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A Lifetime of Faithfulness

I bumped into a Friend in the post office last week. He’s a retired pastor in his late 80’s.  He just sold his home and he and his wife are entering an assisted living facility in a neighboring town. He retired from the ministry a short time ago. Spent his whole life ministering in a small country church. A whole lifetime of faithfulness. I have a lot of respect for guys like that.

It made me think; I doubt he ever made much more money than to barely get by. Not rare to have to find some kind of supplemental income. Probably never got asked to speak at a big conference anywhere. Never gonna have his picture or an article in Charisma magazine. Not even gonna name a street after him in his little town. He’s not one to complain about that kinda stuff. It obviously wasn’t what was important to him. But, he kept on being faithful anyhow.

I bet he knew three or four generations of people there where he ministered all those years. Went through all the ups and downs with ’em. Everything from burying their grandpa to seeing a new baby boy welcomed into the world and entire families devastated by some of the tragedies life brings. Held their hands when they didn’t have any hope for what they were facing. Always clinging to, and pointing them to God. And, in a little church like that in a tiny community, the Pastor has to do everything. Preach every Sunday for decade upon decade. Marry ’em, bury ’em, and everything in between. All the while getting the usual criticism that goes along with the job. Think about how much wisdom he gained in a generation or more. Think about how much he would have to offer…….anyone.

In my conversation with my Friend, he lost his train of thought a time or two and apologized for it. He even said, “Well, that’s the problem I have now.”. I ‘felt’ his pain at that very moment and it grieved me. Even makes me tear up while I’m writing.

It’s been a whole lifetime of faithfulness, to the Lord and to the people He entrusted him with. It makes me wonder if anyone really noticed; if anyone did much more than say, “Thank ‘ya”. But, I have an opinion about men like my Friend. You don’t have to agree with me but I bet ‘ya when we get up ‘there’, you know, in Heaven that guys like my Friend are gonna be getting some heavy duty hardware when they start passin’ out the rewards. I think we might be surprised at how honored ‘then’ they might be as compared to those who won world acclaim here on earth. We should honor them now, ….but we probably won’t….

Some people just don’t appreciate a lifetime of faithfulness like that.

But I do!

….and I think the Father does too!

Well done!

 

 

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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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Resilience……It’s a Thing!

Resilience:the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness; the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
It’s a ‘thing’ alright! You don’t find it everywhere today in this world of entitlement and political correctness. But it’s there. It’s a part of our nature….or should I say it’s a part of the nature of what the left and right coasters, and liberals, call us ‘deplorables’. You know, us rednecks, us backward rural Americans, Christians and who those self-proclaimed, more educated and refined, folks look down on. We have resilience; we have it in abundance….and I hate it for those that don’t have it and don’t know the first thing about it.
I spent the day with a few dozen others walking the Western Oklahoma pastures trying to recover anything of value for a family that lost everything in a direct-hit tornado that took their home, their business and everything that was dear to them. The devastation was as bad as anything I’ve ever seen. I can’t even, with all my imagination, muster up what it must feel like to have a home, a business and all my belongings one minute….and then in a matter of minutes see them scattered for miles over the countryside.
But, you know what….? Not one single time did I hear this family say, “Why me?”; not once did I hear them whine about not even having a bed to lay down in tonight; not once did I hear them complain and gripe about what the government was going to do for them. Not once! What I did hear was, “We’ll be OK”;“I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’ll be OK”! ….and they will!
Less than a mile away a hundred other families, some I know…some I don’t, lost their homes too…..and while I had little contact with most of them I can tell you now that they’re gonna be OK too. Why?……because they’re resilient, that’s why! It’s part of our makeup out here in rural America.
We help one another out here. It’s just what we do. Literally hundreds of friends and neighbors, and I’m guessing quite a few strangers that had no ties whatsoever, bailed in and went to work today in our area……just to help out their fellow man. Nobody’s looking for attention; nobody cares if they get noticed or not. Nobody cares who gets the credit. They’re just lending their precious time, effort, resources and genuine concern and care to help someone in dire need.
It looks really, really good!
I think the Father likes it!
We’re rich in resilience out here!
So, yeah,……..resilience is a thing!
 

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“Good Will Toward Men”

The heavenly angel, on a mission from the most High God, appeared with the heavenly host (multitudes of other angels) to announce to the world that a Savior had been born. Oddly enough this angelic sighting didn’t take place before a crowd of people….but to the shepherds who were watching over their flocks by night.  *(read “Good Tidings of Great Joy”) The angel didn’t say much….but what he did say was ultra important!

But, just what does the angel mean when he says,“Good will toward men”? I’ve been thinking about it all week. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone talk about that part. After pondering it for awhile…here’s where I landed. It’s an extremely important part of what the angel had to say. I’d even call it a great revelation. A Savior is born! And He came to the earth to “do us good”! It’s as clear a picture of Who God is that you’ll probably ever see. It reveals His heart toward all mankind. I don’t think it takes some kind of sophisticated commentary to figure this one out; it’s pretty simple. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believed in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

That phrase, “good will toward men”, reveals God’s absolute determination to be good to, and bless, all mankind…and in an almost unbelievable way! In ‘it’ He would do the only thing possible to redeem every single person that would ever live. He’s that good!

All other religions focus on how a person can get to God….but Christianity is vastly different. Yep, Christianity is about our God ‘coming to us’! He loved us so much that He came in the likeness of man, laid down His own life to, once and for all, forgive us of our sins! And the icing on the cake would be that, now,…..plain old people like you and I can have a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe! I I don’t know if you’ve figured that out by now but …that’s one heck of a deal!

“Good will toward men”……..

It’s God……willing (wanting, desperately desiring)…..to do you good!

More “good news”:

Maybe He Saved More Than Your Life!

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

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

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“You Are Here”

I know you’re familiar with those “You Are Here” signs. In the mall is the most obvious place I see them. I find myself looking at them pretty often when I’m there. I go to the mall occasionally but not often enough to actually know where everything is. I know where a few of the stores I’m interested in are located but there are dozens that I have absolutely no idea where they are. But, really, I don’t have a problem knowing where I am so, for me, the “You Are Here” sign is kind of a moot point. But, if I could find a sign that could tell me where Julie is in the mall…..now that’s something I think I could find extremely useful! But, and I’m talking from years of experience here, I guarantee that if I headed straight to the point where the sign says she is…..she’d be gone by the time I’d get there. Yep, done that too many times to count!

But, seriously, in the course of our lives one of those “You Are Here” signs would come in pretty handy. It’d be helpful for us to realize where we are….especially in relation to where we’re going. I think there are several surefire ways to help us identify exactly where we are. Some of them are pretty revealing and some will undoubtedly expose some of our immaturity, our weaknesses and inconsistencies. But if we’re serious about arriving at a certain destination they can provide some serious personal growth opportunities.

Life is full of ‘tests’; all kinds of them. And if you’re serious about your walk with the Lord there’s going to be a lot of them. It’s important to know that when the Lord tests you it’s not so He can find out where you’re at…..He already knows that. No, the tests are so you can find out for yourself where you are. That’s good information!

At that point we can adjust, refocus (and repent in some cases) and seek His wisdom about our situation and then get lined up again with His plan for our lives. I’m convinced that He likes nothing more than to help us get on track. 

So, look at your life right now. If you’re in the middle of some test, observe how you’re responding to it. More than likely it’s one of those “You Are Here” opportunities!

Some others you might like:

Are You ‘Led’, or Are You ‘Driven’?

Don’t Tie the Ends Up!

Objects in the Mirror are Closer Than They Appear!

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Definitely Our Most Memorable New Year’s Day!

It was exactly 38 years ago today. That, I remember vividly. It was brutally cold, about 15 degrees with the wind blowing about 40 mph! ….typical Texas Panhandle winter night! Julie and I had gone into Canadian, Texas to meet two other couples for supper. The Stuckey’s, Don & Billie, and the Dickinson’s, Bud & Brenda have been great friends of ours for a lifetime (actually more like Family!). The plan was to go to the steak house for supper and then back to the Stuckey’s to hang out, play a few cards, drink a few beers….at least for the guys. Julie and I were expecting our first baby and she was already about two weeks past the due date.

We brought in the New Year and headed home. It was about 40 miles to our house. The we got home another of my good friends, Kenny Bass was there waiting for us. Julie went off to bed and ‘Catfish’ (his nickname) and I decided we’d have another drink or two. Before we even got the first one poured Julie called to me from the bedroom. When I went in there she was as serious as I’d ever seen her! She calmly said, “I think my water broke”! I don’t know if you can grasp the panic that I experienced at that moment. Julie, on the other hand, remained pretty calm. But here we were, 60 miles from the hospital, our car with less than a quarter tank of gas in it…and she’s having contractions only a few minutes apart. 

We were in the car in less than 3 minutes. And, since we didn’t have enough gas to make it to the hospital we stopped at the ranch headquarters, where my folks lived, to fill the car up. Thinking we didn’t have a minute to spare, I had visions of her trying to give birth in the car on the way. We made the 60 mile trip in about 35-40 minutes…and to be honest, Julie’s brown Gran Torino was never really the same after that!

Not sure exactly the time we arrived at the hospital in Elk City, Oklahoma but I distinctly remember Julie having regular contractions just a few minutes apart….and Clint Ryan wasn’t born until 1:35 pm the next day….New Year’s Day. It was a lot of hours of ‘hard labor’!! And, hey, Clint was the first baby born there in the New Year so we were given lots of gifts and certificates for gifts.

It was an experience we’ll never forget. Our lives were changed for the better that day, and made richer than we could’ve ever imagined. It was definitely our most memorable New Year’s Day!

Happy New Year from the Taylors’!!

*If you’re interested in visiting the ‘Archives’ and getting 2016 off to a good start, click the highlighted link and get started! Thanks for joining me on the journey!

Reflect & Refocus #2

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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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Gem City, Texas…….and the Prayer That Should’ve Never Been!

Prayer is an important ingredient of the Christian life. It’s at least one way that we’re able to communicate with the Father. I pray a lot these days. It’s probably not prayer like you might classify it, but it’s prayer, nonetheless. It’s mostly (but not limited to) just a one liner here and there. A lot of times I’ll just say, “Help me Lord”, or I’ll just speak a healing prayer over someone that comes to mind. I pray for Julie every morning when I put my wedding ring on, have for years. Anyway, my point is, prayer is a priority for me and I try to simply follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in doing it.

But there was a time in my life that I didn’t pray much. I mean, I prayed back during my rodeo career…..and daily, when I was getting on bulls every day. There’s just something about climbing down on an 1800 lb bull that makes you want to pray….if you know what I mean. But other than that prayer wasn’t a huge priority in my life. Should’ve been…..just wasn’t.

Life on the ranch was good. One of the yearly events was a little Christmas get-together at Gem City. Now, Gem City ain’t no ‘city’ at all. Matter of fact, all that Gem City consisted of was one house….and a little one room church house that had no regular services. Our nearest neighbors lived in that house. Homer and Georgia Thomas, an elderly….and very sweet couple, lived there. Every Christmas, a few days before, a lot of the ranch families would meet at the little church, sing a few Christmas carols, hear a little Christmas story preachin; and have a little something for the kids. There might be 40-50 people there and it was always a pleasant time.

Well, one year, and long before I’d started going to church, we went to the little program at Gem City. The carols had been sung, the preachin’ about Baby Jesus had happened and it was about time to wind it all up with a prayer when the preacher started lookin’ around the room. Everyone else had their head bowed and eyes closed but me and he made eye contact with me. I immediately thought, “This can’t be good!”. …..and get this!! Out of his mouth he says, “Andy Taylor….would you please lead us in prayer.” I ’bout gagged!! My blood pressure spiked! I broke out in a cold sweat! My whole life flashed in front of me! My hands got ‘clammy’! My mouth went dry! Julie and I looked at each other at exactly the same time….and as scared as I was…..she was scared – er!!! Neither one of us had any idea what I might say!

I have no idea what I prayed that night; maybe something like, “Lord, four-score and seven years ago” or “I pledge allegiance, Lord”  ….Who knows what I might’ve said? I somehow made it through some kind of prayer….and without cussin too’!

We got in the car and let out a huge sigh of relief. We had a good laugh (I bet the Lord even laughed on that one!)….but I was secretly planning what I could be doing next year on that night instead of going to the Christmas program in Gem City!

PS- I’ll bet, if you can find those church pews, you can still find mine and Julie’s ‘claw marks’ on ’em!!

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