Archive for January, 2021

Different in Texas

“When I die, I may not go to Heaven.  I don’t know if they let cowboys in.
If they don’t, then send me home to Texas, ‘cause Texas is as close as I been.”
(popular Country song)

What is it about Texas, anyway?  It ain’t the weather, and it sure ain’t the landscape, but Texans sure are proud to be from Texas. 

Let’s face it, there’s only two places I know of where people are so proud of where they’re from that they’re bustin’ out all over about it – New York City, and yep, Texas. (At least we got a flag here in Texas; all the New Yorkers have is their Yankees baseball caps and coffee mugs with “I love NY” on them.)

Let’s face it, have you ever seen anyone yellin’ or hollerin’ about being from Kalamazoo, MI or Hackensack, NJ?  Nope, me neither.

Ask anybody here and they’ll tell you, there’s just something different about Texas.  The funny thing is, it’s true.  And no, I don’t know what it is either, but whatever it is, it runs through the soil of this land and shows itself in an attitude and character that you just don’t find anywhere else.

It’s just different in Texas, that’s all.

Yeah, the picture we have in our minds is that cowboys are a little wild and crazy, with maybe a touch of rattlesnake eggs and barbed wire, and they don’t much care for the bridles that polite society would put on them, but there are a lot of guts in their character. Cowboys don’t care much about what anybody thinks of them, but when you’re down, there ain’t nobody better to count on.  Underneath all the wild and crazy stuff is a bedrock of something rare.  Integrity runs deep here.  Deals that are made on a napkin or with a handshake are more ironclad than any contract that a battery of New York lawyers could ever make.

As the song goes, “My heroes have always been cowboys”, and when I look in the Bible, the heroes that I see there were cowboys also. 

While Saul may have been an admirable choice for king, he measured himself against what everyone else thought of him.  With David, on the other hand, it was always about God.  He didn’t conform to what was supposed to be polite or correct and didn’t care what anybody thought.  He had the guts to stand up for what he believed was right.

David was a cowboy.  (Well, maybe he tended sheep, but you get the idea.)

So were Elijah, Phineas, Gideon, and on down the line.  Even Paul was a bit of a cowboy. These were guys that didn’t go with the flow, didn’t care if they were popular, and had the guts to stand for what they believed in. There was a little bit of Texas in all of these men that made them stand apart from the crowd. They were just different from than the rest.  They wouldn’t have cared if they were accepted around town, in any polite society, or even in the churches.  They were cowboys.

Now, I don’t expect to see God with a cowboy hat and boots, yellin’ “Yeehaw” while He lassos us up before Him, but I betcha there’s a whole herd of cowboys in Heaven whoopin’ and hollerin’.

Oh yeah, I reckon they let cowboys in up there.  I’ll betcha cowboys are God’s favorite kind of people.

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Be Still

There is a depth to silence that the carnal mind is not able to comprehend. 

We often feel more secure when a cloud of noise surrounds us in our daily lives, as if it was a buffer to cover us from issues of life that we either do not understand or would rather not face. 

But there are times when we are faced with a spiritual silence, and when we are, we scramble for the reassuring feel of that gravel beneath our feet of the daily issues of life that we know how to deal with.  It is times like these that we are forced to reflect on the stark reality of Eternity and our tiny place in the eternal scheme of God.

Prayer times are good weathervanes.  It’s great when my prayer time is filled up with all sorts of things, and I can jump off from one thing to the next and feel like I’m actually getting right up to the Throne of God and accomplishing something.  It is a great feeling when it feels like God can not only can hear you, but is also paying attention to what you are praying about.  You walk out of the prayer room with a sense of accomplishment, and you are ready to face the day with a confidence that you have won in prayer.

But sometimes it isn’t like that.

Have you ever had prayer hours when you feel like you have been dumbed down and can only sit there mumbling about some mindless thing?  There may be a million issues to pray about, but you can’t think of any at the moment. You’re flapping your wings, but you just can’t seem to get off the ground.  You repeat your prayers like a monotone tape recorder, but it doesn’t come from your heart.  So, you stand up and walk back and forth to get some juice going in your prayers, but you only feel like a tin soldier marching back and forth.

You know God can hear, but is He listening? 

Where are all the fireworks?  What happened to that vibrant flow of excitement that comes when you can feel yourself reaching Heaven?  Did I do something wrong, or am I running down a wrong direction?  Or is God just tired of me, and is paying attention to someone else right now?

And the answer comes back in a reassuring, quiet voice,

“Be still, and know that I am God.”  Psalms 46:10

Brother Dale

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Have you ever been out in the middle of a calm sea with no wind or waves to break the monotony?  The circle of the horizon offers no points of distinction, and the calm, still air smothers any sense of direction.  You sit still in a boat without oars as you feel time dissolve around you.  With no place to go, and no way to get there, you find yourself in a situation where you have to yield to the suppression of your spirit as even the air itself smothers you into silence.

There are times in your Christian walk that God will bring you into such a solitary place.  It is not only a time for reflection, but also for the quieting of your own spirit.  It is one of the toughest experiences that you ever have to go through in God, but when He places you there, you have no choice but to sit still and wait.

All the great personalities in the Word of God went through times like that before they were called into the thick of what would become the real essence of their ministry.  Abraham had his walk through the land of Canaan, never understanding where he was going or why.  Moses had his 40 years on the backside of the desert.  Joseph cooled his heels in prison, forgotten by everyone for years.  Elijah did his time in the desert, as did Paul and Jesus.  Jonah only spent 3 days in the belly of a whale, but I’m sure he would have traded that with Moses’ 40 years in a heartbeat.

When we begin our journey in life to serve the Lord, we often rush headlong in zeal and excitement to accomplish the great things that we feel are set before us.  We charge off on our white stallion to conquer the forces of darkness and set the captives free.  The rush of the wind blowing through our hair as we hold up the Blood-Stained Banner in a galloping charge is exhilarating.  The thrill of victory runs through us as we battle through one enemy after another.

But then the time comes when we find ourselves in that quiet place, and the adrenaline that was pumping through our veins drains out of us, leaving us frantic in the midst of the calm.  While we fret about being abandoned and left out to fallow, we wonder what did we do wrong?  

Has God forsaken us for someone else?  It feels like being left by a faithless lover for someone who is younger and better looking.  Satan is right there at our shoulder to confirm all this.  He whispers to us that we’re finished, washed up, and God is done with us.  It is hard not to despair when all around you, others are charging off into their own victories with that same look of conquest on their faces that you had at one time.

If God would just set us down and explain to us what is going on, this would be easy.  But then, that’s the whole point – it isn’t supposed to be easy.  Battles are easy because at least you know what is going on, but sitting in the midst of this barren desert is killing you.  Common sense and carnal reasoning cries that this is a mistake – God should be using you in some strong way, especially since you have proven yourself so faithful in all that you have fought for.  You have done everything He has asked of you, so why has He dropped you off into a cloud of nothingness?

These are the times that break your spirit and take the “you” out of “you”.  You are left with nothing that remains of the great Christian warrior you saw yourself as.  Your strength is drained, and you are left with only one thing – hope.  Not hope in your victories or your accomplishments, but with a hope in that faint glimmer that leads to the mercy of God.  Nothing else matters.

No matter how many miracles Jesus did, no matter how many dead He raised, no matter how many sermons He delivered, it was not until He was completely broken on that old rugged Cross, and had surrendered His life to death, that the greatest victory of all time was won.

Only when you have reached that same broken, crucified rest on the Cross, will your victory also be complete. 

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