Everybody does it, but I think especially older people will sit and think about the past. The fishing has been slow so as I sit and wait for a fish to bite I think, and today for some reason I have been replaying events from my past. There are many things that are fun to think about, most of those revolve around family, but today for some reason I got started thinking about poor choices and mistakes that I have made. In some instances they resulted in loss of accomplishment or money, in others the bad choice resulted in being at a different place now then I would have been, but in most cases the mistake resulted in relational consequences where people no longer liked me and in some instances were so hurt or upset at me that they haven’t talked to me since. In thinking about these past events I recognized that most were the result of lack of wisdom. I can’t remember any of my many bad choices being the result of meanness or vindictiveness or with an intent to hurt. I just didn’t know any better. As John Wayne would say, “What a stupid thing to do”. I wish I could have a “do over” on all of those stupid words, decisions, and actions of the past. In thinking about these many black marks in my history the main thing I would do differently if I could relive my past would be to get much more counsel and mentoring than I did. I would ask for advice constantly from old people who had already done the stupid things that I was about to do. My pride, arrogance, and “know it all” attitude was the barrier to that happening in my past. As I counsel, mentor, and give advice now as a Pastor much of it comes from the wisdom gained from my own failures, so some good is coming from them.
One of the four guys I am fishing with in Minnesota had to leave early today and the two other guys drove him to the airport a couple hours drive. I stayed behind to fish but the wind was blowing so hard that fishing was near impossible so I sat in our little rental house and read and prayed. I have a prayer program on my IPad that has every person in our church including most who have visited in the last three months in it along with pictures for most of them that I get off of facebook and taking pictures of them with my phone. My goal is to pray through it each week, but sometimes when I am on a fishing or hunting trip I don’t get it done. I prayed through about a quarter of everyone on the airplane trip here and got through the rest of it today. There is always a great sense of significant accomplishment when I get to the last person in my prayer journal each week. I really believe that I sense God’s pleasure in me for the time that I take to intercede for the well-being of those in my journal. I am quit sure that when I get to heaven that I will find that the time I spent praying for people was the most effective thing I did with my life. I didn’t catch any fish today, but it was a very good day.
I mentioned in an earlier blog that people with Parkinson’s often get Dementia. I have been spending over 30 minutes every day memorizing scripture to help keep my mind sharp, but I did something this last week that flustered me. I have been looking for a recumbent stationary exercise bike because it is so much more comfortable to spend hours riding and I can read on it easier as well. I found a good one on Craig’s list and phoned my son Seth if he could go pick it up and pay for it. It was an hours drive but he said he could do it. Today I got an email telling me that the one that I bought last week on ebay was shipping today. You have to be kidding me!! I forgot all about that one!! Now I have two good recumbent exercise bikes. Oh well, I will see if I can sell one on Craig’s list for $30 more than I paid for it. I hope I don’t get confused and sell them both😳 I guess I better up my memorizing time to an hour a day!
While fishing for Walleyes and Pike I had a little minnow on a hook for bait. I casted it out and at the same time this Cormerant, a big bird like a duck but the size of a goose dived under the water looking for a fish to eat and spotted my bait fish and ate it. As the bird underwater started swimming furiously away I thought I had a huge fish on and began to fight it thinking it was going to be a huge one. When the bird surfaced and started flying it pulled so hard it broke my fishing rod and stripped most of the line off my real before I managed to break the line. As I was getting my extra rod and getting it set up to continue fishing I thought of how often that happens in life. You are all excited because it seems something really good is going to happen only to have it turn into just the opposite. What do you do now? Go get the backup rod, and go back to fishing. Many people are paralyzed by self pity, shock, anger, or bitterness when an apparent big fish turns into an ugly bird and a broken fishing rod. Happy, successful people have learned to rejoice always, no matter what happens, to never grumble or feel sorry for themselves, and to be decisive in choices that lead to recovery and conquest.
Fished most of the day today, and we just finished eating dinner and we ate so much of the fish that we caught that I am hardly able to get out of my chair I am so stuffed. We are going out pretty soon to fish some more for cat fish. I haven’t caught any of that yet on this trip. It quit raining about 10 am and the weather has gotten nicer and nicer. Lots of people here fishing on Memorial Day weekend and one thing about it is that people who fish are some of the nicest people there are. One of my principles of managing the pressures of life so that they don’t turn into stress is have an activity that is renewing so that your emotional gas tank is always full. There isn’t much that renews me as effectively as fishing does. One of the greatest barriers to accomplishing a lot with your life is the inability to manage pressure without it turning to stress. My motto is “pressure is part of the job and the bigger and more significant the job the more the pressure, but stress is optional. I can lead a stress free life if I manage pressure well and a significant part of managing pressure is knowing how to renew yourself. “Thou shalt fish”
Many people don’t set goals or have dreams because the pain and disappointment of unrealized goals, dreams and desires is to painful so they just respond to life and take whatever happens and call it the will of God. We were created by God to conquor, to fight, to win, to dream and aspire, to want. Those who want the most pray the most, those who want the most work the hardest, and those who want the most endure and don’t quit. The key is to maintain joy in spite of the pain of unrealized goals by finding things to rejoice over. All of that to introduce the news that I didn’t catch 100 fish today. I caught two of the nicest, prettiest, fightingest Northern Pike so I am happy, not satisfied but I will catch more tomorrow.
I left our house this morning at 3:30 am and I am now sitting in a house at a resort on Osakis Lake, Minnesota and it is 11:00 pm. Tomorrow will be fishing all day and hopefully We will catch lots and lots of fish. We will be fishing for walleye, northern pike, cat fish, bass, crappie, and Muskie. My plan is to catch and release everything I catch tomorrow, and my goal is to catch 100 fish. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it!?!? Yep, it is, but if I fish for 12 hours that is 8 fish an hour or a fish every 7.5 minutes. I can do that if I don’t goof off with to much eating, drinking coffee, talking with other fishermen. I walked out on one of the docks that had a light and a bench on it for night fishing and the bugs around the light were a huge, thick, buzzing cloud. It was hard to breath without sucking in a bunch of bugs. That is to bad, I thought I could increase the odds of getting 100 fish if I could get in 16 or 18 hours of fishing. When Jesus called His disciples He promised them that He would make them a fisher of men. On two different occasions Jesus told the disciples where to cast their nets as they fished in the Sea of Galilee and the result was a huge catch of fish. Jesus was illustrating that if we do what He says as He teaches us the skill of fishing for people, and work hard he will provide opportunities, open doors, and responsive people. To be a follower of Jesus is to be a fisher of people.
I had set out six traps after the gopher that was plowing up our front yard. I would rake down the mounds of dirt and set the traps in the freshest mounds each time using a little different technique and then this morning as I walked out to check my trap line I could see one of the gallon cans that I had the traps tied to up on its end. I let out a whoop of conquest and drug the little critter out of the hole. I have 4 different kinds of traps and I have caught every one of the gophers and moles that I have trapped in the same kind of trap. It is called a “gophenator trap” and I found it and bought it on-line. I am ordering 2 more. One of my life motto’s has been, “Man was created by God to find a cave with a bear in it, drive out the bear and live in the cave”. I am changing it to “Man was created by God to capture every mole and gopher on the planet earth and destroy them!” Some days are bad days, some days are so so days, and then some days are super! Today was a super day. I am going to bed knowing I have conquored my mortal enemy!
It is estimated that 50 to 80% of those with Parkinson’s will develop Parkinson’s Dementia, and that it will begin about 10 years after the beginning of Parkinson’s. That gives me 4 or 5 more years possibly of clear thinking. That would certainly have an impact on the quality of my preaching to the point that I would have to give that up. I am motivated by a good fight so I am going to fight real hard to win this battle. My strategy is to memorize the Bible for at least 30 minutes every day, and I am going to jump it up to 45 minutes and then to an hour each day by the end of 2015. The mental discipline and exercise of memorizing will keep my brain sharp and healthy and the power of God’s Word will not only heal my mind but develop my character and heart to be like God’s. I am using an app for my IPhone and IPad called Scripture Typer that has been very effective and motivational. Another thing about it that I like is that of the 70,000 or so people who use this app that the top 2500 are ranked in order as they earn points for verses memorized and for the number of times that the verses are reviewed correctly. I am currently in 450th place and working hard to get in first place though the person who is in first place has over 9,000 verses memorized to my 365 verses. I totally trust the Lord with my life, but that doesn’t mean I will sit around and do nothing.
I drove to Portland today for a lunch meeting to talk about a prayer event next year in Portland for world missions. Yesterday, knowing that I was going to have two hours by myself as I drove to Portland to think and reflect I came up with a couple of questions to ask myself to facilitate self examination and honest inspection of my character and motives. There were two recent events where I shared some information about myself that made me look good. The question that I asked myself was why did I do that? I was thinking at the time that I was attempting to be a model and encouragement to those I was sharing with. 1 Peter 5 says, “proving to be examples to the flock”. I really take that role of Pastoring seriously, but could it be that my pride snuck in there and I was being motivated by my desire to be admired and well thought of, being a people pleaser to receive praise from men. I memorized and meditated on Matthew 6:1, “beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them, otherwise you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven”. My conclusion after thinking about it was that the more spontaneous my “boasting” was the less apt the motive was pure, and information that I shared having thought about it and having crafted the wording prayerfully in my mind and on paper so as to be a good example of right living to others was usually from a pure heart and therefore would be blessed and used by God. As I reflected I was again impressed with how thin a line there is between right and good motives and those driven by pride and desire to recieve glory from men. Doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons is so easy. Another verse that I memorized and pray daily is Psalms 26:2, “Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my mind and my heart,” and also Psalms 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be some hurtful or wrong way in me”. I believe God will answer that prayer.