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Category Archives: Trial by Fire

The Mountains are Talkin’!

….and you’ve heard them too, whether you realize it or not! And, there’s a great possibility that you’ve been listening way too much at what they’re saying! I bet you’re wondering just what I’m talking about. Well, Jesus knew we’d be facing mountains in the natural course of our life so He addressed it up front for us. “Whosoever shall say to the mountain, be removed and cast into the sea, and doesn’t doubt in his heart that those things he says, he shall have whatsoever he shall say.” 

Now, realistically I can’t imagine why I’d ever want to move an actual mountain from one place to another. As far as I’m concerned they’re all exactly where they’re supposed to be. On second thought I wouldn’t mind having a couple of small ones out here in Western Oklahoma just to look at now and then, …..but it is what it is. One would then have to surmise that maybe Jesus wasn’t talking about a literal mountain at all but about the problems, obstacles and potential dangers we all face in life.

I’d be surprised if anyone reading this little piece didn’t have at least some obstacle facing them right now. It just seems to work out that way. Mountains talk a lot! And when you have one, the mountain will be in your face talkin’ smack from the time you wake up ’til you go to sleep at night. ……sometimes even in your sleep! “You ain’t gonna make it!”. “You’ve got cancer!”. “He doesn’t love you anymore!”. “Your friends are talking about you!”. “You’re a failure!”. “You don’t do enough good stuff for the Lord to love you!”. And, the list goes on and on. Mountains are relentless! They don’t let up! The more you listen, the more they talk!

I know you learned when you were a little kid to not ‘talk back’. Talkin’ back would get you in big trouble in those days. That was good advice then. But now, well now things have changed. You gotta start talkin’ back! I’ve found that the most effective way to talk back to mountains is to find me some scriptural promise that directly affects the lies the mountain is saying to me. Every time that mountain tells me I ain’t gonna make it, ……I’ll declare the Word of the Lord out loud to my mountain. You can bet your boots I’m gonna talk back! And, I’m gonna do it like I mean it even if it feels like I’m spittin’ in the wind.

That’s exactly what Jesus did when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Those three times he appealed to logic in trying to deceive Jesus, each time Jesus answered with, “It is written…”. Worked then for Him, ……..and it’ll work now for you if you’ll just do it!

The payoff, …..you’ll find that your level of faith rises every time you declare the Word to your mountain. Your mountain will begin to diminish in size. It’s all about perspective. Your faith is being tested and your faith will grow as a result.

So, yeah the mountains are talking. Question is, “What are you saying to your mountain!?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lean on Me

When I hear the song, “Lean on Me”, it reminds me of when I was in college out at ‘ol Eastern New Mexico University in Portales right out of high school in ’71. The song, by Bill Withers, was a #1 hit on both the soul singles and the ‘Billboard Hot 100′. It ranks #208 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Hits of All Time”. The song has a great positive message.

“Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on”

“You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on”

It oughta be a priority in life to ‘be there’ for other people in their times of need. It takes a special person to put their own baggage, issues and problems on the back burner in an effort to help someone else out of life’s jams. And if we believe anything of what the Bible says about sowing and reaping…we’ll be sowing some good seeds that will bring a nice little harvest when we find our own selves in that place of need. It’s really how humanity ought to work.

Are you someone that a friend could lean on? It requires that we become listeners and encouragers. Oftentimes that friend doesn’t need advice near as much as they just need someone to listen to them. And, for that person, sometimes it just helps to hear themselves talk about their dilemma. Being there for someone and hearing their problems can give you some incredible insight in how to pray for them.

Anytime a person comes to you and tells you their problems,…..what they’re actually doing is asking you for help. And, the fact that they came to you just says that you have at least earned some level of trust with them. That’s a pretty important factor; I wouldn’t take it lightly! Trust is an extremely valuable thing.

One word of caution; being a person worthy of someone leaning on can bring it’s own set of problems. We must keep in perspective that while we want to help….we can never take  the place of the Lord in their lives. Our goal should always be to point them to Him!

Brace up!

Your People need someone dependable to lean on!

More good ones: *(Please  “Share” These!)

They Don’t Call it ‘Test’imony For Nothin’!

‘Thorns in the Flesh’

You Ever Get Tired of People Dumping All Their Problems On You?!?

That One “Nut Job”!

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“Good Tidings of Great Joy”

The angel…along with a multitude of the heavenly host praised God and announced, “Glory to god in the highest, and on earth peace”. It was arguably one of the very few most important events that would ever take place within the context of time, itself. But the announcement wasn’t made before a multitude of people; it wasn’t made at the temple before the religious folk; it wasn’t even made on the town square. No, it was announced far away from all these, seemingly obvious, places way out in the middle of nowhere. The angel appeared to the shepherds and made his proclamation. What an unlikely place to bring such an important message to the world!

But, it’s typical of the Lord of Hosts to defy logic, conventional thinking,….even common sense. He can do what He wants to do, when He wants to do it….and how He wants it done.  And we can rest in the reality that He never makes a mistake…..and that everything He’s ever done, or will do, is always to our best interest….and to benefit us!

I have an opinion as to why He chose the shepherds to reveal this incredible happening on the earth. You see, the job of a shepherd in those days was the lowliest of nearly all the other jobs. They were out in the middle of nowhere; it was a lonely job as they were nearly always by themselves; it could be a dangerous job. David had to fight off a bear and a lion in his twelve-plus year stint as a shepherd; it was a thankless job and I’m guessing the pay wasn’t all that good either. It would be easy, if you were a shepherd, to think that life has passed you by, that you’ve been overlooked and forgotten about. But, it reveals the very nature of God to pick that very bunch to announce the most important happening in the whole universe, up to that point in human history.

Why did He do it that way?? I think to let them know that even though society looked down on them and made them feel like second-class citizens of the planet………He didn’t! He’s like that, you know!?

I’ve become aware over the years that this season, for many, is not a fun time. Maybe  you’re lonely; maybe you feel like you’ve been overlooked or forgotten by loved ones. Maybe you’re going through a hard time physically or financially and feel like giving up. But remember the shepherds. They were ‘greatly afraid’…but the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” It was “good news”.

Give Him the chance to love you like He wants to! He’d like to prove to you that you haven’t been forgotten!

Let it be your “good news” in this season!

Check these out:

It Ain’t Just “Good News” …… It’s “Great News”!

You ‘Can’ Get There From Here!

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

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They Don’t Call it ‘Test’imony For Nothin’!

Everybody has a story. And, I’ve decided after years of observation that everyone’s story is interesting; fascinating really. And it’s my opinion that those stories need to be told. Everyone’s story is significant but in the grand scheme of things its’s those stories of when, where and how we came in out of the darkness .….and into the Light that are the most significant stories of all.

Around the church those personal stories have always been referred to as ‘your testimony’. I guess that’s an accurate definition of a person’s life story. I will say that of all the stories that I have heard the ones that I like the most are from those who are scared stiff to tell their story….but somehow muster up the courage to do it anyway. Those stories, or testimonies, always capture my attention….and the storyteller always gets my admiration. I prefer those raw, real and rough around the edges testimonies over the professional sounding ones. Doesn’t mean they’re any more valid than the others; I just appreciate a person summoning up the courage to do it.

I don’t get too enthused about a testimony when someone emphasizes how smart they were, or how good they handled a situation. I guess there’s a place for those stories, …somewhere. But, I’m a lot more interested in those testimonies where a person was in a desperate, no-win situation, in a place that felt like there was no way out…..but God somehow, miraculously, rescued them! Then the story….becomes about Him…and not really about us.

But the truth of the matters is that there’s not a testimony…..without a ‘test’! Yeah,….you had to know there was gonna be catch to it! But, it’s true; life is full of tests of every kind. Financial tests, relationship tests, physical tests, tests on the job….and the list goes on and on. In fact, I’d almost be willing to bet that you’re going through some kind of test right now. God doesn’t test us so He can find out where we are; He already knows that. No, we’re tested so ‘we’ can find out where we are.

These tests have a unique way of forming and shaping us.…and if we will just keep trusting the Lord through them our character is being strengthened as well. And, if you’re in a place that looks utterly impossible…..congratulations! The Father is watching…and He’s poised for an incredible rescue.

Your test is about to be your testimony!

I’d love to hear some of your stories!

Try these, and “Share” ’em if you like ’em!

“You Are Here”

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

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

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Maybe You Oughta Think That One Through!

I just saw a picture post and quote on FaceBook that was supposedly from a Lieutenant Governor of a, let’s just say, far western state. Now, I didn’t ‘fact-check’ it so it might not have even happened. ‘Cause you know, as old Abe Lincoln said, “You can’t believe everything your read on FaceBook”! And….that is the truth! The quote attributed to him read, “I’d rather be a sitting duck at a mass shooting than have a gun to protect myself.” It does seem kinda ludicrous if it’s true….but who knows?

I’m not trying to make the call whether he said it or not. That’s not at all what this is about. But, I did have a funny thought run through my mind when I read it. If he did…or if someone might say something like that…my first thought is, “Uuuuh, I’m not sure you thought that one through!” It really got me to thinking. There’s so many times that people do things and say things without thinking it through. Man, …..how many times have I done that myself?! We’re often prone to act on the spur of the moment and make decisions totally out of our emotions rather than from logic, reason and common sense. Sometimes those, in the heat of the moment, decisions don’t turn out so well. 

And, really, most of the time it amounts to just thinking your way through the situation. How do you do that? Well, for starters it would help to think of the possible consequences of our actions. How is this going to affect the people I say it to? Will I end up needing to apologize? How am I going to feel if I deeply offend someone. That’s a good start.

James gives some great advice in his New Testament letter, “Be swift to hear, slow to speak…and slow to wrath”. If we’d just try to think our way through some of these situations we might choose a totally different plan of action….and maybe we wouldn’t have near as big a mess to clean up.

Check these out and “Share” ’em if you like ’em!

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

Redirecting!

Talk About a ‘Fixer-Upper’!

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Maybe He Saved More Than Your Life!

I just returned from a fantastic week of trout fishing in Montana. It’s the second year I’ve been invited there by my great friend, Ty Bean. It has been, these two years, an incredible time to unwind, relax, replenish and meet up with a few old, and some new friends. I had a great time….all except when I fell into the river! Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime. But, until then suffice it to say that the Big Horn, …in October, is waaaay too chilly to go into…on purpose!

We were picked up at the airport in Billings by a sharp young man named Tyler. There were five of us in the Suburban for the hour and a half trip to the lodge. I was riding ‘shotgun’ with Tyler and he began to ask me about my life. Now I sure don’t mind telling ‘my story’ but I have absolutely no agenda to try to force my way into telling it. But I was glad to answer Tyler’s questions and tell him how the Lord rescued me 32 years ago. When I finished he said, “That’s a great story!” I said, “Well, I take no credit for it, it’s just the story of how God saved my life.”

At almost that precise time I received a text. My screen-saver on my phone now ( I change it periodically with a pic of one or more of our 9 Grandkids!) is a pic of Knox and Timber, our two ‘newest’ grand babies. He (the Lord) immediately took me to that time in 1984 when my marriage was over with no hope of repair, and just about every other problem you could imagine. At that point in my life I only had two sons, Clint and Cade. And, the Lord showed me all that I now have…..that I wouldn’t have had, had He not answered my desperate prayer of, “God, if You’re out there, you gotta help me!”

My mind went immediately to Cole, his wife Kelly and their 3 precious little kids, Calli, Maverick and Knox. Then to Clay, his wife Chelsea and precious little Timber. Then to Cord, our little boy in heaven. *(Something for us to really look forward to!!) Then to Cameron, our little girl who has been the ‘icing on the cake’ after four boys! I was broken beyond words right there in the Suburban. It wasn’t tears of sadness but tears of overwhelming joy and gratefulness toward the Father.  None of these, who are now such a huge a part of our lives, and a huge part of why our lives are so rich today……,  would’ve been here. I can’t imagine life without them!!

God did the impossible….and fixed the un-fixable!! 

And, maybe…..just maybe…..He saved more than your life!!

**Here’s that pic on my phone!! The two newest little Taylors’, Timber & Knox!

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“God, If You’re Out There, You Gotta Help Me!”

It’s A Different Kind of Love!

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

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The Parable of Pedro Flores

I’m disappointed in ‘ya if you don’t know who Pedro Flores is. I’ll forgive you if you’ll make it right. If you’ve never watched Lonesome Dove you won’t know who he is. For starters, why in the world have you not seen Lonesome Dove??! It’s just about the best movie ever made. For you, who are deprived, it’s a ‘made for TV’ miniseries from Larry McMurtry’s book about two semi-retired Texas Rangers, Captain Augustus ‘Gus’ McRae (Robert Duval), and Captain Woodrow Call (Tommy Lee Jones) and their journey taking several thousand head of cattle to Montana. You won’t be ‘spiritually rounded’ until you’ve seen it a few times. lol I’ve watched it no less than 9 times! So, as you might guess I’m somewhat rounded!

One of my favorite scenes in Lonesome Dove is when Gus, Woodrow and a few of their cohorts cross the border at night for a little fun to remind them of the ‘old days’. The Mexican bandito, Pedro Flores (a familiar foe who’s way up in years by now), often crossed the Texas border to steal horses and cattle. Gus and Woodrow enjoyed the challenge of crossing into Mexico and stealing some of them back from time to time. On this particular night as Pedro Flores was moving a big herd of stolen horses from one place to another Gus, Call and the boys swooped in, surprised the banditos and stole the whole herd of horses and took ’em back to Texas.

That whole scene reminds me of a phenomenon we’re often faced with in our spiritual life. The Bible talks about the fact that we have an ‘adversary’, the devil, who walks about like a roaring lion. It also states that he comes to steal, kill and destroy. He, the devil, will steal anything and everything he can from us. But in all actuality all he has going for him is the fact that we’ll believe his lies. And, just like Gus and Woodrow knew the methods of Pedro Flores…the Bible says that we’re not to be ignorant of the enemy’s devices. We have the ability….and the authority (because of what Jesus did!) to take back what’s been stolen from us, that which is rightfully ours.

So, the next time you realize you’ve been stolen from by the likes of Pedro Flores….do like Gus and Woodrow. Plan a little counter-attack of your own. Your obedience by faith to the will and plan of God for your life will help you recover everything that was taken!

Thus, the parable of Pedro Flores!

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