My Life Purpose Statement

A number of years ago I realized that I had so many interests that I would fail to do anything super well because I was to fragmented. I needed to do some serious cutting out of my life some activities so I could be successful in one or two areas. I decided to write a purpose statement for my life that would zero in on what I wanted to accomplish. I came up with this; “I will be a man devoted to prayer, and I will convince as many others to be devoted to prayer as I can.” I am sure that if I want to accomplish the maximum possible in my lifetime this is the route I need to go.

So the first part of my purpose statement I have been accomplishing fairly well. I spend about an hour praying every day, and I have seasons where I spend up to 8 hours praying, usually during our church’s 5 day prayer events four times a year. I struggle with the discipline of prayer like everyone else. I fall asleep while praying, my mind wanders over to fishing or hunting, I get bored, and it becomes a grind to stay at it faithfully. The thing that helps my private prayer life stay alive and energized is the corporate prayer times that I attend during the week and then these quarterly 5 days of prayer that go 10 hours each day really launch me into a prayer attitude and faithfulness.

The second part of my life purpose of convincing as many other people as possible to become devoted to prayer has been less successful and at times down right discouraging. I get so much “push back” from people who are wanting to justify their own lack of prayer, and to get me to quit making them feel guilty for their less than fully devoted prayer life.

I am convinced that my struggle is not really with people, but with the demons that follow them everywhere they go or riding on their shoulders. These demons know that they can’t stay connected to people who pray more than token prayers so they talk non-stop to them with all the reasons and excuses why being devoted to prayer is for others, especially corporate prayer. They hear them in their own thoughts which they think are their own thoughts and wisdom coming right straight from them.

What does God Think of Me?

Sometimes as Roscoe sits on my lap and gives me this look, I wonder what goes on in his mind. Is he capable of having an opinion, and if so what’s his opinion of me. I guess that is kind of dumb wondering if a dog likes me or not. Sometimes I wonder that about people in my life, people in our church, do they like me? What do they think about my preaching, my teaching, do they like my new shirt, and I wonder if they think I am fat or just a little overweight. I remember as a kid pulling pedals off of a flower one at a time saying, “ she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not. . .

One of the great warnings in the Bible is living life to please people rather than God.

Matthew 6:1 Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,

Ephesians 6:6-7 not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

I have often thought how much easier it would be to be motivated by the desire to please the Lord if I could just hear His voice. God the Father spoke audibly from heaven when Jesus was baptized and said, “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased”. Wow, how cool would that be to hear God’s booming voice from heaven say that to me!

David Brainard, a missionary to Native Americans in the very early years of our country was in the habit of praying three and four hours each day for those that lived around him who he was trying to reach with gospel. He once said that the more he prayed the more sensitive his heart became to the pleasure of God in him. David Brainard was known for the incredible sacrifices he made to live with the Indians, the hours he spent on his knees in the snow praying, the hours he spent working to serve and to help those he was trying to reach, and everything that he left behind to live where he lived.

He once commented that what others called sacrifice was very enjoyable to him when he sensed the pleasure of God in him for doing what he was doing.

The more I pray the more sensitive my heart becomes to the pleasure of God in me, that motivates me to pray sacrificially.

Peace, no anxiety, no stress

Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The promise in these verses is amazing, a peace that is incomprehensible! With the Covid thing going on, shut downs, partial shutdowns, stupid masks, a news media bent on overhyping everything about this virus to the point that people are filled with fear, the election, all the unknowns about the future, the economy, and on and on, peace – total freedom from anxiety seems impossible. But total freedom from anxiety is exactly what is promised, that sounds so nice!

Everybody prays to some degree but it doesn’t result in much. A husband and wife talk to each other as they live together in a house, raising their kids, going to work, to church, and other activities, and doing their chores in and around the house. But the talk is impulsive and unplanned, short, on the move as they pass each other, often problem oriented, and it doesn’t result in very much growth in intimacy with each other. That is pretty much the description of the average persons prayer life. If I really want to have a time of real communication with Patty we plan a date together at a restaurant, a drive together, or even a planned time of conversation at home. One of the key ingredients is time, another is freedom from distractions and interruptions, and the main thing is an unspoken commitment to enter into the conversation with attentiveness and thoughtfulness.

In order to experience the kind of peace that is beyond all comprehension the praying we do needs to be more than short, on the move, convenient, prayers that lack focus, thoughtfulness, and attentiveness to our own thoughts. So it is not surprising that anxiety, and depression are very high right now in most people’s lives even if they are Christians and “pray.”

Four times a year we have a “Five Day Prayer Event,” at JBC, and I usually pray over 6 hours in each of the five days of prayer. We pray from 5:00 to 10:00 am and 5:00 to 10:00 pm each day with a 15 minute break each hour for people to come and go. We have been doing these prayer events for about thirty years and I have participated in almost every one of them. So I can say without any hype or hesitation that they are a major source of peace for me.

It is amazing though, that after all these prayer events that I have participated in, I still start each one with the same sense that I have when I go to the dentist. I go because it is important and I want to keep my teeth, but I don’t expect to have a lot of fun. Next Monday morning I will set my alarm clock for 4:20 am and when it goes off I will groan, not being very excited about getting up and heading off to prayer. But it doesn’t take very many hours praying together with about 20 other people in person and another 20 via Zoom, that I begin to feel a renewal happening inside of me, not only a calmness but a positive sense that life is good because God is in charge.

The Five Days of Prayer is December 7th to the 11th in the chapel, the building with the shake roof, and also on Zoom. Look on our website http://www.jbc.church for details on connecting to Zoom.

Pride

God hates the sin of pride.

James 4:6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

In the New Testament the definition of pride isn’t, “I am great, look what I have done,” but rather “I can do it all by myself, I don’t need you.”

The Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are one, but three personalities, they are a community within themselves. God made us so that on our own we are incomplete, we can’t function close to our potential by ourselves. We are like a hand, a foot, or an ear on a human body, separated from the body we are useless.

God has said that each of us are useless for Him if we are separated from our church family trying to be a Lone Ranger because of our pride. The same thing is true of prayer. We can pray by ourselves but the heavy duty prayer requests and needs will be met and accomplished so much better and faster by those who are praying together as a group. God made it that way, He made us interdependent. We have great power with others, we have amazing potential with others but our pride often messes up Gods best plans for us.

December 7th through the 11th is our “Five Days of Prayer”. We usually average 20 people in the prayer room each hour. It would be so cool to have 40 at this prayer event. We are using Zoom along with our in person praying. Make a goal when you read this, many have made a goal and have sent me a copy. Why don’t you do that!

Self-worth and confidence – Not from People – But from God

Psalms 8:4-5 What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!

We were created by God in His image and likeness, and we were created with glory. The first time we sinned we lost that God given glory.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

We have been craving glory ever since, and we are always seeking for ways to enhance our sense of worth and value. The problem is that we seek for glory from other people and it isn’t real or lasting, it does not meet our need for glory.

John 5:44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?

The opposite of receiving glory is to experience shame; we fear shame more than anything else in life. It is said that men fear failure more than anything else in life, but it is the sense of shame that failure brings that they fear. Certain people in our life have a way of shaming us with their words; we don’t like them much.

God is the one who gives glory, not people. God gives His glory to those who seek Him, to those who seek a growing relationship with Him, as the Bible puts it, ”To those who seek His Face”

The primary way to seek God’s face, to seek His presence is through prayer. We usually pray because we have a need, a problem, a concern that we want God to fix. We don’t realize that our greatest need is glory and majesty from God, and when we spend time in prayer because we desire more of Him He meets our greatest need.

Next week, December 7th through the 11th, is JBC’s ”Five Days of Prayer.” I am planning on praying at least six hours each of the five days. I am doing that because I want very much to see God work in our country, in our church, and in my life. Over the years of participating in these prayer events God has blessed me with a sense of self-worth and confidence that is not based on any accomplishments, it is not based on my perceived impressions of people’s opinion of me, it is based on a sense of God’s pleasure in me because of my wanting more of Him.

Stomp on the Devil

2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;

”Lawlessness is already at work; only he who restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.”

Who is restraining lawlessness or the lawless one? I believe it is the church.

1 Peter 5:8-9 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith,

1 Peter 5:8-9 is all written in the plural, not singular. This admonition and promise is for the church to do together, not for the individual. We are to resist him together and when we do he flees.

James 4:7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Again, this is a promise for a plurality of people not a person by themselves, on their own.

Romans 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

You guessed it; this verse is also not written for the Lone Ranger Christian but for the army of God that fights together.

Matthew 18:18-20 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

Binding and losing are spiritual warfare terms, and this authority that is being given in these verses is not for an individual but to the church, the gathered together ones.

We exercise this authority by praying together in unity. We have be given enormous authority and power to hold evil at bay, but the army of God has been mostly AWOL. Church prayer meetings are typically the lowest attended events that a local church has.

We are living in a day where evil is advancing almost at will in our country. The anemic and half-hearted praying of most churches has little power to resist the devil and his plan to control our lives.

December 7th through the 11th JBC is holding a ”Five Day Prayer” event. We will pray from 5:00 to 10:00 am and 5:00 to 10:00 pm each day, Monday through Friday. There is nothing you can do to more effectively thwart the evil in our world than attend and participate in this event.

Thanksgiving

Psalms 100:4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

This is one of my memory verses. The application that I make from it is that God will manifest His presence in my life more and more as I more and more am a thankful and positive person. God doesn’t appreciate grumblers much, and in fact, in the Old Testament, He regularly would kill those that grumbled. Another one of my memory verses is

Psalms 16:11 In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

As He manifests His presence more in my life because I choose to be increasingly more grateful to the Lord for His blessings in my life, I will experience a greater sense of joy because of His presence. I can continue to increase that sense of joy in my life by continuing to practice the discipline of being grateful to the Lord for all His blessings to me.

Being continually a grateful person and thanking God for specific things and events that come into my life is definitely a discipline because our natural tendency is to take things for granted and then to grumble when bad things happen to us. In the recent months because of the COVID and the politics, being grateful is becoming more of a discipline.

I have made a new goal to help myself grow in this area. I am going to write in my journal each night several things that I am grateful to God for. It won’t be a hard goal to do in regards to time, probably a couple of minutes at most, but it will be challenging to remember to do it. I write this blog almost everyday so I will just piggyback on this. When I hit the ”publish” button on my blog sight I will write in my journal.

I am such a loser

I am feeling very wimpy tonight, and I feel like a major loser. I preach and teach constantly on the importance of the character trait of self-control in living the Christian life successfully. I have gone from 212 lbs to 230 lbs in 50 days, 18 lbs in 50 days, I can’t believe it. It started on our trip to Mexico to go fishing. The fishing was OK but the food was amazing, and of course because I had paid for the trip I certainly wanted to eat well. Then my birthday was on the 27th, and I had about three parties, and you know, you only have a birthday once a year, so I went off of my ”no sugar” commitment and had a bowl of ice cream. That was the first sugar I had eaten in over a year, and as long as I blew it, let’s have two bowls! Then as the pounds started adding up I would say every morning when I got on the scales, I am going to get serious tomorrow and lose some weight, and I repeated it again this morning, but tomorrow is Thanksgiving. What am I going to do!?

I don’t know about others, but I do so much better in self-control when I am up, positive, on a roll, with some momentum, some wind at my back. So what am I going to do? I am going to start on my diet on December 1st. Cool! Five more days of pigging out! No telling what I will weigh in five more days!

Authority and Submission

I wrote a week ago that what Governor Brown did in ordering us to have no more than six people in our homes at any one time was outside the jurisdiction that government has been given by God and therefore we are not obligated to be blindly submissive to the government when they go that far, and I personally will not.

I wrote about four areas of relationship that God has given authority to, the government, business, the church, and the family. I put verses from the Bible to demonstrate that principle, and you can go back and read that blog to see what they are.

If your boss told you that you couldn’t have more than six people in your home you would laugh at him, even if his motive was to keep you healthy so his business wouldn’t suffer if you died from the COVID. His jurisdiction as your boss does not extend into your home.

That being said, it is important for each of us to be humbly submissive to the authorities in our life unless they move outside their jurisdiction given to them by God. Often we are unsubmissive simply because we don’t like what we are asked to do or because of pride, not wanting anybody telling us what to do. I am often guilty of that.

Wise leaders understand the principle given in the Bible not to Lord it over those who are under their authority, because it always produces rebellion. Bosses often can’t seem to help themselves from being oppressive and domineering over employees, many husbands become abusive to their wives, parents often produce rebels because they go crazy with the rules, and Pastors become control freaks in their churches.

All that being said, as one of the Pastors at Jefferson Baptist Church, I would like to exercise some of the authority that God has given to me.

Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

1 Corinthians 16:16 that you also be in subjection to such men and to everyone who helps in the work and labors.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.

1 Timothy 5:17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.

These passages are clearly talking about the leaders in a church, not bosses, governors, husbands, or parents.

So if you call JBC your church home I would like to make an appeal to you as a Pastor of our church. I am not ordering you; I am not even strongly suggesting; I am merely telling you what would make me very, very happy and asking you to consider doing this because I am asking you.

December 7th through the 11th is one of our ”Five Days of Prayer” events. We have four of these each year because we believe that God works in the world, in the lives of people including government leaders, and that darkness and evil are controlled and pushed back in our societies and cultures as we exercise the authority that God has given us as the Body of Christ in our world. We believe that the more people who participate the more power we have, and the more work God will do. At each of these events about half the adult attenders participate even just a little bit. Many are gone, sick or have other reasons why they can’t participate. But many don’t participate because it is uncomfortable for them, or they are busy and don’t want to take the time, or they don’t believe it makes any difference.

So I am asking each person in our church to participate in this upcoming ”Five Days of Prayer” sacrificially unless it is impossible to do so. The purpose of leadership in every area of jurisdiction and authority is to create unity. You can tell good leadership or bad by the unity or lack of unity that there is under a leader. God blesses churches on the basis and strength of the unity that is in them. So my appeal to JBC is let’s pray together with one heart and one mind and see what God will do. You can come and pray in person or via Zoom.

If you have little to no faith in prayer, I would appeal to you to come anyway just because I am asking you to, and see what happens to your faith level. The experience just might change your life.

There may be a few of you, even though I have tried hard to be gracious, have your back up and consider it your right to come or not to come based on whether you want to or not. I agree, it is, but I bet that if you came just because I asked, even if you don’t want to, that God will bless you with joy.

So, even after my appeal to you, and begging on my knees for you to sacrificially participate in our ”Five Day Prayer” event, if you choose not to, I will still love you, I will still go fishing with you if you ask me, I will not pray that gophers infest your yard, and I will not avoid you in the foyer at church.

Why Couldnt You Pray?

Just before Jesus was arrested and crucified He went to the garden of Gethsemane and prayed to know the Father’s will and for the strength to follow through on that will. I am sure that knowing that He would take on the sin of every person, and because of that sin the Father would turn away from Him, something that had never happened in all of eternity past, that Jesus was feeling great reluctance about going through with this. His words in His prayer were, ” remove this cup from Me.” He was in such agony over what He was about to experience that He literally sweat blood. Jesus brought Peter, James, and John with Him to pray, but they kept falling asleep. Twice He admonished them to stay awake and pray with Him, but it didn’t do any good. ”And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Jefferson Baptist Church is having a ”Five Days of Prayer” from December 7th through the 11th. We will have prayer from 5:00 to 10:00 am and 5:00 to 10:00 pm each day. We will be in our old sanctuary, what we now call the Chapel, and we will also have Zoom set up so you can pray with us from home if you would like. We will take a fifteen-minute break every hour for people to come and go, visit, and get a cup of coffee. One person prays at a time, and everyone else listens and agrees with the prayer in their mind and heart. Whoever is praying at any given time is random; that is, we don’t go around the room, so if you are hesitant about praying out loud, that is no problem; there are plenty of people who will.

God admonishes us to pray repeatedly in the Bible. He has chosen to limit what He does by the amount of praying that the church does. Some people choose not to participate because of business, timidity, lack of faith that it does any good, and simply forgetting that it is happening. I am curious to know what Jesus would say to those people. James 5:16 says that ”the effective prayer of a righteous person accomplishes much.” A prayer principle that JBC has emphasized for years is that a group of people praying together in unity increases the results of a single person praying by themselves, exponentially.

We are two weeks from our ”Five Days of Prayer, ” so now is an excellent time to make a goal for what you will do for these five days, and remember, anybody can do anything for just five days; it is only five days. I look forward to praying with you, in person, or via Zoom.