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It’s The Hardest Part

We lost a great American treasure a year and a half ago, in my opinion, when Tom Petty unexpectedly passed away. One of the great rockers of all-time, who grew up in Gainesville, FL, and was the victim of some pretty violent abuse at the hands of his dad. Music, as it turned out, was a welcome escape from that environment for him. His mom bought him a cheap Sears guitar when he was 14 and the rest, as they say, is history. His band, The Heartbreakers, accomplished what few other bands have ever achieved…and that is the fact that they stayed together, for the most part, for over 40 years! Some would argue that Petty lacked vocal perfection, but if you were fortunate enough to make one of his concerts (we did twice in the last 3 years!) you would hear the bigger part of twenty thousand people, young and old, singing along with every song…..word for word, for two and a half hours! So, Tom Petty fan or not, you’d have to admit that he’ll go down in history as one of the all time greats.

Now, I don’t think every song out there has a spiritual message, unless of course, you want it to. But most songs of any genre will have a line or two that, if you think about it…and try just a little, could definitely be applied in a spiritual way. I’m a ‘music guy’, not a musician by any stretch (I could only wish!), just someone who loves music. So, I hear in just about every song something that catches my attention, something that I can apply spiritually and maybe pass it along to someone else who can catch the truth contained. Many of Tom Petty’s songs have those things I’m talking about; “You Don’t Have To Live Like a Refugee” would definitely be one. Gonna write something up on that ‘un one of these days. And, how about, “I Won’t Back Down”? Now there’s a, nearly perfect, spiritual warfare song; one that you could actually sing on Sunday mornings if you’d loosen up just a little.

But one that recently caught my attention is a song called, “The Waiting”. Written over 37 years ago, and not designed to be a spiritual song, whatsoever, it does have a line or two that holds some pretty profound spiritual truths. “The waiting is the hardest part”! Boy, ain’t that the truth!? Learning to wait is one of the hardest things for both the natural, and the spiritual man. We live in a culture that has trained us to want everything immediately; I mean, ….right now! But, as we mature in the Lord, learning to wait is an invaluable trait…and one that’s not often found even among believers, sad to say.

I wish I could say I had it perfected. But, waiting on the Lord hasn’t come easy for me. I guess you could call me a ‘slow learner’ in that respect. But I’m a lot better than I used to be…and I think I’m getting better. It comes with an understanding that God has His ways and He’s precise in His timing. In another way, it’s one of His ways of teaching us to live by faith. At any rate, waiting on the Lord is a virtue that we should all try to attain.

So, whether it’s a promise from Him you’re waiting on, or a prophetic word that has yet to materialize, or maybe even a prayer you’re wondering if He heard or not, ….waiting, as hard as it is, …..might just be the most productive thing you can do. Make no mistake about it, Tom Petty had it right; the waiting is the hardest part!

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part …………The Waiting’ – Tom Petty

...oh, and by the way, the Bible holds some amazing promises for us as we learn to wait. Isaiah 40:31 *(go read it!)

 

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You Oughta See Us When We Ain’t Winnin’!

It was back in the late ’70s, during my rodeo days.  We had driven all night the night before from Montgomery, Alabama with very little sleep. Only what little you could get in the back, or front, seat of a car with four others packed in there too. We had finished riding on this particular night in the rodeo in San Angelo, Texas. It was around midnight and we pulled into an all-night convenience store to get stocked up for another all-nighter to Phoenix. We dropped off one guy so there’d only be four of us for this trip. One less driver….but more room to sleep!

We made our trip around the c-store and brought all our stuff and put it on the counter to check out. Out there on the counter were big bags of potato chips, Doritos, pork skins, Cheetos, Louisiana Hot Sauce, Slim-Jims, Fritos, bean dip, beef jerky, peanuts, a few candy bars………oh, and a case of beer. The night manager, a gentleman in his 40’s, looked over all the items we put on the counter, shook his head back and forth a few times, ….looked me square in the eye and said, in an extremely serious tone, “How in the hell do you guys live??!!” …..To which I quickly replied, “Heck, that ain’t nothin’, you oughta see us when we ain’t winnin’!”

True Story!

 

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I Did It Just For Him!

*Today marks a year since my Dad left for heaven. I wrote this blog on his birthday back in August. He would’ve been 87. It seems fitting to publish it today.

The 15th of August; For as many years as I was old enough to remember we did something to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. This year was a little different in that, this time, he wasn’t here to enjoy it with us. We did, however get together anyway. Monty drove up from Ft.Worth. We had supper at Rib Crib with just about everyone there, minus Cole and his little family, (Calli Softball practice) and Cade.

As we sat at the restaurant the TV’s were tuned to the Olympics. We watched several events including the preliminaries for the women’s 400 meter hurdles. Then it was time for the women’s 100 meter finals. Allison Felix, the USA’s marquis sprinter and most decorated American woman track and field athlete, was the odds-on favorite to win the gold medal. She had a great start, ran her race, and it appeared that she was clearly going to win the gold. But just at the very end of the race the sprinter from the Bahamas did something that was totally unexpected. Rather than just running ‘through’ the finish line she dove forward at just the precise moment….stealing the gold medal from Allison Felix.

You’re probably wondering what in the world this has to do with my Dad. Well, the 100 meter finals and the miraculous finish took me back about 47 years. I was a junior in high school. One of the things I was pretty decent at was running the hurdles. I broke the school records in the high hurdles and low hurdles that had stood since 1929.

It was at the district track meet. I hadn’t been beaten in the highs or low hurdles up to that point in the entire track season. There were several really good competitors but if I’d just run my race I could beat them. I wasn’t the fastest by any means but no one could beat me out of the blocks and I could navigate the hurdles better than most of them. But on this day there was a new guy. First time I’d seen him. We were in the same preliminary heat in the high hurdles…and he beat me. I ran a good race…and he still beat me. We had the two fastest times in the prelims so in the finals we’re lined up in the two middle lanes.

Dad didn’t always get to be at the track meets but he was there that day. I wanted to do my very best for him. I got off to my usual great start but so did the other guy. In fact, for 110 yards there was never a foot or two lead for either of us. It was literally neck-and-neck. We cleared the last hurdle and he had me beat by a foot or two. Ten feet from the finish line, he still had me beat. But I wanted to win this race in the worst possible way……for my Dad. I felt like I’d be letting him down if I didn’t win. But, for all practical purposes this guy’s got me beat. But at the last possible second I did exactly what the gal from the Bahamas did. I dove….with everything that was in me. My right shoulder hit the asphalt track and it took most of the hide off for about 8 inches……but I won the race!

I was glad I’d won the race….but the excitement wasn’t really for me. I was glad to win  because I was determined to do it for him. I don’t think I ever told Dad that I did that just for him. I wanted him to be proud of me. And for me to ‘not’ put out, and give it everything I had would make me feel like I was lettin’ him down. We learned from our folks that whatever you were doing, you give it everything you got! That’s what they did.

But you know,…..all the hundreds of things he ever did for us, he never once had to say, “I did that for you”.

We just knew!

Try these:

VIP’s #10 – Cliff & Charlene Taylor

VIP #8 – Monty Taylor

Labor Day Out on the ‘Ol ‘Lazy J’

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“I Don’t Know How We’re Gonna Win….I Just Know We’re Going To!”

That’s the words that Dabo Swinney told his Clemson players at halftime of the NCAA Football National Championship in Tampa Monday night. Alabama, on a 27-0 run over the last couple of years, was the favorite pick by the oddsmakers. There were a lot of people who were pulling for Clemson but I don’t think many were willing to bet much on the game. The Crimson Tide has just been too tough. They’re athletic, big, strong, fast, intimidating and very well coached. Nobody has given them much of a scare for a couple of years. The closest anyone has come to beating Alabama came exactly a year ago also in the NCAA Championship by…..none other than the Clemson Tigers.

But the underdog Clemson Tigers believed! That’s what happens when  a coach,….and I’m sure an entire coaching staff, fosters confidence and a winning attitude. People want to follow a leader who thinks he’s going to win! They’ll follow someone who’s not afraid or intimidated by the conditions at hand; Someone who doesn’t cut and run when chips are down….or when the tide (no pun intended) is against them.

There’s a need for great leaders in the body of Christ now more than at any other time in history of the world. But it almost seems like there’s a vacuum; a fear or timidity to ‘stand up’ and really lead. The world is longing for those who’ll defy the odds, go against the traditional religious grain, ….if they must….and empower the multitudes to take their place in the greatest move of God the planet might ever see!

Somebody needs to stand up in the midst of the adverse conditions we’re faced with today and declare, “We’re gonna win…..I don’t know how we’re gonna do it….but I just know we’re going to!”

Oh, and Dabo’s Clemson Tigers…..they did what he said they would…in a dramatic 35-31 comeback victory….scoring the winning touchdown with 1 second left on the clock!

Some more football blogs:

All-Time Favorite Sports Franchise – Canadian, Texas Wildcats

Gun Fightin’, Pool Shootin’…and Bull Ridin’! …….and I Guess, Now, High School Football!

It Takes a Village to go Back to Back…..to Back to Back!

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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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“The Reason for the Season”

You’ve heard that phrase a thousand times. I hope we keep on hearing it. It’s just a reminder for us, ……and for our culture…and our generation to not forget ‘why’ we celebrate Christmas. I expect, for the people reading this blog, that you don’t really need to be reminded but it’s easy to see over the course of quite a few years that the message of Jesus gets ‘lost’ in the busyness of the season.

Retailers have capitalized on the opportunity to up their sales. It works! The big discount stores like Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart start putting Christmas decorations out in October, just to get everyone in the mood! “Black Friday”, that Friday immediately after Thanksgiving has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year, ….if not THE biggest. “Cyber Monday” right after that is their thrust to encourage Americans to shop online. Again, it works!! And, the last few years, I’ve received hundreds of emails advertising all kinds of special deals on everything from electronics to vehicles. One of the newer email methods is doing a ‘takeoff’ on the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song. There’s half a dozen or more companies sending me a different ‘special’ deal offer for twelve days in a row. I didn’t respond to any of ’em….but I bet a bunch of people did.

I don’t have a problem with observing the season as an opportunity to ‘give’Giving goes right along with what it’s all about. But it’s gotten so commercialized over the years that most of America doesn’t even notice Jesus in the middle of it. Add to that the push by the secularists, and the politically correct crowd (Lord, help us!!) to not even say Merry Christmas anymore…..It eventually gets on my nerves!

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have a problem with Santa Claus, Rudolph or Jingle Bells. Those things can add joy to the season……but, just being honest,…..it ain’t about them!

It’s about a Savior Who was born, Who came to the world to take away our sins and to enable us to have a personal,  one-on-one, relationship with the Creator of the Universe, Who chooses to be our Father!

It was the greatest show of love the world will ever know!

So, enjoy your family; enjoy a day or two off if you get ’em; enjoy the opportunity to receive and to give….but don’t forget about Jesus!

He’s the Reason for the Season!!

Room at the Inn?

There’s Just Something About ‘That Name’!!

 

 

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Turns Out They Were a Lot Smarter Than We Thought They Were!

Had a text conversation with a pastor friend yesterday who had just been through a pretty serious neck surgery (shoutout to Brad!) and is well on the road to recovery. Like myself, he’s an ex rodeo competitor and the neck surgery is just a little lingering reminder of the glory days gone by, so to speak. His Mom, referring to his rodeo career, told him when he was a young man, “You’re gonna pay for that when you’re older.” But, seriously, what could she possibly know about that?!

I remember vividly when I was about 22. I was rodeoing professionally and had came back home to the ranch after a pretty devastating injury. I had gotten bucked off a bull in Mineral Wells, Texas and landed kinda spraddle legged on my knees. Just about the time I hit the ground the bull kicked me with both feed right in the butt. It hyper-extended my pelvis and I knew I was seriously hurt. Got in my car and drove the 4 hours home; stopped to fill up with gas an hour or so into the trip home. I managed to get out of the car and filled my car up through the excruciating pain. But, there was no way I could make the 60 foot trip to the cashier so I honked my horn until they came out and took my money. Got home about 2 a.m. and sat down on the horn again until Dad came out and carried me into the house. I spent most of the next two weeks just going from the bed to the shower, to the table and to the recliner. I never went to the doctor, obviously should have! Three weeks later I was back on the rodeo trail but my hips and pelvis were never the same again. ….and even after a hip replacement (results of that injury) a few years ago, they’re still not!

I remember somewhere during that time my Dad saying to me, “All these wrecks you’re having are gonna show back up when you get about 40”. As a brilliant 22 year old I dismissed that as just another thing he wasn’t very smart about. You know how we were, at least most of us; mid to late teens we started noticing how dumb our parents were. We were obviously smarter and wiser than they were. But when you get out there in the ‘ol game of life you begin to get a little glimpse of insight into how wise they actually were. 

Looking back, it is amazing how full of wisdom they really were...and not just about a rodeo injury, which…in the long haul is blatantly inconsequential; but wise about other, and much more important things like relationships, money, business, attitudes, marriage, parenting, dealing with controversy or criticism, and a hundred other things. Most of all they were just wise about life, in general. 

Heads up young ‘uns, the phenomenon repeats itself!

I told someone awhile back, “I love being a Grandpa ’cause my grandkids think I’m smart; ….my kids still think I’m stupid!” Our little ‘crew’ is up and gone now and living out their own lives. I’m bettin’, by now, they’re learning what some of the rest of us have learned. And, Hopefully with them, I’m past the, “you ain’t very smart stage”!

Now, at age 63, not a day goes by that I don’t think about….and draw from the incredible wisdom that my Mom & Dad communicated, and ‘lived out’ in front of us! To say, “I’m extremely grateful”, would be to cut it monumentally short!

Turns Out They Were a Lot Smarter Than We Thought They Were!

Here’s a few you’ll like; don’t forget to share ’em with your friends!

Resistance Training

A Long Ways From the Lord

VIP’s #10 – Cliff & Charlene Taylor

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