A Lifetime of Faithfulness

I bumped into a Friend in the post office a while back. He’s a retired pastor in his late 80’s.  He just sold his home and he and his wife are entering an assisted living facility in a neighboring town. He retired from the ministry a short time ago. Spent his whole life ministering in a small country church. A whole lifetime of faithfulness. I have a lot of respect for guys like that.

It made me think; I doubt he ever made much more money than to barely get by. Not rare to have to find some kind of supplemental income. Probably never got asked to speak at a big conference anywhere. Never gonna have his picture or an article in Charisma magazine. Not even gonna name a street after him in his little town. He’s not one to complain about that kinda stuff. It obviously wasn’t what was important to him. He just kept on being faithful.

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He knew everyone! I bet he knew three or four generations of people there where he ministered all those years. Went through all the ups and downs with ’em. Everything from burying their grandpa to seeing a new baby boy welcomed into the world and entire families devastated by some of the tragedies life brings. Held their hands when they didn’t have any hope for what they were facing. Always clinging to, and pointing them to God. And, in a little church like that in a tiny community, the Pastor has to do everything. Preach every Sunday for decade upon decade. Marry ’em, bury ’em, and everything in between. All the while getting the usual criticism that goes along with the job. Think about how much wisdom he gained in a generation or more. Think about how much he would have to offer…….anyone.

In my conversation with my Friend, he lost his train of thought a time or two and apologized for it. He even said, “Well, that’s the problem I have now.”. I ‘felt’ his pain at that very moment and it grieved me. Even makes me tear up while I’m writing.

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It’s been a whole lifetime of faithfulness, to the Lord and to the people He entrusted him with. It makes me wonder if anyone really noticed; if anyone did much more than say, “Thank ‘ya”. But, I have an opinion about men like my Friend. You don’t have to agree with me but I bet ‘ya when we get up ‘there’, you know, in Heaven that guys like my Friend are gonna be getting some heavy-duty hardware when they start passin’ out the rewards. I think we might be surprised at how honored ‘then’ they might be as compared to those who won world acclaim here on earth. We should honor them now, ….but we probably won’t…

Some people just don’t appreciate a lifetime of faithfulness like that.

But I do!

….and I think the Father does too!

Well done, Friend!

“You Didn’t Put a Mojo on Me, Did Ya’?!”

Years ago after we’d moved to Oklahoma and started the church I had a lifelong friend call me late one night. My friend was a brawler, didn’t mind a good fight, and had been known to conspire one up if it didn’t happen naturally.

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I doubt he’d ever been to church anywhere before. No criticism about that but, understandably, he just didn’t have much spiritual orientation at all. I could tell he was really bothered about something but he wouldn’t say, just what, over the phone. It was past 11 pm and he said he really needed to talk to me. So, no big deal pulled some clothes on and headed over to his house.

At the end of our conversation I asked him, “Well, do you want to be born again?”

He had all kinds of questions for me about the Lord. Some I could answer, some I couldn’t. He was very sincere. After a couple of hours we were winding up our visit and the subject of salvation came up. I’m not a pressure guy by anyone’s standards. Jesus didn’t do it….so I ain’t gonna do it either! But, I was quick to thoroughly explain the Biblical plan of salvation to my friend when he asked.

He was really struggling for an answer and it took him thirty seconds or more to say, “Well, I know I should but I just don’t think right now’s the time”. “You know I just bought this bar and all, and I just don’t think the timing’s right”. I said, “OK, no problemo. Let me know if you ever want to talk about it.” He agreed and I asked him if I could pray for him. After I prayed we said our goodbyes and I went home.

About two weeks later my friend called again, this time past midnight.

He started out, “You know, I bought this bar. I’m making more money than I’ve ever made in my life…..but something just ain’t right.” “I don’t know what it is but I just keep thinking about the Lord, …..and that ain’t like me at all.” I said, “Well, you know He does love you, and He’s just probably trying to prove it to you.” Then……..he finally got down to the real reason he called me. He said, “You know the other night when you prayed for me?” I said, “Yeah”. He said,

“You didn’t put some kinda mojo on me did ya’??!”

He was serious as a heart attack! I just busted up laughing. I said, “Son, the Lord’s got a mojo on you!” I explained to him that it’s just how the Lord works. My friend eventually gave his life to the Lord, sold the bar, and is walking with the Lord today. 

Photo by Tara Winstead from Pexels

When I tell that story today I still laugh! But the truth of the matter is that whoever you are…and wherever you are spiritually, the Lord does have a mojo on you! Not the kind you’d normally think about though. Certainly not a demonic spell or anything in the neighborhood of that. But, He’s out to get ‘ya, alright. ……and just like I told my friend, “He just wants to prove to you how much He loves you!”

You might like these, too:

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

Have a Nice Day, Lord!

You Can Only Do What You Can Only Do!

Don’t Bring Me Down

The Electric Light Orchestrathe ELOis 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 the 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”.

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We have incredible potential with our attitudes and words were 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”

“Unrestricted Access”

Photo by Angela Roma from Pexels

You see the passes at most every public event, especially the big ones; “All Access”. The placard, usually worn around a person’s neck is an indicator for every official on the grounds of the event that anyone wearing this placard can go anywhere they want to go, and….at any time. Those “All Access” passes also carry the often unsaid understanding that the wearers are obviously of some importance. You know, like a real VIP!

The person wearing that “All Access” pass must’ve evidently been given a level of trust not offered to everyone. With that particular pass comes some extra responsibility, too, I’d say. Take a rock concert, for example. Let’s say Bob Seger (one of my faves, especially since I can’t go see Tom Petty anymore) is performing at Red Rocks. Now, that’d be a great combo; great entertainment at a great venue. If you have one of those “All Access” passes you might get to be up close and personal with Bob Seger, himself. I’ll bet you could even get your picture taken with him and the band if you were really lucky. But, without that “All Access” pass, …..it ain’t gonna happen! But, most of us are resigned to just go to the concert and enjoy the entertainment from a distance. Nothing wrong with that, whatsoever. But, it’s just not the same as having the VIP treatment.

You’re a VIP!

The One Who created the Universe has given you an “All Access” pass to be in His presence anytime it strikes your fancy! There’s never a bouncer at the door, no one checking ID’s, nobody deciding if you have the correct credentials, not anyone there to turn you away because you don’t have the right clearance, nobody to stamp your hand in case you go out and want to come back in. You don’t even have to show your “All Access” pass! They ‘all’ know who you are! Nope, nothing, whatsoever, to keep you from engaging in conversation, face to face worship, fellowship, and communion with God, Himself! Think about that for a minute!

It’s true! You’ve been given (because we couldn’t earn it!) unrestricted access to God! That’s a BIG DEAL!

Question is, what are you gonna do about it??!”

Check it out:

Are You ‘Led’, or Are You ‘Driven’?

A Lifetime of Faithfulness

I bumped into a Friend in the post office last week. He’s a retired pastor in his late 80’s.  He just sold his home and he and his wife are entering an assisted living facility in a neighboring town. He retired from the ministry a short time ago. Spent his whole life ministering in a small country church. A whole lifetime of faithfulness. I have a lot of respect for guys like that.

It made me think; I doubt he ever made much more money than to barely get by. Not rare to have to find some kind of supplemental income. Probably never got asked to speak at a big conference anywhere. Never gonna have his picture or an article in Charisma magazine. Not even gonna name a street after him in his little town. He’s not one to complain about that kinda stuff. It obviously wasn’t what was important to him. But, he kept on being faithful anyhow.

I bet he knew three or four generations of people there where he ministered all those years. Went through all the ups and downs with ’em. Everything from burying their grandpa to seeing a new baby boy welcomed into the world and entire families devastated by some of the tragedies life brings. Held their hands when they didn’t have any hope for what they were facing. Always clinging to, and pointing them to God. And, in a little church like that in a tiny community, the Pastor has to do everything. Preach every Sunday for decade upon decade. Marry ’em, bury ’em, and everything in between. All the while getting the usual criticism that goes along with the job. Think about how much wisdom he gained in a generation or more. Think about how much he would have to offer…….anyone.

In my conversation with my Friend, he lost his train of thought a time or two and apologized for it. He even said, “Well, that’s the problem I have now.”. I ‘felt’ his pain at that very moment and it grieved me. Even makes me tear up while I’m writing.

It’s been a whole lifetime of faithfulness, to the Lord and to the people He entrusted him with. It makes me wonder if anyone really noticed; if anyone did much more than say, “Thank ‘ya”. But, I have an opinion about men like my Friend. You don’t have to agree with me but I bet ‘ya when we get up ‘there’, you know, in Heaven that guys like my Friend are gonna be getting some heavy duty hardware when they start passin’ out the rewards. I think we might be surprised at how honored ‘then’ they might be as compared to those who won world acclaim here on earth. We should honor them now, ….but we probably won’t….

Some people just don’t appreciate a lifetime of faithfulness like that.

But I do!

….and I think the Father does too!

Well done!

 

Get Out of Your Way!

You wanna get somewhere in life? Sure ya, do! If you’re going to get that done you need to take my advice and get out of your way. Don’t get your feelings hurt just yet ’cause I get in my own way on a fairly regular basis, too. Trying to learn not to!

You see, God has a pretty unique plan for all our lives. He’s guaranteed us a fulfilling life if we’ll just listen up, pay attention and follow Him. But, we have to deal with all the negative stuff we’ve heard our whole life in the process. So much so that if we’re not careful those things can stall us out from fulfilling our destiny. For some strange reason, we’re more apt to believe that we can’t accomplish something significant than to believe that we can. I mean, we have God on our side! We routinely quote, “I can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens me.” While in everyday life we struggle in menial little things that bog us down and discourage us. Enough of those things strung back-to-back can put us in a mode of perpetual failure. If that’s going to change, you gotta get out of your own way!

Solution: We need to get re-centered on our true identity! You have been handpicked by the Father as His own son or daughter. Of course, you have to **accept that but that’s really all that’s required. Seems easy enough, huh?! You’re a chosen son of the Creator of the Universe Who wants to be a Father to you. Start to lean on Him in every situation. He likes that! He’ll help you up out of the ditch and get your feet on solid ground again if you’ll let Him.

So, get out of your way! ‘Cause a lot of good stands to happen if you’d just do that! Get your focus on and stop spending so much time looking in the rearview mirror!

There’s no tellin’ what you might accomplish in life if you can just get out (and stay out!) of your own way!

**“As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God”          John 1:12

Born to be Mild

Not a misprint! You were expecting “Born to Be Wild”, right? I still hear that term every now and then. Anyone growing up in the 60s would be familiar with the phrase, remembering the hit song from John Kay, and Steppenwolf. Most people associate the song with the hit movie of the time, Easy Rider. Born to be Wild is sometimes regarded as the first ‘heavy metal’ song.

As we mature in the Lord we start to understand that we are born to be mild, not wild. I know some, even from the Christian community, will immediately take issue with that thought. So, let me elaborate. Jesus stated it clearly, “The meek (mild) shall inherit the earth.”.  My bet is that when you hear that someone is meek you first think they might be passive, timid with no strong convictions. Not true at all. The people Jesus was talking about are not wimpy at all. Much to the contrary. Why would Jesus hand over the authority to something as important as His kingdom to some spineless bunch of wimps? Well, He wouldn’t think of it.

Someone who is ‘meek’, or …mild, from that perspective is someone who doesn’t force his own will by manipulation, coercion or bullying. Nope. The mild person is the one who patiently waits for the Lord to move in every situation. As hard as it is at times the mild person is one that leans on the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to open and close doors. This is the kind of person the Lord can entrust with the riches of His kingdom. One who won’t take the credit for what only the Father should be given credit for.

Don’t make the dumb mistake of thinking that being ‘mild’ is dull or boring! It’s this bunch that will see the full manifestation of the power and glory of God! There’s not a more exciting life to be found anywhere! Only those who live by faith will experience it.

There’s a great adventure waiting for you! You were created for this!

You were born to be Mild!

So, “Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway, look for some adventure, …..and whatever comes your way!”

*(I changed up the words a little! Maybe it’ll get stuck in your head!)

Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Jesus go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fill all of your sons at once
And explode into space
I like smoke and lightning
I like signs and wonders
Racin’ with the wind
And the feelin’ that I’m under
Yeah Jesus go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fill all of your sons at once
And explode into space
Like a true kingdom child
We were born, born to be mild
We can climb so high
You’ll never have to die
Born to be mild
Born to be mild
Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Jesus go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fill all of your sons at once
And explode into space

Like a true kingdom child
We were born, born to be mild
We can climb so high
You’ll never have to die
Born to be mild
Born to be mild

Songwriter: Mars Bonfire

“Show-and-Tell”

Show-and-tell is a common expression about showing an audience something and telling them about it. It’s usually initiated as a classroom activity at early elementary school used to teach young children the skills of public speaking. For example, a child will bring an item from home and will explain to the class why they chose that particular item, where they got it, and other relevant information.

I think show and tell is an amazing exercise for young people in a lot of ways. For one it breaks down the stigma and at least some of the fear of getting up in front of a group; a fear that, incidentally, most adults continue to struggle with their entire lives. But, I think I’d also be a huge proponent of the show-and-tell method for the Christian community. Just think about all the things that would be better understood by the rest of the world if we would do more than just ‘tell’ them, and actually show ’em.

We talk a lot about faith but the message loses it’s momentum if we never actually ‘walk’ by faith. And, grace, there’s another subject that’s getting a lot of attention these days. But, when we talk it and don’t treat other people with grace it, somehow, contaminates the message. But, I’d say the most important subject that we should apply the show-and-tell method is with love. Yep, that’s a word we use a lot around the church, and I agree, we should! But, I’m not sure we should use it at all if we’re not going to back it up with our attitude and actions.

This is where I think the show-and-tell method should really be working at it’s very best. And, if you think about it, we in the church should be the example to the rest of the world in this. By all means, let’s use the word, and let’s be genuine with it when we do! People really do have a need to hear that they’re loved.

And, if you find yourself in a time crunch and don’t feel like you can do both, show, and tell, …….just do the ‘show’ part. Chances are they’ll remember that forever!

 

 

 

A Working Knowledge of the Bible

*(An excerpt from my new book, “Reading Your Bible For All It’s Worth”If you’re still trying to decide on whether or not to get a few copies of the book, maybe this chapter will get your attention. Anyone who knows me or has read some of the broad range of things I’ve written over the last few years knows that the content is ultra-easy to understand and equally as easy to apply to your own life. Everything I write has either an overt, or covert message that ultimately leads the readers into the possibility of a genuine, life-changing encounter with the Father. It’s Always done with absolutely no coercion, manipulation or pressure. *You know, just like Jesus did it! You won’t find a more comprehensive or practical book anywhere that will help you learn to read, understand and more importantly, enjoy your Bible. Give me a little feedback. Let me know if you like it. Blessings!  AT

A Working Knowledge of the Bible

“You gotta get in the Word, til the Word gets in you”  AT

When my life made a dramatic turn in 1984, my wife, Julie had just recently bought a New King James Version Bible. I basically took the Bible from her! I’m not sure she even gave me permission to take it but I guess she thought that maybe I’d actually read it, and that would be a good thing! And, read it I did! When I got into that NKJV Bible I couldn’t quit. It was easier to understand than the King James Version for me. And, as I found out later, it remains very close to the KJV without the cumbersome language of the 1600’s. At any rate, it was the version of the Bible I first became acquainted with and I’ve stuck with it for 35 years now.

I was raised on an extremely remote ranch in the Texas Panhandle. We were 35 miles from a town of any size. (Canadian, Texas, Pop. 3000). And, as the old adage goes, “where we lived wasn’t on the way to anywhere!” But after I began my walk with the Lord a strange phenomenon began to take place. Many of my friends from my ‘old life’, beer drinkers, partiers, etc. started showing up at my house, out there in the middle of nowhere. It was really amazing how often it happened. These guys were opening up about their lives and their problems asking me what they should do. Even though I had been immersed in the Bible I had hardly any answers for them. I just knew that if God could fix my life, …..He could surely fix theirs! Their extremely diverse, and broad range of problems and questions caused me to dig in the Word for answers. I’d go home at night and dig, and dig, and dig to find the answers. And, now after 35 years, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the same question twice. I can see clearly now that it was the Lord’s way of helping me find my way around the Word.

I had to put that old Bible aside for a new one several years back. Its pages are worn and torn. They’re marked with half a dozen different colors of pens, pencils, and highlighters, The cover is faded and coming apart. Mark 1 & 2 are completely missing. Cole, my third son, at about age 2 had ripped them out, wadded them up in a little ball and was about to put them into his mouth when I discovered them. 

I learned my way around the Bible by looking for answers for my friends. Through all that I developed, what I call, a ‘working knowledge’ of the Bible. I had no idea in those days that the Lord would use me in any ministry capacity at all. Never dreamed of it! But He knew! And, how He trained me in the Book has been invaluable to me in being a leader, counselor, and teacher of the Word.

You can do the same. Whenever your friends or family have a serious life event, grab your Bible and start looking. Keep looking until you find an answer or a verse that would encourage them. Just do that! Keep doing it and you’ll develop a working knowledge of the Bible, yourself!

“Unrestricted Access”

You see the passes at most every public event, especially the big ones; “All Access”. The placard, usually worn around a person’s neck is an indicator for every official on the grounds of the event that anyone wearing this placard can go anywhere they want to go, and….at any time. Those “All Access” passes also carry the often unsaid understanding that the wearers are obviously of some importance. You know, like a real VIP!

The person wearing that “All Access” pass must’ve evidently been given a level of trust not offered to everyone. With that particular pass comes some extra responsibility, too, I’d say. Take a rock concert, for example. Let’s say Bob Seger (one of my faves, especially since I can’t go see Tom Petty anymore) is performing at Red Rocks. Now, that’d be a great combo; great entertainment at a great venue. If you have one of those “All Access” passes you might get to be up close and personal with Bob Seger, himself. I’ll bet you could even get your picture taken with him and the band if you were really lucky. But, without that “All Access” pass, …..it ain’t gonna happen! But, most of us are resigned to just go to the concert and enjoy the entertainment from a distance. Nothing wrong with that, whatsoever. But, it’s just not the same as having the VIP treatment.

The One Who created the Universe has given you an “All Access” pass to be in His presence anytime it strikes your fancy! There’s never a bouncer at the door, no one checking ID’s, nobody deciding if you have the correct credentials, not anyone there to turn you away because you don’t have the right clearance, nobody to stamp your hand in case you go out and want to come back in. You don’t even have to show your “All Access” pass! They ‘all’ know who you are! Nope, nothing, whatsoever, to keep you from engaging in conversation, face to face worship, fellowship, and communion with God, Himself! Think about that for a minute!

It’s true! You’ve been given (because we couldn’t earn it!) unrestricted access to God! That’s a BIG DEAL!

Question is, what are you gonna do about it??!”

 

Check it out:

Are You ‘Led’, or Are You ‘Driven’?