Sharpen Your Saw!

Have you heard the story about the two guys who were pitted against one another in a wood cutting contest? They both were given brand new chain saws, all the fuel they needed and the rules were that they would cut firewood for eight hours and the one that had cut the most wood would receive a cool million dollars. That’d be enough to motivate just about anybody.

There was a twenty foot curtain between the two woodcutters and enough downed trees to keep them busy for a long, long time. The starter fired his gun and the cuttin’ commenced! They were going at it with everything they had. One of them never let up. The only time he stopped his saw was to refuel. But there were plenty of times that he noticed that the other guy’s saw wasn’t running at all. That just made him that much more determined to cut more wood. After a few hours he was getting weary but he still kept cutting, determined to win that million dollar prize. He could hear the other guy’s saw part of the time but part of the time it was silent….so he knew he must be a long ways ahead of him with his growing pile of firewood.

The contest went on for, seemed like forever. It finally came down to just a few minutes left before the end of the eight hours. The one woodcutter was utterly exhausted but was confident that he was way out in the lead. He never stopped cutting all day; only stopped three or four times to get a drink but immediately went back to work. He was feeling pretty good despite being completely worn out. He knew there was no possible way the other guy had cut as much wood as he did. Too much time with the saw not running. He was already thinking about what he’d do with that million dollars!

The official signaled the end of the contest. It was now time to drop the curtain and see who the winner was. When the curtain dropped the determined, exhausted…but confident woodcutter was totally dumbfounded! He couldn’t believe his eyes! The other guy had cut nearly three times the amount of firewood as he had. How in the world could that happen!?

He had to ask, “How could you have possibly cut that much more firewood than me?” “I never let up; I never took a break; I just barely stopped long enough to get a drink of water”. And, all day long I noticed quite often that your saw wasn’t running.” “What were you doing all that time that your saw was silent?”

The other woodcutter calmly replied, “I was sharpenin’ my saw!”

About everyone I know is doing all they can to keep up in life. For most there’s no lack of effort and hard work. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if we’re winning or not. But it makes sense in this day and time to learn how to work smarter, not harder. You should ask the Lord what that means for you. The details will be different for each of us but there’s no doubt about it……….we all need to sharpen our saw!

Here’s the audio version:

 

 

It’s Nice to be Able to Hear!

I had a little incident a few days ago. I was relaxing, watching the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Just kicked back in a soft comfortable chair, got up during halftime and walked into the kitchen and noticed that I couldn’t hear anything out of my right ear. At first I didn’t think too much about it but I did think it was a little strange. My hearing wasn’t totally gone. I could hear the TV but I couldn’t, for the life of me, tell what they were saying. I was sure that within a few minutes everything would return to normal. I finished watching the game but the problem persisted. I’m getting a little worried about it by now so I grabbed my computer and Googled, “sudden loss of hearing”. Turns out there’s such a thing. I read a few of the Google posts and was sure I had it! Testimony after testimony of men and women who just lost their hearing in an ear for no reason at all. For a few their hearing eventually came back, for others it never did.

I was sure when I went to bed that I’d wake up and all would be well. NOT! No better in the morning so I’m pretty dang concerned about it by now! Got an appointment with my trusty physician/close friend Dr. Craig Phelps and set up an appointment. Long story short, nothing serious. A little fluid behind my eardrum, a couple of meds and it should be good in a few days.

But it did get me thinking about not being able to hear!

We’ve been ‘given’ an incredible opportunity to be able to communicate with the Father. We can talk to Him…and He talks to us. One of the great adventures in life is learning to ‘hear’, and to discern, what He’s saying to us. He’s not limited to speaking in an audible way; He has all sorts of ways that He might choose to speak to us. But make no mistake about it, He’s speaking! Fathers always want to speak to their kids!

The Bible talks about a time where there was a famine in the land. Not a famine of food but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. If you read that account it appears that the problem wasn’t that God wasn’t speaking…..the problem was that the people weren’t ‘hearing’! ……..and maybe they weren’t hearing because they weren’t listening!

 I don’t know about you but I’m grateful we’re not living in that time, or that kind, of famine. I’m glad that we can hear what He’s saying to us.

We oughta make it a priority!

Check out the audio version:

Some more about ‘hearing’ the Lord:

An Often Neglected Part of Prayer

What’s the Lord Telling You? Part 1

What’s the Lord Telling You? Part 2

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

When God Hides the Truth

The Bible is a magnificent document! Sixty-six books, written by 44 authors over a period of about fifteen hundred years. The thirty-nine books of the Old Testament were composed between 1400 and 400 B.C., the twenty-seven books of the New Testament between A.D. 50 and A.D. 100. (Read more facts about the Bible) It is an amazing history book and it contains some vital information of how God, the Creator of the entire Universe, deals with His people. The Bible is written and compiled in such a way as to draw the reader into an actual personal encounter with God, Himself. If we miss that…..we could be missing why we have It in the first place.

I became a student of the Bible over thirty  years ago. I had never read it much in my whole life but when I started I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s interesting how the Lord grew me and taught me as I read. I had a profound experience with the Lord; I knew my life was changing. Looking back it’s pretty obvious to me that it was the hand of the Lord. Living out in the middle of nowhere a steady stream of my friends began to just ‘happen’ to stop by. You have to understand….our place wasn’t on the way to anywhere! These friends would come see me and somewhere in our conversation they’d begin to talk to me about their problems. They would nearly always ask me questions about their issues but I hardly every had the answers. All I knew was that if God could fix my life….I knew He could fix theirs’. 

Their questions ranged from everything from marriage problems to, “How does a person get to heaven”. Well, I didn’t know. But I did have a Bible. (Actually it was Julie’s. She had bought a New King James Version and I just kinda confiscated it and started consuming it!) Since I couldn’t answer my friends questions I’d go home at night and look and look until I found an answer. I thought, “If I ever get asked that question again I’ll have the answer.” Funny thing is…I don’t think I ever got asked the second time. Looking back it was the Lord’s way of training me in His Word. It worked!

One fascinating thing I have learned about the Bible is that there are, what I’d call, ‘hidden truths’ just under the surface of what we routinely read. For someone who really wants to become a student of the Bible it pays to look for those truths. It’s important to understand that the Father doesn’t hide those truths ‘from’ us…..but ‘for’ us!

I was observing my two newest little grandkids today, Knox and Timber; sharp, beautiful, curious little kids,…both just a little over a year old. In a few weeks they will be experiencing their first opportunity to hunt for Easter eggs. When the adults hide those eggs it’d be really easy to hide them from the little ones where they’d never ever find them. But that’s not how we do it! Nope, we hide them where they can’t help but find them. We’re not hiding the eggs ‘from’ them….we’re hiding the eggs ‘FOR’ them!

Why don’t you make yourself a student of the Word of God? There are some profound truths hidden just under the surface. He really wants you to find them!

The Father hasn’t hidden them from you….He’s hidden them FOR you!  

Check out the audio version:

**Hey….a little poll. Need some feedback. Have you tried the ‘audio’ version?? If so, do you prefer them or not?? Please let me know. Thanks!

Try these:

If He Can Fix My Life…..I Know He Can Fix Yours!

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

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The Way I See It, We’ve Got Two Choices

Life is full of tricks and turns. It’s universal in that we are all going to go through an entire array of experiences, both good and bad in the course of our life. Some of these experiences are expected while others seem to come out of nowhere…..and are totally unexpected. We might be on the mountain one day and way down in the valley the next. Those valley experiences can really take a toll on us if we don’t do something to offset the stress.

At this stage of my life I can’t imagine someone not turning to the Lord in the midst of their trials. But, just like anyone else…..before I knew better, I didn’t do it either. Now I do know better. I’ve learned through some very unpleasant seasons in life to lean on the Lord through those times. Once we start to trust the Lord with our life that scenario should become a no-brainer. As we mature we begin to understand that the hard times afford us with some profound growth opportunities.

But, what about the good times; the mountain top times when things are seemingly as good as they can get. I’m suggesting that we turn to the Lord during those times, as well. Most of us at one time or another have thought how dumb the Israelites were when they were being blessed by the Lord. It’s interesting, but during those good times they were prone to stray away from the Lord and His goodness. If we’re not careful we’ll make the same mistake, ourselves. We should resolve to be grateful, and turn to Him….even in the good times.

Many people have made their choice to try to make it through life without turning to the Lord. That’s tragic but I think it happens for a couple of obvious reasons. First, God has been mis-portrayed by many to be mean-spirited and judgmental. Second, He gets the blame for every negative and painful thing that happens by some people. But the truth of the matter is that He’s a Father…..and He’s good! Really good! You just have to taste and see for yourself!

There’s gonna be plenty of hard times….and hopefully plenty of good times in life. The way I see it we’ve got two choices; we can either run from the Lord or run to Him. I’ve never seen the former work, ……not one time. On the other hand, I’ve never seen the latter ‘not work’!

The choice is yours!

 

Check these out, too:

“If You Could See The Big Picture”

They Don’t Call it ‘Test’imony For Nothin’!

Perspective; It Makes All the Difference!

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Think You Know it All?

It’s a rare individual that hasn’t encountered at least a few times in life those that think they know it all. You know the guy that, whatever the subject might be, always knows more than everybody else. They’re an authority on everything! Those folks are really hard for me to be around. I have this theory; *(stick with me now; Oh, and this is not spiritual!) You can put a hundred people in a room. If you take the ten off the top that think they know everything, and the ten off the bottom that really don’t know anything, ……put those twenty in the same room and you can’t tell which is which! LOL I’m just kidding but, if you think about it, it’s not too far from the actual truth.

One of the most important pieces of advice I’ve ever received in my sixty-three year run on the planet came from my Dad when we were growing up. I still, to this day, think about it often. Here’s what he said; “When you think you know it all, you’re as smart as you’re ever gonna get.” You can apply that truth if you’re a jet pilot, a plumber, an oilfield worker or a parent. Knowledge is a wonderful thing but even the Bible gives a bit of a disclaimer saying that it has the potential to ‘puff’ one up. (cause us to be prideful) Think about it; When you think you know it all you close yourself off to any new information. Why? Because you don’t think you need it. You already know everything.

My Dad’s advice long ago served to put me in the mode of being a lifetime ‘learner’. I don’t think I even came close to understanding the ramifications of that advice at the time. But looking back, now, it seems pretty obvious that it’s been extremely beneficial in my life,…..and in every area of my life all these years. It’s amazing what, and how much, you can learn when you come to the conclusion that you don’t know everything.

Feeling like you have to know everything is a tremendous load to try to bear. Why not just take the position of a ‘learner’. Life will suddenly become a lot more interesting…..and people will find you a lot easier to be around!

*Happened onto this by doing a little Google search:

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden

These’ll be helpful, too:

Don’t Tie the Ends Up!

10 Tips That’ll Help You Become a “Learner”

Listen More …….. Learn More!

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Lean on Me

When I hear the song, “Lean on Me”, it reminds me of when I was in college out at ‘ol Eastern New Mexico University in Portales right out of high school in ’71. The song, by Bill Withers, was a #1 hit on both the soul singles and the ‘Billboard Hot 100′. It ranks #208 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Hits of All Time”. The song has a great positive message.

“Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on”

“You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on”

It oughta be a priority in life to ‘be there’ for other people in their times of need. It takes a special person to put their own baggage, issues and problems on the back burner in an effort to help someone else out of life’s jams. And if we believe anything of what the Bible says about sowing and reaping…we’ll be sowing some good seeds that will bring a nice little harvest when we find our own selves in that place of need. It’s really how humanity ought to work.

Are you someone that a friend could lean on? It requires that we become listeners and encouragers. Oftentimes that friend doesn’t need advice near as much as they just need someone to listen to them. And, for that person, sometimes it just helps to hear themselves talk about their dilemma. Being there for someone and hearing their problems can give you some incredible insight in how to pray for them.

Anytime a person comes to you and tells you their problems,…..what they’re actually doing is asking you for help. And, the fact that they came to you just says that you have at least earned some level of trust with them. That’s a pretty important factor; I wouldn’t take it lightly! Trust is an extremely valuable thing.

One word of caution; being a person worthy of someone leaning on can bring it’s own set of problems. We must keep in perspective that while we want to help….we can never take  the place of the Lord in their lives. Our goal should always be to point them to Him!

Brace up!

Your People need someone dependable to lean on!

More good ones: *(Please  “Share” These!)

They Don’t Call it ‘Test’imony For Nothin’!

‘Thorns in the Flesh’

You Ever Get Tired of People Dumping All Their Problems On You?!?

That One “Nut Job”!

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Weapons of Mass Distraction

WMD’s, weapons of mass destruction; that’s a fairly new term we’ve started hearing over the past fifteen years or so. WMD’s are defined as: a nuclear, radiological, chemical, biological or other weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans or cause great damage to human-made structures (e.g. buildings), natural structures (e.g. mountains), or the biosphere. There are those out there so devious as to devise these ways to wreak havoc on the masses. It’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around anyone wanting to do that kind of harm to humanity….but it exists. And the potential for the use of WMD’s is probably growing rather than diminishing. Pretty scary to say the least!

You know, the Bible says that we have an adversary, the devil, who loves to kill, steal and destroy. he (caps left off on purpose!) doesn’t have a lot of tricks….but he’s very good at the ones he does have. he’ll do anything he can to keep us from coming to the Lord to begin with. It seems that there’s always someone in front of us that is over-religious and arrogant about it to boot. Those folks can come across in ways that make some people think we’re all like that. I know a couple of these people and it bothers me that in their perceived zeal for the Lord that they actually repel people from coming to the Father. Tragic, but it happens.

But, even after we’re born gain there are plenty of distractions thrown our way to keep us from the best that the Lord has for us….and to cause us to possibly miss our destiny. Many of these distractions are not the work of the ‘enemy’ (but plenty are!) at all but just the details of life, ….which we all agree, can be very distracting.

So, “what”, you might ask is such a big deal about distractions? Distractions have a profound way to keep us from our real purpose in life. God has a plan, an intricate one, for our entire existence on the planet. Our lives will never take on the value God has placed on them until we’re moving in unison with His Spirit. And, if we lose sight of that because of our distractions we end up questioning, or doubting, even our importance to the Father.

If we’re going to fulfill the plan of God for our lives it just makes sense to start now to learn some inventive ways to deal with distractions. If not you could be dealing with these little things from now on. It’s important to note that these things fight directly against your faith. That’s a pretty important thing to remember!

It might take a little work to identify what your distractions are and how you’re going to deal with them, but you can do it! …..

…..And you’ll have to if you’re going to keep these Weapons of Mass Distraction from stealing from your destiny!

What are your distractions??

Try these, too:

Weapons of Mass Construction

“You Are Here”

It’s Either a Blessing or a Curse!

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“Are We There Yet?”

If you’re a parent you’ve heard that question more than a few times. In fact it could happen on just about any trip. Doesn’t matter if it’s a short trip or a long one you’re apt to hear it. We had five kids so you can imagine how many times we heard, “Are we there yet?”, in their younger years. Little kids don’t really have much concept of time and distance. If they’re in the car and you drive a few miles they immediately start wondering why we’re not already there.

Our Christian walk of faith is kinda like that too. We go a ways, encounter a mess of trials tribulations, overcome one thing after another, win a few, lose a few, slowly but gradually get better…..and you’d think we oughta be there. Our life is an incredible ‘road trip’ if you can think about it that way. We may not express it to the Lord exactly like our kids do on a trip, but you gotta admit….we’re thinkin’ it! “Are we there yet?” I bet the Lord gets a kick out of our impatience at times. But in the long haul we’re like our kids; as we mature we begin to realize it’s not a quick trip. It takes a while to get ‘there’

Spiritual maturity is not an elusive thing at all. It’s attainable alright,……it just takes awhile. We’re on our way there now. But we might as well just settle in and realize it’s a lifelong endeavor. It takes a long, long time for people like us to get conformed into the image of Jesus. When I look at my own life I can tell I’m more like Him than I was….but in all reality I’ve got a long way to go.

It’s an incredible trip we’re on; not a short one by any means, more like a marathon. and when we wonder, “Are we there yet?”, we might need to remind ourselves; no, we’re not there yet……but we’re closer than we were!

Here’s a few you might like too:

 

Dysfunction Junction

“You Are Here”

Livin’ It Up

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If You Ain’t Walkin’ It, You Probably Oughta Quit Talkin’ It! *Repost*

For some unknown reason last night’s post didn’t publish correctly. I’m reposting! Enjoy!

That’s one of the big problems the world has with us Christians. We say one thing but do something different, altogether. We talk love but they don’t see it in action. In fact, many times they see the polar opposite. It just doesn’t look good. We talk faith….but they don’t see us actually walking by faith. They hear us talking about righteousness but observe us compromising in our daily lives. So, really, who can blame our criticizers? It’s a wonder we have any credibility at all.

This kind of thing has caused a lot of distrust of churches and church people. It’s going to be quite a challenge to get this ship turned around. But it’s worth the effort…and we oughta start ASAP!

A good starting place would be, for ministry people like myself, to just be open, honest and forthcoming about ‘where’ we are in our own lives. As we learn to walk out our Christian mindset, and lifestyle, we make plenty of mistakes in the process. I’ve always tried to be honest about that with the people the Lord has given us. And I’m a firm believer that whatever it is that I’m teaching or preaching about….I don’t know every thing about the subject; I’m a learner; a work in progress. I think it helps our family (church) to hear of the challenges even we have in walking this stuff out in real life. It gives them hope to hear their leaders admitting to their own struggles. I know every ministry person won’t agree with that….and that’s OK with me. Many ministry people won’t ‘go there’ fearing it’s a sign of weakness. I can totally understand that as church people can sometimes be some of the most vicious. But my conscience won’t let me tell people I have something perfected when in all actuality…..I’m far from it. You might be surprised at how much that’d help the whole big picture. A little honesty, a little openness, a little vulnerability could go a long way.

When that happens with leaders the entire ‘flock’ starts the ‘buy in’ process. They slowly change the way they think and in turn it begins to affect how they behave and interact with people on the outside. It’s a long, slow process so we should start now!

If we’ll just start walkin’ out what we’re talkin’ (or at the very least, …..try to!) we might actually start changing the world for the better.

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Theorists and Practitioners

Theorist: Someone who considers given facts and comes up with a possible explanation is called a theorist.                                                                                                                            Practitioner: A practitioner is someone who is actively involved in real life situations, and qualified to practice a particular occupation, profession, or religion.

I had a conversation 10 years ago with a few close friends. I don’t actually remember the exact details of the entire conversation but I definitely remember the conclusion I came to soon after it was over. I was with four other ministry people, all of which had quite a few years of experience. A couple of these guys are great communicators, orators, Bible teachers. But they weren’t actively involved in the day to day dealing with people and their problems. It’s not that they couldn’t do it; they have. It’s just that they weren’t heavily involved at that time. I’ll call them the ‘theorists’. They’re important people; they’re good at what they do!

It was a really good, brisk discussion on how things ought to work in the church from a, strictly, Biblical standpoint. On those topics, there wasn’t much disagreement, whatsoever. But the ‘rub’ came when we began talking about how it really is in the ‘trenches’. You know, out there where the rubber hits the road….in real life; Where you get knocked down, get your nose bloodied, betrayed, lied to, lied about, tripped up and derailed. That all can happen (and really a lot more!) in the process of ‘practicing’ the theory, especially in ministry.

I am deeply involved in the day to day challenge of dealing with people…and their issues. Been doing it for over 30 years. It’s what I do. I’m far from perfect at it….but I have learned a few things. For that reason, I’d say I’m more a ‘practitioner’ than a theorist. When you add, what I’d call the ‘human factor’, to any theory, even a Biblical one, it complicates that theory to a large degree. Doesn’t mean the theory is wrong or even faulty, for that matter. But it’s different when it’s being lived out in real life. It’s never quite as neat; in fact, it’s usually pretty messy; it’s never as cut and dried as we’d like for it to be. When you add people to the equation it gets a lot more difficult. It’s nearly always worth it….but difficult, nonetheless.

It led me to this conclusion; There needs to be a ‘coming together’ of the ‘theorists’ and the ‘practitioners’. They need to sit down at the table and talk, discuss, compare, hash it out, even argue a little if it’s friendly and helpful. It’s vital, I think. And, if it’s done in a productive manner….everyone leaves the table wiser and better equipped…..and both have a much better understanding.

In all truth, and I think this is how the Lord designed it for obvious reasons, …..unless the theory is tested in the laboratory of life….all you have is a theory. But when the theory is a Biblical one, and the parties involved will lean toward the Lord, it usually works out……..a whole lot more often than not!

The theorists and the practitioners need to get together!

Readin’ a book about learning how to fly an airplane is fine…..but when you’re taxiing down the runway……things get REAL!

Check these out:

I Plant a Little, I Water a little…..

A Long Ways From the Lord

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