Posts Tagged ‘parents’

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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A Godly Legacy

March 6th, 2015

“I urge you to contend for the faith that was once entrusted to the saints.” Jude 1:3 NIV.

Christianity is one generation from extinction.

Family wedding portrait cropped

My thoughts and comments today are about “a Godly legacy.”

Some people incorrectly think faith should be a private matter, not something to be discussed with others. Parents have explained to me that they were, “uncomfortable to impose any particular expression of faith on their children,” leaving spiritual life for them to decide when older. When you understand the eternal consequence of personal faith or the lack thereof, that seems neither wise nor loving.

A parent would not leave children to decide for themselves the value of good health, or personal hygiene, or nutrition, or the necessity of education, or matters of character such as honesty, modesty, and respect for authority. There are things left as personal to each individual, but everything that is personal is not required to be private. Faith is certainly one of those. Faith is personal but not an altogether private matter.

You are surrounded by an increasingly secular culture. Any public expression of faith seems to be assumed an intolerance of others and considered intrusive if not kept private. Yet there seems to be no alarm at such faulty reasoning, even an apparent resignation to such practice. Jude, an apostle, admonished believers, “About the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once entrusted to the saints.” Jude 1:3 NIV. You have an invaluable trust to keep.

Christianity is one generation from extinction. “As long as Joshua lived, the people of Israel served the Lord, and even after his death they continued to do so as long as the leaders were alive who had seen for themselves all the great things that the Lord had done for Israel . . That whole generation also died, and the next generation forgot the Lord and what he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:7/10 TEV. The greatest sadness a Godly parent could ever feel is for their children to discount or later discard their parents’ Christian convictions and values. You afford your family a Godly example or provide them a perilous exemption.

Even after their deaths, my parents and grandparents still shape my personal faith. Church and home were one and the same in our family. My faith was taught and nurtured in my Dad’s sermons at church and by my Mom’s hymns at home and, just as importantly, by their personal examples. I remember my Dad describing my grandmother’s miraculous healing from a terminal illness that resulted in his conversion as a teenager, and his dramatic healing from rheumatic fever when I was just a toddler, and of the Lord’s faithful provision at times when there was no food for our table. He refused to let my sister and I forget our spiritual heritage, a history concerning the Lord’s grace and presence in our family.

Your faith is not yours alone; faith is a Godly legacy you are responsible to establish in your family, and share within your circle of influence. Your faith must be sacredly held, sincerely lived, and successfully shared with the next generations. Make your practice and profession of faith honest, and especially consistent. Faith is no private matter; share it with others sensitively and confidently.

You may not have received a Godly heritage. A Godly legacy can begin today with you.We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord. We will tell of His power and the mighty miracles He did . . He commanded our fathers to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them – so each generation can set its hope anew on God, remembering his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.” Psalm 78:4-7 NLT. That is the mandate of personal faith; each generation will set their hope on God and nurture that hope in the next. Make faith, and your living and sharing it faithfully, a priority in your home and everyday life.

Today, my prayer for you is to value your Godly heritage and the spiritual legacy you must leave others.

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Reflections About My Dad

June 13th, 2014

“I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 4 NKJV.

 Live to leave a Godly legacy to your family and Godly generations to come.

My thoughts and comments today are, “reflections about my dad.”

The Godly influence of my father in what I believe, what I do, and who I have become is undeniable, his significance to my life continuing long after his lifetime. Some time ago, I came across a yellowed note from my Mom, written twenty years earlier. As I read her words, I was unprepared for my emotional response. She wrote about our family and ministry, but 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 just a senior in college, and still my eyes became moist as I read those words. It was not a new revelation. My Dad showed and spoke often of his sentiments in our home. Yet somehow even now, those words of his pride stir something deep within my heart. I was not prepared for how such a simple statement of my parents’ feelings on a piece of yellowed stationery would still mean so much after all of these years since his death, and more recently hers.

Solomon wrote, “The father of the righteous has great joy; he who has a wise child delights in them.” Proverbs 23:24 NIV. You have the power to bless your parents with joy. I marvel at the profound truth that a father’s joy can touch your heart throughout both their lifetime and yours. At this mature stage of my life, being reminded of my Dad’s love and pride in me meant as much if not more, as it did when I was young and he was living.

My Dad left an exemplary spiritual legacy and from him I and our family have received a Godly heritage. Every parent has an opportunity to do the same. “For you, O God, have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.” Psalm 61:5 NIV. You may not have been given a spiritual heritage, but you can live to leave a Godly legacy to your family and the generations to come. A family’s future doesn’t have to replicate its history. A Godly, family heritage can begin with a new spiritual legacy, starting today with you.

John’s words ring true, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 4 NKJV. Whatever accomplishments with which God has since graced my life, my Dad would be most proud that I carry on the faith I learned at his knee and from his pulpit. He was both my Dad and my pastor.

Imagine how Jesus felt at the Jordan River when hearing God declare, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” You can feel His Father’s joy and delight, and realize the emotional and spiritual strengthening that Jesus experienced as He purposed to do the Father’s will. The Father’s pride was more in who Jesus was, than what He would do.

Now as a Dad, grandfather, and great grandfather, I know what such delight feels like. When I see the good and Godly man, husband, and dad (and now grandfather) that our son has become, and the Godly woman, wife, and mom that our daughter has become, and young adult grandchildren who love and live for Jesus, Gayle and I are grateful to God for His kindness to the Randolph families, and anticipate future generations yet to be.

Joy and delight hardly describes 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. Whatever any of them achieve in life will be secondary to our thankfulness that they have embraced our faith, and will give the legacy of that faith to their families. I guess I could have titled my comments, “Legacy and Heritage,” but I was really just reflecting about my Dad and the generations that follow his faith.

Today, my prayer for you is that you will live wisely and walk faithfully in God’s truth.

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A Life Pleasing to God

November 16th, 2011

“By faith Enoch . . had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Hebrews 11:5 NKJV

“Pleasing God is not about perfect performance, but is about complete trust and obedience.”

My thoughts today are about a “life pleasing to God.”

Be prepared; you will occasionally come across people that are difficult to please. That is unavoidable. People that are unhappy and not very pleased with themselves, or much of anything or anyone else, can be difficult. Somewhere in the real life reality of such experiences, an unfounded fear creeps in that God may be hard to please as well. After all, His expectations are pretty high, and His example is without parallel. He is perfect, never failing, never faltering. So how could any of us please God?

A very sad day occurred when our son was a young high schooler. After a serious discussion about his grades which were average but I believed less than his capability, I realized the conversation had been a stern monologue rather than a discussion and more intense than I meant. For his sake and future, I could not accept his allowing less than his best effort. Yes, his grades mattered to me, but not as much as he mattered. I found him in his room. My heart broke as I heard him say, “Dad, there’s nothing I do that pleases you!” His pain became my pain, and sitting down beside him on his bed, I tried to reassure him that my discontent with his grades was by no means my displeasure with him. Do you ever feel like God is a parent you cannot please? I think God also feels as I did when we think He cannot be pleased.

Jesus models and teaches exactly the opposite. His Father testified to all, “This is My beloved Son; I am fully pleased with Him.” 2 Peter 1:17-18 NLT. Fully pleased! What more need be said? Jesus models a life in the certainty that God is pleased. Jesus had unquestioned confidence; “I always do what pleases Him.” John 8:29 NIV. When you know that God is pleased, there is freedom that is hard to explain and courage to live life with boldness. But you might say, “Of course, Jesus pleased God; He was the Son of God. But what about me? I deal with mine and others’ humanity every day.”

The Bible records this remarkable statement about a man: “By faith Enoch . . had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Hebrews 11:5 NKJV. If Enoch did, you can! Simple faith pleases God. Hebrews 11:6. Sincere obedience pleases God. 1 John 3:22-23 NIV. A worthy life pleases God. Colossians 1:10 NIV. Doing good and sharing pleases God. Hebrews 13:16 NLT. Those are a sample, but are non-negotiables.

Pleasing God is not about perfect performance, but is about complete trust and obedience. Here is the secret. “And now, may the God of peace . . equip you with all you need for doing his will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all that is pleasing to Him.” Hebrews 13:20 NLT. Read that again. Observe that God equips you with all He expects from you. You can do what God asks! And God will produce in you what is pleasing to Him. He enables you to do what you otherwise could not.

My prayer for you today is that you give God your best and trust Him for the rest.

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Living Sacrificially

November 1st, 2011

“The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:11 NIV

The limits of your sacrifice evidence the reality and extent of your love.”

My thoughts today are about “living sacrificially.”

Sacrifice is often avoided whenever possible, until there remains no other option. Most of us are sacrifice-adverse. Such a person sees a risk and estimates the cost, unless and until persuaded that the less certain, future rewards are worth the present sacrifice. Yet fullness of life seems to require a willingness to make sacrifices for your own good and the good others. The person who will not live sacrificially is destined to live superficially.

Friendships, marriages, families – even life itself – necessitate some times and measure of unselfishness and sacrifice. Strong marriages are built on individual sacrifices from both husband and wife. Their sacrifices may not always be equal, but they must be mutual. Parents also make significant sacrifices small and great for their children – personally, financially, materially – deferring something of their own lives for the sake of their children’s well-being.

Spiritual life and growth are only possible through sacrifice, deferring one’s preferences in order to live in obedience and love. Sacrifice is the language and proof of love. The limits of your sacrifice evidence the reality and extent of your love. “Jesus said, ‘No one that has left house, or (relationships), or fields (describing the sacrifice of comfort, or companionship, or commerce) for Me and the Gospel, will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age . . and with them, persecutions, and in the age to come, eternal life.’” Mark 10:29-30 NIV. That “receives a hundred times as much” sounds pretty good, not so much the other part “and with them, persecutions!” Sacrifice is costly in the interim, but abundantly rewarding ultimately.

Your salvation cost Jesus dearly; your discipleship will cost you as well. This is the Apostle Paul’s simple principle as taught to the Roman church, but applicable to every Godly relationship, “Honor one another above yourselves . . in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Romans 12:10/Philippians 2:3-4 NIV. Sacrifice is not a complex idea; it is a severe obedience of putting another before yourself.

The Bible verse, most familiar and descriptive of supreme sacrifice, may well be this: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life . . He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things?” John 3:16 NIV/Romans 8:32 NKJV. “Thank God for His Son – a gift too wonderful for words!” 2 Corinthians 9:15 NLT.

Nor was the sacrifice imposed upon Jesus, but rather joyfully embraced, “Jesus Christ . . loved us, and by His own sacrificial death He has freed us from our sins . . Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross . .” Revelation 1:5 TEV/Hebrews 12:2 NIV.

God models the nobility as well as the power of sacrifice. “The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:11 NIV. Who is first consideration in your calculations and plans? What are you willing to “lay down” – rights, demands, convenience, opinions, or expectations – to be His disciple and serve others?

My prayer for you today is that you understand that giving is the key to a joyful life.

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