COVID

First Sherri got it, then Thomas, and now Patty. So far I am fine. Sherry and Thomas’s experience was like a bad cold, and Patty’s as well. Mostly just congestion and sore throat, and feeling a bit wimpy. Several years ago I built a sauna on our back porch after reading that it was beneficial to those with Parkinson’s. It is about six feet square lined with cedars boards and a bench. There is a heater on the wall with a bunch of rocks stacked up on top of the heater. When the rocks get hot ladeling, a dash of water every few minutes fills the room with steam. Only takes about ten minutes and you are sweating like a horse. I don’t know for sure because I never got tested, but I think I may have gotten COVID a couple of months ago. I was feeling weird so I sat in my sauna on high, making lots of steam, for 40 minutes. When I got out I took some melatonin and slept for ten hours. When I got up I felt fine. So I talked Patty into sitting in it tonight. She only lasted about 15 minutes before she bailed. We will see how she is feeling in the morning.

Reading through our church prayer letter, there are people with brain tumors, bone cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, kidney cancer, diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, COVID, and a variety of other ailments. About ten years ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and a couple of years later my bladder quit working so I have to self-catheterize three times every day. I am wondering what will be the next body part to quit working. Growing up, there were colds, the flu, chickenpox, measles, sprained ankles, blisters, maybe even some broken bones or appendicitis.

Most people learn to live life with ailments and expect more to be on the way without getting all tied up in knots. That is just the way it is, always has been and always will be until Jesus comes and then sickness, weakness, and death are over forever. Sickness is God’ tool to keep us focused on heaven instead of this life.

Self-Discipline

As I push myself to grow a little bit every day, I know that a key character trait is self-discipline. As my self-discipline grows in me so does everything else. Even though it isn’t measurable a high priority goal that I have is to grow steadily in self-discipline. My strategy to grow in self-discipline is filled with measurable goals that I am pursuing diligently.

1. In Galatians 5:22-23 are listed what are called the fruit of the Holy Spirit. There are nine of them and they are all character traits, so obviously these nine are high priority with God. The last of the nine is self-control. So every morning, in my prayer of commitment, I declare to God that I am pursuing self-control and would He please help me. I then quote Galatians 5:22-23, so I know that the Holy Spirit will grant me all the power I need to grow strong in the character trait of conquering my flesh with its passions and desires.

2. Daily doing disciplines that my flesh hates is a key to training myself and acquiring the character trait of self-discipline. I will read my Bible every day, I will memorize and review Bible verses every day, I will spend time with God in prayer every day, I will write my blog every day, and I will exercise every day. All of those daily disciplines have many rewards and blessings, but a common blessing is growing self-control.

3. The book of James in the New Testament says that if we can control our tongue that we can control our entire life. So I will not speak any unwholesome words to anybody. I will not grumble or complain about anything. I will not gossip or slander anybody. And I will rejoice always.

4. The strongest urge that my flesh has is gluttony so controlling my eating is essential to my quest for self-discipline. I will continue to eliminate sugar and flour from my diet as much as possible. I will maintain a routine of fasting that I have established for myself, and I will reach and maintain my weight at 188 lbs.

1 Corinthians 9:25-27
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; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

Just a Little Bit Better

I am not the smartest person in the world. I get emotional over stupid things. I eat the wrong foods. I don’t sleep enough. I procrastinate and I waste time. I care too much about meaningless things and not enough about important things. My ego is too big, my humility way to small. I have more character flaws and weaknesses than I can name. But I am not stuck here.

I am examining my life. I am confessing all known sin to God. I am praying everyday asking God for help, wisdom, and strength. I am fighting. I’m always fighting. I’m struggling and I’m scraping and kicking and clawing at those weaknesses—to change them. To stop them. Some days I win. But some days I don’t. But I fight with everything I’ve got: To overcome those weaknesses and those shortfalls and those flaws as I strive to be just a little bit better today than I was yesterday, every day just a little bit better, a little more like Jesus.

Faith vs Reality

Matthew 17:20 And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. There is something very motivating about the phrase, “nothing will be impossible to you.” I try to live, write goals, think, and talk like it is true for me, nothing is impossible.

We are admonished by God’s Word to seek for wisdom like gold and we are encouraged to pray and ask God for wisdom. Wisdom deals with reality, circumstances and situations in real life helping us to solve problems and overcome obstacles. A puzzling truth is that faith, no matter how strong will change reality. A reality is that I am going to die unless the rapture comes first. No amount of faith is going to keep me alive forever, probably not even until I am 100. The date of my death is set in stone, so no sense in me praying to live past that date. The date Jesus is coming back to take us to heaven is set in stone, and on my best day of having faith, I am not going to move it closer. I am a male, and though the world is big into trying to change reality, I am a male.

The three realities that I mentioned are obvious, but there are many more things in life that are realities that God didn’t intend for us to try and change even with great faith. Getting older is a reality. I am trying hard to keep old age at bay, but every 365 days another birthday rolls around. With every birthday the reality is things change, and so using wisdom I am working at adjusting and compensating so as to maximize what I still have to offer to God as His servant.

Sometimes I groan and complain about the changes that at one time were encroaching slowly but now seem to be accelerating rapidly. So my new self-talk slogan is, “enjoy the ride, enjoy the journey, keep learning, keep growing, make adjustments with wisdom not resignation , and bear as much fruit as is possible.”

Competition

I love competition. I compete with anybody about anything. If you compare into competition you know that if you are going to consistently win you have to be smart. I compete with people on scripture memory, with Bible reading, weight loss, you name it. Whenever I compete with one person or many I always do better, because I am more motivated, there is something inside of me that hates to lose.

My Mind is Going

For a number of years my ability to memorize Bible verses was getting better. I keep track of everything in my life, and I would keep track of how long it took me to memorize a verse well. Every year the time got less as I consistently worked thirty minutes every day on memorizing God’s Word. But this year the time it took me to memorize a verse in the Bible increased. So I did what any right thinking person would do, I increased the amount of time I spend memorizing scripture to 45 minutes a day. It has only taken a week and I already notice a big improvement in my brain power, my ability to memorize and my ability to recall verses to my mind. It is a pretty simple formula, when my muscles start acting up and hurting I ride my stationary bike 30 minutes more and things get better. When I start forgetting things, I increase my Bible memory time by 15 minutes and I think better and remember more. Wow, my mind and my body are like a machine, it is cause and effect. There will come a day when my formula for success won’t work anymore, age will win, but until then, I will win.

Strategies to Accomplish Your Goals

A goal without a strategy is useless unless it is a little goal. Once a goal is written then thinking must be done to arrive at a strategy to accomplish the goal that is clear. Successful strategies break down the distance to the goal into small, very achievable steps. As each step is successfully taken confidence grows. A written out strategy can take pages depending on the size of the goal. My goal of riding across the United States on a bicycle.

1. Break the trip down to 60 days with approximately 70 miles per day.

2. Map out each day’s ride using a bicycle mapping app designed just for this purpose. Check the roads using Google earth to see what the shoulder width and traffic flow is. Change and adjust the route accordingly.

3. Find a campground with showers for each night with phone number.

4. Save up $2,000 which will be the approximate cost of the trip.

5. Up stationary bike riding to two hours a day on February 1st, three months before start of trip.

6. Figure out meals for every day of the trip and get purchased.

7. Make a list of everything needed on the trip such as extra tires, tubes, tools, bicycle parts, camping gear, cloths etc. Go over the list numerous times so as not to forget anything.

8. Read two separate books written by people who biked the route we are going on. Take note of any problem areas and things needed.

9. Call and make reservations at each campsite chatting for a minute to determine bicycle friendliness.

10. Take my bicycle to a good bicycle mechanic to get everything checked and tuned.

11. Pack all gear and food.

12. Starting in April ride an hour outside on my bicycle two times a week, and two hours once a week.

13. Make a BIG map with route on it to put on a wall somewhere in the church so church secretaries can mark off each day of successful travel.

14. April 27th leave on three day drive back to Virginia to begin the trip on May 1st.

15. June 30th celebrate.

I have as much fun thinking through and writing out the strategies to my goals as accomplishing them.

Patty Duke’s Birthday

Proverbs 19:14
House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers,
But a prudent wife is from the Lord.

Patty is 74 years old today, has been married to me for 53 of those years, and she has, indeed, been a gift from the Lord. I have been the Pastor of Jefferson Baptist Church for 45 years, but without all she did for me, I wouldn’t have lasted two or three years in ministry. She was a partner in the work, putting in as many hours as I did, but most importantly, she was the primary source of encouragement and support for me, especially in the early years when I did so many dumb things and had so much criticism for it. She loved everybody no matter what, encouraged me, and taught me to do the same and how to do it. She has been my most faithful support and my most influential critic. She has consistently pushed me to improve and grow but never given me a deadline to do it. Somebody asked me how much longer I was going to Pastor, I didn’t give them a definitive answer, but in my head I thought, as long as Patty is alive and well. I have been incredibly blessed by the Lord in my life and the greatest of those blessings outside my salvation has been Patty.

My most important focus in life is to know the Lord more intimately and become like Him in character, and next is not how to be a great Pastor or to catch lots of fish, but is to learn better how to love Patty as Jesus loves the church and gave Himself up for her.

Parenting, the Hardest, and the Most Important Job on the Earth

Patty and I raised eight kids, all of them are married with their own kids now. As I think back on those days one thing, I remember more than anything else was the many nights I laid awake fretting and worrying about some event or circumstance that one or more of our kids was involved in. I was fretting about whether we had made a right decision or if in the future we would. I was always thinking about what we had done and what we should do better tomorrow. I was in an almost constant state of grieving over some dumb thing I had done or said. I enjoyed our kids immensely and they added so much to my life, but I don’t miss the constant pressure to be a good parent that didn’t mess up their kids future. I think the pressure of parenting grew my prayer life more tan anything else, I was a constant day and night prayer, and most of my prayers were for our kids. I prayed for and about every detail of their lives. I prayed for wisdom for both Patty and I to make right decisions and say the right words.

I went to a high school basketball game tonight to watch a grandson who is on one of the teams. As I watched I reminisced about all the games Patty and I were at over the years cheering on our kids and praying for them to do well. Those were good year’s.

Sunday mornings at 10:15 am through 11:15 am I will be teaching a parenting class. I used to teach parenting classes telling Mom’s and Dad’s to do what we did and I would tell stories about our family. Now I teach about what I wished I had done better, the things I should have done, and said but didn’t.

We did some things right, and one of them was I was obsessed with being the best parent I could be so I was always going to seminars, and classes on parenting, getting counsel from people who had even a little bit of success as parents, and reading books on parenting, lots of books.

I hope lots of parents come to my class for the same reason I went to classes 40 years ago. Parenting is an incredibly important job, and it is probably the hardest thing I have ever done So I am praying diligently that God will use my class to give wisdom and take away pressure.

Best Statement on COVID I have read!professor Ehud Qimron, head of the department of microbiology and immunology at Tel Aviv University and one of Israel’s leading immunologists, denounces Israel’s mismanagement of the pandemic

Two years late, you finally realize that a respiratory virus cannot be defeated and that any such attempt is doomed to fail. You do not admit it, because you have admitted almost no mistake in the last two years, but in retrospect, it is clear that you have failed miserably in almost all of your actions, and even the media is already having a hard time covering your shame.

You refused to admit that the infection comes in waves that fade by themselves, despite years of observations and scientific knowledge.

You refused to admit that mass testing is ineffective.

You refused to admit that recovery is more protective than a vaccine, despite previous knowledge and observations showing that non-recovered vaccinated people are more likely to be infected than recovered people.

You refused to admit that the vaccinated are contagious despite the observations. Based on this, you hoped to achieve herd immunity by vaccination—and you failed in that as well.

You refused to adopt the “Barrington Declaration,” signed by more than 60,000 scientists and medical professionals, or other common-sense programs. You chose to ridicule, slander, distort and discredit them. Instead of the right programs and people, you have chosen professionals who lack relevant training for pandemic management.

You have not set up an effective system for reporting side effects from the vaccines, and reports on side effects have even been deleted from your Facebook page. Doctors avoid linking side effects to the vaccine, lest you persecute them as you did with some of their colleagues.

You have ignored many reports of changes in menstrual intensity and menstrual cycle times. You hid data that allows for objective and proper research (for example, you removed the data on passengers at Ben Gurion Airport). Instead, you chose to publish non-objective articles together with senior Pfizer executives on the effectiveness and safety of vaccines.

However, from the heights of your hubris, you have also ignored the fact that in the end the truth will be revealed. And it begins to be revealed. The truth is that you have brought the public’s trust in you to an unprecedented low, and you have eroded your status as a source of authority.

The truth is that you have burned hundreds of billions of shekels to no avail — for publishing intimidation, for ineffective tests, for destructive lockdowns and for disrupting the routine of life in the last two years.

You have destroyed the education of our children and their future. You made children feel guilty, scared, smoke, drink, get addicted, drop out, and quarrel, as school principals around the country attest. You have harmed livelihoods, the economy, human rights, mental health and physical health.

You slandered colleagues who did not surrender to you, you turned the people against each other, divided society and polarized the discourse. You branded, without any scientific basis, people who chose not to get vaccinated as enemies of the public and as spreaders of disease. You promote, in an unprecedented way, a draconian policy of discrimination, denial of rights and selection of people, including children, for their medical choice. A selection that lacks any epidemiological justification.

The economy you ruined, the unemployed you caused, and the children whose education you destroyed—they are the surplus victims as a result of your own actions only.There is currently no medical emergency, but you have been cultivating such a condition for two years now because of lust for power, budgets and control. The only emergency now is that you still set policies and hold huge budgets for propaganda and psychological engineering instead of directing them to strengthen the health care system.