HOW SPIRITUAL ARE YOU?
Before I go into the subject matter of my next journal entry, I wanted to share something funny with you.
In my last entry I talked about a memory I had concerning my older brother Rick. A few days after posting it, Rick called
to tell me he read it, and that although he couldn't remember the event, he forgave me and wanted me to quit feeling bad
about it. I thought that was just great!
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I also received an email from a dear friend who was very
touched by the story, which is why I write my thoughts here to begin with. I'm so glad they do touch others from
time to time.
My friend commented on "how transparent" I am in these writings. Believe it or not,
it's not easy to be that transparent, but I've learned that if normal people cannot relate to me, I'm really not
acheiving my goal. I just don't want anyone to think I'd just 'blabber anything' about myself in foolishness.
I try to be as open and honest as I can for a very specific reason. To demonstrate that all of us have weaknesses and
all of us must depend daily upon the grace and mercy of God.
Now onto my new entry...
I have to tell
you that as a minister, I've heard lots and lots of comments from people over the years...both positive and negative.
I realize it's part of the job...and the subject matter I deal with.
But I must say that of all the negative
things I've heard, I've never had anything hurt me personally as much as being accused of "lack of spirituality."
Over all my years of ministry I've had about four occasions where someone openly questioned my spirituality and depth
of spirituality, based upon something they "saw" or "didn't see" in my walk.
this hurt me so deeply is because it questions my intimate and personal relationship with Christ, which is where all true
spirituality flows forth from.
I've come to realize that many Christians have various notions of what true
spirituality is. Some believe that true spirituality will resemble a pentecostal form of worship only, while others
believe it must constantly walk in the miraculous with demonstrations of healings and so forth on a constant basis.
Now I tell you the truth...I've seen numerous miracles with my very own eyes. Much of what you've read about
in the New Testament, I've witnessed first-hand in my life. I'd testify to it, under oath at the Supreme Court
in Washington, if called upon to do so. However...
...I've also come to realize that although this is
a wonderful form of spirituality in action, it does not determine how truly spiritual a person is...or isn't. Let
me explain. Do you realize that when Jesus sent His disciples out to "heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out
demons," that Judas Iscariot was among them??? This very man who is Biblically labeled a betrayer and a thief worked
miracles! How? Because he was granted to do so in the name and power of Jesus Christ, not himself.
don't know who I'm writing about today...maybe it's me...but I believe someone who is reading this now feels
spiritually inadequate due to things said to you by others...or things Satan has said to you...or you have said to yourself.
It's so easy to look around us and compare ourselves to other Christians or to other Churches and feel like we're
lacking in area's of spirituality. This is a horrible feeling and is a trick of the devil to make you feel worthless.
Don't fall for it. Judge your spirituality by one thing...and one thing only: Love.
There came a point
in my own life personally, and in my leadership role as a Pastor, where I realized that "loving one another as I have
loved you," was the greatest and deepest form of true spirituality. As I read I Corinthians 13, I saw the words
of an aging Man of God, relaying a deep truth, "miracles, prophecies, faith, moving mountains or even giving your life
as a physical sacrifice mean absolutely nothing...IF YOU DON'T LOVE!"
At that point...love
became my spiritual pursuit. It also became the focus of my preaching, my teaching and what I looked for
in choosing leadership. I honestly thought everyone would be thrilled at my deep revelation and embrace it whole-heartedly.
Some did, others did not.
I realized I could be the busiest, greatest preacher I could be...but my own kids might
fall by the wayside, believing their Dad loved the ministry more than them. I realized I could pray for and pursue miracles
for every service in order to elevate myself and our Church to entrall the masses...but to do so, might come at the expense
of simply loving people through divorces, family deaths, sinful failures and broken-hearts.
Paul teaches us that
"although you might have miracles...but have not love...you are nothing." (Paraphrasing).
you now...since I've earnestly pursued to "Love as He Loves," I feel more deeply spiritual than at anytime in
my life. It might not appear so to some...but I stand before God and tell the truth. I've learned that "Love
Although I've been accused and even ridiculed for being "unspiritual," I tell
you before God...I have learned to love. Someday when God reveals the hearts of men...including me, this truth will
be known to my doubters. Remember this: Judas Iscariot worked miracles, but he also betrayed our Lord to be crucified.
He didn't love.
So the question of spirituality comes down to love. With that being said, "How spiritual
are you?" I'm guessing you're much more spiritual than you thought.
I love you all, and I mean
ONE OF MY GREATEST REGRETS
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I want to introduce you to my brother Ricky Dale Stanford. He is three years older than I, and currently
lives in East Texas with his wife Ginger. Together they raised two beautiful girls who are now grown and living in Corpus
Rick and I were very close growing up. We played together, fought together, sang together and got
in trouble together. I always thought that Rick and I would be together...always be close. I was wrong.
life dictates, we both grew up and went our seperate ways. He to the military and me...on the road singing.
I said all that to say this:
As a counselor I teach a subject called "Life-links." These are
events in our lives that can affect us all the way through our lives. They can absolutely "form" who we become,
even though they may seem insignificant to others.
One such life-link for me happened this way...
I was about 8 years old and Rick was 11, I was invited to go to a friends house to play. This boy was an only child
and had all kinds of toys and animals and things to do and I was excited to go. I had been there before and had told
Rick all about it. On this day he asked if he could go with me. I didn't want him to. I wanted to go
and have fun on my own...I didn't want to share this experience with him.
He asked Mom if he could go with
me and she said yes. I was angry and being a brat, but it wasn't wise to "buck Momma," if you know what
I mean, so we walked out of the house together.
It suddenly dawned on me that Rick did not know the way to this
boy's house, so I ran away from him and hid...knowing he'd have to return home. It worked!
I was sure the coast was clear...I went on to the boy's house. However, as I walked...I began to get a sinking feeling
inside. Something inside me did not feel good and I couldn't shake it. After I got to the boy's house,
nothing was fun. No matter what I tried to do, it just wasn't fun. I couldn't shake the thought of what
I'd done to my own brother.
After about twenty minutes, I left and went back home.
said anything to me about leaving him that way...and later it dawned on me that Rick was much faster than me and could have
kept up with me when I ran away from him in the first place. In other words, realizing I didn't want him
to go...he simply went back home, feelings hurt.
The next time I was invited to this boy's house, I asked Rick
to go. He did, and the three of us had a marvelous time.
Over the years, I've thought of that instance
on numerous occasions. To this very day, I hate what I did to him. Why? Because he was my brother and I
truly loved him then, as I do now. I had selfishly hurt him and placed myself above his feelings.
what that event has taught me as a "Life-link." Family...is everything!!! Many, many times I've
longed to spend days with Rick and have longed to feel close to him as I did then. As I said, however, adulthood took
us seperate ways, so it's a wonderful treat for me any time I get to see him or hear his voice on a telephone.
That horrible feeling I experienced that day, I realize now, was the Holy Spirit of God teaching me. Teaching me that
"loving one another as I have loved you," is not just nice poetry, but a reality if we want to live a life free
of enormous regret.
I now have two sons of my own that seem to 'mirror,' who Rick and I were then.
They argue, fight, get jealous, and sometimes just treat each other pretty onery. I work very hard to teach them the
value of being brothers and I've even told them this story. I want them to remain close their entire lives and I
pray the love between them will grow and grow and grow.
Rick probably doesn't even remember this event.
It doesn't matter, it changed me. I try very hard to be sensitive to others, to always try and make them feel "included"
and loved by me in whatever I'm doing. I have found that true love does not want to leave anyone behind...does not
want to leave anyone out.
My precious friends...every moment we have with one another is precious. Our life
is a vapor and then it's gone. I pray that we can learn to savor every minute we have with those we love and learn
to actively include them in our lives as much as is healthy and is possible.
Leaving Rick that day is still one
of my greatest regrets. It's not a mistake I'll ever...intentionally...make again.
Now Here's Some Juicy Gossip!!!
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Tonight I was sitting at Pizza Hut with several friends, following our usual Wednesday Evening Bible study.
I had the "Pancho Villa" sandwich, which is packed with Jalapenos so I'm suffering now, even as I write.
Talk about a 'gut-buster.' You'd think I'd learn!
While there, I found myself in a conversation
about Ham. Not the wonderful pork product that graces so many Sunday dinner tables, but Ham, the Son of Noah.
As most of you know, Ham got into real trouble with God because of something that happened between him and his father.
The story goes like this: After spending years building the Ark, being laughed at, ridiculed and slandered,
the rain began to fall. After weeks and weeks of rain, feeding animals and cleaning up poop, the Ark finally came to
rest on a mountain. Noah's first order of business was to grow a vineyard. Then...after harvesting the crop
he indulged himself in a little too much wine and became drunk. He passed out, drunk and naked in his tent. The
first to discover this was his son Ham who, upon finding him, went out and reported what he'd seen to his two
brothers. The other brothers, Shem and Japheth, then took a cloth and covered their father, refusing to look upon
Now why did God get angry with Ham? Because "LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS, it doesn't
expose them!" Instead of covering his father out of love and respect, Ham dishonored him by exposing him and his
fault to others.
You and I live in an age were "gossip is all the rage," and is even big business.
You can't even buy groceries without passing twenty or thirty magazines at the check-out stand, filled with the latest
gossip provided to us by professional "gossip columnist's."
It might be big business and seem like
innocent fun...but my friends, I dare say...God still hates it. Why? It is self-righteousness at it's awful
worst! It's the old "look how awful these people are, while I'm so Holy," mindset.
have seen firsthand the heartbreak and humiliation caused when someone is "ratted out" for the sake of someone else's personal
pleasure, amusement or selfish gain. God help us.
The whole Gospel is written around
the precept that the Blood of Christ "COVERS IN LOVE" (like Shem and Japheth), our sins and transgressions, rather
than exposing them to our shame and embarrassment. What is covered at the Cross, ought to stay at the Cross.
Truth be told...we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There are plenty of "exposures"
that could be wrought on any one of us if knowledge of them fell into the wrong ears. I dare say, we all have something
we are thankful to have covered by love. After all, He remembers that we're mere flesh.
Sadly, when someone
has been exposed it can literally ruin them. Ruining people is not the business God is in...He restores them.
Jesus said, "I came not into the world to condemn it, but to save it."
Remember this verse?:
"If anyone is overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, lest you be
overtaken in the same fault." It takes "spiritual people" (not to be confused with self-righteous
people), who deeply love, in order to cover that person's failure, and restore them wholly. Sadly, it seems
this is a rarity in the Body of Christ presently.
Let me give you an example: What's the first thing
you think of when you hear the names: Jimmy Swaggart or Jim Bakker? Most people would instantly identify with their
very publically exposed sins and subsequent loss of respect and integrity. Where these men wrong? Of
course. Is the Blood of Christ able to cover them? I believe so. Sadly, their sin will long over-shadow
any good things they may have accomplished.
I think by now you see my point. Old Satan is out there fishing
everyday...using juicy gossip as the bait. Please don't bite. As tempting as it is to "share a concern,"
or spread the sultry news...simply resist. Let your love cover the naked.
Remember this: "For by whatever
measure you judge, it will be judged back to you." That statement alone, out to make us keep quite...and let God
alone be Judge.
I love you all.
P.S. I'm so happy to report that over the
last two months, this website has had nearly 10,000 hits! I've prayed that God would use it all over the world and
that's a good start!
THE CANCER OF BEING NEGATIVE
We live in a very negative society. Our newspapers, newscasts and gossip sessions, focus primarily upon
negative events happening around the world, leaving us feeling fearful, suspicious and depressed.
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thoughts breed a host of negative and destructive results.
This fact is highlighted in the first
Chapter of Deuteronomy (in the Old Testament) where God is exceedingly angry with ten of twelve spies who came back from the
Promised-land with a negative report. Two of the twelve were positive.
The report of the ten envoked
a vicious emotional and mental response in the Children of Israel that caused them to lose faith and become full of fear.
Why was God so angry? Because He had been with them in power and action since the moment Moses stepped into Egypt to
This story is evidence that negative thoughts, words and actions can literally destroy the
faith that God has gloriously placed in His people through His power.
I have seen the powerful and awesome effects
of people who are positive and full of faith. I've seen them move forward without fear and witnessed the power of
God move with them, defeating their enemies and producing incredible miracles.
I've also seen the tragic, meanness
and evil that negative words and actions can have upon a single person, a family, a congregation and even an entire community
I've seen people literally destroyed by the negative words and actions of others. I've
seen Churches fold, families split, ministries ruined, suspicion rampant, and faith fall at the words and actions of people
being used by Satan to destroy.
I've personally been the target of the negative and mean-spirited words
and actions of others and I can tell you...without God, I could not have lived through it. It brought me great sorrow,
made me question my call, made me feel weak and powerless, defeated and hopeless, depressed and broken. In other words,
Satan was using someone to spread rumors, innuendos, and suspicion in order to destroy me, thus the work God has called me
to do. Their actions and words left many people with just enough doubt to forsake me. Trying to defend yourself
at these moments is practically useless. It's very hard to take doubt out of someone's mind once it's
If you've ever been on the receiving end of this type of hurt, you know it is enormous and can
take years to get over.
My greatest prayer for Christians around the world is that we all "come to our senses"
and realize the damage we can do by thinking, speaking or acting in negative ways.
I literally beg each one of
us to forsake any negative words, suspicions or innuendos that are thrown our way, regardless of who the contagious person
is. Think about this:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast,
it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does
not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love
(I Corinthians 13:4-8)
Does this sound negative to you?
Of course not. It is love that produces the positive attitude needed for faith to flourish.
My precious brothers and sisters, we are the Light of the World. We cannot afford to harbor negative
thoughts or feelings, nor can we afford to hang out with people who do. We must be full of positive thoughts if faith
is to move us toward our victory.
I remember once in an planning meeting that I was sharing a vision for a
new ministry God had planted into my heart deeply. With enthusiasm and faith I explained what God had spoken to me.
In one short sentence one person in the group said, "I just don't have a vision for that." Those
few words of doubt and negativity nearly ended that vision for good. It has taken years to get it back on track.
Our negative thoughts will eventually come out as negative words and they are like cancer...they spread quickly and
they destroy life. Please, please, please think this over and examine your own life as I am mine, and fight against
all negative thoughts and emotions that are working against you.
The last thing I want is to stand before an angry
God who is displeased with me for spreading a negative report amongst His people.
I love you so,
"HURT FEELINGS: TEMPORARY INSANITY?"
When I was a boy my mother would load all of us kids into her station wagon and take us to "Mr. Burger,"
in Amarillo, Texas. At that time you could get four big burgers for one dollar, so she could feed us all for
a couple of bucks.
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In those days soft drinks came in a white "Dixie Cup," that had perfect red hearts
lined around the top. (Anyone remember those?)
Interestingly those red hearts were the same size and
shape of a birthmark I still carry on my right forearm. Looking back now I wonder if God reached down and touched
me there during my creation. Why? Because it is a constant reminder to me that I "wear my heart on
my sleeve," both literally and emotionally.
One of the things I truly dislike about my personality is
that I'm very sensitive. Most of my life I've found that I get my feelings hurt pretty easily. I
don't like it one bit, and I've often prayed that God would give me tougher skin and make me just a little bit more
'hard-hearted.' As you know, hurt feelings are not fun...they...hurt!
One instance that comes to
mind was during my first experience in a recording studio where the Anchor Brothers were recording their first album.
I was recording the lead vocals to the familiar song "One Day At A Time," and there is a very high part in the verses.
For those of you who know me and have heard my voice, it is quite low. Hitting this high note was very difficult
for me and the producer made me sing it over and over and over to get it right.
After about a hour and a
half of trying I was nearly in tears and felt defeated. I had assured myself that I couldn't sing at all, that it
was a serious mistake to try and that I was wasting valuable studio time while all the other singers waited for me to finish
so they could do their parts. It was an awful experience!
Finally the Record Producer called me into the
control room and sat me down...and then began to speak. "Reydon," he said, his face red, "If you're
going to be in this business you're going to have to toughen up! My name is going on this record just like yours
and if I allow that note to be flat...every-time someone hears it...it will be flat. Now I want you to take a deep breath,
go back in there and sing that note like I know you can!"
Whether it was from my anger, hurt-feelings
or sheer bitterness I'm not sure, but I walked in there and belted out the note completely in tune. Everyone in
the studio sighed with relief as though a baby had finally been born without any drugs for the pain!
all due respect...I still dislike that song!
Eleven albums later I had finally learned how to take criticism during
recording and move forward without taking it personal. Which leads me to this...
...I've learned that
if my feelings are hurt I ask myself: "Is this a legitimate hurt?" In other words, is the thing that's
causing me discomfort a "real" hurt or am I placing too much emphasis on something that's been said or done?
If I realize that this is the case, I give myself a good swift kick in the Levi's Jeans and move on.
it is a legitimate hurt, I then ask myself: "But were you hurt legitimately?" In other words, did the person
who 'said or did' the thing that hurt me, mean to do so. 9 times out of 10 the answer is "no" and
I can easily forgive them, without even mentioning it. Jesus said, "It's inevitable that offenses will come."
This is true. We all hurt other people's feelings sometimes without meaning to at all...and we've all been hurt
by people who didn't mean to.
If I feel that they have legitimately intended to hurt me, that is a different
story! When this is the case I pray that God places a nasty rash upon them that itches like crazy and is located in
a place that would be embarrassing to scratch!!!
If it calls for me to approach them, I
try to do so in a moment when we're alone. It's so easy to "share your hurt" with others looking for
allies, but that behavior is sinful and not a good thing. It might feel good for the moment, but then you
become as guilty as the person who hurt you to begin with.
The Bible is clear how we should deal with those who've
offended us. It's not fun, but it's the only righteous method of making things right, or at least attempting
Hurt feelings can really mess with our thinking and behavior and can even feel like "temporary
insanity." At these moments, we should step back, allow God to help us and then...just let it go. Time and
the Holy Spirit can bring healing if you allow it.
Finally, I have pleaded with God to make my skin thicker and
my heart harder. (As I said earlier). His response? "If I did that, you'd lose your greatest ministry
gift, Reydon. Your compassion." I guess that wouldn't be a very good trade, would it?
how hard I rub...that heart-shaped birthmark on my forearm still shines through.
WHEN CHRISTIANS TURN SUSPICIOUS
If you've read my journal for any length of time you know that I have been in the ministry
for a long time. I recently had a birthday, but instead of admitting to it...I say, "I'm celebrating the 25th
anniversary of my 21st Birthday." Makes me feel younger! Or as I tell my wife, "I'm still immature
so it makes up for my age!"
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In all my years of ministry I've attended hundreds (if
not thousands) of various Church services and have been aquainted with thousands of people. In that time I've come
to realize that there are a lot of suspicious, superstitious and even paranoid Christians...some to the point of sheer silliness.
I've seen, for example, some Christians who constantly worry that they may be under the influences of demons
everytime something in their life goes haywire. (Jesus said: "As long as you are in the world there will be tribulation.")
In truth...life goes haywire for all of us! It rains on the just and on the unjust...and things go haywire for the just
and unjust...it's just life. I think we give the devil too much credit sometimes.
In fact, I knew of
a woman who loved wind chimes. A preacher told her "wind chimes can draw demons," and she flipped out!
She destroyed all of her wind chimes...but her trouble didn't go away. When I heard this story I was like: "Huh?"
I guess somewhere in the scriptures there is a warning against hanging wind chimes on your patio! "Thou
shalt not hangeth thy wind chimes close to thy grill or thy might indeed be inundated with demons!"
Hum...nope, don't believe it's in there.
Another time I was witnessing to a friend about Jesus when he
told me, "Reydon, I just can't quit smoking. I've tried and tried but I just can't quit. I could
never be a Christian and smoke cigarettes. As bad as I hate to admit it, I'll probably go to Hell for smoking."
I felt so sorry for him.
"And when thou becomest tempted to puff upon a Camel...thou shalt put it away
from thyself quickly lest you burn eternally in Hell." (Nope, not in my Bible).
I told him, "Bob,
there is not a single scripture that mentions smoking in the entire Bible. It may not be healthy, but it won't send
you to Hell." (Now I'm not advocating smoking here, but this guy's eternal life was on the line and I have
a responsibility to preach ONLY the scriptures).
"What about the scripture that says 'do not defile
the temple of the Holy Spirit?'" he asked. I told him, "Bob...listen to me. Jesus said it's
not what goes into the body that defiles it...but what comes out of it!" (Meaning words).
he didn't get it. He just couldn't believe against what he'd been told in a thousand sermons growing up.
Another time a dear friend came to me with a question about his daughter. She suffered from seizures and having
read the story in the Bible about the boy with epilepsy who was actually demon-possessed, he was greatly concerned.
I asked him, "Can her seizures be controlled with medicine?" "Yes," he answered, "She never
has one while on her medication." Then I told him, "We can't fix demonic possession with medicine my brother.
This is just a illness...not demonic possession." I could literally see peace come upon him at that answer.
Precious Brothers and Sisters...I'm not trying to downplay the seriousness of the evil that's in our world.
However, as Christians we must have faith in our GOOD SHEPHERD! We must believe that we are a greater threat
to our world...than our world is to us! (A quote from Evangelist Mario Murillo)
does two basic things...one, he leads the sheep to green pastures in order to feed them and two,
he protects the sheep from predators. King David echoes this trust in our Good Shepherd in the 23rd Psalm.
"Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I WILL FEAR NO EVIL, for YOU are with me!!!"
I submit to you that, as Christians, the fear of evil is of more danger to us than actual evil. Why?
He is with us...period...so our worry is needless.
I've seen Christians become so concerned about silly stuff
that it literally takes their focus off of the protection and goodness of God.
I encourage you to examine your
own thoughts and beliefs and throw out any superstitions that might be side-tracking you. If you like wind chimes or
example...hang em up! God made the wind...not Satan. God made music...not Satan. God made our ears...not
Satan! See my point? I hope so. I so desire to see Christians live in the peace that Jesus died to give
us...not wandering around afraid of every shadow or non-existent spook.
USE YOUR IMAGINATION!
Psychology works like this: Thinking equals Feelings and Feelings equal Actions. If you want to
change the way you act or feel...you have to change the way you think.
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If you've ever seen a film about a
therapist sitting down asking questions of a client, while taking notes...it is because the therapist is trying to determine
how that client thinks. Once this is discovered, the therapist can go to work to help the client learn to change the
way they think (perceive and understand information). If successful, changing the way a person thinks, will help them
to change the way they feel and subsequently change the way they act.
Thankfulness is a powerful tool in changing
the way we feel when we find ourselves lonely, depressed, struggling financially and so forth. Why? Because true
thankfulness requires us to approach God with a humble and hopeful attitude, resulting in more positive emotions...and thus
more positive actions.
According the the Old Testament, the Children of Israel had great difficulty understanding
this process. Instead of being thankful for all that God had done for them, they continually complained and the result
was the destruction of their own faith due to their negativity. Once their faith was destroyed, they lingered and died
in the wilderness.
Negativity is a "faith crusher." Thankfulness, however allows us to develop
a positive attitude, resulting in positive emotions (feelings) and finally, positive actions. In other words, thankfulness
leads to faith and hope.
The opposite of faith is fear. Fear is a mental attribute that causes great emotional
pain. Fear however, is rarely realistic. In other words, fear uses images from a painful
past to make us leary that it will happen again if we attempt and fail. Fear also works by "prophecying" into
the future what "might," "could" or "will" happen tomorrow or beyond.
What many of
us fail to remember is that fear based upon past events is unrealistic, but can cripple us in the present. Fear based
upon the future is also unrealistic and cripples us in the present.
Interestingly, the Bible is plain
that we only have one day to concern ourselves with and that is TODAY! The Bible tells us, "Today is the day of
salvation." I used to say...and still believe that all the promises of God are good for only one day...today.
Sure there are promises that relate to our future, but we must embrace them today in order to secure the peace they provide.
When we can push past our fears and begin to actively thank God, our circumstances can change and they can change
in a hurry. How? Because faith rises above our fears, dispelling the myths of yesterday and tomorrow, allowing
us to focus on the blessings and power of God today.
As a Counselor, I often encourage people to use their
imagination. As children we used it constantly! It allowed us to be cowboys and indians, firemen or whatever
else we dreamed. Yet as adults, we force ourselves to deal only in the "realities of Life," which can reduce
our faith in a hurry as we focus on the negatives around us.
We must remember however, that God gave us an
imagination for a reason! The Word tells us "without vision people perish." Our imagination is a gift
that allows us to "see without seeing." In other words, it allows us to see in our hearts and minds, what
"could be," rather than what is. That's what faith does!!! It allows us to "call forth those
things that are NOT as though they ARE!" The root word for imagination is "imaging." In other words,
the ability to see "mind pictures" that we cannot see with our natural vision. Without this inner vision...we
perish according to the Word.
So, If you're ill today, use your imagination and begin to see yourself well
again. As your mind begins to focus on your health rather than your sickness, your "feelings" will respond
in kind and your attitude will take on faith. Then, your faith will take on action and the results are limitless.
If your alone, having gone through a divorce or such, use your imagination to see yourself whole and happy again,
in a great relationship with someone who deeply loves you and is committed to you. This principle works in regards to
The bottom line here is: "Faith works in the atmosphere of a positive attitude." Positive
attitude is developed by using your imagination to "see" positive things coming to you. This can
all begin as you search your life for things you are thankful for. Sometimes it's hard, but we all know life is
never easy and this is no exception. But...YOU CAN DO IT!!
I so long for each of you to reach the peace and
joy of living that Christ promised. In a phrase: Abundant Life. We can only begin by using our imagination to
give us a vision for a healthy and happy future.
Blessings to All,
"Someone Committed Suicide? Pass the Biscuits Please"
In the Spring of 1967 a 23 year old girl by the name of Roberta Lee Streeter wrote and recorded a
song for Capital Records that was to become a mega-hit and catapult her into a songwriting legend.
2:35 am cdt
The song was
intially placed upon the "B Side" of the recording, but radio stations quickly picked it up and in a few weeks it
was a smash across the Nation and eventually the world.
The young woman changed her name to Bobbie Gentry
and the song was entitled: "Ode to Billie Joe."
The lyrics are told by a 'phantom observer'
to a mealtime conversation that takes place around a dinner table, on a farm in the deep South. It begins as everyone
is seated to eat dinner and the mother casually states that "I got some news this morning from Choctaw Ridge, today
Billie Joe McAlister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge."
The song then goes on to record various comments
from the mother, father and brother of a young woman who seems stunned by this news...to the point that her mother asks her,
"Child, what's happened to your appetite?"
The father says, "Well, Billie Joe never
had a lick of sense...pass the bisquits please." It's obvious by this comment the father didn't think
too highly of the dead boy.
The brother then proceeds to make a few "recollections" of his own, verbally
remembering a time when he and Billie Joe placed a frog down his sister's shirt at a picture show, how he 'thought'
he'd seen him at a Sawmill yesterday, as well as talking to his sister last Sunday night. He concludes these remarks
by asking for "another piece of apple pie."
If you've heard the song, you know the rest.
What is interesting to me, however is Bobbie Gentry's reason for writing it, and what the story actually means.
The song is written with a lot of mystery. It leaves the listener trying to answer questions that are simply not answered
in the lyrics. Questions such as: "Why did he jump to his death?" "What was he and the young woman
talking about on Sunday night?" or "What did the two of them throw from the bridge as observed by the 'Young
Preacher,' a few days before?"
Believe it or not...many people have argued over the exact meaning for
One group believes it is a story of an "Interracial Relationship," where the young woman has had
a love affair with Billie Joe, (She's black, he's white) and the result was a pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage.
The child's body was thrown by the couple into the "Muddy waters from the Tallahatchie Bridge."
Overwhelmed by guilt, Billie Joe decides to take his own life by following the child into a watery grave.
group believes the song is a story about a sexual relationship between the young woman and Billie Joe, which must be kept
secret because the girl's father detests the young man. A resulting pregnancy and abortion leads the couple to discard
of the fetus by throwing it from the bridge. Overwhelmed by guilt, Billie Joe jumps to his own death.
there is the movie. Made in 1976, it stars a young Robby Benson as a young man torn between his blossoming romance with
the young woman mentioned in the song, and his exposed homosexual affair with a local man. Unable to come to grips with
his guilt and disgust, he commits suicide by jumping off the bridge.
Then...there is the truth. When asked
what the song meant, Bobbie Gentry flatly stated, "It's about how indifferent we can be to the suffering of others."
The song itself was recorded using only an acoustic guitar and a keyboard to add eerie string arrangements.
The rest is Bobbie Gentry's voice serving as the 'story-teller.' Perhaps then, it "is" the mystery
of the whole scenario that attracted listeners by the millions to the song.
Nevertheless, the point of the song
is true. In just a few well-written verses we discover just how judgmental, suspicious and uncaring humanity can be...even
at the tragic death of others.
I have to tell you that the reason the song touched me is that I know a lot of people
just like "Billie Joe McCalister." People who walk through life tormented by something, something that
few people even care enough about to even ask, "What's wrong?"
How easy it is to become so busy with
our own lives that we fail to see when someone is so desperately hurting...hurting enough in some cases, to end their own
I remember being in a Church service were something about a young woman in the audience drew my attention.
Without pointing her out, I began to reach out to her by proclaiming that as long as Jesus is alive...no matter what you're
suffering, you can start over with your life and find peace.
After the service was over she came to me
with tears streaming down her face and said, "Had I not heard you tonight, I'd be dead tomorrow! I already
had my suicide planned out for tonight." I never felt so humbled and thankful.
My brothers and sisters,
Jesus said, "Open your eyes, the harvest is all around you!" Please take the time this week to look around
you and reach out to those who are hurting, lonely, dejected, and rejected by others. It might not make you popular
with your neighbors, but it'll make you popular with God. You might even save a life.