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Category Archives: Kingdom

The Empire ‘Always’ Strikes Back!

One of the largest grossing films of all time, now surpassing the $538 million dollar mark! The story, the second in the Star Wars Trilogy, set 3 years after Star Wars pits again the villainous Galactic Empire leader, Darth Vader against young Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance. The film was the largest grossing film of 1980 and has since continued to rake in the millions and is now regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. When the movie came out it moved the bar up considerably where special effects were concerned. George Lucas became a household name and the ‘Trilogy’ established itself in American culture forever.

There is a mystical power known as “the Force”. It’s described as, “an energy field created by all living things that bind the galaxy together”. (sound familiar??!) Those whom “the Force is strong with” have quick reflexes; through training and meditation, they are able to perform supernatural feats. The Force is displayed by two opposing entities who are at violent conflict with one another. The Jedi, the ‘good guys’, who act on the light side of the Force, and the Sith, Vader’s evil empire, who use the dark side through fear, intimidation, and aggression.

It’s an epic story on the eternal battle between good and evil both here on the Earth and in the celestial realm. As a believer, it’s a battle that you’ve been swept into whether you like it or not. Just the movie’s title, The Empire Strikes Back, has a somewhat sobering and prophetic ring to it. It’s a great analogy of the spiritual warfare we face as believers and kingdom citizens. The spiritual comparisons in this movie are many. Darth Vader is a fair comparison to Satan although even at his very worst is no match for our adversary, the devil. At the end of the first movie, Skywalker and his rag-tag bunch of warriors win a hard fought battle against the forces of darkness. But there’s enough of the remnant of the Evil Empire left to start the slow process of building back, and ultimately assembling a formidable and potentially vicious deadly troop focused on the attack and destruction of the Jedi’s.

So yeah, just like in the movie the Empire always strikes back! You might as well get ready for it. They know your weakness. They know just how to attack. They’re determined to destroy you. But, take courage! You’re well equipped for this epic battle. It’s one you’re going to win! So, suit up!! Take up your lightsaber! You know, the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God! Put on your helmet of salvation, and take up that shield of faith with which you can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one!

This battle is a BIG one!

Good luck, …..and may the Force be with you!

 

 

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Doves, Vapor Trails and 555

Those three things have a lot in common. Well, I should say, they have a lot in common for me. I’m sure you’re wonderin’ what in the heck they could possibly have to do with one another.

About ten or twelve years ago I felt like the Lord was directing me to ask the proper people if we could pray over the Beckham County Courthouse. Well, after a phone call or two we found out that we had permission to do just that. That’s pretty amazing in itself if you think about it! We took a team of people in there after hours and prayed over every inch of that courthouse; every office (a couple dozen, at least), two courtrooms, the judge’s chambers….everything! When we finished up and everybody gathered up outside…the most amazing thing happened. I looked up and there were vapor trails forming a perfect cross directly over the city of Sayre! I mean, it was almost too perfect! I took that as a sign from the Lord that something very significant had happened inside that courthouse…and would set the tone for everything  that happened there in the future. That was the first time that I had noticed the vapor trails. Since then I’ve noticed them no less than a hundred times over our area…and many times forming a perfect cross. Call it what you want…but I call it a ‘sign’ from the Lord!

Then it was the doves. Biblically speaking, doves are symbolic of the Holy Spirit. I started seeing them everywhere, and at the most peculiar times. Anytime I had something pressing on my mind, anytime that I was under extreme stress and pressure, anytime that I couldn’t see my way out of a situation….there were the doves. And they appeared in such a way that there was absolutely no way I could miss them. Those sightings, many times, give me just the shot of encouragement that I need. Others started seeing the doves at similar times in their own lives. It’s really no strange thing to see a dove….but the timing on these sightings was uncanny, to say the least! To me, it’s as if the Lord is saying, “Easy, son….I got this!” Again, call it whatever you want…but I call it a sign!

If you study numbers in the Bible you’ll find out that the number ‘five’ is the number for grace. That’s a good number! Occasionally you’ll see the number fifty-five…also a good number. And, then there are those times that you’ll see the number 555! Almost every day I’ll see that number. More often than not it’ll be on my phone as it shows the time. I, somehow, just happen to turn it on at precisely 5:55! Just this week I stopped at the cleaners to pick up some shirts and the number on my check….#5555! Coincidental? I think not!

You may write this all off as hocus-pocus; I really wouldn’t blame you if you did. But, for me….I totally believe it’s the Lord in His magnificent, amazing and mysterious way saying to me, “I’m here….and I’ve got it all under control!”

He’s probably doing it for you too, if you’ll just look around!

You oughta check these out, too:

There’s Just Something About ‘That Name’!!

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

I Was Born Rich!

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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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Walkin’ the Floor

“I’m Walkin’ the Floor Over You”; Any hardcore country music lover like myself can sing that ‘un by memory! The song was written and performed by none other than Ernest Tubb, (click highlighted link for more information) son of a Texas sharecropper and one of the true pioneers of what we now call ‘honky tonk’ music. ET, a  Crisp, Texas (now a ghost town) kid was so fascinated by Jimmie Rodgers that after Rodgers death he contacted his wife for an autographed picture of Jimmie. Mrs. Rodgers was instrumental in getting the first recording contract for young ET. After a semi-botched tonsillectomy that affected his singing voice he turned exclusively to songwriting until he signed with Decca Records in 1940 and tried his hand at singing again. Turned out to be the thing to do; His sixth released single was the one that brought him almost instant stardom, “Walkin’ The Floor Over You”. (click to see Ernest perform) The single sold over a million copies. Quite a feat for someone whose singing voice seemed to be lacking! *(non-country music fans would probably argue that his voice never recovered……you can decide; lol)

I grew up on Country Music, thanks to my Dad. These days I can appreciate all kinds of music to some degree but those Classic Country songs are still my very favorites. I got to see Ernest Tubb when I was 15. He, and his Texas Troubadours, came to Canadian, Texas to the VFW Hall there in ’68. I’ll never forget it. I’ve since then seen a lot of entertainers live performances but ET’s still ranks up there among the best for me. I joke about that fact that we really were country long before country was ever cool (not a lie)! We were excited when the movie ET came out…..only to be disappointed to find out that it wasn’t a documentary on Ernest Tubb! LOL

I was thinking about my last two posts, “Shoot in Here Amongst Us!!” (click to read) and “Perspective, It Makes All the Difference!”. They both, either directly or indirectly, elude to the reality of our going through rough spots, challenges and problems throughout the course of our lives. It’s true that none of us are immune to them….and how we navigate them will have a profound effect on us….one way or the other.

So, you’re probably wondering by now what Ernest Tubb’s song and that last paragraph are even doing on the same page. It’s a fair assessment, but pretty simple if you ask me; When we’re going through those trials of life, which seem to be pretty often, we might ask ourselves, “God, what are you doing??!!!” 

I certainly don’t have the full perspective of God but there’s a few things I think I’m pretty sure of. When He looks at your situation (and by the way, I think He does that often!) He doesn’t have a scared look on His face like we might; He hasn’t lost His appetite and He’s not wringing His hands and breaking out in a cold sweat; He’s not worried sick about the outcome!

And one thing I do know, …He’s not ‘walking’ the floor over you’ and me,…..and our problems!!

Maybe we should stop doing it, too!!

 

Hey….if you like these….”Share” ’em! Thanks!

Here’s some similar posts:

“Only ‘DADDY’ That’ll Walk The Line”

“I Ain’t No ‘Fortunate Son’”

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

The Gospel According to Shaver!

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

The “fear of the Lord”; It’s one of the fundamental issues of Scripture. I hear people referring to, or quoting, the phrase fairly often. But I hardly ever hear it communicated the way I think it should be done. Let me say up front that I don’t consider myself a Bible scholar. And, beyond that, it’s not anything I’m shooting for either. I do think, that for me at least, that I need (and do have) what I call a ‘good working knowledge of the Bible’. And, by that, I mean that when I need to know where to go in the Book to find the Truth about a certain issue….I can do it. I’m still learning but I can pretty much find a Scriptural answer for your problems when I need to.

But this issue of the fear of the Lord is one that really needs to be cleared up, once and for all! Nearly every time I hear anyone talking about it, (even some of the Bible scholars get it wrong, by the way!) they always talk about it…or teach it in such a way that we’re supposed to be afraid (frightened, scared of, terror stricken, fearful, petrified; all synonyms of fear) of God. Ticks me off, to say the least! Now, if you look at some of the Old Testament expressions of God…..without having any relationship with Him….it’d be easy to assume the wrong thing. And, I think that’s where a lot of the error originates….with people who know a lot of Biblical facts about Him….but don’t actually know Him relationally. That’ll mess you up in a BIG way!

You may wonder why I think this is so important. Here’s why; From God’s standpoint…it’s always been about Him having a relationship with His children. (Im talking about you and me!!) So, think about it….how good of a relationship could you have with someone that you’re afraid of?? Well, there you go! If you’re a parent do you want your kids to be afraid of you?? Good parents don’t want that!

So, let’s get this right; God is the perfect Father…..and He doesn’t want us to be afraid , or scared of Him. Now, …..reverence, respect, adoration, devotion, loyalty, esteem; these are all *correct responses to Him (*actually they’re ‘natural’ responses to Someone Who loves you like He does!) So, if you’re out there telling everyone they need to be ‘scared’ of God.STOP IT!!

Get to know Him, and you won’t be scared of Him anymore! It’ll make a huge difference in your life!

Here’s a couple more you might like:

The “Only Thing” That Really Works

“Obviously, I’m God’s Favorite!”

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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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I Was Born Rich!

Not the, born with a silver spoon in your mouth, kind of rich. But rich, nonetheless, in other things that, today, stand out as being much more important. If you consider the things that are really important in life like, …..to name just a few: good health, lots of good friends, a beautiful loving wife, loving parents, healthy kids and grandkids (smart & pretty too!), then I would have to be among the wealthiest people on planet Earth! I realize that those things are not experienced by everyone and there’s not a day that I’ve taken any of them for granted. I’m more grateful for those things today than at any other point in my life.

But, regardless, if maybe you don’t have all those things in abundance now…..there’s an incredible inheritance awaiting you. Jesus said in John’s gospel, “You must be born again”. He said that to an extremely religious man by the name of Nicodemus. He didn’t understand and reasoned out loud, “How can a man enter his mother’s womb and be born again?” (paraphrased) But Jesus was talking about a ‘spiritual’ birth. Jesus went on to say, “unless you’re born again you can’t enter the kingdom of heaven”.

Being born again is the simplest, easiest thing to attain. God has made it that way! It amounts to you and I agreeing with what Jesus completed on the cross….and then ‘receiving’ Him into our lives. When that happens some amazing things begin to transpire. One of those things is that you begin to experience that ‘incredible inheritance’ I mentioned earlier!

His Word declares, “We’ve been given all things that pertain to life and godliness”. Think about that one for a minute! On top of that we now have this awesome opportunity to engage in relationship with the Father. His Spirit ‘lives’ in us! And, Heaven is the ‘icing’ on the cake!

So, even though we may be struggling to make ends meet financially, and we may not know how we’re going to make our next car payment…..when we get this perspective we’ll clearly understand that we’ve been born (again) RICH!

I think you’ll like this one, too:

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

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Just Say, “Yes”!

I know…..that’s not how you first heard it. “Just Say No”, (click highlighted link) was the slogan for the anti-drug campaign initiated in the ’80’s and ’90’s. The whole idea was created and championed by none other than, Nancy Reagan. “Just Say No” is great advice when it comes to drugs. Hopefully hundreds of thousands of both young and old have heeded that advice…and will continue to do so.

I’m suggesting we start another campaign kinda of like the one Nancy started but with the slogan, “Just Say Yes”!! Well, obviously, you can’t say yes to just anything. That would be dumb. I’m saying we, “Just Say Yes”, to the plans of the Father for our lives. I don’t know many people who would reject that line of thinking….but in practice I’m afraid we might be suffering a little! God has an incredible, intricate and very personal plan for our lives. We can only ‘lay hold’ of that plan, and the details of it, by faith. But the good news is that you have adequate faith, and more than enough of it, to get that done!

If you’ve been really sincere and serious about your walk with the Lord you’ve surely inquired of Him about His plan for your life. If not….you could, and should, start now. Nothing difficult about it. In fact it’s so simple that anyone (even a caveman! lol) can do it. If you’ve heard some things from the Lord and said “yes” to them…I’m convinced that you’re already experiencing the blessings that accompany that kind of response. But what about the things that we don’t even know about yet? Well, that’s where this “Just Say Yes” mindset really begins to be beneficial for us. We should “Just Say Yes” to the things we’re aware of….but go into the next realm where we say “Yes” to the things we don’t even know about yet!

I agree, that’s a radical step of faith…but it’s what we’re created for! So, the next time that something comes up in your spirit that you think might be the Lord…..Just Say Yes!! You can’t go wrong!

You should like this one too:

What If I’d Said, No?WordpressSignature2015b

 

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“What’s The Father Telling You?” Part 2

If you didn’t read “What’s The Lord Telling You?”Part 1.…you really should read it before reading Part 2. *(click on highlighted link).It has been an interesting journey in learning to ‘walk out’ the things the Father has put in front of us. It’s always challenging, never boring and the amazement of it still mystifies me today. When the Lord said He would be bringing people in here from all over ….He meant it! Most are still here. Some have come and gone (just like He said!), and others are yet to come. My own take on what the Lord is doing in that is that He has brought, and is bringing, them here to catch the DNA of the house (Trinity Fellowship). Then the natural, or should I say spiritual, thing that happens is that they become a positive influence wherever they may go imparting that same DNA in their own realm of influence.

I’ve grown very close to many of the people who have  arrived here as a result of the Father’s plan. They have become like family to me and it’s hard to imagine how it’d be without them in my life. Most of them look to me as their pastor and some would also say that I’m a spiritual father to them. Either is a huge responsibility and one that I’d never take lightly. But their first disappointment with me happened when they would bring their life’s problems or dilemmas to me. And, rather than give them an easy answer, my response would nearly always be, “What’s the Father telling you?”. Some of them would even admit, now, that it made them mad when I would ask that question. 

It’s never been my way of skirting the issue or passing the buck. But looking back on my own life it’s been those things that the Lord has ‘said’ to me that has made the biggest transformation in my life. It’s the things He’s ‘said’ that has caused the church to flourish and be the influence it is. But even more important….when I ask them the question it has caused them to go to the Lord themselves! And rather than me being some kind of spiritual guru for everyone….they’re all learning to hear the Lord for themselves! And to tell you the truth, I’m totally convinced that the Lord likes it this way above every other way imaginable!

Think about it this way; If you have kids, would you want to talk to them about the important things in their life….or would you rather have someone else talk to them for you?!! Well, God is the perfect Father….and He desperately wants to talk to you!!

What’s He telling you?!

PS-Most of those would now say that it’s the very best thing I’ve done for them!

*Maybe some of them will ‘weigh-in’ and let you hear it from their own perspective!

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“What’s The Lord Telling You?” Part 1

I put the title in quotation marks for a reason. And the reason is, is that particular quote is one I’ve used at least a hundred times. And if the truth were to be known….actually hundreds of times!

In a Wednesday morning prayer time about 10 years ago I felt I heard the Lord saying to me, “Andy, there’s a shift in how this works; normally people move to an area because of a job and then they find a church….but I’m changing that for ‘here’! I’m going to bring people in here from all over…and I’m going to give them a job; some will come and stay, some will come and go back where they came from, and some will go to other places and start fires!”

*My understanding of that is that they’d start fires like the one He started here; ‘kingdom fires’, fires of something simple yet profound, fires of something real and authentic that would appeal to people of all kinds….especially to those that the ‘religious’ church might have scorned and rejected…and the people that nobody else wants; fires built around relationship with the Father; and eternal fires that are sustained, and kept burning by loving others unconditionally!

When I heard that from the Lord I did what I encourage others to do when they ‘think’ they might have heard Him. “Say it….and pray it!” So, we said it and prayed it and it started to happen. People began moving in here from all over; Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mexico, Columbia, Canada…. to name a few. And, true to His word (as He always is!), some came and stayed and some came and went….and the fires are glowing in places all over, now!

Oh, and by the way….those people that the Lord said would come……they’re still coming! 

Part 2 – “What’s The Lord Telling You?”Coming in a day or two

*Don’t forget the “Reflect & Refocus” Series from a year ago!

Here’s one; (click on highlighted link) Find the others in “Archives”:

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