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Category Archives: Bible Reading

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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……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. It’s been said that we only use a small portion of our mind…and having dealt with people for six decades I can totally concur! Easy….just kidding!

A lot of my life is spent walking through messy life situations with people. It requires that I 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’d say….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. 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!

One, nearly universal, thing I’ve noticed in all the years I’ve been doing ministry is a person’s tendency,….and capacity, to speculate. 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’!! You’re so geared to think in a negative way that you might not ever do that unless someone, (like me!), reminds you to!

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:

1 Cor. 2:9 – 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.

Try these:

Last Week: March Madness *(not what you think it is!)

Last Month: “You’re Gonna Like the Way You Look, I Guarantee It!”

A Year Ago: Objects in the Mirror are Closer Than They Appear!

2 Years Ago: There’s a Charge For Extra Baggage

 

 

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When God Hides the Truth

The Bible is a magnificent document! Sixty-six books, written by 44 authors over a period of about fifteen hundred years. The thirty-nine books of the Old Testament were composed between 1400 and 400 B.C., the twenty-seven books of the New Testament between A.D. 50 and A.D. 100. (Read more facts about the Bible) It is an amazing history book and it contains some vital information of how God, the Creator of the entire Universe, deals with His people. The Bible is written and compiled in such a way as to draw the reader into an actual personal encounter with God, Himself. If we miss that…..we could be missing why we have It in the first place.

I became a student of the Bible over thirty  years ago. I had never read it much in my whole life but when I started I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s interesting how the Lord grew me and taught me as I read. I had a profound experience with the Lord; I knew my life was changing. Looking back it’s pretty obvious to me that it was the hand of the Lord. Living out in the middle of nowhere a steady stream of my friends began to just ‘happen’ to stop by. You have to understand….our place wasn’t on the way to anywhere! These friends would come see me and somewhere in our conversation they’d begin to talk to me about their problems. They would nearly always ask me questions about their issues but I hardly every had the answers. All I knew was that if God could fix my life….I knew He could fix theirs’. 

Their questions ranged from everything from marriage problems to, “How does a person get to heaven”. Well, I didn’t know. But I did have a Bible. (Actually it was Julie’s. She had bought a New King James Version and I just kinda confiscated it and started consuming it!) Since I couldn’t answer my friends questions I’d go home at night and look and look until I found an answer. I thought, “If I ever get asked that question again I’ll have the answer.” Funny thing is…I don’t think I ever got asked the second time. Looking back it was the Lord’s way of training me in His Word. It worked!

One fascinating thing I have learned about the Bible is that there are, what I’d call, ‘hidden truths’ just under the surface of what we routinely read. For someone who really wants to become a student of the Bible it pays to look for those truths. It’s important to understand that the Father doesn’t hide those truths ‘from’ us…..but ‘for’ us!

I was observing my two newest little grandkids today, Knox and Timber; sharp, beautiful, curious little kids,…both just a little over a year old. In a few weeks they will be experiencing their first opportunity to hunt for Easter eggs. When the adults hide those eggs it’d be really easy to hide them from the little ones where they’d never ever find them. But that’s not how we do it! Nope, we hide them where they can’t help but find them. We’re not hiding the eggs ‘from’ them….we’re hiding the eggs ‘FOR’ them!

Why don’t you make yourself a student of the Word of God? There are some profound truths hidden just under the surface. He really wants you to find them!

The Father hasn’t hidden them from you….He’s hidden them FOR you!  

Check out the audio version:

**Hey….a little poll. Need some feedback. Have you tried the ‘audio’ version?? If so, do you prefer them or not?? Please let me know. Thanks!

Try these:

If He Can Fix My Life…..I Know He Can Fix Yours!

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

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Think You Know it All?

It’s a rare individual that hasn’t encountered at least a few times in life those that think they know it all. You know the guy that, whatever the subject might be, always knows more than everybody else. They’re an authority on everything! Those folks are really hard for me to be around. I have this theory; *(stick with me now; Oh, and this is not spiritual!) You can put a hundred people in a room. If you take the ten off the top that think they know everything, and the ten off the bottom that really don’t know anything, ……put those twenty in the same room and you can’t tell which is which! LOL I’m just kidding but, if you think about it, it’s not too far from the actual truth.

One of the most important pieces of advice I’ve ever received in my sixty-three year run on the planet came from my Dad when we were growing up. I still, to this day, think about it often. Here’s what he said; “When you think you know it all, you’re as smart as you’re ever gonna get.” You can apply that truth if you’re a jet pilot, a plumber, an oilfield worker or a parent. Knowledge is a wonderful thing but even the Bible gives a bit of a disclaimer saying that it has the potential to ‘puff’ one up. (cause us to be prideful) Think about it; When you think you know it all you close yourself off to any new information. Why? Because you don’t think you need it. You already know everything.

My Dad’s advice long ago served to put me in the mode of being a lifetime ‘learner’. I don’t think I even came close to understanding the ramifications of that advice at the time. But looking back, now, it seems pretty obvious that it’s been extremely beneficial in my life,…..and in every area of my life all these years. It’s amazing what, and how much, you can learn when you come to the conclusion that you don’t know everything.

Feeling like you have to know everything is a tremendous load to try to bear. Why not just take the position of a ‘learner’. Life will suddenly become a lot more interesting…..and people will find you a lot easier to be around!

*Happened onto this by doing a little Google search:

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden

These’ll be helpful, too:

Don’t Tie the Ends Up!

10 Tips That’ll Help You Become a “Learner”

Listen More …….. Learn More!

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“Are We There Yet?”

If you’re a parent you’ve heard that question more than a few times. In fact it could happen on just about any trip. Doesn’t matter if it’s a short trip or a long one you’re apt to hear it. We had five kids so you can imagine how many times we heard, “Are we there yet?”, in their younger years. Little kids don’t really have much concept of time and distance. If they’re in the car and you drive a few miles they immediately start wondering why we’re not already there.

Our Christian walk of faith is kinda like that too. We go a ways, encounter a mess of trials tribulations, overcome one thing after another, win a few, lose a few, slowly but gradually get better…..and you’d think we oughta be there. Our life is an incredible ‘road trip’ if you can think about it that way. We may not express it to the Lord exactly like our kids do on a trip, but you gotta admit….we’re thinkin’ it! “Are we there yet?” I bet the Lord gets a kick out of our impatience at times. But in the long haul we’re like our kids; as we mature we begin to realize it’s not a quick trip. It takes a while to get ‘there’

Spiritual maturity is not an elusive thing at all. It’s attainable alright,……it just takes awhile. We’re on our way there now. But we might as well just settle in and realize it’s a lifelong endeavor. It takes a long, long time for people like us to get conformed into the image of Jesus. When I look at my own life I can tell I’m more like Him than I was….but in all reality I’ve got a long way to go.

It’s an incredible trip we’re on; not a short one by any means, more like a marathon. and when we wonder, “Are we there yet?”, we might need to remind ourselves; no, we’re not there yet……but we’re closer than we were!

Here’s a few you might like too:

 

Dysfunction Junction

“You Are Here”

Livin’ It Up

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Theorists and Practitioners

Theorist: Someone who considers given facts and comes up with a possible explanation is called a theorist.                                                                                                                            Practitioner: A practitioner is someone who is actively involved in real life situations, and qualified to practice a particular occupation, profession, or religion.

I had a conversation 10 years ago with a few close friends. I don’t actually remember the exact details of the entire conversation but I definitely remember the conclusion I came to soon after it was over. I was with four other ministry people, all of which had quite a few years experience. A couple of these guys are great communicators, orators, Bible teachers. But they weren’t actively involved in the day to day dealing with people and their problems. It’s not that they couldn’t do it; they have. It’s just that they weren’t heavily involved at that time. I’ll call them the ‘theorists’. They’re important people!

It was a really good, brisk discussion on how things ought to work in the church from a, strictly, Biblical standpoint. Of those things there wasn’t much disagreement, whatsoever. But the ‘rub’ came when we began talking about how it really is in the ‘trenches’. You know, out there where the rubber hits the road….in real life; Where you get knocked down, get your nose bloodied, betrayed, lied to, tripped up and derailed. That all can happen (and really a lot more!) in the process of ‘practicing’ the theory.

I am deeply involved in the day to day challenge of dealing with people…and their issues. Been doing it for nearly 30 years. It’s what I do. I’m far from perfect at it….but I have learned a few things. For that reason I’d say I’m more a ‘practitioner’ than a theorist. When you add, what I’d call the ‘human factor’, to any theory, even a Biblical one, it complicates that theory to a large degree. Doesn’t mean the theory is wrong or even faulty, for that matter. But it’s different when it’s being lived out in real life. It’s never quite as neat; in fact it’s usually pretty messy; it’s never as cut and dried as we’d like for it to be. When you add people to the equation it gets a lot more difficult. It’s nearly always worth it….but difficult, nonetheless.

It led me to this conclusion; There needs to be a ‘coming together’ of the ‘theorists’ and the ‘practitioners’. They need to sit down at the table and talk, discuss, compare, hash it out, even argue a little if it’s friendly and helpful. It’s vital, I think. And, if it’s done in a productive manner….everyone leaves the table wiser and better equipped…..and both have a much better understanding.

In all truth, and I think this is how the Lord designed it for obvious reasons, …..unless the theory is tested in the laboratory of life….all you have is a theory. But when the theory is a Biblical one, and the parties involved will lean toward the Lord, it usually works out……..a whole lot more often than not!

The theorists and the practitioners need to get together!

Readin’ a book about learning how to fly an airplane is fine…..but when you’re taxiing down the runway……things get REAL!

Check these out:

I Plant a Little, I Water a little…..

A Long Ways From the Lord

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Yoke Up!

The old timers will all tell you that one of the sure-fire ways to train up a young draft horse to pull a wagon, a coach or a plow is to hitch him up to an older, seasoned horse. The young horse will fight the harness, buck, pitch and kick for all he’s worth but it doesn’t take long until he gives it all up. Yep, the old plow horse doesn’t let any of it bother him. He’ll just plod along doing his job until the young horse decides to cooperate.

Seems like a pretty fair analogy to describe our walk with the Lord. In fact, Jesus used that exact same analogy in one of the classic statements He made in His earthly life, “Take My yoke upon you”. For the most part His message up to that point had been directed to the Jewish nation and people. And this statement, while we can easily apply it to our own life, was directed to those who were ‘yoked’ up in the Law of Moses. Jesus’ message of grace flew square in the face of the over-religious, self-righteous, doctrinal police and they hated Him for it.

This message of grace and love was ultimately why they so often sought to kill Him. I find it extremely peculiar that as good as Jesus was they sought to vilify Him because He wouldn’t submit to their lifeless religion. And that’s exactly what legalistic religion is…lifeless. No man has ever been made righteous by the Law, and no man will ever be! The Law, as Paul says, served as a schoolmaster until Christ came, and after that there is no need for the Law. It’s a polarizing subject even today. In fact, it’s the issue at stake in the whole Body of Christ, this argument over law and grace. There are those who are being vilified in the same manner as Jesus was and the bottom line is that the legalists don’t believe that God is as good as we’re saying He is! So, Jesus’ statement was designed to take the heavy weight of trying to keep the Law off those who were burdened down under it and get them to ‘yoke up’ with Him.

Hitch up with Jesus!

His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Maybe we oughta quit our buckin’ and pitchin’ and try it!

Life is hard; It’s harder if ‘ya ain’t yoked up!

Here’s a couple you should take a look at:

I Don’t Know How He Does It!

He Won’t ‘Put More On Ya’ Than You Can Stand

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