STAYING TRUE TO YOURSELF

Andy Hollifield 5-22-18
Proverbs 3:1-8 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: (2) For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. (3) Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the tables of thine heart: (4) So shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man. (5) Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (7) Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. (8) It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
I am not real sure if the title fits the scripture or not but it sounded good and I believe it does. These verses are some of my favorites in all of the bible. I especially like verses 5 and 6. That is the scripture that I like to write in bibles that I give away to individuals. As I get older, I am beginning to see the wisdom and the value in these verses more and more. No matter what all may change, God’s word never does. It doesn’t need to! It is already more up-to-date and accurate than todays newspaper and it is no trouble to verify the source of this book. The author speaks with authority and has never told a lie and no fault has ever been found in him.
I was at a singing Saturday night and I found out that I had received one of the biggest compliments that I have ever received from anyone, from a lady I don’t even know. I was told by a friend of mine that a lady in Wisconsin that he shares my posts with everyday said that in my writing I just seem to be “down home.” I take that as I high honor. I have thought a lot about that since then. I even told my wife that I must be doing all right if people can tell by my writing what kind of person I am.
A radio DJ back when I first started preaching told me something that I have never forgot and have always tried to live up to both personally and in the ministry. Let me give you a little background on him before I go on. His name was Danny Dyer and he was a blind man who was phenomenal running the board in the radio station. I would come in for my broadcast and before I would go on, he would come over and shake my hand and lay his other hand on my shoulder and pray for me. As a young preacher, only 21, I was kind of unnerved by that a little to begin with. But as time went on, I found myself making sure I got there in time for Danny to have prayer with me before I began my broadcast. There began to be something about that moment that brought a calmness and peace right before I went on. The comment that Danny made to me, and repeated quite often was this: he would say, “Andy, Do you know what I like about you?” I would respond and ask “What’s that Danny?” He would always say, “You are real. You are just who you are and don’t ever change.” That has been over thirty-one years ago and I can still hear him saying that in my mind.
The reason I mention that isn’t to sound boastful or anything but it didn’t take long in the ministry to figure out why what he said was so important. I started to figure it out at work before I did anywhere else. I began to notice that a lot of times when I told someone that I had announced my calling to preach, the first thing they wanted to know was where I was going to go to school. I would often tell them that God didn’t call me to go to school, he called me to preach. I also told them that I had been in church regular since I was around 6 or 7 years old and I was 21 at that time. I explained that God had been teaching me for 13 or 14 years and that equalled out to 12 years of school plus 2 years of college. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to knock formal education. If someone feels led of the Lord to pursue that, they should. I prayed about it and the Lord didn’t impress on me to go that route. I had friends that did and knew preachers that had and I saw a lot that were far more spiritual when they went into college than when they came out. I also seen some that it helped. I was the kind of person that I was afraid my ego would get in the way and I would wind up as Paul put it in Romans 12:3, thinking more highly of myself than I ought.
The reason I mention that, is because it is easy to get to running in certain preacher circles and get lifted up with pride. Pride and bringing a reproach on the Lord through my actions are the two things that scare me to death in the ministry. Either can render a man useless in the work of the Lord. I may not be a great preacher but then again, I have never aspired to be great. God doesn’t have great preachers and Christians because he is no respecter of persons. God has obedient preachers Christians that he uses in various ways. He also has disobedient preachers and Christians that he can’t use at all. I have always aspired to be obedient and try to humble myself before the Lord and let him make out of me what he wants me to be. It didn’t take too long to figure out that the ideas that man had that I should do weren’t always the same plans that God had for me.
Me personally, I have a tendency to be drawn to preachers that will use themselves as examples of bad and other folks as examples of good. I am not proud of a lot of stuff that I have done and am actually downright ashamed of a lot of things. I may not get real specific on some things but I figure if I can use the wrong I have done to steer anyone else away from doing the same things, at least some good will come of it. There is no use for me to try to put on airs. Anyone that knows me very well knows what I am. Besides that, I look at the man in the mirror everyday and I know him better than anyone else except the Lord. Like the apostle Paul said in Galatians 6:14 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” I can’t remember whether it was Moody or Spurgeon that, when asked why it didn’t seem to bother him when people talked bad about him, responded, “I know worse than that on myself.” That’s a true statement if I have ever heard one. I heard of an old black preacher once that said it like this; “Be what you is where you is, because if you try to be what you ain’t, you’re gonna mess up what you is.” I am not making fun by any means, that is just how he said it. That is some wise counsel that came from someone who understood a little bit about life.
I am just a short, fat, fun-loving, redneck, country boy that God seen fit to call to preach his word. I tried to tell him that it was a mistake and there were others in my church that would be far better than me. He politely reminded me that he don’t make mistakes and if he wanted to call those other fellers he would have, but right then he was calling me. I would like to say that I was like Isaiah and jumped up and said, “Here am I; send me.” That wasn’t the case at all. It took 3 or 4 months of trying to be sure before I ever surrendered. I don’t know that I was really running from the call but I just didn’t want to make a mockery out of God’s business. Now almost 32 years later, I still haven’t figured out why God called me and I still think there are others that could do far better. But the fact is that my part is so important to the work of the Lord that no one else but me can do it. Before you start thinking I have drunk a whole jug of arrogance, everyone else’s work for the Lord is so important that no one else can do it as well as they can. God don’t waste time with second best. If he thought someone else could do what he has for you to do any better, he would have given it to them. It was a big relief when I finally figured out that this thing is not a competition. It’s just a question of whether or not each of us will be obedient to what the Lord has for us to do.
I admire devoted, loving, godly, pastors. I tried to be one when I was pastoring. I don’t know what God has down the road for me but for right now, he has me getting my hands dirty so to speak. I have the privilege of doing mission work and trying to fill some gaps for folks that need a hand up instead of a hand out. I get to demonstrate God’s love for them and also tell them about the Lord. To quote the old preacher; “That’s what I is.” That being said do you know what I am going to do my best to do? I am going to try my best to keep my hands dirty and give a hand up to the folks I come in contact with at pregnancy centers and domestic violence shelters and even public schools and rescue missions. That ain’t everybody’s thing but if I am going to be true to myself, that’s what I have to do. I just have to be “real” and “down home” because that’s what I am. Be true to yourself. You don’t have to please anybody but the Lord. He is the only one that will judge you that you have to worry about. To quote a few good slogans; “Aim High” (Air Force) and “Be all you can be” (Army).  God is not looking for great people, he is just “Looking for a few good men/women.” (Marines). He will make you great in his eyes if you are obedient to him. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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