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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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Weakness and Strength

June 4th, 2014

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 NKJV.

God more easily supplies what you lack than can displace what you are proud to possess.

Today my thoughts and comments are about “weakness and strength.”

Whether in the barnyard, school yard, or market place, others seem to take advantage of those whom they perceive as being weaker than themselves. For that very reason, people learn to mask weaknesses with denial or pretense. Neither of those are a winning strategy. No one enjoys being weak or being considered weak. Denial of a fact does not change it, and pretending you are other than you are doesn’t alter facts. Here’s the reality; every person has both strengths and weaknesses peculiar to themselves. Your recognition and response to either is what will make the difference. In your strengths, be humble; about your weaknesses, be honest.

God looks at your weaknesses and strengths much differently than you or others do. What you perceive as strength is of more concern to God than your weaknesses. Strength can be beguiling, leading to pride and living independently of God when you are not. Pride is not a pretty thing and God will not long indulge it. Humility is the cure for pride. From his earlier lessons of humiliating failures and humbling experiences, Peter wrote, “Be [aproned] with humility [toward one another], for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:5-6 NKJV. Voluntary humility is an easier path than imposed humiliation. If you will not embrace the first, you will face the latter.

Let’s see what God says about weakness. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Think of what you were when you were called [by God]. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong . . so that no one may boast before Him.” 1 Corinthians 1:25-29 NIV. God does not respond well to boasting. God more easily supplies what you lack than can displace what you are proud to possess.

In the great chapter of faith, you can read of those, “Who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” Hebrews 11:33-34 NIV. Who were these incredible, powerful, conquering people? They were ordinary people, “whose weakness was turned to strength.” God alone can do that. They were people who found strength is their God. “The Lord . . gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:28-29 NIV.

Paul wrote, “God said to me, ‘My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my [weaknesses], that the power of Christ may rest upon me . . For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NKJV. It may sound counter-intuitive, but in Christ, that is ever true.

I pray for you today that you are content that your strength depends entirely on His.

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A Healing Touch

September 6th, 2013

“And Jesus said, ‘Who touched Me?’” Luke 8:45 NKJV.

When your last, best option is Jesus, you are very close to a miracle.

My thoughts and comments today are about “a healing touch.”

Everyone needs others’ help sometimes. Our common pride of self-sufficiency is usually short lived. Life soon eliminates any delusion of one’s ability to always do life on their own. You were designed for community with all the mutual caring and contribution that affords. Ever needed help and either didn’t know how to ask or did not know who to ask? I’ll bet you have; I know I have. When you are at the end of your abilities and resource, you need to learn how to reach out. When you are serious about receiving help, you will be willing to lay aside your dignity to receive help. Pride and embarrassment are emotional luxuries desperate situations do not afford you.

The Bible shares an intriguing story of a woman desperate for help. Read Luke 8:43-48 NKJV. There are valuable, practical lessons you can learn from her personal sacrifice, absolute desperation, and noble courage. It is unrealistic to expect or ask others to charitably do for you what you are just unwilling to do for yourself. “There was a woman in the crowd who had a hemorrhage for twelve years. She had spent everything she had on doctors and still could find no cure.” For twelve years she had expended every effort, until exhausting all physical and financial resources she had. Her need was no less, but her options were. When your last, best option is Jesus, you are very close to a miracle.

Being another person in the crowd with a need is not enough. Disheartened but determined, severely weakened yet pressing against a pushing crowd, she reached out and “touched the fringe of [Jesus] robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.” Jesus would do for her what neither she nor others could do. When you cannot help yourself and when every other resource has failed, reaching and touching Jesus releases the power and resources of Heaven. See Philippians 4:19 NKJV.

“And Jesus said, ‘Who touched Me?’” The disciples were incredulous. A huge, unruly crowd was pushing and jostling for Jesus’ attention and Jesus was asking them who touched Him. A better question would have been who hadn’t pushed or bumped into Jesus. Ah, but her touch was different. Her touch released the abundance of God into the barrenness of her need. “But Jesus said, ‘Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out of Me.’” In an inexplicable, miraculous moment the pain and helplessness of a dozen years were forever removed.

Her need was physical; she needed healing neither she nor others could provide. Today, your desperate need might be physical, or financial, or emotional, or psychological, or relational, or spiritual – the answer is the same for you as for this faith-filled lady. Jesus’ healing touch releases God’s ample provision into your depletion, whatever its origin, duration, extent, or complexity. With authority, the Bible says, “For we have a high priest which [can] be touched with the feeling of our infirmities . . let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 KJV. Set aside all reticence, embarrassment, or pride of person and come confidently to Jesus. Jesus will recognize your touch and respond with ample grace.

My prayer for this day is that you will not be shy to bring your need to Jesus.

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Qualified To Serve

August 9th, 2013

For he who serves Christ . . is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Romans 14:18 NKJV

Humility prepares you to serve; pride prevents you.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “qualified to serve.”

Serving is an art, not a task – elevating, not demeaning. Serving benefits others, while making you better. Serving well has rewards, some are external to others, and many are internal to yourself – such as, personal satisfaction, practical usefulness, and character development. However, the purest motive for serving is simply because it honors God, reflects His nature, and serves His purpose. Serving is just the right thing to do, an expression of love for another and evidence of a redeemed nature.

Admittedly, serving does not seem to come natural to any of us and therefore, we have mixed feelings and misconceptions about serving. Our fallen, and self-centered, nature prefers being served rather than being the one serving. Read Luke 22:24-27 NKJV. By His own teaching and example, Jesus set the standard high; “I am among you as the One who serves.” Luke 22:27 NKJV. In the Kingdom of God, serving is not relegated to the under-qualified; rather, serving is reserved for those who are well qualified.

Even ungodly Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, knew there were qualifications for the best servants. Upon conquering Jerusalem, his instructions were to bring to Babylon the best and brightest: “Bring some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility – young men . . showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s place.” Daniel 1:3-4 NIV. Consider the king’s high standards for those who would serve: recognized potential, practical knowledge, native intelligence, and proven abilities. Would God expect any less of those who serve Him? “Servants . . whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men . . for you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:22-24 KJV.

The Apostle Paul wrote to Christ-followers in Rome, most or all of which were servants literally, even slaves, in Roman households, “For the Kingdom of God is . . righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things [righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit] is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Romans 14:18 NKJV. Serving Christ. Acceptable to God. Approved by men. Those are quite the accolades, and could be said of you? And the result? “My Father will honor anyone who serves Me.” John 12:26 TEV.

Practically, how do you “serve” Christ? Jesus is clear, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these . . you did it for Me . . whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.” Matthew 25:40/45 NIV. I have often quoted the wise counsel of my friend, Campbell, “If you want to know how you are doing as a servant, watch how you react when someone treats you like one.” Humility prepares you to serve; pride prevents you.

My prayer for you today is that you treasure humility and practice serving.

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Keep Looking Up

May 1st, 2013

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“I lifted my eyes to Heaven and my understanding returned to me.” Daniel 4:34 NKJV.

Your answers are above, where God rules and wisdom abides.

My thoughts and comments today are to “keep looking up.”

Life can get messy and feel out of control. You can lose your way without knowing where to look for direction. You can despair without seeking encouragement and reassurance. There are times you just won’t know where to turn for help. Sometimes, family and friends try to help but their help doesn’t help. Bewildering times will occasionally impose on your life. Or you may have just lost your confidence or sense of direction briefly.

But there are also moments that are self-imposed, when false concerns of privacy or pride cocoon you from the answers you lack and the help you need. Often, you struggle alone, afraid or unwilling to confide in another. That’s called pride, usually. Pride is a delusion of self-sufficiency. “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.” Proverbs 29:23 NKJV.

Listen to the words of a person who learned the hard way. A powerful but prideful Babylonian king’s words were these: “I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to Heaven, and my understanding returned to me . . and I praised and honored Him who lives forever . . those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” Daniel 4:34/37 NKJV. There is a God in Heaven who understands who you are, knows where you are, and can make sense of all that confuses you. “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5-7 NKJV. There is grace to be found in the midst of your confusion.

If you look elsewhere for the answers you need, you are looking in the wrong directions. As Nebuchadnezzar learned, wisdom comes from above when one is humble enough to seek for it. See James 1:5 NIV. “The wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere.” James 3:17 NLT. I value a simple, practical definition of wisdom, “Wisdom is the ability to see your situation from God’s perspective.” David expressed the truth of that statement as well. Read Psalm 73:1-17 NIV. God’s counsel is simple; “Keep looking up.” In God’s presence, truth brings clarity.

Typically, it’s natural to look everywhere else before looking where any search for wisdom should begin. For answers, we first look inward for clarity and understanding we do not possess. Failing, we look outward – often indiscriminately – to anyone who ventures an opinion, compounding our confusion. Your answers are above, where God rules and wisdom abides. Look upward!

Read the Bible; the Bible is rich with practical truth, opening the wisdom of Heaven to you. Meditate on Scripture. See Psalm 1:1-3 NIV. Trust the Spirit; He is a personal tutor Jesus described as, “the Spirit of truth [Who] will guide you into all truth.” John 16:13 NIV. Pray and worship; they are critical practices, opening your spirit to know God’s voice. Seek Godly fellowship; share life with people who share and support your faith. Read Hebrews 10:23-25 NKJV. Be true to the truth; it sets you free. Read John 8:32 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you look to God for wisdom each day in every situation.

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