Thursday, October 23, 2014

He Hears

I visited a sweet, elderly lady in the hospital this week.  As always, she was a total pleasure.  A smile was on her face because she learned she was about to be released and allowed to go home.  She looked at me and said, "Preacher, I pray daily to God.  And He hears me.  I know He really hears me!"

"Yes Ma'am", I replied.  "He sure does."  Joy filled that little room as we celebrated that wonderful truth.

Child of God, your Heavenly Father does hear your prayers.

When you ask for forgiveness, He hears.

When you express gratitude, He hears.

When you cry out for help, He hears.

When you request guidance, He hears.

Isn't that great news?!  We can pray whenever we want.  And God hears.  Always.

Find comfort in knowing that the prayers of your heart reach the ears of God.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I could not remember it.

A lady asked me yesterday for my wife's cell phone number.  I had to tell her I forgot.  See, I have it programmed into my phone and I just hit a button to call Lara.  So it's been quite a while since I had to even think about what her number is.  When I told her this, the lady laughed and asked me, "Now, how are you going to call her if you don't have your cell phone with you?"  Good question.  She got me on that one.

I guess I do need to commit it to memory.

Many folks don't have phone numbers memorized any more.

And, come to think if it, lots of people don't have Bible verses memorized any more either.  Like phone numbers, guys and gals have to pause, scratch their heads, and try to remember passages of scripture.  If we're honest, we'll admit many of us need to do a better job with that.

I remember good ole Dr. Tom Painter.  He was a preacher that mentored me a little bit during my early years of ministry.  And he was my wife's grandfather.  That man had committed tons of Bible verses to memory.  He could quote long passages in a skinny minute.  It was impressive.

Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden your word in my heart..."  Can you and I say that?  Have we read and stored portions of God's word in our hearts and minds?  We should!  When we memorize scripture, we have peace ready for storms, strength ready for battles, guidance ready for decisions, and help ready for temptations.  When scripture is stored in our hearts and minds, it makes a difference in our lives,

Yeah, we would all do well to memorize important phone numbers.

But even more importantly, we would be extra wise to memorize God's Word.  That'll pay off in ways we can't begin to imagine.  And we'll be glad one day that we took the time to do it.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Me Again

At my birthday dinner the other night, my son, Emerson, gave me an envelope.  I opened it up and found a sheet of paper with one of his creations.  He said, "Dad, I listed out all the things that you love."

As I read his list, I had to smile.  This is what he had written: "Happy Birthday Daddy!  God.  James Bond.  Church.  Oregon Ducks.  Gamecocks.  Preaching.  Me!  Football.  Sports.  Mini.  Me Again!"

My boy twice mentioned that I love him.  That showed me it meant a lot to him.  And it reminded me that he is a normal boy.  He wants his dad to love him.

As I reflect on that, I realize we all ought to rejoice in knowing that God, our Heavenly Father, loves us.  He cares deeply about you and me.  We matter to Him, indeed.  And that will never change.

No matter how tough life may get, find comfort in this truth:  The Heavenly Father loves you.  Deeply.  Eternally.  Sacrificially.  Powerfully.  And He always will.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Angry Grocery Store Guy - Part 2

(This is the second half of my writing on anger.  To read the first half, just click HERE.)

Anger is not something to hold on to for a long period of time.  When we do, it ends up hurting us.  Like a cancer that eats us up from the inside out, anger darkens our hearts, spoils our attitudes, and sours our mindset.

"Let not the sun go down upon your wrath", writes Paul in Ephesians 4:26.  His point is pretty simple:  Don't let your day pass and the night arrive with anger still burning inside of you.  Why?  Because ultimately, you're just hurting yourself by holding onto a grudge.

Momentary anger that swells into long-term bitterness isn't good for you or me.  A better way to live is this:  Feel the anger, express the anger in an appropriate way to the appropriate people, then get over it.  There comes a point with our anger where we have to cut it loose, set if free, and let it go.  We can't stay mad forever.  Life has to go on.

Joy and peace are to be our constant travel companions in The Lord.  Not anger.  Let's remember that.

Don't live mad at the world.  Choose to enjoy your life in the presence of God.  Let go of that anger and walk in calmness.  That's a much better way to live.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Angry Grocery Store Guy - Part 1

I was walking through a local grocery store the other day when I saw him.  This guy was fuming!  His face was red.  His finger was pointing.  His voice was raised.  And he was verbally blasting his wife for spending too much money.  It was an awkward moment, and I was glad to turn around and make my way down another aisle.

Of course, I can't be too hard on the fellow.  He's probably a good guy that was just having a bad day. And we've all probably gotten a little madder than we should have at times. 

But still, that experience got me thinking...

Anger.  It's a powerful emotion.  And just as sure as it swelled up in the old guy at the grocery store, it can easily stir up within us.

Does the Bible say anything about anger?

Well, yes, it actually does.  Ephesians 4:26 reads, "Be ye angry, and sin not."  That's good stuff to live by!

Here's what this verse teaches us:  There will be times we feel anger.  Actually, some things such as injustice, abuse, and ungodliness should make us angry.  But we have to remain in control of our anger and manage it properly.  When we fail to handle it correctly and lash out in unhealthy ways, we are neck deep in sin.  And that's not a good thing. 

God has made us emotional beings.  And anger is one of those feelings.  So it's ok to feel anger.  It really is.  But we must keep in mind that God still expects us to hold ourselves together and behave in a Christ-like manner when our blood begins to boil.

Let's look to God for help.  He will give us a hand in this!  With His divine assistance, we can be in control of our anger rather than live with our anger in control of us.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Bobby Richardson Way

Yesterday, I attended the Richardson family reunion here in Sumter.  A great thrill for me was to visit for a few moments with my cousin, Bobby Richardson, and to get a picture taken with him.  Being around him was a total pleasure.

Bobby played for the New York Yankees from 1955-1966.  Second base was his position.  He was a seven time All Star and a five time Gold Glove Winner.  He and the Yankees appeared in the World Series seven times during his career, and they won three of them.  Bobby had an impressive, exciting career as a pro ball player.

When I look at him, I marvel at these two things:

1). Bobby has stayed humble.  We all know he has done some amazing things in his life that most people never get to be a part of.  And yet he treats people with kindness and respect.  He does not act high and mighty.  He does not act like he's too important to interact with others.  Bobby smiles, looks people in the eye, and shows a genuine interest in them.  

2). Bobby has used his opportunities to tell others about The Lord.  Being a spokesman for the Christian faith is a responsibility that he takes seriously.  He is always quick to give credit to his Lord and Savior.  In his book "Impact Player", he states the following:  "If my life is a testament to anything, it is to God's mercy and grace.  I have been blessed far beyond what I deserve."  When he autographs copies of his book, he adds in a Bible verse.  It's Romans 1:16, which reads "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ..."  Always a witness.  That's Bobby.

It seems to me that all of us would do well to follow his example.  And the good news is we don't have to be pro ball players to do it.  Regardless of who we are, what we accomplish, and where we live, if we keep the right perspective of ourselves and put the spotlight on God, we can be spiritual champions who make an eternal impact.  

Stay humble.  Tell others about The Lord.  That's the Bobby Richardson Way.  And that's the kind of life that God blesses.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Next Talk

I was at a funeral visitation recently for an older gentleman who had passed away.  One of the visitors walked by me towards the end of the night and said, "Well, I guess the next talk good ole Maynard and I have won't be over the backyard fence.  It'll be up there in Heaven instead."  I noticed a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face when he said that about his deceased friend.

That's the way we Christians deal with death.  While we do experience normal grief, we also hold on to the assurance that we will see our fellow followers of Christ again.  We keep in mind that death is not the end.  No, not at all!  Instead, it is the doorway through which we step into the eternal presence of God in Paradise.  And it's the road we travel to a meaningful reunion with loved ones and friends.

Maybe you miss those long, leisurely talks with folks over the fence, at a table, or on the front porch.  Well, I have good news.  In Christ, you will see them and talk with them again.  Heaven will be where the next talk takes place.  And what an awesome time that will be!

Friday, October 10, 2014

My New Ministry

It is with great excitement that I write today about my new ministry.

This past summer, I was privileged to get acquainted with New Calvary Baptist Church in my hometown of Sumter, South Carolina.  For a few weeks I did some interim preaching for them since they did not have a pastor at the time.  Eventually, talk began to take place about the possibility of them bringing me on board as their new pastor.  I was thrilled at the possibility, and so was the rest of my family.

We all took our time.  I had several weeks to get to know them.  And they had several weeks to get to know me.  We all had open talks about our lives, our hopes, and our dreams for the future.  The more we all talked, the more it became obvious that this was a good match.

Finally, on September 7 of this year, I was voted in as their new pastor.  Lara, the kids, and I were overwhelmed with joy at this opportunity.  Of course, I quickly accepted their call, and began serving there immediately.

New Calvary is a fantastic church.  The people are warm and loving.  They are full of grace.  And they are extremely positive and upbeat.  I am very happy to be a part of this fine church, and so are my wife and kids.

Here's another neat fact:  My late grandfather, Rev. Leon Richardson, served as the pastor of New Calvary from 1978 to 1981.  It's an honor to walk in Grandaddy's ministry footsteps.

My focus in this new ministry is very simple:  Visitation and preaching.  That's what the church needs, and that's what I enjoy.  So it suits me perfectly.

I'm happier and more at peace than I have been in years.  God has truly blessed me with this awesome opportunity.  And it feels good to be doing what I was put on this Earth to do.

Please pray for God to bless the good people of New Calvary Baptist Church, and please pray for God to lead me as I serve in this new role of ministry.

God is good and I am thankful.