes the passage still rang true 100% of the time but the reality is that there are areas that I fall short in and ultimately need to ask God’s help to get better in.

So now, how about you? Write your name in each blank, rate yourself (or ask a spouse or a close friend if you’re feeling daring), and then ask God to help you to work on the areas where you fall short. Ultimately though the best thing we can do to grow in each and every area is to spend time getting to know the one who perfected love—Jesus himself.

________________ is patient

________________ is kind

________________ does not envy

________________ does not boast

________________ is not proud

________________ does not dishonor others

________________ is not self-seeking

________________ is not easily angered

________________ keeps no record of wrongs

________________ does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth

________________ always protects

________________ always trusts

________________ always hopes

________________ always perseveres

________________ never fails

“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.

“The Lord Is My Shepherd” by Pastor Randy

Happy Monday Morning! Today I want to talk to you about Jehovah Jireh, the Lord our Provider, that David writes about in Psalm 23 when he states in v.1 “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not be in want.”

Specifically I want to share about an instance where God was already providing for a specific need before I even knew to ask Him for it. This has happened many times through my ministry and walk with The Lord but this just the most recent and it has to do with the photo at the top of this post. This is a pic of me mowing on my trusty old John Deere mower that, shortly after this was taken, proved not to be so trustworthy.

Now I have had my share of mower fails over the past 18 yrs. that we have lived here in Albion. Broken blades, broken belts, broken cylinders, you name it. Thankfully though I have always had a group of friends much more mechanically inclined than I am who have helped me in the past. Knowing that might not always be the case though, when my mower suddenly stopped at the bottom corner of our property and I found the culprit to be a broken spring, I decided that it was time to do something I had wanted/needed to do for a while now… I was going to buy a new mower.

I asked my buddy Dave how much HP I needed and what size deck I should get because my current 17.5 HP and 42” deck just wasn’t cutting it (pun intended). He told me I should be looking for a minimum of 20 HP and 50” deck. After researching online I went to a local dealer the next town over started to look through their inventory. I immediately realized that mowers had gone up in price since the last time I had to by a new one, I found my John Deere used on Craigslist about a decade ago, and so I would be spending more than anticipated.

As I looked at the fancy zero-turns and imagined whipping around my yard on one I couldn’t justify the extra expense so I narrowed in on a Troy-Bilt which was 24 HP with a 54” deck. It was still more than I was planning to spend but the thought of not always having my yard get out of control while I waited for yet another repair was very appealing.

After going home and talking it over with Sheryl I made the call and became the proud new owner of a lawn tractor. All there was left was to have it delivered and then pay for it. Oh yeah, and figure out what we were going to do with my broke down John Deere that was still stuck at the bottom of the hill.

This is where Jehovah Jireh comes in. Apparently God knew that we would need to purchase a new mower because the final price with tax was almost exactly what we would be able to pay without dipping into other savings. And, just to remind me that He excels in the details, less than 1 min. after my new mower was delivered a neighbor came over and asked me what I was going to do with the other one. I said I didn’t know but explained what was wrong with it and said he could take a look if he wanted. I then had to take off to get to my kids baseball and softball games.

That was yesterday. This there was a knock on my back door and a man handed me a bank envelope of cash before proceeding to pull the mower out of my yard. Now you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? I was expecting bigger than that. That kind of stuff happens all the time.” And that my friends is the point. I do believe that things like this happen all the time but God doesn’t get the credit or we don’t think it is something as spectacular as if I had woken up and found a brand new zero-turn in my driveway with a bow on it.

The reality is that thanks to God giving Sheryl and I the ability to work and save we were able to get what we needed when we needed it most without going into debt AND not only did I not have to worry about going through the process of listing the old mower on Marketplace, let alone breaking my back trying to push it up the hill, but both things happened immediately with zero effort on my part. Oh yeah, and the cash given to me was the exact amount we had gone over what we had originally want to spend on the new mower.

In the end the reality was this… The Lord is my Shepherd and because of that I am not in want. Thank you to The One Who Provides.

What are some ways that God has provided for you lately?

“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.

“What Do You Stand For?” by Pastor Randy

Good morning! Happy Friday Eve!!! Today I want to talk about what we stand for and, more to the point, what is the public perception of what you and I stand for as Christians.

Nowadays it’s pretty easy to find out what people stand against. All you have to do is jump on any social media platform and it takes no time at all before reading derogatory comments aimed at a person, group, or party with differing views from the author or this symbol 🚫 placed over top of you name it. And I am not even addressing the secular culture here as much as I am Christians online.

Whether it’s berating a government figure (guilty), picketing against a political issue, or calling out a particular sin, Christians are pretty good and making known what they stand against. Now, I am not arguing that there are things that that Christians should not tolerate but the point I would like to emphasize is that those outside the church should know more about what, and Who, we stand for vs only what we stand against.

Josh McDowell once made the statement that, “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” I would add that when all we present are rules without first having a relationship with people it leads to repelling them.

Years ago I arrived at church where I found a car it the front most spot by the road. Normally that would not be a problem but this car stood out because it was completely covered with bumper stickers that read things like, “All have sinned—this means you” and “Ask me why you serve hell”. I actually took a picture of it and posted it on FB noting that the owner of the vehicle did not have any affiliation with our church.

Eventually the owner of the car came out of the jail across the street where he had been leading a Bible Study. I walked out to meet him and was somewhat surprised as this older, jovial gentleman immediately started telling me that he had been spreading the love of Christ to the inmates. I thanked him for that but also shared my concern that his vehicle did not convey the love of Christ that he had spoke of. I said that I would be glad to have a longer conversation with him about it but asked that he please not park in front of our church in the future.

I didn’t make this request because I was upset with this man but rather because I cared about how people perceived our church. I believe that when we hide the love of Christ behind a wall of judgment it impairs our ability to build actual relationships with people where we can share those truths with them from a place of compassion and with the hope that only comes from knowing, believing in, and following faithfully Jesus Christ.

May we stand for Christ and clothe ourselves with him so that the world will know him, his love, and the hope of his salvation.

Romans 13:8-10 “Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” (NLT‬‬)

Colossians‬ ‭3:12-17‬ ‭“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

“Lessons Learned from Catching Covid & Quarantining – Part 2” by Pastor Randy

Happy Tuesday! If you read yesterday’s post you know that I was recently quarantined after catching Covid-19 and I shared some lessons that I learned from it. If you didn’t read yesterday’s post then go read it. I’ll wait… 😇

Ok, now that you are all caught up, here are a few more lessons that I learned last week…

LESSON #5 – God Is The Good Shepherd & A Good, Good Father

One of the things I love about God is that He cares about us. And He doesn’t just care about the big stuff but He cares about the little stuff too. He really is the Good Shepherd from Psalm 23:1 that supplies all of our needs and the Good Father from Matthew 7:11 who knows how to give good gifts to his children. Not only did God bless me by not allowing me to suffer some of the debilitating symptoms and side effects that some have had to go through and ultimately, I believe, healing me but He also blessed me along the way. And the best part was that he used others to do it! That brings me to…

LESSON #6 – God’s Kids Are Pretty Great Too

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post that it was tough not having anyone to talk to or touch but that didn’t mean that others didn’t talk to me via texting and social media and that I didn’t get touched by their encouraging words and generous acts. Some examples were…

  • A friend showing up w/ coffee and meds
  • Another friend showing up with tea and cough drops
  • Yet another friend showing up with coffee
  • My wife bringing me coffee in bed each morning
  • Are you starting to sense a theme here? Lol
  • Friends offering to bring me take-out or groceries
  • Hundreds of Birthday wishes online
  • $4,815 raised for my Birthday Fundraiser
  • A friend and fellow pastor offering not only to preach at the two churches I was scheduled to speak at this past Sunday but also to donate the honorariums from each to Go Scatter Ministries.
  • Friends sharing that they have their churches and friends praying for me.
  • Encouraging messages coming from other countries
  • Birthday breakfast in bed ☕️🥓🍳🥞
  • I could go on but you get the picture. 😁

LESSON #7 – I Am Not An Essential Worker

Sometimes it takes getting sidelined for a bit to realize that, whether out of a sense of self worth or in trying to live up to others’ expectations, we have taken on too much. The reality is that, like many found out at the beginning of the pandemic, we are not as essential as we assumed we were. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that it is God’s desire to partner with us in order to achieve His Will but sometimes we overstep and forget that God is God and we are not. When this happens we need to be reminded that the world will turn and that ministry will still happen without us. For me this is not a new lesson but actually one that God reminds me of often and one that I now receive with joy.

I have come to learn that there is no greater privilege than to be used by God for His Purpose but also that there is no greater relief than realizing that He can and does use a lot more people than just me. Last week I had friends cover for me with preaching, with Hospice, with Hands 4 Hope, etc. and I didn’t lose one wink of sleep over it because I knew that the same God who would have worked through me in those settings would work just as mightily through them. That isn’t an excuse to stay sidelined and leave ministry to others but rather an opportunity to reevaluate what you are doing and to ask God to reveal any areas that you took on without His prompting. To have Him refine your purpose will ultimately be a blessing to you and to others as you will accomplish more together.

Well, I could go on but seven ramblings is probably enough for now. Thank you for reading and please share any lessons that you have learned while going through a crisis, big or small, so that I can learn from you as well.

“Lessons Learned from Catching Covid & Quarantining – Part 1” by Pastor Randy

Good morning friends, it’s good to be back with you after an unanticipated, yet necessary, hiatus. For those that don’t know, I tested positive for Covid-19 a week ago Saturday and ended up spending Easter through my birthday sick in bed and isolated from friends and family. Currently I am out of quarantine but still nowhere near 100% as I struggle to speak without coughing and I feel like I am constantly fighting fatigue. I am however doing much better than I was a week ago so the blog is back on and I thought I would kick things off with a two part post listing some of the lessons that I learned after having Covid-19 and being quarantined.

LESSON #1Covid Isn’t As Fun As The Kids Make It Out To Be

Seriously folks, Covid kicked my butt. It reminded me of when I came down with the Swine Flu, not once but twice, over a decade ago. That seemed worse because I had a bad fever, and I haven’t had one since, but with Covid I did experience waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to breathe—and this was before the coughing began.

I hadn’t felt well for a while but since Sheryl had had Covid herself right before Spring Break I had been cautious and was tested six times over 12 days and they all came back negative, including earlier in the day before The Good Friday Service. It was that night however that I woke up choking, which I blamed on reflux, and the next day after attending a funeral and not feeling well that I decided to take Test #7 prior to going to church and my in-laws the next day for Easter. For this I used a home test and it took all of 20 sec. before both lines shown clearly. I immediately started self-quarantining and my journey began.

LESSON #2 – Even In Isolation It’s Hard To Just “Be” And Not “Do”

It’s hard to turn off the world even when you are sick and all by yourself. As much as I stopped doing a lot of things (i.e. visiting with patients, counseling with clients, having coffee with friends, leaving my bedroom…) I still had a few little devices that “allowed” me to stay up to date with things whether I wanted to or not. From needing to be on social media because I was in the middle of a much needed fundraising effort (Praise God I reached my goal of $4,800 by the time I turned 48!!!) to receiving counseling requests via text late at night when I was trying to sleep, the world did stop spinning nor did my mind. This was a wake up call for me to develop better habits and better boundaries when it comes to having tech always on whether I’m sick or not.

LESSON #3 – Always Multi-Tasking Isn’t Always Good

For better or worse I am a multitasker—not because I think it is a more efficient or effective way to get things done but because my ADHD riddled brain gets bored if I’m not doing at least three things at once. That being said, Covid brain made me slow down and multitasking was near impossible. The other day I laid in bed and read an old fashioned paper and print book from cover to cover in one sitting. No tv on in the background. No reading on the same screen where I get pop up notifications non-stop. No thinking of five other things I could be doing and setting the book down never to be picked up again. No, I read it, enjoyed it, and was inspired by it. In case you are wondering it was The Dream King by Will Ford & Matt Lockett who will be speaking at a number of events this week sponsored by PACT. This is another benefit of having better boundaries with my devices… FOCUS.

LESSON #4 – I Get Why Jesus Only Stayed In The Tomb For 3 Days

Ok, let me preface this by saying that I am only kidding around by comparing Jesus’ being buried with me being quarantined. I think God has a sense of humor and he certainly made me with one. For example, at The Good Friday Service another pastor and I carried a large wooden cross into the sanctuary and when we were placing it on stage I got a splinter from it. When returning to our seats I showed him my wound and whispered, “Now I really understand Jesus’ suffering.” I laughed. He laughed. I came down with Covid the next day. 😳

On second thought maybe I should cool it with the jokes and just get to the point which is that, for an extreme extrovert with physical touch being high up on his list of Love Languages, being by myself without anyone to talk to or touch was downright depressing. My wife would bring me food and drink but the rest of the family stayed as far away as possible so as to avoid any germs. Even though Sheryl had just had it herself a couple weeks prior she avoided getting close to me so as to not carry any of my germs back to the kids or her class. All necessary but also depressing. Even the cats, who never left Sheryl’s side when she was in bed, wouldn’t venture into the room with me. To say that being quarantined was at least as bad, if not worse, than the actually illness would not be an exaggeration. It really made me feel that much more for the people in the hospitals and nursing homes during the height of Covid who had to suffer through so much while not being allowed to have loved ones by their side. Needless to say, as soon as I am sure I will not cough in your face as a result you will all being getting a big hug from me the next time I see you—whether you want one or not. 😉

These were just some of the lessons I learned. Come back tomorrow and read about a few more. SPOILER ALERT!!! They are all positive! 😇

“Pastor Randy’s GSM Birthday Fundraiser – Updated”

Friends, from now until my birthday on April 23rd I am raising support for my evangelism efforts through GSM. The total is currently at $1,819 but there are only 6 DAYS LEFT to raise the final $2,981. Can you help me reach my goal of $4,800? Any amount will help! Thank you in advance for considering.

You can give using the PayPal link https://www.paypal.me/GoScatterMinistries?locale.x=en_US you can Venmo me @Randy-LeBaron or to receive tax credit you can write a check to “GENESIS CONFERENCE FMC” with “EVANGELIST FUND” in the memo line and mail it to:
GENESIS CONFERENCE FMC
2260 Westside Drive
P.O. Box 206
N.Chili, NY 14514

If you send a check please DM or e-mail me at RandyLeBaron@gmail.com with the amount. Thank you in advance for your support!!! To find out more about my ministry check out goscatterministries.org

“A Father’s Sacrifice” by Pastor Randy

When we think of Jesus going to the cross we often focus on his actions, his emotions, and his sacrifice, right? And though there is nothing wrong with that because he did endure so much for our sake the fact remains that his Father did and experienced much of the same—just from a different perspective.

One of the most quoted verses in all the Bible is John 3:16. It states…

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (NLT)

God the Father was not merely a passive bystander in Jesus’ sacrifice but a willing participant. He gave us his son to stand in our place and die for our sin. He sent his son into the world, not to condemn it but to save anyone who would put their faith in him.

And, before you start thinking that Jesus was the only one who experienced pain as a part of this plan to redeem mankind, remember that when Jesus took our sins upon him and was separated from his Father for the first time in all eternity that the Father ached as well.

Imagine, as a parent, watching your only son be tortured, mocked, and nailed to a cross and then hearing him cry out…

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).” (Matthew‬ ‭27:46‬b NIV‬‬)

A little over 18 yrs. ago, the day before our daughter Ashlyn’s 2nd birthday, we were staying at a friend;s place and where she fell and cracked her head open on the corner of a coffee table. As young parents we were overwhelmed with emotion as we rushed her to the E.R.

Eventually we were told that she would need staples to hold the wound together so that it would heal and, inexplicably, they told us that we would need to hold her down while the doctor did it. TALK ABOUT TRAUMATIZING!!! And I don’t just mean for her.

Our hearts broke as she cried out for us to help her—not understanding that what we were doing was for just that reason. As she cried we joined in and to this day I do not understand why we were made to participate in that way.

What I do understand though is that it must have been just as heart-wrenching for God the Father to watch all that his son went through and not step in and stop it. For the same reason though that Jesus didn’t save himself so that he could save others, God watched without intervening out of His great love for us. A chance to be reconnected with His creation.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans‬ ‭8:28-39‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

“Imagine” by Pastor Randy

Imagine the night before Jesus’ arrest, before Judas’ betrayal, before Peter’s denials, and before the disciples desertion.

Imagine what it must have been like for Jesus.

Imagine knowing in advance that those closest to you in the good times would be furthest from you in the bad.

Imagine washing your friends’ feet, serving them food, and praying for their protection and perseverance—even as one plotted to kill you, two vied for position, and three would fall asleep as you poured your heart out in gut-wrenching fashion at the Garden of Gethsemane.

Imagine knowing that you were about to experience an unimaginable amount of pain—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually—but allowed yourself to be arrested all the same.

Imagine knowing that death was waiting for you in the form of a cross but still choosing to walk toward it—not because you deserve it but because you have great compassion for those who do.

Imagine every difficult choice Jesus made just to give us the opportunity to choose him, to choose life, to choose eternity.

Imagine how much he must have loved us to leave heaven, to become human, to live a sinless life, and to die a sinner’s death, for our sake.

Imagine what our lives could look like if we chose to follow him and his example of loving others unconditionally and unflinchingly.

Imagine…

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans‬ ‭5:6-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

“Jesus followed God’s GPS” by Pastor Randy

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, and so I want to take a look at not only Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem but also what led him there in the first place. Let’s start by reading…

Matthew 20:1-11 “As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.” This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said, “Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.’” The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!” The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked. And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”” (NLT‬‬)

This seems like a pretty good first day in the city but, as we know all too well, it kind of went down hill from there at least from an earthly point of view. The fact though was that Jesus knew what was coming all along. He knew that even though there were those now crying “Hosanna! Hosanna!” And throwing Palm branches at his feet that a mere five days later others would be crying, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” and pressing a crown of thorns into his head. We know that he knew this because he had already told his disciples as much. If you go back four chapters Jesus says in…

Matthew‬ ‭16:21-24‬ “From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” (‭NLT‬‬)

Jesus knew what would happen by going to Jerusalem and yet he kept going in that direction. Why? My friend Pastor Mike Rivera shared in his message yesterday morning that it was because Jesus was heading home and the way was through Jerusalem… through the pain… through the cross. I would argue that you can look back to the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry and see that he had been going in this direction the entire time as he followed GPS (God’s Positioning System).

Jesus chose to go to and through the cross for us. On this first day of Holy Week I would encourage you to take some time and consider where you would be willing to go and what you would be willing to do for him, remembering that he said…

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.”

“Pastor Randy’s GSM Birthday Fundraiser”

Friends, giving is currently at $570 which is just under 12% of the goal if $4,800. Would you consider helping me reach my goal today? You can use the PayPal link below.

You can also Venmo me @Randy-LeBaron or, to receive tax credit, you can write a check to “GENESIS CONFERENCE FMC” with “EVANGELIST FUND” in the memo line and mail it to:


GENESIS CONFERENCE FMC
2260 Westside Drive
P.O. Box 206
N.Chili, NY 14514

If you send a check please e-mail me at RandyLebaron@gmail.com with the amount. Thank you in advance for your support!!!

“7 Haikus” by Pastor Randy

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

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

Hospitality
Welcoming others as friends;
The first time you meet

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

Missional mindset
Purpose over preference;
What would Jesus do?

Hypocrisy reigns
When Christianity is
Compartmentalized

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

The Imago Dei
Created to be creative
Living works of art

The Incarnation
An ultimate act of love
God becoming flesh

“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!

“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

“Wholesome Chaos” by Pastor Randy

Happy Monday and Welcome Back to the “Refill with Randy” Blog!!!

Ok, technically I was the one who left for a few weeks but I’m glad to reconnect with you either way. I will share about some of my adventures while away in future posts, including this Wednesday’s All New Episode of “Refill with Randy” on FB & YouTube, but for today I wanted to give you a glimpse into my life these days.

Wholesome Chaos is a favorite podcast of mine by a Christian Dad & Daughter (Dan & Maggie Thurmon) who gained fame on TikTok for their positive messages and funny dance numbers. Check it out!

Wholesome chaos is also a good way to describe the life of an evangelist, preacher, husband, and father like myself. When people ask me how I am doing it’s hard not to answer with the typical, “keeping busy”, but there is a lot of truth in that statement.

On a typical week I wear many hats and serve in many different roles. In addition to the aforementioned evangelist, pastor, husband, and father I am also…

  • President of Go Scatter Ministries
  • Uber/Bus Driver for all of my kid’s school & sports
  • Spiritual Care & Bereavement Counselor at Supportive Care (Hospice) of Orleans
  • Blogger
  • Sheriff’s Chaplain
  • Care-Net Pastoral/ Peer Counselor
  • Host of “Refill with Randy”
  • Event Photographer
  • Hands 4 Hope Volunteer
  • Provider of Spiritual Care via Social Media
  • Community Pastor/ Coffee Shop Chaplain
  • Cupbearer to our cats
  • Financial Advisor
  • I.T.
  • Graphic Designor
  • Guest Speaker
  • Missionary
  • Sounding Board
  • Friend

I could keep going but you get the picture. I am not listing these off to say “Look at me. Look at all I do” but simply to share with you that the old joke about a pastor working only 1 hr. a week needs to be retired ASAP. I also expect that most of you can relate to what it is like to try to keep a lot of plates spinning at the same time, trying to meet a lot of different expectations (many self-imposed), and trying to be all things to all people all the time.

You know who else had many different hats, many different expectations put upon him, and met the needs of many people? That’s right… JESUS! The main difference between Jesus and me though (and there are many) us that he prepared himself for a life of Wholesome Chaos by practicing two things as illustrated in this account from…

Mark‬ ‭1:35-39‬ “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.” (NLT‬‬)

  1. He started the day in prayer away from all the other voices vying for his attention and talked to His Father about what He should do.
  2. He learned to say NO to those things that others thought he should do but did not fit into God;s Agenda.

Throughout my ministry I have struggled to implement these same practices with different degrees of success and one thing I know is that when I do them consistently well I am more effective for the Kingdom, more at peace at the end of the day, and ultimately a better friend, family member, communicator, caregiver, example, etc. to those who God has called me into community with.

So, how about you? Do you ever get frustrated with how busy you are? Is it because others are demanding too much? Or is it because you say Yes too often because you listen to others vs taking the time to listen to The One Who wants to put you on the path to fulfill a purpose in this life that will impact others and impact His Kingdom?

I urge you to take some time today as we start a new week to get away to a place where you can tune into the voice of God and shut all others out. This may mean physically going somewhere or simply turning off your phone, PC, and tablets for 20 min. If you start to make this a habit, I would suggest at the start of each day, then I believe you will end each day feeling less frenzied and more fulfilled.

Give it a try even for a week or two and then let me know what happened. Did your call become clearer? Did it become easier to say no to the suggestions of others, not because they weren’t asking you to do good things but because God had better things in mind? Or did you sense something else happen as a side effect of spending that solitary time listening to The Lord.

PLEASE MESSAGE ME AND LET ME KNOW!!! 😇

“My God is Still the Same” by Sanctus Real

Today I invite you to watch the video and meditate on the lyrics of the song “My God is Still the Same” performed by Sanctus Real. As you head into the weekend after what may have been an upside down kind of week I want to encourage you with the fact that though our circumstances are ever-changing our God is still the same.

MY GOD IS STILL THE SAME

Just ask the waves
If they are stilled at the mention of His name
They’ll say my God is still the same
Ask the walls
If they still fall at the mighty sound of praise
They’ll say my God is still the same

When did He break His promise?
When did His kindness fail?
Never has, never will
My God is still the same
When did He lose His power?
When did His mercy change?
Never has, never will
My God is still the same, yeah
My God is still the same

Just ask the words
You prayed in desperation if they’re heard
They’ll say my God is still the same
Ask the grave
If it’s strong enough to keep hope in it’s chains
It’ll say, “God is still the same”
Yeah

When did He break His promise?
When did His kindness fail?
Never has, never will
My God is still the same
When did He lose His power?
When did His mercy change?
Never has, never will
My God is still the same, yeah

Not once did He ever stop moving
Not once has He ever let go
Not once did He ever stop proving
Our God is in control
Not once did He ever stop moving
Not once has He ever let go
Not once did He ever stop proving
Our God is in control

When did He break His promise?
When did His kindness fail?
Never has, never will
My God is still the same
When did He lose His power?
When did His mercy change?
Never has, never will
My God is still the same, yeah

Not once did He ever stop moving
Not once has He ever let go
Not once did He ever stop proving
Our God is in control
Not once did He ever stop moving
Not once has He ever let go
Never has, never will
My God is still the same
(My God is still the same)
My God is still the same

“Animal Adventures” by Pastor Randy

We LeBarons like our animals and we always try to interact with them whenever we get a chance. I shared yesterday about our many road trips and often times a place with animals would either be our destination (Sea World, Gator Land, African Lion Safari, etc.) or a quick detour to break up a long trip (we have stopped at a lot of Zoos over the years and always find something unique about each one).

And, when I said interact, that’s exactly what I meant because as much as we like looking at animals we also like to pet, feed, hold, ride, swim with, or drive through. For example, we have petted dolphins, beluga whales, killer whales, elephants, sharks, sting rays, and more. We have fed goats, bears, giraffes, and tigers to name a few. We have held alligators, snakes, tarantulas, and lemurs. We have ridden horses, camels, and elephants. We have swam with sharks (technically anytime you are in the ocean you are swimming with sharks, right? 😏) and dolphins (Sheryl anyway), and we have given rides to many monkeys and had other animals like lions, ostriches, and giraffes try to get in or on our car. For that matter I even wrestled a 5’ alligator once (albeit with it’s mouth taped shut and a line of elementary age kids behind me waiting for their turn). Needless to say… we love animals.

I believe that God has instilled in us a love for His creation that causes us to want to interact with all of these beautiful creatures just as described in the 1st Chapter of Genesis…

“Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day. Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.” (Genesis‬ ‭1:20-31‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

How about you? Do you like interacting with animals? Has God given you a passion for some other aspect of His Creation or perhaps a desire to follow in your Heavenly Father’s footsteps by creating something yourself? Let me know some of the things that you enjoy and be sure to thank God today for all that He has made and all that He has given to us.

“Road Trip!” By Pastor Randy

Happy President’s Day! I don’t know about you but whenever we get some time off together we enjoy going on road trips. They seem to be getting fewer and far between these days, as far as all 6 of us having time off together between work, school, college, sports, etc. anyway, but for a few days this February break we have all climbed into our trusty Dodge Caravan and are headed to one of our favorite hotels in Columbus, Ohio. Not only does it feature and indoor/outdoor pool that you can swim in year round but it also has wonderful breakfast and dinner buffets included as well as all you can eat popcorn and soda throughout the day. It has become our go to destination for a retreat even if we aren’t traveling through to anywhere else. Another fun freebie that we try to take advantage of every February is visiting The Columbus Zoo on President’s Day.

Road trips have been part of our family’s routine for over two decades now but some things have surely changed. Whereas today everyone is connected to their own individual devices, back when the kids were little we didn’t even have one cell phone let alone a screen of any kind. We would amuse ourselves by playing the typical car games, locating signs that start with each letter of the alphabet until you find them all or seeing who could point out the most license plates from different states, or even before the kids were old enough to read we would pass the time by playing animal guessing games and having coloring contests. It always amazed us that no matter what age they were and no matter how often they might complain or squabble on a relatively short outing, like the 1 hr. drive to Grandpa & Grandma’s house, that when we set out on a longer trip, like our annual trek to Florida, that we rarely ever had an issue. I think that, because they knew the trip would be long, that they had mentally prepared for it ahead of time and having a fun destination to look forward to didn’t hurt either.

As I consider this I can’t help but make a correlation between my children’ s mindset on road trips and what a Christian’s mindset should be during their life here on earth. I think that when we focus only on the temporary things of this world that we can easily find ourselves complaining about this or that, arguing with others, and focusing on our own wants in the moment versus focusing on our ultimate destination. But, when we prepare ourselves for the longer journey, we become more patient with those around us, we find ways to discover joy in the moments together, and we are willing to put up with some detours and distractions because we know that once we get to where we are going that any struggle to get there will have been forgotten.

So friends, as you start off yet another new week, I would remind you that we are on this long journey called life together and that we are to encourage one another along the way—enjoying the little things rather than giving into road rage or focusing only on the potholes or flat tires. Trust me, it will be a lot more fun and fulfilling if you do.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:16-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

“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.

“Monday Checklist” by Pastor Randy

Happy Monday Morning!!! Sunday is over, the Super Bowl has been won, and now it’s time to start a new week. What’s on your checklist?

As much as I love my coffee the pics at the top of this blog is missing one major checkpoint. It should read…

☑️ wake up

☑️ make coffee

☑️ spend time with God

☑️ do amazing things

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John‬ ‭14:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

As Christians we are called to do amazing things as the pic suggests but we cannot accomplish anything in our own effort, even when overly caffeinated, so we must spend time with God so that we know His Agenda and are empowered to do accomplish it through the power of The Holy Spirit. Jesus started his days this way so who are we to try and do it all on our own?

“Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” (Mark‬ ‭1:35‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

So what is on your Monday Checklist? I would suggest the following…

  • praying for discernment & direction throughout the week
  • reading God’s Word for information, inspiration, & transformation
  • listing steps to live out Sunday’s sermon throughout the week
  • choosing to have an attitude of gratitude regardless of your current circumstances
  • finding at least one person to encourage & inspire
  • being Christ’s hands, feet, & voice wherever you go

“No Matter What” by Pastor Randy

Friends, this morning I am overwhelmed with the weight of what others around me are going through and so I simply want to share a few encouraging reminders for those who may be struggling today.


No matter what your current circumstances are… God loves you and He will meet you where you are at.

No matter how you feel at this moment… God loves you and His feelings toward you will not change.


No matter how dark it seems… God loves you and He Has promised that He will never leave you or forsake you!!!

No matter how scared you may be… God loves you and He promises to protect you as you travel through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

No matter what happens… God loves you and you are not alone.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Monday Morning Motivation” by Pastor Randy

Friends it’s Monday morning and that means it’s a new week and a fresh start on a road filled with possibilities! So, as the Scripture says, “stop looking in the rear view mirror and focusing on yesterday’s failures, instead put your car in drive and hit the gas until you get to where God wants you to go.” (Pastor Randy’s Paraphrase)

Seriously though, how many times to we keep from moving forward with our life because we are still stuck in the past? Past hurts, past relationships, past sins, even past successes… if we don’t stop focusing on where we have already been then we will never get to where we are supposed to be going. We will be like the Israelites who, rather than focusing on God and the Promised Land, kept reminiscing about the good old days when they were back in Egypt (doing back breaking work as slaves).

My pastor, Andy Sass, likes to point out that there is a reason why the windshield in a car is so much bigger than the rear view mirror. We are meant to glance at the mirror from time to time but our attention should mostly be directed toward the road in front of us.

So what does that look like for you this week? What should you let go of from last week so that you can start fresh this week? Sin? Repent. Bitterness? Forgive. Failure? Compassion toward yourself.

The past is in the past but the future will be decided by what you choose to focus on and do today, so refocus on who God has called you to be and what He has called you to do and then…

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, PRESS ON toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called (you) heavenward in Christ Jesus.

“Good Morning!” by Pastor Randy

Good morning!!! That’s the way that most of us typically greet one another without giving it a second thought but what constitutes a “good morning”? How would you define it?

For me it would involve a cup of coffee and some quiet time before I start my day but someone else might describe a good morning as one where they can sleep in, where deadlines do not exist, or where the kids get ready for school without a fuss.

For others a good morning might simply be one where they get to see another sunrise, take another breath, and experience another day.

It obviously all depends on perspective, personal preferences, and current circumstances. So what exactly are we saying when we say “Good morning”?

All of it and then some. We are telling the other person that we hope that their day starts off in such a way that they are going to go to sleep that night counting their blessings.

Or maybe we just mean “hi” and hope to get on with our own agenda.

I would challenge you to try to make it mean the former. Even as you speak it to someone today say a simple prayer under your breath asking God to bless them and all they need to accomplish. You may say the same words but your intent will come through.

So, to all of you reading this this morning I want to wish you a very…

GOOD MORNING!!!

Now go and make someone else’s morning good as well. 😄

“Any Given Sunday” by Pastor Randy

Happy Monday!!! Even if you’re not a huge football fan you may have found yourself watching the end of some of the latest playoff games. Underdogs. Upsets. Unbelievable plays. You name it and it has happened over the past few weeks. “That’s why they play the game”, is one of the cliches that you will hear announcers say whenever a team wins that was favored to win or, when an underdogs defies the odds and wins they might remind us that anything can happen on “Any Given Sunday”.

A week ago my Buffalo Bills played their hearts out against the Kansas City Chiefs and seemingly had the game won with only 13 sec. left. Unfortunately that was just enough time for The Chiefs to go down the field and kick a game tying field goal only to then win the coin toss and win the game in over-time.

Fast forward to yesterday, those same Chiefs were walking all over the Cincinnati Bengals who had just beaten the #1 seeded Titans at home with a second year QB and a team that had only won 4 games the previous year, hadn’t won a playoff game since 1990, and had never won an away playoff game prior to their victory over the Titans.

Being up 21-3 at the end of the first half The Chiefs were probably already preparing for their Super Bowl appearance 3 peat but then, after Cincinnati scored 21 unanswered points in the 2nd half The Chiefs found themselves once again having to kick a field goal at the end of regulation to tie the game and then they once again won the coin toss in OT. The Super Bowl seemed inevitable… until it wasn’t. The QB got picked off and the Bengals drove down the field where Shooter McPherson kicked the game winning field goal.

It definitely seemed like a David vs. Goliath scenario in paper anyway but you never know what can happen on “Any Given Sunday”. And the same could be said of other unlikely situations outside of football.

Remember the man with the deformed hand that went to the temple like usual only to have Jesus show up and heal his hand? (Mark 3)

On Any Given Sunday.

Or what about the invalid that had waited by the pool of Bethesda for 38 yrs. unsuccessfully waiting someone to help him into the healing waters only to have Jesus show up on the Sabbath and tell him to pick up his mat and walk—which miraculously he did. (John 5)

On Any Given Sunday.

Ok, technically those first two examples were Saturdays but what about that Sunday after Jesus had been crucified and his disciples were doubting and distressed only to discover that the tomb was empty and that Jesus had risen from the dead just as he said he would?

On Any Given Sunday.

And the same can be true for you and whatever it is that seems insurmountable to you. Addiction? Sin? Disease? Grief? Finance problems? Whatever it is you can go to God for help and you will find freedom, forgiveness, healing, comfort, and direction. No matter what you are up against it is not impossible to overcome with God at your side so go to Him all you weary and heavy burdened, give it all to Him, and expect that the impossible is possible.

On Any Given Sunday.

“There Was Jesus” by Zach Williams & Dolly Parton

Friends, we have focused a lot on struggles and loss this week but I wanted to end it on an encouraging note by reminding you that no matter what you are going through that Jesus is with you—no matter what. watch the video and meditate on the lyrics to this beautiful song performed by Zach Williams & Dolly Parton that reminds of of just that.

Every time I tried to make it on my own
Every time I tried to stand and start to fall
And all those lonely roads that I have travelled on
There was Jesus

When the life I built came crashing to the ground
When the friends I had were nowhere to be found
I couldn’t see it then but I can see it now
There was Jesus

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing and the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I’ve been and where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus

For this man who needs amazing kind of grace (Mmm)
For forgiveness at a price I couldn’t pay (Mmm)
I’m not perfect so I thank God every day
There was Jesus (There was Jesus)

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing and the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I’ve been and where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus

On the mountain, in the valleys (There was Jesus)
In the shadows of the alleys (There was Jesus)
In the fire, in the flood (There was Jesus)
Always is and always was
No I never walk alone (Never walk alone)
You are always there

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing and the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute (Every minute), every moment (Every moment)
Where I’ve been and where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus

There was Jesus
There was Jesus
There was Jesus

“Using Our Hurts to Help Others” by Pastor Randy

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

If it’s true that “hurt people hurt people” then it can be equally true that hurt people who find healing can help other hurt people find healing.

Tomorrow (January 26th) will be the 10th Anniversary of one of the worst 24 hrs. of my life. I will share more about that on tomorrow’s Refill with Randy video but, in a nutshell, that was the day that my dad died and my mother was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. It was then a rollercoaster for the next 4 months before my mom passed.

During that time Sheryl and I struggled to care for her while also caring for our 4 young children. Between the frequent hospital visits, daily trips to radiation, more and more home care each week, and trying to do full-time ministry our energy waned and our emotions were tapped.

In spite of many rides and meals given to us from our church family we still needed more help and that is where Hospice stepped in. Between the home health aide and nurse visits, the hospital bed and other necessities, the care-givers support group, and the volunteers who offered us respite (like sitting with mom on Mother’s Day so we could be at church together), we were able to keep mom with us until the final 2 weeks. It was at that point that she moved into a Hospice Home (The Aurora House in Spencerport since Albion’s was still in the process of being built) and I met so many volunteers who had gone through something similar with their loved one and wanted to offer the same empathetic care for others. They allowed me to be a son instead of just a caregiver during those final days and I will always be grateful.

Fast forward to today and I have just begun my new position of Spiritual Care & Bereavement Coordinator for Supportive Care of Orleans (aka Hospice). Over the past decade I have been able to comfort many going through the same type of grief that I journeyed through at that time and I also experienced more along the way as I said goodbye to several church members, close friends, and all 3 of my brothers. And now I have the opportunity to continue helping others through their hurt just like others have helped me along the way.

I thank God for this new opportunity and I would ask that you please keep me in prayer, as well as those who I have the privilege of standing with during difficult times.

In what way might God use your past hurts to help people who are going through similar circumstances today?

“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

“Living By Faith” by Pastor Randy

I am currently reading through the Bible in a year, along with many others from my church, and every time I take on this challenge (around my 40th time cover to cover and my 3rd time going through w/ BFMC) I find myself looking in the mirror and finding new things to ask God to prune in me so that I can be one more like him.

In the book of Genesis there are numerous accounts of Abraham (the Father of faith) believing God’s promises but then trying to bring them about by his own means.

For example, we learn in Genesis 12:1-7 that…

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth—his livestock and all the people he had taken into his household at Haran—and headed for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan, Abram traveled through the land as far as Shechem. There he set up camp beside the oak of Moreh. At that time, the area was inhabited by Canaanites. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the Lord, who had appeared to him.” (NLT‬‬)

All seems good but then after a famine hit the land and they had to take a detour through Egypt he told his wife to tell people she was his sister so that they would not try to kill him to get to her. On the one hand he was trusting The Lord and on the other he was trying to make sure The Lord’s promise would come to fruition through deception because he obviously doubted that God would be able to protect him.

This backfired of course and not only were they found out but he put innocent people in jeopardy when Pharaoh took a liking to her and subsequently God sent plagues on Egypt.

Abraham apologized, justifying his actions because technically Sarah was his half sister, but he didn’t learn his lesson because in Genesis 20 he did the exact same thing—this time putting King Abimilech in harm’s way. and, in between these two incidents he believed The Lord that he would have a son but, rather than trust that it could be through his wife, he had a son with her servant Hagar which caused enmity between the two women he put Abraham and Hagar;s son Ishmael in danger.

I could go on but you get the picture. Abraham did indeed have faith but he also wavered in that faith and the result was placing his own limitations onto GoD and trying to take care of business on his own.

I can relate. I feel like I have definitely been on a faith journey since making the decision to follow Christ three decades ago, and even more so these past few years since starting Go Scatter Ministries, and I have absolutely taken my fair share steps of faith on the belief that God was calling me to do so but I have also found myself trying to “make sure” some of those things came to fruition by my own effort.

No, I didn’t tell people Sheryl was my sister or sleep with her servant, but there have been times along that way that I have tried to provide for myself when God had clearly said He would provide for me. I don’t mean in getting a part-time job but with a number of attempts to get “any” job focusing on pay vs purpose. Thankfully God helped me stay on the path and has blessed me because of it but only in spite of myself at times.

How about you? Do you find yourself trusting God initially but then trying to fulfill His promise to you in your own? I feel like Christians do this all the time when it comes to tithing, they believe that God can sustain them but then, rather than giving Him the first fruits of their labor, they give a little or give out of their leftovers—making sure to meet their own needs first.

The fact is that we all do this to an extent in one or more areas of our Christian walk but the key is to learn from it and then not repeat it like Abraham did. We serve a BIG GOD Who keeps His promises so let’s give Him the benefit of the doubt and live by faith.

“I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy Monday! Since we are celebrating MLK Jr. today I thought it would be appropriate to have us start the day off by listening to his speech that is often quoted but not yet fully realized. May God give us ears to hear what is being taught, eyes to see where injustice still exists, and a heart to drive us to do whatever we can to get one step closer to experiencing equality in Christ.

“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)

“Trust the Process” by Dave Good

Welcome to another edition of the GSM blog. My name is Dave Good and once again it is a pleasure to share some thoughts with you. I hope my words will be an encouragement to you as we continue to walk and deepen our faith together. Today, I’d like to encourage all of you to Trust the Process. I know, most of you are probably wondering what that means?

As some of you know Pastor Randy and I are huge Buffalo Bills fan. I know you are probably thinking, “What does a football team have to do with our walk with Christ?” I’m glad you asked 😇 and if you lend me your attention for a few more minutes I will explain the correlation between the two.

The phrase Trust the Process has been a team slogan for the Bills ever since Head Coach Sean McDermott was hired. Trusting the Process means that in order to achieve your dreams and your goals you must trust a systematic and deliberate process to reach the end. The process may not always make sense, and often takes longer than we would like, but if you persevere the end result will be achieved.

Coach McDermott has taken the Bills on quite a journey as he inherited a broken- down football team but has been fine tuning them into a championship caliber squad. Practice by practice, lesson by lesson, and detail by detail, the process has slowly been changing the entire culture of the organization.

I know you are probably still sitting here wondering what this has to do with our Christian walk. Well, if you think about it, the majority of the time we begin that walk when we are just a broken-down shell of ourselves. I personally found Christ when my life seemed to be falling apart. I was flawed, personally and spiritually broken, and full of sin. I didn’t know where I was headed and I had no process to resurrect my life.

Fortunately, a man named Jesus walked into my life and The Process of restoring my life began. The truth is that the Process that Jesus used to restore my life wasn’t always fun and a lot of time it didn’t make sense to me. There were times of doubt and uncertainty, and maybe even a lack of faith on my part, but Jesus slowly started the Process of chipping away at my stony heart.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

God has started a Process in all of us. He knows every detail of our inner being and He desires for us to be the best version of ourselves for His glory.

Now, my best version doesn’t always shine forth. There are days, and even weeks, when I need God to instill some more Process in me. There are times when the Process is thriving and my words, actions, and life display God’s work in my life. I guess what that really means is that the Process for me isn’t complete and I need to keep trusting in His ways.

I could go on and on giving you details of how our lives aren’t perfect but that we still be to keep Trusting the Process of God in our life but I really just really want to give you some encouragement that none of us are finished products. We need to keep working in step with God’s plan. We need to keep striving for the best version of ourselves. We need to keep our minds and hearts sharp with the Scriptures. We need to approach God on a daily basis through prayer and devotion. We need to keep trusting God and His Process for our lives. It won’t happen over night, it takes a lifetime, but in the end God’s Process is perfect and will lead us closer to His glory.

I pray these words I’ve shared with you are a blessing. I pray they give you some hope and encouragement. Don’t give up, keep striving, and, as always, Trust the Process. In the end you will be the best version of yourself and you will bring God glory.

Until next tine, may God bless and may His Process continue to refine your life.

“Rattle” by Elevation Worship

Happy Tuesday! If you’re like me sometimes you need an extra jolt after Monday to get going and here is the song to do it!!! Take some time this morning to watch the video, meditate on the lyrics, and pray for God to move in and through you in a new way this year.

“RATTLE”

Saturday was silent
Surely it was through
But since when has impossible
Ever stopped You
Friday’s disappointment
Is Sunday’s empty tomb
Since when has impossible
Ever stopped You

This is the sound of dry bones rattling
This is the praise, make a dead man walk again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling, yeah

Pentecostal fire stirring something new
You’re not gonna run out of miracles anytime soon
Yeah, resurrection power runs in my veins too and
I believe there’s another miracle here in this room

This is the sound of dry bones rattling
This is the praise, make a dead man walk again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling

Yeah
Whoa
Do you hear it?
Do you hear it?
Do you hear it? Woo

My God is able to save and deliver and heal
And restore anything that He wants to
Just ask the man who was thrown
On the bones of Elisha
If there’s anything that He can’t do
Just ask the stone that was rolled
At the tomb in the garden
What happens when God says to move (you gotta move)

I feel Him moving it now
I feel Him doing it now
I feel Him doing it now
Do it now, do it now

This is the sound
This is the sound of dry bones rattling, oh
This is the praise, make a dead man walk again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling, rattling, yeah

I hear the sound (I hear the sound)
I hear the sound (I hear the sound)
I hear the sound (I hear the sound)
I hear the sound (I hear the sound)

And the bones began to rattle
Rattle, rattle
Rattle
God said live, God said live
Hear the Word
And this is what He said

Live, live
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Live, live, live, live, live

This is the sound of dry bones rattling, yeah
This is the praise, make a dead man walk again
(Open) open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling
Dry bones rattle
Dry bones rattle

Rattle, rattle, rattle
Live, live, live
Live, live
Live, live

Songwriters: Steven Furtick / Chris Brown / Brandon Lake

“Everything is Meaningless… or is it?” by Pastor Randy

Happy New Year!!! After a couple weeks away I am glad to be back with you all here on the blog. I pray that your year is going well but also I want to remind you right at the start that if you ever do need prayer that you can contact me here anytime. Now onto the devo…

““Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭1:2-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

These words written by Solomon paint a very cynical picture of this world we live in. He states plainly that…

Everything is meaningless…. No one is ever content…

Nothing ever changes…

Everything is wearisome… Nothing is ever truly new..,

No one will remember you…

It’s hard to believe that this is the same guy who wrote the mushiest songs in Scripture, right? If this were a song it would probably be about a Taylor Swift break up.

Seriously though, to really think this way would make for a depressing existence. That being said I have heard a number of people lately that, when talking about the futility of this New Year, you might mistake them for some of Solomon’s speech writers.

But I get it. I do. And I feel it too.

Everyone is exhausted from polarizing politics to this never ending pandemic. People are tired of living in fear, living with loss, and living with almost constant uncertainty.

I get it!

But, unlike Solomon and so many like him, I also believe that as much as things might seem the same that, because of Christ, all things can be made new. Look at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. He writes…

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds;”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:17-23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Friends, the way we think about this world affects the way we act in this world and eventually it will effect our lasting imprint on this world. Rather than becoming cynical I would challenge you to stop conforming “to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2a)

Look for new ways to make a difference in this world and in the lives of others.

2022 can become 2020-TOO but only if we let it.

Let us become a light in this world rather than helping to spread the darkness. Let us encourage and inspire rather than subscribing to defeatism. And let us remember that as new creations in Christ we focus not on what is seen but what is unseen since what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.

“For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed… Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:5-9, 16-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Merry Christmas!” by Pastor Randy

Merry Christmas everyone! I am truly thankful for each of you and the support and encouragement you have shown me this past year. I will be back with new blog posts in 2022 but in the meantime I pray that God will bless you this Christmas and in the New Year!!!

“This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.” [Matthew‬ ‭1:18-25‬ ‭NLT‬‬]

“At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.” [Luke‬ ‭2:1-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬]

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” [John‬ ‭1:1-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬]

Advent Week 4 – “Monday” by Pastor Randy

Good morning! This is the final week of Advent and our theme is joy.

“Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he is coming! He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with his truth.”
‭‭[Psalms‬ ‭96:11-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬]

When I think of joy the first thing that comes to mind is Isaac Watt’s classic Christmas Hymn “Joy to the World”. Let’s start the week off my meditating on the lyrics and then listening to a remixed version from Pentatonix.

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Advent Week 3 – “Friday” by Pastor Randy (featuring a live performance of “Here This Christmas” by Pastor Russ Peters)

Hey friends, after receiving a number of messages in response to Wednesday’s “Refill with Randy” video regarding remembering loved ones at Christmas I wanted to share a song that my good friend Pastor Russ Peters wrote and performed live this morning at our P.A.C.T. Pastors Christmas Party.

This is especially poignant since Russ lost his grandmother just 2 days ago and will be performing this at her funeral tomorrow (Saturday). Please pray for him and his family at this time and also look for the studio release of this song. You can check out his other songs and videos on his YouTube page.

Advent Week 3 – “Thursday” by Pastor Randy

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” [John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬]

Good morning friends, as we continue to think about love in regard to Advent I wanted to focus on this very familiar passage but from a little different perspective.

Most Christians, at least from my generation, can rattle off John 3:16 on the spot because it has become the go to verse for summing up the good news of the gospel. And rightly so because it shares the action God took to save us as well as the action we must take in order to be saved. But take a minute to consider this passage in the content of Christmas.

We tend to focus on the birth of Christ and his entry into our world but in order for us to receive him his Father had to first send him.

Imagine for a minute what that had to feel like from God’s perspective. Even as the Shepherds were about to go and celebrate Jesus’ birth He was aware that He had literally just sent him to his death.

Through my work with families through Care-Net I have counseled couples that are doing everything they can not to have to give their child up. Sometimes though a judge may deem it necessary to send the child to stay with someone else for a time if it means that the child will be better taken care of. What happened on Christmas was the opposite of that though! God was willing to send His only son to earth… to those who were created by him but would not recognize him… to those who would mistreat him and eventually crucify him. God sacrificed His son in order to save us.

Friends.. that is love.

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” ‭‭[Romans‬ ‭5:6-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬]

Advent Week 3 – “Wednesday” by Pastor Randy

Good morning friends! I apologize for the temporary hiatus but I have been without power and internet since Saturday so I am playing catch up.

Speaking of power outages… today’s post will be my special “Power Out” episode of Refill with Randy. This third week of Advent’s theme is love and in this video I talk about remembering those loved ones we have lost. Take a look…

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 – “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.

Advent Week 1 – “Friday” by Pastor Randy

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

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

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

Advent Week 1 – “Thursday” by Pastor Randy

For today’s Advent Blog I invite you to read and listen to the lyrics of Tenth Avenue North’s song “I Have This Hope” as you consider the hope that you place in Christ this Christmas Season.

As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

I don’t want to live in fear
I want to trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go

But sometimes my faith feels thin
Like the night will never end
Will You catch every tear
Or will You just leave me here?

But I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go

Yes, I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go

So, whatever happens I will not be afraid
Cause You are closer than this breath that I take
You calm the storm when I hear You call my name
I still believe that one day I’ll see Your face

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go

In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go

In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go

Advent Week 1 – “Monday” by Pastor Randy

Advent is a season of remembering the events of Christmas past and getting ready for the time when Christ will come again. It is a time filled with anticipation, preparation, and expectation. It is also often marked by weekly themes, celebrated with the lighting of a different candle each Sunday, and so from now until Christmas we will be highlighting those same themes here. They are: Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. And I say “we” because there will be some other contributors, such as GSM’s own Dave Good who will be writing tomorrow’s blog.


The dictionary defines hope /hōp/ as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. In relation to Advent we are talking about both the hope that the Jews had that God would send them a Messiah and the hope that we have today that, because that same Messiah (Jesus) came to earth on that first Christmas, died for our sins on Good Friday, and rose from the dead on Easter, we can be saved and will join Christ when he comes again.

It is the kind of hope that the Israelites held onto generation after generation, even while wondering when it would happen, and it is the kind of hope that we hold onto today even though nearly 2,000 have passed since Jesus made the promise to return.

Isaiah spoke to this hope long before Christ when he shared in 9:2 that, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (9:2‬ ‭NIV)‬‬

A few verses later he would go on to paint a picture of what this hope, this light at the end of the tunnel, would look like. He says in vv. 6-7 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” (NIV‬‬)

The reason why this gave them hope was not because they thought it would happen immediately but because they fully believed in The One Who said that it would indeed happen. They trusted that God would fulfill this prophesy when He deemed that the time was right.

Unfortunately I think that many times today we read about God’s promises in Scripture but we want instant gratification so when something doesn’t happen the way we want at the time we want it we tend to get cynical and our hope starts to wane.

The reality though is that if God has promised it but it has not happened, it’s not that it won’t happen but that it just hasn’t happened yet. Like our Jewish forefathers we need to have patience and perseverance trusting in The Author of our hope Who says in Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

The fact is that Christ came at just the right time, he died at just the right time (“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans‬ ‭5:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬), and so we can trust that he will return at just the right time. Until then we walk in hope.


‭‭

 

 

 

 

“Intentional Acts of Generosity” by Pastor Randy

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:6-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I hope that you all are having a blessed week. More importantly, I hope all of you are being a blessing to others this week. I’m sure that you’ve all heard of doing Random Acts of Kindness but today I want to encourage you to do INTENTIONAL ACTS OF GENEROSITY!!!!

Since this is the season of giving I would challenge you to find creative ways to bless others and show them Christ’s love in a tangible way.

And whatever you do doesn’t have to be extravagant but it does have to be intentional. The main thing is to bless someone, put a smile on their face, and remind them that no matter what their current circumstances might be that there is hope in Christ and we don’t have to wait until we get to heaven to get a glimpse of what is to come.

So, as you start thinking of what you might do, let me share a few ideas as a catalyst. You could:

  • order a pizza for someone and have it delivered anonymously
  • get a roll of quarters and fill all the machines at the laundry mat
  • pay for the person behind you’s (fast food, groceries, coffee, etc.)
  • donate to a charity
  • rake up your neighbor’s leaves or shovel their driveway
  • give somebody a gas card
  • tip the wait staff or delivery person 50%
  • send someone a hand-written card
  • visit a shut-in
  • donate food for Thanksgiving or presents for Christmas

The list goes on but it doesn’t have to end there. If we are all willing to be aware, intentional, and generous (especially this time of the year) we can bless others in amazing ways and it doesn’t cost a lot because the reality is that its not a money thing–it’s a heart thing.

LET’S SHOW PEOPLE GOD’S GENEROUS HEART IN A TANGIBLE WAY!!!!

Let me know what you do. 😇


I will be taking a short break through Thanksgiving but will return the Monday after with four straight weeks of Advent Devotions. In the mean time I hope that you have a nice holiday with your family.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

GSM “ThanksGIVING” Fund Drive

This is not my usual blog content but from 11/15-12/15 I am having a fundraiser through PayPal and the details and link are below. During this season of generosity I would ask you to consider supporting my mission for 2022.

“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” ‭‭(2 Corinthians‬ ‭8:1-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

This fundraiser is to support Go Scatter Ministries and the ongoing evangelistic efforts of Rev. Randy LeBaron.

Much like a modern day missionary Pastor Randy must raise support through the generosity of other Christ-followers like you.

All funds raised will be applied toward GSM’s 2022 budget. The donations received make it possible for Pastor Randy to be an itinerant speaker and teacher (by subsidizing honorariums), to create content that encourages and disciples others online, and to come beside local churches and mission organizations to assist them on a volunteer basis.

If you would like to give a one time gift click the link below and you are interested in becoming a Monthly Ministry Partner you can find out how at GoScatterMinistries.Org

Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Pastor Randy

You can also give by check. See below…

“HAPPY MONDAY!!!” by Pastor Randy

Happy Monday!!!

I spent yesterday praising God in the morning at FreeChurch.net and then praising Him more at the P.A.C.T. Good Friday Service in the evening and I can honestly say that even if The Bills hadn’t trounced The Jets yesterday that I would have gone to bed with a smile on my face because there is just something joyful about being in the presence of God and His people.

I want to encourage you to find time each day this week to spend in worship. It may not always be possible to gather with others but it IS always possible to praise God throughout the day.

  • Turn on Your favorite Christian station or playlist while you commute to work
  • Start and end the day with prayer
  • Ask a friend to get a cup of coffee with you and enjoy the gift of fellowship
  • Intentionally look for things that you can thank God for throughout the day
  • Spend some time in The Word
  • Meet with a Small Group
  • Find a mid-week service to attend
  • Watch a service online (better yet, sing along!)
  • Find ways to acknowledge God’s generosity toward you by extending generosity to others

There are a lot more possibilities. Get creative. And I guarantee you will see a difference in your own attitude at the end of each day.

“More Love More Power” by Pastor Randy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

performed by Michael W. Smith

“Judas’ Kiss” by Pastor Randy

Happy Thursday! Continuing on with this week’s song lyric theme I wanted to share a older song by the classic Christian rock band Petra.

This song helps us understand how our sinful choices affect God. It gives us a different perspective which will hopefully cause us to think twice before doing something that will hurt Christ to the extent that Judas’ betrayal did.

I invite you to listen to the song and meditate on the lyrics.

“Judas’ Kiss”

[Based on Luke 22:47, 48]

I wonder how it makes you feel when the prodigal won’t come home

I wonder how it makes you feel when he’d rather be on his own

I wonder what it’s like for you when a lamb has gone astray

I wonder what it’s like for you when your children disobey

It must be like another thorn struck in your brow

It must be like another close friend’s broken vow

It must be like another nail right through your wrist

It must be just like

Just like Judas’ kiss

I wonder how it makes you feel when no one seeks your face

I wonder how it makes you feel when they give up in the race

I wonder what it’s like for you when they willingly disobey

I wonder what it’s like for you when they willingly walk away

What is your favorite classic Christian group/song?

“Come Alive (Dry Bones)” by Pastor Randy

Much like yesterday’s post I wanted to share a song with you in which the lyrics have resonated with, and impacted, me. I have always been drawn to the account of the dry bones from Ezekiel 37 and Lauren Daigle gives it new life with her hauntingly soulful voice.

So spend some time today meditating on the words, listening to the song, and being reminded of what a great and powerful God we serve.

Through the eyes of men, it seems there’s so much we have lost
As we look down the road where all the prodigals have walked
One by one, the enemy has whispered lies
And led them off as slaves

But we know that You are God, Yours is the victory
We know there is more to come
That we may not yet see
So with the faith You’ve given us
We’ll step into the valley unafraid, yeah

As we call out to dry bones, come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts, come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes, let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones, come alive

God of endless mercy, god of unrelenting love
Rescue every daughter, bring us back the wayward son
And by Your spirit, breathe upon them, show the world that You alone can save You alone can save

As we call out to dry bones, come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts, come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes, let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones, come alive

So breathe, oh, breath of God
Now breathe, oh, breath of God
Breathe, oh, breath of God, now breathe

Breathe, oh, breath of God
Now breathe, oh, breath of God
Breathe, oh, breath of God, now breathe

As we call out to dry bones, come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts, come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes, let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones, come alive

We call out to dry bones, come alive
Oh, come alive

Lauren Daigle

“I Have This Hope” by Pastor Randy

One of my favorite bands is Tenth Avenue North. Their sound, their lyrics, and even their lead singers testimony resonates with me. And so, on this Tuesday, I simply want to encourage to meditate on the words of one of their popular songs. Enjoy!

As I walk this great unknown

Questions come and questions go

Was there purpose for the pain?

Did I cry these tears in vain?

I don’t want to live in fear

I want to trust that You are near

Trust Your grace can be seen

In both triumph and tragedy

I have this hope

In the depth of my soul

In the flood or the fire

You’re with me and You won’t let go

But sometimes my faith feels thin

Like the night will never end

Will You catch every tear

Or will You just leave me here?

But I have this hope

In the depth of my soul

In the flood or the fire

You’re with me and You won’t let go

Yes, I have this hope

In the depth of my soul

In the flood or the fire

You’re with me and You won’t let go

So, whatever happens I will not be afraid

Cause You are closer than this breath that I take

You calm the storm when I hear You call my name

I still believe that one day I’ll see Your face

I have this hope

In the depth of my soul

In the flood or the fire

You’re with me

I have this hope

In the depth of my soul

In the flood or the fire

You’re with me and You won’t let go

In the flood or the fire

You’re with me and You won’t let go

In the flood or the fire

You’re with me and You won’t let go

performed by Tenth Avenue north

“Living Sunday’s Sermon on Monday” by Pastor Randy

Good morning! It’s Monday which means it’s time for you to start living the sermon you heard on Sunday.

When I would preach regularly at the church I pastored at I would often stand in the back to greet people as they left and inevitably I would hear things like, “Nice message” or “Good sermon Pastor”. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to hear feedback like that but it’s better to hear about how someone applied the sermon to their life.

In fact, after a while I started to respond to those who complimented me with, “Thank you! I would love to hear how you put some feet on it this week.” And you know what, after a while some started doing just that.

I would getting mid-week texts or e-mails telling me about their actions in response to the message and sometimes I would walk into church the next Sunday only to have someone run up to me excited to share a testimony. To me this was the most encouraging feedback that I could receive because it meant that the words that God was giving me actually impacted lives and the lives of others around them.

So… how will you start living yesterday’s sermon today?

How will you take a Scripture, a point, or a challenge that your pastor shared and put some feet on it?

How will you go from passively hearing God’s Word to actively living it today?

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James‬ ‭1:22-25‬)

I would love to hear some ways that you are doing this and I’m sure that your pastor would love to hear it too!

“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.

“Anam Cara… Soul Friend” by Pastor Randy

So, what is a Soul Friend? Someone who willingly joins you on, and helps shape, your Christian journey. A person who intentionally enters into a long obedience in the same direction alongside you, not as an advisor so much as a traveling companion, and who offers spiritual direction during times of crisis or confusion. A brother or sister that shares in and helps you create a sacred space for such things as common prayer and contemplative practices.

The concept comes from the Celtic monastic tradition where an Anam Cara (literally translated Soul Friend) is considered an essential companion on the spiritual path–someone to share your struggles, as well as shape your life, with. In doing so they can become an anchor during a storm as they sit silently with you weathering the waves of grief and confusion all the while refraining from trying to simply fix your situation. What they provide is not answers per se but the ability to help you ask the right questions.

This is what we all need and what we all need to be…

“Thin Places” by Pastor Randy

Happy Tuesday! Today I want to talk about thin places. Thin places are considered to be those geographical locations where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and the divine is more readily felt.

In the Celtic tradition it is thought that they can relax us and transform us — or, more accurately, unmask us. For some it is a place in their home, for others the altar, and for some a special place on spiritual significance. For me it is The Abbey of the Genesee.

I have already mentioned The Abbey in previous posts, including yesterday’s, but for those who are unfamiliar with it it is a small Benedictine Monastery in Piffard, NY just outside of Geneseo. It is a place where Silence, Solitude, and Hospitality are held in high regard and where I go to connect with God outside of the chaos of this noisy, busy world that we live in. And yes, it’s where they make Monk’s Bread!

I first encountered The Abbey during my time of Sabbatical almost a decade ago after the death of my parents. Having been drained after a difficult period of caregiving followed by deep depression it provided me with a place to rest, reflect, and to have my call to ministry reaffirmed. Much like with Elijah it was my broom tree and mountain cave all rolled into one. And, whenever I go back to stay or visit (which has been long overdue due to the pandemic) I feel a closeness with the Lord simply because of the healing that I received while I was there.

So what is your thin place? Where do you go where you sense God speaking louder and clearer than other places? Can you take some time to go there even for a day or an hour to bathe yourself in His presence? If so, I encourage you to do so.

Mark 1:35 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

Matthew 17:1-9 “Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus. Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground. Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus. As they went back down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (NLT‬)

“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

“Oh, How He Loves Us” by Pastor Randy

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

“Five Ways FB Can Positively Impact Your Prayer Life” by Pastor Randy

Let’s face it, it’s pretty easy to pick on FB these days between the whistleblowing, the unending political posts, the cries of censorship, and the general time suck that can result from any social media. But, being the glass half full kind of guy that I am, I want to share…

5 Ways Can Positively Impact Your Prayer Life

(1) Scroll Down Your Newsfeed and Pick People to Pray for

I don’t know about you but there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to pray for everyone that I might want to but scrolling through FB gives me a chance to see who is specifically asking for prayer as well reminding me of others who I may not have been in contact for a while but God has put on my heart.

(2) Put a Post on Your Wall Offering to Pray for Others

I have some pastor friends who consistently do this on the same day and time every week, which makes it helpful for others to know that the opportunity will be there, but whether you do it weekly or once in a while I think it conveys to others that you are willing and wanting to pray for others so they will message you whenever something arises.

(3) Pray for People You Disagree with VS Debating with Them

If someone posts something that you disagree with you don’t have to get angry and get into an argument, instead you can practice self-control and simply pause, pray for them (not just for them to start thinking like you), and scroll down.

(4) Choose a Few Friends Everyday Who You Will Take the Time to Read Their Wall, Pray for Them, and then Reach Out via Messenger

Simply put, you can’t keep up with everyone all the time, nor should you), but you can take the time to show care for a few, or even one, each day.

(5) Pick Out at Least One Person Each Day to Publicly Praise

After choosing someone you should spend time: praying for them, praising God for them, and then posting an encouraging message on their wall to publicly affirm them.

Try any or all of these out for at least a week and then let me know if it has not only helped your prayer life but also your overall attitude when online. Happy scrolling!!!

“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.

“My Praise Drawer” by Pastor Randy

Good morning!

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I had kept cards and other notes of appreciation from over the years so I thought that today I would talk a little about where I keep them—my praise drawer.

This is simply a drawer that I use to keep any cards, letters, pictures, drawings, ect. that have been given to me with the primary purpose of: acknowledging something I did that they appreciated, affirming my call, letting me know that they are praying for me, or just generally something that brings a smile to my face and boosts my spirit. I use to have a criticism drawer too but decided a while back that it wasn’t very good for my mental health, especially when I realized that both drawers were filled with things from the same people. 😏 

Seriously though, I have been collecting these items for more almost three decades and every now and again when I am going through a difficult time, when I am questioning my call, or when I am hurting from something someone has said to me, I will open this drawer and read a few of the notes in an effort to counteract the criticism. I’m not saying this always works (it’s true that we tend to remember the negative more so than the positive) but it does help give perspective and is a good reminder that just because someone might act unlovingly toward me that it doesn’t mean that I am unloved.

So, to that end, I would encourage you to do two things today… (1) create your own praise drawer to put meaningful messages away for a rainy day and (2) do your best to help fill other people’s praise drawers. We live in such a negative, critical culture that a hand written note of affirmation or thanks can mean the world to someone so why not buy a card, pick up a pen, and make someone’s day. It won’t cost you much but it might mean the world to that person who is believing the lies of the enemy and needs to experience God’s love through your encouraging words.

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Pastor Appreciation Month” by Pastor Randy

“Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:12-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

October is PASTOR APPRECIATION MONTH and I would like to encourage you to be intentional when it comes to showing love and support for the spiritual leaders in your life. Also, as someone who has served in this role previously for more than two decades, allow me to share some insight with you into why and how you should participate.

As rewarding as ministry might be it can also be stressful, isolating, and even hurtful at times (Sheep bite!) Imagine being in a position where there is an unspoken expectation to be all things to all people (leader, counselor, life coach, biblical expert, visionary, manager, preacher, teacher, evangelist, missionary, friend, encourager, disciplinarian, boss, employee, etc.) all the while being on call 24/7, never feeling like you are “done” for the day, trying to balance church & family, and making appropriate time to care for necessary physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. And did I mention coming up with a fresh message every week! Considering the fact that The Fear of Public Speaking ranks ahead of the Fear of Death that is no small fete. 🤔 😇

WHY?

Obviously no two clergy or congregations are alike but in a culture that constantly asks, “What have you done for me lately?”, why not make sure that those who care for you know that you care about them.

HOW?

I would suggest that you attempt to make it…

MEANINGFUL – Knowing that my top love languages are Words of Affirmation & Gifts and that I like watching football and collecting Batman memorabilia I have been blessed to receive many thoughtful cards and letters of appreciation over the years and have been surprised with Buffalo Bills’ tickets for me and my boy as well as everything Batman from lunch boxes to clothing & books.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR PASTOR’S PERSONAL INTERESTS AND HOBBIES? WHAT COULD YOU GET, OR DO, FOR THEM TO SHOW THAT YOU SEE THEM AS A PERSON AND NOT JUST A PASTOR?

PRACTICAL – This isn’t maybe as necessary as making it meaningful but it is always great to get something meaningful that is also useful. For example, I have received numerous gift cards over the years as well as new tires, a years worth of oil changes, free babysitting, meals, etc.

WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT WOULD BE USEFUL TO YOUR SPIRITUAL LEADER?

MEMORABLE – For my very first Pastor Appreciation Month back when I was a bachelor serving as an Assistant Pastor I received a gigantic card filled with coupons for free weekly meals and desserts, oil changes, movie nights, and other fun stuff good for a full year! My second year at that same church I was thrown a surprise party in my own apartment that took me forever to realize what was going on. Lol I was taken to Universal Studios once while already in Orlando for a Church Conference and I once I even came home from church to find a goat tied to a pole in my yard with a card letting me know it was my new lawnmower (named Billy). 😂

WHAT IS REALLY REMARKABLE THAT WOULD MAKE YOUR PASTOR’S DAY?

The reality is that it doesn’t have to be something big or expensive but it should be intentional and convey what you feel about him or her.

Here are some suggestions…

  • Take them out for a meal to show your appreciation and to share with them what they mean to you.
  • Send a handwritten card (not just hallmark with a signature) to encourage them (I have kept everyone of these over the past two decades of ministry and they still bring me joy when rereading).
  • As mentioned above, it is always a welcomed idea to give cash or gift cards that could be used for days off, date nights, and family outings. BONUS… offer free childcare too!
  • Commit to praying for your pastor on a certain day or time period and then let them know in case they ever want to share something specific. Better yet, recruit others to each take a day of the month so that they will be covered daily throughout the entire year.
  • Go the extra mile! One time the Jr. Teen Sunday School Class literally covered my minivan with post-it-notes sharing thank yous, encouragements, funny stories, etc. IT! WAS!! AWESOME!!!

Whatever you can do will be great as long as you do something! I would love to know what types of things you choose to do so please message me what your plan is. 😇