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Culture Wars

February 19th, 2018

Cues from a wrong source are misleading.

“You ought to live holy and Godly lives, as you look forward

to the day of God and speed its coming.” 2 Peter 3:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Culture Wars.”

There are things about the current, secular culture that disturb me. I am disturbed that we too often take our cues from unworthy and inappropriate sources, with neither discernment nor discrimination. Much of the surrounding culture has a far greater influence on the Church and its people than could ever be justified – whether speaking of morals, materialism, or immodesty as expressed in fashion, media, music, profanity, incivility, or self-centeredness. We seem to take our cues from those wrong sources without discernment that we are doing so. Apparently, we are afraid to look different as we mimic the surrounding styles of how we dress, how we talk, and to a greater degree, how we live.

The Bible provides clarity. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV. When I was a young teen, the Church seemed to take a reactionary stance to the culture that appeared imbalanced and in clear opposition. Conversely today, we are too concerned about fitting in with the culture and too comfortable when we do.

Then, Christians seemed to consciously try to look, act, and talk differently. It might be wiser to just confidently and comfortably choose to be who we are always called to be, “Salt and Light,” in a deteriorating and darkening world. In retrospect, However, I believe my grandparents’ and parents’ generations chose a safer margin for error with less consequences than may result from our indecisive course today.

The Bible’s counsel is wise, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father, but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 NIV. Be advised and wise and live successfully and effectively now and eternally safe forever.

Today, we seem to feel the need to apologize that our standards and expectations are other than the surrounding cultural norms. Because we are unclear about how to be Godly people in an ungodly age, a generation of young “teens and twenties” are confused, and thereby easily succumb to the bombardment of media, movies, music, fashion, and celebrities’ lifestyles to determine how they should dress, talk, think, and live.

The nature of the culture is not what disturbs me most. That is neither surprising nor redeemable except on an individual basis, never collectively. I am concerned about the secular culture’s influence and our naive approach to the lure of their example. Why mimic the opinions and lifestyle of celebrities because they have wealth or fame, lavishly granted from those whom they merely amuse and entertain? Except for few exceptions, they are in graphic contrast and conflict with what the follower of Jesus is meant to be, never examples to be esteemed and followed.

The Apostle Peter asked and answered a reasonable, but probing, question to the young churches and new Christians. “What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and Godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” 2 Peter 3:11-12 NIV. You must ask and answer that question for yourself, “What kind of person ought I to be?” Life is best lived with a singular focus. As a follower of Jesus, I would suggest Paul’s words to you, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV.

Choose carefully the people you admire and emulate, or you will find yourself in a gradual decline and indiscernible process of becoming like them. There is a clear and right choice to make. “Christ, is your example. Follow in His steps: He never sinned, never told a lie, never answered back when insulted; when He suffered He did not threaten to get even; He left his case in the hands of God Who always judges fairly.” 1 Peter 2:21-24 TLB. Yours and my goal should be to allow the Word of God and invite the Holy Spirit to make us a little more like Jesus every day.

Today, I pray for you to be a Godly example of a chaste and consecrated life of faith.

Christian Communications 2018

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Giving Thanks Is God’s Will

November 29th, 2017

Giving thanks honors God and values others.

 “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are that,

“giving thanks is God’s will.” 

This year, our family decided to have our traditional Thanksgiving dinner outside, rather than in our dining room as has been customary. With four generations, along with friends, that is quite a full house. Our son and daughter along with their spouses, and our ever-growing family circle of grandkids with their spouses, and great grandkids from five years old and younger, gathered with friends from in town and out, as well as new friends from Romania. It was a beautiful, pleasant day with much conversation and lots of memories – some with tears – but most with joy and gratefulness.

Around large wooden cable spools for serving and dining, we visited and ate under the shade of Mesquite and Huisache trees – with curious visits from our dogs, miniature donkeys, and Hercules (our son’s horse). After a few moments of grateful Communion (a tradition begun by request of a grandson a few years earlier), plates were filled with turkey and ham, mashed and sweet potatoes, vegetables, salads followed by pumpkin pies, pumpkin crunch cake, banana pudding, and assorted Bundt cakes. Needless to say, no one went away hungry.

As the evening came, the great grandkids became the focus, enjoying rides across the pasture in the jeep with their dad, or down the road in a wagon pulled by a doting grandpa. As the sun faded and shadows lengthened, family and friends sat around a warming fire and laughed and remembered moments of life together, until farewells and bed time. We remain thankful to God for His faithfulness, and to one another for friendship.

My thought today is this. Thankfulness honors God and values others. Giving thanks is a lifestyle. Thanksgiving is just one special day on our American calendar. The apostle Paul encouraged true believers, “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:19-20 NIV. When do you give thanks? Always! For what do you give thanks? Everything! To Whom do you give thanks? To God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! The Apostle Paul seemed astonished when he described unthankful people. “They knew God, but they wouldn’t worship Him as God or even give Him thanks.” Read Romans 1:20-23 NLT. Giving thanks is the doorway to worship. Read Psalm 100 NIV.

Paul was consistent, even insistent, in his instructions to New Testament Christians, “Be Thankful . . Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through [Christ Jesus].” Colossians 3:16-17 NIV. The seeds of gratitude in your heart are the source from which giving thanks flows in your words and through your life. The Apostle Paul was clear. Whatever your circumstances of the moment, you always have cause to give thanks. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15 NKJV.

That indescribable Gift is Jesus, God’s Son who died on the cross for your sins and mine, and rose again from the grave, ascending to Heaven so that you and I may have eternal life with Him. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NIV.

The writer of Hebrews summarized my thoughts better than I could, “Therefore, by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to never remain silent when you have every reason to give thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Communications 2017

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

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Wise Benevolence

September 2nd, 2015

“Cast your bread upon the waters.” Ecclesiastes 11:1 NKJV.

God directs the affairs of men with wise benevolence.

My thoughts and comments today are about “wise benevolence.”

Theologians of a previous era wrote often of the providence of God, describing it as, “The care and character of Almighty God who with foresight and omniscience directs the affairs of men with wise benevolence.” Your life is more providential than you might realize. Will you abandon your carefully devised plans? Trust your Heavenly Father, who is the Almighty God, to provide for you by means of His “omniscience and wise benevolence.”

(1) Let your generosity be deliberate and unmeasured. “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again . . (your gifts will return to you later).” Ecclesiastes 11:1 NIV/NLT. To me, the phrasing of this verse suggests an open-hearted lifestyle of liberality toward God and others, with no personal constraints as to what and when the return will be. The Biblical concept is the surrender of predictability. You can determine neither the source nor the time of your compensation. Such carefree release is a wonderful thing. Isaiah understood this elementary trust, “What is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.” Isaiah 49:4 NIV. If and when others do not respond as you expect, trust your disappointment to God who always rewards righteously. God will be no man’s debtor.

(2) Liberality is a lifestyle for times good and bad. “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” Ecclesiastes 11:4 NIV. The limits of one’s foresight makes predicting what will or will not be beneficial a waste of time. ”Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.” Proverbs 3:27 NKJV. A content and confident life results from abandoning your cautions to God’s wise and provident reward. Rest your heart and hopes in the wise benevolence and providence of God. Your own or others’ forecast of your future will be inaccurate.

(3) Life is tiring when you hold things too tightly. “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.” Ecclesiastes 11:6 NIV. Solomon observed, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV. God can only multiply and return what you will release. Choose to refresh others and discover the path to being refreshed.

Today, I pray for you that every word or act of kindness will bring multiple joys.

Christian Communications

EDL PIX rushing waters

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Encouraged and Encouraging

August 25th, 2015

“That you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12 NIV.

Encouragement is evidenced in conviction, confidence, and courage.

Never Give Up

My thoughts and comments today are about being “encouraged and encouraging.”

Someone rightly observed, “Misery loves company.” Misery tends to choose similar company. Trust me; they will not be profitable for you and you aren’t helpful to them. Their depleted emotions further diminish yours. Encouragement is less about emotions and more about positive actions. Encouragement is evidenced in your conviction, confidence, and courage. I suggest three practical sources of encouragement.

Learn to encourage yourself in God and His Word. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3:15-17 NKJV. Betrayed, deposed, and driven from Jerusalem by his rebellious son, Absalom, “David was greatly distressed . . but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30:6 KJV. The Word of God has power to heal your emotions, calm your fears, and refresh your heart. Read Psalm 19:7-10 NLT.

The Word of God and the grace of God is sufficient whatever your season or circumstance. The Apostle Paul describes such moments, “May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father, Who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV. The Scriptures refocus your attention on Jesus; Jesus is the great Encourager. See Romans 15:4-5 NIV.

Choose to be an encourager to others. “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:11-12 NIV. Is there anything you give others more valued and mutually rewarding than the gift of encouragement? You can’t encourage others when you are discouraged. Sow encouragement; reap encouragement. Encouragement returns from those you have encouraged. There is a familiar, but often misapplied, Biblical principle of generosity that is true in every application. “If you give, you will receive . . Whatever measure you use in giving – large or small – it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Read Luke 6:37-38 NLT. Notice that the surrounding context is relational rather than monetary.

Seek the company of those whose lifestyle and fellowship encourage you. “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, Philemon, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” Philemon 1:7 NIV. Everyone needs fresh courage for the day and its demands. Life can be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually depleting, leaving you empty of energy and optimism. Days, even seasons, can feel disheartening. At such times, people who are emotionally and spiritually healthy refresh your courage. “And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 NIV. Also see Hebrews 10:25 NIV.

Today, I pray that you will aspire to be an encourager, and refreshed in doing so.

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Love Spoken Out Loud

May 26th, 2015

“God will not forget the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people.” Hebrews 6:10 NKJV.

Love is best seen in everyday kindnesses more than grand gestures.

My thoughts and comments today are about “love spoken out loud.”

There is much in our world that poses as love. Everything that claims to be love or looks like love isn’t necessarily love. Sometimes, it is just a temporary emotion, as evidenced by the accelerating frequency of infidelity or divorce. Emotions neither prove love, nor produce love; instead, emotions are merely a by-product of love.

Love is both a choice and a learned response. You choose to love others because you have been selflessly loved. That could explain why a loving family begins with the sure and sincere love of parents for each other. Children learn to be loving by experiencing secure love surrounding them. As beloved children and later as adults, we learn to be loving husbands or wives, loving parents, and loving friends.

Love can be hard to define but easy to recognize. More than once, God is described in the simplest of terms, “God is love.” Read 1 John 4:7-12/15 NIV. That being true, where else but the Bible could you find the accurate description of love? “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV. Love never fails; people fail to love.

For me, a few simple words define love. “Love, to be authentic, must be practical and observable.” Our friend, Betty, is a remarkable, loving lady who has a unique ministry. She gives cakes for people’s special occasions. She probably could make any kind but her specialties are German Chocolate or Coconut cakes, and she bakes those exquisitely. Recently, when she found it was my stepfather’s 94th birthday, she baked a Coconut cake, his favorite. My wife eloquently described Betty’s kindness as, “Love spoken out loud.” Maybe love looks like baking a cake, even when he is not your grandpa.

Love is best seen in everyday kindnesses more than grand gestures. Maybe love is doing more than could be expected or required, or offering help without needing to be asked, or sacrificing for someone without need for notice or regard for reward. This rings true. “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I have been considering a simple question; what does love for God really look like? The answer was simpler than I assumed. “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10 NIV. Your unforgettable “work and the love you have shown Him,” is witnessed in a lifestyle of helping others in ways, small and large; that is, “love spoken out loud.”

Today, I pray for you that your life will accurately express your love for God.

EDL pix love expressed

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