Strong Opinioned People

In the last year the number of times that I have had someone confront me about not wearing a mask, about my political opinions, or something I wrote or said has been as often as the previous 70 years in my life put together. It seems like that is what we do now, verbally bash people we disagree with, or disagree with us. People have always had differing views on things, different beliefs and values, but now it seems there is this powerful underlying force that pushes people to punish all those who disagree with them. It is difficult not to get caught up in this spirit of the day, and not insult the person who was rude to you.

I have compiled a list of Bible quotes that I am meditating on during the day to help me to act mature and loving all the time.

Don’t be conformed to this world.

Don’t return insult for insult, but instead give a blessing.

Sincerely pray for those who are rude, obnoxious, and mean.

So far as it depends on me be at peace with all men.

A soft answer turns away an angry person.

Rejoice always.

Jesus determines my worth and value as a person, no other person.

Don’t get uptight or anxious about anything, especially about what someone else says.

Act and talk like a free person, someone who isn’t controlled by the behavior of others.

Groaning

2 Corinthians 5:1-4 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.

I work pretty hard to keep my body in shape and to keep old age at bay. I am riding my stationary bike an hour every day, lifting weights for 30 minutes 3 times a week and continually dieting, and taking vitamins and various food supplements. But I still occasionally feel weary, tired, and aches and pains everywhere, and I just feel like sitting in my chair and groaning. The line in the above verses that I like the most is “so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life”. Sometimes the best way to describe how I feel is “mortal”, but it will be swallowed up by life soon enough. The thing that I am most grateful for tonight is the confidence that I am born again, in God’s family, headed for heaven, and that I have my new, glorified body waiting for me that is eternal, thank You Jesus, for dying for me.

Yep, in the morning I will get up, take a couple of ibuprofens, and get back at it, hoping that Jesus comes soon.

The Hardest of all Commandments

A great Bible study would be to read through the New Testament and write down every commandment, eliminate duplicates and combine similar ones. Once you have the list finalized, rank them in difficulty, the most challenging first, and the easiest last.

Now what would make it really fun would be to have a dozen people do this and then to compare their lists and then each person explaining the reason for their particular choices, especially the half dozen on the top and bottom of the list.

Another great discussion would be for each person to share what commandments they have never broken in their life and why they think that is.

A discussion question that might be a little too personal for some would be to discuss the commandment they have broken the most and how they have gotten the victory over it if they have or plan on conquering it if they haven’t yet.

Some of the most challenging commands for me are the ones that are difficult to measure, such as “don’t love the world or the things in the world”or “don’t become entangled in the affairs of everyday life”, or the hardest one of all to know how I am doing with, “don’t be prideful. “

The point of this discussion is to think about how we are doing living our life. Some overriding commands are “pursue righteousness, ” “be holy, ””cleanse yourself of all unrighteousness, ” and the main one for me is Jesus saying, “if you love me you will keep my commandments” or “you are my friends if you do what I command you.”

I am not morbid about self-examination and reflective thinking about my life, but I do look in the mirror and see where the dirt is and attempt to wash it off.

Becoming more holy is a lifelong pursuit, so no sense in wasting any time.

The Hardest of all Trials

A lot of things in life are tough, but I think the most difficult is when someone you love very much is suffering. Patty has been having very severe pain in her hip from her sciatic nerve, and has been in bed all day. She has been in great pain. I like to be able to fix things but there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to fix it. I offer my sympathy as best I can but it doesn’t seem like it matters much. I would take all the pain on myself if I could but I can’t so I really do nothing to help, which is one of the hardest things, to be worthless as it were to help or make a difference in the life of the person who is most important to you. Just being a spectator with no value or importance in making things better or more bearable is tough.

I pray often that God will give her strength, joy, and peace in spite of the pain, but I haven’t seen any obvious answers to my prayer.

I acknowledge that part of life is pain and that the older we get the more that seems to become part of God’s plan for our life. So I guess one of the prayers that I need to pray is for me, that I would be strong and wise to say just the right words and do the right thing at right time in the midst of the trial.

One of the things I can’t do Jesus did, the Bible says that Jesus took our sins upon himself, He became our sins, and He died for our sins so that we could live with him forever in amazing joy. That is amazing to think about, I simply need to accept His free gift and follow Him and I am forgiven and I get to go to heaven when I die.

Why would anyone refuse to do that, and why would those who are born again fail to share that good news with others. Now that is a great mystery.

How to Really Get along with just about anybody

In the early years of my pastoring I used to take an older pastor out for lunch just about every month. I usually had a dozen questions written out on my yellow legal pad that I spent the hour asking, and then I took good notes of their answers. On one particular lunch I wrote a lot of notes that I kept and have reread dozens of times because of the wisdom that was obvious to me in what I was hearing. I have titled the notes, “How to Get Along With Anybody”

Whenever you have a conflict, a disagreement, or even just a little tension in a discussion assume that you are 100% the problem.

That is never true but you will be much closer to the truth than assuming your adversary is 100% the problem.

When you assume that you are 100% the problem, you will work at figuring out what you did wrong instead of being irritated mentally about the 10% that your friend did wrong.

When you assume that you are the culprit you become eligible for a great blessing from God, “If you humble yourself, I will exalt you, but if you exalt yourself I will humble you.” It is amazing how much better God does at creating unity in a relationship than we do.

Focus on the relationship rather than the accuracy of the material being discussed. When you make peace your number one objective, and are willing to eat dirt to achieve it, God will make your enemies to be at peace with you.

Memorize Philippians 2:3-9, meditate on it, and then live it.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him.

The Commands of God

There are many commandments in the Bible. Those who are Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, believe that those commandments in the Bible are God’s Commandments to us, and that if we follow them we will be blessed by God. Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

Here are a couple of truths that are like training wheels on a bicycle that run parallel to the command to obey the commands of God. These truths keep us upright and always moving on closer and closer to the character of Jesus Christ.

The first is that God gives us the power and the strength to live the Christian life successfully. This truth is so fundamental and foundational to our faith in Jesus. John 15 says that apart from Him we can do nothing, and in Philippians it says that we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. God gives His strength to those who ask for it and the more we ask the more we receive. The most often prayed prayer in the Bible is the prayer for strength. All day long I am continuously praying, “help me, Lord, please help me.”

The second fundamental truth is found in 1 John 1:9,
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In my pursuit of being a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ I will sin, I will miss the mark. God says to own our mistakes, acknowledge that we blew it and God will forgive, cleanse, wash, and make us holy and pure. This gift from God is not designed to make us careless and casual about obeying Him, but it is designed to provide us with a safety net or harness that takes away the fear of falling.

How to Get Along with Just about Anybody

Anybody on the planet earth can get along with my wife, Patty because she is a very, very easy person to get along with. Philippians 2 says that we ought to work at having the attitude that Jesus had, who always put everyone ahead of himself. That is how Patty functions; she always puts everyone’s needs and interests above her own. Some would say that you can’t do that because people will take advantage of you and violate your rights. I have never known of anybody who took advantage of Patty. It could be that she is so nice that people can’t bring themselves to take advantage of her, or it could be that because of her character and genuine love for other people that God has placed around her His canopy of protection, people couldn’t violate her rights even if they wanted to.

I used to be in endless conflicts and skirmishes with people, not shouting matches or anything too rude, just tensions and hurt feelings. That is not a good thing if you are a church pastor, especially if you are the Pastor of the church that’s subtitle is “The I Love You Church.” I am not perfect now, but I am so much better than I used to be, and the main reason is because of Patty’s coaching. It took quite a few years, we have been married 51 years, but she has had a significant impact on my life, my character, my behavior, and my relationships.

I am a very fortunate and blessed person. I had very good parents who parented me well and taught me the basic disciplines of life, the value of hard work, faithfulness and being responsible. And then I married Patty and she has whittled away on all the rough edges.

There have been dozens of other people in my life who have influenced and shaped my character, pastors, teachers, coaches, counselors, and friends. When I stand before Jesus at the end of my life I am going to have to give away every reward I receive to someone else who is the reason that I get any reward.

Bad Night

I watched a little bit of an NBA basketball game tonight when I got home from our Wednesday night service. Seth Curry who usually plays well and scores a lot of points had a bad night according to the person doing the commentary on the game. I wonder what causes a bad night in basketball. You know, when you shoot just like you always do, except it doesn’t go in. And then again what causes a good night where it seems everything you throw into air goes in. If I could discover the answer to that question and if I could figure out how to control it I would be a multi-billionaire.

What about people like myself who have regular jobs and relationships, and have a day that is a bummer, nothing goes right, nothing goes as planned. Why is that? I would say that it is a mystery. Only God knows and He isn’t telling. In the meantime it is so important for me to act according to principle not feelings. To be a faithful man who does what he is supposed to do, and not to be tricked into some stupid decision.

Book Writing Goal

I have a goal of taking the best 365 of the approximately 2500 blogs I have written in the last seven years and putting them together in a devotional book. I need some volunteers who would like to read through my blogs and pick out the best ones. When we get the best ones picked out, I will need some people to volunteer to proofread them and correct all the spelling and grammar errors and condense them a bit to a max of 300 words. I could do it all myself but I probably wouldn’t ever finish it, but with some helpers, it should be an accomplishable goal and even fun.

One of my major pastoring principles over the last 45 years has been “whatever you do, if possible, do it together with others, because it is easier, more fun, and it turns out better.”

Shoveling Gravel

Today I am shoveling gravel into a wheelbarrow and pushing it down our driveway and filling potholes. We have a long gravel driveway and about this time of year it gets about a million potholes and some of them are as big as a small lake. I either needed to plant fish in them or fill them up, so I am filling them up. It seems like I get tuckered out quicker than I used to, so I am doing two wheelbarrow loads and then coming in and resting for about 10 minutes in my recliner. While I sit here, I am working on memorizing Bible verses and writing this blog. At this point, I have done ten loads with about four more to go until I finish the job. After that, I will go work on the 1969 mustang unless I am to done in to do it, which is a real possibility. I probably will skip my hour of stationary bicycle riding tonight, counting this as my exercise for today.

At times like this I fantasize about my new glorified body that I am going to get when I enter eternity. In Philippians it says that God will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of Jesus. That is going to be one really cool body and mind. As I sit in my recliner breathing hard and sweating I am so thankful for my relationship with Jesus Christ and the positive hope that I have that this life is just about over and then glory, that will be glory indeed.

Alright, enough of this, back to shoveling.