What a beautiful day it is! 

I was out very early this morning before the sun came out, and the moon was shining full and bright. I stood for a moment in my driveway, mesmerized by the beauty of the creation of God. I was taken back by the way that our human eyes capture what even the best camera lense misses at the periphery. God’s creation is tremendous to behold, and it fills me with awe and wonder.

This afternoon, I look out and see God’s wonderful creation once again. Blue skies fill the window in my office, and the sidewalks out along the street have been crowded all afternoon with people basking in the rays of sunshine. Spring has sprung, and even if we get another cold snap or two before the month comes to an end, we know it it is only temporary. The facts of life are demonstrating themselves all around us. God keep the balance of things in motion. The seasons are changing. New life is budding all around the world. Can you see it? Can you hear the sounds? Of course you can!

Today, when you walk around your neighborhood, when you see the people on your street you haven’t been around since the kids went trick-or-treating, this: let your light shine. Just like the sun shines on us this afternoon. Just like the full moon shines over the earth on a crisp clear morning. You are to be a city on a hill for the sake of Christ. 

“Whatever you do or so, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus.”
Colossians 3:17. 

Represent Christ!
- Pastor Milo

______________________________


Hey everyone. Happy Thursday to you all. There has been a lot going on in our church, and a lot to keep up with in the world… so we haven't talked about where we stand in our Family Pastor search process in a while.

If you are wondering, yes, the position is still available, and we are still hoping to find the right candidate for the role that God would ultimately have for us. Because the timing has stretched out much longer than expected, we have made other adjustments to accommodate for an extended interim role for those leadership positions involved in both Children and Youth ministries, but the search has still been pressing forward.

We started the search process last March, when we were told by Pastor Mario that he would be stepping down and moving away from WNY. He wasn't sure at the time where he would end up, but as you know, he is now in Louisville Kentucky pursuing his seminary degree as a full-time resident student.

In March, we began putting feelers out and receiving resumes for the position of Family Pastor. We held some meetings to hear from you, as well as clarify for those interested in learning the distinctive ministry focus points of someone on pastoral staff dedicated to a family ministry role, rather than a combination role of music and youth, or youth and outreach.

We went through the first round of candidates and finished that search process in July of 2021. We had narrowed down our field to 1-2 candidates, but came to a stop when the interested parties ended up withdrawing their applications from consideration. Because I would be on sabbatical for a portion of the summer, we decided to return in the fall with a 2nd round of candidates, as well as some updates to the family pastor search team.

The second round of resumes came in throughout the fall, narrowing down again to 1-2 primary candidates by the month of December in which we found to be a suitable match for the role we believe God has for us in the future here. As it stands, one of those candidates has put their own resume on hold for the foreseeable future while shepherding through a difficult situation with his family. The other candidate is still communicating well with our team, and is working through finding clarity with God on calling. Not a calling to pastoral ministry, but in a specific calling to come here, to Randall Church in Buffalo, NY.

So thats where things stand currently. We are in prayer that one of these two individuals might be the right fit for our church and our context. To this point, we have not yet felt God's prompting to move forward into a round three of resumes and job postings. Not yet, anyway. We trust God will make that clear if that is what we are supposed to do. Please continue to pray for us as we go. The next generation of missionaries, pastors,

We can make our plans. May God direct our paths.


- Pastor Milo
—————————————————————



A Tough Lesson In Humility…

We have had some key people leave the church this last year. People we know and love. People who were not on the fringes of this community of faith, but people who were in leadership roles here, and left those roles sooner then we ever expected to.

We have been working through a sermon series from the book of Matthew, learning and studying what it looked like for the disciples to align their lives with Christ's way of living, particularly after He told them: "Pick up your cross and follow me…" which is why we named this series #ToTheCross. Jesus is calling the disciples to come and suffer with Him. 

As we march forward through the text, this coming Sunday's passage will be Matthew 18:10-20. If you aren't familiar with the passage off the top of your head, this is one of the primary passages in the New Testament that deals with restoration between brothers and sisters in Christ, and how to exercise appropriate and healthy church discipline.  

As I approach the text, I am humbled by my own shortcomings and failures to walk blameless in the light of God's Word. There has been much personal reflection on these situations I've mentioned, on these examples where people have left our faith community and broken ties with our flock. As I allow God to mold and shape me through this experience, there is much I have to own as being problems that reside on my own side of the street. Its humbling. 

As I study the text, I am also shaken by my own fleshly aversion to actually follow through and do the hard things Scripture commands, and be firm and direct with what Jesus teaches his followers to do. There is a desire in me to be liked, a desire in me to be sensitive, and an overall desire in me to be excessively diplomatic in my word choices. Trying to achieve the perfect balance is a semi-helpless feeling.  

Would you pray for me? Pray that I say the things the Holy Spirit would have me to say? That I would preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Would you also be in prayer for our church? Passages like this are often either skimmed over and generally ignored by well-meaning congregations, or taken out of context and beaten to death by someone wielding a bully pulpit. Lord give us wisdom. 

Last Sunday, it was really enjoyable to preach from Matthew 18:1-9; where Jesus answers the question from his disciples" "Who then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

If you were with us, I paraphrased Jesus' response to the posed question to be: "Do you want to know what true greatness is? Let me tell you the truth right here and now, and you aren't going to like it. You aren't going to like it, because its going to require that you change your behavior, change your thoughts, change your steps, and begin to change how you perceive this world. Its going to require you to change how you live your lives. True greatness in the kingdom of heaven will require change in everything!" 

Then I gave this sermon bullet point:
True greatness stands helplessly humble before Jesus. Matthew 18:2-5 

Well, your pastor here at Randall Church is certainly feeling humbled. I don't believe these would be the steps I would choose even if I knew it meant I was moving towards greatness. I confess I would choose an easier path. No, this path doesn't feel great at all. But humbling? Yes. Most definitely. Helpless? Not quite. I keep trying to take back control…

I have much to learn. 

Lord, like the little child in Peter's home you used as an illustration for your disciples, may you teach me to stand helplessly humble before Jesus. As you mold me, may you use me to speak your truth to others.

Lord, Emmanuel; God be with us!

- Pastor Milo

____________________________________


Fifth Sunday is Family Sunday
Every once in a while we do something where people ask "Why did that happen?"
Particularly if you are just getting to know us, we want to break down any barriers as quickly as we can for helping guests find their place here at Randall Church.

About 4-5 times a year, there are 5 Sundays in a month. Because it doesn't happen all that often, I have to admit that it can sneak up on us and we can sometimes forget to talk about it. But what we like to say is that at Randall Church, Fifth Sunday is Family Sunday and here is why:

Practically speaking there is a certain ease of planning that comes with building our curriculum around a 48 week calendar. Our volunteers know which Sundays they will be serving, and our pastoral leadership knows when we will be highlighting children's and youth ministries in the main worship gathering. 

Knowing that detail means that we do our best to take it up a notch on the Family Sundays. We plan music that our young people can lead, and sermons that our young people can interact more easily with. We ask our children to help with greeting people on the way in, our youth to run the media equipment, and some combination of young people to lead us in worship in their own way, using their own God given skills and talents.

If I'm honest, its not always a "comfortable" Sunday for the adults as things tend to be a bit raw and unpolished; but its always a great Sunday for the Kingdom. This is the next generation of our church learning how to pray; learning how to connect; learning how to lead. And, as a church we prioritize discipleship, and mobilize leadership as two of our values.  This Family Sunday is a tangible example of just that.  

Come worship with us this Sunday. These kids are so precious… to us and to God. 
Jesus loves the little children of the world!

-Pastor Milo

____________________________________

 


Although grief is a normal part of the human experience on this side of glory, it is never pleasant and it is never what you expected it to be. Today, I am feeling empathy for a dear family in our church going through the passing of their collective father, brother, uncle, teacher and friend. His eternal security is certain, he knew his Savior well, and spoke of his heavenly home often. But still, there has been a great loss here. What are we to do to comfort them? What are we supposed to say when we don't know what to say?

This may not be a perfect answer, but it's one I've been working through over the last decade or more. I've written about it before, and it has to do with celebrating the little things. 

1. A little grief lasts a long time
Grief has a way of sneaking up on a person when they least expect it. While this can take a person off-guard, most people see it as a blessing, because it means that we haven't forgotten about the person we love. The pain is real, but it reminds us once again of the depth of the relationship.

2. A little help makes a big difference
Let's face it. Very few of us are good about seeking help from others when we need it. But at some level all of us need a helping hand, or a shoulder to cry on from time to time. It is important to remember that when interacting with your circle of relationships. Help someone today, and have an impact for many tomorrows.

3. A little trauma does every marriage good
This one is tough to acknowledge, but it is as true as anything else I might list here. The day(s) our son needed open heart surgery, or even the day he died was not as traumatic to our relationship, as the months of emptiness that followed. Still, looking back from the other side, surviving those emotion-less moments has made our desire and passion for one another more real than ever.

4. A little hope illuminates a great distance
I recently read a book by Katie Davis Majors along the same line of thought. In the midst of all the pain and all the hurt, hope seems even more real and tangible than ever. Our Josiah lived his entire eight months on this planet somewhere on the bubble between dire emergency and urgent critical care. As his parents, this could feel incredibly defeating. However, a little good news, a tiny ray of hope was enough to sustain us for days and days. 
My good news, my ray of hope in this life is found in Jesus. "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." Heb 6:19

When you don't know what to say, (like the way I feel today), take the opportunity to celebrate the little things. God is writing a grand story across all of time, and he allows each of us to experience a little part of that grand narrative. For these dear loved ones of ours, it is an honor to have been included in the journey.

-Pastor Milo

___________________________________________