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 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
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.


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.

~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…


Dear Heavenly Father,

As I enter my workplace today, I invite you to join me so that everyone here will sense your presence. I give you this day and ask you to work through me by the power of the Holy Spirit.

May I convey your peace, just as I am aware of your comforting proximity at all times. Fill me with Your grace, mercy, and power to serve you and others in this place.

Lord Jesus, I want you to be glorified in my life and in this place of business. I pray you will be Lord over everything that is said and done here.

God, I thank you for the numerous blessings and
gifts you have given me. May I bring honor to your name and spread joy to others.

Holy Spirit, help me to depend on you wholly today. Renew my strength. Fill me with physical and spiritual energy so that I will be the best employee I can be. Give me eyes of faith to see from a heavenly perspective as I do my job.

Lord, guide me with your wisdom. Help me to work through every challenge and conflict. Let me be a beacon for you and a blessing to my coworkers.

My prayer is to be a living witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the name of Jesus,


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

“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


“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
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. 🤔 😇


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


I would suggest that you attempt to make it…

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


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.


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). 😂


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. 😇

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

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

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

In the past I have…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Feeding Yourself Spiritual Food – Part 2” by Pastor Randy

Yesterday I posed the question, “How are you feeding yourself spiritually these days?” focusing on the fact that we aren’t supposed to starve ourselves, spiritually speaking, six days a week and then try to gorge ourselves on Sunday morning with the fruit of someone else’s study. Well, I said it more clearly yest- – – you know what, go back and read it. I’ll wait…

Ok, all caught up now? Good. I started to share about methods that can assist us in intentionally spending time with God and the first one I shared was “Listening to the Bible”. Now, I don’t need to to recap because you just read it, right? 😉And so right along with that I would say that the second method I have found invaluable when it comes to consistently spending time with God and finding nourishment in His Word is doing online devotions with other people. In particular, using the same YouVersion Bible App that I recommended yesterday (If you didn’t download it yesterday go back and do it. No… not now. I already had to wait for you while you got caught up. Do it afterward. 😇)

Just like the App (which I promise I do not have an endorsement offer with—though I am open to it. Call me!), has thousands of Bible translations to assist in your personal study they have tons of Bible Study Plans and Devotional Topics as well.

And, as much as I like doing personal devotions, one of the biggest benefits of using the App is that you can also do them with friends. For me this adds accountability, encouragement, and fellowship to the mix, which definitely helps me stay more consistent. And, since it is online, each person can do it when they want and geography does not play a part in who can join in.

Currently I am doing a devotional by Jordan Raynor with a couple guys of which one lives a few houses down from me and the other about 70 miles away. Even cooler is that they have never met but we can all connect by studying God’s Word together and applying it to our lives.

So what about you? What helps you stay consistent and accountable in your daily walk?

Do you have others that you are growing together with?

Let me know and come back tomorrow for Part 3!!!

“Feeding Yourself Spiritual Food – Part 1” – by Pastor Randy

“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.” (Hebrews‬ ‭5:12-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

How are you feeding yourself spiritually these days? I’m not talking about going to church one hour, one day a week, and expecting to be fed steak (the reality is that you wouldn’t be able to digest it if all you lived on the rest of the week was milk) but rather what are you doing to help yourself grow in the Lord by eating right (Bible Study) and exercising (prayer, worship, and service). Too often we leave food prep to the professionals on Sunday but the fact is that we need to learn to fend for ourselves as well so that we don’t starve the rest of the week.

What are some of the methods that you use to intentionally spend time with God and nourish your soul?

For me personally the struggle is not getting into The Word or spending time in prayer as much as my motivation for doing so. As someone who is constantly studying Scripture for sermon prep and praying for others as part of my role as a pastor/evangelist it is easy for me to spend all of my time fixing meals for others while forgetting to feed myself. This is where the intentionality comes in and here are a few things I do to help stay on track.

Listening to The Bible – I’m not talking about “hearing the word” so much as literally listening to someone read it out loud. I only started doing this at the beginning of last year as it was promoted by the leader of BFMC’s Men’s Group as we started a year long journey of reading through the Bible together. I find that I not only hear things that may have not stood out in previous readings of the same passage but I also listen while I am driving, walking, even showering, and so even if the urge to write an outline for a future was there the opportunity is not and so I listen for me—I approach it as drinking living water vs using it as a tool to quench someone else’s thirst. This may sound a bit selfish but it is very necessary because you can’t feed others what you yourself are not eating and you cannot lead others toward someone that you yourself are not following.

I am finishing up my second year of going through the Bible in this manner and would offer a few tips if you want to try this yourself.

  • Use a Variety of Reading Plans – last year we simply read straight through the Scriptures  from Genesis to Revelation but this year we are using a Chronological Reading Plan which organizes passages according to actual event timelines.
  • Try a variety of Translations/ Versions –  sometimes listening to a different version than you typically use can help you see things from a different point of view. Also, some versions like The Message are easier to listen to as they use contemporary language and are written in a more casual, conversational matter.
  • Choose a Narrator that you actually like listening to – for me this is very important because years of listening to books on Audible has taught me that it doesn’t matter how good the subject manner is if it is read in a way that is more distracting than pleasing. Now personal preference certainly plays a lot in this but I can tell you that, for me, I often study using the NIV but when it comes to personal listening I much prefer the NLT because the narrator has a much smoother, and less monotone, voice adding just the right inflections. Additionally, other voices have been added in recently to create a more dramatic overall effect.

You can find many audio version online, on Audible, or even going old school with a DVD set but my suggestion would be to try the YouVersion Bible App. It has a permanent spot on my home screen so it is convenient, It has thousands of different versions and translations to choose from, and best if all it’s FREE!!!

It is also very helpful with another method I use to feed myself spiritually which I will write about in tomorrow’s blog. Until then… Be Blessed and Be a Blessing!

“An Ode to Autumn” by Pastor Randy

Good morning! I hope that you are ready for the start of a great week. As you begin your day I have a confession to make—Fall is my favorite time of the year (and not just because I love to watch football).

When the leaves start changing and the temperatures start dropping I just feel more alive. I tend to sleep better, I spend more time outside, I take more walks, and I don’t even mind having to mow more often because it feels like less of a chore and more of a chance to connect with my Creator in His Creation. I will often even take whatever project I’m working on to a nearby waterfall and allow the sights and sounds to inspire me as I write.

I’m not a big fan of pumpkin spice but pumpkin pie is high on my list. I love apple picking, apple cider, apple pie (with Muenster Cheese on top), and Pennsylvania Dutch Style Apple Dumplings. I look forward to being able to “fall back” an hour for Daylight Saving Time, even though I really don’t like having to “spring ahead” the following year, and I especially enjoy wearing comfy clothes and bundling up on those cooler nights.

I also have to admit that I look forward to a certain holiday that falls on October 31st and am already grieving the fact that all of my kids are grown and too old to take trick or treating. I like the colors, the costumes, carving Jack-o-lanterns, and collecting candy (from my kids’ stash 😉). I like movies set in Haddonfield and tv specials Linus’ search for The Great Pumpkin.

I. Like. Fall. 🍁🎃🍎

How about you? Do you enjoy this time of year or is another season your favorite? Why?

“I’m Fine” by Pastor Randy

“I’m fine.”

We’ve all given this pat answer when asked how we are doing, right? It’s the easy answer, the simple answer, even the expected answer, but it’s not always the real answer.

Now you aren’t expected to bare your soul with every person who offers you a polite, “How are you doing?”, as they pass you by at the grocery store but there does need to be certain people and certain places where you can let your guard down, show some vulnerability, and share what is really on your heart and mind.

Whether it’s your spouse, best friend, pastor, therapist, coworker, or member of your small group at church I would encourage you to figure out who the person(s) is and make it a point to be real with them at least once a week. And, if they are wanting and willing, allow them to do the same.

As we navigate this world filled with pseudo friendships founded through social media we need to make sure that we are intentionally making some real connections with real people who really care about how we are doing physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

John Wesley used to start his Class Meetings by asking the question, “How is it with your soul today?” Imagine if even one person asked you that one question even once a week and you answered honestly, knowing that you would be heard with intent to pray for you and not simply fix you or your situation?

My hope is that each of you would seek out and find such a person and, in the meantime, let me ask you sincerely…


“Feeling Happy VS Finding Hope” by Pastor Randy

I know that this is a bit of an over generalization but, often times, it seems that people walk into church on any given Sunday wanting to hear a message that makes them happy about their current spiritual situation when what they need to hear is a message offering them hope for something better. It is then the preacher’s job not to give the congregation what they want but, rather, what they need. Not pointing fingers but painting a picture of what our potential in Christ could be.

Jesus was fantastic at this! When the Samaritan woman from John 4 simply wanted well water (and to avoid being talked about because of her poor relationship choices) Jesus gave her living water instead. He did this only after exposing her failed efforts at happiness in the past and offering her hope for the future.

People would rather have their actions / lifestyles / sins condoned rather than sit through a message where they might feel convicted. This is where it’s the pastor’s job to share what could be, and should be according to God’s Word, and to then assure them that no matter how far from that picture they feel at that moment that there is hope of redemption through a relationship with Christ.

And as Christian’s we are all called to paint this picture for others by offering ourselves as a canvas whereby God can exhibit the proof of a changed life—not perfect, but being perfected in Christ.

“Be Still” by Pastor Randy

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

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






“The Sin of Recreating VS Being Recreated” by Pastor Randy

Something I have observed both in the Scriptures with the Israelites and in today’s times with the Christian Church is that too often we as human beings spend our time and energy trying to recreate the atmosphere we were in, the emotions we felt, and the endorphins we had on the day God began a good work in us rather than allowing God to recreate “us” and renew us on a daily basis.

Too often we would rather “feel” Christian than “be” Christian which can lead to idolatry and idolatry–whether it means putting way to much focus on an inanimate thing, on a certain style of worship, on a certain place of worship, or on reproducing a particular ritual–is a sin.

It’s a sin that I feel comfortable pointing out because it’s a sin that at one time I felt comfortable participating in and perpetuating in my own life. When the “new” feeling of my Christian walk starting wearing off I started to try and reproduce it by going back to the altar I had originally laid down my life on (nostalgia), praying the prayers I once prayed out of conviction though now prayed as if wanting a prescription filled (ritual), and when neither of those worked I tried being around other Christians more, hoping that somehow their “holiness” would somehow rub off on me (proximity vs. praxis), rather than spending the time and effort to develop my own relationship with Christ through fresh prayers and spending time in His Living Word.

Rather than expending all of our effort trying to recreate a temporary feeling and worshipping God falsely (i.e. focusing on The Golden Calf rather than God on the Mountain, The Bronze Snake rather than the God that Saves, and the Gifts of the Spirit rather than the Giver–The Holy Spirit Himself) we need to take down anything in our lives, no matter how good or instrumental they once were in our walk, so that what was once part of our salvation story doesn’t become the stumbling block that keeps us from experiencing further sanctification.

Recreating takes a lot of time and effort but is ultimately fruitless because we are attempting to control God and turn our Christian walk into a life of comfort.

Being Recreated also takes time and effort but the focus is not on trying to control God or how we feel on any given day but, rather, on giving up control and allowing God to lead us into deeper and often more dangerous waters. It doesn’t feel as safe but stepping out of the boat in order to follow Jesus never does. And it never should.

Rather than going back to a well that once brought us Living Water, but has now dried up because the water itself has moved on to where we need to go, let us like the Samaritan Woman in John 4 leave behind our water pitchers behind and look to The One who knows everything about us and can fulfill our every need. Anything less is a sin and will not lead us back toward but, rather, away from the saved and sanctified life that we so desire.

“I have decided to follow Jesus. The world behind me the cross before me. No turning back. No turning back.”

Hospitality (The Ministry of Presence)

Happy Monday! Let’s start this week off by talking about hospitality. The featured picture is one that I took of my typical snack when staying at The Abbey of the Genesee where the monks consider hospitality to be one of their greatest gifts to others. I have been on the receiving end of this hospitality for more than a decade now and one of the significant ways came through Spiritual Direction with Father Jerome.

I think that the ministry of hospitality is too often misunderstood, underused, and overlooked. It is the act of allowing someone the gift of sacred space and quality time but people often equate it with a clean house and a lot of cooking. The fact is that it is easy to equate hospitality to Martha the busybody from Luke 10 but Jesus pointed out that it was Mary sitting at his feet listening intently to his every word who actually demonstrated it better.

Hospitality is…
– offering someone the gift of quality time
– making someone feel comfortable/valuable even in their own home
– offering someone a cup of coffee and good conversation to go with it
– a listening ear and a closed mouth
– caring for others’ needs before they have to ask for it
– more about “being” with someone than “doing” something for them

I know many people who have ministered through the typical definition of hospitality, an open home and an open heart, but there have also been those times when others have gone above and beyond and the overall effect cannot be diminished.

Some example are…

  • putting an old orange recliner in the sanctuary to make it possible for a woman with cancer to worship with her church family
  • sitting with someone on their deathbed so her son could get some rest before the inevitable, emotionally draining outcome
  • showing up at someone’s house with groceries or a cup of coffee
  • sitting next to a newcomer at church rather than in the comfort of your close circle of friends
  • asking someone how they are doing and then taking the time to listen for the real answer
  • Offering hug or flashing a maskless smile
  • praying with someone rather than simply for them
  • being willing to do extra cleaning after the fact to allow guests the option of keeping their shoes on vs requiring them to remove them
  • thinking more of the comfort of others than self
  • child proofing (at least to a degree) even if you don’t have kids
  • sitting in silence even when it’s awkward as long as it is valuable to another
  • learning to communicate with someone from another generation, culture, etc. rather than waiting for them to learn your ways and your customs in order to try to fit in
  • attending to someone’s physical and emotional needs before worrying about the state of their spirituality or citizenship

These are just some of the acts of hospitality that I am personally aware of (and more often than not on the receiving end) and I’m sure there are many more to be discovered and tried so, rather than holding onto a narrow definition, let’s expand it together and be Jesus to everyone we come in contact with.

What is one way that you have shown or received hospitality recently?

“A Simple Prayer “by Pastor Randy


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“Love” by Pastor Randy

Yesterday’s post was long so today’s will be much shorter—though not always simple. Yesterday I shared the effects of feeling unloved so today I want to encourage you to LOVE extravagantly and make a difference in the lives of others! I challenge you to intentionally…

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

LOVE those who have offended you without waiting for them to make the first move.

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


“The Unseen Scars of Being Bullied” by Pastor Randy

Today’s post is a little longer and deals with a difficult subject for many but my hope is that if you have dealt with abuse, bullying, or poor self-image, that you will take comfort in the fact that (1) You are not alone and (2) Even old wounds can heal with the help of Christ.

Hi. My name is Randy. I am 47 yrs. old and I have the receding hairline and protruding waistline to prove it. I have been happily married for 22 yrs. and am a proud father of four. I have spent early 3 decades ministering to others in churches, in community, online, and around the world, I have several degrees and have accomplished many things which you might think would help one’s self-esteem and yet, on a fairly regular basis, I find myself feeling inadequate and more often than not unable to see myself through any other eyes than those who bullied and abused me as a child. I find myself wanting to walk by faith and yet I feel more like a failure and a fraud in spite of the apparent fruit of my actions.

I mention Gideon briefly in a post last week and want to highlight him again here. He was a man who succeeded in spite of his somewhat lackluster faith, as seen by his testing of the fleece, and one of the things that often sticks out to me is how God addresses him during their first encounter when he appeared and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6:12b) The reason why I find this so interesting is because how God views Gideon seems the polar opposite of how Gideon sees himself. Later, when God wants him to step up and He tells him to go up against the Midianites and save Israel Gideon’s reply is, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (Judges 6:15b)

Isn’t it amazing how differently we can see ourselves compared to what God sees? We often focus on our past failures while God focuses on our future potential. We need to start seeing ourselves through His eyes.

Easier said than done though. I mean, I get why Gideon had a hard time seeing what God saw in him. Just as God called him a Mighty Warrior long before he lived up to that title others had probably called him other things that had already shaped his own identity and caused him to focus on what he couldn’t do and would never become. I get it.

As I stated earlier I am nearing 50 and have received and acted upon God’s call on my life for almost three decades now but, no matter how many times God addresses me as Pastor, or Leader, or Evangelist, I immediately find myself feeling like I’m back in the body of my 8 year old self; listening to my father explain why he never wanted me and that being a dad again was not worth it, or when I was 10 just waiting to get off the bus so that I could burst into tears over the hurtful words heaped onto me without further humiliation, or beginning middle school and realizing that even though it was supposed to be a fresh start that I was still the odd man out (no thanks to my speech problems or alternative sense of style), or trying to find any excuse to avoid the rest room (or school all together) because of the constant array of verbal, emotional, and physical attacks that I had to endure on a daily basis.

I get why, when God called Gideon “Mighty Warrior” that, he countered with the excuse that he was “the weakest man from the weakest clan”. I get why when God called Moses (a murderer who had gone AWOL) to set the slaves free his initial response was, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11b). I get why when God called Jeremiah saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) his initial response was, “Alas, Sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” (Jeremiah 1:6)

The emotional scars that are carried from a tormented childhood may not be visible in the same sense as other physical wounds that have since healed yet they are often the hardest to overcome because the wound has not healed; it has cut too deep; down to the core of a person’s very identity.

People often wonder about my fascination with Batman but why wouldn’t I relate to a boy who had his childhood torn away from him because of the ruthless actions of others and, rather than dwelling in that feeling of helplessness, took control of the situation and chose to become a symbol and to stand up for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves. The irony is that even in becoming “The Batman” Bruce Wayne was still just a scared little boy trying to overcome his fears by becoming fear itself to those who would prey on the weak. I get it.

I AM a pastor. I AM a leader. I AM a husband. I AM a father. But I am also that wounded young boy that longs to be accepted, affirmed, acknowledged, and appreciated—not because of what I have done but simply because of who I am, who I was created to be, and who I am still called to be.

The scars are still there but the healing has definitely begun. Thanks to The Lord names like “Mighty Warrior” and “Pastor” seem more suitable than weakest or worthless. The struggle is still there and I pray to The Lord constantly to erase my old identity from my heart and mind but, like Paul and his thorn, I have come to the place where I hear God saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9b,10)

And if you are reading this today and can relate I just want you to know that, no matter what anyone else says…


YOU ARE VALUABLE to God and others.

YOU ARE FORGIVEN if you confess you sins to Gods and no longer need to feel guilt or shame.

YOU ARE SAVED if you confess Jesus Christ as Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead.



T.G.I.F. stands for “Thank God It’s Friday”. And, though it is often times used by those who are excited about the end of another work week or who are preparing to party over the weekend, I would like to adopt a more straight forward definition here. Let’s take time to. literally thank God today—not just because it’s Friday but because He Is Worthy!

As your week comes to a close what are some of the things that you are most thankful for?

Where have you seen God working in your life or in the lives of those around you?

Who has come beside you this week to help with a need? To show you Christ’s love in a tangible way? To be a listening ear? To offer a word of encouragement?

Take some time this morning to thank God for all that comes to mind and then go into the day expecting more things to be added to your list!

“I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever. I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness. Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness. The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation. All of your works will thank you, Lord, and your faithful followers will praise you. They will speak of the glory of your kingdom; they will give examples of your power. They will tell about your mighty deeds and about the majesty and glory of your reign. For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does. The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness. The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth. He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them. The Lord protects all those who love him, but he destroys the wicked. I will praise the Lord, and may everyone on earth bless his holy name forever and ever.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭145:1-21‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

“Ministry is Art” by Pastor Randy

Ministry is Art. It’s creative and it’s messy. It’s seeing something, like an unmet need or someone’s potential in Christ, and then taking the necessary steps to make the desired result a reality.

And, whereas most artists either use paint and palette or simply put pen to paper, one of the primary ways I get to share my passion and creativity is through the preparation and preaching of sermons.

The goal of course is to make sure that God is always ALWAYS the author, poet, and painter while I simply become His ink and canvas; allowing Him to use my personality, passions, and past experiences for His purpose. A work of art shared through my words and actions to serve as a catalyst for the spiritual transformation of those listening. A work in progress…

What tools/skills do you have to work with? What is your canvas? How can you creatively bring about God’s Vision today?

“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” (Romans‬ ‭12:6-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

“Our Potential in Christ” by Pastor Randy

Happy Tuesday! I hope your morning is already off to a great start (even if the only thing you’ve checked off your todo list so far is ☑️ Drink Coffee). I’m praying that God will do some amazing things to and through you today and that you will realize your potential in Christ. And its that potential that I want to talk to you about today.

po·ten·tial /pəˈten(t)SHəl/ (adjective): having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.

For the purpose of this writing I am talking about the potential that we have to live up to God’s Call on our lives. The problem is that too often when God asks us to do something we don’t see what He does. We tend to fixate on our present imperfections while God focuses on our future potential. We too often see ourselves as the sum of our weaknesses while God defines us by who we can be and what we can do when we rely on His strength. If this describes you you’re not alone.

God used Gideon to defeat an entire army with only three hundred men but when the Angel of The Lord first appeared to him and called him a “Mighty Warrior” who would save Israel from Midian’s hand Gideon replied very timidly, “Pardon me, my Lord, but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”” (Judges‬ ‭6:12-15‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

God used Jeremiah mightily but when He first gave him the message, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations”, Jeremiah responded, “O Sovereign Lord, I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” (‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭1:4-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

God used David to defeat a giant and eventually become the greatest king in the history of Israel but when Samuel went to his father’s house in hole of anointing the next King David was thought of as too young, too undersized, and he wasn’t even called in from the fields.” (‭‭Exodus‬ ‭3:10-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

You get the picture. God doesn’t see what we see, or even what our friends and family might see, rather He sees Who He called and created us to be. And the good news is that we don’t have to try to live up to that high calling on our own, instead we can rely on Him to equip us and mold us into who we were meant to be.

So when you feel like you don’t measure up or that God made a mistake when He called you to [Fill in the Blank] just remember what God told the Apostle Paul when he felt the same way, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) and then proclaim like Paul did in his letter to the Philippians, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians‬ ‭4:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“I’m in a Monday Morning Kind of Mood” by Pastor Randy

Good morning and welcome to the new blog from Go Scatter Ministries… “Refill with Randy: 5 Cups of Coffee”

Every weekday morning you can expect to find something here to motivate you for the day ahead. Whether it’s a poem, a prayer, a Scripture quote, or simply some pastoral pondering, my hope is to both challenge and encourage you as you live out your faith on a daily basis.

I encourage you to get engaged by answering questions, sharing insights, offering feedback, and sharing your prayer requests and praises. My hope is that this blog would bless both you and me!

And now that you’re here…

Grab your favorite Cup
Fill it up
And let’s start this day right

It’s Monday morning and, like many other Monday mornings, I am overly tired, caffeine deprived, and lamenting a Buffalo Bills’ loss. I know, great way to start off a blog that is supposed to inspire and motivate, right? Lol

The reality though is that I know I will eventually wake up, drink some coffee, (maybe in reverse order) and The Bills will inevitably win The Super Bowl. (What can I say, I’m an optimist!) The point is that even if I was having the Mondayest Monday ever I know that it is probably just a temporary setback and that the potential for things to turn around is much more likely when I remember that it often has little to do with my circumstances changing and more to do with me choosing to adopt a different attitude.

I’m a big believer that my attitude will eventually shape my day and that over time it will have a profound effect on my life, my relationships, and my walk with Christ. I see evidence of this all the time! There’s the guy who has a good job and a healthy family who for all intents and purposes should be happy and content but is constantly in a bad mood. On the other hand there is the poor widow who has scraped by for years but is the first one to offer to come beside anyone else in need to encourage and pray for them.

I wish I could say that I always choose right or that I do not allow outside factors to have any affect on my worldview but that would not be true. However, I do make this my goal and so when I find myself moping or starting to feel cynical about a situation I go to God and ask Him to renew a right spirit with me. It’s amazing how such a simple request can help turn the tide just by allowing me to pause and gain some much needed perspective.

So how about you? Do you intentionally ask God to give you a right attitude as you start your week or do you allow your attitude to be dictated by others or outside factors? Do you dwell on difficult situations and expect things to just get worse or do remain hopeful, believing that even if God doesn’t change the scenario that it will be beneficial to change your mindset?

The best thing about choosing a right attitude is that it can have a positive effect on others around us. Unfortunately the same could be said of choosing a bad attitude. So what attitude will you choose today?

“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:1-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless and have a Happy New Year!!!

“The Love Language of Gifts” by Pastor Randy LeBaron

If any of you have read Gary Chapman’s famous counseling book, The Five Love Languages, you know that in it he teaches that we all show and receive love in five primary ways: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Gifts, and Acts of Service. At different times I went through the process of discovering which ones were highest for me, and “Gifts” always popped up near the top which actually surprised me,

The reality is that I enjoy getting gifts as much as the next person, but I never thought of it as a significant way for me to feel loved. Once I thought about it more, I realized that I scored so high not so much because I liked getting gifts but rather because I loved giving them. To me gift giving is a long and painstaking process because I try to put a lot of thought and care into each item that I purchase or create. To me it is not so much about the material gift but the thought behind it. I like for the recipient to know that I KNOW THEM and know what they need or what would make them smile.

When I get it right it is an incredible feeling. When someone reciprocates in the same thoughtful way, I feel grateful… blessed… seen… understood… known. Things like my wife making my mother’s signature Wacky Cake for my birthday or a friend taking me to a Bills’ game means more than words can describe. And when it comes to Christmas, I have been given many thoughtful gifts over the years. My favorites are homemade items from my kids.

That being said, the greatest gift that I have ever received was being wrapped 1,974 years before I was even born. Jesus, the Messiah wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger, was the greatest gift because His birth gave my birth, and yours, meaning! Subsequently, His death and resurrection have made it possible for me, and you, to be reconciled to our Heavenly Father and ultimately KNOW andbe KNOWN by the Creator of the universe.

“‘Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.’ ‘No, we don’t know, Lord,’ Thomas said. ‘We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!’” (John 14:1-7) (NLT).


Friends, if you have not yet unwrapped this most precious gift, then I encourage you to do so today. If you confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, not only will you be saved, as Scripture says in Romans 10:9-10, but you will be given the gift of renewed hope by the One who knows you better than anyone else and Who has the power to give purpose to your life.

“We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 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” (Romans 8:24-28) (NLT).

“The Shepherds Told Everyone What Had Happened” by Pastor Randy LeBaron

Although I do love each element of the Christmas narrative, if I were to pick out one piece that stands out the most to me these days, it would be the account of the angel of the Lord appearing to the shepherds. Please take a moment to read and meditate on it. It is found in…

Luke 2:8-20 “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.” (NLT)

It should not be a surprise that, as an evangelist, I would be drawn to the event where the participants all take part in sharing the good news—the very definition of evangelism. First, you have the angel of the Lord, later joined by many other angels, sharing with the shepherds. Then you have the shepherds themselves going around and sharing the good news with others after witnessing the promised Messiah in the manger with their own eyes.

One of the things that I often emphasize when teaching about evangelism, is that every Christian is expected to actively participate—not just the experts or extroverts. This passage is proof of this because even though it starts with an expert, an angel was literally “a messenger” after all; it ends with simple shepherds sharing the good news with anyone who would listen.

A lot of Christians tend to over complicate things and become reluctant to share the gospel because they feel like they lack biblical knowledge or fear rejection. The reality is, much like with these shepherds, evangelism is simply sharing the good news that you have witnessed firsthand. You do not have to take a theology course before telling your personal testimony to others and you do not have to fear rejection. Our job as Christians is simply to proclaim the good news about Jesus. Success does not depend on the response of those we are proclaiming it to.

Another thing to note is that the shepherds weren’t sitting in the temple praying when this happened; they were in the middle of a shift at work. Not only does God call common people to evangelize, but He also calls us to do it in the midst of our everyday lives. God wants to use who we are to share His good news where we are.

Another example is when Jesus revealed Himself to the woman at the well in John 4. She subsequently left her jar to go and tell everyone about this man who knew everything about her. One minute she was so focused on her sin and shame that she was getting water during the heat of the day to avoid running into others and the next she was actually running toward those she had wanted to avoid because her focus had shifted onto the possibility of Jesus being the Messiah.

This Christmas my prayer is that each of us, like the shepherds, would become so excited about what we have witnessed Christ do in us and through us that we would be willing to share the good news of the gospel with others, and without hesitation!


Read through the Christmas narrative found primarily in Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2, and John 1.

Share which person or event stands out to you the most and why.

Ask God to give you the name of one person you can pray for and share Christ with this week. Let us know so that we can be praying for them and for you—that the Holy Spirit would prepare his/her ears to hear and prompt you when an opportune time arises.

* This is meant to be an interactive blog so please share some of your responses with us.

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by Pastor Randy LeBaron

Please share one of your favorite Advent/Christmas hymns and why it is meaningful to you.

I have a confession to make, when it comes to Christmas songs I fall into the crowd that plays them early and often. Hymns, carols, old classics, or new choruses, it doesn’t matter as long as it puts me in the holiday mood. That being said, even with all the great choices out there like “Joy to the World,” “Hallelujah,” and “Mary, Did You Know?” my favorite song is actually a 19th century translation of an older Latin hymn using a metrical paraphrase of the O Antiphons.* With its haunting notes, and lyrics that echo the longings of the prophets, every year I look forward to singing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Take a moment please and meditate on each verse taking note of the invitational prayer that each verse begins with.

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by The Piano Guys

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

One of the things instilled in me throughout my time in seminary was that you cannot fully celebrate the joy of Christmas without first experiencing the anticipation and expectation associated with Advent—the reason being that you lack context. If you truly want to understand why the birth of Christ was such a monumental event, you have to spend time learning about the history and hardships of the Jewish people as well as the messianic prophecies, particularly those found in Isaiah, which foretold of the one who would come to set the captives free.

Many of the verses in this song are inspired by, or taken directly from, Scripture.

For example:

Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (reference to Emmanuel)

Isaiah 9:2 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (reference to Day-Spring)

Isaiah 11:1 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” (reference to Rod of Jesse)

Isaiah 11:2-3 “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord” (reference to Wisdom from on High)

Isaiah 11:10, 12 “In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious… He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.” (reference to Root of Jesse)

Isaiah 22:22 “I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” (reference to Key of David)

I do love that this song is permeated with prophecies, but I am also thankful that it is equally pervaded with prayer. As each verse begins with a plea of those who longed for Christ to come the first time around, it also serves as a reminder for us to pray in expectation for Christ to come again. And so, as we continue through this season of Advent together, let us sing and pray…

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20b)

What are some of your favorite Christmas Hymns/Carols?

How early do you start playing Christmas music? How early is too early?

What practices do you participate in during this season that help you experience the anticipation and expectation associated with Advent?

Advent – Week 1 “Prayer” – Pastor Randy LeBaron

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

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

ADVENT – DAY 1 “Ready & Waiting” by Pastor Randy LeBaron

Advent is a time of anticipation, preparation, and expectation. What are some things that you look forward to each year as you prepare for Christmas, and what are some things you would suggest that we all do in anticipation of Christ’s coming again?

Long before coming to a saving knowledge of Christ or being called into the ministry, I looked forward to celebrating Christmas with great anticipation as most young children do. I found that my family’s traditions enhanced the time leading up to December 25th and aided in increasing my excitement for the day. I look back now with nostalgia at that time of my life even as I realize that Christmas has taken on a new meaning for me now which includes new traditions. One thing that has stayed the same though is that the elation I experience this time of year has never waned.

Growing up I would say that the foremost focus of Christmas was on getting gifts. I didn’t know a lot about Jesus when I was a child, but you can be sure that I was on good terms with Old Saint Nick. Every year there would be gifts wrapped and placed under the tree by my parents long before the actual day but then, on Christmas morning, there would always appear new gifts with the familiar tag attached, “From Santa.” It was fun picking up and shaking all of the packages that had been laid out beforehand in an attempt to guess what they could be, but the “Santa” presents were special because they always seemed to be bigger or better than the others—something that I truly wanted. It was fine if my folks wanted to give me socks or some generic version of a toy, but it was Santa, or rather Grandma and Grandpa as I found out when I was older, that gave me such amazing gifts. I received things like my first Big Wheel, The Dukes of Hazzard Race Track, a tape recorder (the one everyone started out with that was a black rectangle that lay flat and chewed up every other cassette that you placed in it), and even my very own TV. (Yes, it was only 13” inches and was B&W but it was mine!) Every year I was like the boy from the classic movie A Christmas Story who, only after unwrapping all of his other presents, was surprised to find out that his father had saved the best for last. Ralphie received his very own Red Rider, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle and Randy learned repeatedly that good things came to those who wait. Oh, and that you WILL shoot your eye out! 

Fast forward a decade or two after finding out that Santa wasn’t real (I learned the hard way when one year there simply were no extra gifts hiding around the corner after everything else had been opened), after learning the true meaning of Christmas, and after intentionally forming traditions with my own family and the church families that I pastored. The emphasis I had placed on “getting” gifts has been replaced with “giving” them but some things are still the same. I still love watching all of the movies and television specials dedicated to this season (Charlie Brown, Elf, The Muppets Christmas Carol, and It’s a Wonderful Life are among the many staples in my house), I still love belting out Christmas carols whether in the shower, in my car, or walking down the aisle at Walmart, and I still believe that the best things come to those willing to wait. To that end, I thought a good passage of Scripture to focus on for this first week of Advent is…

Luke 12:35-38 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.” (NLT)

Waiting is doable when you know the time and the date, like December 25th for example, but it is hard to stay vigilant when you do not know either. I think the uncertain times that we have been living in over this past year have helped us gain some perspective on this. Between wondering when the pandemic would end, the protests would subside, and a president would be announced, we all have learned how exhausting it can be sitting on the sidelines waiting for a solution and how easy it is to find ourselves focusing on other things. So, knowing that many who were supposed to be waiting and watching for Jesus on that first Christmas ended up missing out on meeting the Messiah, we need to make sure that we are that much more intentional as we anticipate the Advent of Christ’s Second Coming. We need to make sure that we do not get so distracted with the things of this world that we too will miss him. Like the servants waiting for their master to return, we need to be constantly ready, always alert, and perpetually prepared.

We do this by making sure that we that we are consistently doing those things that help us to keep in step with the Spirit and keep our eyes focused on Christ. Just as you might decorate your house, watch the movie Elf, put Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis” on a loop, and read Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol to help put you in the Christmas spirit, it is much more important that we spend time in the Word, in prayer, in worship, and in fellowship with other believers so that we might remain in Christ’s Spirit. And, in addition, while we are waiting we should do what waiters do—serve.


What were some of your Christmas traditions when you were growing up and what are they now?

What are some practices you can commit to that would help you keep your eyes on Christ?

What are some practical ways you can serve God and others during this season of Advent?

This is meant to be an interactive blog so please share some of your responses with us.