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Category Archives: Counseling

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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“Uuuh,….. We Don’t Have a Program”

When we started Trinity Fellowship nearly 32 years ago the Lord was faithful to show us what He wanted us to help Him build….and how He wanted us to build “it”. We had no preconceived idea(s) as to what it should be or how it should look. So, we were dependent on what we believed He was saying to us. That only makes sense when you understand that our lives are to be lived by faith. One of the things, early on, that seemed to be clear is that we would be an organism (not organization) the Father would use to set people free. That freedom would include everything from freedom from sin, addiction, and faulty thinking to freedom from lifeless religious bondage as well.

Looking back through the years it seems clear that the Lord has definitely kept His part of the promise, as He always does. One of the things that’s been extremely rewarding has been the steady stream of people who have come to Sayre to find that ‘freedom’. We’ve built some amazing friendships with folks from all over that we would have otherwise never had the privilege of knowing.

One particular case in point happened not too long ago when a person we didn’t know called about a friend who had experienced a moral failure in his ministry. We didn’t know the person who called but we had been referred to him by someone we both knew.

When he called he was understandably full of questions such as, “What do y’all do?”, and “What’s the Cost?”, and “How do you do what you do?”. I tried my best to answer all those questions and finally, he asked, “Well, what kind of program do you have, anyway?” My reply must have taken him completely off guard; “Uuuh, …..we don’t have a program.” It’s really true there’s not a program per se here…but what we do produces long term results.   We’re not batting a thousand but we’re doing pretty good. Here are some reasons why;

  • We first bring them into our ‘circle’. It’s not an inner circle because inner circles are, by nature, exclusive. We’re inclusive!
  • We let them be a part of whatever it is that we’re doing at the time. If we’re on a ministry project they come along and they might even help if they’re willing. We never apply pressure on them to do that but the door’s always open for them to participate. If we’re going to lunch, they go. If we’re going to a basketball game, they go too. We let them know that they’re an important part of our family.
  • We let them see the ‘real’ side of us. We refuse to put up the facade of perfection. Truth is, we’re far from it. Besides, it’s just not our style!
  • We’re learners…..and we help to develop that trait in them, by seeing us do it, while they’re here.
  • We spend quality time with them. We swap stories. We listen to their story. They listen to ours’. It’s a great way to build long-term relationships. And, that’s what we’re all about.
  • We help them to understand the Father’s love for them. We encourage them to connect relationally with the Father and we explain how easy that is.
  • We treat ’em like VIP’s…….’cause they are!
  • But more important than all the other stuff….we just love ’em. It never fails, you know! It’s undefeated! And, it always works!
  • The Lord always does His part…..which is just about everything!

But, program, …..uuuuh …..we don’t have a program.

Audio Version:

Interested in a little ‘binge’ reading?? Try these:

Do You Have Enough Faith??

The People That Nobody Else Wants

Simplicity! It’s All I Have to Offer

It’s Not Your Job to Fix Them!

A Place Where People Get Well

 

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“Hug-A-Thug”

Over a year ago I got involved with the Beckham County Drug Court. I guess you could say I’m an unofficial member of the DC team. Drug Court is a pretty amazing thing if you ask me. (Click here FMI) I have developed some great friendships with a lot of the participants that are in the program. It’s one of the highlights of everything I do these days to see these folks overcome their addictions and become productive members of society. I can’t speak for all the Drug Court programs in Oklahoma but I can definitely vouch for ours’! The success rate for these men and women to ‘get well’ is pretty darn good. I believe that can be attributed to the entire Drug Court Team, which includes the Sheriff, DA, County Judge…as well as others. But what seems to be the shining star of the whole program is the support that the DC participants give to one another. It’s pretty amazing. Very often all it takes is just someone who’ll love you and believe in you. More often than not….that makes the difference.

The Drug Court program is not without it’s criticizers, though. There are plenty of people who don’t much care about it’s success. Seems a little bit crazy to me. There are those out there who’d rather see these people go straight to prison and I guess I can kinda see where they’re coming from. But, I’d always like to see someone get another chance. And if they blow it in Drug Court….prison it is!

Some of the detractors like to mockingly refer to Drug Court as the Hug-a-thug program. I cringe a little bit if I hear that but you know what they say, “haters gonna hate”! I was thinking about their little moniker (hug-a-thug) a few days ago and I came to a conclusion or two. What if a hug for these people really did make a difference?! What if, maybe for the first time in their life, they could actually believe that someone cared?

I don’t have to sit long in DC to realize how good I’ve had it. I’ve never had to wonder if my Mom & Dad loved me. I didn’t have to grow up with them being the ones who introduced me to, and gave me drugs. I never was kicked around from family to family because no one really wanted me. So, yeah….I’ve had it good. Doesn’t take too long for me to start having a heart to see these folks do good. I’m a fan! …..and if I can help… I will!

Back to that hugging thing; I come from a long line of huggers. It’s something we’ve always done in our household. Probably came from my Mom’s side of the family. You see them….they’re gonna give you a hug…like it or not. I guess it’s contagious. But there really is something about a hug, something profound, something real and something, I think, that could really be important! There’s even scientific evidence that hugs are healthy for us….both physically and emotionally!

Here’s some scientific evidence of what a hug can do: *(thank you David Clark!)

A. Activates antitoxin hormone that can fill us with joy
B. Allows for more patience
C. Remedy against stress and anxiety
D. Strengthens self-esteem especially in children.
E. Releases the dopamine hormone responsible for good motivation
F. Helps alleviate pain or a bad moment
G. Communicates emotions without saying a single word
H. Helps preserve immune system
I. Helps balance central nervous system
J. Is an example of love, affection and unity

So there’s the evidence!

What’re we waitin’ for…….”Let’s hug some people!!”

You’ll want to read these too:

It Feels Good To Be “Believed In”!!

Drug Court

Prison Prayer Project

Party at the Prison!

VIP #7 – Rick Hudson

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Just Say, “Yes”!

I know…..that’s not how you first heard it. “Just Say No”, (click highlighted link) was the slogan for the anti-drug campaign initiated in the ’80’s and ’90’s. The whole idea was created and championed by none other than, Nancy Reagan. “Just Say No” is great advice when it comes to drugs. Hopefully hundreds of thousands of both young and old have heeded that advice…and will continue to do so.

I’m suggesting we start another campaign kinda of like the one Nancy started but with the slogan, “Just Say Yes”!! Well, obviously, you can’t say yes to just anything. That would be dumb. I’m saying we, “Just Say Yes”, to the plans of the Father for our lives. I don’t know many people who would reject that line of thinking….but in practice I’m afraid we might be suffering a little! God has an incredible, intricate and very personal plan for our lives. We can only ‘lay hold’ of that plan, and the details of it, by faith. But the good news is that you have adequate faith, and more than enough of it, to get that done!

If you’ve been really sincere and serious about your walk with the Lord you’ve surely inquired of Him about His plan for your life. If not….you could, and should, start now. Nothing difficult about it. In fact it’s so simple that anyone (even a caveman! lol) can do it. If you’ve heard some things from the Lord and said “yes” to them…I’m convinced that you’re already experiencing the blessings that accompany that kind of response. But what about the things that we don’t even know about yet? Well, that’s where this “Just Say Yes” mindset really begins to be beneficial for us. We should “Just Say Yes” to the things we’re aware of….but go into the next realm where we say “Yes” to the things we don’t even know about yet!

I agree, that’s a radical step of faith…but it’s what we’re created for! So, the next time that something comes up in your spirit that you think might be the Lord…..Just Say Yes!! You can’t go wrong!

You should like this one too:

What If I’d Said, No?WordpressSignature2015b

 

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

I’ve been blessed in my life to have a lot of good friends. Wasn’t long after my life had ‘made the turn’, so to speak, that a steady stream of my friends started coming to see me. That may not seem like a big deal to you but it really was. For one reason, where I lived at the time wasn’t on the way to anywhere! I mean it was way off the beaten path. So, it was no accident that they were coming to see me. In fact, looking back, it seems pretty obvious to me that the Lord, Himself, was somehow sending them across my path. 

I knew something was very different for me and that for once my life was ‘working’ but I had no idea how to communicate it or put it into words….especially to somebody else. These friends would pour out their hearts to me telling me their problems….all kinds of problems! I had no idea what to tell them….and to be honest some of their problems were pretty intimidating. But I knew one thing…..my life, just a short time before, was pretty messed up! In fact it was so messed up that no one but the Lord could fix it. And even though their problems looked extremely difficult,….and in some cases impossible, I had a profound sense of confidence that they were going to make it. I just knew that if God could fix my life…..He could fix their’s!

Now, more than 30 years later, I still get faced with people’s problems…and just like then, most of the time they look nearly impossible but I still have that same confidence. So, if you’re reading this and you’re in a jam….and maybe, just maybe, it looks as if there’s absolutely no possible solution, run to Him! ‘Cause….I‘m convinced that, “if He can fix my life….He can fix yours”!!

You’ll like this one too!*(click on highlighted link):

There’s Grace For That!

“God, If You’re Out There,  You Gotta Help Me!”WordpressSignature2015b

 

 

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You Ever Get Tired of People Dumping All Their Problems On You?!?

I know! ….it can get old….and it’ll wear you plumb out if you’re not careful. I mean, a person can only hear just so much bad news until it starts to really take a toll on you! Besides, we’ve all got our issues and most everyone I know is carrying some kind of burden, themselves. You know, life’s tough….it ain’t for the weakhearted!  And to have to listen to everyone else’s garbage just seems like a little too much sometimes! But I think if you’ll back up a step or two and take a closer look there’s a whole lot more at stake here, and something profoundly more important, than meets the casual eye.

I kind of overstated the above paragraph….on purpose, actually, to make a point. Don’t get me wrong, a constant barrage of bad news is hard to deal with, I don’t care who you are. But there are a couple of things at work here that, if you’ll just consider them, might totally and forever alter the way you see these things.

For starters, one thing to consider is that when someone comes to you telling you their problems….in most cases what they’re actually doing is crying out for ‘help’! And, often, what they need most is just a ‘listening’ ear. You know yourself how when you are able to communicate your dilemma to someone how it can help your perspective by just ‘voicing’ it out. And secondly, and I think maybe even more important, when someone is opening up their life to you (telling you their problems), they are extending a great degree of trust in you as a friend or confidant. That’s pretty important if you ask me. When someone trusts you to that degree it seems to me that we should make a gallant effort to honor that trust by, 1) listening, and 2) giving the best godly counsel that we’re capable of. And, a little perk of helping someone else is that it can, sometimes, really help to put our own problems into better perspective, and focus.

So, the next time someone comes to you telling you their problems stop and think a minute and consider what might really be happening!

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What If It’s Not to ‘Break’ You,….but to ‘Make’ You?

It’s been about 7-8 years ago; I was riding my bike on a 15 mile jaunt. I like the bike for several reasons. For one, it doesn’t hurt my joints anywhere, and …..2, I like it because I can ride and, at the same time, do some serious thinking, praying, pondering, etc. On this particular day my mind was pretty much preoccupied with the dilemma that two people very close to me were having to go through.

As I prayed for both of them, intensely, the Lord reminded me of at least half a dozen people I’d been involved with over the years that were pitted up against, what at the time appeared to be, insurmountable circumstances. In each of those half dozen or so instances the Lord showed me how He came through for them when it didn’t look like there was any way possible. He also reminded me of how those circumstances somehow ‘catapulted’ them into His perfect will for their lives. In each of those instances the outcome was nothing short of miraculous.

As the Lord encouraged me with those examples I heard His ‘still, small voice’ say to my spirit, “Andy, this is not to ‘break’ them….it’s to ‘make’ them!” I knew at once that this was the voice of the Lord. He always knows just the right thing to say….at just the right time! *And just for the record…not once did I think that the Lord somehow arranged these people’s harsh circumstances so He could teach them a lesson! It’s sad to say but there’s plenty of people out there who think that God does just that. NO WAY!! That totally goes against the nature of a father….and He’s a better Father than any of us could be! 

What the Lord said to me totally, and immediately, put their problems into perfect perspective! ….which brings the conversation to you and me. What if these trials we go through in life are not meant to ‘break’ us….but to ‘make’ us?! The Bible often eludes to the fact that we’re being purified like gold. That all sounds great until you consider how gold is mined and then purified so it can actually be used or sold.

Most of the time that ‘rock’, that’s brought out of the mine, looks absolutely nothing like gold. I mean, you can’t see any gold in it at all. It’s only when that rock is ‘heated’ up to insanely, intense temperatures that the gold begins to emerge. When the heat causes the ore to melt….the impurities come to the surface. The ‘dross’ is scraped off the top and discarded….and the heating process starts again. Sound familiar?!! Well, it’s the exact process that the Father allows us to go through in our ‘being conformed into the image of Jesus’!

As we go through these unpleasant circumstances in life it’d serve us well if we’d consider that maybe, just maybe…..“they’re not to break us…..but to make us”!!

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Mad at God?? ….happens all the time!

I hear it pretty often from people. Because of how their life is going, or because of something that they’re convinced that God mishandled on their behalf….people do find themselves mad at Him….sometimes very mad. And I’ve seen a few, what I’d call, extreme cases where the anger lasted a lifetime. It seems sad to me but at the same time I can kind of understand how someone could end up there.

I’ve never been mad at Him. Doesn’t make me any more mature, or any more spiritual, than anyone else….I just haven’t been mad at Him. Somehow, some way I’ve known, as long as I can remember, that God is good. Remember now, that’s coming from someone who didn’t grow up in church and didn’t have a whole lot of orientation about God at all. I’ve thought about it quite a bit and I guess it boils down to a couple of things for me. 1) It was imparted to me from my Mom & Dad. I’m certain that this is true, although I can’t tell you when, where or how….it just happened….and I’m eternally grateful to them for it. 2) It’s just, simply, a revelation from the Father Himself. Personally….I think it’s a good combination of both.

I’ve had a great life, but with just as many ups and downs as the next guy. And I guess if I’m being honest, here, I’d have to say that a lot of the downs were, either directly or indirectly, self-inflicted. But not everyone’s hardships are self-inflicted such as the loss of a child or a parent. And these things can leave us wondering if God has let us down.

Well, He didn’t let you down….no matter how convinced you are of that. It’s totally against His nature as a Father to do that. I remember vividly nearly 22 years ago when our family lost a little boy. It was devastating to put it mildly. But right in the middle of our grief He spoke clearly to my spirit, “Andy, if you could see the big picture, you’d know everything is OK.” It immediately brought peace. He always knows just the right thing to say at just the right time.

I had a friend tell me recently that upon the loss of his dad that he immediately blamed God and turned his back on Him for 4 or 5 years…only to find out after that time that God didn’t give up on him…He just loved him more. 

Maybe you’re reading and you have something that you’ve been mad at Him about. (it could be consciously or subconsciously) I can tell you that God can take you being mad at Him a lot longer than you can take it. He’d love to give you His perspective on your indictment against Him….but you’ll have to be open for it.

If you’ll run to Him,….He’ll help!

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“The Way I See It” #200!

Yesterday was another milestone for me as a writer. My post, Weapons of Mass Construction, was the #200th one! That’s 200 since January 1 of this year. Sure seems like a lot when you look back from here. I’ve learned a lot of things by writing on a regular basis, not the least of which is that writing seems to help me figure me out. There’s something about writing down your thoughts that seems to be good for a soul. I’d recommend it for anyone…and I can tell you that the hardest part is to just get started. It took me a few years to write the first one.

I’ll say again that my main reason for writing is to help. Some of the posts are serious, some are funny but all of them are written from a perspective of a life that the Father has blessed immeasurably! My deepest hope is that something you’ve read has helped you to simplify your relationship with Him, and maybe get a glimpse of the Creator of the Universe Who I think modern religion may have grossly misrepresented. He’s better and more gracious than religion has portrayed Him to be…but you won’t find the full truth of that until you’re connecting relationally with Him. 

I appreciate your taking the time to read the posts. I look at every name that clicks the “Like” button. I especially appreciate your verbal feedback. I think it helps me to get better at what I’m doing. If you think they’re valuable in some way I’d appreciate you ‘passing the word’. Every time you click the “Share” button you make it available to an entire new, broader audience.

If  you’re new to the blog….take some time to go back through the “Archives” and play a little ‘catch up’. Best case scenario, go to the site, click the “Follow” button. You’ll get an email every time I make a post.

The posts that have garnered the most “Views” (nearly 41,000 total!) are not necessary my favorite ones. Below, I have listed my Top-5 Favorite Posts. Give ’em a read and let me know which have been your favorites, or ones that have really ‘spoken’ to you. Thanks a bunch!

You May Not Know This, But I’m  Kind of a Big Deal!

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

You’ve Gotta Quit Calling Yourself a “Sinner”!

Quit Telling Me What The Problem Is!!

All I Know Is, God Loved John Very, Very Much!

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What If I’d Said, No?

I didn’t….so it’s just theoretical. I’m not going to….so don’t get all uptight about it. But occasionally it does go through my mind…..mostly at times when I’m down or discouraged. Yeah, people like me have those times too. Most won’t admit it…fearing it to be a sign of weakness. And, without a doubt, there are those in every group that could start the ‘feeding frenzy’ when a spiritual leader admits he’s actually human, and vulnerable. And, from what I’ve seen by observing other leaders…church people can be some of the most vicious and mean-spirited of them all. Crazy huh?!

It was in 1986 that I heard the call of the Lord on my life. I remember the day well. I was training a horse in the big round pen at the ranch near Allison, Texas. I got off, tied him up and drove the 7 miles to town to talk to my Pastor, Ronnie Chadwick. *(click to read the account) As I remember, it was pretty clear from the Lord. And also, just as clear, was my response to Him that day. It was an easy, “Yes”! I had absolutely no idea what it all meant but I was ‘all-in’, whatever that was.

It was the same when we said “Yes” to the work in Sayre. I’d been asked a dozen times or more to take the little group (6-8) and be their leader. I hadn’t heard a single thing from the Lord that I should do it. But in one critical week the Lord spoke clearly to both Julie and me. We said, “Yes”, and the rest is history, so to speak.

I’m not sure what I’d be doing….or where I’d even be had I said “No”, on those two occasions. For me it’s kind of scary to think about. I doubt I’d be in Sayre, Oklahoma. I’d probably be doing something involving horses and cattle, or ranching. It’s what I knew best…and what I loved doing. On some of the really hard days that life, as hard as it can be too, looks pretty dang good.

But I think about the things that I’d be missing had I said, “No”. I’d have missed at least some of the amazing things the Lord has miraculously done in, through and around us in the last 30+ years. It’s almost embarrassing to admit the times down through the years that ‘quitting’ seemed the thing to do. But I’m not a quitter, never have been…it’s a family trait. I’ve noticed people down through the years who quit, knowing they shouldn’t have,…and it appears that they don’t like themselves much after that. Of course the call of the Lord is one very valid reason for not quitting. But the thing that’s kept me going all these years is my incredible family (best on the planet!)….and this amazing bunch of people at Trinity Fellowship that actually believe in what we’re doing…..and have bet their lives on making a difference!

So, yep…I’m human, and a pretty flawed one at that! But I’m on a pretty decent 30 year run of saying “Yes” to the Lord. My policy has always been to be ‘real’. I’m not of the, ‘fake it ’til you make it’, variety. I’m glad I said, “Yes”. And I still don’t know what it all means! But, I’m all-in for whatever He says!

If you like this one….You’ll like this one, too:

Thank You, Mother Teresa

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