……as long as you’re speculating!!

The human mind is an incredible thing! We have the God-given capacity to think, reason, deliberate, decide and imagine.

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It’s been said that we only use a small portion of our mind…and having dealt with people in at least part of seven decades I can totally concur! Easy, ….just kidding!

A lot of my life is spent working through messy life situations with people. It requires me to be a good listener, be willing to hear both sides of a situation if that’s the case, be willing to give hard advice when it’s needed…., you know, the tough love kind. It requires that I do my best to get the Lord’s counsel on any given situation and to communicate it in a way that people can understand.

In fact, I often pray this at the end of a counseling session, “Lord, the things that I said that You would’ve said….burn those things into their spirit”, “but anything I said to them that You wouldn’t say…..let them forget it before they get out the door.” I’m sure He’s faithful to do that. Even though I’ve been doing this for years now, I don’t want to get to the place that I’m so confident in my own ability to give advice that I run completely past the wisdom of the Lord. So far, so good!

“It’s crazy sometimes how a person’s mind can immediately go to all the things that could go wrong.”

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It’s crazy sometimes how a person’s mind can immediately go to all the things that could go wrong. Our imagination is a wonderful thing but it can be a beast when it’s working against us. It can totally eat our lunch when we get on the wrong side of it. The reality is that some of those things can and do go wrong. I mean, the possibility is there.

But, I say, if you’re going to speculate about how bad it might get and all the things that could go wrong….then it seems only sensible that you should at least try to speculate what might ‘go right’!! 

Speculation can gnaw away at your faith.

We‘re so geared to think in a negative way that we might not ever do that unless someone, (like me!), reminds us! *(actually, I need reminding sometimes myself!)

Speculation can gnaw away at your faith. But, as long as you’re speculating….why don’t you speculate about what might go right?!

…..or we could just take the Bible’s word for it:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Cor. 2:9

March Madness

I love college basketball! In fact, college sports are a lot more fun for me to watch than the pros. It’s about the only sport that I don’t really care who’s playing, I can get into the game. I think it’s the fact that there’s not six points difference in a team that doesn’t make the NCAA tournament and the one that wins it all. I love to watch the coaches as much as I like watching the players. Great sport, great watching!

Gearing up for March Madness, here’s a little analogy you probably haven’t thought of. The Lord showed me years ago, the Sunday church service is much like the timeout in basketball. In most games both teams usually uses all their timeouts. The timeouts are critical and are used very strategically, especially in a close game. I’d say the same about the Sunday church service. There are no points scored during the timeout….but what’s done there is always critical to the overall outcome of the game. If you think about it, it’s much the same with the church service. And, while many would argue that the Sunday service is the ‘big show’, wise people realize that the real game is outside the walls of the church.

And, while many would argue that the Sunday service is the ‘big show’, wise people realize that the real game is outside the walls of the church.

Take for instance a few years ago: I’m watching Roy Williams, the great North Carolina coach, during the timeout of the NCAA National Championship. He’s very animated, he’s passionate about getting his point across, he’s ‘coaching’ his boys about what they should do, and how they should do it, when the whistle starts the game again. He’s making sure everyone knows their job, knows their place. The entire season is on the line!  Mark Few, Gonzaga’s phenomenal coach, is doing the same. It’s coaching intensity at it’s very best. Nothing like it in any other sport, in my opinion. You’ll notice that they use every single second of every single timeout. It’s what the Bible calls “redeeming the time”.

The Sunday service should be just like that. It should be, above everything, very strategic. In my case I want to do the best job I can do to tell my ‘players’ what I’m hearing from the Lord. I don’t want to just throw a ‘sermon’ out there; not my style anyway. I want to be strategic and relevant for what my ‘players’ are facing in the game (real life!).

No games are won or lost during the timeout ….but what’s done there directly, and strategically affects the outcome of the game! 

And, lastly…..the timeout gives the players a chance to get their breath, rest a little and get everything back into proper perspective, and come into one accord. No games are won or lost during the timeout….but what’s done there directly, and strategically affects the outcome of the game! 

There’s a lot at stake when we get back in the real world on Monday! We should be strategic when we gather up on Sunday!

**So, if you call me through the weekend and I don’t answer….be patient with me; I’m doin’ research!

“I Am the Danger”

That’s one of the most memorable, ‘iconic’ phrases in the popular TV series, Breaking Bad.

The show ran for five seasons on AMC. (*you really should watch it if you haven’t!)

The story is built around Walter White, an underachieving high-school chemistry teacher in Albuquerque with a brother-in-law, Hank Schrader, who’s a federal DEA agent. Walter goes out on a routine drug bust with Hank where he accidentally encounters Jesse Pinkman, one of his former, and way below average, students escaping the drug bust from an upstairs window. The two make eye contact and that’s how the story begins.

Walt is mesmerized by Hank’s talk of the amount of money these meth dealers are making. The story gets more complicated when Walt discovers he has inoperable lung cancer. His worry about that and how his family will make it without him consumes him until he comes up with an idea.

He looks up Jesse, who has all the contacts in the drug world, and the two enter a bizarre partnership whereas Walt begins to manufacture the purest crystal meth anyone has ever seen, blue meth. And, the adventure begins.

Photo by Eduardo Romero from Pexels

Much of this took place without Walt’s wife, Skyler, having any notion about it. She found out about it at a point and after an intense conversation/argument with Walt about it she says, Walt if what you’re saying is true….you could be in a lot of danger”. To which Walt angrily, emotionally….and, actually, truthfully declared in a loud voice, “I am the danger!”. And, seriously …..he really was!

In our walk with the Lord, there are plenty of roadblocks and challenges of about every kind you could think of.

In our walk with the Lord, there are plenty of roadblocks and challenges of about every kind you could think of. Any of these things have the potential to take us out or at the very least stall us out in our journey with Him. We’re encouraged in the Bible that these things are all a normal part of the Christian life. The struggle is real, so they say.

I’ve been tempted that way in the dark hours so many times it ain’t funny

But, in the final analysis, it really comes down to you….and your willingness to exercise the faith that already resides within you.

You’ve heard the old saying about certain people, “You’re your own worst enemy.”

That can be true of any of us if we’re not careful.

You see, nothing……and I mean nothing, (*or nobody!) can keep you from fulfilling the destiny the Lord has purposed for you……except you! ‘You are the danger’!

You might be tempted to bail on that plan. I’ve been tempted that way in the dark hours so many times it ain’t funny. But to do that would be a sure guarantee of missing my own destiny.

There’s bound to be those points in time that we have to decide, YES….or NO to the plan of God.

You’ll either be the ‘Danger’ to yourself and risk forfeiting your own destiny……or you’ll be the ‘Danger’ to the enemy (your adversary, the devil) that he’s always dreaded you would be!

So, make no mistake.You are the Danger!

The choice is yours!

You’ll like these, too:

Turns Out They Were a Lot Smarter Than We Thought They Were!

Shift Happens!

They Forgot to Tell the Bumblebee!

The laws of physics and aerodynamics say that there’s absolutely no way the bumblebee can fly! Body’s too big, wings are too short….there’s absolutely No Way!

Photo by Lukas from Pexels
Would you rather have the audio version? Click play

Defying the odds

Don’t you just love to hear the stories of people who were put down, ridiculed, told they couldn’t make it, kicked to the curb and ignored….but who got back up and proved everybody wrong? I love a story like that!

I immediately think of two Oklahoma boys with similar paths; Steve Largent and Wes Welker. *(You really should read their Wikipedia profile!)

Both were standout wide receivers in high school but anybody will tell you that there’s a vast canyon between high school success and success at the college level. But these boys made it there, too!

Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

They made it, Largent at Tulsa University and Welker at Texas Tech *(only got a scholarship because another recruit dropped out!), despite all the experts telling them that they were both too small….and too slow.

Of course, for any athlete, the next step from college to the NFL is an even greater stretch. Again, they were told, “No way”! (Welker-Undrafted free agent; Largent-4th round-117th pick!)

If you’re even remotely a pro football fan you’ve heard, and probably watched these two. They both went on to, much more than, stellar careers, Welker with the Patriots and Largent with the Seahawks, all the while hearing the experts on Sports Center saying they couldn’t make it.

When Steve Largent retired he held all major NFL receiving records including being the first player to record 100 touchdown receptions.

Wes Welker led the NFL in receptions three years and was the first in NFL history to record five 100 reception seasons. He was selected to the All-Pro Team every season of his Patriots career. Largent was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, and Welker surely will be.

Not too bad for a couple of boys too small…..and too slow!

That’s only the tip of the iceberg. There’s hundreds of stories like that out there not only in sports but in business, in music…and just life in general.

Stories of people who believed in themselves and refused to believe what the, so-called, experts said about them. They found a way to be motivated by the negativity.

They found a way to be motivated by the negativity.

What about you?
Who’s told you that you can’t make it? Who’s kicked you to the curb and ignored you? You’re created in the image of God; Created to succeed and destined for greatness, maybe not in the NFL….but more importantly in life!

Get back up, get your focus on the Lord and His plan for your life and let’s see what happens.

*Tell me your stories of overcoming unsurmountable odds!

Audio Version:

Read these:

It Feels Good To Be “Believed In”!!

A “You Can Do It” Atmosphere

A Lifetime of Faithfulness

I bumped into a Friend in the post office a while back. He’s a retired pastor in his late 80’s.  He just sold his home and he and his wife are entering an assisted living facility in a neighboring town. He retired from the ministry a short time ago. Spent his whole life ministering in a small country church. A whole lifetime of faithfulness. I have a lot of respect for guys like that.

It made me think; I doubt he ever made much more money than to barely get by. Not rare to have to find some kind of supplemental income. Probably never got asked to speak at a big conference anywhere. Never gonna have his picture or an article in Charisma magazine. Not even gonna name a street after him in his little town. He’s not one to complain about that kinda stuff. It obviously wasn’t what was important to him. He just kept on being faithful.

Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

He knew everyone! I bet he knew three or four generations of people there where he ministered all those years. Went through all the ups and downs with ’em. Everything from burying their grandpa to seeing a new baby boy welcomed into the world and entire families devastated by some of the tragedies life brings. Held their hands when they didn’t have any hope for what they were facing. Always clinging to, and pointing them to God. And, in a little church like that in a tiny community, the Pastor has to do everything. Preach every Sunday for decade upon decade. Marry ’em, bury ’em, and everything in between. All the while getting the usual criticism that goes along with the job. Think about how much wisdom he gained in a generation or more. Think about how much he would have to offer…….anyone.

In my conversation with my Friend, he lost his train of thought a time or two and apologized for it. He even said, “Well, that’s the problem I have now.”. I ‘felt’ his pain at that very moment and it grieved me. Even makes me tear up while I’m writing.

Photo by Sergey Katyshkin from Pexels

It’s been a whole lifetime of faithfulness, to the Lord and to the people He entrusted him with. It makes me wonder if anyone really noticed; if anyone did much more than say, “Thank ‘ya”. But, I have an opinion about men like my Friend. You don’t have to agree with me but I bet ‘ya when we get up ‘there’, you know, in Heaven that guys like my Friend are gonna be getting some heavy-duty hardware when they start passin’ out the rewards. I think we might be surprised at how honored ‘then’ they might be as compared to those who won world acclaim here on earth. We should honor them now, ….but we probably won’t…

Some people just don’t appreciate a lifetime of faithfulness like that.

But I do!

….and I think the Father does too!

Well done, Friend!

“Measure Twice….., Cut Once!”

You remember Ross Perot, don’t you? He’s that Texas billionaire who made two very respectable presidential runs in the 90’s. He first ran on the Independent Party ticket and the second time as a candidate on the Reform Party ticket. And, even though he didn’t win the election he garnered over nineteen million votes in the 1992 election which amounted to, just under nineteen percent of the popular vote. Not a bad showing for a guy with practically no political experience. Because of his common sense approach he drew supporters from the liberal, conservative and moderate crowd.

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Perot was a very confident, ‘no nonsense’ kind of guy. He was a huge proponent of balancing the federal budget, against gun control, and a staunch opposer of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which he described by telling listeners to listen for a giant sucking sound because of all the jobs he said would go to Mexico if ratified. He often spoke out against the laziness and incompetence of the D.C. political ‘fat cats’. A quote from 1992: “This city has become a town filled with sound bites, shell games, handlers, media stuntmen who posture, create images, talk, shoot off Roman candles, but don’t ever accomplish anything. We need deeds, not words, in this city.” Sounds like he had a pretty good handle on it!! Makes you wonder if we’d elected him in the 90’s that maybe the ‘swamp’ might’ve already been drained! lol

“Gives the idea that one should, first calculate, think about it, calculate again….. then move with swift determination.”.

If you were paying attention to his campaign you’ll remember that he had a, seemingly unlimited, number of flip charts detailing everything from the economy to immigration. He really had his act together. One of the sayings I remember Ross repeating fairly regular was, “Measure twice, cut once”. Good advice no matter what you’re doing. Gives the idea that one should, first calculate, think about it, calculate again…..then move with swift determination. In other words, make dang sure…..then do it!! I like that line of thinking even though I haven’t done too good in making a practice of it.

I thought about that today as I, for the second time in a week, hit the “Publish” button on my WordPress blog page…..by accident. (Grrrrr!) Yep, been doing this for going on six years now and only made the blunder twice. …..and did I say in one week?! I have no less than fifty blogs started. Some are nearly complete, some only have a line or two…and some just have a title. When I feel the urge to work on one of them I may finish it, or just write a paragraph or two and revisit it later. 

The second,….and mistake blog, that published today was titled, “Let’s Put it in Perspective”. Had I published it later, which I intended to do, that wouldn’t have been the title. I work hard to find a ‘catchy’ title. That one wasn’t. It was just the title holding the spot until I arrived at ‘the one’ I liked better. I was 90% done with the blog but had to finish that last 10% in 2 minutes. I hate cuttin’ an important topic short!

I said all that to say, the message in the blog is a very important one. So important, in fact, that I was extremely frustrated when I accidentally published it. It’s one that I really believe you should read. One that I think’ll provoke some good thought and be helpful to anyone who takes the time to read it. If a lot of people don’t read it I may post it again under a different name. So, if you see it again….that’s why.   …..or you could just read it again…..it wouldn’t hurt!

I’m really being careful not to hit the “Publish” button again by accident.

I’m takin’ Ross’s advice: “Measure twice, …and cut once”!

Sharpen Your Saw!

Click play for an audio version of the post below

Have you heard the story about the two guys who were pitted against one another in a wood cutting contest?

They both were given brand new chain saws, all the fuel they needed and the rules were that they would cut firewood for eight hours and the one that had cut the most wood would receive a cool million dollars. That’d be enough to motivate just about anybody.

Photo by Mathias P.R. Reding from Pexels

There was a twenty foot curtain between the two woodcutters and enough downed trees to keep them busy for a long, long time. The starter fired his gun and the cuttin’ commenced!

They were going at it with everything they had. One of them never let up. The only time he stopped his saw was to refuel. But there were plenty of times that he noticed that the other guy’s saw wasn’t running at all. That just made him that much more determined to cut more wood. After a few hours he was getting weary but he still kept cutting, determined to win that million dollar prize. He could hear the other guy’s saw part of the time but part of the time it was silent….so he knew he must be a long ways ahead of him with his growing pile of firewood.

The contest went on for, seemed like forever. It finally came down to just a few minutes left before the end of the eight hours. The one woodcutter was utterly exhausted but was confident that he was way out in the lead.

He never stopped cutting all day; only stopped three or four times to get a drink but immediately went back to work. He was feeling pretty good despite being completely worn out. He knew there was no possible way the other guy had cut as much wood as he did. Too much time with the saw not running. He was already thinking about what he’d do with that million dollars!

The official signaled the end of the contest. It was now time to drop the curtain and see who the winner was. When the curtain dropped the determined, exhausted…but confident woodcutter was totally dumbfounded! He couldn’t believe his eyes! The other guy had cut nearly three times the amount of firewood as he had. How in the world could that happen!?

He had to ask, “How could you have possibly cut that much more firewood than me?” “I never let up; I never took a break; I just barely stopped long enough to get a drink of water”. And, all day long I noticed quite often that your saw wasn’t running.” “What were you doing all that time that your saw was silent?”

The other woodcutter calmly replied, “I was sharpenin’ my saw!”

About everyone I know is doing all they can to keep up in life. For most there’s no lack of effort and hard work. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if we’re winning or not. But it makes sense in this day and time to learn how to work smarter, not harder. You should ask the Lord what that means for you. The details will be different for each of us but there’s no doubt about it……….we all need to sharpen our saw!

So Easy A Caveman Can Do It

Remember the Geico commercials? The storyline involved a couple of cavemen who lived in modern society. The point was that using Geico’s website was “so easy a caveman could do it”, indicating that being a caveman didn’t require all that much intelligence.

Their response that they were being discriminated against, or at the very least had their feelings hurt, drew a lot of attention and got a lot of mileage for Geico.

I think a lot of times we make our Christian life a whole lot harder than it ought to be. I’m not saying life can’t be hard; it can!

But, just the fact that we’re believers should simplify it in a very profound way.

cave man carrying lit torch walks dark path
Photo by Jeremy Bishop from Pexels

Think about it this way; There should never be a time or situation in our life where we don’t know what to do. We have the Holy Spirit living in us to show us the way at every turn. The Bible even says about us, “we have the mind of Christ”! We have the awesome assurance that when we leave this life we’re immediately in heaven.

Our eternal security is sealed! 

That should relieve us of a lot of unfounded worries! And, instead of having the daunting task of, somehow, trying to plan out our own life…He’s even already done that for us. We must, however, be ‘connected’ to Him to find out all the details of that plan. But…He doesn’t make that hard.

He’s even promised to never leave us nor forsake us; that in itself should make even the harshest situations easier to endure.

But, undoubtedly, the most important thing of all is that God is a Father. It’s a relationship that anyone can understand. He desperately desires to interact with us on a personal basis. He’s done everything possible to make that a reality for us. All we have to do is to engage…..and immediately begin to enjoy the benefits.

You’ve heard the term, “It’s complicated”, right?

Well, this isn’t complicated. In fact, “it’s so easy even a caveman can do it”!!

Check this one:

It’s Complicated

“You Didn’t Put a Mojo on Me, Did Ya’?!”

Years ago after we’d moved to Oklahoma and started the church I had a lifelong friend call me late one night. My friend was a brawler, didn’t mind a good fight, and had been known to conspire one up if it didn’t happen naturally.

Photo by Patricia McCarty from Pexels

I doubt he’d ever been to church anywhere before. No criticism about that but, understandably, he just didn’t have much spiritual orientation at all. I could tell he was really bothered about something but he wouldn’t say, just what, over the phone. It was past 11 pm and he said he really needed to talk to me. So, no big deal pulled some clothes on and headed over to his house.

At the end of our conversation I asked him, “Well, do you want to be born again?”

He had all kinds of questions for me about the Lord. Some I could answer, some I couldn’t. He was very sincere. After a couple of hours we were winding up our visit and the subject of salvation came up. I’m not a pressure guy by anyone’s standards. Jesus didn’t do it….so I ain’t gonna do it either! But, I was quick to thoroughly explain the Biblical plan of salvation to my friend when he asked.

He was really struggling for an answer and it took him thirty seconds or more to say, “Well, I know I should but I just don’t think right now’s the time”. “You know I just bought this bar and all, and I just don’t think the timing’s right”. I said, “OK, no problemo. Let me know if you ever want to talk about it.” He agreed and I asked him if I could pray for him. After I prayed we said our goodbyes and I went home.

About two weeks later my friend called again, this time past midnight.

He started out, “You know, I bought this bar. I’m making more money than I’ve ever made in my life…..but something just ain’t right.” “I don’t know what it is but I just keep thinking about the Lord, …..and that ain’t like me at all.” I said, “Well, you know He does love you, and He’s just probably trying to prove it to you.” Then……..he finally got down to the real reason he called me. He said, “You know the other night when you prayed for me?” I said, “Yeah”. He said,

“You didn’t put some kinda mojo on me did ya’??!”

He was serious as a heart attack! I just busted up laughing. I said, “Son, the Lord’s got a mojo on you!” I explained to him that it’s just how the Lord works. My friend eventually gave his life to the Lord, sold the bar, and is walking with the Lord today. 

Photo by Tara Winstead from Pexels

When I tell that story today I still laugh! But the truth of the matter is that whoever you are…and wherever you are spiritually, the Lord does have a mojo on you! Not the kind you’d normally think about though. Certainly not a demonic spell or anything in the neighborhood of that. But, He’s out to get ‘ya, alright. ……and just like I told my friend, “He just wants to prove to you how much He loves you!”

You might like these, too:

Click on the highlighted link

I’ve Never ‘Led’ Anyone to the Lord, and I Ain’t Planning on Doing it Anytime Soon!

Have a Nice Day, Lord!

You Can Only Do What You Can Only Do!

Don’t Bring Me Down

The Electric Light Orchestrathe ELOis an English rock band formed in 1970 by songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jeff Lynne. Their music was characterized by the use of instruments not commonly associated with rock music such as violins, cellos, oboes, clarinets, French horns, and bassoons. Thus the ‘orchestra’ designation in their name. With the use of those instruments, you can accurately surmise that they had a very unique, but appealing sound. The band had a number of very popular songs. Interestingly enough, my favorite ELO song, “Don’t Bring Me Down”, (click on the link for video) recorded in 1979 was their very first song not to include a string section. It was ELO’s highest-charting song in the US, peaking at #3.

As an avid music lover, I’ve found that just about every song has a title, line, phrase, or sometimes even just one word that, with a little imagination, can reveal some content that makes for some good spiritual conversation. This song is such a one. “Don’t Bring Me Down”.

Photo by Andres Ayrton from Pexels

We have incredible potential with our attitudes and words were spoken to those around us to do one of two things….lift them up, or…..bring them down. Looking back over my life I remember those who had a kind, encouraging, uplifting word for me. Those kinds of folks will do more for ya than you can imagine. Encouraging words lift us to another place. They help us believe in ourselves. I mean, if someone else believes in me then I must be OK, right?!

Uplifting words have a healing effect on the human psyche. You’ll find yourself gravitating to those who have a kind word for you. And, it’s exactly the opposite for that other bunch that doesn’t have any good thing to say about anyone. Chances are that person was surrounded by parents, friends, or peers who couldn’t say anything positive to them. And, it has become the norm; it’s contagious. I read recently that it takes 40 positive, affirming words to counter just one negative, condemning, or cruel critical comment toward someone.

I may miss the mark. I may not always say the right thing. I may not handle every single situation perfectly. I might even do something that is just plain dumb. But, say something that lifts me up. Give me some encouragement! Speak life into me! Tell me something that’ll help me.

But, ……don’t bring me down!

Try these:

“Critics, There’s One on Every Corner”

“Sticks and Stones”