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“Uuuh,….. We Don’t Have a Program”

When we started Trinity Fellowship nearly 28 years ago the Lord was faithful to show us what He wanted us to help Him build….and how He wanted us to build “it”. We had no preconceived idea(s) as to what it should be or how it should look. So, we were dependent on what we believed He was saying to us. That only makes sense when you understand that our lives are to be lived by faith. One of the things, early on, that seemed to be clear is that we would be an organism (not organization) that the Father would use to set people free. That freedom would include everything from freedom from sin, addiction and faulty thinking to freedom from lifeless religious bondage as well.

Looking back through the years it seems clear that the Lord has definitely kept His part of the promise, as He always does. One of the things that’s been extremely rewarding has been the steady stream of people who have come to Sayre to find that ‘freedom’. We’ve built some amazing friendships with folks from all over that we would have otherwise never had the privilege of knowing.

One particular case in point happened not too long ago when a person we didn’t know called about a friend who had experienced a moral failure in his ministry . We didn’t know the person who called but we had been referred to him by someone we both knew.

When he called he was understandably full of questions such as, “What do y’all do?”, and “What’s the Cost?”, and “How do you do what you do?”. I tried my best to answer all those questions and finally he asked, “Well, what kind of program do you have, anyway?” My reply must have taken him completely off guard; “Uuuh, …..we don’t have a program.” It’s really true there’s not a program per se here…but what we do produces long term results.   We’re not batting a thousand but we’re doing pretty good. Here’s some reasons why;

  • We first bring them into our ‘circle’. It’s not an inner circle because inner circles are, by nature, exclusive. We’re inclusive!
  • We let them be a part of whatever it is that we’re doing at the time. If we’re on a ministry project they come along and they might even help if they’re willing. We never apply pressure on them to do that but the door’s always open for them to participate. If we’re going to lunch, they go. If we’re going to a basketball game, they go too. We let them know that they’re an important part of our family.
  • We let them see the ‘real’ side of us. We refuse to put up the facade of perfection. Truth is, we’re far from it. Besides, it’s just not our style!
  • We’re learners…..and we help to develop that trait in them, by seeing us do it, while they’re here.
  • We spend quality time with them. We swap stories. We listen to their story. They listen to ours’. It’s a great way to build long-term relationships. And, that’s what we’re all about.
  • We help them to understand the Father’s love for them. We encourage them to connect relationally with the Father and we explain how easy that is.
  • We treat ’em like VIP’s…….’cause they are!
  • But more important than all the other stuff….we just love ’em. It never fails, you know! It’s undefeated! And, it always works!
  • The Lord always does His part…..which is just about everything!

But, program, uuuuh …..we don’t have a program.

Audio Version:

Interested in a little ‘binge’ reading?? Try these:

Do You Have Enough Faith??

The People That Nobody Else Wants

Simplicity! It’s All I Have to Offer

It’s Not Your Job to Fix Them!

A Place Where People Get Well

 

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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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Don’t Worry…..Be Happy!

You surely remember that little song, don’t you? Bobby McFerrin topped the charts with it back in 1988. An interesting little fact about “Don’t Worry Be Happy”;  it’s the very first acapella song to ever reach #1 status on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s a catchy little tune that’s hard to get out of your head once you hear it. It just kinda puts you in a good mood.

The song has a really positive message to it. It’s just good advice! Jesus addressed the Twelve in a similar way. “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”. His words indicate that worry accomplishes absolutely nothing for us in the long haul. Much to the contrary, worry fights directly against our faith….and that’s a pretty serious thing. Worry is a distraction and it steals from the joy that I believe that Lord wants us to enjoy.

One of my great friends, Ken Henry, has an incredible perspective on worry. He says, “There are two kinds of worry. We worry about things that we can’t do anything about…so if we can’t do anything about it…..why worry; ….or we worry about things that we ‘can’ do something about; …..so, if we can do something about it….do it….and quit worrying about it!” Great advice, …..and true! I’m trying to incorporate it in my life!

I really wish I had this one perfected. I don’t. In fact, I’ll often wake up in the middle of the night and try to figure out something to worry about. I’ll usually find something, too….only to wake up in the morning and wonder, “Why in the world I was fretting about that?!!

I’m working on trusting the Father more. When I do that….I worry less. I’m doing my best to take McFerrin’s advice…….”Don’t Worry, Be Happy!”

Check these out:

Perspective; It Makes All the Difference!

Critics……..There’s One On Every Corner

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“Good Tidings of Great Joy”

The angel…along with a multitude of the heavenly host praised God and announced, “Glory to god in the highest, and on earth peace”. It was arguably one of the very few most important events that would ever take place within the context of time, itself. But the announcement wasn’t made before a multitude of people; it wasn’t made at the temple before the religious folk; it wasn’t even made on the town square. No, it was announced far away from all these, seemingly obvious, places way out in the middle of nowhere. The angel appeared to the shepherds and made his proclamation. What an unlikely place to bring such an important message to the world!

But, it’s typical of the Lord of Hosts to defy logic, conventional thinking,….even common sense. He can do what He wants to do, when He wants to do it….and how He wants it done.  And we can rest in the reality that He never makes a mistake…..and that everything He’s ever done, or will do, is always to our best interest….and to benefit us!

I have an opinion as to why He chose the shepherds to reveal this incredible happening on the earth. You see, the job of a shepherd in those days was the lowliest of nearly all the other jobs. They were out in the middle of nowhere; it was a lonely job as they were nearly always by themselves; it could be a dangerous job. David had to fight off a bear and a lion in his twelve-plus year stint as a shepherd; it was a thankless job and I’m guessing the pay wasn’t all that good either. It would be easy, if you were a shepherd, to think that life has passed you by, that you’ve been overlooked and forgotten about. But, it reveals the very nature of God to pick that very bunch to announce the most important happening in the whole universe, up to that point in human history.

Why did He do it that way?? I think to let them know that even though society looked down on them and made them feel like second-class citizens of the planet………He didn’t! He’s like that, you know!?

I’ve become aware over the years that this season, for many, is not a fun time. Maybe  you’re lonely; maybe you feel like you’ve been overlooked or forgotten by loved ones. Maybe you’re going through a hard time physically or financially and feel like giving up. But remember the shepherds. They were ‘greatly afraid’…but the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” It was “good news”.

Give Him the chance to love you like He wants to! He’d like to prove to you that you haven’t been forgotten!

Let it be your “good news” in this season!

Check these out:

It Ain’t Just “Good News” …… It’s “Great News”!

You ‘Can’ Get There From Here!

He Won’t ‘Put More On Ya’ Than You Can Stand

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“The Reason for the Season”

You’ve heard that phrase a thousand times. I hope we keep on hearing it. It’s just a reminder for us, ……and for our culture…and our generation to not forget ‘why’ we celebrate Christmas. I expect, for the people reading this blog, that you don’t really need to be reminded but it’s easy to see over the course of quite a few years that the message of Jesus gets ‘lost’ in the busyness of the season.

Retailers have capitalized on the opportunity to up their sales. It works! The big discount stores like Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart start putting Christmas decorations out in October, just to get everyone in the mood! “Black Friday”, that Friday immediately after Thanksgiving has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year, ….if not THE biggest. “Cyber Monday” right after that is their thrust to encourage Americans to shop online. Again, it works!! And, the last few years, I’ve received hundreds of emails advertising all kinds of special deals on everything from electronics to vehicles. One of the newer email methods is doing a ‘takeoff’ on the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song. There’s half a dozen or more companies sending me a different ‘special’ deal offer for twelve days in a row. I didn’t respond to any of ’em….but I bet a bunch of people did.

I don’t have a problem with observing the season as an opportunity to ‘give’Giving goes right along with what it’s all about. But it’s gotten so commercialized over the years that most of America doesn’t even notice Jesus in the middle of it. Add to that the push by the secularists, and the politically correct crowd (Lord, help us!!) to not even say Merry Christmas anymore…..It eventually gets on my nerves!

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have a problem with Santa Claus, Rudolph or Jingle Bells. Those things can add joy to the season……but, just being honest,…..it ain’t about them!

It’s about a Savior Who was born, Who came to the world to take away our sins and to enable us to have a personal,  one-on-one, relationship with the Creator of the Universe, Who chooses to be our Father!

It was the greatest show of love the world will ever know!

So, enjoy your family; enjoy a day or two off if you get ’em; enjoy the opportunity to receive and to give….but don’t forget about Jesus!

He’s the Reason for the Season!!

Room at the Inn?

There’s Just Something About ‘That Name’!!

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“Sticks n’ Stones”

“Sticks n’ stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I can remember my Mom & Dad teaching me that little thing when I was just a kid. Kids can be cruel with their words. Sometimes it overlaps into adulthood, too. This is just a little rhyme that teaches us to not let those words spoken against us land in our heart…and take root. It was first recorded in 1862. I don’t know who, initially, came up with it but my guess is that it was someone who was forced to deal with some kind of negative barrage of words or criticism from someone else.

It’s good advice, no doubt about it, and if we can learn to appropriate it into our life we’ll be a lot better off for it. But the truth is that words can…..and do hurt. In fact they can cause tremendous damage to young and old alike. Words have extreme potential on both the negative and positive side. The Bible even talks about the importance of words more than a few times.

If we, as victims of those negative words, don’t find a good, positive way to navigate through them and not let them have their effect on us we can easily end up falling prey to their power. I know a lot of people who have allowed those critical and mean-spirited words spoken over them define their entire lives.

So, I think the little rhyme has merit and value for each of us if we’ll just ascribe to it. If we can make the determination within each of us that we won’t let those words hurt us, we’ll be OK. It’s a fact of life; we’re going to have plenty of cruel words hurled our way….but in all reality they can only hurt us if we let ’em.

It should also be a good reminder to each of us to watch our own words…and not to carelessly throw them out there where they can do damage to someone else!

You might like these, too:

What’s ‘Right’ With It?

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

The ‘Magic’ Words

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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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