“Good Tidings of Great Joy”

The angel…along with a multitude of the heavenly host praised God and announced, “Glory to god in the highest, and on earth peace”. It was arguably one of the very few most important events that would ever take place within the context of time, itself. But the announcement wasn’t made before a multitude of people; it wasn’t made at the temple before the religious folk; it wasn’t even made on the town square. No, it was announced far away from all these, seemingly obvious, places way out in the middle of nowhere. The angel appeared to the shepherds and made his proclamation. What an unlikely place to bring such an important message to the world!

But, it’s typical of the Lord of Hosts to defy logic, conventional thinking,….even common sense. He can do what He wants to do, when He wants to do it….and how He wants it done.  And we can rest in the reality that He never makes a mistake…..and that everything He’s ever done, or will do, is always to our best interest….and to benefit us!

I have an opinion as to why He chose the shepherds to reveal this incredible happening on the earth. You see, the job of a shepherd in those days was the lowliest of nearly all the other jobs. They were out in the middle of nowhere; it was a lonely job as they were nearly always by themselves; it could be a dangerous job. David had to fight off a bear and a lion in his twelve-plus year stint as a shepherd; it was a thankless job and I’m guessing the pay wasn’t all that good either. It would be easy, if you were a shepherd, to think that life has passed you by, that you’ve been overlooked and forgotten about. But, it reveals the very nature of God to pick that very bunch to announce the most important happening in the whole universe, up to that point in human history.

Why did He do it that way?? I think to let them know that even though society looked down on them and made them feel like second-class citizens of the planet………He didn’t! He’s like that, you know!?

I’ve become aware over the years that this season, for many, is not a fun time. Maybe  you’re lonely; maybe you feel like you’ve been overlooked or forgotten by loved ones. Maybe you’re going through a hard time physically or financially and feel like giving up. But remember the shepherds. They were ‘greatly afraid’…but the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” It was “good news”.

Give Him the chance to love you like He wants to! He’d like to prove to you that you haven’t been forgotten!

Let it be your “good news” in this season!

Check these out:

It Ain’t Just “Good News” …… It’s “Great News”!

You ‘Can’ Get There From Here!

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

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A Place Where People Get Well

We started Trinity Fellowship back in 1989. Julie and I knew we’d heard the Lord about the work in Sayre. There was a little small group of about 8-10 people coming from the whole spectrum of backgrounds. Baptist, Church of Christ, Pentecostal, Charismatic….and a few who didn’t know what they were….but just knew they wanted to go on with the Lord.

From the very start, it has been a place ‘where people get well’! “Well from what”, you might ask? Some of them get well physically; we’ve always believed in the miracle-working power of God. There’s story after story of how the Lord defied all the doctor’s reports and someone was gloriously healed. It still isn’t rare  for me to ask someone, “How’d you find us?” and their reply, “I’ve got cancer and I heard God heals people here!” Some of them get well emotionally; Trinity has been a place where hurting people come. The word is out! Because of the “good news” there’s hope for the hopeless. Some get well from the ill effects of dead, lifeless, and mean-spirited religion. There are droves of those people out there that have been plowed under by religion and religious people. Many will never darken the door of a church again. But a lot of those people give us a try….and you know what? They get well, too! Some get well from the clutches of addiction, others from heartbreak, grief, and lots of other things. It hardly ever happens overnight…..but it nearly always happens!

We would never take the credit for it; They’re not getting well because we’re good at this stuff.  People get well when they’re loved. We don’t have that perfected….but we’re working on it. But, anytime anyone connects relationally with the Lord….they stand a really good chance to get well. It’s His love that makes the difference. Love never fails, you know!

It feels good to be known as a ‘place where people get well’!

The People That Nobody Else Wants

What If I’d Said, No?

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They Don’t Call it ‘Test’imony For Nothin’!

Everybody has a story. And, I’ve decided after years of observation that everyone’s story is interesting; fascinating really. And it’s my opinion that those stories need to be told. Everyone’s story is significant but in the grand scheme of things its’s those stories of when, where and how we came in out of the darkness .….and into the Light that are the most significant stories of all.

Around the church those personal stories have always been referred to as ‘your testimony’. I guess that’s an accurate definition of a person’s life story. I will say that of all the stories that I have heard the ones that I like the most are from those who are scared stiff to tell their story….but somehow muster up the courage to do it anyway. Those stories, or testimonies, always capture my attention….and the storyteller always gets my admiration. I prefer those raw, real and rough around the edges testimonies over the professional sounding ones. Doesn’t mean they’re any more valid than the others; I just appreciate a person summoning up the courage to do it.

I don’t get too enthused about a testimony when someone emphasizes how smart they were, or how good they handled a situation. I guess there’s a place for those stories, …somewhere. But, I’m a lot more interested in those testimonies where a person was in a desperate, no-win situation, in a place that felt like there was no way out…..but God somehow, miraculously, rescued them! Then the story….becomes about Him…and not really about us.

But the truth of the matters is that there’s not a testimony…..without a ‘test’! Yeah,….you had to know there was gonna be catch to it! But, it’s true; life is full of tests of every kind. Financial tests, relationship tests, physical tests, tests on the job….and the list goes on and on. In fact, I’d almost be willing to bet that you’re going through some kind of test right now. God doesn’t test us so He can find out where we are; He already knows that. No, we’re tested so ‘we’ can find out where we are.

These tests have a unique way of forming and shaping us.…and if we will just keep trusting the Lord through them our character is being strengthened as well. And, if you’re in a place that looks utterly impossible…..congratulations! The Father is watching…and He’s poised for an incredible rescue.

Your test is about to be your testimony!

I’d love to hear some of your stories!

Try these, and “Share” ’em if you like ’em!

“You Are Here”

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

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

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I Don’t Know How He Does It!

I’ve been seeing Him do it consistently for over thirty years now! My guess is that He’s been doing it since time began! It’s amazing to me how the Lord can inevitably, flawlessly and decisively, cause good things to happen …right in the midst of what we might think are terrible circumstances. It started for me in 1984 in what I thought was the worst time of my life. At a time when I couldn’t see my way out the Lord miraculously came through. And, I certainly didn’t know it at the time but it has turned out to be, undoubtedly, the best time of my life. It wasn’t the funnest….if you know what I mean….but it was definitely the best. Because it was there, at that point, that the Lord rescued me. It was there that my relationship with Him began. A relationship, by the way, that I didn’t even know you could….or should have.

I really think the Lord just loves to do this kind of thing. He loves His kids, there’s no question about that! And He loves the opportunity to bless us at anytime, really. But, it appears that maybe He loves to bless us when we think and feel that there’s nothing good that can come in our circumstances. I have a dozen or more stories, and have heard at least a hundred others from people I know, of how the Lord did some amazing things in the midst of life’s greatest tragedies. In fact, if you think about it, the very worst thing that has ever happened in the context of time (without question), was when Jesus died on the cross. But for you and me….it turned out to be the very best thing that could’ve possibly ever happened!

Maybe you’re in the middle of one of those crises in your life right now. I can almost guarantee that the Lord has something very good for you in the near future!

It’s just routine for Him!

Tell me your story.

Try these, too:

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

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

Walkin’ the Floor

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Accepted or Valued? There’s a Vast Difference!

One of the hard things in life occurs when we don’t feel accepted. And, I imagine just about everyone of us has experienced it more than a few times. It just doesn’t feel good to be on the outside…especially when the ‘in’ group is our family or friends and people we care about. Because of our insecurities (and most of us have ’em) it’s possible to have that feeling pretty often. But, many times that feeling is just something that’s perceived on our part and not really legitimate,….or even intended on the other party’s part. But we can still experience the blunt pain of it anyway. Being accepted on the other hand has a very positive feel to it. 

There’s plenty of talk around the church these days about acceptance. I hear some people, from time to time, kind of ‘braggingly’, alluding to the fact that they accept everyone, as it’s supposed to be some real badge of nobility. It’s not rare to hear someone say, “Yep, we accept bikers, poor folks, alcoholics, drug addicts, ex-cons, those that are all ‘tatted’ up, gays, lesbians….”, and the list could go on and on. I wanna say, (but I don’t!) “Well, ain’t that what we’re supposed to do anyway?!” I don’t have much tolerance for bragging about something that oughta be commonplace, and a ‘no-brainer’,  for the church!

But, just deciding to accept someone….I don’t think is enough! I mean, from the position of not being accepted to being accepted, that’s a big thing, no question. It’s huge!! But, just accepting someone has the feel that we’re just kinda ‘tolerating’ them ’til they change to be like us. (which in most cases they really don’t care to do….and, seriously,…..who could blame ’em!) 

But, something really supernatural happens when we go beyond just ‘accepting’ them to actually ‘valuing’ them!! Valuing someone is going to the next level. It amounts to seeing someone through the eyes of the Lord. When we can do that and then show it through our attitude….and actions with them….amazing things are apt to happen!

I’m glad the Lord didn’t just accept me! I’m really glad that He’s not just ‘tolerating’ me! I can tell by my interaction with Him, and how good He’s been to me, that He’s gone way beyond that…and that He’s put a huge amount of value on me. (….incredibly undeserving on my part, I might add!) 

Oh, and those people that you ‘accept’…..they can feel whether you actually value them or not. And, if you don’t….enjoy their presence now ’cause more than likely they won’t be there long!

Check these out: (click on the highlighted link to read)

FOMO

“Obviously, I’m God’s Favorite!”

The Thing About Unconditional Love

“It’s Not Your Job to Fix Them!”

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You Can Only Do What You Can Only Do!

I was having a conversation with a good friend a few weeks back. He was lamenting, so to speak, about some decisions he’d made 10 years or so ago that really affected some people in a negative way; people who he cared about and were important to him. He’s very sincere about doing the right thing; he’s determined to do things that are right and just. He used the best judgment he had to  make his deliberations and his decision. But the decision left the other party feeling hurt and betrayed and my friend has been carrying the weight of this for several years now.

I’d be surprised if  most of  us didn’t have some situations in our past that ended up like that. Situations, that if we were to have the chance for a do-over, we’d definitely take a different course of action. But, here’s the thing;  It’s a fact of life; You can only do what you can only do! We’re faced with all kinds of dilemmas in the normal course of our lives. And, if we’re trying to do the right thing we can only do what we know to be the best thing at that particular time. As we grow in the Lord, we grow in grace….(if we’re not growing in grace….we really aren’t growing in the Lord!) and as we grow in grace we have a deeper, more profound….and actually simpler way of handling our relationship dilemmas, and decisions. We become much more understanding with people, ….as well as, much more patient and forgiving. It’s a natural progression for anyone who’s really trying to follow the leadership of the Lord.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that when the heart is correct the Lord, somehow, has a way of causing good to come from it.….even though we might feel like we mishandled a situation at the time. It seems that He nearly always honors a ‘clean’ heart. Oh, and on the good side, if you can look back and see some of those things that you know you’d handle different today….it’s just good, solid evidence that you’re growing, progressing and maturing!

So, don’t fight your head or beat yourself up too much about those things…..You can only do, what you can only do!

If you have any such incidents that you’d definitely do different today, tell me about  it.

Check these out, too:

If God Has Your Heart, He Can Get Your Feet Where They Belong!

Redirecting!

“I Keep A Close Watch On This Heart Of Mine”

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A ‘Week at a Glance’

Here’s a quick look at my posts from last week. If you happened to miss them, you can ‘binge’ read all of ’em in a matter of a few minutes.

*(Click on any highlighted link to read)

Dependently Independent!  – Some insight into the reality that, by grace, we’ve been given ‘liberty’ and my opinion as to what we should do with that liberty.

Did NOT See That Coming! – My thoughts on Kevin Durant’s decision to leave OKC

Have a Nice Day, Lord! – You’ll like this one! Helping the Lord to ‘Have a Nice Day’

The Parable of Pedro Flores – Spiritual insights from the movie, “Lonesome Dove”

“Cowboy Christmas” – A glimpse of what I was doing 35 years ago. A couple of pics, too.

Lives Matter! – A ‘re-post’ from May of last year in response to the recent events in Dallas

If you find the posts helpful, please share them with your contacts. Please go to www.andyrtaylor.com and click the “Follow” link. …..and as usual Thank You for taking the time to read my blog!

AT

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Hell Fire, and Brimstone!

Hell fire and brimstone; that’s the term some use for preaching, or ministry, that threatens the listeners with the dangers of hell if they don’t turn from their wicked ways. It’s a style of ministry that, sadly, still finds its way in churches today. I’m not sure what the proponents of that kind of preaching think its merits might be. Personally, I don’t think much good comes from it. But you know, some people will make a decision based on their fear of hell, I guess, and I’m sure that decision is as valid as any other. It’s certainly not my style, and it’s not in any direction I’m headin’ towards.

I had a conversation a few years back with someone who commented about how much he liked that kind of preaching. He went on to say that people out there that are living in sin need to hear it in that ‘turn or burn’ terminology so they’ll, out of fear, run to God! I kinda got the feeling from this guy that he fancied himself to be pretty holy, and righteous, and that his own personal approach with his friends not walking with the Lord was the “hell fire and brimstone” method. I really wanted to ask, “Well, how’s that workin’ out for ‘ya?”, but I didn’t! But, I can make a pretty calculated guess…...It ain’t workin’! It also makes me wonder if the guy ever spends much time with the Lord at all.

The worst thing about that kind of ministry is that it conjures up a totally inaccurate image of Who God is, in the first place. That’s a pretty serious mistake, if you ask me. Here’s the thing; You and I will ‘portray’ to the world the “God we know. That’s just another good reason that each of us should connect relationally with Him as Father. If He’s been portrayed to you by one of these HF & B preachers you’ll believe He’s mean,‘unappeasable’ and out to get you. That would be a gross misrepresentation, to put it mildly!

The gospel needs to be presented in the ‘right’ way! It is, after all, “The Good News”! As we connect personally, and relationally, with the Father we’ll find the Truth that the Bible talks about.

It’s the goodness of God that leads people to repentance.

Check these out:

You Got to Me Too Late!

It Ain’t Just “Good News” …… It’s “Great News”!

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Livin’ It Up

There’s a phenomenon, I guess you’d call it, that I’ve observed down through the years. And it seems to have it’s effect just about every time….on whoever it’s applied on, or practiced with. It’s the thing of giving honor, or not giving honor, to someone. The conventional way of thinking is that when someone does something noble or noteworthy that we then honor them for their behavior. Makes sense from a logical standpoint. But, I’ve also seen that when we honor someone above their achievements that they nearly always without fail…..rise to a higher level of behavior, or performance. There’s plenty of people who would argue with that line of thinking but you can’t argue with real, genuine results! And again…..you get positive results nearly every time you do it. It seems to work in whatever venue it’s exercised in, whether in your own family, the workplace, the church, friendships or even with just casual relationships.

It works! But, the opposite side of the coin always seems to work, too (‘or not work’, might be a better description!) . When we don’t give that honor…..or when we ignore the actions of those that we interact with, or have a low opinion of them…..they will nearly always lower their behavior to that level, as well. It just does something to a person’s self-esteem. You can probably think about the times that you’ve been honored, ……or dishonored, maybe even overlooked and remember how it made you feel. I think something very profound happens when we give honor…..even before it’s earned.

I’ve said many times that in, being a pastor, it’s a lot more important for me to teach people ‘who they are’, than to teach them ‘what to do’. For me it’s obvious; when people begin to understand ‘who’ they really are (from God’s perspective)…..that’s when the behavior begins to really change….and it’s always a change for the better! He’s put an extremely high value on you, even called you His own sons and daughters. That makes me want to live up to my true identity!

People have a tendency to live up (or down) to the opinion you have of them.

If You Love Someone….You Should Tell Them!

It Feels Good To Be “Believed In”!!

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FoMO

Apparently it’s a ‘thing’ now; a real thing. Yep, heard it on the morning network news a week or two ago. They did a whole segment on it. FoMO; “Fear of Missing Out”. It’s a pervasive attitude or syndrome linked to the negative feeling of getting left out of something important, and something that other people might be invited to, or involved in.

I’m gonna say that long before someone came up with the name for it, we’d all felt that feeling before; probably quite a few times, the truth be known. Not a good feeling. No one wants to be left out. In fact, whether we really want to be involved or not….it does feel good to be invited and kept in the loop. Makes us feel important. Getting left out hurts our feelings and makes us feel insignificant.

I’ve got some good news if you’re feeling like the FoMo Mojo’s on ya’! Lucky for us the Creator of the Universe has extended an open invitation for us to be at this huge banquet sometime in the near future, date TBA. Right now there are people going out into the hedges, the highways and byways and inviting all those who, many times, don’t get invited to anything. It’s a big wedding party. The Bible calls this big party the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Gonna be some really important people there, including you! All the people attending have been handpicked and adopted into the Family by God, Himself.

It’s an RSVP event; If you said “yes” to Jesus….that’s an adequate reply. Your seat’s already reserved,…..and in the VIP section, no less! If you haven’t said “yes”, I would at the next opportunity. He really wants you to be there!

When we catch the reality of how much He loves us the FoMO won’t be an issue with us any more!

Check these out:

“Obviously, I’m God’s Favorite!”

The “Only Thing” That Really Works

The Truth Does Not ‘Set’ You Free!

If you find these helpful…..Please “Share” ’em with your Friends!

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