Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and welcome to the Friendship Bible Church BLOG, your source for announcements and information about what's happening at FBC.

For up to the minute information, follow us on Twitter.

And check out our main website, too, for everything else related to Friendship Bible Church in Randolph, Ohio -

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merriest Christmas

Here's a little Christmas humor to lighten your day:
Thanksgiving was only eight days away. Michelle, who teaches the Bible in our midweek children's program, decided to ask her preschoolers about the upcoming holiday. She thought it would be effective to have the class playfully correct some wrong ideas about Thanksgiving.

"Now let me see. Thanksgiving. That's the day when we think about all the stuff we have. And how we want more things than anybody else has. And how we don't care about anybody but ourselves. And —"

"No!" the kids started to yell. "No-o-o!"

Then one little guy called out, "That's not Thanksgiving, Miss Michelle, that's Christmas!"
(Rubel Shelly, Nashville, Tennessee)

Let's laugh at that, and determine it's not true in our homes and lives. May we remember this Christmas day that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, laid in manger, worshipped by shepherds, wisemen and angels. He grew to adulthood, lived a perfect and sinless life. He healed the sick, cleansed the leper, forgave the sinner, loved the unlovable. He made blind eyes see, deaf ears hear, and lame legs walk. He raised the dead to life again. And then, to ultimately show His love, He gave His life on the cross to pay for your sins and mine. He lay in the grave for 3 days and then arose, defeating death. And the best part? He's coming back - for me and for you! GLORY!

That's Christmas! May we never forget it. May we keep Him in the center of it. This year, and every year.

"For unto us, a child is born. Unto us a Son is given."
"Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Only a Few

"...small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:14)

Everybody talks about Jesus this time of year.

Some will show up at church services during the Christmas season, even though they don't attend the rest of the year. Some will loudly proclaim how offended they are at any mention of Christianity during the Christmas season. I know, that's ludicrous... but it's how many in our society think these days. And some will think in a slightly more focused manner on the meaning of Christmas - the meaning of that wonderful Baby's birth.

Everybody talks about Jesus.

But Jesus said very few will get it. "Only a few." As we go about the hustle and bustle of Christmas, don't forget how important it is that we who know the Savior proclaim Him to the world. Right now - while everybody is talking about Him, we have a great opportunity to introduce them to Him.

Share Jesus with somebody during this Christmas season. Help somebody find their way onto the narrow road that leads to life.

Oh, and by the way - don't forget our Christmas Eve service at 7:00 PM on Christmas Eve! Bring your family and friends.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Lightbulb Speaks

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. (James 1:19)

Have you tried the new CFL lightbulbs? You know the ones that look like an ice cream cone? They are supposed to save energy, and therefore save the world. We recently replaced nearly everyone of our old bulbs with these new fangled types, and are therefore doing our part to save the world.

This morning, I again experienced one of my biggest complaints about these bulbs. They don't turn on immediately. I flipped the switch and was just about convinced that the bulb was not working when it decided to come on. Just a momentary hesitation while it warmed up, but enough to cause me to react negatively to the delay. That got me thinking:

Isn't it interesting how quickly we can feel upset about something and react to it? Especially in the realm of WORDS. James warned us to be "slow to speak," and that is good advice when we hear somebody say something that offends, disgusts, angers, or dismays us. We are tempted to react immediately to the offense, but Christ is better served by our silence.

The next time you flip the switch on one of those supposedly improved light bulbs, notice the delay, and remember to be "slow to speak."

Oh, and about saving the planet? The only way to do that, is to win it to Christ. May God help us all to be actively engaged in that greatest work of conservation today.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The First Gleam of Dawn

Morning is such a special time to spend with the Lord. Arising before dawn, smelling that first whiff of coffee, and then settling into an armchair with the Bible - it's just a great time of the day. And it's commended in the Bible in so many ways. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. (Psalm 5:3)

May I encourage you to set aside a bit of every morning for the Lord? When we give Him the first part of everything, including our time, He always blesses that gift.

Well... this morning I sat in my chair looking out my window as the sun rose, pushing aside the grayness of night, and revealing with ever increasing light the snow - both in the air and on the ground. Turning away from the window, my eyes fell on my chapter in Proverbs for the day, where I read:

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. (Proverbs 4:18-19 NIV)

Looking out the window again, I watched as the light increased, and pushed away the darkness. What a reminder, that no matter how dark the night we may go through, the first gleam of dawn will come, and the believer can keep walking, secure in the knowledge that God will always provide the light needed to see the way - more and more - until we get home.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Promise of Winter

It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter. (Psalm 74:17)

I sit, this morning, huddled in my warm house. It's hunting season this week, and I would normally be outside, enjoying God's beautiful creation. But I've been smitten with a head cold all week, and can't bear the thought of being out in this cold. As I sit looking through my window at the bleak grayness that envelopes the world this time of year, I can't help but suppress a shiver.

But then I read today's "Morning and Evening" devotional by Charles H. Spurgeon (highly recommended, by the way, even though the language may seem a bit dated) and took heart. For God did, indeed, make "both summer and winter." He is faithful to ensure that the seasons continue every year. He promised Noah that while the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22) He keeps the cycle going by His faithfulness. And that gives me hope that His other promises are just as sound.

Look out your window this morning and view winter in a different way - as a promise that summer will soon be back! You have the promise of God on that. And then remember that all His other promises are just as sure.

We serve a faithful God.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Focus On Your Assignment

I didn't get to watch the Cleveland Browns wallop the Texans yesterday afternoon, so I had to read about it this morning. Braylon Edwards figured prominently in the article I was reading, and the thrust of the article was how this young man has improved - maybe even transformed himself from being a problem player to a real contributor to the Browns success this year.
"Yeah, to some extent, the biggest thing for me was that I needed to focus on Braylon on the field and stop worrying about what what's going on with other parts of the team," said Edwards, who during one in-game flare up ripped the offensive line for missing assignments. "Instead of me worrying about that other stuff, I needed to realize that if I just run my routes and I do what I'm supposed to do, everybody else will do their job." (Braylon Edwards)
Interesting how the formula for success in other endeavors is sometimes instructive to us who are trying to succeed in our walk with God. Imagine how successful the church would be if all of us who trust Christ, would just concentrate on doing our part,without worrying about what's going on in other parts of the team! If we just focused on the job at hand... if we just focused on the gift we each have from the Holy Spirit...if we focused on exercising that gift constantly and always for the good of the church!

May I encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 12 today, and consider its implications for your lives. Paul taught therein that we all have a spiritual gift, and that the purpose of that gift is the overall good of the local church. Are you focusing on your gift?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Think and Thank

A thanksgiving thought from our brother Dr. David Jeremiah:

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1)

The words "thank" and "think" hail from the same root, reminding us that thanksgiving comes from thinking about our blessings. That's what David did in Psalm 34. He scribbled out the words of this passage during a distressing time in his life. According to the superscription of Psalm 34, this was David's prayer as he fled from King Abimelech by feigning insanity. After escaping by the skin of his teeth, David declared he would "bless the Lord at all times," because, he said, "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears . . . . This poor man cried out, and the Lord . . . saved him out of all his troubles."

How many times has the Lord saved us out of all our troubles? How many times has He protected us in near-accidents? Healed us during sickness? Provided in moments of need? Given us verses to calm us, friends to help us, and blessings to enrich us?

Think of all the prayers God has answered in our lives. How many answers has He given you? A thousand? Ten thousand? A hundred thousand?

Let's think - and thank!

The person who has stopped being thankful has fallen asleep in life. (Robert Louis Stevenson)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. (Psalm 107:8 NIV)

I hope this morning's post finds you and yours enjoying a blessed thanksgiving celebration. As Christians, we do have so much to be thankful for. It may not always feel like it, especially during those days where we are struggling through some of the issues of life. But God never leaves us. His unfailing love is always there, washing over us like a flood. And His wonderful deeds are always being worked out in our lives.

As we gather around our tables today, we will give thanks for God's provision in our lives... we'll give thanks for food and health... for family and friends. But let us remember the words of the Psalmist, and remember how much our God loves us, and how many and varied are His workings in our lives. May we give thanks for that, today.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Don't forget! This Saturday from 9-4!

We are praying specifically for the opportunity to reach 100+ people with this event. Are you praying?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Evil lips? Evil ears?

A wicked man listens to evil lips; a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue. (Proverbs 17:4 NIV)

Here is an interesting verse I came across in my devotions this morning. Now we know that gossip is always condemned in our Bible. Hopefully, you and I will not participate in gossip, ever, for to do so would be sin. I came across a definition of gossip once, which I've used ever since. "Gossip is anything spoken about another person outside their hearing, which does not edify them, or build them up." That's a tough definition to integrate into our own speech patterns, isn't it? I struggle with it, and I'm sure you do to. Let's pray for each other that we can learn to not gossip!

But that verse in Proverbs says something even more troubling - it's not only the speaker who is in the wrong - but the listener! The one who listens to gossip is wicked! The one who pays attention to lies is a liar!

So we need to expand our prayer this morning, don't we? "Lord, help us as believers to not only abandon evil lips, but also evil ears!"

Friday, November 16, 2007

A future and a hope

Four of us toured the Haven of Rest rescue mission in Akron last evening. It was a great time of fellowship, and it was an amazing time of seeing God work. RCC supports the Haven of Rest both financially and physically - a few of us give up one Saturday morning every month to help serve meals.

There were scripture verses displayed prominently throughout each facility, and each verse seemed chosen to convey hope to a person who desperately needs hope - for the people helped by the Haven of Rest are often at the very end of their rope. One verse struck me:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

As I considered that verse, I pondered what it would mean to a homeless man, or to a single mother who had desperately sought shelter at the Haven for her small children. I wondered how many people had fled the addictions that so tore them apart, and found hope in the walls of the Haven of Rest - found hope in the promise of that verse.

Leaving the Haven of Rest we travelled to the hospital to visit with one of our membership who has been stricken with health problems. As we talked with her, the same verse came to my mind. Looking at her lying there I could not help but rejoice in the fact that God has great plans for her.

Whatever state you find yourself in today, know that God loves you, and has amazing plans for your life. Plans of hope... plans for a future with Him.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Extraneous Words

It is an annual ritual, and obligatory where I work - the sexual harrassment training session. Many of you probably have to attend these annual sessions, which are now common in many organizations.

Where I work, the session was conducted by an attorney from a large law firm, and the presenter, a litigator, actually made the session very interesting. After concluding the session, and returning to my office, I found myself meditating on one particular phrase he used in his presentation. He displayed a slide containing a definition of sexual harrassment, and then he said, "No word in this definition is extraneous or unnecessary. Every word is here for a purpose."

Wow. My mind couldn't help but go back to the Bible, where we read that "every word of God is flawless." (Proverbs 30:5) And Jesus said "I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." (Matthew 5:18)

Our courts understand the value of language - every single word or punctuation point has meaning. Do you understand the value of the language used in your Bible? Do you understand that the Holy Spirit of God inspired men to use the exact words He wanted them to use to convey the exact truth He wanted conveyed? (2 Peter 1:21) Do you understand that every word in your Bible is important? That "no word therein is extraneous or unnecessary. Every word is there for a purpose?"

This is why we are safe in regulating our lives by the Bible, obeying its every command, and living daily according to its instructions.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Big Week

Things are really getting exciting at Randolph Christian Church. I've been praying lately that the Lord would do something BIG here. My life verse, as I've shared before, is Jeremiah 33:3, "Call unto me and I will answer thee, and show thee GREAT and MIGHTY THINGS, that thou knowest not." I don't want little answers to prayer. I want to see God do something GREAT and MIGHTY at Randolph Christian Church.

The hymn writer Daniel Whittle said it like this:
Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.
Not just the drops, but the showers. Is that what you want for Randolph Christian Church? Will you join me in praying for God to open the heavens and do something GREAT and MIGHTY here?

Well this coming week we have several opportunities to see God do wonderful things.

Sunday - Missionary Greg Bryan will be with us. He ministers to college kids at KSU. Pray for and invite every young person you know to join us for this service.

Thursday, November 15th - We have the opportunity to tour the Haven of Rest during their annual open house. Some of you have expressed just such a desire. See where your missionary dollars go! And see how God uses the gifts and service of little churches like ours to help those in great need.

Friday, November 16th - Those who bought tickets will be traveling to Youngstown for the Gaither Vocal Band and Signature Sound concert.

It's gonna be a great week to be a part of Randolph Christian Church!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

One Mistake Away

"Sometimes I feel like I'm one mistake away from You leaving me this way."

I listened to that lyric from Casting Crowns this morning as I drove to work, and I couldn't help but relate.

The song, entitled "East to West," goes on to say, "Jesus, can you show me just how far the east is from the west?" - a reference to the promise in God's word that "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:12)

Does the struggle get you down, Christian? As believers, we face the disappointments of a world that hates our Savior, and we face the disillusionment that comes when other believers don't do their part in serving the Savior. But we also face great disappointment within our own selves, don't we, as we find it is not so easy to live the Christian life. Ever feel like that? Ever feel like you are "one mistake away from God leaving you that way?"

If you do, consider the promise of Psalm 103:12. Consider just how far the east is from the west. Consider how truly and absolutely you are forgiven and loved by the Savior. And then get up and keep serving Him.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

This Poor Man Cried

In my morning Bible reading today I came across Psalm 34:6, "This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles." My mind was instantly transported back to an old friend who claimed this verse as his life verse. His voice would waver a bit as he recited it, saying often that it described exactly how the Lord had saved him. And from the day that poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him from all his troubles, he claimed that verse as his life verse.

You know, no matter what troubles you go through, you can always cry out to the Lord, and be assured of two wonderful truths:
  1. He will hear you.
  2. He will help you.
Are you experiencing a time of "trouble?" Learn from my old friend's life verse - cry out to God and watch Him save you from all your troubles.


By the way, remember tonight is Midweek Prayer Meeting - the church will be open for prayer between 6:30 and 7:00 this evening.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Four Faithful Sayings

From Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening devotional:

"It is a faithful saying." —2 Timothy 2:11

Paul has four of these "faithful sayings." The first occurs in 1 Timothy 1:15, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." The next is in 1 Timothy 4:6, "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation." The third is in 2 Timothy 2:12, "It is a faithful saying—If we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him"; and the fourth is in Titus 3:3, "This is a faithful saying, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works."

We may trace a connection between these faithful sayings. The first one lays the foundation of our eternal salvation in the free grace of God, as shown to us in the mission of the great Redeemer. The next affirms the double blessedness which we obtain through this salvation—the blessings of the upper and nether springs—of time and of eternity. The third shows one of the duties to which the chosen people are called; we are ordained to suffer for Christ with the promise that "if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." The last sets forth the active form of Christian service, bidding us diligently to maintain good works. Thus we have the root of salvation in free grace; next, the privileges of that salvation in the life which now is, and in that which is to come; and we have also the two great branches of suffering with Christ and serving with Christ, loaded with the fruits of the Spirit.

Treasure up these faithful sayings. Let them be the guides of your life, your comfort, and your instruction. The apostle of the Gentiles proved them to be faithful, they are faithful still, not one word shall fall to the ground; they are worthy of all acceptation, let us accept them now, and prove their faithfulness.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Turn Back the Clock

Have you checked out the church calendar lately? Our social committee has been hard at work and there are several events to look forward to.

A couple of important announcements for this week deserve mention.
  1. Tonight is our Elders and Deacons meeting at 6:30.
  2. This Saturday is our Haven of Rest service day, and as of now I have nobody who has volunteered to help with that. Please contact the pastor if you can invest 2 hours this Saturday to this worthy cause.
  3. This Sunday is the day we turn back the clocks. So you'll have one whole hour of extra sleep before church, and one whole hour's less excuse for missing the service! Don't forget our new Sunday School, which starts at 9:30.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Special Sauce

It was one of those on-the-street interviews. "Can you tell me the 10 commandments?" asked the interviewer. "Uh... don't kill, don't steal, don't covet your neighbor's wife... I can't remember any more." "OK, that's pretty good. Can you tell me the ingredients in a Big Mac?" "Oh yeah! Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun!"

Seeing this on a morning news program, I couldn't help but stop and think about it. Why can people remember the ingredients of a hamburger more clearly than the 10 commandments? One is meaningless, and the other supremely important.

Certainly one lesson is that television is powerful. Sadly, even many Christians today believe anything they see on TV. I saw a commercial recently that in extolling the virtues of a certain product concluded with "and we couldn't say it on TV if it wasn't true." Good grief. Almost nothing we see on TV is true. Imagine how much better off this world would be if people sought the truth of the Bible, learning and living the truth in God's Word, rather than letting themselves be brainwashed by the "gospel" that the world preaches on TV.

Of course, another lesson is that music is powerful. People remember that little ditty because it was taught to them as a catchy song. There are some pretty profound implications in that fact when we apply it to our church music programs.

So how 'bout you? Can you name the 10 Commandments? Can you name the ingredients in a Big Mac? Does your answer give you reason to want to read your Bible more today?

I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. (Psalm 119:59)

Friday, October 26, 2007

As the mountains...

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore. (Psalm 125:20)

Do you ever feel like the Lord has distanced Himself from you? Or like your prayers make it about as high as the ceiling and bounce right back in your face? Does your relationship with God ever grow cold and dry, and you find yourself, even though you truly believe the words of the Bible, wondering if it's all real?

Christians go through dry times, trying times. John Bunyan in "Pilgrim's Progress," wrote about a man named Pilgrim, and described his journey through the Christian life. At one time Pilgrim came to a place called "the slough of despond." It was a trying time when it seemed God was nowhere to be found, and he was just struggling along alone, slolgging through the mud of life.

But Pilgrim eventually learned that God had not abandoned him in the slough of despond. And we learn that God never leaves us, if we just keep trusting Him. Just as the mountains timelessly surround Jerusalem, our God is there, surrounding us, protecting us, and loving us, both now and forevermore.

Harvest Party!

Just a quick reminder this morning about our Harvest Party, scheduled for Sunday at 6:30 at the church. Come and join us as we celebrate this wonderful fall season around a warm bonfire, roast some hot dogs and marshmallows, and enjoy a little seasonal cider. Better yet, don't just come, but invite a friend or loved one to come with you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Entertaining Angels?

Don't forget tonight we have prayer meeting. If you can't join us, please pause for a minute between 6:30 - 7:00 this evening to pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ!

Here's another good devotional from Dr. David Jeremiah:

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)

Recommended Reading - Hebrews 13:1-2

In A.D. 600, Pope Gregory the Great commissioned a hospital to be built in Jerusalem to care for Christian pilgrims. The English word "hospital" derived from German hospes, or "host," and became the foundation for words like hotel, hostel, and hospitality. The idea of hospitality is best pictured as it was in A.D. 600 - refreshment and repose for the needs of those who journey to your door.

One of the most interesting verses in the New Testament deals with hospitality. Hebrews 13:2 warns believers to welcome and entertain strangers generously because the strangers might be angelic beings instead of human beings! Is that possible? It happened to Abraham when the Lord himself and two angels paid him a visit (Genesis 18:1-3; 19:1). Abraham's hospitality was exemplary - he set them under a shade tree, gave them water to wash their feet, and prepared a sumptuous meal for them. The principle to draw from Hebrews 13:2 is that since we don't know which strangers are angels and which aren't, we should treat every stranger the way we'd treat a heavenly visitor.

Be prepared for the Lord to interrupt your plans with a knock on the door. You never know who might be on the other side.

Hospitality should have no other nature than love. (Henrietta Mears)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What if it's true?

Listening to the news this morning as I dressed for work, I was intrigued to see that there is a new version of "The Ten Commandments" soon to hit theaters. This time it's an animated version of the amazing Old Testament story.

Have you ever consider how many times the stories of the Bible have been told and retold? Even sin-centered Hollywood has to concede that these stories are fascinating to the human mind. As literature, the Bible is unmatched. For exciting drama, the Old Testament towers over every other source of entertainment you will ever find.

Read the stories. Watch the dramatizations. But through all of it ask yourself one very important question - "What if it's true?"

The world will always consider these things fun and great story-telling. But God says they all happened. It's all true. And if it's true, it has tremendous implications for your life and mine.

"What if it's true?" Have you thought through the implications of that in your life?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

As long as you're not cold!

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. (John 17:14-15)

I had been sitting outside in my tree stand for a long time, since long before daylight. It was cold out, and I was pretty bundled up. After a few hours of being in this environment, a thought occurred to me - it's not so bad being out in the cold, as long as you're not cold!

This world is cold toward all things Christian. We shouldn't be surprised by this, for Jesus told us all about it. He said, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." (John 15:18) And in another place, He warned that it will only get worse and worse the closer we get to the end times - "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold." (Matthew 24:12)

America is less and less Christian, and often openly hostile to Christianity. It's getting colder and colder.

But I'm encouraged by Jesus' prayer in John 17, where He prayed for our protection when things get cold, not for our removal. He wants you and I to keep right on being salt and light in this cold world until He comes. We don't have to succumb to the cold just because it's all around us. We are in this old world, but we don't have to be of it. We can bundle up in His Word and prayer. We can take advantage of the heat that's generated when the church gathers together. We can stay warm by working ever harder no matter how cold it gets! And just as the longest winter eventually must give way to spring, so for the church will come that glorious warmth when the winter is over, and we are with Christ.

Are you looking forward to that?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Back to Bethel

I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. (Genesis 31:13)

I spent Friday and Saturday in the southern Ohio woods, hunting that most elusive of creatures, the Whitetail deer. I saw a few, but none came close to my stand. So I returned home empty handed. Sunday afternoon, I rested after church by climbing into a tree on the in laws' farm, but as darkness fell I had seen no deer. It was a frustrating end to a frustrating weekend, which filled my mind as I drove home in the dark. I ruminated on the poor attendance in Sunday School and church earlier in the day, and that only added to the little black cloud that had been building all weekend. Even this morning's Bible reading and prayer time didn't seem to dispel the feelings of thumb-suckiness which enveloped me, so I readied myself for work and stepped outside to begin my morning commute.

And there they were...

Standing right in the middle of my backyard...

Stately, beautiful, amazing examples of God's creative genius...

Four beautiful whitetail deer, right in the middle of my yard, smiling at me and mocking me!

I watched transfixed as they bounded away, and as they disappeared into the woods my thumb-sucky attitude seemed to go with them. Something about seeing them reminded me of all the good things in my life, and chastised me for letting minor disappointments and strifes get me down.

Yesterday's Sunday School lesson spoke of Jacob, and his time at Bethel, when he saw his vision of a ladder reaching up to heaven, and where he vowed he would serve the Lord forever. Later in his life, he would return to Bethel. Sometimes we need to step away from all the issues of our lives and return to our Bethel, remind ourself of all that God has done for us in the past, and claim His promises for all He will do for us in the future. No matter how down in the dumps you might get, the story is just simply not over yet!

Need some encouragement this morning? Go back to Bethel and think for a while on all God has done for you. And just as those four whitetails faded away into the underbrush, so too will your discouragement.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

God's Thoughts

The poster hung in a prominent place on my co-worker's office wall, dominating his workspace. You could not help but be drawn to the eccentric likeness of Albert Einstein depicted therein. God has made few faces like his. And underneath the somewhat bemused visage of this great physicist were the words, "I want to know God's thoughts."

I do too.

Albert Eistein was a smart guy, brilliant even, but he didn't know everything. He admitted that he didn't know the mind of God.

You and I can know God's thoughts. They are contained in God's word, the Bible. And they are more important to us than any scientific knowledge, any worldly education, or any brilliance we might possess in other areas. Education and knowledge in other areas is good and worthy, but education in God's word is more so. Solomon said it like this, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." (Proverbs 1:7) Knowledge of God is the starting point.

And one of the psalmists said it like this, "I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation." (Psalm 119:99)

Do you want to know God's thoughts? Spend some time in God's Word today, and watch how it improves every other area of your life as well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Praying Always

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18 NIV)

We need to pray for one another, brothers and sisters. We need to pray in the privacy of our personal prayer time, and we need to pray as a group everytime our church meets together. The group dynamic in prayer cannot be over-emphasized - it is all through scripture. One example is that of Peter, who was imprisoned for his Christianity. An angel came and broke him out of prison. You can read all about it in Acts 12. But the important verse for today's consideration is verse 12, where we find that after his prison break, he came to Mary's house, and found a group prayer meeting taking place! "... he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying." (Acts 12:12 NIV)

While every service at RCC is an opportunity for us to exercise our praying muscles, Wednesday evening prayer meeting is a special time, dedicated just to that very thing. And tonight we will be trying a new format for that prayer time. No Bible study - just prayer. You can come anytime between 6:30 - 7:00 and pray. Prayer lists will be provided, and prayer requests will be accepted, and prayers will be offered. You can pray silently, or you can join in praying with a group - the choice is yours.

Will you join us tonight in praying for all the saints?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Two Opportunities

Just a quick reminder about two important things happening this weekend at RCC -

  1. Haven of Rest service day - Saturday at 10:00. We're short on help this month, so why not give it a try?
  2. Operation Christmas Child - Sunday during the worship service. We'll hear about this ministry from Tim Single, who joins us from the Chapel in Akron. This is a great opportunity to share in a missionary outreach at Christmas time. You won't want to miss Tim's presentation.

Mary's Silence

We were approaching the climax of the Mark Lowry concert this evening, and Mark was introducing his great song "Mary Did You Know?" As he talked about the song and the inspiration behind it, he made a very profound statement. He said that "the silence of Mary at the cross is one of the greatest proofs that she knew Who He was." I thought about that statement throughout the rest of the concert, and all the way home in the car.

The fact is, the Bible does not record her saying anything at the cross. She just watched as He died. Because she knew Who He was. She knew why He came. And she knew that the cross was the only way. So she didn't speak up and try to stop it - but remained silent.

If you wonder Who Jesus is, may I challenge you to think about His mother's silence at the foot of the cross?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Sample Prayer

Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:12-14 NIV)

The disciples said to Jesus one day, "Lord, teach us to pray." We, too, need to learn how to pray, and the Bible is filled with examples to help us. The prayer of the psalmist, here, gives us 3 wonderful prayer requests to consider:
  1. Help me see my own need. (vs. 12) We don't always see our own sinfulness, do we? The writer of this Psalm knew this when he talked about his hidden sins, and asked God to point them out to him. This was not an exercise in self-loathing, but rather an honest desire to be clean and right before God. It is both God's and the godly Christian's mutual desire, that nothing come between their relationship. It is a prayer for protection before the fact.
  2. Keep me from my own sinfulness. (vs. 13) Then again, sometimes we do see our sin, and are even willful in committing it. It's easy to allow things in our lives, to get to enjoy them, and to continue to sin even when God makes it clear to us He does not condone the behavior. This is dangerous ground, and the psalmist prays that God would protect him from it ever happening, and he also prays that God would deliver him from it when he's in the midst of it. This is prayer for deliverance in the midst of battle.
  3. Help me to be GENUINE. (vs. 14) May what we SAY be the same as what we THINK. May what people see about us be the same as what God sees. May we be people of integrity, genuine, REAL. Zig Ziglar said, "The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity." If we would reach our community and our world for Christ, we need God to help us be GENUINE.
I'm praying this prayer today. Will you pray it with me?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

What it Takes to Win

(Dr. David Jeremiah provided these insights:)

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:27)

The documentary film Road to Paris provides a behind-the-scenes look at the grueling training undertaken by seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. High in the mountains of France, on a freezing cold, rainy day, Armstrong pedals his bicycle alone, mile after mile. His team director, following him in a car, says, "This is what it takes to win the Tour de France - training in this weather. Nobody sees this."

For all great athletes, the grind precedes the glory. The spectators only see them cross the finish line; they never see them behind the scenes putting first things first. First comes the discipline and exercise, then comes the victory. The same is true in the Christian life. Behind the scenes come the spiritual disciplines: prayer, Bible study, a disciplined life, and focused priorities. Then come the spiritual victories made possible by spiritual disciplines. If you long for more victory, take stock of your life behind the scenes.

You can't get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first. (C. S. Lewis)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Get In the Battle

... as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. (2 Timothy 2:3)

I'm reading a book entitled "Eternal Impact" by Phil Downer. Phil will be speaking at the men's conference in North Canton on October 19-20 (see our church calendar). In reading his book I came across this nugget of wisdom. I share it with you in hopes that we all learn to stay in the battle - to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
I believe every Christian is called to be a soldier for Christ on the front lines; if he stays in the rear, he will see his life detoured, discouraged, and even defeated. I tend to ascribe to the "soldier and donut" principle: a marine is trained to be a fighting man, not to sit around eating donuts. If he is assigned for long periods of time to the rear, he only gets into fights, gets drunk, contracts venereal disease, and gets busted. This happens because Marines are trained to stay in the battle. That's where their equipment works best, where their training is fulfilled, and where their lives are most useful.

The same is true of the Christian soldier. Our lives are best lived in the battle of winning and discipling businessmen - if that's our calling - or ministering to children, the aged, the infirm, or the imprisoned, if God directs that way. A Marine away from the battlefield constantly has to be reminded to keep his weapon clean, instructed on the chain of command, and counseled with respect to the important of teamwork and the countless other aspects of soldiering. however, one flash of enemy fire calls the Marine to war. All other problems are suddenly solved in a millisecond when he inhales the scent of battle.
Are you in the battle Christian, or are you in the rear, waiting and eating donuts?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Seventy Percent

"Over 70% of people will check out a website BEFORE showing up for services."

Interesting statistic, huh? When I read that recently I was more convinced than ever of the need for our church website, and the value that it can add to our efforts at reaching the world for Christ. After all, the Bible teaches that we should make use of any and all honest and good methods to reach our world. Paul said, "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." (1 Chronicles 9:22 NIV)

Here are some ideas on how we can use the website most effectively:

  1. Use it yourself. Get used to visiting it regularly to determine what's happening in the church. The more people use it, the more suggestions for improvement and expansion will come. Use it!
  2. Tell others about it. When you are talking about the church, always let them know we have a website, and share the address. People can explore at their leisure in the privacy of their home. It is completely non-threatening, and many people appreciate that. Tell others about it!
  3. Advertise it. At the bottom of my emails I have a signature line. Most email programs have a means of including a signature. I include the church website in that signature. Every personal email I send advertises the website, and therefore advertises the church. Advertise it!
  4. Share it. Encourage others to join the email list by forwarding relevant posts that might interest them. Be careful with this one, though. Forwarded emails can become a disgusting nuisance if abused, and we want to guard against that. But when something is posted that strikes a need in a friend or neighbor's life - share it with them.

I'm sure you can think of other ways to use this powerful and free resource. Let's use it as one of a variety of tools to share the good news that Jesus saves!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Try It

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, that thou knowest not. (Jeremiah 33:3)

For two reasons, I'd like to reproduce Dr. David Jeremiah's daily devotional here for you today. The first reason is that he references my life verse - Jeremiah 33:3. And the second reason is that the subject is prayer, and therefore relevant to the day, as we will be having our midweek prayer meeting tonight at 6:30, and we will be talking about the word "prayer."

So listen to Dr. Jeremiah:

"If you don't try it, you'll never know whether or not you like it." I'm sure you would agree that most of us heard that from someone at some point during our childhood. And some of us have probably said it to our own kids or grandkids!

It is human nature to fear the unknown; but if humans never tried anything new, we would not have the invention of the airplane, the thrill of scuba diving, or the experience of trying foods from all over the world. When we try things that are foreign to us, we expand our comfort zone, thereby making it easier to try more new things.

For various reasons, some people fear the realm of prayer. Like the skydiving enthusiast who is afraid of heights, they have heard about it, read about it, and talked about it, but they have never stepped out of the plane and into the excitement of an active prayer life.

Friends, there is not an extreme experience in all the world as thrilling as seeing God work in your life after you begin to pray. So take your parents' advice and just try it; see if God doesn't surprise you with His blessing and goodness.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Best Time of the Year

Fall... without a doubt the best time of the year. Warm days and cool nights. Beautiful scenery. God's artistry seems at its peak. I love September and October, don't you?

This year the months of September and October are pretty exciting here at RCC, too. Have you looked at the church calendar lately? Great things are happening. I hope you'll pray and participate!

This month we were blessed by the ministry of the Malone College Chancel players, we saw the start of our Sunday School, and already it's growing! We had 100% growth in the kids class from the first Sunday to the second! Let's shoot for 100% growth this Sunday as well. I'm praying for that. Will you pray with me about it? Tonight, the Women's Bible Study which meets every Tuesday evening, starts an exciting topic. And we have a spaghetti dinner planned for this coming Sunday, September 30, right after the morning worship!

And then there's October! On the first Saturday of the month we have the opportunity to serve God at the Haven of Rest in Akron. It is a privilege to so serve and I pray more will participate this month. On October 7, missionary Tim Single from the Chapel in Akron will present "Operation Christmas Child," a ministry that will truly bless our church as we participate in it this Christmas season. On October 19-20 the men of the church will have the opportunity to attend the "Men of Significance Discipleship Conference 2007" at The Chapel in North Canton. Finally, the last Saturday of the month we are planning a Harvest Party.

Things get busier and busier around here, and I believe God is pleased with that. Keep your eye on the church calendar - it changes often. And mark your personal calendar so you don't miss out on the great things God is doing at RCC.

Friday, September 21, 2007


It hit me as I urged my motorcycle down a long straight stretch of road - the fog was everywhere, and soon I was enveloped in it. Rats. I couldn't see a thing, and had to slow down as a result. Fog was slowing my progress, and hindering my vision. It was also putting me in danger, for I knew if I couldn't see others, they couldn't see me.

Something happened, though. The sun began to burn through the fog. "Come on, sun," I silently urged. And sure enough, as it burned ever brighter, the fog grew ever thinner, until it was gone.

But wait! I still couldn't see a thing! I could tell that the fog had lifted, but my vision was still blurred. I wiped my glove across my facemask, and sure enough, the fog was still clinging to me. Once wiped off, I could see clearly, but only until I approached a portion of my daily commute that takes me deep into a valley. Down I went, and up came the fog. In the valley, I found myself once again blinded by the fog. Climbing up the other side, I felt the sun again, wiped the fog from my visor, and was once again able to see.


Sunday, Lord willing, we will be studying John 8:31-32, where Jesus said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
  • Do you feel like you're in a fog? Then let the sun of Christ's words reveal the truth to you! Constancy in His word will lead you to the truth.
  • Do you still have trouble seeing the things of God clearly, even when you are washing daily in the sun of His word? Maybe you need to wipe some off! Unconfessed sin in your life will dirty up your vision. Wipe it off!
  • Do you find yourself in a valley? Depressed? Down? Struggling with the issues of this life and therefore blinded by the fog that lays in that valley? Look up, my friend. The higher you look and the higher you climb, the thinner the fog will be!
Fog will slow you down. Fog will hinder your progress. Fog will endanger you and others. But fog will clear under the constant light of God's Word.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Prayer Meeting

This is our off-week, so we will not be holding the bi-weekly midweek prayer meeting tonight. But this evening, would you take a minute and pray for your brothers and sisters at RCC?

"... pray one for another.... " (James 5:16)

Don't Take It Personally

Tom Hanks, in a scene from the movie "You've Got Mail," provides some pointed advice to Meg Ryan. "It's not personal, it's BUSINESS," says Hanks.

That's a good thing to remember, I suppose, in the business world. But a similar principle applies to those of us trying to follow the Savior. We are all sinners struggling with how we relate to each other. And at times we experience the trauma of a fellow believer saying something that hurts us. Worse yet, sometimes we say and do things that hurt other believers.

Some thoughts come to mind that help with this:
  1. Don't be too quick to judge somebody for saying something that hurts you. Remember the incredibly wise words of Solomon about this: "Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you, for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others." (Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 NIV) Now that's convicting, isn't it?
  2. Remember that everything about our horizontal relationships (i.e. those we have with people around us) hinges on the status of our vertical relationship (i.e. our relationship with God). When things are right between us and the Lord, things go smoother with others. When we let our relationship with God slip, it affects our relationship with others. Think of the two pieces of a cross. The vertical piece holds up the horizontal piece. The horizontal piece cannot stay in place without the vertical. Our relationships with people cannot be right unless we first have a right relationship with God. Thus we can conclude - It's NOT PERSONAL when a person says something unkind to us. It's rather an indication of spiritual condition. If we see such behavior in ourselves, we ought to talk to the Lord about it and ask help in fixing it. If we experience it from somebody else, we ought to pray for them as well.
This all started in the garden of Eden, you know. Before sin entered the picture, Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden in innocence. But after sin entered the picture, they hid from God, and they attacked each other! It wasn't really personal when Adam said of Eve, "This woman you gave me, she made me do it!" His relationship with God was broken, and it hurt his relationship with his wife.

Let's work hard on walking with God, so we won't be so guilty of hurting our relationships with each other. And let's also work hard to not take it personally when we are on the receiving end of the same.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

More and More

Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. (1 Thessalonians 4:1)

It is a natural tendency in life to slow down, rather than speed up. We see this tendency everywhere.
  • At the age of 49, I can attest to my body's desire to slow down rather than speed up. Things I used to have energy to do, I no longer have.
  • In the world of physics, we have the second law of thermodynamics, which says "the entropy of an isolated system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium." To us laymen that means, things slow down over time. You can easily prove this law to yourself. Put ANYTHING in motion, and then watch it. It will slow down and eventually stop.
Everything slows down.

But as Christians, we must fight this tendency. Paul told the Thessalonians that they were doing great at living the Christian life, but then told them, "Don't rest on that... don't slow down... do it MORE AND MORE." (1 Thessalonians 4:1)

Later in the same chapter he applied this principle to our love for one another. "Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more." (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10)

Christian, do you feel the tendency to slow down? In faithfulness to God, to His work, or to His people? Hear His reminder today and pick up the pace. Never be satisfied with slowing down, but serve Him MORE AND MORE!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Be Separate from the World

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was one of the great preachers of all time. In addition to pastoring the great Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England, he was also a prolific writer. He wrote a daily devotional entitled "Morning and Evening" which has been read by millions. Today's timely and convicting reminder comes from Spurgeon:

"Be ye separate." —2 Corinthians 6:17

The Christian, while in the world, is not to be of the world. He should be distinguished from it in the great object of his life. To him, "to live," should be "Christ." Whether he eats, or drinks, or whatever he does, he should do all to God's glory. You may lay up treasure; but lay it up in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, where thieves break not through nor steal. You may strive to be rich; but be it your ambition to be "rich in faith," and good works. You may have pleasure; but when you are merry, sing psalms and make melody in your hearts to the Lord. In your spirit, as well as in your aim, you should differ from the world. Waiting humbly before God, always conscious of His presence, delighting in communion with Him, and seeking to know His will, you will prove that you are of heavenly race. And you should be separate from the world in your actions. If a thing be right, though you lose by it, it must be done; if it be wrong, though you would gain by it, you must scorn the sin for your Master's sake. You must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Walk worthy of your high calling and dignity. Remember, O Christian, that thou art a son or daughter of the King of kings.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Its Proper Condition

So those who were engaged in the work labored, and the repairing went forward in their hands, and they restored the house of God to its proper condition and strengthened it. (2 Chronicles 24:13)

We know from our study of Scripture that the church is not a building. It is an assembly of Christians. It is people. However, the church needs a place to gather together! And so we have church buildings - structures built for the glory of God as the church meets and serves Him from these buildings.

What does the world think of our church when it looks at our building? If they see something in disrepair, what message does that send? We are blessed by God with a beautiful antique building. People are impressed when they hear how old it is and how well kept it is. But we must not slack in working to keep it that way!

This Saturday (tomorrow), at 10:00 we are having a work day. Coffee, juice and donuts will be provided for all who show up. We will be prepping the platform for the Malone College Chancel Players who will perform on Sunday at 10:30. We will be prepping our Sunday School area for the start of classes on September 16th. There is much work to do. Will you join us?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Never So Cruel

"Absolutely not! That would be a terribly cruel thing to do to a poor animal," she said.

I was talking with a neighbor about the radio fence she used to contain her huge dog. You know the kind - a wire encloses an area, and the dog wears a collar. When the dog gets within range of the wire, a sound and / or a mild electric shock is administered. The dog learns to not approach the fence. Her outburst resulted from my assumption that you just turned the dog loose and let him figure it out on his own. Appalled, she informed me in haughty tones that it was the responsibility of the owner to show the dog the way. A loving and responsible dog owner would teach it where the fence was.


God has not left us to flounder in the dark. He loves us and has shown us the way. He reveals Himself!

He reveals Himself in all of creation: "He never left himself without a witness. There were always his reminders, such as sending you rain and good crops and giving you food and joyful hearts." (Acts 14:17) "From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God." (Romans 1:20)

And He reveals Himself specifically in the Bible - "All Scripture is God‑breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

He loves us immensely, and does not want us to wander with no direction. He would never be so cruel. All we have to do is listen.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


(Today's post is from Dr. David Jeremiah)

There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised.
(1 Kings 8:56

A biblical promise is a tightly-wrapped, power-packed, portable capsule of Scripture, written by God and designed to meet a specific need in your life at a specific time and in a way that corresponds perfectly to His all-sufficient grace. The promises of God are His guarantees amid life's uncertainties. They're the basis of all our life of faith, and there are specific promises in the Bible to meet every condition and contingency in our lives.

Without God's infallible promises, we have no assurance about anything, no hope, no security, no safety, no encouragement, no comfort. His promises provide all those things in an endless supply of grace-points for us each moment of every day.

As George Müller once put it, "Many times when I could have gone insane from worry, I was at peace because my soul believed the truth of God's promises."

We can trust God's promises. Not one word of them will fail, and we can both rest and rely on them for all our needs.

God's promises mark the parameters of His grace. Spoken with the authority of His Word, they define His goodness, for He does what He has promised, and no less. (David Jeremiah)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Let's Go!

This coming Lord's Day is a special one here at Randolph Christian Church. Summer is winding down... the children are heading back to school... vacations and busy summer schedules are over... and we begin once again to concentrate on the work of God.

And so this coming Sunday we're calling "Let's Go Sunday" - it is the kick off of a busy and active fall season. It is the equivalent of the high school football team huddling before a big play - all hands in the circle, and all shouting together "One... two... three... LET'S GO!"

The pep rally begins at 10:30 Sunday morning, when the Chancel Players from Malone College will minister to us in a very non-traditional service. This group of college students perform faith-based drama in churches, schools, and various community organizations. We will be giving them almost the entire service time on Sunday. Their sometimes humorous, and sometimes dramatic presentation will bless you. Don't miss it.

"Let's Go!"

And the following Sunday, September 16th, the Sunday School hour starts at 9:30. We will be starting with one class for the kids and one for the adults and teens. So parents, bring your kids, and then join the adults in a lively discussion-style lesson in the auditorium. "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (Proverbs 22:6)

"Let's Go!"

You know, Jesus never wanted His church to sit still. He wants us pushing boldly ahead - trying new things, taking on new ministries, and reaching an ever-widening audience. He said, "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18) Think about that verse. Gates don't move. Jesus was not saying the church would defensively hold up against the onslaught of evil, but rather that the church should be on the offensive and storming the gates of hell. Ever moving forward - ever on the attack.

And so, until that last whistle blows, we're sending in plays and pushing toward the end zone. Will you join us, starting this Sunday - "Let's Go Sunday?"

Monday, September 3, 2007

Whose Kingdom?

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. (Luke 11:2)

We used to recite the "Lord's Prayer" in every service at Randolph Christian Church. I stopped this practice in our services because this prayer was not given by Jesus as something to be numbly repeated as a rote exercise. It was an example of how we should pray - a teaching tool given in response to His disciple's request, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." (Luke 11:1)

We should think about this prayer, and what it teaches us about praying. For example, He said we should pray "Thy kingdom come." Do you pray for the coming of God's kingdom? Jeff Iorg, in his book entitled "The Character of Leadership" suggests we pray "Lord, Your kingdom matters. Mine doesn't. Advance Your cause, whatever that means for me." Can you pray that?

And if the coming of God's kingdom is important enough to pray for, is it important enough to spend time and energy building?

Most of us, at least in America, spend almost every waking minute building our own kingdoms. And yet our kingdoms are transitory, temporary, soon to be destroyed. When you are tempted to concentrate on building your own kingdom, take a good hard look at what you are building. It will be destroyed. Sometimes I look at my house, which I labored for months to build. I thank God He allows me to live in comfort and safety therein, but I also remember that it will be demolished one of these days. My kingdom is meaningless. It's His kingdom that matters. Time spent building my kingdom is wasted time. Time spent working toward His kingdom is an eternal investment.

We need a radical shift of focus - a realignment of our thinking processes. We need to be working to build God's kingdom. And when we pray "Thy kingdom come" we are taking a step in the right direction - focusing our thoughts onto His kingdom rather than our own.

Will you join me today in praying "Thy kingdom come?"

Friday, August 31, 2007

Haven of Rest - CANCELLED

Please note that the monthly Setup and Serve opportunity at the Haven of Rest in Akron is CANCELLED for this month. If you were planning to help with that, please enjoy the holiday weekend instead.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. (Psalm 85:2)

Tonight we will gather at 6:30 for our bi-weekly Bible Study and Prayer Meeting. I hope you will join us. We will spend a few minutes studying what the Bible teaches about the word "forgiven." And then we'll pray for one another. These meetings are simple and unstructured. They are meant to encourage and strengthen us in our walk with God.

Have you considered that word, "forgiven?" The dictionary says it means "to refrain from imposing punishment on an offender or demanding satisfaction for an offense."

There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: "Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers. (from Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, p. 13)

All of us need forgiveness, don't we? And all of us need to learn to forgive one another. Join us tonight at 6:30, and let's see what God teaches about this wonderful word!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Busy Week!

Last week, the Lord gave us a wonderfully busy week at Randolph Christian Church, as a flooded basement along with the attendant cleanup activities occupied much of our time. Thanks be to God for all those who so faithfully gave of their time to help with the cleanup. It looks like we will very shortly now have our basement back, in better shape than before the flood. And for that we give thanks.

This week is busy too, so let me remind you of several key events:
  • Tuesday evening - Ladies Bible study at 6:30 - Vi's home
  • Tuesday evening - Men's Timothy Club at 6:30 - Pastor's home
  • Wednesday evening - Midweek prayer meeting - 6:30 at the church
  • Saturday morning - Service day at 10:00 at the Haven of Rest in Akron
There are several opportunities in that list for all of us to fellowship with one another, to study God's Word, to pray for one another, and to serve the Savior by serving those with greater needs than our own. So as you look at that list, may I ask you to do two things?
  1. Consider being part of one or more of these activities. If you haven't before, try it and see if it's for you.
  2. Invite somebody to join you. Some people avoid church services, but may enjoy a less formal Bible study or service opportunity.
What a privilege it is to serve our Lord in a place like this. And as the lazy days of summer wind to a close, and we head into the busy days of autumn, let us all look forward to serving together, faithfully and diligently. Let us throw ourselves into the work at RCC, for we have the wonderful promise of God to sustain us - "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Secret of Success

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. (Ezra 7:10)

No matter what we set out to do or be in life, success is what we crave. As fathers and mothers, our highest hope is to be successful and finish the course with children that live for God and serve both Him and others. As employees, we strive for success in our jobs. As followers of Jesus Christ, our greatest goal is to hear Him declare our success with those words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Success is the goal. But how to achieve that goal is the question.

I came across this verse in Ezra today, and it tells us the secret. Ezra was a priest and scribe who was used of God in rebuilding Jerusalem, and restoring the worship of God to Jerusalem, after it had lain dormant for years with its people in captivity in another land.

His secret of success consisted of 3 things:
  1. He sought the Word of God (i.e in His personal life, He strove to know and understand God's Word)
  2. He did the Word of God (i.e. in His personal life, He didn't stop with knowing and understanding - he was careful to OBEY what He read.)
  3. He taught the Word of God. (He understood that we are always teaching, if not in word, certainly by example.)
Here is how we will succeed at RCC, by implementing these 3 things. Here is how each of us succeed in raising our children to glorify God - by implementing these 3 things. Here we see that the Word of God is central to our success in everything - SEEK IT, DO IT, TEACH IT.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


A prayer request for you today, as well as a request for help:

We suffered a pretty good flood at the church yesterday - at one time having 4 inches of water in the church basement. Praise God for Trustee Mike's efforts at getting things fixed up. He installed 2 new sump pumps (both had gone out!!), and hopefully we are protected from a similar fate for a while.

But the water remains. Dennis and Linda came and helped last evening with cleanup and using the wet vac on the carpet. Dennis and I will be back at it again this evening slurping water. If any of you have wet vacs and are able to invest a little time this evening, come help us clean up. We'll be at the church at 6:30.

Our Church Needs Failures

The great men and women in the Bible were all a bunch of failures. As a matter of fact, I can't think of a single Biblical personality who accomplished anything for God without falling flat on his or her face at least once.

Don't believe me? Your assignment for the day, then, is to read Hebrews 11 - often referred to as the "Role Call of the Heroes of the Faith." But most of the people cited in this chapter as role models for you and I to emulate, failed at least once in their walk with God. They fell flat on their faces. They screwed up. They choked, sometimes over and over.

The Lord is looking for people who are willing to fail. Can you do that? I'm pretty good at it myself. I'm reminded of a news story I heard years ago. A woman was despairing of life and determined to end it all. She climbed to the top of a multi-storied building, walked through a window and onto a ledge, summoned her courage and stepped off the ledge. However, a strong gust of wind hit her, so that rather than her falling to the ground many floors below, she was pushed back onto the ledge a couple of floors down where she was rescued. She sustained injuries, but was very much alive. Later in the hospital a reporter asked her what could possibly have been so very bad in her life that she would want to end it? The woman responded, "Because I've failed at everything I've ever tried to do."

I think that's hilarious.

Don't think that you need to be an expert to serve God in His church. He is looking for men and women who recognize He has gifted them, and who are willing to try new things. Are you willing to risk failing in serving the Lord? We need Sunday School teachers. Are you willing to risk trying something that you might succeed at and you might not? We need a man or men to help with media ministry - somebody to manage our sound system, and tapes, and other media. Are you willing to try, even if you fail?

Churches suffer when people think they must be an expert at something before they will try it. We need more pioneers! People who will trust God when they feel Him tugging at their heart about a ministry opportunity. David Livingstone was a missionary to Africa. A man wrote to him once saying he would come help if Livingstone could point him to a good road to where he was. Livingstone replied, "If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all. "

Risk takers - that's what we need. Willingness to fail. Go re-read Hebrews 11 again, and determine to try things - big things, for God.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Best Job In The World!

The last thing I did before calling it a night was to log onto the internet and check the weather for tomorrow. Rats... it was supposed to be isolated thunderstorms - not a good day for riding my motorcycle.

The next morning I logged on and checked it again. Interestingly, it now said that it would be in the high 70's with partly cloudy sky - no rain. "I wonder why they can't get it right from one day to the next?" I thought, as I saddled up the bike and headed into work.

Now it's late afternoon and I'm thinking about my ride home. The skies are looking pretty gray, so I checked the weather again - RAIN!! All afternoon and turning into thunderstorms later this evening!

Weathermen have the best job in the world. They never have to be right. They don't even have to be close. And I'm guessing they get paid pretty well for such complete and total inaccuracy.

Imagine what it would be like if God applied that level of accuracy to those who spoke for Him. A prophet could be right once in a while, and that would be ok. The Bible could be filled with inaccuracies and errors, but that would be ok. We would have no standard of truth because who cares if it's accurate anyway?

But God said true prophets are ALWAYS accurate. One mistake and they are marked as fakes, God said. "If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him." (Deuteronomy 18:22 NIV) And the Bible, because "no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (2 Peter 1:21 NASB), is absolutely trustworthy - no matter what time of the day you decide to look at it. It will always be true.

I'd love to be a weatherman, but I'm sure glad God's standard of accuracy is higher.

What Are Your Qualifications?

The angry voice repeated it over and over - "What are your qualifications?" "What are your qualifications?"

Here was one of the more lovely aspects of ministry - an irate individual giving me a piece of his mind over the phone. And throughout his tirade, that question kept coming - a question which I couldn't help but ponder as his torrent of words poured from the telephone. Just what are my qualifications, anyway? Who am I to give advice or counsel to somebody else?

The fact is, no one of us is qualified to provide advice to another. We are all sinners, aren't we? "For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard." (Romans 3:23 NLT) Jesus gave some potent instruction about this very concept:
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 NIV)
We are all flawed. We are all struggling with sin. We are all in need of help and advice, but none of us are qualified to give it! What a mess we are in!

And that, my friend, is where God's Word comes into the picture. We can't trust the words of men, but we can trust the Word of God. It, and it alone, is our standard. When we base what we do, what we think, what we say, and what we tell others only on what the Bible teaches, we are on solid ground.

That is our goal at RCC. We don't want to share our opinions with you - only God's Word as revealed in the Bible. We have no qualification except that.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Another Flash of Brown

There's nothing quite like the soft rumble your motorcycle makes as you negotiate the curves of a back road - nothing quite like the feel of the cool wind as it rushes past. I was exulting in the experience this morning on my way to work. It was just a beautiful morning to ride.

Suddenly I was arrested by a thought. I had just passed a dangerous stretch of road, and I had not even paid attention to it. I wrote about this deer-infested patch of road in an earlier post. But after having seen deer in that stretch of road several times, this morning I was oblivious and wasn't paying attention as I drove it.

"Is there a lesson in that, Lord?" I prayed as I motored on down the road. Then just ahead I saw that familiar flash of brown. But this time it wasn't moving - it was dead along the side of the road. The King had my attention now, so I thought about the experience the rest of the way in to work.

It is so easy to become complacent in the Christian life. Especially when our lives are happy and healthy and problem free. When we hurt, we talk to God about it. When we are sick, we ask for health and seek the Great Physician. When our marriages are broken, or our friends and families are fractured, we run straight to the One Who can fix them.

But when things are calm, when our lives feel safe, when we feel the cool breeze blowing across our faces - that's when we are in danger of letting down our guard and falling flat on our faces. That dead deer was a neon sign to me this morning - you are in most danger when you become complacent. Paul, that great warrior of the faith, put it well, "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1 Corinthians 10:12 NIV)

Are things going well for you, my friend? At such times, praise God for His goodness, and pray to Him for His protection. We need to pray one for another just as much during the good times as during the bad. Our newly initiated Wednesday Evening Prayer Meetings are based on this principle - we pray for each other, whether we have stated needs or not. We pray hardest for those who are on the mountaintop. We'll meet this Wednesday at 6:30 and do that very thing. Join us.

Friday, August 10, 2007

My Sins Have Overtaken Me

For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. (Psalm 40:12 NIV)

It is absolutely necessary that we understand the concept of sin. You cannot know how to be saved until you understand that you are in need of it - you are lost in sin. Repentance - turning away from our sin and toward God, is a necessary prerequisite for salvation.

And so we talk about sin... we preach about sin... we encourage one another to turn from sin and lead holy lives. Luke 24:46 says that "repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." It is vital that we understand sin, and that we turn from sin to the Lord Jesus Christ.

But for the Christian it is just as vital to accept the forgiveness that comes with that action. When you turn to Christ in repentance, and trust Him for the salvation that He alone can give, you are forgiven... immediately... forever. The writer of Psalms put it like this, "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:12 NIV) Can you measure the distance between the east and the west? It's infinite - and that's just how far God removes your sin from you when you put your trust in Christ.

Go back and re-read the verse at the top of this note. Too many of us are like that Psalmist. We let our sin overwhelm us. We feel guilty and defeated. As we allow the devil to make us feel guilty over and over about sin that's already been forgiven, we "cannot see" and our "heart fails within us." Our eyes, which should be on Christ, become focused on ourselves and our perceived guilt. Our heart, which should be singing for joy over what Jesus has done for us, becomes stifled with guilt. We come to feel that "my sins have overtaken me."

Christian - you are forgiven. Believe it, and rejoice in it.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Insanity or Change?

Albert Einstein said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." He may have been quoting Benjamin Franklin, for I've also seen this quote attributed to old Ben.

One of the truly remarkable things about a church as old as ours is the simple fact that it is still here. Staying power is rare in this world. Faithfulness is a quality that we need far more of. Randolph Christian Church has "stayed by the stuff" and remained faithful to our King for many many years. Those of you who have been here for an extended period can take pride in that faithfulness.

But a church is not a success just because it is still around. A church succeeds only as it reaches people with the life-changing truth of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. Always, that means we must be open to changing our tactics to reach an ever widening audience.

No army wins battles without changing its tactics. No football team can beat a powerful foe unless the coach knows when to make adjustments, and makes them. No business stays in business if it does not adjust to meet changes in the marketplace. And no church can succeed without also changing when it needs to change.

I know that change is hard for people, but it is necessary, and I challenge you to support it here at RCC. Remember the words of Jesus which I think are so appropriate to our church, "Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old." (Matthew 13:52 NASB) Did you see that? Both the new and the old are needed.

We don't have much trouble with the old here at RCC, but I challenge you all to consider our need for the new. We are not reaching children and families. So we are starting a Sunday School on September 9. We are not praying enough one for another as a church, so we have started a Wednesday night prayer meeting. We are desperately in need of men on our team. We are therefore making changes to make our services less feminine, and more masculine. We will never abandon the good old hymns of the faith, but we are pumping up our music program by adding some of the newer and more contemporary music.

Change is in the air, and it's only just beginning! It's half-time in this football game, and we need to put some points on the board. Let's adjust. Let's change. Let's win!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

If the Lord Wills

A good reminder from Dr. David Jeremiah:

Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." (James 4:15)

Experts are always predicting the future - how many hurricanes will strike this year, what will happen to the stock market, and how the housing market will fare, which teams will end up in the World Series, and which products will be hits on store shelves.

It's risky business because no one has the ability to see even five minutes into the future.

The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote, "A wise man's heart discerns both time and judgment, because for every matter there is a time and judgment . . . for he does not know what will happen; so who can tell him when it will occur?" (Ecclesiastes 8:5,7)

Wisdom is the ability to do God's will in God's timing; and though we do not know exactly what the future holds, we can always say, "If the Lord wills . . . ."

Make your plans prayerfully and hold them loosely. And with every prayer request and every plan and project, give it to Him, saying, "Lord, if it be Your will . . . ."

We don't know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Rightly Dividing the Word

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)

Maria Fedorovna, the empress of Russia and wife of Czar Alexander III, was known for her philanthropy. She once saved a prisoner from exile in Siberia by transposing a single comma in a warrant signed by Alexander. The czar had written: “Pardon impossible, to be sent to Siberia.” After Maria’s intervention, the note read: “Pardon, impossible to be sent to Siberia.” The prisoner was eventually released. (from Today in the Word, July 14, 1993)

Accuracy is everything, isn't it? None of us would want to undergo brain surgery from a "close-is-good-enough" surgeon, would we? We would want to believe the guy knew EXACTLY where to make that incision, right? Accuracy is everything.

So with our handling of the Bible. Accuracy is everything. Paul told Timothy to "rightly divide the word of truth." When we apply this principle, we do away with so many misconceptions and perceived problems in the Bible. It interprets itself, if we just "rightly divide the word."

For example, in God's ten commandments, He forbade murder. "Thou shalt not MURDER." (Exodus 20:13) However, God is also the author of capital punishment (Genesis 9:1-6). "See," shout the unbelievers, "that Bible is FULL of inconsistencies like that!" But there is no inconsistency. One verse is directed at individuals. One is directed at governments. Rightly divided, we see that the Bible always forbids murder, but also requires governments to take action in dealing with crime. We get confused when we apply God's teaching about government to us as individuals, or vice versa.

Let's be accurate. Let's rightly divide the word of truth. When we do, we find the Bible is perfect, and contains not a single mistake.

Monday, August 6, 2007

In Battle or in Bed

The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1 NIV)

A captain in the Confederate army once asked General "Stonewall" Jackson how he could remain so calm in the face of the horrors of war. Jackson, a staunch Christian, answered, "Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave."

Jesus modeled that same peace in the midst of danger. When the boat carrying Him and His disciples encountered a tremendous storm at sea, Jesus slept through it! The disciples were astonished at His calm. But He knew what Stonewall knew - The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom (or what) shall I be afraid?

Do you have that level of confidence in God? It's there for the asking.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

120 Years Per Inch?

"In the beginning, God..." (Genesis 1:1)

Do you believe that?

I recently toured an underground cavern which was stunningly beautiful. Stalactites of breathtaking beauty and design hung from the ceiling while mirrored from below by stalagmites. Cavern after cavern increasingly revealed the artistic genius of our God. At one point during the tour, the group entered a large cavern containing what appeared to be a church organ at one end. Apparently, years ago, somebody had discoverered that when you tap a stalactite, it produces a sound. Armed with this knowledge, the discoverer went on to create this organ that generates its music from tapping thousands of the stalactites in the cave. Seconds later, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" was echoing eerily from the flickering depths of the cave. I marvelled and worshipped at the same time. A mighty fortress, indeed! "The earth showeth forth His handiwork."

But what's that you say? Those stalactites and stalagmites were formed over millions of years? Each of those magnificent sculptures was formed at a rate of one inch per every 120 years? It was simply a natural process that occurred during that eons-long period when mankind was evolving from the primordial ooze?

Sorry, I just don't buy that. "In the beginning God." If you accept that one phrase in our Bible, then you have no trouble believing everything else - including the fact the earth is not millions or billions of years old, but only thousands, as the Bible teaches... and including the fact that things like that amazing cavern with its stunning hues and colors and sculptures that put Michelangelo to shame, were all the result of a creative God.

"In the beginning God!" That is the world view that shapes every aspect of our belief system as Christians. And that world view includes the fact that God is God - sovereign and supreme. He can do as He pleases and does not rely on natural processes. He can create all the multiplied trillions of stars in our universe with a simple word, so why would we think He needs 120 years to form an inch of rock?

"In the beginning God." Say it over and over and over to yourself today. If you get hold of that truth it colors everything you see, everything you say, everything you believe.

"In the beginning God."