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Tag Archives: Spiritual Growth

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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A Book Out of the Blue

‘Cause it really was! “Reading Your Bible For All It’s Worth” wasn’t a book that I had planned on writing. I do have several others in various stages that I’m working on and I always figured my book on the Father would be the first one out there. But this one just happened. Here’s how. We do a class on Sunday mornings we call LifeClass. We have about 8-10 couches sat up in a big circle. There’s no designated teacher. It’s all interactive and discussion-oriented, designed for spiritual growth and building relationships all at the same time. It’s a great class. And, it’s accomplishing the very things we had hoped for.

We had a book that we were going to use that would help people learn to read and study their Bible. We bought a couple boxes of them and had all intentions of starting on it the following week. We decided to read through it one more time before we jumped into it with the whole class. In reading through it there were several things that we understood, but thought that they might easily be misunderstood by some of those in the class. Dr. David Clark, our resident Bible scholar, started encouraging me to write our own. Knowing, and loving how we do things around here and the emphases we put on relationship with the Father, the kingdom of God, signs and wonders, grace and spiritual family he wouldn’t let up urging me to write this book. So, I started the process.

It’s been my experience in 30 years of leading this church that many people don’t know how to sit down with their Bible and really get down to the Truth. In fact, it talking with half a dozen of my pastor friends they agree that the number is up around 85-90% of regular church goers that don’t have solid methods of reading and studying their Bible. I hear it all the time, “I try to read my Bible but I don’t get anything out of it.” Add to that the reality that lots of people don’t like to read anyway, especially men, and you could easily have a congregation with very few solid Bible skills. That’s a problem if Bible reading and understanding it are important.

This book is written for those who don’t like to read. It’s full of interesting and easy to understand tips and principles that will help anyone to get better with their Bible. The longest chapter is about 3 pages. It’s concentrated with solid methods and in such simple language that anyone willing to open it can’t miss the point.

I think it’s an important book….but it was definitely one ‘out of the blue’!

 

 

 

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Of All the Ways He Blesses Us

If you start to count up all the ways that God blesses you, you’ll quickly find that the list is almost endless! He’s not limited in the ways He blesses and He seems to stop at nothing in His mission to show us just how much he loves us. Even some of His most hardened critics, if they were to be totally honest,  would have to admit that He does this kind of thing on a routine basis. He doesn’t just love us because He has to; He doesn’t just love us because it’s the ‘right’ thing to do; He doesn’t just love us because we need it; All that may be true but that’s not why He does it. No…..He loves us like we love our own kids (and grandkids!)…….He just can’t help it!

His interaction with us is always motivated by love. Even in those times when we are receiving correction from Him, it’s always in love. The Father doesn’t just ‘have’ love, …..He IS love! And every single thing He does, or has ever done, is for our benefit and well being.  I’m grateful for good health. I’ve rarely been sick in my entire life. Oh, I’ve got plenty of aches and pains from some of my previous lifestyle choices but all in all, I’ve been really blessed with good health. There’s dozens of other things I could mention.

But, when I think of all the ways He’s blessed me my mind immediately goes to my family then my friends and the people who I’ve met, and gotten to know, along the way. So, of all the ways He’s blessed me one of the things I’m the most grateful of is by the people He’s brought into my life. At the end of our earthly run we’ll see it clearer than ever. The things that have made our lives rich are not fame and fortune or some other empty thing like that, but the people we’ve encountered, day-in and day-out, on the journey of life. So, I’m suggesting we make the mental adjustment now…..and put a premium value on our relationships so we can enjoy our lives to the fullest….starting today!

Thank you, Lord, for the people you’ve brought across my path!!

 

 

 

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“When Push Comes to Pull”

Yeah, I know, the little saying doesn’t go quite like that. It usually goes, “when push comes to shove” but in a world where, at times it feels like everyone’s pushing for something, or about something, it’s kinda nice to not get pushed. In fact it’s nice to not ever get pushed if you ask me.

Example; I don’t like it when car salesmen push. We were only a few hundred dollars apart on a used car deal some years back. We wanted them to install a DVD player and the salesman, who had been pushing on us for a couple of hours, finally pushed me as far as I was going! He really ticked me off. I went to the car and was ready to leave. When he saw that he was going to lose the sale he started back-peddling. I’d had enough and told him I was done! He kept on. He finally told me he’d install the DVD player for the money we’d offered him for the car. I said, “I don’t care if you put 5 DVD players in it, I ain’t buying it!” We left. He called me four or five times the next week but I didn’t budge. Why? ‘Cause I was tired of gettin’ pushed!

People, by nature don’t like to be pushed. I think the Lord made us that way. You see, He’s not a ‘pusher’. Some of His people are but that shouldn’t be a reflection on Him, but sadly it is. We didn’t go to church when I was a kid and I had a few ‘churchy’ friends who were always pushing on me. I didn’t like it then….and I like it less now. It doesn’t feel good. Pushing people toward God doesn’t work. But there are a bunch of believers out there who can’t seem to figure that out, as well-meaning as they might be.

The Book says, “No man comes to the Father except that the Father ‘draws’ him”. God doesn’t push; in fact it’s against His nature to do that. But He draws us, pulls us in, with His mercy, His grace…..and His love. It has an altogether different feel to it. It feels right, …..because it ‘is’ right! God’s people are often referred to as sheep in the Bible. I don’t know much about sheep but they tell me that you really can’t ‘drive’ sheep. They’re much easier ‘led’. If you think about it….we’re a lot like sheep in that respect; we respond much better when we’re led than we’re driven. 

Everything the Father does with us is pulling us toward Him. It’s not a harsh or invasive thing at all. It’s gentle, and easy on us……and easy to respond to.

So, maybe religion needs to stop and re-assess the methods, some of which obviously don’t work, ….and let push come to pull!

You might like these too:

Are You “Right” With God?

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

 

 

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The Parable of Sonny Corleone

You remember Sonny Corleone, right? He was the oldest son of don Vito Corleone in Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel and it’s 1972 film adaptation, The Godfather. Sonny, played by popular actor of the day, James Caan, was determined to be involved in the illicit ‘business’ that his notorious father was in even though the elder Corleone didn’t much want it to be. (back in my rodeo days it was a regular occurrence to see James Caan at the California rodeos competing in the team roping).

Sonny was a hothead, passionate about nearly everything in life but given to extreme outbursts of anger and fits of violence (totally unlike his father or his younger, quieter brother Michael, (Al Pacino) who eventually became Boss of Bosses in the New York City underworld). It was nothing for Sonny to beat another person senseless and he didn’t mind killin’ if the need arose,…..as it often did. It was that very demeanor and behavior that would eventually lead to his own premature, and brutal demise.

Here’s how it went down. Sonny’s sister, Connie, was married to a chronic abuser. On more than a few occasions he had beaten her and Sonny finally got a belly full. Rival Mafia families, knowing Sonny’s combustable tendencies, staged a situation for Connie’s husband to, again, beat her. Sonny, as was his norm, flew off the handle, jumped in his car, without his bodyguards, and headed out to give his brother in law what he justly deserved. But the stage was set against him; when he got to the toll booth on the Long Beach Causeway a dozen gunmen were waiting. His car was blocked, he couldn’t escape and you can guess the rest of the story! It was ugly. You can see it here if you want.

There’s a spiritual lesson to be learned here. It’s a trap that I could’ve fallen for many times, myself. In my younger days I had quite a temper. It’ll still show up every now and then and it ain’t pretty! The incidents have gotten a lot fewer and farther between, praise the Lord. It would be a testimony killer for me at this stage of the game, no doubt. But, just like the rival crime families knew Sonny’s weakness and tendencies….your enemy, the devil does likewise. And he knows exactly when….and how to attack. So, heads up! Your weakness might not be your temper like mine and Sonny’s. It could be something altogether different. But make no mistake, without being aware of your weakness and neglecting to lean on the Lord in those areas…..you’re at risk.

James (in the Bible) said it like this: “Be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath.”

That’s good advice for guys like me and Sonny!

It’s taken awhile….but I’m gradually learnin’ to do it!

 

You like parables?? Check these out:

The Parable of Pedro Flores

The Parable of Pedro Flores Part 2

 

 

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Night Vision

Night vision technology has been around for a good while now. Night vision devices were  first used in World War II and came into wide use during the Vietnam War. The technology has evolved greatly since their introduction, leading to several “generations” of night vision equipment with performance increasing and price decreasing. The devices are used for a wide range of applications including military gunners, drivers and aviators.

You don’t have to use much of your imagination to understand how much of an advantage being able to see at night would be. Most of what we, the general public, have seen has been in the movies. The military has used this technology to their favor giving them a decided edge in nighttime maneuvers. There’s no doubt about it….being able to see at night in the darkness is a big deal.

The Father has made provision for His kids too, when it comes to being able to see in the darkness. In fact, it was in the dark of night that the Angel came to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus. When we’re connected and growing in our relationship with the Father we begin to get HIs own perspective about the world we live in,…….and all that it entails. I’m not trying to be the prophet of doom but we’re living in dark times. The political landscape in America is downright discouraging, whichever side you find yourself on. Christians are being routinely mocked, criticized and persecuted right here in our own nation; A nation which, by the way, was founded on Christian principles and religious freedom.

It’s a sign of the times. Many are calling this a ‘post Christian era’ and I don’t think they’re too far off base. Jesus, Himself, said it this way, “There’ll be a time when people will seek to kill you, thinking they’re doing God a favor”. We, as a Christian community, have brought some of that stuff on ourselves with our own arrogance and piousness….and that’s going to have to change!

But in these times of cultural, societal darkness the people of God should be at the top of their game. We should be so in fellowship with the Father that we understand how to see and navigate in the darkness…..and help others to do so, too. We should be the encouraging factor in a discouraging world. After all, the perspective we have as sons and daughters of the King gives us an edge that much of the world doesn’t have.

So, put on your night vision goggles, and get out there and make a difference!

 

 

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A Mother’s Advice

Have you ever thought about the value of a mother’s advice? Speaking from my own experience I don’t think I’ve ever had any bad advice from my Mom. She’s wise, prudent and her advice always comes from a place of unconditional love. It’s never pushy or manipulated…..and it’s nearly always unbelievably timely. The world’s not overloaded with that kind of advice but moms seem to have an endless supply of it. I’m grateful to still have my Mom and I still treasure her advice when I need it.

When I think about a mother’s advice I can’t help but think of Mary, Jesus’ Mom. It’s quite a miraculous story about how the little girl had that amazing encounter with the Angel. I’ve thought many times about how incredible the Angel’s words and instructions were to Mary. I’ve thought about how hard it would be to try to make any sense at all of what he told her. I seriously doubt she understood at all…..but she did it anyway. And, all of humanity has been immeasurably blessed since then.

Jesus’ birth was without a doubt one of the most important happenings ever to take place on the earth. He grew and began to fulfill the perfect plan of the Father. It was a plan that would give redemption to the entirety of mankind….if they’d only accept it. Mind boggling scenario, to say the least.

There was a wedding. Mary was there. Must’ve been more people there than expected because they were about to run out of wine. Either that or the people attending the wedding were having an extra large time! lol Mary summoned Jesus and told Him the problem. And, you know the rest of the story; Jesus turned the water into wine…and good wine, at that! But, do you remember the advice that Mary gave to the servants? She told them, about Jesus, “Whatever He says, do it”!

That little piece of a mother’s advice is as true today as it was when Mary said it. We should be wise and take her word for it. Because it still works for any situation at any point in time. So, on this Mother’s Day, take the advice of Jesus’ Mom…..

“Whatever He says, do it!”

You’ll be surprised at how good your life will go!

 

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