Why He Wears a Red Hat

Like many of you over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Randall’s spent much of their time with family.  We had a delightful time with my parents, aunt, cousin, and Cole returning from Boston for a few days.  However, the one moment that stood out in my mind occurred on Saturday when my ninety-year-old grandfather made his way through Norman.  Accompanied by another aunt and uncle, Herb filled our Saturday afternoon with laughter and wisdom.

We went to lunch over on campus corner, near the University of Oklahoma.  It was fun pointing out all the landmarks to him, but the highlight was showing him Heisman Row.  Statues of Billy Sims, Steve Owens, Billy Vessels, Jason White, and Sam Bradford basked in the afternoon sun, as my grandfather recalled each player.  On our way home from campus, my grandfather asked if we could stop by a store to pick a new red OU hat.  “Of course,” I replied, proud of myself for showing him his favorite university.

As we pulled into the Sooner Shop, we entered into a sea of crimson and cream.  Walking over to the wall where the hats were located, I pointed out the variety to him.  Thinking he might want to depart from his traditional all red hat, I offered him hats with red bills and white tops, white bills and red tops, and an all gray hat that I liked.  He was gracious and patient with me, but declined each.  Again, he gently emphasized, “No, it must be red.”

A bit confused with his obsession with red, I asked him why his new hat had to be exactly like the one he was wearing.  “Mitch,” he began, “I wear a red hat every day.  The reason I wear a red hat is that when I go to see your grandmother every morning at the nursing home, she recognizes my red hat.  She can be sitting staring into space, but when she catches a glimpse of my red hat bounding down the hallway, she smiles.”  

My grandmother has Alzheimer’s Disease, therefore her memory has been declining over the last several years.  Even though she has a difficult time remembering faces these days, she remembers one that always dons a red hat.  As I stood before the variety of hats with tears welling in my eyes listening to my grandfather, I knew one hat would not do.  “Let’s get two, Granddad!” I offered.  We walked out of the store with two new red hats that day and I left now knowing why he wears a red hat.

May there be a red hat for all of us this holiday season!  

A Letter to Our Leaders of Tomorrow, by Ms. Kim

Dear Children that I Love and Children I May Never Meet,

This world refers to you as our leaders of tomorrow, but I’m afraid we as grown ups are failing to teach you how to lead. Often your days are filled with scary news of people hurting each other or themselves. You hear meanness in the words adults speak. Sometimes those adults are someone you love. Technology has made our world a really cool place, but it too can be frightening. Your world seems darker than the childhoods of your parents or grandparents. But being discouraged is not the answer.

Boys, girls, young women, and young men, this world needs you. We need you for change to happen. We need you to remember that God expects us to love each other. Grown ups, sometimes really important grown ups, may say things you know are wrong. Maybe that is bad language or words meant to bully or hurt someone’s feelings. The world needs you to have courage to say those things are wrong. When that courage is too hard to find, and darlings some days it will be, just pray. Pray for the adult and pray for yourself and your friends, because this world needs you to be different. Kiddos, we need you to listen so that you can learn. Sadly, the grown ups in your life often need some help with this too. This world is made up of all types of people, all types of families, all types of religions, and all types of beautiful skin tones and heritage. People of this world also make choices in their lives. Even in your young lives you know that not everyone makes the same choices. This is tricky. You too will have the power to make choices about the way you live your life. Remember this, other people’s choices are important in your life, even when you don’t agree with them. Watching the choices of others will guide you to follow or go a different way. But, when you choose that different way, and many times you will need to, don’t make things worse by being unkind or hating the other person. This isn’t your job and it makes your, brain, heart, and body feel like you are carrying too many books in your backpack. Most importantly, listen to others. Just listen sweet ones. Listening doesn’t mean agreeing, listening means respect.

So precious leaders of tomorrow, you have such an important place in our world. Do not be afraid, but instead be different because that difference is power. I hope you are practicing all your basic manners, things like “please and thank you”, holding the door for someone older than yourself and always for a lady and sharing with others. Those are all important. Even more important is to remember that the person older than you might just have great wisdom. The women in this world have valuable minds and bodies worth respecting. The words you speak with politeness and care tell the world that you have character. By letting your light shine, you can lead by example those younger than you and hopefully some adults too.

Take your power,

Ms. Kim

Small Tent Versus Big Tent

In Waco, yesterday, delegates to the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) voted to exclude churches that allow LGBTQ Christians the full rights of church membership. Baptists have long been champions of local church autonomy, meaning each individual church possesses the authority to derive their own theological convictions and practices as their conscience dictates.  The churches that adopted a more inclusive policy were not asking the convention to affirm their decisions, but convention leaders felt they possessed the authority to demand conformity to their views or be excluded from fellowship.

There are a myriad of troublesome issues with this action, but I would like to begin with the small tent movement.  For what seems like decades now, Baptists have continued to adopt and practice a small tent approach to the Christian faith.  Through a practice of purging other Baptists using theological purity and political loyalty, leaders have shrunken Baptist tents to the extent they will have no space for future generations.  Current leaders in some Baptist entities practice a “conform and control” type of theology.  If any church that reads the Scriptures and comes to another conviction, then they are excused and excluded from fellowship.  

This type of theological process prevents Christians and churches from exploring the Scriptures; challenging their own preconceived notions; and drawing new understandings about God, how he relates to the world, and how we relate to each other.  In other words, it discourages a cognitive approach to faith.  Jesus instructs us to place our minds on heavenly things, which encourages us to cognitively engage faith so that we might discover a deeper appreciation and understanding of God’s ways.  If the church would have ceased to think and challenge its own doctrines previously, then our culture would still be excluding black people from water fountains and preventing women from voting.

Opponents will say that they are not shrinking the tent, but that those of us coming to a different understanding of ministry are stepping outside the traditional tent.  From my vantage point, they are both right and wrong.  They are correct that we appear to be stepping away, but not because we are rejecting them.  We are stepping away because we have decided to follow the Holy Spirit that is guiding us on a new journey of exploration and understanding.  We are simply attempting to live out our faith as we feel the Holy Spirit is convicting us.  They are misguided when they say the tent is not shrinking.  As more and more people from a younger generation want to be a part of a gracious and loving church that promotes social justice, the tent needs to expand to accommodate them.  In other words, the current tent needs to grow because the crowd is growing.  If it fails to grow by denying freedom and autonomy, then it is shrinking.

Finally, the actions of the Texas Baptist delegates have excluded more than just two churches this week.  They have excluded my church.  At NorthHaven Church we honor the priesthood of every believer and celebrate local church autonomy, therefore establishing and practicing a big tent approach to Christianity.  We have members on both sides of this issue, but we have chosen to cherish freedom above conformity.  Our LGBTQ members are granted the same rights as every other member, therefore fully affirming them as brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are certainly saddened by the BGCT’s decision, but many of us have been here before when the Southern Baptist Convention excluded us as we stood up for freedom.  As I step away from the BGCT, my prayers go with them as I join others in a continuing process of building a bigger tent.


Jesus once said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Over two decades of ministry, I have come to discover the significant burden that many in our world carry around each day.  From the micro issues of everyday life to the macro problems we face in society, the burden continues to grow heavier as the years pass by.

At NorthHaven Church, we have worked hard at creating a sanctuary environment where individuals and families can find calm from chaos, love over hate, peace from despair, grace over judgement, and acceptance rather than rejection.  The word for “sanctuary” in the Old Testament comes from the Hebrew word, qodesh.  The word simply means, “a holy or sacred place.”  At NorthHaven, we take this sacredness seriously.  We believe in the sacred truths of the Bible, but more so in what the Bible actually says.  We are called to love God and love each other – no matter who they might be.

The world seems to be spinning faster these days, leaving some so dizzy they need a soft place to land.  Let me be very clear about what I am going to say: NorthHaven welcomes ALL people needing sanctuary.  We understand this big world of ours is comprised of a variety of individuals, but those of you who are hurting, struggling, mourning, scared, desperate, hopeless, and lost have a place to find peace and acceptance.  Jesus is our example, so those that need a shoulder to steady their walk can find others in their midst willing to walk alongside them offering encouragement and hope.

In NorthHaven, you will find sanctuary from a world trying to bring more divisiveness and destruction.  You will find gracious individuals offering intercessory prayer, warm hugs, and strong shoulders.  You will discover a truth that is counter to what you've grown accustomed to hearing.  You will find a loving community where belonging is just as important as believing.  Therefore, for those walking these days with heavy burdens on their shoulders, come and experience the sanctuary of NorthHaven Church.

Running in Circles

Because today is election day I should probably be writing something related politics, but to be honest, I’m sick of politics. What is truly weighing on my heart are the challenges people living everyday lives are facing. The brokenness, the decisions, and the uncertainty that you and I and those we love are facing can be overwhelming at times.

Recently, a young woman I care about lost her husband, the father of her children, her best friend to cancer. Before I can complete this blog, another friend has been diagnosed. Many families are struggling with the rising costs of raising children. Whether it is health insurance, sports, quality childcare, tutoring, or lessons, we want to meet our children’s needs and give them opportunities to grow. There is the competition of social media, thanks to the folks who use it as a platform to convince themselves and others that their life is perfect. I’m amazed by the number of parents that I come in contact with who are struggling with huge issues raising their kiddos. Attachment issues, learning disabilities, drug problems, medical and mental health issues, special needs, and so many other concerns touch many families, consuming their lives. Households face the demands of full-time employment while raising children or grandchildren or caring for aging parents. There is divorce and marital problems happening between couples you might least suspect. And, on top of it all, we live in a society where overbooking our calendars, comparing ourselves to others, and striving for perfection is the norm.

Friends, the world seems terribly harsh right now and I don’t think I am alone in my feelings. Like a hamster running on a wheel, sometimes I find myself in that circular pattern getting tired but going nowhere. Day in, day out I can easily become consumed by the trials of life. Without my faith, I would certainly find myself in the fetal position on the floor of my closet. And because of that faith I cannot help but wonder what God expects of us as His people.

Obviously, death will happen, struggles and tragedy will come and during those times it is our relationship with Christ that sees us through, often deepening our faith (“because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:3). Loss and illness are also opportunities for our earthly relationships to grow, whether we are giving or receiving support, but what about less obvious things? What about our everyday lives? How good of a job are we doing being transparent with our own feelings or letting those around us be transparent with theirs? God never intended for us to live life alone or handle everything on our own. How good are we at focusing on relationship, with Christ, with others, and with ourselves?

As God’s people, we are in this life together. May we be challenged to live authentically, holding each other up? It is time to step off the hamster wheel y’all!