What’s Wife

Today was Patty’s birthday. A number of the kids and grandkids came over and we had a party, it was a lot of fun. Birthdays are a nice time to reminisce about people in our lives, and I did that a bit tonight while we were sitting around chatting. Patty is and has been an unbelievably good wife, and especially a pastors wife. In the early days of pastoring being a pastors wife was a significant pressure in her life as she worried that she would not measure up, and not act the way she was supposed to act and My ministry would suffer because of her. It didn’t take her long to adjust, and establish her priorities in life, and in the church. She would regularly say to me, “you are my first and most important ministry, to make sure that you are the happiest man on the earth, and my children are next, and then the church. That didn’t mean she wasn’t involved much in the ministry at JBC, she was very committed and involved especially in the children’s ministry. She has loved JBC as the “Body of Christ” just as much as I have, so it has been a great partnership in ministry. It is said that woman are emotional so they are up and down depending on the circumstances of life, but it was Patty who kept me thinking right when everything was going unbelievably well so that I didn’t get a big head, and she is the one who kept me from quitting when everything was falling apart around me. A key ingredient in my managing the pressure of ministry so well over the last 42 years is that Patty made it easy to leave everything at the office so when I got home it was rejuvenation time and renewal time. She didn’t quiz me about my day, but was very open to listening if I needed to talk. I have pastored for 42 years at Jbc, and been married for almost 50 years, and one thing I know for sure is that if the Lord hadn’t given me Patty I would be shoveling cow poop today.

Saved from the Cows

In yesterday’s blog I mentioned that Patty and I had made a deal with the Farm Home Administration concerning the $40,000 debt that we had with them after borrowing the money to buy 40 Registered Guernsey cows. After half of them died, we sold the 20 we had left to my Dad for $16,000 which left us with approximately $24,000 left to pay off. We talked to the main person in charge in the Farm Home Administration office in our area, a very nice guy named Mr Blackburn about setting up some kind of reduced payment plan. While we were talking to him about this, he mentioned that FHA had a program set up to help farmers that went through some kind of crisis that impeded their ability to pay back their loan. He said that we could fill out the paper work explaining what had happened and make a counter offer to what we owed, FHA would either except the counter offer or reject it, they wouldn’t come back with another counter to our counter. If they did reject the offer that we made they wouldn’t accept another one for five years. We thought about it, did a lot of calculations, prayed for wisdom, and made the ridiculously low counter offer of $1,000. The offer had to include a check for the full amount of the offer, and we didn’t have any money, so $1000 was about all we could figure out that we could come up with. We waited for the longest two months of my life for a response. I remember the day the official looking envelope came from them, and we sat down in the kitchen with Mom and Dad and opened it up. They had accepted our $1,000 counter offer, and the initial contract that we had signed was also in the envelope with a big “Paid in Full” stamped on it in blue ink. My, oh my, that felt so good.

Five years later when we decided to come to Jefferson and Pastor Jefferson Baptist Church we bought a brand new house just built right in Jefferson for $25,000. We applied for a loan with FHA because the interest was 1.8 percent interest. When we went into their office in Salem to apply for the loan the lady that we were meeting with asked if we had ever had a Farm Home loan before. I thought, well this will certainly blow our chances of getting a loan from them, and I responded, yes, we had borrowed $40,000 about 5 or 6 years ago. She made a phone call, (this was before the days of computers and the internet), and after talking for a minute, she hung up the phone, and said to us, “Yes, you did take out a loan, and our records show that it is paid in full, so yes, we will loan you the money for your house.

So many times I have replayed in my mind, all those events of this story in our life, and I have thought, it is a lot like my salvation, when I had a long list of sins that I could never pay for, and Jesus came to this earth, lived, and died on a cross and paid the penalty of all of my sins, and when I die and enter heaven I will have “paid in Full” stamped on my forehead in blue ink.

Bad Things Happen

I remember well my attempt to have my own dairy instead of working for my Dad. I was 22 years old, and was pretty sure I knew more about how to succeed as a dairy farmer than any living person. I borrowed $40,000 from Farm Home Administration, and bought 40 registered Guernseys from Idaho. I leased a farm that was set up for dairying, but I needed to do a ton of work to get the place fixed up, cleaned up, and ready for a grade A dairy operation. I hired a cattle trucker to transport the cows from Idaho to my new dairy in Trout Lake, Washington. Evidently the load of cows that the trucker had hauled before mine were infected with a virus, and my cows picked it up during the 18 hour ride to my dairy. Two weeks after they were unloaded at my place the first cow died, and another one died about every other day after that first one. Finally when half of my cows had died the Vet figured out what the problem was, and we inoculated the remaining cows and stopped the steady decline of my dairy herd. By this time I had spent several thousand dollars on veterinarian services along with the $40,000 I had borrowed, and with only 20 cows left I couldn’t produce enough milk to make the payment on the loan and I went deeper in debt every day I continued to operate in an attempt to succeed as a dairy farmer. Finally I gave up and sold the remaining cows to my Dad, and went back to milking for him. I got another job along with milking, and by working that job for two years along with a deal that I was able to make with the Farm Home Administration I was able to get totally out of debt.

When the cows started dying I pleaded with God to help me, and keep the cows healthy. I prayed over and over again for hours and hours begging God to please help me. For the two years that I worked like a dog on the dairy and also on the construction job drilling and blowing up rock at quarries for asphalt plants, I asked over and over again, Why? why had this happened to me? What had I done to deserve this?

During this time right after the 10th cow had died I went into a rage, and started picking up bales of hay and throwing them as far as I could, I kept this up until I collapsed in total exhaustion, and then I started crying. After a bit of time laying there in the hay I asked myself, “So, what are you going to do now? Get angry, get frustrated, lash out at people, go down the self-pity trail, are you going to let this horrible situation dictate to you how you feel and how you act, are you going to fall apart? After some time of reflecting on this conversation with myself, I responded with, “No, I am going to face this challenge with courage and resolution. I don’t know why You are doing this to me Lord, but I trust You totally, and I love You even if You decide to kill them all.” That conversation with myself, and God was a significant defining moment in my life.

Wisdom

Pastor Mike at JBC started a 10 week series on Wisdom. It is going to be an awesome series if they are all are as good as tonight’s introductory sermon to the series. Wisdom is probably my favorite topic to study in the Bible because there are so many blessings attached to having wisdom. The Bible also talks about the fool, the person who is short on wisdom, and the consequences that the fool experiences in his life. Wisdom is like gold, it doesn’t jump up and bite you when you walk by, if you want it you have to seek it diligently. When my Dad was alive he had a gold claim in Southern Oregon, and he and I would work it about 10 days a year in order to keep it, and of course to find gold. This was back in the day when gold was $35 an ounce. We would run a little portable dredge for hours in the creek where our claim was, sucking up dirt, gravel and sand off of the bottom of the creek into our sluice box. Then we would empty the contents that were in the sluice box into a five gallon bucket and sit in the creek on a rock and pan the sand and gravel in the bucket for hours looking for little bitty flakes of gold. With each pan of gravel out of the bucket, after carefully swirling it around in the pan we would get a couple of flakes of gold, and then we would pick it out with tweezers and put it into a pill bottle. We usually got a couple of ounces in our 10 days of back breaking labor. It was a lot of work for $70, I did it mostly to be with my Dad, but I also enjoyed the challenge of finding something so allusive.

Proverbs 3:13-15 How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her.

My Dad used to say, “just because you get old doesn’t mean you get wise, there are a lot of old fools running around.” Wisdom is everywhere to be found, but only those who seek it diligently will find it.

With wisdom we will make right choices in life, with wisdom we will say just the right words at the right time, with wisdom we can solve problems that come into our life, with wisdom we can make good use of our time, with wisdom we manage our money perfectly, with wisdom we will raise good kids, with wisdom we will have a good marriage, and with wisdom we will influence people positively. Do a little self-examination, and ask yourself how much wisdom you really have. Another quote from my Dad, “The worst kind of fool is one who is one and doesn’t know it.”

A good way to start your diligent search for wisdom would be to attend services at JBC this next 10 weeks, listen to Pastor Mike, and learn how to seek it. You can also listen to the series on our pod cast or go to our web site, jbc.church and under sermons you will find it.

Instructing our Mouth

Relationships grow close and intimate with good communication. Talking to another person or to a group of people in such a way that they are truly taught, motivated, blessed with joy, and feel loved is a skill that we can develop, or not.

Proverbs 16:23-24 The heart of the wise instructs his mouth and adds persuasiveness to his lips. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Most learn their communication skills from the people they grow up with, their peers, and television. Some have been blessed with good models who have gracious speech and good communication skills, but most have not. Speech in a culture without purposeful and strategic work to improve will gradually deteriorate in clarity, that is it won’t communicate clearly so others can understand the message, it will lose it’s power to influence, and the quality of relationships will suffer.

Nothing has the power to knit people together in real unity that results in joy as much good communication does. When we can clearly share our needs, our struggles, our pain and disappointments others are moved to support and encourage us. When we paint pictures with our words of our dreams, our desires, and our goals others are inspired to help us. When we speak words that give grace to those who are hurting they are drawn to us. When we stir and inspire others to growth and greater accomplishment with our timely encouragement they will value us.

Many relationships, marriages, families, and friends struggle, and are filled with conflict, hurt feelings, lack of joy, feelings of being misunderstood, unappreciated, and unloved because of poor communication skills.

Wisdom in communication comes to the person who seeks it diligently. It comes to those who seek it humbly from those around them who obviously have this skill. To those who read good books on how to “win friends and influence people”. It especially comes to those who, when they have relational struggles assume the blame for having communicated poorly, selfishly, rudely, or hurtfully, and diligently work at improving by learning the skills of good communication.

Startled by a Chicken

My wife Patty has about 18 chickens, and she likes her chickens, I can’t figure out why but she does. The fence around our chicken yard is getting old, tired, and it sags a lot, sounds like me! So it doesn’t do a very good job keeping chickens in so we have chickens wandering around our house, in the yard, in the drive way, and occasionally I find one in my shop. They mostly all go into the chicken coup at night finding their way back into the fenced chicken area. I have been promising to replace the fence, but I have successfully found other projects to keep me busy, and have procrastinated on the chicken fence. Every night the last thing I do is sit in my sauna, and nice and hot and relaxed I jump into bed. Last night I went out the back door of our bedroom to the back porch to get into the sauna and there was a chicken who had not found her way back into the chicken coup roosting on our back porch. As I went out the door I tripped over her sending the chicken into a frenzy and startling me out of my wits. So tonight I was looking for and pricing chicken fencing. As I was looking at the cost of the fencing and the time it was going to take, and the cost of the chicken food, I thought, I bet the eggs we get off these stupid chickens cost ever bit as much as eggs at winco. As I was working myself up onto a lather over these stupid chickens I thought, “Patty didn’t get to excited about my boat building project and complain that fish in the grocery store probably cost way less than the ones I brought home. Or the deer and elk hunting trips and the lack of venison in our house. Yep, I think it would be a good idea to let Patty have her chickens, and I will get that fence fixed this next week for sure.

Losing weight

I went and had one of those body fat, muscle, water analysis done today. This was a fairly expensive piece of equipment that did the measuring and calculations, not like those bathroom scale contraptions. The results were a bit discouraging as I saw how much of my body is fat. The Word has an ugly sound when you say it, doesn’t it? Fat ! Yuk, sounds terrible. I don’t know if discouraging is really the right word, because now I am highly motivated to get rid of that ugly word, fat! Maybe a better word would be deflated. I thought I was a macho tough guy, and come to find out I am nothing but a Pillsbury dough boy! Oh well, I guess I better get with the exercising and the dieting even more seriously than I have been, though I have been doing pretty good for a week. I guess this part of my life is just like the spiritual part, it is long term endurance that spells success, not short term endurance. Short term endurance isn’t even endurance, just temporary success that does nothing. Lots of people start well in their walk with Christ, but only a few finish well. Most drift away from total devotion to Christ because they get entangled in the world, they get weary, they get discouraged or they get just plain old lazy. Hebrews 12 says “run the race with endurance”, I intend to do that. Three key things will keep me from drifting away; (1) fear of falling away because of the ease of doing it and the eternal consequence at the Judgment Seat of Christ if I do, (2) Regular self-examination of my attitude, use of time, and faithfulness to the basic disciplines of the Christian life, and (3) good friends who will encourage, motivate, and reprove me when I need it.