“A Prayer for Hope” by Hope Bollinger

Father God, every word in scripture points to the gift of hope that we have because of Christ Jesus. The Christmas story wasn’t the beginning of that message of hope because the old testament is full of glimpses of your plan to redeem your people and restore them into a relationship with you, but we are able to truly begin to see and understand just how great your love for us is when we read the story of Jesus’ birth in scripture.

Help us to see that you are with us. Nothing is too difficult, too messy, or too dirty for you. Jesus came to give us the gift of eternal life through the salvation that only you, our Heavenly Father, can give when we believe on your Son, repent of our sins, and confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior. 

That first Christmas, you gave us the gift of hope wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. Thank you, Father, for your immeasurable gift. In Jesus’ precious name, we pray. Amen.

“Preparing Your Soul” by Dave Good

Good day!! Welcome back to another edition of the GSM blog. Once again, my name is Dave Good and it is my honor to spend the next few minutes with you.

Today, I would like to talk about preparing your soul for eternity. No one knows how long they will have on this earth. I’ve seen people live 100 plus years and I’ve seen some lose their life at a very young age. Some are taken in the blink of an eye, due to a tragic accident or sudden illness, while others pass away slowly after a long battle with cancer or some other fatal illness. The point I’m trying to make here is that we just don’t know when our time is up.

I believe we serve an extremely graceful God who gives us every opportunity to secure a place with Him in heaven. I think back to the criminal hanging on a cross next to Our Savior on Calvary.

“Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”” (Luke 23:39-43 NKJV)

While one criminal was mocking Jesus, the other criminal was able to see the truth. The criminals deserved to be put to death for the crimes they committed but Jesus did not deserve to die. The criminal’s declaration of his own sins and the realization of the injustice of Jesus’s innocence was the first step to securing his salvation.

If you put yourself in the criminal’s shoes you might be able to sort through his thoughts while hanging on a cross next to Jesus. The criminal knew what he did wrong. We are not told specifically in the story but you could imagine maybe murder, blasphemy, inciting a riot, or a threat to the powers to be, the truth is we just don’t know what he did. Whatever his crime was he deserved to be on that cross.

On the flip side, this criminal must have been aware of the life of Jesus. If you were living anywhere around Jerusalem, the works and miracles of Jesus were well known and talked about. The criminal must have figured things out as his life was hanging in the balance. He acknowledged Jesus and was offered salvation.

The reason I’m bringing this up to you today is because it’s never too late to secure your eternity. The criminal next to Jesus had only hours to live and I’m sure his life involved a lifetime of wrongdoings just like us. Jesus offered salvation at the very last minute and promised him a place in heaven. The only thing the criminal had to do was acknowledge and have faith in who Jesus was.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8 NKJV)

Jesus offers us grace, despite all that we have done wrong, if we only have faith. We need to have faith that Jesus lived a sinless life, died on a cross, and rose from the dead three days later. He paid the price for our sins and restored us to the Father. There is no other way.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)

Friends, I’m not sure what your past looks like or what sins you have committed over your lifetime but I’m here to tell you that it’s never too late to get right with God. If you put your faith in Our Savior he promises to meet us in paradise. I don’t know about you but that sounds good to me. Knowing I can spent eternity with the Father is the greatest gift he can give us. I urge you today, don’t put off your eternity. It’s never too late to accept the precious gift of salvation!

“If You Love Me” by Dave Good

Good day!  Welcome back to another edition of the GSM blog. Once again my name is Dave Good and it is my honor to spend the next few minutes with you. I hope your week has been going well and that you are walking in the strength of the Lord and not your own.

Today I want to talk about what it means to love God. A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the meaning of love and how much God loves us. This week I’d like to look at the other side of the coin and talk about how much we ought to love God.

It is quite evident that God has an overwhelming amount of love for each and everyone of us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV). God loves us enough to send his only Son to the cross for our sins, in order to allow us to have eternal life. I would say that is a very clear demonstration of His love. Please take a minute or two and meditate on how much Go’s loves you.

As the realization of the immense love of God sinks in, I feel it is important to evaluate one’s love for God. Are we loving God as much as He loves us? The answer is absolutely not. The love we return to God falls way short of His love for us. Remember when Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NKJV)

Plain and simple Our Savior says, if you love me keep my commandments. How many of us can say we have kept His Commandments? “As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12 NKJV). The conviction of the scriptures is sometimes a hard reality to swallow, but it is from this reality that we must begin to evaluate our love for God.

We will never be able to love God as much as he loves us so the challenge we face today is figuring out how we can love God better. We just revealed that one measure of our love for God is how well we keep His commandments, and the first obstacle we face is our understanding of those commandments. The only way to better understand those commandments is to search the Word for better understanding. The Word will give you more clarity of the meaning and purpose of his laws and statutes. The more time you spend in His Word the more you realize that the commandments, laws, and statutes are vessels of love for us. God had our safety and well being in mind with each and every law. “You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.” (Deuteronomy 4:40 NKJV). God wants the best for you. Period. When you realize the benefit of obedience and how that allows us to demonstrate our love for God, why wouldn’t you live a life pleasing to God? The fact that we can return the love of God by simply obeying his commands offers me so much encouragement.

Friends, we can never match God’s love for us, however we can reciprocate that love through the simple act of obedience. God always makes it simple for us. Start by searching His word and increasing your understanding of his commands, apply them to life, do your best to obey them and it will go well for you. It’s pretty simple. Despite the simplicity, we will find a way to fall short. When that happens we are to seek God and his forgiveness and grace, repent, and get back on track. Living a life based on these realizations is how was can display our Love for God. It’s what we all need to strive for.

I hope my words will prompt you to examine your love for God and, if you feel it’s falling short I pray you make the necessary changes. If you are upholding His laws to this point, I encourage you to keep on that path. Loving God should be our purpose and direction in life.


“I Can’t Wait!” by Dave Good

Good day! Welcome back to another edition of the GSM blog. Once again my name is Dave Good and it is my honor to spend the next few minutes with you. I hope my words are encouraging to you and move you closer to God

Today I would like to talk about the waiting game. No I’m not talking about waiting in the car while your wife is just running in for a few things. I want to talk about the “I can’t wait!” game. I think we all have said to ourselves, “I can’t wait for Christmas!”, “I can’t wait for my birthday!”, “I can’t wait to graduate!”, “I can’t wait to get married”, “I can’t wait to grow up!”, the list could go on and on. The “I can’t wait” statement is a phrase filled with excitement, expectancy, and hope. I would love for you to take a few minutes and ponder some of the things you have said it about in the past.

As I’m sitting here pondering about some other “I can’t wait!” statements that I’ve said, my thoughts began turn toward Jesus. When I look at the life of our Savior I try to imagine some of the phrases he would have used. Could He have said, “I can’t wait to be baptized!”, “I can’t wait to preach in my Father’s temple!”, “I can’t wait to select my disciples!”, “I can’t wait to heal the sick and give sight to the blind!” I can imagine Jesus saying that entire list and much more.

Despite all those positive and joyful intentions, I wonder if Jesus would have even dared to think about the ominous I can’t wait phrases. I’m referring to thoughts of “I can’t wait to spend 40 days and 40 nights in the desert being tempted by Satan”, “I can’t wait to be betrayed by my own disciple, Judas.”, or how about “I can’t wait to be beaten, scourged, and sentenced to death on a cross by Pontius Pilate.” Finally there was “I can’t wait to be hung on the cross, suffocating and bleeding to death for the world’s sins.”

After reading the list I just created I can’t help but try to wrap my head around the adversity and anguish Jesus had to endure for our sins. We put him on that cross. We sentenced him to death. Why in the world would he do that for sinners like us? The answer is actually quite simple. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13 NIV)

The “I can’t wait!” statements that Jesus must have said were based on the joy and hopes that came out of his suffering. Jesus knew that “I can’t wait to die on the cross” was only the prelude to “I can’t wait to rise on the third day!” Jesus knew the end of his suffering from the beginning. He knew his suffering and death would save his people from the consequences of their sins and give them eternal life, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 6:23 NIV) Jesus endured all so we could spent eternity with Him. It was all worth it to Him.

Friends , I’ve said quite a few “I can’t wait!” statements in my life. Most of them were ushering in a new phase of life. Jesus did the same thing. His “I can’t wait!” statements ushered in eternal life for all those who believe. He wasn’t just thinking about the next few months or even the next few years, he had forever on His mind. Next time you think about your “I can’t waits!” keep your focus on a much larger outlook and you would be amazed how your perspective will change.

I hope my words are helpful and thought provoking. I appreciate your time and look forward to seeing you again next week.

“What Is Love?” By Dave Good

Good day! Welcome back to another edition of the GSM blog. It is my privilege to spend the next few minutes together and I pray you find my words are encouraging and bring you closer to God.

The English language does not give the word love its just due. In Greek the word love can we translated into 7 different meanings:

Today, I want to talk to you about love. If I asked you what the definition of love is I’m sure just about all of us will give a different answer. Some may say love is an emotion you feel towards your family. (i.e. I love my spouse or I love my kids). Others may define love as an attachment to a valuable object. (i.e. I love my dream car, I love my new house, or I love my new shoes). The reality is that we can love ourselves, we can love others, and we can love things.

  • Eros: romantic, passionate love. …
  • Philia: intimate, authentic friendship. …
  • Erotoropia or ludus: playful, flirtatious love. …
  • Storge: unconditional, familial love. …
  • Philautia: compassionate self-love. …
  • Pragma: committed, companionate love. …
  • Agápe: empathetic, universal love.

Such a simple word with so many meanings. No wonder this word is spoken so much and never really understood. I think the only way to settle this debate is to ask the only One that is defined as love—God himself.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8 NIV)

God is love. Love is the basis of His character. His thoughts and actions are derived from love so who better to explain what love really is and He does just that through His Holy Word. If we take a look at Paul’s letter to The Corinthians we see other aspects of God’s love.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, 7 NIV)

When you take the time to slowly read those verses it can be both encouraging and convicting. God’s definition of love displays the attitude, posture, and actions involved in loving someone. To be honest, when I was reading those verses I was convicted that I am not loving others the way I should be. You see, many times I fall short in several aspects of this definition. I am not as patient as I should be. I can get a little envious sometimes. I can also be selfish and self seeking and geez I know we all keep a record of wrongs. I am just being honest with all of you. I am so grateful God gives us instructions on how to love better and I pray that each and everyone of you takes the time to examine the way you love others in the light of God’s definition.

I thank God for his all encompassing definition of love, but you know God is not just a God of instruction, He is also a God of action. I wil leave you with this last thought.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)

Not only does God explain to us how to love but He demonstrates love but sending His Son to die on a cross to save us from out sins.

Friends, it’s impossible to examine and define love in a one page blog. My hope today was to give you a few scriptures to point you in the direction of the author of love, God himself. I pray you take a few moments and think about how you love others. Where can you improve? Where can you get better and display the characteristics of God? The only way to truly understand love is to appreciate what God did for us on the cross and live a life that strives to bring Him glory.

Until next week







“Change Your Mind” by Dave Good

Good day!! Welcome back to another edition of the GSM blog. Once again my name is David Good. I am so excited to spend the next few minutes with you. I pray my words impact your life and bring you closer to God.

Today, I want to talk about changing your mind. For some of you I know changing your mind is easy. Heck, sometimes I change my mind several times just trying to order dinner. Seriously though, the type of change I’m talking about will change you entire life.

The change I’m talking about is about restoring, refreshing, and renewing your mind for good. In order to turn your life around it is important to renew and change your mind. Before I met Christ and allowed him into my life I talked like the world, I walked with the world, and I thought like the world. I just wanted to fit in, you know be cool, and be accepted by my friends and loved ones. This kind of thinking often led me into trouble, disappointment, and ultimately a feeling of emptiness. Once Christ entered my life and I started seeking him though my life and my mind started to change drastically.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV.

God instructs is to put off our old self, forget those old desires, and change our mind. This change leads to righteousness and holiness. Sounds pretty straightforward and simple to me. If I allow God to change my mind I will live a holier life.

This all sounds amazing but one question remains. How in the world can we change our minds like that? The answer is that you can’t do it by yourself. God and His Word has to play a vital part in your new mindset. I can honestly say that what I think about now is completely different than what I thought about even 10 years ago. Back then my mind was filled with worldly views and selfish and evil thoughts. My mind was a mess.

Thankfully when I accepted Christ he began a reconstruction project on my mind and attitude. His spirit filled my life with joy and love unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. That is when I fell in love with the Word. Taking the time to read my Bible and meditate on its verses and stories has changed my mind forever.

I fill my mind with Psalms of praise and Proverbs of wisdom and they have been pushing out the filth of my old mindset. The only way I can explain this is by giving you an example. Your mind is like a computer hard drive. It only has so much space to store data. If you fill up the hard drive with filth and a worldly mindset there is very little room for God. What the Word is capable of doing is rewriting the hard drive. The word washes over the filth and restores your mind with more Godly thought. After a while, and a lot of studying, your mind becomes renewed and changed for good

Friends, if there was one piece of advice I can give to you that will change your life it would be this: Read your Bible each and every day. Spend time reading, listening, and applying the Word of God to you life. God gave us the Word as an instruction guide to life. This book will change your mind and your life forever. It will change how you talk, how you walk, and most importantly how you think. My daily Bible reading has been one of the best habits I’ve ever started. If this Book can change a wretch like me I promise you it can do the same for you, all you have to do is open it and start reading.

I pray my words were a blessing and prompts you to change your mind for good. Until next time have a great week.



“The Power of Planting a Seed” by Pastor Randy

Earlier today I got a reminder that you never know how or when you might have an impact on someone’s life. As I shared in my “Refill with Randy” video yesterday (check it out on FB or YouTube if you haven’t watched yet) I am currently in a season of ministry where I enter into a person’s, a family’s, or a church’s life for a set period of time with a specific purpose.

The reality is that there have been opportunities to do this throughout my ministry. One way this would happen is when I would be asked to officiate a funeral for a family that isn’t connected to a church or pastor. That happens much more frequently now that I am working at Hospice, I’ve officiated 4 funerals over the past 8 days, but it would happen every now and again when I was pastoring full-time as well.

I always found that those were unique opportunities to show the love of Christ to those who are hurting and in need of hope. Unfortunately, sometimes you only get to interact with them for that that short period of time and so hope you make an impact but often never know.

Well this morning, as I was standing at the front of the funeral home watching the family come in, a young man walked over to me and said, “I don’t know if you remember me but you did my mother’s funeral in 2011.” I asked what his mother’s name was and he shared. I apologetically said that it was a long time ago, that I remember that I did her funeral but that he must have been much smaller then. He then went on to tell me that he just had to stop me to thank me for all of the beautiful things I shared at his mother’s service and how it had impacted him. I thanked him for taking the time to let me know and offered to reconnect with him in the near future.

Ironically, as much as I hadn’t known how much my words back then had impacted him he probably didn’t realize how much his words this morning impacted me. We all have those days when we wonder if what we do matters, especially if we don’t always see fruit immediately, and so his comments gave me a timely reminder to continue scattering gospel seeds whenever and wherever regardless of whether or not I can see the impact. In Mark 4 Jesus says that…

“The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.” Mark 4:26-29 NLT

And Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians…

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭3:6-9‬ ‭NLT‬

The point is that whether you are doing the planting, the watering, or the harvesting, all are equally important and we simply need to trust God to make the seed grow.

So friends, I just want to encourage you to ask God daily for opportunities to partner with Him for the purpose of growing His Kingdom and, whether you ever see the fruit or not, trust that with God’s help there is always hope when you take the time to plant a seed.

“How Do You Like Working At Hospice?” by Pastor Randy LeBaron

Ok, technically I work at Supportive Care Orleans but, for the sake of simplicity, I will refer to it here as Hospice since that is the term most commonly used. And my title is Spiritual Care & Bereavement Coordinator but, rather than keep repeating that mouthful, I will just refer to myself as a Hospice Chaplain.

Ok, now that all that is out of the way, what I really want to do in today’s post is answer the question I have been asked the most since starting this role just over six months ago which is, “How Do You Like Working at Hospice?”

I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked some version of that question followed the statement “I couldn’t do it” or “I wouldn’t want to do that”. Of course what they are getting at is that they view ministering to those who are dying as a depressing occupation and having to deal with emotional family members, both before and after the expected outcome , as not much fun either.

I understand where they are coming from, and there are even days when I might agree with them, but overall my experience as a Hospice Chaplain has been very good and, though I may need to explain so that I don’t sound sadistic, I really like it. Here’s why…

  • I honestly feel like God has both called and equipped me for this role. From ministering alongside hospice for many years as a pastor to being ministered to by the hospice staff and volunteers while caring for my mother I view my primary role as “Comforting others with the same comfort that I myself have received.” (2 Corinthians 1:4b paraphrase mine)
  • I try to focus on the positives. It is hard saying goodbye again, and again, and again (I get attached quickly as many of you know ) but it is also a blessing to be able to say hello time and again to new patients, new caregivers, and new friends. Just as Tennyson once wrote that, “It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.” I have been so blessed by all who I have come in contact with through hospice that I would definitely agree that I would rather know each person, however brief, and to be saddened when they pass than to never to have know them at all.
  • I can honestly say that I am in awe of my coworkers and all of the staff at Supportive Care. There are those who have worked in this area for a lot longer than I have but day in and day out they continue to offer quality, compassionate care to whoever comes our way. Their passion and perseverance inspires me to continue on even when the days are long and difficult.
  • I feel most like a pastor again. As much as I have loved the different ways that God has used me over these past 3 years since stepping out of my role as Lead Pastor and starting Go Scatter Ministries I would say that I missed the fulfillment of walking with others through these transitional seasons of life.

And just in case you think I am romanticizing this role, or writing this while everything is going easy breezy, in the past five days since returning from Cattaraugus Christian Family Camp I have done two funerals, visited several patients at the residence or in their homes for Spiritual or Bereavement Care, performed grief counseling for a number of caregivers and made appts. for others, prepared for the first meeting of our caregivers support group tomorrow, participated in meetings, sent sympathy cards to several family members, called way too many spouses, siblings, sons, and daughters to offer condolences and assess how to best help them as they begin their grief journey, and just today I started early with a crisis call to go and offer support to a family whose loved one would pass hours later and my day ended with the sad news of another patient’s passing which took me by surprise.

For all intents and purposes I should be beyond poured out at this point (all this in 5 days and that doesn’t count my Go Scatter Ministry duties of preaching Sunday morning, counseling at Care-Net for most of the day on Tuesday, writing this blog, etc.) and to be sure I empathize with the families involved and will miss the patients but I also feel poured into as God uses me as His Feet, His Hands, and His Voice as I go and spend time holding a patient’s hand, giving caregivers hugs, or speaking words of comfort to those whose hearts are hurting.

I certainly covet your prayers, as I know all too well how quickly burnout can happen, but also want you to understand how grateful I am to God for giving me the opportunity and privilege to share Christ’s love with others in this unique way.

“And the Greatest of These is Love – Part 2” by Dave Good

Happy Thursday!!! Welcome back to another edition of GSM’s “Refill with Randy” blog. My name is Dave Good and it is my honor to spend the next few minutes with you. This week, we are going to delve into part two of the greatest command. In case you missed last week’s post, I wrote about loving the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. (Feel free to pause and read it real quick) Jesus tells us the second greatest command is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Once again, that doesn’t seem hard at all. The first question we have to answer is Who is my neighbor? The Pharisees asked Jesus that exact question and Jesus replied with the parable of the Good Samaritan. I encourage you to read Matthew 10:30-37 if you are not familiar with the story. If you just want the cliff notes version (kinda showing my age here if you know what cliff notes are lol.) Jesus tells the story of a man who is robbed and left for dead. A priest and a Levite pass right by him but a Samaritan, whom the Jews hated, cared and saved the man’s life. This parable kicked the Pharisees right in the gut for thinking they were better than everyone and overlooking the needs of others. Jesus goes on to say that the Samaritan loved his neighbor most of all.

The key to obeying the second command is putting others ahead of yourself. You are never too good, too busy, or too proud to help someone in need. Just think of all the people you come in contact with on a daily basis. Whether it’s the cashier at the coffee shop, your family and friends, the hostess at your favorite restaurant, fellow employees, or other church members, everyone has a need and these needs come in many forms. Someone may just need to talk and get a few things off their chest. Others may need help paying a Bill or making ends meet. Some might need help around the house. Needs come in many shapes and sizes and the key is to recognize and just be willing to fill the need.

Now some of you are probably saying, “I have enough to worry about in my own life, I don’t have time for everyone else. My grass needs cut. My bills need paid. I have to work full time. My kids need new clothes for school. My car needs to be inspected this month. I just have so much going on right now. I’m really busy.” Notice all those statements above have one word in common—MY.

My my my, there is a lot of me in those statements. I can honestly say I can relate to all of them. In fact, over my lifetime I have probably used each and every one of those excuses. Loving your neighbor requires us to put others ahead of your own agenda or needs. It involves seeing a need and finding a way to meet it. This is easier said than done but when we look to the example of Jesus it is easy to adjust our focus towards others.

The key to obeying the command to love your neighbor as yourself is to take the me out of the equation. Jesus gives us the perfect example and displays the perfect servitude mindset when he said the following “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

Friends, loving your neighbor involves putting others first. It involves finding a need and trying to fill it even when it’s not easy or convenient. Loving others takes sacrifice and intentionality. When we look at the sacrifices Jesus made in order to meet our needs our we see the bar set pretty high.

My ask for this week is simple. Find one way to love you neighbor as yourself. Find someone with a need and fill it. The need doesn’t have to be big and how you fill it doesn’t have to be time consuming but the important thing is that your act of kindness is intentional.

Until next time…

“And The Greatest Of These Is Love – Part 1” by Dave Good

Good day!! Welcome back to another edition of GSM’s “Refill with Randy” blog. Once again my name is Dave Good and it is my honor to spend the next few minutes with you. I pray my words will be a blessing and encouragement as you start your day.

Today, I would like to start a 2 part series on the greatest commandments. Jesus himself confirms to us the greatest commandments in Matthew 22:36-39 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

That sounds easy enough. I love how Jesus keeps simplifying things for us. At first God gave the Israelites some 600 plus laws to follow after He guided them out of Egypt. No one could uphold all those laws so God proceeds to give us the 10 commandments. Surely we can follow 10 simple rules, right? Once again 10 rules were too much for us to handle. So Jesus sums up our entire Christian walk in two commands: Love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. How easy is that?

Let’s take a few minutes and dissect the first command, “Love your God with all you heart, all your soul, and all your mind”. That sounds easy enough. Don’t we all sit here and say, “I love God!” The clause to that whole statement is with All your whole heart, soul, and mind. This is the part that will separate His people from others.

We all love someone or something. There are just components to our life that occupy our love. For some it’s a spouse, a job, money, a reputation, or a car. For others it’s an addiction or a vice that steals our love away from God. I apologize if I’m getting a little personal but the hard truth is the only thing that opened my eyes. I will be honest and tell you that over my lifetime I think I’ve loved every example I listed. The good news I have to report is that my God slowly began shifting my attention to His love.

Over the years I have really begun to understand just how much God loves me. God has provided me with countless blessings and gifts. God has given me a beautiful family, a wonderful career, amazing friends, and He has showered me with more grace than I deserve. I haven’t even mentioned the most important gift of all which of course is the gift of sending His one and only Son, Jesus, to die for my sins. If all those blessings don’t make you appreciate and love God with all your heart, soul, and mind I would encourage you to spend some reflection time with God. Ask God to reveal just a portion of His love to you and you will soon realize that loving God back is the least we can do.

So the question is, “How exactly can I love the Lord with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind?”

I’m glad you asked. I have a few recommendations for you to explore. 

1. Spend time with God on a daily basis. Devoting time to reading your Bible along with a healthy prayer life will bring you closer to God.

2. Count your blessings. Take time to reflect on how good God has been to you. Make a list of the grace, mercy and favor God has bestowed on you over the years and it will illuminate Gods great love for you.

3. Evaluate how you spend your spare time. When you take a step back and examine how you utilize you time you might be surprised. How much time are we spending on our phones watching tv, or hobbies. You might be surprised how much time is given to those instead of your walk with God. Once you get a sense of where you spend your time ask God to help you reprioritize.

Friends, the true key to loving God begins with the recognition of how much God loves us. He loved us first and sent his son to save us from our sins. Living for Jesus and loving him with all your heart requires gratitude and purpose. As you grow closer and closer to Him it becomes easier and easier to love him with all your heart. This type of love doesn’t always happen overnight but will be the most rewarding decision of your life. 

Join me next week when we will visit the 2nd greatest command. Love thy neighbor as they self. Until then have a great week!

“It’s Time to Put God’s Plans First” by Dave Good

Good day!!! Welcome back to another edition of the GSM’s “Refill with Randy” blog. Once again my name is Dave Good and it’s my honor to share the next few minutes with you.

Today, I want to talk about God’s perfect timing. In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 we learn that, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (NIV)

If you take a minute and let those verses sink you I am confident you will discover that nothing is by accident. God has a timing for everything in our life. In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I don’t know about you, but I had plans for my life. I had dreams I wanted to achieve and goals I wanted to accomplish. I call this Dave’s Plan. I pursued my plan for most of my earlier life and I am happy to report that I accomplished almost everything I set out to do. I am not boasting or bragging because it was only by the grace of God that I was able to do this. Despite all the good things I’ve done, God had bigger plans for me.

Almost 20 years ago, God took my dreams and shook them to the core. He flipped my world upside down and set me on another course. This is the period in my life that I accepted Christ as my Savior. My whole world was falling apart and God was in the process of rebuilding it back right. Since then, Jesus has captivated my life and instilled new dreams and new goals.

One of the dreams I have since been nurturing is to one day preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Early on in my life this dream was not even a consideration because I was too worried about starting a career, beginning a family, and buying a car, to worry about my relationship with Christ. Boy how my life has changed! God took my priorities and refocused them on Him instead of the world and I am so glad he did.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of serving God in many ways. I taught Sunday school to the kids, I’ve helped with Vacation Bible School, and most recently I’ve led Bible studies on Wednesday night. Sometimes I just shake my head when I think about how God is using me. I don’t deserve to be used like this, to be honest none of us do, but yet God’s amazing grace permits us to be useful.

When I look back on the twists and turns of my life I can start to see God’s Plan and not just Dave’s Plan. I also know that God had to clean me up quite a bit so that I could even become aware of God’s Plan for my life. Thankfully He has been refining my life, giving me knowledge and wisdom, and restoring my heart and mind to His standards ever since.

Friends, I am here today to tell you that God has a plan for each and everyone one of us. He has instilled dreams in our heart for His purpose. Those dreams will come true if they are a part of His Plans and not just ours. The only way to figure out those dreams are to abide in Him, following Him and His Word closely, and to prioritize His Will for our lives. Among other things we do this by spending time in prayer, searching His Word, and getting to know His Ways. All this won’t happen over night but, if we are faithful and consistent, He will turn His dreams into ours. Then when the time is right our dreams will come true and all for His glory.

I hope my words encourage you today to dream big and allow God to fulfill Your dreams

Until next time…

“Take Up Your Cross Daily” by Dave Good

Good morning and welcome back to another edition of GSM’s “Refill with Randy” Blog!

Today, I would like to spend a few moments talking about the decisions we make on a daily basis. Throughout your day you will be faced with hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions to make. Some may be easy, like what time I have to get up and get ready for work. If you are like me you probably have that down to the minute. Other decisions will be harder. For instance, what am I going to wear or what do you want for dinner? ( By the way, I hate that question. Lol) Some questions are more important than others. What do you want to be when you grow up or what college will you attend? There is always the most important question of all. Do you believe in Jesus Christ? As you can see, just a few examples of the decisions we face can have a drastic impact on our life.

Jesus, himself had to face many decisions while on Earth . He had to decide what to wear, what to eat, and where to go. He walked this earth and faced challenges every day just like us. The only difference was that Jesus navigated this world without making a poor decision and without sinning. Unfortunately, we will never be able to achieve the same perfection on our own. We live in a fallen world and perfection is impossible without Christ. The Bible tells us, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10) We may never obtain righteousness here on earth but it shouldn’t stop us from trying. So the question remains, how do we strive towards righteousness and make good decisions?

For that answer we must turn to The Word. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew‬ ‭16:24‬) ‬‬Take a minute and let that sink in. Jesus, himself said, if you want to be my disciple you must deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me. What you just read is a truth that will transform your life. ‬‬‬‬

When I read a rather complex and powerful statement. I like to break it down into smaller more understandable concepts.

The first command is to deny yourself. In other words, it’s not about you. The world doesn’t revolve around you and you cannot have or do whatever you want. Living as Jesus did requires you to live selflessly and put the needs of others before you.

Next, Jesus tells us to take up our cross. The cross is not the same cross he died on. The cross is a symbol of the responsibility and life that is entrusted to us. I don’t think I have to remind you that this life is not easy. Life is full of ups and downs and adversity. We must live responsibility each and every day. It’s not easy but the cross of life is something God gives us the strength to endure.

The final piece of this verse is To follow me. This command is the easiest to understand. Jesus wants us to follow his lead. He wants us to live a life that He first modeled for us. Jesus spent his life loving, helping, and taking care of others. If we are going to follow Him, it is essential that we live that same way.

Friends, our Christian walk is not easy. We must decide each and every day who we are going to follow. Are we going to follow ourselves and live our way or will we follow Jesus? We need to make that decision daily. The good news is that Jesus has already set the example as to how to live life. Jesus would never expect you to do anything that He hasn’t done first. I hope my words are encouraging and bring you closer to God. I look forward to seeing you next week.

“Healer” performed by Casting Crowns

Good morning friends, as we all continue to process the tragedy that took place in Uvalde where 19 students and 2 adults lost their lives at Robb Elementary School I thought the song “Healer” performed by Casting Crowns would be a good focal point for today’s blog.

When the world gets turned upside down we need to remember that there is only One who can offer real healing, true comfort, and lasting peace. Take some time today to meditate on the lyrics below and to listen to the song via the YouTube link at the bottom.

It’s hard to see the storm blowing over
Anytime soon
It’s hard to hear any hope in the headlines
Oh, I don’t know what’s true
We been trusting in the broken
To make us whole
But there’s no new rescue coming
Let’s do the one we’ve always known

We need the healer
We don’t need another hero
We need the healer
Deep down every hurting heart knows
We need the healer
And only Jesus is the healer

The whole world’s looking for something
But what we need is someone (need is someone)
And every road leads back to one name
When all the searching is done
‘Cause there’s no world view, no religion
That can make the blind eye see
Let the eyes of our heart be open
To the healing that we need

We need the healer
We don’t need another hero
We need the healer
Deep down every hurting heart knows
We need the healer
And only Jesus is the healer (You’re the healer)

More than comfort we need the king
More than gifts, we need the giver
More than blessings we need Your presence
More than the healing, we need the healer
More than comfort we need the king
More than gifts, we need the giver
More than blessings we need Your presence
More than the healing, we need the healer
More than comfort we need the king
More than gifts, we need the giver
More than blessings we need Your presence
More than the healing

“Experiencing Peace through Prayer” by Pastor Randy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who Do You Run To?” By Dave Good

Good day!!! Welcome back to another edition of GSM’s “Refill with Randy” blog. Once again, my name is Dave Good and I am really excited to spend the next few minutes with you. I pray my words are a blessing and that they can help bring you closer to God.

Today, we are going to have a very practical and revealing discussion. I have a question for you. Who or what do you run to when things turn for the worse? I want you to think about that question for a minute. The answer may surprise you.

When I asked myself this question, I would appropriately tell you I turn to God when things get tough. You are probably sitting there saying to yourself, that is the correct answer. Then if I sit and think about it, maybe it’s not always God. Other appropriate answer would include: I call my spouse, I call my parents, I call my best friend, or maybe it’s a brother or sister. Again, all of those are great answers and would definitely help you cope when life throws you a curve ball.

Now is the time to get brutally honest and hopefully address a situation that could be a hindrance to your Christian walk. What if I asked you the same question again and you answered with things like this: I grab a bottle of wine and drink my tears away, I get really angry and start throwing things or punching walls, I turn my computer on and visit sites I shouldn’t just to dull the pain, or maybe you just get in your head and scream at anyone you run into. I am sorry if it seems like I’m being harsh but I am just keeping it completely transparent right now.

You see, when we are facing with trials and tribulations we have a lot of options in which we can choose to handle the situation. Some are good and some are bad. The whole purpose of this entry is that I want you to really think about how you deal with adversity. Confession… ALL of the above answers were in reality my own answers at certain points in my life. I covered just about every approach in the past. I can also sit here and say that the first answer works the best. I know you are probably thinking, God doesn’t always answer my prayers and my situation has gotten better. You may also tell me that God takes too long and that you need to figure this problem out right now. I completely understand where you are coming from. God doesn’t always resolve the situation right away but I can also assure you that His solution will be best.

When we take matters into our own hands we often create more of a mess and I won’t even bring up the hangover the next morning or the busted wall that needs fixed. Even if we confide in a loved one or a trusted friend they may not give you the best advice. I’m not saying never talk it over with others, I just want you to be mindful of the limitations of human guidance. We are all flawed and I can assure you I’ve given advice that may not have been the best. I didn’t do it intentionally but it was based on my limited understanding and not the eternal wisdom that only God can offer us.

As I wrap this up I would like to share with you some strategies I have found useful in dealing with adversity.

  1. Always take a minute and pray. We serve a God that is always there for us. All you have to do is talk to Him. Tell God how you are feeling and ask Him to help you sort things out.
  2. Open your Bible and search the scriptures for guidance. So many times the best advice has already been written in the pages of His Word.
  3. Take a deep breath and regain your sound mind. A lot of times problems can really disrupt our spirit. We get angry, confused, and at times our emotions may run wild. If you take a minute just to calm down and refocus you will realize that a clearer head can help reveal a proper reaction.
  4. Talk to a trusted family member, friend, or your pastor. After you have spent some time with God and regained your composure a conversation with a loved one can clarify the situation. Just make sure their response is in line with God’s Word and answer.

Friends, I hope this entry is helpful to you. I confess that I have not always attacked a problem correctly, I am not perfect and I don’t have this life all figured out, but I can tell you that over the years and many failures I have learned to trust God to guide me out of many situations. Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself. He is faithful and will never steer you wrong

Until next time have a great rest of your week!

“What Do You Stand For?” by Pastor Randy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thanking God for Your Miracle” by Dave Good

Welcome back to another edition of the Refill with Randy blog. My name once again is Dave Good. I pray that the message God has imprinted on my heart will be a blessing to you.

Today, I’d like to talk about miracles. The first question I have to ask is, “Do you believe in miracles? “ I hope your answer is yes! I am a big believer in miracles. I have seen God do some amazing things. I’ve seen family members healed, I’ve seen people set free from addictions and bondage, I’ve seen money and blessings from out of nowhere. These are just a few examples of the many ways God has touched my life and the love ones around me. Now you may be sitting there thinking to yourself “That’s all good but how do you explain a miracle?”

I’m glad you asked that question. A miracle, according to the dictionary, is an event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God.

A miracle simply put is something you really can’t explain. It can only be explained as an act of God. 

I’d like for you to let that definition soak in for a minute and take a moment to think back at a time in your life when something happened that you really can’t explain. Maybe it’s surviving an accident that you don’t know how you did. Maybe it’s landing a job which you weren’t really qualified for. Maybe it’s a check in the mail that you weren’t expecting which came at just the right time so that you could keep the lights on. My friends this is a short list but they are all examples of what I would consider a miracle. I’m telling you right now, we have all experienced a miracle at one time or another.

Just writing this has caused a flood of miracles to rush into my memory. Over the years God has been so good to me. Thank you Jesus!!!

So how do miracles happen? In order to answer that question we have to look at the master of miracles himself—Jesus Christ. If you’ve spent any time in the Bible, and even if you haven’t, I’m sure that you are aware of at least a few of the miracles he performed during his time on earth. There was the feeding of thousands with just a few fish or loaves. There were the countless accounts of him healing of the deaf, blind, and lame. How did Jesus solidify these miracles?

I believe there are two essential elements of a miracle. 

1. Faith…. You’ve got to have faith ( ugh side note – as soon as I wrote that I suddenly heard George Michaels in my head. So of you may know what I’m talking about lol) Anyway, miracles have to be based in faith. Mark 5:34. Matthew 15:28, Matthew 9:29, speak to this just to name a few. The miracles were performed for each and every example listed because of the great faith in the power of Jesus.

2. Prayer… it is important to pray and ask God for your miracle. One of the clearest examples of the need for prayer comes when the disciples were unable to free the boy from the unclean spirit. The story can be found in Mark 9:14-29. The disciples couldn’t free the boy so then sought Jesus to perform the miracle. Jesus later shared with his disciples that this kind of unclean spirit can only come out with prayer.

3. Thanksgiving… No I’m not talking about turkey here. I’m talking about giving thanks to God for what He is about to do. Jesus displayed this essential part of a miracle multiple times in the Bible, most prominently in the feeding of the multitudes from Matthew 15:36 and Mark 6:41. Jesus took the tiny fish or the loaves of bread and first thing he did each time was “give thanks”. He gave thanks to His Father in Heaven for what he was about to do. All miracles need to start with a grateful heart and an anticipatory spirit.

Friends, I don’t know if any of you out there are waiting for your miracle but I pray that what I have shared might help you. Anytime you put faith, prayer, and thanks all together I know something miraculous is going to happen.

Thank you for your time, I pray my words are a blessing and allow you to uncover even more miracles in life. I look forward to seeing you next week.

“Imagine” by Pastor Randy

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

Imagine what it must have been like for Jesus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

“Body, Mind, and Soul” by Dave Good

Welcome back to another edition of GSM’s “Refill with Randy” blog. I am so glad you are here today. If this is your first time, welcome! I hope you continue to follow us as we scatter words of hope to all of you. My name is Dave Good and I am honored to share the next few minutes with you.

Today, I’d like to discussed your triunity. You are probably thinking, “Come on Dave, that’s a big word, what in the world are you talking about?” I am so glad you asked. I think we all have heard that Our God is a triune being. He is God the father, God the Son, and God the Spirit all in one. Many people refer to this as the Trinity. Let’s take it one step further and remember that we were created in God’s Image (Genesis 1:27). God created us with a body, mind , and soul. So we are also triune in nature. Today we will discuss how we are to take care of each one.

The first part of us is our body. Your body is your physical appearance and structure. You know… your arms, legs, face, and torso which, if you are anything like me, has the tendency to keep expanding. Go ahead and look back at an old photo and see how much you have changed over the years. Your body, once you get past your youthful prime, is on a constant decline through the years (I’m getting a little depressed just writing this). Anyway, we need to take care of our bodies the best we can. Our God created us to take care of this temple that houses our mind and soul. We should participate in regular exercise, eat right, and not abuse ourselves with any substance that could harm us such as smoking, drugs, or too much alcohol. I know this is getting touchy but I want you all to live your best life.

The second part of us is our mind. The mind is where our thinking takes place, decision are made, and it is the source of our intelligence, and, just like with our physical bodies, our minds also need to be nurtured, taken care of, and developed. I know some of you may be saying hey Dave I’m pretty smart I went to college. Others may be saying I’m not too smart and didn’t do well in school so not much I can do. I’m here to tell you God has given us a mind that is so dynamic that if you put the time in you might just be amazed. God also gave us the owners manual to help nurture our minds in the form of His Word. The Bible has the ability to stretch, transform, restore, and renew our minds if we put the effort in and read it daily. Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to be transformed by the renewing our mind.

The third and final part of ourselves is our soul. The soul is a little harder to define but it can best be described as our inner being which consists of our character, our conscience, and our spirit. Our soul is what departs from our earthly body and, if we choose Jesus as our savior, taken up to heaven. The best thing we can do for our soul which will never die is accept Jesus. That boils down to accepting that we are all sinners and we need a sacrifice to make us right with God. Jesus came to earth in the form of man, lived a holy life, and died a sinner’s death on the cross for our sake. If you can accept that and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead then God’s Word says that you will be saved and you (your soul) will spend eternity in heaven. I hope you will make that decision today.

As you can see, there is a lot of effort involved in taking care of our whole self. It takes a daily decision to make sure we are living our best life. However, sometimes we get out of practice and neglect or hurt ourselves. Maybe we aren’t reading our Bible like we should and our mind gets out of focus. Maybe we just got back from vacation and eating out every day has added a few more pounds. To tell you the truth it’s really easy to become a little off track. That is why I think it’ is so important to take an inventory on a regular basis. Look yourself in the mirror and check your body, ask some questions that check your mindset, and make sure things are in balance. If they aren’t in balance make a plan to fix it.

Friends, I know I gave you a lot of things to consider today. I know I may have shed some light on areas that are really out of balance or need a lot of attention but I’m here to tell you that you can start to get back in shape today! Make the decision to work on your body, mind, and soul and you will be amazed how quickly things can change and how much better you will feel when things slide into balance. I hope this entry was helpful for you and I pray God will help you in balance all areas of our life. Blessings! DG

“The Decisions We Make” by Dave Good

Good morning!!! I like to ponder life a lot. I think that is one way we can grow. I think it’s really beneficial to ask yourself tough question and seek God and your inner self for some answers. I don’t think you have to dwell on them continuously, but being able to identify some answers to these question can offer a dose of healing. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.

Here is a really simple question. Have you ever made an important decision which had a major impact on your life? I can only answer for myself and the answer is most definitely YES. There have been times when the decision I made was so beneficial to my life that it has brought me much reward and blessing. For instance, my decision to attend pharmacy school many years ago has enabled me to pursue a career and provide for my family. I would say that was one of the best decisions of my life. I have no regrets whatsoever on that one.

Let’s flip the coin a bit. I have also made decisions that didn’t turn out so great. Looking back on my life I can definitely see times when the choices I made led to more problems than anything. The one area that this often shows up most is our relationship choices. I can only speak from the lens of my past relationships and I can see how God has guided the outcome because I couldn’t see clearly at the time.  I will be the first to admit that I haven’t made the best relationship choices. The main reason for that is that I never included God in on that decision. 

Most of my life, especially before I made Christ my savior, I chose relationships that looked good on the outside. I’m here to tell you that looks can be deceiving and often misleading. I think that is why God reminds us that we should not judge by the outside and look at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7). God looks and knows our heart and makes decisions on what is on the inside—not the packaging. It’s kinda like going to the store when you are hungry. You browse the freezer case or the snack aisle for something that will satisfy your hunger and end up picking the box with the most appealing picture. We never really turn the box over and looks at the ingredients and decide if it is good for us.

Friends, I’m no expert and God knows I’ve made a ton of poor decisions and mistakes. I’ve picked the wrong girls to date and I even initially picked the wrong one to marry (and later divorced) but I’m here today to tell you that we serve a God who loves us and wants the best for us. Despite my poor choices I can honestly say that God has given me a second chance and blessed me with an amazing wife and an incredible family and He was able to turn my heart towards Him. I can also say that God has changed the way I make a decision. I try my best to avoid the impulse buy or snap decision. I do my best to include Him in the process and I have been blessed because of it.

Life is very complicated and we are faced with decisions each and every day. My hope and prayer is that each and every one of you who read this will take a few minutes to evaluate how you make decisions. I pray that You include God in on even the small choices. You will be amazed at the difference it can make.

“What’s in Your Closet?” by Dave Good

Good morning! Today I’d like to talk about your heart. Our hearts are the most important organ God created in us. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)

God commands us to above all else, guard your heart. I don’t think there is a more direct command in all of the Bible. The heart is precious and the contents of your heart display a lot about what matters most. 

When I was praying about this week’s blog God gave me the analogy that our heart is like a house with many rooms. Within that house there are rooms which we allow anyone into, kinda like the living room. This part of our heart is usually well maintained, clean and organized. We don’t mind showing off this room and often allow people to spend the most time here

The other rooms of our heart are for special guests only. I’d like to think of this room as the formal dining room. Sure we tend to invite a lot of people over and share a meal with them in the kitchen but most people only use the dining room for special accessions with their family and closest friends.  This area is a little more guarded and often protected. 

Another room we keep close to our heart is the bedroom. The bedroom is where we rest at night and should be reserved for our spouse and family only. Too often times we allow people who are not supposed to be in these rooms and those decisions can lead to serious consequences. This is the room that I really feel God wants us to guard at all costs.

When I was putting this passage together, the movie War Room popped into my mind. The last room in the house is probably the one which is most important. Let’s call it “The Secret Room”. You know, the one room of the house that is most private and considered to be yours and only yours. Most guys have a man cave or a workshop or ladies may have a sewing room or craft room. This place is the one place where you can be alone, seek God, and just get away for a bit. We all need a room like this. Our inner room can be a place of healing, relaxation, and prayer. Very few people are introduced to your inner room but the one person you must include is God. God needs to have access to all of our rooms to ensure our lives are in order.

Friends, our rooms may not always be in order, or even clean, but it’s important to make sure we are guarding our rooms above anything else. We need to make sure we are only allowing certain people in certain rooms and we must make sure that we are using our inner room to meet with God and allow Him to help us clean each room.

I hope this analogy is useful to each and everyone of you. I pray you take a few moments and, with God’s help, clean up your rooms and always guard your heart above everything else.

Have a great week and I look forward to connecting with you again next week.

“Fix Your Eyes on God” by Dave Good

Good morning and welcome back to the “Refill with Randy” blog. Once again my name is Dave Good and it is my honor to spend a few moments with you. I pray our posts are a source of encouragement and hope for you during this time of uncertainty and adversity. I pray they would bring light into your life in the midst of all the darkness that surrounds us on a daily basis.

Today I’d like to share a few thoughts that are inspired by one of my favorite songs. “Fix my eyes” by for King & Country. If you have a few minutes, I’d encourage you to give the song a listen to and see how it’s words really relate to our daily walk.

One of the hardest things to do in this world is to not get discouraged. Our circumstances, situations, and decisions can directly impact our mindset or focus. The first verse of the song talks a lot about our regrets and downfalls, I call it living in the rear view mirror. Sometimes we can get trapped by some mistakes or poor decisions we have made in the past. We have a tendency to dwell on those memories and some people never get past them whether it’s a divorce, a failed relationship, an addiction, or any other form of bondage we put ourselves in. I’m here to tell you today, “Stop looking in the rear view mirror and start focusing your eyes on the road ahead of you.” Fix your eyes on God.

The second part of the song talks about difficulties we encounter trying to navigate this world. Being a Christian in today’s world is not easy. We face challenges every day that tempt us to stray off the narrow road. Jesus warns us of the adversity in life. He reminds us that the way to heaven requires discipline and a steadfast spirit. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13 NIV)

The words of Jesus himself remind us to fix our eyes on Him. Fix your eyes on the reward of spending eternity with Him. 

As I said before, this world is extremely difficult to navigate because there are problems and obstacles all around us. How we respond to our problems is often determined on whose strength and focus we use to attack them. If we keep our eyes fixed on the problems and do not seek the Lord’s help, our issues will overwhelm us quite easily.

Friends, I’m here to encourage you today. No matter what you are going through, no matter the obstacles in front of you, God has the means to overcome your situation. The key is to keep your eyes on Him. Don’t let the world distract you and steal your victory. Jesus reminds us of this fact in the following verse. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

No matter what your are going through take heart and keep your eyes fixed on Him!

“Why God” by Austin French

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

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

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

I don’t understand
But I understand

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

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

I don’t understand
But I understand

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

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

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

“When Life Hurts” by Dave Good

Good day everyone. Welcome back to The GSM blog. Once again my name is Dave Good and I’m honored to spend this time with you. I hope you are having a great week, full of blessings. Today I would like to discuss a topic that I think we can all relate to at one time or another—when life hurts.

I don’t know about you but, although I am greatly blessed and God has does so much for me, there are those days when life just hurts. Jesus reminds of this fact when he says…

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

Over the next couple of minutes I’d love to equip you with a few tools to combat the hurts of life.

1. Prayer – One of the easiest ways to deal with a hurt in this life is to pray about it. Prayer is like making a phone call to God. When life throws you a curve sometimes the easiest way to deal with it is to talk about it, you know get it off your chest. Prayer allows us to bear our issues before God anytime, any place. What a gift to have access to God himself when things aren’t going right.

2. Trusted Friends & Family – Another blessing God gives us are trusted family members and friends. I lost my mom almost 10 years ago and I miss have the opportunity to bounce my cares off her and ask her for advice. That being said, God does not leave us alone. God is gracious enough to also put trusted brothers, sisters, and friends on our path to assist when life just hurts. My advice is to not try and go it alone but rather reach out to your circle of trust and learn to overcome together.

3. Read The Word – God was so gracious to us to send down His Written Word. The Bible is the owners manual for navigating this world. When the hurts happen The Bible is a source for so much encouragement. The next time life knocks you down take some time to seek His Word and allow it to console you.

These are just a few ways to combat the adversity of this world. No one deals with the hurts of this life the same but I pray that some of the tactics I have found helpful will benefit you as well. However you choose to deal with the hurts of life I pray you do it in a healthy and constructive manner. Don’t allow the hurt to derail your growth or walk with the Lord

Thank you for you time. I pray my thoughts and suggestions were helpful and will ultimately allow you to navigate this world a little more efficiently. Until we meet again, may God bless you and heal all the hurts we encounter on a daily basis.

“Who Am I?” by Dave Good

Welcome back to another edition of the “Refill with Randy” Blog. Once again my name is Dave Good and it is my pleasure to share a few thoughts with you today.

I’ll start by posing a simple question, “Who do you say you are?” Take a minute to actually answer it. If you are like me you might respond: I’m a husband, I’m a dad, I’m a Christian, I’m a Bills fan, I’m a pharmacist, I’m a music lover… you get the picture. There are countless ways to answer that question and I’m sure we all came up with a variety of different responses.

I would say that all of the answers I gave as examples were pretty positive, because I am genuinely pretty positive, but often times others might be less positive when describing themselves. Some people may answer that question with: I’m a loser, I’m ugly, I’m cursed, I’m a horrible person, I’m fearful, etc. There are just so many ways to answer a simple question.

What if we answered that question through the eyes of others? Be careful who you ask because you might get responses like: You’re a loser, You’re an addict, You’re a cheater, You’re a liar, You’re ugly, You’re dumb, You’re worthless, and so on. Once again there are a ton of not so encouraging ways other people can define us and that can have an adverse effect on us to say the least.

Let’s also take a minute to consider how God would answer that question for us. Perhaps “You are loved” or “You are chosen.”

“We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people.” (1 Thessalonians 1:4)

When I first started thinking about this question I have to admit that some of my answers were good, some were bad, some matched who God says I am, and others did not. Some were positive and some were negative. There is just not one way to answer the question but ultimately we have to continue to find our true identity in Christ in order for it to match our Creator’s design for our life.

As we have discovered, there are many ways that we could answer this simple question so I really feel that it would be beneficial to take some time to consider a number of them. Maybe reflect on your first answer and then apply some of the answers God himself has given us and see if they coincide or really just don’t line up with the truth.

Folks, I guess I’m writing this entry today because I have battled my way through poor self image and insecurity in the past and perhaps you have too. I have had some really negative answers to that simple question and it wasn’t until I devoted my life to The Lord and spent a lot of time learning how He has already answered that question that I was able to see myself differently. God doesn’t make junk or mistakes. We are wonderfully and fearfully made and our answer to the question should reflect that fact.

I hope this is helpful to you. I hope it offers you encouragement and I pray that over the next few weeks you begin to change your answer to the question into a more positive and God inspired one. I look forward to spending some more time with you soon but until then God bless and have yourself a great week!

“Trust the Process” by Dave Good

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advent Week 4 – “Thursday” by Wende Swick

Last Sunday, my pastor gave the most beautiful definition of JOY.

He said that PEACE is “joy resting” and that JOY is “peace dancing”!  

Peace dancing – I love it!!! This definition resonates with my experience.

Joy is one of my favorite fruits of the Holy Spirit among the nine named in Scripture- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides these definitions for JOY:

Noun- the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : DELIGHT; the expression or exhibition of such emotion : GAIETY; a state of happiness or felicity : BLISS; a source or cause of delight

Verb- Rejoice; Gladden; Enjoy

Did you know that JOY can be a verb? It’s true! I joy, enjoy, take joy, or rejoice, in Jesus, my Savior, and in my personal relationship with God, Maker of the universe, who knows me intimately and loves me unconditionally. I also joy in, or enjoy, many of life’s daily experiences, including special activities which are Christmastime traditions.

I have a few friends, and even my own mother, who have lost a child and find it hard to completely enjoy the Christmas season. The grief a mother experiences with such a loss is monumental. It’s understandable that during holiday seasons which are purportedly times of special joy, experiences may be tainted with sorrow and grief for many who’ve lost loved ones – not exclusively mothers and children. I understand this and my heart hurts with them, for them. 

I would like to share with you an aid I’ve incorporated in my life for many years now – one which has helped me choose joy and experience it so much that people sometimes comment on my joy, saying that it’s what they notice most about me. I love that!

At one point, while living in Hawaii if you can believe it, I went through a struggle with depression. At some point in the midst of it, I realized that I should thank God for three things before I got out of bed in the morning. I started doing that and quickly reached ten items daily. Before I knew it, I was bounding out of bed in the morning, brewing my coffee and sitting down with my prayer journal, recording things for which I was thankful. I went from ten to twenty things, and twenty is now my minimum each morning. It is amazing, actually, how MUCH we can be thankful for… how much GOOD (from God) occurs in our lives each day! 

Prayer journals are one of my favorite gifts to give others, because using one has transformed my outlook. After giving thanks, I pray for my needs, those of others, and ask questions, waiting for God to speak to me. (Prayer IS two-way communication, but I find it hard to wait long enough to hear sometimes. True confession.)

Using a journal to record my prayers and what God says to me helps me stay focused on prayer much more effectively. If you don’t already use one, I recommend you try using a prayer journal. It’s fun to go back and fill in how God has answered prayers. It also helps me remember whom to pray for, over time. 

Focusing on God (my source of JOY) and His goodness to me is a huge factor in my experiencing (most of the time), PEACE (joy resting) and JOY (peace dancing). When I’m out of peace or joy, it’s usually because my focus has been taken from Him and placed on other things.

Shalom & Simchah,

(Peace & Joy in Hebrew),


P.S. for JOY

This morning, as I visually took in the newly falling snow, my lit tree, etcetera, I was reminded of something related to JOY. Have you ever said or thought, “This is really good for my soul”?

I marvel that God, in His brilliance and great love, chose to design our eyes with rods & cones, to perceive the beauty of lines/shape/design and colors galore! He chose to place hammers, anvils and stirrups (bone set), ear drums, etc., in our ears, so we perceive beautiful music and other desirable sounds. Tastebuds… we don’t need them for survival, but who doesn’t enjoy a delicious meal or sweet treat? Aromas, perceived via our olfactory system, enhance dining and other experiences. Don’t get me started on the sense of touch! With our nervous system’s nerve endings in all the right places, those hugs, massages, or tickles we receive bring sensations of comfort, love and fun to our minds and emotions. 

I hope we each take time to savor or JOY in some of the things which bring pleasure to our souls this could-be-very-busy season.

Advent Week 3 – “Thursday” by Pastor Randy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friends.. that is love.

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

Advent Week 2 – “Thursday” by Dave Good

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advent Week 1 – “Thursday” by Pastor Randy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Intentional Acts of Generosity” by Pastor Randy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Let me know what you do. 😇

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


“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?

“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

“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

“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.

“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!!!

“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.

“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.

“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


“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)