LESSONS FROM RANDY

LESSONS FROM RANDY by Pastor Shah (Clearview Baptist Church)

(This article was featured in the newspaper The Daily Dispatch on Saturday, June 14, 2014)

There’s nothing good about a phone call in the middle of the night. Still half-asleep, I could hear my wife – “Who??? Oh no! What happened?” Randy Reagle surfingAfter a long pause her tone changed from shock to condolence – “I’m so sorry. He’ll be right over. We will be in prayer.” I thought I heard the name – Randy – but still unsure, I asked, “Who is it?” She confirmed, “Randy Reagle just died in a car accident.” I couldn’t believe it! We just spent Sunday afternoon with him and his family at the lake. How could this be? I asked the same question that his family and friends have asked – “Why would God allow a 23-year-old with so much potential to be taken away?”

In the past few days, God has proven again and again that even though He is not the source of pain, He is always working “all things together for good.” Instead of brooding over the wreck on NC 39, the He has been bringing to mind Randy’s spiritual walk. Although I knew him less than a year, I witnessed a life that had real struggles but with a real faith in God. After much prayer, I asked permission from his father if I could share a few lessons from Randy’s life and he graciously agreed.

Randy with Shane1. Randy reminded me that first impressions could be deceiving: I have to admit that the first time I met Randy I thought that he was cocky but something told me to look below the surface. One day I invited him over to my office, expecting to make small talk and Randy shared with me about his brother Shane who had died a couple of years ago and how he struggled with his death. What I perceived as arrogance was actually a wound that hadn’t healed. We are so quick to pass judgments on others, especially our youth. We’ll never know the struggles they are going through until we take the time to get to know them.

2. Randy inspired me with his bold faith for Christ: It was a joy to watch Randy worship. I’ll always remember the last Sunday he was in church. No sooner had the Praise Team begun singing “Glory to God Forever” that he was on his feet, hand raised, worshipping God, no regard for what anyone would think. A few months earlier we went to a men’s conference, where we had to sit on the stage due to lack of space. I was hoping to stay incognito but not Randy. There he was praising God; and when the speaker gave an invitation to rededicate, Randy was the first one off the stage and on his knees in prayer. It showed me that this generation might not worship as I do but it is real and bold, nonetheless.

Randy63. Randy taught me that you don’t have to stop having fun in order to be serious about God: Like any 23-year old, Randy loved his X-box, favorite TV shows, and water sports. He often joked that all his life’s possession was in his wakeboard. But, there was another side to him. His family would often find him by the boat dock reading his Bible for hours. He was especially fond of reading books on how to reach the next generation with the gospel – “God without Religion,” “Red Letter Religion,” “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, “God’s Not Dead,” “7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness” and – oh yes – “Happy Happy Happy” by Phil Robertson. Quite a shock to some of us who think that we are the last great generation that thinks!

Randy24. Randy left me with tremendous hope for the future generation: When I went by the house to plan the memorial service, the family insisted that I see Randy’s room. I was reluctant, not knowing what I would find. As I entered, I smiled to see the bed unmade, typical of Randy. As I glanced across the room, my eyes were drawn to one of our church bulletins pinned to a dry erase board on the wall. It was scribbled all over with notes from a sermon I preached sometime back. But what caught my attention were two words in big block letters – “JESUS SAVES.” In my heart the Holy Spirit whispered, “Randy got it.” This young generation may live on Facebook, dress sloppy, listen to strange music, and have a different work ethic but they do get it, probably better than us.

“For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.” Proverbs 24:16 (Verse tattooed on Randy’s arm)

Randy5(For more on Randy’s walk with God, visit randyswalk.com.)

WHAT IS LIFE ALL ABOUT?

WHAT IS LIFE ALL ABOUT? by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

What Is Life All About-This morning we are in the second message in our brand new series on the life of Christ titled, “WHAT IF GOD LIVED NEXT DOOR?” So many of you have shared with me how much you enjoyed the first message! Thank You! Today’s message is on John 1:1-5 called, “WHAT IS LIFE ALL ABOUT?” Ever wondered that? Who are we? Where did we come from? What are we doing here? Where are we going? These 5 verses hold the answer to all those questions.

John 1:1-5   1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Overall Background: When someone gets saved or they are a new believer, which book do we suggest they read? The Gospel of John. Why? Because it is simple to understand; it is basic; it is clear. Although that’s true, it’s not the whole truth. This book is also very deep, just like the verses we just read. A.W. Tozer said, “John is so clear that you can see through it but it’s so deep that you cannot see clear through it.” Someone else said, “John’s gospel is like a pool in which a child can wade safely but an elephant can drown.” John is both simple and profound. How is that? Most scholars agree that John was the last one to write his gospel. More than likely, all the other disciples are gone. He is much older when the Holy Spirit inspires him to write his account of Jesus. Unlike the others, John has the benefit of hindsight. He’s able to look back at the same incidents but with some very mature eyes.

For e.g. Have you ever talked to an elderly person – grandfather, grandmother, or an elderly parent. They seem to talk in very simple words, almost like a child, but if you listen carefully, they’re full of great wisdom.

So also John, the words on the surface are simple but the wisdom below is very profound. In his preamble to his gospel, John is not telling us just the life of Jesus but he is telling us that Jesus is life.

Application: This morning – how is your life? Does your life seem empty? Does it seem meaningless? Are you afraid of what is waiting around the corner? Listen to the Holy Spirit. If you do not have Jesus in your life, this is the day.

3 important points about life we will see in these 5 verses:

I. THE DESIGN OF LIFE – Who Came Up With Life?

Listen to the first 3 words of John 1:1 In the beginning…”

Background: Why did John begin his gospel with those words? He is taking us back to Genesis 1:1“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He starts with “In the beginning” to remind us that we had a beginning. We had a starting point. We are not infinite. We are finite. We are not the Masters of the Universe. We are simply the creation.

Every morning in my devotion time, I tell God, “You are the God who made the heavens and the earth. I’m nothing but dust and ashes. I am just a very small particle of your creation. Every breath is a gift from you. So I thank you and humbly submit myself to you!” Whew! What a weight of my shoulder! Most of us are trying to play god in our own lives or in the lives of others. Maybe it’s time to vacate that throne and let God be God.

But John has something more in mind. Listen again to vs. 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”We know that John is referring to Jesus but why did he use the word “Word” to describe Him? The Greek word for “Word” is “logos.” This is the same word from which we get our word logic and other combination words like – Theology, Biology, Zoology, Planet Earth 2Geology, etc.To understand what John is talking about we have to go back to Genesis 1 and locate this “logos.” 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Now listen carefully 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light…5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night…6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters…8 And God called the firmament Heaven… Every time you read “God said” or “God called,” it’s Jesus.

But there’s more. Listen to verse 2 He was in the beginning with God. Didn’t he just say that? John is actually taking us past the curtain of time into eternity. He is taking us into the council chamber of God. Before God decided to create the heavens and the earth, a council was held between the Father, Son, and Spirit. In this council every detail was laid out as to what would happen. I Peter 1:20says, “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world…” Ephesians 1:4 “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” Again, Revelation 13:8 “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Why does John bring this up? Jesus was definitely the Promised Messiah, the Perfect Lamb of God, the Crucified Savior, the Resurrected Christ, and the Coming King. All that is true but there’s something even greater about Him – He was on the planning committee for all of it. He designed life itself. He was not just playing a part but He was also the conductor. Jesus is so much greater than you think.

Some people are overwhelmed with life and frustrated with life and given up on life. I’m here to tell you that when you have Jesus, you have the Designer of Life. John 15:15 “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends,” I don’t know about you but my friend designed this world and life itself. He will take care of me.

For e.g. In India trains are everything. Millions of people travel by train every day. You have to get reservations months or weeks in advance. You can get a ticket but to have a reservation is different. One time I was travelling by train with my dad. My dad told me this train is packed, we need to be in the first class but we don’t have a reservation. People try that and they get arrested. Here we’re sitting in first class with our entire luggage and I’m thinking, we’re going to jail. Amazingly, my dad was not that worried. When my dad was in his heyday of ministry, he would travel everywhere by train for revivals and crusades. The conductor started coming and all I could think was – “We’re getting ready to do time!” When he saw my dad, a big smile came on his face – “Sir, I didn’t know you were on this train. What an honor!” My dad whispered to him our predicament and he said, “Don’t worry. We’ll take care of that. My dad said to me – “He was my student in school. If I hadn’t helped him, he would have never passed math. I saw his name on the board.” All I could think was “Thank goodness you didn’t fail him!”

Application: Do you know the Designer of life? As the song goes – “He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got the little bitty baby in His hands. He’s got you and me brother in His hands.” What is eating your joy this morning? If you know Jesus, you have the conductor for a best friend.

II. THE SOURCE OF LIFE – Who has Blessed us with Every Good thing? 

3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

Background: John is not done with this. Jesus is not only the designer but He’s also the creator of everything. Go back to Genesis 1 again verse 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light…6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters…9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear…11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass…14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens…20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth…24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth…26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image…

Bottom Line: Jesus made it all. His hand print is on every single thing. As the old hymn goes: “This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.”

The Atheist can go around saying – “Nothing times Nobody equals Everything.” I say to that what Adrian Rogers said – “You have room to rent upstairs, unfurnished.”

But now there’s something more in verse 4 “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

ViolinWhat is John talking about? Some people have taken that metaphor of life and applied it to the light of salvation. Although that’s true and we will see that a little later in John, but here it is referring to the light of God that is in every human being. Unlike animals, we were created in the image of God. Hence we have the ability to love, reason, and create. Aristotle did not believe in the Living God but he wrote powerful works on Philosophy, Logic, and Rhetoric. Edgar Allan Poe claimed that “all religion … is simply evolved out of chicanery, fear, greed, imagination and poetry.” But he was a tremendous writer. That’s why you can turn on the radio and hear some beautiful lyrics and songs on the radio.

Who is the source of all this creativity, talent, and imagination? It is Jesus.

Sadly, what human beings have done is taken the light of God and instead of shining it back on Him, they have turned the spotlight back on themselves. They claim, “I am a self made man. No one’s ever helped me.” Are you sure about that?

Application: Do you give Jesus the glory for what He has done for you? Do you give Him the thanks for how much He has blessed you? Where is Jesus in your life?

III. GOOD NEWS OF LIFE – Who is winning in this life?

5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Background: Now we hear about a new concept – “darkness.” John does not go into detail. It is assumed that the listener knows that darkness has corrupted everything. It has torn the original design. Human beings have used God’s light to their own wicked imaginations. But John does not waste time discussing the darkness. He says, “the light has already come and it is shining brightly.

What’s more? The translation says – and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Actually the translation should be “overtake it.”As I John 2:8 says, “A new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.”

Every week someone asks me – “Do you think the world is coming to an end?” or “Isn’t it getting worse and worse?” I’m here to tell you – “The Light is winning. Jesus is winning.” Isaac Watts wrote his famous hymn – Jesus shall reign where’er the sun does its successive journeys run; his kingdom spread from shore to shore, till moons shall wax and wane no more.” Meaning: Your darkness may run out but His light will keep shining brighter and brighter.

Do you know Him? Jesus is Life.

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