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Category Archives: Truth

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!

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“Are We There Yet?”

If you’re a parent you’ve heard that question more than a few times. In fact it could happen on just about any trip. Doesn’t matter if it’s a short trip or a long one you’re apt to hear it. We had five kids so you can imagine how many times we heard, “Are we there yet?”, in their younger years. Little kids don’t really have much concept of time and distance. If they’re in the car and you drive a few miles they immediately start wondering why we’re not already there.

Our Christian walk of faith is kinda like that too. We go a ways, encounter a mess of trials tribulations, overcome one thing after another, win a few, lose a few, slowly but gradually get better…..and you’d think we oughta be there. Our life is an incredible ‘road trip’ if you can think about it that way. We may not express it to the Lord exactly like our kids do on a trip, but you gotta admit….we’re thinkin’ it! “Are we there yet?” I bet the Lord gets a kick out of our impatience at times. But in the long haul we’re like our kids; as we mature we begin to realize it’s not a quick trip. It takes a while to get ‘there’

Spiritual maturity is not an elusive thing at all. It’s attainable alright,……it just takes awhile. We’re on our way there now. But we might as well just settle in and realize it’s a lifelong endeavor. It takes a long, long time for people like us to get conformed into the image of Jesus. When I look at my own life I can tell I’m more like Him than I was….but in all reality I’ve got a long way to go.

It’s an incredible trip we’re on; not a short one by any means, more like a marathon. and when we wonder, “Are we there yet?”, we might need to remind ourselves; no, we’re not there yet……but we’re closer than we were!

Here’s a few you might like too:

 

Dysfunction Junction

“You Are Here”

Livin’ It Up

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Don’t Worry…..Be Happy!

You surely remember that little song, don’t you? Bobby McFerrin topped the charts with it back in 1988. An interesting little fact about “Don’t Worry Be Happy”;  it’s the very first acapella song to ever reach #1 status on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s a catchy little tune that’s hard to get out of your head once you hear it. It just kinda puts you in a good mood.

The song has a really positive message to it. It’s just good advice! Jesus addressed the Twelve in a similar way. “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”. His words indicate that worry accomplishes absolutely nothing for us in the long haul. Much to the contrary, worry fights directly against our faith….and that’s a pretty serious thing. Worry is a distraction and it steals from the joy that I believe that Lord wants us to enjoy.

One of my great friends, Ken Henry, has an incredible perspective on worry. He says, “There are two kinds of worry. We worry about things that we can’t do anything about…so if we can’t do anything about it…..why worry; ….or we worry about things that we ‘can’ do something about; …..so, if we can do something about it….do it….and quit worrying about it!” Great advice, …..and true! I’m trying to incorporate it in my life!

I really wish I had this one perfected. I don’t. In fact, I’ll often wake up in the middle of the night and try to figure out something to worry about. I’ll usually find something, too….only to wake up in the morning and wonder, “Why in the world I was fretting about that?!!

I’m working on trusting the Father more. When I do that….I worry less. I’m doing my best to take McFerrin’s advice…….”Don’t Worry, Be Happy!”

Check these out:

Perspective; It Makes All the Difference!

Critics……..There’s One On Every Corner

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I Plant a Little, I Water a little…..

I was having a conversation with a pastor friend a day or two ago. We were having a good laugh about a few of those times when we were preaching or teaching and it just wasn’t happening, ….if you know what I mean. It’s funny now, but at the time…not funny at all. One of those times for me was about 15 years ago. We were still in the old building and doing two services. It was the first service and there were 50+ people there. It was one of those mornings that nothing was working. I had notes and was doing my best to teach from them but it was just flat. To be honest I wasn’t making any valid points. What I was trying to teach wasn’t making any sense….even to me! I’m tellin’ ‘ya, ……..it just wasn’t happening! In fact I went in the sound room after the service was over and said to the guys, “If anybody. Got anything. …out of that……it had to be the Lord!” I was certain that nobody DID get anything out of it! I was relieved when the service was over so we could all be out of our misery! I  would’ve like to have just gone home…..but I had another service to do….and that’d be awkward! lol

A person came to the sound room and I could tell he wanted to talk to me. I ignored him as long as I possibly could. I totally expected him to say, “WTH was that??!!” But he didn’t. On the contrary he said, “Man, that was really, really good!” I had two thoughts rolling around in my mind; one….he’s gotta be joking; two, if he’s really serious (which I couldn’t imagine!)...I’m thinkin’, “Was I there?!”

This isn’t the only time this has happened down through the years. I wish it was. But those times it did happen there were the same results nearly every time. Those times when I felt like I did my very worst would inevitably be the times that I would have the most people comment on how good the teaching was. I think the Lord likes it when that happens. What I’ve learned from those times is that it’s just a little reminder from the Lord that everything doesn’t necessarily depend on how ‘good’ a job we did teaching. Don’t get me wrong….I want to continue to get better at teaching the Word. But in the final analysis it’s the anointing (supernatural blessing) of the Lord that’s the deciding factor of whether it’s actually good or not. He definitely doesn’t want us to get prideful about how good we think our teaching is.

We can plant; we can water….but if anything significant is going to happen….it’ll have to be the Lord that gives the increase!

Here’s a couple for ‘ya:

10 Tips That’ll Help You Become a “Learner”

Relational Equity

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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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You Matter! You Really Do!

Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter! We’ve been bombarded with so much of that in this last year that it eventually gets on a person’s nerves. And while I fundamentally agree with all three statements I totally disagree with any kind of violent expression to get the point across. It does absolutely nothing but fuel the racial tension that has been purposely escalated by the current administration and perpetrated by the false idea that black people in America are routinely treated with disregard. That’s just my opinion and you don’t have to agree.

But the truth of the matter remains. We all have a profound, deep seated and inherent sense that we matter. It’s a very legitimate thing and it was put there in our basic makeup by the Lord, Himself, when He created mankind. We ‘want’ to matter! We want our lives to count; We want to make a difference. It’s “built in”! But, life inevitably gets in the way. Busyness, misfires, failures, unexpected calamities, bad decisions, heartbreaks……they all figure in. And if we’re not careful….the fact that we really do matter, somehow, gets lost in the shuffle.

But, you do matter! You matter to your people; your family, your friends, the people who you love and who love you, the people who trust you, the people who depend on you, the people who believe in you, the people who have invested in you, the people who’ve been there for you and the ones you’ve been there for. You matter to the people you’ll ‘touch’ through the fulfilling of your destiny. I’m telling the truth…You Matter!

You mattered enough to Jesus for Him to lay down His life for you!

You matter…..and you’ll always matter!

Try these:

Have a Nice Day, Lord!

Are You ‘Led’, or Are You ‘Driven’?

Resistance Training

*If you find these helpful, “Share” ’em, and pass ’em along to people you think might be interested.

Thanks!

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