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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!

 

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“What’s The Lord Telling You?” Part 1

I put the title in quotation marks for a reason. And the reason is, is that particular quote is one I’ve used at least a hundred times. And if the truth were to be known….actually hundreds of times!

In a Wednesday morning prayer time about 10 years ago I felt I heard the Lord saying to me, “Andy, there’s a shift in how this works; normally people move to an area because of a job and then they find a church….but I’m changing that for ‘here’! I’m going to bring people in here from all over…and I’m going to give them a job; some will come and stay, some will come and go back where they came from, and some will go to other places and start fires!”

*My understanding of that is that they’d start fires like the one He started here; ‘kingdom fires’, fires of something simple yet profound, fires of something real and authentic that would appeal to people of all kinds….especially to those that the ‘religious’ church might have scorned and rejected…and the people that nobody else wants; fires built around relationship with the Father; and eternal fires that are sustained, and kept burning by loving others unconditionally!

When I heard that from the Lord I did what I encourage others to do when they ‘think’ they might have heard Him. “Say it….and pray it!” So, we said it and prayed it and it started to happen. People began moving in here from all over; Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mexico, Columbia, Canada…. to name a few. And, true to His word (as He always is!), some came and stayed and some came and went….and the fires are glowing in places all over, now!

Oh, and by the way….those people that the Lord said would come……they’re still coming! 

Part 2 – “What’s The Lord Telling You?”Coming in a day or two

*Don’t forget the “Reflect & Refocus” Series from a year ago!

Here’s one; (click on highlighted link) Find the others in “Archives”:

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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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The Gospel According to Shaver!

Billy Joe Shaver, that is. If you don’t know who he is, I kinda feel sorry for you…so I’ve made it so you can ‘click’ on his name above and get in the loop, so to speak. He’s actually one of the great songwriters of our time but as a performer or Top-40 country artist…he’s pretty much been flying under the radar his entire career. Personally, I think that’s perfectly OK with him. From Waco, Texas and well into his 70’s now, his songs have been recorded by many of the iconic performers of our generation, including Kristofferson, Willie, Waylon and Elvis. You’ve surely heard of those guys!

Billy Joe wrote a song years back that was really more of a testimony than a song, his own personal testimony to be more specific. And, if you were paying attention to country radio in 1981 you couldn’t have missed John Anderson’s song, “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal”.  (Shaver’s Version) The song reached #4 on the Billboard Country Singles Chart and still gets plenty of airplay on Classic Country Stations.

“I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal, But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday”; It’s not just his testimony….it’s ours’ as well. And, even though it comes from one of ‘Outlaw Country’s’ most notable icons,….it’s actually extremely correct from a Biblical standpoint! You see, the Word says that we’re being conformed into the image of Jesus. It’s a lifelong process at best and the Lord is in for the long haul. He’s patient and long-suffering with us….and believes in us more than we believe in our own selves.

You may wonder why I’d post a song and a story from/about a bonafide outlaw country artist rather than a familiar Christian one. Fair question. I lean toward a lot of these guys that mainstream religion would reject as having anything of value, spiritually, to say…or sing. Their testimony (songs, art, poetry) is authentic, genuine and it appeals to a generation of misfits who don’t ‘fit in’ with the religious establishment. They’re ‘believers’, (or at least they’d like to be), in the truest sense of the word……they just don’t mesh in a ‘sterile’ church environment where everyone ‘looks’ perfect…and expects it of them. These artists like Billy Joe Shaver have a way of putting it….where normal people can understand it!

I may be closer in proximity to an ‘old chunk of coal’ than I am to a ‘diamond’….but at least I’m headed that way!

If you like this one…check these out:

“Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”

“If You Ain’t Lovin’, You Ain’t Livin'”

There’s More Christian Music Out There Than You Might Think

“I Ain’t No Fortunate Son”

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I’ve Never ‘Led’ Anyone to the Lord……and I Ain’t Planning on Doing it Anytime Soon!

And to be even more specific about it….I’m never going to, either! In fact I think it’s ‘flawed’ terminology….I mean, really flawed! Now, keep in mind I didn’t grow up in church but I had a handful of people down through the years try to ‘lead’ me to the Lord. Their methods were, 1)  to scare me with hell by convincing me how bad I was, and that I was going there…. or 2) Give me that speech, “Now if Jesus came tonight….” You’re probably familiar with both of those methods, and you’ve probably heard them both a few times yourself. I guess it comes from someone, somewhere telling them that they needed to get out there and start winning souls….and maybe, just maybe in their warped sense of religious thinking the ‘end’ would, somehow, justify any means to get to the bottom line! And the ‘bottom line’ is to get us to pray that prayer; you know, the Sinner’s Prayer. *(not in the Bible, by the way!) And it always left me thinking, that for me to pray that prayer,….was more for them…..than for me. So they could go tell their friends who ‘they’ led to the Lord and then carve another ‘notch’ in their Bible. Oh, yeah, and those ones who wanted to lead me to the Lord, ……it was those guys that kept me away from the church (it’s a bad excuse) for years! Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to go to hell but I really didn’t want to be in a church that made people feel like they made me feel, either!

Jesus didn’t do it that way! Everywhere He went sinners and tax collectors followed. There was something in the ‘atmosphere’ that made them feel ‘valued’! It was agape! …..that unconditional, unadulterated, unfiltered, raw kind of love…of which there is no comparison! 

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” – Jesus

So, nope, I’ve never led anyone to the Lord….but I have got to see a bunch of ’em when He ‘led’ ’em by!

 

 

 

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It Was A “Test” of Epic Proportions!

Well that might be exaggerating just a little bit….but at the time, ……and considering my ‘new’ standing in the Lord, it really was quite the test. It was in 1985 and my good friend, Danny Mason, invited me to judge his annual bull riding in Mineral Wells, Texas. It was a big event; lots of money up, and some of the best riders in the world were competing there. The crowd was huge. I’m standing inside the arena and Cade, my 2nd son who was about 3 at the time, was sitting in a box seat where I could do my judging job and also keep a close eye on him.

The first section of about 12 riders was completed, there was a 10 minute break and we were about to start the second section.About that time I hear a loud voice coming from the grandstands griping and cussing about the judging. Well , immediately, I assumed that it’s someone that I know just kidding, and giving me a hard time. But I finally saw the guy coming up the walkway to where I was…..and I’d never seen this guy before! He swiftly walked my way and into the box seat section where Cade was sitting…..still yelling and cussing at me. By now he’d drawn the attention of everyone at the event. If not for his yelling voice, you could’ve heard a pin drop….and every eye in the place is on us!

I said to him, “If you want to talk to me, you need to get down here and talk to me!” But he just kept on! Now, I’ve never considered myself a ‘fighter’ but I’ve also always had a resolve to not let anyone push me around, either. In professional rodeo in those days I had to ‘stand my ground’ many a time. And what made this situation even more difficult was the fact that my life had, just less than a year before, been turned around…..and I was growing in my relationship with the Lord. So I knew, to handle things how we used to handle them,….would not be the ‘right’ thing to do.

Still yelling and cussing at me, I told him again, “If you want to talk to me, you get down here and talk to me!” He’s by now leaning over the top rail on the fence and I somehow resisted the opportunity to knock him plumb out, like I would’ve done only a few years before. And without thinking….I grabbed the hat off his head and just whipped him over the head with it! I then pitched it behind him in front of the grandstand and most of the 300-400 people were laughing uncontrollably…..and all my friends….well, they were laughing harder than that! When I did that, I said to him, “Now, I’ve told you about three times….if you want to talk to me, you need to get down here and talk to me! You got anything to say to me?!” He pressed his lips together….shook his head “No”, picked up his hat (amongst all the laughter) and made his way into the distance!

Now that probably ain’t the best way to handle a situation like that….and I doubt that Jesus would’ve whipped him over the head with his hat…..but considering the alternative….I think I did pass the test!

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*If you like Rodeo Stories, you’ll enjoy these: 

*(click on highlighted link to read)

VIP #1 Booger Bryant

VIP #2 Sarge Cook

VIP #8 Monty Taylor

8378 Zulu…..And the Flight That Was Almost the Last One!

First Trip To Calgary

August 12….A Day That Lives in Infamy…..*at  Least For Me!

Avoid the Vending Machine, Microwave, Green Chile Burritos in the Albuquerque Airport At All Costs!

 

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There’s Grace For That!

I catch myself saying that quite a bit these days. I say it because it’s true. And it doesn’t matter what the situation or circumstances are….it’s always true….without fail. We had one of our young couples recently who miscarried. It’s a devastating event;  A little life so looked forward to and anticipated and planned for, little brothers and sisters who are excited about their new sibling;  Grandparents, aunts, and uncles who’ve already been shopping for the new little one….then all of a sudden…the stunning, paralyzing, news. I hurt deeply for the young couple because I know all too well the pain and heartbreak that just naturally ensues. That grief that comes is not proof that something’s wrong with us…..No!  Much to the contrary…..it’s proof that something’s ‘right’ with us! We’ve been there….done that and somehow lived through it. And the reason we lived…..there’s grace for that!

I just talked to a couple of brothers last night who had just, unexpectedly, lost their dad. He was in the hospital, serious but improving, then all of a sudden….he’s gone. I don’t have anything to compare to it. I just know that it’s one of those things that has the potential to hit the heart in the deepest place. I can’t help but be broken for my friends…..but they’ll be OK. They’ll be OK ’cause there’s grace for that too!

A young guy was in my office today. His wife had just informed him that she doesn’t love him anymore. He’s devastated; he has no answers….and his heart is broken in two. Then there are the kids…what’s going to happen with the kids? How can he explain this nightmare to them? I don’t know…..there’s so much I don’t know these days, but what I do know is….there’s grace for that too! ……and somehow the Father, and the grace that He freely gives will see them all through!

It doesn’t have to be a tragedy for grace to appear; whenever, however…..and for whatever grace is needed for……it’s always there….and there’s always enough of it. The Father knows what you need and He won’t keep you waiting!

Whatever you’re going through right now…..and whatever you need right now…….There’s Grace For That!

You might like this one too! (Click on the highlighted link to read)

It Ain’t Grace’s Fault!

 

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Now, If I Were a Lawyer…..

…..which I ain’t…..but I almost was. I went to college right our of high school on a rodeo scholarship to Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. My grades were good enough but It was mostly all about college rodeo at the time and not much about education. Looking back…not very smart but it was what it was. We did have a very competitive team at Eastern. I was second in the bull riding in the  region with a lot of good bull riders….and our team was 3rd nationally at the College Finals in Bozeman, Montana. But after a year there I’d had enough of college life and headed back to the ranch and to rodeo full-time.

I started thinking about what I would do after rodeo. Actually, looking back, not many of my rodeo friends gave much thought of what they’d do ‘after’! Again, not wise, but it was mostly a fact. I had always had an interest in law and the whole legal system, even as a young adult. I remember watching every episode I could of Perry Mason, then later Barnaby Jones and every other TV show or movie about lawyers. So, I set my mind to pursue that kind of career. My plan was to get a business degree and then on to law school. I put rodeo on the back burner, for the most part. Got another rodeo scholarship to Southwestern State in Weatherford, Oklahoma. Took some summer school classes so I’d be eligible for the fall college rodeo run. All was going right on schedule, made the Dean’s Honor Roll in both my summer and fall classes. 

When the PRCA winter rodeos cranked up I went; Denver, Ft Worth, San Antonio, Houston. I could do that and not miss too much school. I rode good, but didn’t draw good at all and up until the Astrodome Rodeo in Houston I hadn’t won a dime. But the week following Houston I ‘hit a lick’! In rodeos in Montgomery, Alabama, San Angelo, Texas and Phoenix I brought home over $5000, which was quite a bit in those days (1976). It positioned me to make a good run to go to the National Finals Rodeo. I never went back to another class at Southwestern! Again, pretty dumb (seems like I keep saying that quite a bit!), but it was what it was. My run for the NFR was squelched when I got injured at Sidney, Iowa on August 12, resulting in major shoulder surgery.

I never again pursued a law career for a number of reasons. I still think about it every week, …..sometimes daily. I still watch whatever I can on TV and movies, I read nearly all of John Grisham’s books up to a point, and I have a few friends who are lawyers. I still enjoy picking their brains about their career, it still fascinates me.

I think I would’ve made a decent lawyer. and when I’m having a bad week it does still go through my mind to go back to school and get that degree. (dumb again! Way too far behind the curve now!) But, I guess, I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Although there’s plenty of people who don’t think so……and at times I really wonder, myself. But, God has a way of getting us where He wants us to be.

So, in the meantime, I’ll just have to live that life vicariously through the few I know that are actually doing it. So, David K, Abby C., Michelle R., Deb M., James W., Lynn F. or Brian H…..if I get on your nerves (it could happen!) questioning you about what you’re doing….you have my permission to tell me to ‘back off’!

*Some great timing; finishing my blog and on the Today Show there’s a story on Dickie Scruggs, a lawyer who took on Big Tobacco…and won! I’ll be busy for a few minutes!

*You might like this one too! *(click on the highlighted link)

August 12… “A Day That Lives in Infamy”….at  Least For Me!

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You Can Live in the Past if You Want To…..But There Is a ‘Downside’

II’s not rare to see people who are living in the past, in fact it’s pretty common by my experience. By ‘living in the past‘ I mean that most of a person’s entire focus is directed on what’s happened before. There are those who live in the regrets and failures of the past…but then there are also those I see from time to time who live in the victories and triumphs of the past. Obviously focusing on victories and triumphs would be a more pleasant thing than focusing on failures…..but either way……..there’s a downside.

I was talking to a friend recently who talked a lot about the ‘bad things’ (his own words) he’d done in the past. He was constantly saying about himself things like….“I don’t deserve for God to bless me”, “I know I’m not good enough”, “I’ve done a lot of bad things”. You don’t have to look far to find those that are hung up on their past. And then on the other hand I often hear those who, for instance, had a successful career in sports and much of their talk is about how good they were. In most cases it was probably true but I’m pretty sure to be focused, even on the glory days, has a downside.

I’ve had my own issues and temptations to ‘live in the past’. And for me it seems mostly centered around mistakes I’ve made and regrets of  not doing things different than I could/should have. It can be a recurring thing for me so I have to discipline myself to ‘not stay’ in the past for very long periods of time or it becomes extremely counter-productive….to say the least.

But the most tragic thing I see of people living in the past is that if your focus is ‘back there‘, so to speak, you are missing out on something today! Our joy and contentment can never be fully experienced if we’re focused on the past. And even more serious is the reality that if you’re missing out on something today….your future is severely impaired.

Most everyone would agree that God has a plan for their life, and for those living in the past…….if something doesn’t happen to cause them to re-focus they’ll surely miss their destiny. We need to learn to live in the ‘now’! It might be profitable to glance back every now and then and learn from our mistakes but we should get our focus back where it needs to be as quick as possible…….and that is on the Lord….and His plan for our lives!

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I Hardly Ever Ask the Lord for Patience!

It’s the truth! I’ve learned my lesson and learned it well. Definitely not asking the Lord for patience! And, don’t get me wrong….I do need a good dose of patience. I’m doing so much better than in the past but still have a long ways to go. But years ago, I’d say about thirty to be more specific, I did ask the Lord for patience…….but not anymore!

There was this person who came into my life; a friend, although I didn’t know him well. *(but got to know him very well!) He was going through an extremely rough spot in his life with finances, family, health….and you name it, he had it going on. I wanted to help and did a pretty decent job for a good while. But he was relentless. He’d show up at our place mid-morning and be there all day….and sometimes on into the evening hours….and occasionally way into the night. When he wasn’t there he’d be calling me on the phone. It became apparent that he was putting all his trust in me….and not the Lord. I know better now but in those early days walking with the Lord I didn’t know much of how to point someone to Him. And in my strong desire to help, I often found myself in these kinds of situations.

After months of this, non-stop, daily, almost continual barrage of hearing this person’s problems I was complaining to a close friend. His reply to my whining went pretty much like this, “Well, Andy I remember you praying for patience.” Whoa! The light bulb finally came on in my mind. He was right….months before, and more than once, I had prayed for patience. I needed it….and I was sincere when I prayed!

My experience is that when we pray for patience, God doesn’t just hand it over to us. Nope, much to the contrary; he allows us to be in, and go through, situations where we’ll learn patience. I mean, it’s OJT (On the Job Training) at it’s best. I think, for me, the Lord knew what I’d be doing later (a life of ministry), and how much I would need patience. He never makes any mistakes that way!

I’m still a long ways from perfection where patience is concerned and for most all the years since I first asked for it, I’ve been in some kind of situation where I could learn it to a deeper level. And, to each his own…..but, as for me, I ain’t asking the Lord for patience any more!

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