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Category Archives: Christianity

“Show-and-Tell”

Show-and-tell is a common expression about showing an audience something and telling them about it. It’s usually initiated as a classroom activity at early elementary school used to teach young children the skills of public speaking. For example, a child will bring an item from home and will explain to the class why they chose that particular item, where they got it, and other relevant information.

I think show and tell is an amazing exercise for young people in a lot of ways. For one it breaks down the stigma and at least some of the fear of getting up in front of a group; a fear that, incidentally, most adults continue to struggle with their entire lives. But, I think I’d also be a huge proponent of the show-and-tell method for the Christian community. Just think about all the things that would be better understood by the rest of the world if we would do more than just ‘tell’ them, and actually show ’em.

We talk a lot about faith but the message loses it’s momentum if we never actually ‘walk’ by faith. And, grace, there’s another subject that’s getting a lot of attention these days. But, when we talk it and don’t treat other people with grace it, somehow, contaminates the message. But, I’d say the most important subject that we should apply the show-and-tell method is with love. Yep, that’s a word we use a lot around the church, and I agree, we should! But, I’m not sure we should use it at all if we’re not going to back it up with our attitude and actions.

This is where I think the show-and-tell method should really be working at it’s very best. And, if you think about it, we in the church should be the example to the rest of the world in this. By all means, let’s use the word, and let’s be genuine with it when we do! People really do have a need to hear that they’re loved.

And, if you find yourself in a time crunch and don’t feel like you can do both, show, and tell, …….just do the ‘show’ part. Chances are they’ll remember that forever!

 

 

 

 

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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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Everybody Needs a “Hi-Pockets” Duncan in Their Life

I bet you never even heard of him! Well, that name meant nothing to me either until a few months ago. *(Thanks to my good friend, Charles Lynn who sent me an autographed copy of Terry Jennings [Waylon’s son!], and who I recently became friends with) brand new book, Waylon, Tales of My Outlaw Dad) Hi-Pockets was a Lubbock, Texas disc jockey in the ’50s who was instrumental in giving a young Lubbock performer, Charles Hardin Holly, better known as ‘Buddy’, his first real opportunity. In those days there was lots of talent around Lubbock but Buddy Holly was special.

You know the tragic story of Buddy Holly but you might not know that his young friend and bass player from nearby Littlefield, Texas gave his seat up to another performer on that ill-fated plane destined for Fargo, ND. Yep, Waylon Jennings, himself, should’ve been on that plane. The regular tour bus froze up and Buddy decided to charter a plane for himself and his band. The others would use a school bus for the long, cold drive to Fargo.

Waylon and Buddy were tight friends and before Buddy departed on that fateful night they jokingly exchanged barbs with one another. Since Waylon was going to have to ride a bus to the destination, Buddy jokingly said, “I hope the bus breaks down.” to which Waylon replied, “I hope your ‘ol plane crashes.”That would be a statement that would haunt Waylon for decades. In fact, it almost ruined him, and understandably so. It crippled him so emotionally that he basically quit the music business altogether.

It was months later and Waylon had no intentions of re-engaging in the music business at any level when Hi-Pockets cornered him that afternoon. I guess you could say he, more or less, gave him a good chewing out; you know, one of them old fashioned talkin’ to’s! He told him he had absolutely no business feeling guilty about his friend’s terrible twist of fate; and that what he should do is get out of the ditch he was in, quit moping around, get back up….and get going again. It took a few days for that advice to kick in, ……but it did! And the rest, as they say, is history.

There’s probably not a single one of us who’ve not had our dreams snuffed out. For some it’s been terminal; for others maybe just a delay in where their life was to go. But at any rate getting back up after a derailment is exactly what needs to happen. Someone said, “To be successful in life all you have to do is get back up one more time than you get knocked down”. Sounds easy,…..the actual ‘doing of it’ is much harder. But, undeniably, it IS the thing to do.

And, sometimes, it takes a Hi-Pockets Duncan type to get you up and going again. Better yet, …..maybe sometime you’ll have the chance to be that person of encouragement for someone else. Sometimes a good ‘talkin’-to’ is just the thing to get the ball rolling again!

 

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“Unrestricted Access”

You see the passes at most every public event, especially the big ones; “All Access”. The placard, usually worn around a person’s neck is an indicator for every official on the grounds of the event that anyone wearing this placard can go anywhere they want to go, and….at any time. Those “All Access” passes also carry the often unsaid understanding that the wearers are obviously of some importance. You know, like a real VIP!

The person wearing that “All Access” pass must’ve evidently been given a level of trust not offered to everyone. With that particular pass comes some extra responsibility, too, I’d say. Take a rock concert, for example. Let’s say Bob Seger (one of my faves, especially since I can’t go see Tom Petty anymore) is performing at Red Rocks. Now, that’d be a great combo; great entertainment at a great venue. If you have one of those “All Access” passes you might get to be up close and personal with Bob Seger, himself. I’ll bet you could even get your picture taken with him and the band if you were really lucky. But, without that “All Access” pass, …..it ain’t gonna happen! But, most of us are resigned to just go to the concert and enjoy the entertainment from a distance. Nothing wrong with that, whatsoever. But, it’s just not the same as having the VIP treatment.

The One Who created the Universe has given you an “All Access” pass to be in His presence anytime it strikes your fancy! There’s never a bouncer at the door, no one checking ID’s, nobody deciding if you have the correct credentials, not anyone there to turn you away because you don’t have the right clearance, nobody to stamp your hand in case you go out and want to come back in. You don’t even have to show your “All Access” pass! They ‘all’ know who you are! Nope, nothing, whatsoever, to keep you from engaging in conversation, face to face worship, fellowship, and communion with God, Himself! Think about that for a minute!

It’s true! You’ve been given (because we couldn’t earn it!) unrestricted access to God! That’s a BIG DEAL!

Question is, what are you gonna do about it??!”

 

Check it out:

Are You ‘Led’, or Are You ‘Driven’?

 

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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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Don’t Bring Me Down

The Electric Light OrchestraELOis 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 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”. We have incredible potential with our attitudes and words 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”

 

 

 

 

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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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Of All the Ways He Blesses Us

If you start to count up all the ways that God blesses you, you’ll quickly find that the list is almost endless! He’s not limited in the ways He blesses and He seems to stop at nothing in His mission to show us just how much he loves us. Even some of His most hardened critics, if they were to be totally honest,  would have to admit that He does this kind of thing on a routine basis. He doesn’t just love us because He has to; He doesn’t just love us because it’s the ‘right’ thing to do; He doesn’t just love us because we need it; All that may be true but that’s not why He does it. No…..He loves us like we love our own kids (and grandkids!)…….He just can’t help it!

His interaction with us is always motivated by love. Even in those times when we are receiving correction from Him, it’s always in love. The Father doesn’t just ‘have’ love, …..He IS love! And every single thing He does or has ever done is for our benefit and well being.  I’m grateful for good health. I’ve rarely been sick in my entire life. Oh, I’ve got plenty of aches and pains from some of my previous lifestyle choices but all in all, I’ve been really blessed with good health. There are dozens of other things I could mention.

But, when I think of all the ways He’s blessed me my mind immediately goes to my family then my friends and the people who I’ve met, and gotten to know, along the way. So, of all the ways He’s blessed me one of the things I’m the most grateful of is by the people He’s brought into my life. At the end of our earthly run, we’ll see it clearer than ever. The things that have made our lives rich are not fame and fortune or some other empty thing like that, but the people we’ve encountered, day-in and day-out, on the journey of life. So, I’m suggesting we make the mental adjustment now…..and put a premium value on our relationships so we can enjoy our lives to the fullest….starting today!

Thank you, Lord, for the people you’ve brought across my path!!

 

 

 

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“When Push Comes to Pull”

Yeah, I know, the little saying doesn’t go quite like that. It usually goes, “when push comes to shove” but in a world where, at times it feels like everyone’s pushing for something, or about something, it’s kinda nice to not get pushed. In fact it’s nice to not ever get pushed if you ask me.

Example; I don’t like it when car salesmen push. We were only a few hundred dollars apart on a used car deal some years back. We wanted them to install a DVD player and the salesman, who had been pushing on us for a couple of hours, finally pushed me as far as I was going! He really ticked me off. I went to the car and was ready to leave. When he saw that he was going to lose the sale he started back-peddling. I’d had enough and told him I was done! He kept on. He finally told me he’d install the DVD player for the money we’d offered him for the car. I said, “I don’t care if you put 5 DVD players in it, I ain’t buying it!” We left. He called me four or five times the next week but I didn’t budge. Why? ‘Cause I was tired of gettin’ pushed!

People, by nature don’t like to be pushed. I think the Lord made us that way. You see, He’s not a ‘pusher’. Some of His people are but that shouldn’t be a reflection on Him, but sadly it is. We didn’t go to church when I was a kid and I had a few ‘churchy’ friends who were always pushing on me. I didn’t like it then….and I like it less now. It doesn’t feel good. Pushing people toward God doesn’t work. But there are a bunch of believers out there who can’t seem to figure that out, as well-meaning as they might be.

The Book says, “No man comes to the Father except that the Father ‘draws’ him”. God doesn’t push; in fact it’s against His nature to do that. But He draws us, pulls us in, with His mercy, His grace…..and His love. It has an altogether different feel to it. It feels right, …..because it ‘is’ right! God’s people are often referred to as sheep in the Bible. I don’t know much about sheep but they tell me that you really can’t ‘drive’ sheep. They’re much easier ‘led’. If you think about it….we’re a lot like sheep in that respect; we respond much better when we’re led than we’re driven. 

Everything the Father does with us is pulling us toward Him. It’s not a harsh or invasive thing at all. It’s gentle, and easy on us……and easy to respond to.

So, maybe religion needs to stop and re-assess the methods, some of which obviously don’t work, ….and let push come to pull!

You might like these too:

Are You “Right” With God?

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

 

 

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Grace, Freedom and the NFL

Boy, what a firestorm! The tension and controversy in America has reached a fever pitch over the last few years to where we have arrived at today. Not long ago it was just 49’ers  (ex) quarterback Colin Kaepernick (still doesn’t have a job) who intentionally thrust himself into controversy by refusing to stand for the playing of the National Anthem in protest of what he deemed to be wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States. Well, it’s a free country….and I don’t argue the subject of free speech. But, what we do with that freedom is an entirely different topic that oftentimes reveals the character of those who might use, or misuse it.

You may wonder about the above title and question how grace, freedom and these protests could be connected. I think, in principle, they’re very connected. Let me explain; Grace is an extremely important Biblical subject. It’s a wonderful thing! But it’s also one of the more controversial topics in the church today. It’s controversial mostly because it has been miscommunicated, ….and therefore misunderstood, ….and when all that happens it can easily be misappropriated. (used in an unwise manner)

Paul, in one of his letters, said it this way, “Brothers and sisters you have been called to liberty (freedom), but don’t use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh”. More clearly put, don’t use your freedom as an excuse to sin. It’s only the unwise, or maybe innocently by the immature, who would accept God’s perfect gift of grace and then use it as an excuse to sin. That would be an undeniable, gross misuse of grace! That’s where I see grace, freedom and these NFL protests intersecting.

The freedom that we enjoy in America is like none other in the entire world. It’s a freedom that has come at an extremely costly price. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have given their lives on the battlefield, here and around the world, in the name of freedom. I appreciate that; I’m grateful for it and it’s something that I would never, ever take lightly. So, it only makes sense to me to use that freedom in a wise, mature and conscientious manner. Everybody doesn’t agree….and that’s OK. But my opinion is that those who choose to dishonor the national anthem and the flag, are thus dishonoring the nation and those whose lives were sacrificed for our freedom. It appears to be a very immature, arrogant and unwise use of something so precious….and that cost so many, …..so much.

The NFL has some unbelievable athletes; best in the world for their God-given talent and abilities. But many of these young men have been coddled, babied and catered to since they were old enough to be involved in organized team sports. It’s a historical fact that many of these athletes making millions today won’t have any of it left after their careers are over. And, if the old adage rings true that “we all have 15 minutes of fame”, it’s a crying shame that these boys are using theirs’ this way. They’re influencing another generation of little boys in a very adverse, and negative way. I wouldn’t want that on my resume’!

Someone will probably cry, “racism”; But, c’mon …..give us a break! It’s not that. It’s called patriotism, …..and it’s makin’ a comeback!

“All things are lawful, but not all things edify; all things are lawful, but not all are helpful” – Paul

The way you handle grace….and freedom will tell the world just how deep your character actually is. 

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“Loosen Up, Sandy Baby!”

“I Don’t Know How We’re Gonna Win….I Just Know We’re Going To!”

Life’s Like Football, It’s a Game of Inches

It Takes a Village to go Back to Back…..to Back to Back!

 

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