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Category Archives: Christian Youth Camp

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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Follow the Cloud

From the very beginning of the Bible we are introduced to a God that wants to interact with His people. He and Adam walked together in the cool of the day. Can you imagine that?! Just hanging out with the Creator of the Universe. Wouldn’t that be a trip! But there was trouble brewing in the garden and when it went down it led to some abrupt changes. 

God has always wanted to communicate with His people…..and He communicates in all kinds of ways. But after the fiasco in the Garden of Eden He began doing it different. It was still clear communication but He would handpick a man and over time He would transform that man into someone who could be trusted to bring His word to the people. He’d talk to that man and give him the instructions to be followed so His blessings could be experienced by all.

The Israelites were under some severe persecution in Egypt. God raised up Moses to lead His beloved people out of Egypt. It’s a great story; three million people displaced from their homes out in the middle of nowhere. A tabernacle was constructed according to the exact specifications of God, Himself. And the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. The tabernacle was portable, so to speak, and when the pillar of fire by night, or the cloud by day moved…..the tabernacle….and those three million people moved with it.

Logic would say that it would be amazingly easy to follow God that way; Fire by night, cloud by day. But from the very beginning the Lord had something even better in mind for all mankind. A time was coming when He would give His own Spirit to anyone willing to receive Him. And His Spirit, living inside us, would be able to direct us at every turn and give us God’s own wisdom for every situation.

As easy as it would have been to follow the cloud or the pillar of fire….it should be exponentially easier to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It should be the most natural thing for us who are sons and daughters. The Father wants us to know His will in every single situation….and the Holy Spirit, Who lives in us, has that information; and….He’s very free with it!

It just makes sense that we would seek to know that Person Who lives in us. It makes sense that we would consider it a priority to ignore some of the other voices so we can hear His voice better.

We’ve been given an incredible advantage through His Spirit. We should make the most of it!

Follow the Cloud!

Audio: 2:09

I’d sure appreciate it if you’d “Share” these posts!

Here’s a few more you might like:

“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”

‘Thorns in the Flesh’

The Fear of the Lord…..Let’s Get It Right!

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It Was a Great Answer!

If you’re not familiar with our Camp of Champions, you should check it out. It’s just about the most unique church camp you’ll ever bump into. It’s a rodeo church camp. There’s a few others out there but I’d estimate that ours’ is the biggest of its kind anywhere. This was our 14th year and as usual we had participants from about 8 states. It’s for boys and girls age 6-16 who have their sights set to participate in Jr. rodeo. In the 14 years since the inception of the Camp of Champions we’ve had several national junior rodeo champs, high school rodeo champs, college champions and even a PRCA world champion!

Instructors for the Camp of Champions is a virtual “Who’s Who” in the rodeo world. There’ve been too many world champions to mention who give their time and energy for a few days to help these kids in their respective rodeo events…but they’re also ‘champions’ in their walk with the Lord. Rodeo instruction takes place in the daytime and there are tent services at night with the instructors doing testimonies and most of the ministry. In the past 14 years there’s been well over a thousand young people who’ve given their lives to the Lord without any ‘pressure’ from us! We believe that the Holy Spirit is good enough at what he does that we don’t have to try to manipulate or frighten kids into making a decision. Jesus didn’t do that…..so we’re not going to do it either! 

I learned a long time ago that you don’t have to convince kids that God is real…..or that He’s good! They already know…..and they already believe! But during our camp recently I was reminded again of just how much the Father has already done for us to enable us to believe. It was on the last night service of the camp. There were over 80 boys, and about twice that number of parents, instructors and helpers under the tent. I was closing out the service when I asked a couple of really simple questions. “Do you believe in Jesus?” It was unanimous! I think every kid and adult in the tent responded with a loud, resounding “Yes”! I then asked the question, “Why do you believe in Jesus?” …..and it was unanimous again. But, this time, not one single person answered, I mean, total silence! It was 100% quiet! And, it suddenly occurred to me that, that was a great answer!! 

Here’s my reasoning; The Bible is clear that we’ve all been given ‘the’ measure of faith. It’s the same quality of faith that God used when He ‘spoke’ the world into being. It’s faith to believe in Jesus, His Son, even when we can’t even tell you “why”. I heard someone say it this way one time; “I just know down in my ‘knower'”! It’s that deep, God given, assurance of the reality that He exists….and that He’s good!

So, if you can say you believe in Jesus but you just can’t answer why…..That’s a great answer!!

Maybe you should tell Him, “Thanks”!

Check these out, too:

The Thing About Unconditional Love

Maybe You Should Quit Whippin’ Your Own A#$!!

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“God, If You’re Out There, You Gotta Help Me!”

That’s the most profound prayer I ever prayed. It’s not very professional sounding but I hadn’t had much practice when I prayed it! It was exactly 31 years ago today when I sat on the edge of my bed out on the ranch in the Texas Panhandle. I came home from a trip to Oklahoma City with a close friend. I dropped him off an hour from my house and headed home. I don’t know any other way to describe the 60 miles from there to home except to say that I was weeping (I don’t even use that word) uncontrollably. My marriage was over and I had about every problem that you could imagine. I got to my house, out there in the middle of nowhere, went in the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror….and hated everything about me. I saw myself turning into something that I knew better than. And I went in my bedroom, sat on the end of my bed…..still weeping, with no hope….. and said, “God, if you’re out there….You’ve gotta help me!” 

I have a great family….always supportive. And, I’ve always had a lot of good friends, I mean really good friends, ones you could ‘count on’.…but I was in a place in my life where no one could really help me but the Lord. At the time I thought it was the worst time in my life….but looking back it turned out to be the best…..even though I didn’t know it at the time. 

I knew nothing about trusting God; I knew nothing about walking by faith but I was in such a messed up place in my life that, out of desperation, I, just kind of blindly, put my trust in the Lord. It was the right thing to do!

One of my problems was over with overnight; it was supernatural, miraculous, really!  ……the rest of my problems were not over with overnight! I’m grateful to the Lord for fixing that one thing….but I’m more grateful to Him for ‘not’ fixing all the others that way. I’m afraid if He would have….it would’ve been like it had been the previous ten years. I’d run to Him when I was in a jam in my life…and when that set of circumstances was over…I was back to ‘my own way’.…never having any kind of real relationship with the Lord.

He had no good reason to rescue me….but He did! It’s a longer story. I’ll tell the rest of it somewhere along the way but the most important thing is that…..whatever’s going on with you….He has the answer and He’ll help you now. 

Maybe all you can say is, “Help”! Turns out, that’s enough! He’ll hear….and He’ll help! That….I’m sure of!

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If you like this, you’ll surely like this one: 

*click on highlighted link

A “Disposable” Relationship

 

 

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There’s Grace For That!

I catch myself saying that quite a bit these days. I say it because it’s true. And it doesn’t matter what the situation or circumstances are….it’s always true….without fail. We had one of our young couples recently who miscarried. It’s a devastating event;  A little life so looked forward to and anticipated and planned for, little brothers and sisters who are excited about their new sibling;  Grandparents, aunts, and uncles who’ve already been shopping for the new little one….then all of a sudden…the stunning, paralyzing, news. I hurt deeply for the young couple because I know all too well the pain and heartbreak that just naturally ensues. That grief that comes is not proof that something’s wrong with us…..No!  Much to the contrary…..it’s proof that something’s ‘right’ with us! We’ve been there….done that and somehow lived through it. And the reason we lived…..there’s grace for that!

I just talked to a couple of brothers last night who had just, unexpectedly, lost their dad. He was in the hospital, serious but improving, then all of a sudden….he’s gone. I don’t have anything to compare to it. I just know that it’s one of those things that has the potential to hit the heart in the deepest place. I can’t help but to be broken for my friends…..but they’ll be OK. They’ll be OK ’cause there’s grace for that too!

A young guy was in my office today. His wife had just informed him that she doesn’t love him anymore. He’s devastated; he has no answers….and his heart is broken in two. Then there are the kids…what’s going to happen with the kids? How can he explain this nightmare to them? I don’t know…..there’s so much I don’t know these days, but what I do know is….there’s grace for that too! ……and somehow the Father, and the grace that He freely gives will see them all through!

It doesn’t have to be a tragedy for grace to appear; whenever, however…..and for whatever grace is needed for……it’s always there….and there’s always enough of it. The Father knows what you need and He won’t keep you waiting!

Whatever you’re going through right now…..and whatever you need right now…….There’s Grace For That!

You might like this one too! (Click on highlighted link to read)

It Ain’t Grace’s Fault!

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A “Disposable” Relationship

That’s what I’d call my relationship with the Lord between 1974 to 1984. I didn’t grow up going to church. In fact, by the time I was thirty I hadn’t even been in a church much. I got saved in 1974. It was in an area-wide crusade in Wheeler, Texas about thirty miles from where I grew up. It was on the first night and I was by myself sitting on the very back row. When it came ‘invitation time’ I knew, somehow, that the Lord was dealing with me. I got up and took the long walk all the way to the front of the High School Auditorium and gave my life to the Lord. Some people gathered me up, took me to an adjoining room with several others who had made similar decisions and there they prayed with me.

It was legit. I mean it really ‘took’. I can still remember the days following that night. When I’d have a thought or say something that was out of the character of Jesus, I’d immediately know it. I now know that it’s just how the Holy Spirit works. Julie had a little paperback Living Bible (before we were married) that she gave me. I just started reading on page 1. I got over into the book of Leviticus and got bogged down in all those ‘begats’ and put it down and didn’t pick it back up. I was rodeoing at the time and didn’t have any Christian friends and drifted away from any real, ongoing, relationship with he Lord. Nobody’s fault but my own.

So for the next ten years or so my relationship with the Lord went pretty much like this. When I’d be in a jam of some kind in my life, I’d run to Him for help. But as soon as that dilemma was over I was back to ‘my own way’. So, in that sense, I had a disposable relationship with the Lord. I treated Him as some kind of ‘possession’ that I’d use whenever I needed and just ignore Him the rest of the time.

Looking back….the incredible part is that even though I really had no sincere devotion to the Lord…..He’d help me anyway! Pretty amazing, huh?! Maybe you find yourself in such a place. Don’t allow your relationship with Him to be ‘disposable’. Life can be so much better….but don’t take my word for it. Taste and see for yourself how good the Father is!

The words to one of my favorite songs goes like this; “One day every tongue shall confess you are God, one day every knee shall bow. Still the greatest treasure remains for those who gladly choose You now”!

You just can’t go wrong!

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Don’t Look Before You Leap!

Totally goes against logic and reasoning, I know. But for those of us who are trying to follow the Lord by faith…it makes all kinds of sense. You see, we’ve been ‘given’ an incredible quality of faith. We’re apt to never find that out if we’re always looking before we leap. And even though our quality of faith is all that it’ll ever need to be, if we stop to take a long, investigative look at every single thing…..I fear we’ll talk ourselves out of a lot of things that the Father wants to do with,….and through, us!

What if Noah would’ve ‘looked’ before he leaped?? Here’s a man building a boat longer than a football field……in a place where it’d never even rained before! It’d be a little awkward down at the ‘ol lumber yard ordering all those materials and trying to explain your project to everyone! It’d be easy to talk yourself out of that one, huh?! And what about Moses?? OK, you’re standing on the banks of the Red Sea with 3 1/2 million people or so……Pharoah’s army is closing in….and they ain’t happy…..and all you have is a ‘stick’!!? Lookin’ ain’t gonna work……leapin’ is!!

OK, if you’re going to make a major financial investment, build a new home or start a new business it does make sense to ‘look before you leap’. But if you’ve heard the Lord (or even ‘think’ you’ve heard Him) I wouldn’t spend much time ‘looking’ ……no matter how uncertain it might appear. And, if you’re not careful you might just talk yourself out of something the Lord wants to do with your help! I think it makes sense to go ahead and ‘leap’!!

Got’s not looking for people to ‘play it safe’.….there’s enough of them already out there! He’s looking for someone to believe Him at His Word and exercise the faith that they already have. When that happens…..His kingdom comes….right here on Earth just like it does in Heaven! The world is waiting for people like that…….and so is the Lord!!

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