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‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’

I don’t know too many people who don’t enjoy the soft rock sound of the Eagles. They’ve been a staple part of the American music scene since the 70’s. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the band now that Glenn Frey is gone. He and Don Henley had been together since the band’s inception but even Don said, “It’s Glenn’s band”. I can see one scenario that might work but it’s just speculation on my part. Jackson Browne, who was a very close personal friend of Glenn and Don, would be a near perfect fit if they were to ever decide to tour again. He’s not Glenn…..but he could do it.

I like about all the Eagles’ songs and it’d be hard for me to pick a favorite…but if I was pressured to do it I’d probably go with Hotel California. They’re gonna be playing that one long after all of us are gone. It’s a classic. ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ (do yourself a favor, click the link!) is another of their great songs. It was written by Jack Tempchin and was the third single released off their very first album all the way back in 1972.

I think we could all appreciate a ‘peaceful, easy feeling’ at about any point in our lives. It sometimes seems pretty elusive to find that ‘spot’ where we can just relax and appreciate where we are, what we have (whether it’s a little or a lot), …..and who we are. There are a number of things, at least for me, that contribute to having a peaceful easy feeling. For starters…the fact that God loves me with all my flaws puts my heart in a really, really peaceful place. If you know me you know I’m not a ‘pressure’ guy at all. I don’t think it works. But I’ll be the first to tell you that you’re never gonna have that peaceful feeling in your spirit until you’re connected relationally with the Father. Money won’t do it; fame will leave you unsatisfied. In fact, there’s just nothing that can take the place of knowing that God handpicked you to be His son or daughter. That’ll do it for ‘ya!

Beyond that, I’ve got a girl who I first remember seeing when I was about 12 or 13 years old, (prettiest one I’d ever seen! Still is!) who I’ve been married to nearly 40 years. I have 5 of the most incredible kids (another one, Cord, waitin’ on us in heaven!) you’ve ever seen….and 3 of the prettiest, most down-to-earth daughter-in-laws on the planet. And, don’t even get me started on my grandkids!! There’s 9 of ’em so far. They’re smart, handsome, talented and are gonna be some great contributors to the world. Oh, and I couldn’t forget that I’ve got some of the best friends a guy could ever ask for!

So, if you see me and I’ve got that ‘peaceful easy feeling’ look about me….now you know why!

Keep sharing ’em!

The Soundtrack of Our Lives

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Maybe He Saved More Than Your Life!

I just returned from a fantastic week of trout fishing in Montana. It’s the second year I’ve been invited there by my great friend, Ty Bean. It has been, these two years, an incredible time to unwind, relax, replenish and meet up with a few old, and some new friends. I had a great time….all except when I fell into the river! Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime. But, until then suffice it to say that the Big Horn, …in October, is waaaay too chilly to go into…on purpose!

We were picked up at the airport in Billings by a sharp young man named Tyler. There were five of us in the Suburban for the hour and a half trip to the lodge. I was riding ‘shotgun’ with Tyler and he began to ask me about my life. Now I sure don’t mind telling ‘my story’ but I have absolutely no agenda to try to force my way into telling it. But I was glad to answer Tyler’s questions and tell him how the Lord rescued me 32 years ago. When I finished he said, “That’s a great story!” I said, “Well, I take no credit for it, it’s just the story of how God saved my life.”

At almost that precise time I received a text. My screen-saver on my phone now ( I change it periodically with a pic of one or more of our 9 Grandkids!) is a pic of Knox and Timber, our two ‘newest’ grand babies. He (the Lord) immediately took me to that time in 1984 when my marriage was over with no hope of repair, and just about every other problem you could imagine. At that point in my life I only had two sons, Clint and Cade. And, the Lord showed me all that I now have…..that I wouldn’t have had, had He not answered my desperate prayer of, “God, if You’re out there, you gotta help me!”

My mind went immediately to Cole, his wife Kelly and their 3 precious little kids, Calli, Maverick and Knox. Then to Clay, his wife Chelsea and precious little Timber. Then to Cord, our little boy in heaven. *(Something for us to really look forward to!!) Then to Cameron, our little girl who has been the ‘icing on the cake’ after four boys! I was broken beyond words right there in the Suburban. It wasn’t tears of sadness but tears of overwhelming joy and gratefulness toward the Father.  None of these, who are now such a huge a part of our lives, and a huge part of why our lives are so rich today……,  would’ve been here. I can’t imagine life without them!!

God did the impossible….and fixed the un-fixable!! 

And, maybe…..just maybe…..He saved more than your life!!

**Here’s that pic on my phone!! The two newest little Taylors’, Timber & Knox!

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“God, If You’re Out There, You Gotta Help Me!”

It’s A Different Kind of Love!

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

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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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VIP’s #10 – Cliff & Charlene Taylor

Obviously my VIP Blogs are not listed in any order of importance. If they were these two would be right up there toward the top of the list. Cliff and Charlene….that’s my Mom & Dad. I wish you all knew them. They’re two of the most incredible people you could ever meet. They’re now in their 80’s and live only a few blocks from us. I like that. I’ll go there at least a few times a week and have coffee and visit with them. They amaze me in that they’re still telling me stories that I’ve never heard before….and they can do it with nearly total recall.

Now seems like a proper time to write them up as VIPs since just about three days ago they celebrated their 66th Anniversary! Pretty amazing when you think about it. That’s setting the bar up there pretty high for the rest of us Taylors’. Good job, Mom & Dad! There’s no way I could come close to telling all the good qualities they have…and the good qualities they’ve passed along to Mont and I. It’d take a good sized book to get that done. But for the sake of time and space, I’ll try to give you a little insight on ‘who’ they are.

They have been the hardest working pair I’ve ever seen. Dad has always been a cattleman so we learned at a very young age to handle cattle and horses with the best of ’em. Dad had Mont and I doing things that most men couldn’t do when we were just little kids. We learned how to do it right. When I was 12 I started riding colts for other people for pay. I did that successfully, at least at some level, for the next 25+ years. Most of our  lives were spent on a ranch. It was a great life. Besides handling every aspect of the cattle business (receiving, shipping, gathering, doctoring, buying and selling) we learned to build fence, repair windmills and water gaps and about every other thing you need to do to run a ranch the right way.

Mom was the best! I can remember as a little kid, her pulling broomcorn to help make ends meet. She’d come home tired, dirty and worn out but always managed to get us one heck of a supper cooked, without fail. Later on in our rodeo days there were many times we’d roll into the ranch in the middle of the night with a carload of buddies. She’d get up even if it was 2 am and cook us up some chicken fried steak, french fries and gravy. There are retired rodeo guys all over the United States and Canada who spent time at our house and who have the greatest amount of respect for my Mom & Dad. Oh, and incidentally, when we’d come in to the ranch in the middle of the night and have that great meal….Dad was always gracious to let us sleep in ’til 5:30 or 6 in the morning before we started whatever project he had planned for the day…….and there was always a project! Most serious ranchers work their cattle according to the Zodiac signs. Dad always said that when there were a couple of carloads of rodeo friends at the ranch……that the ‘signs’ were right!

They sacrificed, and went without, to haul us to junior rodeos all over Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. They gave us a ‘leg up’ that way and enabled us to have a successful career in professional rodeo. We were both inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2008. And in our acceptance speeches we made sure that they got the credit they deserved. In all actuality……they’re the ones who should’ve been inducted.

I could go on and on with those kinds of things but they gave us far more important things than teaching us cattle and ranch work. In my 62 years I haven’t seen them do one person wrong. I have seen them wronged plenty of times but they always handled it with class. They’ve lived their lives with the highest degree of integrity. Their ‘word’ has been their bond in the truest sense of the term. We didn’t go to church but they somehow instilled in us that God was ‘real’.…..and that He was good!

All those things are important but the most important thing of all is that we were loved……in word…..and in deed. We let them down plenty of times with some of the dumb stuff we did….but they hung in there with us, always having our back and always believing in us, and never, ever wavering in their love.

In the final analysis I’d say if, when it’s all over, if I’ve been half as good a person as they have been…..I’ll have done pretty decent.

Cliff & Charlene Taylor, VIP’s to anyone who’s had the good fortune of knowing them!

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By The Numbers

I was thinking a few days ago about what I do and just wondered how many times I’ve preached a message, how many funerals I’ve presided over, how many ‘corporate’ prayer meetings I’ve led, how many ‘ministry’ school sessions I’ve taught in, how many conferences I’ve spoken at, how many civic events I’ve been asked to speak at, how many marriages I’ve performed, how many different churches I’ve spoken at, how many ‘small group’ meetings I’ve led, how many youth camp services I’ve led, how many graduations I’ve spoken at, ordination services I’ve been a part of, etc. So, I thought I’d try to count it up. It’s a ‘ballpark’ guess at best and I’m trying to be conservative.

Sunday/Wednesday Messages:  2125  

Funerals:  350

Prayer Meetings Led:  1144

Ministry School Sessions:  60

Conference Messages:  60

Civic Events:  35

Marriages:  100

Different Churches:  60

Led Small Groups: 100

Youth Camp Messages: 100

Graduations:  20

Ordination Services:  40

Misc.:  25

Grand Total:  4319  

……in addition to that…..

Newspaper Articles: 550

Blogs: 125

Small Group Lessons: 100

Radio Shows:  85

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We Oughta Get Our Ducks in a Row!! Part 3 – Parenting Our Children

Getting our ducks in a row involves setting our priorities in proper order. #1 on that list is to give our spiritual life the attention that it needs. #2 is making your relationship with our spouse as important as it’s really supposed to be. It just makes sense that #3 would be to work on our responsibility as parents.

Being a parent is one of the greatest blessings that we can experience in our lifetime. Children are a ‘gift’ of the Lord. I’ve often said, and I totally believe it’s true that the love we have for our children is exactly like the love the Father has for us. We don’t love our children because we’re supposed to; we don’t love them because it’s the ‘noble’ thing to do; we don’t love them because it’s right; No, while all those things may be somewhat true…..we love our children just exactly like the Father loves us…..because He can’t help it!!

This is not a conclusive treatise and I’m far from an expert on parenting but I have learned a few things in my 38 years of being a dad. Some of  those things I’ve learned the hard way….by doing them wrong first. Maybe I can pass along a few tips so you won’t have to learn them that way. 

Everything we’ve done down through the years, we’ve done as a family…..I mean the ‘whole crew’! That’s one of the things that I think we really got right! We hardly ever missed any activities that our kids were involved in. That’s quite a challenge when you have as many kids as we had! There were a lot of days I’d come home from work to find a note from Julie that she had gone to one of the kid’s soccer games. I’d head out and make a baseball game of one of the the others. Those things, I think, are really important!

We all have to work for a living but our jobs are never more important than our children. It’s a challenge but we need to learn to adjust our lives so we’re able to spend quality time with our kids. We’ve done a good job in showing and telling our kids that they’re loved. We’ve disciplined them. We’ve tried to release them so they could each be the person the Lord wants them to be. All those things say loud and clear, “I love you”!

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We Oughta Get Our Ducks in a Row!! Part 2 – Marriage

Obviously, (or at least it should be obvious) getting our spiritual life in order should be first on the list of getting our priorities in proper order.  After that, our family should be the very next  priority in order of importance. Problems arise within families when friends, jobs, hobbies or other activities get in the way. None of those things are unimportant….but they’re not as important as our family.

When setting family priorities in order it’s important, again, to get first things first. Many parents would argue that their children are the most important in the family relationship scheme but I totally disagree. Children are extremely important….but the best thing you can do for your kids is to work on, and shore up your relationship with your spouse. A happy husband-wife relationship is a good guarantee of a healthy home. There’ll be plenty of challenges but when that relationship is in tact, you’ll feel like you can conquer any obstacle.

My experience and observation through the years is that if we’re not doing something to strengthen our marriage, the general conditions of life are slowly eroding the quality of our relationship away. It’s not hard to do but I believe we need to be intentional when it comes to our marriage. We have raised 5 incredible kids and life was extremely busy when they were all in the home. You can have every good intention to spend quality time with your spouse but if you don’t plan for it, it probably isn’t just going to happen. If you’re not careful you might go years without giving your spouse the quality time they need. Your husband/wife does not need the leftovers!! And that’s what happens more often than not.

Fix it! Schedule some quality time together. Have a ‘date night’. Arrange for someone to watch the kids. Block out the distractions and focus your attention on one another. Have some meaningful dialogue; make eye contact and express your love toward one another. Be affectionate toward, and intimate with one another. It’s an investment that you’ll never regret!

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