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By Randy Marshall

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

Fresh Eyes
Posted September 24, 2020

A couple of years back, I was at the barber shop waiting for the next available chair.  While checking messages on my smart phone, I noticed a man and presumably his two young daughters enter through the glass doors.  The father had the look of others in the room – a dispassionate demeanor in the midst of an ordinary routine.  The two children, however, had a completely different countenance. 

As they walked into the room, their eyes widened, their mouths gaped open, and their feet moved with excitement… their senses were firing on all cylinders.  You would have thought they had just entered Disney World!

I glanced around the room at the mirrors, chairs, cash register, and other nondescript items – I failed to see what these young, fresh eyes were capturing, but it was evident that they were engulfed in the moment. 

I continued to watch the joy in the faces of these children. With my smart phone in hand, I thought, “I wish I had an app for that!”  Maybe someday, technology can provide us smart glasses to wear in order to color our day with a childlike faith and unfettered joy.  Better yet, maybe we can set aside our technology, and as Jesus taught, learn directly from our children concerning the finer points of life. 

Taking the time to look at the world through fresh eyes can give us a new perspective, turning our ordinary days into a series of extraordinary moments!  Fresh eyes are available from our Lord today, no matter our age.  Let us all accept the gift of a new perspective as we experience the wonders of our Lord!

Posted September 10, 2020

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  1 Corinthians 10:31

This past Sunday, during the Labor Day weekend, we looked at Colossians 3 and focused on the word “whatever.”  The above passage has a “whatever” theme as well.  A couple of years ago, my wife Susie and I attended the annual Georgia National Fair.  Standing in the shadow of Perry, Georgia’s historic clock tower, we witnessed the unique abilities of a performer named “Pogo Fred.”  This multiple world-record holder performed several flips and tricks on various pogo sticks – the grand finale included an amazing double back-flip followed by an impressive dismount. 

On that day, as the smell of corn dogs, funnel cakes, and smoking meat on an open grill wafted through the air, I was immediately struck with the life lessons of a man who has dedicated his life to extreme pogo-like lessons. Such as, discover your personal passion, train hard, make necessary sacrifices, take calculated risks, enthusiastically engage your audience, and just have a little fun.  Understandably, being a stunt pogo performer may not be on your list of personal lifetime achievement goals, but as Scripture reminds all believers, we are called to embrace “whatever you do,” and do it all for the glory of God.  Our daily “whatevers” - large and small, private and public, personal and professional - should reflect the presence of God in our lives.  As we daily read and apply the Gospel, let us also learn a bit from Pogo Fred – spiritual ups and downs will occur, but stick with it.  Along the way, God will lead us to dizzying, amazing, and awe-inspiring heights!  

Trouble Birds
Posted August 27, 2020

This past Sunday morning, in taking a look at Psalm 1, I made mention of a quote from Martin Luther. He said, "You cannot keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair." Birds will be birds. They will naturally fly overhead, but once they start invading our space (like building a nest in our hair), we should take immediate action and shoo them away! Walking around with a bird nest on the top of our heads would not only be unsightly, but with birds being birds, it would also be a bit dirty and nasty.

Of course, Luther was not literally referring to winged, feathered creatures; he was observing that "trouble," as we called it on Sunday, would always be swirling around. Troublesome relationships, ideas, philosophies, theologies, world views, etc…are a part of our daily lives. Though we cannot keep intrusive thoughts and ideas from circling around us, we can keep them from landing on us and living with us. Today, in Luther's home country of Germany, a common phrase further expounds upon the picture of a nest in one's hair. A question that you would not want asked is, "Hast du ein vogel nach oben?, translated, "Do you have a bird in your head?" An American parallel may be, "Are you crazy?!" Intrusive, ubiquitous trouble has a habit of progressing from being around us, to being on us, to being in us. So, as we continue through this month, keep an eye on the trouble-birds. Make sure they keep a safe distance and shoo them away at every opportunity. Also, be sure to take a look at Psalm 1 and throughout the Word of God for effective and timely trouble abatement strategies!

Gentle Persuasion
Posted August 13, 2020

In the 1800's, the famed British preacher, Alexander Maclaren once convinced a skeptic to attend his church for four consecutive Sundays and listen as Maclaren presented the basic tenets of Christianity. The skeptic was faithful. He attended church and listened intently to Maclaren's sermons. After the fourth message, he became a believer. Maclaren was delighted and could not resist the impulse to ask which of the four sermons brought him to this decision. The skeptic replied, "Your sermons, sir, were helpful, but they were not what finally persuaded me. What changed my mind was an elderly woman I helped one day on a slippery walk. As I was helping her to her feet, she looked up into my face and said, "I wonder if you know my Savior, Jesus Christ. He is everything in the world to me. I would like you to know Him too." Her penetrating question changed his life.

This story should remind us that though Sunday morning sermons are helpful and instructive, God oftentimes uses simple moments to bring about a life change. The power of the Gospel not only resides in the words of the pastor, but also in the words and actions of everyday, faithful believers. As believers, let us take opportunities of worship and study not only to deepen our own faith, but to equip us for ministry as we help others on their spiritual journey. Let us always be aware of our daily calling to share and represent Christ. Who knows? Maybe our simple words and actions bring change to a life, a family, a community…and a world in need.

Posted July 30, 2020

O.K., I admit it, I like to play golf.  Serving alongside of you in ministry is a privilege, and the fact that we live in a golf community is definitely a plus! I also admit that I have a love/hate relationship with the game of golf.  It makes no sense to me how on one shot, I could make Tiger Woods proud and the next make Tony the Tiger blush – and it is not GREAT!  How can I hit an approach shot to the green with an effortless motion on one hole and shank it into the water on the next?  How can I play a game that I have played since high school and still not master it? 

Spiritually, our faith walk can mirror our golf game.  I can identify with Paul who wrote, “I do not understand what I do, for what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” (Romans 7:15) The reality is that no matter how long we have been following Christ, going to church, reading the Bible, and serving Him, as believers, we still struggle in “mastering” our Christian walk.  Paul continues in Chapter 7 explaining there are competing forces within us – the power of God and the influence of sin.  Some of our moments are great, some not so great. Sometimes we are in close communion with the Lord and we hit the target, other times, we lose focus and shank it to the right!  Through it all, we know that God is gently guiding us and patiently leading us to be more aligned to His Will and Way.  So, as we live life together, let us encourage one another as Christ continues to mold and shape us – in both great and not-so-great moments.  Let us be comforted in knowing that God is working in and through us, even when it is not evident on the course of life.

Facing an Uncertain Future
Posted July 16, 2020

[March 17, 2003, on the eve of the Iraqi War]

U.S. Serviceman Ben Arnoldy wrote these words, “I have a front row seat as Col Tom Jones delivers what he says will be his last "Commander's Call" before war. Hundreds of servicemen and servicewomen gather around a volleyball pit, some standing, and some sitting on picnic tables.

‘You're part of the greatest assembled force in history,’ says Col Jones, addressing the group from a raised wooden platform. ‘You'll do fine because of the people next to you.’

I glance to my right and see rows of faces illuminated by the silver of twilight, looking up at their commander with wide, unblinking eyes. Like backcountry campers who have fallen silent around a fire, the feeling of brotherhood deepens. The stranger next to you in the dark seems closer than family.”

These words provide a unique perspective on a military member about to embark toward an uncertain future.  It reveals an assurance from the commander with an acknowledgment that each of these men and women are facing this challenge as a unified force.

Last Sunday, during our worship service, we began a series of sermons in the book of Acts highlighting the second missionary journey of Paul and his companions.  Like the military member above, Paul’s band of brothers also faced uncertain times, but they were energized by a higher purpose and an uncommon bond. Today, as we worship and serve together, we can embrace our God-given vision, venture, and victory on our spiritual journey.  In the coming weeks, we will continue to examine spiritual principles that guide us through 2020 and beyond.  Our weekly worship, now both in-person and on-line, allows us to embrace God’s vision and purpose as we seek to live out the Christian life.  Together, let us seek Him as we meet the challenges and opportunities before us!

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!


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!