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.

A Christian’s Voice From Raymore – October 31, 2009

Are You a Go-Giver?

Recently I was reading the account of Elijah’s interaction with the widow at Zarephath from 1st Kings chapter 17. As I read, it impressed me how Elijah was able to bring hope to a despondent woman who was ready to give up and die. It caused me to reflect upon being that same type of influence in the lives of others.

God commissioned Elijah to be fed by this woman as he prepares to powerfully defeat the prophets of Baal and to glorify God as the source of that power (see chapter 18). Elijah was able to turn that encounter into an opportunity to teach about God’s grace and to give her hope.

Elijah has asked the woman for a morsel of bread. Read with me her response from verse 12, “I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.”

She had given up hope. She was ready to lay down and die. Psychologists tell us that self-preservation is one of the strongest drives a person has, that we will do almost anything to achieve it and yet, this woman was ready to die and let her son die. Surprisingly however, when her son becomes ill and dies, she lashes out at Elijah and blames him.

Elijah’s response is “Do not fear.” He then put action behind his words and exercised the power of God to stretch those meager food supplies to feed her household many days and to bring life back into the child to revive him. The widow, who was ready to die, now expresses hope for the future, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in you mouth is truth.

Have you ever encountered a similar situation but failed to give hope?

In the foreward to DavidH. McKinley’s book The Life You Were Born To Give, Zig Ziglar said this, “Go-getters continually strive to achieve more and to accumulate more, but they are often not content with their lives, no matter how much ‘stuff’ they have…. The most joyful people were the volunteers who encourage, teach, love and train the residents to take what God has given them and use it for His glory.”

Thanks for reading with me. Please be a positive influence in someone’s life today!

–Randy Sexton

A Christian’s Voice From Raymore – October 24, 2009

Fireproofing Your Relationships

My wife Linda and I were fortunate to have the opportunity to attend, last weekend in the Lake of the Ozarks, an uplifting marriage retreat with forty-three other couples. Mark Broyles, who preaches for the Nashua church of Christ in Kansas City, masterfully lead us through several classes focused on our marriages. Built around the themes from the movie Fireproof. we were encouraged to never leave our partner behind.

If you have the opportunity to attend one of these weekends, I highly commend it to you. I know that you will come away having been built up in the faith and drawn closer to your God and to your spouse! Mark and wife Judy have been conducting similar weekends since 2000. Linda and I have attended three of those. They now conduct these workshops under the banner of non-profit corporation, InLight, Inc. Through InLight, they have undertaken the ministry of preserving and strengthening traditional marriage as it continues to face attack from our culture and media. Their goal is to conduct two of these seminars per year in different regions of the country. Upcoming scheduled events are: Chattanooga, TN on March 12th-14th, 2010 and Howie-In-The-Hills, Florida on July 30th – August 10th, 2010. Please support this worthwhile ministry through financial support of their work and/or attendance at their marriage retreats. For more information, visit their website at www.inlightwalk.com.

If you have not seen the movie Fireproof, I would recommend it for the important message that it delivers about the importance of relationships in our lives. Though the film focuses on the marriage relationship, the principles apply to all of our relationships. May we get personal now, dear reader? Let’s consider a few of these.

Are you fireproofing your relationship with your God?

There are “forces” at work to attack your relationship with your Creator. Led by him who is identified in scripture as “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), these forces (Ephesians 6:12) seek to undermine the influence that God has in your life. He will use anything in his power to draw you away. He utilizes the same avenues of presentation to you that he used with Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), “the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and pride in posessions.” (1st John 2:16)

He uses those things that are impure within and of themselves to drain your energy, waste your time and divert your attention. Dabbling in internet pornography, gambling, “carousing,” (NKJ) and “revelings” (NASB, ESV) (2nd Peter 2:13), and a host of other things fall into this category. But when those things fail to bring you down, Satan uses activities that are pure and upright in themselves, and based in motivation to serve God, to cause you to place more emphasis on these than you should, to the neglect of service to Him. Working to support your family, pursuit of sports for yourself and your kids, vacation travel and other things can all fall into this category.

Are you fireproofing your child-parent relationship?

If you are not careful your family relationships may go up in fire as well. Fathers have you taken seriously your role as spiritual leader of your family? Have you paid as much attention to the spiritual development of your children as you have to their physical and academic development?

The “Promise Keepers” message to the men of America, who have abdicated this role, is right on! Though I would not agree with all of their methods, I wholeheartedly agree with this message, that we as men must rise up to our challenge to protect our kids from Satan and his devices and to lead them, as positive spiritual role models, to Heaven.

Young people, do you value and appreciate the sacrifices that your parents make to bring you up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”? Do you understand that they often agonize with concern for your welfare? Do you express to them your love and allow them to express their love to you?

As a side-note, you can demonstrate that you have a servant’s heart, as a young Christian, to be a help to your friends who do not have such parents. You probably have friends who have very dysfunctional families, who come from broken homes, and who may have been abused by one parent or the other. You show great love for your friends by sharing your godly parents with them.

Are you fireproofing your relationships with your spiritual family?

You neglect a powerful resource for living the purpose-driven life, when you do not cherish and tap into your relationship with your spiritual family. Local church membership was designed by God to provide the support structure that Christians need to grow and develop as they should. The Apostle Paul talks much about this in his epistles. Ephesians 4:11-16 talks about the role of evangelists and teachers and others in the spiritual family in equipping us to withstand the schemes of false teachers. 1st Corinthians 3:1-3 and Hebrews 5:11-6:6 describe the growth process that should characterize all Christians.

Why do some Christians never progress beyond spiritual infancy? There are a number of factors and many of those relate directly to their relationships in the spiritual family. Failing to assemble with Christians at every opportunity that you have is a subtle way of beginning this downward spiral. But continued assembly in only a public way does not “make the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” to which Paul refers in 1st Corinthians 4:16. We must get to know each other if we are to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) and if we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

Beloved, none of these relationships will be what they should be unless they are “cultivated” with great concern, effort and love on our part. Brother Broyles encouraged us to fireproof our marriages. He urged the husbands to not allow the “parasites” of sexual temptation, overcommitment and overconfidence to consume our marriages. Sisters Judy Broyles and Sherri Clegg urged the wives to not allow the parasites of nagging, interfering relationships and lack of sexual fulfillment to consume our marriages. Both husband and wives were encouraged to complement, commit, and show clemency to fireproof our marriages. Just like the relationship between husband and wife, that between brothers and sisters in Christ requires constant attention. We must fireproof our relationships if they are to survive.

My dad would always remind his readers, through the words that he wrote, that he was attempting to be an influence, using his “voice” as a Christian, in a secular culture. This recurring message appeared in the masthead of his electronic bulletin, A Christian’s Voice from Van Buren, “ Man uses his voice and pen to convey thoughts. Paul mentions using words that by his voice he might ‘teach others’ (1 Cor. 14:19). John says, ‘And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’ (Rev. 22:17). My aim is to challenge, inform, and invite – us all to Listen to the VOICE of God. Editor: Bill Sexton.” I agree whole-heartedly with that aim! Thanks for reading with me dear friends. Please resolve to today be a positive influence in the life of others.

–Randy Sexton

A Christian’s Voice From Raymore – October 16, 2009

Does Your Heart Burn Within You?

Recently, as I was doing my daily bible reading, I reflected upon the account in Luke 24 of Jesus walking on the road to Emmaus with two of his disciples. After these disciples finally recognized that it was Jesus that they had been talking to and he “vanished” from their presence, they made an observation to one another. Verse 32 contains the words they spoke, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

As I reflected on that verse, I engaged in a little self-analysis. I asked myself, “How long has it been since my heart has burned within me as I have contemplated Jesus and my service in His kingdom? Consider with me, dear reader:

Does your heart burn within you when you open the Scriptures?

There are many sources of information in our world today. With the immediacy and breadth of the internet, you can “google” anything, it seems, and receive back tons of information in a matter of seconds. Some of this information is reliable and some is not. If one is not careful, he can allow the internet’s abundance of data to stymie him and hinder productive investigation and growth.

The Scriptures provide for us “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3). They do not contain all that Jesus did or said (John 20:30-31; 21:25) or all of the acts of all of the apostles or even all of the issues of all of the churches. In the Scriptures however we have the account of man’s fall and man restored. From Genesis to Revelation we have the greatest story ever told. We have many treasures to uncover that bring us to know our wonderful God, the tremendous love he has for his people and how “longsuffering” and patient he is when we turn our backs on him. We read of the wonderful place that he has prepared for us to inhabit once this life is over. Truly our hearts should burn within us as we read. Our hearts should burn within us as we set our daily agendas to prioritize the reading of those uplifting, growth-encouraging, faith-building words of Scripture.

Does your heart burn within you when you contemplate opportunities to serve?

God has given us a heart to serve (Matthew 20:26-28; 24:36-40) . There are those around us who are hurting. There are those around us who are looking for direction and guidance in their lives. There are cultural factors that create stress that have an impact on the happiness and well-being of people. If you are a young person who was raised in a two-parent home, where God’s word and His model for the family is respected and followed, you know that you have friends who do not have those benefits.

Does your heart burn within you as you look upon the lost condition of those who do not place their faith and confidence in Jesus? Do you weep like Jeremiah did over the sin of his people (Jeremiah 8:18-9:3; 13:15-17)? Do you empathize with Ezekiel in his concern for that his people were profaning the holiness of God among the nations around them (read such passages as Ezekiel 36:22-38).

I encourage you to seek out these opportunities to be a listener, a friend, a counselor, and an encourager. You will receive blessings for “giving” in this way. You will feel a sense of satisfaction and you will be a source for “spreading the “fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.“ “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:15).

Does your heart burn within you when you anticipate the greatest of all family reunions?

Have you gone to family reunions where you felt like a stranger? A couple of factors may have caused you to feel this way: you had not associated with these people regularly and you did not have a lot in common with them, other than the family tie. And so it may be that as the time of the family reunion approaches, you dread the prospects of attending.

Contrast this bond with physical family to the bond with your spiritual family. Jesus expressed it this way, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:48-50).

As you anticipate that greatest of all reunions in heaven, does your heart burn within you. Death may have separated you from loved ones but you can take joy in the fact that you will see them again in that wonderful family reunion in heaven. I am comforted by the words of the song I AM a Poor Wayfaring Stranger, “…I am going there to see my Father, I’m going there no more to roam …” I lost my dad to bladder cancer in 2006 but I can rejoice in the fact that he has gone “there” and I will be reunited with him, (my small “f” father) and with God (my capital “F” Father).

I encourage you to read often the descriptions of heaven in the Scriptures and allow it to move you and motivate you to greater services. Allow your heart to burn within you as you identify those in need of encouragement and reach out to them. Allow your heart to burn within you as you consider how “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15) and all the wonderful depth of meaning in the statement.

Thanks for reading with me and please resolve to be a positive influence in another’s life today.

— Randy Sexton


A Christian’s Voice From Raymore – October 7, 2009

He Restores My Soul

One of the things that the Psalmist reminds me about my relationship with God is that “He restores my soul.” I quite frequently give more emphasis to that which precedes and that which follows this great blessing. Indeed, I can be confident that he “makes me to lie down in green pastures … and leads me beside still waters … and leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

But, dear reader, please ponder the greatness of the thought that he also restores your soul. I love what the author Terri Blackstock says in the afterword to her book, Trial By Fire:

“He’s restored my soul when I’v beaten it and bruised it through my careless actions and terrible choices. He has restored my soul when I’ve allowed it to run empty, and he’s restored it when I’ve filled it up with things it wasn’t made to hold. He has restored my soul when others have crushed it. He has restored my soul when there was no hope of restoration.”

Terri Blackstock is one of my favorite authors in the genre of literature that is commonly called “inspiring fiction.” In this book, she describes the transformation in the life of Issie Mattreaux, a young lady who is 24 years old as the events of the book unfold. Issie struggles to keep her nephew, 16-year old Jake, from repeating some of the same mistakes that she made as a teenager. Issie also fights to overcome the effects of previous poor life-choices and finds herself being drawn to an unlikely romantic interest in the town’s single preacher, Nick Foster. Eventually Issie allows Nick and other godly friends to penetrate her tough exterior and she begins to experience God’s restoration in her life.

There are many things that can influence you in your life. You will control whether the positive influences prevail or the negative ones. My prayer for you is that you will seek the counsel of God and of godly people as you make choices, as you fill up your soul, when others attempt to crush your soul and when there appears to be no hope of restoration.

Thanks for reading with me, beloved. Be a positive influence in someone’s life today!

–Randy Sexton


A Christian’s Voice From Raymore – September 30, 2009

A Christian’s Voice From Raymore – September 30, 2009

Listening to God’s Voice

I have been thinking a great deal lately about the voice of God and how he speaks to Christians in our day. Sometimes I yearn for the type of guidance that he provided to many of his great leaders of the past. I have studied the lives of great men like Moses (Exodus 3) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1) who were hesitant to heed the clear call of God. There was Joshua who did not seem to bat an eye when called to take up the challenge of leadership with God’s tremendous encouragement (Joshua 1). And then there were men like Gideon (Judges 6:36-40) who were not quite sure and asked God for a series of signs that he was indeed calling them for a specific mission. I am a believer! I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God! I believe that my faith has increased in the past 4-5 years and has increased my desire for ministry and outreach. This increased faith and recent circumstances in my professional life, have brought me to a decision point where I am earnestly seeking and listening for God’s voice. I am passionately pursuing his will for my life and I have reached a decision point. I have just finished reading Lloyd Reeb’s book Success to Significance and definitely am a proponent of the “halftime” philosophy. Through suggestions offered by Mr. Reeb, I hope to find my place to serve. The key questions I must answer are: 1) Will I serve in the marketplace, in the church, in the community or internationally? 2) What are my gifts and talents and how will I carve out a ministry assignment that matches who I am and what God is calling me to do? 3) What model for serving best fits (how much time will I work on it and will my ministry be paid or unpaid)? Knowing that God does not speak to me directly and orally as he did with Moses, Jeremiah, Joshua and Gideon, I look for his providence in the happenings of my life. I spend time with him early in the morning and throughout the day to seek his guidance in the decisions I make. I listen for his voice, speaking through wise counsel offered by godly men and women. I look for guidance from spiritual mentors and leaders. If you would like to leave your comments, feel free to do so. If you would prefer to respond to me privately, e-mail at randy.sexton@achristiansvoice.com. May God bless you in your walk with Him, as you seek to listen to His voice and to find his direction for your life! –Randy Sexton

A Christian’s Voice From Raymore, Volume 1, Number 3: September 15, 2009

Musings from My Journal

I went to work yesterday as I had for the last ten years and seven months. But today was different. Today I was to begin day 1 of a new phase of my life. My company had completed a merger on July 1st and the integration process, which had been slowly grinding on, today impacted me in a special way. Today I learned that there would not be a place for me in the new organization.

Now understand that in my 35+ years I had been through similar circumstances, so I was not “blown away” by the news. In 1988 when I experienced it for the first time, I needed the help of my main confidant (my dad) to help get through the next week.

I left work and drove home and while my boys, ages 8 and 11, were outside playing with their friends, I shared the news with my wife. She was immediately concerned about how I was taking the news. I assured that I was doing ok and we agreed that we would not stress over the situation but would continue to explore our options.

As I awoke this morning, I was at peace with the approaching end of my career with my current company. I prayed about our situation and as I left home to take the kids to school, I was more excited than I have been in a while about the future. My thoughts immediately turned to entertain the idea of transforming A Christian’s Voice (ACV) into a ministry and outreach and to be a voice for advancing causes such as Sacred Selections (www.scredselections.org), Youth Friends (www.youthfriends.org), etc. My vision for ACV would involve me in such activities as: consulting, counseling, writing, public speaking and perhaps teaching in a public or private capacity. These are all works in progress. They are presently my ideas and I am listening for God’s voice to discern whether they are His plans for me too. (I will have more reflections on this in the next issue of my blog.)

As I opened Facebook this morning, in my inbox was the most recent issue of Spiritual Manna, an e-newsletter published by Ethan R. Longhenry. That issue began,

“Then Mordecai bade them return answer unto Esther, “Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, but thou and thy father’s house will perish: and who knoweth whether thou art not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).

Ethan goes on to make application of the principles here,
“The example of Mordecai and Esther ought to be quite encouraging for us. After all, we are living in the days when we do not get the word from God regarding our specific situations. It may seem many times that God is not there in the midst of our trials and difficulties, and it can be hard to know what to do.

Just as with Esther, so it may be with us. God’s will has been functioning and continues to function in this world (Ephesians 1:3-14, 3:10-11). We may find ourselves in unique situations that allow us to be an encouragement to someone, or perhaps we are put in a position where we can make a great demonstration of the love of God for all men (cf. Matthew 5:13-16, 1 John 4). When we find ourselves in a difficult position, and when we wonder how we shall act in the face of challenging options, we might do well to ask Mordecai’s question: perhaps we were put in the situation we are in for some divine reason!

Far be it from anyone to presume to know for certainty the ways of God and His providence; that is not necessarily for humans to know (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9). Nevertheless, we must at least be open to the possibility that God is providing us with opportunities to accomplish His will and lead people to His relief and deliverance (Matthew 11:28-30, Romans 1:16).

But it is not enough to just be in the right place at the right time: one must take advantage of those opportunities. Esther only acts after Mordecai’s encouragement to recognize the value of the opportunity she has. Perhaps it will be, as Mordecai firmly believed, that deliverance may come from another source. Perhaps someone else will be able to accomplish the Lord’s will if you decide against it. But how tragic it is when someone is in the right place at the right time and yet is unprepared or unwilling to do what the Lord would have them to do (cf. Matthew 21:28-29, 25:14-30)!

Mordecai and Esther lived in dark times and were faced with difficult decisions and no specific and direct word from God. Nevertheless, they held fast to their faith in God as their deliverer and were not disappointed. They recognized the possibility that God’s providence had led Esther to her position, and she was willing to do what was necessary to accomplish what was ultimately manifest as God’s purpose.

It may be 2400 or so years later, but we can easily identify with Mordecai and Esther. Let us also be open to God’s providence, have faith in God and His providence even if He does not directly speak to us today, and take advantage of the opportunities we have been given. After all, who knows whether we have been placed where we are for such a time as this?” — Ethan R. Longhenry

This is great food for thought as I go about my activities today! As you read these musings, please pray that God’s will be done in my life and that I listen to the admonition of the Lord, “Listen, and be still for I have plans for you.”

Thanks for reading with me dear friends.

Revised 9-22-09

–Randy Sexton

A Christian’s Voice From Raymore, Volume 1, Number 2, April 18, 2009

Success To Significance

I am a member of a local church in Kansas City, MO. I have been attempting to organize the men of our congregation to meet regularly for an early morning devotional. I love getting my days started with prayer and reflection upon God’s plan for my life.
Several men from the local church will begin meeting for study and discussion of the to topic “Success To Significance” based upon the book of the same name written by Lloyd Reeb. The series will begin April 24th and run through July 10th. This study will deal with topics of particular interest to those in their “halftime years” and beyond.
The location of these meeting is 217 South Washington, Raymore, MO. The time is 7:00-8:30 AM. The dates and the titles of the lessons in this series include:
April 24th – Session #1-Redefining Success
May 15th – Session #2-Overcoming Obstacles
May 29th – Session #3-Preparing for the Journey
June 12th – Session #4-Finding Your Direction
June 26th – Session #5-Creating Margin
July 10th – Session #6-Finding Your Place to Serve
If you live in the Raymore area and are interested in joining us for this study, please RSVP to me via e-mail (run2randy@yahoo.com) by Tuesday, April 21st, and I will send you the study/discussion material for the first session.
We look forward to sharing ideas with you as we meet to pray and to reflect upon God’s plan for our lives. May God bless you today and each day as you strive to live a life of significance for him!
As Mr. Reeb says in the introduction of this material, “Success to Significance will challenge you to engage your world with passion and purpose. You will learn how your experiences and skills can benefi t your local church, your community, and your world. Through this study you will discover a process that can help you implement your own personal talents and resources to help others and make a signifi cant difference in the world today. This book is written for you and other people at midlife who want their life to count in signifi cant ways.”
“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’ And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me” (Matt. 25:37-40).
–Randy Sexton