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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

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

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Overwhelmed But Not Overcome

July 28th, 2017

Emotions provide color and beauty to life.

 “I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed.”  Psalm 61:2 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about being, “Overwhelmed But Not Overcome.”

Feelings enrich your experience of life. But there are times when feelings are confusing, even overwhelming. In such times, you can find comfort and companionship from Jesus. “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV. Feelings are real but they are not always right. You have to deal with them but you do not have to believe them. There will be times when you may wish you didn’t have so many feelings to contend with. But I would not want to be without emotions, nor should you. Emotions also provide color and beauty to your life experience.

Jesus felt crushing emotions and dealt with them, as when He agonized over Jerusalem’s rejection. Luke 13:34-35 NIV. Or as He wept in Gethsemane’s garden when He foresaw the suffering of the cross. Luke 22:42 NIV. There is good news for such times. “[Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same temptations we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.” Hebrews 4:15-16 NLT.

At such times, easy answers won’t comfort you nor will empty platitudes that urge you to ignore or deny your feelings make feelings go away. I have learned that feelings are real, whether positive or negative, and you must reckon with them. Denying troubling feelings only amplifies their power. They won’t just go away because you wish they would. You should deal with them. You do not have to submit to them. Your feelings are real, but not always based in reality. Ofttimes, it is better to doubt them than believe them. Don’t become a slave to your emotions.

Embrace and enjoy healthy emotions; God gave them for your blessing. But what can you do with the unhealthy ones – like anger, fear, discouragement, worry, doubt, frustration, jealousy, or distress? God always has the answer. “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4 NIV. First, do not indulge feeling guilty for honest emotions, nor continue entertaining unhealthy emotions either. Bring them out in the open. Without shame, place them in God’s presence where the Holy Spirit can help you handle every emotion. That’s what Jesus did in His agony, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow . . Father, please take this suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will, not mine.” Mark 14:34 NIV/36 NLT. You can fully trust God in such moments, if you will.

To understand feelings, you must examine their origins. Sometimes, only God can expose the source of your feelings. When emotions overrule your will, bad feelings prompt bad choices. The Holy Spirit within you will always give you the power and wisdom to make right choices, if you ask. Remove the hurry and you reduce the worry.

More than circumstances, busy schedules are the root cause of feeling overwhelmed. You feel overwhelmed when stuff pushes God to the outer edges of your life. When you are overwhelmed: make time to recuperate physically, mentally, relationally, emotionally, and spiritually. Take time to rest. You must prioritize the necessary time. Take time to share your need for prayer with a friend. Take time to quiet your heart in God’s presence. “I am content and at peace, as a child lies quietly in its mother’s arms, so my heart is quiet within me.” Psalm 131:2 TEV. Take time to pray, asking God for help and healing. Take time to listen, until you hear a fresh, invigorating word from God.

Feeling the emotions of circumstances beyond his strength, David determined, “I will cry to You for help, for my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering Rock of safety, for You are my safe refuge.” Psalm 61:2 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to choose daily to live by strong faith and not strong feelings.

Christian Communications 2017-0579

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A Sacrificial Life

May 26th, 2017

Squandering life is wasteful. Sacrificing one’s life is noble

“If you give up your life for Me, you will save it.” Luke 9:24 CEV

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“A Sacrificial Life.”

This weekend our country will observe Memorial Day, remembering and honoring the men and women, and their families, who have served our nation and the lives sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy. I live in a military city with multiple military bases and hospitals. A significant number of the families of our community are either veterans or active duty military. When I meet veterans or see the faces of young soldiers serving bravely in far-flung reaches of our troubled world, I am humbled by the courage of the men and women who pledge their lives for the safety and sake of others.

They do not regard life as expendable or to be cheaply sacrificed. In contrast, more than most, they clearly see the incalculable value of life and yet are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for others. Only the person who would willingly sacrifice their own life has truly realized how precious life really is. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 NIV.

A few months ago, I received treasured, family heirlooms from my cousin – faded news clippings and the Purple Heart my uncle received while serving with the United States Marine Corps in WW II. Like so many young men, my Uncle Ralph was wounded in battle in the Mariana Islands, and after months of recovery was then a casualty in the assault of an enemy island, and was ultimately listed as, “missing in action.” He was my Dad’s older brother. For his sacrifice, he was revered in the Randolph family and his loss impacted my Dad, grandparents, and my uncle and aunt for their lifetimes. I only knew him through his picture as a Marine, displayed in a place of honor in my grandparents’ home.

If men and women will sacrifice their lives for freedom, love of country, and the safety of their families, should we who are called by His Name and redeemed by His sacrifice not give our lives in His service and the advance of His Kingdom? Squandering life is wasteful. Sacrificing life for God and others is noble. “I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1 NIV.

Jesus’ call to discipleship remains the same today, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Luke 9:23-25 NIV. Those last words pose a haunting question for every soul. The reward of your sacrifice in His Name by far exceeds the cost. Jesus was clear and His promise certain, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:29-30 NIV.

Jesus issued a monumental challenge that still resonates within hearts where He dwells. Sacrifice means living for something, and Someone, greater than yourself. In Christ’ name, we are all asked to lay down our lives in service to others. This weekend, as you recall the price others paid for your freedom, remember the price the Savior paid for your salvation.

Today, I pray for you to value your life as a gift to be given back to God and others.

Christian Communications 2017

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

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Eternal Life

May 10th, 2017

Our call is to live in the present while our heart rests in the eternal

 “This is eternal life: to know  Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” John 17:3 NIV

My thoughts and comments today are about, Eternal Life.”

In this life, almost everything is temporary. Even your lifetime is short term. Hopefully, we strain to embrace the concept of forever. When you are young, time seems forever but with every year that your span of life narrows you will realize that nothing here is forever. Life is only for a comparatively brief season when measured by the eternity that follows.

Yet this brief season of life is not unimportant; just the opposite is true. This season is of extreme importance because it will determine where and how you spend eternity, and eternity really is forever. I see two mistakes that people make. Some live only for the moment, giving little attention to eternal matters. That is an oversight costly to one’s soul. Jesus was clear, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36 NKJV. Others major on eternity, to the neglect of the invaluable time given them now. That neglect results in missing rich opportunities and relationships that would make eternity nearer and dearer. That is regrettable. Our call is to live in the present while our heart rests in the eternal.

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Read Philippians 1:20-26 NIV. Far better, forever! Serve Christ faithfully and effectively in this world, but keep your heart set on Heaven and the limitless life yet to be experienced. See Philippians 3:20-21 NIV.

  1. Heaven is a forever place for you. If Heaven were not real, Jesus was deliberately misleading. But He spoke clearly about Heaven and His Father. To His disciples and us, Jesus promised, “In My Father’s House are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you.”John 14:2 NKJV. Heaven’s reality rests upon the truth of God’s Word and the strength of Jesus’ own assertions. If Heaven were not real,there is no God, no Savior, and there would be no salvation. If Heaven were not real, every person would be lost in their sin, die, and exist no more. These all too brief years are too little for the divine life that is in you, if there were no Heaven.
  2. Heaven is a prepared place for you. “I go to prepare a place for you that where I am there you would be also.”John 14:2 NKJV. This is no haphazard one size fits all. Heaven is a place prepared with forethought, appropriate for you.  Heaven is a place of bliss and blessing, perfectly suitable for every man and woman there.
  3. Heaven has a reserved place for you. And if I go, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3 NKJV. “A hope laid up for you in heaven . . an inheritance reserved in Heaven for you.” See Colossians 1:5 NKJV/1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV.
  4. Heaven can be a sure place for you. “Whoever confesses Me before men,him I will also confess before My Father in Heaven.” Matthew 10:32 NKJV. “Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” John 17:3 NIV. May your heart be drawn to a brighter and more glorious day when we shall see Jesus face to face and know Him even as we are known by Him, and that day by day you will, “love His appearing,” more and more. Read 2 Timothy 4:8 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to know that Heaven is real and sure, and live accordingly.

Christian Communications 2017

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Loved and Loving

February 14th, 2017

God chose to love you extravagantly and eternally

My thoughts and comments today are about being, “loved and loving.”

“If this is how God loved us, then we should love one another.”      1 John 4:10 TEV

Every person has many needs. None is stronger or more essential than your need to be and feel loved. The greatest gift of one’s self is to offer love to another flawed person, not because of anything they have or have not done, but simply because you chose to love them. Love sets an elevated value on another person higher than they may have thought themselves deserving. And that’s a great feeling for both the one loving and the one loved.

Why do people struggle to believe they can be loved? On some occasion, every person has felt rejection or being unwanted. Hurting people hurt people. That is unfortunate but probably unavoidable in an unkind and hurting world. Such feelings diminish your understanding of self-worth and may wrongly persuade you that you are unlovely, or even unlovable. Those emotions are difficult to change, even when told otherwise. I heard it said, “Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear a word you are saying.” That is nowhere more true than in this matter of love. Love is most persuasive when evidenced by grace given and behavior observed, rather than by mere words that proclaim love. Love is volitional, before it becomes emotional. In every action and overture toward you, God is unchangeably consistent with His choice to love you forever.

When teaching on love years earlier, the Lord gave an insight expressed in this understanding, To be authentic, love must be practical and observable. God’s love for you is practical, observable, and always sacrificial. “For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.” John 3:16 TEV. The love of God is practical enough to provide, protect, and preserve, and is plainly observable in the wonderful plans He has made for you, forever.  God said, “I know the plans I have for you . . to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV.

God chose to love you extravagantly and eternally, without measure or requirement. Being loved embraces the obligation to love others in no lesser way. “This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. Dear friends, if this is how God loved us, then we should love one another.” 1 John 4:10-11 TEV. You are loved; be loving. See Ephesians 3:17-20 NIV. In life, I have found that loving is well worth the risk, and the rewards are the incredible, extravagant dimensions of Christ’s own love. “Take in . . the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.” Ephesians 3:18 MSG. See Romans 8:35-39 NAS. Your love is limited until you embrace His love without limits.

Today, I pray for you to receive the immeasurable love of God and share it generously.

Christian Communications 2017

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