Archive for the ‘Pastor’s Ponderings’ Category

Hate Groups Do Not Know Jesus Christ

August 16, 2017

Below you will see my response to a post on Dobianchi.com (https://dobianchi.com/2017/08/14/charlottesville-donald-trump/) about the riots and the slurs and threats made against Jews and other minority groups in our America. Dobianchi is my son in law. He is the father of my two granddaughters and is deeply saddened when he thinks about his children (I am as well) having to face such prejudiced hatred toward them.  I pray for God to bless them daily by keeping them safe and for them to feel the love that is poured out on them by a Judeo Christian family.

Jeremy, thanks for this posting. What saddens me most is the hate message that the KKK and other White Supremacist organizations espouse. Especially when they claim to be Christian. Denouncing those organizations is just not enough. There needs to be coming from the Christian community a very loud and firm voice saying that anyone who participates in or condones these groups cannot not be a follower of Jesus Christ. Christianity given to us by the New Testament, the Gospel Message, the letters of Paul and others leave no room for hatred or condemnation of Jews much less any other race or religion. Jesus’ message in Matthew 22:36-40 is about how we put God and neighbor first in our lives. There is nowhere to be found a message that says we are to be filled with so much hate for a group of people that we should resort to violence to impose our will on them or destroy them. As a Pastor, I am bewildered by the assumption that because it was Jewish leadership that had Jesus crucified we should hate Jews. Jesus was a Jewish Rabbi. He was faithful to the law that He came to help us understand. His ministry was to help us see the compassion and service the law held people to and to help us see that man had made parts of the law unbearable. His love and compassion for humanity set us free to love and worship God as well as emphasized the need to be compassionate servants for and to our neighbors. Hug and kiss those semi-semite grandaughters of ours. As long as they know they are loved by God and by family they will be able to withstand those who follow hateful ideologies. Your Mother in law and Father in law love you.

 

 

Fruit of the Spirit

August 14, 2017

In light of recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia I got to thinking about a recent article I wrote. See Fruit of the Spirit below. As I watched television and heard all the talking heads voice their opinions and read postings on Facebook I wondered where Christ was in all of the Chaos. I believe He was in the denouncement of hate filled rhetoric. There is no doubt that the cause of the death and injury lie at the feet of the protesters on the far, far right. The white supremacist movement stands for everything that Jesus Christ fought against in His ministry. Paul in his letter to the Galatians caught the essence of Jesus’ ministry in his example of The Fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is nowhere to be found in the rioting and or hate speech that so many participate in, in media resource and outlets today. The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 give us another look at how our lives are to be lived. If you are a Christian in the world today you are called to be a peacemaker for then you shall be called a child of God!

Fruit of the Spirit.

If I quote scripture and say the Fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace,
Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control would  you then say well that is nine fruits and that should be plural as in Fruits of the Spirit. Paul, who wrote Galatians, was very specific about saying The Fruit of the Spirit. During our Bible Study we are watching a video by James Merritt about the Fruit of the Spirit. As I have thought about this and have incorrectly called it the Fruits of the Spirit, I can see why Paul specifically used the term Fruit instead of Fruits. If left to us to follow this scripture we would naturally look and see it as nine different categories of being in the Spirit. We would then start categorizing the Fruit and saying we have an abundance of this fruit but not enough of that fruit. Our judgement would be impaired by just that, our judgment. We could and probably would found churches on this fruit being more of who God calls us to be than any other and begin to ignore the others.There would be the Church of the Greater Fruits of Love, Joy and Peace. Then there would be the Church of the Minor Fruits of Patience, Kindness and Generosity. The Church of Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control would organize and advertise that they are the only and right Church of the Fruits of the Spirit.

So, if you don’t think it could happen just look at the division within the
Church world-wide. Many have staked a claim to having the only right way to worship God when He simply wants us to live in Love with our neighbor, to be filled with the Joy of knowing Him and His Son Jesus Christ, having the Peace that passes all understanding, being patient with those who will not commit, showing kindness to all, giving with a generous heart to those in need, committed to a life of faithfulness to His Way, reflecting the gentleness of Jesus to all and exampling self control in a world that says anything goes. Yes, I think Paul knew what he was doing when he wrote Fruit of the Spirit. Makes sense to me anyway. Being in Christ is being filled with the Holy Spirit and showing the world the whole Fruit of the Spirit.

Have a blessed Fruit filled day,

Pastor Randy

Fruit of the Spirit

July 5, 2017

Fruit of the Spirit.

If I quote scripture and say the Fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace,
Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control would  you then say well that is nine fruits and that should be plural as in Fruits of the Spirit. Paul, who wrote Galatians, was very specific about saying The Fruit of the Spirit. During our Bible Study we are watching a video by James Merritt about the Fruit of the Spirit. As I have thought about this and have incorrectly called it the Fruits of the Spirit, I can see why Paul specifically used the term Fruit instead of Fruits. If left to us to follow this scripture we would naturally look and see it as nine different categories of being in the Spirit. We would then start categorizing the Fruit and saying we have an abundance of this fruit but not enough of that fruit. Our judgement would be impaired by just that, our judgment. We could and probably would found churches on this fruit being more of who God calls us to be than any other and begin to ignore the others.There would be the Church of the Greater Fruits of Love, Joy and Peace. Then there would be the Church of the Minor Fruits of Patience, Kindness and Generosity. The Church of Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control would organize and advertise that they are the only and right Church of the Fruits of the Spirit.

So, if you don’t think it could happen just look at the division within the
Church world-wide. Many have staked a claim to having the only right way to worship God when He simply wants us to live in Love with our neighbor, to be filled with the Joy of knowing Him and His Son Jesus Christ, having the Peace that passes all understanding, being patient with those who will not commit, showing kindness to all, giving with a generous heart to those in need, committed to a life of faithfulness to His Way, reflecting the gentleness of Jesus to all and exampling self control in a world that says anything goes. Yes, I think Paul knew what he was doing when he wrote Fruit of the Spirit. Makes sense to me anyway. Being in Christ is being filled with the Holy Spirit and showing the world the whole Fruit of the Spirit.

Have a blessed Fruit filled day,

Pastor Randy

Advents Love, Joy, Hope and Peace

December 15, 2016

What a great time of year the Christmas Season presents to us. We are gifted with the celebration of the birth of Jesus. When we come into the Christmas Season we are often distracted by many activities such as parties, shopping, planning a family get together and for many of us earning a living still has to go on. In all of these distractions it truly is important that we focus on the saving graces God gifts us with and the opportunity he presents us with to experience all that the birth of Jesus means to this world.

Our tradition says that the four Sundays before Christmas day are a time when we celebrate the attributes that Jesus examples for us in His teachings and His life as a Jewish Rabbi. His love for us, His joy in living and teaching, the hope He gives us in eternal life and the peace that passes all understanding are those gifts. Gifts that our focus really needs to be pin pointed on.

The secular world that we live in is full of distractions that take our focus away from who Jesus call His children to be. If during these distractions we can think and act with our focus on Love, Joy, Hope and Peace we can and will be a people who example the life and Spirit of Jesus Christ to a secular world.

I hope all have a very blessed Christmas giving those gifts that Jesus gave to us. Through your Love for Christ show the world the Joy you have within you, the Hope for eternal life in heaven that is awaiting you and the Peace that His Holy Spirit can bring to you.

Have a blessed Christmas Season and a blessed New Year too,

Randy

Happy Birthday/Independence Day, July 4th 2015

July 3, 2015

 

Big crowds come out for Denver's Fourth of July celebration

Brady

Emilee, Tobey, Brady

While July 4th is the day we celebrate our national independence from British rule it is also the day we celebrate (in the Branch and Bellow household) the birth of our grandson Brady Bellow. Brady turns 14 this year and is growing up into a handsome and a very nice young man. I took this picture at Emilee’s graduation and it is the most recent one I have with Brady in it. I will confess that I surely am proud of all of my grandchildren and celebrate everyday because of the blessings and joy they bring into my life. Happy Birthday Brady Bellow. May God bless you and be with you all of your life.

Remember Jeremiah 29:11 – 11 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. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

If we seek Him with all of our heart we will example the fruit of the Spirit that Paul tells us about in Galatian’s 5:22:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self- control.

Love and Forgiveness in Jesus Christ at Mother Emmanuel AME Church

June 24, 2015

586

Sometimes I wonder if, as Christians, we really have a grasp on what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Then I hear the words of forgiveness from the relatives of the nine Christians that were slain in the Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. I know now that at least some of us who claim Christ as savior have the right understanding of the teachings of Jesus Christ. That may sound harsh but I am hearing more about the Confederate Flag in the media than I am about the words that were spoken by those who are grieving over lost loved ones.

How important those words and actions were to Charleston cannot be underestimated. Such a positive message in a time of shock and horror that reflects the true teachings of Jesus Christ. Words that may have been instrumental in preventing the rioting and looting that seem to follow such acts of violence. Charleston has shown the world the face of Jesus Christ even if the state still flies the Confederate Flag.

Wouldn’t it be a great thing if the news media were to not pay homage to the rantings of a young person that is obviously misguided by some sort of indoctrination into a hate filled belief system. What if they were to really focus on the reason why those who are suffering are willing to forgive such a horrendous act because of their belief in the teachings found in the Holy Bible.

No matter how people want to skew the message of Jesus Christ they cannot ever equate hate or hateful actions with Love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Matthew 22:37 -He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. ’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Because we love God and neighbor we can forgive. Everything depends upon it for us to have a peaceful nation, state and life.

Have a blessed day by living in the teachings of Jesus Christ and remember the families of those slain in prayer,

Pastor Randy

Pastor’s Ponderings, Wonderings, Wanderings

April 25, 2015

IMG_0553

Wesley United Methodist Church served 239 students at The Wesley Student Center of Lamar University in Beaumont. While I did not get pictures of the students (we were kind of busy) I did get this picture of the Churches members, plus 1, serving. From right to left is Pastor Randy Branch, Jean Koontz, Katy Beckett, Jan Neely, Rev. Anjelita Dirden (the plus 1), Wanda Barron and Harvey Wilson. We enjoyed being able to serve those students and it is always well received with many thank you’s from the students. A blessing to all of us who served and we hope a blessing to the students. Thanks to Pastor Anjelita for being such a gracious host and spiritual leader to all youth at Lamar University.

On a not so positive note we also heard that the district is shutting down the Wesley Student Center. Pastor Anjelita will be moving on to another place of ministry. I am not privy to all of the reasons why but I am sure the District Superintendent will let us know at our District meeting tomorrow. I am sure that there are some very good reasons for this closing of the student center but it does seem to me that when we take away opportunities for people to be touched by Christian love we are hurting the world. Seeds planted many times do not grow until years later. With so many different ethnic groups coming through that serving line I cannot think of a better way to touch the hearts of so many from so many different cultures.

Pastor Randy

Pastor’s Ponderings, Wonderings, Wanderings

January 20, 2015

Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we celebrated this week, spoke with some frequency during his years of ministry of putting on the “weapon of love.” Responding to those who resisted the emerging civil rights movement, King asserted, “We will counter your force with soul force, we will match your ability to hate with our ability to love.” And King reminded us that at the heart of Jesus’ life and message is the call to be peacemakers and reconcilers. Violence, said King again and again, “never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problems; it merely creates new and more complicated ones.”

We live in a world thirsty for this gospel of peace. With Martin Luther King, and with Jesus before him, we need to announce with integrity, “The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. It is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than on love. It destroys community…Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

The world today is faced with the same kind of bigotry and hatred that Martin Luther King faced. While we are making great strides in our country to eliminate racism the fact is it is still here. It not only is here but it is seen in so many different countries and is an integral part of their culture.

I want to say I don’t have a cure for the ills of the world but perhaps it would be more accurate if I were to say I know the one who does! Jesus Christ! Jesus tells us the most important part of His teaching is to Love God and Love Neighbor. With that in mind I go back to the Old Testament and the Psalms, Psalm 19 says “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” If we practice what Jesus teaches then there cannot be any room in our hearts for prejudice and hatred.

By the way, if I were to have written the quote from Psalm 19 I would have written “Let the meditations of my heart and the words of my mouth be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” If I am meditating on what God and Jesus Christ would have my words be, then I could be pretty sure that they would be acceptable to them. Meditate and speak. Sounds like a good way to present Christ to the world.

Pastor Randy

Wise Men

December 2, 2014

wise men

Do you remember the story of the Three Wise Men who came to visit Jesus. They were led by a shining star that did show them the way to Jesus. They came bearing lavish gifts that would help Mary and Joseph care for and protect the Christ child.

I found myself thinking about the meaning of this story and how we could apply it to our lives today, some two thousand years later. First of all they came on faith. Not on knowledge of the one true God. Nothing says they were even Jewish. God somehow spoke to them and encouraged them and being “Wise Men” they came. Many of us are so wrapped up in our own lives that we give very little time to listening to our God. So the meaning may be that we should really listen to our God through our scriptures, through others and through that small still voice that speaks to us at times.

Another meaning may be that we are to be as generous with our gifts as these Wise Men were. Not just our monetary gifts but also our time and talents. Jesus was almost two years old when the Wise Men came. Their time spent in seeking Him out was extensive, no drive around the corner.

Just one more thought on the meaning, at least in my limited mind. They followed a light. So should we. Jesus Christ is the light that can begin to cure the world. The only problem is our shining/sharing that light. He offers to fill us with His light so that we can shine brightly out into a dark world. It is in our words and actions that we choose to either shine or climb under a basket. We should each and every one be that city on a hill that can be seen for miles.

Let your light shine this Christmas season by being faithful, generous and bold in your witness. That is how we go and make disciples of the whole world.

Have a Merry, very bright Christmas and be a blessing to someone else,

Pastor Randy

Pastor’s Ponderings, Wonderings, Wanderings

October 27, 2014

We will be voting soon, so:

Matthew 22:34-46:
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. ’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

We Are Citizens of This World

In an invocation prayer at the United States Senate, Peter Marshall said, “Lord Jesus, Thou who art the way, the truth, and the life, hear us as we pray for the truth that shall make men free. Teach us that liberty is not only to be loved but also to be lived. Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books. It costs too much to be hoarded. Make us to see that our liberty is not the right to do as we please, but the opportunity to please, to do what is right.”

It is unthinkable that a Christian would not vote! It is unthinkable that Christians would not run for public office! It is unthinkable that Christians would withdraw from the responsibility of taking part in public life. The Christian has a responsibility to Caesar for all the privileges which the rule of Caesar brings. We are citizens of this world and must be good ones, if we are Christ’s disciples.

While we may not all be suited to public office, we must all vote. It is not only our right to go to the polls and vote but it is our responsibility as Christians to go vote our Christian values. I will not tell you who to vote for but I will tell you that if we love God with all our heart, soul and mind then we must reflect that love in the life we lead and the things we do to make life better for all of God’s children. For us as Christians we must not vote by party lines but for individuals who best reflect God’s will in this world. It is your choice, it is your conscience, it is your relationship with your God that will lead you to vote for who best reflects your relationship with God.

Have a blessed month in Jesus Christ,

Pastor Randy