Workday: Help Us Make More Room For More Kids!

For some who don't have kids fifth grade and below, you may not realize that the number of children in our Randall Kids Track have been growing in leaps and bounds!

Men, we need your help. We need your tool belts, your brains, and your brawn. We also believe this would be a great way for men to get to know one another. So Monday, December 12, we will have a Men's Connect Event and workday. There will be two primary times to join us. For those with a flexible work schedule we will begin construction in the morning from 9 to 12 and provide lunch.. For those who can join us in the evening we will provide dinner and work from 5 to 8 PM. The bottom line, we need to complete this project in one day.

The kids have a Christmas pageant coming up, and we are going to expand the stage to make more room for them. We are going to retrofit the choir loft by removing pews, and building some movable stage risers that will allow us to use that space in multiple ways at different times throughout the year. Chairs will be able to be used when the choir sings, and movable stage risers will allow us to accommodate band equipment, musicians with music stands, handbells, or even the Christmas tree.

These are exciting times for Randall Church. It's so encouraging to see our people investing themselves in the next generation. And it won't take long. Just blink, and these will be the leaders of our congregation. Come help us "set the stage" for them. :-)

Pastor Milo

What Are You [Not] Doing For Christmas?

Here is what very few people are able to do for Christmas, or even for that matter, the month of December... ...Rest. 

The late Steve Jobs was not a theologian, evangelist, or pastor, but he was once credited with saying: "Deciding what NOT to do is as important as deciding what to do." I tend to agree.

We know that every single person in our congregation is busy. Every one of you is trying to schedule holiday parties at work, see your kids in their school's winterland music production, and then if there is time maybe even get in some gift shopping for the ones you love. In the end, each of has to decide what we will NOT be able to participate in this year. 

Rather than make a list of the things we are NOT doing as a church this year, here is what we ARE doing, and the schedule of events for Randall Church in the month of December. We have intentionally left out some things from this list that many specific groups are involved with. While those are great, and we will promote them elsewhere, the goal here is to address the things that affect the entire congregation, as well as the anticipated guests to our church will have join us in the month of December. 

Here are a few things to be aware of as you look to find your place here at Randall this Christmas season.

1. Sunday December 11th - Randall Baptisms and Grace Stories 
 - We look forward to some visitors and guests joining us at our regular 10:15amworship gathering to see their loved ones take a step of faith in believers baptism. Come anticipating stories of lives changed. God uses our stories to tell His own narrative of Grace for all mankind.

2. Sunday December 18th - Randall Kids Christmas Pageant
 - We look forward to have oodles of grandparents and extended family coming to see their little ones dressed like the cutest sheep and chubby little wise men that you ever saw! TIME CHANGE ALERT: Our worship gathering will begin at 10:00am to accommodate for an extended music presentation from the kids and a cookie reception will follow. What a great day for the entire family!

3. Saturday December 24th - Christmas Eve Gathering
- We hope that you will join us for a wonderful community and family tradition we celebrate together on Christmas Eve. Our worship gathering will begin at 6:30pm and will structured in a way to keep the attention of every child in the room, as well as finish with the traditional candlelight singing of Silent Night. Celebrate with us as we reset and remind ourselves of that first worship service in the little town of Bethlehem. 

4. Sunday December 25th - Christmas Day Gathering
 - Many will decide to stay home and celebrate Jesus' birthday around their individual Christmas trees, but we do want to have an opportunity for those who want to come together Christmas morning to do so. TIME CHANGE ALERT: Our worship gathering will begin at 11:15am, and will once again be structured in a way to keep the entire family's attention. We will get you out the door in plenty of time to make your lunch appointment over the river and through the woods at Grandmother's house. Our desire is for your home to be a great start to the Christmas morning, and for those who choose to join us at 6301 Main Street this year will support and further enhance the excitement of a wonderful day of celebration of Jesus Christ!

Christmas Is Coming!

Pastor Milo

Book Review: The Cost Of Discipleship

I was a high school wrestler. I wasn't very good,  I was pretty small and underpowered compared to my competitors, but I did work really hard at it, and competed on the varsity squad all four years. In the end, I'm probably a better coach than I am a wrestler, because I had to learn the techniques of the sport. One of the things I learned and taught my guys when I did some coaching later on, is that very few wrestlers take a shot on the opening whistle. Most competitors like to dance a little bit to try to figure out what their opponent is thinking. The few wrestlers who immediately go in for a double-leg takedown on the opening whistle for instance, are usually made up of entirely different caliber. These are your elite competitors. They understand the element of surprise.
I had the same feeling when opening up this book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer called The Cost Of Discipleship.  Now here was a writer who understood the element of surprise. “Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church.” Wow, that got my attention. Did it get yours? Bonhoeffer goes on, “Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything, they say, so everything can remain as it was before.” The problem with this type of thinking, is that it proposes that the idea of grace itself is sufficient enough to forgive us of our sins. Perhaps going to church for a few hours on a Sunday, is the only duty that a Christian must fulfill? Perhaps that's all it takes to be assured that one’s sins are forgiven?  Dietrich Bonhoeffer adamantly disagrees with this line of thought.
“Costly grace is the Incarnation of God…it is therefore the living word, the Word of God.” The problem the author has with cheap grace is that it actually pulls people away from understanding the great cost, and the great sacrifice, and the great value of grace for the believer. He even goes as far to say: “the word of cheap grace has been the ruin of more Christians than any commandment of works.” What would be the alternative? If this is what is going to be the ruin of the church, then how should we proceed? As the book is appropriately titled, Bonhoeffer is making a case for  a highly intensive form of discipleship. If a believer is truly going to be a disciple, then they will have to be uncomfortable. Not only uncomfortable in a few circumstances, but perhaps uncomfortable their entire lives.
“Peter had to leave the ship and risk his life on the sea, in order to learn both his weakness and the almighty power of His Lord. If Peter had not taken the risk, he would have never learnt the meaning of faith.” If I continue with my wrestling competitor analogy, this is A competitor who not only loves the element of surprise, but loves the biggest challenge imaginable. As a writer, it appears that Bonhoeffer is is an author who loves the extreme  situations. Without question he was a man who experienced his own extreme situations. As a Christ follower his own life was precarious on numerous occasions. However, as an author, it appears he wants to push his reader to experience more. If you and I were given the opportunity to take the risk and walk on the water as  Peter did, or stay in the boat, Bonhoeffer would  seem to be pushing us out of the boat with great anticipation for what God was about to do.
It seems as though this author places very little value in this world on the things that seem to matter so much to each of us. “The life discipleship can only be maintained so long as nothing is allowed to come between Christ and ourselves. Not of the law, no personal piety, nor even the world.” The author uses the disciples as an example. He points to ways in which their possessions, and things of this world pulled their hearts away from Jesus.  If it was easy for the disciples to be pulled away, how much easier will it be for you and I?
I find this book to be very moving. It’s compelling to read between the lines of the character of a man who has given absolutely everything for the cause of Christ.  His approach is direct and to the point which is both refreshing and hard to swallow at the same time. Where am I to begin? Is there any way to make the connection between 21st century American culture where I literally have nothing to fear? Total and complete abandon is something I know very little about. In many ways this read makes me feel like I did on the wrestling team in days of old. I'm on the team, but I have no idea how to make the leap from “competitor,” to “champion.” I’m not sure if that’s what the author intended. Did he intend to set the goal out of reach?