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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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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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Mexican Food and Prophecy! They Go Great Together!

I was in Edmond, Oklahoma a couple days ago on my way home from a trip to Tulsa. Sitting with a friend having Mexican food, I was reminded of an incident 10 years ago, or so, that occurred only a block or two from where we sat.

Julie and I were in Oklahoma City Christmas shopping and took a lunch break at On The Border. Mid way through our meal a threesome came in and sat in a booth twenty-five feet away from us. It was a couple and, what appeared to be, their college aged son; handsome looking family. While we were eating the Lord drew my attention to them. I didn’t know exactly what it was but what I was feeling from the Lord was very, very strong. If we’re being sensitive He will often do this with us when He wants to, somehow, touch other people through us. (I think He would like to do this with all of us!) And, as He often does with me,…I didn’t feel like He’d given me anything specific about them….or ‘for’ them. ….which makes it pretty hard to know what to do. But the feeling was strong!

I considered just getting up and going over to their table….but that seemed really awkward seeing that I didn’t have any prophetic word at all. And, ……we’re right in the middle of the Mexican restaurant, they’re eating……double awkward! (I’m thinking, “Really, Lord?! Right here?!) So, I kinda talked myself out of doing anything. We finished our meal, got in the car and headed for the mall. I got no more than a quarter mile away and the feeling came on even stronger than before. And, then I got the feeling that I had really missed the Lord on this one. “I gotta go back”, I told Julie….who I hadn’t even mentioned any of this to as of yet. “I think I missed the Lord”. Well, we were in some intensive road construction so I couldn’t just turn around and go back. I had to go nearly a mile before I could exit and go back.

In my mind I was kinda hoping that they’d be gone….but that didn’t feel good either. I made it back, went in and they were nearly finished with their meal. I walked up to the table and said, “Excuse me, we were sitting right over there and the Lord brought y’all to my attention. I really feel like He has a ‘word’ for you but I wouldn’t dare give it without your permission.” *(I still had absolutely nothing specific from the Lord!) If they had said, “No”, then I’m off the hook. I’d been obedient to the Lord. But they said, “Sure, please do!” At that precise moment the Lord showed me that he had something for their son.

It’s been ten years but to the best of my recollection it went like this, “You’re the kind of guy that makes decisions on the spur of the moment. That’s the way God has made you and He loves that. You’re kinda like a ‘gunslinger’ in that respect. It’s a good thing.” At this point all three were nodding their heads in agreement. “But, you have a decision in front of you that the Lord wants you to know that you can’t make like that!” At this point they were still nodding but got very serious. I asked, “Is any of this making any sense?” And, in unison they replied, “Oh, yes! We know exactly what this is about!” I finished up, “The Lord wants you to move seriously, slowly and prayerfully before you make this decision.”

I said, “Well, that’s it.” By now all four of us knew that the Lord had intervened; it was clear! They were extremely grateful and said, “Thank you so much for the word….and thank you for being obedient to the Lord!”

We left there for the mall. Julie went in and I stayed in the car. A feeling I still can’t explain came over me and I began to weep. The only way I have of explaining it is that maybe there was something so very important to the Lord….and to this family that had some enormous spiritual implications. 

To this very day when I tell the story it’s hard for me to tell it without breaking down in tears. Still don’t have any idea ‘why’! Even writing it today I’m having to wipe away the tears to finish it. All I know is….something pretty important happened!

And, I came really close to missing my part in it.

Why not check these out:

I’ve Never ‘Led’ Anyone to the Lord……and I Ain’t Planning on Doing it Anytime Soon!

You Can Live in the Past if You Want To…..But There Is a ‘Downside’

Virtual Reality

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Shift Happens!

 Well, I bet that got your attention….for all the wrong reasons, too, no doubt! Lol. I’m not talking about the bumper sticker that you’re so familiar with, although there is some common ground between that and what I’m writing about today.

I was having a conversation with a young guy about a week ago. He’s a very sharp young guy…and one that I’d consider a ‘son’ in the Lord. He has tons of potential, and for his age displays a lot of character and maturity. I often think about how far ahead of the ‘curve’ he and a bunch of other young ones, are….compared to where I was, spiritually, in my mid to late ’20’s. It’s truly a blessing to see…and to know that I at least have had a little bit of influence with them is extremely rewarding.

He’s at a ‘juncture’ in his life; not a bad place at all but a place where he really doesn’t know exactly what to do. It’s the Lord that has brought him to this place….and it’ll be the Lord that’ll direct him from here. I do appreciate these young guys ‘leaning’ on me at times like this but I’m determined to never take the place of the Lord in their lives. And, while, many times I know exactly what decision they should make….I nearly always think it’s best to let them…and the Lord flesh it out. It seems to work and I really think the Lord likes that scenario a bunch better. But the most important thing that happens is the person learns to put his dependency on the Lord…..and not on me. That’s very, very healthy!

Times like these form and shape young believers (old ones too!) into their true identity. That’s where the title of this blog comes into play. When we’re faced with an issue, a problem or a dilemma and we arrive at the point of decision….there’s a ‘shift’ that takes place. The new understanding brings us into a ‘new’ place, a new point of perspective; we automatically begin to see things different. And in more ways than one….everything changes!

So, roll with it! And, keep in mind that anyone who’s serious about following the Lord is going to face a lot of times like that. It’s just a normal part of ‘the journey’. So the next time you see the ‘other bumper sticker’, let it be a reminder that ‘Shift Really Does Happen’!!

If you’re interested in one of my very favorite topics, “Hearing the Lord”, you really should read these:

“What’s The Lord Telling You?” Part 1

“What’s The Lord Telling You?” Part 2

If God Has Your Heart, He Can Get Your Feet Where They Belong!

You’re Better at Hearing the Lord Than You Think You Are!

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Tragedy in Dallas: What Can I Do?

What a nightmare in Dallas! Police officers taking to the streets at a ‘Black Lives Matter’ march to protect the people’s ‘right to demonstrate’,  when the unthinkable happened. A lone gunman (supposedly) from an elevated position shoots eleven and kills five! Purportedly because he was upset by a couple of recent incidents where black people were killed by white cops.

This scenario has become all too familiar in our country. It’s a phenomenon that was virtually unheard of a generation ago. I remember as a kid when the guy went up in the tower on the University of Texas campus (Aug 1, 1966) and began shooting. Before the day was over, Charles Whitman, an engineering student, had shot forty-nine people, sixteen of them fatally. (starting earlier in the day with his wife and mother) Then there was the Post Office shooting in Edmond, Oklahoma. (Aug 20, 1986) A disgruntled worker entered the post office and began shooting. In roughly fifteen minutes twenty people were shot….and fourteen of them died.

These tragic events have become all to common in America. They’re happening at such an alarming rate that, as a culture, we don’t have time to recover from one to the other. Adding to the problem is the perception (maybe just my own perception) that the current administration is determined to fuel the flames of racial tension. There are a number of things that must change if this trend is going to be turned around. I’m certainly no expert, ….but I care, and it’s something I think about. There’s some practical things that we, as individuals…and Christian individuals more specifically, can do. But, first, a few things that would certainly help the dilemma.

  1. As a society we need to come to the realization….and the conclusion that “All Lives Matter”, and then flesh it out! As simple as that seems….it’s not being done.
  2. It seems that there’s an agenda to divide us all. “A house divided can’t stand”. We need to resist the temptation to be divided
  3. There needs to be more ‘voices of reason’ rising up among the black community. It’s just my opinion but there needs to be more Ben Carson, Allen West, David Brown (Dallas Police Chief) and David Clark (Sherriff, Milwaukee)….and less Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan.
  4. Responsibility in the media; Stop politicizing every. single .thing.! Stop giving airtime to race-baiters and hate groups.
  5. We need the help from the highest office! Racial tension is the highest since the 60’s! My opinion again, but not only are we not getting help…Obama is adding fuel to the fire.
  6.  The church needs to ‘rise up’!  We should be the voice of truth and reason during these uncertain times. The answers and solutions for the world’s deepest problems should come from the church! It’s gonna take a lot of help from the Lord to sort this one out! *We can’t be uninvolved!

I’ll write in Part 2 the things we can do as individuals. America has been the greatest nation on the planet. We’re at a juncture. What we do here will determine our fate for generations. It’s that important!

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Here’s Our Chance!

“I came here looking for something I couldn’t find anywhere else.” It seems to be the heart cry of a lot of people these days who are willing take a chance on the Lord…..or maybe even willing to take a chance on the  church. We’re living in, what seems to be, very uncertain times. But there is a growing undercurrent of people looking for some ‘real’ answers to their real problems. They don’t want the ‘religious’, churchy, ‘holier than thou’ thing….and who could blame ’em? That never actually worked for anybody,anyway! No, they’re looking for something genuine, authentic, real. They don’t know what it looks like, or feels like……but they know what it doesn’t feel like. The church in America really needs to adjust to be relevant for the times we’re in. Our message is timeless…..but the methods of reaching the world are stale…..and everyone knows it except the people in the church. For some reason they’re the last to get the news. We won’t get many chances with these ‘searchers’; we better get it right!

Many of these people are desperate, desperate enough, in fact, to gamble and see if this God they hear us talking about exists or not. They’ll try, and try hard. At least that’s what I’m seeing of late. But when we make them feel like they can’t make it or make them feel like they’re not good enough…..they’ll believe that’s how God sees them, too. They think, “Hey, you don’t know me, but you don’t like me…..and you say you care less how I feel.” If we don’t act like we care and make them feel important ….they’ll, in turn, believe that they’re not important to Him. They won’t hang around for that! ….and again, who could blame ’em? Tragic!

Deep down, they all wonder if the Lord could really love somebody like them. They have an inner sense of destiny (that’s a God-given thing!) but they haven’t found anyone who can give them the key to help unlock those secrets. They’d say, “I ain’t tryin’ to be nobody, I just want a chance to be myself.”.

Here’s our chance! Let’s get it right!

*Oh, and by the way…..“I came here looking for something I couldn’t find anywhere else. I ain’t trying to be nobody, I just want a chance to be myself.” That’s the first two lines of the #1 country song by Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakum, “Streets of Bakersfield”! click here to watch.

Share these blogs if you find them helpful! Thanks….AT

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Why I Don’t Watch Christian TV

Let me first say that I’m not trying to influence anyone in any way. To watch….or not to watch…that’s your own business. And if you’re getting blessed by Christian TV….watch on!! I’m just stating my own opinion. And my reasons for not watching may not be valid for you in the least. When my life first ‘made the turn’, so to speak, back in November of ’84 I did watch quite a bit of Christian TV. I even watched Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker some. I did find them to be a little peculiar but, what the heck, I did learn a few things by watching their show. Same with Paul and Jan Crouch; peculiar people but no big deal at the time. And I do believe that lots of people were blessed through their TV ministries, even though I didn’t send my $100 for the little bottle of ‘holy water’ from the Red Sea.

But the further I went the less I watched TBN, The 700 Club and shows like that. For the most part, at least for me, it started feeling un-authentic, a little too much put-on, and way too theatrical for my liking. I would catch Jack Hayford from time to time, which was always good. There were a few others who weren’t ‘regulars’ that I’d try to watch if I had the chance. But it wasn’t too long that I found myself not watching Christian TV programming at all. (Been about 20 years now) And now if I’m surfing through the DISH channels and happen to cross one of those networks it just seems that I’m now further and further away from where they are and what they’re saying…..and from what I believe and perceive the Lord is saying to me. 

But the clincher for me came a few years back when someone very close to me was contacted by one of those TV shows. It was one of the most highly acclaimed ones….and one that you’d surely know if I had the liberty to disclose it. This person’s life has been one of the most, if not THE most, dramatic conversions and transformations that I’ve seen in all my years. And after several phone interviews with my friend and then with me….they declined to do the story. Why?? Because, according to their representative, his conversion and transformation didn’t fit their grid of how it should happen. Tragic….in that this person’s life….and his story could have made the difference in hundreds, if not thousands who might’ve seen the TV show.

I left that situation discouraged and, to tell the truth,….about half ticked off. It was obvious to me that they were completely out of touch with what often happens out here in the real world. There’s no formula and there’s no set way for someone coming to the Lord. There’s millions of different scenarios and I wouldn’t argue the validity of any of them. “Any man who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved”.

The cynical part of me would say that if my friend would’ve just said, “I was at the end of my rope, on drugs and ready to commit suicide and I turned on the TV and the  “- – – – – – Show” was on and I fell down on my knees and cried out to God.”, that they would’ve done the show as quickly as possible.

So, don’t get me wrong….I think there might be a place for Christian TV….but it needs to be authentic, it needs to ‘not’ be about money, and it needs to be relevant for what the Lord is saying and doing in our generation.

Check These Out:

Virtual Reality

Quit Telling Me What The Problem Is!!

It’s Not Too Late to Make a ‘Mark’ With Your Life!

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