People frequently say, “When I get to heaven I’ve got some questions I want God to answer.”  Often the questions have to do with the unfairness of the suffering of the young or some good person.  We want someone to answer to our satisfaction why something happened or failed to happen.  We are often stunned by the way life can knock someone down or take the life of a young child.

As I prepared to write this piece the 10 p.m. newscast was playing the story of a young firefighter who lost his life as he fell over a rail catching a baseball that a star player wanted him to give his son.  The father caught the ball but fell twenty feet to the concrete below.  A second story told of a Snyder, Texas police officer who answered a domestic dispute call and, before he could help, a man drew his pistol and shot him in the head point blank.  He now holds to life by a thread in a Lubbock hospital.

Story after story screams “UNFAIR” because the helper gets killed.  Our world is crazy and cruel.  Random acts of violence characterize our neighborhoods that we desperately want to be safe.  So the questions for God add up.  And some preachers feed the notion: “There is a reason for everything that happens and one day we will know all about it.”  We sing that we will understand it better by and by.

Well, I don’t want to damage anyone’s faith but it is entirely possible that we may never understand random acts of evil done in this world any better later than we do right now.  Why?  Because all that happens doesn’t always have a clear, understandable answer.

Maybe something else is going occur when we enter the eternal world that will displace our questions.  What might that be?  The wonderful, eternal beauty of Jesus Christ – the only King above all Kings and Lord above all Lords.  His throne and our overwhelming desire to give Him glory and honor may easily block out all those nagging questions our earthly sense of justice seems to press for answers.

My dear reader I want you to know that you will be gasping for breath (so to speak) as you look upon His glory!  We are much more likely to have forgotten all earthly questions after we’ve seen Him as He really is.  When we arrive we won’t remember the suffering of a child of God, perhaps, nearly so much as the fact they have entered into the rest of their dear Lord.  There’ll be no more questions then – only worship of the glorified Lord Jesus who gave it all for you and me.  Could this be the true response of our hearts upon arriving in the heavenly realm?  Remember, “We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.”

Hallelujah, Thine the glory,

Hallelujah, amen.

Tebow’s Help

January 18, 2012

Writer’s block?  Yes, I’ve had this illness for three months and I can’t describe the choking feeling it engenders.  Think about it: it’s not an illness that can be cured by antibiotics, certainly not surgery.  I’ve prayed for a release from this illness because I have begun twelve different messages I’ve wanted to share with you.

I have finally come to the possibility that if I read all the articles I could find on the outstanding football player, Tim Tebow, a brilliant quarterback for the Denver Broncos whose leadership has led his time to the football playoffs I might find a breakthrough to my illness of writer’s block.  Today’s New York Times has a full page photo of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning — an equally excellent quarterback.  But I find no inspiration from Eli’s photo.  Why?  Because unlike Tim Tebow, Eli does not give public credit to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for any good he does in his life whether it be on the football field or anywhere else in his life.

Tebow gives Christ the glory for any and every good thing in his life as the Bible teaches Christ lovers and Christ followers to do: “Whatsoever things you do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” says Matthew’s gospel.

So for today I feel a small breakthrough provided by Tim Tebows’s example.  I don’t mean his expertise in a sport but his everyday habit to give his Lord credit for any good that comes through his life.  He wants everyone to give God glory and to lift up the name of Jesus for the purpose of giving Him glory.  I can do that.  I will do that.  No more excuses.  Just live for my Lord’s glory, whether it be giving a small amount of money to someone who needs help or listening to someone who thinks they aren’t worth anyone’s time to listen to them

I can’t do everything I want to do nor can I do very much.  But, I can give Christ credit for whatever He enables me to do.  Tebow is likely to leave his next game in Foxboro Massachusetts as a loser of a playoff game.  Thousands and thousands, however, will remember his giving credit to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving him the opportunity to try to reach the heights of football excellence.  He will keep on giving His Lord credit for the good that comes from his life.  What about me?  I can remember in whatsoever I say or do to do all in the name and for the credit of my Lord and Savior.

Wait!  I hear a little of my writer’s block breaking up.  Maybe my next blog is on its way.  I truly hope so!

By Randy Becton

Recently Chaz Bono entered an international dancing contest choosing a lovely young woman who dances very well as his dancing partner.  The only thing wrong with this dance is that Chaz is a transgendered woman whose sexuality is very confused in part because he has spent most of his life as a woman.  Only the last ten or more years has Chaz chosen to live as a “man” even though as a baby born by this mother he came into life as a woman.  Please read my words carefully, something very important is at stake here.  Let me put it this way: who has the right or the authority to tell us who is a man and who is a woman?  Do we just decide one day that we would feel better or worse if we are a woman or man?  Can we demand that a surgeon make us a man instead of a woman because we have always “felt” like a different gender than we currently are?

To many this should be a private decision and simply left to the person and family involved.  I was sitting reading a book written by the famous Henri J.M. Nouwen titled The Inner Voice of Love whose major emphasis is that each of us must experience God’s total unconditional love for us as we are born.  We come into God’s world totally completely loved and in need of no transforming change of our sexuality.  If we struggle with our sexual identity we can be brought to peace through counseling and through a friendship circle that is non-judgmental and completely loving.  Should we get there by surgery?  I think not.  If surgery is chosen will the identity truly change?  Stories seem to report problems after problems.  I know this, however.  Whatever one chooses, love like Jesus practiced must be the way of the Christian for, the child of God must act like his Father has taught him to act.  No hostility and no ugly spirit.  The world is fallen and is filled with brokenness.  Sexual confusion is part of it.  If I meet Chaz I will treat him as a Christian should.

God bless us to act like our Lord and teacher as however difficult it may be to do.  Remember, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5).

Two Matters of Concern

August 15, 2011

by Randy Becton

Iris Delgado has had enough.  She’s fed up with Satan’s attacks on our children and grandchildren without parents and grandparents standing up, getting properly equipped and taking the fight to the forces of darkness.  The king of this world’s wicked kingdom must know God’s youth will fight successfully and faithfully with parents’ help as well as youth ministers with a largely overlooked band of grandparents and great grandparents.

Fueled with information and righteous indignation they can quickly take up the fight.  They will act again and again to help young hearts and minds know who to trust and who the real enemies are. They will understand how to steer clear of really harmful thoughts.  Let me be clear: if you don’t think there is a war on for the minds of our kids you are sound asleep!

You and I know God’s light is stronger than Satan’s darkness.  But if God’s light is in the closet, darkness dominates for sure.  Iris Delgado’s Satan, You Can’t Have My Children, must be read.  It provides real practical help so we can have confidence and faith to stand firm against Satan’s attacks.  God’s power is greater than the power of the enemy.  But let me be gut honest – one hour of Sunday School, one hour of Wednesday night class will not equip our children and grandchildren.  Nor will the effective but limited work of our youth ministers.  “Well Randy,” you ask, “what more will it take?”  I’ve got a Heart to Heart DVD on “Saving Our Children” with a stiffer plan I want you to have.  It’s free if you cover the postage and handling.  Among other things, we must pay a steeper price in time and prayer.  I want you to see it and, if you want, return it to me.  Please take me seriously.  I’m not the smartest mind but I know we can do better…and we must!  Tell me what you think.

We see New York State’s approval of same sex marriage and grow ill in our soul.  We see our highest leaders at the state level calling for “Days of Prayer and Fasting.”  This call from our governor in Texas was met with severe ridicule as a prelude to his announcement to run for president in 2012.  It was a call based on Joel 2 which calls for a people to return to the Lord with all their heart with fasting, prayer, weeping and mourning.  The event was called “The Response,” hoping for lasting change in America whether from the cynical, the pious, the politically interested or the curious.

There exists in America 365,000 churches and we know the Lord can use deeper devotion from each of us beginning with me and, I think, you too.  Whatever groups lent their name in support of this effort may or may not have helped the effort.  It’s fairly certain, however, that pointing fingers has never helped build a bridge between people who differ when it comes to righteous issues.  You might not believe it to have been spiritually wise to participate yet I believe it’s a beginning without a compromise.  At the least, pray for each attendee to grow closer to Jesus, his way of handling conflict and the core message of how he wants us to live.  I know we can do better.

Kate’s Dilemma

August 5, 2011

Kate asked me if I’d meet with her Sunday afternoon to talk about something very important.  “Sure,” I said, “I’ll be glad to meet.”  Shortly after, we sat across the table from each other and she began to talk about what had gone wrong with her senior year in high school.  She clearly doubted her future.  The she dropped the bomb: “And on top of all that I stupidly got pregnant.”  All was silent.  What was I going to say?  After what seemed like five minutes she said, “Randy, I’ve made the decision to go to Dallas on Monday to have an abortion.  My friends have taken up a collection to pay the fee and my travel expenses.  What do you think?”

“I think you are a very special young lady,” I replied.  “I’m sure you’ve thought a lot about your decision.  If you are asking me if this decision is the right one, I’ll give you my thinking but I believe you already know what I really think.  You know I believe what you are carrying is a real live human being, not just a fetus.  God makes a human life and if you’ll allow me, I’ll do everything possible to persuade you to allow that baby to be born.  I’ll try not to preach or make you feel worse than you already do.  But if you’ll let me, I’ll try to persuade you.  Of course, I promise to keep our visit confidential as you asked before we began our visit.”

Here I know many readers might write angry words telling me I had no choice but to tell Kate’s parents so they could stop her using whatever means necessary!  I did not believe she could be stopped unless it was by means of loving persuasion.  She had already proved she could outsmart a number of adults.

I made the best case I could.  I prayed with Kate.  She asked a final question before we left our meeting.  “If I go through with this will you hate me when I come back?”  Why would she ask that?  What difference would it make?

I answered, “If you go I’ll weep for a long time.  But hate you?  Never!  You are someone Jesus won’t hate so if I’m trying to be a follower of His, I will only keep loving.”  What else should I do?  I added, “Kate, I want to ask you for a bold reversal: have that baby, let me have the privilege of holding that newborn and then either let me help you work with a Christian adoption agency or to rear that child with the help of a number of us Christians.”

As time went by, I learned that she chose to give birth to a beautiful baby girl – and yes – she let me hold her.  Don’t be misled.  I didn’t change her mind.  Her years of Christian nurture at home and through church tipped the scales in Kate’s heart to do what she herself believed the Lord wanted her to do (To God Be the Glory Great Things He Has Done).

Kate’s decision was very, very difficult for she had to live with her parent’s sense of her having betrayed them because of sexual promiscuity.  She wasn’t welcome in their home for a few months.  I don’t want to be too hard on them.  Time helped move them to rethink their hostile feelings and love grew toward their daughter.  This story has a purpose and that is to remind us: people are making up their minds every day about many things.  Try to be a Christian someone would want to talk over the decisions of life with.  It makes a big difference if you’ll hold your judgment and try to point people to a better way.

Even in my small city of 102,000 and my church of 600 members it’s easy to see a very staggering truth: Christians are starved for meaningful relationships.

I’ve hungered for one true friend rather than 15 – 20 somewhat close friends.  There’s a real difference.  No, I don’t want to dominate someone’s time and attention in such a way as to practically “own” them so their wants and needs are never met.

It was Lee Grady who recalled his Puerto Rico preaching experience when he began at 10:30 on Sunday morning and didn’t leave until 5 p.m. because his listeners wanted him to continue teaching and preaching.

You remember in the Bible the book of Acts reports that after the first disciples were baptized they “…were continually devoting themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42).  The word “fellowship” or koinonia (the Greek word) appears only 19 times and can be thought of as a heart-to-heart partnership, a bonding of two who know one another deeply, trust one another without fear of being exposed in any unlovely thought or word that may have been said.  For me it means, I’ll pray for you, care about your heart’s concerns, try to help you bear your burdens and, if you need money, my billfold is open to you.  I’ll try to help you love and serve Jesus if you’ll help me do the same.

Let’s keep our brothers and sisters from being starved for soul friendship.  Yes, some betray us, but not all.   Try again to have a deep, meaningful soul friendship.  Do me the courtesy of telling me if you have one.  Tell me if you are hungry for one or have you given up.  Are you willing to try again?  Are you starving?  Healthy, happy Christians have meaningful deep soul friendships – at least one.  I hear about Christians who have given up on this ever happening for them.  Change your thinking.  Ask God for one.  Lay behind you those who have let you down.  The way past your wounds is with the fresh love of a Christian brother or sister.  God’s Holy Spirit will provide the love to make it happen if you are willing.  Are you?  Let me hear from you, will you?

Your True Origin

July 22, 2011

From Scientific American

by Randy Becton

John Clayton writes a monthly magazine, “Does God Exist?”  In the forty-two years this journal has been published he has sought the latest in scientific findings supporting the belief that there is a Creator behind this great universe and that the burden of proof that there is not God lays squarely on the shoulders of doubters and committed atheists.

John checks into such discoveries as the fossil collection found in Ethiopia in 1994.  There are 125 pieces said to be 4.4 million years old based on radiometric dating of the volcanic ash layers where they were found.  The nickname for this creature is “Ardi.”  More important than Ardi, however, is the tour worldwide of “Lucy” — the most complete specimen ever found of an early primate and she is significant tor that reason.  In spite of the hype, Lucy is one hundred percent monkey.  The studies seem to indicate that Lucy walked upright.  The pelvis and hip show that the gluteal muscles were positioned so that the animal could walk erect.  One much respected evolutionist, Dr. Owen Lovejoy of Kent State says the fact that an ape can walk on two legs is proof man came from apes.  Excuse me, is that belief based on bias or proof?

I am convicted that only foolish thinkers believe we are mere animals.  Wiser thinking leads to the conviction that God made us.  In Acts 17 is the statement, “…we are all of one blood.”  Our common ancestors are Adam and Eve.  We know because God told us.  The Bible doesn’t answer all our questions, just the ones that really matter to us.  We are told, “God formed man of the dust of the earth” (Genesis 2:7).  No one is forced to believe this truth but you and I can only prosper when we listen to what God has told us.  He defines who we are and we must learn to love Him or we have no hope but to wander our 70+ years on earth.  If we seek Him and His ways, we’ll understand we live unto God and will live with Him eternally.  Man can’t explain himself; God gently and mercifully tells who we are.

Hallelujah, Thine the Glory!

Am I right or not?

John Clayton is a life-long friend whose material always undergirds any scientific reference in this or any article.  His website, “Does God Exist?” may be found here.

My dad was an everyday alcoholic.  As a talented general contractor, he developed a number of housing units that were characterized by solid workmanship and were always brought in under budget.  This made my father popular with investors in development projects.

He was up and out of the house by 5 in the morning drinking the strongest coffee I’d ever smelled or tasted.  A thick Maxwell House thermos jug helped him start his crew each day.

I worked as a lumber associate one summer and found my father’s work ethic amazing.  I wanted this quality in my own work life.  As the mid-afternoon came, dad began to drink alongside his work.  By the time he arrived home he was “lit,” a word that denotes one who is on his way to being drunk.  Why?  I don’t really know.  One theory I thought I picked up from him was a deep-seated resentment/conflict with his mother and two sisters.  I’m under the impression his mother was super-critical of him.  She opposed him going to college claiming he was needed to help his father build houses after their shift on the railroad.  To be honest, I don’t really know why he had such a strong urge toward daily drunkenness.

Our family never heard of AA or Al Anon in any practical way.  We never found a way to help dad for he swore that he did not drink and resented anyone who said that he did.  When I read what Bill and The Big Book have done for millions of alcoholics, I ache in my heart that our family bypassed that wonderful program.  I know for a fact that having a problem in one’s life is not the big sin.  Failing to address the problem is.  Help is available from God and properly chosen people who can help us.  But it all begins with the genuine cry, “O Lord, I have a problem that is destroying the quality of my life.  I know it brings me shame, guilt and stops my forward progress.  I need to tell you the truth.  And I need someone who can help me.  Help me be a courageous man and meet my problem head on.  I know truth is the first step toward healing and hope.  Help me act, Lord.”

Do you need help to overcome something that has a boot holding your neck down on the pavement, crushing the life out of you?  Take a chance with trusting me.  I’ll try to help you.  I know your Heavenly Father wants you to succeed.  Start today, please.

Remember: to have problems is human.  To address them shows your courage.

By Randy Becton

                There are only six things I want between now and when I hang up my boots for the last time.  Five of the six are not crucial and time may run out before they are actually reached.  I constantly search my soul to determine the goal I truly long for.  And think about how to reach it.  Also, I want to know if my goal is based on man’s effort or God’s gift.  Is it something I do or something God does for me.  Interesting, isn’t it?

It could be that you debate my goal and that’s all right.  Spiritually speaking, you may well agree with me.  Most of us don’t want to leave this world and go to the next without having in our possession what we desire above all else.

I simply ask you to seek to consider my desire and why I yearn so deeply for it.  Above every other goal is the desire to be at peace with God.  Many might describe it another way but for me I want peace with the One who made me, a peace that only He can give.  I can’t earn it work hard enough that He owes it to me.  No, it is His gift, given freely from His hand to my heart and to all others who put their trust in Him.

Paul, a spokesman for God, wrote:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
There is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God
All have turned away,
They have together become worthless:
there is no one who does good,
not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

Deep in our heart we might not want God’s will or His ways.  We might pull away from Him instead of yearning to please Him.  But God doesn’t leave us in the pit of despair.  He has clearly made a way for us to be right in His eyes and to have peace with Him if we are interested.

Scripture says that God has made a way.  We couldn’t do it and frankly, didn’t want to have it.  God makes people right through their faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.  Everyone has sinned and is not good enough to share God’s divine greatness.  We are all made right by His grace, and it is a free gift.

The blood sacrifice of Jesus pays for our sins; it is nothing that we have done.  It is by accepting what God has done that we are saved.  We don’t deserve or earn it but He loves and gives it anyway.  Jesus took our place.  We are not enemies of God anymore.  Because of Jesus He is no longer angry with us.  We are now His children.  He did it.  Wow!

So the one thing I want more than any other, God has given to me – peace with Him because of what Jesus did for me.  And, it is also there for you (Romans 5:1).  Let me know what your number one goal is for your life, will you?

By Randy Becton

The official temperature was 103 degrees on this particular Friday afternoon.  I was driving around our Interstate loop looking to stop and fill my gas tank on the way to picking up some clothes from the dry cleaners.  Oh, and one more thing –I hoped to pick up a copy of USA Today – our national newspaper.  As I pulled in to the Fina gasoline station, I realized a need greater than my gas tank and newspapers.  I needed water to fill my windshield washer for I could barely see the cars travelling in front of me – a clear safety issue for sure!

Something had to be done immediately.  I wasn’t able to do it myself due to my physical limitations.  So I took the opportunity to ask a huge, rugged trucker who looked like a World Wrestling Champion who was able to crush four or five opponents at one time; a man who, at first glance, looks as if he’s just been released from a federal penitentiary. I asked, “Sir, would you please help me fill up my car’s windshield washer with water if your timetable will permit it?  He answered, “Where’s your container?” “I don’t have one,” I answered.  He told me to wait while he found one.  In sweltering heat he found a small bottle and went to refill it five times.

I tried to pay him.  He refused.  I offered two burritos and a large drink.  Another “No” was quietly offered.  Finally I said, “Can I thank you in some way, please?”  His answer floored me.  He said, “I serve and bow my knee to my King, Jesus.”  I quickly said, “I also serve King Jesus,” and reached out to hug him in a tight embrace.  He returned my hug in kind.  We visited about where his eighteen wheeler was going before he would be back home in Lubbock, Texas.  We exchanged prayer requests.  As he walked away I told him, “What a highlight to my day to meet another follower of our King, the Christ who gave his life so that we might go out into the world to love and serve each other with no expectation of reward except our King’s approval.”  What a joy to be served by another follower of the king – a brother in the Lord!

I had moved from fear to fascination, from anxiety to admiration, knowing that our King Jesus has many, many true and faithful servants doing His will in His kingdom.  I climbed into my hot car and gratefully washed my windows, knowing God had given me a gift of seeing a brother more clearly than anything I’d seen all day.