Monday, July 25, 2016


Last Sunday we sang the old hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers."  That hymn is a marching tune and is fun and peppy to sing.  We have a number of similar hymns that call us to action and what Paul called a battle against evil forces, some seen and some unseen.  I love this hymn for a number of reasons and I hope I one day can say I am a good soldier in the army of the Lord.

In Philippians 2:25-30, Paul exhorts the name of Epaphroditus.  It is an obscure name only mentioned in Philippians.  I love what Paul has to say because we often forget the battle is won, not with rock stars, talkers and mega leaders, but with foot soldiers.  These faithful soldiers go into homes, work places, Sunday School classes, missions and the trenches where "the least of these" are served, taught and loved.

As I read this passage I think of those faithful foot soldiers right here in Abbeville.  What Paul says about Epaphroditus could be said about many of you.  He, and you, are true brothers/sisters, co-workers and soldiers.  Paul tells the people of Philippi he should be welcomed and honored.  You should too!  May I view each day as "Randy, reporting for duty" under the great leadership of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Thanks for honoring me by allowing me to serve alongside you! Randy

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Excuses or Expectations?

In seminary we were assigned a book called Generation to Generation. The gist of the book is that you are significantly confined/bound in your behaviors and inclinations by your genetic and environmental past.  While I agreed with the idea that our upbringing and genetic makeup has something to do with our choices and inclinations, I never bought the idea that these things are solid bindings to those of us who claim Jesus.  I remember a certain tax collector (Zaccheaus, Luke 19) who had an inclination and lots of training in being a thieving weasel.  After meeting Jesus the man said he would return fourfold what he had taken and would give half of his stuff to the poor.  Jesus commented that "salvation has come to this house."  Zaccheaus chose, because of the presence and word of Jesus, to rise above his past and training.

I bring this up because I am tired of people who call themselves born-again Christians and a "nation under God" confusing the words, "excuses" and "expectations."  I will talk at length about this Wednesday night but I wonder ... why do we send people back to excuses, their past and their "environment" as permission for bad behavior?  On the TV show  Law and Order the Prosecutor (Jack McCoy) commonly asks defendants (under oath) if their bad childhood, bad upbringing, bad neighborhood and bad luck in life gives them carte blanche to harm or take from others.  He asks, "Do all people who have these things happen kill other people?"   If we, societally, buy this lie we do not live in a nation of laws ... we live in a nation of chaos.

God gives us positive expectations of His plans (Jeremiah 29:11) that will prosper us, His new creation in us (2 Corinthans 5:17) and His "new thing" He is doing in us (Isaiah 43:19).  These, and a myriad of other passages, describe a God who changes things and people.  So ... let's expect God to move us forward from being victims of circumstances to victors who learn, grow, love and live in that new place God gives us every day.  Let's stop buying the excuses of the world Jesus said He has overcome. Randy

Monday, July 11, 2016

Precious, Not Popular

Our continued journey through Philippians 2 is a study of how we should approach life, ministry and witness.  I remember Tony Campolo speaking about his African-American pastor who would go off on rants as he preached.  In one of those rants the preacher reminded the congregation that when you die and the folks have buried you and walked back to the fellowship hall to eat potato salad, they won't be talking about your titles, your accolades and your awards.  If they are they will be speaking about a life that is empty and dim.  What they should be speaking about is how you, as a child of God, shone light into the world by a precious testimony that came from your relationship to Jesus.

In Philippians 2 Paul reflects about people of joy that are starkly different than the crooked and perverse world we live in.  Paul says we hold out a precious message that is 1) different than the message of the world, 2) light compared to the world's darkness, 3) a message that is life, 4) a message that should be offered with an attitude of cooperation, 5) a message that is worth pouring out your life, and  6) a message that is shared joy between those that carry that light to the world.  While nothing in verses 15-18 says that this message will be popular, everything in this passage highlights a message that is worthy of children of the King.

If you follow Paul, when you breathe your last they will gather to talk about your testimony that shines brightly beyond the grave.  THAT, is shared joy!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


I have been enjoying the Olympic Trials as hopeful athletes compete for a place in the upcoming Summer Olympics.  They have risen to the top of their sports to vie for a place on the Olympic team.  I was watching the swimming competition and found the commentary and competition very interesting.

A certain athlete had tried for a place on the team for the past three Olympics.  She was called, by the commentators, a "free spirit" that basically trained the way she felt suited her best.  They made this comment with a certain amount of respect that she would do what the old Sinatra song said ... train "My Way!"  She approached life and training on her own terms, even if someone who might know a thing or two had some helpful advice.

The commentators called this "independent thinking."  I called it "trusting in your own understanding (Proverbs says don't do this)."

God's Word reminds us that our path and journey to God's salvation is work but that Jesus (the one who defined and is able to perfect our faith [Hebrews 12]) can and will lead that work toward His perfect will.  Jesus can do that if we submit to His terms and die to our terms.  Because eternal life is not on our terms but is always on God's terms.  After all, He did all that work and paid the entire price for our salvation.

In our life, trusting in self and relying on self gets us lost in the same places we have always gotten ourselves lost.  In the Olympics trusting in your own "way" and how you "feel" about training gets the same results it always has. This three-time Olympic Trials competitor lost by .015 seconds.  She is going home yet again.  She did it her way.  May we approach the throne of grace on Jesus' terms ... not our terms.  Randy