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It’s The Hardest Part

We lost a great American treasure a year and a half ago, in my opinion, when Tom Petty unexpectedly passed away. One of the great rockers of all-time, who grew up in Gainesville, FL, and was the victim of some pretty violent abuse at the hands of his dad. Music, as it turned out, was a welcome escape from that environment for him. His mom bought him a cheap Sears guitar when he was 14 and the rest, as they say, is history. His band, The Heartbreakers, accomplished what few other bands have ever achieved…and that is the fact that they stayed together, for the most part, for over 40 years! Some would argue that Petty lacked vocal perfection, but if you were fortunate enough to make one of his concerts (we did twice in the last 3 years!) you would hear the bigger part of twenty thousand people, young and old, singing along with every song…..word for word, for two and a half hours! So, Tom Petty fan or not, you’d have to admit that he’ll go down in history as one of the all time greats.

Now, I don’t think every song out there has a spiritual message, unless of course, you want it to. But most songs of any genre will have a line or two that, if you think about it…and try just a little, could definitely be applied in a spiritual way. I’m a ‘music guy’, not a musician by any stretch (I could only wish!), just someone who loves music. So, I hear in just about every song something that catches my attention, something that I can apply spiritually and maybe pass it along to someone else who can catch the truth contained. Many of Tom Petty’s songs have those things I’m talking about; “You Don’t Have To Live Like a Refugee” would definitely be one. Gonna write something up on that ‘un one of these days. And, how about, “I Won’t Back Down”? Now there’s a, nearly perfect, spiritual warfare song; one that you could actually sing on Sunday mornings if you’d loosen up just a little.

But one that recently caught my attention is a song called, “The Waiting”. Written over 37 years ago, and not designed to be a spiritual song, whatsoever, it does have a line or two that holds some pretty profound spiritual truths. “The waiting is the hardest part”! Boy, ain’t that the truth!? Learning to wait is one of the hardest things for both the natural, and the spiritual man. We live in a culture that has trained us to want everything immediately; I mean, ….right now! But, as we mature in the Lord, learning to wait is an invaluable trait…and one that’s not often found even among believers, sad to say.

I wish I could say I had it perfected. But, waiting on the Lord hasn’t come easy for me. I guess you could call me a ‘slow learner’ in that respect. But I’m a lot better than I used to be…and I think I’m getting better. It comes with an understanding that God has His ways and He’s precise in His timing. In another way, it’s one of His ways of teaching us to live by faith. At any rate, waiting on the Lord is a virtue that we should all try to attain.

So, whether it’s a promise from Him you’re waiting on, or a prophetic word that has yet to materialize, or maybe even a prayer you’re wondering if He heard or not, ….waiting, as hard as it is, …..might just be the most productive thing you can do. Make no mistake about it, Tom Petty had it right; the waiting is the hardest part!

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part …………The Waiting’ – Tom Petty

...oh, and by the way, the Bible holds some amazing promises for us as we learn to wait. Isaiah 40:31 *(go read it!)

 

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Don’t Let The Old Man In

That Clint Eastwood can make a movie! He’s had a string of good ones. You can see a list of them here. Starting out as young Rowdy Yates, a cowhand and cattle drover, in Rawhide (I never missed that one as a kid!), to his most recent role in The Mule’, as Earl Stone, a 90-year-old drug courier for the Sinaloa Drug Cartel, the movies he’s starred in or directed are nearing the 3 billion range in dollars generated! That’s mind-boggling! Whether it was the High Plains Drifter or ‘Dirty Harry’ Callahan, Eastwood has always managed to give a stellar, and genuine performance. And if you’ve kept up it appears he’s done nothing but get better at his craft. At 88, he might very well be at the top of his game.

I like a movie that arouses my emotions; one that can make me laugh, make me think, has plenty of suspense or mystery, maybe a surprise or two….and one that’ll even cause me to try to hold back the tears. His last one, The Mule, has all that. Without going into detail and risk ruining the whole story for ya, I’d just say, “You need to go see it.”. The critics gave it mixed reviews but if you like any of the things I like, ….you’ll be pleased.

There was a song closing out the last scene in the movie. It was a great song. I was pretty sure it was Toby Keith singing so when I got out of the theater I Googled it and, sure enough, it was Keith. The song title, “Don’t Let the Old Man In”.  As it turns out, sometime in the last couple of years at a celebrity golf tournament Toby Keith and Clint ended up being paired with one another. And probably just like you and I would be, Keith was enamored with Clint Eastwood. As they talked Clint told Toby that he was about to start work on this new movie. Keith asked Clint, “How do you still work so hard and stay so sharp at 88?” Eastwood quietly replied, “I just wake up every morning and don’t let the old man in.”

Keith realized right then, that would make good material for a great song so he went to work on it. After hearing about the song and then actually hearing it, Eastwood told Keith that he might find a place for it sometime. And, as it turned out he’d use it much sooner rather than later. It is so well placed in the movie that it puts just the right finishing touch on an already great film.

Whatever you do, click on the link above and listen to the song. You’ll be glad you did. But, heads up!! I’ll warn you ahead of time, it’ll get in your head!

And, as for me, I think I’ve decided to be like Clint; I’m gonna start wakin’ up tomorrow……and I ain’t gonna let the old man in!

 

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Everybody Needs a “Hi-Pockets” Duncan in Their Life

I bet you never even heard of him! Well, that name meant nothing to me either until a few months ago. *(Thanks to my good friend, Charles Lynn who sent me an autographed copy of Terry Jennings [Waylon’s son!], and who I recently became friends with) brand new book, Waylon, Tales of My Outlaw Dad) Hi-Pockets was a Lubbock, Texas disc jockey in the ’50s who was instrumental in giving a young Lubbock performer, Charles Hardin Holly, better known as ‘Buddy’, his first real opportunity. In those days there was lots of talent around Lubbock but Buddy Holly was special.

You know the tragic story of Buddy Holly but you might not know that his young friend and bass player from nearby Littlefield, Texas gave his seat up to another performer on that ill-fated plane destined for Fargo, ND. Yep, Waylon Jennings, himself, should’ve been on that plane. The regular tour bus froze up and Buddy decided to charter a plane for himself and his band. The others would use a school bus for the long, cold drive to Fargo.

Waylon and Buddy were tight friends and before Buddy departed on that fateful night they jokingly exchanged barbs with one another. Since Waylon was going to have to ride a bus to the destination, Buddy jokingly said, “I hope the bus breaks down.” to which Waylon replied, “I hope your ‘ol plane crashes.”That would be a statement that would haunt Waylon for decades. In fact, it almost ruined him, and understandably so. It crippled him so emotionally that he basically quit the music business altogether.

It was months later and Waylon had no intentions of re-engaging in the music business at any level when Hi-Pockets cornered him that afternoon. I guess you could say he, more or less, gave him a good chewing out; you know, one of them old fashioned talkin’ to’s! He told him he had absolutely no business feeling guilty about his friend’s terrible twist of fate; and that what he should do is get out of the ditch he was in, quit moping around, get back up….and get going again. It took a few days for that advice to kick in, ……but it did! And the rest, as they say, is history.

There’s probably not a single one of us who’ve not had our dreams snuffed out. For some it’s been terminal; for others maybe just a delay in where their life was to go. But at any rate getting back up after a derailment is exactly what needs to happen. Someone said, “To be successful in life all you have to do is get back up one more time than you get knocked down”. Sounds easy,…..the actual ‘doing of it’ is much harder. But, undeniably, it IS the thing to do.

And, sometimes, it takes a Hi-Pockets Duncan type to get you up and going again. Better yet, …..maybe sometime you’ll have the chance to be that person of encouragement for someone else. Sometimes a good ‘talkin’-to’ is just the thing to get the ball rolling again!

 

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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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“Just Because You Ask Me To”

Songwriters are deep thinkers, contemplative, reflective kind of people. It seems fairly obvious to me that many, if not most, songwriters are ‘spiritual’ people. By that I mean that they believe in God. If you look and listen closely you can find bits and pieces of their spirituality in their body of work. Many are not part of a church or engaged in regular church services partly because of how they believe they might be perceived, or treated. I agree that some of that might be imagined…but, in the same token, some of it is probably real, too.

If you’re one of my regular blog readers you already know that I’m kinda mesmerized, fascinated I guess you could say, by good songwriters. There’s an art to songwriting; it’s definitely a gift. I think a lot of people probably have the gift….but only a few take the time…and energy to pen up a good one. And then there are those that seem to just crank ’em out one right after another. One such guy is Billy Joe Shaver. (click to check him out) He’s written a lot of good country songs, ….and if you do a little investigatin’, ……you’ll discover he’s lived most of ’em.

I’m always listening for songs, or pieces of songs, that might have a spiritual connotation. And, seriously, you really don’t have to look far. Shaver’s songs have been recorded by a virtual “Who’s Who” of country artists, none any more prominent than Waylon Jennings. In fact on Waylon’s, “Honky Tonk Heroes”, considered a country ‘classic’, all but one song on the album was written by Billy Joe Shaver.

One of those songs, “You Ask Me To”, (co-written with Waylon) is one that I think has a lot of spiritual implications. And while it obviously wasn’t written for that particular purpose we can still glean some good spiritual insight. This song could easily be about our relationship with the Lord. And with just a little work on that last verse it could totally be construed in a spiritual way.

Long ago and far away
In my ol’ common labor shoes
I turned the world all which a way
Just because you asked me to.

Like unto no other feel
Simple love is simple true
There’s no end to what I’d do
Just because you asked me to.

Let the world call me a fool
But if things are right with me and you
That’s all that matters
And I’ll do anything you asked me to.

Knowing how much I love you
And after all that I’ve been through
I’d turn and walk away from you 
Just because you asked me to.

The first verse could easily tell a lot of people’s testimony, maybe yours, and how those whose life was transformed became world changers.…..“Long ago and far away In my ol’ common labor shoes, I turned the world all which a way just because You asked me to”.

“Like unto no other feel, simple love is simple true”. Ain’t that the truth?! There’s just nothing that compares to the love of the Lord…..or the love of someone else, ….for that matter! 

“That’s all that matters, and I’ll do anything you ask me to”. *In our service and devotion to the Lord…it is, at it’s very purest….and simplest, done out of our love for Him!

“Let the world call me a fool, but if things are right with me and you; that’s all that matters and I’ll do, anything you ask me to.” It’s true that when we get obedient to the Lord that the world (family, friends, etc) sometimes just doesn’t understand. But because things are ‘right’ with God and us….we’ll be obedient to what we believe He’s saying to us, …..and do it!

I’ll bet you’ve heard some song lyrics, from what most folks would call ‘unlikely’ sources, that have some spiritual value. Post ’em if you do. Start lookin’ and listenin’ if you don’t…..they’re there!

(click here to hear Elvis’ version of “You Ask Me To”)

PS-Remind me sometime to tell you about Waylon’s spiritual orientation. You’ll probably be surprised.

Some more music blogs:

There’s a Lot More ‘Spiritual’ Music Out There Than You Might Think!

The Gospel According to Shaver!

No Country For Old Men

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

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“Long May You Run”

Neil Young is an interesting guy. I’ve always been a fan. He has one of the most unique and identifiable voices in music. There’s just no one before him…or after him, at least so far, that has that same unique sound. He’s a pretty fair guitar player, too. From what little I’ve read, and heard about him he might be a pretty eccentric, hard to get along with, kind of guy. One particular case in point. Touring with Stephen Stills in 1976 prior to their upcoming album release and after only nine dates, Neil sends Stills a telegram, “Dear  Stephen, funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach”, signed Neil. Stills had no choice but to finish the tour without him. Doesn’t really affect me….I still like Neil Young.

One of Young’s songs, Long May You Run, (click now before you read the rest of the story to watch Crosby, Stills Nash & Young perform it) is one that I’m especially fond of. It really is a great song; great melody, great lyrics….and Neil’s stellar voice ices the cake. I like the title. It makes me think of a blessing of sorts that someone is declaring over someone they are friends with, or someone they admire. Just the title itself suggests long life, advancement, favor and success.

In this infancy of the New Year I’d like to speak that same blessing over you. I’ve been a huge proponent of encouraging people to fulfill their destiny. God has an incredible, and detailed, plan for your life. We’re not here by accident. We’re here on the planet as a direct order by the Father, Himself. “He has determined our preappointed times and the boundaries of our dwellings.” He wants a family of people on earth that represents Him correctly; a family that has His characteristics and displays the same heart toward people that He does. He can take a really ‘messed up’ life and turn it into something very significant.

So, this year as you head out. My prayer for you is that you’ll fulfill the plan of God over you, …. to the ‘T’! And as you encounter those obstacles, those roadblocks and those impossible lookin’ situations with your impeccable faith…….”Long May You Run”!

*Oh, …..the rest of the story; Young wrote that song about his first car, a 1948 Buick Roadmaster hearse that he affectionately named, “Mort”, that died in 1965 when the transmission blew in Blind River, Ontario!  Who knew?! lol

These will help you get going in 2017 *(Read the whole series)………and “Share”,  pass the word!

Reflect – Refocus #2

Reflect & Refocus #12

Reflect & Refocus #20

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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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