Devotions

Author Archives: Randy Johnson

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Pastor Randy “Doc” Johnson | 
Growth Pastor

My story begins before I was born.  My parents were not raised in Christian homes.  My mom and her sister were “bus kids.”  Her parents did not take them to church but allowed them to attend on their own.  They both heard the Good News of Jesus Christ and gave their lives to Him.  My dad became a follower of Jesus Christ in his late teens when he attended a Billy Graham crusade and heard the Gospel.  A bus driver and Billy Graham are equally important in my story.

Even though my parents were not raised in a Christian home, they figured it out.  I was raised in a loving, Christ-honoring home.  We went to First Baptist Church of Hazel Park for Sunday School, the Sunday morning service, the Sunday evening service, Wednesday night prayer meeting, and as I grew older all camps and youth events.  It did not feel forced or awkward.  It was what we did.  We even had family devotions and prayer each morning before school.

There is an important side note to my story.  My aunt who was a “bus kid” with my mom, married a Christian man.  Their mom, my grandmother, later became a follower of Christ.  They were all very close.  So my mom and dad built a house right across the street from my grandmother, and my aunt and uncle built right next to them.  We had our Christian community just south of 9 Mile.

At age seven, just after morning family devotions, I prayed “asking Jesus into my heart.”  I was not baptized until I was twelve.  My parents wanted to make sure I understood that baptism did not save me and that it was to be a stepping up point telling others of my desire to follow Jesus.  When I was in high school, our church hired a new Youth Pastor, Dave Hulbert.  Pastor Dave, or Radar as we called him, became a dear friend for me.  We spent a lot of time together.  It was at this point I realized God was calling me to be a Pastor.

I hear people say they had a “drug” problem – they were “drug” to every Church event and became bitter.  I did not experience that.  I am thankful for my parents and my Church family.  I even met Angela at church.  We were high school sweethearts from Youth Group.  It does not get much better than that.

A verse that has challenged and encouraged me is 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”  I hope my story will help you to daily choose to follow Jesus for yourself and your family.

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Pastor Chuck Lindsey | 
Reach Pastor

New Year’s Eve, 1980, near midnight, the phone rings and my mother is told that my father and his friend were in a fatal car accident. They had both been drinking that night and were on their way back from getting more beer when they hit the flatbed of a turning diesel truck. Danny died instantly, my father suffered major internal injury and took his last breath three days later.  I was just three years old, my sister was 1, and my mother was 19.

That night began a series of events that ultimately led to my rescue from sin, death, and hell by the One who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Four years passed and my mother was (I now believe) divinely introduced to my dad. They were married a year later, and though none of us yet knew Him, the work of Jesus to rescue us all was at work.

Tuesday morning, March 14th, 4:15 am, the phone rings again… my dad has been in a near fatal car accident and is being taken by ambulance to the ER. He survived. He was on his way to work that morning, and it was very early… like 3 am early. As he sped down the unlit street, he suddenly saw the reflectors of the flatbed of a diesel truck that was turning around. With less than a second to stop, he realized he was going to hit it and says that at that moment he felt someone push him down and hold him there as the car went under the truck’s bed. The entire top of the car was peeled back. He was in the hospital for three days. But he survived.

Two weeks later, Easter Sunday morning, March 26, 1989, 9:30 am, my parents, sister, and I get out of our car in the church parking lot for Easter service. My grandmother, who had invited us, saved us all a seat. What felt like hours of preaching (to a kid), was only a few minutes and at the end of the sermon my parents stood up and began to walk down the stairs. I thought we were leaving. We were not. We were doing the craziest thing I had ever seen… we were walking forward to the front of the stage. My parents were repenting of their sin and receiving Jesus.

Our lives were immediately different from that moment forward. We were “church people.” By that I mean, we were at church, a lot. Sundays, Wednesday nights, Youth groups, camps, bake sales, men’s groups and women’s studies and, and, and… Somehow, in all of this, I managed not to be saved at all. Somehow in all of this, I managed not to see my need to be saved, not see my need for Jesus. Somehow, I was able to go to church and completely ignore everything except my friends, and whatever cute girl was there.

It was January 1996, 6:15 am, in the back bedroom of my grandmother’s home in Riverside California. I was sixteen years old. I was running from, what I now realize, was myself. My world was falling apart.  To be more accurate, I was falling apart. My sin was heavy, pushing down on me and had become a load I could no longer carry. I was angry. I was consumed with myself. I was lost. Sitting there, at my drawing table, with the shattered remains of a mechanical pencil I had just driven into the table top in anger… I looked over and saw the Bible my parents bought me sticking out of my duffle bag. The thought came, “Well, I call myself a Christian and I never read that thing. What have I got to lose, maybe it will help.” Three chapters into the book of Matthew and I was flat on the floor, face down, weeping in repentance to Jesus. Suddenly, this “faker” had become a “follower.” I read and read and read and read the Scriptures… night and day, day and night. I like to say that I was born again by the Word of God. I would read for hours, stop to eat, then hurry back to read, fall asleep, wake, and read. For the first time, I heard the voice of Jesus, understanding His Word, hearing His leading and teaching… feeling His presence. I did not want it to end. I was afraid that it was eventually going to “go away” and so I read and read. I read through the entire New Testament in a week and then began on the Old Testament.

It was September 1996 in Murrieta, California. I entered Bible college. Two years later I graduated with a degree in theology and pastoral ministry. During college, I served as the youth pastor at a local church. Out of college, I was called to continue as a youth pastor in my home church in Michigan. Seven years later, the Lord called me to start a church in the city of Flint. I pastored that church for six years until the Lord called us to Riverside, California where I was an assistant pastor, get this… at the church, my parents walked forward at to receive Christ all those years before! Harvest Christian Fellowship. The Lord is amazing, isn’t He?

I have been a radically different person since that day in 1996. Jesus rescued me that day. He loved me and brought me to Himself with the truth of His Word. As I write this, with tears in my eyes, it is a joy to say that it was 20 years ago… He is the love of my heart, and His will is the burning desire of my life. All praise to the One who “loved us and gave Himself for us!”

Sharables Lesson 15 – Devotion 6

Sharables Lesson 15 – 3 Things
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

I started regularly saying three things to my children since they were toddlers, “I love you, you are the best, because God made you special.”  I have always wanted them to know I love them and God loves them.  I also want them to know that God is “El.”  He is The Strong One.  He created them and they are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” He is stronger than any other choice.  He will overcome all obstacles.  We can depend on God.

I want them to know that this Strong One has a plan for them.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  I want them to seek out His plan.  I want them to be blessed.

God is the Strong One.  No other god can even come close.  Exodus 15:2 says, The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” He is my strength and salvation.  I strive to praise and exalt Him with my words and actions.  He is God.

Deuteronomy 7:9 says, Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”  He is God.  Love and faithfulness flow from Him.  He looks for this in us, too.

“El” is such a common name for Him.  It is used more than 200 times in the Old Testament.  We often call Him by this name without even realizing it.  Isra-el (wrestles with God), Beth-el (House of God), and El-isha (God is salvation) are a few examples.  Even Superman’s original name was Kal-El (swift god).

“El” wants a relationship with us.  The only way to Him is through His Son Jesus.  John 14:6 says, Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”  Jesus is “the” way to the Father.  There is no other.

As I close out this book on parables and a study on the names of Jesus and God, I want to leave you with a few thoughts.  First, God loves you.  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Second, you are the best.  So, be the best you can.  Step out of your comfort zone and follow Christ to the next level.  Third, God made you special.  God never says, “Oops.”  He created you just the way He wanted.

Finally, one of my favorite verses is 3 John 1:4, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”  Walk in the truth.

Sharables Lesson 15 – Devotion 5

Sharables Lesson 15 – Favorite Teacher
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

While being a pastor, I was a school teacher for 29 years.  I taught middle school, high school, and even at a college for five years.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  All the age groups brought their own challenges, but blessings.  However, it was not my goal to be a life-long teacher.  My goal is to be a life-long learner.  Even while teaching, I often was learning.  I “lead” three growth communities, but I am always the student.  I want to be teachable.

The only true life-long teacher is Jesus.  John chapter 20 contains the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Mary Magdalene notices the stone had been moved away from the tomb of Jesus.  She went and told Peter and John, who came running back.  His body was gone.  Mary stood off to the side of the tomb weeping.  Jesus approached her.  She did not pay much attention as she thought it was the gardener.  They had a brief discussion.  Verse 16 says, Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher).”  I appreciate that the actual text tells us that she calls Him Teacher.  She uses the word for rabbi, which we understand means teacher.  Of all the words she could have used, she chooses “Teacher.”  He is so much more, but “Teacher” is the title that she felt brought Him the most honor.

Jesus knew He was to be a teacher.  John 14:6-7 says, Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”   Only a confident teacher says that he knows the way.  He is the guide, the leader.  He has the truth.  He knows how we are to live.  He embraces the privilege and responsibility of being an instructor.  He has information they need.  It is bursting out of Him.  He is living His life for them.  He wakes up thinking about His students. 

Do you have a favorite teacher from your childhood?  What was it that you liked about them?  Did they believe in you and push you to a level you did not think you could go?  Did you always know they cared about you?  That is the teacher Jesus is.  In Matthew 8:19 we read, And a scribe came up and said to him, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’”  We probably all have had a teacher we wished we could have for more than one year.  Jesus is the teacher who cares about you; He even loves you.  He believes in you and can take you to levels you never imagined.  He is the Master Teacher.

The Teacher above all teachers wrote a book.  What have you learned today?

Sharables Lesson 15 – Devotion 4

Sharables Lesson 15 – Escar-GO-t
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

“By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”  Charles Spurgeon

Luke 11:5-13 records a unique parable, And he said to them, ‘Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves,  for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’?  I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.  And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

This parable starts with a concept of being persistent.  I found a survey by the National Retail Dry Goods Association fascinating.  It says that 48% of the salesmen made one call and quit.  Another 25% made two calls and quit.  15% made three calls and quit.  So, 88% of the salesmen stopped before the fourth call.  That makes sense, but the interesting point is that the other 12% of the agents who kept calling did 80% of the business.  Persistence can pay off.  We cannot quit.

Our persistence should start with our own salvation.  We should keep seeking Him until the door is opened.  God desires our salvation.

Next our persistence should overflow into our witnessing.  Charles Spurgeon said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” We need to be passionate about the lost.  We need to make sure they know and accept the truth.

Persistence should then move into our everyday life.  Calvin Coolidge said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”  Hard work wins.  As a coach, I always liked players who refused to lose over talent.  Talent tends to get lazy.

People who stop should not say that it cannot be done.  They do not know.

You probably do not know Frank Reich.  Frank was a quarterback who did not throw in the towel.  While in college at Maryland, his team was losing to Miami 31-0.  He orchestrated an incredible comeback for the victory.  He was picked up by the Buffalo Bills.  In a playoff game, they were losing to the Houston Oilers 35-3, yet again came back to win.  He did not quit.  As the expression goes, “He was a winner, not a whiner.”

Paul summarized it well in Philippians 3:14, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  I do not know what God’s plan is for you, but press on.



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