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Category Archives: Freedom

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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Tragedy in Dallas: What Can I Do? Part 2

Serious times here in the good ‘ol U S of A! The tragedy in Dallas is the most recent in a seemingly unending nightmare of mass shootings. It comes on the heels of another hate crime and terroristic catastrophe in Orlando. Omar Mateen, a Muslim ISIS influenced loyalist, entered a gay bar two weeks ago, heavily armed. He killed 49 people and wounded another 53 before he was killed by a member of the SWAT team. It’s just now coming to light and being reported that Micah Johnson, the Dallas shooter, had strong ties to Islam, himself. Radical Islam is a term that we’re hearing almost every day now. But it’s a term that our President refuses to utter. I think we all know why!! It’s a problem that’s growing by the day and something must be done immediately to close the door.

Racial tension is at a fever pitch, the most intense that I can remember in my lifetime. If it wasn’t for knowing the Lord has our solutions it’d be extremely discouraging. I’ve thought about how we should respond as humans, as Americans….but more important as Christians. Here’s a few practical things that each of us can do that I think’ll make a difference.

  1. Pray! It always makes a difference. As you pray your level of faith will rise.
  2. Take it to the Lord. Inquire of the Lord ‘how’ you should pray. When you do that your prayers will be strategic.
  3. Get the facts. There’s so much false and conflicting information out there by the media that it takes work to find out the ‘actual’ truth.
  4. Be an agent of positive change. Each of us has a ‘circle of influence’. We can influence those around us in a positive way.
  5. Watch your mouth! This one may be just for me! It’s so easy for me to go negative with my mouth. It’s not good….it doesn’t work!
  6. Be careful with your social media comments and responses. *Everything your read on FaceBook is NOT true! Don’t treat it as such!
  7. Pray for and Support law enforcement. Now, more than ever they need our support!
  8. Use your ‘voice’ – The larger your audience – The greater your responsibility. Speak truth; speak with maturity.
  9. Don’t take the ‘bait’!  – Love instead! Lots of ‘race baiting’ out there right now. Be wise!
  10. Stay the course! This is not an overnight fix. Don’t get discouraged, don’t throw in the towel.

As believers it’s our responsibility to bring ‘light’ during these ‘dark’ times.

Let’s make a difference!

This is not a conclusive list. I’d be interested in your own thoughts. Let me hear from you!

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Tragedy in Dallas: What Can I Do?

What a nightmare in Dallas! Police officers taking to the streets at a ‘Black Lives Matter’ march to protect the people’s ‘right to demonstrate’,  when the unthinkable happened. A lone gunman (supposedly) from an elevated position shoots eleven and kills five! Purportedly because he was upset by a couple of recent incidents where black people were killed by white cops.

This scenario has become all too familiar in our country. It’s a phenomenon that was virtually unheard of a generation ago. I remember as a kid when the guy went up in the tower on the University of Texas campus (Aug 1, 1966) and began shooting. Before the day was over, Charles Whitman, an engineering student, had shot forty-nine people, sixteen of them fatally. (starting earlier in the day with his wife and mother) Then there was the Post Office shooting in Edmond, Oklahoma. (Aug 20, 1986) A disgruntled worker entered the post office and began shooting. In roughly fifteen minutes twenty people were shot….and fourteen of them died.

These tragic events have become all to common in America. They’re happening at such an alarming rate that, as a culture, we don’t have time to recover from one to the other. Adding to the problem is the perception (maybe just my own perception) that the current administration is determined to fuel the flames of racial tension. There are a number of things that must change if this trend is going to be turned around. I’m certainly no expert, ….but I care, and it’s something I think about. There’s some practical things that we, as individuals…and Christian individuals more specifically, can do. But, first, a few things that would certainly help the dilemma.

  1. As a society we need to come to the realization….and the conclusion that “All Lives Matter”, and then flesh it out! As simple as that seems….it’s not being done.
  2. It seems that there’s an agenda to divide us all. “A house divided can’t stand”. We need to resist the temptation to be divided
  3. There needs to be more ‘voices of reason’ rising up among the black community. It’s just my opinion but there needs to be more Ben Carson, Allen West, David Brown (Dallas Police Chief) and David Clark (Sherriff, Milwaukee)….and less Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan.
  4. Responsibility in the media; Stop politicizing every. single .thing.! Stop giving airtime to race-baiters and hate groups.
  5. We need the help from the highest office! Racial tension is the highest since the 60’s! My opinion again, but not only are we not getting help…Obama is adding fuel to the fire.
  6.  The church needs to ‘rise up’!  We should be the voice of truth and reason during these uncertain times. The answers and solutions for the world’s deepest problems should come from the church! It’s gonna take a lot of help from the Lord to sort this one out! *We can’t be uninvolved!

I’ll write in Part 2 the things we can do as individuals. America has been the greatest nation on the planet. We’re at a juncture. What we do here will determine our fate for generations. It’s that important!

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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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Dependently Independent!

Sounds like an oxymoron, right! But not so. On this day that we celebrate Independence Day, it prompted me to think about our spiritual life and what’s been done for us but the Lord Jesus Christ.

240 years ago today the Declaration of Independence was signed. We became The United States of America on that day. We came out from under what was perceived to be unfair oppression from Great Britain. The Revolutionary War, which would recored more than 10,000 casualties, ensued and would continue for several more years. But the 13 colonies would prevail and bought for us freedom….and the reality of a sovereign nation. The Biblical principles that this nation was founded on is one of the key reasons that the United States of America is still the greatest nation on the planet.

Liberty is an important word as it relates to a nation….and it’s an important word as it relates to our spiritual state, as well. There are some amazing similarities  between the liberty we enjoy as American citizens….and the liberty we enjoy as born-again believers. The 13 colonies were under unfair oppression from Great Britain. Mankind was under the oppression of our sin nature. In the revolutionary war bloodshed was required to win our freedom. Those soldiers were willing to lay down their life for the possibility of true freedom. But the purchase of our ‘spiritual freedom’ was vastly different; there was only One Who was wiling to lay down His life for our freedom. And, that sacrifice was the only thing that would be able to buy our freedom. It would be available for anyone in every generation….and the only requirement is that we’d just believe!

Freedom might be more valuable than we can consciously understand. Since we’ve never experienced it otherwise in America we can’t imagine what it’d be like to not live in a free nation. Immigrants to America might have a better perspective on that than we do. Our spiritual freedom is, likewise, extremely valuable if you consider the alternative. It’d probably do us some good if we did that from time to time.

But freedom can be a tricky thing if we’re not careful. If a nation strays away from the Godly, and Biblical principles she was founded on, lawlessness and chaos is likely to ensue. It’s also true of our spiritual condition. We were ‘given’ our absolute freedom….from sin, and from the Law. But to continue on without the guidance of those same principles and the help of the Holy Spirit……Well, you can just imagine the outcome.

The wise person will develop a keen understanding of their spiritual freedom….and even though we’ve been given total independence…..we’ll take that independence and willingly become ‘dependent’ on Him! That’s what I call ‘Dependently Independent’!

So, on this day, I choose to be mindful of, and extremely grateful for, the freedom that we have as Americans…and I also choose to be mindful, and grateful, for the freedom I’ve been given in Christ Jesus!

Another one you might enjoy:

I’m All For Celebrating ‘Independence Day’, But I Think We Need A ‘Dependence Day’ Too!

“Freedom’s Just Another Word” …… But It’s a Whole Lot More Than That!

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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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Don’t Tie the Ends Up!

When I say, “Don’t tie the ends up”, I’m, in essence, saying, “Don’t get so rigid in your current Biblical knowledge and understanding that you can’t change when presented with ‘new’ Truth.”  I’ve seen this happen a lot over the past 25+ years and it’s problem of the highest order. For a leader, such as myself, it can make change, transition and transformation come to a grinding halt for both the church, and individuals alike.

The church is known for rigidness in it’s particular doctrinal and denominational mindset. Don’t get me wrong, some of that can be good but it can also stunt the growth and halt the spiritual advancement of everyone involved. It has the strong potential to lock us into systems of thinking that will eventually lead us to boredom, staleness and exclusivity in our Christian walk.

The argument might arise as to how one can have a certain spiritual view today and then later totally change their stance on an issue. I actually think, in a perfect world, we should be doing that all the time. If we’re genuinely on a search for the truth it just makes sense to change when we get a better, clearer view on any subject. We all have ‘some’ truth….but none of us has ‘all’ the truth. We should be open to others’ perspective, give it a listen, weigh it out in light of Scripture, let it ‘marinate’ in our mind and spirit, test it in real life situations and pray about it. By doing so we’ll stay in a perpetual state of spiritual growth (as we should be!) and not high-centered in our own limited little, tunnel-vision view of truth.

There will surely be those detractors out there who would want to accuse me of compromise or being wishy-washy about the truth. I’ll be quick to tell you that where I am today…..is not where I’ll be a year from now. I intend to keep growing, changing, adapting and shifting based on my understanding of the Truth. I’m a learner…..and learners must be flexible and open to change. There’ll be plenty of times that the change won’t come easy…..but for the most part….it’ll be for the better.

Don’t tie the ends up!! I’ve given this advice many a time over the past 25 years. It isn’t always received with open arms. In fact, here in the ‘ol Bible Belt that kind of advice is often met with harsh criticism and some pretty mean-spirited indignation. But, it’s good advice.

Don’t be so locked into your little piece of the truth that the Holy Spirit, Himself, can’t break through the crust to enlighten you more. 

Check these out:

The Bible Does Not Have All Your Answers!

$$$ – Being a “Thousandaire” Might Just Be Better Than Being a “Millionaire”!

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It’s Better to “Be” The House!

Every so often, on a Sunday morning, one of our worship leaders will say something like, “Isn’t it good to be in the house of the Lord”. That’s what most people call the church building. And, that’s a pretty fair assessment of what it actually is. But if you take the people out of that ‘house’, it is really just another building. There’s nothing holy about a building. It’s the people that make it the ‘house of the Lord’.

Every time I hear them say that I say to myself, “Yeah, it’s good to be ‘in’ the house of the Lord…..but it’s better to ‘be’ the house of the Lord!”. If you find that to be a strange observation….here’s where I’m coming from. Paul, in one of his letters said it this way, “Don’t you know that you’re the temple of God, and that the Holy Spirit lives in you?” Paul had received a great revelation when he had his encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus. It totally, and literally, turned his world, not upside down but, ‘right side up’! He talked about, in another of his letters, “a mystery among the Gentiles, which is, Christ in you….the hope of glory”. God doesn’t live in structures built with hands. In fact, he could live anywhere He wants to….but His choice is to live in us, individually and corporately. It’s this ‘temple’ that He wants to restore….and fill with His glory.

So, I’ll agree…..it’s good to be “in” the house of the Lord….but it’s even better to “be” the house of the Lord!

You’ll like these too:

Just For the Record, You Didn’t ‘Find’ the Lord

We’re on a ‘Need to Know’ Basis with the Lord!!

“Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There!!”

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Why I Don’t Watch Christian TV

Let me first say that I’m not trying to influence anyone in any way. To watch….or not to watch…that’s your own business. And if you’re getting blessed by Christian TV….watch on!! I’m just stating my own opinion. And my reasons for not watching may not be valid for you in the least. When my life first ‘made the turn’, so to speak, back in November of ’84 I did watch quite a bit of Christian TV. I even watched Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker some. I did find them to be a little peculiar but, what the heck, I did learn a few things by watching their show. Same with Paul and Jan Crouch; peculiar people but no big deal at the time. And I do believe that lots of people were blessed through their TV ministries, even though I didn’t send my $100 for the little bottle of ‘holy water’ from the Red Sea.

But the further I went the less I watched TBN, The 700 Club and shows like that. For the most part, at least for me, it started feeling un-authentic, a little too much put-on, and way too theatrical for my liking. I would catch Jack Hayford from time to time, which was always good. There were a few others who weren’t ‘regulars’ that I’d try to watch if I had the chance. But it wasn’t too long that I found myself not watching Christian TV programming at all. (Been about 20 years now) And now if I’m surfing through the DISH channels and happen to cross one of those networks it just seems that I’m now further and further away from where they are and what they’re saying…..and from what I believe and perceive the Lord is saying to me. 

But the clincher for me came a few years back when someone very close to me was contacted by one of those TV shows. It was one of the most highly acclaimed ones….and one that you’d surely know if I had the liberty to disclose it. This person’s life has been one of the most, if not THE most, dramatic conversions and transformations that I’ve seen in all my years. And after several phone interviews with my friend and then with me….they declined to do the story. Why?? Because, according to their representative, his conversion and transformation didn’t fit their grid of how it should happen. Tragic….in that this person’s life….and his story could have made the difference in hundreds, if not thousands who might’ve seen the TV show.

I left that situation discouraged and, to tell the truth,….about half ticked off. It was obvious to me that they were completely out of touch with what often happens out here in the real world. There’s no formula and there’s no set way for someone coming to the Lord. There’s millions of different scenarios and I wouldn’t argue the validity of any of them. “Any man who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved”.

The cynical part of me would say that if my friend would’ve just said, “I was at the end of my rope, on drugs and ready to commit suicide and I turned on the TV and the  “- – – – – – Show” was on and I fell down on my knees and cried out to God.”, that they would’ve done the show as quickly as possible.

So, don’t get me wrong….I think there might be a place for Christian TV….but it needs to be authentic, it needs to ‘not’ be about money, and it needs to be relevant for what the Lord is saying and doing in our generation.

Check These Out:

Virtual Reality

Quit Telling Me What The Problem Is!!

It’s Not Too Late to Make a ‘Mark’ With Your Life!

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Simplicity! It’s All I Have to Offer

It has been about 12 or 13 years ago now. I had found myself in the company of several guys who headed up some very effective ministries. Ministries that are operating ‘under the radar’ as I call it. They’re not your typical Charisma Magazine poster boys at all. They’re more of what I’d describe as being kind of like John the Baptist. Some are very controversial figures because of their relevant, but edgy, message on such things as the kingdom of God, grace, the prophetic, signs and wonders, the finished work of Jesus and ministry to the poor. I consider them all to be world changers. A very unique bunch of men, to say the least!

As we got together periodically and grew to be great friends it was easy for me to see how the Father had equipped them for what they were giving their lives to. I could clearly see what they brought to the table. But the more we got together I began to wonder how I got in the picture with these men. And, while I learned a lot from each of them I couldn’t see anything of value that I was bringing to the relationship.

When I questioned the Lord about that I felt like I heard Him right off. “Andy, you bring ‘simplicity’ to the table”. That made a lot of sense to me. He went on to show me that there’s a great need in the whole Body of Christ these days for simplicity. I remember in those days clearly hearing from the Lord, “Andy, I’m about to bring the significance to simplicity that it’s always deserved!

When I think about simplicity, I immediately think about Jesus…and how He did the things He did. He was God in the flesh, He had all wisdom….in Him was all the fulness of the Godhead (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) in bodily form….yet His teaching was so simple that even those who didn’t nearly have it all together could understand it. 

That’s my goal….always has been. I’ve been an avid student of the Bible now for over 30 years. I know enough Bible that I could show up on any given Sunday and teach something that only the hardcore Bible hounds could really understand but it doesn’t appeal to me at all. I’m not trying to impress anyone with my Bible knowledge! My goal is, I think, the same as Jesus’……teach it in such a way that no one can miss the Truth!

There’s a lot more to be said about ‘simplicity’. I’ll do it along our way. I’ll leave you with this great quote from Leonardo DaVinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”!

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