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Category Archives: Bible Reading

A Lifetime of Faithfulness

I bumped into a Friend in the post office last week. 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. But, he kept on being faithful anyhow.

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.

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!

 

 

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Get Out of Your Way!

You wanna get somewhere in life? Sure ya, do! If you’re going to get that done you need to take my advice and get out of your way. Don’t get your feelings hurt just yet ’cause I get in my own way on a fairly regular basis, too. Trying to learn not to!

You see, God has a pretty unique plan for all our lives. He’s guaranteed us a fulfilling life if we’ll just listen up, pay attention and follow Him. But, we have to deal with all the negative stuff we’ve heard our whole life in the process. So much so that if we’re not careful those things can stall us out from fulfilling our destiny. For some strange reason, we’re more apt to believe that we can’t accomplish something significant than to believe that we can. I mean, we have God on our side! We routinely quote, “I can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens me.” While in everyday life we struggle in menial little things that bog us down and discourage us. Enough of those things strung back-to-back can put us in a mode of perpetual failure. If that’s going to change, you gotta get out of your own way!

Solution: We need to get re-centered on our true identity! You have been handpicked by the Father as His own son or daughter. Of course, you have to **accept that but that’s really all that’s required. Seems easy enough, huh?! You’re a chosen son of the Creator of the Universe Who wants to be a Father to you. Start to lean on Him in every situation. He likes that! He’ll help you up out of the ditch and get your feet on solid ground again if you’ll let Him.

So, get out of your way! ‘Cause a lot of good stands to happen if you’d just do that! Get your focus on and stop spending so much time looking in the rearview mirror!

There’s no tellin’ what you might accomplish in life if you can just get out (and stay out!) of your own way!

**“As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God”          John 1:12

 

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Why Losing Your Mind Might Be a Good Thing

Doesn’t sound like much of a good idea. But, I bet most of us at one time or another at least thought we might be losing our mind. The human mind is an incredible thing. It processes thousands of bits of information in a matter of seconds and does it all day long in most cases. In those things that we need access to our mind, on a good day, can find information much quicker than the fastest computer.

But just as our mind can be our strongest ally in reasoning and decisions that we need to make, it can just as easily get in our way at critical times. The Bible encourages us to ‘renew’ our mind; that is to ‘make it new’! If we don’t renew our minds we will remain static in our progress and especially in our spiritual growth. Renewing our mind can be accomplished in a variety of methods. Reading and studying the written Word is one of the classic ways to do it. Listening to that ‘still small voice’ of God is another key way to have our minds renewed. And, on a strictly natural level sleep is another of the things that can renew our mind. There’s no doubt about it our mind needs a little rest from the rigors of daily life and all of the challenges it can have.

The Bible says that we have the mind of Christ! I think that’s something we need to stop and think about more and pursue just exactly what that might mean. I think what we’ll discover is that because the Holy Spirit lives in us all the information we need about any circumstance is available upon our request. We’re on a ‘need to know’ basis with the Lord! Whatever we need to know in precise timing is ours if we’ll just tap into it!

Paul said, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”. The key word here is ‘let’. We have all kinds of logical information in our mind that’s available to us in milliseconds but sometimes our own human logic stands in the way of kingdom logic. If we’re to ‘let’ the same mind be in us that was in Jesus we have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as He gives us the mind of Christ in our affairs. We need to learn to ‘let’ that kingdom logic take the place of human logic.

It’s gonna take some work but it’s do-able. The Spirit of God will help. One of the great paradoxes of the Bible states, “He who loses his life will find it.” I don’t think it’s a far stretch to assume the same would be true with our own minds as it is our life. “He who loses his mind will find it.” That’s getting our own mind out of the way and letting the mind of Christ in!

So, seriously, …..losing your mind might just be a good thing!

 

Check this one out: We’re on a “Need to Know” Basis With the Lord!

 

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Born to be Mild

Not a misprint! You were expecting “Born to Be Wild”, right? I still hear that term every now and then. Anyone growing up in the 60s would be familiar with the phrase, remembering the hit song from John Kay, and Steppenwolf. Most people associate the song with the hit movie of the time, Easy Rider. Born to be Wild is sometimes regarded as the first ‘heavy metal’ song.

As we mature in the Lord we start to understand that we are born to be mild, not wild. I know some, even from the Christian community, will immediately take issue with that thought. So, let me elaborate. Jesus stated it clearly, “The meek (mild) shall inherit the earth.”.  My bet is that when you hear that someone is meek you first think they might be passive, timid with no strong convictions. Not true at all. The people Jesus was talking about are not wimpy at all. Much to the contrary. Why would Jesus hand over the authority to something as important as His kingdom to some spineless bunch of wimps? Well, He wouldn’t think of it.

Someone who is ‘meek’, or …mild, from that perspective is someone who doesn’t force his own will by manipulation, coercion or bullying. Nope. The mild person is the one who patiently waits for the Lord to move in every situation. As hard as it is at times the mild person is one that leans on the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to open and close doors. This is the kind of person the Lord can entrust with the riches of His kingdom. One who won’t take the credit for what only the Father should be given credit for.

Don’t make the dumb mistake of thinking that being ‘mild’ is dull or boring! It’s this bunch that will see the full manifestation of the power and glory of God! There’s not a more exciting life to be found anywhere! Only those who live by faith will experience it.

There’s a great adventure waiting for you! You were created for this!

You were born to be Mild!

So, “Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway, look for some adventure, …..and whatever comes your way!”

*(I changed up the words a little! Maybe it’ll get stuck in your head!)

Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Jesus go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fill all of your sons at once
And explode into space
I like smoke and lightning
I like signs and wonders
Racin’ with the wind
And the feelin’ that I’m under
Yeah Jesus go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fill all of your sons at once
And explode into space
Like a true kingdom child
We were born, born to be mild
We can climb so high
You’ll never have to die
Born to be mild
Born to be mild
Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Jesus go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fill all of your sons at once
And explode into space

Like a true kingdom child
We were born, born to be mild
We can climb so high
You’ll never have to die
Born to be mild
Born to be mild

Songwriter: Mars Bonfire

 

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Don’t Let the Old Man In Pt II

You can read Pt 1 here.  Whatever you do, go to Pt 1 and click the link on the song if you haven’t already done it. I promise You’ll like it.

Totally different perspective today. And, ……a little disclaimer up front especially for those wives out there whose hubby keeps coming home late after a drinkin’ binge, and in a bad mood! This is not gonna be about that! Sorry. ……maybe next time.

The Bible uses the terminology, ‘old man’ and ‘new man’ on several occasions. It’s an interesting analogy. The ‘old man’ refers to the old us. You know, the BC (Before Christ) version of us, and how we thought and behaved in our old life as hopeless, habitual sinners. That ‘old man’ was hard to leave behind. He didn’t go away without a fight and he still tries to come back every chance he gets. The Bible says that our ‘old man’ was crucified with Christ. To sum it up Jesus took on Himself all our sins and shortcomings and received the recompense for all our wrongdoings. In essence, on the cross He endured and received everything we had coming……and in turn, we received everything He had coming! Now, people, THAT is some kind of trade-off!!

So, in the future, as you’re being conformed into the image of Jesus you’re guaranteed to run into all kinds of challenges. You’re gonna get tested to the core! Your patience is gonna seem like it’s running plumb out. You’ll be tempted to go back to your old ways. In fact, there’ll be plenty of times it seems like the right thing to do.

But, you gotta get your focus back on! Get your priorities realigned again.

And, whatever you do, ………don’t let the old man in!

Col 3:9-10 – “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed”

Eph 4:24 – “…..put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

 

 

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The Mountains are Talkin’!

….and you’ve heard ’em too, whether you realize it or not! There’s also a great possibility you’ve been listening way too much at what they’re saying! I bet you’re wondering just what I’m talking about. Well, Jesus knew we’d be facing mountains in the natural course of our life so He addressed it upfront for us. “Whosoever shall say to the mountain, be removed and cast into the sea, and doesn’t doubt in his heart that those things he says, he shall have whatsoever he shall say.” 

Now, realistically I can’t imagine why I’d ever want to move an actual mountain from one place to another. As far as I’m concerned they’re all exactly where they’re supposed to be. On second thought I wouldn’t mind having a couple of small ones out here in Western Oklahoma just to look at now and then, …..but it is what it is. One would then have to surmise that maybe Jesus wasn’t talking about a literal mountain at all but about the problems, obstacles, and potential dangers we all face in life.

I’d be surprised if anyone reading this little piece didn’t have at least some obstacle facing them right now. It just seems to work out that way. Mountains talk a lot! And when you have one, the mountain will be in your face talkin’ smack from the time you wake up ’til you go to sleep at night. ……sometimes even in your sleep! “You ain’t gonna make it!”. “You’ve got cancer!”. “He doesn’t love you anymore!”. “Your friends are talking about you!”. “You’re a failure!”. “You don’t do enough good stuff for the Lord to love you!”. And, the list goes on and on. Mountains are relentless! They don’t let up! The more you listen, the more they talk!

I know you learned when you were a little kid to not ‘talk back’. Talkin’ back would get you in big trouble in those days. That was good advice then. But now, well now things have changed. You gotta start talkin’ back! I’ve found, for me, the most effective way to talk back to the mountains is to find a scriptural promise that directly affects the lies the mountain is saying to me. Every time that mountain tells me I ain’t gonna make it, ……I’ll declare the Word of the Lord out loud to my mountain. You can bet your boots I’m gonna talk back! And, I’m gonna do it like I mean it even if it feels like I’m spittin’ in the wind.

That’s exactly what Jesus did when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Three times he appealed to logic in trying to deceive Jesus; each time Jesus answered with, “It is written…”. Worked then for Him, ……..and it’ll work now for you if you’ll just do it!

The payoff, …..you’ll find that your level of faith rises every time you declare the Word to your mountain. Your mountain will begin to diminish in size. It’s all about perspective. Your faith is being tested and your faith will grow as a result.

So, yeah the mountains are talking. Question is, “What are you saying to your mountain!?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Working Knowledge of the Bible

*(An excerpt from my new book, “Reading Your Bible For All It’s Worth”If you’re still trying to decide on whether or not to get a few copies of the book, maybe this chapter will get your attention. Anyone who knows me or has read some of the broad range of things I’ve written over the last few years knows that the content is ultra-easy to understand and equally as easy to apply to your own life. Everything I write has either an overt, or covert message that ultimately leads the readers into the possibility of a genuine, life-changing encounter with the Father. It’s Always done with absolutely no coercion, manipulation or pressure. *You know, just like Jesus did it! You won’t find a more comprehensive or practical book anywhere that will help you learn to read, understand and more importantly, enjoy your Bible. Give me a little feedback. Let me know if you like it. Blessings!  AT

A Working Knowledge of the Bible

“You gotta get in the Word, til the Word gets in you”  AT

When my life made a dramatic turn in 1984, my wife, Julie had just recently bought a New King James Version Bible. I basically took the Bible from her! I’m not sure she even gave me permission to take it but I guess she thought that maybe I’d actually read it, and that would be a good thing! And, read it I did! When I got into that NKJV Bible I couldn’t quit. It was easier to understand than the King James Version for me. And, as I found out later, it remains very close to the KJV without the cumbersome language of the 1600’s. At any rate, it was the version of the Bible I first became acquainted with and I’ve stuck with it for 35 years now.

I was raised on an extremely remote ranch in the Texas Panhandle. We were 35 miles from a town of any size. (Canadian, Texas, Pop. 3000). And, as the old adage goes, “where we lived wasn’t on the way to anywhere!” But after I began my walk with the Lord a strange phenomenon began to take place. Many of my friends from my ‘old life’, beer drinkers, partiers, etc. started showing up at my house, out there in the middle of nowhere. It was really amazing how often it happened. These guys were opening up about their lives and their problems asking me what they should do. Even though I had been immersed in the Bible I had hardly any answers for them. I just knew that if God could fix my life, …..He could surely fix theirs! Their extremely diverse, and broad range of problems and questions caused me to dig in the Word for answers. I’d go home at night and dig, and dig, and dig to find the answers. And, now after 35 years, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the same question twice. I can see clearly now that it was the Lord’s way of helping me find my way around the Word.

I had to put that old Bible aside for a new one several years back. Its pages are worn and torn. They’re marked with half a dozen different colors of pens, pencils, and highlighters, The cover is faded and coming apart. Mark 1 & 2 are completely missing. Cole, my third son, at about age 2 had ripped them out, wadded them up in a little ball and was about to put them into his mouth when I discovered them. 

I learned my way around the Bible by looking for answers for my friends. Through all that I developed, what I call, a ‘working knowledge’ of the Bible. I had no idea in those days that the Lord would use me in any ministry capacity at all. Never dreamed of it! But He knew! And, how He trained me in the Book has been invaluable to me in being a leader, counselor, and teacher of the Word.

You can do the same. Whenever your friends or family have a serious life event, grab your Bible and start looking. Keep looking until you find an answer or a verse that would encourage them. Just do that! Keep doing it and you’ll develop a working knowledge of the Bible, yourself!

 

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“Let’s Do Something Crazy”

I have some pretty incredible grandkids, nine of them as of now. (the number will be 10 in a few weeks!) They’re all amazingly unique in their own ways. I had no idea, going in, that being a grandparent would have so many blessings attached to it. It has been a source of great joy for Julie and me for, now going on 19 years. I was talking to a friend about how much we enjoyed grandparenting and he gave the usual reply, “Yeah, you can spoil your grandkids and send ’em home”. I said, “Not us; we spoil ’em and keep ’em there”! Pretty much sums it up. We’re extremely blessed in that of the 9 grandkids we have, all but one little girl (2 hrs away), lives within five miles of us!

Our newest grandchild is Timber. She’s something! She’s about to turn 3 and like all the rest she’s been an unbelievable blessing. Clay and Chelsea are great as first-time parents. A few days ago they were at our house and Timber was playing around and just doing her thing. She ran from the kitchen into the living room full of excitement and said to Clay, “Dad, let’s do something crazy!” Without hesitation, Clay jumped up, grabbed Timber and threw her into the air….her little head nearly touching the ceiling. She cackled and said, “Let’s do it again!” And they did; but, this time he threw her up and spun her around in a 360* and caught her again at the same time. “Do it again, Dad!” This time he grabbed her by her little legs, held her upside down and flipped her up in the air and, just like clockwork, caught her again. She was laughing almost uncontrollably throughout the whole process. I guess it would’ve gone on all evening if Dad hadn’t given out.

Little kids have an incredible level of trust in their parents. We love to stand them up on the table and then tell them to ‘jump’ to us. They’ll do it every time! Why? ……’cause they trust us. They know we’d never let them fall. Wouldn’t it be something if we had that level and depth of trust with our Father!? I think it’s something we should shoot for!

Can’t you imagine how excited God might be if you woke up tomorrow and said to Him, “Let’s do something crazy!!”

 

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A Book Out of the Blue

‘Cause it really was! “Reading Your Bible For All It’s Worth” wasn’t a book that I had planned on writing. I do have several others in various stages that I’m working on and I always figured my book on the Father would be the first one out there. But this one just happened. Here’s how. We do a class on Sunday mornings we call LifeClass. We have about 8-10 couches sat up in a big circle. There’s no designated teacher. It’s all interactive and discussion-oriented, designed for spiritual growth and building relationships all at the same time. It’s a great class. And, it’s accomplishing the very things we had hoped for.

We had a book that we were going to use that would help people learn to read and study their Bible. We bought a couple boxes of them and had all intentions of starting on it the following week. We decided to read through it one more time before we jumped into it with the whole class. In reading through it there were several things that we understood, but thought that they might easily be misunderstood by some of those in the class. Dr. David Clark, our resident Bible scholar, started encouraging me to write our own. Knowing, and loving how we do things around here and the emphases we put on relationship with the Father, the kingdom of God, signs and wonders, grace and spiritual family he wouldn’t let up urging me to write this book. So, I started the process.

It’s been my experience in 30 years of leading this church that many people don’t know how to sit down with their Bible and really get down to the Truth. In fact, it talking with half a dozen of my pastor friends they agree that the number is up around 85-90% of regular church goers that don’t have solid methods of reading and studying their Bible. I hear it all the time, “I try to read my Bible but I don’t get anything out of it.” Add to that the reality that lots of people don’t like to read anyway, especially men, and you could easily have a congregation with very few solid Bible skills. That’s a problem if Bible reading and understanding it are important.

This book is written for those who don’t like to read. It’s full of interesting and easy to understand tips and principles that will help anyone to get better with their Bible. The longest chapter is about 3 pages. It’s concentrated with solid methods and in such simple language that anyone willing to open it can’t miss the point.

I think it’s an important book….but it was definitely one ‘out of the blue’!

 

 

 

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The Bible Belt – “The Land of Never Enough”

After 30 years or so in the ministry there are things you start to notice, things that stand out. There are patterns of thought and behavior that seem to be deeply woven into the fabric of Bible Belt mentality. One such pattern that runs very deep among born again believers is that one can never do enough to get,….or stay, in good standing with God. If you wonder why I say that, here’s why; I hear it all the time; “I don’t go to church enough”, “I don’t pray enough”, “I don’t read the Bible enough”, “I don’t have enough faith”, “I’m not a very good Christian”, I hope I”m going to heaven”. I just heard this from a man yesterday, “I think God has given up on me”. I refuted that lie as quick as I could!

It’s a prevalent attitude with many people always thinking they can never do enough, or be good enough to satisfy the Lord. It gives the feeling they’re trying to serve a God that’s unreasonably demanding and impossible to please. It’s like being on a treadmill of performance in an effort to earn their righteousness; A state, in fact, that many never seem to arrive at. This is a problem of the highest order, in my opinion, because it gives an incorrect image of ‘Who’ God actually is. It’s one of the greatest misportrayals the world has ever seen. There are many out there who’ll live their entire lives believing they were never quite acceptable or good enough to please God. And, what’s worse is that it leads one to believe that the Father’s love based entirely on our behavior.

Sad,…. Sad,…. Sad!

The danger of ‘never enough’ exists anytime a mixture of law and grace are preached. And, sadly enough…..that’s what happens most of the time in the Bible Belt. Paul spent the last half of his life contrasting law and grace. He knew them both well….in fact better than anyone on the planet in his generation. He was a staunch defender of grace even after it caused him to be beaten more than once and left for dead. It was controversial then….it’s controversial now…..but only to those who believe their behavior is what makes them righteous.

So, tell me, what’s on your list of things to do that make you righteous? And, while you’re at it explain to me where the line is of, enough….or not enough. Truth is, if you never read your Bible, if you never went to church your righteousness isn’t diminished one bit. I’m not advocating that….just pointing it out! You’re not righteous because of what you do…..you’re righteous because of what He did! The Father doesn’t love you because you’re good…..He loves you because He’s good!

THAT, in itself, makes me want to do good!

Good fathers would never keep their children in limbo over such important things! So, pack your bags, enjoy your relationship with the Father….. and get out of the land of never enough!

Check out the Audio Version:

 

 

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