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Category Archives: Unforgiveness

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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Don’t Tie the Ends Up!

When I say, “Don’t tie the ends up”, I’m, in essence, saying, “Don’t get so rigid in your current Biblical knowledge and understanding that you can’t change when presented with ‘new’ Truth.”  I’ve seen this happen a lot over the past 25+ years and it’s problem of the highest order. For a leader, such as myself, it can make change, transition and transformation come to a grinding halt for both the church, and individuals alike.

The church is known for rigidness in it’s particular doctrinal and denominational mindset. Don’t get me wrong, some of that can be good but it can also stunt the growth and halt the spiritual advancement of everyone involved. It has the strong potential to lock us into systems of thinking that will eventually lead us to boredom, staleness and exclusivity in our Christian walk.

The argument might arise as to how one can have a certain spiritual view today and then later totally change their stance on an issue. I actually think, in a perfect world, we should be doing that all the time. If we’re genuinely on a search for the truth it just makes sense to change when we get a better, clearer view on any subject. We all have ‘some’ truth….but none of us has ‘all’ the truth. We should be open to others’ perspective, give it a listen, weigh it out in light of Scripture, let it ‘marinate’ in our mind and spirit, test it in real life situations and pray about it. By doing so we’ll stay in a perpetual state of spiritual growth (as we should be!) and not high-centered in our own limited little, tunnel-vision view of truth.

There will surely be those detractors out there who would want to accuse me of compromise or being wishy-washy about the truth. I’ll be quick to tell you that where I am today…..is not where I’ll be a year from now. I intend to keep growing, changing, adapting and shifting based on my understanding of the Truth. I’m a learner…..and learners must be flexible and open to change. There’ll be plenty of times that the change won’t come easy…..but for the most part….it’ll be for the better.

Don’t tie the ends up!! I’ve given this advice many a time over the past 25 years. It isn’t always received with open arms. In fact, here in the ‘ol Bible Belt that kind of advice is often met with harsh criticism and some pretty mean-spirited indignation. But, it’s good advice.

Don’t be so locked into your little piece of the truth that the Holy Spirit, Himself, can’t break through the crust to enlighten you more. 

Check these out:

The Bible Does Not Have All Your Answers!

$$$ – Being a “Thousandaire” Might Just Be Better Than Being a “Millionaire”!

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I’m Just the Messenger

This story is one that I’d never heard my entire life until I was almost 40. I remember vividly the day my Mom told it to me. It touched me in the deepest place possible….I think you’ll understand.

My Mom & Dad had tried to have kids but it had resulted in a couple of miscarriages and the loss of a baby girl that’d be two years older than me. They were living in Canadian, Texas and my Mom was pregnant with me and having major complications. She’d been told by the doctor to stay in bed and not do anything strenuous for the duration of the pregnancy. There was a knock on the door one day and a little lady was there who asked my Mom if she could come in and pray for her. She said yes and the little lady came in the house and prayed for her. After she prayed she said to Mom, “Now, you’re going to have this baby and it’s going to be OK. It’s going to be a little boy….and he’ll be God’s messenger.” The little lady left and Mom never saw her again. She asked a couple of people in town about her and was told that she was just some crazy little ‘religious fanatic’ and to not pay any attention to anything she said, or did.

I first heard this story several years after I’d already said, “Yes” to the Lord but the news of it came at a time when I really needed some encouragement and the confirmation helped me to keep moving on.

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Prayer Changes Things!

It was the message on a little plaster of paris wall hanging at my Grandmother’s house in Wheeler, Texas. (My Mom’s Mom) I never knew my Granddad, he was killed in a motorcycle accident earlier in the year that I was born. That left her to raise 3 kids who were still at home. (2 older ones already married) She was an incredible person, in my opinion, and I’ve grown to appreciate that more and more as I’ve gotten older and understanding more of what it takes to raise a family.

One of my favorite things to do was to stay overnight, or a few days, at her house. I still vividly remember bedtime at her house. There were two beds in her room…one for her and one for Herman, my uncle, her youngest son. (only 3 years older than me) There’d be a story or two before we all fell asleep and they were always good ones. *(Herman always tried to tell a scary one..so we’d sleep with a butcher knife under our pillow for safety! lol) One story she told me when I was 3 or 4 years old was of an ‘old, old Grandmother by the name of ‘Mamaw Teak’. Well, that name ‘stuck’ and I called her that for the rest of my life.

When you’re a single mother with 3 kids in a small town you just have to do what you have to do to make ends meet. I remember her working at cafes and cleaning houses for people and then coming home completely worn out…but then cooking one of the best meals that you could possibly imagine. One of my most memorable Christmases was when Herman, my brother Monty and I all got our “Rifleman” rifles. We maintained a high level of justice on that block and kept the bad guys at bay in Wheeler, Texas for a good long while!

I think, somehow, the importance of prayer was imparted to me back in those days. That’s one of the things we’d do every night that I was at her house. And looking back and assessing her situation….I think she lived by it! They lived a simple life, a good life….but a simple life. And they got by,…I believe, by the provision of the Lord.

There’s a lot more to say on the subject of prayer. But simply put, “Prayer Changes Things”! 

*When my Grandmother passed on, I asked for this little plaster of paris wall hanging. It means a lot to me!

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Mad at God?? ….happens all the time!

I hear it pretty often from people. Because of how their life is going, or because of something that they’re convinced that God mishandled on their behalf….people do find themselves mad at Him….sometimes very mad. And I’ve seen a few, what I’d call, extreme cases where the anger lasted a lifetime. It seems sad to me but at the same time I can kind of understand how someone could end up there.

I’ve never been mad at Him. Doesn’t make me any more mature, or any more spiritual, than anyone else….I just haven’t been mad at Him. Somehow, some way I’ve known, as long as I can remember, that God is good. Remember now, that’s coming from someone who didn’t grow up in church and didn’t have a whole lot of orientation about God at all. I’ve thought about it quite a bit and I guess it boils down to a couple of things for me. 1) It was imparted to me from my Mom & Dad. I’m certain that this is true, although I can’t tell you when, where or how….it just happened….and I’m eternally grateful to them for it. 2) It’s just, simply, a revelation from the Father Himself. Personally….I think it’s a good combination of both.

I’ve had a great life, but with just as many ups and downs as the next guy. And I guess if I’m being honest, here, I’d have to say that a lot of the downs were, either directly or indirectly, self-inflicted. But not everyone’s hardships are self-inflicted such as the loss of a child or a parent. And these things can leave us wondering if God has let us down.

Well, He didn’t let you down….no matter how convinced you are of that. It’s totally against His nature as a Father to do that. I remember vividly nearly 22 years ago when our family lost a little boy. It was devastating to put it mildly. But right in the middle of our grief He spoke clearly to my spirit, “Andy, if you could see the big picture, you’d know everything is OK.” It immediately brought peace. He always knows just the right thing to say at just the right time.

I had a friend tell me recently that upon the loss of his dad that he immediately blamed God and turned his back on Him for 4 or 5 years…only to find out after that time that God didn’t give up on him…He just loved him more. 

Maybe you’re reading and you have something that you’ve been mad at Him about. (it could be consciously or subconsciously) I can tell you that God can take you being mad at Him a lot longer than you can take it. He’d love to give you His perspective on your indictment against Him….but you’ll have to be open for it.

If you’ll run to Him,….He’ll help!

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Weapons of Mass Construction

Weapons of mass destruction; It’s a term we hear pretty often these days. But it wasn’t too many years ago that the term was literally unknown to most of us. It’s interesting, however, that the first recorded mention of WMD’S was in 1937 by the Archbishop of Canterbury upon the bombardment of Guernica, Spain. Obviously, the bombing of Hiroshima would have fallen in the WMD category. And even more recently we’ve been reminded of the absence of the WMD’s that were supposed to be in Iraq. The Wikipedia definition goes like this: a nuclear, radiological, chemical, biological or other weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans or cause great damage to human-made structures.

You know what ‘destruction’ means, that’s easy; but here’s what ‘Construction’ means:  to build, to build up, to erect, put up, set up, raise, establish, assemble, manufacture, fabricate, create, to help, to make. In essence it’s the exact opposite of ‘destruction’. Construction is a very good word!

I had a thought; What if we were to identify, and then use our ‘Weapons of Mass Construction’ to bring about good in the world? We’d use these WMC’s to bring ‘life’ and significant good (as opposed to WMD’s) to a large number of humans. And, let’s not undershoot the runway,….I say let’s bring ‘life’ and significant good to the entire planet.

Here’s how I propose we do it; First we need to identify ‘weapons’ that would bring profound and lasting good to mankind. When I think of what those might be my mind immediately goes to my/our relationship with the Father. It’s an incredible revelation, understanding that He’s handpicked us as His own sons and daughters. And when we begin to understand it,….it changes virtually everything!

And the other weapon….well it’s the thing that is naturally produced out of our relationship with the Father. LOVE! As we’re exposed to His love we begin to love like He does,….unconditionally, and without demands or restrictions! It’s the most ‘life-giving’ and transformational thing that exists in all of creation! It gives life…and it transforms, not only with individuals and families, but also with cities and nations!

Engaging in relationship with the Father…..and loving like He does….we can change the world with these Weapons of Mass Construction!

You’ll probably like these, too:

How Are We  Doing  in the ‘Thing’ That Matters Most?

“I Yub Ooo Too, Daddy”

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The Gospel According to Shaver!

Billy Joe Shaver, that is. If you don’t know who he is, I kinda feel sorry for you…so I’ve made it so you can ‘click’ on his name above and get in the loop, so to speak. He’s actually one of the great songwriters of our time but as a performer or Top-40 country artist…he’s pretty much been flying under the radar his entire career. Personally, I think that’s perfectly OK with him. From Waco, Texas and well into his 70’s now, his songs have been recorded by many of the iconic performers of our generation, including Kristofferson, Willie, Waylon and Elvis. You’ve surely heard of those guys!

Billy Joe wrote a song years back that was really more of a testimony than a song, his own personal testimony to be more specific. And, if you were paying attention to country radio in 1981 you couldn’t have missed John Anderson’s song, “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal”.  (Shaver’s Version) The song reached #4 on the Billboard Country Singles Chart and still gets plenty of airplay on Classic Country Stations.

“I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal, But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday”; It’s not just his testimony….it’s ours’ as well. And, even though it comes from one of ‘Outlaw Country’s’ most notable icons,….it’s actually extremely correct from a Biblical standpoint! You see, the Word says that we’re being conformed into the image of Jesus. It’s a lifelong process at best and the Lord is in for the long haul. He’s patient and long-suffering with us….and believes in us more than we believe in our own selves.

You may wonder why I’d post a song and a story from/about a bonafide outlaw country artist rather than a familiar Christian one. Fair question. I lean toward a lot of these guys that mainstream religion would reject as having anything of value, spiritually, to say…or sing. Their testimony (songs, art, poetry) is authentic, genuine and it appeals to a generation of misfits who don’t ‘fit in’ with the religious establishment. They’re ‘believers’, (or at least they’d like to be), in the truest sense of the word……they just don’t mesh in a ‘sterile’ church environment where everyone ‘looks’ perfect…and expects it of them. These artists like Billy Joe Shaver have a way of putting it….where normal people can understand it!

I may be closer in proximity to an ‘old chunk of coal’ than I am to a ‘diamond’….but at least I’m headed that way!

If you like this one…check these out:

“Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”

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

There’s More Christian Music Out There Than You Might Think

“I Ain’t No Fortunate Son”

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