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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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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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Running On Empty

As songwriters go, I’d consider Jackson Browne one of the best. In fact, way back in the 70’s, Glenn Frey and Don Henley (the Eagles) moved in above Jackson in a $60 a month apartment in L.A. They admitted that they learned, and perfected their craft of writing songs by listening to some  of those ‘mind boggling melodies’, as Rolling Stone magazine described Jackson Browne’s songs. They agreed that he was just a notch above anyone else who was writing in those days….and there were a bunch of ’em. One of those songs, “Running on Empty”, was the title track of his ‘Live’ album in 1977 and is, to this day, the most played of all his songs on Classic Rock stations. On an interesting note the song was written while Browne was struggling to make it and, in his own words, “I was always driving around with no gas in the car”.

I just returned to the office after five weeks off. Haven’t done anything like that in the 28 years since we started Trinity Fellowship. I didn’t take the time off to fast and pray. That would definitely be time well spent but I took the time off to just get away from it all. No studying, no preaching or teaching, no late night emergency phone calls, no funerals……no nothing! Pretty much everybody’s job has its own level of stress. Ministry’s no different; people ain’t lined up to tell you good news! It took at least a week to get out from under the load of ministry that I’ve been used to. And, maybe another week to get in full, no stress mode. But, with the support I have from the people around me (they’re the best in the business!) I finally started to actually relax. I think I was like a lot of folks who are out there today, running on empty……and maybe not even knowing it! It’s easy to get in crisis mode and if you’re not careful…..never get out. It’s unhealthy!

The Father, Himself, rested on the seventh day…and He designated and set aside a day for us to rest, too. Most of us don’t do it; don’t know how, never tried it. We’re too busy doing all the things we know we should be doing. But, the Sabbath was made for man! We should learn how to do it! When we’re running on empty we won’t even come close to doing our best work.

Hardly anybody can get as much serious time off as I had, I understand that. But, we could learn to take a day a week to get out from under the load. Maybe we could learn to work ‘smarter’, not harder. It’ll take some time, no question.  But if we’ll make it a priority…..we won’t have to be running on empty!

Audio Version:

If you’re wanting a little more:

There’s Something To Be Said For Not Knowing Anything!

‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’

The Soundtrack of Our Lives

Click here to listen/watch my favorite Jackson Browne tune (you’ll like it!)

 

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Lady Gaga, Little Monsters & Jesus! *Repost*

Lady Gaga’s getting a lot of attention, both good and bad, the last couple of days; This was first published two years ago. I had over 2100 views on this post, the most of any blog I’ve written to date. If you haven’t read it, you should. If you did read it….it’d do to read again. Thanks…..and “Share” it if you like it!

It’s been about three years since Julie and I, Cameron and one of her friends went to a Lady Gaga concert in Oklahoma City. On the way to the Chesapeake Center where the concert was to be held there were picketers….Christian picketers…..a lot of them, displaying their signs and banners “, “Lady Gaga is the Devil”, “God hates fags”; “You’re going to hell!” …. you know the typical unconditional love stuff that we’re so known for!

An interesting thing that I did not know was that Lady Gaga’s loyal followers are known as “Little Monsters”. They dress up in some of the wildest, most bizarre costumes and get-ups that you could ever imagine. It’s like Halloween on steroids! I’ll have to admit, it was a little out of my comfort zone! But the show was unbelievable; I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lady Gaga, whether you like her or not, is an extremely talented young woman. She can sing, she can dance, she can play the piano. She can do it all!

But there was a point three quarters of the way into the show that I did NOT see coming! House lights out, she’s in the spotlight lying on the stage. She says, “Jesus, …. up there in heaven, …. all those people outside tell me you don’t love me…..but I know that’s not true! I know you love me, and I know you love all these “Little Monsters”, too!” And the bigger part of 20,000+ young people cheered as loud as they possibly could. I had a big lump in my throat; I could barely hold back my tears. And I wondered if anyone had ever told many of these “Little Monsters” that Jesus really does love them. Oh, I know they’ve been told they’re no good and that God’s mad at them. They’ve been reminded of that over and over again but you could tell that they so wanted her words to be true! And I think, somehow, they believed it.

If the Father can’t depend on the church to tell the ‘good news’, He’ll use Lady Gaga, or anyone else He chooses, to let all us “Little Monsters” know how much we’re really loved!

 

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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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The Soundtrack of Our Lives

*(this blog was written a week ago, but not posted due to the passing of my Dad)

I was shocked today, and saddened, to hear of the untimely death of Glenn Frey, lead vocalist and founder of The Eagles. Glenn was a Detroit boy whose fate would cause him to cross paths with a talented Texas kid by the name of Don Henley. Those two and a handful of other great musicians and vocalists including, at one time or another, Timothy B. Schmidt, Joe Walsh, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner, Don Felder comprised the band known as The Eagles. Their compilation album, “The Eagles Greatest Hits, Vol. 2” has gone platinum (a million units sold!) every single year since it was released in’82! If you don’t have it….you should go to iTunes this minute, and buy it today! You’ll thank me for it!

Ever since my friend, Tom Stout, first played “Peaceful Easy Feeling” for me somewhere in the early ’70’s, I was hooked….and I’ve been an avid fan of The Eagles ever since! There’s nothing to ‘not like’ about The Eagles music. It appeals to a broad cross-section of music lovers worldwide. Their sound doesn’t neatly fit in the ‘rock-n-roll’ genre although R&R lovers can find way more than enough to relate to. You can’t just call it ‘rock music’ either ’cause, again….it’s not a perfect fit. It’s not what I’d call ‘pop music’ at all…but again many of those listeners love those Eagles tunes! And even the ‘hardcore’ country purists, like myself, can get some solid satisfaction from listening to the Eagles. To sum it up….they’re not really like anyone else….they’re unique in that way!

The band found their sound in California where one of their downstairs neighbors, who quickly became a great friend, was carving out a pretty decent career for himself, as well. Jackson Browne, (click! you’ll love the song!) who in my opinion, is one of the great singer/songwriters/artists to ever come along spent hour upon hour with Glenn, Don and the guys writing, pickin’ and singing. Then they’d have the occasional ‘drop ins’ such as J.D. Souther or the Allman Brothers….and the jam was on! And now, here we are 40 some years later listening to many of those very same songs! It’s no wonder that particular era produced some of the best music to ever hit the waves. 

I’ve seen The Eagles in concert twice.We took Cameron, our daughter, on her 13th birthday to see them “LIVE”, 5th row on the floor at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Saw them again last year in OKC. I’m not saying I wouldn’t go see them again….but I kinda doubt it. It just wouldn’t be the same without Glenn. It’d be like Skynyrd without Ronnie Van Zant or Creedence without John Fogerty……I’m sure both are putting out some good stuff but I’ll save my money and reminisce about the ‘real thing’!

Here’s a few of my personal favorite Eagles facts:

‘Cleanest’ guitar playing, in my opinion,  of any band….ever! Flawless! Listen to their ‘lead breaks’ and I guarantee you’ll agree. Listen to the lead on Hotel California again….no, I mean really listen!

Steuart Smith – One of the all-time great guitar players. (my opinion) A fairly new addition to the band: (not necessarily a ‘member’ of The Eagles but a very key musician since ’01!; I saw him playing lead guitar for Rodney Crowell, mid ’90’s)

Although most people say that Glenn and Henley were co-founders…even Don said, “It’s Glenn’s band”!

Don Felder’s (former lead guitarist, composed the guitar licks for Hotel California) Book: Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001) is a ‘tell all’. I read it through cover to cover almost without stopping. He’s still at odds with the band….and it doesn’t looks like it’s going to get fixed anytime soon!

If you like The Eagles you might appreciate these as well: Poco, Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, Desert Rose Band, The Byrds, Flyin’ Burrito Brothers

Of all The Eagles’ great songs, other than Hotel California, this is probably my all-time favorite: *A little something for you country fans! PS-You might’ve never heard it before! The Girl From Yesterday (click on it….and listen!)

The Eagles. Their music has played an important part in the soundtrack of my life.

 

*(Click on any of the highlighted links above for music performances and information!)

*Here’s just a few others that would be included in my soundtrack: Leon Russell, Ray Price, Faron Young, Johnny Paycheck, Delbert McClinton, Merle Haggard, Tom Petty, George Jones, ZZ Top,  Bob Dylan and the Allman Brothers, just to name a few.

What are some of yours?

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