Hallowed Be Thy Name

As most of you know Robin and I are soon to become grandparents for the first time. Our son Robbie and his wife Kelli are expecting their first child near the end of January. To say that we are excited is an understatement! We can hardly wait for that little one to arrive so that we can love and spoil them! In the next week or so, we will have “The Big Reveal Party” where we will all find out if this blessing from God will be a little boy or a little girl.
 
One of the things that we have all enjoyed in this time of anticipation is thinking about names for the baby. Robbie and Kelli have already given this a lot of thought. They have names picked out for both a boy or a girl. The names they have chosen have special meaning for them and will serve as a way to honor and identify that child for their entire life.
 
You know, there's great power in a name. It says who we are, it's what we are known by to all those around us. When you get to know someone, and you learn their name, you learn something deeper about who they are. And there's nothing so powerful as the name of our Lord God. There are over 256 names given in the Bible for Jesus, some used exclusively for Him and some used interchangeably with God the Father.
 
Meditating on God's names helps me to adore Him, to worship Him.  His names represent His character.  Our God is one God, but He is so complex that no one name can adequately capture who He is.  God desires for us to know Him and so He has chosen to reveal Himself through many different names. These names are a gift to us; each one has the power to draw us closer to Him, to help us better understand who He is.  The better we know Him, the more we are able to love and worship Him.
 
This week as we continue our look at the Lord’s Prayer, we will look at the phrase, “Hallowed be Thy name.” I used to think those words were a call to worship and pretty much dismissed them as part of the preface to the actual prayer. I hadn’t realized that they are the first petition (or request) the prayer makes. In those four prayerful words, “Hallowed be thy name,” we are appealing to God to help us keep His commandment about not dishonoring
His name! That sentence, however, means far more than just not cursing or committing perjury after promising to tell the truth.
 
I hope you will join us on Sunday as we explore the question, “Why should I hallow
God’s name?”
 
Randy

Our Father

The Lord’s Prayer.  Most of you have known the Lord’s Prayer; the Our Father, for many, many years.  Maybe when you were a child, you memorized it in Sunday school.  We recite it every Sunday in our worship services.  Most of you can pray it even without thinking about it.  “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth…” and you don’t even think about it.  But these are profound statements. 
 
Actually, The Lord’s Prayer is several prayers. Each phrase is really a prayer in and of itself.  With these familiar words, Jesus not only taught how to pray, but he described the God to whom we are praying. The prayer reveals to us the God He wants us all to know and love! Each of those phrases, if you look at them in detail provide for us powerful picture of who God is but also serve as a means of more profound connection with God and a source of inner peace. 
 
So on Sunday, we’re going to begin a new series of messages taking a detailed look at the Lord’s Prayer.  We will examine each individual phrase and what it means to your life.  I believe that as you begin to better understand the Lord’s Prayer and you don’t just pray it; you live it – it will change your life.
 
This week we will examine the opening phrase of the prayer, “Our Father who art in heaven.”
 
I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday!
Randy
 

He's Still Got the Whole World in His Hands

 

How many of us have listened to the local, national and global news and wondered, “What in the world is going on?”  Just this week there’s been another mass shooting. Political rancor seems to be at an all-time high. There are daily reports of violence in the streets of our neighboring cities. Without a firm foundation of biblical truth, we can easily be overcome with fear and despair.

 

When I was growing up, we used to sing: “He’s got the whole world in His hands,” and I believed it.  I could just picture God’s huge hands holding the world.  Then we grow up, get married, have a family, get a job, and as life starts happening, we slowly lose focus of this.  Careers, problems, bills, responsibilities, and problems grow bigger and bigger.  And as that happens, the hands of God seem to look smaller and smaller. 

 

The good news is God’s hands have not changed.  What happens is our outlook changes.  He still has the whole world in His hands!

 

Do not lose sight of God’s hands.  When the news threatens to dislodge your peace or cause despair, when the ups and downs of daily life cause stress and frustration, remember who holds you in His hands.  Just keep singing, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.”

 

See you Sunday!

 

Randy

 

My Story

We are finishing up an amazing week here at the church.  Each day over 80 youth have filled our building as through worship, study, prayer, missions, and fun around the theme, My Story, No Filter. They have learned that God loves us and cares about us and the story of our lives just the way we are, no filter needed.  As I have witnessed the energy and enthusiasm on the faces of all the youth as they worshipped and listened to our speaker and leaders I have been reminded of God’s unconditional love. As I watched the young people enthusiastically engaging in mission and service activities in our church and community I have been reminded that God calls us to help make a difference in the story of other people’s lives.
 
There are so many people to thank for making this amazing week possible - staff, leaders, and volunteers.  This is what makes our church so amazing; many people using their talents and gifts to reach out to the youth of our community to the honor and glory of God.  The effort of all these dedicated servants has made an impact on the lives of these youth that will not soon fade.
 
A couple of remarkable results have come from Youth Week. Our young people packaged 20,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger. This makes 170,000 meals over the last ten years! And on Thursday our youth assembled and packaged 420 hygiene kits that will go to support the work of UMCOR. Finally, 11 young people who did not own a Bible of their own were presented with their very own Bible! The support of this entire congregation makes all of these ministries possible. Thank you!
 
Please plan to join us on Sunday for our Youth Sunday worship services. We will have services at 8:30 and 11:00 am. Our youth will be leading the services and sharing with the entire congregation their passion for the Lord.  The 11:00 AM service will feature one combined service so that the entire New Creation family can worship together and enjoy the service our youth have prepared. Please make a special effort to be here to support them.
 
See you Sunday!
 
Randy

Walking Obediently

Over the last several weeks we have been in a series called Walking in the Way. Jesus once described our faith as walking a road. Matthew 7:13-14 says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” This is what this series has been about; how to walk this road that Jesus points us to; the path that actually leads to life.
 
Each week we have looked at one of the best places to learn how to walk this road, the book of psalms. We have learned how to walk blamelessly with God by staying in community with God’s people and immersing ourselves in God’s Word. We have learned to walk confidently with God even in times of trouble through when we remember His faithfulness and His greatness.
 
This week we are going to look at a third thing the psalms tell us is essential to walking the path that leads to life, walking obediently. Obedience is a difficult word for many of us. We think rules are meant to be broken. We think the speed limit sign is a suggestion. We mix the colors with the whites when we do the laundry. But what about in our walk with Jesus? There have been times in my life when I have walked disobediently with God. And in those times, I’ve found myself on this downhill, easy to walk road, that ultimately leads to a place of utter destruction. But as I walk obediently with God, even though often it is not as easy, I find I’m walking on a road that leads to life; that leads to joy.
 
I hope you will join us as we look at how we can walk obediently with God and be free for this joyful obedience.
 
Randy
 

Walking Confidently

As we strive to walk with God there are times when that walk is easy. The path is smooth and level. The journey is without any obstacle or complication. When everything is going well, it’s easy to believe in God’s faithful love and that He indeed is working out His plans for our lives.
 
But what about when the walk is tough? When things aren’t going well? When the path is hard and steep and fraught with danger and trouble? When our boss berates us, when our kids disobey us, when our spouse ignores us, and when our health fails us, has God abandoned us? Are His plans still in motion? How can we walk confidently even in the midst of all the problems?
 
That is our question this week as we continue our series Walking in the Way. Thankfully we are not alone when it comes to walking through trouble. King David is one of the heroes of the Bible and yet he experienced many times of trouble. He wrote many of the psalms, many of which were songs of lament in the midst of trouble. We will look at one of the most beautiful and powerful of those Psalms, Psalm 138.
 
We often struggle to be thankful and confident when we’re disappointed or hurt. We hold God responsible for our troubles and easily forget all the ways in which He has blessed us. Psalm 138 reminds us of the many reasons we can be genuinely grateful, without a hint of resentment or bitterness, even in the midst of our hardships. As we take a look at this psalm we will find the many reasons that we like David can walk confidently with God even in the midst of troubles.
 
We all face troubles and difficulties in life. We are in one of three camps. We are either coming out of trouble. We are in the midst of trouble. Or whether we know it or not we are heading towards times of trouble. Whatever road you are walking right now this message is for you. We will find that as David even when we are surrounded by trouble, we can confidently say, “Surely the Lord would work out the plans for his life.” How? By reflecting on God’s character.
 
Invite a friend and don’t miss worship this Sunday!
 
Randy

Walking Blamelessly

A Message from the Pastor

Do you like to walk? When we lived in Sterling one of the things I enjoyed was the walking trail that ran behind our parsonage. The W&OD Trail was an old railroad line that had been converted into a public trail. The trail was nicely paved, neatly kept, and well lighted. It ran nearly 45 miles from Shirlington near Washington, DC west through Sterling all the way to Purcellville, VA. I loved being able to walk right out of our back door, take the path cut through the woods and pick up the trail. I logged many miles running and walking along that trail through the years. The walking/running was good physical exercise and the beauty of God’s creation and seeing God’s handy-work was great for one’s spirit. I would often listen to uplifting praise music or spend time in prayer with God.
 
Along the trail, you would meet people of all ages some walking, some running, some riding bikes, some walking dogs, some walking as families and others by themselves. Some seemed to be on a mission as they walked, and others appeared to have no agenda. Some would smile and say “Hi” or ask, “How is your day?” and others wouldn’t even look your way.
 
When I think of “walking,” the similarities between walking physically and walking spiritually are a lot alike. Followers of Jesus often use the phrase “walk with God” to describe their relationship with God. The spiritual journey is a pilgrimage, a walk. Throughout the song and prayer book of the Bible, the Book of Psalms, the songwriters and poets use “walk” to describe this reality as well.
 
In these next four weeks of July, we at New Creation will look at four dynamics of this “walk with God.” We will examine four of the most well-known psalms in the Bible and explore what they teach us about walking in the Way.
 
This week we will begin the series with a look at Psalm 1 and how it teaches us to “Walk Blamelessly.” I pray that you will join me in praying for this week’s message as we begin this new series and I pray that you invite your friends and family to join us each week.
 
Randy
 

The Paradox of Freedom

A Message from the Pastor

On Wednesday of next week, on the 4th of July we will celebrate our nation’s 242nd birthday. It was nearly two and a half centuries ago that the United States of America was born. A nation based on the ideals of liberty, responsibility, Godliness, and the freedom to become what God intended us to become was a new and revolutionary idea.

The celebration of our nation’s birthday is really a celebration of freedom. We celebrate the precious gift of freedom we have because of the price others paid. You see, we must remember that freedom isn’t free. Freedom is very expensive. It has come to us because of the blood of many brave men and women shed in defense of our freedom. It has cost some people everything, including their lives. Freedom isn’t free, but it is infinitely valuable.
 
On Sunday we will exercise our freedom and gather to worship here in God’s house at New Creation UMC.  As we do we will celebrate another form of freedom; a freedom that has also been purchased for us by the shedding of blood; the blood of God’s only Son.  Scripture says, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:35-36)

On Sunday we will remember and celebrate His sacrifice that offers us that freedom as we observe Holy Communion.  If you want to be truly free, free from all that has tied your life down and buried you under a mountainous weight of fear and guilt, then this Sunday’s message is for you.

See you on Sunday!

Randy
 

Shipwrecked

Have you ever been out to sea during a storm? A storm feels much more intense when you are at the mercy of the sea, being tossed about, unsure if you will ever see blue skies again. In our scripture from Acts, Paul and other prisoners find themselves in a big storm at sea. They spent 15 days in a horrible storm until they are shipwrecked.
 
Maybe you haven't been in a shipwreck on sea, but perhaps you have felt shipwrecked due to a broken relationship, life not turning out like you had planned, finances sinking you, grief overwhelming you, or an illness sapping you. These storms seem just as intense as a storm on the water, leaving you without much hope.
 
Paul models for us how to face a storm head on, by keeping his trust and faith in Christ. Beginning on Sunday evening our Vacation Bible School participants will be looking at how Jesus rescues us from the shipwreck. Please be in prayer for our Vacation Bible School leaders, volunteer, children and their families as they discover God's love in amazing ways.
 
Rosemary Dorow will be bringing the message at our Modern service, about Doing a New Thing and sharing a new endeavor our church is undertaking called Next Level Innovations. We look forward to worshiping our amazing God with you.
 
Blessings,
 
Stephanie

Doing a New Thing

A Message from the Pastor

 
This weekend I along with Pastor Stephanie and our other lay delegates will be attending the 2017 Virginia United Methodist Annual Conference in Hampton.  This is a very significant time in the life of the church as clergy and lay delegates from all over the conference convene to do the business of our Conference. 

Each year when conference arrives it is a wonderful mix of business and inspiration.  This year will be no different.  The theme of this year’s conference is “Servant Leaders Making a Difference;” guided by the scriptural passage of 1 Peter 4:10: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 

It is such a blessing to be a part of this great conference of the United Methodist Church and to see the amazing things God is doing through our church here in Virginia and around the world.  I pray that God will continue to inspire us to do our part to further the work of His kingdom here in our Western Branch community and united with our sisters and brothers all around the world.

On Sunday we will have one of New Creation’s servant leaders, Rosemary Dorow, share the message at our Praise and Traditional services. Rosemary heads up our 2020 Vision Task Force. She will be introducing the congregation to a new and exciting process called Next Level Innovations (NLI) that our church has been chosen to participate in that will incorporate the work already accomplished by the Task Force and help us identify and implement some innovations that will propel our church into an even greater future of dynamic ministry. You will not want to miss her presentation!

See you Sunday
Randy

The Provision of the Holy Spirit

To follow Jesus, one must be a disciple, ambassador, and member.  Following Jesus is more than just believing in him, it is belonging.  Believing without belonging makes us spiritual orphans!  To truly realize what it means to follow Christ, we need to be part of a church family.  The church is the body of Christ.  A member is only valuable when it is connected to the body.  Therefore, if we truly want to realize the power of Jesus in their lives, we must be connected to a church family.  Many see the church as a building or an event, but more than that, it is a family in relationship with God.  There is a significant difference between attending a church service and being a member of a church family. 
 
This week as we continue our series Catch the Spirit we are going to be looking at one of greatest gifts that the Holy Spirit provides in our lives; the gift of a spiritual family. As we allow ourselves to be filled with the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit then we have a bond of unity with other believers.
 
The early church is a powerful example of this. We read in Acts 2:42-47 that after Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles there was an overwhelming since of unity. In those powerful verses we catch a glimpse of the Spirit’s provision:

  •  “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…”
  •  “They devoted themselves…to the fellowship”
  • “They devoted themselves… to the breaking of bread”
  •  “They devoted themselves…to prayer”
  •  “They gave to anyone as he had a need…”
  •  “They praised God and enjoyed the favor of all the people”

 
And the scripture tells the result was nothing short of miraculous: “Everyday, the number in their group continued to grow as the Lord added those who were being saved.”
 
You cannot truly follow Jesus without being connected in relationship to a church family.  Others may feel that they don’t need to be connected, but they will never be able realize Christ in their lives without a group to belong to.  You can’t be a football player without belonging to a team. You can’t be a soldier without belonging to a platoon.  You can’t be a bee without belonging to a hive.  Who do you know who claims to know Christ but does not belong to a church family? 
 
Join your church family in worship this Sunday as we Catch the Spirit!
 
Randy

The Power of the Holy Spirit

Did you know:  That yesterday, May 24 was a special day in United Methodist History?  Two hundred eighty years ago on May 24, 1738, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement, “Went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street (London), where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation: And an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."
 
That experience not only transformed Wesley’s heart, but it also ignited a movement from which our theological and doctrinal heritage as Methodists was born.
 
Wesley’s “heart-warming” experience seems very similar to me of the experience that the disciples had as they gathered together 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection on the Day of Pentecost. Suddenly they heard the sound of a mighty rushing wind. They saw tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. These were miraculous signs of the gift that Jesus had promised, the gift of the Holy Spirit. And as with Wesley the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit changed everything!
 
This group of frightened, uneducated disciples empowered by the Holy Spirit then went on to change the world by sharing the message of the Good News of the gospel.
 
Do you ever wish you could have that kind of power in your life? The good news is that you can. The truth is that Pentecost is your birthright as a follower of Jesus. Here’s what Paul says in Romans. He says, “The very same power, the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you.” (Romans 8:11)
 
This Sunday we will begin a three-part message series entitled, Catch the Spirit. We will be talking about the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. This week we will look at the power that the Spirit gives us.
 
Please also take time this weekend to stop and to say a prayer for all our troops and their families.  Pray a special prayer of thanksgiving for those who have made the ultimate
sacrifice and their families who mourn.  If you are not traveling, I hope you will join us for worship on Sunday as we will be observing Memorial Day with a special litany and prayer
of remembrance.
 
Randy

Pentecost

Fifty days after Jesus' resurrection, the disciples experienced another holy and crazy event on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down to earth in the form of a mighty, rushing wind and as tongues of fire. Jesus had promised throughout his ministry the Holy Spirit was coming to be with the disciples until the end of the age, and finally this promise came true. 


Join us at our 8:30 a.m. praise service as we look at the scripture from Acts that describes the first Pentecost and as we explore how we continue to benefit from the Holy Spirit. 
 
Our confirmation students will be leading us in worship at our 11 a.m. blended service in the Sanctuary as they are confirmed in the faith and become full members of the church. What a celebration for our church, as many have taught these young people and nurtured them in the faith, and now they are ready to take the vows of membership for themselves.
 
Please wear red, a color used to symbolize the Holy Spirit, as we celebrate all God is doing in and among us. We worship an amazing God who continues to transform each of us through the Holy Spirit!
 
Pastor Stephanie

 

A Model of Motherhood

t was Sunday at church and a little girl was to recite the Scripture that she had memorized for the occasion.  When she got in front of the congregation, the sight of hundreds of eyes staring at her caused her to freeze and forget her memory verse.
 
Every line that she had so carefully rehearsed faded from her mind and she stood there unable to utter a single word.  Sitting there in the front row, her mother was almost as frantic as the little girl.  The mother gestured, moving her lips, trying to form the words for the child, but it did no good.
 
Finally, the mother in desperation whispered the opening phrase of the memorized Scripture: “I am the light of the world…”
 
Immediately the child’s face lit up with a smile, as she stood tall and now said with supreme confidence: “My mother is the light of the world.”
 
Sunday is Mother’s Day; a day that we set aside once a year to honor mothers, a day to show our appreciation and gratitude to the one who has given up so much of their lives for you and me.
 
But you know mothers deserve more than just one day to honor all that they mean to us. Moms these days have a pretty tough job, don’t they? They have to juggle all of the responsibilities of children, home, family, community, work, school, church. Mother’s doctor us when we are sick. They console us when we are hurt. They comfort us when we are afraid. They love us with an unconditional love.
 
John Killinger in his book Lost in Wonder, Love and Praise includes the following affirmation:
“I believe in the love of all mothers, and its importance in the lives of the children they bear. It is stronger than steel, softer than down, and more resilient than a green sapling on the hillside. It closes wounds, melts disappointments, and enables the weakest child to stand tall and straight in the fields of adversity. I believe that this love, even at its best, is only a shadow of the love of God, a dark reflection of all that we can expect of him, both in this life and in the next.”
 
I hope that each of you will pause a truly thank God for the wonderful gift that he has given each of us in our mothers.  They are truly a light in our world!  Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers!  We love you!!

Randy

It's About Time

"I have only just a minute,
Only sixty seconds in it
Forced upon me, can’t refuse it,
Didn’t seek it,
Didn’t choose it
But it’s up to me to use it
I must suffer if I lose it
Give account if I abuse it
Just a tiny little minute
But eternity is in it!"
 
-Dr. Benjamin Mays
 

This little poem by Dr. Benjamin Mays has a critical message for us.  It is a powerful reminder to us of the value of time.  Time is one of our most valuable commodities.  Each day, each hour, each minute is a gift from God, and we are called to be stewards of that time.
 
When was the last time that you slowed down long enough to give some serious thought to how you choose to use your time? 
 
On Sunday as we continue the first portion of our series God’s Plans…Our Hands we are going to turn our attention toward the stewardship of the gift of the time God has given us.  Our stewardship is the expression of our faith as we manage our lives and resources for God’s purposes. It is the wise management of who we are and all that we have, including
our time.
 
Please remember to prayerfully consider the Time and Talent Survey that you were given during worship last week. Bring your completed survey with you as together we will offer them to God as an expression of dedication and commitment as we receive the Lord’s Supper. If you did not receive a survey, we will have some available for you to complete on Sunday
or you may click on the "Time and Talent Survey" link below where you will find the document is attached.

 
I hope you will take the time to join us in worship on Sunday.  I promise you it will be time
well spent!
 
Blessings!
 
Randy

What's In Your Hand?

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others,
faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
 (1 Peter 4:10 NIV)

 
God has given you unique abilities, talents, and gifts. This bundle of talents is the thing God has given you that makes you who you are and sets you apart from other people.
 
If you think your talents are simply for you to make a lot of money, retire, and die, you’ve missed the point of your life. God gave you talents to benefit others.  And God gave other people talents that benefit you.
We’re all a part of the body of Christ, and each part matters. There are no insignificant people in the family of God. Whether you are a musician or an accountant, a teacher or a cook, God gave you those abilities to serve others.
 
You are a manager of the gifts God has given to you. They may be great or small in your eyes, but they matter to God. Are you using what He’s given you for the benefit of others to make the world a better place? Or are you just using those talents to benefit yourself?
 
On Sunday we will continue our stewardship emphasis as we look at how we use our talents to help God fulfill His purposes in this world.
 
We will also have the privilege of welcoming students, parents, and staff from KinderPrep into our 11:00 Traditional service as we celebrate Kinderprep Sunday.
 
See you Sunday
 
Randy

Restored

One of our favorite family traditions is Saturday breakfast. Since the boys were little most every Saturday morning we would get up and head to our favorite breakfast spot and enjoy a good breakfast together. In Wakefield we had the Virginia Diner and their famous ham biscuits. In Danville we loved Biscuitville and Hardees and their famous chicken biscuits. In Sterling our go to place was Joe’s Diner where they made the biggest and fluffiest pancakes ever. Back home here in Chesapeake we enjoy the Egg Bistro where I think they make the best meat lovers omelet I have ever had.
 
But for us Duncans the thing that makes Saturday breakfast so wonderful is not the food – as awesome as that is. It’s the MEMORIES we’ve made there—sharing the laughter and conversation around the table. Telling stories and sharing the joy of life together as a family. We’ve had some truly memorable BREAKFASTS in all of these places.
 
I mention this because this week we come to the end of our Change Ahead series—and in this final message we will be looking at a particularly memorable breakfast—one prepared by Jesus Himself. But at this meal Peter experienced much more than good food. He had a special conversation with Jesus in which Peter learned the steps he had to take to leave his most recent failure behind and continue on his journey to become more like our Master.
 
In our message I want to talk about how we can be restored when we fail—because like Peter we all fail. We all foul-up. And if we learn to respond correctly, as Peter did here, God can and will work in even our mistakes for our good. That’s one of the wonderful things about our faith. Our Lord specializes in second chances.
 
Randy

Peace Be With You

An artist was commissioned by a wealthy man to paint something that would depict peace. After a great deal of thought, the artist painted a beautiful country scene. There were green fields, birds were flying in the blue sky, and a lovely little village lay in a distant valley. The artist gave the picture to the man, but there was a look of disappointment on his face. The man said to the artist, “This isn’t a picture of true peace. It isn’t right. Go back and try again.
 
The artist went back to his studio, thought for several hours about peace, then went to his canvas and began to paint. When he finished, there was a beautiful picture of a mother, holding a sleeping baby in her arms, smiling lovingly at the child. He thought, surely, this is true peace, and hurried to give the picture to the wealthy man. But again, the wealthy man refused the painting and asked the painter to try again.
 
The artist returned to his studio. He was discouraged, he was tired, and he was disappointed. Again, he thought, he even prayed for inspiration to paint a picture of true peace. Then, all of a sudden, an idea came. He rushed to the canvas. When he finished, he hurried to the wealthy man. He gave the painting to the man. He studied it carefully for several minutes and said, “Now this is a picture of true peace.” He accepted the painting, paid the artist, and everyone was happy.
 
And what was this picture of true peace? The painting showed a stormy sea pounding against a cliff. The artist had captured the fury of the wind as it whipped black rain clouds with streaks of lightning. And in the middle of the picture, under a cliff, the artist had painted a small bird, safe and dry in her nest snuggled safely in the rocks. The bird was at peace amidst the storm that raged about her.
 
In our story for this week, Jesus’ disciples find themselves in the midst of a storm. They had witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion, and now they were gathered together behind closed doors. Fear deprived them of the peace they so desperately needed; fear they would be found by the Jews; fear of what the Jewish leaders were going to do; fear of life without hope, stripped them of any peace.
 
In the midst of the disciple’s storm, Jesus came and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Jesus imparts the peace the disciples so desperately needed. In the midst of the storm, He is with them, and they had nothing to fear.
 
Join us on Sunday as we learn how Jesus can give us that same peace in the midst of the storms and trials of life.
 
Randy

Walking With Jesus

A few years ago, the Chicago Tribune reported the story of a New Mexico woman who was frying tortillas when she noticed that the skillet burns on one of her tortillas resembled the face of Jesus. Excited, she showed it to her husband and neighbors, and they all agreed that there was a face etched on the tortilla and that it truly bore a resemblance to Jesus.

So the woman went to her priest to have the tortilla blessed. She testified that the tortilla had changed her life, and her husband agreed that she had been a more peaceful, happy, and loving woman since the tortilla had arrived. The priest, not accustomed to blessing tortillas, was somewhat reluctant but agreed to do it.

The woman took the tortilla home, put it in a glass case with piles of cotton to make it look like it was floating on clouds, built a special altar for it, and opened the little shrine to visitors. Within a few months, more than 8,000 people came to the shrine of the Jesus of the Tortilla, and all of them agreed that the face in the burn marks on the tortilla was the face of Jesus (except for one reporter who said he thought it looked like former heavy-weight boxing champion Leon Spinks).

This story reminds us that we can often see Jesus in unexpected places.  He often makes an appearance when we least expect it.  This Sunday we will consider a story where two disciples encountered Jesus in an unexpected way.  That encounter changed their life.  Where have you encountered Jesus recently?  I hope you will join us as we encounter Christ in the midst of our worship.

See you Sunday!

Pastor Randy

Easter Changes Everything

Can you think of a day that changed your life? Most of us probably can. The day that changed your life may have been a very good day, or it may have been a very bad day. One of my favorite "life-changing" days was July 7, 1984. That's the day when I married my beautiful wife, Robin. We spent a lot of time preparing for that day. We invited our family and friends, and we worked hard to make sure that everything would happen just as we had planned it. It was an awesome day! It was filled with happiness, joy, tears, laughter, and celebration; but it wasn't just the events of that day that changed my life. That day changed my life because it changed every day that has come after it. Our marriage started on that beautiful July evening, but it has been defined by all of the days that have happened since then. July 7, 1984, was a life-changing day because of what it started and what it made possible.
 
This weekend we remember the most important life-changing day; the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead. You see, the reality is that Easter Changes Everything. Without Easter, without the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, Christianity has no foundation. Without the work of Christ, we are lost in our sin and have no hope for eternity. In fact, the resurrection of Jesus changes every part of our lives, every day of our lives.
 
But we shouldn't allow the celebration and the reality of the resurrection to be forgotten when Easter is over. In fact, Easter should only be the beginning. If we take time to consider the work of Christ one weekend a year, then we are missing the point. The work of Jesus is supposed to be something that changes every part of our lives, every day of our lives.
 
The day that Robin and I were married was incredible. Every year on July 7 we take time to look back and remember that beautiful day, but our marriage is much more than a wedding day and a series of anniversaries. We spend the other three hundred and sixty-four days a year loving one another and fulfilling the promises that we made on that day. With each anniversary that passes, I love her more. Not because of the anniversary, but because that day marks another year that I have spent learning about her and loving her. When we love each other well, anniversaries become sweet celebrations of that love.
 
I pray that this will be a year when your love for Jesus grows. I hope that you spend the upcoming year learning who Jesus is and how you can love Him more deeply. I encourage you to take time each day to consider the life-changing benefits of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection. My marriage would not be worth anything if I only thought about it and enjoyed it on our anniversary. In the same way, your relationship with Jesus should be a daily relationship.
 
Try to take time each day to thank God for Jesus’ sacrifice and His awesome gift of salvation. As you learn to focus on Jesus throughout the year, Easter will become sweeter with each year that passes.
 
Easter Changes Everything. I pray that it changes everything for you, every day.


Randy

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