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In the heart's of many precious Christian's the experience at the Cross of Calvary is a life-changing one.  It is a time of realization of what transpired there and that the horrible suffering and death of Christ was for us.  It is where sins are washed away and where we die with Him, in order to live through Him.

Sadly, in many religious circles the journey to the Cross happens over and over...with each new failure, with every subsequent sin. Many of these precious people are taught that they must return to the Cross for renewed or continual redemption.

However, that mindset is completely unbiblical.  In fact, the Bible tells us that "Jesus died to sin...ONCE for all."  In other words, His redemption at the cross was complete the first time and is sufficient to cover a multitude of sins.

What many great Christians fail to realize is that the real life of a Christian should be lived on the "other side of the Cross," where one can walk in the newness of life without a continual cycle of guilt and shame and the pain that accompanies it.

In other words, once we have accepted Christ into our hearts through faith, His one-time mission at the cross becomes complete within us.  There's no need to return there or to stay there...real life begins when we move beyond the front side of the cross to the other side.

On the other side of the Cross we come to realize that God's plan of salvation was incredibly beautiful and final.  Once our name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, we can move forward beyond our own works or attempts at self-righteousness in order to live in His completed work and His self-righteousness.  When that happens we shed the heavy burdens of our sin and guilt and walk free...dressed in the robes of righteousness paid the blood of the Lamb.

On the other side of the Cross there is "Peace that passes all understanding," because we no longer strive to please God with human works or fruitless efforts...choosing instead to walk in faith...the ONLY thing that pleases God.  As the Apostle Paul said, "We cease from our works as He did His."

As I write this article, I'm reminded of a dear friend of mine who was trapped in the endless cycle of self-works and self-defeats.  He would humbly go to the Cross for forgiveness and then return to a life of trying to please God through his own good works.  If even a curse word entered his thoughts, he felt lost all over again and would the Cross for a new round of forgiveness.

My precious friends...on a dark and lonely day long ago...the Son of God hung on that Cross for the sins of all.  His final words were "It is finished."  Now, I'm not the brightest crayon in the box, but I know that when something is finished, there is no more work to be done.  What we could not do (redeem ourselves), God did by sending His own Son to die in our place.  That sacrifice is enough.

My heart is for all Christians to move beyond the pain and suffering of the front side of the Cross and move onto a life of freedom and our lives in Him...not our own works.

I love you all,


7:44 am cdt 



Many years ago, a dear friend of mine was serving as a music director, (called the "Song Leader" then), in a small Church.  It was his job to lead the congregation in singing every Sunday morning and then to lead a special song for the Altar Service at the close of the Pastor's message.

The Church building itself was a rather small building and...just between you and me...had fallen into pretty bad dis-repair.  In those days some people simply couldn't afford to spend a lot of money on the Church they managed.  In this case, that meant benches made of knotty-pine for pews.

After the song service, my buddy sat down on the front row to listen to the minister's morning message and to be ready for the invitational song.

Now it's been said...and not by me...that this particular minister was a little...let's say, 'Monotone.'  As he preached on and on my friend got a little bored and began to fidget.  He found a knot-hole on the bench just to his side...inviting his curious finger to explore...which he did.  Soon, his finger was swollen and hopelessly lodged in the hole.

The more he panicked the more the finger swelled.

Soon, the minister was approaching the end of his sermon and made a gesture to my friend to come forward and begin the song.  Much to the pastor's surprise, my friend nodded his the side to side negative move.  The pastor was stunned.

After several more attempts at body-language (between the two), my friend had to openly admit that his finger was stuck in the the laughter of the whole congregation.  The mood for praying at the altar was...let's just say...gone.

Which reminds me of another story.

When I was traveling and singing with The Anchor Brothers, we had a drummer that played with our band for sometime...his name was Mike.

Mike is an outstanding musician and at the time...was a very handsome young man and all those young girls in the Churches we visited just swooned over him...and he knew it.  He dressed to the hilt and had this 'male-mode' he went into when pretty girls were in the crowd.

One particular Sunday morning we were guests in a very large Church in South Texas and the building was full of people...and lots of girls.  Mike was almost in Heaven. 

He had dressed in a black suit with a starched white shirt and every hair was in place.  Before we got up to the platform to sing, the Pastor said, "Let's move around the auditorium today and greet each other."  I was standing next to Mike...and he was off in a flash.

About five minutes later, he was standing next to me again, and his face was beet red.  He looked at me and whispered, "I just noticed my pants were unzipped and my shirt-tail was sticking straight through!" suit...white shirt tail!!!  I nearly fell over at the vision of it.  It still makes me laugh.

My point is this.  Sometimes I wonder if God sit's down on His couch on Sunday mornings just to scan through the various 'Church-Channels' to find instances like these...just for the sake of a good laugh.

To be honest, I grew up in a Church where the thought of God being anything but...angry, frustrated, and fed up with people like me...could be considered blasphemy.  Now...I have a different view of God.  I now view God as my Father, rather than Someone mean and harsh, ready to pounce on me like a fly at a outdoor chicken dinner.

I'm not sure what your view is of God...that is a sacred thing between you and Him.  I do, however pray that if perhaps you view God as Someone who can't smile, laugh, love and feel joy toward you...that you re-examine Him.

I often find that many people view God as so...Holy, (if you will), that He is seems almost untouchable or insensitive to our feelings.  I don't believe this is true...and here's why.  Jesus said, "When you see've seen the Father also."

This means that the same attributes of Christ are also the attributes of the Father....right?  Well, think about this.  One day a leper saw Jesus and asked Him for a healing.  Something about Jesus made even a leper feel he could approach Jesus without fear.  Jesus not only agreed to heal him...but reached out and touched him...a leper!  He will touch us too.  We're not too dirty or unclean for God.  His love can handle it.

I love you all,

11:32 pm cdt 



Have you ever stopped to look around and wonder at the vast differences in the lives of the people on this Earth?  There are extremely poor people...literally starving to death because their own government would rather sell their food for personal wealth than to feed them.

We have people that are so wealthy they couldn't possibly spend all the money they have and yet they wil end up just as dead as the rest of us.  We have professional athletes that make mult-millions of dollars to throw a ball or thrill a crowd...and teachers who can barely eek out a living.

We have people who live in mansions with more rooms than they could possibly use and people who live in cardboard boxes, curled into a ball.  We have celebrites who are known world-wide and can sell a photograph of their newborn for millions...and we have people who are passed on the streets daily...completely ignored.

We have beautiful people who are admired for their looks and we have people who are laughed at because they are not 'model-material.'  Too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall, too ugly, bad skin, bad teeth...on and on.

We have multiple branches of Christianity, many of which claim to hold the whole truth and mock or resent anyone who doesn't agree...and further...will reject anyone who doesn't fit into their nice little box or religion.  In their minds, they hold the keys to Heaven and the rest of us are outcasts.

In other words...our World is full of societies.  There are the strong...the weak...the smart...the ignorant...the geeks, the freaks, the preps...and the list goes on and on.

However...a day is coming my precious friends, when all that will change forever.  A day when the Heavenly Father will reclaim this world and give it away to each of His children...EQUALLY.  We are "joint-heirs" with Christ.

On that day, there will be no races, no tribes, no camps, no armies, no fences, no pecking order.  Everyone will have a seat at the Father's table.  Everyone who believed in Christ, that is.

I once read that it was Cain...the first murderer in history...that was the first person to put up a fence and claim certain land as his own.  Somewhere along the line, the World ceased to belong to all of us, and became the property of those who could buy it, or win it in war.  Borders were formed, Nations and Kingdoms erected and the rest is history.  That division, however, will come to an end.

The Bible tells us that: "The Earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof."  That tells me that we don't own land...He does.  It might be in our name at the tax office...but it's in His name a million years from now and forever.

My precious friends.  No matter what "lot" or "hand of cards" you've been dealt in this life...I promise you...according to the Word of God...all will eventually be truly equal.

I read somewhere the other day that Ted Turner...the cable television magnet owns more land in America than anyone else.  I guess that's good for bragging rights...but in a hundred years or less...he will have same as the rest of us...a plot in the local cemetery, big enough for a casket.  Something to think about.

I love you all,


2:32 am cdt 



"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28

Rest.  Sounds good doesn't it?  I don't know how your life is these days...but if it's anything like mine you might be passing yourself in the hallway.  There's days I humor myself with the thought of having myself I can get everything done I need to do.  However, most people around me swear that one Reydon is plenty for any one World.  (Wonder what they mean by that?  Hmmm?)

Truth is...we live in one of the most frantic societies and generations since the beginning of mankind.  We have so many devices to help make life easier...cell phones...internet...microwave banking and fast computers.  Yet...with everything we have that should simplify our lives...we seem to just get more and more busy...accomplishing more...but oftentimes at a great cost to relationships and our own health.

God has always promoted the notion of "rest" for His people...yet we often seem stressed beyond the normal limits of what is sane or healthy.  Rest almost seems like an 'old fad,' that went away with the progress of society.  Doesn't God realize how busy we need to be in order to get things done?  Doesn't He understand that we need less sleep and more hours so that we can get everything accomplished that we expect of ourselves or things that expected of us from others? 

If there was ever a scripture that this generation ought to take God up's the one written above.  There are so many people who "labor and are heavy laden."  So many!  I've seen many of our Church members so busy with trying to make ends meet that by Sunday they are either still working...or too exhausted to make it to Worship Services.

What is sad about this whole problem's not God's will for us!  God desires to give His people rest...real...true rest.  Why then do we seem to reject this gracious offer and choose such heavy burdens instead?

I honestly believe the devil works non-stop to draw us into the trap of being so busy...that we walk around completely drained of inner strength, faith, and hope.  We can easily become so overwhelmed with the cares of this life that it slowly drains every ounce of energy from us...both inwardly and outwardly.

My prayer is that I can come to terms with the fact that I am only one man and can accomplish so much more by letting God work through me at His pace...rather than me continually trying to 'earn my way' through this life.

If I read my Bible correctly...God finished the work of my life from the foundation of the world.  All I have to do is learn to flow in that and stop stressing about things I cannot do.  I really want to enter into His rest.  There are days I feel so tired...I mean tired to my very core.  I'm sure you can relate.  I long to receive the gift of God's rest...and I'm learning.

It reminds me of a incident I experienced in the early years of my pastorate.  I found myself so busy counseling, visiting hospitals and so forth that I ran out of time to prepare my Sunday sermon. By late Saturday night I was in panic-mode.  In fear I cried out to God and said, "Lord, I'm so sorry but I am totally out of anything to say to Your people."  Deep within my heart came His voice; "It's about time!  Now I can speak through you!"  That next morning was a liberating experience for me.

Sadly...even after that experience, I still find myself taking the reins of my life and work and end up heavily burdened down...barely able to crawl to the bed.  I'm still learning. 

My precious friends...I'll make a deal with you.  I will pray that God will draw you into His beautiful and sweet rest...where the soul is restored and faith flows freely...if you'll do the same for me.  Deal?  Good.

I love you all,

Reydon Stanford

10:49 pm cdt 



When I was 13 years old, my brother Rick, and cousins Bobby, Steve and I went into a small theater in Littlefield, Texas to see the movie "Jaws." It was 'all the rage' and people were constantly talking about how scary it was, so we couldn't miss the opportunity to take it in.

Now Littlefield is a small West Texas town of about 4500 people and the theater had about 30 to 40 people in attendance this particular night. Littlefield was sixteen miles from Sudan, Texas...where the four of us grew up. the time had a population of 976 people...counting those in the cemetery.

Now...when you live in West Texas the last thing you're worried about is getting attacked by a Great White Shark, unless the slimy beast can walk about 800 miles inland or catch a bus. We are more frightened by rattlesnakes than sharks for sure. Yet...that movie scared the pants off us! (As we say in Texas).

Since that time I've swam in the Ocean many times...but never without the thought of "Jaws" finding it's way to the forefront of my mind. I love the ocean...but I don't wanna become a mid-day snack for a hungry Great White either!

The movie "Jaws" was made in 1975 and was based upon a novel by Peter Benchley. It was one of the first films directed by Steven Speilberg. Now if you've seen the movie you know that the shark is not seen for the first half of the film, adding to the suspense. What you may 'not' know is that this was not intentional. The mechanical shark sank to the bottom of the ocean in early filming, so the first half of the movie was made without it. I've often said that "Jaws" was made by people who wanted less traffic on the beaches! It probably worked for awhile.

The interesting thing to me is...I've known people who refuse to swim in the Ocean after having seen this movie. It ruined far as the Ocean experience is concerned. The same could be said of people who refuse to take a shower after having seen Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho."

Fear is a funny thing...and I don't me "ha ha" funny.

Fear works by playing movies inside our minds about all the awful things that 'could or might' happen to us in certain circumstances. What many people might not know is Satan is a master film director...who makes these movies, especially designed for your mind.

Fear is the opposite of faith and keeps us from doing those things we need to do or desire to do. Why? Because of what 'could or might' happen if we try.

The "Children of Israel" are a class example of my point. God had promised them a "Land flowing with milk and honey," and even led them to that land. However, instead of having the faith to enter into the land and live there...they were frightened Satan's mind-movies.

My precious brothers and sisters in Christ; Don't allow Satan to play fear-games with your mind, keeping you from enjoying the blessings of God that might lie just beyond your comfort-zone. Faith is not easy...but it's heavily rewarded. Don't let "Jaws" keep you from the pleasure of a wonderful swim in the vast Ocean...and don't let Satan keep you from the pleasure of a life of faith and reward.

Have faith my friends...jump full-heartedly into the salty foam of life's cooling Ocean of God's blessings.

I love you all,


1:51 am cdt 



Tonight I was in rehearsal for a benefit concert we're planning in order to raise money for one of our favorite charites; "Meals on Wheels," a dynamic organization that helps make sure home-bound people have something to eat.

The rehearsals are long, sometimes complicated as we work to correct mistakes or work on new arrangements, but in the end it is a great deal of fun for all the musicians and singers.

As I looked around me tonight I was so happy to be in the presence of such dear friends.  I've known and worked with these musicians for many years and it's been a blast.  We have a long and fun history together and making music together is such an honor.

It also reminds me to savor every moment, because each person adds such a special ingredient to the recipe.  As life constantly reminds us...nothing in this life lasts forever, (except God), and I realize that in a flash, the ingredients could change and the final recipe would never be the same.

I also learned this when my mother, sister and dad passed away.  With every face that disappears from the family table, the precious ingredients of life change and a recipe never tastes the same again.

There is a wonderful song that was written by the late Jim Croce that recalled his longing for love to last...

"If I could save time in a bottle...
the first thing that I'd like to do,
is to save everday, til' eternity passes away
Just to spend it with you..."

Jim Croce died a short-time after writing those a plane-crash...leaving a young wife and son behind....the recipe of their family, changed forever.

This article today is simple...and short.  My prayer and thought for us is that we can all savor each and every moment of our lives...and the one's who are so special to us.  Each one is a special ingredient that makes the banquet of our life taste so wonderful.  The loss of that ingredient and the recipe changes forever.

So, send an e-mail...write a letter...make a phone call.  Remind your friends and family today how much they mean to much you love them.

I love you all,


12:40 am cdt 



Luke 18: 9-14

Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

This passage of scripture presents a real problem to much of the religious doctrine that is preached or taught around the world...even today.

These words are the words of Jesus Christ, Himself and reveal a great deal about the Lord's attitude toward religion.  Since these words reflect the Lord's attitude toward 'self-righteousness,' they should be...or become...a reflection of our own attitude.

As a pastor and counselor for many years I've discovered that most people have 'tunnel-vision' when it comes to what they believe to be true or right.  If others do not share their line of can be real trouble.  It can cause us to distance ourselves from those people...judging them to be 'ignorant' or even stupid for not sharing our view; it can cause us to judge them harshly for not having the same revelation of truth we have.

Another thing I've discovered is...our own tunnel vision can also be very wrong...even when we'd stake our lives on it being right!  Let me give you an example.

When Joshua was a small boy we were eating at a fast-food resturant.   He had his hands beneath the table where I couldn't see them and I asked what he was doing.  "I'm rubbing my hands under the table," was his reply.  My mind instantly filled with images of all the gross and disgusting things that might be clinging to the bottom of the table.  I jerked him up...led him to the restroom and made him wash...scrub his hands.  By now, he was in tears.

As we were leaving the resturant he said, "Dad...I meant I was rubbing my hands together under the table.  I wasn't touching the table."  I felt about an inch tall.  Right there in the parking lot I got down to his level and asked him to forgive me...this time I was in tears.  It's so easy to believe one thing...and be totally wrong.

There have been so many times in my life I've made this mistake...believing I was right...only to discover I was very wrong, (or as we say in Texas, Dead Wrong).

In the above passage of scripture Jesus is completely turned off by the so-called righteous man and completely sympathetic and merciful to the disgusting sinner.  How can that be?  Doesn't religion teach us that the better we act...the more we do...the more righteous we are???  Religion may teach that...Jesus doesn't.

The truth is, even on our best day...our righteousness is still as "filthy rags."  Bummer.

At the end of the day, my friends, there is only One worthy to claim the righteousness award...and that is Christ.  Without His sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary, our sin remains.  Fasting or tithing can't change that fact.  Nor can Church attendance...Bible study, charity work or anything else.  Only the blood of Christ can cleanse us...and make us righteous.  Without it...we are still undone.  Working and living for God are remarkable things and will be rewarded, both in this life and the next.  However, they do not make us righteous or above the lowest sinner.

My heart's desire for the Church is that all Christian's will someday have an understanding that being a Christian is not something we earned or was a free gift we needed desperately...and still need every day.  It doesn't make us better...just safer.

Perhaps then the 'outsiders' won't feel so degraded by the air of self-righteousness that flows from so many arrogant ministers or congregations.  God help us.  We would all do good to embrace the "H" word...humility.

I love you all,


12:58 am cdt 



"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me.  Your rod and your staff, they comfort me."  Psalm 23:4

This is an enormously famous passage of scripture.  There is good reason can bring great comfort to us when we are facing dark times within our lives.

As anyone who has read the Bible knows, this scripture was written by King David, who began as a mere shepherd in his father's field and thus uses terminology based upon shepherding to make his point.

This Psalm is beautifully written and is a letter in which David is 'comforting himself, by his belief that God is watching over him, much like he (David) watched over his father's sheep.

He begins this Psalm by saying, "The Lord is my Shepherd," a way for David to remind himself that he is not alone...struggling through this world without any direction or hope.  He has someone who cares for him and watches out for him.

So much so, that David feels confident that no matter how deep the valley gets...or how dark...God is with Him, using his rod and staff to lead him safely to the other side.  The 'rod and staff' mentioned within this passage of scripture are tools of a shepherd, used to guide sheep away from dangerous cliffs or holes...but also used to save a lamb that might be entangled in a dangerous thorn bush or worse.

David is convinced that God is both mindful of him...and willing and able to intervene on his behalf...even in the face of grave danger or the presense of evil.

Since God is "no respector of persons," it also stands to reason that He cares just as deeply for you and I.  God is mindful of the events of our day and the steps we are taking to make our way through life.  His rod and His staff are 'tools of comfort' that we can depend upon to save us from trouble or harm...if we allow Him to be our Shepherd.

I've found that many people go through life, determined to do things their own way, regardless of the dangers that are lurking or the evil that is lying in wait to "kill, steal and destroy."  These are people who don't want a Shepherd looking out for them, because after might interfere with their own plans.  The result is usually ruined and broken lives who find that their own will and own road leads to nowhere but pain.

I personally have experienced the dry and barren place of loneliness.  I know first-hand what it feels like to 'go my own way' and find it empty, painful and lonely.

The alternative to that is simple.  Green pastures and still waters.

God desires to lead each one of us into a place of peace, abundance and safety...if only we will allow Him to Shepherd us.  He doesn't do this to control us...but to help us.  Let's face it...God created everything in existence in six days...He doesn't need to control people.  His only goal is to help.  Why?  Because He loves a shepherd over sheep.

My prayer and desire for each of you today is that you are able to let go of your own will...a hard thing to do by the order to let the gentle hand of the Shepherd guide you into abundant life.  Otherwise, the road you find yourself on...might just be a dead end.

I love you all,

5:25 pm cdt 



Matthew 5:33-37

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

This is an interesting passage of scripture becauses it deals with 'man-made promises.'  Jesus' simple instruction was...don't make them. 

How often have we 'given our word,' only to find something unexpected stands in the way of us keeping it?  Does it make us a liar?  I wouldn't go that far...since a true lie is a purposeful deceit that comes from the heart...but breaking our word still hurts.  It hurts the person we let down...and it hurts our own integrity...even if it was unintentional.

In our culture and many others, marriage begins with a public display of 'exchanging vows,' where couples promise to "love, honor, protect, cherish, and to give themselves to one person alone, until death parts them."  That's a whole lot of life-long promises there my friends.

When some people find themselves unable to keep such promises, through personal weakness, or unexpected circumstances, they usually make matters worse by defending their actions (of breaking the vows) with false accusations or hurtful words in order to justify their failure.

As you all know, humans are very frail creatures...and we change.  As we mature, our hearts and minds change constantly...our ability to do things changes under certain circumstances and much of our life is simply out of our control.  For example:  John F. Kennedy was in re-election mode in the early 60's, making promises of what he would do if re-elected President.  An assassin's rifle changed that forever...those promises were unkept.  It wasn't JFK's fault...but the promises were made and unkept, which is the Lord's point.

Making promises is easy...usually when we say them, we mean them.  However...sometimes keeping them is harder than we thought or out of our hands completely.  Thus, Jesus teaching not to make vows.

I've tried very hard never to make promises at all...because I don't want to hurt anyone if I find I cannot keep them, nor do I want to be viewed as someone who doesn't keep his word.  Sometimes I fail and I hate it.

When I marry a couple, I have removed the words, "Do you promise," from the ceremony.  Instead, I say: "Will you submit your marriage unto the Holy Spirit to love, honor, protect," and so forth.  I do this because I know that only the Holy Spirit can empower us to do things we cannot otherwise do in our own strength.  I also do it to obey the commands of the Lord not to make vows.

We've all been hurt by someone who did not...or could not keep a promise to us.  It's painful and very disappointing.  We have also done the same to others...even if it was done in ignorance or unintentionally.  Either way, the pain is still real.

We are also instructed to say, "If the Lord wills," I will do such and such.  Perhaps this is the best alternative to making promises.  Even the best people in the World cannot promise to do something for us tomorrow and keep that promise...if they die tonight.

I love you all,


11:38 pm cdt 



"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." 
-Jesus Christ-

One day I found myself in deep trouble.  I had worked non-stop for nearly twenty years to fulfill a dream and I suddenly realized that dream was shattered.  I was left with nowhere to go, many of the relationships I had were deeply tied to that dream and when it was over...they were over.  Feeling like an utter failure I simply wanted to die, rather than face the prospects of starting over.  Besides, there was nothing else I wanted to do.  No other dream had consumed me like this one.

To make matters worse, I was in a personal relationship that had abruptly ended because I placed it upon the sacrificial altar of my dream and lost it.  Fulfilling my dream was so consuming to me that I did not pay attention to the relationship and in my absence...someone else did pay attention.  I was completely devastated at the loss.  In short, I was at the very bottom.

That 'dream' of which I speak was one that I had as far back as I can remember.  It was to sing Country Music and spend my life performing and traveling the world.  Mom was an avid fan of Country and Gospel Music and I became hooked on the music she listened to from the time I was still in diapers.  Whenever a Country Music show was on television we were all gathered there to listen and watch in awe.  I loved music.

By the time I was eleven I had learned enough on the piano to be invited to play full-time in the Church we attended.  I didn't really want to do Gospel music...I wanted to do Country music, but I saw this as an opportunity to at least play.  During this time I had a high squeeky voice that was not too pleasant to listen to...but at least I could carry a tune.

Then one summer nature took it's course and I developed my distinctive low voice and suddenly people really wanted to hear me play and sing.  My dream was starting to come true.

At seventeen I was invited to record an album with a friend from Church...a Gospel album...not Country...and I did it.  Soon we had a name and things picked up in a hurry.  Over the next fifteen years we had recorded multiple albums, I had published several songs, traveled thousands of miles, performed hundreds of concerts per year and was doing television regularly.  Everything seem to be going my way...except it was Gospel...not Country.

As I said, I had made loads of sacrifices in order to fulfill my dream but in the end...I lost it all. 

Broken and dying inside, I cried out to God to help me.  Without my dream to sustain me, I felt I had nothing to live for.  Depressed and wanting to die, I asked God to give me anything to hope for...just the slightest bit of light at the end of the tunnel...anything.

With tears pouring down my face in the darkness of a lonely and empty house I heard a voice inside me say, "Reydon...pray for someone else."  At first I thought someone had come into my house and said that to me...that's how real it was.

I stopped in my tracks...frightened and wondering what was happening to me.  Again, the voice: "Reydon...pray for someone else." 

Without stopping to figure it out...I started praying for a nephew of mine that I knew had been struggling.  Before long I was praying for everyone I knew...and I realized as I did so, a great burden was lifting off of me.

That night started a new journey for me.  I would give up my dream to pray for and help other people.  That decision led me into the ministry where I've spent the remainder of my life...til now...loving others instead of myself.

Please don't misunderstand me...I'm not bragging about anything here...just being honest.  I found that my dream had been so "self-motivated," that it was doomed to fail.  That selfishness cost me many valuable relationships...many years of my life and left me completely broken and empty.

Since that night when Jesus spoke to me to "love others," I have been completely restored and then some.  I have a wonderful band that I play with weekly at our Church, I get to do a "Country Music Show" to raise money for charity and I have many wonderful and healthy relationships.  In other words...I have what I dreamed of...through loving others more than myself.

As I look around me today, I see many others who are so consumed with "themselves" and "their dreams," that they sacrifice others and remain miserable.  Instead of gaining ground, they lose precious people who might be 'getting in the way.' 

A life motivated by self is like trying to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow...It always vanishes just before you reach it.  Take it from someone who knows...selfishness will eventually leave you with nothing...nothing but self.  Even worse, self will remember all the sacrifices it made to achieve nothing and that will torment you.  I promise you...alone is a place nobody should ever want to be.

I'm not sure who I'm writing this to tonight, but I'll tell you this...please...please don't lose the people who really love you so that you can fulfill the desires of self.  Like me, it will leave you broken-hearted, alone and desperate beyond your most frightening nightmare. 

Don't sacrifice others...sacrifice for others, and you'll find a greater pleasure than you've ever known.

I love you all,

1:38 am cdt 

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"Conformity: Self-Esteem Killer"
The Pain of Divorce
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