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Category Archives: Country Church

A Lifetime of Faithfulness

I bumped into a Friend in the post office last week. He’s a retired pastor in his late 80’s.  He just sold his home and he and his wife are entering an assisted living facility in a neighboring town. He retired from the ministry a short time ago. Spent his whole life ministering in a small country church. A whole lifetime of faithfulness. I have a lot of respect for guys like that.

It made me think; I doubt he ever made much more money than to barely get by. Not rare to have to find some kind of supplemental income. Probably never got asked to speak at a big conference anywhere. Never gonna have his picture or an article in Charisma magazine. Not even gonna name a street after him in his little town. He’s not one to complain about that kinda stuff. It obviously wasn’t what was important to him. But, he kept on being faithful anyhow.

I bet he knew three or four generations of people there where he ministered all those years. Went through all the ups and downs with ’em. Everything from burying their grandpa to seeing a new baby boy welcomed into the world and entire families devastated by some of the tragedies life brings. Held their hands when they didn’t have any hope for what they were facing. Always clinging to, and pointing them to God. And, in a little church like that in a tiny community, the Pastor has to do everything. Preach every Sunday for decade upon decade. Marry ’em, bury ’em, and everything in between. All the while getting the usual criticism that goes along with the job. Think about how much wisdom he gained in a generation or more. Think about how much he would have to offer…….anyone.

In my conversation with my Friend, he lost his train of thought a time or two and apologized for it. He even said, “Well, that’s the problem I have now.”. I ‘felt’ his pain at that very moment and it grieved me. Even makes me tear up while I’m writing.

It’s been a whole lifetime of faithfulness, to the Lord and to the people He entrusted him with. It makes me wonder if anyone really noticed; if anyone did much more than say, “Thank ‘ya”. But, I have an opinion about men like my Friend. You don’t have to agree with me but I bet ‘ya when we get up ‘there’, you know, in Heaven that guys like my Friend are gonna be getting some heavy duty hardware when they start passin’ out the rewards. I think we might be surprised at how honored ‘then’ they might be as compared to those who won world acclaim here on earth. We should honor them now, ….but we probably won’t….

Some people just don’t appreciate a lifetime of faithfulness like that.

But I do!

….and I think the Father does too!

Well done!

 

 

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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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The Gospel According to Shaver!

Billy Joe Shaver, that is. If you don’t know who he is, I kinda feel sorry for you…so I’ve made it so you can ‘click’ on his name above and get in the loop, so to speak. He’s actually one of the great songwriters of our time but as a performer or Top-40 country artist…he’s pretty much been flying under the radar his entire career. Personally, I think that’s perfectly OK with him. From Waco, Texas and well into his 70’s now, his songs have been recorded by many of the iconic performers of our generation, including Kristofferson, Willie, Waylon and Elvis. You’ve surely heard of those guys!

Billy Joe wrote a song years back that was really more of a testimony than a song, his own personal testimony to be more specific. And, if you were paying attention to country radio in 1981 you couldn’t have missed John Anderson’s song, “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal”.  (Shaver’s Version) The song reached #4 on the Billboard Country Singles Chart and still gets plenty of airplay on Classic Country Stations.

“I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal, But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday”; It’s not just his testimony….it’s ours’ as well. And, even though it comes from one of ‘Outlaw Country’s’ most notable icons,….it’s actually extremely correct from a Biblical standpoint! You see, the Word says that we’re being conformed into the image of Jesus. It’s a lifelong process at best and the Lord is in for the long haul. He’s patient and long-suffering with us….and believes in us more than we believe in our own selves.

You may wonder why I’d post a song and a story from/about a bonafide outlaw country artist rather than a familiar Christian one. Fair question. I lean toward a lot of these guys that mainstream religion would reject as having anything of value, spiritually, to say…or sing. Their testimony (songs, art, poetry) is authentic, genuine and it appeals to a generation of misfits who don’t ‘fit in’ with the religious establishment. They’re ‘believers’, (or at least they’d like to be), in the truest sense of the word……they just don’t mesh in a ‘sterile’ church environment where everyone ‘looks’ perfect…and expects it of them. These artists like Billy Joe Shaver have a way of putting it….where normal people can understand it!

I may be closer in proximity to an ‘old chunk of coal’ than I am to a ‘diamond’….but at least I’m headed that way!

If you like this one…check these out:

“Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”

“If You Ain’t Lovin’, You Ain’t Livin'”

There’s More Christian Music Out There Than You Might Think

“I Ain’t No Fortunate Son”

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God Is My Co-Pilot! ……and therein lies the problem!

I started seeing that bumper-sticker when I was a kid, and I still see it every now and then….and it still makes me laugh. Oh, I get what they were trying to say and at a distance it sounds like a totally sensible and wholesome thing to do. I can relate to the whole “Co-Pilot” thing a little bit. In fact there was probably a time in my own life that I thought, Him being my co-pilot would be a very legitimate, and smart thing to do. I mean, if you haven’t had Him along at all….putting Him in the passenger seat would definitely be better than nothing at all. But when you think about it, it really doesn’t make much sense at all. In fact,….and especially if you’re thinking long-term, if He’s your Co-Pilot….it might just explain why things aren’t going so well!

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say…..If you actually created the  Universe…by just ‘speaking it into being’, like He did, then you shouldn’t have to sit in the ‘second seat’ for anybody…..anytime! And seriously….right here’s where the problem exists. We think we can bring the Lord along with us, and into the situations and events in our lives and everything should be OK. But in all actuality….He should be the One piloting ‘this thing’ (your life!). You and I are really not qualified to run our own lives….and if we’re smart we’ve already figured that out. And, why would we?? He is the ‘Author and Finisher’ of our faith; He knows the beginning from the end; He’s the Alpha and Omega. And……..He knows so much more about us…and our lives than we do.

So, all I’m saying is, we need to change seats! Let’s let Him get in the Pilot seat where He belongs and let’s, you and I, just scoot on over and be content to ride ‘shotgun’!

If you liked this….you’ll like this one too!

*click on the highlighted link to read

“Go to God First”

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