On Thursdays I usually have a group of Pastors here at our church facility for lunch and a couple hours of fellowship, sharing, and accountability. Our church secretary Jean fixes the lunch which is always great and then we share what is happening in our lives and ministries. It is a very enjoyable and profitable time for me. I always gain ideas for ministry and am encouraged in my own efforts to serve people as a pastor. I have been at this pastor thing for over 38 years at JBC, and one of the reasons for my endurance and staying here for this long has been the input of other pastors into my life. I am so thankful for the friendships that have developed between me and other guys who are doing the same thing as I am. God always knows what I need to hear and experience each week.
A guaranteed hit with my grandkids, boys or girls is Legos. They all seem to love playing with them. Makes buying gifts for them easy though they seem to get more and more expensive. Even several of my son in laws love playing with them as well and therefore they are automatic favorites of all the grandkids. I suppose I should learn how to build things with them so I would have more in common with my grandkids, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. It is fun just to watch them from my chair get totally engrossed in their inventions and creations as they stick piece after piece together. We call them toys. I have some toys. They are a little bit more expensive than Legos, but they should be because I am older and wiser! My favorite toy is my 1949 Ford pickup that I have been restoring from a pile of rusty parts for the last 10 years. Sort of like a pile of big Legos. Fun is an interesting word, a cousin to joy. Doing things that I enjoy, that are relaxing, that do indeed bring joy into my life could become an idol, or it could be a gift from God to me His son whom He loves, and delights to give joy to. I worked on my pickup today putting a new fuel pump in, and got it to running really good. Not much in the world sounds as pretty as a Ford Flathead V8 engine with headers and Smitty’s mufflers. Thank You Lord for the fun I had working on my Legos.
This Sunday I preached on the topic of the Trinity. “The Father, and the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, are all equally God, but they are three distinct personalities who are “0ne” on the basis of their infinite love for each other and their perfect agreement and unity of purpose. We have been created in their image and likeness, therefore we crave to be loved and to love unconditionally. Today is my birthday and I have felt and experienced great love from my family and friends. The inner sense of joy and total contentment in life that comes from having so many say “I love you” , and “you mean so much to us” is indescribable. I am more determined and committed than ever before to love those around me sacrificially, thoughtfully, and proactively so that I can give to others the joy that I have received today. I so easily lapse into business, self focus, and apathy so that I miss so many opportunities daily to make someone’s day by doing something kind, saying something to praise them, and to love them unconditionally. Help me Lord to truly see people and clearly hear them and to love them the way You love me.
Tomorrow I am 66 years old. 20 years ago that seemed ancient. Today it doesn’t seem that old. I am planning on Pastoring another 10 years and praying that they are more productive than the previous 38. I am planning on doing an Iron Man Triathlon in November. I would have never considered that even 5 years ago. I have way more health issues than 5 years ago but they seem to have made me more determined to make every minute of my life count. I totally depend on Christ, but that doesn’t mean that I will not work as hard as I can, set big goals, plan, learn new skills, manage well every minute of my life, and push myself a bit further than I thought I could go. The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15 ” I labored even more than all of them yet not I but the grace of God with me”. That is something that I would like to be able to say at the end of my life, ” I worked harder than all of them”! I think I will make that my ambition for the next 10 years of my life.
I am somewhat of a fanatic when it comes to time management. Wasting time will make me feel very guilty, probably more than wasting money does. I make goals, I make a “to do” list 2 to 3 times each day to help keep pressure on myself to work fast and smart. I keep precise records everyday of everything I do and how long it took me to do it. So today I watched the Oregon Ducks and California score over a 100 points between them, I watched the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Clippers, and I watched the World Series. Then I watched Sports Center to hear how the games that I just watched went. Now it is Midnight and I am trying to stay awake as I try and get my Bible reading done and my prayer time in and my other disciplines checked off my list. Funny how a guy can be almost 66 years old and still feel like a kid.
I have been studying a bunch for my sermon this weekend on the Trinity. In nearly 40 years I have never preached on this classic doctrine of the church. I think the reason is that simple sermons that even my grandkids can understand is a major goal of my teaching the Bible. The Trinity seemed so deep and mysterious I didn’t think I could make it simple and understandable, and I was afraid that in attempting to do so I would dishonor God in the process. God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three distinct personalities but so much in love with each other, so intent on one purpose, so United in all that they do that they are like one. We are created in the image and likeness of God. We crave to be loved and to love unconditionally because we are like God. We are obsessed with communicating with others so much that we are glued to our cell phones and spend hours on Facebook. That is because we are like God. We are miserable when we are fighting with those we are closest to and are full of joy when our relationships are healthy and going well. That is because we are like God. When we grow in our relationship with God there is a vacuum in us that is filled up and makes our relationships with those around us become more and more what we truly desire. When we neglect God and even deny Him we are like one of those rats in a cage going round and round but going nowhere. We were created by God for God and when we draw near to Him things just seem to work better.
Our recent picture taken for our church directory. Getting this picture emailed to me today, and looking at it off and on for much of the evening has prompted me to think about Patty and our life together for 45 years. Without any inaccurate or phony mushiness I am confident that our unity, closeness, and love for each other has been for me a major source of joy in my life. It has been a steading influence and our relationship has been a key to dealing with problems, trials and disappointments without a lot of fear or self pity. A summary statement of our years together would be, “It is amazing what two people in unity, oneness, and love can experience together, and how their relationship becomes a major factor in their relationship with God”. The quality of our marriage has taken a lot of sacrifice and faithful, consistent hard work over the years, but at this point in our life the joy that we have in a relaxed, free from offenses, relationship makes the use of the word sacrifice seem silly. You don’t pay the price, you enjoy the price.
Got my new heart rate monitor in the mail today, and I wore it as I rode my stationary bike, ran on the treadmill, and lifted weights. It not only tells me how fast my heart is beating but “intensity” which is a comparison between present heart rate and maximum heart rate which is determined by my age. My max heart rate is supposed to be 162 beats per minute. Another interesting category is “willpower” which it gives you after a work out on a scale of 1 to 10 on the basis of how long you maintained a 80% max heart rate during your workout. All that info is supposed to tell me if I am getting in better shape or not!!
Wouldn’t it be cool if there were some kind of gadget like that which would measure my spiritual heart, the maturity and character of the real me on the inside. The Bible says that God sees our heart, but we seem incredibly blind to our own level of maturity of our own heart. Our heart is the place where our motives reside, and most of us have no clue what motivates us and why we do what we do.
I don’t have an inner heart monitor so I guess I will have to rely on very honest self examination, along with reflection, and contemplation about my own life and motives and maturity. It is that “honest” part that is hard to do. It is so easy to be self deceived and blind to the condition of our heart, and the consequences of such blindness is significant and eternal. Help me Lord to be painfully honest about who I really am on the inside, my heart.
Sat down and voted on my mail in ballot today. Wondered as I looked at names and “measures” what the future held for our country. Finished reading the Old Testament book of Daniel today which has lots to say about governments and God’s role in them. Many governments and countries in history that were great no longer exist primarily because of moral decline. My role in the middle of our particular history is to be faithful to live a life according to the principles in God’s Word, to be kind, to love everybody that God sovereignly puts into my life, to be joyful always so as to attract people to the hope that I have, not to scold, rant or condemn, and to pray like crazy for government officials that God would work in their lives and protect them from the control of the “evil one”. Doesn’t seem like much, but God loves to take the small offering of a faithful person and do big things with it. I will be faithful.
If God appeared to me and said that I could change any one thing in my life, what would it be? Would it be a circumstance or a condition in my life like my health or financial status? It is a good question to ponder. So as I regularly visit this topic of contemplation about myself I have come up with some personal rules. If God asks don’t respond with a desire for easier or more comfortable in life. That is a choice for backward character growth. If God asks don’t ask for changes in circumstances in life because that is so short lived in terms of results. Solomon had this experience with God and he asked for wisdom. That obviously was a good choice, but Solomon still ended his life as a fool. I think at this point in my life I would ask for self-control, or maybe determination, or drive or faithfulness. It would be cool if I could think of a request that would include all 4 of those character traits. I want to finish my life well, in a sprint to the finish line, and the tendency to coast is so strong. I have decided to ask God everyday for a request that I think does role into one those 4 character traits and that request is “I pray Lord, that You will work in my life and that the next 10 years of my life are the most productive in terms of lasting fruit for You that I have had”, no, I will change that a bit, ” I pray Lord, that I accomplish with my life in the next 10 years more than what I have done in the previous 65″. Whoooooeeeeeee, that is a big request, but that is what I want, and I will ask every day that God gives that to me. What do you want?