Saturday, September 26, 2015

Happy 68th Birthday, Dad!

My dad, Wade Richardson, turns 68 years old today.

Let me tell you this:  He is quite a great guy, and I couldn't be prouder to be his son.

Dad is...

Interesting.  He has travelled a lot of places, met a lot of people, and can tell a lot of fascinating stories.  Seriously, if you want to have an attention-grabbing conversation with someone, just talk with my dad.  I think he should write a book or start a blog one day!

Selfless.  He puts his family and his friends before himself.  I've watched him make plenty of sacrifices for all of us over the years.

Christian.  Dad loves The Lord and has served Him for as long as I've known him.  I've always admired his walk with God.

Yep, I'm blessed with a great dad.

Happy Birthday, Dad.  God bless you.  Love you, Sir.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Beautiful Creation

I had the pleasure this week of visiting Gatlinburg, Tennessee with some fellow church members.  We had a great time together.  I'm already wanting to go back next year!

While there, I caught a chair lift ride up the side of a mountain.  When we reached the top, I looked out over the town and its surrounding mountains.  The beauty of it blew me away, and I snapped a picture of it on my iPhone.
As I stood there marveling at how gorgeous the scenery was, I was reminded of something:  Our amazing God has made a beautiful creation.  Everything He has formed in the heavens and on this planet is spectacular and awe-inspiring. 

The first book and the last book of the Bible remind us of our origins.  Genesis 1:1 tells us "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  Then Revelation 4:11 tells us "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."  These verses, and quite a few more in between them, help us remember that our existence is not the result of some cosmic mishap or accident; instead, the heavens, Earth, and all of us are here because God chose to engage in creative work that is simply breathtaking.

Let us praise God for being our Creator.  He deserves our adoration for what He has done.  His work is quite spectacular.

Let us honor God by caring for His creation.  We can be good stewards of this planet by keeping the land safe, the water pure, and the air clean.  His handiwork can be treated with respect when we handle it responsibly with care.

We have a beautiful creation to enjoy.  God has done an amazing job!  May we praise Him passionately and handle His masterpiece appropriately.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Six Thoughts On Leadership

Leadership.  It's a mighty big deal.  Regardless of your age, gender, location, or role, you can be a leader.  Yes, even YOU!  So why not get started today if you have not already done so?

Here are a few thoughts on leadership...

1).  Leadership is more than a title you hold.  It's a difference you make.  In other words, leaders are doers.  They make things happen and get results. 

2).  Leadership is setting a positive example.  Rather than sitting back and bossing around others, leaders jump out front and model what needs to be done.  They live out what they talk up.  Others see them in action and are inspired by it.  

3).  Leadership is saying what people need to hear rather than what people want to hear.  Proclaiming the truth sets followers free to be who they can be and do what they can do.  Sugar-coating or distorting reality should never be the practices of leaders.

4).  Leadership is an exercise in courage.  One has to be brave and do the right thing, regardless of how others may respond, if he or she is to lead others in moving forward.  There will always be critics and complainers, but leaders are thick-skinned and push ahead anyway.

5).  Leadership is caring about others.  There should be healthy motives for taking the reigns, and this should be one of them:  Valuing people and wanting to make their organizations, communities, circumstances, and lives better than they were before.  Compassion should fill the hearts of those lead.

6).  Leadership is defining goals with clarity and enabling others to succeed in reaching them.  Having a vision is vital.  When followers are well informed on objectives for the group, and well-equipped to win, a leader has done his or her job with effectiveness.

Be a leader!  Step up and make a difference.  Help those around you move forward into a better life.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Getting Along In Racial Harmony

"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!"  Psalm 133:1
"Live in harmony with one another."  Romans 12:16

A parent, who is connected with my son's football team, snapped this picture the other day.  It's of my boy and another kid during a practice.  These two children, one white and the other black, were just enjoying their day and having fun together.

As I looked at that picture, I thought to myself, "Man, kids just seem to get along with each other better than adults."  Actually, I've thought that for a while.  Young boys and girls don't seem to make such a big deal out of race and other differences.  If only the rest of us could be that way!

It seems that we are living in a day and time where racial tension is escalating.  While I am sure that television and social media do indeed stir the pot and fan the flames to make matters worse, this is an issue that is not new.  Racial prejudice is a problem that has a long history on our planet.

My desire is that we people of different skin colors can learn to get along and co-exist peacefully.  The good Lord created one planet for us all to share, and the best thing we can do is develop positive, healthy relationships that cross racial boundaries.  An absence of trust and an abundance of hostility between people of different skin colors is not good for anyone.  Everyone loses with that!

Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote years ago:  "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ." (Galatians 3:26-28)  He was saying that in Jesus, there are no divisions or sides.  Far from it!  In Jesus, we all are one family, regardless of whether we are black, white, rich, poor, male, female, young, old, Democrat, Republican, or whatever else.  Our Savior is about unity.  Oneness matters to Him, and it should matter to us.

Let's get along.  Let's learn from one another.  Let's unite and make this world a more pleasant and peaceful place. For this generation and those who follow, let's work towards racial unity.  God wants it, and we need it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

3 Types Of People

I read something this morning that really got me thinking.  It's about different kinds of people.  This is what I read:
Never forget three types of people in your life -
1 - Who helped you in your difficult times.
2 - Who left you in your difficult times.
3 - Who put you in difficult times.
After reading that quote, a few thoughts ran through my head.  Here are a few of them...
1 - Who helped you in your difficult times - What a blessing it is to have people in our lives who rally around us when we struggle.  Their compassion, encouragement, and loyalty help us bounce back.  In addition to this, we should be mindful of how our God is the greatest help we can find.  He intervenes and lends a hand in a way that no one else can.  Let us give a passionate, heart-felt "Thank you!" to our Lord and our loved ones who help us in difficult times.  They deserve our gratitude.     
2 - Who left you in your difficult times -  At times, people abandon us.  For any number of reasons, it happens.  And it hurts when they're no longer a part of our lives.  But how sweet it is to know that we have a God who will never leave us.  He will remain by our sides and in our hearts.  Tough times come and go, but God is here to stay.  Let us express our appreciation to Him for this; furthermore, let's be imitators of Him and stand by our family and friends when they hurt.
3 - Who put you in difficult times - Let's be honest.  Some people have toxic hearts and devious plans.  We can love them and pray for them from a distance.  But there are times when we need to avoid bonding too closely with them.  It's just a fact that some people can drag us down rather than lift us up.  It's best to quietly identify these folks and handle them with caution.  Yes, these people can repent and change.  When they do so, let's allow them back into our lives and show them grace.  But as long as they are up to no good, we would be wise to keep a little distance between them and us.  To bring it a little closer to home, we need to ask ourselves if we are a blessing or a burden to people.  Do we lift people up or drag people down?  It's a question worth considering.
There are many different kinds of people in life.  May God give us wisdom to know how to handle each of them.  And may we be the kind of people that others are glad to know.

Monday, September 14, 2015

An Open Letter To Our Church Family

New Calvary Baptist Church,

During the summer of 2014, we first met.  I'll always remember the first Sunday Lara, the kids, and I walked into your church building.  I was not preaching that morning.  We were just visiting.  Immediately, you made us feel welcome.  Several of you approached us and spoke with kindness.  After the service, my family and I agreed we enjoyed it and wanted to return. 

Then, a couple of weeks later, you invited me to preach one Sunday.  You were without a pastor, and you were giving different people an opportunity to stand in your pulpit and proclaim God's word.  I was thrilled beyond words that morning.  It had been almost two years since I last preached, and I was so glad to get back to doing what I love.

After this, we started getting to know each other.  I shared my life story with you.  You listened with patience and grace as I told you about my ups and downs along the way.  I gladly told you about my victories.  Thankfully, you made it easy for me to also talk about my failures and lessons learned.  The neat thing is, this drew us all closer together.

Then, it happened.  In September of 2014, after several weeks of getting acquainted with each other, you voted me in as your pastor.  I was kind of nervous as I waited for you to count those votes.  When the deacons said that I was to be the next pastor of New Calvary Baptist Church, I was thrilled and humbled at the same time.  It almost felt like a dream.

That was one year ago.  It's been twelve months since I was called.  Personally, I think time has flown by.  They say that's what happens when you're having fun.

I just want to say this, New Calvary Baptist Church:  Thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for all that you have done.

You have been so good to Lara, Katie, Elizabeth, Rachel, Emerson, and me.
You have welcomed my parents, Wade and Diane Richardson, into your fellowship.
You have allowed me to use my gifts and served the Lord in a pastoral role.
You have blessed us with your encouragement, prayers, support, and friendship.

I love each of the churches I have pastored in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.  They all are special congregations, and I thank God for all of them.  And at the same time, I can honestly say I've never been happier in ministry than I am right now.  These are good days.  A sweet season of life that I cherish more than words can express.

I'm honored and thrilled to serve as your pastor.  And I love getting to do life with you all.   So thank you for allowing me to do what I do.  You make it a pleasure, and I count myself mighty fortunate to be a part of this church.

Excitement fills my heart as we all look forward to the future.  God is growing this church already in spirit and in number.  There is a positive vibe in the air and a great sense of unity.  I fully believe that if we keep loving God and loving people, bigger, better, and brighter days are ahead.

So that's what I wanted to say to you people:  Thank you.  My life has been radically turned around and lifted up because of God and you.  Rest assured, I forever will be grateful.

I love you all, New Calvary Baptist Church.

Your Pastor,
David Richardson

P.S.  Darlene - I know you had me sign a 99 year contract.  And while I don't quite think I'll live to be 142 years old, I'm sure going to give it my best by sticking with you people as long as the good Lord will let me.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Answer In The Walmart Parking Lot

Walmart is where I went to grab something for us to eat tonight's supper.  When I was pulling out of the parking lot this morning I noticed a black pickup truck's bumper sticker.  It's simple, yet powerful, message was "Christ Is The Answer."
When I saw that, I thought to myself, "Yep, He sure is!"  It was a cool moment.  A life-changing, theological truth was right there for all of us customers to see.
What problem are you facing?  Once you identify it in your mind, please take this friendly advice to heart:  Turn to Jesus Christ as the answer for your problems.
Is your problem shame?  Jesus Christ will pardon your wrongdoings and wipe all that guilt away.
Is your problem loneliness?  Jesus Christ will provide access for you into God's family where you find companionship.
Is your problem emptiness?  Jesus Christ will satisfy your heart and mind fully.
Is your problem fear?  Jesus Christ will embolden you with supernatural courage from above.
Is your problem addiction?  Jesus Christ can provide freedom and a chance at a new life.
Is your problem sadness?  Jesus Christ can soothe your heart and fill it with joy.
Regardless of your problem, know that the answer can be found in Him.
Of course the greatest thing Jesus Christ does is this:  He forgives our sins and saves our souls. 
I can tell you this with absolute certainty:  He has made all the difference in my life.  I've failed Him at times, but He's never once failed me.  And I've learned that when I keep my eyes on Him, I see the answer to whatever life may throw my way.
The answer to all of life's problems was right there in the Walmart parking lot:  Jesus Christ.  May you and I look to Him today and forever more.  It will make all the difference in this life and in the life to come.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Gone Fishing

Once upon a time, there was a restaurant that my kids and I loved.  It was located in Aiken, South Carolina.  And we enjoyed going there whenever we could.
One day, we rode over to Aiken to eat supper at this awesome place.  When we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed there were no cars.  The doors were locked and the lights were off.  The building was empty and quiet.  Then I happened to notice a sign at this establishment which read, "Gone fishing!"
Later I learned that I was not the only one surprised by this.  Earlier that morning, the cooks and servers showed up to work at the restaurant.  But the boss was not there.  All they could find was the same sign I read.  "Gone fishing!"
Needless to say, they were not happy.  The head guy had check out and left.  Everyone was left high and dry without an explanation.  He let everyone down.
I'm glad God is not like that.
When we call out to Him in prayer, He is there.
When we seek Him in scripture, He is there.
When we gather in His name to worship, He is there.
God never checks out.  Abandoning people is not something He does.  Not once will we search for God and find a sign that reads, "Gone fishing!"
God has been here, is still here, and forever will be here for you and me.  He is fully reliable.  We can always count on that.
He's a loyal companion that forever will stick with us.