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Tag Archives: Bible Belt

Don’t Let the Old Man In Pt II

You can read Pt 1 here.  Whatever you do, go to Pt 1 and click the link on the song if you haven’t already done it. I promise You’ll like it.

Totally different perspective today. And, ……a little disclaimer up front especially for those wives out there whose hubby keeps coming home late after a drinkin’ binge, and in a bad mood! This is not gonna be about that! Sorry. ……maybe next time.

The Bible uses the terminology, ‘old man’ and ‘new man’ on several occasions. It’s an interesting analogy. The ‘old man’ refers to the old us. You know, the BC (Before Christ) version of us, and how we thought and behaved in our old life as hopeless, habitual sinners. That ‘old man’ was hard to leave behind. He didn’t go away without a fight and he still tries to come back every chance he gets. The Bible says that our ‘old man’ was crucified with Christ. To sum it up Jesus took on Himself all our sins and shortcomings and received the recompense for all our wrongdoings. In essence, on the cross He endured and received everything we had coming……and in turn, we received everything He had coming! Now, people, THAT is some kind of trade-off!!

So, in the future, as you’re being conformed into the image of Jesus you’re guaranteed to run into all kinds of challenges. You’re gonna get tested to the core! Your patience is gonna seem like it’s running plumb out. You’ll be tempted to go back to your old ways. In fact, there’ll be plenty of times it seems like the right thing to do.

But, you gotta get your focus back on! Get your priorities realigned again.

And, whatever you do, ………don’t let the old man in!

Col 3:9-10 – “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed”

Eph 4:24 – “…..put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

 

 

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A Working Knowledge of the Bible

*(An excerpt from my new book, “Reading Your Bible For All It’s Worth”If you’re still trying to decide on whether or not to get a few copies of the book, maybe this chapter will get your attention. Anyone who knows me or has read some of the broad range of things I’ve written over the last few years knows that the content is ultra-easy to understand and equally as easy to apply to your own life. Everything I write has either an overt, or covert message that ultimately leads the readers into the possibility of a genuine, life-changing encounter with the Father. It’s Always done with absolutely no coercion, manipulation or pressure. *You know, just like Jesus did it! You won’t find a more comprehensive or practical book anywhere that will help you learn to read, understand and more importantly, enjoy your Bible. Give me a little feedback. Let me know if you like it. Blessings!  AT

A Working Knowledge of the Bible

“You gotta get in the Word, til the Word gets in you”  AT

When my life made a dramatic turn in 1984, my wife, Julie had just recently bought a New King James Version Bible. I basically took the Bible from her! I’m not sure she even gave me permission to take it but I guess she thought that maybe I’d actually read it, and that would be a good thing! And, read it I did! When I got into that NKJV Bible I couldn’t quit. It was easier to understand than the King James Version for me. And, as I found out later, it remains very close to the KJV without the cumbersome language of the 1600’s. At any rate, it was the version of the Bible I first became acquainted with and I’ve stuck with it for 35 years now.

I was raised on an extremely remote ranch in the Texas Panhandle. We were 35 miles from a town of any size. (Canadian, Texas, Pop. 3000). And, as the old adage goes, “where we lived wasn’t on the way to anywhere!” But after I began my walk with the Lord a strange phenomenon began to take place. Many of my friends from my ‘old life’, beer drinkers, partiers, etc. started showing up at my house, out there in the middle of nowhere. It was really amazing how often it happened. These guys were opening up about their lives and their problems asking me what they should do. Even though I had been immersed in the Bible I had hardly any answers for them. I just knew that if God could fix my life, …..He could surely fix theirs! Their extremely diverse, and broad range of problems and questions caused me to dig in the Word for answers. I’d go home at night and dig, and dig, and dig to find the answers. And, now after 35 years, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the same question twice. I can see clearly now that it was the Lord’s way of helping me find my way around the Word.

I had to put that old Bible aside for a new one several years back. Its pages are worn and torn. They’re marked with half a dozen different colors of pens, pencils, and highlighters, The cover is faded and coming apart. Mark 1 & 2 are completely missing. Cole, my third son, at about age 2 had ripped them out, wadded them up in a little ball and was about to put them into his mouth when I discovered them. 

I learned my way around the Bible by looking for answers for my friends. Through all that I developed, what I call, a ‘working knowledge’ of the Bible. I had no idea in those days that the Lord would use me in any ministry capacity at all. Never dreamed of it! But He knew! And, how He trained me in the Book has been invaluable to me in being a leader, counselor, and teacher of the Word.

You can do the same. Whenever your friends or family have a serious life event, grab your Bible and start looking. Keep looking until you find an answer or a verse that would encourage them. Just do that! Keep doing it and you’ll develop a working knowledge of the Bible, yourself!

 

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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!

Check out the Audio Version:

 

 

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Your Heart – The Control Room of Your Life

Your heart; arguably the most important organ in your body. If it’s not working, and working correctly, nothing else works very good either. But as long as it’s beating like it’s supposed to everything else has a good chance to be working, as well. It makes sense to have some kind of regular checkup to make sure your heart is performing like it should.

The Bible often refers to our ‘heart’ in verses that are extremely important. But it’s not that beating ‘muscle’ that lies there inside your chest it’s talking about. It’s more accurately referring to the deepest, most ‘real’ part of you,…. your spirit. For it’s there that the Spirit of God dwells….and rules the really important things in your life. (but only if you allow it!) It’s your heart that ‘governs’ your mind. I mean, your mind can come up with all kinds of scenarios….but it’s your heart that decides if you should entertain those things, ….and if you should act on them or not! It’s like a compass that can quickly detect if, or when, you might be off a degree or two. And, just like having a regular checkup on your heart, it would serve you well to make sure this ‘heart’ is as good as it should be!

When we’re born again it’s like having a ‘heart transplant’. There’s some real supernatural things that take place at that point and a good deal of it happened in our spirit. Our spirit is instantaneously transformed. Our perspective changes on just about everything. We begin to notice our ability to see things like the Lord sees them. And, as we continue our walk of faith and our deepening relationship with Him….our entire life takes on a whole new dimension. We begin to fulfill the incredible destiny that He’s purposed for us.

It all started with Him…and His relentless desire to have you as His own. He’s given us His own Spirit….Who’s entered our heart, the ‘control room’ of our life!

You’ll like this one, too:

Workin’ it Out

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Making the Best of a Bad Situation

One sure fire thing you can count on in life is the inevitability of problems. It’s universal, in fact, and no one’s immune! These challenges come in a broad variety including, but not limited to, physical challenges, relationship challenges, health challenges, financial challenges and many, many more. Problems come in all shapes, sizes and forms, some are temporary while others may last a lifetime. Some might have simple solutions without a lot of stress, while others can be life altering, and in some remote cases…..even life threatening.

The list of root causes of these trials we experience in life is not a long one:

  1. We may be experiencing hardship because of our own decisions/actions
  2. It could be the result of someone else’s actions
  3. Happenstance (Stuff just happens!)
  4. Demonic activity
  5. The sovereignty of God

Nobody likes problems; I’m no exception. But what if these trials of life afford us an extreme opportunity to grow spiritually, …and as a human being?? If that’s true, and I believe it is, maybe our problems are not as bad for us a they ‘feel’. Here’s a few ways to look at your dilemma, to help you ‘make the best of a bad situation’.

Your trials:

  1. Tests your faith; God wants you to ‘know’ the quality of the faith you have!
  2. Helps build character; Few things are more valuable! It’s simple; trials build character!
  3. Help to ‘mature’ us; It helps immensely to bring us into our true identity!
  4. It may feel like it’ll ‘break’ you…..but it has the potential to ‘make’ you!
  5. Reveals impurities. It helps to reveal our ‘blind spots’.
  6. Have great potential to uncover ‘good things’ in you that are waiting to be exposed
  7. Some of the Father’s best work in us occurs during these times!
  8. In times of ‘desperation’ we’re likely to consider God. The Lord is ‘there’ in the midst of your trials!!
  9. Conforming Value; It’s all part of us ‘being conformed into the image of Jesus’!
  10. Experience is a great ‘teacher’! Gives you experience to help others with similar problems.

So, you see, our problems hold some great opportunities if we can make the ‘stretch’ to look at them from a little bit different perspective. How you react/respond to your problems could very well determine the duration of them. They have the potential to bring out the best in us. And, …..your perception of how bad your situation is…..may actually be miles away from reality!

 

What If It’s Not to ‘Break’ You,….but to ‘Make’ You?

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Lives Matter!

This is  “Re-Post” from May 27, 2015. In light of recent events it seemed relevant to post it again.

Lots of conflict on the news lately. It seems that racial tension is nearly as high as it was in the ’60’s. I remember that. I actually thought we had made some major strides in overcoming that in the last few decades but it doesn’t take too many like Al Sharpton egging it on to get everyone stirred up again. In my opinion he’s used up way more than his fifteen minutes of fame!

The cry from communities like we’ve seen in Baltimore and Ferguson, MO is that “Black Lives Matter”. I could not agree more! It’s kind of a ‘no brainer’, huh? I saw a sign in a yard in a nearby town that says that “Police Lives Matter”. Agree again! The truth is, and only an idiot would argue otherwise, that all lives matter!  I’m discouraged that in the greatest nation on the planet we’re even having this discussion. I don’t doubt that in many areas there are some strong prejudices and biases against minorities. I’m a country boy and I haven’t had to deal with that  much, so I don’t consider myself an expert in the least. I just know it doesn’t work….it doesn’t work for anyone! It’s the classic ‘lose-lose’ situation!

I think we’ve gotta stop making it a ‘white’ issue, or a ‘black’ issue and make it a human being issue! “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” still works! I agree that it’s a deeper and more complex discussion and that there’s at least dozen or more points to be considered. But let’s not make it any more complicated than it already is. 

If there’s anything positive going to happen, you and I should at least do our part. A good start is deciding that “Lives Matter”….. all of them! And anytime we see racial prejudices in our little world, we should step in, if possible, and be the voice of reason, righteousness and reconciliation. We should take the position of ‘peacemakers’ and see what happens. I know the Lord’ll bless the effort.

I doubt that many of my regular blog readers are racist…..hopefully none! So, in that sense….I’m preaching to the choir. But if you were to “Share” this post it might just hit someone that could make a huge difference. In the meantime, let’s all decide that “Lives Matter”!!

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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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