Be Good

When we were raising our eight kids we said “be good” a million times. It was our cover all situations admonition. Whatever they were doing that they shouldn’t have been doing was covered under “be good.” God must think like we did or rather we must have thought the way He did and does because God says “be good” a lot, though not quite a million times.

Deuteronomy 6:18 You shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you.

Psalms 34:14 Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

Psalms 37:3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

Ecclesiastes 3:12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime;

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good; Seek justice,

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Galatians 6:10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people,

So here is a major principle of life, “the more you choose to do good the more you will become a good person in character.”

A person who is good in their heart, in their character does good like breathing, that is who they are, that is how they think, that is how they act without thinking about it.

We are not born good; we are born selfish, we all are, without exception. Some become good people in character, but not very many. When we choose to do good to another person because it is the right thing to do, not because we feel like it, the action, the choosing changes us on the inside. Keep choosing to do good and before long you won’t have to choose, you just do it, you can’t not do good because that is who you are, that is what you are.

How a Fool Attempts to Win an Argument

Proverbs 29:9 says a very current thing, “When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, the foolish man either rants or laughs to compensate for his lack of wisdom.”

Here is a corollary to that Proverb, “The fool rants, blames everyone else, and talks loud when he has no clue what he is talking about.”

How about this one, “A fool makes up stuff as he talks to sound like he knows what he is talking about.”

And my all-time favorite from my favorite author Patrick McManus, “If you want to look wise, smoke a pipe, purse your lips frequently, and tap the side of your head as you stare out into space, but don’t say too much or you will blow your cover.”

Proverbs 14:7 Leave the presence of a fool,
Or you will not discern words of knowledge.

A truly wise man knows that he lacks wisdom and is constantly learning and seeking wisdom from others.

A fool thinks he is wise, but everyone who listens to him talk knows he is not.

In our world today a lot of fools are talking. Their goal is to intimidate, not persuade with logical thinking.

A wise man knows when he is listening to a fool and is neither intimidated nor impressed.

The Most Humble Man on Earth

Numbers 12:3 Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.

That verse is amazing to think about. Moses was probably the most powerful man on the face of the earth. He had just single-handedly defeated the most powerful nation on the earth. He leads a million people out of Egypt across the Red Sea on dry ground, as it miraculously opens up for them. He talks to God face to face like one man talks to another. He performs miracle after miracle. And then God declares of him that he is the most humble man on the entire planet.

How is that possible? As I regularly think about who I am, what my strengths and weaknesses are, I examine my heart and reflect on the level of pride and humility that I have. I desire to have God say of me what He said about Moses. The two main areas that I pay attention to is what I think, especially in relation to others, and what I say to others. As I catch myself thinking thoughts about myself in comparison to others that have any hint of pride I quickly confess it to God as sin and ask Him for help in growing in humility. I do the same with words I would say in conversation with others that were a subtle attempt to project an image, or attract any glory to myself. I am surprised at how crafty I can be in doing that impulsively with no planning. I journal about my struggle to grow into a transparent, none pretentious, humble servant of God, and as I write I groan in my spirit over how slow my growth seems in this area. About the time I think I am making some progress I will catch myself thinking, “boy, I am glad that I am not like. . .

Pain, Weariness, Discouragment

There are so many people in our church who have cancer right now, who are going through chemo, radiation treatment, and surgeries. As I read their prayer requests I often see the word pain, and the word weary and tired, and the big word discouraged. Another group have back problems that again results in pain, and being incapacitated, and again the discouragement. There are several with COVID, some not so bad, but others quite serious, and there those words are again. A number have Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s, diseases that get progressively worse over time, usually not too fast but steady, always just a little bit worse the pain, the weariness, and the discouragement. And of course there all those with heart problems, and those with memory and mental struggles, and then just plain old age issues.

And there is another whole bunch of people who are healthy, but it is their family members who have cancer, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, COVID, and MS, and they are going through a whole different kind of pain, sorrow, and discouragement as they watch, help, and pray.

Sometimes when I spend time praying through the prayer letter and other prayer requests, I get so overwhelmed with all the pain, the weariness, and the discouragement. Overwhelmed in the sense of feeling so much concern, sorrow, and empathy that I become weary in my praying, and my emotional gas tank is on empty. And then I feel guilty for taking a break from praying just to catch my breath.

Some people get better, some miraculously so, others die, some expectantly so but others a total shock.

As we all steadily march toward the day we will die with increasing health, pain, weariness, and discouragement issues, we cope, manage, and deal with it. The reason is that we have God’s power working in us because we believe in Jesus and that He loves us.

Number One! Yeh!

Today was the National Football Draft; the teams with the worst regular-season records draft first and the teams with the best records draft last in an attempt to keep the teams competitive with each other. The Jacksonville Jaguars were awarded the first pick and drafted Trevor Lawrence, a quarterback from Clemson. Each year it is a huge honor to be the first player chosen from the ranks of hundreds of very good college players.

The Church, the Body of Christ, the eternal Bride of Christ is made up of a finite number of people. The Church officially began on the “Day of Pentecost” and officially ends on the day of the Rapure. So there was the person who was the very first person added to the Church and there will be the person who is the last one to become a part of the Bride of Christ. Between the first and the last over the years I was added to the roles of those called Christians, and many of you as well. As I said there will be a definite number of people in this special group of people who will sit at the right hand of Jesus, ruling with Him as His eternal companion. Let’s say for fun that the number is going to be 34,765,322. Some of you may think that for 2000 plus years of church history there will surely be more than that, maybe, we will see.

After the “Judgment Seat of Christ” we will all be in order of greatness, as it were, top to bottom. There will be one person who will be first and there will be someone who is last. This position will determine our relationship with Jesus, our responsibility in the Kingdom, and other things. When the disciples were arguing over who was going to be first in the Kingdom Jesus didn’t tell them they would all be equal, He told them how to be first if they wanted to be. He said, make yourself last here in this life, choose to be a servant to others in this life and you will be greatest in the next life.

I imagine that Trevor Lawrence is feeling very special tonight being the first player picked in the NFL draft. I wonder what it is going to feel like to be the one who gets chosen to sit a Jesus right hand. I wonder what it is going to feel like to be the very last person in the Body. We won’t have a sin nature in our new glorified bodies so pride won’t be an issue, but I am sure there will be a strong sense of being glorified.

1 Corinthians 15:41-42
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
So also is the resurrection of the dead.

I think about the “Judgment Seat of Christ” constantly, and I am highly motivated to work hard, to sacrifice much, to prioritize my time, to seek a closer relationship with Him continually, to pray more, to give more, to serve more.

1 Corinthians 9:24-26 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;

Distortion

Cars are made of sheet medal, at least most of the outside is. My grandson and I are restoring a 1969 mustang, and we are cutting out rusty sections of the sheet medal body and welding in new medal. One of the things we have to be careful about is not getting any one spot too hot as we weld because we will cause distortion. It is the same medal, it just has a bit of a wave in it, and will take some major bondo work to get it to look good when painting the car. Sometimes I have just a little distortion, but distortion is bad, even just a little, if the goal is a good-looking car when she is all done.

In today’s media and politics there are a variety of ways they use to communicate their agenda rather than the truth. They often just outright lie, but usually they will try to be a bit more subtle than that. The technique now most often used is distortion. You give what is true a bit of a twist so that a different message comes out. The twist can be made by leaving out part of the story, or over hyping part of it, or including one or two small lies. Almost all of what we hear on most of the news stations have significant distortions in it. The deliberate practice of distorting information in order to give a false impression or narrative has gotten so bad that it is a total waste of time to listen to most of the news anymore.

On our car, I can feel a distortion by running my hand over it better than I can by just looking at it. When we are all done with the car and have the primer on it, I will spray it with some black paint and then sand it with my block sander which is about 2 inches wide and 2 feet long. After I have finished sanding, black paint is left in the low spots that will need some Bondo work. After that is all done, I do the black spray paint routine one more time, and the result is a nice, smooth, wrinkle-free car.

A technique to end up with a nice car can be learned, and a technique to sort out distorted junk, and end up with reasonably accurate information also can be learned.

I set a goal several years ago to learn to identify distortion-free reporting and writing. Part of the goal was to spend no more than 20 minutes each day reading, listening and watching. I began by listening to, watching, and reading a variety of different reporters and authors with a critical ear towards accuracy, and it wasn’t really that hard to start eliminating a number of names from my list. I now have my list of favorite writers, and reporters that I get my current events and news from, and feel confident that I am getting balanced distortion-free information.

Some will want to know my personal list of favorites but I suggest that you make a goal similar to mine and then we can compare lists via email.

Doom and Gloom

The world, at least our country, has become very negative, depressed, gloomy, sad, pessimistic, and cynical this past year. From my perspective, it is pretty much media-driven.

One of the fundamental principles of being a follower of Jesus Christ is, “when the world is at its worst, we ought to be at our best.” our radical difference is our power.

When the world is “gloom and doom,” we ought to be “joy and peace.” The power of a Christ-follower is that our joy and peace are not based on circumstances; they are based on our hope of eternal life with Jesus. We have the power to live above the world if we choose to. It is sad to see the number of professed believers who are not choosing to live above the world but instead like it. When there is no difference, there is no influence.

I can choose to be joyful. I can choose to be thankful. I can choose not to grumble. I can choose to say thank you. Help me Lord to always choose what pleases You.

Psalms 96:1-3 Sing to the Lord a new song;
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,

Burn Day

I called the Jefferson Fire Department and the recorded message said today was a burn day. I figured there wouldn’t be very many more burn days before we would be shut down for the summer, and my burn pile was getting bigger every day. So I drove to town and got 5 gallons of diesel, stretched out my garden hose, and started the pile on fire. I mixed my 5 gallons of diesel with 5 gallons of gas, so I had 10 gallons of fire starter. I started it upwind so it wouldn’t get going too hot. It was a big pile with all the limbs from my apple tree pruning, but with my fire starter poured everywhere on the pile it bured up in about an hour. Now I just need to pitch fork the small unburned pieces into a pile and finish it off.

As I worked on my pile I couldn’t help thinking about

John 15:6
If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

Working on my burn pile, seeing the roaring fire, feeling the heat, seeing the branches burned up made that verse very, very real to me. I need to do more to reach people with the gospel.

Sick

I stayed home from church today, my preaching responsibility over at Buena Vista Community Church I had someone else do as well as my two leadership classes that I teach. Occasionally I have a Parkinson’s flare-up for no apparent reason. My muscles get very rigid, like concrete setting up and when I move it hurts and the pain makes me nauseous, and I usually get a severe headache. I take some extra medication, sit in my hot tub for thirty minutes, and then ride my stationary bike for thirty minutes and then back to the hot tub and back to the bike until I am better. Last night it took so long to get the thing under control that I was totally exhausted this morning from no sleep and all that bike riding. Now that I am feeling better having slept in I think I should have gone to church; I could have toughed it out. I must be getting wimpier in my old age.

I leave on a 1,200-mile bicycle ride in June, and I am a long way from being in good shape for the trip so these kinds of forced extra riding are probably a good thing.

You’re Not My Boss

One of the minor conflicts that Patty and I from time to time is when she gets to bossing me around too much. It usually happens when she has a bunch of our grandkids over for a day and then she doesn’t switch out of that grandma role when she talks to me. I usually am patient with it for a while, and then I will say “stop talking to me like a little kid” or “you’re not my boss, ” or “who am I, Your husband or your grandson? I always feel bad afterward because I usually hurt her feelings with my impatient remark.

One of the reasons these COVID restrictions and mask mandate irritate me so much is because I don’t like being bossed around. I think it is an issue we all have in a variety of settings.

I do want Jesus to be the Lord of my life, my boss and my King. The more I obey Him, the closer I follow Him the more successful my life will be. But even with Jesus I find myself doing my own thing instead of doing His will for my life. Kind of stupid to do that, considering that He is God and knows everything, and I am a man and know nothing. I am working on it every day, continually declaring Him my Lord and master. I am getting better at following and obeying him, and my journeys out into the Kingdom of Dee Duke are becoming fewer and shorter. One of the things that has helped me in this goal of being a servant and disciple of Jesus has been memorizing these two passages and reviewing them in my head every day.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Romans 14:7-9
For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.