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Category Archives: Spiritual Stagnation

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

II’s not rare to see people who are living in the past, in fact it’s pretty common by my experience. By ‘living in the past‘ I mean that most of a person’s entire focus is directed on what’s happened before. There are those who live in the regrets and failures of the past…but then there are also those I see from time to time who live in the victories and triumphs of the past. Obviously focusing on victories and triumphs would be a more pleasant thing than focusing on failures…..but either way……..there’s a downside.

I was talking to a friend recently who talked a lot about the ‘bad things’ (his own words) he’d done in the past. He was constantly saying about himself things like….“I don’t deserve for God to bless me”, “I know I’m not good enough”, “I’ve done a lot of bad things”. You don’t have to look far to find those that are hung up on their past. And then on the other hand I often hear those who, for instance, had a successful career in sports and much of their talk is about how good they were. In most cases it was probably true but I’m pretty sure to be focused, even on the glory days, has a downside.

I’ve had my own issues and temptations to ‘live in the past’. And for me it seems mostly centered around mistakes I’ve made and regrets of  not doing things different than I could/should have. It can be a recurring thing for me so I have to discipline myself to ‘not stay’ in the past for very long periods of time or it becomes extremely counter-productive….to say the least.

But the most tragic thing I see of people living in the past is that if your focus is ‘back there‘, so to speak, you are missing out on something today! Our joy and contentment can never be fully experienced if we’re focused on the past. And even more serious is the reality that if you’re missing out on something today….your future is severely impaired.

Most everyone would agree that God has a plan for their life, and for those living in the past…….if something doesn’t happen to cause them to re-focus they’ll surely miss their destiny. We need to learn to live in the ‘now’! It might be profitable to glance back every now and then and learn from our mistakes but we should get our focus back where it needs to be as quick as possible…….and that is on the Lord….and His plan for our lives!

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A “Disposable” Relationship

That’s what I’d call my relationship with the Lord between 1974 to 1984. I didn’t grow up going to church. In fact, by the time I was thirty I hadn’t even been in a church much. I got saved in 1974. It was in an area-wide crusade in Wheeler, Texas about thirty miles from where I grew up. It was on the first night and I was by myself sitting on the very back row. When it came ‘invitation time’ I knew, somehow, that the Lord was dealing with me. I got up and took the long walk all the way to the front of the High School Auditorium and gave my life to the Lord. Some people gathered me up, took me to an adjoining room with several others who had made similar decisions and there they prayed with me.

It was legit. I mean it really ‘took’. I can still remember the days following that night. When I’d have a thought or say something that was out of the character of Jesus, I’d immediately know it. I now know that it’s just how the Holy Spirit works. Julie had a little paperback Living Bible (before we were married) that she gave me. I just started reading on page 1. I got over into the book of Leviticus and got bogged down in all those ‘begats’ and put it down and didn’t pick it back up. I was rodeoing at the time and didn’t have any Christian friends and drifted away from any real, ongoing, relationship with he Lord. Nobody’s fault but my own.

So for the next ten years or so my relationship with the Lord went pretty much like this. When I’d be in a jam of some kind in my life, I’d run to Him for help. But as soon as that dilemma was over I was back to ‘my own way’. So, in that sense, I had a disposable relationship with the Lord. I treated Him as some kind of ‘possession’ that I’d use whenever I needed and just ignore Him the rest of the time.

Looking back….the incredible part is that even though I really had no sincere devotion to the Lord…..He’d help me anyway! Pretty amazing, huh?! Maybe you find yourself in such a place. Don’t allow your relationship with Him to be ‘disposable’. Life can be so much better….but don’t take my word for it. Taste and see for yourself how good the Father is!

The words to one of my favorite songs goes like this; “One day every tongue shall confess you are God, one day every knee shall bow. Still the greatest treasure remains for those who gladly choose You now”!

You just can’t go wrong!

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

There aren’t many discussions any more important than this one; Who is God? Big question, to say the least. And my fear is that God has been grossly ‘misrepresented’ in our world. Mainly by those who know ‘about’ Him…..but don’t really actually ‘know’ Him! It’s a huge problem if you ask me….and it needs to be fixed ASAP!…..not only for each of us as individuals….but for the whole world in general!

There are a hundred good reasons to connect with the Father relationally. It’s really what our lives should be all about. It’s the answer for everything that ‘s wrong. It’s the ‘cure for mankind’. When you ‘connect’ relationally with the Father you begin to find out “Who” He really is! But if we never do connect in that way we’ll always have a ‘secondhand’ perception of Him.

If you only see God as “Judge” you’ll always be somewhat ‘fearful’ of Him. You’ll always be mindful of your failures and all the things you’ve done to ‘let Him down’. And you’ll be scared about what He might say to you on that ‘final’ day! I have plenty of conversations with people who have made this their reality. They see themselves as not really ‘measuring up’. It’s a ‘wrong’ perception!! It’s not a little wrong, ……it’s a long way from the actual Truth! You see your self ‘wrongly’ ……because you are seeing God ‘wrongly’!

The only way we’ll ever see ourselves ‘rightly’ is when we start to see God for Who He really Is……and that is as a Father. The next step, then, is to begin to interact with Him at that level……as a son or a daughter. Now listen….it really does have to go beyond acknowledging Him as Father; it must be relational or we’ve totally missed the point. Don’t make it hard!! It’s the easiest thing there is for a child ………to naturally relate to his/her Dad. 

When you see God for Who He is, you’ll start to see yourself just like He sees you!

            You’ll see yourself ‘rightly’!!

            You’re gonna like what you see!

            I guarantee it!

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I Fought the Law….and the Law Won!

You’ve surely heard that old song; I remember it from when I was a teenager. I had no idea who did the song until I looked it up. It was written by Sonny Curtis of “The Crickets” (Buddy Holly’s Band). They recorded it in 1959 not long after Buddy Holly had died but the song went absolutely nowhere. It’s still a good song if you ask me.Turns out it was later done, and brought to popularity by Bobby Fuller in 1966 (click any of the highlighted links to watch video). There’ve been others who recorded it more recently if you’re interested: The Clash or Green Day and at least a dozen others. 

Well so much for a little trivia but this blog’s not about the song but about the song title. If you’re a regular reader of my blogs (and if you’re not….WHY ain’t ‘ya?! lol) you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m a music lover. I see a song title from time to time and think, “Now that’d be good blog title”. That’s the case with “I Fought The Law and the Law Won”.

There’s a growing controversy in religious circles today over ‘grace’ versus ‘law’. It’s no small controversy by anyone’s standards. In fact my opinion is that it’s one of the main, and most important, issues facing the church in this critical hour. It’s no new argument; It’s been going on since Jesus showed up. In fact, He’s the one that ignited the whole controversy to begin with….and it has only escalated since. Jesus ushered in this thing we call ‘grace’. It wasn’t just a teaching He did. No, it was much more than that. Grace displayed His very nature…and the very nature of the Father. And today, just like it did then, it ticked off the religious legalists to no end!

The Jews in Jesus’ day could not digest this grace thing. They were sticklers for the Law. They knew it well and even though they couldn’t keep the Law (no man could keep the law; no one has ever been made righteous by the Law; if you violated even one facet of the law you were guilty of violating the ‘whole’ law), it didn’t stop them from trying to enforce it on everyone else. But Jesus was doing something entirely different. It was centered on love...not just an ordinary, superficial kind of love but a love that is unconditionalindestructible and life-giving!

The Law says that you have to keep the long list of good things to do to be accepted by God. But grace says that you’re already accepted and valued by God, Himself. You’re His Sons and Daughters, by His own choice. It’s not a result of your own doing but because of what Jesus did! He has already ‘fulfilled the Law’! (because you and I couldn’t!)

You can attempt to keep the Law but you won’t get it done! If you ‘fight the Law’….the Law always wins…you always lose!

The only way you can win….is to accept, and live in, what’s already been done for you! That’s what we call GRACE!

*You might want to check out one of my previous blogs: “It Ain’t Grace’s Fault”

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What’s Love Got To Do With It?

I’ve always liked Tina Turner. Well, way back in the day it was Ike & Tina, but you know that whole story. I just caught a piece of her song from 1993, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?”, on XM a few days ago. And I thought about that question and how it relates to the church of the 21st century. There are plenty of challenges facing the world today; plenty of challenges facing us as Americans….and plenty of challenges facing us as individuals. But as I see it (That’s the title of my Blog, “The Way I See It”...and if you’re not already a “Follower”, you should be!) there’s no greater nor more important challenge, especially for the church, than….”Are we going to love like Jesus did?”.

Today the church in America has it all; Majestic, million dollar buildings to hold churchgoers; Sound systems that cost into the thousands; Worship teams that exude professionalism; Expository preaching/teaching using the Hebrew and the Greek; Ministry teams that know how to get ‘er done….and lots of other important things. I need to say right here that I’m for all those things to a degree.….and as long as they’re not excessive but used in a way to bring honor to the Father and to bring everyone closer to Him.

But in the final analysis those things are bound to dim in the light of the more important issue; How did we do at love?? Every time I say that we should be learning to love like Jesus did I get plenty of ‘pushback’. Don’t have time to argue that point but if you disagree you can keep on fooling yourself and be part of the problem rather than part of the solution Lots of people argue that there’s no way we could possibly do that. I disagree. It’s not an easy one by any stretch….but because He encouraged it Himself….it’s doable. We should ‘wade in’ with the opportunities that we have to love….right now!

So you ask, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” 

ONLY EVERYTHING!

**(click on the highlighted links for more information)

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