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A Heart of Gold

Do you know anyone that you would describe as having a ‘heart of gold’? You know, that person that possesses all the qualities you’d want to embrace yourself. I’d say a person with a heart of gold would be someone with integrity, someone who is always truthful, someone who is dependable, someone who is sincere, someone who cares, someone who has your back, someone who does the right thing, someone who is brave, someone who sees the best in everyone. Well, you could take that list a whole lot further if you wanted to…but you get the point.

I think we’re born with a pure and innocent demeanor but it doesn’t take long for the world and all it throws at us to begin to tarnish those traits. The world is mean, it’s indiscriminate, it does its best to run over us and when it does …..it just doesn’t care. These things take a toll on even the strongest personalities. And, ….they can cause that pure and innocent demeanor, or heart, to be tainted. You know what they say, “The struggle is real!”

But there’s good news; When we’re born again it’s “Job #1” for the Holy Spirit to ‘conform us into the image of Jesus’. Quite a task, if you think about it,…..even for Him. After years of learning to walk with the Lord I’m more like Him than I was. But, in reality, I’m still a long ways from being just like Him. The Father’s plan to conform us into the image of His Son has nothing whatsoever to do with our appearance as the bible verse might indicate. But it has everything to do with our heart being conformed to be like His!

Neil Young’s song, “Heart of Gold”, encourages the listener to “be a miner for a heart of gold”. That’s exactly what the Lord does when we come into relationship with Him. He ‘mines’ those valuable qualities and traits that lie deep within our soul and brings them to the surface. We are, after all, created in the image of God!

I’m thinkin’ we should do the same thing with the people we’re in relationship with…and the people we encounter. Maybe they’re arrogant, disrespectful and hard to deal with. What you see might not be ‘who’ they really are! Maybe they’re just the result of the meanness of the world. But what if, deep down, everyone out there really does have a heart of gold that just hasn’t yet been ‘mined’? 

Being that kind of miner starts with a determination to bring out the best in others….no matter what it takes.

Let’s you and me take the Father’s example……Let’s be ‘miners for a heart of gold’!!

*Audio Version:

I think you’ll like these, too:

Talk About a ‘Fixer Upper’!

Accepted or Valued? There’s a Vast Difference!

A Long Ways From the Lord

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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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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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The Lessons I Learned from Jeff

The last year we lived on the ranch in the Texas Panhandle I had the responsibility of taking care of 2500 head of cattle. About 1800 of those were close to 40 miles away north of Canadian, Texas on the expansive Urschel Ranch. I’d go up about three times a week and spend the day horseback checking the cattle; getting a decent count on them, making sure they had water, making sure none of them were out of the pastures they were supposed to be in. It’d make for a long day but it was enjoyable to me.

I was about three years into my walk with the Lord. Didn’t know much but I was learning a lot. I had given my testimony a couple of times and was already feeling the call for ministry…even though I had no idea what all that might mean. A friend and I had a cowboy church service (years before anyone ever heard that term!) at the Hemphill County Expo Center in Canadian and I preached the message. That was a first! I have no idea what I preached about but I do remember that one of my friends since childhood (a few years older than me) got saved that day. Let’s just call him, Jeff.

Jeff was a cowboy and had been in some of the very worst combat fights in Vietnam. In three different battles there were over a hundred US troops under fire….and all three times less than fifteen came out alive. Jeff was one of the ones each time. But, it had left an indelible mark on him. He struggled with deep depression, was separated from his wife, had trouble sleeping and agonized over the things he was ordered to do in Vietnam. Jeff was a scary looking guy, well actually if you weren’t friends with him….he just didn’t look scary….he really was scary. He’d done plenty of crazy things and the locals weren’t sure what he might do next! He hair was cut short on the top but long in the back…..way down past his collar. He had about 6 top front teeth totally gone! He wore denim shirts with the sleeves cut out of them and he had lots of tattoos; something not that common in those days. He spent a lot of his spare time at the gym pumping iron and was quite a specimen of a man.

Part of my regular routine the times when I’d go up to check cattle was to make it back to the Dairy Queen on my way home and catch Jeff after he got off work. I made it a point. I was doing my best to encourage him and give him good, sound advice. I’d pray with him every time before I headed home. One particular time we were in the DQ when a Greyhound bus made its stop there. The place was completely full of people. Jeff got there before I did and saved me a spot. His intimidating look had the attention of just about every person in there. Bear in mind that when he talked, Jeff talked really really loud; maybe louder than anyone you’ve ever known! I asked him that day, as I always did, “Jeff, how are you doing?” He replied in his loud voice, “Andy, I’m doing really good!”. I knew that I needed to press in a little more. “But, Jeff, …..how are you really doing?” And in a voice a lot louder than you need to be talking in Dairy Queen he said, “Yep, Andy, …….I’m doing so good I got rid of all my plastic explosives yesterday!!” You could’ve heard a pin drop! Every eye in the house was on us! It was funny, ….in a crazy kind of way; all those people started gathering up their food without saying a word and getting out the door as fast, but as inconspicuous as they could. It was like they didn’t totally believe him. I bet some of them are still telling that story today!

I learned a lot in my experiences with Jeff. I made it a mission of mine to help him. I wanted him to be OK; I wanted him to be well. Julie and I had planned a little vacation and were planning on being gone for about a week. I got real worried that if I wasn’t there to check on Jeff that he wouldn’t be alright. I even told Julie as much. I was actually afraid to go on vacation fearing he would implode. But, the Lord spoke clearly to my spirit at that point and said, “It’s Ok, Andy, …..you’re not the one that’s taking care of him anyway.” That put it in perspective for me. God always knows the right thing to say, and always at just the right time.

I wish this story had a happy ending….but it doesn’t. Several years later Jeff was living downstate in Texas and took his own life. I can’t help but believe that the Lord has lots and lots of grace for people like Jeff. 

I’ll never forget the things I learned…and I look forward to seeing him in Heaven.

Try these:

“It’s Not Your Job to Fix Them!”

Identity Theft

The Thing About Unconditional Love

Double Check Your “Invitation List”!!

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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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“Can You Hear Me Now?”

You remember the Verizon TV commercial featuring the guy moving from place to place, often in remote, out of the way places, to test the cell phone coverage. It was a great ad campaign that lasted several years proving the excellent coverage that Verizon offered.The campaign was successful in part because, “Can you hear me now?” was a phrase we were already using (and still do!). They picked up on that and the rest, as they say, is history.

Cell phone coverage can be a frustrating thing. Doesn’t really matter whether it’s Sprint, Verizon or AT &T there’s gonna be some dead spots. And when you hit one of those dead spots you’re apt to say it again, “Can you hear me now?” Everyone has had the unpleasant task of moving from one place to another to see if the coverage exists. It’s a wonderful thing when you find that ‘place’!

Hearing the Father about our life and all its details seems to me to be one of the most important things we could possibly consider. A lot of people make hearing the Lord a difficult thing. There are even those out there who think the Lord only actually speaks to those of us in the ministry. Ludicrous really, when you get the right perspective, but they’re out there nonetheless. I’ve learned a thing or two that’ll help anyone who’s interested in getting better at hearing the Lord. 

For starters, you have to try to look at it from the Father’s standpoint. It’s not that hard at all especially if you’re a parent. Parents, the Lord in this instance since HIs deepest desire is to be a Father to you, want to communicate with their children. So, you gotta know that God wants to speak to you. But remember…..He’s not limited to speaking to you in an audible voice. He does that;  I can’t say I’ve heard Him that way but I know plenty of people who’ve told me they have and I have no reason to disbelieve them. The Bible includes lots of other ways He speaks; through people, through dreams and visions, through prophecy, through His Word, through signs and wonders, through our circumstances….and one of my favorites, through His “still, small voice”. He even once spoke through a donkey! That’s encouraging  for a guy like me! lol

If you want to hear the Lord about the details of your life you should probably make it a priority. He has plenty of unique ways of getting your attention but those that hear Him best are those who make the effort. Sometimes it might require you to get in a ‘better’ place away from the distractions and the noisiness of life. He’s speaking….and He wants you to hear Him. Don’t make it hard! It’s not.

Oh, and if you were to say to Him, “Can you hear me now?”…..you can be assured that He always does. 

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

Try these:

Resistance Training

Redirecting!

Virtual Reality

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