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Category Archives: Kingdom of God

Theorists and Practitioners

Theorist: Someone who considers given facts and comes up with a possible explanation is called a theorist.                                                                                                                            Practitioner: A practitioner is someone who is actively involved in real life situations, and qualified to practice a particular occupation, profession, or religion.

I had a conversation 10 years ago with a few close friends. I don’t actually remember the exact details of the entire conversation but I definitely remember the conclusion I came to soon after it was over. I was with four other ministry people, all of which had quite a few years of experience. A couple of these guys are great communicators, orators, Bible teachers. But they weren’t actively involved in the day to day dealing with people and their problems. It’s not that they couldn’t do it; they have. It’s just that they weren’t heavily involved at that time. I’ll call them the ‘theorists’. They’re important people; they’re good at what they do!

It was a really good, brisk discussion on how things ought to work in the church from a, strictly, Biblical standpoint. On those topics, there wasn’t much disagreement, whatsoever. But the ‘rub’ came when we began talking about how it really is in the ‘trenches’. You know, out there where the rubber hits the road….in real life; Where you get knocked down, get your nose bloodied, betrayed, lied to, lied about, tripped up and derailed. That all can happen (and really a lot more!) in the process of ‘practicing’ the theory, especially in ministry.

I am deeply involved in the day to day challenge of dealing with people…and their issues. Been doing it for over 30 years. It’s what I do. I’m far from perfect at it….but I have learned a few things. For that reason, I’d say I’m more a ‘practitioner’ than a theorist. When you add, what I’d call the ‘human factor’, to any theory, even a Biblical one, it complicates that theory to a large degree. Doesn’t mean the theory is wrong or even faulty, for that matter. But it’s different when it’s being lived out in real life. It’s never quite as neat; in fact, it’s usually pretty messy; it’s never as cut and dried as we’d like for it to be. When you add people to the equation it gets a lot more difficult. It’s nearly always worth it….but difficult, nonetheless.

It led me to this conclusion; There needs to be a ‘coming together’ of the ‘theorists’ and the ‘practitioners’. They need to sit down at the table and talk, discuss, compare, hash it out, even argue a little if it’s friendly and helpful. It’s vital, I think. And, if it’s done in a productive manner….everyone leaves the table wiser and better equipped…..and both have a much better understanding.

In all truth, and I think this is how the Lord designed it for obvious reasons, …..unless the theory is tested in the laboratory of life….all you have is a theory. But when the theory is a Biblical one, and the parties involved will lean toward the Lord, it usually works out……..a whole lot more often than not!

The theorists and the practitioners need to get together!

Readin’ a book about learning how to fly an airplane is fine…..but when you’re taxiing down the runway……things get REAL!

Check these out:

I Plant a Little, I Water a little…..

A Long Ways From the Lord

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Don’t Worry…..Be Happy!

You surely remember that little song, don’t you? Bobby McFerrin topped the charts with it back in 1988. An interesting little fact about “Don’t Worry Be Happy”;  it’s the very first acapella song to ever reach #1 status on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s a catchy little tune that’s hard to get out of your head once you hear it. It just kinda puts you in a good mood.

The song has a really positive message to it. It’s just good advice! Jesus addressed the Twelve in a similar way. “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”. His words indicate that worry accomplishes absolutely nothing for us in the long haul. Much to the contrary, worry fights directly against our faith….and that’s a pretty serious thing. Worry is a distraction and it steals from the joy that I believe that Lord wants us to enjoy.

One of my great friends, Ken Henry, has an incredible perspective on worry. He says, “There are two kinds of worry. We worry about things that we can’t do anything about…so if we can’t do anything about it…..why worry; ….or we worry about things that we ‘can’ do something about; …..so, if we can do something about it….do it….and quit worrying about it!” Great advice, …..and true! I’m trying to incorporate it in my life!

I really wish I had this one perfected. I don’t. In fact, I’ll often wake up in the middle of the night and try to figure out something to worry about. I’ll usually find something, too….only to wake up in the morning and wonder, “Why in the world I was fretting about that?!!

I’m working on trusting the Father more. When I do that….I worry less. I’m doing my best to take McFerrin’s advice…….”Don’t Worry, Be Happy!”

Check these out:

Perspective; It Makes All the Difference!

Critics……..There’s One On Every Corner

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“I Don’t Like God”

Well, I bet that got your attention right off! Sure makes you wonder what’s coming next, huh?! Well, here it is. That’s a phrase that I hardly ever hear. I have, actually, heard it a time or two and it really opened the door to some very constructive conversation. But the real reason we hardly ever hear that complaint is that most people, no matter what their life experience has been, still have a fairly favorable opinion of God. Most people want to believe that He’s good.

God’s not the problem; not by a long shot. In fact, not only is He not the problem, ….He’s actually the solution! “The solution for what?” you might ask. Well, He’s the solution for every single thing we encounter in the course of our life. I think we can boil it down to this; Most people don’t dislike God….they do, however, have some serious issues with those of us who are trying to represent Him. In fact, the few that I’ve ran into down through the years that admit they really don’t like Him, when questioned, it becomes apparent that their opinion of Him came from someone that represented Him inaccurately. That’s a pretty serious offense if you ask me.

Most people that represent God are doing the best they can. More often than not it’s how they’ve been taught. But the fix for this is simple. If we’re going to be a spokesman for Him it oughta be mandatory that we spend a little time with Him, don’t you think?! It’s when we spend time with Him that we take on His characteristics. It’s when we interact with Him that we learn who He really is. Now, I don’t want to be a hard a$$ about it but if we’re not going to hang out with Him some….we really shouldn’t be representing Him to anybody else. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

He’s often portrayed to be mad, impatient, intolerable….and never fully satisfied with our behavior. I don’t get it! I’ve found Him to be the polar opposite of those! He’s been really good to me even when He hasn’t had a good reason to be. He’s been patient with me when I’m at my worst. And, in the midst of some of the dumbest seasons of my life….I’ve never found Him, even remotely, to not be extremely loving toward me. That’s just ‘Who’ I know….that’s Who He is!

So, if you don’t like God,….or you happen to run into someone who doesn’t, …..stop and think for a minute. The problem might just be that He’s been inaccurately represented!

Check these out:

Mad at God?? ….happens all the time!

If You See God “Wrongly”…….You’ll Never See Yourself “Rightly”!

God Loves You, And There’s Nothing You Can Do About It!

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Yoke Up!

The old timers will all tell you that one of the sure-fire ways to train up a young draft horse to pull a wagon, a coach or a plow is to hitch him up to an older, seasoned horse. The young horse will fight the harness, buck, pitch and kick for all he’s worth but it doesn’t take long until he gives it all up. Yep, the old plow horse doesn’t let any of it bother him. He’ll just plod along doing his job until the young horse decides to cooperate.

Seems like a pretty fair analogy to describe our walk with the Lord. In fact, Jesus used that exact same analogy in one of the classic statements He made in His earthly life, “Take My yoke upon you”. For the most part His message up to that point had been directed to the Jewish nation and people. And this statement, while we can easily apply it to our own life, was directed to those who were ‘yoked’ up in the Law of Moses. Jesus’ message of grace flew square in the face of the over-religious, self-righteous, doctrinal police and they hated Him for it.

This message of grace and love was ultimately why they so often sought to kill Him. I find it extremely peculiar that as good as Jesus was they sought to vilify Him because He wouldn’t submit to their lifeless religion. And that’s exactly what legalistic religion is…lifeless. No man has ever been made righteous by the Law, and no man will ever be! The Law, as Paul says, served as a schoolmaster until Christ came, and after that there is no need for the Law. It’s a polarizing subject even today. In fact, it’s the issue at stake in the whole Body of Christ, this argument over law and grace. There are those who are being vilified in the same manner as Jesus was and the bottom line is that the legalists don’t believe that God is as good as we’re saying He is! So, Jesus’ statement was designed to take the heavy weight of trying to keep the Law off those who were burdened down under it and get them to ‘yoke up’ with Him.

Hitch up with Jesus!

His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Maybe we oughta quit our buckin’ and pitchin’ and try it!

Life is hard; It’s harder if ‘ya ain’t yoked up!

Here’s a couple you should take a look at:

I Don’t Know How He Does It!

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

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Let’s Put it in Perspective

What is the meaning of life?

Why am I here?

Will my life and existence on the planet make any difference at all?

These are all good questions. I expect that if we’re being honest some form of these questions roll around in the minds of all of us from time to time. It’s probably a good thing. I think we should all give them a visit fairly often, actually. If your question is “Why”,…. well….for starters I’d just say that I’d hate for anyone to miss the real reason they’re on the planet. That seems pretty serious to me! I’m afraid a lot of people will…but I’ve been on a mission for years to not let anyone within my influence do so.

Let’s face it, the worst possible thing that could possibly happen to us in this life is to miss  our appointment to salvation. You know, the Bible says, that God is not willing that any should perish. And the Father has His own unique ways that serve to draw us all to Him. But right on the heels of that….it seems obvious that the second worse thing that could happen to us is to miss our destiny, the reason and purpose we’re on the planet in the first place.

We must first consider, and then hopefully come to the obvious conclusion, that we are on the planet, first and foremost, for spiritual reasons. Whatever your spiritual, or religious, persuasion is it only makes sense to believe that God has a plan for your life (“I know the plans I have for you….; Jeremiah 29:11); because He does!

Doesn’t matter how far off the path you think you might be….getting back on can be instantaneous! All it takes is a little ‘want to’ on your part! If I were you I’d be asking the Lord, “What’s my life all about?”

He doesn’t keep those things secret from us! 

Get ready ’cause His plans for you are incredible!

Good luck, and blessings, on the journey to fulfilling your destiny!

 

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

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Are You “Right” With God?

I hear people asking that question fairly often.It’s a pretty important one, I guess. But I don’t ever ask it myself. I don’t ask anyone that question for several reasons…the main reason being is that I think most people, when asked, would answer it wrong. Our religious culture causes us to place the emphasis squarely in the wrong place most of the time. Nearly always the thought process leads people to look at their own life and make some serious determinations. Most people would tell you that they don’t read the Bible enough.Most of them, if they were comfortable enough to be totally honest with us, would also tell us that they don’t pray nearly as much as they should. And, by that, it leads them to think that they’re not right with God or that God, somehow, is displeased with them. I think that’s tragic!

Of course we should read the Bible; it’s good for us……for a lot of reasons. And prayer, well prayer is extremely important…again for a lot of good reasons. And while they benefit us in countless ways doing them doesn’t push our righteousness up the thermometer even one little tick. 

But the question of , “Are you right with God?” must really be looked at from His perspective (as best we can with our little finite minds). You see, God is a Father….and that changes everything! Now, I’m not saying I have the total perspective of God. That’d be stretching it a bit! lol ….But I am a father,…been one for 39 years now. And I’m a father of 5 incredible kids (all grown now).….so I know a little bit about how a father thinks. My love for my kids is not based on how many good things they do. I hope they do a lot of good things….but whether they do or not doesn’t affect my love for them one little bit!

I’m not looking at the things that they do wrong and holding those things against them. I’m not withholding my love for them until they get everything right. That just sounds dumb! And if you were to ask me if my kids were ‘right’ with me…..I wouldn’t even have to think about it! It’d be a yes every single time. My love for them is not conditional….and neither is God’s love for you.

If you’re born again you’re right with God. It’s that simple. Truth is, you can’t get any more ‘good with God’ than you already are! You’re the apple of His eye! You were ‘given’ His perfect love, already.

You should live in that….and quit trying to ‘earn’ something you already have!

You might like these:

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

“Obviously, I’m God’s Favorite!”

 

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A Word or Two to the Grace Preachers Out There

I’m a grace man. I’ve been a grace man since November the 17th, 1984. That’s when I sat on the edge of my bed, with everything wrong in my life that could be wrong, and prayed this prayer….word for word; “God, if you’re out there, you gotta help me”. That night marked a turnaround in my life, a transformation if you will, that has continued every day since then. Hopefully that transformation will stay in progress from now on. I’m still a long ways from where I need to be….but after 32 years I’m still moving in the right direction.

Because of how I came to the Lord (read about it here), it shaped me into being a grace person. And, even though I cried out to the Lord in all sincerity He really had no good reason to rescue me. But He did it anyway! That, in essence, is what grace is! I experienced His amazing grace firsthand long before I heard anybody teaching on it. I think people who are around me would say that I handle and treat people with grace. *(if not….you have my permission to tell me!)

There has been an upsurge in the last few years on the topic of grace. The ‘finished work of Jesus’ is something a lot of people are talking, and writing, about these days. Clark Whitten’s book, “Pure Grace”, is a good one. And Joe Langley’s, “Unfiltered Grace” would also be a great starting place if you’re interested. Both are personal friends and their books are well written and easy to read.

Grace has become a very controversial issue. A friend put it this way, “If you want to make people mad, preach the Law; if you want to make them furious……preach grace!” I’m finding out there’s some truth to that. It really turns out to be an argument over how good God really is.It’s an important topic and one I think you should give some attention to.

Grace is a subject that God is breathing on. Truth be known, He has always been doing that. Anytime that happens there’s a rash of preachers and teachers jumping on the bandwagon, so to speak.That can be a good thing but it can also bring a lot of problems with it as well. Here’s how; Anytime we teach something but are not walking in it (or at the very least, trying to) the message is tainted. Listeners have a hard time reconciling the truth that they hear (about grace in this instance) with the level of personal integrity with a teacher who doesn’t handle people with grace. Who can blame them?

There are several teachers out there with a huge following. I find myself agreeing with most of what they’re saying. But their prideful and critical (my opinion) attitude toward other preachers/teachers who are not yet where they are in their understanding of grace causes me to ‘not’ be a fan. I don’t think I’m alone.

Here’s how I’d encourage the grace preachers out there:

  • Your understanding of grace is a ‘gift’ to be treasured and stewarded with wisdom and maturity. It’s not something you’ve earned…or even deserved, really. It’s a GIFT!
  • Grace is something that is best understood through experience. I, personally, don’t care how much Bible a guy knows if he doesn’t have some experiential knowledge of the subject.
  • If you’re going to preach it, then at the very least, attempt to walk it out in your attitude, words, and dealings with people. Jesus was the best example: He didn’t just ‘have’ a grace message……He ‘was’ the grace message! He embodied the truth He communicated. We should do the same.
  • “Let not many of you be teachers, knowing that you will incur a stricter judgment” It’s a lot more serious if you’re a teacher. *Something to remember: “You teach what you know, but you impart ‘who’ you are!” If it’s coming from a critical heart you’re producing that same critical heart with others. That’s serious!
  • When you mock and make fun of leaders who’ve not been exposed to the message, you alienate them. So, you should take some of the responsibility for the controversy over grace.
  • When you criticize others and use strong words like ‘extortion’ toward those who are still finding their way…..you just lost me! I think you’re losing others as well. And what’s more important…you’re giving others a wrong or skewed perception of grace.
  • When grace is adequately communicated……very few people reject it!
  • Oh, and don’t forget what they say about knowledge! It ‘puffs up’!
  • Grace is a beautiful message; don’t contaminate it with the wrong heart.

Share this message!

You oughta read these, too:

The Elusive Definition of Grace

A Long Ways From the Lord

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

It Ain’t Grace’s Fault!

I Fought the Law….and the Law Won!

There’s Grace For That!

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Follow the Cloud

From the very beginning of the Bible we are introduced to a God that wants to interact with His people. He and Adam walked together in the cool of the day. Can you imagine that?! Just hanging out with the Creator of the Universe. Wouldn’t that be a trip! But there was trouble brewing in the garden and when it went down it led to some abrupt changes. 

God has always wanted to communicate with His people…..and He communicates in all kinds of ways. But after the fiasco in the Garden of Eden He began doing it different. It was still clear communication but He would handpick a man and over time He would transform that man into someone who could be trusted to bring His word to the people. He’d talk to that man and give him the instructions to be followed so His blessings could be experienced by all.

The Israelites were under some severe persecution in Egypt. God raised up Moses to lead His beloved people out of Egypt. It’s a great story; three million people displaced from their homes out in the middle of nowhere. A tabernacle was constructed according to the exact specifications of God, Himself. And the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. The tabernacle was portable, so to speak, and when the pillar of fire by night, or the cloud by day moved…..the tabernacle….and those three million people moved with it.

Logic would say that it would be amazingly easy to follow God that way; Fire by night, cloud by day. But from the very beginning the Lord had something even better in mind for all mankind. A time was coming when He would give His own Spirit to anyone willing to receive Him. And His Spirit, living inside us, would be able to direct us at every turn and give us God’s own wisdom for every situation.

As easy as it would have been to follow the cloud or the pillar of fire….it should be exponentially easier to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It should be the most natural thing for us who are sons and daughters. The Father wants us to know His will in every single situation….and the Holy Spirit, Who lives in us, has that information; and….He’s very free with it!

It just makes sense that we would seek to know that Person Who lives in us. It makes sense that we would consider it a priority to ignore some of the other voices so we can hear His voice better.

We’ve been given an incredible advantage through His Spirit. We should make the most of it!

Follow the Cloud!

Audio: 2:09

I’d sure appreciate it if you’d “Share” these posts!

Here’s a few more you might like:

“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”

‘Thorns in the Flesh’

The Fear of the Lord…..Let’s Get It Right!

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“Long May You Run”

Neil Young is an interesting guy. I’ve always been a fan. He has one of the most unique and identifiable voices in music. There’s just no one before him…or after him, at least so far, that has that same unique sound. He’s a pretty fair guitar player, too. From what little I’ve read, and heard about him he might be a pretty eccentric, hard to get along with, kind of guy. One particular case in point. Touring with Stephen Stills in 1976 prior to their upcoming album release and after only nine dates, Neil sends Stills a telegram, “Dear  Stephen, funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach”, signed Neil. Stills had no choice but to finish the tour without him. Doesn’t really affect me….I still like Neil Young.

One of Young’s songs, Long May You Run, (click now before you read the rest of the story to watch Crosby, Stills Nash & Young perform it) is one that I’m especially fond of. It really is a great song; great melody, great lyrics….and Neil’s stellar voice ices the cake. I like the title. It makes me think of a blessing of sorts that someone is declaring over someone they are friends with, or someone they admire. Just the title itself suggests long life, advancement, favor and success.

In this infancy of the New Year I’d like to speak that same blessing over you. I’ve been a huge proponent of encouraging people to fulfill their destiny. God has an incredible, and detailed, plan for your life. We’re not here by accident. We’re here on the planet as a direct order by the Father, Himself. “He has determined our preappointed times and the boundaries of our dwellings.” He wants a family of people on earth that represents Him correctly; a family that has His characteristics and displays the same heart toward people that He does. He can take a really ‘messed up’ life and turn it into something very significant.

So, this year as you head out. My prayer for you is that you’ll fulfill the plan of God over you, …. to the ‘T’! And as you encounter those obstacles, those roadblocks and those impossible lookin’ situations with your impeccable faith…….”Long May You Run”!

*Oh, …..the rest of the story; Young wrote that song about his first car, a 1948 Buick Roadmaster hearse that he affectionately named, “Mort”, that died in 1965 when the transmission blew in Blind River, Ontario!  Who knew?! lol

These will help you get going in 2017 *(Read the whole series)………and “Share”,  pass the word!

Reflect – Refocus #2

Reflect & Refocus #12

Reflect & Refocus #20

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Amazing Grace, How Sweet the ‘Feel’

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.” One of my very favorite songs, no question about it. Here’s a little history on the song. It was published in 1779 (How’d you like to have the royalties on that one?!) by English poet turned clergyman John Newton. Newton, it turns out, was a very interesting character. He wrote the song from his own personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction. He was heavily involved in the Atlantic slave trade when in 1748 a violent storm battered his vessel off the coast of Ireland. So violently, in fact, that in fear he cried out to God for mercy. That was a turning point in young Newton’s life and he soon ended seafaring altogether to pursue Christian theology. *(Must’ve been a heckuva storm!)

“Amazing Grace” was written to illustrate a sermon on New Year’s Day in 1773. It’s unknown if it was accompanied by music but most historians agree that it was probably just chanted in unison by those in the congregation that day. The song was officially published in 1779 and soon disappeared into relative obscurity in England. It became popular in the early 19th century in America. With the message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” is now one of the most recognizable songs in the English speaking world. It’s definitely a song of “good news”! 

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…..”  There’s a lot of talk about grace these days. As good as the sound of it might be, grace is best understood just by the sheer experience of it.  God has made sure that we’re never out of grace’s reach. And that wherever we are,….and whatever the need might be,…His grace is ever sufficient for the task! It’s never just barely enough, either; there’s always a generous abundance of grace!

In keeping with the original tradition let’s resolve, on this New Year’s Day, to make 2017 a year of immeasurable grace. Let’s commit to give it to others to the degree that we’ve received it from the Father. That’ll make for an incredible year! I guess God’s amazing grace has a wonderful sound…..but it can’t compare to how sweet His grace ‘feels’!

It only seems fitting, at least to me, to post one of my all-time favorite artists, who incidentally just graduated to heaven a few short weeks ago, singing one of my all-time favorite songs! Click here to watch Leon Russell sing Amazing Grace! Just an ‘ol Oklahoma kid with a ‘gift’ he gave to the world!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

You might enjoy this one, too:

Definitely Our Most Memorable New Year’s Day!

 

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