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Don’t Bring Me Down

The Electric Light OrchestraELOis an English rock band formed in 1970 by songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jeff Lynne. Their music was characterized by the use of instruments not commonly associated with rock music such as violins, cellos, oboes, clarinets, French horns and bassoons. Thus the ‘orchestra’ designation in their name. With the use of those instruments, you can accurately surmise that they had a very unique, but appealing sound. The band had a number of very popular songs. Interestingly enough, my favorite ELO song, “Don’t Bring Me Down”, (click on link for video) recorded in 1979 was their very first song not to include a string section. It was ELO’s highest charting song in the US, peaking at #3.

As an avid music lover, I’ve found that just about every song has a title, line, phrase or sometimes even just one word that, with a little imagination, can reveal some content that makes for some good spiritual conversation. This song is such a one. “Don’t Bring Me Down”. We have incredible potential with our attitudes and words spoken to those around us to do one of two things….lift them up, or…..bring them down. Looking back over my life I remember those who had a kind, encouraging, uplifting word for me. Those kinds of folks will do more for ya than you can imagine. Encouraging words lift us to another place. They help us believe in ourselves. I mean, if someone else believes in me then I must be OK, right?! Uplifting words have a healing effect on the human psyche. You’ll find yourself gravitating to those who have a kind word for you. And, it’s exactly the opposite for that other bunch that doesn’t have any good thing to say about anyone. Chances are that person was surrounded by parents, friends or peers who couldn’t say anything positive to them. And, it has become the norm; it’s contagious. I read recently that it takes 40 positive, affirming words to counter just one negative, condemning or cruel critical comment toward someone.

I may miss the mark. I may not always say the right thing. I may not handle every single situation perfectly. I might even do something that is just plain dumb. But, say something that lifts me up. Give me some encouragement! Speak life into me! Tell me something that’ll help me.

But, ……don’t bring me down!

Try these:

“Critics, There’s One on Every Corner”

“Sticks and Stones”

 

 

 

 

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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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“I Don’t Know How We’re Gonna Win….I Just Know We’re Going To!”

That’s the words that Dabo Swinney told his Clemson players at halftime of the NCAA Football National Championship in Tampa Monday night. Alabama, on a 27-0 run over the last couple of years, was the favorite pick by the oddsmakers. There were a lot of people who were pulling for Clemson but I don’t think many were willing to bet much on the game. The Crimson Tide has just been too tough. They’re athletic, big, strong, fast, intimidating and very well coached. Nobody has given them much of a scare for a couple of years. The closest anyone has come to beating Alabama came exactly a year ago also in the NCAA Championship by…..none other than the Clemson Tigers.

But the underdog Clemson Tigers believed! That’s what happens when  a coach,….and I’m sure an entire coaching staff, fosters confidence and a winning attitude. People want to follow a leader who thinks he’s going to win! They’ll follow someone who’s not afraid or intimidated by the conditions at hand; Someone who doesn’t cut and run when chips are down….or when the tide (no pun intended) is against them.

There’s a need for great leaders in the body of Christ now more than at any other time in history of the world. But it almost seems like there’s a vacuum; a fear or timidity to ‘stand up’ and really lead. The world is longing for those who’ll defy the odds, go against the traditional religious grain, ….if they must….and empower the multitudes to take their place in the greatest move of God the planet might ever see!

Somebody needs to stand up in the midst of the adverse conditions we’re faced with today and declare, “We’re gonna win…..I don’t know how we’re gonna do it….but I just know we’re going to!”

Oh, and Dabo’s Clemson Tigers…..they did what he said they would…in a dramatic 35-31 comeback victory….scoring the winning touchdown with 1 second left on the clock!

Some more football blogs:

All-Time Favorite Sports Franchise – Canadian, Texas Wildcats

Gun Fightin’, Pool Shootin’…and Bull Ridin’! …….and I Guess, Now, High School Football!

It Takes a Village to go Back to Back…..to Back to Back!

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A Word or Two to the Grace Preachers Out There

I’m a grace man. I’ve been a grace man since November the 17th, 1984. That’s when I sat on the edge of my bed, with everything wrong in my life that could be wrong, and prayed this prayer….word for word; “God, if you’re out there, you gotta help me”. That night marked a turnaround in my life, a transformation if you will, that has continued every day since then. Hopefully that transformation will stay in progress from now on. I’m still a long ways from where I need to be….but after 32 years I’m still moving in the right direction.

Because of how I came to the Lord (read about it here), it shaped me into being a grace person. And, even though I cried out to the Lord in all sincerity He really had no good reason to rescue me. But He did it anyway! That, in essence, is what grace is! I experienced His amazing grace firsthand long before I heard anybody teaching on it. I think people who are around me would say that I handle and treat people with grace. *(if not….you have my permission to tell me!)

There has been an upsurge in the last few years on the topic of grace. The ‘finished work of Jesus’ is something a lot of people are talking, and writing, about these days. Clark Whitten’s book, “Pure Grace”, is a good one. And Joe Langley’s, “Unfiltered Grace” would also be a great starting place if you’re interested. Both are personal friends and their books are well written and easy to read.

Grace has become a very controversial issue. A friend put it this way, “If you want to make people mad, preach the Law; if you want to make them furious……preach grace!” I’m finding out there’s some truth to that. It really turns out to be an argument over how good God really is.It’s an important topic and one I think you should give some attention to.

Grace is a subject that God is breathing on. Truth be known, He has always been doing that. Anytime that happens there’s a rash of preachers and teachers jumping on the bandwagon, so to speak.That can be a good thing but it can also bring a lot of problems with it as well. Here’s how; Anytime we teach something but are not walking in it (or at the very least, trying to) the message is tainted. Listeners have a hard time reconciling the truth that they hear (about grace in this instance) with the level of personal integrity with a teacher who doesn’t handle people with grace. Who can blame them?

There are several teachers out there with a huge following. I find myself agreeing with most of what they’re saying. But their prideful and critical (my opinion) attitude toward other preachers/teachers who are not yet where they are in their understanding of grace causes me to ‘not’ be a fan. I don’t think I’m alone.

Here’s how I’d encourage the grace preachers out there:

  • Your understanding of grace is a ‘gift’ to be treasured and stewarded with wisdom and maturity. It’s not something you’ve earned…or even deserved, really. It’s a GIFT!
  • Grace is something that is best understood through experience. I, personally, don’t care how much Bible a guy knows if he doesn’t have some experiential knowledge of the subject.
  • If you’re going to preach it, then at the very least, attempt to walk it out in your attitude, words, and dealings with people. Jesus was the best example: He didn’t just ‘have’ a grace message……He ‘was’ the grace message! He embodied the truth He communicated. We should do the same.
  • “Let not many of you be teachers, knowing that you will incur a stricter judgment” It’s a lot more serious if you’re a teacher. *Something to remember: “You teach what you know, but you impart ‘who’ you are!” If it’s coming from a critical heart you’re producing that same critical heart with others. That’s serious!
  • When you mock and make fun of leaders who’ve not been exposed to the message, you alienate them. So, you should take some of the responsibility for the controversy over grace.
  • When you criticize others and use strong words like ‘extortion’ toward those who are still finding their way…..you just lost me! I think you’re losing others as well. And what’s more important…you’re giving others a wrong or skewed perception of grace.
  • When grace is adequately communicated……very few people reject it!
  • Oh, and don’t forget what they say about knowledge! It ‘puffs up’!
  • Grace is a beautiful message; don’t contaminate it with the wrong heart.

Share this message!

You oughta read these, too:

The Elusive Definition of Grace

A Long Ways From the Lord

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

It Ain’t Grace’s Fault!

I Fought the Law….and the Law Won!

There’s Grace For That!

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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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“Good Tidings of Great Joy”

The angel…along with a multitude of the heavenly host praised God and announced, “Glory to god in the highest, and on earth peace”. It was arguably one of the very few most important events that would ever take place within the context of time, itself. But the announcement wasn’t made before a multitude of people; it wasn’t made at the temple before the religious folk; it wasn’t even made on the town square. No, it was announced far away from all these, seemingly obvious, places way out in the middle of nowhere. The angel appeared to the shepherds and made his proclamation. What an unlikely place to bring such an important message to the world!

But, it’s typical of the Lord of Hosts to defy logic, conventional thinking,….even common sense. He can do what He wants to do, when He wants to do it….and how He wants it done.  And we can rest in the reality that He never makes a mistake…..and that everything He’s ever done, or will do, is always to our best interest….and to benefit us!

I have an opinion as to why He chose the shepherds to reveal this incredible happening on the earth. You see, the job of a shepherd in those days was the lowliest of nearly all the other jobs. They were out in the middle of nowhere; it was a lonely job as they were nearly always by themselves; it could be a dangerous job. David had to fight off a bear and a lion in his twelve-plus year stint as a shepherd; it was a thankless job and I’m guessing the pay wasn’t all that good either. It would be easy, if you were a shepherd, to think that life has passed you by, that you’ve been overlooked and forgotten about. But, it reveals the very nature of God to pick that very bunch to announce the most important happening in the whole universe, up to that point in human history.

Why did He do it that way?? I think to let them know that even though society looked down on them and made them feel like second-class citizens of the planet………He didn’t! He’s like that, you know!?

I’ve become aware over the years that this season, for many, is not a fun time. Maybe  you’re lonely; maybe you feel like you’ve been overlooked or forgotten by loved ones. Maybe you’re going through a hard time physically or financially and feel like giving up. But remember the shepherds. They were ‘greatly afraid’…but the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” It was “good news”.

Give Him the chance to love you like He wants to! He’d like to prove to you that you haven’t been forgotten!

Let it be your “good news” in this season!

Check these out:

It Ain’t Just “Good News” …… It’s “Great News”!

You ‘Can’ Get There From Here!

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

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“Sticks n’ Stones”

“Sticks n’ stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I can remember my Mom & Dad teaching me that little thing when I was just a kid. Kids can be cruel with their words. Sometimes it overlaps into adulthood, too. This is just a little rhyme that teaches us to not let those words spoken against us land in our heart…and take root. It was first recorded in 1862. I don’t know who, initially, came up with it but my guess is that it was someone who was forced to deal with some kind of negative barrage of words or criticism from someone else.

It’s good advice, no doubt about it, and if we can learn to appropriate it into our life we’ll be a lot better off for it. But the truth is that words can…..and do hurt. In fact they can cause tremendous damage to young and old alike. Words have extreme potential on both the negative and positive side. The Bible even talks about the importance of words more than a few times.

If we, as victims of those negative words, don’t find a good, positive way to navigate through them and not let them have their effect on us we can easily end up falling prey to their power. I know a lot of people who have allowed those critical and mean-spirited words spoken over them define their entire lives.

So, I think the little rhyme has merit and value for each of us if we’ll just ascribe to it. If we can make the determination within each of us that we won’t let those words hurt us, we’ll be OK. It’s a fact of life; we’re going to have plenty of cruel words hurled our way….but in all reality, they can only hurt us if we let ’em.

It should also be a good reminder to each of us to watch our own words…and not to carelessly throw them out there where they can do damage to someone else!

 

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