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Category Archives: Soul & Spirit

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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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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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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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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Mexican Food and Prophecy! They Go Great Together!

I was in Edmond, Oklahoma a couple days ago on my way home from a trip to Tulsa. Sitting with a friend having Mexican food, I was reminded of an incident 10 years ago, or so, that occurred only a block or two from where we sat.

Julie and I were in Oklahoma City Christmas shopping and took a lunch break at On The Border. Mid way through our meal a threesome came in and sat in a booth twenty-five feet away from us. It was a couple and, what appeared to be, their college aged son; handsome looking family. While we were eating the Lord drew my attention to them. I didn’t know exactly what it was but what I was feeling from the Lord was very, very strong. If we’re being sensitive He will often do this with us when He wants to, somehow, touch other people through us. (I think He would like to do this with all of us!) And, as He often does with me,…I didn’t feel like He’d given me anything specific about them….or ‘for’ them. ….which makes it pretty hard to know what to do. But the feeling was strong!

I considered just getting up and going over to their table….but that seemed really awkward seeing that I didn’t have any prophetic word at all. And, ……we’re right in the middle of the Mexican restaurant, they’re eating……double awkward! (I’m thinking, “Really, Lord?! Right here?!) So, I kinda talked myself out of doing anything. We finished our meal, got in the car and headed for the mall. I got no more than a quarter mile away and the feeling came on even stronger than before. And, then I got the feeling that I had really missed the Lord on this one. “I gotta go back”, I told Julie….who I hadn’t even mentioned any of this to as of yet. “I think I missed the Lord”. Well, we were in some intensive road construction so I couldn’t just turn around and go back. I had to go nearly a mile before I could exit and go back.

In my mind I was kinda hoping that they’d be gone….but that didn’t feel good either. I made it back, went in and they were nearly finished with their meal. I walked up to the table and said, “Excuse me, we were sitting right over there and the Lord brought y’all to my attention. I really feel like He has a ‘word’ for you but I wouldn’t dare give it without your permission.” *(I still had absolutely nothing specific from the Lord!) If they had said, “No”, then I’m off the hook. I’d been obedient to the Lord. But they said, “Sure, please do!” At that precise moment the Lord showed me that he had something for their son.

It’s been ten years but to the best of my recollection it went like this, “You’re the kind of guy that makes decisions on the spur of the moment. That’s the way God has made you and He loves that. You’re kinda like a ‘gunslinger’ in that respect. It’s a good thing.” At this point all three were nodding their heads in agreement. “But, you have a decision in front of you that the Lord wants you to know that you can’t make like that!” At this point they were still nodding but got very serious. I asked, “Is any of this making any sense?” And, in unison they replied, “Oh, yes! We know exactly what this is about!” I finished up, “The Lord wants you to move seriously, slowly and prayerfully before you make this decision.”

I said, “Well, that’s it.” By now all four of us knew that the Lord had intervened; it was clear! They were extremely grateful and said, “Thank you so much for the word….and thank you for being obedient to the Lord!”

We left there for the mall. Julie went in and I stayed in the car. A feeling I still can’t explain came over me and I began to weep. The only way I have of explaining it is that maybe there was something so very important to the Lord….and to this family that had some enormous spiritual implications. 

To this very day when I tell the story it’s hard for me to tell it without breaking down in tears. Still don’t have any idea ‘why’! Even writing it today I’m having to wipe away the tears to finish it. All I know is….something pretty important happened!

And, I came really close to missing my part in it.

Why not check these out:

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

You Can Live in the Past if You Want To…..But There Is a ‘Downside’

Virtual Reality

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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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The Bible Does Not Have All Your Answers!

I bet that got your attention! I know it got the attention of the ones I call the ‘over-religious, self-righteous doctrinal police’. You know, the ones that just can’t resist the opportunity to set you straight about your errors in not seeing every single Biblical truth just exactly like they do. Yeah….those guys! They’d never agree with the blog title….to them it’s blatant blasphemy!

But it’s the truth whether you want to admit it or not. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Bible does have a lot of our answers. And don’t you dare get the idea that I don’t believe the Bible. I do believe it!! Every word of it! I love the Bible more today than at any other time in my life. I love reading it,…I love studying it, I love teaching it, I love listening to great teachers teach it. There’s nothing I don’t love about the Bible. But the Bible was never meant to be a substitute for our ‘relationship’ with the Father! …..and it has become that to countless thousands!

I talk a lot about that relationship and because of it there are those love to criticize saying that I don’t give the Bible the respect that it deserves. I don’t get that! In fact I believe I’m giving it much more respect than they are. In their mind they think they’re defending the integrity of the Scriptures….but in all reality they’re actually fighting against what the Bible is all about to begin with! We live in a ‘religious’ culture that values knowledge over connecting relationally with God. This desperately needs to change! From the Father’s perspective….it has always been about the encounter…..and the ensuing relationship that will naturally follow! In its essence the Bible is written to enhance our relationship with the Father…..not to limit it. It is written with the divine intent of drawing us into relationship with Him! 

And all those answers about our lives that we need to know along the road of life….some of those you will find in the Bible….but not all of them! God has sealed up the details of our lives up in His heart….(and you’re going to love Him for this!), and the only way you can get those details is to go to Him! He’s designed it that way! ….so He can reveal Himself to you in a personal way….and show you how much He loves you!

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; but you’re not willing to come to me that you might have life”.  Jn 5:39

It’s exactly what Jesus was talking about a couple thousand years ago.

It has always been about the encounter!

I bet you’ll like this one too:

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

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