Well, the Portland Trail Blazers are done. Out of the play offs in the first round in 5 games. At the start of the season I was sure they were going to go all the way to at least the quarter finals if not to the championship game. Watching the game tonight they seemed tired and unmotivated, like they had already given up. It is tough being a fan. There is absolutely nothing you can do or contribute. Just be a loyal spectator. Being an uninvolved spectator is really unfulfilling. It is so nice that the Almighty God of the Universe has included us in His plans of seeking and saving the lost and making disciples. He could easily do it all but He wants us to be His servants, His partners in accomplishing His will. I am part of the family of God, I am a disciple of Jesus, I am part of the Body of Christ, I am a member of the Bride of Christ, I am a brother of Jesus, I am a temple of the Holy Spirit. In God’s view I am quite significant. I am choosing to be fully involved, faithful, responsible, diligent, and hot in doing my part as a member on God’s team.
Today in our culture it doesn’t seem important to many to absolutely keep their word. Many will say they are going to do something and do not do it. If confronted the stock answer is “I forgot”. If I tell someone I am going to do something, and then do not do it I am so ashamed I can hardly stand it. A faithful man is one who makes commitments and keeps them. God uses a faithful man. God gives a faithful man authority and puts him in charge of more and more. God gives a faithful man strength to be even more faithful. Part of the problem is that many tend to work at being a person of integrity only when it is important, but when we are slack with little things the character that results will also be slack when it is super important. Jesus put it this way in a parable in Luke 16:10, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much, and he who is unfaithful in a very little thing is unfaithful also in much”. I want to give those who follow me security by being a person of integrity and faithfulness. My security is based on God’s promise that if I believe in the Lord Jesus I will live forever in heaven with Him. I don’t have to worry that God will change His mind, He is faithful.
Had an appointment today with a Pneurologist at the Parkinson’s center at OHSU. Very nice doctor who asked a lot of questions about how I was doing. Changed my medication a little bit, but mostly just keeping on doing what I am doing. My exercising is doing a lot of good keeping the Parkinson’s from progressing very fast. I am planning on increasing the amount of time each day that I exercise. My goal is 10 hours each week, but I have only been getting in about 7 for the last couple of months. Exercising is the hardest of all my disciplines to be faithful to. The key to success at it is to remind myself constantly of the health benefits and the joy of being able to continue pastoring. The other disciplines in my life have even greater benefits, reading my Bible every day, memorizing Bible verses and meditating on them every day, spending time with God in prayer everyday, taking time to reflect, examining my life every day for character flaws and weaknesses and sins and confessing them to God. I own those sins before God not blaming others, making excuses, justifying, or simply ignoring them. My flesh hates the basic disciplines of the Christian life, but I have motivated myself to be faithful to them by writing out all the benefits and blessings that come from God for being faithful to do them.
Preached on heaven today at church at JBC. Now I am sitting here in my recliner thinking about the day and reviewing my sermon in my mind. Thinking about and meditating on heaven is a great way to get rid of worry, anxiety, weariness, loneliness, depression, self pity. Hope is supernaturally powerful in it’s ability to lift us out of the negativity of this world. Thinking about heaven when life gets hard is like the proverbial light at the end the tunnel. The more we think about heaven the more our faith grows and the more real heaven becomes in our thinking. I believe God rewards those who choose to set their mind on heaven instead of this life with greater levels of strength, joy, and peace. At first when you start trying to think about heaven it is hard because you have nothing from experience to think about. It is hard to think about something we have never experienced. But what I have found to be true is that if you persevere in thinking about eternity regularly and often God will reward that effort and give us some thoughts and mental ideas about our eternity. This earth is not our home, we are just passing through, so I choose to think more about my future eternal home more than this present life that will soon be gone.
Watched a movie last night about James Braddock who won the boxing heavy weight championship of the world in 1935 against Max Baer. He was a 10 to 1 underdog and was called the Cinderella man man because of his rise from a dock worker during the depression to the world champion. James was motivated out of his poverty and the need to feed his kids, but in the process he became a very strong man in his will to win. The movie illustrated well my favorite saying, “God created a man to find a cave with a bear in it, drive out the bear, and live in the cave”. Most of us fuss a lot today when life is hard, but God made life hard for a reason, so that we would become strong and become like Jesus in character.
Watched a movie at home tonight that was a story that took place during the great depression. Reminded me of stories that my Dad used to tell of growing up during the depression. I then got to thinking about all the mud huts and extreme poverty that I have seen over the years of going to Sierra Leone. We are not rich by any stretch of the imagination but I have never missed a meal because I couldn’t afford food. Comparing ourselves with much of the world results in me declaring myself a rich man. The Bible says that God has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and Jesus also said that it easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into heaven. All that simply means that our money is a major barrier to our spiritual growth. We worry about it, love it, trust in it, depend on it for our joy. Sounds like an idol. I know that God’s remedy for loving money is to give sacrificially to God’s work regularly and faithfully. It is always hard to give away what I know I could use, but God is faithful and He will bless the one who makes God first. I will trust God always.
At 6 am I was at Shari’s resturant in Salem with half a dozen guys for accountability. We get together every Thursday and encourage each other to be faithful to our personal goals that we have set for ourselves. I enjoy this time with these guys very much.
At 11 am a group of pastors from the Seattle area came down and the JBC secretaries made a nice lunch which we ate together and then we all shared about our various ministries and brainstormed about how to do a better job and encouraged each other. They stayed about 3 hours and headed back to Seattle, another super blessed time. I spent the next couple of hours answering emails mostly to pastors encouraging and teaching. At 5:30 pm I met with a group of guys at JBC for an hour for accountability and then at 6:30 pm I taught my Men’s Leadership class 2. As I sit here in my recliner writing this I am feeling very fulfilled and blessed of God to be able to serve Him and make a difference in the lives of others and to influence churches to be more successful reaching people. Nothing feels better than being tired at the end of the day knowing that it came from doing something significant for God.
Wednesday’s are typically long days for me. I get up at 5 am and drive to Albany and meet 4 or 5 men at Denny’s Resturant for an hour, then I have a second group that comes in, and we meet for an hour, and thaN a third group comes in and joines me for an hour. In each of the three groups we hold each other accountable for our use of time, praying with are wives, reading our Bibles, freedom from anger etc. I then drive to the Evangelical church in Jefferson and join others for a very powerful one hour prayer time. After that I spend the rest of the day working on my sermon with the goal of getting it all done and handed to Miss Krause to type the outline, do the PowerPoint, and notice any errors of grammar or spelling that I need to fix. I usually schedule a couple of counseling sessions that evening and then I head home for a Small group meeting which meets until 8:30 pm. Than I sit in my chair until 11:00 pm and read and pray.
In Revelations 3:8 God is speaking and He says, “I have put before you an open door”. God gives opportunities to us to serve Him, to accomplish something significant with our life, and to bear much fruit for Him. God opens the door but we must step through it, make the most of the opportunity that He provides. Most often these opportunities have a risk factor, move us a bit out of our comfort zone, make us nervous because of the unknown, and the result is many just stay put. I have started looking expectantly every day for divine opportunities, apparent coincidences that are God orchestrated. I like adventure and God is a great guide to an exciting life of new things, but we have to be able to recognize the open door when it happens and be decisive stepping through it. If you take to long to make up your mind the door will close and you will be stuck doing the same old thing. If you allow the fear of the unknown to control your life pretty soon there are no more open doors and you will have a predictable, comfortable, and boring life. I think a great end of the day prayer is, ” thank You Lord for what You gave me to do today. Could You give me a bit more to do tomorrow. I will look expectantly for that open door and I will be quick to act and make the most of the opportunity that You provide for me.
Played golf today for the first time in 3 or 4 years. Played with 3 JBC staff, Pastor Mike, Seth and Jeff. Weather was great and the fellowship was sweet. I only lost 7 balls. Good thing I bought used golf balls for .50 cents each. I discovered that the harder I tried the worse I did. When we first started I was relaxed and enjoying the day and I actually did pretty good and then I started trying to do good and then I started hitting balls into the tall grass. As I live my life as a Christian I need to be faithful, diligent and self controlled, but there is a critical balance that I need to learn to walk in, between my discipline and my trusting in and abiding in Christ. It easy to get unbalanced. One side is self-righteous trying harder mode that results in frustration and weariness, and the other extreme is being lazy, undisciplined, and foolish in choices and expect that God is going to bail us out in the name of “trusting Jesus”. I pray every morning and ask God for the wisdom to live my life as a disciple of Jesus who is abiding in Him, and being faithful to the basic disciplines of the Christian life. The key for me is to ask for wisdom and strength from Him all day long, and then to work hard.