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Category Archives: Spiritual

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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“Let’s Do Something Crazy”

I have some pretty incredible grandkids, nine of them as of now. (the number will be 10 in a few weeks!) They’re all amazingly unique in their own ways. I had no idea, going in, that being a grandparent would have so many blessings attached to it. It has been a source of great joy for Julie and me for, now going on 19 years. I was talking to a friend about how much we enjoyed grandparenting and he gave the usual reply, “Yeah, you can spoil your grandkids and send ’em home”. I said, “Not us; we spoil ’em and keep ’em there”! Pretty much sums it up. We’re extremely blessed in that of the 9 grandkids we have, all but one little girl (2 hrs away), lives within five miles of us!

Our newest grandchild is Timber. She’s something! She’s about to turn 3 and like all the rest she’s been an unbelievable blessing. Clay and Chelsea are great as first-time parents. A few days ago they were at our house and Timber was playing around and just doing her thing. She ran from the kitchen into the living room full of excitement and said to Clay, “Dad, let’s do something crazy!” Without hesitation, Clay jumped up, grabbed Timber and threw her into the air….her little head nearly touching the ceiling. She cackled and said, “Let’s do it again!” And they did; but, this time he threw her up and spun her around in a 360* and caught her again at the same time. “Do it again, Dad!” This time he grabbed her by her little legs, held her upside down and flipped her up in the air and, just like clockwork, caught her again. She was laughing almost uncontrollably throughout the whole process. I guess it would’ve gone on all evening if Dad hadn’t given out.

Little kids have an incredible level of trust in their parents. We love to stand them up on the table and then tell them to ‘jump’ to us. They’ll do it every time! Why? ……’cause they trust us. They know we’d never let them fall. Wouldn’t it be something if we had that level and depth of trust with our Father!? I think it’s something we should shoot for!

Can’t you imagine how excited God might be if you woke up tomorrow and said to Him, “Let’s do something crazy!!”

 

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Don’t Bring Me Down

The Electric Light OrchestraELOis an English rock band formed in 1970 by songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jeff Lynne. Their music was characterized by the use of instruments not commonly associated with rock music such as violins, cellos, oboes, clarinets, French horns and bassoons. Thus the ‘orchestra’ designation in their name. With the use of those instruments, you can accurately surmise that they had a very unique, but appealing sound. The band had a number of very popular songs. Interestingly enough, my favorite ELO song, “Don’t Bring Me Down”, (click on link for video) recorded in 1979 was their very first song not to include a string section. It was ELO’s highest charting song in the US, peaking at #3.

As an avid music lover, I’ve found that just about every song has a title, line, phrase or sometimes even just one word that, with a little imagination, can reveal some content that makes for some good spiritual conversation. This song is such a one. “Don’t Bring Me Down”. We have incredible potential with our attitudes and words spoken to those around us to do one of two things….lift them up, or…..bring them down. Looking back over my life I remember those who had a kind, encouraging, uplifting word for me. Those kinds of folks will do more for ya than you can imagine. Encouraging words lift us to another place. They help us believe in ourselves. I mean, if someone else believes in me then I must be OK, right?! Uplifting words have a healing effect on the human psyche. You’ll find yourself gravitating to those who have a kind word for you. And, it’s exactly the opposite for that other bunch that doesn’t have any good thing to say about anyone. Chances are that person was surrounded by parents, friends or peers who couldn’t say anything positive to them. And, it has become the norm; it’s contagious. I read recently that it takes 40 positive, affirming words to counter just one negative, condemning or cruel critical comment toward someone.

I may miss the mark. I may not always say the right thing. I may not handle every single situation perfectly. I might even do something that is just plain dumb. But, say something that lifts me up. Give me some encouragement! Speak life into me! Tell me something that’ll help me.

But, ……don’t bring me down!

Try these:

“Critics, There’s One on Every Corner”

“Sticks and Stones”

 

 

 

 

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So Easy A Caveman Can Do It

Remember the Geico commercials? The storyline involved a couple of cavemen who lived in modern society. The point was that using Geico’s website was “so easy a caveman could do it”, indicated that being a caveman didn’t require all that much intelligence. Their response that they were being discriminated against, or at the very least had their feelings hurt, drew a lot of attention and got a lot of mileage for Geico.

I think a lot of times we make our Christian life a whole lot harder than it ought to be. I’m not saying life can’t be hard; it can! But, just the fact that we’re believers should simplify it in a very profound way. Think about it this way; There should never be a time or situation in our life where we don’t know what to do. We have the Holy Spirit living in us to show us the way at every turn. The Bible even says about us, “we have the mind of Christ”! We have the awesome assurance that when we leave this life we’re immediately in heaven. Our eternal security is sealed! That should relieve us of a lot of unfounded worry! And, instead of having the daunting task of, somehow, trying to plan out our own life….He’s even already done that for us. We must, however, be ‘connected’ to Him to find out all the details of that plan. But….He doesn’t make that hard. He’s even promised to never leave us nor forsake us; that in itself should make even the most harsh situations easier to endure.

But, undoubtedly, the most important thing of all is that God is a Father. It’s a relationship that anyone can understand. He desperately desires to interact with us on a personal basis. He’s done everything possible to make that a reality for us. All we have to do is to engage…..and immediately begin to enjoy the benefits.

You’ve heard the term, “It’s complicated”, right?

Well, this isn’t complicated. In fact, “it’s so easy even a caveman can do it”!!

Check this one:

It’s Complicated

 

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The Bible Belt – “The Land of Never Enough”

After 30 years or so in the ministry there are things you start to notice, things that stand out. There are patterns of thought and behavior that seem to be deeply woven into the fabric of Bible Belt mentality. One such pattern that runs very deep among born again believers is that one can never do enough to get,….or stay, in good standing with God. If you wonder why I say that, here’s why; I hear it all the time; “I don’t go to church enough”, “I don’t pray enough”, “I don’t read the Bible enough”, “I don’t have enough faith”, “I’m not a very good Christian”, I hope I”m going to heaven”. I just heard this from a man yesterday, “I think God has given up on me”. I refuted that lie as quick as I could!

It’s a prevalent attitude with many people always thinking they can never do enough, or be good enough to satisfy the Lord. It gives the feeling they’re trying to serve a God that’s unreasonably demanding and impossible to please. It’s like being on a treadmill of performance in an effort to earn their righteousness; A state, in fact, that many never seem to arrive at. This is a problem of the highest order, in my opinion, because it gives an incorrect image of ‘Who’ God actually is. It’s one of the greatest misportrayals the world has ever seen. There are many out there who’ll live their entire lives believing they were never quite acceptable or good enough to please God. And, what’s worse is that it leads one to believe that the Father’s love based entirely on our behavior.

Sad,…. Sad,…. Sad!

The danger of ‘never enough’ exists anytime a mixture of law and grace are preached. And, sadly enough…..that’s what happens most of the time in the Bible Belt. Paul spent the last half of his life contrasting law and grace. He knew them both well….in fact better than anyone on the planet in his generation. He was a staunch defender of grace even after it caused him to be beaten more than once and left for dead. It was controversial then….it’s controversial now…..but only to those who believe their behavior is what makes them righteous.

So, tell me, what’s on your list of things to do that make you righteous? And, while you’re at it explain to me where the line is of, enough….or not enough. Truth is, if you never read your Bible, if you never went to church your righteousness isn’t diminished one bit. I’m not advocating that….just pointing it out! You’re not righteous because of what you do…..you’re righteous because of what He did! The Father doesn’t love you because you’re good…..He loves you because He’s good!

THAT, in itself, makes me want to do good!

Good fathers would never keep their children in limbo over such important things! So, pack your bags, enjoy your relationship with the Father….. and get out of the land of never enough!

Check out the Audio Version:

 

 

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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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“Just Because You Ask Me To”

Songwriters are deep thinkers, contemplative, reflective kind of people. It seems fairly obvious to me that many, if not most, songwriters are ‘spiritual’ people. By that I mean that they believe in God. If you look and listen closely you can find bits and pieces of their spirituality in their body of work. Many are not part of a church or engaged in regular church services partly because of how they believe they might be perceived, or treated. I agree that some of that might be imagined…but, in the same token, some of it is probably real, too.

If you’re one of my regular blog readers you already know that I’m kinda mesmerized, fascinated I guess you could say, by good songwriters. There’s an art to songwriting; it’s definitely a gift. I think a lot of people probably have the gift….but only a few take the time…and energy to pen up a good one. And then there are those that seem to just crank ’em out one right after another. One such guy is Billy Joe Shaver. (click to check him out) He’s written a lot of good country songs, ….and if you do a little investigatin’, ……you’ll discover he’s lived most of ’em.

I’m always listening for songs, or pieces of songs, that might have a spiritual connotation. And, seriously, you really don’t have to look far. Shaver’s songs have been recorded by a virtual “Who’s Who” of country artists, none any more prominent than Waylon Jennings. In fact on Waylon’s, “Honky Tonk Heroes”, considered a country ‘classic’, all but one song on the album was written by Billy Joe Shaver.

One of those songs, “You Ask Me To”, (co-written with Waylon) is one that I think has a lot of spiritual implications. And while it obviously wasn’t written for that particular purpose we can still glean some good spiritual insight. This song could easily be about our relationship with the Lord. And with just a little work on that last verse it could totally be construed in a spiritual way.

Long ago and far away
In my ol’ common labor shoes
I turned the world all which a way
Just because you asked me to.

Like unto no other feel
Simple love is simple true
There’s no end to what I’d do
Just because you asked me to.

Let the world call me a fool
But if things are right with me and you
That’s all that matters
And I’ll do anything you asked me to.

Knowing how much I love you
And after all that I’ve been through
I’d turn and walk away from you 
Just because you asked me to.

The first verse could easily tell a lot of people’s testimony, maybe yours, and how those whose life was transformed became world changers.…..“Long ago and far away In my ol’ common labor shoes, I turned the world all which a way just because You asked me to”.

“Like unto no other feel, simple love is simple true”. Ain’t that the truth?! There’s just nothing that compares to the love of the Lord…..or the love of someone else, ….for that matter! 

“That’s all that matters, and I’ll do anything you ask me to”. *In our service and devotion to the Lord…it is, at it’s very purest….and simplest, done out of our love for Him!

“Let the world call me a fool, but if things are right with me and you; that’s all that matters and I’ll do, anything you ask me to.” It’s true that when we get obedient to the Lord that the world (family, friends, etc) sometimes just doesn’t understand. But because things are ‘right’ with God and us….we’ll be obedient to what we believe He’s saying to us, …..and do it!

I’ll bet you’ve heard some song lyrics, from what most folks would call ‘unlikely’ sources, that have some spiritual value. Post ’em if you do. Start lookin’ and listenin’ if you don’t…..they’re there!

(click here to hear Elvis’ version of “You Ask Me To”)

PS-Remind me sometime to tell you about Waylon’s spiritual orientation. You’ll probably be surprised.

Some more music blogs:

There’s a Lot More ‘Spiritual’ Music Out There Than You Might Think!

The Gospel According to Shaver!

No Country For Old Men

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

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