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Lifelines
By Randy Marshall

Articles are sorted with the most recently posted at the top.

Randy Marshall's Retirement Ceremony - 7/1/20

After over 30 years of Air Force service, Colonel Randy Marshall, the Command Chaplain of the Air Force Reserve Command, retired. Maj. Gen. John (Jay) Flournoy, Deputy Commander of the Air Force Reserve Command presided over an abbreviated videotaped ceremony. The actual Retirement Ceremony that was scheduled for July 1 at the Robins AFB Chapel was cancelled due to safety precautions put in place out of COVID-19 virus concerns.




The Adventure
Posted July 1, 2020

A phrase that causes my wife to stop and take notice is “Honey, what do you think about…” Through our almost 38 years of marriage, she has heard me ask “Honey, what do you think about…”

  • Being a pastor’s wife?
  • Being an Air Force chaplain’s wife?
  • Us moving to Ft. Worth/Yorktown/Stockdale/Dickinson?
  • Me taking a full-time chaplain position in Miami?
  • Me being gone for six months on a deployment to Qatar?
  • Me taking the Deputy Command Chaplain/Command Chaplain position(s) in Georgia?
  • Us moving back to Texas and serving as pastor at White Bluff Chapel?

Each, time the phrase introduced a question revealing my thoughts and indication of potential change of location and ministry.  Whether the pronouns above included “me” or “us,” the changes directly influenced “her” - my wife Susie.  Each time, no matter how outlandish the question (i.e. move to Miami!) her response was/is “If you feel like the Lord is leading, I am ready, let’s go!”  Any “success” that I have had as a pastor or chaplain is directly related to her “yes!”  I invite you to take a look at my abbreviated military retirement ceremony above.  A chapter of our lives has officially closed.  A new chapter with White Bluff Chapel has begun.  The words of life and ministry are now being written in this new adventure as we eagerly anticipate what the Lord has in store.  Please note that on every page, past and present, written in the margins, enabling all of this to happen are the words, “She said yes!”


Never Have I Ever
Posted June 18, 2020

You may have heard of a game played on T.V. talk shows, on-line conversations, and in homes called “Never Have I Ever.”  The premise of the game is simple.  Each person takes a turn in sharing a statement about something they have never done and then compares responses. This week, I created my own game called, “Before I came to White Bluff, Never Have I Ever.”  Before I came to White Bluff, never have I ever:

   - seen such a warm and loving community of people

   - before and after worship, observed multiple birds, a jackrabbit, a roadrunner, and various other wildlife while looking out the back window of my house

   - preached my first sermon at a new church outside, on the church lawn

   - preached to a group of people where the majority were wearing masks

   - preached a sermon while narrowly missing a fly flying  into my mouth(!)

One of the most amazing things for both Susie and me is that never have we ever felt so much at home.  One of the biggest compliments we have heard since our arrival is that is seems like we have always known each other.  We certainly feel this sentiment.  God has worked in wondrous ways to bring us together.  His hand has been evident throughout.  Beyond a church call, God has confirmed His presence each step of the way while also revealing deep family ties linking us together.  We are grateful to be in your midst, partnering with you in the days ahead.  Thank you White Bluff Chapel for your uncommon love, devotion, and fellowship as together we seek (with courage and strength) to address the mission-mandate to share the Good News to a world in need.  Truly, never have I ever…


Read This Over Before You Turn It In…
Posted June 4, 2020

Not long ago, I was walking out of my Air Force office and saw a small, yellow sticky note blowing across the sidewalk.  I picked it up and mentally read the words, “Read this over before you turn it in.”  Obviously, the note had been affixed to a document and then wind-blown into oblivion. It was a friendly reminder to take a second look before submitting.  Hopefully the message was received before the adhesive gave way.

Consider some ancient words that may have been on a sticky note of their day:

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:1-5)

Like the first message, the proverb is a reminder of reflective consideration before action is taken.  However, unlike a message on a random document, the timeless proverb encompasses the totality of life.  We should always be attentive to timeless truths. If we are not careful, the winds of the world can blow Godly words off our spiritual filters, and with time, become out of sight and out of mind.  Next thing we know, our name is associated with a word, action, attitude….or life that is far from what we intended.

Let us always allow messages of timeless truth to be embraced and firmly affixed to our lives.  Heed their warnings.  Embrace their promises.  Follow their instructions. Only then will we truly “understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”


Words of Life
Posted May 21, 2020

Jesus was once asked which commandment was the greatest.  He replied:

“You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:37-40

This charge is simple, yet profound.  Love God supremely, love others sacrificially.  Our love for God should be at the core of our being, permeating throughout our heart, soul, and mind.  These words of life also speak to how we treat others, those we know and those we don’t know.  Love God, love others – simple, yet profound.

Recently, I was asked what I thought God may be saying to us during this COVID-19 pandemic.  My mind immediately went to the verses above.  These times should draw us closer to our Lord.  Our love for Him should be evident in our lives as we put our full trust in Him.  We should also reach out to others in sacrificial ways to show and spread the love of our Lord.  Love God, love others.  In reality, the answer to the question of what God may be saying to us is not situation or time-specific.  No matter what may be happening in our communities or reported in the news, the answer to how we are to live life is simple, yet profound – love God, love others.  Before, during, and after this pandemic, Jesus’ words ring true.  Let us be faithful followers who uncommonly and supernaturally embrace and apply His words to our daily lives – love God, love others – as we continue to represent His glorious kingdom!


Perfect Peace
Posted May 7, 2020

During the last few weeks, it has been my privilege to lead the WBC Wednesday Night Bible studies via zoom.  Our theme has been “Shelter in Faith.”  Last Wednesday we discussed the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to the disciples who were huddled behind closed doors.  Jesus appeared and gave a typical Jewish greeting, “Shalom” or “Peace.” This event is a comforting reminder that Jesus, the Prince of Peace is with us in the midst of daily lives.  The peace He provides transcends our circumstances.

I was reminded of the story of a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace.  Paintings from various artists began to arrive.  Most scenes depicted idyllic settings – beautiful mountains, a flowing stream, grassy shores, beautiful flowers, etc….The picture chosen by the king was in stark contrast to the others.  A rugged, isolated mountain was the backdrop of the scene.  The sky was darkened.  Heavy rain was falling and the wind was blowing.  Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall.  At first, the king thought this was some sort of joke – where is the peace, where is the serenity?  As he looked closer, he saw a tree reaching over the waterfall.  Above the rush of tumultuous water, tucked in the overhanging tree branch, undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, sat a mother bird on her nest – in perfect peace.  For us, storms may be all around us, trouble and uncertainty may seem to prevail, but we can have peace.  As believers we know that peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.  Jesus still shows up at our point of need.  His presence empowers and sustains us through dark and stormy days while also providing perspective when the sun shines.  Let us praise God for His perfect peace!


The Arms of God
Posted April 23, 2020

"Sing to the Lord a new song,
For He has done wonderful things;
His right hand and His holy arm
have gained the victory for Him."

Psalm 98:1

Susie and I are anticipating our arrival to White Bluff. We certainly have appreciated your prayers and support! In one of my sequestered times of scanning the internet, I became interested in knowing more about Lake Whitney and the Brazos River. As you know, the Brazos River is the 11th longest river in the United States. The main stem of the Brazos River is dammed in three places, forming Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Granbury and Lake Whitney.

In my readings, I came across three references to the river. Two were familiar, one was not. I was aware of "Washington on the Brazos" and "Miracle on the Brazos," but had never heard of "Rio de Brazos de Dios." This term was the name given to the river by early Spanish explorers. It is translated, "The River of the Arms of God." Undoubtedly, the name was derived from the river's life-giving water in the midst of a parched land.

During days of physical distancing, we have found ourselves connecting to one another by phone conversations, zoom messages, friendly waves, and occasional "air hugs." The great news is that we are never disconnected from God. The reverberations of the Easter message continue to shake our world – He Lives! He is intimately connected to us, no matter the circumstances. Even in times of isolation and loneliness, we have the assurance of God's loving touch as He places His arms around us, providing comfort and strength. Let us allow the "Rio de Brazos de Dios" to flow over and through us, humbly receiving and boldly sharing Living Water to a parched and thirsty world.


We Are Always On His Mind
Posted April 9, 2020

“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble; but take heart!  I have overcome the world.” After Jesus said this, He looked toward heaven and prayed. 
(John 16:33, 17:1)

In this passage, it is Thursday night of what we know as Passion Week.  Jesus had just spent time with the disciples in the Upper Room.  He and his disciples then crossed the Kidron Valley.  On the other side was an olive grove, a place called Gethsemene.  It was there that He would be arrested.  He would subsequently be unjustly accused and tried.  On Friday, He would bear the sins of the world upon the cross and then be gloriously resurrected on what we call Easter Sunday.
 
Before the garden, before the cross,  before the tomb, and before the joyful resurrection was an intimate time of prayer with his disciples. It is a prayer, found in John 17, that should be read with great reverence.  Jesus prayed for Himself, that the work of God would be completed.  He then prayed for the disciples, that they would remain strong in their faith as sanctified believers.  He concluded by praying for you and me and the church as a whole:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.”
(John 17:20)

Jesus’ prayer was far-reaching.  His mind was not only on the people and events in the first century, but upon us today and tomorrow as well.  It is humbling to know that Our Savior didn’t just come for “the world” in limited time and space. He came personally for you and me, here and now!  This Easter season, let us commemorate the sacrifice of our Lord, rejoice at His glorious resurrection… and ponder the assurance that we are always on His mind!


God's Whisper in the Darkness
Posted March 26, 2020

Psalm 46:1-3, 10-11

“God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.’

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.”


It is infinitely comforting to know that even when the improbable becomes reality, we can live without fear.  During times like this, we need to be mindful of God’s promises.  He is our refuge.  He is our strength.  He is an ever-present help in trouble.  The Lord Almighty is with us.  Even though…you fill in the blank:  waters roar and foam, sickness strikes, markets tumble, trials overwhelm, uncertainties abound, relationships become strained, whatever life brings or your mind can imagine…even though…He is with us, providing us perspective and power from above.  We are confidently assured that He is not just a God “somewhere out there,” rather, the one true God resides at the core of our being.  Today, and every day, God whispers in the darkness of our fears:  “Be still, and know that I am God!”  Stillness before God and relying on His calm, powerful and intimate presence has brought comfort through the ages. His comfort is available to us all, at all times, especially in times like this!

Have a great (and comforting) week!

Randy


Throw Out the Lifeline!
Posted March 12, 2020

Throw out the lifeline! In 1888, Reverend Edward S. Ufford was visiting Point Alverton, Mass. He observed a coastal lifesaving station where men were practicing rescue procedures. One of the drills they practiced was throwing a lifeline to those struggling in the water. As he watched, it occurred to him how saving those in danger had parallels to the work of believers and the urgency of the church's mission. This realization led him to write the words of the old hymn, "Throw Out The Lifeline."

In 2020 and beyond, the church remains a life-saving station and a place where believers can be trained and equipped to throw out the lifeline to those in need - both inside and outside the walls of the church building. White Bluff Chapel has a rich history of helping those who struggle - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The waves of life can be strong and overwhelming, but the power of the Gospel brings a supernatural calm and peace. God has entrusted us to throw out the lifeline of God's grace and mercy to those who are facing daily struggles, as well as those who feel the weight of life is causing them to go under! Every day, we should seek to fulfill the commission to share the life-saving truth of God's Word to our community and a world in need.

I appreciate the opportunity to begin writing this biweekly article. As Susie and I anticipate our arrival to WBC, this is an avenue to further engage with you. I have decided to call the article, "Lifelines." My desire is to share words of truth and personal perspective as we seek to fulfill the mission God has entrusted to each of us, joining hands to provide lifelines of God's presence, power, and provision.

Have a great week!

Randy