Issue 1, Number 14: “Conflicts in My Life – Part 3”

A Christian’s Voice From Raymore – December 19, 2009

Editors Note: This is the third and final installment of an unfinished manuscript that I found recently among my father’s effects. I hope you have enjoyed reading and thanks for your indulgence in a little reminiscing. This installment is delayed a week from when I had intended to post it because I was in St. Joseph, Missouri visiting my mother last weekend. Mom was admitted to the hospital on December 4th with pneumonia and was there until today. She told me that she has had a chance to think a lot during this time about what a great life she and dad had together. She also told me, “You know the longer I live, the more perfect your dad becomes! When I think back your father put up with a lot from me.” Yes mom, I agree, he was a pretty great man!

Conflicts in my Life – Part 3

By

William C. “Bill” Sexton

THE CONFLICT BETWEEN CONTINUING A LOVE AFFAIR AND GOING TO THE ARMY!

I was always bashful, yet human, and attracted to the opposite sex. I was very awkward in approaching them and not at all very successful in carrying out my desires in talking to them. I had a few dates at 16, and I was confused about just how to act in such situations. I was, as I look back, under sever circumstances, as no doubt many are today. I had lived with rough people, where the language often was unfit for young decent ears to hear. Vulgarity and profanity was used with regularity by most of the adults I knew. Suggestions were frequently expressed that manliness exhibited itself in sexual acts being performed as often as possible. Such were constantly flowing from the voices of the male adults I knew in whose company I was often.

My mind-set was such that I thought that the manly act was to manifest one’s expectation to have sexual relations with the opposite sex, practically all the time you were with them. Yet, this didn’t seem to me to be pleasant, and even possible for me. Yet, I thought that I must be different, judging from all the “talk” I was exposed to. Later I decided that there was “a lot more talk than action.” However, the action of people is evident of what they “think, others expect of them.”

My first real love was met at a dance. It was on a foggy night, as I was attending a mid-week-dance, around the mountain from my house. We had first danced together, then I stood with her as we rode with her brother around the road toward our house. I lived about a mile and a half from her; we came by my house first, and I got off. But I felt different from before. As I laid in my bed that night, I had ideas to move through my mind that had never found place there before.

I derived some comfort and pleasure from those thoughts. We attended many dances in the next few weeks. Her brother had just returned home from the Navy. With his money he bought him an old car. She had three brothers who had returned from the service. One, I believe was in the army, and two had been in the navy. One was married, but the others were unmarried. They were on the go, “making up for lost times.” In fact she had three older and two younger brothers. Each of these were “crazy” after cars, and they would buy the older ones discarded by some one and work on them — buy new motors and run them, etc.

We spent some time together at lease one night a week over the next several weeks, it being winter time on the farm there wasn’t much to do. When we had done the chores and eaten supper, we’d get together in some home and play cards, games and have a party of some kind. In 1946 many of the boys had returned from the military services, and most of them had money; they also had a sense of “lost time” to make up for. Summer came, but long before that I would get notes and letters from my love; her younger brother passed by our house on his way to and from school. I could just about look for a letter each morning, informing me that so and so was having a party…come by. I would hurry to the end of the letter which would close with “I love you.” Then my heart would seem to beat much, much faster. I would rush back and re-read the whole, usually several times. Exciting thoughts filled my mind, as I went about doing my work around the farm, cutting bushes, milking, feeding the hogs and cattle, getting hay from the loft, and at times just sitting around, even while eating.

Vivid pictures would flood my mind — great sensations rushed through my mind. As we spent so much time together, I guess I became so convinced in my mind that I could get by with a lot of things. “She shouldn’t’ get the idea that I was willing to be governed too much by her.” So, I decided that I was going to a particular place — even after making a date with her, so I went. She was embarrassed, and a friend of mine who had a girl was alone. She went with him. The next day they passed the house together. I felt bad, but told myself that I didn’t ” really care.” Such was not very convincing, however. Looking back, here is a lesson: Never try to do things to spite another, to get even, and be honest at all times. Once distrust is set in, it can never really be completely fixed.

Time went by. We made up. But mistrust, misunderstanding existed and continued to manifest itself, from then on. Efforts to undo the harm were made by each of us from time to time, but it never really worked successfully. She’d go with her other “boy friend” some. Then one day she got sick. I was sent for. At first this made my heart rejoice. But I was somewhat embarrassed before others, as knowledge of this spread among the people in the community. Our relationship was never as exciting and enjoyable as before.

Fall finally came, and I went away with my Uncle, Bill Campbell, to pull bolls, picking cotton in western Oklahoma. We wrote every day…almost. I returned home. Fall had been followed by “winter rains,” although winter on the calendar, December 21, had not actually arrived. We were spending some time together. I enjoyed most of it. I feel sure that she did, too, but there was an undercurrent. All was not well.

There was a third person in my life who added to the pressure, my mother. She talked to me a lot, and her evaluation of my love was not what mine was, and the story I told her was stronger than the one I told myself. It was clear that mother thought I was too serious, and she thought that I needed to look more realistically at the whole of my life… I was only 17 and there were many good girls. I’d need not be bossed around by this one, I should show her…, etc. This was a pressure. I wanted to put up a front — that all was wonderful, and I was not really concerned. But inside I was a lot less sure, determined. There was a conflict between my heart and my mind — what logically I felt I should do and what emotionally I felt that I’d like to do — if the reason hadn’t interfered.

The war was over, and many appeals were made to enlist the young men. I went to town, that day–I am not sure just what day of the week it was, but the one which the recruiting

officer was in town ( he would come down one day a week from Ft. Smith, I believe). I went to his office. He talked to me, giving me a couple of stories and gave me an aptitude test. I passed. That was good, for many were not qualified to serve, so I was lucky, according to him. We drove out to my house, about 12 or 15 miles in the country, on the mountain top north of Ozark. He told my parents a couple of stories, about how he got in the army and the great advantages he had… After a while they signed the papers, after they had the affirmative from me to the question was I “sure that this is what you want?”

I left town that night without telling my love “bye.” I think. I spent some sorrowful moments and sad nights, feeling ashamed of myself. I felt that I had chosen this way as a way to get rid of her, yet I didn’t really want to. Here was a great conflict — fighting within; once I had committed myself, however, there was no turning back for 18 months. I served my time, but not too admirably; yet, I did get discharged with honor. Nineteen months of my life had been spent, the fight, conflict and flight was still there, now more than ever — more trouble had come. The two of us — my love and me.

THE CONFLICT BETWEEN TRUTH AND RELIGIOUS ERROR

I was born in East Central Oklahoma and reared in West Central Arkansas, North of Ozark and Clarksville. I had no religious training as I was growing up and never attended “Sunday school.” Only occasionally did I attend meetings as they were held by different denominational preachers who would come through the community. The site of these services often was one of the school houses, at Liberty Hill, Union Grove, White oak, or Oak grove near where I lived.

I entered the Army at the age of 17 and served for 19 months, 9 of those in Germany. Shortly after returning home from the Army, I met a young lady, Lois Keech and on February 14, 1949, her 19th birthday, we were married. We arranged to have Judge Ford perform a double wedding with our friends, “Hazel” (Harley) Dickerson and Marie Cagle, in Ozark Arkansas. Nine months and Eleven days later, November 25, our first child was born, a son whom we named Randall. Later three daughters were born to us, Betty on July 7, 1953, Geneva, on October 7, 1954, and Sheryl on June 30, 1958. Our four children have produced us nine grand children.

In the summer of 1954, I began to read the Bible. Lois had started taking Randall to Sunday School at Sunflower Kansas and some people at work had given me some tracts, Having had no religious training, at first reading the Bible made little sense. As I read the gospels, I began to see that some of the same events were recorded in more than one book. I then began to read the book of Acts and could grasp the narrative fairly well. Yet it took a good while before it came to take on real meaning.

Having moved to Kansas City, Missouri in August of 1954, a Baptist preacher came by and asked me and the family to attend the Randolf Baptist church. Upon attending I was welcomed; I liked it and began to attend regularly. After awhile I was concerned that I wasn’t a Christian, never having professed to be anything religiously. One Sunday morning I rose from my seat and went forward when the invitation song was sung. I was asked, “Have you accepted Christ as your personal Saviour?” I responded: “I want to but I’m not sure that I know just how.” The Baptist preacher took me into a side room, read John 5:24, and then I was told that I was saved the moment I got up out of my seat and started forward, because that was the actual moment when I placed my “trust in Jesus.”

I felt wonderful and began to tell others of my new experience. Some began to ask me questions, “thank God,” now that I look back that they did, and I began to study and talk to others in the church and to the preacher.

Others began to ask me about baptism and passages that taught on baptism, especially my brother-in-law, Raymond Keech, who lived next door. Well, I told them that baptism was “important” but that you did not have to be baptized to be saved, because I had not yet been baptized. I had been told that there were some “formalities” that they, at the Baptist church had to go through with, and for me not to think too much about it. But then some discussions came which forced me to focus on Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38 and other passages, and I thought that I’d better get the Baptist preacher to come an explain them. I felt sure that the preacher could. I was too inexperienced and ungrounded in the scriptures to find all the passages and to explain them correctly. So I turned to the Baptist preacher.

On Saturday morning the preacher came to the house around 9:00 AM and he was still there late into the evening. What the preacher said, it took awhile to sink in: I was told that Mark 16:16 was an “addition” to the original scriptures; that Acts 2:38 was a mistranslation, meaning something quite different from what it sounded like on the surface; and that other scriptures on baptism meant that you were saved before and without baptism. However, the Baptist preacher insisted that baptism was important if you were to please God, but one must know that baptism has nothing to do with his salvation. This was somewhat confusing, and as I look back misleading, but it kept me from seeing the truth for awhile.

After thinking, reading, and praying for some time, I called the Baptist preacher and went over to his house and we went over the points again, to be sure that I had actually understood him correctly. It was hard to believe that the preacher would take this view on the passages, for I had seen him stand in the pulpit and hold the Bible high and claim it to be the Word of God to be conformed to. In the end this really was his claim, inconsistent as it was! I am glad that I stayed around long enough and studied hard enough to see and understand what the Bible really teaches and how it differed from what the Baptist church teaches! I knew the “faith only” passages backward and forward because I really wanted to be convinced that the doctrine was scriptural.

I asked the Baptist preacher if he would baptize me “for the remission of sin,” as Peter had said in Acts 28. The preacher said: “No. If I did, that would indicate that I thought baptism had something to do with your salvation, and I don’t.”

In the meanwhile, I continued talking and studying with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Raymond and Delphia Keech. Her father was a member of the church of Christ in Fort. Smith Arkansas. These studies were usually not too systematic. I was trying to out argue them. The study was long, intense, and sometimes “loud.” Lois and I began to attend the church of Christ on North Cherry Street, and some of the members had come and talked to me as well.

Slowly I began to realize that baptism was a step in the plan of God to SAVE. In January 1955 I heard Bill Humble preaching on WHB, and I began attending the services at 39th and Floral. At the end of the sermon one Sunday morning, I went forward and made the confession and was baptized. However, shortly after being baptized, as I continued to study and talk more orderly and calmly, I became concerned that I still had not understood that baptism was absolutely essential, So I called Bill Humble and he baptized me again, being sure this time that I was fully persuaded that I knew what I was doing and why.

Six months after my conversion, however, I fell away, stopped attending and became concerned about what seemed to me to be “inconsistencies” between what some members said and did. Looking back I see that there were a number of things which contributed to me falling away, however. There was much that I didn’t understand; and I had over estimated the purity of character of some who claimed to be “faithful” members.

One year after my baptism, I realized that there were and always will be “human weaknesses” in character. Also, I came to recognize that it behooved me to do first what I know to be right, and then I could go about trying to correct wrong that I saw in others. I was restored in January 1956, repenting, confessing my negligence, confusion, and inability to tolerate others and giving up, and that I was determined to do my best. That was the “first day of the rest of my new life.”

From that day forward, I attended regularly, studied hard, and participated when I could. I attended several special classes offered by the Vivion Road congregation, as we had moved from 41st and North Cherry into a new building that we had erected at 2026 Vivion Road. I attended several Men’s Training classes. I began to speak at mid-week services, and preach in the absence of the regular preacher, when I had an opportunity.

In June of 1957 I began to preach in the Kansas City area, having been urged to do so by Cecil Willis. First I preached at Holt Missouri, some 35 miles north east of Kansas City, while working on my regular job as a welder. Then, after driving to Holt every Lord’s day and Wednesday night, for several months, I resigned that work. I then, began traveling to Chillicothe, Macon, Purdin, Tremble and any other place within a 150 miles of Kansas City, to preach on Sundays. I began to preach at “Francis School House,” a few miles from Kansas City on a regular basis. In 1961, I began to work on a regular basis with the congregation at Kearney; they had just build them a new building. I worked with them until November 1962.

In November 1962 I was invited to come and work, on a full-time basis, with the congregation meeting at 1111 Harrison in Lowell Indiana. I quit my welding Job, and moved to work there, receiving $75.00 a week plus house and utilities.

In June of 1966, I moved to work with the 10th and Lincoln congregation in St. Joseph, Missouri. In 1973, I moved to work with the Southwest congregation in Wichita, Kansas. in 1975, some of us started the Westside congregation which gained the place to meet in at 3500 South Meridian, Wichita. In 1979, I moved to Manhattan Kansas to work with the congregation which began to meet on Poyntz, there. Later we purchased a building at 1112 Pierre Street. In June of 1983, Lois and I moved back to Wichita, having been asked by some of the people I knew real well, to work with the Southside congregation on South Seneca street. In May, two years later, in 1985, we of the Southside congregation merged with the Pleasant Valley congregation, meeting at 3317 N. Amidon.

July 13, 1985, I moved to work with the Roan Ridge congregation, 6403 NW Roanridge Road in Kansas City, Missouri but It was September 1 before we got moved in at 4400 NW Gleason. I worked with the congregation until the last day of May 1994, serving as an Elder with brother Ray Harris and Kenneth Young for about three years, until I resigned to move to Van Buren, AR.

End Note:

The manuscript ends with the following, “It is now 2000, November, so I’m nearly 72 years young, retired, but running more than ever. After working with the Van Buren church of Christ, from June 1, 1994 until November 15, 1998, when Randy Cavender came to work with the congregation…… Now as I pick up on this, it is June of 2006, and I am working with tI church in Waveland Arkansas, 60 miles from my home.”

Dad passed from this life on May 8, 2006, as bladder cancer moved unexpectedly and rapidly to attack his physical body. He misidentified the year on his last update to this manuscript. There are also entries that show that he intended to continue to update with headings for “The Conflict between my wife and parents” and “The conflict between secular and religion.” Dad lived a full life and left a legacy for which I give thanks to the Lord. I hope to see him again one day to hear him complete this unfinished manuscript ….

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – December 11, 2009

We have added a new resource to the website to assist you in instilling daily bible reading as a regular part of your day. We have been following the ESV Study Bible Daily Bible Reading Plan, since we began this “column” on our blog. We pray that you will continue to read and reflect, even when we do not make a post. We have attempted to provide opportunity for you to post your comments and reflections, as you read, and we encourage you again to do that.

Have a blessed day dear reader!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – December 5, 2009

Dear Reader,

Life got hectic and I am running behind again on my readings, so am just now posting the readings for today. Please post your reflections and thoughts.

Today’s Readings: Psalm 124; Job 11; Isaiah 30:18-32:20; 1 John 3:4-24

If you are following along with this feature on A Christian’s Voice, please let me know. It does take a great deal of time to make posts and I find it rewarding, but I also honestly reflect from time to time on why I am doing it. As you know, if you have read the Mission Statement and Dedication pages, My goal is to minister to others with the words that I write here. If this column or this website/blog is not accomplishing that mission, then I need to make some changes.

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – December 4, 2009

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, then our foe would have swallowed us alive, the flood would have swept us away, and over us would have gone the raging waters! Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth! I will praise Him and continue to look for His guidance today and every day!

I empathize with Job, as I read today’s second reading. Job continues the words of reply to Bildad, as he compares his status before God. As Job describes it, it does indeed at times seem that we are pitted against God. Job uses language that likens his situation to a trial, with no arbiter to hear his case impartially, before God. His friends were of little help, in this regard, and he declares his frustration again by declaring, “I loathe my life.” Realizing this to be his situation, he pleads his own case again before God. Lord, help me when I become frustrated like Job, with the trials of my life, to continue to remember that Your care has preserved my spirit; that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14); and like Job and Jeremiah, you knew me and had a plan for me even before I was born (Jeremiah 1:5)!

Today’s Readings: Psalm 124; Job 9-10; Isaiah 29:1-30:17; 1 John 2:18-3:3

The Lord speaks to me today, through His prophet Isaiah, to remind me of the consequences of becoming indifferent to His message. As I have said before in this blog, how blessed I am to live at a time in history when I see the whole picture of God’s plan to reform the moral order of the world. There is certainly more to be written in the history of man before the existing world order is burned up and dissolved (2 Peter 3:10) and the Lord returns to inflict vengeance on those who do not Know God (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10), but today I “stand in awe of the God of Israel” (Isaiah 29:23).

Today’s last reading speaks more about what will happen in “the last hour.” Those will increase who deny that Jesus is the Christ and who deny the Father. The defense against their influence is to abide in Christ, living with confidence that when He returns we will be like Him and we will see Him as He is! Lord, help me to live every day with this scene of Your second coming fresh in my mind! Amen. Come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20)!

Have a blessed day, dear reader!

–Randy Sexton

Issue 1, Number 13: “Conflicts in My Life – Part 2”

A Christian’s Voice From Raymore – December 5, 2009

Editors Note: This is the second of a three-part unfinished manuscript that I found as I looked through some of my father’s electronic files. I have enjoyed reading it and hope that you find benefit and encouragment from reading it as well. Look for part three next week. Have a blessed day, dear reader!

–Randy Sexton

Conflicts in my Life – Part 2

By

William C. “Bill” Sexton

Continued Education

God seems to lead and direct us, at times, when we are so ignorant of what we “should do.”

Being in Hamilton Ohio, working on the 2nd shift, at the Estate Stove Company, making $1.16 an hour, having a child on the way, I needed to find any way possible to make more money. Having been in the service, I had some GI schooling coming. There was a welding school in Hamilton. As a veteran, I could attend there and get a check. I signed up, attending each morning from 7 to 12 Monday through Friday and then 4 hours on Saturday morning. In the process, I learned that even though you had failed in “your education” before you reach adulthood, you could still learn, although it took me sometime to grasp the width and depth of what was available. My total motivation in registering in the Welding school, however, was to get the check and that was the only school I knew that was in the area. In the school, we studied a book as well as practiced welding. At the end, I passed the test. However, I was fortunate, in that for some dozen years I made a living welding; there was just about always a job to be found in welding. The pay was more than I would have been able to make had I not learned that skill. Although it was a dirty job, I actually liked to weld, and build things out of metal.

In reality, I had learned something in that period of time in addition to welding, although it took it some time to really come to the forefront in my thinking process. But after I had finished the welding school and got a job welding, it dawned on me that there were other things a person could learn from books!

In about 1952, with this new discovered mind-set, I saw some advertisement about taking home courses in Radio and TV. I signed on to that, and in the process my perceptions of education was awakened more and broadened. In as much as my formal education was so limited, I had to study extra hard to understand and comprehend the concepts of electricity and how they worked in radio and Tv, as they were presented in the literature. But, as one takes advantage of opportunities, other facets of information filter in, too. So, as I was getting near the end of the Radio and TV course, I became interested in religion. That awakened me to the ideas on the scriptures, and whereas I had not been much of a reader at all, I began to read more and more, liking the benefits I got from it. When I was converted to Christ, then I became interested in more general education of history, grammar, etc.

I became aware of Wayne School of La Salle Extention University, in Chicago, A Correspondence Institution, offering Home Study Courses. I registered in that university and began studying. I would get up at 5:00 am and study an hour each day before I went to my regular job. One of the first courses was in World History. That was exceedingly interesting because I could relate what I was learning there to Bible Times as I studied ideas, practices, and rulers, etc.

Later in Lowell Indiana, the Public TV channel 11 out of Chicago, offered a lot of College courses. I availed myself of many of them: I would watch on TV and order the materials and study them, although I never registered with the college to go take the test and get the credit. I still learned a lot., taking the time to read, listen to the lectures, make as good application of the concepts as I could. I was getting a much better view of the world of which I was a part. I found that each community had a Library, with many books. So, I would visit the library often, pick up books whose titles would interest me, often not reading them through, but becoming familiar enough with the subject enough to discuss the matter with others.

When we moved to St. Joseph, Missouri I became interested in getting my GED. I found a book and studied it, and prepared for the test. I took it and passed. Missouri Western College had just moved to it’s new campus and became a four year college. I registered, taking two courses: Sociology and English. It was somewhat accidental that these were the two courses I took, without having made any great plans on what to study, other than getting in college. However, it turned out that these were perhaps the best courses that I could have chosen. In my test score for the GED, I had made the best in social studies. That was perhaps due to my interest that had developed in working with people in regard to salvation. I also saw a need to study English because my grammar and vocabulary were very limited. I viewed this as a challenge to improve my ability to forcefully present a persuasive message to those seeking salvation and desiring to serve God faithfully.

With 70 hours of instruction at Missouri Western College, I moved to Wichita and registered at Wichita State University. There, I completed the requirements for the degree Bachelor of General Studies, finishing with over 120 hours. When I moved to Manhattan, I registered at both Kansas State University and Manhattan Christian College. I was awarded the BS degree from Wichita State University in December 1981 and a Master of Theology Degree from Christian Bible College in Rocky Mount, North Carolina on January 9, 1987.

In the process of attending college as an adult, older than many in the class, I knew why I was there: to learn. I did better than many who had much more ability than I, because I was interested in learning as much as possible! I could see so much use for what I was learning. At first, I felt very timid, being in my upper thirties and still going to school, I felt that I would be considered “odd.” But I wanted to learn so bad, that I was willing to take the “risk.” However, to my surprise, I found that many people were going to school who were in their thirties or even older. One student was in seventies and pursuing a degree in philosophy. At first I was fearful that I could not learn, but when I came through my first semester with nearly a 4.0 grade average, I was in a lot better shape of proceeding. I decided that i could do it — study college courses successfully! Yes, I registered in many classes, to find after attending a few periods that they were not what I wanted, so I’d drop them. I was so grateful that God had made it possible — for one who had wasted so much of the opportunities in my early life NOW made it possible for me to continue my education, even though it was difficult. The conflict was there, but how wonderful that somehow I found enough courage to plunge into the fresh waters on the field of education.

Reflections – December 3, 2009

To You I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! I begin this new day, Lord praising Your magnificence and your power! My eyes look to You Lord my God, and I thank You for the mercy You have upon me! Though I suffer contempt and scorn from those who do not love you, I will honor You with my lips and my heart and all my being!

Today’s Readings: Psalm 123; Job 8; Isaiah 28; 1John 2:7-17

In today’s reading from Job, we have Bildad’s strong rebuke. He refers to his friends answer to Eliphaz and his complaints to God as “”a great wind.” Tough love,” as we sometimes term it, does call for us to sternly rebuke those we love at times (1 Timothy 5:20; James 4:11-12; 5:19-20) but speaking evil of a brother and judging a brother when we do not have all the facts is condemned by God. Most of what Bildad says is true and, in another situation, we would priase him for his strong defence of God. In this situation, however, what he says is not helpful to his hearer because it does not deal with the root of his friend’s pain. I can be guilty of the same, when I encounter those who are hurting and those who are struggling to find their way. Lord, help me to seek your wisdom in such situations, to rightly handle your word (2 Timothy 2:15) to bring healing and timely intervention to such circumstances!

In today’s third reading, the prophet sends forth more of his warning. In today’s reading against his own people. The prophet begins by referring to Israel’s “proud crown” that is steadily moving toward becoming “the fading flower of its glorious beauty.” That crown will soon be “trodden underfoot.” Isaiah’s clear message was rejected by many of the people so God will soon speak to them through a “foreign tongue.” Though they prided themselves in the alliance with Egypt for protection from Assyria , Isaiah warns Jerusalem’s leaders that their trust has been misplaced. He likens it to sleeping in a bed that is too short and covering with a blanket that is too narrow. As I read this message of warning, I am see in my own life areas of application. Sometimes I pride myself in alliances I have made to protect me from the evil one. I pride myself in all of the good things that I am doing to be an influence in the lives of young people, and at that very moment Satan is diligently looking for ways to bring me down. I pride myself in my concern that my boys receive “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) and at that very moment Satan presents temptations to draw me away from spending time with them and from communicating with them in a kind and loving way. But I am also encouraged by the message of hope in Isaiah’s message as he talks about the sure foundation in Zion that annuls these alliances. If I take action after receiving this warning, I can replace “sheer terror” (28:19) with the “honor” that is reserved for believers to “not be put to shame (1 Peter 2:2-8).” He indeed is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom!

Today’s final reading presents John’s challenge to live out Christ’s message and thereby bring light into a world of darkness. The challenge is: Do not love the world! The message is: You have overcome the evil one and will maintain that status as long as the word of God abides in you! What a wonderful message of hope has been delivered to me and entrusted to me to take to the rest of the world! Lord help me to be faithful in that stewardship!

Have a blessed day, dear reader!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – December 2, 2009

I AM glad when they say to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” I AM glad to give thanks to the name of Lord! I pray for the peace of all of God’s people! I pray especially that those whom I love will be secure! For my brothers and companions’ sake, I AM saying, “Peace within you!”

Today’s Readings: Psalm 122; Job 6-7; Isaiah 26-27; 1 John 1:1-2:6

How can Job speak that way to God? I cannot begin to know all that he felt. I have not even come to close to what he is suffering in his life as the story unfolds in today’s second reading. In Job’s first address to God, he admits to not restraining his mouth, to speaking in the anguish of his spirit, to complaining in the bitterness of his soul. Job is known for his patience. We sometimes define patience as “endurance without complaint.” So how can that be? He charges God with making him “the mark” of His burden(7:20).

“Job will declare outright that God has wronged him (Job 19:6-7). At the same time, Job is certain that his ‘enemy’ is actually his advocate and will vindicate him… Astonishingly, the Lord does not take Job to task over his words, instead calling them ‘right’ (42:7). The book as a whole ilustrates that a full understanding of God’s reasons for events is not a prerequisite for faithfulness amid terrible suffering. Further, Job’s deep perplexity and questioning are not a provocation to God. ” (ESV Study Bible, p. 870)

Today’s third reading describes the final and complete victory that God will achieve for His people. It is described in physical terms as a strong city with walls and bulwarks, and in spiritual terms, as a place where God’s people are kept in perfect peace. Powerful word pictures are used by the prophet to describe a confidence and reliance upon God! (“desire of our soul,” “yearns for you in the night,” earnestly seeks you,” “your name alone we bring to remembrance, and “you have increased the nation”). Lord thank you for the promise to keep me in perfect peace because my mind is stayed on you and I trust in you! Help me Lord, as I evaluate and contemplate and plan my future days, to wait for you and to seek the path of your judgements.

In today’s final reading, John emphasizes the personal nature of his eyewitness testimony to the life that Jesus lived and the life that He brings to those who follow Him. The fellowship between those with a common faith is also a predominant theme. As a human creature, made as piece of pottery out of the earth by the hand of the Potter, I know that I am not able to live a life totally devoid of sin. But I am reminded by John that I have the assurance of always being able to seek God’s forgiveness and cleansing, when I confess my sins to Him, while living a life of walking in the light!

Have a blessed day, dear reader!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – December 1, 2009

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my salvation come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. A key word in this psalm, “keep,” reminds me that the Lord guards, watches over and attends carefully over my life, as His child. How truly awesome He is!

Today’s Readings:Psalm 121; Job 4-5; Isaiah 25; John 21

You know how you feel when you have spent a couple of hours working on a document on your computer that you were sure that you saved …

Well, you guessed it. That’s what happened to this column today. I was working on it this morning when I received a call from a recruiter. After ending the phone conversation, I saved the work I had been doing on my Reflections and began researching a prospective employer. The day filled with other things, I lost the laptop to my wife (it is hers after all). It is now after 11:00 P.M and I discover that 95% of what I had written this morning was not saved. So I will pillow my head now and things will be better tomorrow…

Have a peaceful night and a great day tomorrow. Post your comments as you read, if you are so inclined.

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – November 30, 2009

In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me! He is there when I encounter complexities and uncertainties of life. He is there when situations frustrate and stress me. He is there when people disappoint me.

Today’s Readings: Psalm 120; Job 3; Isaiah 24; John 20

The second reading begins Job’s lament to the circumstances brought on him by Satan. It is significant that Job “cursed the day of his birth” but that he “did not sin with his lips.” The dialogue in the central section of the book, “focuses on the question of what Job’s suffering reveals both about him and about God’s governing of the world” and contains “two sequences of ‘why?’ questions … ‘Why did I not die at birth?’ (v.11) and ‘Why is light given a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?’ (v.23)” (ESV Study Bible, p. 876). When I encounter situations that cause me to ask “Why?,” I pray thai I face them in a way that allows me to “hold to my integrity.” That is a great statement God makes about his servant in Job 2:3.

The third reading begins Isaiah’s third series of oracles. These rather than against particular nations, are judgements are on the whole earth. The judgement of the whole earth will bring all, small and great to bow their knee before God. Oh that we would all know and respect Him before that great day of the coming of the Lord.

The final reading tells the story of Who Moved The Stone (This was the title of a book written by Frank Morison and published in 1930. Originally undertaken to prove that the story of the resurrection of Jesus was only a myth, Morison’s research led him to a strong belief in the biblical record. I highly recommend it as a resource for Christian Evidences!). Jesus’ appearance to reassure Mary Magdalene and his touching conversation with her and with Thomas endears me further to Him as my loving Saviour!

For me, a day spent in pursuit of career and family concerns, draws to a close with reading and meditating Scripture. I trust that you had a blessed day, dear reader! May the Lord protect and guide you on your way.

–Randy Sexton