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Category Archives: Joy of the Lord

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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Thanksgiving, It’s a Holiday to Remind Us

The very first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621. It began as a harvest festival thanking God for their bountiful harvest of crops. It’s been celebrated nationally since 1789 after a proclamation by George Washington. And, it has been a ‘federal holiday’ every year since 1863 when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”. Don’t you love that! I fear that sometimes we take for granted the fact that our great nation was founded on Biblical principles.

I wrote a blog awhile back titled, The ‘Magic’ Words. You know, the magic words “Please”, and “Thank You”. They really are words that have power, words that show gratitude, words that could, and should, pull us out of any attitude of ‘entitlement’ that might be lingering. We’re conditioned by our flesh to just automatically look at ‘what we don’t have’ rather than seeing what we do have. And, anytime we’re in that mode, true happiness is just another elusive dream that, seemingly, cannot be attained.

So, I think Thanksgiving should be, (among other things like food, family and fellowship), first and foremost a time to stop and just think and reflect on all that we do have. If you’re having a hard time thinking of some of those things…here’s a little list to help you get going.

I’m thankful that God exists; that He’s ‘real’…and that He’s a Father, Who ‘handpicked’ me to be His son! I’m thankful that He really, really loves me, in spite of all my shortcomings! I’m thankful for His grace…and that He’s already judged me to be righteous which is obviously not based on my conduct and behavior. I’m thankful for His amazing ability to rescue me no matter how serious, or impossible my situation might look. I’m thankful to the Lord for my family!

I bet the Lord appreciates it when we say thanks, whether we ‘say’ it in our words or our actions. I think Thanksgiving is a good time to remind ourselves of all that we have to be thankful for!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! 

Maybe you’ll have some extra time the next few days for ‘binge reading’! Check out these ‘holiday blogs’, and pass ’em along to anyone you think’ll be interested!

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

Room at the Inn?

Thanksgiving ’15 – One That’ll Stand Out For Us From Now On!

Labor Day Out on the ‘Ol ‘Lazy J’

Definitely Our Most Memorable New Year’s Day!

 

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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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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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Are You ‘Led’, or Are You ‘Driven’?

That’s a good question; and it’s an important question as it relates to how we’re living out our lives. Now, I’m not saying one or the other is correct for you. That’s totally up to you to decide….but I think we need to answer that question somewhere along the road of life. And, if you ask me, the sooner we’re able to answer it, the better. I’ve been both. And, truthfully now at nearly 63 and doing the math, I’ve spent about half my life in a ‘driven’ state….and the other half being ‘led’.

I’ve observed over the years different ones (some who I was very close to) who are extremely driven. They seem to always achieve more than those who are not so much that way. No real surprise there. But, when you look closer, it becomes apparent that many of those who are extremely driven can never get enough. And, whether the drive is for money, fame, fortune or even power….they never seem satisfied. They can’t relax, they can’t rest…they just can’t get enough, they have to have more. And, not that I’ve achieved any significant degree of success in those mentioned things….I can admit to,….and can relate to, being driven at times to have them.

But all that was early on in my life. It began to change at about age 30 for me, and only after I started learning to follow the Lord. I think it’s possible to try to reconcile the two. In fact it might even be a natural thing, at least at first,…..but it won’t work for long. It won’t work, primarily, because we’re created by the Lord, Himself to be ‘led’! He’s the One Who has the secrets to our lives; He’s the One Who has the ‘keys’ for our true contentment; He’s the One Who knows who we’re supposed to be…..and what we’re supposed to do with our lives.

Are you led…..or are you driven? My experience is, you’re one or the other; there’s no middle of the road. One way’ll leave you ‘never satisfied’…..the other will fully satisfy!

Check these out:

God Moves Through ‘Influence’ ……. Not ‘Control’!

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

 

 

 

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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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It Was a Great Answer!

If you’re not familiar with our Camp of Champions, you should check it out. It’s just about the most unique church camp you’ll ever bump into. It’s a rodeo church camp. There’s a few others out there but I’d estimate that ours’ is the biggest of its kind anywhere. This was our 14th year and as usual we had participants from about 8 states. It’s for boys and girls age 6-16 who have their sights set to participate in Jr. rodeo. In the 14 years since the inception of the Camp of Champions we’ve had several national junior rodeo champs, high school rodeo champs, college champions and even a PRCA world champion!

Instructors for the Camp of Champions is a virtual “Who’s Who” in the rodeo world. There’ve been too many world champions to mention who give their time and energy for a few days to help these kids in their respective rodeo events…but they’re also ‘champions’ in their walk with the Lord. Rodeo instruction takes place in the daytime and there are tent services at night with the instructors doing testimonies and most of the ministry. In the past 14 years there’s been well over a thousand young people who’ve given their lives to the Lord without any ‘pressure’ from us! We believe that the Holy Spirit is good enough at what he does that we don’t have to try to manipulate or frighten kids into making a decision. Jesus didn’t do that…..so we’re not going to do it either! 

I learned a long time ago that you don’t have to convince kids that God is real…..or that He’s good! They already know…..and they already believe! But during our camp recently I was reminded again of just how much the Father has already done for us to enable us to believe. It was on the last night service of the camp. There were over 80 boys, and about twice that number of parents, instructors and helpers under the tent. I was closing out the service when I asked a couple of really simple questions. “Do you believe in Jesus?” It was unanimous! I think every kid and adult in the tent responded with a loud, resounding “Yes”! I then asked the question, “Why do you believe in Jesus?” …..and it was unanimous again. But, this time, not one single person answered, I mean, total silence! It was 100% quiet! And, it suddenly occurred to me that, that was a great answer!! 

Here’s my reasoning; The Bible is clear that we’ve all been given ‘the’ measure of faith. It’s the same quality of faith that God used when He ‘spoke’ the world into being. It’s faith to believe in Jesus, His Son, even when we can’t even tell you “why”. I heard someone say it this way one time; “I just know down in my ‘knower'”! It’s that deep, God given, assurance of the reality that He exists….and that He’s good!

So, if you can say you believe in Jesus but you just can’t answer why…..That’s a great answer!!

Maybe you should tell Him, “Thanks”!

Check these out, too:

The Thing About Unconditional Love

Maybe You Should Quit Whippin’ Your Own A#$!!

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