Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be: Volume 3, Number 2, September 22, 2018: Compassion

 

What is Compassion?

Compassion is “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” (www.dictionary.com). The etymology of “compassion” is Latin, meaning “co-suffering.” Compassion involves “feeling for another” and is a precursor to empathy, the “feeling as another” capacity for better person centered acts of active compassion; in common parlance active compassion is the desire to alleviate another’s suffering” (Sherlyn Jimenez, see article on Compassion, The Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology, Volume I, Editor: Shane Lopez, Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 978-1-4051-6125-1).

 

“It is a word often misunderstood. Many people think that to be compassionate means to give money to those in need, or to hug someone when they are feeling down. Those are aspects of compassion, but compassion is more than that. It is entering into someone else’s pain, suffering or hardship with them. It is stepping into their circumstances and providing comfort, assistance, or both” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Volume 3: Compassion, p.3).

 

Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for a friend” (Jn. 15:13). If we are to be the men God wants us to be, we must be willing to lay down our own needs and desires to reach out to others who are in need of our compassion? Are you willing to do that? Please consider some areas where we must demonstrate compassion and some outstanding examples in each of these areas.

 

Compassion for family

Mike Magusiak was an executive at CEC Entertainment, Inc. (Chuck E. Cheese) for nearly 27 years. “When Magusiak initially joined CEC Entertainment in 1987, the Irving-based company was facing a negative cash flow and needed a turnaround. By 1989, with Magusiak as chief financial officer and taking CEC Entertainment public, the company began returning profits once again. In 2008, Magusiak was named CEO of the company and served until 2014 when it was sold to a private equity group. Magusiak also served on the board of directors from 1988 to 2014. The annual compound growth rate of CEC Entertainment, Inc. stock from 1989 to 2014 was 18.6 percent” (https://udallas.edu/cob/cob-news/Chuck_E_Cheeses_CEO_Joins_Faculty.php).

 

In his leadership position, he had a great deal of responsibility that required job commitment. But Mike determined early in his career that he would not allow his career to stand in the way of spending quality time with his family, making it clear which one he loves more.

 

In an interview that appeared in the March 2013 issue of D Magazine, Mike described the valuable time he spent with his family.Wendy and I have been married for more than 30 years. We are blessed to have three sons. Jason, 24, is a CPA working for KPMG; Matt, 23, is a senior at Ole Miss who will graduate next semester with a double major in accounting and marketing; and Nick, 17, is a junior in high school. My wife and I spend a lot of time at ice arenas watching two of our boys play hockey. I also enjoy golfing with our middle son, and we enjoy boating as a family. Every Halloween when our boys were young, my wife would take them next door while I changed into a Chuck E. Cheese costume and I’d take them around the neighborhood to trick-or-treat. My boys never knew it was me. In fact, one year they wanted to bring Chuck E. home to meet Daddy.”

https://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-ceo/2013/march/meet-ceo-michael-magusiak-of-chuck-e-cheeses/

 

 

Karen Hughes was a trusted top advisor to President George W. Bush. She served as the White House communications director but in 2002 she decided to give up that position in order to spend more time with her husband, Jerry, and son Robert. Upon announcing her resignation, she said, “Throughout my career I have tried to prioritize my family while I have a career…I think this says that I can do what is right for my family, and continue to serve the President in a key way. I’ve always prided myself that this is a family-friendly White House, and I think this is a family-friendly decision.” Many Washington insiders were shocked by her decision. But Karen Hughes redefined what it means to put family first. She remained an advisor to the President, but she put her family first. She still treasures that decision, stating, “Other than marrying my husband, that decision was still the best decision I think I’ve ever made.

 

 

Compassion for peers

Krissi Holomon was a bright & beautiful teenager who died at an early age cutting short dreams of college. But she was a person known for her extreme passion. She so touched her classmates that the high school graduation was moved to her home when she was too sick to leave her bed.  The touching story of Krissi Holomon can be viewed in the HOC Foundation video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSf5WXmxCFs.

 

Compassion for those in need

Andrea Jaeger was a tennis prodigy who rose to the second-ranked player in the world in 1979 at the age of 14. But in 1985 her career was ended by a shoulder injury. Five years later she founded the Silver Lining Foundation in Aspen, Colorado to help children with cancer. She used her $1.4 million in tennis earning to launch the foundation in 1990.

 

Young cancer patients are flown by the Foundation to Aspen for a week of support and activities. Because of her experiences in high school she developed a heart of compassion for kids in need. When she was in high school, fellow-students, jealous of the attention she received as the result of her tennis prowess, would throw food at her in the cafeteria and push her into lockers.

 

“Jaeger’s autobiography, First Service, was published in 2004. In the book she wrote about her teenage years as a tennis player and her later decision to focus on serving God. All proceeds from the book were donated to children’s charities.

 

Jaeger has since established the “Little Star Foundation”, reaching on average 4,000 kids annually. She has moved from Aspen to a much larger 220-acre (0.89 km2) property in Hesperus, Colorado, where she will be able to expand her programs. [12] (https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/printedition/sports/20070309/c1scov09.art.htm)

 

On September 16, 2006, at the age of 41, Jaeger became Sister Andrea, an Anglican Dominican nun.[15] She reportedly left the order in 2009.[16] (Futterman, Matthew (August 27, 2010). “Where Are They Now?” The Wall Street Journal).

 

In April 2007, Jaeger and several former athletes, including Andre Agassi, Lance Armstrong, Tony Hawk, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Muhammad Ali, appeared on the American morning television talk show Good Morning America to announce their formation of a new charity entitled “Athletes for Hope” with the goal of encouraging their fellow athletes to think philanthropically. [17][18] https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=3077119

 

Oprah Winfrey describes Jaeger as a superstar turned superhero. [19]” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Jaeger)

 

 

Compassion when it costs you

Todd Wagner is a successful business man with interests in technology and entertainment, but his greatest interest is in kids. He has dedicated many personal resources to make a difference in the lives of others.

 

Wagner is the co-founder of Broadcast.com and founder and CEO of the Charity Network. He also co-owns 2929 Entertainment with Mark Cuban, along with other entertainment companies. Wagner has his own charitable foundation, the Todd Wagner Foundation. After meeting with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wagner in 2001 launched his Foundation’s first children’s program, the Dallas chapter of the After-School All-Stars (then called Inner-City Games), a national program championed by Schwarzenegger that provides year-round technology, academic, sports and cultural programs for children in the nation’s inner cities. The Dallas After-School All-Stars now reaches more than 4,000 children with programs ranging from chess and art classes to golf, running clubs and math competitions.

 

Wagner also created a Minority Technology Fund that provides funding and resources to minority-owned, technology-focused businesses based in Dallas and has made investments in numerous companies including: Imaginuity Interactive, a Web site development firm; Abstract Concepts, developer of African-American communities Ebonymate.com and Dallasblack.com; and rocKnot, a software development firm.

 

Wagner has also developed the MIRACLES technology, education and life skills program that provides an after-school program for inner-city children. This program is currently in its fifth year and is operating in nine cities in conjunction with the national After-School All-Stars. The multi-year program begins in sixth grade and continues through high-school graduation. The Foundation recently made a grant that unites the MIRACLES curriculum with The Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s (BGCA) technology program “Club Tech”.

 

The Foundation has also provided funding to bring KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) charter school to Dallas in 2003 and to Wagner’s hometown of Gary, Indiana in 2006. KIPP Truth Academy is a program for students to develop knowledge, skills and character.

 

“An old parable teaches that it is more compassionate to teach a man to fish rather than to catch a fish for him, because if he is taught how to fish, the man will be able to sustain himself throughout his lifetime. True compassion that enables sustained change requires a personal investment from us. Whether time or money, change comes at a price.  An old saying goes, ‘no pain, no gain.’ True compassion requires us to ‘consider others above ourselves. ’While difficult thing to do, there is no act that is nobler. Others need your compassion, but it may cost you – in time, money, comfort or convenience. However the results will be life changing.” (Heart of a Champion Program, Compassion, p.13).

 

  1. Truett Cathy was the founder of the fast food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A. He took a tiny Atlanta diner, originally called the Dwarf Grill, and transformed it into Chick-fil-A the nation’s largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain. With $7.885 billion in sales annually (as of 2016) and over 2,200 locations across America, Cathy’s business success allowed him to pursue his true passion – helping young people have a better future. In 1984 he started the WinShape Centre Foundation, named for its mission to shape winners, which provides scholarships to 20 to 30 students to attend Berry College. Also, through its Leadership Scholarship Program, Chick-fil-A has given $1,000 scholarships to restaurant employees. Those awards have totaled over $23 million since 1973.

 

For Cathy, it was not just about giving, but about giving in a way that enables others to succeed. Cathy believed that requires sacrificial giving – giving to others in a way that means a personal cost to him – a cost that he said is well worth it. “We must motivate ourselves to do our very best and by our example lead others to do their best as well,” Cathy said. Before his death in September 2014, Cathy said, “I’d like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order. We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed, and the important things will not change if we keep our priorities in proper order.”

 

For Cathy, leadership was about making a difference and a willingness to use personal resources to better the lives of others. His life philosophy is reflected well in his statement, “If you wish to enrich days, plant flowers; if you wish to enrich years, plant trees; if you wish to enrich Eternity, plant ideals in the lives of others.”

 

Cathy wrote five books: the autobiography Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People, a motivational book entitled It’s Easier to Succeed Than to Fail, the parenting book It’s Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men, an explanation of his business success in How Did You Do It, Truett?, and a final book on the significance of money in today’s society titled Wealth, Is It Worth It?. He also contributed to the anthologies What My Parents Did Right and Conversations on Success, and co-wrote with Ken Blanchard Generosity Factor: Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent, and Treasure.

 

Cathy was a deeply religious man and determined from the beginning of his enterprise that all Chick-Fil-A’s restaurants would be closed on Sunday. It was a decision made out of personal conviction and care for his employees. Realizing full-well that he would be forfeiting an entire day of business, he desired to give his employees a day free for rest, family time and the exercise of their faith. His business has never suffered from that decision and is carried on today by his son Dan, who became CEO of the business in November 2013 when his father retired. S. Truett Cathy died at his home on September 8, 2014 of diabetic complications at the age of 93.

 

Conclusion

Think about what it takes to demonstrate compassion in your family, for the needy, for your peers and when it costs you. What do you now know about compassion and how can you show others that you care? Now that you know what compassion means, what are you going to do to show what you know? Quite frequently in Scripture it is said that Jesus was moved with compassion by what he saw (Mt. 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; Lk. 7:13; 10:33, etc.). Won’t you be the man that God wants you to be by showing compassion like Jesus did?

Thanks for reading.

–Randy

 

Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be: Volume 3, Number 1, August 24, 2018: Integrity, Character, and Rebuilding Trust

What is Integrity and Character?

Much has been written about integrity and character. Coach John Wooden told his players, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are” (Quoted by Brian Biro in Beyond Success, p. 38).

 

The Heart of a Champion Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Colleyville, TX, that offers educators an innovative and effective approach to developing character in the lives of their students, says, “Character is the inward motivation to do what is right according to the highest standards of behavior in every situation. Character is the combination of qualities built into an individual’s life which determine his or her responses regardless of the circumstances. Character is what you do when no one is watching. And character comes from your heart …. You have the power to be a person of character; to affect your future and realize your destiny. No other person can make that happen in your life. You alone are responsible for rising to the challenge of being a true champion. Achievements, accolades, appearances, and performances will one day fade away! Ultimately, your character is the one thing that will last, and the one way people will identify you. Dive into this program and be a true champion” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program).

 

John Maxwell in his excellent book 21 Indispensable Qualities Of A Leader says that there are four things that every person must know about character:

  • Character is more than talk
  • Talent is a gift but character is a choice
  • Character brings lasting success with people
  • Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character

 

How is Character Improved?

Maxwell also offers a four-step plan for improving character:

  1. “Search for the cracks. Spend some time looking at the major areas of your life (work, marriage, family, service, etc.) and identify anywhere you might have cut corner, compromised or let people down.

 

  1. Look for patterns. Examine the responses that you just wrote down. Is there a particular area where you have a weakness, or do you have a type of problem that keeps surfacing?

 

  1. Face the music. The beginning of character repair comes when you face your flaws, apologize, and deal with the consequences of your actions.

 

  1. Rebuild. It’s one thing to face up to your past actions. It’s another to build a new future. Now that you’ve identified any areas of weakness, create a plan that will prevent you from making the same mistakes again.”

(Maxwell, pp. 1-7)

 

What Responsibility Has God Charged Us With?

If we are to be the men that God wants us to be, we must be men of integrity and character. God has charged us with the responsibility of being the spiritual leaders of our families and in order to do that we must be genuine and authentic. One author likens this role to a “point man” who takes up his position on the front lines of battle. I have used this quote before in this column, but read again what he says, “It’s a Herculean task to lead a family, but with the power of God supporting you, it is a tremendous privilege. If we are willing to become the point man in our families, we can count on God’s support and power. He’s looking for men who will follow Jesus Christ and burn their ships behind them. When He finds those men, He will take extraordinary measures to buttress, bolster and carry them along in His limitless strength (2Chronicles 16:9). May we be those men! And may He give us the strength to withstand the onslaught of His blessing” (Steve Farrar, Point Man, p. 231).

 

What Do the Scriptures say about Integrity and Character?

Men face many challenges in today’s culture. Satan has many devices to hinder our ability and our desire to be that influence that desires for us to be. The Scriptures are full of passages dealing with integrity and character. Notice a few of them:

Proverbs 10:9 “He who walks with integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will become known.”

1 Kings 9:4 “Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’”

Job 2:3 “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”

Job 31:6 “Let me be weighed on honest scales, That God may know my integrity.”

Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.”

Titus 2:7 “…in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,”

Philippians 2:22 “But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.”

Rom. 5:3-4 “…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

How May Integrity Be Rebuilt?

God said that David walked in integrity of heart. And yet David was tempted when he saw Bathsheba bathing, he yielded to that temptation and he sinned. So it was necessary for David to rebuild his integrity. In doing so, he asked God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalms 51:10-11). We can all learn from Job’s example. He said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” (Job 31:1, NLT).

 

The Bible plan for forgiveness of sin for the Christian is simple: repent, ask forgiveness from the one(s) against whom the sin was committed, and pray to God for His forgiveness and for His help in the rebuilding process (Mt. 18:15-17 and Acts 8:18-24). But when trust has been broken and the marriage relationship has been shattered, the rebuilding process becomes much more complex. During the fifty-six years that I have been a Christian, I have witnessed TV evangelists, personally known preachers and elders, and friends succumb to this sin.

 

Much has been written to help those who find themselves in such a situation. One writer suggests, “I don’t know of any assignment more difficult (but more worthwhile) than the job of regaining a wife’s trust. She trusted you enough to marry you, but the bond of trust has been broken. So many men just walk away when they have failed and broken the heart of a loving spouse…. They walk away and take their shame and the knowledge that they walked away when they most needed to step up” (Stephen Arterburn and Jason B. Martinkus, Worthy of Her Trust, p. xi) (emphasis mine).

 

Arterburn and Martinkus outline a plan for rebuilding trust that involves nine “non-negotiables.” If these aren’t present of if they’re deficient, it will be incredibly difficult for one’s relationship to be restored. These items are: Spiritual Commitment, Honesty, Transparency, True Intimacy, Accountability, Open Review of Computer/Internet Use, Sexual Integrity in the Workplace, Restitution, and No Self-Pity.

They also recommend several “tools” to assist the rebuilding process. These include: The Five-Minute Rule, T-30 Journal, Financial Accountability, Twenty-Four Hour Disclosure Rule, GPS Tracking, and Wifecam. I highly recommend this book as is an excellent resource for any man attempting to regain his wife’s trust after admitting to sexual integrity issues (e.g., pornography, affair, etc.).

One of the key concepts that resonated with me and that is repeated throughout this book is the idea of being “intentional.” For example, “When it comes to trust building, free time can be detrimental. We must begin to use our time intentionally and channel it toward a goal” (p.105). In regard to setting boundaries on the job, “Because the work environment can change our persona, we have to be diligent in preserving our sense of authenticity and self. Your new self must be careful with boundaries, intentional with words, and conscientious about how interactions can affect your wife’s heart” (pp. 110-111). In regard to a husband keeping his word they write, “It is incredibly important for you as a husband to be intentional about what you commit to and how you communicate that commitment to your wife” (p.128). And finally, “The journey you’re on is changing you from the inside out. Character and integrity are being woven into the fabric of your being. As such, things will get easier. Truth, trust, and redemption will be more natural and will flow out of who you are, rather than having to be an intentional thing that you do” (p. 191).

 

If we are to become the men that God wants us to be, we must be intentional in building integrity and character. If we stumble and fall along the way, we must be diligent in rebuilding that character and integrity. Our eternal security depends upon it! Thanks for reading and sharing this website with others.

 

–Randy Sexton

A Christians Voice from Fort Smith: Volume 1, Issue 2 – July & August 2012

A Christians Voice from Fort Smith: Volume 1, Issue 2 – July & August 2012

“Heart of a Champion: Leadership”

 

Pat Williams is one of my favorite authors. In his inspiring and motivational book, The Heart of A Champion, Williams says,

 

“I believe God has put within each of us the capacity to accomplish far greater things than most of us can imagine. He has given each of us the ability to achieve greatness in some special area of life. I’ve learned that champions are not necessarily those who were born with special talents, intelligence, or beauty. They are ordinary men and women who achieved success in life because they worked hard to develop the gifts God gave them.

 

Last month, in this column, I introduced the theme for the next several issues – character traits that typify the heart of a champion. The first trait I would like to examine is leadership. What is Leadership? What does the word mean? John C. Maxwell describes it this way, “What makes people want to follow a leader? Why do people reluctantly comply with one leader while passionately following another to the ends of the earth? What separates leadership theorists from successful leaders who lead effectively in the real world? The answer lies in the character qualities of the individual person.” (The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, p. ix) One of the quotes that Maxwell includes on the chapter introduction pages is from Bernard Montgomery, British Field Marshal who said, “Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.”

 

I had the opportunity while living in the Kansas City area to do volunteer work at the Belton Freshman Center. At the time, the school was using a structured program produced by The Heart of A Champion Foundation. I am very impressed with the material produced by this non-profit youth leadership organization and have used some of their material as a basis for this series. Their stated mission is to seek “to transform culture by providing the necessary resources to educate motivate and empower students, teachers, families and groups in core principles essential to lifetime personal development and maximized performance.” As men who are charged by God to be the spiritual leaders of our families I think that this is a wonderful resource for developing the heart of a champion in our sons and daughters. I invite you to visit their website www.heartofachampion.org and check them out.

 

What is leadership? What does the word mean? With a little time spent in various dictionaries you will find that it includes, “to guide, to direct, to act as an authority, to exercise influence.” In the Heart of a Champion program workbook on leadership, they tell young people, “It’s time for your own personal commitment evaluation. Look over the items in the checklist and assess yourself and see what kind of leader you are. Most of the time, I …

  • … place the needs of others above my own
  • … know people are watching me to see how I respond in all situations
  • … am a positive example to younger people
  • … look for ways to serve my community.
  • … look to give positive direction to my friends and in groups

 

“Look over your answers what do they tell you about your level of leadership?

 

“What makes a true leader? Is it power? Money? Title? Achievement? A great resume? A loud, commanding voice? Actually, none of these things makes a great leader. True leaders are leaders because people follow them. Why do others follow them? One reason: character. People do not commit to talent, they commit to character. Leaders are followed because they can be trusted to make wise decisions, and because they are looking out for the good of the group rather than themselves. True leaders are servants who lift up others to make them great, even at their own expense. They are men and women of influence who have chosen to use whatever position they have in society to affect others for good. These are leaders with the Heart Of A Champion.

 

“Showing the way is what it is about in a life of leadership, and every one of us is a leader to at least one other person, whether we realize it or not. So, SHOW THE WAY!”

 

Several true-life examples are used in the Heart of a Campion Character Development Program to teach leadership in various life circumstances. Then after a short video describing these champions, young people are asked a series of questions to draw out discussion and ensure reinforcement of the principles being taught. Consider …

 

Leadership In Crisis*

Dr. Sally Knox, a surgical oncologist at Baylor University Medical Center, is an example of leadership in Crisis. Dr. Knox has chosen to step into the gap for women suffering with breast cancer. She is one of the most successful breast cancer surgeons in the world. She founded The Bridge, a non-profit organization, in 1992 to help get treatment to financially disadvantaged women. This work has become her passion.

 

We live in a world today in which leaders of quality and character seem to be in short supply. We live in an age in which our world is full of crises: world hunger, AIDS, teen pregnancy, and teenage drinking to name a few. It is estimated that 30 million Americans do not know were there next meal is coming from. AIDS is a pandemic problem around the world. Recent studies have shown that the number 1 reason teenage girls in the U. S. visit a hospital is due to pregnancy. The leading killer of teenagers is automobile accidents, the majority of which involve alcohol. It has been said that each of us is either part of the problem or a part of the solution. What are we doing to help our sons and daughters to understand how they can you take action in their own schools or communities in one of these areas? Make a plan to make a difference and then show the way!

 

Leadership Among Those Younger*

Sylvester Croom is an example of leadership among those younger. He made history in 2004, when he was hired as the head football coach at Mississippi State University. He became the first African-American head football coach in the Southeastern Conference. But Croom made it clear that, as proud as he was of his heritage, he wanted to be seen not as a barrier-breaker, but a leader of young men. Croom’s players have great respect for him and know that his number one concern is for them and their welfare, above all else.

 

Everyone is a leader of some sort to those who are younger. There is always at least one pair of eyes watching you to see how you respond to your circumstances and to other people. What kind of deposit are you leaving in those who are watching you? SHOW THE WAY for those younger! We all have at least one person watching us, to learn what decisions should be made and to gain direction. Think of one person who either is now, or at one time was an example for you as to how you should live. Think of one person who was a model or mentor for you. Think about the characteristics that made this person a model leader for you. Now list the things you want to model for those younger to whom you are an example and a leader. Remember, little eyes are always watching you. Someone is looking to you to show them how they should live. What will you demonstrate to them? Will you be the same kind of leader for them as someone once was for you? You can be a mentor. You can show the way.

 

Leadership Among Groups & Peers*

Derrick Brooks is an example of leadership among groups & peers. He has been one of the best linebackers in football since he entered the NFL in 1995. His passionate play and leadership ability have earned him the respect of teammates and opponents alike. His leadership, both on and off the field, was instrumental in turning around a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team and leading them to a Super Bowl championship.

 

How do your peers see you? Do you influence the people around you or do they influence you? Real leaders understand that every person is a valuable part of the group or team they lead. They don’t take advantage of their position or power. How will you make those in your group sense their unique value? How will you demonstrate the character that will be required for each member? How will you motivate them to give their best? How will you SHOW THE WAY?

 

Leadership In Civic Life*

Sam Johnson is an example of leadership in Civic Life. Sam Johnson Johnson served in Vietnam and became a prisoner of war. He now serves as a United States congressman from Texas. Like many POWs, Sam Johnson came home grateful for the opportunity to serve his country and continued to do so in many ways.

 

What qualities do you think enabled Sam to survive as a POW and also have made him an effective leader? What are the most important leadership traits Sam demonstrates? What do you think are the most important aspects of leading when you are in a highly visible position? Think About It! It’s easy to be a follower. But when we follow others, we had better be sure they know where they are going… and many leaders today do not…. In your community or in a part of your world, make a commitment to SHOW THE WAY!

 

“Great leaders become such because they have a heart to serve… The essence of leading is serving… Imagine for a moment you are a candidate for president of the United States….What would qualify you to lead the nation? What would be your platform for the next four years and beyond for the country? Think about the speech you would give on national television in which you will tell the American people why you are the ideal leader for the nation at this time in history.

 

Remember, great leaders are those who are committed to serving others. What can you do to make an impact on the civic life of your community or the nation? The only thing that can stop you from leading out in these areas is you. So step out and show the way!

 

Conclusion: Bringing It Home

Think about what it takes to be a leader in crisis, among those younger, among groups, and in civic life. From what you know about leadership from the examples we have studied above,how you can show others the way? What action will you take to demonstrate the heart of a champion by being a strong leader in your family, among your friends and family, in your relationship with your boss, and in your relationships in the local congregation?

 

Thanks for reading with me men. My prayer for each of you is a strong spiritual influence in your family. The strength of our families and of our nation depends upon your strong spiritual leadership! As Steve Farrar says in the conclusion of his excellent book, Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family, “It’s a Herculean task to lead a family, but with the power of God supporting you, it is a tremendous privilege. If we are willing to become the point man in our families, we can count on God’s support and power. He’s looking for men who will follow Jesus Christ and burn their ships behind them. When He finds those men, He will take extraordinary measures to buttress, bolster, and carry them along in His limitless strength. ‘The eyes of the Lord moves to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His (2 Chronicle 16:9, NASB). May we be those men! And may He give us strength to withstand the onslaught of His blessing.”

 

–Randy Sexton

 

(*Note: The material above is adapted from and used by permission of Heart A Champion Foundation)

A Christians Voice from Fort Smith: Volume 1, Issue 1 – June 2012

“The Heart of a Champion”

It has been my pleasure to publish this website since March 2009. I have dedicated the site to the memory of my late father, William C. Sexton, as a teaching tool targeted to youth and men’s ministry. I have focused teaching, targeted to young people, in a page I have titled Remembering My Creator. I generally focus the articles in this section, which I now call A Christian’s Voice from Fort Smith, to topics of interest to men who are striving to be spiritual leaders of their families. This month I address those men who are interested in being spiritual champions. I want to speak to those of you who are interested in developing the heart of a champion in your sons and daughters.

 

There is a book in my library which I purchased while still in high school. I have read it several times, used it as the basis for a Toastmasters speech, and drawn upon it for illustrations in sermons. I would like to share some thoughts from it with you here. In it, Bob Richards, former Olympic pole-vaulter writes, “What it takes to make a champion in the game of athletics is what it takes to make a champion in the game called life…every man needs the heart of a champion. It’s a quality of mind, a mental resolve, an attitude that turns a man beyond the normal and the mediocre to accomplishing great things in all walks of life.” (The Heart of a Champion by Bob Richards, published by Fleming H. Revell Company, May, 1959, pp. 27-28)

 

Richards opens the book with a chapter he titles “A Philosophy for Winning.” Summarizing the thoughts of this chapter, Mr Richards says there are three secrets to this winning philosophy:

  • Dream great dreams and have the will to translate them into reality
  • Be inspired by a great goal, cause, or challenge to see yourself for who you can become
  • Take God with you

 

Don’t we all want to win – to be “champions” in life? His association with great athletes lead Mr. Richards to the conclusion that ALL champions display 4 QUALITIES. Please consider those qualities and then allow them to motivate you to accomplish great things in your spiritual life. First, consider that the heart of a champion …

 

Refuses to Give Up!

Abraham Lincoln, though not an athlete, is an example of one who refused to give up. Born in obscurity and poverty, Old Abe tried unsuccessfully for the senate 4 or 5 times before he finally made it. In business, he failed 3 times and was in debt $1800 when he went to Springfield. But Abraham Lincoln had the heart of a champion and he never gave up. He was elected the 16th President of the United States in 1860 and won re-election in 1864 and has been recognized as one of the greatest of U.S. presidents. His law partner said of him, “His ambition was a little engine that knew no rest.”

 

This is a principle that I personally struggle with. I am tempted to give up when I encounter an obstacle. If I do not master the new skill or learn the new material after a few attempts I must fight that inner voice that tells me to quit. My wife, a music major, has tried on several occasions to teach me the finer points of tempo, cadence, beat and rhythm. I usually throw up my hands in frustration before I have fully comprehended the concepts.

 

But Champions NEVER give up. If you and I want to succeed, we must refuse to give up. Also secondly, consider that the heart of a champion …

Dares to Believe the Impossible!

The 14-foot pole vault, the 50-foot shot put, the 4-minte mile; all were thought impossible before they were achieved. In 1951, a year before the Olympic Games in Helsinki Finland, a Russian by the name of Kazantev astounded the world by breaking, by 10 seconds, the world record in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. He solidified his grip on this event by repeating his record-breaking performance. As the ’52 Olympics approached, everyone conceded that no one had a chance of beating the Russian. Everyone, that is, but a young American named Horace Ashenfelter. Horace just determined that he was going to give everything he had and that he was going to WIN that race. Horace stunned even his teammates when he ran a faster time than Kazantev in his preliminary heat. Then in the finals, in a race that changed leads several times, Horace finished ahead of the Russian slashing his record by 3 seconds. Horace had orchestrated the biggest upset of the Olympic Games.

 

Richards in his book says, “I believe the thing that has made America is the dream in the hearts of scientists like Edison and Franklin, the dream in the hearts of politicians who have been statesmen. It’s the dream in the heart of practically every person who dares to believe the impossible, who believes that no matter what has been done, men will come along to do yet greater things.”

 

We might not be great scientists or statesmen but we too must see ourselves as what we can become. We must see our POTENTIAL! We limit our success when we live only in the present.

 

Having refused to give up and dared to believe the impossible, thirdly the heart of a champion …

 

Keeps Going Even When It Hurts!

Emil Zatopek, in the1952 Olympics, won 3 championships, setting 3 records. In talking with Mr. Richards, Emil talked of the secrets to his winning. He trained 6.5 hrs a day, every day of the year. He told Mr. Richards, “I run until I hurt; that’s when I begin my training program. I’ve learned that if I can just get beyond fatigue, there is a reserve power that I never dreamed I had, and then I go on to run my best races.”

 

I don’t know about you but I have a tendency to complain and throw a “pity party” when things turn sour for me. How much MORE could I accomplish with the mindset of an Emil Zatopek?

 

Finally, the heart of a champion …

 

Gives Everything It Has!

In speaking of this quality Richards observes, “…I’ve seen boys, when they’ve given everything they’ve got physically and mentally, call on something spiritual that carries them to their greatest performance.”

 

Mr Richards interviewed Parry O’Brien on the night that he went out and shot the put a world’s record 59 feet, ¾ of an inch. Parry told Bob, “You can train your body to a peak of physical perfection… But when you get into that ring you need something just a little extra, something down deep within you that can give you that extra boost you need for world’s-record-breaking performances. I always pray to God, because I’ve found in Him that power that helps me do just that little extra.”

 

Yes, we must learn how to “bring home the gold,” “to call on everything We’ve got, down to the deepest spiritual reserve in our hearts and souls (adapted from Richards, p44).” I Don’t believe that we should pray to win but I DO believe we should pray for help to give our BEST!

 

Conclusion

As you go about your day, think on these things. Remember that a champion refuses to give up. He dares to believe the impossible. He keeps on going even when it hurts and he gives everything he has.

 

Do you exhibit these qualities in your professional and personal life? I challenge you to apply these principles in all areas of your life! Remember, “The way we react to our challenges determines the destiny of our lives, our country and our world.” (Richards, p 121).

 

There are definite character traits that typify the heart of a champion. In the coming months I would like to consider several of these character traits with you. Click on the link below to see the Topic Schedule for what I have planned for this page over the next few months. Next month we will consider the trait of LEADERSHIP.

 

Thanks for reading with me dear friends. If there is anything that I can do to assist in your daily walk, please e-mail me at achristiansvoice@sbcglobal.net

 

–Randy Sexton

A Christians Voice from Fort Smith – Topic Schedule

 

A Christian’s Voice From Raymore – Volume 2, Number 3 : Becoming the Man God Wants You to Be

Becoming the Man God Wants You to Be

On the evenings of July 12th – July 15th, it was my good pleasure to share this series of messages with a group of 6th – 8th grade boys. This series served as our evening cabin devotionals at the 2010 FC Missouri Camp. I appreciate the attention and the focus that these young men showed during the study of this very important topic! This material was adapted from Robert Lewis’ book, Raising A Mondern-Day Knight. To those young men, to whom I came to know more personally during the week I leave this personal message:

Guys, Thanks for sharing a little bit of your summer with me. I regret that we were not able to spend even more time together. I left camp not having gotten to know some of you as well as I would have liked, but I hope you will be back next year and we can continue to work on those relationships.

Remember the invitation that I gave you to come to the Teen and Pre-Teen Studies in Kansas City (depending on whether you have crossed that magical dividing-line called “13”). Watch the fcmocamp.com website for dates, locations and directions. Also, if you ever need to talk about any of the kinds of things that we talked about this week at camp, call me or e-mail me. If you want to write an article for my website, particularly the Remembering My Creator page, send it to me via e-mail.

I know our day’s were filled with lots of good stuff. We were tired at the end of the day. The days ran late and we did not always have the time to cover this material to the degree that I had planned. I am glad to share the material with you here and would challenge you to an even deeper study of it in your own quiet time with God. Feel free to leave your public comments or if you would rather comment to me privately, e-mail them to randy.sexton@achristiansvoice.com. I love you guys and my earnest desire and prayer for you is that you might be saved in the day of judgement and that you will grow spiritually here to become the men God wants you to be. I have no greater joy than to know that you walk in the Lord!

Your Friend and Brother,

Randy Sexton

Monday – The Need for a Model

It is so very important that boys, growing to manhood in our time, receive this message. Our culture is in deep trouble because we have lost our vision for manhood.

There are three important questions that boys growing up in our culture need to know.

What is a man? What process produces a man? How do you know when you’ve become a man? Most, if not all of you, have dads that will help you answer these questions and ensure that you become a man of strength, heart, conviction and vision.

Sam Rayburn, one of this nation’s most powerful political leaders, recalled fondly during his latter years the days in 1900 when his father took him in horse and buggy to the train station as he headed off for college. As Sam’s father bid farewell to his son, he handed him $25. Realizing the sacrifice that his father had to make to give him that money, Sam was very touched. But then his dad uttered words that Sam wound fondly remember at later times of crises in his life. “Sam, be a man.”

The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Corinth said, “Act like Men.” (1st Corinthians 16:13) They had many problems, including conflicts among Christians who were pledging their allegiance to those who had converted them rather than to Jesus.

My suggestion is that we look at the Knighthood Model of the Medieval Ages to see what lessons we can learn about the process of becoming a man. But ultimately, we are not so concerned about making boys into knights but in determining how a boy becomes the man God wants him to be.

What knighthood offered that is lacking in our culture is a clear, biblically grounded definition of manhood, a process to embrace to achieve manhood, and a ceremony to celebrate a boys passing into manhood.

The “clearly marked path” from boy to man included 3 stages. The first stage was the Page Stage. At age 7 or 8, a boy went to live in a castle and learned of armor and weapons and performed household tasks at the castle. The second state was the Squire Stage. At age 14, a boy traveled with a knight who served as his mentor, instilling in him rigorous discipline. The squire served his knight in the most menial of tasks. The third stage was the Knight State. At age 21, a young man became eligible for knighthood and went through an elaborate initiation to confer it.

The three components that we will study in our cabin devotionals this week are: a vision for manhood, a code of conduct for manhood and a transcendent cause in which to invest your life.

Tuesday – A Vision for Manhood

William Marshal is considered to be the ideal knight, living at the peak of knighthood during the twelfth century. His courage and chivalry is illustrated by an incident that occurred in May 1197, as he lead an attack against the castle of Milli in France. As the battle burned strong, Marshal observed one of his men caught in the great fork of an attacker and hanging from the neck on a ladder that had been placed against the wall of the castle. Climbing the ladder by himself, Marshal freed his fellow night from his predicament. Historians say that Marshal’s valor proved to be the difference in the valor as his band of knights achieved the victory storming the castle.

Marshal demonstrated other worthy traits common of the knight’s code of conduct. He loved his family. He made provision for each of his 10 children and loved his wife, Isabel, greatly. Two influences in Marshal’s life account for such strong character. Marshal had a powerful mentor in his first cousin, William of Tancarville. He also lived in a particular kind of culture which offered a clear path to manhood.

The Scriptures speak of another man who demonstrated a similar strength of character and suggested a clear path to manhood. That man was Moses and the passage is Deuteronomy 11:18-21. Moses identifies the path. Fathers were to lay up his words in their hearts and in their souls and bind them as a sign on their hand and as frontlets between their eyes and to teach them to their sons, talking of them when they sat in their house, when they walked along the road, when they lay upon their beds and when they rose up. They were to write them on the doorposts of their house and on their gates so that their days and the days of their sons would be multiplied on the which the Lord swore to their fathers to give them, as long as the heaves remained above the earth.

Historians report that the impact of the disciplined, rigorous lifestyle of knighthood at its peak, harnessed the “unrestrained passions of masculinity” mostly for good. Boys were trained from an early age! They were given a code of conduct! Their progress from adolescence to manhood was marked with ceremony and celebration.

Modern culture, on the other hand, does little to harness the energy and passions of men for good. Our culture is marked by some alarming statistics. Did you know that 90% of major crimes are committed by men? Men commit 100% of rapes, 95% of burglaries, 91% of offenses against families, and 94% of drunk drivers are men!

Boys become the men God wants them to be in the presence of a clear vision of manhood. But, “where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained” (Proverbs 29:18). In the past there were three sources for this vision. The community, like the Nuer people of Southern Sudan and various tribes of Native American Indians provided extreme initiations. In the past, the family often provided a vision for sons as they grew to carry on the family name, the family business, family traditions, etc. But today we live in the era of the “absent father.” In the past, churches took a strong stand in proclaiming the role of husbands and fathers. But today, many churches have given in to the feminist ideology and abandoned the teaching of Scripture relative to the man’s responsibility to be the spiritual leader of the family.

Scripture (1st Corinthians 15:45-47) gives us two examples, one positive and one negative, that symbolize the essence of masculinity. Adam illustrates life separated from God and a failed manhood. Adam was influenced by physical direction and based on fleshly desires. Christ, referred to as “the last Adam” in our text, represents life in union with God and a successful manhood. Christ was influenced by spiritual direction and based on faith.

One way to look at the examples of Adam and Christ is to note the defining differences between the two. I would suggest to you that these are components of the answer to the question, “What is a man?”. Robert Lewis in his book states them in terms of rejecting passivity, accepting responsibility, leading courageously and expecting the greater reward. Let us notice each of these in order.

A Real Man Rejects Passivity.

The male of the species is naturally, innately aggressive, ready to initiate, explorative, and competitive to achieve physically and psychologically. But his tendency is to be the polar opposite when it comes to the social and spiritual realm. The man who wants to be what God wants him to be has to reject this tendency to be passive. He must actively engage his whole soul, body and mind in the pursuit of spiritual goals and objectives and in leading his family to heaven. In this regard Adam failed to intervene as he stood by and watched the serpent tempt his wife and scripture says, “she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6). Jesus, on the other hand, initiated action. Philippians 2:5-8 speak of Him, emptying, taking the form of a servant, humbling himself, and becoming obedient.

A Real Man Accepts Responsibility.

Adam was given a will to obey (“don’t eat”), a work to do (“till the garden”) an a woman to love (Eve). He failed to accept his responsibility. Jesus was also given a will to obey (His Father’s), a work to do (save the lost) and a woman to love (the church). Jesus accepted His responsibilities and they defined His life as a man!

A Real Man Leads Courageously.

God created man to lead. But in order for us to do so we must “master” our passions. The Apostle Paul said, “But I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1st Corinthians 9:27).

A Real Man Expects The Greater Reward.

Manhood is challenging but not burdensome! Manhood was designed by God to be a means of great reward (John 10:10; 1st Corinthians 2:9; 1st Timothy 4:8; 6:6). Those rewards include an honorable name, an “excellent wife,” children who look up to and respect you, the respect of other men an a satisfying and fulfilling life!

Wednesday – A Code of Conduct for Manhood

Perhaps you have heard it said, “You are what you are when no one else is looking.” How true that statement is! We can pretend to be something we are not , but that pretense will not fool God and will only lead the hypocrite into further areas of conflict. Brother Dick Modin had an outstanding message about “Being You” in one of his evening devotionals.

Robert Lewis, in his book, retells the story, “The Catch of a Lifetime,” that initially appeared in the February 1989 Reader’s Digest. In the story, James P. Lenfestey tells of an 11-year-old boy’s fishing adventure with his dad on a New Hampshire lake. As the story goes, the boy caught an amazingly large bass but hooked it two hours before bass season officially opened, so his father made him throw it back. One of the points of the story was that no one else was around, so no one else would have known, but the father insisted that his son abide by the fishing regulations and throw the bass back. Lewis says, “The incident occurred 34 years ago. Never again would the boy catch such a magnificent fish. But what he did catch that day was something much better: a lesson in moral character. For as his father taught him, ethics are simple matters of right and wrong. It is only the practice of ethics that is difficult. Do we do right when no one is looking? Do we refuse to cut corners… When a dad imparts a code of conduct, when he establishes boundaries and reinforces truth, a son is forever strengthened… (Proverbs 11:3)”

It is my hope and prayer that each of you has a dad who is imparting a code of conduct to you! I pray that you are seeing a father’s love being demonstrated toward you in how he establishes boundaries for you and how he reinforces truth for you! Because, my brother, you will be strengthened forever!

Let’s illustrate how our culture, despite progress in other areas, has failed to provide an adequate code of conduct for young people. In the 1940’s, major school problems included: talking out of turn, chewing gum, making noise, running in the halls, cutting in line, dress code violations, and littering. Today’s major school problems include: drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide, rape, robbery, and assault. What is missing? I would suggest to you that it is a clearly defined, biblically grounded, code of conduct!

The Knight’s Code of Conduct stipulated that he must:

  • Be Loyal
  • Conduct himself like a champion by showing courage and valor
  • Win the love of a woman by his romanticism and chivalry
  • Practice generosity

In becoming the man God wants you to be:

You have a will to obey. Ecclesiastes 12: 1, 13 defines that will as remembering your creator in the days of your youth and to live all the days of your life fearing God and keeping His commandments. The Bible is your handbook. The handbook ideals include: loyalty (Hosea 6:6), servant-leadership (Matthew 20:26-27), kindness (Proverbs 19:22), humility (Philippians 2:3), purity (1st Timothy 4:12), honesty (Ephesians 4:25), self-discipline (1st Timothy 4:7-8), excellence (1st Corinthians 9:24), integrity (Proverbs 10:9), and perseverance (Galatians 6:9).

You have a work to do. You will have the opportunity as you grow and mature to determine what gifts and talents you have and make an appropriate selection for your chosen profession. But you will also have the opportunity to discover your spiritual giftedness. Don’t be afraid to try those things that initially seem uncomfortable to you. It is only through the process of growth described in Hebrews 5: 11- 6:3 that your are able to progress beyond the state of being “unskilled in the word of righteousness” to “go on to maturity.”

You will have a woman to love. This will be one of the most important earthly relationships you will ever have! She will play a central role in your life (Genesis 2:18). One of your chief responsibilities will be to take care of her (Ephesians 5:25-30), to be the provider for your family (1st Timothy 5:8), so that she can “work at home” (Titus 2:5). This is a great need today – for young men to realize their responsibility to prepare appropriately for vocations that will earn them enough to allow their wives to be engaged in the day-to-day care of their homes and children!

Thursday – A Transcendent Cause in Which to Invest Your Life

The “conventional vision” equates manhood with what a man does instead of who he is. When men get together, they often introduce themselves by name followed very quickly by a description of what they do for a living (i.e. “Hi, I am Randy, I am a lawyer.”

In the conventional model, a man’s value is earned, therefore he becomes highly competitive. The drive to accomplish, to win, to out-think, to out-work, to out-earn the other guy motivates him in much of what he does! Often, this evaluation of man’s value creates a lopsided time management system with higher priorities placed on job-related tasks than on family-oriented activities.

Success is the goal in this model of manhood. A level of this type of thinking will be a natural outgrowth of the “work ethic” that God expects all men to innately possess. But When “climbing the corporate ladder” becomes the primary goal of a man’s existence, often a man’s marriage relationship, and his relationships with his kids suffer.

In the conventional model, power is the reward. And often this power becomes “intoxicating,” driving the wedge even deeper between the man and his wife and kids. This component is more appropriate to God’s vision for manhood when the word “power” is replaced with the word “influence.” Corporate success that puts us in a position to influence more people with the gospel is good (what Paul calls the adorning of the gospel in Titus 2:10).

The final component of this conventional vision is that success brings wealth and affluence. But the down side is that it rarely satisfies! Note in the passage noted below, Solomon’s evaluation of the satisfaction brought by material wealth.

If held in proper balance, this conventional vision of manhood is not altogether wrong, but it is certainly incomplete! It lacks a transcendent cause in which we can invest our lives! It is lacking in a mission which lifts us beyond ourselves. It is laking in a passion which stirs us to self-sacrifice.

Solomon’s commentary on a life lived in the pursuit of earthly pleasures and rewards is found in Ecclesiastes 2:4-11. He says, “I enlarged my my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees…” He also says, “Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem…. I did not with withhold my heart from any pleasure….” His conclusion at the end of these experiences, “Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.” And then his conclusion at the end of the book, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment. everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

In his book, Robert Lewis tells the story of Bill Smith and how, on a plane trip he met a man who reminded him of himself in his younger days. The point of the story is that men, in the pursuit of this conventional vision of manhood, sometimes lose touch with their families and after a time find that, what they have worked so hard for is at the center of their lives, but everything else is crumbling around them. In the end of the story, Bill Smith explains to his new friend the meaning with which he filled the “hole in his heart” that was left by devoting all his energies in pursuit of the three goals of his life: to make a lot of money, to meet powerful/influential people and to travel. His life-changing decision to follow Jesus Christ invested his life with new meaning.

Until you commit your life to a cause that calls forth sacrifice, that is significant beyond the moment and is truly meaningful, no amount of success will satisfy your heart! Jesus is that transcendent cause in which, if you are wise, you will invest your life! Jesus calls forth sacrifice. He calls us all to take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23-24). Jesus is significant beyond the moment. He is the same yesterday, and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus is truly meaningful. He the way, the truth and the life. He is the light of the world and those who follow Him will invest their lives with that more valuable than anything this world has to offer (John 14:6; 8:12).

This is important stuff guys! Please take it to heart! It was my pleasure to share this information with you this week and my challenge to you is this. Take the material that you received at camp this week and drill down deeper into it in your own quiet time with God. Read the scriptures. Think on them, and decide how you will respond. Will you grow spiritually from the the valuable instruction you have received this week and come to camp next year even stronger? Will you continue to build upon the new friendships you have made this week and to deepen the existing relationships? Or Will you simply move back into bad habits that you had before you came to camp and look back upon the week at camp as simply a week of summer fun? My prayer is that you will grow spiritually from your time this week.


A Christians Voice From Raymore, Issue 2, Number 2: “Slow Fade”

Last October, I published an article here that focused on the importance of “fireproofing” your relationships. Many of the thoughts presented then were triggered by the movie “Fireproof.” One of the compelling songs from that movie declares,

“Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you’re thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see”

(Sung by Casting Crowns; From the Album THE ALTAR AND THE DOOR

(Mark Hill); Copyright 2007My Refuge Music/Club Zoo Music WECS Music (BMI), all rights administered by EMI CMG Publishing)

This song had great impact in the movie! The song begins playing as Caleb sits down in front of his computer and is being tempted by Internet pornography. The camera cuts away to another scene in which Caleb’s wife, Catherine, is talking to her mother and says, “It makes me feel so humiliated…. When did I stop being good enough for him.”?

Sadly, Internet pornography is a prevalent problem in our culture and in the church! It is a “parasite” that Satan uses to destroy the influence of godly men and to break up faithful, covenant-based marriages!

“A parasite is anything that latches onto you or your partner and sucks the life our of your marriage. They’re usually in the form of addictions, like gambling, drugs, or pornography. They promise pleasure but grow like a disease and consume more and more of your thoughts, time and money. They steal away your loyalty and heart from those you love. Marriages rarely survive if parasites are present. If you love your spouse, you must destroy any addiction that has your heart. If you don’t, it will destroy you.” (The Love Dare, Stephen & Alex Kendrick, p. 112)

Statistics cited by Mark Broyles at the October 16-19, 2009 Fireproof Your Marriage Seminar & Get Away (p. 13) show:

  • 4.2 million (12% of total websites) are pornographic
  • 60% of all website visits are sexual in nature
  • Hollywood currently releases 11,000 adult movies per year – more than 20 times the mainstream movie production
  • Every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being created in the United States
  • 87% of college students are having “web sex”
  • At a recent Promise Keepers convention, 53% of those surveyed said that they had visited a porn site within the last week
  • 8-10% of visitors to porn sites become addicted

Additional statistics show the pervasiveness of this issue. Steve and Bette Wolf cite extensive statistics, with the following caution, “We should caution readers about the uncritical acceptance of what is reported and repeated in both the public media and scholarly journals.” They cite the 2001 “duel” between the New York Times and Forbes magazine and the forced recanting of portions of a July 3, 1995 Time Magazine cover article. With this caution the following statistics are noted:

  • “…even the lowball Forbes estimate acknowledges that porn is bigger than Major League Baseball (2.8 billion in 1999, according to the MLB Commissioner) and Broadway theatre ($575 million in ticket sales in 1999, according to the League of American Theatre and Producers, Inc.)
  • “Worse, the problem is not confined to non-Christians or irreligious persons. According to a Zogby International poll, 17.8% of ‘born-again Christians’ have visited at least one sexually explicit website.
  • “A 2001 survey of evangelical clergy by Leadership Journal reported that 40% of respondents struggled with pornography, largely obtained through Internet; one-third acknowledged Internet pornography usage in the last 30 days
  • “The results of a recent study of Internet pornography usage by those identifying themselves as members of Churches of Christ recorded 4,365 Internet survey responses.”

(“Helping Christians Addicted to Pornography,” Truth Magazine Annual Lectures, July 11-14, 2005: The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, pp. 89-91)

As men who desire to be godly influences in the lives of others, let’s take to heart the messages of that song …

  • This destructive habit does not develop in a day!
  • It is the “second glance” that sucks you into the sin!
  • Pornography destroys one’s influence with “those little feet that are sure to follow!
  • “When black and white have turned to gray,” you have allowed the lines between right and wrong to be blurred!
  • The progressive nature of this sin: “thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid.”
  • The “it can’t happen to me” attitude can leave you vulnerable
  • Though we may think we are doing these things in secret, God knows all!

This short article certainly has not been an exhaustive treatment of the subject of Internet pornography. For your further study, I would commend the Wolfgang article quoted above. It contains extensive footnotes for detailed study of this issue.

Recognizing my responsibility to give voice to the good news of the gospel, I hope to address other men’s issues in future articles. These will appear on this site under the monthly A Christian’s Voice From Raymore page. I will also be launching, in June 2010, the Remembering My Creator page on this site, focused on youth issues. I have invited several young Christians to be “staff writers.” I invite you to pray for this effort and to look for upcoming articles.

Thanks for reading with me, dear friend. Have a blessed day!

–Randy Sexton

A Christians Voice From Raymore, Issue 2; Number 1: April 30, 2010

A Christians Voice From Raymore, Issue 2; Number 1: April 30, 2010

A Prayer For Peace In Our Families

We just completed our first year of publication of this blog. I apologize for the three-month absence, but I found myself needing to step-up my job search activities. After expending some time and effort, I determined that the time was not right to start a second career teaching at the college level, nor was the market sufficiently able to support a non-profit youth and men’s ministry. I began more aggressively seeking a position in my core area of Supply Chain Management (Sourcing and Procurement). If you know of opportunities, please consider sharing those with me. I pray that the Lord will use me to His glory in whatever role he has in store for me!

I began this article in November of last year when I ran across information on the internet about a man that history knows as saint Francis of Assisi. It is not the intent of this article to delve into the particular history of this man nor of the use of the term “saint” but rather to note the words and history of the “Prayer of Saint Francis.” With that as an introduction we hope to focus on the need for peace in our families in light of statistics that show division in the family. So the main points I wish to discuss here are:

1. What do the stats show?

2. What does Scripture teach?

3. What tools are available to the family wishing to restore the family to what God intended it?

To conclude I will then issue a clear call to action. Please follow along with me and add your comments by scrolling to the bottom of the article at http://achristiansvoice.com and typing your thoughts in the comments box.

Wikipedia says, “The Prayer of Saint Francis is a Christian prayer. It is attributed to the 13th-century saint Francis of Assisi, although the prayer in its present form cannot be traced back further than 1912, when it was printed in France in French, in a small spiritual magazine called La Clochette (The Little Bell) as an anonymous prayer, as demonstrated by Dr Christian Renoux in 2001. The prayer has been known in the United States since 1936 and Cardinal Francis Spellman and Senator Hawkes distributed millions of copies of the prayer during and just after World War II.[1]

The words cited by them are:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

By googling I also found that this song was recorded in South Africa in the early 1990s by either Maranatha or Integrity Singers. I think it was sung by the Johannesburg Boys Choir

Lord, Make us instruments of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let your love increase

Lord, make us instruments of your peace,

Walls of pride and prejudice shall cease

When we are your instruments of peace.

Where there is hatred, we will show his love

Where there is injury, we will never judge

Where there is striving, we will speak his peace

To the millions crying for release,

We will be his instruments of peace

Lord, Make us instruments of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let your love increase

Lord, make us instruments of your peace,

Walls of pride and prejudice shall cease

When we are your instruments of peace.

Where there is blindness, we will pray for sight

where there is darkness, we will shine his light

Where there is sadness, we will bear their grief

To the millions crying for relief,

We will be your instruments of peace.

Whichever version you choose to use, it conveys great ideals. It verbalizes a passion to seek peace. It describes the pursuit of peace as a personal responsibility not something that will happen without effort.

What Do The Statistics Show?

Sadly, the statistics show families that are broken and divided. In their book, Reaching A Generation For Christ, Richard Dunn and Mark Senter III (p. 489) site research from The Dad Difference by J. McDowell and N. Wakefield that says that one in four teenagers now indicate that they have never had a meaningful conversation with their fathers. Citing parental absence and conflict as a contributing factor as to why today’s teens are hurting, the authors say (pp. 512-513), “Many of today’s teenagers are left to parent themselves. If they are not from the 40 percent of young people who come from broken homes, they most likely come from homes where both parents go to work. This makes for a home life that is often characterized by busy schedules, chronic fatigue, and weary battles of discord and dissension. Parent-adolescent conflict occurs in all families some of the time and in some families most of the time. Sadly, however, the latter category is growing.”

The “National Fathering Profile” published by Headfirst Ministries and Gary Bauer are also cited (pp. 491-492) in raising “a pointed question about the cost of the national neglect of our children. ‘What are we saying to our children if we allow them to spend more time watching television by the time they are 6 than they will spend talking with their fathers the rest of their lives?” (Learn to Discern by R. G. DeMoss, p. 14)

I heard my good brother Ken McDaniel cite an alarming statistic in a great lesson, “Parenting – A Blessing With Responsibilities” Tuesday night of this week in a Gospel Meeting with the County Line Church of Christ in St. Joseph, MO. Brother McDaniel astutely observed that we often overestimate the time that we give to our children. As evidence he cited the results of a recent experiment where microphones were clipped to children to record the verbal interactions with their fathers during a day. The shocking result of that experiment showed that, on average, a father had 3 interactions, totaling a mere 37 seconds per day with his child.

What Does Scripture Teach?

Scripture teaches that in order for peace to reign in the family, the members of it must respect God’s design of the family and the role that He has given to each to fulfill. As Brother L. A. Stauffer observes,

“Other than the individual, the oldest, the smallest, the closest, and the most basic unit of society is the family. Families, therefore, form the building blocks of a community, a nation, a civilization. As families go, so fo the city, the country, and the world. When, for example, love, respect, honesty, responsibility, subjection, fairness – the bonding elements of the family – are not taught in the home, how can they possibly exist in society? No nation can long survive the absence of these fundamentals in family life; they are the basis of all human relationships.” (Family Life: A Biblical Perspective, p. 2)

Marriage, as God designed it, is one woman for one man for life (Matthew 19:4-5). In God’s design, the husband is the provider (Genesis 3:19; 1st Timothy 5:8 ) and the spiritual leader of the family (Joshua 24:15; 1st Corinthians 16:15). In God’s design, the wife is subject to the husband (1st Corinthians 11:3, 8-10 ) and is the manager of the household (1st Timothy 5:13-14; Titus 2:5). In God’s design the parents are the instructors and disciplinarians of their children (Proverbs 22:6).

As Brother McDaniel so ably pointed out in his parenting lesson, God who gives children as a “blessing” or “heritage” has also given instruction for their “care and feeding.” This blessing comes with responsibilities. As Brother Stauffer says,

“This responsibility is stated so simply, and yet so poignantly, in the familiar proverb ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will not depart from it (Prov. 22:6.)

Three thoughts are taught in this verse about children. First, there is a way children should or ought to go…. Second, training is essential if children are to go the way they should. Training involves both instruction and discipline…. Finally, the proverb teaches that the most lasting impressions upon man are the trainings he received from his youth. (IBID, p. 52)

What tools are available to the family wishing to restore the family to what God intended it?

Obviously, the number one tool available to the family wishing to restore the family to what God intended is His Word. Following the plan for the family, as God designed it, is the first key to this restoration. In conjunction with carefully studying the pattern of Scripture, pray to the God of Heaven who created us in His image and who desires to have an intimate relationship with us.

Other resources that can be used as an aid to your number one tool, pickup a book or two written by one who has a biblical perspective. I highly recommend L. A. Stauffer’s workbook from which I quote again,

“Husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, children must all listen to God who created them, believe that he knew what he was doing, and resolve to fulfill their roles in family life. This study is designed to help each one learn the place that God has assigned him or her in the home. May he help all to accept that place by faith.” (IBID, p. 5)

A Clear Call To Action

I have made some rather bold assumptions in writing this article. I have assumed that you, the reader, are a Christian and that you accept the authority of the New Testament Scriptures as your guide for living. If that does not describe YOU and you have NOT made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, that is the first step that you must take.

Recognizing Him as the author of everlasting life, make the decision to repent, that is turn from fulfilling your own desires to serving Him. Confess him before others and be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 8:35-39; Mark 16:15-16; Romans 10:9-10; 1st Peter 3:21).

Having done this, identify yourself with a local congregation of God’s people who will help to encourage you and will provide additional resources for your growth and development as an individual and as a family. Being part of a spiritual family is one of the many blessings in Christ (1st John 1:5-10).

We, who recognize God as the designer of the universe and of the family, must call upon all of our energy and all of our influence to counter the forces that are attacking our families. Won’t you join with me in helping fathers and mothers to teach, train and discipline their children, not abdicate these God-given responsibilities. Help fight the evil and corrupt influence of evolution, a philosophy that promotes the idea that man is nothing more than a thinking ape or gorilla and therefore should be free to follow his “instincts” to do as he pleases. Enlist in the fight against humanism, an increasingly pervasive ideology in our culture that proposes that all wisdom originates with man and for man, and therefore it is totally up to him to decide what is good and pleasurable and beneficial.

Finally, if there is anything that I can do to assist you, please post your comment here or send me a private e-mail to randy.sexton@achristiansvoice.com.

Thanks for reading with me, dear friend. Have a blessed day!

–Randy Sexton

ACV From Raymore, Issue: 1, Number 14: “The Pursuit”

A Christian’s Voice From Raymore – January 2, 2010

The Pursuit

I just finished reading a compelling and motivating little book. Only 197 pages in length, it is packed with engaging stories and stirring quotes that illustrate the things that he learned from his mentor. Pat Williams began his business career, as general manager of the minor league Spartanburg Phillies in 1965. Mr. R. E. Littlejohn, who owned the Spartanburg team, took Pat under his wing and taught him many important lessons. He says, “From watching his life, I learned the difference between knowledge and wisdom. I learned that knowledge likes to speak; wisdom prefers to listen. Knowledge takes things apart; wisdom puts things back together. Knowledge prides itself on achievements; wisdom humbly thirsts to learn more.” Realizing a responsibility to give back, he continues, “In recent years, I’ve become a mentor to others, just as Mr. Littlejohn was to me…. I have distilled the most important lessons I learned from Mr. Littlejohn into six key wisdom principles:

  • Control what you can (let go of everything else).
  • Be patient.
  • Pay your dues (you need to have experience).
  • Keep it simple.
  • Don’t run from your problems (they give you an opportunity to sell yourselves to others).
  • Pay attention to the little things.”

(The Pursuit by Pat Williams, pages 12-13)

Consider the application of these six principles to our spiritual pursuit ….

CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN

You cannot control how others respond to the gospel. You must be busy about planting the seed and leave the increase to God. The same gospel may soften a heart that is good and honest but harden one that is determined to follow his own desires.

The zeal of a new convert may blind his eyes to the faults in others. My father wrote in his autobiography, “Six months after my conversion, 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.”

BE PATIENT

Patience is hard to learn but it is necessary if we are to grow spiritually. We cannot open a bottle of “spiritual knowledge,” uncork our brains and pour in enough to immediately answer any and every question that might be asked us in a study. Wisdom requires a lifetime of acquiring and applying knowledge to the situations we encounter. Consistent study, prayer and meditation over time is all that is required! God does not require much, just our all; all of your soul, all of your body and all of your mind (Matthew 22:37) .

PAY YOUR DUES

The “school of hard knocks” is the phrase that we sometimes use to refer to the experiences that teach one the lessons of life. These lessons usually come at a great price, measured in terms of sacrifices, mistakes made and damages done to pride along the way. Williams says, “Aldous Huxley observed, ‘Experience is not what happens to a man. It’s what a man does with what happens to him.’ Experience doesn’t truly become a learning experience until you reflect on it, analyze it and understand it (p. 85).”

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Williams points out that our lives become so complicated because we have so much “stuff” that we accumulate thinking it will make us happy! He suggests that our pursuit ought to be characterized by an attempt to simplify our lives. He says, ” It’s all about time spent with family and friends, time spent in fellowship with God, time spent enjoying life and discovering life’s deeper meaning. If we want to experience rich and rewarding lives, we need to clear out the clutter and simplify, simplify! (p.98)”

The gospel of Jesus Christ is simple. The plan of salvation is simple. But sometimes we complicate them with our attempts to make them fit our lifestyles. When we ought to yield ourselves in complete obedience to the gospel and allow it to mold our lives, we often try to have it the other way around. Because we have failed to mold our lives to God’s standard on marriage we come up a set of convoluted rules to explain when divorce and remarriage are acceptable. Because we fail to yield to God’s boundaries that define male and female roles, we formulate elaborate explanations of plain passages.

DON’T RUN FROM YOUR PROBLEMS

Pat Williams describes a particularly disastrous end to a promotion, when he was General Manager of the minor league Spartanburg Phillies baseball team. Describing the lesson learned, he said, “It seems counter-intuitive, but instead of running away from our problems, we should run to them. If we face our problems, embrace our problems, and solve them, we’ll show the world what we’re made of and what we can do. It takes courage to face our problems and character to embrace our problems. I’ve never known a problem solver who didn’t possess these traits (p.115).”

The opportunity to grow and develop often accompanies times when we must explain ourselves to others after taking a stand on a particular issue. There may be issues on which we have taken a position without having fully studied the issue for ourselves. We come to our values through a combination of forces and from time to time we need to do a “gut check” that may cause us to take another and perhaps closer look at our beliefs.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE LITTLE THINGS

Occasionally we fall into the trap of thinking that it is only the big decisions in our lives that are important. Life is really a series of small decisions made consistently over time. Novelist James Jones, who wrote From Here To Eternity, was once asked “How do you write a novel?” He replied, “It’s simple. You write one page every day and at the end of the year you have 365 pages.” Williams says, “Our choices lead us ro places we never expect to go. The right choices could set us on the path to unimaginable success and happiness. The wrong choices could destroy our lives. The next choice you make could trigger a chain of circumstances that could put you in the White House — or in prison. So we dare not overlook the little things. We need to maintain our character and integrity, even in the smallest things. If we refuse to tell even a little white lie, then we’ll never be convicted of perjury. If we vow never to steal even a paper clip, then we’ll never be convicted of embezzlement. People who maintain their integrity in the small things can be trusted in the big things (p. 155).”

In the closing chapter of The Pursuit, Williams says, “After spending time with Mr. Littlejohn, I always came away feeling transformed in two important ways: First, I felt confident to face my problems and make good decisions. Second, I felt empowered to handle any situation.” One of the many great quotes in the book is from Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” How do you make people feel that you mentor in the faith? Do you make them feel confident and empowered?

Pat Williams closes his book with the encouragement to be aware of your influence. He says, “Ultimately, The Pursuit is all about the life you are building, the influence you are having on others and the legacy you are leaving behind…. In short, use your wisdom, your learning and your influence to change the world and leave it better than you found it. That is why you’re on this journey. That is why you are in The Pursuit.” (Ibid, pp. 190-197)

–Randy Sexton

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

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.