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getting behind

February 19, 2018

This past Sunday was the most encouraging since I started almost 90 days ago. To speak on Matthew 6:19-24 is as one member put it “pretty brave” within the first 11 weeks of becoming pastor. I replied “if Jesus says it’s important, the church should know it’s important”.

I encourage all who read this blog to listen to the message if you were not here this past Sunday. If you do not have the time, let me remind all of us of the “Cliffs Notes” version; Jesus tells us there is only one safe place to invest - The Kingdom of God. Most people see no further than the horizons of this world. To correct our shortsightedness, God prescribes a vision correction to see through the lens of eternity. “Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven” Jesus says. When you sit down with your financial planner he advises not to think five years ahead but think 30 years down the road.  Jesus,  the greatest financial adviser says “think in longer terms than that… think eternity.”

In the following passage, Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus links generosity with not worrying. Generous people are not anxious people. Why? Because they know they can never out give God.

As we come to the end of February we are behind in our giving.  I am asking all of us, myself included,  to catch up by Vision Sunday which is March 4th.  One of the telling statements in the Matthew 6 passage was that “our hearts follow our treasure”.  What we spend our money on leads to an altar to what we really worship. Let’s be found faithful in this matter of the heart and honor God with the “first fruits” and not out of what is left over. Let’s prove the tithe! I want our church to be known for generosity to the kingdom - see the big picture - Eternity.

Thank you Church. The best is yet to come.

Pastor Randy

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just a vapor

February 12, 2018

“You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little while then vanishes away.” ( James 4:14)                         

Bill Stegall, one of my mentors, once told me, “Life is short, eternity is long. Live like it”.

Time is precious and we are fragile.  Every moment counts.  “Teach me to number my days...” Psalm 90:12 says. That simply means consider them and appreciate them. Consider how a day is spent, not wasting a moment but as Ephesians 5:16 says “Redeem the time”….. spend it wisely. On things that matter.

All flesh is like grass and its glory like the flower of grass. “The grass withers and the flower fades but the word of our God abides forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).  Spend your life on things that last. That are eternal. The word of God and the Souls of men.

That’s it. Surely God means for our minutes and days on earth to count for something significant. The Apostle Paul said “In the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” (Philippians 2:16

As I was  writing these words early on Monday,  I received a call saying that Jean Simmons had passed away. Ninety years, just a vapor. Life is short, eternity long…..She lived like it. I have known the Simmons family for decades and what a blessing they have been to my family. Jean’s faithfulness, forthrightness, investment for generations and impact on God’s church will only be known in eternity. Today she worships, more alive than she has ever been. Her faith has become sight. Hallelujah. Pray for the Simmons family as they adjust to life without this precious saint.

Pastor Randy

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ultimate things

february 5, 2018                                                                                                                  

I watched a part of the Super Bowl with one of our members last night.  They had me at “we will have lots of wings”.  The wings were great, the game exciting and the fellowship enjoyed.
Then I saw the video on the news of the celebration in Philadelphia. It was enthusiastic to say the least. People crying, hugging, food fights breaking out in restaurants and people destroying property.  I don’t understand that one. “Hey we won! Let's tear up the city!”  I understand the celebration. The owners of the team, players and fans have realized a dream, a goal, a vision. Win the Super Bowl. That’s a good thing, winning the game. But is it the ultimate thing? 

As I write these words the staff and I are leaving for a retreat at a member's lake home. We will plan the rest of the year, fill the church calendar and I will drill down into a vision, the moving forward for our church. It’s a vision about ultimate things. I will share this vision on Sunday March 4th. It will be about ultimate things, not just good things.

Can I ask you to pray for me? To walk with me as we press forward? I am excited about the things God is stirring in my heart. I don’t want it just to be a “pastoral vision." I truly want it to be a vision we all own. I am excited about the future, what God is going to do in and through his church at Liberty Park.

I love you, church!

Pastor Randy

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THE GREAT DEMAND

January 29, 2018

This past Sunday was a great day as we concluded our Missional Mandate Sermon Series. The highlight was coming to the Lord’s table to celebrate our personal identity with Him.  As the cup was being passed, I was reflecting on the sufficiency  of Christ, that He is truly all I need.
The Gospel…His death, burial and resurrection is what should permeate every area of my life, my marriage, parenting, work and leisure. A gospel-centered life is an impactful life. So… back to the cup being passed. 

As I was thinking of my Savior’s shed blood for my sin, I was overwhelmed with the realization that He gave everything. He held back nothing of Himself that day. That’s what the love of the Father does…..He loves unconditionally. 

Then I heard the piano playing a hymn that we all love.. one that I know every verse!  I began to sing the words in my heart ... “when I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died”… I worked my way through the verses then it hit me like a ton of bricks… the song extolling the love of God towards me in the first verses now demands of me in the last verse ... “Love so amazing so divine, DEMANDS MY SOUL MY LIFE MY ALL.”  The great demand! Total abandonment. 
How is this demand being fleshed out in your life daily? “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me”. (Matthew 16:24).. that is a bad word in our society… DENY.. then add..YOURSELF! That’s not the American dream. “Fulfill yourself” is the dream in our culture.

“Give yourself.” 

I will end with lyrics from another well known hymn. “All to Jesus I surrender. All to Him I freely give.. I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live. I surrender all.. I surrender all.. all to Jesus my blessed Savior, I surrender all”.  Does that reflect your life?  A surrendered church, surrendered lives.. that is the great demand upon us all. As you start each day will you simply say to your Heavenly Father.. “I surrender” That is the only life he can use. A surrendered life.

I love you, church - 

Pastor Randy
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COMMUNITY

January 22, 2018

We live in an amazing time of our world. We can almost instantly connect with people anywhere at any time. The technology that the world is creating is incredible. I recently read about a company in Japan that has created robots that you can assemble as kind of engineering toys. Mechanical people! With mechanically engineered emotions, language, response and movements. They all sound alike, walk alike and talk alike…. How cool but how boring!

That is great technology with little creativity. I am so thankful that God did not create us that way... making us look, talk, and all have the same emotions. 

No, our God is a creative wonder. We don’t look the same act the same or talk the same…. And yet he pulls us together in this one community of His forever family by His selfless redeeming act of shedding His blood, “for you have been bought for a price,” 1 Corinthians 6:20.

That’s what the church is. A community of blood bought individuals doing life together. We are not robots but uniquely created for the purpose of Glorifying his name. We do that by the varying
gifts and talents within the community working together to edify ... build up one another.  We are not perfect, therefore needing encouragement along the journey. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says “two are better than one for they have a better return for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has no one to pick him up. And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him… for a strand of three chords cannot be broken.”

Robots can’t do that!  They can’t experience that kind of community, sharing pain and real emotion. Praise God that we walk not only with each other but with our redeemer who binds us together!  “...a chord of three strands cannot be broken.”

Again, that’s what the church is.  A community of blood bought individuals doing life together.  Not perfect, but encouraging each other along the journey. What better way to truly experience “community” than to come to the Lord’s table together this Sunday!

Pastor Randy

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Prayer

January 15, 2018


Our mid-week family nights began again this past Wednesday.  Our adult study is concentrated on the discipline of prayer.  Just to give a snapshot of what we talked about this past week, we looked at the legacy of prayer. Examples of Abraham, Hannah, Jeremiah and David in the Psalms. Real feelings, real emotions real words. Some of the prayers these real people in scripture prayed were as simple as HELP! Nothing theologically mind blowing… just an honest cry to our Heavenly Father to intervene.

Now here’s the question; do you believe God hears you when you pray? Have you ever talked with someone and you really KNEW they were not listening? I tell you, the God of the universe, the one who created you in your mother’s womb takes great delight in listening to you. Psalm 116:1-2 says “I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because He inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.” That’s leaving a legacy… as long as I live I will call on Him. Do you let your children hear you pray? It is a great way to teach them and model for them the importance of this discipline. We need to allow our children to see us wrestle with God, plead with Him about the things that grip us and cause us to worry. We need to journal our requests and record answers to show them that God answers. It teaches them patience as we are in God’s waiting room, waiting for the answer. It teaches them that we aren’t equipped to carry our burdens alone.

A hymn we all sing from time to time says, “Oh what PEACE we often forfeit, Oh, what needless PAIN we bear. All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.”  He is our Father,
He loves us. May we be like Moses, in Exodus 33:11, “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”  I pray for that type of intimacy with my Heavenly Father.

Church Family, I’m praying that we all grow deeply, practicing the presence of God through this awesome gift of Prayer.

Come join us on Wednesday!

Pastor Randy

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Mission and Values

JANUARY 9, 2018


That’s our identity. This is who we say we are, what we do! As you know we started our Identity series this past Sunday with “We exist to Glorify God.”

That’s our bull's-eye. If we miss that, we miss everything!  Remember 1 Corinthians 10:31“So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” There are no mundane things. All of your life can be used for God's glory. Everything matters! Live in that lane for a week and see what happens. Psalm 16:8 says, "I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” That’s the key to living for God's glory.  The Lord is always the filter of all I do… will it, can it bring Glory to his name? May we learn to live that way, think that way? This week we will look at the second part of our Mandate… How do we glorify God? By Making Disciples. Can’t wait to see you Sunday!

Pastor Randy

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faithful together

January 2, 2018

Hey faith family! It's time to get back into the regular routine. The tree is down and left overs are gone.. I am so ham and turkey weary! It’s time to reboot and move forward into 2018.   Let's start out the new year committed to our Sunday Worship gathering and Wednesday nights where there is something for everyone. We have a great meal so that you do not have to cook, the children and students have ministry meetings and adults will have a study to attend.

This Sunday we will begin a series on our Missional Mandate “Identity”. I will simply take our Mandate and Values and biblically walk through them over the coming weeks. The Mandate and Values were formed out of the Study conducted by a special church needs task force made up from members of our church and the staff.  Auxano, a team from Lifeway, led the church through the process.

What is our Missional Mandate?
       
        Our Missional Mandate is to glorify God and make disciples by inviting our
        community to enjoy fulfilling lives in Christ.

What are our Values?

        Speaking His Truth - teaching biblical truth, equipping for life
        Sharing Our Hope - telling our stories, winning our world
        Showing the Way - leading the next generation, following God's path together
        Soothing Their Hurt - loving people, caring for their needs

I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we start the new year faithful together in Worship, Serving and Growing.

I love you church!
Pastor Randy

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Reflection 

December 27, 2017                

That is what we find ourselves doing in the last week of the year. The tree is coming down, presents being returned for a bigger size… okay, that’s just for me.  But, if you are like me, I am reflecting.

I have been your pastor for a month now and I find myself looking back at the parties, dinners, trying to get names right. But I only look back as a means to go forward.  That is what a new year brings.. new starts, new opportunities….fresh goals!  Anyone need a fresh start?

You see sometimes we reflect on the wrong things. Things we can no longer control.
The former things. I love Isaiah 43:18-19:

“remember not the former things, nor consider the days of old.
Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? 
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."

See the command?.. don’t look back!! Look forward! If you keep looking back you are going to miss what I want to do! What I WILL do! Let us live with that type of anticipation!

O God do a new thing in my life!  Do a new thing at Liberty Park! Do you sense that, church? New things in your life and the life of God’s church? Read the last line of the verse again. It can be read two ways.  First, nothing is going to get in the way of what God is going to do.. NOTHING. His will cannot be thwarted.   Secondly, it says that tough times could be ahead but His promise is to provide a way through the dry desert times. Which is true? Both are true. Because that is how life flows. And, in the Desert is where God does his new things to teach us and mold us to be like Jesus. Embrace that… I hope to see you on Sunday the 31st as we consider the new year before us. Sandra and I look forward to growing relationships deeply in 2018.

LOOKING FORWARD,
Pastor Randy
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A Baby is Born

December 18, 2017

I remember in February of 1992 when Sandra told me the news that we were going to have a baby. Just the anticipation of this child (Maggie) shifted our conversations, our schedules, and our priorities. Then the day came when she would be delivered. It was not the smoothest of deliveries. Almost 20 hours from the time we arrived at the hospital, doctors who never disagreed were disagreeing on whether to take Sandra to surgery. We had complete confidence in our doctor who was a Believer and stayed the whole 20 hours at the hospital with us watching 15 episodes of Bonanza as we waited on sweet Maggie to be born. Twenty-five years later, I look at Maggie and still experience the joy of the moment I first held her.  She did change our lives.  She did change our priorities. She did change our conversation.

A Savior is Born

Could you imagine that night? A stable, animals around, the stench in the air? I don’t think this is how Mary envisioned the birth of her child, but this is exactly how God envisioned it. A humble birth, announced to shepherds first, and not to the palace that was just a few miles away. Luke 2 says that once the shepherds told Mary the news concerning the angels' proclamation, she kept it and pondered it in her heart. The child she was holding was God with a heartbeat and kidneys! Immanuel, God with us.  A child that would not only change Mary and Joseph’s priorities, schedules and conversation but those of the entire world! This child was simply born to die. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)  He experienced the wages of sin… DEATH. The payment, the debt…. Personalize it…MY debt.  YOUR debt.  He became MY sin on the cross!  As we prepare to come to God’s table this Sunday, reflect this week on this indescribable gift to you! Celebrate the gift of HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE this child, this SAVIOR, THIS KING brings and offers to a broken world needing not some good advice, not three ways to have a happy day, but a SAVIOR. “And you shall call His name Jesus, For He will save His people from their sins.”

Has He changed your life?  Your priorities?  Your conversations?

Merry Christmas, Church Family! I love you!

Pastor Randy

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Bargains

December 11, 2017

It's really beginning to look a lot like Christmas…everywhere I go! Stores are saturating us with the news of BIG SALES.  Some stores have dancing guys, twirling signs, wearing costumes that look like Santa and there was a dancing gorilla on 280 pointing the way to the store that hired him.  They constantly are competing for our attention. The signs said “50% off til Christmas.” Some stores were touting the “cheapest gifts” in town! Hey guys buy your wife a gift and tell her…. “Yeah it was cheap, that’s why I bought this for you!”  Enjoy the couch! We can’t get by with…. “Well it was the thought that counts right?”

Take some time this week and reflect on God’s gift to us. The difference in experiencing great joy this Christmas is  seeing the difference between what we want and what we truly need. Our Heavenly Father did not offer us a cheap gift. He did not put a monetary value on His gift to us. He offered himself.  He offered himself on a cross. His gift was not cheap but free… lasting for eternity. Why do we invest in temporal things? Why do we give things that after the new year lose their impact?  My hope is that we would be most generous to God’s Kingdom this Christmas.

As I have begun my ministry here at LPBC, I see we are behind in our budget and missions offering . I have always led churches that have exceeded budgets and missions goals. I want to encourage you that as we approach the end of the year to be generous to your church and our missions offering. We are halfway to our goal of $25,000. We should knock that out of the park! Let's show our children, and others what we truly value - God and his Kingdom!

My prayer is that we finish the year strong as a testimony to our Savior of what really matters in our lives.  Can't wait to see you this Sunday!

Pastor Randy

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ROOM

December 4, 2017

This past week, my sweet wife Sandra and I were sitting down and filling our calendars for Christmas.  Family dinners, Sunday School parties, staff get togethers, friends and not to mention all the gifts to be purchased…..seems like there is not enough room for all of the joyful festivities, but we figured it all out.  Isn’t that true for all of life?

It is not just Christmas that is busy, but everyday seems to be filled with rushing to make a meeting, beating a deadline, getting the house cleaned, recitals, homework ... there seems to be very little room for error as it would throw the whole day out of whack. Do you know that what is true with making room for our calendar is true for our heart?   Spiritually making room. Unfortunately, like our day, we struggle to find time to pause for what is most important - meeting with our Savior. Finding room for HIM.  I am reminded of these words:
 
“JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME
LET EARTH RECEIVE HER KING
LET EVERY HEART PREPARE HIM ROOM
AND HEAVEN AND NATURE SING!”
                                                                           
This carol reminds us that room must be prepared. Consider your life today. Isn’t  it true that Jesus sometimes exists in the margins? That he is peripheral rather than central? Can we confess to each other that our hearts are full.. full of the wrong things? May we begin now to prepare Him room by crowning Him as Lord and King of our lives. He will suffer no rivals, He will entertain no competitors. In preparing him room, we are at the same time being prepared for true, even “Great Joy.” 

May this week bring you great joy as you personally worship and be reminded that God Himself, put on our flesh to be our substitute and pay the price for the gift we could never purchase… SALVATION. That’s why Heaven and Nature Sings!!

Pastor Randy

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The Light That Leads Us Home

November 28, 2017

Faith Family, what a great start to our celebration of Advent this past Sunday! As we celebrated the Hope of Christmas, we look forward to this Sunday as we talk about Christmas Peace. What a timely subject in a world full of chaos. 
 
I also want to remind you that these are great opportunities to invite those you know who are looking for or needing a church home. "Christmas in the Park" on December 10th is also another touch we can have in the community. Please take an invite card Sunday and personally invite someone to this special musical celebration of "The Light That Leads Us Home."
 
Our Christmas Missions offering goal is $25,000 this year. 100% of this offering goes for the support of our missionaries around the world... no administration cost is taken from your gift.
 
May we be found faithful as we finish the year strong! I love you church family!

Pastor Randy