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Archive for June, 2009

Dress for Success

June 23rd, 2009

“Put on the full armor of God.” Ephesians 6.11 NIV

Dressing appropriate to the occasion is important for the success you desire.”

Mythoughts today advise, “dress for success.”

The first thing every morning is dressing for the day. Before I consider how to dress, I think through my day’s calendar, considering the places where I will need to be and the people with whom I will be. Meeting friends for a game of golf, or meeting with an executive officer of Broadway Bank, or ministry responsibilities at my office each dictate specific thought of dressing properly. A simple guideline would be: dress attractively, appropriately, and modestly.

Have you ever seen a person in a business suit and tie (or evening dress and high heels as the case may be) running a marathon, or a banker in running shorts and tank top handling your banking needs? I think you would be taken aback, and wonder to your self or aloud, “What were they thinking?”

There are many unavoidable assumptions – both right and wrong – that people draw by how you are dressed. You can decry that it ought not to be that way, but that does not change the reality. As you learn at your first job, dressing appropriate for the setting and occasion is critically important for the success you desire and the people upon which your success may depend. I observe that a growing insistence on elevating one’s own sense of personal preference and comfort above other considerations has spawned an undue casualness that has eroded a business necessity and social courtesy that can also harbor spiritual implications.

That practical principle is even more true in your daily Christian life. Dressing thoughtfully and appropriately for each day’s realities is critically important for success in the Christian life as well. A soldier on the dangerous streets of Iraq or on patrol in the mountains of Afghanistan is well advised to dress much differently than a soldier in peacetime at a stateside military base.

Here’s what the Bible teaches: an understanding of Spiritual warfare dictates that you get dressed for the day by first “putting on the full armor of God” every morning. This is not about being religious, or looking good; this is about survival. Doing so can mean the difference between your being a casualty or your survival and success in battle. See Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV.

Until the day that “we will be changed . . because this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility and this mortal is clothed with immortality,” you must dress for success and victory. 1 Corinthians 15:52-53.   Success is yours, if you are dressed for it.

The Bible offers frequent advice about dressing for success: “Discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk with decency.” Romans 13:12. “Put on heart-felt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, forgiving one another. . just as the Lord has forgiven you. Above all, put on love, the perfect love of unity.” Colossians 3:12-14. Most importantly, you deliberately and prayerfully must “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ . . ” first thing every morning. Romans 13:14. Imagine being safely wrapped up in Jesus all day.

My prayer for you today is that you be fully dressed, fully armed, and fully victorious.

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Whatever It Takes

June 22nd, 2009

“I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4.7-8

“Somewhere between starting and finishing, character and discipline are demonstrated.”

My thoughts today are about doing “whatever it takes.”

Beginnings are exciting. Finishing is always satisfying. It is all the time and tears in between where the problem usually comes. But somewhere between starting and finishing is where character and discipline are demonstrated. That’s when a lot of people who started with the best of intention and promise quit – become distracted with other things, or start something else before finishing the first, or just give up.

I think “whatever it takes” is the attitude of a winner. Anyone can be a quitter. A good finish is what differentiates the winners from the losers. My Dad often advised me, “when you start something, don’t quit until it’s finished; never start anything you don’t plan to finish.” Jesus told of a man about to build and a king going to war. They first counted to cost to avoid their being unable to finish their task.  See Luke 14:25-33 NIV. Jesus said that being His disciple requires the same.

I think six things are essential to finishing what you start:

(1) Purpose. Be clear about what you start and why you did so. Was it important then? Then it is still important now. To be clear now, you have to see the possible future.

(2) Passion. You have to believe strongly in the value of what you are doing. No one will continue to waste their time, energy, or resources on things that don’t really matter to them.

(3) Preparation. You should prepare for anything to be harder than you think, take longer than you plan, and require more than you expect.

(4) Patience. Only your commitment of whatever it takes” will enable you to work as hard as you need and work as long as is required to conclude successfully.

(5) Perseverance. You must endure every difficulty and continue in spite of any discouragement you may feel in order to “finish your course with joy.” Acts 20:24.

(6) Promotion. You are recognized and rewarded only for what you finish, not what you start.

Jesus lived His life with a clear and single focus, to “to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.” John 4:34. He calls you to do the same. Wouldn’t you count Jesus successful? Did He voice any reservations, or place any conditions, or claim for Himself any exemption? No, Jesus models the attitude of “whatever it takes.”

Here is Jesus’ testimony, I have finished the work You gave Me to do.” John 17:4. On the Cross where He died for the sins of the whole world, Jesus declared, “It is finished!” John 19:30. Make no mistake. That is not the defeated cry of failure and resignation. That phrase is from a combination of Greek words translated, “I have finished, and it is the finest and best I can offer.” Jesus did whatever He needed to do for your complete salvation. Father God accepted His sacrifice, and you have been “sanctified through the offering of Jesus Christ once and for all.” Hebrews 10:10.

My prayer for you is that you will have the readiness and resource for whatever it takes.

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A Father’s Pride and Joy

June 19th, 2009

“The father . .who has a wise child delights in them. Proverbs 23:24 NIV

“A father’s delight reaches deeply into your heart throughout their lifetime, as well as yours.”

My thoughts today are about “a father’s pride and joy.”

This weekend is Father’s Day. Some time ago, I came across a yellowed note from my Mom had written nearly fifteen years ago. As I read her words, I was unprepared for my emotional reaction. She wrote about our family and ministry bu these words leaped off the page and into my heart, “Your Dad would be so proud of you, as I am.” You see my Dad died in a highway accident when I was just 21, newly married and a senior in college, and now in my mid sixties my eyes became moist as I read those words. It was not a new revelation. My Dad showed and  spoke often of his sentiments. Somehow even now, that record of his pride and joy stirred something deep within my heart.

I was not prepared for how such a simple statement of my Dad’s and Mom’s feelings about me on a piece of yellowed stationary would still mean so much to me after all of these years since his death, and more recently hers. “The father of the righteous has great joy; he who has a wise child delights in them.” Proverbs 23:24 NIV. That I could give my parents delight after all they had given me was and is my greatest joy.

I was struck by the clear fact that a father’s joy and delight reaches deeply into your heart through their lifetime, and even beyond – continuing throughout your own lifetime. To be reminded of my Dad’s love and pride in me meant as much, if not more, at this stage of my life as it did when I was young and he was alive. But I am sure that though he would commend whatever accomplishments with which God has graced my life – he would be most proud that I was carrying on the faith I learned at his knee and from his pulpit. He was my pastor as well as my Dad.

How do you think Jesus felt at the Jordan River when the voice of God from Heaven declared, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased?” Reading those words, you can feel the Father’s pride – His joy and delight – and know the moral and spiritual strengthening that Jesus experienced as He first set out to do the Father’s will. It would yet be three and a half years before Jesus would say, “I have finished the work that You gave Me to do,” and before Jesus would hang on a cross and cry to the Father, “It is finished, “ as He died for you and me.

Now as a Dad and grandfather, I know what that kind of delight feels like. When I see the good and Godly man, husband, and dad our son has become, and the Godly woman, wife, and mom our daughter has become, and growing grandchildren who love and live for Jesus, Gayle and I are grateful for God’s kindness to the Randolph family.

Joy and delight hardly describe the satisfaction that we find in knowing our children and their spouses along with our grandchildren are committed to walking in righteousness and Godly wisdom. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 4. Whatever you achieve in life, it will be secondary to the knowledge that you have embraced faith, and given that faith to your family.

My prayer for you today is that you live wisely that the Father may delight in you.

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Acceptance, Not Resignation

June 18th, 2009

My peace I give you . . do not let your hearts be troubled and . . afraid.” John 14:27 NIV

Peace is the presence of God, not the absence of any and all trouble.”

My thoughts today are about “acceptance, not resignation.”

Peace! Who doesn’t want it? But there is so much worry and fear. Hearts troubled, with people worrying about what happened yesterday and fearing what might happen tomorrow. But God says don’t worry; don’t be afraid. And God’s answer is so simple: have His peace.

Everyone desperately wants to experience peace of mind, peace of heart, and peace in life. But all of that and more begins through peace with God. “Peace is what I leave with you. It is My own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27 TEV. This is more than a peaceful feeling; it is God’s own peace that replaces worry and fear. This inner calmness and confidence is beyond peace from God; this is the very peace of God, the peace that God Himself enjoys.

Yet everyday there is something that has the power to threaten your peace. It is inevitable; just as you are at rest, something or someone disturbing interrupts. Here’s the apostle James advice, “When all kinds of troubles crowd into your life, don’t resent them as intruders; welcome them as friends.” James 1:2 Philips Paraphrase. Can you still have peace when troubles crowd into your schedule, threatening your tranquility?

Here is what peace is not: peace is not the absence of any and all trouble. If that were true, peace would be elusive for many, because such moments are rare. The peace you receive from Jesus does not depend on conditions or circumstances. The Hebrew “shalom” means “the presence of everything necessary for peace – even when everything you would expect to produce peace is absent, except God. God’s peace is a quiet assurance in one’s heart that whatever happens, God is still in charge of your well being

Elisabeth Elliot, who ministered to the Auca Indians after they cruelly killed her husband, wrote, “Only in acceptance lies peace . . not in resignation.” Have you considered the difference between acceptance and resignation? You will be tempted to simply resign yourself to what you cannot change anyway, but resignation gives you emptiness devoid of hope, not peace. Ah, but there will be circumstances and things you cannot change, and people whose actions you did not expect, cannot explain or control. See Proverbs 16:7 NIV. What can you do and still have peace?

That’s when and where you discover the liberating peace of acceptance. There are moments when you fight against something in life that you do not like and cannot understand, only to find later that you needlessly struggled against God. Acceptance embraces the will of God fully.

Resignation surrenders to circumstance; acceptance submits to God. “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8 NIV. Resignation says, “I can’t;” acceptance confesses, “God can!” Resignation says it’s no use, there’s nothing else; Acceptance anticipates God and asks, “What’s next, Lord?” “There is a future for the man of peace.” Psalm 37:37 NIV. Resignation feels completely alone; acceptance feels completely safe in God. “Now may the God of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in very way.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 NIV.

My prayer for you today is to experience a sense of sovereign, undisturbable peace.

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Plays Well with Others

June 17th, 2009

Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” James 1.19 NIV

Unhappiness, loneliness, and lack of success are the result of relational difficulties.”

My thoughts today are about “plays well with others.”

One of the earliest signs of even the youngest child for later success in life is “plays well with others.” The reason is simple enough. Everyone’s opportunities in life and therefore their levels of achievement depend upon the good will and assistance of others along the way. If you are not a team player, appreciated and well liked by others, showing interest in the success and well being of others, and helpful in their efforts, you will not likely find the help that you also will need when you might need it most.

It seems that something so simple is a challenge for many, and for some a life-long deficit even as adults. There are two mistakes that are deadly for relationships: first, that you don’t need help; that’s arrogance. And secondly, that you don’t need to be helpful; that’s selfishness. 1 Corinthians 12: 18-21/ 26.

Most people’s unhappiness, loneliness, and lack of success are the result of relational difficulties – not knowing how to relate to others in a winning way. People don’t always fail because of lack of opportunity or deficient abilities. Some talented people simply aren’t likable. They disregard or lack acceptable social concerns and skills. They never outgrew a toddler’s “me first” attitude.

Truly successful people genuinely care about others, and are well liked. Their friends and co-workers want them to succeed, and rejoice when they do.

Today’s verse gives three helpful points of advice for “playing well with others.”

(1) Learn to listen with interest and regard. You are only learning when you are listening. It is not as important that people hear what you have to say, as your profiting by listening when you are wise to do so. Proverbs 18.13.

(2) Be wise in what you say. You don’t always need to say everything that you think. Let your words be few, but with substance and integrity. Learn both to speak up, and to shut up. Words can hurt or heal, reflect wisdom or expose ignorance, bring peace or breach. Use them wisely and sparingly. Proverbs 18:20-21/ Psalm 19:14.

(3) Control your emotions. Emotions should serve you, not rule you. Refuse to react to other’s opinions or arguments. Don’t get swept along in someone else’s agitation and anger. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9.

My prayer for you today is to value others highly and treat them accordingly.

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