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Are You “Right” With God?

I hear people asking that question fairly often.It’s a pretty important one, I guess. But I don’t ever ask it myself. I don’t ask anyone that question for several reasons…the main reason being is that I think most people, when asked, would answer it wrong. Our religious culture causes us to place the emphasis squarely in the wrong place most of the time. Nearly always the thought process leads people to look at their own life and make some serious determinations. Most people would tell you that they don’t read the Bible enough.Most of them, if they were comfortable enough to be totally honest with us, would also tell us that they don’t pray nearly as much as they should. And, by that, it leads them to think that they’re not right with God or that God, somehow, is displeased with them. I think that’s tragic!

Of course we should read the Bible; it’s good for us……for a lot of reasons. And prayer, well prayer is extremely important…again for a lot of good reasons. And while they benefit us in countless ways doing them doesn’t push our righteousness up the thermometer even one little tick. 

But the question of , “Are you right with God?” must really be looked at from His perspective (as best we can with our little finite minds). You see, God is a Father….and that changes everything! Now, I’m not saying I have the total perspective of God. That’d be stretching it a bit! lol ….But I am a father,…been one for 39 years now. And I’m a father of 5 incredible kids (all grown now).….so I know a little bit about how a father thinks. My love for my kids is not based on how many good things they do. I hope they do a lot of good things….but whether they do or not doesn’t affect my love for them one little bit!

I’m not looking at the things that they do wrong and holding those things against them. I’m not withholding my love for them until they get everything right. That just sounds dumb! And if you were to ask me if my kids were ‘right’ with me…..I wouldn’t even have to think about it! It’d be a yes every single time. My love for them is not conditional….and neither is God’s love for you.

If you’re born again you’re right with God. It’s that simple. Truth is, you can’t get any more ‘good with God’ than you already are! You’re the apple of His eye! You were ‘given’ His perfect love, already.

You should live in that….and quit trying to ‘earn’ something you already have!

You might like these:

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

“Obviously, I’m God’s Favorite!”

 

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“Hug-A-Thug”

Over a year ago I got involved with the Beckham County Drug Court. I guess you could say I’m an unofficial member of the DC team. Drug Court is a pretty amazing thing if you ask me. (Click here FMI) I have developed some great friendships with a lot of the participants that are in the program. It’s one of the highlights of everything I do these days to see these folks overcome their addictions and become productive members of society. I can’t speak for all the Drug Court programs in Oklahoma but I can definitely vouch for ours’! The success rate for these men and women to ‘get well’ is pretty darn good. I believe that can be attributed to the entire Drug Court Team, which includes the Sheriff, DA, County Judge…as well as others. But what seems to be the shining star of the whole program is the support that the DC participants give to one another. It’s pretty amazing. Very often all it takes is just someone who’ll love you and believe in you. More often than not….that makes the difference.

The Drug Court program is not without it’s criticizers, though. There are plenty of people who don’t much care about it’s success. Seems a little bit crazy to me. There are those out there who’d rather see these people go straight to prison and I guess I can kinda see where they’re coming from. But, I’d always like to see someone get another chance. And if they blow it in Drug Court….prison it is!

Some of the detractors like to mockingly refer to Drug Court as the Hug-a-thug program. I cringe a little bit if I hear that but you know what they say, “haters gonna hate”! I was thinking about their little moniker (hug-a-thug) a few days ago and I came to a conclusion or two. What if a hug for these people really did make a difference?! What if, maybe for the first time in their life, they could actually believe that someone cared?

I don’t have to sit long in DC to realize how good I’ve had it. I’ve never had to wonder if my Mom & Dad loved me. I didn’t have to grow up with them being the ones who introduced me to, and gave me drugs. I never was kicked around from family to family because no one really wanted me. So, yeah….I’ve had it good. Doesn’t take too long for me to start having a heart to see these folks do good. I’m a fan! …..and if I can help… I will!

Back to that hugging thing; I come from a long line of huggers. It’s something we’ve always done in our household. Probably came from my Mom’s side of the family. You see them….they’re gonna give you a hug…like it or not. I guess it’s contagious. But there really is something about a hug, something profound, something real and something, I think, that could really be important! There’s even scientific evidence that hugs are healthy for us….both physically and emotionally!

Here’s some scientific evidence of what a hug can do: *(thank you David Clark!)

A. Activates antitoxin hormone that can fill us with joy
B. Allows for more patience
C. Remedy against stress and anxiety
D. Strengthens self-esteem especially in children.
E. Releases the dopamine hormone responsible for good motivation
F. Helps alleviate pain or a bad moment
G. Communicates emotions without saying a single word
H. Helps preserve immune system
I. Helps balance central nervous system
J. Is an example of love, affection and unity

So there’s the evidence!

What’re we waitin’ for…….”Let’s hug some people!!”

You’ll want to read these too:

It Feels Good To Be “Believed In”!!

Drug Court

Prison Prayer Project

Party at the Prison!

VIP #7 – Rick Hudson

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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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A Place Where People Get Well

We started Trinity Fellowship back in 1989. Julie and I knew we’d heard the Lord about the work in Sayre. There was a little small group of about 8-10 people coming from the whole spectrum of backgrounds. Baptist, Church of Christ, Pentecostal, Charismatic….and a few who didn’t know what they were….but just knew they wanted to go on with the Lord.

From the very start it has been a place ‘where people get well’! “Well from what”, you might ask? Some of them get well physically; we’ve always believed in the miracle working power of God. There’s story after story of how the Lord defied all the doctor’s reports and someone was gloriously healed. It still isn’t rare  for me to ask someone, “How’d you find us?” and their reply, “I’ve got cancer and I heard God heals people here!” Some of them get well emotionally; Trinity has been a place where hurting people come. The word is out! Because of the “good news” there’s hope for the hopeless. Some get well from the ill effects of dead, lifeless and mean-spirited religion. There’s droves of those people out there that have been plowed under by religion and religious people. Many will never darken the door of a church again. But a lot of those people give us a try….and you know what? They get well, too! Some get well from the clutches of addiction, others from heartbreak, grief and lots of other things. It hardly ever happens overnight…..but it nearly always happens!

We would never take the credit for it; They’re not getting well because we’re good at this stuff.  People get well when they’re loved. We don’t have that perfected….but we’re working on it. But, anytime anyone connects relationally with the Lord….they stand a really good chance to get well. It’s His love that makes the difference. Love never fails, you know!

It feels good to be known as a ‘place where people get well’!

The People That Nobody Else Wants

What If I’d Said, No?

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What’s ‘Right’ With It?

I was watching ESPN early this morning. There was a piece on the Olympics in Rio. The focus of the segment was on the Zika virus and the crime rate in Rio, which has been escalating for several years. It was also mentioned that with the Athens Olympics, there was a high risk of terrorism; with Sochi it was the possibility that many of the venues that would hold thousands of spectators would not be completed by competition time. Of course, those are all things that need to be considered, especially if you’re making the trip down there. So, all in all, it was a good and informative piece of journalism.

It occurred to me as I listened and watched that we are so geared in our culture to focus on the negative….rather than the positive. We’re bombarded from every direction it seems. The media often reports nothing but negative news. It’s mostly about ‘what’s wrong’. I get that. It seems that there’s an insatiable desire by the general public to want to hear bad news.  After all, the bad news is what causes the ratings to surge.

The problem is that, as a culture, we’ve taken on some of those same attitudes. And, what’s way more serious is the potential for us, who call ourselves ‘believers’, to take on that same mindset. We should be people having a message of hope. These dark, discouraging times should be a great opportunity for us to ‘shine’. After all, we have the answers to the worlds’ problems. But as long as we’re just joining in on the fray….our voice will be muted.

Rather than looking for the ‘bad’, or negative, in everything…..maybe we should try to find something good to focus on. 

“If you can’t think of something good to say, don’t say nothin’ at all”…..still good advice!

Check these out:

It Feels Good To Be “Believed In”!!

If You Love Someone….You Should Tell Them!

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An Often Neglected Part of Prayer

Most everyone’s aware of the importance of prayer. And, the Bible is clear, for those of us who believe….it’s not “if” we pray….but “when”. It’s one of those non-negotiables for us. Like the Nike slogan….we “Just Do It”! It’s how we appropriate that which is already ours’ but which we haven’t attained, as of yet. Interesting thing about prayer….faith is ‘built into’  the activity of prayer. In essence you’re asking Someone you can’t see….to do something you can’t do. And, that right there…..that’s faith!

He must love answering our prayers! In fact the Bible says that before we say it….He’s busy about doing it. He’ll take every opportunity He can to grow and nurture our faith. It’s just more evidence of how good a Father He actually is. We’re encouraged in His Word to  ‘let our requests be made known to God’. My experience has taught me that when I pray in generalities…He answers in generalities. But when I pray in specifics…..He answers specifically!

But, there’s a part of prayer that I hardly ever hear anyone talking about. Simply put, prayer is how we communicate with God. And, if you’ll think about it….genuine communication, productive communication is always a two-way street! Good communication involves a balanced mixture of talking and listening. And, while expressing your heart to Him is important….it just might not be as important as what He has to say to you. I’ve learned that the more time I take to ‘listen’ to the Lord…..the less things I need to ask Him for! It’ll work that way for you, too!

With that in mind it makes all kinds of sense to work on perfecting our ability to hear Him. In doing so there’s a few things that’ll help. 1) Understand that He wants to ‘talk’ to you even more than you think you need to hear from Him! 2) Don’t make it difficult! He’s a Father…you’re His chosen kid!  3) He’s not limited to ‘speaking’ in an audible voice. Learn to notice all the ways in which He speaks. (your circumstances, dreams, visions, through other people, through His Word…and the list could go on and on!)

The Father doesn’t waste words. He always speaks the things we need to hear the most. He always knows just the right thing to say at just the right time!

So, the next time you pray…invest a little time in listening. You’ll be glad you did!

Here’s some more that’ll be helpful:

Listen More …….. Learn More!

You’re Better at Hearing the Lord Than You Think!

“What’s The Lord Telling You?” Part 1

“What’s The Lord Telling You?” Part 2

 

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