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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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“The Way I See It” #200!

Yesterday was another milestone for me as a writer. My post, Weapons of Mass Construction, was the #200th one! That’s 200 since January 1 of this year. Sure seems like a lot when you look back from here. I’ve learned a lot of things by writing on a regular basis, not the least of which is that writing seems to help me figure me out. There’s something about writing down your thoughts that seems to be good for a soul. I’d recommend it for anyone…and I can tell you that the hardest part is to just get started. It took me a few years to write the first one.

I’ll say again that my main reason for writing is to help. Some of the posts are serious, some are funny but all of them are written from a perspective of a life that the Father has blessed immeasurably! My deepest hope is that something you’ve read has helped you to simplify your relationship with Him, and maybe get a glimpse of the Creator of the Universe Who I think modern religion may have grossly misrepresented. He’s better and more gracious than religion has portrayed Him to be…but you won’t find the full truth of that until you’re connecting relationally with Him. 

I appreciate your taking the time to read the posts. I look at every name that clicks the “Like” button. I especially appreciate your verbal feedback. I think it helps me to get better at what I’m doing. If you think they’re valuable in some way I’d appreciate you ‘passing the word’. Every time you click the “Share” button you make it available to an entire new, broader audience.

If  you’re new to the blog….take some time to go back through the “Archives” and play a little ‘catch up’. Best case scenario, go to the site, click the “Follow” button. You’ll get an email every time I make a post.

The posts that have garnered the most “Views” (nearly 41,000 total!) are not necessary my favorite ones. Below, I have listed my Top-5 Favorite Posts. Give ’em a read and let me know which have been your favorites, or ones that have really ‘spoken’ to you. Thanks a bunch!

You May Not Know This, But I’m  Kind of a Big Deal!

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

You’ve Gotta Quit Calling Yourself a “Sinner”!

Quit Telling Me What The Problem Is!!

All I Know Is, God Loved John Very, Very Much!

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What If I’d Said, No?

I didn’t….so it’s just theoretical. I’m not going to….so don’t get all uptight about it. But occasionally it does go through my mind…..mostly at times when I’m down or discouraged. Yeah, people like me have those times too. Most won’t admit it…fearing it to be a sign of weakness. And, without a doubt, there are those in every group that could start the ‘feeding frenzy’ when a spiritual leader admits he’s actually human, and vulnerable. And, from what I’ve seen by observing other leaders…church people can be some of the most vicious and mean-spirited of them all. Crazy huh?!

It was in 1986 that I heard the call of the Lord on my life. I remember the day well. I was training a horse in the big round pen at the ranch near Allison, Texas. I got off, tied him up and drove the 7 miles to town to talk to my Pastor, Ronnie Chadwick. *(click to read the account) As I remember, it was pretty clear from the Lord. And also, just as clear, was my response to Him that day. It was an easy, “Yes”! I had absolutely no idea what it all meant but I was ‘all-in’, whatever that was.

It was the same when we said “Yes” to the work in Sayre. I’d been asked a dozen times or more to take the little group (6-8) and be their leader. I hadn’t heard a single thing from the Lord that I should do it. But in one critical week the Lord spoke clearly to both Julie and me. We said, “Yes”, and the rest is history, so to speak.

I’m not sure what I’d be doing….or where I’d even be had I said “No”, on those two occasions. For me it’s kind of scary to think about. I doubt I’d be in Sayre, Oklahoma. I’d probably be doing something involving horses and cattle, or ranching. It’s what I knew best…and what I loved doing. On some of the really hard days that life, as hard as it can be too, looks pretty dang good.

But I think about the things that I’d be missing had I said, “No”. I’d have missed at least some of the amazing things the Lord has miraculously done in, through and around us in the last 30+ years. It’s almost embarrassing to admit the times down through the years that ‘quitting’ seemed the thing to do. But I’m not a quitter, never have been…it’s a family trait. I’ve noticed people down through the years who quit, knowing they shouldn’t have,…and it appears that they don’t like themselves much after that. Of course the call of the Lord is one very valid reason for not quitting. But the thing that’s kept me going all these years is my incredible family (best on the planet!)….and this amazing bunch of people at Trinity Fellowship that actually believe in what we’re doing…..and have bet their lives on making a difference!

So, yep…I’m human, and a pretty flawed one at that! But I’m on a pretty decent 30 year run of saying “Yes” to the Lord. My policy has always been to be ‘real’. I’m not of the, ‘fake it ’til you make it’, variety. I’m glad I said, “Yes”. And I still don’t know what it all means! But, I’m all-in for whatever He says!

If you like this one….You’ll like this one, too:

Thank You, Mother Teresa

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God Is My Co-Pilot! ……and therein lies the problem!

I started seeing that bumper-sticker when I was a kid, and I still see it every now and then….and it still makes me laugh. Oh, I get what they were trying to say and at a distance it sounds like a totally sensible and wholesome thing to do. I can relate to the whole “Co-Pilot” thing a little bit. In fact there was probably a time in my own life that I thought, Him being my co-pilot would be a very legitimate, and smart thing to do. I mean, if you haven’t had Him along at all….putting Him in the passenger seat would definitely be better than nothing at all. But when you think about it, it really doesn’t make much sense at all. In fact,….and especially if you’re thinking long-term, if He’s your Co-Pilot….it might just explain why things aren’t going so well!

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say…..If you actually created the  Universe…by just ‘speaking it into being’, like He did, then you shouldn’t have to sit in the ‘second seat’ for anybody…..anytime! And seriously….right here’s where the problem exists. We think we can bring the Lord along with us, and into the situations and events in our lives and everything should be OK. But in all actuality….He should be the One piloting ‘this thing’ (your life!). You and I are really not qualified to run our own lives….and if we’re smart we’ve already figured that out. And, why would we?? He is the ‘Author and Finisher’ of our faith; He knows the beginning from the end; He’s the Alpha and Omega. And……..He knows so much more about us…and our lives than we do.

So, all I’m saying is, we need to change seats! Let’s let Him get in the Pilot seat where He belongs and let’s, you and I, just scoot on over and be content to ride ‘shotgun’!

If you liked this….you’ll like this one too!

*click on the highlighted link to read

“Go to God First”

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

And to be even more specific about it….I’m never going to, either! In fact I think it’s ‘flawed’ terminology….I mean, really flawed! Now, keep in mind I didn’t grow up in church but I had a handful of people down through the years try to ‘lead’ me to the Lord. Their methods were, 1)  to scare me with hell by convincing me how bad I was, and that I was going there…. or 2) Give me that speech, “Now if Jesus came tonight….” You’re probably familiar with both of those methods, and you’ve probably heard them both a few times yourself. I guess it comes from someone, somewhere telling them that they needed to get out there and start winning souls….and maybe, just maybe in their warped sense of religious thinking the ‘end’ would, somehow, justify any means to get to the bottom line! And the ‘bottom line’ is to get us to pray that prayer; you know, the Sinner’s Prayer. *(not in the Bible, by the way!) And it always left me thinking, that for me to pray that prayer,….was more for them…..than for me. So they could go tell their friends who ‘they’ led to the Lord and then carve another ‘notch’ in their Bible. Oh, yeah, and those ones who wanted to lead me to the Lord, ……it was those guys that kept me away from the church (it’s a bad excuse) for years! Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to go to hell but I really didn’t want to be in a church that made people feel like they made me feel, either!

Jesus didn’t do it that way! Everywhere He went sinners and tax collectors followed. There was something in the ‘atmosphere’ that made them feel ‘valued’! It was agape! …..that unconditional, unadulterated, unfiltered, raw kind of love…of which there is no comparison! 

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” – Jesus

So, nope, I’ve never led anyone to the Lord….but I have got to see a bunch of ’em when He ‘led’ ’em by!

 

 

 

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It Was A “Test” of Epic Proportions!

Well that might be exaggerating just a little bit….but at the time, ……and considering my ‘new’ standing in the Lord, it really was quite the test. It was in 1985 and my good friend, Danny Mason, invited me to judge his annual bull riding in Mineral Wells, Texas. It was a big event; lots of money up, and some of the best riders in the world were competing there. The crowd was huge. I’m standing inside the arena and Cade, my 2nd son who was about 3 at the time, was sitting in a box seat where I could do my judging job and also keep a close eye on him.

The first section of about 12 riders was completed, there was a 10 minute break and we were about to start the second section.About that time I hear a loud voice coming from the grandstands griping and cussing about the judging. Well , immediately, I assumed that it’s someone that I know just kidding, and giving me a hard time. But I finally saw the guy coming up the walkway to where I was…..and I’d never seen this guy before! He swiftly walked my way and into the box seat section where Cade was sitting…..still yelling and cussing at me. By now he’d drawn the attention of everyone at the event. If not for his yelling voice, you could’ve heard a pin drop….and every eye in the place is on us!

I said to him, “If you want to talk to me, you need to get down here and talk to me!” But he just kept on! Now, I’ve never considered myself a ‘fighter’ but I’ve also always had a resolve to not let anyone push me around, either. In professional rodeo in those days I had to ‘stand my ground’ many a time. And what made this situation even more difficult was the fact that my life had, just less than a year before, been turned around…..and I was growing in my relationship with the Lord. So I knew, to handle things how we used to handle them,….would not be the ‘right’ thing to do.

Still yelling and cussing at me, I told him again, “If you want to talk to me, you get down here and talk to me!” He’s by now leaning over the top rail on the fence and I somehow resisted the opportunity to knock him plumb out, like I would’ve done only a few years before. And without thinking….I grabbed the hat off his head and just whipped him over the head with it! I then pitched it behind him in front of the grandstand and most of the 300-400 people were laughing uncontrollably…..and all my friends….well, they were laughing harder than that! When I did that, I said to him, “Now, I’ve told you about three times….if you want to talk to me, you need to get down here and talk to me! You got anything to say to me?!” He pressed his lips together….shook his head “No”, picked up his hat (amongst all the laughter) and made his way into the distance!

Now that probably ain’t the best way to handle a situation like that….and I doubt that Jesus would’ve whipped him over the head with his hat…..but considering the alternative….I think I did pass the test!

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*If you like Rodeo Stories, you’ll enjoy these: 

*(click on highlighted link to read)

VIP #1 Booger Bryant

VIP #2 Sarge Cook

VIP #8 Monty Taylor

8378 Zulu…..And the Flight That Was Almost the Last One!

First Trip To Calgary

August 12….A Day That Lives in Infamy…..*at  Least For Me!

Avoid the Vending Machine, Microwave, Green Chile Burritos in the Albuquerque Airport At All Costs!

 

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There’s Grace For That!

I catch myself saying that quite a bit these days. I say it because it’s true. And it doesn’t matter what the situation or circumstances are….it’s always true….without fail. We had one of our young couples recently who miscarried. It’s a devastating event;  A little life so looked forward to and anticipated and planned for, little brothers and sisters who are excited about their new sibling;  Grandparents, aunts, and uncles who’ve already been shopping for the new little one….then all of a sudden…the stunning, paralyzing, news. I hurt deeply for the young couple because I know all too well the pain and heartbreak that just naturally ensues. That grief that comes is not proof that something’s wrong with us…..No!  Much to the contrary…..it’s proof that something’s ‘right’ with us! We’ve been there….done that and somehow lived through it. And the reason we lived…..there’s grace for that!

I just talked to a couple of brothers last night who had just, unexpectedly, lost their dad. He was in the hospital, serious but improving, then all of a sudden….he’s gone. I don’t have anything to compare to it. I just know that it’s one of those things that has the potential to hit the heart in the deepest place. I can’t help but be broken for my friends…..but they’ll be OK. They’ll be OK ’cause there’s grace for that too!

A young guy was in my office today. His wife had just informed him that she doesn’t love him anymore. He’s devastated; he has no answers….and his heart is broken in two. Then there are the kids…what’s going to happen with the kids? How can he explain this nightmare to them? I don’t know…..there’s so much I don’t know these days, but what I do know is….there’s grace for that too! ……and somehow the Father, and the grace that He freely gives will see them all through!

It doesn’t have to be a tragedy for grace to appear; whenever, however…..and for whatever grace is needed for……it’s always there….and there’s always enough of it. The Father knows what you need and He won’t keep you waiting!

Whatever you’re going through right now…..and whatever you need right now…….There’s Grace For That!

You might like this one too! (Click on the highlighted link to read)

It Ain’t Grace’s Fault!

 

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

II’s not rare to see people who are living in the past, in fact it’s pretty common by my experience. By ‘living in the past‘ I mean that most of a person’s entire focus is directed on what’s happened before. There are those who live in the regrets and failures of the past…but then there are also those I see from time to time who live in the victories and triumphs of the past. Obviously focusing on victories and triumphs would be a more pleasant thing than focusing on failures…..but either way……..there’s a downside.

I was talking to a friend recently who talked a lot about the ‘bad things’ (his own words) he’d done in the past. He was constantly saying about himself things like….“I don’t deserve for God to bless me”, “I know I’m not good enough”, “I’ve done a lot of bad things”. You don’t have to look far to find those that are hung up on their past. And then on the other hand I often hear those who, for instance, had a successful career in sports and much of their talk is about how good they were. In most cases it was probably true but I’m pretty sure to be focused, even on the glory days, has a downside.

I’ve had my own issues and temptations to ‘live in the past’. And for me it seems mostly centered around mistakes I’ve made and regrets of  not doing things different than I could/should have. It can be a recurring thing for me so I have to discipline myself to ‘not stay’ in the past for very long periods of time or it becomes extremely counter-productive….to say the least.

But the most tragic thing I see of people living in the past is that if your focus is ‘back there‘, so to speak, you are missing out on something today! Our joy and contentment can never be fully experienced if we’re focused on the past. And even more serious is the reality that if you’re missing out on something today….your future is severely impaired.

Most everyone would agree that God has a plan for their life, and for those living in the past…….if something doesn’t happen to cause them to re-focus they’ll surely miss their destiny. We need to learn to live in the ‘now’! It might be profitable to glance back every now and then and learn from our mistakes but we should get our focus back where it needs to be as quick as possible…….and that is on the Lord….and His plan for our lives!

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VIP #9 – Art Harris

I first met Art Harris in October of 1988, our last year on the ranch north of Allison, Texas. I had been taking care of 2500 head of cattle for Art’s cousin from Munday, Texas. Art came down that day that we gathered the cattle. We were busy weighing cattle all that day and I didn’t get to visit a lot with Art ……but enough to know that I liked him a lot. Art had grown up in Seymour, Texas and was one of the best athletes to ever graduate there. He played football and basketball where he was a standout in both sports. He’s still known, admired and idolized around those parts just simply as, Art Lynn.

When we moved across the line into Oklahoma and we needed to find a bank I looked for Art…..and after I found him he would be our banker for the next 27 years. In that time we became very good friends. I’ve said often that Art was the last of the ‘old time’ bankers. That kind of banker that believed in you as a person and loaned money based on that premise. In fact, he actually loaned millions of dollars on exactly that! We bought a several houses (rental properties) over the years and just called Art after the fact. It was never a problem.

By 1997 Art had become a VP and loan officer and was heading up the branch in Sayre. We started Trinity Fellowship in a home and then moved to a small building on the south end of town. When we grew to about 35 people (on a good day) we started looking for another place. We landed on Walter Merrick’s property two miles east of town on I-40. The Merrick family was gracious to allow us to use the property with no rent from ’92 to ’97…..which was a good thing because we had no money

The property became available for purchase and there were some very interested people who had the means to buy it. But we felt that the Lord wanted us to have the property. After a lot of prayer we decided we should try to buy. I remember vividly sitting in Art’s office and telling him that we wanted to buy the property. Art said “Yes”, and the rest is history.

Why do I tell that story?? I tell it because Art Harris believed in us when there wasn’t much to believe in. In two years we had the property (100 acres on I-40) totally paid off. Art started coming to church with us along about that time and our friendship deepened even more.

A couple of years ago Art was diagnosed with cancer. It was a tough diagnosis with the doctors giving him 6 months to live. I was there at his house when he arrived from Oklahoma City after getting the discouraging news. We prayed and he vowed to fight it…which he did. There was a mixture of reports from the docs over the next year, some good …..some not. Three of us went to Dallas in December to watch the Texas state football finals games. Art tired easy and didn’t have a lot of energy but it was a great trip, nonetheless. It was only a few months later that he was promoted to heaven.

When I look back over the years since I’ve known Art it’s very obvious how much he’s helped the Taylor family……and the Trinity family, as well. There’s hundreds of stories out there just like mine….of people that Art believed in. and gave them a ‘leg up’.

He was my Friend! There’s no question about it for me…..Art Harris is definitely a VIP! …….and you wouldn’t have to look far to find a lot of other people who think so too!

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