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What’s ‘Right’ With It?

I was watching ESPN early this morning. There was a piece on the Olympics in Rio. The focus of the segment was on the Zika virus and the crime rate in Rio, which has been escalating for several years. It was also mentioned that with the Athens Olympics, there was a high risk of terrorism; with Sochi it was the possibility that many of the venues that would hold thousands of spectators would not be completed by competition time. Of course, those are all things that need to be considered, especially if you’re making the trip down there. So, all in all, it was a good and informative piece of journalism.

It occurred to me as I listened and watched that we are so geared in our culture to focus on the negative….rather than the positive. We’re bombarded from every direction it seems. The media often reports nothing but negative news. It’s mostly about ‘what’s wrong’. I get that. It seems that there’s an insatiable desire by the general public to want to hear bad news.  After all, the bad news is what causes the ratings to surge.

The problem is that, as a culture, we’ve taken on some of those same attitudes. And, what’s way more serious is the potential for us, who call ourselves ‘believers’, to take on that same mindset. We should be people having a message of hope. These dark, discouraging times should be a great opportunity for us to ‘shine’. After all, we have the answers to the worlds’ problems. But as long as we’re just joining in on the fray….our voice will be muted.

Rather than looking for the ‘bad’, or negative, in everything…..maybe we should try to find something good to focus on. 

“If you can’t think of something good to say, don’t say nothin’ at all”…..still good advice!

Check these out:

It Feels Good To Be “Believed In”!!

If You Love Someone….You Should Tell Them!

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An Often Neglected Part of Prayer

Most everyone’s aware of the importance of prayer. And, the Bible is clear, for those of us who believe….it’s not “if” we pray….but “when”. It’s one of those non-negotiables for us. Like the Nike slogan….we “Just Do It”! It’s how we appropriate that which is already ours’ but which we haven’t attained, as of yet. Interesting thing about prayer….faith is ‘built into’  the activity of prayer. In essence you’re asking Someone you can’t see….to do something you can’t do. And, that right there…..that’s faith!

He must love answering our prayers! In fact the Bible says that before we say it….He’s busy about doing it. He’ll take every opportunity He can to grow and nurture our faith. It’s just more evidence of how good a Father He actually is. We’re encouraged in His Word to  ‘let our requests be made known to God’. My experience has taught me that when I pray in generalities…He answers in generalities. But when I pray in specifics…..He answers specifically!

But, there’s a part of prayer that I hardly ever hear anyone talking about. Simply put, prayer is how we communicate with God. And, if you’ll think about it….genuine communication, productive communication is always a two-way street! Good communication involves a balanced mixture of talking and listening. And, while expressing your heart to Him is important….it just might not be as important as what He has to say to you. I’ve learned that the more time I take to ‘listen’ to the Lord…..the less things I need to ask Him for! It’ll work that way for you, too!

With that in mind it makes all kinds of sense to work on perfecting our ability to hear Him. In doing so there’s a few things that’ll help. 1) Understand that He wants to ‘talk’ to you even more than you think you need to hear from Him! 2) Don’t make it difficult! He’s a Father…you’re His chosen kid!  3) He’s not limited to ‘speaking’ in an audible voice. Learn to notice all the ways in which He speaks. (your circumstances, dreams, visions, through other people, through His Word…and the list could go on and on!)

The Father doesn’t waste words. He always speaks the things we need to hear the most. He always knows just the right thing to say at just the right time!

So, the next time you pray…invest a little time in listening. You’ll be glad you did!

Here’s some more that’ll be helpful:

Listen More …….. Learn More!

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

“What’s The Lord Telling You?” Part 1

“What’s The Lord Telling You?” Part 2

 

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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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“Greatest Misses”

I’d love to have titled this one, “Greatest Hits”. But, as a rookie and aspiring writer, I doubt I’ve achieved that status yet. Maybe, someday! In the last year and a half I’ve written nearly three-hundred blogs. That’s not much writing for a ‘real’ writer but for a guy like me it’s fairly significant. I’m a ‘learner’; you’ve read that in my blogs more than a few times. I’ve learned a lot in this little stretch of time….and most of what I’ve learned are the things I’ve learned about myself. I have wanted to write things that would be helpful to others but found that some of those things have helped me, most of all. It just does something when you ‘write down’ your feelings and opinions. I highly recommend it for everyone, it’s therapeutic!

One of the things that’s been interesting are the blogs where I really thought I ‘nailed it’. I think,  as a writer, you kinda know if you got it done…..or not. But some of those that I thought I did my best work on at times happened to be ones that didn’t get read all that much. I get that. I’ve learned that people like stories. And, it’s a nice surprise when one just ‘takes off’ and gets read by three or four hundred people. Then there are a few that were just fun to write and still fun for me to read again. I’ve listed several of my “Greatest Misses” and if you have the time you might check ’em out. I’ve also included a few that still make me smile. Hope you enjoy ’em! If so, “Share” ’em with your people! Thanks for taking the time!

*Click on the highlighted link to read:

Identity Theft

Relational Equity

You Got To Me Too Late

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

Retaliate!!

Virtual Reality

Weapons of Mass Construction

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

That ain’t all the “Greatest Misses”! I’ve got a ton of ’em!

…….and just for fun:

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

Tee-Ball…..The #1, Undisputed, Very Best Team Sport of ‘Em All!!

There’s Just So Much of This Stuff in Life We’re Gonna Have to Learn the ‘Hard Way’!

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The Sound of Silence

If you were around in the 60’s you’ll remember that song*(click here to listen) It was written by Paul Simon and recorded by him and Art Garfunkel, aka, Simon & Garfunkel. An interesting thing about the song is that the album it was originally released on in 1964 was a total flop and actually led to the breakup of the S&G duo. But the song, after hardly any airplay, began to pick up steam around Harvard University. The producer did a remix adding some electrical instrumentation and it ‘took off’!! The Sound of Silence hit #1 on the Billboard Charts in January of 1966! The duo immediately reunited and recorded their second album. You can still hear it on classic rock stations today. And just recently a group called Disturbed, released another version of the song.

Sound….of Silence; that’s kind of an oxymoron when you think about it. Silence actually has no sound, whatsoever. Silence is something we don’t experience much these days. On a personal note, Julie and I raised 5 kids, 4 boys, and a daughter. And, as you can imagine, there’s not much silence in a household like that. It was challenging, we loved it….but not much silence, if you know what I mean. And now with 9 incredible Grandkids….again, not much silence. We love the activity…and the noise that goes along with it! 

Most of us, when given the opportunity for silence, almost feel the need to turn on the TV, whether we’re watching it or not, just so we don’t have to deal with the deafening silence. But, we could be missing out if we’re not getting at least a little bit of silence now and then. If you think about it, embracing silence is one of those things we probably ought to consider. The clatter of everyday life has the potential of drowning out the, sometimes very quiet, voice of the Father. The Bible calls it, “the still, small voice”. God’s not limited to speaking to you in the silence….but the natural noisiness of life makes it a lot harder for you to hear.

Learn to ‘deal’ with the distractions, ‘make’ time for some silence….and hear what the voice of the Father is saying to you!

 

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He Won’t ‘Put More On Ya’ Than You Can Stand

There’s a common misconception, in my opinion, on a certain passage of scripture that’s used over and over. It’s usually construed this way, “God won’t put more on you than you can stand”, or “more than you can handle”. And, while that’s a nice thing to consider, I submit that the truth of it is not nearly as clear as most would like for it to be. In fact it’s not what the verse is talking about at all. (The verse in question is 1 Cor 10:13)

For starters, just so you won’t get the wrong impression of God, it’s not the nature of a father to put unreasonable, or unbearable things on their children just for the heck of it. That doesn’t make sense at all. And, don’t forget….He’s a lot better Father, by far, than we could ever be. And, the folks that say God puts hard things on you to teach you a lesson……are a ‘long ways off’ from reality! They really need to STOP it!

But here’s something that experience has taught me. He really doesn’t ‘put more on you than you can handle’, but He consistently allows you to go through things that you don’t think you can handle! In fact, and don’t get the wrong idea here, I actually think He kinda likes it! For, it’s in those times of desperation that you’re reminded of how much you really need Him. You’re a lot more prone to trust Him at times like that. THAT’S what He likes!

So, don’t be so quick to blame Him for ‘putting something on you’….and remember, as a Father, He’s a lot more interested in building character in you, than making you comfortable!

Check this one out, too:

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

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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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Let’s Work Together

I was watching a documentary on TV awhile back. Yeah, it’s just part of my exciting life! I think it was at a star fair, maybe Wisconsin. There were these huge Belgian draft horses like the Budweiser Clydesdales in a contest to see how much weight they could pull. They started the single horses out at 1500 pounds, pulling a weighted sled. They’d add to the weight after every round and if a horse couldn’t pull the sled, they were out. It amazing how much weight these horses can pull. The winning horse pulled 8,000 pounds! Then it was time  for the ‘team pulling’ with two horses hitched up and yoked together. And, what happened was absolutely mind boggling.

You’d think that two of these draft horses would be able to pull about twice what one horse could pull but it turned out that they didn’t pull twice as much…..but exactly three times more than one horse! I found that to be pretty amazing, to say the least. After a little reading on the subject I learned that it’s fairly normal for two horses to pull three times the weight that one can pull. And, what caught my attention even more is that the phenomenon of synergy (the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects) works with people….and organizations, as well.

The principle,……and the power, of synergy works with a husband and wife, a pair of business partners, leaders and their organizations, a shepherd and his ‘flock’…and the list goes on and on. The more people that are added to the equation, it appears the more incredible the results are apt to be. When it comes right down to it, it’s a whole lot more than just working together. It’s coming to agreement on a common goal and then ‘yoking’ up together, addressing the inevitable obstacles that will surely come, refusing to be divided over petty issues, keeping the focus on when the ‘chips’ are down, riding out the lean years…and the determination to keep going.

If you’ll work together, you’ll be like those draft horses…..your output will surprise you….and everyone around you!

Here’s a great song by ‘Canned Heat’, a 60’s band that performed at Woodstock, that captures the essence of synergy….and the power of working together.

*(Click on highlighted link) “Let’s Work Together”

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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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The Parable of Pedro Flores Pt 2

It would sure help if you’ve seen Lonesome Dove. I joke about Lonesome Dove all the time, telling people that they’re not ’rounded out’ spiritually until they’ve seen it several times. But, seriously, it’s a great movie. Larry McMurtry’s a great writer any way you look at it. But, even hardcore Lonesome Dove fans may not know there are actually four books in the Lonesome Dove series. The first, Dead Man’s Walk (1996), chronicles the lives of the young Texas Rangers, Augustus McRae and Woodrow Call. Comanche Moon (1998)  covers the ranger’s middle aged years. Lonesome Dove (1985), the later…almost over the hill years. And Streets of Laredo (2000), the sequel and last in the series. I highly recommend them all if you liked Lonesome Dove. Interestingly enough….I’ve read those…. but never actually read Lonesome Dove. (I have, however, watched it 9 times!)

I recently wrote “The Parable of Pedro Flores”. *(Click on link to read) It’s one of my favorite scenes in the movie. But there’s another little part of the scene that I was reminded of that just kinda ‘tops it off’. The person who reminded me is a good friend and a ‘lawman’ cut from much the same cloth as Gus and Woodrow. (You know who you are, DM) But, the culmination of that whole scene happened when Gus & Woodrow stole the herd of horses back from Mexican bandito, Pedro Flores, in the middle of the night. Flores was as surprised as he could possibly be at all the commotion taking place when there in the darkness Gus appeared horseback and the two made unmistakable eye contact. It was then in the midst of the chaos that Gus, not fifteen feet away from Flores, tipped his hat in true Texas fashion, …..and in doing so implied to Pedro….“Got you again!!”  And, as good as Pedro Flores was at stealing and pilfering…..the Rangers were better!

Again, I see parallels with our spiritual life. Our adversary, the devil, is a formidable foe, indeed. But armed and equipped as you are he’s just no match for you. We’ve been given ‘authority’ over all the power of the enemy. He knows that….but sometimes we don’t know it, or act like it. I agree that it’s nothing to be arrogant about, that would surely guarantee our defeat. But maybe you should, when things seem the darkest, remind yourself of just ‘who’ you are and, with a profound confidence (in Him!), tip your hat to the enemy like Gus did Pedro and make your way on back home with your ‘stuff’!!

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