Lean on Me

When I hear the song, “Lean on Me”, it reminds me of when I was in college out at ‘ol Eastern New Mexico University in Portales right out of high school in ’71. The song, by Bill Withers, was a #1 hit on both the soul singles and the ‘Billboard Hot 100′. It ranks #208 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Hits of All Time”. The song has a great positive message.

“Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on”

“You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on”

It oughta be a priority in life to ‘be there’ for other people in their times of need. It takes a special person to put their own baggage, issues and problems on the back burner in an effort to help someone else out of life’s jams. And if we believe anything of what the Bible says about sowing and reaping…we’ll be sowing some good seeds that will bring a nice little harvest when we find our own selves in that place of need. It’s really how humanity ought to work.

Are you someone that a friend could lean on? It requires that we become listeners and encouragers. Oftentimes that friend doesn’t need advice near as much as they just need someone to listen to them. And, for that person, sometimes it just helps to hear themselves talk about their dilemma. Being there for someone and hearing their problems can give you some incredible insight in how to pray for them.

Anytime a person comes to you and tells you their problems,…..what they’re actually doing is asking you for help. And, the fact that they came to you just says that you have at least earned some level of trust with them. That’s a pretty important factor; I wouldn’t take it lightly! Trust is an extremely valuable thing.

One word of caution; being a person worthy of someone leaning on can bring it’s own set of problems. We must keep in perspective that while we want to help….we can never take  the place of the Lord in their lives. Our goal should always be to point them to Him!

Brace up!

Your People need someone dependable to lean on!

More good ones: *(Please  “Share” These!)

They Don’t Call it ‘Test’imony For Nothin’!

‘Thorns in the Flesh’

You Ever Get Tired of People Dumping All Their Problems On You?!?

That One “Nut Job”!

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Only the Lonely

Roy Orbison possessed one of the most distinctive singing voices that any of us have ever heard. Born in Vernon, Texas in 1936 he forever carved out his unique niche in both pop and country music. There’s not a single song of his that doesn’t captivate even the most finicky music critic. As I was listening on XM a short time ago he sang “Only the Lonely”. Anybody can sing any song….but nobody can sing that one like Roy, himself. Sometimes you can just listen to a song and enjoy it. But, this time when I heard it, …..it ‘moved’ me. It caused me to think of the times I’ve felt alone….and the many, many times I have talked to, and tried to help, others who were isolated in life for whatever reason. “Only the lonely know the way I feel tonight; only the lonely know this feeling ain’t right”.

Loneliness; being without company, cut off from others, a feeling of bleakness or desolation. Even the definition has a deep, dull impact! It’s clearly one of the most devastating of all human emotions. It can evoke the strongest feelings of rejection and discouragement or even worse. God even says Himself, “It is not good that man should be alone.” We’re created in such a way to have a dire need for companionship. I think it could even be construed that the Father, Himself, doesn’t want to be alone. Could that be one of the primary reasons that we were created in the first place?! I think maybe so.

The Father must’ve known that we’d all experience times of feeling all alone. He had some amazing foresight if you ask me. It must be why He thought it was so important to make sure that we never had to worry or wonder if He’d be there for us. When He said, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you”….He meant it!

I hope you never feel alone but if, or when, you do think about HIs promise. He’s there…..whether you can feel Him or not! Run to Him, call out to Him…….He’ll help!

*(This one’s for you Jack M!)

Don’t stop here….check these out, *and “Share” ’em, too:

“If You Could See The Big Picture”

You Matter! You Really Do!

I Don’t Know How He Does It!

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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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Theorists and Practitioners

Theorist: Someone who considers given facts and comes up with a possible explanation is called a theorist.                                                                                                                            Practitioner: A practitioner is someone who is actively involved in real life situations, and qualified to practice a particular occupation, profession, or religion.

I had a conversation 10 years ago with a few close friends. I don’t actually remember the exact details of the entire conversation but I definitely remember the conclusion I came to soon after it was over. I was with four other ministry people, all of which had quite a few years of experience. A couple of these guys are great communicators, orators, Bible teachers. But they weren’t actively involved in the day to day dealing with people and their problems. It’s not that they couldn’t do it; they have. It’s just that they weren’t heavily involved at that time. I’ll call them the ‘theorists’. They’re important people; they’re good at what they do!

It was a really good, brisk discussion on how things ought to work in the church from a, strictly, Biblical standpoint. On those topics, there wasn’t much disagreement, whatsoever. But the ‘rub’ came when we began talking about how it really is in the ‘trenches’. You know, out there where the rubber hits the road….in real life; Where you get knocked down, get your nose bloodied, betrayed, lied to, lied about, tripped up and derailed. That all can happen (and really a lot more!) in the process of ‘practicing’ the theory, especially in ministry.

I am deeply involved in the day to day challenge of dealing with people…and their issues. Been doing it for over 30 years. It’s what I do. I’m far from perfect at it….but I have learned a few things. For that reason, I’d say I’m more a ‘practitioner’ than a theorist. When you add, what I’d call the ‘human factor’, to any theory, even a Biblical one, it complicates that theory to a large degree. Doesn’t mean the theory is wrong or even faulty, for that matter. But it’s different when it’s being lived out in real life. It’s never quite as neat; in fact, it’s usually pretty messy; it’s never as cut and dried as we’d like for it to be. When you add people to the equation it gets a lot more difficult. It’s nearly always worth it….but difficult, nonetheless.

It led me to this conclusion; There needs to be a ‘coming together’ of the ‘theorists’ and the ‘practitioners’. They need to sit down at the table and talk, discuss, compare, hash it out, even argue a little if it’s friendly and helpful. It’s vital, I think. And, if it’s done in a productive manner….everyone leaves the table wiser and better equipped…..and both have a much better understanding.

In all truth, and I think this is how the Lord designed it for obvious reasons, …..unless the theory is tested in the laboratory of life….all you have is a theory. But when the theory is a Biblical one, and the parties involved will lean toward the Lord, it usually works out……..a whole lot more often than not!

The theorists and the practitioners need to get together!

Readin’ a book about learning how to fly an airplane is fine…..but when you’re taxiing down the runway……things get REAL!

Check these out:

I Plant a Little, I Water a little…..

A Long Ways From the Lord

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I Did It Just For Him!

*Today marks a year since my Dad left for heaven. I wrote this blog on his birthday back in August. He would’ve been 87. It seems fitting to publish it today.

The 15th of August; For as many years as I was old enough to remember we did something to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. This year was a little different in that, this time, he wasn’t here to enjoy it with us. We did, however get together anyway. Monty drove up from Ft.Worth. We had supper at Rib Crib with just about everyone there, minus Cole and his little family, (Calli Softball practice) and Cade.

As we sat at the restaurant the TV’s were tuned to the Olympics. We watched several events including the preliminaries for the women’s 400 meter hurdles. Then it was time for the women’s 100 meter finals. Allison Felix, the USA’s marquis sprinter and most decorated American woman track and field athlete, was the odds-on favorite to win the gold medal. She had a great start, ran her race, and it appeared that she was clearly going to win the gold. But just at the very end of the race the sprinter from the Bahamas did something that was totally unexpected. Rather than just running ‘through’ the finish line she dove forward at just the precise moment….stealing the gold medal from Allison Felix.

You’re probably wondering what in the world this has to do with my Dad. Well, the 100 meter finals and the miraculous finish took me back about 47 years. I was a junior in high school. One of the things I was pretty decent at was running the hurdles. I broke the school records in the high hurdles and low hurdles that had stood since 1929.

It was at the district track meet. I hadn’t been beaten in the highs or low hurdles up to that point in the entire track season. There were several really good competitors but if I’d just run my race I could beat them. I wasn’t the fastest by any means but no one could beat me out of the blocks and I could navigate the hurdles better than most of them. But on this day there was a new guy. First time I’d seen him. We were in the same preliminary heat in the high hurdles…and he beat me. I ran a good race…and he still beat me. We had the two fastest times in the prelims so in the finals we’re lined up in the two middle lanes.

Dad didn’t always get to be at the track meets but he was there that day. I wanted to do my very best for him. I got off to my usual great start but so did the other guy. In fact, for 110 yards there was never a foot or two lead for either of us. It was literally neck-and-neck. We cleared the last hurdle and he had me beat by a foot or two. Ten feet from the finish line, he still had me beat. But I wanted to win this race in the worst possible way……for my Dad. I felt like I’d be letting him down if I didn’t win. But, for all practical purposes this guy’s got me beat. But at the last possible second I did exactly what the gal from the Bahamas did. I dove….with everything that was in me. My right shoulder hit the asphalt track and it took most of the hide off for about 8 inches……but I won the race!

I was glad I’d won the race….but the excitement wasn’t really for me. I was glad to win  because I was determined to do it for him. I don’t think I ever told Dad that I did that just for him. I wanted him to be proud of me. And for me to ‘not’ put out, and give it everything I had would make me feel like I was lettin’ him down. We learned from our folks that whatever you were doing, you give it everything you got! That’s what they did.

But you know,…..all the hundreds of things he ever did for us, he never once had to say, “I did that for you”.

We just knew!

Try these:

VIP’s #10 – Cliff & Charlene Taylor

VIP #8 – Monty Taylor

Labor Day Out on the ‘Ol ‘Lazy J’

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Follow the Cloud

From the very beginning of the Bible we are introduced to a God that wants to interact with His people. He and Adam walked together in the cool of the day. Can you imagine that?! Just hanging out with the Creator of the Universe. Wouldn’t that be a trip! But there was trouble brewing in the garden and when it went down it led to some abrupt changes. 

God has always wanted to communicate with His people…..and He communicates in all kinds of ways. But after the fiasco in the Garden of Eden He began doing it different. It was still clear communication but He would handpick a man and over time He would transform that man into someone who could be trusted to bring His word to the people. He’d talk to that man and give him the instructions to be followed so His blessings could be experienced by all.

The Israelites were under some severe persecution in Egypt. God raised up Moses to lead His beloved people out of Egypt. It’s a great story; three million people displaced from their homes out in the middle of nowhere. A tabernacle was constructed according to the exact specifications of God, Himself. And the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. The tabernacle was portable, so to speak, and when the pillar of fire by night, or the cloud by day moved…..the tabernacle….and those three million people moved with it.

Logic would say that it would be amazingly easy to follow God that way; Fire by night, cloud by day. But from the very beginning the Lord had something even better in mind for all mankind. A time was coming when He would give His own Spirit to anyone willing to receive Him. And His Spirit, living inside us, would be able to direct us at every turn and give us God’s own wisdom for every situation.

As easy as it would have been to follow the cloud or the pillar of fire….it should be exponentially easier to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It should be the most natural thing for us who are sons and daughters. The Father wants us to know His will in every single situation….and the Holy Spirit, Who lives in us, has that information; and….He’s very free with it!

It just makes sense that we would seek to know that Person Who lives in us. It makes sense that we would consider it a priority to ignore some of the other voices so we can hear His voice better.

We’ve been given an incredible advantage through His Spirit. We should make the most of it!

Follow the Cloud!

Audio: 2:09

I’d sure appreciate it if you’d “Share” these posts!

Here’s a few more you might like:

“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”

‘Thorns in the Flesh’

The Fear of the Lord…..Let’s Get It Right!

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“Good Will Toward Men”

The heavenly angel, on a mission from the most High God, appeared with the heavenly host (multitudes of other angels) to announce to the world that a Savior had been born. Oddly enough this angelic sighting didn’t take place before a crowd of people….but to the shepherds who were watching over their flocks by night.  *(read “Good Tidings of Great Joy”) The angel didn’t say much….but what he did say was ultra important!

But, just what does the angel mean when he says,“Good will toward men”? I’ve been thinking about it all week. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone talk about that part. After pondering it for awhile…here’s where I landed. It’s an extremely important part of what the angel had to say. I’d even call it a great revelation. A Savior is born! And He came to the earth to “do us good”! It’s as clear a picture of Who God is that you’ll probably ever see. It reveals His heart toward all mankind. I don’t think it takes some kind of sophisticated commentary to figure this one out; it’s pretty simple. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believed in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

That phrase, “good will toward men”, reveals God’s absolute determination to be good to, and bless, all mankind…and in an almost unbelievable way! In ‘it’ He would do the only thing possible to redeem every single person that would ever live. He’s that good!

All other religions focus on how a person can get to God….but Christianity is vastly different. Yep, Christianity is about our God ‘coming to us’! He loved us so much that He came in the likeness of man, laid down His own life to, once and for all, forgive us of our sins! And the icing on the cake would be that, now,…..plain old people like you and I can have a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe! I I don’t know if you’ve figured that out by now but …that’s one heck of a deal!

“Good will toward men”……..

It’s God……willing (wanting, desperately desiring)…..to do you good!

More “good news”:

Maybe He Saved More Than Your Life!

If God Has Your Heart, He Can Get Your Feet Where They Belong!

What If It’s Not to ‘Break’ You,….but to ‘Make’ You?

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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’!!

 

“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!